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This is a thoughtful and interesting perspective.  However, I
respectfully disagree.  The vast majority of AERC members don't have the
money, time, or just don't want to participate internationally.
Competitive sports are not a "career" for most of us. I played softball
intensively for over 20 years, but that doesn't mean I CAN or WANT to
play professional baseball.  Same game, but different rules. But it
doesn't mean that I CAN'T move up to baseball, using the skills I've
learned.  A hard ground ball to short is the same in both.  

FEI and AERC are the same game with different rules, but I see no
benefits to the majority of the members to "combine" them....or why we
should change our rules to accomodate FEI rules.  It doesn't prevent our
top riders from competing in the Olympics or anywhere in the world,
using the skills they acquired in AERC without impacting others.   As
you say, if you want to play there, read the rules carefully, then go
"ride 'em like you stole 'em"! The game is the same, only the rules are
different. And yes, it IS bad from my perspective to have FEI rules
imposed upon us at AERC rides when they serve no useful purpose and are
not blessed by a majority of our membership. FEI riders from other
countries could certainly learn something from attending our AERC rides
and maybe enjoy a "vacation" from all those rules.

Tell me what FEI offers our LD riders?  Many of them are happy as a clam
just doing slow 25's.  I've recruited a ton of people to Endurance by
getting them to do a 25. Many of them however, get hooked and move up. 
That's what happened to me.  Years ago, I took my ride buddy Flinn on
her first 25. She just couldn't conceive of someone doing 50 miles! 
Finally got her to do a 50. No going back....she followed me to her
first Top Ten at Biltmore last fall. Except for a freak injury to her
horse in the trailer she would have done her first 100 at Biltmore last
weekend. Most of her horse friends are now involved in some way with
Endurance, if nothing but crewing. Does FEI have a "beginner" program
that supports, recruits, and encourages new riders?  Correct me if I'm
wrong, but never heard of one. 

People are INSPIRED by our horses and riders and what they can do, even
at the peon level like me. I publicize Arabians and Sunny's feats every
chance I get.  I am so proud of my little guy. People come over here
just to see him and stand around in awe! I feel that way, too. Last year
at Old Dominion, Debbie Gordon parked next to us and I actually got to
MEET her and talk for a just a moment about REDMAN. She probably thought
I was an idiot because I was nervous talking to her. I got a lump in my
thoat when I walked by the the trailer with the big "T K FIRENGOLD"
across the top.  I had arrived! I talked so much about FINALLY getting
here after four long years of training and conditioning, when I got my
50 mile buckle they announced I had completed my search for the "Holy
Grail". <grin> After reading about Jerry Fruth and Irene in last year's
National Championship Ride, I got to ride with them at Leatherwood! It
was like getting to play shortstop with Chipper Jones playing third! 

We have a great discipline, unencumbered by frivolous rules such as
having to wear a particular type of shirt.  AERC allows Ride Managers
the option to add whatever rules they wish to accomodate location, ride
conditions, and ensure the safety of the riders.  Generally speaking,
those changes are listed on the entry form.  In short, we have "freedom"
in our discipline. AERC provides basic common sense rules and guidelines
to follow.  It accomodates a wide range of riders at all skill levels
while providing the opportunity to move up as far as your ambition,
time, and money allow. IMHO, "integrating" FEI with AERC would create
more problems than benefits. 

I have attended only the one FEI ride.  That certainly doesn't qualify
me as any kind of authority.  My comments on FEI sanctioning at Biltmore
were just the honest opinions of an experienced small time rider
attending his first FEI ride. I arrived enthusiastic and open-minded
about FEI and left disappointed. It will take a LOT of convincing to get
my support for FEI sanctioning at AERC rides.

Jim and Sun of Dimanche  

> Tracey wrote:

> 1.  FEI is the governing body of world equestrianism.
> 2.  The Olympic Games are run under FEI rules.
> 3.  Almost every other equestrian discipline has come to terms with
> having to abide by FEI rules if the participants hope to compete
> internationally.
> There is no point pissing against the wind : as the world becomes
> smaller and smaller, and as we start to see more international
> competition, we will inevitably be faced with having a world body
> impose rules upon us.  Is that REALLY such a bad thing?

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