In which there's a new (endurance) kid in town, and I ask some questions

Attention, endurance riders:  there is a NEW KID IN TOWN! *

*not to be confused with the 1976 "hit" song by the Eagle
If you click, don't blame me if the song is stuck in your head for days.

After much debate and soul searching, a few souls got together and decided it was time to develop a new and improved distance riding club.  The name of the new organization is the Equine Distance Riding Association (EDRA).

Like many longtime endurance riders, I'm  a little  trepedatious about change.  

I am the first to agree that the existing national distance organizations (mainly AERC, but also NATRC, and even further twigs out on the branches, like Ride and Tie and Competitive Mounted Orienteering) are not perfect.  

But do we need a new group?  

Well, I'm not sure.  

But, since most of the new Equine Distance Riding Association (EDRA)'s founders live in my home state, I wanted to know more. I reached out and asked a bunch of questions--on behalf of myself, of course, but also to share with readers here.  

Sandra Cheek, a longtime endurance rider in the Pacific Northwest region, took time out of her busy life to answer my questions.  

Sandy and Wilson at April Daze 2016, photo by Cassidy Rae
(stolen from Facebook)

What is the goal/mission statement for EDRA? 

The mission of the Equine Distance Riding Association is to promote, at all levels and to all members, safe, competitive equine distance riding events and experiences. 

EDRA boundaries include the continental US and Canada. Lifetime miles of equine and rider will be compiled for EDRA sanctioned events within these boundaries. 

Central to EDRA’s mission is a robust mentoring program that supports the development of equines, riders and ride managers to their maximum capabilities while protecting horse and rider. Fun, friendly, and fair competition in a learning environment is our goal.

We very deliberately chose as our tagline “Start Ready. Finish Proud!”. We feel it encompasses everything we want EDRA to represent:  Careful, supported mentoring at all levels.

This organization will appeal to serious riders who want to know how to bring themselves and their equines to their maximum, potential RMs who want to put on honest accurate rides with verified mileage and provision of volunteer support to help them do that.

There will be recognition of honest miles from 25-100, with no distinction between LD and endurance. Miles are miles. We want to reward effort, talent and longevity, and our awards program and rules will reflect that. 

Sensible, simplified rules to protect our equines and participants.

Who is in charge of EDRA?  Are there elected officers?  How is it organized?  Who are your members, and who can join?  Are there geographic limitations?  The Pacific Northwestern states? Canada?  Europe? Argentina? United Arab Emirates?

Founders are listed on the FB page. 

We hope to attract any RMs or riders who live in USA or Canada. We have no plans to go further afield. 

We currently have 20 founding members and have developed job descriptions for what we feel are essential positions. 

Initially, these positions may be appointed rather than elected but we will have elections early  in 2017. Anyone can join EDRA and participate in EDRA rides.

We’re super excited about thinking through our logbook program, our mentorship program, how we’re going to support ride managers, and our sanctioning (we call it endorsement) program. 

approximate dimensions of EDRA logbook

In all of these areas we hope to both bring back what we all felt was the essence of endurance while moving it forward into the future.

Our processes will be entirely electronic, making for easier and faster transmission of results, ride information, etc. We will have a much smaller organizational structure and of course a smaller membership base—at least for the near future. 

Our focus is more on the sport of endurance than the recreational aspect—we are very serious and want to attract serious riders. To that end we are not considering endorsing anything less than a 25 mile track.

Our goal is to develop riders and horses who are serious about the sport of endurance and bringing their equines carefully to their maximum potential. That takes work, effort and time, and it’s not for everyone. 

What will riders find similar between EDRA and other distance riding organizations?
I can’t speak for the other organizations, but I think we are all concerned about protecting equine welfare. 

I think we all want to support ride managers and provide protection so they can put on events safely. I think we all want riders to have fun and find satisfaction on the trail. In different ways, we all want to recognize accomplishments. 

