Monday, December 01, 2008

Karen Chaton: Musings about endurance riding awards and lifetime achievements

From Karen Chaton's Blog:

I have always thought it to be especially difficult to really compete in the West Region in the AERC. There are so many members here compared to most of the other regions, so the number of awards given to the riders here are substantially less than are given in most of the other regions by membership %. To explain further, they give top ten in each weight division, up to ten max and based on 5% of the ridership. Some regions don’t even give ten awards because they don’t have that many riders in each division. If the West Region were to be awarded the same 5% of awards based upon riders in each division, it would go well past ten in most of the divisions. This system makes it very difficult to place in the region unless you ride a lot, or ride fast. Or both.

One year I won the West Region in points for weight division and overall with Rocky and top tenned 19 of the 23 rides we completed. I couldn’t have gotten enough points without also going fast. He also got a regional best condition and a national best condition award that year. Looking back in hindsight I have always thought that this was not something that I was especially proud of because I think in the end it reduced the longevity of his endurance career. He did have a long career and made the Decade Teams and over 7600 lifetime miles, but I think had I been thinking farther ahead at the time that I may have been able to have extended it even longer. It was fun while it lasted and was probably good for me in a way to get the whole winning, top tenning, getting best condition thing out of my system.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with always riding conservatively or slowly. You may think other riders are looking down on you but they are really just jealous :^). I have often heard comments about how something must be wrong with somebody’s horse if they are not riding fast. What a retarded way to think! Or you’ll hear a condascending remark something like “well if that’s all you want to do”, as if your goals or accomplishments are less important than somebody else’s because they are different. I think it’s great that there are so many different options and ways to approach the sport of endurance riding that we should all be respectful of what somebody else does and not judge them just because they want something different than we do for our own horses.

New point standings posted today and it turns out that it was a very odd year for the standings in the West Region. Neither Dave Rabe, nor myself either one placed in any category, regionally or otherwise. We both did miss rides for different reasons but we still did a lot of riding. I completed 20 rides and 1,020 miles. Of that, 660 of those miles were on Chief. Dave completed a lot more - 2,470 miles in 47 ride completions. He also had two horses with more than 600 miles each. Now what other region in the AERC can you do that much riding and not even get a single award?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining just pointing out that a lot of slower riders who just go for mileage are not even acknowledged. In the case of Dave and myself, we both have more jackets and awards already than we’ll ever be able to wear. Most of us don’t ride for the awards but if somebody were to set a goal of getting into the endurance/AERC standings, at least in the West region - it’s going to be a lot easier to drop to the shorter distances and do limited distance. Or you are going to have to ride a lot faster. Or go to a LOT of rides or a combination of a lot with some speed. No matter how you do it, placing in a regional award category is a big accomplishment and all of the riders placing this year deserve to be congratulated for a successful ride season!

Fortunately, the AERC also gives awards that recognize long term achievement in the sport. Riders get patches for every thousand miles ridden. I am only a couple of rides short of getting my 22nd one. I think getting the first 250 mile patch and the first 1,000 mile patches seemed to be the longest/hardest. There is such a learning curve in that first thousand miles.


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