Wednesday, February 26, 2020

20 Mule Team 100, 2020 ride story - Nick Warhol

February 25 2020

Oh, the highs and lows of this sport.

Endurance riding is like no other activity I have ever known, and I have tried a lot of them. It’s something you can do that does something for your soul. It gets inside you and just takes you over. It’s like a drug- once you get to that point you just can’t get enough. When it is good, it is really good, and when it goes south, well, it hurts. I guess that’s why there is such a price to pay mentally when you get pulled sometimes.
Yes, Sorsha and I got pulled for lameness in the 100 at mile 80. Actually I stopped at 80 because I knew she was off, but I’ll get to that.

Why is it so different from breaking down on a motorcycle in a race, or falling on skis, or getting blisters in a marathon, or losing your golf ball? There are lots of ways to not finish your sport or activity, but none like this. It’s because horses are amazing. All horses. But what our endurance horses do for us is indescribable. Especially when you reach that point when it is all working with your equine partner. There is nothing that highlights this relationship more than long distance riding.

I rode Donnie for 14 years in endurance, we got 6500 miles, fifteen 100 completions, 4 for 5 at tevis, the Pardners award, etc, etc. Over all that time we became one being, and that is the best feeling there is. When you get to the point when you just go ride, and not think about anything by the enjoyment of the ride, you are there. That partnership you have with your horse is what it is all about, and there is nothing like endurance to help you achieve it. It is perfection, but it can be hard to achieve.

I had to start over with Sorsha, as we all do with our new horses. It can be a trying experience when you are used to your own Donnie. Especially on such a powerful, capable, and potent horse. Did I mention powerful? When I got her, she was green broke, untrained, and no one had really ridden her with any regularity. She was a handful- she was hot, spooked a lot, she was very nervous and scared to be out on the trail. Did I mention powerful? I was actually a little afraid of her in the beginning. She spooked me off a few times; especially the two really big ones that hurt. Her first few endurance rides were, well, exciting at best. And not relaxing. What does endurance do to horses? It makes them stronger, and stronger, and stronger. Sounds like a recipe for disaster sometimes. But I KNEW, deep down inside, that this horse had potential. The way she goes up hills, her wonderful mind, her extremely forward motivation, and the fact that she never did anything stupid. No bucking, ever. No rearing, no panic or big anxiety attacks. She stands still while tacking up, she trailers perfectly, she eats, drinks, pees, and poops. She does not kick, and she behaves like a gelding. My trainer, Bo, said I was really going to like this horse. She said she has a wonderful mind, and wants so badly to please you. She told me when I connect with her it will be good.

I did connect with her, and it took a friend’s advice to get it to happen. I was riding with my riding buddy Ines Hofmann Kanna at the Cache Creek ride two years ago when I told her how I had to ride Sorsha so differently than Donnie. I was riding defensively to keep from getting spooked off, meaning I was always expecting to come off the horse. I would look for things for Sorsha to spook at and prepare myself. Ines told me “No, dummy, don’t ride the horse like she is going to spook, ride her like she won’t.” That was it. Simple, direct, and it sounded really stupid to me at the time. My first reaction to that was something like: “Okay, YOU ride this horse and see if you stay on!” But I began to think about it, and realized that I was riding her completely differently that I ride Donnie. I tried to make myself relax on her back. Ever try to force yourself to not be scared? Try it sometime! But I realized that the dirt bike was the same as Donnie. I’m going 70 MPH over the desert, but I’m totally and completely relaxed. You don’t think, you ride, and love it. Your body does the riding, and your mind does the enjoying. That’s it, that’s the secret! That’s the same as riding Donnie. Dirt bikes and horses are so similar. I put my mind to it and started relaxing and pretending I was on Donnie. I would also sing- that’s an old habit I picked up while racing the bikes. It always helped me relax then. I forced myself to relax. It’s not easy.
It worked. Sorsha changed. It was actually very quick- over the course of 6 to 8 months she became a different horse. She stopped doing big spooks, she preferred to be in front, and she gained so much confidence. Riding alone was still an issue, but I worked on that, too. The first time I tried to ride alone in a ride it lasted 5 minutes. We VERY QUICKLY caught the next horse and I planted her there for the next 48 miles. On her first few endurance rides I had to lead her on the ground for the first half mile or more before mounting. Now I get on at the truck and walk out. Yes, It took me three years to get to this point, but I stuck it out, and I have arrived. (Wait a tick- it took me three years to connect with Donnie!) The 20 mule team ride was a breakthrough in many ways, but none more than with my relationship with Sorsha.

I came down five days before the ride to help Brian with the ride and mark the trail. The week went very smoothly with no issues at all- the weather was perfect. I did about 200 miles on the bike, and we had the ride ready to go by Thursday night. That was a first! We are getting good at this; Brian and I make a good team. The only hitch was we later found out that there were two dirt bike events on our same weekend- one on friday, and one again on sunday. Come on, BLM. You need to do better than that. All three events use ribbons and signs to mark their trails. Of course Sunday’s race used pink ribbon. I had some good conversations with the trail guys out there, since there were three teams doing the same thing; all were very confused due to the lack of communication from the BLM. We got it all worked out in great fashion between the three groups so as not to interfere with each other, or at least as little as possible.

I had some excitement with Sorsha on Friday about noon when I tried to leave Gretchen’s house where she had been living all week, next to Gretchen’s horses. I experienced her first ever separation anxiety when I led her out- she was very stupid for a few minutes. It really surprised me (and Lisa Schneider and riders who had to stop and watch!) After a few minutes she got it together and I hopped on and rode her around and back to camp. All was well again. The weather report said light rain in the morning, but gone by 11am. It would be cool as well.
The ride started at 6am Saturday morning with no real rain- sort of a heavy mist. I walked out with Team Sousa- Joyce, Jennifer, and Alex. All were on newish horses. All went fine except for some excitement when a rider was off in the desert fighting a bucking and crazy horse. I picked up two of my team mates a bit later, Lucy Chaplin Trumbull, or affectionately known as Lucy Turnbuckle Chipotle. They had added me to their team, and had named the team “Three roses and a thorn.” I’ll let you decide who got to be the thorn! We rode together through town and out past the college, while I was holding Sorsha back. We got to the start of the climb and Lucy said “See ya!” Okay, here we go. I have not ridden Sorsha alone like this in a ride yet, especially so early on. She headed out up the climb all alone, but we passed several horses as we went. She did not care- she wasn’t chasing them, just going her splendid working pace, which is faster than Donnie. Oh, and she does not know hills exist. She just treats them like flat ground. It’s incredible. We rode alone, just cruising along at a really good pace, all the way to the first check at 15 miles. No spooks, no fuss, no issues, just superb forward. That 15 miles was wort the price of admission. It really was a breakthrough for us. (but the best is yet to come!) I caught Lisa, passed her up, said bye, and we were gone. She later said it looked like we were having fun. That’s an understatement! We blew through the first check and hooked up with Dean Moon and his friend Leahe Webb Daby on their Rocky Mountain horses. They were riding the 65 mile ride on the same trail, start time, and vet holds as us on the 100. The three of us rode at a great pace up into the wilderness and down into the second vet check on Garlock road at mile 33. We were just three mares bopping along through incredible terrain, all having fun through the toughest section of the ride. I left the vet check a couple of minutes before them and hooked up with two more good friends- Jill Kilty Newburn and Lori Olsen, fellow Quicksilver club members on the 65 as well. Lori was on Fargo- Sorsha’s boy friend! We flew along the flats at a pretty fast pace, gobbling up the 5 miles of flat land. We turned up into rattlesnake canyon and began the 3.3 mile trot/walk to the summit. It turns out there were a couple sightings of the infamous Mojave Green Rattlesnake this year. I don’t like those guys, since one attacked and bit the front tire of my bike once, but that’s another story.

