To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
Ride Conference

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AERC History

AERC LogoThe American Endurance Ride Conference has been in existence since 1972, growing rapidly from a local group of distance riding enthusiasts to a nationwide nonprofit organization (later including Canadian members). This page will link to historical stories and documents. Happy reading!


How It All Began

by Phil Gardner, AERC's first president -- "In the beginning, endurance riding was wild, undisciplined and untamed. It was the Wild West come back to life in the middle of the 20th century . . ." (click on headline to read the full story, in PDF format.)

AERC Rules (1974)


The term endurance riding is defined as an athletic event in which the same horse and rider cover a measured course (usually 50 to 100 miles) and conforms to the following conditions.
1. The first horse to finish (in the least amount of time) in acceptable condition is the winner.
2. An award for the best conditioned horse.
3. There can be no minimum time limit.
4. Everyone finishing a ride shall receive a completion award.
5. The ride is open to all breeds of horses.


From the Archives: A Look at AERC History, through magazine articles


AERC Yearbook Issue Covers, 1974-Present

What We Have Learned from Endurance Riding, by Kerry Ridgway, DVM (1973)

Looking Back, as a Rider and a Vet, by David Nicholson, DVM (2007)

AERC and Equine Welfare: Then and Now, by Jeanette (Jay) Mero, DVM (April 2020 EN)

AERC and Historic Trails, by Tom Bache (Nov. 2015 EN)

AERC and the Pony Express Trail, by Tom Bache (Dec. 2015 EN)

The Origins of American Endurance Riding, by Tom Bache (June 2017 EN)

New! AERC History: Traditions and Myths, by Tom Bache (July 2018 EN)

Why 5? (Equine Age Requirements), by Sharon Saare (1975)

Bill Thornburgh: Endurance's Family Man, by Callie Thornburgh (2007)

AERC 1972-1982: A Perfect Ten, by Julie Suhr (1982)

Trails: Our Enduring Heritage, by Harold Cassen (1980)

A Team Sport, by Joe Long (1983)


AERC Presidents, 1972-Present



In Memoriam -- a place to remember AERC members who have passed away



Updated 4/20/20