Protest and Grievance Committee Findings
Decisions of the AERC Protest and Grievance Committee in the previous three years are below.
Decision of Protest and Grievance Committee concerning positive drug test, 2012 ride
Decision of Protest and Grievance Committee concerning the July 2, 2011, Gold Country Ride
Decision concerning the protest of Ride A by Four Riders, Big South Fork Ride, September 2010
Decision concerning the protest filed by riders at Ride A, August 2010
Decision of Protest and Grievance Committee on the formal protest filed against Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace - Wyoming Big Horn Ride, July 2007
Decision of Protest and Grievance Committee concerning positive drug test, DS Dandy Fella, owned and ridden by Laura Hayes
On September 17, 2011, blood samples were drawn under AERC Rule 13 from 8 equines at the Cracked Oaats Crunch 50 mile endurance ride. The blood samples for each horse were divided into an "A" and "B" sample. All samples were received in a refrigerated state on September 20, 2011, by the Equine Drug Testing and Research Laboratory of the United States Equestrian Federation. The AERC Drug Testing Subcommittee received a report from USEF dated October 5, 2011 that phenylbutazone, a prohibited substance under Appendix A to Rule 13, was detected in the "A" sample drawn from the 9th placed equine at the Cracked Oaats Crunch 50 mile ride. The amount of phenylbutazone was in excess of the threshold permitted by Rule 13, and a formal protest was filed. The "B" sample was subsequently tested by Industrial Laboratories and by report dated December 2, 2011, confirmed an amount of phenylbutazone, in excess of the threshold amount.
Rule 13.1.1 provides that no equine shall compete in an endurance ride when a Prohibited Substance is present in the equine, regardless of when the Prohibited Substance was administered. The committee finds that the equine involved competed at the Cracked Oaats Crunch ride after being administered a Prohibited Substance in violation of Rule 13.1.1. Penalties for both the equine and rider are mandatory under Rule 13.5.1, for competing in an endurance ride with a Prohibited Substance. The completion and placing of the equine and rider in the Cracked Oaats Crunch are forfeited.
In addition to the mandatory forfeiture, AERC may impose additional penalties on any person for violation of Rule 13. These facts were considered in imposing an additional penalty. The rider informed the committee that the rider did not administer the Prohibited Substance to the equine before or during the ride. Nor did any other written statements provide information as to who administered the Prohibited Substance or the time frame of when the Prohibited Substance was administered. What was undisputed was that the equine competed with a Prohibited Substance. Rule 13.5.1 provides in part: Normally, the rider of the equine and its owner shall be considered the person responsible for its custody and care at the ride. The committee finds in this particular instance, where it cannot be explained how an equine competed with a Prohibited Substance, that the ultimate responsibility for the equine and its care during the ride still rested with the rider. The committee imposes an additional penalty that any ride completion and placing earned by the rider from September 17, 2011 through March 17, 2012 shall be forfeited.
Decision of the Protest and Grievance Committee concerning the protest filed by Diane Trefethen on the July 2, 2011, Gold Country Ride
A formal protest was properly filed by a rider who entered the 50 mile Endurance Ride in the West Region. Forty Riders started the ride and 29 finished.
The protester alleges that the ride manager failed to follow AERC Rule 6d. which requires "following the prescribed course, and doing multiple loops in the correct order," as well as ride management's Rule 6 published in the Gold Country Ride's flyer that "The same horse and rider must pass all vet checks and stay on the marked trail in order to qualify for awards. The responsibility for reporting in and out of vet checks rests with the rider."
Her specific complaint was "that a number of riders left the correct trail, cut across country, 'found' the marked trail, proceeded to the first vet check, did NOT return to the point where they left the correct trail and ride the loop they had skipped, and then received placing, points and awards." She contended that the actual rule violation was committed by about 18 riders and she did not know their names. Later in the statement she said, "When I ride, I am very focused on what my horse and I are doing. Therefore, I cannot tell you the names of the riders who went off trail except for" one named rider. The protester was awarded 9th place in the report of results.
The committee reviewed evidence and statements presented by the protester and the ride manager. All riders who were awarded placements ahead of the protester were invited to submit statements and most responded. Although the statements vary there appears to be a consensus that an intersection of trails and a forest service road was subject to vandalism and the ribbons marking the turn were changed to reroute riders off the course prescribed by ride management. Beyond that there is little agreement among the submitted statements. The protester says the intersection was 5 miles into the first loop and others indicate it was 12 miles.
Most of the statements agree that many riders, possibly as many as 20, rode out and back the 2 or 3 possible routes that the course might have taken in search of the prescribed route. Some of the riders believed they had found the correct route and proceeded to the first vet check. The protester contends that she went back down the trail and reported the marking problem to a spotter and waited there "somewhere between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours" until the ride manager arrived and told her about the vandalism and that the ribbons had been put back. By this time she said she "was in last place, not first."
