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Anne Ayala -- Oct 16, 1940 - Dec 27, 2012

RELEASE: December 29, 2012

The endurance community has just lost a champion, advocate, ambassador with the death of Anne Ayala.   She compiled a record of over 3700 miles in her remarkable partnership with Overlook Nuryev, better known as Beau.  Beau and Anne were the recipients of the 2000 AERC Pard'ners Award given annually to a horse and rider team that best exemplifies the unique bond between horse and rider.   She was the visionary and driving force behind bringing the trail system at the Biltmore Estate up to the par that one rider regarded as an endurance rider's DisneyWorld.  Those trails have been the underpinning for the 3-day Western North Carolina 3-day 100, for multiple NATRC rides, for Mountin' Hopes Fall Fling, and for the Biltmore Challenge endurance ride.   Not only was Anne a rider and trail master, she was an organizer par excellence -- Anne had the vision, energy, and determination that saw the opportunity for the Biltmore Challenge, and executed on it, creating one of the premiere endurance rides in the country, attracting competitors from around the world.  That background brought the National Championship ride to Biltmore in the fall of 2012. 

Anne supported the endurance community in other ways -- advocating International endurance competition, becoming a sought-after Judge, Technical Delegate and Steward in multiple countries.  Anne used her recognized organizational and people skills to bring smooth operations in multiple venues -- and it certainly helped that she spoke English, French, and Spanish.

After being stricken with cancer in 2004 just before the spring Biltmore Challenge, Anne saw the ride through as ride manager, and came back the following year, in 2005, vowing that would be her final year managing the ride.  After the 2004 and the 2005 rides, Anne wound up in the hospital, so this was a wise decision.   After that sequence, she continued helping organize the ride using her extensive contacts with ride volunteers to ensure the smooth operation of the ride while not having primary responsibility.  As ride manager during those subsequent years, I can attest that Anne's focus and commitment to the success of the ride and its quality was unwavering.

Quite amazingly, from 2005 to 2011, Anne's cancer was in remission.  During that period, in addition to her officiating at endurance events and helping organize those at Biltmore, Anne help found, and became treasurer of A Partnership for Endurance Xcellence (APEX).  She did all the 501C3 paperwork to ensure that it would be a recognized not-for-profit entity, and did all the tax returns required each year.  Anne identified clinicians who would be effective in the endurance community -- and to the sport horse community at large.  She was instrumental in bringing Centered Riding clinics with Susan Harris to Biltmore Equestrian Center, helping burnish the image of the equestrian instruction of that facility.  After over five years of operation, the Board of Directors of APEX decided to close down the organization, and transfer the assets to the Southeast Endurance Riders Association (SERA).   Despite being ill with the resurgence of the cancer, Anne honchoed all the required paperwork to make the transfer of the assets to SERA fully successful. 

I know Anne was a devoted wife, mother, and language educator, but I have known her as a friend and mentor of outstanding ability.  I absolutely will miss her immensely. 

A memorial service will be held in a couple of weeks.  At this time, it is unknown what memorial recognitions will be suggested.  I will follow up on the Biltmore Challenge web site (http://www.biltmoreendurance.com) when I know.  Address for sympathy, to her husband of over 50 years:  Ken Ayala, 5 Vaux Court, Asheville, NC  28803.