We were joined at the summit by Leahe and Dean, but we lost Jill as we started down the long hill to the valley. Her horse had a re-occurrence of a hind end issue, so she hopped off and started the long walk out and pulled. Lori and I continued on, leap frogging with the two rocky mountain mares as we went. As we neared the trestle the weather started getting ugly. Uh oh. I left my water proof jacket at the vet check since it was supposed to be clear all afternoon. That was not the case. We got rain, a little hail, and very cold air during the three miles to vet 3. Then we had to stand around. I was cold, wet, and could have been in trouble had it not been for Jill’s husband, Michael, who was crewing for her and Lori. I asked him if he had a jacket I could borrow, and he empties his pockets and takes the $300 Mountain Hardware mountaineering jacket off his back and hands it to me. Wow! I owe you a beer, Michael. I was too cold, but he saved me. The stupid thing is I know better. Dumb decision at lunch to leave my Arcteryx waterproof jacket.

Lori and I scooted out and rode nice and briskly the ten miles back to camp. We were both sent off into the desert (horse’s choice!) when the camera crew for the study opened an umbrella next to the trail. That was not good, but they were very apologetic. With about 3 to go she noticed Fargo looking off in the back end going downhill, but he was better once on the flat. But with only a mile and a half to go on the flat, he was lame. She started walking and was pulled at the finish at 65 miles. The tough part was that had she finished, she would have won the ride, since the first place horse on the 65 was pulled at the finish as well, and she was second in. Darn, disappointing.

I trotted into camp at 65 miles for my 4th vet check which went well. (pulse 40) I was quite shocked at the time- it was 4:35 and still daylight. My jaw dropped when I left at 5:35 and Mary told me I was the 5th horse on the 100 to leave. Wow. I turned on my new custom made blue LED lights (which worked perfectly by the way. They could not have been any better) and set out on the last 35 mile loop all alone. Not a horse anywhere, and none behind me for quite a while. This is where I see what the brown horse is made of. Boy, I could not be more impressed. She was incredible by herself- just as forward as during the day, same go go attitude, no spooks, just a real pleasure. We trotted briskly up the 4 miles and turned right on boundary road as it got dark. She was moving along and would have been happy to canter had I asked her to. I started singing because it’s what I do when riding at night and am happy. (And alone, so no one can hear me!) We motored along, and I did not care about the stupid light rain that would not quit since I had the proper attire on now. It was going so well I could not believe it, and I was just so happy. We stopped at the second trough on boundary road for a drink, and took off again at a trot. What a glorious feeling. I started singing an Eagles song, but a minute later I heard it- her foot falls sounded wrong. Oh no. I hopped off, turned on my headlight and watched her trot- she was lame.

There is no describing how that felt, so I won’t try. I started leading her down the trail on foot towards the south highway crossing at 80 miles. It took me about 80 minutes to walk it which is about 4 miles. I walked in and glumly asked the radio guys to get me a trailer. Diane Stevens was there, crewing for John who was the next rider behind me, back there somewhere. She was so great- she got a blanket for my horse, she gave me a Pepsi and probably would have washed my truck had I asked her to. Thanks Diane! John had a great ride, and typical. Ups, downs, he thought that he was going to have to pull, nope, continue, ride well, and he ended up second. Well done John! The trailer came in about 20 minutes and off I went to the finish where I trotted her for the vets. Pulse 40/40, but grade three lame on right front. The sad part is had I been able to continue I probably would have ended up in second due to my wonderful all alone pace, and the pulls that happened at the last vet and the finish. Oh well, I don’t care.

I had the best ride so far on Sorsha I have ever had and she proved to me that she is not only an endurance horse, she’s a really good one. I have never ridden her alone, and boy, she was an 11 on a 10 scale. But reality time- she was pulled for the same thing in her last 2 rides after about 75 miles. Lame on right front, she’s sound the next day. I talked to vets Michelle, mike, and mike at the ride, and my vet. I’m not sure yet what my plan is, but as Michelle told me, this is a special horse and they don’t come along like this one very often. She’s just 9, so I will do what it takes to get her back. I just hope it’s not a long term layoff, but I’m prepared to do that if required. I want her back healthy, because she’s just plain fun to ride in endurance rides, and that’s what it’s all about. And hopefully my team name can be a little better next year!

Nick Warhol

West Region

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Tonto Twist 50 2020 - Ashley Wingert - Full Story

January 28, 2020 / Ashley Wingert

Sometimes, I think my (endurance) life plays out as one continuous episode of “man plans, God laughs.” I mean, I know I’m not unique in that regard — spend any time talking to any endurance rider behind the scenes, and the actual reality of what is going on often times only bears marginal resemblance to the social media reality that is presented to the public at large. (I get it, I do the same thing…my social media posts try to be positive and low-drama, with a healthy dose of “don’t make my problems and dirty laundry other people’s problem.”) But endurance is definitely a sport filled with mountain highs and valley lows (and I’m not just talking about the trails), and it takes a certain level of mental fortitude and tenacity to not just finish rides, but to stick with the sport through the ups and downs, and the inevitable disappointments as well as the successes.

That was a bit of foreshadowing that Tonto Twist, and subsequently, Project Ridgecrest, did not exactly go according to plan when Atti and I finished all 50 miles at Tonto Twist…and then got pulled at the finish for lameness. Pulls are never fun, especially the finish line ones, and this one just really stings because I felt like I did everything so right. The whole ride, and the training and lead-up to it, was so well executed…hit all the checkboxes of strategic, targeted training and coaching, smooth planning and prep, nailed my ride-day pacing, electrolyting, and ride plan…and it still went sideways in the end. After a while, it’s hard to not feel a bit discouraged and disheartened.

So with all that as a preface…onward to the actual ride story. I absolutely adore the Tonto Twist ride, which is saying something since I am currently 0/2 in finishing it...

Read more here:

Monday, January 20, 2020

Death Valley Encounter 2020 - Valerie Jaques

FurtherAdventuresTeam91 - Full Story

Monday, January 13, 2020

The weather the few days leading up to the Death Valley ride had me concerned about making it to the ride at all. On December 26th, even here in the mountains of San Diego County, we got fully 4 inches of snow. Our local freeway was briefly closed. I knew by the time we needed to leave on the 27th the roads would be in good shape, but I had a much closer challenge: getting the trailer out of the driveway. I have to keep it parked by the barn in order to keep it plugged in while not in use. Getting it out involves backing it down the driveway. The driveway is steep enough if it's iced over the trailer will drag the truck helplessly down the hill. Ask me how I know this. So we had to wait for the sun to do its job and defrost the driveway before I could get the thing out.

We did finally hit the road about 10am, which all things considered isn't bad. It's only about 270 miles to ridecamp. It's really rare for two days after Christmas to have particularly bad traffic. I usually make the drive in 5 hours or less.

Not this time.

Of course with all that weather and snow, people were out in force. We hit a lot of backups. It wasn't until we got past the Kramer Junction we were able to reliably make time. There was even snow on the mountains between Red Mountain and Trona. We made it to camp about 5:30.

