In order to follow along, you might want to read the Endurance News article that prompted this letter.
- We do not need a new division
for trail riders. We are a long distance competitive organization. There
are plenty of organized trail rides and trail ride organizations. We do
not need to fill that niche. The Intro rides offered by Ride Managers as
they feel moved to offer them are enough.
We are a unique organization, please let's retain our sense of who we are.
If the BLM or private land owners won't allow an endurance ride to be held on their land, that's their prerogative and we don't have to hold an event there. If we (horseback riders) are in danger of losing trails for basic access, that's a different matter and we can still help that cause, even if we are never allowed to hold an event there.
- Please do not redefine endurance. Rides of at least 50 miles are endurance as defined by our founders and we should not abandon that. If we have a need for 40 mile rides, let them be run under the Limited Distance (Level 1, whatever you want to call it) rules, but not endurance. Let's not lower the bar. If everybody could do it, it wouldn't be an attractive goal for those of us that like to stretch ourselves while keeping our horse partners happy and healthy.
- A trail rating system sounds good at the outset, but there are so many variables that go into the difficulty of a trail, it would be hard to quantify. And who would decide what makes a ride hard or easy? Depending on training terrain and climate conditions, a hot, rocky, mountain ride can be easier for a particular horse than a flat, deep sand ride. I think ride managers should be encouraged to provide accurate trail descriptions (which I believe many/most do already) and leave it at that.
- I don't think we need a new division to take care of the gap between Limited Distance mileage and Endurance mileage. Perhaps we could extend the Limited Distance division to include 40 mile rides, but I'm not sure there is a good enough reason to have 45 mile rides. If you can do 45, you can do 50, both from a trail layout perspective and a horse perspective. However, that 40 mile ride should adhere to the same rules as the current Limited Distance rules, including the time limit. If a trail is too tough to safely complete in the time limits of our sport, perhaps that venue is not a good choice for an endurance ride. That is part of the game, balancing the time limit with the terrain and horse at hand. Part of the game for the rider as well as part of the game for the ride manager to layout/design the course with the time limits in mind.
- Standalone Limited Distance
rides might sound good at the outset, but I don't know how well they would
pan out, especially the example of a place where camping is not allowed.
If people drive in the morning of an event, they have to be within a close
distance of that venue and what is likely to happen is to have all the
local riders that normally train that venue just come and do a training
ride together. I don't see what that will solve or that it will bring in
new riders. When I helped with the Trace Tribute ride in Tennessee, we had
some locals show up for the Limited Distance ride the morning of, but it
certainly wasn't enough people to justify having timing staff and vets
just for them. And they were welcome to do just what they did in the
context of a full day with a 50 mile endurance ride as well as the 25 mile
Ride day can be a hectic day, so a good deal of the camaraderie experienced at rides would be lost, since the mingling and hanging out is generally done the day before and the night after a ride. But coming in, riding and going home doesn't leave much of a community experience, especially for the back of the pack riders that come in with most if not all of the other riders gone and impatient volunteers that want to pack up and go home.