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RE: [RC] [RC] A few points - heidi

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.
As Bruce already pointed out, this just isn't so.  100s get WAAAAY more points per mile than 50s, just as LDs don't get points at all but instead have their own mileage category.  And if you want to talk recognition and mention at the awards ceremonies, don't ride 100s!  More often than not, there's been a big dinner and an awards presentation while you're still out on the trail, and although you might get a nice award before you pack up and go home, often the only "recognition" you'll get in ride camp is that the vet stayed up to meet you.  This sport just isn't ABOUT recognition--not at ANY distance.  So, we award points and miles differently--so what??  That's a non-starter as far as "being treated differently" in terms of any importance.  The distances are simply different events, pure and simple.

> 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.
Boy howdy, we'll have to agree to disagree on that one!  No way do two LD's "add up" to one 50, any more than two 50s add up to one 100.  As has been previously discussed ad nauseum in this forum and elsewhere, one can do LD with minimal horse preparation (not advisable, but do-able) and horses can consistently "get through" LDs without ever learning the survival skills of eating and drinking enroute that become critical when you step up to 50s.  Sorry, but this dog just don't hunt....

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.
So what is so important about categories?  We've already discussed the big difference between 50s and 100s.  Isn't it just plain wonderful that we also offer introductory events at most rides that can be enjoyed by a variety of people who for a variety of reasons can't or don't wish to participate in the longer distances?  If being in a different "category" bothers you, that isn't the sport's fault--that lies in the perception problem.  You've missed the whole point of being out there on your horse in the first place.  If it is really important to you to get the "stuff" that goes with the next category, then RIDE in the next category!  But don't try to pass that on as an indicator that you're being treated like a lesser rider just because you ride in a different category!

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.
And most people, when they step up to 50s (or in the case of some of us, who have stepped down to LDs from time to time), realize that they have indeed accomplished something different at each distance.  It isn't about "smarter"--it is about different levels of what one has accomplished that day on the trail.  And Bruce is right--climbing Pike's Peak does not qualify one for the Everest Club.  To wish otherwise is a delusion.

I think many people care quite a lot. We've had numerous, ongoing arguments,
often quite passionate, about this for years here.
Sure.  But do they care for the right reasons, or have they missed the point of the sport?  We live in a whole culture of instant gratification--that doesn't make it right.

> 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.
Well, actually, the sense of exclusion came later, from what I can see.  When LD was brought in, it seemed clear that it was a different "thing" since it had been tried originally as part of "endurance" and had not worked out well.  That is WHY it was brought back as something different, with different rules and categories.  And by doing that, the problems that had made it unworkable as "endurance" were largely eliminated.  The perception of "inequality" came later, when people with no history in the sport began to do LD, and didn't understand WHY the shorter distances were first done away with altogether in AERC and then brought back in a different form.
As for BC, you know my feelings on that--I think it is wrong not to offer it at all rides, and I continue to work toward that goal.  But that's a relatively regional problem, as most of the country already does that.  As you state, we already dealt with the placings issue, which was also largely a regional problem.  But those two things still don't make the rides "endurance" rides--they are still run differently and have some unique rules that are necessary for the horse's safety at the shorter distances.  I don't care what you call yourself--for all I care, you can be an "endurance rider"--but you still haven't ridden an "endurance ride" until you've done 50 or longer.  And the differences in rules (as well as the differences in requirements on the part of the horse) still merit that distinction.

> 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.
I've never found the distinction to be awkward in explaining to the uninitiated--most of them are familiar with training-level events in other sports, and often the difference is a good conversation-starter.  Yes, words change in meaning--but in this case, we are not talking about how a word is used in the general population.  We are talking about how it is defined in one very specific and small sport.  You find the same difference in word useages in other specialized areas, such as medicine.   I always loved the story that one of my vet school surgery professors told about word meaning.  In describing surgical scissors, the word "sharp" has nothing whatsoever to do with how sharp the cutting edge is--it describes the point of the scissors.  A pair of scissors has two points--so it is either "sharp sharp," "sharp blunt," or "blunt blunt."  My professor was writing a textbook, and described a procedure in which the proper instrument to use was a pair of "sharp sharp" scissors.  An editor without adequate background in surgical-speak changed this in the galley proofs of the book to "very sharp" scissors.  Thankfully the error was picked up before the book went into print!  My point here (no pun intended) is that it is fine and dandy for the sport to define the word "endurance" in a very narrow way that is not the same as the more general way in which the word is used in every-day speech.  To indicate otherwise is what isn't logical.

I don't think the semantic silliness makes much of a case for anything other
than accepting that language changes over time.
See the above.

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.
Yes, we've been "doing it that way" in PNER for years--even in the years when AERC did not recognize shorter distance at all.  And yet, PNER was one of the regions where some of the most horrendous abuses of the shorter distances occurred "back in the day" when AERC sanctioned the shorter distances as endurance.  And what stopped the abuse at the shorter distances was AERC's cessation of sanctioning them as endurance rides.  When the AERC points went out, the abuses stopped.  Additionally, PNER was one of two regions that pioneered the change from what is now called LD being flat-out races to having the clock continue to run until the pulse meets a preset pulse criterion.  But make no mistake about it--one of the key reasons why PNER was able to continue to hold these events in relative safety was BECAUSE of AERC's action in removing the shorter distances from the "endurance" umbrella--not in spite of it!

> 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.
Um, I'm one of those vets who was around "back then" (albeit not yet graduated from vet school), and I still give credit where credit is due on this one--see my above comments.  This was a HUGE issue, and getting the AERC points out of it IMO was just as essential to being able to keep the shorter distances as viable events as was the pulse-down.  Other changes that have helped have been lower pulses overall and fit-to-continue.  But make no mistake about it, changing the category was essential and integral to keeping the "hot-dogs" out of it!  I still remember seeing a horse run a 25-miler in 1:09, and then get in the trailer with bilateral bowed tendons, never to be seen again.  Yes, the newer veterinary controls would have helped--but the bottom line was that the rider was racing for AERC points.

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.
The decision was never based on semantics--it was always based on horse safety. 

> 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.
No, not really.  Yes, many people "race"--but in most cases, the "races" are far less serious than the races at longer distances, and are done at a slower mph than are the longer distances, precisely because in order to earn points, one has to ride the longer distances.  The LD "races" are like friendly local matches at the county fair as opposed to running the Kentucky Derby.  That doesn't mean they are not taken seriously--they are.  But by taking the "endurance" and the points out of it, the ones who want to do that are not there turning up the heat and increasing the speed in the LD "races."  And that is key to this discussion.

> 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.
Indeed, the LD segment of our sport is the fastest-growing segment--and that's wonderful.  But the fact that it IS the fastest-growing segment underscores Bruce's point--the fact that it is run differently and is therefore a different "category" is not discouraging people.  They are still turning out and riding LDs in droves--but let's keep them (and us) riding LDs for the right reasons, not for chasing endurance points.

> 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.



I can't seem to make the indent feature work for my last comment here, but in all fairness, David, you were not around "in the day" when PNER had full-out AERC points races on the shorter distance rides.  It was an unmitigated disaster.  The friendly sort of racing that we see now doesn't even hold a candle to it.  Nor do the majority of LD riders come to race.  Only a small handful do, and often they are the ones of most concern to the vets at the rides, too.  But make no mistake about it--taking away the AERC points was one of the most crucial safety decisions that was ever made, and it rates right up there with the stricter and different veterinary controls that we have at the shorter distances.  Bruce is right on target on this one.




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