Due to all that weather, there were very few rigs in camp. Maybe a dozen. Probably less. Never have I seen ridecamp at DVE so empty.

Because there were so few riders, the decision had been made to vet everyone in at 6:00am on ride day. Seeing as there was perhaps a total of 15 riders all told, it was an easy enough thing to accomplish. Our ride started at 6:30am...

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Monday, November 18, 2019

My 2019 AERC National Championship 100 - Caroline De Bourbon

by Caroline De Bourbon

RTR Thunders Nusabre led us to a 3rd place victory at the 2019 AERC 100 Mile National Championships. Could not have asked for a better weekend with this amazing horse.

At 6:15am on Saturday, Sabre and I headed to the starting line, ready to take on the trails ahead. We headed out in the controlled start and before we knew it the trail was open! I found myself in about 20th place and quickly realized that if I wanted to place high then I would need to be competitive. Sabre picked up a lovely canter and squeezed us into the top 10 riders. We stayed with them heading into the first vet check at 17 miles.

Even though we came into VC 1 with many riders, we were able to leave 2nd due to Sabre's amazing ability to pulse down fast. We left VC 1 feeling great. Soon, Jeremy Reynolds and his horse Etta (Sabre's sister) caught us. I guess Sabre enjoyed seeing his big sis again so we continued on with Jeremy. I had ridden this part of the trail earlier in the year at the Laurel Mt duck ride so I knew where we were going. We came into Vet Check 2 (33 miles). Once again, Sabre pulsed down quickly and we were out of there in no time.

We continued up Rattlesnake Wash and down power line road into the 395 vet check (55 miles). We were held there for 30 minutes then we were back out on the trail in 3rd place. By this time I was riding with Jeremy and Alisija Zabavska. The horses flew into the hour hold at camp (65 miles).

My crew and I cooled Sabre down and immediately took him over to vet. He looked awesome on his trot out, gut sounds and everything else. However, the vet was a little concerned about his CRI. Sabre had been getting amazing CRIs all day so this through us all off a bit. The vet said that I should come back in 30 minutes to recheck him. We did another CRI a half an hour later and this time it was much better and back to normal. However, the vet said that It might be wise to see how he was feeling and if I needed to slow it down, slow it down. And I defiantly agreed.

We took off from camp following Jeremy and Alisija. Sabre felt like he had done 20 miles not 65. The hour rest definitely helped him. We began to climb up the mountain side with the sun beating down on us so Alisija I decided to take it a bit slower. We made it to the top and headed down the other side and caught up with Jeremy and all rode into the 395 south crossing. Etta seemed to be juiced so they pulled away. However, Sabre caught his second wind now that the sun had set so we cantered most of the way into the last vet check at 395 (90 miles) for a 20 minute hold.

As we were waiting to leave to head back to camp, the out timers told me that Sabre had a lot more gas in him and that he was ready to go. That boosted my confidence for the 10 mile ride home. Alisija left 1 minute after us and caught us soon after. We rode the rest of the way home together. We raced across the finish line and she beat us by a close few seconds. It didn't really matter to me as I was THRILLED by Sabre's performance on his 3rd ever 100! We walked in the last stretch with a huge smile on my face and a pep in Saber's step. I held my breath when we vetted through, crossing my fingers that we would get our completion. And yes, we did! A 3rd place completion! I was beyond amazed by this horse.

I spent most of the night getting up and walking Sabre around the fair grounds in preparation for the Best Condition showing in the morning. He seemed a little stiff the morning of but we decided to show anyway. Regardless if we got BC or not, I was extremely proud of this horse.

A huge thank you to the Ribely's for putting on a wonderful National Championships and all the volunteers and ride staff for helping out. A huge congratulations to all the riders as well as Jeremy Reynolds and Alisija Zabavska for getting 1st and 2nd! It was a honor to ride with both of them for most of the day. Thanks to Bill Whitlock for letting me ride your amazing new horse and trusting me with him. Thanks to my mom and Bill for crewing for me and brining me anything and everything I needed. Last but not least, the biggest thank you goes out to my amazing steed, Sabre. None of this would be possible without him. He gave me a wonderful Tevis this year and now an outstanding 100 mile National Championship. This was my first 100 by myself and he made it super easy. Love him with all my heart!

Thank you to everyone who made this happen and I can't wait to see what next season will bring!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

2019 AERC National championship 100 at 20 mule team - Nick Warhol

Nov 2, 2019
by Nick Warhol

Or, a long, busy, and very rewarding week in the desert!

A year and a half ago Robert Ribley mentioned they wanted to have the 2019 national championship ride at the 20 mule team ride, and was I interested in doing the trail? “I’m in!” I told him. I have been riding the ride since 1993, and coming down and working on the trail since the year 2000. I take that trail very personally. I love the desert and riding both my dirt bike and horses in it, so how could it be any better? Ride managers Robert and Melissa Ribley, along with 20 Mule team ride manager Brian Reeves, put a LOT of work into this event. The goal was to make it a real championship caliber event, and we did not disappoint. Everything I heard about the ride was really positive in every aspect.

I packed my truck and trailer to the gills, loaded up my big, brown, girly horse Sorsha and headed down to Ridgecrest on Sunday in a wind storm. Lucky me- the wind blowing down highway 5 was about 40 MPH, but it was a direct tail wind giving me incredible gas mileage all the way down. The wind was a little dicey when I hit the desert and headed east, but I made it to Ridgecrest without the camper being blown off the truck! I dropped Sorsha off at Gretchen Montgomery’s place (a mile and a half from the fairgrounds) where she basically boarded my horse for a week. Thanks G and Mike! On Monday morning I met Brian at the fairgrounds and helped him unload. Cripes- I thought I had a lot of stuff! He had three trailers packed full of gear. We spent half a day unpacking and getting base camp set up.

On Monday afternoon Gretchen and I loaded up the horses and went out to the new location for Vet 1 on the 100. We needed new, bigger locations for both vet 1 and vet 2 due to the size of the ride. The new check required a new mile of trail across the desert to get to the new location, so we took the ponies out for a mission and spot marked a new route from the trail to the new vet check. I liked it! You can never have enough cross country desert trails. We had a nice ride and the horses both felt fresh and ready to go. I would finish the new trail on the bike later on. Brian and I had dinner at the infamous Casa Corona and very large drinks!
On Tuesday morning I went out early in 38 degrees on the quad to start marking the trail through town. It was not as cold as being on the bike! Signs, ribbons, and lots of chalk on the ground. When it warmed up a bit I headed out on the dirt bike to mark the 35 mile orange loop. It’s the night loop for the 100, so it needs a lot more big chalk arrows on the ground. There would not be much moon on Saturday night, so it’s critical to have lots of big arrows out there. I got done in good time by the early afternoon, so I headed back out to start on the pink loop in the hard to get to areas, and I’m really glad I did since there was still so much to do. We have 50 additional miles of new trail at the ride this time for the championship 50 that had not been used before, making our total trail mileage to mark 165 miles. I rode the bike back and forth a few times on the new trail to wear it in a little.

