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[RC] IntNewsGroup: February 2003 AERC I Column - Lori & Rick Stewart


by A. Priesz, Jr.


Fallout Shelter signs dotted the landscape of youth for many Americans. It is a fact of life, still, that fallout follows any endeavor that does not go as well as planned, or hoped. Especially in sports. Especially in America.

The fallout from the 2002 WEG Endurance Championship is not yet complete. Much has been written about it. Much more will be. But that will come later, though probably not much later.

Regardless, one constant remains. The single valid result of fallout in sports is the opportunity for change, to improve. There has not been a World or Pan American or North American team effort that has not led us to discover more of what we can do to improve. No year has been an exception. No year will be, as long as good people and true horsemen and women continue to be involved. The AERC has a wealth of such people.

Fallout from this WEG includes the issue of sound horses. It often does. The truth is the issue of continued soundness of selected Squad horses is a recurring problem. America is a democracy and the Amateur Sports’ Act which governs our procedures requires due process be provided to those Squad members who may have a problem develop. That means if a problem is identified not only must a Review Panel be provided, but second opinions must be considered. And, believe it or not, problems are not always as black and white as they seem when they are not yours. Despite the fact our riders have not and did not object to any Review Panel findings, the process is still cumbersome in a tight budgeted year. And this was a tight budgeted year.

As well, that budget problem limited our opportunities for access to the riders and horses between selection and shipping. We cannot let that happen again. It is not fair to the horses. It is not fair to the squad and staff. It is not fair to the alternates. It is not fair to our Flag.

So, as a result we are proposing and making changes. In a shortened preparation period due to the expected scheduling of the 2004 WEC in Dubai, UAE, in January or February of 2004, we have proposed the following changes.

Again, there will be no long list. All who nominate will be able to compete against each other in, at least, one of the scheduled Selection Trials. Those Trials are likely to include the 2003 PAC.

As well, the National Selection Committee will include 2 Active Athlete Representatives and will be assisted by the Vet Staff in conducting mandatory USET Vet Exams before and after each Trial.

However, this year the NSC will be choosing a National Team of 15 rider and horse combinations. They shall serve as the National Team until the next National Selection Process, approximately 2 years.

From that National Team, chosen in late September, the Chef d’Equipe in consultation with the Team Staff and NSC and its Chairperson, will decide who will compete on behalf of the USA at the WEC and at other potential Team events, as the Traveling Squad. They will make that decision 10-14 days before shipping or travel. The National Team members will be under the control and supervision of the Team Staff at all times.

Obviously, there are more details, and they will be spelled out in the new procedures. This will clearly be a busy year with both PAC Zone and National Team selection going on at many of the same events. However, it promises to be a good year filled with positive change and opportunity for all of you.

The new procedures should be available by late February, with nominations due in mid to late April. The approved budget from the USET should be in place by then, also. It proposes funding for the National Team as well as assistance to the PAC Zone Squads. Time will tell.

Fallout from this new process and the 2002 WEG will continue, and it should. Sometimes, it is how we are reminded to learn. However, we can hope to learn in the future from happier results, on many levels. This is not the start, but it should not be the end, either.