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[RC] Convention - Jim Holland


Joan and I had a great time at the Convention.  Very busy. We were
"commuting" since we're only about an hour and a half away.  That was a
mistake...think we got about 6 hours sleep over the whole weekend.

Got there Friday in time to check in and catch Angie's presentation. 
(We're STILL laughing!) Figured there was no way she would ever top
that, then as Master of Ceremonies for the National Awards, she had
everybody ROFL with her analogies between Endurance and Civil War
battles around Chattanooga. Great job, Angie! I particularly liked the
one about the guy whose horse ran away with him during a Calvary charge.
Hmmmm...sometimes it is NOT good to be "up front"!

Toted in enough notes, documentation, emails, questions, etc. to choke a
horse in order to address the Board on the horse death issue. Turned out
there was a "Hot Topics" session on Friday morning at 7:00 moderated by
John Parke. (Good job, John!) The "hot topic" was the issue on horse
deaths and treatment at rides. I was not aware of this meeting until
Angie yelled at me down the hall when we arrived, so we missed the first
day. Got up at 4:00AM and we made the one on Saturday. Room was packed!
Great discussion, VERY positive. Dang, I didn't have to say a
word...just sat there and listened. Thanks to all of you who supported
this issue and attended. You showed up informed and spoke your thoughts.
Wanted to stand up and cheer for you guys! The BoD is listening, and
listening hard. Howard was so "well spoken" and logical, we didn't
recognize him! Would the REAL Howard please stand up?

John put up an outline of a new AERC Ad Hoc Committee called the "Horse
Welfare" Committee, chaired by a member of the BoD but staffed by
regular members from each region. They would be the first line of
investigation on issues of horse abuse, collect data on treatments from
their regions, and work with the Vet Committee and the Education
Committee.  There were other bullets, but I'm so tired I can't remember.
Don't know what happened in the BoD meeting afterwards, but I hope we
can get the "charter" of this committee posted. I would have preferred
for this committee to be permanent instead of "ad hoc", but it's a step
in the right direction. In addition, Vet Committee reports will be in
the BoD minutes and available to any member on request. I would like to
see a "guideline" established as to what information should be in a Vet
Committee report. We do NOT need names of individuals involved (rider,
horse, vet, etc.) but the "statistical" data regarding the death and
ride parameters should be, and it is important that the membership be
informed and reassured that AERC always puts the welfare of the horse
first. Let's get all those fields in the database filled up.

If we can learn more about why horses are treated, and make that info
available to riders, someday we may not HAVE a horse death issue. I
spoke at length with several Board members, including new President Mike
Tomlinson and new Vice-President Mike Maul. Thanks to all of your for
you input. Spoke with Art King and Susan Garlinghouse down in the bar.
(Where else would you expect to find Susan?) <grin> In a discussion with
Truman, he mentioned a "risk factor" projection based on the parameters
of a ride, the weather, distance between checks, etc. based on
statistical sampling of why and how many horses are treated under
specific circumstances. Hope Truman will post on how this would
work...(Kathy says he can write two pages of formulas while adding 2 +
2) :) Makes sense that if we can reduce the number of horses treated, we
reduce the number that die. We need to be more aggressive in saying to
our riders, "Yes, your horse CAN die at a ride! You don't want to go
there! Here's how you prevent it".  Stagg, we appreciate your work to
get the membership more informed on how to better take care of our
horses, and we are expecting good things from the Education Committee. 

I did address the Board at the General Session for a few minutes
regarding responses from the BoD and Committees Chairs (or the lack
thereof) to member's questions. I felt that ALL the horse death issues
were addressed in the "hot topics" sessions, so I toted all my
"paperwork" back home. (But I'm not throwing it away just yet!)  It
remains to be seen if AERC follows through on this. RESULTS are the
goal. Creating a Committee is just the first step. Historically, we
don't have a good track record in this area.  Vigilance is recommended!

To all the Conference attendees and members of the BoD who tracked me
down, expressed their support, offered advice, and proposed compromises,
"Thank you". We can get this done. AERC should set an example for other
disciplines. We need to get out in front of the curve on this and stay
there.

Jim, Sun of Dimanche, and Mahada Magic


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