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[RC] The Convention - Howard Bramhall

Wow!!!  Double WOW!!!!  I'm not kidding, I haven't had this much fun in so long, hanging out with endurance people, not having to worry about my beloved horses getting loose from the pen or getting into trouble, it will be difficult for me not to take a train out to Reno, if such a trip is possible, next year, to do it all over again.  In addition to endurance rides I am now addicted to our annual convention.
Folks, I sat in on our Board's initial meeting on Thursday night, for about an hour and a half (till they had their dinner) and was so impressed with these "Saints" who represent us.  I knew a few of them already, but everyone of them kind of overwhelmed me.  I listened intently and really enjoyed watching a cohesive team working so hard and so long on our behalf.  I didn't stay for the whole thing that evening but Susan Kasemeyer told me the next day it went on past 1 or 2 AM.  I think they started at 5 or 6 PM.  And, that was only the first day of several days of meetings for our AERC BOD.  God love these people; I can't say enough good things about them.
I did go to this convention with the intention of speaking out about the "dead horse" issue.  I even brought along some notes I was planning on reading to the BOD, when that day came.  Turns out I didn't have to and the number one person who deserves the credit for getting this thing placed where it should be is Jim Holland.  What a pit bull ole Jim is.  When he latches on to something he really cares about Jim will not let it go until he's got your attention.  He certainly had mine and when I realized what he's been doing for the last year or so to get this thing implemented I can't tell ya'll how grateful we should be to Jim.
Well folks, unless something unusual happened at the final BOD meeting on Sunday that I missed, it looks like we have a brand new AERC Committee and I think it's going to be called The Horse Welfare Committee.  Is that incredible or what?  John Parke did a fantastic job of taking all of the inputs from everyone (and yes I did speak out a bit) and controlling everything on Friday and Saturday morning, listening to the members discuss this issue (along with several others).  During the entire thing I just got the feeling that this is what the folks wanted.  They wanted action on this topic, maybe, not something with teeth, at least not yet, but just the fact that we are going to have this committee to look into any equine deaths at a ride is a step in the right direction.  I am so darn proud we are doing this; so proud!
Along with the Horse Welfare Committee I do believe they are going to have our Educational Committee acquire and disseminate everything you need to know to successfully and safely get through an endurance ride.  Another fantastic idea and the credit for this one has to go to our new Director, Stagg Newman.  And, somehow, John Parke has put it all together in a format that even I could understand.  I must say, because of what happened here over the week-end, I left Chattanooga early Sunday morning in a total state of euphoria about it all.  During the long drive home I played an Alman Brothers Band CD, and when I heard their song with the lyrics "love is in the air," I started to cry.  A happy, good feeling cry, but a cry all the same.  Jim, John, and Stagg:  Ya'll done good.
I do want to try and write some more about my experiences there this week-end but I'm kind of stressed for time.  I'm leaving for the Carolinas on Wednesday in an attempt to complete two endurance rides and haven't even started packing.  This is unusual for me since I normally start doing this two weeks before leaving for a ride, not two days.  Please forgive me if I don't get around to it all but I am dying to get up there to the Hills of South Carolina and those Leatherwood Mountains during the next two weeks to do the one thing I enjoy more than any other. 
I would like to say that if you ever get a chance to listen to Nancy Loving, Susan Garlinghouse, Becky Hart or Angie McGhee speak you must do so.  Nancy even gave me her personal email address (boy is she going to regret doing that).  As my daughter likes to say, "Endurance equals life," and, right now, for me, life could not be better.
Finally, I have to say that Susan Kasemeyer did such an incredible job of picking a terrific location and getting the Southerners, Northerners, Canadians, Central, Mountain and Western folks to actually show up for this thing (if George Bush had Susan's abilities we would not be going to war).  Every region seemed to be well represented and I'm hoping, financially, it was a success.  I drove over 1200 miles to be there, mainly because Susan told me I had to come, and can't thank her enough for the job she did putting it all together. This convention convinced me that AERC really is one big loving family.  THANK-YOU, SUSAN!
Howard  (God bless our troops cause it looks like they're going in very soon)