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[RC] Sunland Ride, and rides on public land - Jonni Jewell

I am posting this for Roxanne.

Why the Sunland Ride is Cancelled:

The simple explanation for canceling the Sunland Ride, which has existed
every year for 30 years, is the current closure of the Angeles National
Forest.  It was the consensus of everyone involved that riders would
probably not enjoy riding around the parking lot a few hundred times to make
the mileage.  In the past, we have received last-minute approval for the
ride because of small amounts of rain.  This year the fire danger is so
serious from so many dry years in a row that even Rangers and lessees who
live within the Forest are being evacuated now. Forestry is not equipped to
get them all out safely in the event of a serious fire.  So without a
rainstorm large enough to cause flooding, the chance of being able to hold
the ride is very small.

There are other more serious factors at work which are of importance to all
endurance riders.  It's virtually impossible in most areas to hold rides
without the use of public lands.  Using them has become more and more
difficult, with restrictions on events which involve competition,
environmental concerns, and regulations requiring a percentage of gross
proceeds to be handed over to the public entity controlling the land over
which the ride is conducted.  As an organization, AERC needs to do more in
order to make it possible to have rides at all in the future. We likely need
better relations with other equestrian groups using public lands, and the
assistance of the American Horse Council to guarantee our concerns are
considered.  Ride managers cannot be blamed for giving up in the face of
severe regulation.  In the long run, it will necessary to characterize an
endurance ride honestly.  Doing so almost guarantees the event will run
afoul of the law, and permits will not be forthcoming.

In populated ride areas such as Southern California, ride managers are
hard-pressed to conduct a ride without incurring huge expenses which cannot
be covered unless a large number of riders participate.  This can be an
insurmountable problem for a ride in challenging terrain, when in the weeks
before or after, a ride in an easier area can be attended instead.

New pending AERC regulations regarding veterinarians and their
responsibilities will have additional impact.  Several veterinarians I have
talked to already realize they will incur an intolerable burden of ongoing
liability if they service rides under the proposed rules.  These days,
veterinarians suffer the same problems with malpractice suits as medical
doctors.  If AERC continues to add more ongoing responsibility for horses a
veterinarian has seen, perhaps only once during a ride, most veterinarians
are likely to question the advisability of exposing their businesses to the
whims of people who are not even their regular clients.  Riders and managers
need to look at these proposed rules and object to them before they are
passed.  Just because they are promoted by some of the veterinarians on the
AERC committee does not mean they are good for our sport.

AERC has a lot of projects and activities.  If we don't adjust our
priorities, we may not have rides in the future.  It's hard for me to
imagine very many people going to the lengths I have in order to keep
endurance rides in my area.  It isn't easy to influence AERC, but if ride
managers are unable to develop sufficient power within the organization to
address the urgent problems, the future of local rides may be pretty bleak.

Roxanne Greene


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