Tuesday, March 10, 2015

AERC Board of Directors Convention Wrap Up

2015 Convention Summary of AERC BoD meetings

The American Endurance Ride Conference held its annual convention March 5-8 in Reno, Nevada. I don’t have official attendance numbers, but I’m confident that attendance was higher than last year. In particular, the tack sale area had more saddles and other goodies than I have seen in years. I managed to snag copies of out of print Walter Farley books (remember how we all got started on horses as kids reading the Black Stallion series?).

At the Thursday Board of Directors (BoD) meeting, the Board approved changes to the deadlines for Special Sanctioning requests; the time requirements are shorter now with improved electronic communication. The Board and attending members were introduced to our new Marketing Director, Candace FitzGerald. John Parke provided a briefing on our insurance and also reviewed Board functions and obligations for new Board members. I have heard John give this lecture many times and I always look forward to it and learn from it. The Board also had extended discussions of AERC concerns regarding FEI endurance competition in the UAE. Valery Kanavy (USEF Technical Committee) and Dr. Dwight Hooten (USEF Veterinary Committee) graciously provided insights from their years of experience with international competition. Further discussion was deferred to the Sunday meeting (see below).

Throughout the day, on Friday and Saturday, various AERC committees held their meetings and a variety of seminars were offered on Body Condition Scoring, conducting a clinic for new riders, protecting trail access, equine gastric ulcers, veterinary analysis of the horse’s back, promoting longevity in endurance horses, nutrition for endurance horses and presenting your horse for the Best Condition award at rides.

On both days, John Parke (assisted by his Great Pyrenees, Biscuit) conducted his Hot Topics; Friday on problems in the international endurance competition, especially re: the UAE, and Saturday on developing new members. John always does an excellent job at eliciting the ideas of members and maintaining a constructive dialog.
Friday evening, John Parke hosted the Regional Awards ceremony, again assisted by Biscuit. John made the evening fun for everyone so that all awardees felt deservedly special for their accomplishments. Following the awards, members enjoyed music and dancing.

The Saturday BoD meeting opened with a State of the Conference update by President Michael Campbell. New members, Christoph Schork, Kevin Waters, and Tom Bache, were sworn in and appreciation for their service extended to departing members, Bruce Weary, Rusty Toth and Leslie Anderson. Officers were elected/re-elected: President Michael Campbell, Vice President Lisa Schneider, Secretary Susan Garlinghouse (replacing Monica Chapman) and Treasurer Mollie Krumlaw-Smith. The Board then heard comments/feedback from the members in attendance. The comments included concerns about the reporting of equine fatalities, equine health insurance, ride insurance, forming chapters of AERC, developing plans of succession for retiring ride managers, adjusting ride time for difficult terrain, and requests that AERC not “dumb down” ride standards by making the sport easier.
Saturday evening was the National Awards ceremony and banquet featuring Masters of Ceremony John Parke and Bruce Weary assisted by Susan Garlinghouse in her “Vanna White” role. I won’t list all the winners here, but they will be published on the website and in Endurance News.

Sunday morning, the Board, and a few die hard members, met for a marathon discussion of several important issues. Our new Marketing Director, Candace FitzGerald, presented her plan for promoting AERC throughout the coming year. Committee chairs for several committees were approved. The Strategic Plan for AERC’s future growth and development was presented by John Parke and approved by the Board. Progress on the development of the Supporting Organization for AERC was also presented by John Parke. The Budget for 2015 was presented by Treasurer Mollie Krumlaw-Smith and approved by the Board. Vice President Lisa Schneider and Board Member Mike Maul presented the new web site to be installed in the near future. The Board voted to approve Special Sanctioning for two rides. AERC-I, AERC’s international committee, sent the Board a report re: the 2016 World Equestrian Championship (WEC) scheduled for Dubai. The committee recommended that AERC withhold support for that location due to UAE violations of FEI rules re: horse welfare and fair play. The Board discussed concerns about FEI competition in the UAE, especially the scheduled 2016 WEC in Dubai. The Board voted to send USEF (our National Federation) AERC’s insistence that FEI open for bids the location of the 2016 WEC and disallow any bid from the UAE. If no acceptable bids are received, AERC expects FEI to cancel the 2016 WEC rather than hold it in the UAE. A letter from AERC to USEF to this effect is being prepared and will go out this week.

This was one of the most productive and successful conventions that I have attended. Special thanks are owed by us all to AERC staff: Executive Director Kathleen Henkel, Troy Smith, Kyra and, especially, Kathleen’s husband, Lary, and her sisters and their families for organizing and staffing the many functions necessary for a successful convention. With Kathleen, we get a lot of bang for our buck.

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