On Wednesday morning at 7am (Brrrr- 30 degrees) I went back on the quad for 3 hours to finish all the marking in town and out past the college. My buddy Dino Trefiletti was coming from Las Vegas at 10 am to help me with the trail with his bike. Dino and I were friends growing up in Vegas and were racing buddies; he likes riding out here as much as I do. Our mission for today was to finish the new 50 mile trail for the Thursday championship ride. Ron Shultz from Ridgecrest had laid out the new trail and base marked it, but we needed to get out there and ride it and finish it up. We did the 25 mile loop first all the way back to camp, then out again to do the whole 50. We added many ribbons, chalk, signs, and had to be sure the trails marked for Saturday did not interfere with Thursday’s championship ride. I could not take a chance on anyone seeing other ribbons and getting confused. It can be hard to distinguish pink from orange from red in the morning light. We finished up as the sun was setting after a long day and a lot of miles out there on the bikes. Then it’s off to walk my horse, have dinner, and drink several beers!

We never saw Thursday’s championship 50 mile ride (the winning time was 3:55! WOW!) since Thursday is the extended day where we mark the 65 mile pink loop. It goes faster with the two bikes, but its still a long day out in the dez. Dino’s wife Kathleen was our support crew, meeting us out at vet 2 with sandwiches and drinks. We had to add a mile of trail in a deep sandwash to get to the dry lake bed for the vet check due to the ride size. We got back to camp about 4pm, and I rode out on the bike and checked the blue 15 mile loop since it crossed the Thursday red loop several times, and it needed to be fixed for Saturday’s rides. We CAN NOT have chalk arrows going in both directions on the night loop. I finished everything up and got back to camp as the sun was setting.

Friday morning was a little easier since I was done with the bike, but not the trail. I went out early in the truck with Gretchen and her bicycle to finish up the trail that we can’t ride the motorized vehicles on, put up 8 road crossing signs, drop off hay at three remote water stops, and most importantly fix the trails for Saturday that intersected with the Thursday’s ride red loop, this time taking down the red so no one would get confused on Saturday. While I was out finishing up, Dino rode both the orange 35 and blue 15 loops to be absolutely sure all was in order. We finished up about 1pm, got back to camp, and then it was time to switch from trail worker to endurance rider. It’s a radical shift in the world where I just stop thinking about the trail and start thinking about my horse. (I liken it to flipping a giant power breaker switch to “on”) Gretchen pulled in with the horses and we started getting ready for tomorrow’s 100. We went out for a warm up ride; Gretchen wanted to ride the start since some idiot (me) laid out the trail that runs back through town and right past her house. I mean 10 feet from her front gate and the pen her other horse is in. It is the best route for the ride; I was not thinking about her and her horse when I set it. We were fine until about mile 2 when we turned back towards town and her horse Coquette, who is, shall we say, a little “barn sour”, flipped out and started bucking. Big. Gretchen stayed on, but had to dismount. We led the horses on foot about ¾ of a mile until we were 100 yards past her driveway. She remounted and all was fine back to the fairgrounds. But the psych was on- she was really worried about the start tomorrow. She would not sleep very well Friday night. I would have changed the trail, but the mileage was set, the maps and trail descriptions printed, trails all marked- it was too late. Judy drove down in the car on Friday to join us and arrived in the afternoon. It was great to have her there- she has not been to a ride in a while and everyone was glad to see her. We finished the prep for the ride, had a nice dinner with Jenni Smith and Brenda Benkley, went to the ride meeting, and then to bed. I slept well Friday night.

