Thursday, August 01, 2019

American Endurance Ride Conference 2019 Endurance Championships

July 31 2019

This year’s American Endurance Ride Conference National Championship Ride will be located in Ridgecrest, California, home of the spectacular Mojave Desert (and the recent series of earthquakes). Luckily, there was no damage to the ride area and the event should be an unforgettable celebration of distance riding from October 31 to November 3.

While there are qualifying requirements for the National Championship 50- and 100-mile rides, there are open rides beginning at 25 miles (on October 31) and 35 miles (on November 2). Most riders with fit trail horses are capable of competing in the limited distance rides and are welcome to attend the ride, regardless of AERC membership.

Ridgecrest is located at the base of the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains between the continental United States’ lowest point of elevation, Death Valley (282 feet below sea level) and highest peak, Mt. Whitney (14,505 feet). The fall is a beautiful time of year for a visit to either of these destinations and the timing is perfect for your journey.

Of course the focus of the rides will be the Championship events, where top endurance riders from across the U.S. and Canada come to compete in the classic endurance distances of 50 or 100 miles with their equestrian partners. Last year's event was held at Biltmore in North Carolina, and Holly Corcoran and Poete, from Pennsylvania, were first to finish and earned best condition in the 100 mile ride, finishing in 12 hours and 26 minutes. The 50 mile winners were Erin Lemmons, DVM, of Texas, riding Tuscarora John, and Jeremy Reynolds of Florida riding Anydaynow in a tie at 5 hours and 20 minutes of riding time.

Every weight division winner and the junior division winner in the 100-mile Championship ride will take home a brand new saddle, thanks to the generous donations of Ghost Treeless Saddles, Pandora Saddles, Saddle Up/Freeform Saddles, Specialized Saddles and Stonewall Saddle Company.

Top ten riders in the 100-mile Championship division will receive HAF saddle pads, and every completing rider in the 50- and 100-mile rides will earn a buckle commemorating their finish. There are special awards for top 10 in both distances and for the top 3 winners in each of AERC's four weight divisions, and the junior division, for riders under 16.

Riders in the open events will take home finish awards (it's one of AERC's rules that all who finish a ride must be awarded a completion award) handmade by a local petroglyph artist.

This year's ride, according to ride managers Robert and Melissa Ribley, is highlighted by spectacular scenery. The trail boasts "water from the ancient glacier-fed lakes below the desert," plus "forever Kodak moments of incredible sunsets upon the towering Sierra Nevadas" and "dark sky locations where glimpses of the Milky Way and a star-filled sky are a welcome treat," according to Melissa.

The ride is held on the site of the annual Twenty Mule Team AERC ride—and would not be complete without mules! The organizers will have a special demonstration in the main arena of the Desert Empire Fairgrounds, the ride's base camp, by local mule trainer JoDe Collins who will show what mules and donkeys can really do. Fun local activities are on the schedule as well: a tour of the BLM horse and burro facility, a group trip to the Trona Pinnacles and a group trip to the Maturango Natural History Museum.

To find out more about the ride, or to sign up to ride or come volunteer, visit

The website also lists the ride’s many sponsors who have generously donated numerous completion awards for the seven separate competitions.

For those wanting to follow the excitement remotely, rider updates will be available on the ride website each ride day and on the ride's Facebook page: You can easily follow your favorite rider throughout the day as he or she progresses towards the finish line and a successful completion.

Make the AERC Championship Ride a goal in 2019 for you and your equine, and join us this fall at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds in Ridgecrest, California, for a festival of endurance riding fun, competition and camaraderie.

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