My parents taught me to ride around the time I learned how to walk, but I wasn’t introduced to the sport of endurance riding until 2006, and I was immediately addicted. Since then I have accumulated over 13,000 overall miles, with many wins and 50 BCs in the 50mile+ range. I have completed Tevis 6 times, in 1st place (2017,) 2nd (2014,) 6th (2009,) 7th (2018,) 16th (2015,) and 34th (2011,) and I have completed 22 out of 26 100-mile rides in total. In 2016 I started hosting endurance rides in Southern Colorado, the events have grown significantly over the past several years as I have become more experienced as a ride manager. My rides are known as the SoCo Endurance rides, namely the “Spanish Peaks Pioneer” and the “Wahatoya Cup,” which are multi-day rides of all distances in the mountainous terrain of the Rockies.
Recap on my non-riding side… I received my Bachelors degree in Microbiology from CSU’s College of Biomedical Sciences, after which I pursued a PhD in Immunology while performing research in a BSL3 lab. As I approached my 30s I transitioned to working at home on the ranch, and remotely managing an investment portfolio. While I have this experience under my belt, I still know I have a lot to learn, but I also feel that I might be able to contribute to the sport that I love, and perhaps not only as a ride manager.
Personally, I enjoy riding at every level, from extremely competitive, to extremely relaxed, and I appreciate every distance. Those who know me have seen me ride at a Tevis-winning level, and have also seen me riding at the back of the pack on an LD with a beer in my hand. The truth is that I just love to ride. But at the end of the day, what’s most important to me is the welfare of my horse, and having fun. The “having fun” part is where all of the diversity comes in, but at its simplest, to me it means reaching a set goal, and enjoying the company of my awesome horse, in the beautiful and challenging country that I love. It’s that simple, and I want to keep it that simple. I want to ensure that there are avenues for people like me to get back to the basics of distance riding without all of the unnecessary rules and drama that have risen up in various organizations. I just want to ride. As a ride/event manager, I also just want to host rides where people and horses are safe and having fun. As both a rider and a ride manager, I think the traditional 25 to 100 mile per day distances and multi-day rides are ideal, but I also would like to point out that there is a ton of fun to be had in the (very neglected range) of 30 to 45 mile rides.
Why would an organization limit ride managers to specific distances, or limit points designations to mileage alone as the sole parameter of difficulty? It’s obvious that there are far more parameters to consider when covering long distances; altitude, terrain, and atmospheric conditions to say the least. There have been many times that I have wanted to put on a ride, but I just couldn’t make it perfectly conform to a lengthy rulebook. Most riders don’t care, they just want to ride! But what’s sad is that there are a few people out there that are so obsessed with rules that they would rather see no ride at all, then loosen up on the definitions of miles and points. Since when is this sport about those numbers? It’s not. It’s about RIDING.
Endurance riding is an awesome sport, one that my life revolves around as a passion, and the AERC has been a great sanctioning body, though they have encumbered themselves trying to control, enforce, and regulate “too many things.” Regardless, I love endurance and I am a supportive member of the AERC. The WDRA, in contrast, is not a sanctioning organization, it is an all-inclusive, record-keeping body, meant to create an alliance among all distance riders and organizations, and to promote and record ALL distance riding. The rules for WDRA are minimalistic and concise. As such, it opens a door to ride managers to host rides that don’t conform perfectly to the rule books of any other specific organization, (and simultaneously opens the door for riders to enjoy those rides while having all of their points recorded together, whether they are AERC, WDRA, NATRC, EDRA, USEF whatever.) As a ride manager who hosts notoriously challenging rides in the mountains, this is extremely appealing to me. I will be able to put on safe, fun, challenging rides that people and horses will love and enjoy, without stressing about the minutiae, and without fear of litigation. I already host various AERC rides, but I look forward to hosting more events now that I have the flexibility to do so. I’m a member of the WDRA because I just want to ride!
We love to ride. Riders don’t get to ride without ride managers. This is an organization that will help ride managers put on more rides with less stress. If it’s better for ride managers, it’s better for riders.
Tennessee “Tenney” Lane