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[RC] Thank You From the AHA National Distance Commission - Eric Rueter

From the perspective of the AHA Distance Nationals Commissioners -
    Most of the paperwork is done. We are all home, basically unpacked and a little rested.  It is now time to reflect on what was accomplished last week at Lake Carl Blackwell (LCB), Stillwater, OK.
    With tremendous help from the crew at Lake Carl Blackwell, Anne McFarland, Louise Burton, Brenda Wyant and Lisa Gallery, LCB was turned into a fair course from one, which was very suspect when we first started this adventure.
    We also had "on-site" some of the hardest working volunteers that I have ever seen.  Our hats are off to Carla Jo Bass, Lucie Hess, Mo Miller, Randy and Joannie Bass, Tony Troyer, Jane Huff and all the others who I did not have time to meet who worked very hard being timers, vet scribes, pulse takers and providing very delicious food!  We could not have made this ride successful without the assistance of these VOLUNTEERS, most of who made the trip and stayed the entire week - just to help!!
    We should not forget our sponsors and vendors!  Included in the list of sponsors and vendors are Distance Depot, Running Bear Tack, Stable Gear, Adequan, ABC (Advanced Biological Concepts) Products, Cowboy Magic, Detail Pet Portraits, Equine Monitors, Arabian Horse Distance Riding Association, Stillwater Convention and Visitor's Bureau, AHA Region 3, AHA Region 8, AHA Region 9, AHA Region 12, AHA Region 14,Tezmaral Arabians, Fisher Marketing Services, Annetta Tinsman, and Region 6 Youth Association.   They provide more than just sponsorship, they are part of our Distance Family, and it's always good to see them around.  Next time you visit one of these sponsors, thank them for being there!
    Thank yous are also in order for those brave few who decided to take the trip to Tulsa on Saturday and be part of the opening ceremonies for the U.S. Nationals final session.  Always nervous when someone mentions flag, horse and crowd in the same sentence, we were thrilled as all three horses performed their duties just like the fine animals that they are.  Just as awesome was the video shot at LCB during the first part of the week.  More than 8 hours of video condensed into just 3-5 minutes, but it will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck!
    What was accomplished at the AHA Distance Nationals?  First and foremost, we brought both distance disciplines together at one venue during the same time frame and there were no fistfights.  While we did not witness any "hippy-type free-love" going on, we are pretty sure that everyone got along just fine, and nobody felt slighted.  Of particular note is the fact that one rider rode in all 3 AHA events, several riders rode in two AHA events and one rider was the AHA National Champion in both the 100 mile endurance and the CTR event.  Secondly, AHA stood up and managed it's own ride(s), and finally stated; yes Distance is just as important to AHA as Youth, Sporthorse and the US National Shows.  Thirdly, it was evident from the participation, that this concept *is* viable.  There were horses and riders from Canada, California, Vermont, North Carolina, and Texas - essentially from all across America (and Canada).  And this participation following the recent WEG trials in Kentucky, just a couple of weeks earlier.  So, the AHA Distance Nationals were a success!
    Could we have done things that would have made it a bigger success?  Absolutely!  Will we make adjustments for next year, we have a long list and it is growing.  Do we want to hear from everyone - whether you attended or not - with ideas on how to improve the event  - again absolutely!  Either catch us at the AHA National Convention in Reno (we will not be hard to find, just look for the people with the big grins on their faces), or drop us an eMAIL (DistComm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx).  We will be listening - it's one of the best ways to learn.
AHA National Distance Commission
Claude Clark
Jan Stevens
Art King
Eric Rueter