Saturday ride morning came quickly and was cold, about 28 degrees at our start time of 6:30. It’s actually quite beautiful in the desert when it’s cold and calm like this- not a stitch of wind. It would be perfect were it not for cold fingers and toes. The smell is also special in the cold morning; I like the way creosote smells. Oh yes, and the dust. About 80 horses headed out at once making it pretty bleak. The first half mile of the ride was a walking controlled start out across the first paved road. Sorsha was great and walked out nicely with Coquette in the middle of the pack. We crossed the road and started trotting out of town on the dirt street. After a few blocks we turn right on another road and head up to the big water tank just out of town, the site of Friday’s episode. Gretchen had been making plans on what to do, but it came down to just being safe. If we have a problem, we will just lead the horses. We passed the tank, turned towards town, made it about three hundred yards past our rodeo spot, and 2 horses passed us at a faster trot. Uh-oh. Coquette bucked big, but as before, Gretchen stayed on, but had to get off. We both started leading the horses the 3/4 mile until we passed her house. Once past, (I dropped off clothes layer one at her house) we hopped back up and started our ride with Gretchen’s stomach in the right place now. It did put us at the end of the pack, but that’s okay, we were in one piece, and it’s a long day. The ride goes through town for a couple of miles on dirt roads and out into the desert on soft roads with good footing. A long climb up a wide road takes us up to the top of the ridge above town, then another 3 miles slightly downhill on soft roads to the highway 395 north crossing. We were trotting along nicely and passed a few horses before getting to vet 3/5 where we just have a drink the first time through. Sorsha had a big drink- nice! I dropped off layer 2 here- off came the jacket. Now we did a little cantering as we head west on a perfect, soft, dirt road for a mile and a half that turns into even better single track that takes us to the infamous Trestle in the middle of the valley. The trail converges here and we will see it a few more times during the ride. A drink and some hay and we head down the raised railroad bed road that is as straight as a laser beam. In a bit we stop and ride down the bank onto the neat single track trail that I created many years ago that goes across the desert to the rocky saddle. This next section is ugly- rocky, but at least it’s only a mile or so on a hard, rocky road. A right turn on a decent road takes us trotting to the new trail Gretchen and I had made- it was now a full-fledged trail that wound across the desert to the first vet check, the sand pit at 18.5 miles. 70 horses will do that! Judy was there waiting for us which was nice, and Brenda helped out since Jeni Smith was well out in front of us. An easy vet check and 30 minute hold went by quickly; we headed out the 4 miles or so up the sometimes rocky road to sheep springs. You can trot most of it, but there are walking sections where the rocks grow out of the earth like craggy, black pumpkins. A nice drink at Sheep Springs and we head into the El Paso Wilderness area. It’s really pretty up here in the high country, and we roll along through what I call the roller coaster section- a road with huge, steep, roller coaster type hills that can be a couple hundred feet high. This is mostly walking, and once out of the section we drop into the big sand wash for a mile or so of downhill deep sand. Except for the jeeps! We came across a jamboree of some sort made up of about 80 jeeps that were plodding up the wash. Good grief! There was a solid line of jeeps for almost a half mile. The people were very nice and pulled over and stopped for us, and women were opening the windows and saying how pretty the horses were. (Is that a girl horse, or a boy horse? You are riding a hundred miles? Are you crazy?) It was all walk through here. The rocky climb to the right up out of the canyon got us out of the freeway jam up. Up the all rock hill, and then down the worst section of the ride- a really rocky, nasty, gnarly road across and up the big canyon. It’s only a half mile or so but it’s off the horse leading on foot through this crap. The top is the nice level part of Mormon flat that was a nice flat road with good footing that we cantered along. Another nice drink at the trough at the top, and we start the 3 mile downhill to the Garlock road. This road has been almost impassible in the past, but it had been recently bladed and was as smooth as can be, all the way down. A nice downhill jog / trot gets us to the bottom and the new 1 mile deep sandwash that led to the dry lake, the vet check location this year. I HATE deep sand, so Sorsha and I led a small herd of 5 horses through the wash edges here and there that were harder ground. Its fun bopping along, in and out, turn, jump, over there now, go this way, now over here, etc, etc. A short climb up and out of the wash and down to the dry lake and vet 2 for a check and 50 minute hold. Mike was there with the McDonalds breakfast burritos that I so crave here. (I had 3) Both horses were splendid, so we headed out, riding with Joyce Sousa and Jennifer Niehaus who were two of the three riders on the open 65. The joke was one would get first place, one the middle of the pack, and one the tail end. Neat! We leapfrogged with these guys for the rest of the loop. Now we hit the flats- the 5-mile section of dead flat trotting along the railroad tracks heading east that some people hate. I like it since you can make up some time here. Back across the paved road and up rattlesnake canyon at a trot/walk. It’s a couple miles of big wash/road to the top and looks like a gradual climb, but its misleading. I have seen horses blown up at the top here. A drink at the top and then it’s the several miles of decent roads (the power line road is kind of yucky rocky in spots) back down to the trestle. We drink and snack on hay here, then it’s the 3 miles trotting (the way we came out) back across the desert to vet 3 at the 395 vet check at mile 55. Another uneventful vet check and 30 minute hold and its back out the neat single track and across the 395 highway. Now its just 9 miles or so back to base camp at the fairgrounds and vet check 4. The 65 mile riders are done, but not us! We arrive as the sun was setting about 6:30 and prepare for the night loop. It was still cool, but not yet cold, but it would be soon. We vetted the horses, had a nice dinner of homemade stew, taped the glow bars on the breast collars, packed the flashlight, put the layers of clothes back on, and after our hour hold we headed back out of town on the 35 mile orange loop that DID NOT pass Gretchen’s house. I turned on the new, nice soft blue light battery powered glow bars that gave just the right amount of light. They were perfect! I tried them at home in the dark, but not for an extended period of time. I should have. The stupid things have a “feature” to protect their batteries- they turn themselves off after 15 minutes. I’m trotting up the road and “click”, they both turn off. Huh? I hopped off the horse, turned them back on, and yes, 15 minutes later “click.” Dark again. Oh great. Let’s see, 6 hour loop, that’s 24 fifteen minute periods, this is going to get old real quick. The moon was still up so I left them off for the next couple of hours, but once that moon was gone it was very dark. At least I could stop the horse, try to get her to stand still, take off my gloves, reach all the way down there and turn them back on without dismounting. The search for the perfect light bar continues! The air was weird- it was cool, but not cold, and we would hit these warm air pockets where you wanted to remove layers. 2 minutes later and its cold again. We trotted briskly up the 3 mile road heading east from camp and passed Leigh and Matt Scribner, who had these “special” headlamps on their helmets. We had been leapfrogging with them most of the day as well. The four of us turned west on boundary road, the 6 mile road that runs along the top of the ridge above Ridgecrest. Suddenly there was a truck coming towards us on the road at a pretty good clip- the lights were getting closer and closer, so Leigh said “we’ll take care of this.” they aimed those red lights at the truck- the truck slowed, stopped, (you could just hear the driver wondering what the heck?) turned around, and drove away. Those lights resembled a police car spotlight! Way to go, team Scribner! We caught up to Gayle Pena and Cristina Crum and rode as a small herd of six for a bit, but Gretchen, Gayle and I headed on together. Gayle’s glow sticks on her breast collar were dead, so she hung with us so she could see since it was quite dark. The lights of the city glitter to the right for the whole trip until we head downhill to the highway 395 south crossing where we have yet another drink and some hay. The next few miles are pretty cool- we wind up into the hills and join back up with the soft road that we trot down for about 4 miles and back to the trestle for the last time. it’s now about 12:30 am, and the stars above are incredible. We hooked up with fellow Quicksilver club member Jerry Wittenauer and his horse Carlos while the horses munch hay. He joined us for the superb 3 mile trot in the dark across the desert to our last vet check, vet 5, at mile 90. Cripes it’s cold now! The ride workers are all bundled up like skiers, but run out and give us a hand. Lucy Turnbuckle Chipotle was there filming in the middle of the night and caught me sleeping standing up. After 20 cold minutes we forge on back up the single track and up to the highway crossing where Sorsha did her only spook in the last 80 miles. The radio guy was in his dark truck, and we were leading the group. Just as we approached, he opened the door, the light comes on, and he hopped out. Sorsha stropped quick! It startled me as well, so I’ll give her that one. Across highway 395 onto the single track along the highway with the horrible car headlights blinding us. At least it was 1:00 am and there were not many cars! We mercifully turned east and out of the lights after a mile or so and trotted on the nice road back towards town. Back up over the top of the ridge and we led the horses on foot for a mile or more down the hill. We were almost out of the desert, literally less than 3 miles from the finish, and it happened. We were stopped on the dirt road for some reason with Gayle in the right lane, me and Sorsha in the left lane, (I may have been turning my stupid lights back on!) so Gretchen said she’d go on ahead and lead since Coquette knew where we are. She rode around me to the left and her horse stepped into a deep hole/trench that no one saw. Crash! Down they both go, hard, into the trench, with Gretchen smacking the ground with her helmet. Oh NO! Not now! Both her and her horse struggled to their feet and we checked for damage. They both seemed fine, so we walked for a bit and started trotting slowly. The horse looked okay, so on we continued with me worrying about Gretchen. She’s so tough, but hitting your head is never good. We rode slowly through the town and the last mile across the finish after 2am. It’s a 15 minute walk from the finish to camp which felt good. We took the horses to the final vet check where Sorsha did her Sorsha thing- CRI 36/36 and her trot looked like her vet in the day before. As Judy says- she’s a freak! But Coquette was lame. On no. She was off, I saw it. Not really bad, but off.

Here’s where vets can learn about what an AERC vet really is. Dr Mike Peralez (Head vet at Tevis) was out head vet. He and I may disagree on our opinion of Mojave Green rattlesnakes, but as a vet he’s top notch. More than that, though, he’s a good man. It’s 2:30 in the morning and Coquette is lame after 100 miles. I’m heartbroken for Gretchen, but I think she’s still a little loopy from her fall. Mike stands there quietly for a moment after watching her trot, and tells Gretchen: “ You still have time for your exam- walk her around for 10 minutes and bring her back.” She does, and brings her back for another trot. Okay, grade 2. The horse starts out off, but looks better after about half way as she speeds up! Mike nods, looks at his watch, and tells Gretchen: “okay, she looks better, but not quite. You have 15 minutes, walk her another 10.” Gretchen continues to walk her horse while Sorsha is pounding down her mash at the trailer next to the vet area. I hold my breath as Gretchen tries a third trot- Coquette looks better and trots well enough for her completion! Just in the nick of time. This is how it is done! Thanks again, Mike. He could have just pulled her and went back into the trailer. You the man, and Gretchen and I owe you a large beer!

