In which bad things happened elsewhere, and people are talking about it

There was an incident at a ride in Texas, and some horses died.
That's bad.

Go hug your horse.

The official word from AERC:
"...[an] incident happened at the Shanghai Trails Ride in Texas, and three horses are deceased after a breakout from a hot wire-type enclosure at the ride.  The AERC Board is aware of the incident and will have their next scheduled meeting on April 10 (by phone).  If you wish to make any comments to the board, please do so by the "Send an email to AERC Directors link on the AERC Board Page: "

From the safe distance of a few time zones, I see several issues:

  • The hot-wire fence problem.  I've written about my (bad) experience with hot wire HERE.  I know people who have used hot wire fences at rides for yonks and there were no problems with their horses, ever.  I consider those people lucky.
  • More than one horse was enclosed in a single pen.  Some reports say as many as 13 horses in a single enclosure, but that number has not been verified.  I have a very simple reason for wanting each horse in a separate pen:  if one of them stops pooping during the night, I want to know which one.  Call me crazy.
  • This is not the first time the person in charge of the escaping horses in Texas has had horses careen around loose in camp.  Some reports say that it is a frequent occurrence for her horses, but again: this has not been verified.  Truthfully, loose horses in camp are common.  Monica wrote about her experience with loose horses HERE.  However, she and Cathy learned from their experience, and did not continue to use a system that had proved to be a failure.  I'm told that the person in Texas is one of those who already knows everything and therefore is immune to learning.  I don't know her, but I do know people who already know everything.  Those people are very frustrating to be around, and they are people I won't park near in camp.
  • There is no rule about containment in camp.  Ride managers can make their own rules about just about anything.  They can require helmets, they can require steel shoes, they can ban a particular type of containment.  But the national organization resists making rules, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.  Until it is a bad thing.  Is this thing one of those?  I wasn't there, and I cannot say.  But it might be.
So, now what?

If you have first hand information about the incident in Texas, please contact the AERC Board.  
If your information was obtained from a friend-of-a-friend who lives in Minnesota and wasn't there, consider that your information may be incomplete or flawed.  We all know enough about fake news now to understand that shutting up in order to not make things worse is sometimes a wise course of action.

If you have an opinion about hot-wire fencing and want the AERC Board to take action, by all means, contact your regional rep.  That's what they are there for.

If you want the "frequent flyer" offender from Texas hung from the nearest tree at high noon, you're out of line.  Seriously.  

I understand the frustration of people who don't learn from experience. I get that.  

However, you are not responsible for her behavior.  You are responsible for your behavior.  Glass houses, people.  

If you've never made a mistake with a horse, read THIS post by Patti Stedman.  She's done a lot of stuff right, but she also knows the Bad Idea Fairy.  As do we all.

Here again is the link to the AERC Board email: 

If you can help make bad situations better, please do.  In the meantime, go hug your horse.

"Bring CARROTS, too!"

UPDATE: this message was posted by AERC President Paul Latiolais

AN FYI To the AERC membership: Aside from P & G Committee proceedings, Section 5.11 (b) provides that the Board may move to suspend or remove any member of the AERC for just cause. Approval of the motion requires an affirmative vote by 2/3 of the Directors present at the Board meeting when the motion is considered. The motion requires at least 15 days notice to the member to be suspended or removed and a formal hearing at the Board meeting.

I have been notified by the central region directors that a motion will be forthcoming at the April 10 conference call. As such, the earliest that a formal hearing could occur would be at the May 8th AERC Board conference call.


  1. Your commentary is incredibly well-timed as I met the owner of one of the deceased horse's today at the vet. What a kind man he is. He was there to pick up his other horse injured in this melee. The pain in his eyes was so deep. His horse that died had been tied to the trailer. His neck was snapped when he reacted violently to a horse crashing into the car that made up one side of their camp. I asked about the woman whose 'containment failure' caused this, and I admire his balanced perspective. He commented that this same person has caused other problems, but she also helps a lot of people learn to ride and meet horses.

    So, what's my opinion? I am thankful no humans were killed and that not more horses were injured or killed. I think there needs to be guidelines to insure both horse and human safety. Letting each ride manager rule doesn't provide a uniform experience.

    (BTW, I am a horse-in-training, wannabe distance rider, and the thought that this kind of thing could happen on a ride scares the heck out of me. It makes me question AERC v. NATRC as riding choices.)

  2. This is very well written and thoughtful...thank you. However there is no perfect answer for containment in the open, short of, every ride location have stalls available. Even then, stalls at shared facilities have their OWN problems. (lack of maintenance, rather small, loose boards or nails, possibility of a contagious, ill horse in their prior etc). And the position that there is a hot-wire problem...wrong. Its a general problem and every single option has its problem. Every single place there will be loose horse(s). Heck, I've been handwalking my horse and lost the lead rope and now I have a loose horse!

    Hot wire fences - problems - as you described. Tie to trailers - problem - because horses are too constrained and sadly, if I read correctly, it was the tied horses(?) that got killed? . Shared stalls - problem - as I described. Portable plastic pens - problem - legs tangled, horses dragging panels snagged on their halter through camp (which is funny yet not) (and I've never seen how those are much more effective than hot wire pens).

    Sadly this is a risk with us equestrians. You bring your horse, you hope that everyone has done whats appropriate containment for their animals and their animals behavior. I don't use anything except leather halters for the break away factor. Others use non-breakable halters. And we still have people who are hold-outs against wearing a helmet (not specific to endurance BTW). There is no standard for safety, just what we hope is a standard of common sense.
    Again - thank you to the author of this blog. Its well worth sharing.

  3. I have a lot of thoughts that I'm keeping to myself. Mostly, I just agree with you. I did want to add that the person whose horses escaped in Texas is banned from the Michigan Shore-to-shore Ride because her horses did the same thing there in 2013 and someone else's horse died as a result (that horse made it home before it had to be euthanized, however.)


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