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AERC Convention

  Returning from Convention tonight, I was struck by how different the tone seemed this year.  I've attended most years since the early 80's and have grown to expect most of the speakers to focus on crowd pleasers like technical aspects of competitive advantage, e.g., feeding, shoeing, conditioning, ride strategies, etc.  I didn't attend every presentation this year, but the emphasis seemed to be on two more challenging topics: 1) preserving trails nationwide and 2) eliminating the need for acute veterinary care for any horse during and after a race.
  To give you the flavor of this, imagine a panel discussion moderated by Julie Suhr and including both Becky Hart and Valerie Kanavy, with each panelist giving a brief but highly knowledgeable presentation on some aspect of endurance riding.  When it was opened to questions from the audience, the only(!) question was directed to our very own Connie Berto, who had just given us an excellent summary of trail preservation issues.  The session ended with passing the hat to collect money for Connie's upcoming trip to Washington to lobby for trail protection.  Wow! (Sound of last few dollars being squeezed out of tradeshow impoverished wallet.)  
  Nancy Loving's session this morning was a frank assessment of problems needing attention in our sport and some possible solutions.  It got me to question some things I've taken for granted and to open my mind to some new possibilities. (Sound of rusty steel trap being forced open.)
  Looking forward to hearing other opinions. . .
Karen Schwartz
Livermore, CA 

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