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RE: [RC] A few points - David LeBlanc

Bruce asid:

If not feeling like a full member is in no way 
tied to points, miles, recognition, BC or any other award or form of 
public reward or recognition, where does this feeling come from?

It comes from the fact that not all LD rides have had placings, others have
not had BC exams, and the fact that we accumulate miles and points
differently for one distance class, but not the other 5 types of rides we
put on, all of which are different events with different difficulty levels.
100 milers are awarded differently than two 50's. There is a point 
differential that rewards the one day 100 miler above the two 50's. Of 
course, the miles themselves are the same, as they should be.

I don't think so. A 50 just isn't very hard. A 100 is very hard. Your
argument was based on difference in difficulty, and a 50 isn't really very
much harder than an LD. It's not consistent to say that 2 25's don't add up
the same as 1 50 when 2 50's add up the same as a 100.

We're just not consistent or logical about this - we lump a bunch of stuff
together that's very different, then put just one of them in a different
category. It only makes sense when you understand the history of the sport.

 Any member of the AERC can be one of many things--a distance rider, an 
LD rider (I have done many), a rider of endurance distances, a 100 
miler, a multiday-er, a lightweight, a junior, a senior, and the 
nicknames go on and on under the umbrella of AERC.  I don't think anyone 
really cares about what casual moniker we all want to apply to 
ourselves. The confusion comes from the fact that "endurance riding" is 
a global term that casually refers to our sport, and an "endurance ride" 
is defined as any distance at or above 50 miles in a day.

This is circular logic. It's that way because it's defined that way. I say
that if you're a member of the American _Endurance_ Riders Conference, and
do rides, then it ought to be OK to call oneself an endurance rider. The
distinction is really very silly - we act as if someone gets a whole lot
smarter the day that they do their first 50.

I think many people care quite a lot. We've had numerous, ongoing arguments,
often quite passionate, about this for years here.

Way back 
when the term was coined, there were no LD rides, proving that the 
choice of the term was not meant to be exclusionary.  

The exclusion happened when LD was brought in, and my understanding is that
there was considerable wailing, gnashing of teeth, and predictions of
imminent doom of the sport. Given the political climate at the time, to get
it in at all was an accomplishment. We're still working on getting things
equal. The fact that we have only very recently dealt with placings, and
still (AFAIK) have yet to deal with BC awards, proves an inequality, and an
exclusionary mindset.

It's awkward to 
say, "I'm an AERC member who is riding an LD today." 

It's even more awkward to explain to someone outside of the sport, and it
always comes up as "Gee, that's odd - why do they do it that way?" when I'm
introducing someone new to endurance. Words change. Starve used to mean to
die, not just from hunger, and now it means to be hungry. Hacker was someone
who built furniture, then a computer geek, and now a criminal. Would it
really be that awful if people said they were doing a 25 mile endurance
ride? They wouldn't be a 50 mile rider until they'd done a 50 mile ride,
just like I am not yet a 1-day 100 mile rider, but am a multi-day rider.

Using this "insult" as a 
rationale, some have  then often strategized to build a case for such 
things as adding endurance points for LD rides, and pushing to make the 
LD venue one designed for racing. 

I don't think the semantic silliness makes much of a case for anything other
than accepting that language changes over time. What does make the case for
accepting the fact that LD rides are races is that it is indeed just the
reality of what's actually happening, and that several regions do count
points for LD, and add them into the rest of the distances. The NW region,
under PNER - which I believe actually predates AERC - does count LD
_points_, and the sky has not fallen, we do not see the problems people are
worried about, and actually have an extremely healthy bunch of rides, and
even a _growing_ number of 100's and 100 mile riders.

We tend to take PNER awards pretty seriously up here, and if these things
were actually bad for the sport, I think we would have seen the results.
This is not a recent change - we've been doing it that way for years. The
fact that we have not seriously undermines an argument that LD points are
wrong, and adding them in with everything else is wrong.

The latter agenda causes grave concern 
amongst those who have been around long enough to remember what happened 
in the early days when LD did not have the restrictions it has today, as 
well as amongst our veterinary staff in their concern for the welfare of 
the horse.

We have some world-class vets up here, and while it is right to be concerned
about those things, it hasn't actually worked out to be an issue. The
problems of the early days were mitigated by veterinary controls that
everyone was subjected to, and the smartest thing for stopping problems with
LD was pulse down at completion. 

This is what I'm getting at - let's not make decisions about whether or not
to give points based on how we feel about semantics, let's make those
decisions based on hard data about the results. We have plenty of results in
this region, possibly some others (SE, MW, I think), and the results show
these concerns aren't warranted. I care much less about the plain-bellied
Sneeches vs. the star-bellied Sneeches part of the argument than what is and
is not good for the horses.

My observation over the last 25 years has been that the majority of 
people who find themselves riding in an LD at any given time (that would 
be me three weeks ago) are indeed there for the reasons I mentioned 
earlier--not wanting to ride the longer distances, physical, time and 
financial limitations, and equine limitations of maturity, conditioning, 
soundness and injury recovery. 

That's pejorative, though I'm sure you don't intend it as such. One could
easily say the same about why not ride more than a 50. It's also not true.
Some people like being done in time for lunch. Last one I did, I was seeing
if my saddle was set up right. Or I might be mentoring someone.

I think it is a vocal few who are wanting 
the sport to change to allow LD to become a full fledged racing 
opportunity and other benefits currently only ascribed to rides that are 
two to four times longer.
Allow it? It already is.

You mentioned that the sport has changed, and it has in many ways. I 
also see pressure being exerted by a few to change the sport itself to 
meet their personal taste or limitations, and I object to some of those 
changes, especially as they relate to what I mention above.

I don't think it is a few. LD starts are around 1/2 of all of our starts
now. My personal desire to see the sport change is that I believe changes
would help the sport continue to grow, which in turn ensures that I'll have
lots of rides to go have fun at. We both share the concern of preserving the
sport, but just differ on what's the right way to achieve that.

This debate has gone on for a long time, and will undoubtedly 
continue. I appreciate the opportunity to express how I see things. LD 
has been a very good thing for AERC. I don't believe making it a racing 
venue or awarding endurance points would be. 

I've seen the effect of that on the NW, and it's been positive, not a
negative. People race - it's why they're not out doing CTR (which is a fine
thing to go do, if you like that sort of thing). Racing in the longer
distances tends to be more hazardous. Look into how the sport works in the
regions that already do this, and see if there's problems - I'm not seeing
them here.


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[RC] A few points, Bruce Weary