It was cool to look at the time on my phone- daylight savings time had just kicked in and I was awarded another hour of sleep. A quick shower in the camper, and sleep, sleep, sleep. You know the term passing out? Yep. I don’t remember sleep feeling that good in a while. Up at 7:30 for walking the horses, breakfast, talking with friends, and watching the BC showing. I realized something incredible- I felt good. Really good. Nothing hurt, nothing was sore, no rubs, sleep removed the fatigue, and my Knee? Nothing. I realized that I had never really noticed it during or after the ride. It kept me from riding a lot last year. I don’t remember feeling this good after a 100 in a long time. Getting better with age? Just like fine wine! I’ll take it. The awards was fun- Jeremey won the 100 on one of Tinker’s horses (one got third as well) and J. Mero was awarded Best Condition. That was cool- she was really jazzed, as she should be! Her horse deserved it. Well Done Dr. J! I ended up in 20th place and third middleweight. I got a nice trophy plate, and the really beautiful Montana Silversmith championship 100 mile buckle is one that only 35 others on the planet share with me. Gretchen Included!
After awards Judy headed home to Hayward in the car, Gretchen took the horses back to her place for their turnout, the ride started to break up, and since I was staying an extra day, I stood there wondering what to do. I know! I unloaded the bike, suited up, and rode on out in my magnificent desert and cleaned up the ribbons on the 65 mile loop. It would save Brian from a long day out there doing that on the quad since it’s so much faster on the bike. I felt great and was riding very well. I picked up a bunch of stuff riders dropped and finished in about 3 hours. Now what? Off to the rv parts store to get some stuff and fix some nagging issues with the camper. Mike grilled us burgers for dinner, then off to sleep again. The next morning I packed up the big, brown, girly horse and headed home. What a great week. It is not relaxing as far as a vacation goes, but that’s the way I like it. Winter means desert rides, so next will be the fire mountain 2 day in January, then of course the 20 mule team 100 again in February. Again? Absolutely! You see, there is this trail I have to mark, and I have this brown horse..........

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Man Against Horse 50 2019 - Ashley Wingert - Full Story

by Ashley Wingert
October 22 2019

Man Against Horse will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my first AERC ride, the LD back in 2005. It’s also a tough, challenging ride, especially the 50-miler. Historically, I’ve gone up against the 50 three times…and finished once. Perversely, I still love this ride, and the challenge makes me all the more determined to conquer it.

So I was pleased to be offered a ride for the 50-miler this year when Cristina reached out to me to see if I was available and interested in riding Atti. I did the 75 at McDowell on him two years ago and had a great ride — he’s a safe, fun, go-getter little guy, and as a bonus, trains regularly on many of the Man Against Horse trails, so this would be his home turf.

Friday late morning saw me chucking my gear and some food into my truck, then zipping up the highway a couple hours north to Prescott Valley to pick up Cristina’s trailer and Atti. Now, I haven’t had a trailer since 2011, and prior to that, we had the big truck, so my suburban hasn’t had to do any trailer hauling duty for probably at least a decade, so there were more than a few muttered “please let me make it to camp” prayers after I hitched up and headed down the road. (Pleased that I have lost none of my vehicle aligning/trailer hitching skills, even if it was a comedy of errors to get the right hitch dialed in.) I only had a 20-minute, mostly flat and easy drive in which to contemplate brewing an ulcer though, and we made it into camp with no issues.

Troy and Claire had saved me a parking spot in camp, so I didn’t have to do the typical avoidance run of “don’t park in the middle of a rock pile or cactus patch” that someones comes with the territory of camping in the middle of a cow pasture. This was probably the most “on my own” I’ve been at a ride since retiring Mimi, and selling the truck and trailer, but I quickly fell back into doing my thing.

One thing catch riding has definitely done has been to knock off a lot of my uptight, control freak rough edges, and I feel like I’ve actually gotten pretty laid back and settled about the whole production, especially Friday afternoons before the ride. I used to be ridiculously neurotic about “OMG EVERYTHING HAS TO GET DONE AND THIS HAS TO HAPPEN AND…AND…AND…” and if I wasn’t right on top of things, or I didn’t check in right away or didn’t vet as soon as vetting started, it was grounds for a nervous meltdown. I recognize a lot of that for the nerves and inexperience that it was, but with catch riding, and operating more off of so many other people’s schedules, it’s really taught me some valuable flexibility, going with the flow, and that the world doesn’t end if things don’t fall 100% in accordance with The Schedule of Ashley...

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Iron Oak 2019 - Christina Hyke - Full story

October 14 2019
by Christina Hyke

Grace, Grace and more Grace, where do I start? This little mare was so ready for this ride, it is safe to say that all year we had worked up to this point. While Grace is doing so well, and I am so proud of her, it really took all this time from March until now to get her ready. Even with that said, it takes years (not months) to truly condition a horse due to joints, tendons, ligaments and yes, even bones to strengthen over miles of training. But, do you know what? It was SO worth it. It felt amazing to load her up and be confident in the program we had followed, the method of conditioning we are using and knowing we had done all our homework. I am not trying for a placing, we are riding for a completion. If over the years we bump up in the pack, so be it. Though we finish where we finish and our goal is to finish strong/get the mileage, and we did. 30 of them

Dogs to the sitter, housecare, horse care & chicken care all arranged, trailer fully loaded with enough snacks to keep the kiddos happy all weekend. We packed extra everything for Grace & for us. Extra food, blankets, batteries, flashlights , bridles etc etc. You get the picture. ALL week we had been watching carefully the weather as it approached, the forecast was not good. Night temps to almost freezing and rain/snow in the forecast. God Bless Jim. His attitude was, "Let's load up an go, Babe, if you get up there, and it is too bad weather, we can always come back home." Wow, just wow, how can I say no to that? So away we went, into a very uncertain weather forecast. Grace was beyond wound up when we got parked, the wind was literally blowing sideways. And it had gone from earlier in the week being so warm that she had sweated on her last two rides, to now being cold enough to see snow flurries. I turned her into the round pen at the campgrounds to let her work off some energy and saw some fancy moves from her I simply did not know she had. The dressage horse breeding in her definitely showed up and pranced around and she was so gorgeous that any carousel horse would have paled in comparison to her moves and beauty. She barely touched the ground as she floated around the arena. I quickly decided that she was not going to roll or chill, and that she was getting far MORE amped up- so I'd better get a rope and catch her. Glad I did- the horses on the other side of the fence thought about challenging her- so good thing I got her out of there asap. Instead we walked around and found a friend to visit with at the other end of the campground and that helped take the edge off of her and she settled back into the Gracie Girl we all know and love, calm and cuddly.

We vetted in and the vet had nice things to say about Grace and how well she trotted out for me. She really is looking good...

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Traveling with a Horse Circus in Guatemala - Full Story

September 9 2019

Traveling in a caravan with a horse circus in Guatemala is not really what you’d expect to see deep in the jungle. One adventuress shares her experiences as a gypsy riding in a caravan from place to place with pack horses and hula hoops. Their mission? To bring smiles to people’s faces wherever they go.

Author: Hebe Webber

The Calling

“Attention all Nomads! We are seeking adventurous, spirited souls to come join us on our journey deep into the jungle, deep into our natural wild selves. We are a community travelling by horse and giving a creative show to the local communities in order to experience cultural exchange. Every caravan is different because it is the tribe who makes it. Our quest is to gather riders, artists, healers, movers, makers, and creators of any kind and of any background to form a unified tribe.”

These are the words that echoed in my mind, urging me to follow them to the source. The dream began 5 years prior when I heard the tales of a friend who had ridden with this very community in Mexico. As the years passed, the calling stayed. Until one day I could no longer ignore it. I followed it through Latin America until I had landed in the very place my dream existed: Guatemala...

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Ireland: Saddle up – we’re doing the Wild Atlantic Way – on horseback! - Full Story

Friday, 27th September, 2019 11:50am
Story by Jackie Keogh

A COUPLE who met in the most unusual of circumstances have embarked on an adventure of a lifetime – they are travelling into the Wild Atlantic West on horseback.

