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If "ONE NATIONAL CHAMPION" means we're picking the "best" horse
nationwide based on the results of one ride, IMHO, there just ain't no
way. To many variables.

- Will the trail be specified as "hot, humid, and technical(rocks, mud,
hills)" as in last years NCR? 
- How about "hot, humid, and flat with good footing"...say Liberty Run? 
- How about "hot, dry, and rocky, but no hills"?

If you list all the environmental factors that impact completion at a
given ride, you might make a list something like this:

Heat, Cold, Rain, Humidity, Mud, Rocks, Elevation, Sand, etc.

The more moderate these are, the less "technical" the trail. IMHO, the
more training and experience you AND your horse have in extreme
environmental conditions, the better chance you have. The more technical
the trail, the greater the chance of not completing, especially if you
are pushing your speed. You could even just be unlucky and find that one
rock with your name on it. I train in the type of terrain found at the
NCR all the time and rode very conservative (30th overall) Still, my
horse took a hard fall on his butt and stumbled numerous times. 
Luckily, no injury. Bottom line, this means that a horse who does well
in the flat of UAE, may have a little harder time in Kentucky. I betcha
a lot of "good" riders didn't attend because they didn't like the trail.
(Just guessing here, but some were notable by their absence) I have no
problem with that. Perhaps they were not willing to "risk" a good horse
by trying to win where the odds against them were greater. In summary, a
horse who might win a NCR on a moderate trail, would be at a
disadvantage at a highly technical ride. Conversely a good "mountain
horse" might be at a disadvantage on the flat against a horse with a big
extended trot and who can canter forever.  All you can say is that the
winning horse was the best horse on that day over that trail with that

How DO you factor in the rider? This CAN be a major factor, depending on
the trail you specify. For example, I'm a runner, but I'm not in Marcia
Smith's class. She could probably take MY horse Sunny and have a better
chance of completing the Tevis (or even Old Dominion) than I would,
simply based on her athleticism. A good, physically fit rider will get
better results, (finish higher with a more sound horse) especially in
extreme conditions. I can personally vouch for that.

You can't do it fairly nationwide with points. Some areas of the country
just don't have enough rides due to the weather to provide a level
playing field.

There are also the issues of having the time and $$$$ to get to a NCR
that happens to be on the other side of the country....but that's
another issue.  (I couldn't afford to go to California now, even if I
KNEW I could win)  

The National Championship Ride is just that.  A National Chmpionship
Ride held at a specific venue under specific conditions.  Attendance is
optional.  You don't HAVE to attend, but if you don't, you CHOSE not to
compete on THAT day in THAT National Championship and won't be a
National Champion this year. That's the way it is in most sports. If
you're REALLY a good rider, your horse is experienced over all kinds of
terrain and environmental conditions, and you want to play, attend.  If
not, nobody holds it against you. You know, we could just as easily pick
one ride in a region on a rotating basis and "call" that the NCR. Handle
it just like IAHA does. There would just be a NCR set of awards along
with the regular ride awards, but you enter seperately and only if
you're "qualified". We could call it, for example, 2002 NORTHHEAST
CHAMPIONSHIP RIDE.....and so on.  

I have no problem with the NCR being open to anyone.  After all, there
are no special qualifications to attend Tevis or OD. It really doesn't
matter if all the riders are not your peers. You ride with newbies,
completers, "hot shoes", etc. at every ride.  Shouldn't impact YOUR
performance. Based on the discussions, I agree that we should not change
qualifications in midyear.  However, IF WE ARE GOING TO HAVE
QUALIFICATIONS,  my only objections would be to including LD miles in
the qualifications and I would like to see all riders with 1000 miles on
the same horse automatically qualified. (2003, of course)  

If everyone would support the NCR we would have so many riders there
that we would HAVE to have qualifications to reduce the attendees.  It's
ridiculous that the AERC membership voted to have a NCR, then the RM has
to worry about having enough people there to break even. 

If you missed the 2001 NCR, you missed a happening.  I urge you NOT to
make the same mistake this year! <grin>

Jim, Sun of Dimanche, and Mahada Magic


Barbara McCrary wrote:
> I've come to believe that AERC should have only one national champion,
> regardless of weight division.  While having top 5 or whatever in each
> weight division gives more people more prizes, I, and many others, have come
> to realize we simply don't remember who was a champion in what division, in
> which year.  When we had only one national champion, I can still remember
> the winner of that particular year.  I feel that giving national
> championships to so many riders diminishes the importance of the award.
> Barbara McCrary

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