AUBURN, CALIFORNIA - The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) will investigate the deaths of two horses that were hit by a car after crossing the finish line on day seven of the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Ride.
AERC President Mike Maul announced that his organization's independent investigation will be conducted outside the insurance investigation into the incident.
"An incident such as this during the ride or at the finish has never happened before in the 35-year history of AERC," said Maul. "All incidents, whether large or small, are investigated by the AERC with the purpose of making the sport safer for both riders and the horses participating in the event."
According to Maul, the AERC sanctions almost 800 rides in the United States each year, with more than 23,000 total entries. "AERC sanctioning provides a uniform standard for those rides, which are put on by members of the AERC as ride managers," said Maul. "The ride itself is supervised by the ride manager and is not under the supervision of the AERC."
Rider Teresa Wilcox suffered bruises and scrapes. Rider Sandy Olson suffered a dislocated hip and broken thumb. Both riders were released from the hospital and returned to the ride site.
The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race is an 800-mile endurance ride completed over a 13-day period. The ride started in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on September 3 and ended in Missouri on September 15. One of the main objectives of the race was to educate the public not only on the national historic Santa Fe Trail, but also to introduce the sport of endurance riding to thousands, said Maul.