Endurance riders from across the U.S. and Canada made their way to Louisville, Kentucky, for the American Endurance Ride Conference’s 2008 convention, held February 20 and 21 at the Galt House Hotel.
The convention, which included educational seminars, “hot topics” workshops, trade show, meetings for international competitors, a class for veterinarians, and a dance, concluded with a heartfelt and tearful national awards banquet.
Suzy Kelley, a longtime endurance rider from Southern California, was taken by surprise when she was named to AERC’s Hall of Fame. Called to the stage, Suzy could only say, “I’m not a speaker. Bye!” But her tears stood testament to the impact of this major award. Suzy has racked up 16,000 miles of competition, and has an 89% ride completion rate over 24 years of riding.
Suzy is not just a rider, however. As presenter Kim Fuess noted, “Suzy can meet someone on the trail and within a week they are riding one of her horses at an AERC ride.” And while Suzy is competitive, Kim said, “She is always willing to lend a hand, or share her crew, even if you are her closest competitor.”
The equine Hall of Fame award went to Edens Bay Rum, a 17-year-old bay Arabian gelding owned by MJ Jackson of Bluffdale, Utah. In 12 years of competition, Edens Bay Rum has racked up 151 completions in 154 starts, and of those 7935 miles, 88% were top 10 finishes.
As presenter Susie Schomburg helped unveil a portrait of AERC’s newest Hall of Fame equine by California artist Laurie Anderson, MJ made her way to the podium, and said of her horse, “He’s a super guy. I hope you can see him on the trail – he is still going.”
AERC’s third major award honors a partnership of rider and equine. The Pard’ners Award was presented to Bailey Rose Eiland and Nimphas Barbi, who have been competing together for 10 seasons, which is remarkable since they were both born in 1990. Bailey Rose and Barbi, who hail from the El Paso area, have started 104 rides together and completed 101. Barbi has been taking it easy of late, having recently foaled BRE Renegade Rose, but should be back to competing soon.
Accepting the honor from longtime family friend Roger Taylor, Bailey Rose said of her registered Arabian mare, “It’s as if we were meant to be together. I can’t wait to go home and share this award with her.”
Other special presentations included the United States Equestrian Federation’s Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award which went to Valerie Kanavy. Valerie, a competitor in the recent World Endurance Championships, received the prestigious trophy for earning the most FEI points in the 2008 season.
AERC installed new officers at their general session meeting, with Connie Caudill of Henryville, Indiana, taking the reins of the 6,800-member organization. Serving as Vice President is Laura Hayes of Brocton, New York. Roger Taylor, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is treasurer and the secretary’s post is held by Jan Stevens of Ashland, Montana.
Plans are already underway for AERC’s 2010 convention, set for February 19 and 20 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. For more information about AERC or endurance riding, please contact the AERC office, located in Auburn, California, at 866-271-2372, email email@example.com, or visit www.aerc.org