Krystal Kelly, a 29-year-old woman from California, who has been obsessed with horses all her life, and 32-year-old Christian Vogler, a German automotive engineer, met while she was doing the Mongol Derby on horseback and he was doing the Mongol Rally by car.

It seemed like an unlikely pairing, but since then, they have worked together on YouTube documentaries for Equestrian Adventuresses, an online community established by Krystal for women who love horses and adventure.

It was while Bridget Sheeran, who lives in Ballinard in Baltimore, was googling ‘sole travel for women and how to stay safe’ that Krystal’s website popped up.

Emails were exchanged and in one of them Bridget suggested they should come to Ireland, and – in true synchronistic style – Krystal said she had the very same thought, the very same day...

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Monday, September 23, 2019

‘An amazing experience’: Pony and rider cross Britain coast to coast - Full Article

Sarah Radford
17 September, 2019 07:02

A rider and her Fell pony have raised almost £6,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support after successfully crossing the UK west to east along the challenging Trans Pennine Trail.

Sarah Bartlett and Billy are the first horse and rider combination to have tackled the whole route from Southport to Hornsea — which involved big and busy roads linking up the sections of trail.

The epic trip involved eight days of travelling between 25 and 30 miles a day, which Sarah described as a “hard slog at times”but an “amazing experience”.

“There were the lows, including the horse lorry we were staying in each night breaking down halfway through the trek, but there were many highs and many memories made,” she said.

On the August bank holiday they got caught in the heatwave while crossing the Pennines at Woodhead Stretch and had to steady their pace, which meant longer gaps between the planned water stops.

“We’d done a lot of hill training but it was a hot day and we’d gone up one steep hill and there was no one to be seen anywhere, just sheep and the pennines,” Sarah recalled. “We came across a six-inch deep puddle and he just planted in it and started taking the odd sip — for a horse who doesn’t normally drink much on the road that let me know how hot he was. We had to stop there and rest for about 40 minutes..."

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Cuneo Creek 50 2019: And Then There Were Hills - Redheaded Endurance - Full Story


Kenny and I had good fun at the inaugural running of the Nevada multi-day Torre Creek in May. We saw rain, hail, snow-capped peaks, and gorgeous flower-accented desert trails; we sponsored a junior on an LD and had a lovely time–but we didn’t get in our 50 miler for the Decade Team Goal.* Summer whipped by with a lot of work and some play, and suddenly we were looking at an ever dwindling ride calendar quickly heading towards season’s close on November 30th. I hit on the notion of trying out Red Rock Rumble in Nevada in October as I liked the ride management and Kenny had completed his first 50 in that area previously.

* (“The Decade Team recognizes those equine and rider teams who completed at least one endurance ride (50 miles or more) each year for 10 years. This would not have to be consecutive years, and the rider must be an AERC member each of the 10 years.”).

Then one day on a ride at newly reopened fabulous local trails with my dear riding buddy N and her Tennessee Walker, N asked why I had never been up to the Redwood Rides; simple: as 6+ hours hauls up into a rural area, I deemed them an unfair task for my 22 year old truck that is reaching for the 400,000 miles stars. N has been through an incredibly tough year that, among other things, resulted in needing to replace vehicle(s) and she wondered if I might be interested in hooking up my much larger horse trailer (she hauls a Brenderup) to her 2019 Dodge Diesel and going to September 7’s Redwood Ride Cuneo Creek together.

Why Yes. Yes I was!...

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Thursday, September 05, 2019

Appaloosa Horse Club celebrates history at the 55th annual Chief Joseph Trail Ride

Photo by participant Kristen Livingston - Full Article

August 28 2019

More than 250 riders, drivers and spectators along with 106 horses from across the nation and around the world gathered together to experience in the 55th Annual Chief Joseph Trail Ride organized by the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), July 22-26, 2019. The Chief Joseph Trail Ride is a progressive ride tracing, as closely as possible, the route Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce took while attempting to escape the US Cavalry in 1877.

The ride is currently on its fifth passage of the route that takes thirteen years to complete. This year, when riders and their Appaloosas covered 113 miles in just five days in Idaho from Grangeville to Musselshell Meadows, the third leg was completed...

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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Crewing Tevis 2019 - Ashley Wingert - Full Story

This year, I was actually pretty “waffle-y” on whether I was going to go to Tevis or not. Earlier in the summer, I was pretty set on the idea that I wasn’t going. I’d had a taste for riding it the previous year, had fallen short, and although I hadn’t had high expectations for the day…it still stung, and I was battling back a lot of “if I can’t ride, I don’t want to go” feelings.

Well, that lasted until my friend Cathy messaged me, wondering if I possibly had any Tevis plans, and if I didn’t, if there was a possibility I might be interested in crewing. She’d asked me several previous years, but I was always otherwise committed to someone else, but this year, the way the cards ended up falling for various and sundry people, I was still un-booked when she contacted me. It was also a nice way to return the favor of her taking me with her and providing horses for the Tevis Ed Ride a couple years ago...

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Canadian Sisters Take Cross-Country Horseback Adventure - Full Article

Sisters Katie and Jewel Keca embarked on part two of their cross-Canada horseback ride in support of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.

By: Amy Harris | August 28, 2019

When Katarina (Katie) Keca was a little girl, she dreamed of riding a horse across the country with her sister and cousin. Time passed, life happened and she put her dream on the shelf. Years later, her sister, Jewel Keca, picked up the dream, dusted it off, and started making plans.

Jewel convinced Katie to join her and Ora, a seven-year-old Appaloosa cross mare, on the cross-Canada journey. She even bought Katie a horse for the trip – a 12-year-old Quarter Horse cross gelding named Lux.

The sisters decided to raise money alongside their adventure, and chose the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides as a recipient. The organization is close to the Keca family’s hearts, and between them they have raised five guide dog puppies.

With their older brother Joseph serving as support staff/videographer, Katie (25) and Jewel (20), set off on the first part of their journey in May 2017...

Read more and see a video here:

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Chief Joe Trail Ride - Onward to Musellshell - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales Blog - Full Story

July 29 2019
by Karen Bumgarner

This had to be the fastest week ever! It seemed like I had barely left when it was time to say goodbye to my friends for another year, and we all load up and go home. To describe this years experience I could overuse the word "amazing" very easily. We had our ups and downs, it wasn't perfect, but as someone said, "We weren't living in teepees and when we get to camp dinner will be ready for us!" Truer words were never spoken. It's all an adventure.

The Chief Joseph ride began in 1965 and this was the 55th year, taking place over the third segment of the trail. It takes 13 years to complete the entire trail and it averages 100 miles a year. This years total by an average of several GPS' was 113 miles!! Last year we ended at Tolo Lake near Grangeville, ID, and this year we ended at the historic Musselshell Meadows. We rode through thick forests with magnificent views through the trees, old burns, beautiful wildflowers, along scenic rivers, historic routes and places. Each night we had Nez Perce speakers to learn the history of the events and places along the way...

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Going the Distance: Riding my first 50 - Jessica Isbrecht

Ride+Climb blog - Full Story

June 24 2019
by Jessica Isbrecht

My horse and I have just gone our furthest distance yet. I’ve been in the saddle for hours. My knees and back ache. The sun is beating down; temperatures are climbing, causing us to slow to a walk. It feels like it will never end. The enthusiasm I felt at the start is waning but I don’t want to give up, so I just keep riding, taking it mile by mile.

