American Endurance Ride Conference National Championships 2008 Preview

RELEASE: August 19, 2008

Southern Indiana and the Daniel Boone Distance Riders (DBDR) Association, on October 16 and 18, are offering American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) members a ride of a lifetime by hosting the National Championships on trails in the Clark State Forest. Recently the DBDR bridged an AERC/Clark State Forest partnership through trail funding. The oldest state forest in Indiana, Clark State Forest is comprised of 24,000 acres of wooded forestland, with headquarters in the town of Henryville, just 25 miles north of Louisville, KY.

Endurance rides have been held in the Clark State Forest for 15 years. With its varied terrain, from flat ridge tops and hills (referred to as “knobs” in this region), to low-lying creeks and valleys, neither you nor your horse will get bored in either the 50- or 100-mile championship. For the most part, the trails are wide enough for two horses abreast or to pass safely. The trails will be golden with the fall foliage and the views are breathtaking. Why would you want to miss such a spectacular ride?

Making It Possible
Feeling the money crunch with high fuel and food costs? Be creative in finding ways to make it to the AERC National Championships. Instead of a summer vacation, make the nationals your destination this fall. Base camp will open the Friday prior, and there are a number of nearby day trips you can take with family and friends to Louisville or Lexington.

If you normally travel alone, buddy up with a friend or two to save on expenses. Riders who buddy up can have a “money pot,” where each person traveling together puts in, say, $100 or $200 or more, depending on the travel distance, to be used for fuel, oil, or any minor repairs (tire blow-out, for instance) on the road. When the trip is over, what is left is divided up and given back to the participating parties.

A Family Affair
Do you have a junior rider who would like to enter the championship? Meghan Delp and her mother Lisa drove from Maryland to preview the trails during the Top of the Rock Ride in late May. “I liked the pretty views, and although it wasn’t always an easy trail because of some of the steep switchbacks, it wasn’t scary,” said 14-year-old Meghan, who completed the 50-mile course in ninth place overall and first junior. “I really want to come and ride in the National Championship because the trails are enjoyable,” she added.

Meghan’s mother Lisa stated, “I would strongly encourage parents to bring their children to compete with them in the rides. What a wonderful way to spend time with your children! Think of the strength you are building in your children to be able to do this sport. They learn how to discipline themselves and it gives them confidence. And, when they fail to complete, although disappointing, it also teaches your child how to deal with problems, work on fixing them and move forward.”

What to Expect at Base Camp
Base camp is on veteran endurance rider Bill Wilson’s farm, with plenty of parking for rigs and grassy space for pens. While the twisty, narrow road to base camp may make a few pucker up, you’ll quickly forget the less than a mile of road when you hit the trails.

Ride managers Amy Whelan and Cindy Young are working diligently to make this a classy event. Young said, “We’re still lining up vendors and sponsors. Horse Lovers Outlet/Distance Depot with Kristen Lacy will be one of the vendors, as will Running Bear Farms with Teddy Lancaster. I am working with a local business, Metzger’s Country Store, to have a truck on site with supplies such as hay, feed, shavings and other things riders might need.”

Specialized Saddles (50-mile) and Native Spirit Saddlery (100-mile) have committed to donating saddles to the first-place winners.

Besides nice completion awards, each participant who enters the ride will receive a grooming bag, T-shirt and portrait. (I’ll be serving as ride and