As of the 2012 ride season, AERC is officially recognizing horse and rider teams that have completed together for ten ride seasons in 50 mile rides and up! The forms are available for those that would like to order AERC Decade Team items.(links below)
I started keeping track in 2003 of horse and rider teams that had competed in endurance for ten seasons or more. With the help if Mike Maul and some other volunteers we sorted through the database and compiled a list and compiled interviews from the riders. I found it incredibly educational reading and learning about the horse and rider teams that had not only gone the distance but that had stood the test of time.
Previous interviews with links to Decade Teams dating back to 2003 can be found here. Now that this is an official award, AERC will be including this information along with future interviews and award recipients on the AERC website and recognition will be given at the annual convention.
It’s kind of cool to have an official award recognized based upon my idea. My first endurance horse, Dream Weaver — was the original inspiration for the idea and recognition of Decade Teams. When I first started in endurance there seemed (to me) to be so much emphasis on racing and placing. Not so much on longevity. As I rode Weaver season after season I came to realize that there was something a lot more important about this sport than who won what ride. That is when I focused on longevity and on managing my horse(s) so that they would last long term. I saw a lot of super-stars burn out in three or four ride seasons. I came to conclude that for me, longevity was a more important goal than winning or top tenning. If I could put my efforts into being more conservative and riding consistently, not getting race brain and realizing that speed breaks a (many) horse down I found that I could keep a horse going long term. Plus my vet bills are minimal. I’ve continued to prove that theory as my horse Pro Bono became my 4th 5,000 mile horse in the 2012 ride season. Chief is my highest mileage horse with more than 12,500 miles.
I think it is wonderful that so many others feel the same way as I do about developing a long term bond with their horse. I know we would all love to ride the same horse forever, if we could. Longevity is the ultimate reward for careful management of our horses. Even when we are fortunate enough to compete on them for ten or more seasons it never seems long enough. I have certainly learned to appreciate each and every ride I have on my treasured horses. Chief made Decade Team in 2011 and was my third horse to compete for a decade or more. Bo is in his fifth ride season with me (6 total) . Seems like I just got him!
Those that have qualified as a Decade Team previously can order jackets or send a blanket in to be embroidered. Click here to download the order form for the Decade Team jacket. Click here to download the order form for the blanket embroidery.
You can also find more information on this in Endurance News and on the AERC website. The jackets are $60.00, and they are quite nice (see photo). For the blankets, you send in a blanket of your choosing and the cost of the embroidery is $30.00, plus shipping. If anybody wants recommendations on blankets, let me know. Especially if you have a Houdini horse, or one that loves to destroy and tear them apart.