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>> > While I 'm at it, If we had some kind of limit on the number of
> times you> > could be BC, top ten, or  first place in the LD,>

>>>And what will this accomplish? It rings too much like the "no
> valedictorian > in high schools because someone else might feel bad"

>>I disagree, it would more be like, Albert Einstein can't keep competing
for Valedictorian even when he's 40...or, you can't continue to win MVP
on the Little League team when you're 18.  By the way, practically every
ride around these parts gives top 10 awards to LD...and a BC.  At
Kentucky Horse Park I watched the BC winner of the LD carry away a
ceremonial saddle donated by the Prince of Morroco, *and* a monogrammed
cooler, *and* a nice top 10 canvas haybag and thought, "Good Grief! no
wonder people don't want to move up.  You really have to wean yourselves
from the prizes if you want to move up in distance and start completing
at the next level up whether it's 50 or 100. There's so much incentive to
stay down.

Having been lurking here for the past few months, I just can't keep quiet on this one...
I ride CTR with the AHAO Distance Program and do LD's in order to add miles and training. 
Most of the LD's I have done "place" the top 5.  To place top 5 does NOT mean the first 5 across the line, but the first 5 to reach heart rate parameter (usually 60).  I have seen where the first horse to finish has been running and ends up with 5th place or not placing at all because folks that walked their horses into the final check were able to pulse down faster.  Usually the top 5 then get a small award in addition to whatever the completion award is.  Sometimes a BC is awarded, sometimes not, depends on ride management at a particular ride.  There is not much to "wean" from in most cases. (note: This is NOT a slam on the awards) It is my understanding this is done because in our area, most ride managers WANT the LD to be a training ride, a learning experience, a chance to introduce a new rider or junior, or in my case the chance to pick up some miles and not kill myself or my horse to do it.
With a full time job, kids, and a husband I am unable to train enough to compete in 50 or 100 mile rides.  Without AERC LD rides, I would not be able to gain miles.  I do believe that "To Finish is to Win" and am very proud of my "completion T-shirt" collection.  I like go to different rides and check out new trails, meet new people, see all the beautiful horses, listen to the stories, etc. 
Not everyone is doing this for the "prizes".  (Prizes are fun to get, but they should be the "gravy" added to a job well done)

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