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[RC] attracting new riders to 100s - Jennifer Adam

Just a few thoughts here...

First of all, endurance is obviously a long-term game. It takes years to prepare a young horse for the challenge of a 100 mile ride. I think it is possible that declining entries in 100s may be part of a cycle. As experienced riders retire their older horses and start bringing along younger horses there may be a year or two of lag. Also, newbies like me may be very interested in participating in 100s but might not be quite ready yet. Plus, fuel costs are a huge factor this year. Hopefully prices will level off at a more reasonable level and people will be able to travel farther. Everything I've read indicates that endurance as a sport is alive and well and *growing*. It could be that in three years you'll see record participation in 100s - I don't know, but I think it's perfectly possible as new riders finally reach that level.

If you want to attract new riders and more entries to the 100s, incentive programs are all very well and I can understand the reason behind them. But I really think you would be better off just to get the word out. Advertise your rides. I know there are a lot of costs involved in putting on a ride and spending money on advertising may not be an option, but I think the AERC should help out here. Which 100s tend to have the most participation? Rides like Tevis, Old Dominion, and Big Horn. Why? Maybe it's because those rides are the most well-known, even outside the endurance community.

Tevis is the reason I got interested in endurance in the first place. I read a book about it years and years ago and started dreaming of the day I could ride my horse on a trail like that. If you start putting notices in non-endurance magazines, you might capture the interest of new riders who currently participate in other horse sports. Non-endurance people don't know what rides are out there, but if you start getting the word out and showing people pictures of these beautiful trails you could draw in new interest and inspire them to try these rides. Two or three months before a ride, put some pictures and a little blurb in magazines like Horse & Rider, Equus, Horse Illustrated, whatever. It isn't going to bring in new riders immediately because it takes time to prepare, but you will be letting people know about the challenges and opportunities out there and they may decide to pursue endurance.


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