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    Re: [RC] Very young riders in AERC rides - Sullivan

    From: Bob Morris

    While I do not disagree with Joe's position I offer the facts that the main proponents are Cliff Lewis who took this son Tommy on a 100 mile ride when he was five years old and his picture graced the pages of the endurance publications. The latest is Tommy's son, Cliff's grandson, repeating the adventure. This is a family with a deep background in the history of endurance competition in the US. It is a family with an ingrained  deep experience in horse riding. It is a family that is well known.
    I doubt you will ever get a negative experience from any of the family no matter the age.
    Bob, I would like to state here, since I do not know the family at all, that this is TOTALLY beside the point!!  I am going to assume that this family deeply loves this child and takes every precaution.  That said, it is still beside the point!!!  The fact that this family has been in the sport since the conception, and is well known, is no argument that this is a good idea.  A recent survey showed other AERC members 5 years old and younger, and the latest endurance news showed, I think, a 6 year old rider. 
    Personally, I can't imagine taking a child into a race situaiton at that age!  My kids were learhing how to safely ride a pony at that age by themselves (not ponied), in situations I could totally control. (On my property, or certain trails)  To take them out in a race situation with people on hyped or green horses?  No way.  IT was bad enough the very first LD I took my 8 year old daughter on....her pony with red ribbon in tail...and lady on a nutty horse on the 50 PARKED herself on the ponies tail....pony was swishing her tail, swing her head (making my daughter nervous), and I had to tell the lady in VERY strong terms to not use us for bumper!!!  That kind of stuff happens all the time!
    Is this an activity that is safe for a child that age?  We all know the risks of horses tripping and falling, other riders crashing into you, horses getting stung, etc, etc.  Is a child that age able to control a horse?  Do they have the strength, skill and balance to not only ride that long, but deal with any emergencies?  Are they capable of engaging in a strenuous activity for 12-24 hours at ages below age 5?
    Can they go without sleep for 24 hours....or is it okay for parents to give them short naps or tie-or duct tape them into the saddle?
    Are they endurance riders, or just being packed on a horse?  What happens when a rookie family takes a child with them; without all that experience? 
    Why does AERC  not trust adults to make a rational decision regarding horse age and distance (minimum age rule for horses), but has no concern for junior riders other than the helmet rule and sponsor rule?  I also do not understand why ride managers are allowing this.
    I was one of the people who brought this up on another list and elicited a response from Joe Long.  I was very disappointed when AERC declined to set any reasonable minimum age requirements when discussed by the Junior Committee.  It should be fairly easy to discuss the sport with pediatricand child development specialists and come up with some realistic age limits. 
    Lets keep the family out of this. Lets look at it from a rational and theoretical point of view.
    Karen Sullivan  West region

    RE: [RC] Very young riders in AERC rides, Bob Morris