By Monica Chapman, AERC President
The American Endurance Ride Conference’s National Championship is the pre-eminent event for endurance riders in the U.S. and Canada. I have had the pleasure of attending four national championships. While attending the 2019 AERC National Championship in Ridgecrest, California, on October 31 and November 2, I had the privilege of presiding over it as President of AERC. I was so proud of our AERC members at the event. The sportsmanship, horsemanship, camaraderie and fun of the event were overwhelming.
Once again I will thank Melissa and Robert Ribley, Brian and Val Reeves and the Valley Riders for putting on such an amazing event. It was obvious how much time and energy were put into the championships. Nick Warhol did a terrific job marking the trail. The out-of-camp vet checks had all the needed necessities for equine and rider. The veterinary staff was fantastic. They were very efficient, fair, friendly, and thorough.
On Thursday, October 31, the 50-mile National Championship was held. The course had great footing which allowed for a fast pace. The weather was perfect, with a cool sunny start with the high ending up around 60°. Susannah Jones on Diablo Maj won the ride with a ride time of 3:57. Heather Reynolds won best condition on ASuddenGift MHF. The ride had 80 starters and 61 finishers. Friday, November 1, was a great day to be hanging around camp—a warm, sunny day ideal for shopping with all the vendors, and clinics for spectators to watch.
On Saturday, November 2, 100-mile National Championship was held. The course was more technical than the 50-mile course with more deep sand and rocky footing. The course consisted of one 65-mile loop with out-of-camp vet checks, then a 35-mile loop with a vet check. Once again it was sunny but warmer than the 50-mile ride had been. Jeremy Reynolds and RTR Rimfires Etta won with a ride time of 10:51. Jeanette (Jay) Mero, DVM, earned best condition on Ozark Kaolena SWA.
The ride had 67 starters with 36 finishers.
It was so amazing getting to meet so many AERC members—riders I have read about in EN or have seen their names in ride results. I also really enjoyed seeing all the famous equines “up close and personal.” You always read about their amazing achievements or see their pictures but seeing them in person adds a whole other level of goosebumps. I was so impressed with all the different levels of equines and riders: front-runners, turtles, multi-day, low-mileage, high-mileage, big, small, etc. There was something for everyone and everyone had a great time.
A huge thank you to all the sponsors. All entries into the 50- and 100-mile national championship rides received a long-sleeved shirt and duffle bag with the championship logo.
All completing riders in both distances received a beautiful belt buckle.
The 100-mile championship ride weight division winners and overall winner each won saddles. The overall winner received a Freeform Treeless Saddle. Weight division winners chose between a Ghost Treeless Saddle, Stonewall Saddle, Specialized Saddle, and Pandora Saddle. Top ten riders in the 100-mile distance won a Haf Pad. Top ten Riders in the 50- and 100-mile distances received custom reins from Rebel Headdress.
Wild West Endurance Gear donated quality riding gear to all top ten riders in the 50 and 100 mile rides. Echo Valley Ranch, Inc. supplied embroidered hay bags to all weight division winners in both distances. The top three riders in the 50- and 100-mile distances received a custom-made ceramic plate by Anne York of Starfire Design Studios.
The two turtle riders in each distance received a saddle bag donated by EasyCare Inc. Canoga Farrier Supply donated farrier supplies to a lucky winner. Vettec Hoof Care donated products. Riding Warehouse gave gift certificates. Simple Essentials donated essential oil samples to all entrants of both distances. Blissful Equines donated two equine bodywork sessions for mid-pack riders on the 50 and 100. Equithotics had a rep on hand to help with their products and to give demonstrations.
We invite everyone with an interest in endurance riding to join AERC for the 2020 ride season: AERC.org/join_aerc. Our next National Championships will be this June in Montana at the Fort Howes ride. Find out more on the AERC website, AERC.org, or by phoning the AERC National Office at 866-271-2372.