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Re: [RC] call it Endurance? Long, probably TOO long - Diane Trefethen

I know that for some, particularly newer riders, these flare ups about LD vs Endurance must seem pointless, divisive almost hateful. What seems to be missing is that this issue has history, part of which appears to have been a pure power play which resulted in an LD structure that parallels that of Endurance. The proof that emotions run deep is that the same scenario keeps repeating itself.

First, someone, usually innocently, equates doing a 25 Miler to "Endurance". This pushes the buttons of someone else who feels that limited distance rides weren't "brought under the AERC umbrella", they were crammed down our collective throats and that person responds, usually somewhat defensively, that LD ISN'T "Endurance". Next another person reads #2's response as condescending or derogatory or "holier than thou" and points out that, heck, it's all endurance... we're just one big family so get a life, chill, EVERYONE deserves respect for trying. Arguments fly back and forth and finally it all simmers down... till the next time.

I believe that the main problem is that LD was formalized in a way that angered a lot of Endurance riders. A relatively small number of people, for whatever reasons, lead the charge to obtain greater recognition for the limited distance rider by getting on the BOD and then exerting sufficient influence to obtain a limited distance program that mirrors that of the longer rides.

Although there are many reasons that people ride the shorter distances, the "new" program was aimed at one, small group within the limited distance community. In all the discussions here on Ridecamp, how many LD riders have claimed to be in it for the long haul, to stay there and get all the recognition and awards they can? Not many, right? How many LD riders are newbies with questions and concerns for the well-being of their horses? And how many ride limited distance because their bodies no longer cooperate sufficiently to go 50 miles? Or how many have older horses that are no longer comfortable going the longer distances? The bottom line is that only the first group got to have a say in the Limited Distance program. No acknowledgment of the difficulties faced by new riders and/or new horses. No awards slanted towards the older or physically challenged riders or horses. Just do a quick rewrite of the existing rules and create awards that rewarded speed and the few who train well enough to do 50's but can really kick butt on the 25's.

The argument over the Best Condition award for LD clearly demonstrates this philosophy. Limit the award to an elite handful of LD riders and for heavens sake, don't let the award go to the horse that really IS in the best condition at the end of the ride.

The current push - list times and order of finish in the EN. Why? One argument is so that riders will know what to expect on the ride. But just listing the fastest and slowest times would do that. The real reason goes again to the egos of the few who consistently finish well. By golly they want the whole world to know how good they are! But good at what? 25 miles is a long ride for a cutting horse. It's long for a pleasure horse. It's a weekend training ride for an Endurance horse.

Can you, the riders doing limited distance, see why those who ride the longer rides are frustrated, even angry? Here is the AERC, one of whose goals is the promotion of Endurance, promoting and rewarding short rides at virtually the same level as the 50's and 100's.

Now we are saddled with an awards program for limited distance that is almost identical to that for the longer rides. Adding more awards is being bandied about, as if we didn't have enough (too many?) awards already. Could it be that the Endurance riders are just trying to get back in the drivers seat? I think that instead of adding awards, we need to pare down the ones we currently offer. We could reduce weight divisions, return those awards to the Regional status they once held. Most importantly we could replace the current LD awards with an awards structure NOT aimed at the elite in the group. After all, if only a small minority of limited distance riders are of the career LD persuasion, why should the whole dang awards structure honor THEM? Why not aim awards at the vast majority - new riders, new horses, physically challenged riders, older horses? Reward THEM instead and let the elites graduate to the more difficult rides - where they belong.

This last suggests asking the question, "What should the goals of LD be?" Is the best use of the program to reward those who ride fast over short distances? The Rules and the Awards Program imply that winning is what counts, or at least Top Tenning. Is that what YOU want LD to stand for? What do YOU think the primary objectives of a good LD program should be? What efforts and achievements would YOU like to see rewarded in LD?

Have you even THOUGHT about changing the focus in LD to something other than winning? You have the power to make that happen. Yes, it would be difficult. Just changing the perspective from Top Tenning to rewarding longevity of horse or improvement of horse and rider, or whatever YOU want, will be hard. Actually devising and implementing a program aimed at the majority of riders will be even harder. But... this is your organization. If you want change, you can get it. Write your Directors.


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