How we go about doing these things is where we are somewhat different in our approach. We will, I think, be able to move more quickly and be more responsive because of this commitment to a minimalist structure and process. 

Does EDRA plan to pursue a relationship with FEI?

Not at this time.

We’ve posted our basic mission and rules, as well as a sample of our logbook and the rules associated with them.  Folks seem excited about it. There’s some anxiety about change but we have done our level best to allay people’s fears. We will be moving forward regardless and hope others will join when they see what we’re about.

Bylaws and rules are posted on the EDRA FB page, located HERE.

Screen shot of the current EDRA FB.  Click HERE to view live page

Let’s talk money.  Who is footing the bills for startup costs?  Are plans in place to file for non-profit status?  How much will membership cost each year? 

We have tremendous talent in our group and folks have been volunteering their time thus far. 

We have lawyers who have assisted with the legal docs. We have CPAs who are assisting with filing with IRS and the non-profit status. I have experience with writing grants so have been able to help with wordsmithing. And so on. 

Membership pricing:
Adult memberships: $75, additional $25 for spouse, $10 Youth membership.  
Lifetime memberships are $750 for adults and $1000 for couples or families.  

Dues may be changed upon resolution of the Board of Directors.

Why should ride managers consider putting on an EDRA ride?

Because it will be fun!!! 

They like that we don’t charge for non-members, and our fee is a flat fee—no added charges—and includes a drug testing program, logbooks, and support.

They like that we will sanction rides at any distance—be it 40, or 45, or 85 miles—as long as the distances are verified. 

They like that we have guidelines for ages of horses in competition.   

They like us!! 

I see that there’s an intention to provide monetary “insurance” for ride managers.  How will that work? 

We have an initial seeding fund to support RMs initially in this first year. They will submit a budget for approval and if they end up losing money we will make an effort to help them break even. Our goal is to then develop a common pool of funds that EDRA RMs can access and contribute to in order to make sure RMS can continue to put on rides. 

Many regional organizations already do this so we have a number of good models to review.  

Will EDRA co-sanction events with other distance organizations (AERC, NATRC, Ride and Tie, Competitive Mounted Orienteering)?

 We are willing to negotiate with anyone who wants to play with us! 

Why does EDRA require helmets for riders?

 We think helmets are a no brainer (that’s kind of funny, right?) Plus our insurance requires it. 

I love my helmet

What about the log books?  How will that process work?  Does the log book procedure differ in any significant way from the process followed by Australian distance riders?

Samples of our logbooks and rules are on the FB page HERE

here's the logbook sample page, image stolen from FB

Will riders be able to participate in EDRA events without joining the organization?


Why should riders consider joining EDRA?

We understand everyone’s situation is different. 

I would urge anyone interested in finding out more about EDRA review the documents posted on the Facebook page. If you want to ask questions, you need to request joining the page. We’ll try to answer all questions. Finally, if riders are serious about developing themselves and their equines in a safe, supportive environment, and being recognized for honest miles, longevity and talent, they should join EDRA. 

Why do you think riders will prefer an EDRA event to an event sanctioned by a different but similar organization (AERC, NATRC, etc)?

I think every organization has something to offer. It doesn’t have to be a choice.  

Are EDRA events limited to the Pacific Northwest in 2017?

Not necessarily.  

Does EDRA have a website?

Coming soon.  The splash page is located HERE

How do people get involved with EDRA? 

Ask to join the FB page. Read the rules of participation on the page and follow them.

Do you have a schedule of rides yet?

Rides in 2017 so far include :  Coyote Ridge (March 25), Grizzly Mountain (April 15), Sunriver (June 17), Ride the Loup (July 15), Sand Canyon (August 5), Swift Water (Sept 16)

permits are still pending

What are your other ideas?

EDRA wants to endorse a new kind of distance ride:  Test Your Mettle Relays. These will involve (for EXAMPLE only) 2 riders and 2 horses, each doing a minimum of 25 miles together to complete a 50 mile relay. Details coming soon!

