Awarewelfare.net - Full Article
By John Crandell
The Time Is Now
The Genesis of Modern Endurance
Expansion Across North America
FEI Enters the Scene
Back in the USA
Our Issues are More Alike Than We Realize
A Rebirth Begins
Building Wise Endurance Testing Programs
Roadmap to the Future: Part 1
Creating Healthy Goalposts and Incentives (COMING SOON)
Endurance riding was once on the vanguard of equine welfare, generating new definition in the meaning of equine welfare itself. Now that honorable position is obscured under a mountain of saddening imagery on the internet and a growing contempt from other equestrians over the level of equitation and horsemanship displayed at endurance races.
Who’s to blame? We all are, and perhaps especially those of us that have been engaged in the discipline as long as myself. I’ve been endurance racing for over forty years now; long enough to have won two Tevis and Haggin Cups, first to finish at six Old Dominion 100 mile Rides, and FEI championship medals as early as 1986 and as late as 2010. I certainly should have known better, should have spoken out more at the right time way back when. Well, no time like the present.
It’s impossible address the governance issues we’re now facing in a way that guarantees that they’ll never return if we can’t openly identify our collective mistakes that allowed this travesty to develop in the first place. So please notice that as I dissect this calamity of errors, I offend people on both sides of highly polarized positions equally. I have been party to both camps and am therefore as culpable as anyone.
I will show that the root issue here has been brooding for a long time, and goes back to a time before the involvement of the Federation Equestrian International (FEI) and well before the Persian Gulf countries participation in internationally sanctioned endurance racing.
The Time is Now
At this time the entire world, especially the equestrian community, is aware of the alarming spectacle of endurance racing activity in the United Arab Emirates. This has devastated the already fragile reputation of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), which sanctions these races. The FEI has been supplying the public years of image posturing and repeated announcements that is making “sweeping changes”, but the carnage has continued with its renewed sanctioning.
Meanwhile in the United States the endurance riding disciplines national governing body is in a different kind of downward spiral. The economic demography of the U.S.A. has lured the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) into a dangerous trap. When businesses and organizations here listen to their constituents too democratically what they will always hear most loudly is that “we want more quantity, less cost; and we enjoy being patronized gratuitously”. Following this mandate usually creates economic growth initially, but it then leads to departure from the organizations original purpose, alienation of its original supporters, and declining standards until there is nowhere lower to go in order to acquire new members.
This is written as a warning to other regions with developing equestrian programs not to follow in our footsteps. The following is chronical of the foolish choices we’ve made that led to this mess nationally and internationally. Review this history to learn by our mistakes as the modern endurance riding discipline begins an inevitable rebirth...
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