There was a question/comment posted on the AERC Facebook page pointing out, properly, that "AERC" stands for American Endurance *Ride* Conference, not American Endurance *Race* Conference. It resulted in a lively and shockingly respectful conversation on the merits of the two terms. Unfortunately it was deleted by an unknown person. I expect it was deleted by the original poster, as the conversation definitely seemed to move in the opposite direction from what that person would have preferred.
In essence, the post was about hearing endurance riders talk about going to "races" rather than "rides." I got involved by pointing out when the uninitiated hear "race," they tend to picture the Kentucky Derby, and even those competitors described as "racing" in AERC aren't doing anything close to that sort of racing. I also mentioned many people are intimidated by the term "race," and I've had to disabuse several people of a distorted understanding of what it means to participate in an endurance ride/race.
I seem to recall, in the early days of my participation in AERC, there was a great deal of talk of referring to events as "rides" not "races." The perception was people would be put off or offended by "race," and would be more apt to think we're abusing our horses when we talk about racing them 50 miles. The Duck makes several excellent points in his article on the topic.
The simple reality is, in one way or another, we're all "racing." Whether we finish first or last, we have to beat the clock. While simply beating the clock is a far cry, exertionally speaking, from racing to finish first, it's still a race.
At one ride put on by the Duck, he stressed we were never to use the word "race." The reason was because the land manager interpreted the rules of the agency which owned the land to strictly prohibit competitive use of the trails. Thus, we were to say "ride."
The only reason I can really see to stick to "ride" is the land management problem. When land managers are looking for reasons to deny permits for endurance rides, the perception of the event as a race could be all they need. So from that perspective alone, we may, as an organization, wish to discourage the use of the word "race."
Aside from all that, the argument over what we call our events is a bit silly. There seems to be a faction that believes anyone who refers to it as a "race" is uninterested in the welfare of their horses, is only in it for the win, and has little regard for fellow competitors. While it is true that "race brain" is more obvious in the top riders, I've seen it in the turtles, too. A desire to win does not, however, mean an individual does not have a love and respect for his horse, and it is unfair to suggest such.