The mentoring program will be great as well. 

Definitely open to new challenges

Okay, readers:  now it's your turn.

Post your questions and thoughts in the comments box (please don't put comments on Facebook, I won't see them until NaNoWriMo ends in December!)

*   How do you feel about the new possibilities?  
Interested?  Intrigued?  Apprehensive?  Other?

*   What do you think AERC should do in regards to the new organization?  
Co-sanction?  Ignore?  Other?

*   What questions do you have for the EDRA founders?

*  What do you want to know about the mentoring program?
A follow-up post focused on the EDRA mentor program is in the works, please stay tuned!

 I will share your input with EDRA and AERC folks.


  1. If they let Apollo come out and play, they'll get all my money and support.
    I'm not the only blind horse owner chomping at the bit to legally compete in endurance.

  2. Thank you for this blog post, Aarene! You are probably the most articulate writer that *I* know. Your quest to search out facts over opinions is always appreciated.

    And to Apollo, the Blind Horse, come check out EDRA. If your person feels you're well taken care of and can handle the rigor of an endurance ride, then I, for one, want to meet you!

    Darlene Anderson
    0 EDRA miles (for now!)
    10,000+ AERC Miles
    ...and counting

  3. I'm attracted to the idea of getting credit for actual miles ridden. I would love to see some 35- to 40-mile rides offered or (in AERC terms) an LD to 50 elevator.

    But just from a business perspective, I don't think that EDRA is offering much incentive to riders to join, other than general disenchantment with AERC. Your first pool of EDRA members come over from AERC, but how do you attract a second wave? (As a marketing person, I'm always thinking in terms of "differentiators" - are the differences between you and your competitor meaningful enough that the choice is clear? Based on the rules document, I'm not convinced that EDRA is different enough from AERC to be sustainable in the long term.)

    Other than that, I'm interested to see their banned substances list and get more information about the vetting side of things. And, you know, just wait and see what happens. I comfort myself that I won't have a horse in competition during the first couple years while they work out the kinks!

  4. Thanks for writing this up, Aerene! I really like the idea of the variation in distances. I'm sure it is a huge challenge for Ride Mangers to get trails matched to specific distances and as a competitor, I like the idea that there might be 35-45 mile rides to bridge the gap between the 25 and 50 mile rides.

    I am curious about how the vetting process will work. I definitely prefer the AERC model (quick but effective) to the ECTRA model (takes much longer with no added health benefit for the horse) so the way vetting works is a make or break issue for me.

  5. I'm a former PNW rider, now in the midwest. Will I be able to join and accrue mileage at rides in Michigan with EDRA? What should I tell RMs in the midwest to encourage them to have an EDRA sanctioned ride? If I'm the only rider with this org at a ride, what is the benefit?

  6. I,like many endurance riders, live on a pretty tight "ride budget', so I will not be attending one of my fav rides: Grizzly, much to my disappointment,considering it is not sanctioned by AERC. Because I like to ride for points as well as fun, for me EDRA rides just not worth the $. I would guess the founders are concerned about low turn from others who like to ride for points too, thus the 'insurance' money for RMs. This is a smart move on the part of EDRA founders.

    I have from time to time disagreed with AERC, but I got over it instead of abandoning AERC. Best of luck to those who just want to ride for fun at EDRA rides, the founders are very experienced endurance riders and will likely put on great fun rides. I hope one day EDRA will reconcile their differences with AERC. I was not there and I don't have any first hand info on the dispute, or the high emotions and white hot anger the situation produced. I did however, read carefully every word printed in Endurance News and came to the same conclusion as the people at AERC, who also had to depend on information submitted. Good sportsmanship is an important endurance lesson we all should take a deep breath and be a little humble when things do not go our way. It really does not matter anymore, I will miss my friends and the rides like Griz and Sunriver that we used to shared. I sincerely hope everyone continues to enjoy their horses and trails.


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