The protester contends she then passed a ride photographer and submitted a copy of her photograph with a date of the ride. She says he told her she was the 22nd rider to pass him and that he took photos of 41 riders. She contends that 8 to 18 riders did not pass the photographer so they could not have taken the trail prescribed by ride management. She says the first riders arrived at the vet check between 1 and 2 hours before anyone else according to an unnamed volunteer and this time difference is how the protester arrived at the conclusion that all riders ahead of her and possibly more had cut approximately 5 miles of trail. The first two riders finished together with a ride time of 5:36 and the protester's ride time was 7:40. The ride time for the last rider was 9:59 and the last 13 riders all took over 9 hours to ride the course.
A map was provided to the riders but none was submitted to the committee. The protester contends that she complained to the ride management after the completion of the ride and later by email of the riders she believed did not follow the prescribed course or who left the course at the intersection and failed to return to the point where they left the course before completing the ride. Ride management contends that they considered her complaint and after review of the facts awarded placements to all riders in the order they finished.
From the statements submitted the committee can conclude that the trail marking was changed causing 18 to 20 riders to search for the prescribed course. It appears that ride management was notified while the riders were on course and the trail was re-marked to indicate the prescribed course but the time taken to change the marking is in dispute. It is also not clear to the committee from the evidence which riders, if any, took a trail other than the one prescribed by ride management.
The committee found that the statements by the protester and other riders were inconsistent and unverifiable with regard to which riders, if any, failed to complete the prescribed course. In the absence of clear and compelling evidence that the ride managers failed to comply with applicable AERC and Gold Country Ride Rules it is the unanimous decision of the Protest and Grievance Committee that the protest be denied and that the ride results remain as reported.
Decision concerning the protest of Big South Fork Ride by Yvette Vinton, Jesse Jarrett, Denise Secino and Deb Walker, Big South Fork Ride, September 2010
A formal Protest was properly filed by four riders, who completed the 50 mile endurance ride at this event in the Southeast region. A day rider also signed the protest form but was not included in the protest since he was not a member. His statement was considered by the Committee. The ride consisted of three loops all of which returned to the starting area for veterinary checks and holds. The Protest alleged that other riders rode the second loop in the direction opposite to the course prescribed by the Ride Manager and were awarded completions and placement in violation of AERC Rule 6.d. The Committee reviewed written statements from the Protesters, Respondents and Ride Manager as well as telephone and personal interviews with selected riders.
The Committee found that the statements were generally consistent and the material facts were not in dispute. It appears that a crucial turn in the trail in the first few miles of the second loop was improperly marked by inexperienced volunteers. Several riders proceeded to travel the circular loop in the direction opposite to that intended by the Ride Manager. Some riders elected to ride the loop in the intended direction. When the riders returned to the start the Ride Manager instructed them to finish the ride and awarded completions and placement to all riders regardless of the direction they rode the second loop. Although the trail markings were confusing, the Ride Manager provided map handouts showing the loops and the direction they were to be ridden. He also announced at the pre-ride meeting that the second loop should be ridden in a clockwise direction which was consistent with the maps. He disclosed that he was relying on some volunteers who were inexperienced and that some of the trail markings may not have been placed correctly. It was the unanimous conclusion of the Committee that the course prescribed by the Ride Manager could be ascertained by the information provided at the pre-ride meeting and the maps despite the confusing ribbons marking the trail.
Rule 6. Completion requires meeting all of the following criteria:
Rule 6. d. Following the prescribed course, and doing multiple loops in the correct order.
Rule 6.1 A competitor must pass all judging criteria for completion; a competitor who fails any of the other completion criteria should be pulled from Top Ten Placing but may be allowed a completion if in the opinion of ride management, the violation was not intentional and did not result in making the course easier or shorter.
Rule 7. Placements will be determined by the order of finish of those who have met the completion requirements.
It appears from the statements and interviews that none of the riders riding the second loop in the incorrect direction did so intentionally and that their choice did not result in making the course easier or shorter.
Rule 1.3.2 A change in mileage and/or ride results certified by AERC may be mandated by the Protest and Grievance Committee or the Board.
It is the unanimous decision of the Protest and Grievance Committee that the Protest be granted and that those riders who followed the course prescribed by the Ride Manager and completed the ride be awarded completion and placement. The riders who completed the ride but failed to follow the prescribed course shall be allowed completion only since their violation was not intentional and did not result in making the course easier or shorter. No BC shall be awarded.
AERC Protest and Grievance Committee: Bill Taylor, Chair; Greg Fellers, DVM; Naomi Preston, Jim Rogan, Kevin Waters
Decision concerning the protest file by Prue Critchley the Bel Air, August 2010
A formal protest was properly filed by two riders who completed the 25 mile LD at this event in the -- region. Four day riders were entered in the ride and mentioned in the protest but were not included. Their statements were considered by the committee. Two members completed the ride and were given placements. Their statements were also considered.
