Endurance riding can be an intimidating equine sport. After all, the shortest distance offered is 25 miles long. But a grassroots effort has been growing for the past few years to help the newest riders to learn the sport, meet other new riders, and compete for fun awards just for their group of “newbies.”
Named after the green ribbons new members often tie into their horse’s tails, the group came to be known as the Green Beans. With a clever sense of humor, they further divide themselves into “on the vine” (less than 100 miles completed), “picked” (100-499 miles) and “cooked” (500-999 miles). Riders with more than 1,000 AERC miles can support the organization as mentors, but are considered to have “miled out.”
There are individual and team competitions as well as prize drawings. Green Bean participation is an optional add-in for AERC members, with a nominal fee to cover prizes. “It’s not always easy being ‘green,’” said Deb Moe, one of the program administrators. She noted that sometimes just making a connection to another rider makes a huge difference in being successful.
The mainstay of the Green Beans is their educational support and social networking. There are a multitude of Facebook “Green Bean Endurance” pages specific to local areas or regions, with people willing to share their knowledge and create welcoming places where there are no silly questions.
Erin Hurley-Rosser of Texas, participates in the One Horse One Rider (individual) competition: “The Green Bean group keeps me motivated, even when my ride and ride season plans fall apart. I cheer on other teams and riders because this movement is about our combined successes. We learn and grow together, from the person who has yet to begin to conditioning, to the Green Bean who ‘miles out’, we all have something useful to share.”
Lindsay Waddell of South Carolina is on the team called High Voltage Horses: “Knowledge, encouragement, and competition all in one place—it’s a great way to start!”
Audrey Hager of Texas (team: May the Horse Be With You): “The team camaraderie is great, we share knowledge and stories and help each other out, even if we're in different regions!”
Jaime McArdle of Virginia (team: Rockin Mountain Monstas): “I love the Green Bean program because it takes a pretty individual sport and gives you a 'team' to help encourage and support each other, especially because we are new. At the rides I've begun to meet friends and create an endurance family but the Green Bean team is my first family!”
Find more about the Green Bean Endurance program at http://www.greenbeanendurance.org. To find out more about AERC, which has been sanctioning endurance rides across the U.S. and Canada since 1972, visit https://aerc.org. AERC’s educational program, aside from the Green Bean program, includes mentoring with longtime endurance riders, an extensive rider handbook and educational materials sent to every new AERC member.
More information on endurance riding is available by visiting www.aerc.org or by calling the American Endurance Ride Conference office at 866-271-2372. By request, the office will send out a free copy of the 16-page Discover Endurance Riding booklet to prospective members.