AERC’s Century Club: Rider + Horse = 100 Years

January 23rd, 2017

Connie Berto and Eco Stardust at the 2013 Cooley Ranch Ride in Northern California. (Photo © Bill Gore, Gore/Baylor Photography)

Endurance riding is a sport that mandates awards – it is the “to finish is to win” sport, after all.

Right in the rule book (rule 6.3) is the requirement that every finisher of every American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) competition “must receive a completion award.”

But those are just the start. AERC recognizes mileage accomplishments starting at 250 miles for both human and horse. There are best condition awards for exceptionally fit horses. There are awards specifically for stallions, for mares, for those who compete in Pioneer rides of three days or more in a row, for 100-mile riders, for high-mileage families. There are age-based awards, for junior riders, young riders, and for older riders, including one very special acknowledgement.

One of the more recent awards to catch the fancy of many riders is the Century Club Award, which honors rider/equine teams who earn the recognition when they complete a ride once their ages total 100 or more.

Connie Berto and her gelding Eco Stardust (Shabeam x Eco Starlet) are two of the most recent recipients of this award. Connie, who lives in San Anselmo, California, dreamed up the Century Club award. She is a long-time endurance rider and with Eco Stardust completed 5,000 endurance miles in 2013 – after Connie’s hip replacement surgeries in 2007 and 2013.

The American Endurance Ride Conference will be honoring Connie's accomplishments and other members and equines at their annual convention March 9 and 10 in Grapevine, Texas.

The AERC was founded in 1972 as a national governing body for long distance riding. Over the years it has developed a set of rules and guidelines designed to provide a standardized format and strict veterinary controls. The AERC sanctions more than 700 rides each year throughout North America and in 1993 Endurance became the fifth discipline under the United States Equestrian Team.

To find out more about the “to finish is to win” sport, visit www.aerc.org or phone the AERC national office at 866-271-2372.