The protester alleges she and her riding companion finished 1st and 2nd, were awarded placements and her horse BC at the conclusion of the ride, but 10 days later were notified by the ride manager that she had discovered conclusive evidence after the ride that they had not followed the prescribed trail. The protester provided, as part of her protest, a copy of an email from the ride manager that informed her of her decision and reasons.
The ride manager contends in her email that reports by following riders of a lack of hoof prints on the prescribed trail indicate that the protesters took an unauthorized trail. Upon questioning, the ride manager also noted the inability of the protesters to recall seeing permanent trail markers or a downed log on the prescribed trail. The ride manager contends that after the ride was over two sets of hoofprints were found on a part of the trail not prescribed for the ride. She concluded that the protesters made those tracks.
The committee found that the statements by the protesters and the ride manager were inconsistant and unverifiable under the circumstances. The protesters contend they rode the prescribed course and finished ahead of all other riders. Two riders in the 50 mile endurance ride, which used the same loop, started before the protesters but finished after them. They say they never saw the protesters or their tracks on the trail.
Rule 6. Completion requires meeting all of the following criteria:
Rule 6.d. Following the prescribed course . . .
Rule 6.1. A competitor must pass all judging criteria for completion. A competitor who fails any of the other completion criteria should be pulled from the Top Ten Placing but may be allowed a completion if in the opinion of the ride management, the violation was not intentional and did not result in making the course easier or shorter.
In her email the ride manager noted that she felt the protesters made an honest mistake but the trail was clearly marked and all other riders managed to follow the prescribed course.
Rule 7. Placements will be determined by the order of finish of those who have met the completion requirements.
The ride manager awarded placements to the remaining riders in the LD and the protesters completions for miles only.
In the absence of clear and compelling evidence that the ride manager failed to comply with applicable AERC rules and regulations it is the unanimous decision of the Protest and Grievance Committee that the protest be denied and that the ride results remain as reported. No BC shall be awarded.
Decision of Protest and Grievance Committee on the formal protest filed against Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace - Wyoming Big Horn Ride, 7/14/07
The facts of the case are as follows:
On July 24, 2007, Susan Horne filed a formal protest against two AERC Riders, Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace, charging them with violation of AERC Rules:
(1) 6D - following the prescribed course;
(2) 15 - Section 1B - acting or inciting any other to act in a manner contrary to the Rules of AERC, or in a manner considered otherwise illegal or un-sportsmanlike; and
(3) 15 - Section 1C - cruelty to an equine.
Attached to the protest were 8 additional first-hand accounts supporting various aspects of the protest.
The protest arose from the Wyoming Big Horn Ride of July 14, 2007, in which Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace competed in the 50 and 100 mile rides, respectively.
Copies of the protest and supporting documents were sent to both Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace for reply; however no response was made by either Respondent.
The first infraction alleges that Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace, after traveling 4 or 5 miles into the ride, began cutting off large sections of S curves of the trail located on the road, thereby disregarding the trail markers and intentionally shortcutting the trail. This trail deviation was witnessed by no less than 3 other competitors who gave notice of this violation at the next available stop.
The second violation alleges that both riders rode in an overly aggressive manner, deliberately passing up two watering locations. When the Pace horse, named K-Moon, a.k.a. Little Bay, was pulled at the 68 mile marker, the real problems began. From that point in time and for the next 18 hours, for all intents and purposes, these riders abandoned their horses. For that extended time neither rider gave their horse food, water or care that was necessary after a difficult ride. It was only on Monday morning did they realize too late that Little Bay was in serious trouble. After valiant attempts to save the horse were made by one of the ride vets, it was necessary to put the horse down.
The third allegation reveals that these two Respondents, after the ride, stole credit cards, checks and I.D. of one of the other competitors, and also stole a license plate from another AERC member's camper. All of these thefts took place at the ride camp site. On Tuesday, July 17th, both Respondents were arrested by the Gillette, Wyoming, police. Alexandra Luck was arrested for assault on Andrea Pace, forgery and receiving stolen property. Andrea Pace was charged with unauthorized use of a credit card.
It is the findings of the Protest and Grievance Committee that all of these allegations are more than supported by the factual accounts of the protester and other witnesses, and therefore each of the violations alleged are sustained and upheld. It is also the findings by the Protest and Grievance Committee that the violations are extremely egregious, demanding severe sanctions, which are as follows:
1. That the first place finish of Alexandra Luck in the 50 mile ride is disallowed and she is disqualified.
2. That both Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace are suspended from all AERC rides and activities for a period of 5 years from December 1, 2007.
3. That both Alexandra Luck and Andrea Pace are placed on probation for a period of 5 years from the last day of the suspension.
Michael D. Marino, Chairman, Protest and Grievance Committee