“My Favorite Trail” Essay Contest Winner Named

North Carolina trail and endurance rider Debra Ambrose was named the winner in the American Endurance Ride Conference’s “My Favorite Trail” essay contest. She won a year’s free membership in AERC and a generous gift certificate from Riding Warehouse.

Debra spoke of clearing a trail with pruning shears, loppers and a shovel in order to reach a trail for training. Was that hard work worth it? As Debra’s essay concluded:

“I still marvel at how slow I was to appreciate the benefits of that first trail, how it brought me back to the rides I took out of my back yard on a pony forty years before. It was our gateway to the world, built on our own effort. I thought of my mother on the kitchen porch as I rode out the driveway, and heard her voice reciting Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere as we cantered now in deeper footing along a pond, and roared up an incline to an old logging trace:

“He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft in the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.”

Second place went to Cyd Ross, and third place was Elizabeth Gould.

“All the entrants shared their abiding love for their horses and the trails they ride on,” said AERC Executive Director Kathleen Henkel. “The contest was a great way for people to express what riding trails mean to them.”

All essays can be found in AERC’s quarterly online newsletter, AERC Extra, at

AERC is the nation’s leading sport in encouraging the use, protection and development of equestrian trails. With rides ranging from 25 to 100 miles in a day, endurance riders are lucky enough to experience trails in all their glory as they train and compete. They would love to welcome new riders and their horses into the sport to share joy of riding trails, both new and historic. To find out more about the sport of endurance riding, visit

Part of AERC’s mission is to fund trail projects that not only make trail improvements for endurance rides, but for all who use the trail systems. Each year thousands of dollars contributed by endurance riders are given to trail grant applicants. The organization also hosts Trail Master classes to teach sustainable trail building, maintenance and repair skills to trail workers around the country.






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