The sport of Endurance Riding has always intrigued me. The athleticism of horse and rider teams competing on courses of 100 miles in a day is awe inspiring. I’ve always wanted to make it to that level but so far have only competed in limited distance rides, meaning shorter than fifty miles. Recently, I decided to attempt a longer distance. Here’s the story of how we reached our goal of completing a fifty mile endurance ride.

I started competing on River, Byron’s horse, this season out of necessity since Mackenzie is still healing from an injury. In March, River and I completed our first 25 miles at Old Pueblo in Sonoita, Arizona. The terrain consisted of gently rolling hills and River handled it beautifully. We were able to buddy up with fellow Greenbean, Christina McCarty and her horse, Hot Shot. Riding with them was a real pleasure. It gave me the confidence to ride away from camp on a prancing, head-tossing beast who was screaming for her friend back at the trailer...

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Chasing Oregon’s Volcanoes - Robert Eversole - Full Story

December 20 2018

As published in The TrailHead News Dec 2018 issue

Over the summer I had the opportunity to camp and ride throughout central Oregon for two weeks, stopping at 4 different equine camps along the way and riding some phenomenal country.

Celeste and I started at the Quinn Meadow Horse Camp, west of Bend. It’s a popular destination point for riders throughout the Pacific Northwest. This very clean, very welcoming camp offers sturdy corrals, potable water, private camp spots and miles of loop trails to enjoy through dense forest, and remnants of the area’s volcanic past.

Within 10 minutes of the horse camp riders can step back over 7,000 years to a time of bubbling basaltic lava flows and volcanic vistas. Riding through the lava flows that tower overhead is quite the experience! For more info on the horse camp including accurate directions, GPS tracks, pics, and more, visit

Great Minds Think Alike at Todd Creek

After a few days at Quinn we decamped and traveled an impressive 5 miles down the road to the Todd Creek Horse Camp where I would be completing my unfinished ride of 2017. Pulling into the immense parking lot that is the Todd Creek Camp we saw that two of our Quinn Meadow mule neighbors had already arrived, made camp and were now planning the next day’s ride...

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Monday, June 17, 2019

2019 Wild West 50 Day 2 - Nick Warhol

by Nick Warhol
June 16 2019

I rode Sorsha on her second 50 of the year on Day 2 of the now 4 day wild west ride at Skillman campground near Nevada City in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Gretchen Montgomery joined me for the ride on her mare Coquette. I have done thirty plus 50 mile rides at this event over the years so I know the area pretty well. The ride this day was a modified version of the usual route with some differences. The day has been a little short in the past, but not on Friday. It was easily a full 50 on a long day in the saddle in a weird ride. It was very hot, which does not bother me, but the heat and trail took it out of many people. An amazing half of the riders got pulled on this day which I don’t ever remember happening. The ride used to be about 60% single track and 40% roads, but not now! Ride management did me a favor and made it about 90% single track. It was a great trail for me anyway. Long story short Gretchen and I just rode all day and had pretty much a perfect ride. We missed several turns, as did many people, but were able to back track and find the route pretty easily. The ride started at 7am and we finished at 6pm in 19th and 20th. I believe about 48 started and only 26 finished. My knee did well again as it did at Cache Creek 4 weeks ago. My solution is to walk a quarter mile every 5 miles or so- it really helps refresh my knee.

Oh, about my horse. When I got Sorsha 3 years ago I told people I think this is going to be a good endurance horse. Oh boy was I right on that one! She is no longer going to be a good horse, she is now officially a very good endurance horse! I’m astounded how far she has come so quickly. She is a metabolic machine with incredible recoveries, which is a good thing. In her first few rides I had to lead her on foot from camp due to her nerves and excitement- not any more. We walk out perfectly looking like a trail horse. She would not go near water, mud, or moist ground. (On my test ride before I bought her we had to turn around because of a little mud on the trail) Now she crosses anything. She used to have a fit and spin around when another horse passed her or she passed one- not any more. She goes up hills like no Arabian I have ever ridden. She eats and drinks like a seasoned pro. Her number one issue is she is flighty and spooks. She was VERY spooky at first which led me to have to ride her differently that Donnie, that’s for sure. I know she is going to launch so I have to be ready at all times.

Here’s where I admit that you never stop learning about horses. Before the Cache Creek ride a month ago I was talking to my friend Ines Hoffman who I rode with. I was explaining how I had to ride Sorsha differently than Donnie because of her spooks. She gave me some simple advice that at first I did not pay much attention to. She just told me “Don’t ride her like she’s going to spook, ride her like she won’t.” I started thinking about that, and during the ride she pointed out that I was looking for things for her to spook at, which the horse probably felt. I stopped doing that and just relaxed, like I do when I’m on Donnie.

Yeah- night and day difference. She did not spook at anything during the Cache Creek ride, even when she was in the lead of our group of horses. Not one spook. At the ride on Friday Gretchen and I spent just about half and half leading the other. Sorsha did not spook once. She looks at things, and will move over on the trail a little bit when she’s looking, but no spooks other than one little startle when she walked over a deep rut filled with branches. She’s a different horse in the last couple of months, and is an absolute joy to ride. I was obviously communicating nervousness to her. It is so neat to see the incredible improvement in just a couple of years.

Next stop is Fireworks where I will ride with Judy and Donnie on the 25. My year is focused on getting Sorsha primed for the Championship 100 at the 20 mule team on November 2nd. It’s my trail and I can’t wait!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Across Argentina on Horseback - Full Story and photos

14 June 2019

Harold and DanaƩ were novice riders until they embarked on a 1,000km trek across Argentina with three incredible horses...

El Carmen, Argentina - April 2019: The young couple on horseback are tired after another long day on the road. They are 600km into their epic trip across the wild terrain of northern Argentina, and there’s hundreds of kilometres still to go with their trio of horses.

On the horizon a vehicle is coming their way. Dust spits up from the road as the engine roars. The car nears – faster and faster, louder and louder - and Pilpinto, their sturdy and reliable saddlebag horse, takes fright, leaping over a barrier by the roadside and then back over it again. He screams in pain.

The young couple, Harold and DanaĆ©, come to his aid. Poor, brave Pilpinto is spooked. He’s bleeding from his leg. The blood rushes. He needs help...

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Saturday, June 01, 2019

2019 Torre Creek 2019: Scenery, and Snail! - Redheaded Endurance - Full Story

May 29, 2019 / Redheaded Endurance

Kenny and I jumped aboard adventure pal W’s trailer last Friday morning for a journey to the new high desert multi-day endurance ride Torre Creek in north eastern Nevada. Kenny and I’s last endurance ride (complete with exciting travel issues) was in September and we had had truly minimal saddle time since the new year between life and the new job; that coupled with ride camp at 6500 ft elevation (we live at about 1200 ft) with climbs promised had me already weighing the idea of changing my planned 50 to an LD once or twice in the week leading up to the event.

Morning of departure, the weather forecast was dire and we had a long (7 hr) drive ahead of us, but a friend of W’s was putting the ride on and we had long ago committed to attending. Feeling as discombobulated as one does after not going to a ride in ages, and then not in your own rig, I scrabbled together what I thought we would need for an “arrive-Friday, ride-Saturday, home-Sunday” weekend and off we set (note to self: always pack more hay than you think you should).

An aside: If you have followed this blog at all then you may know that trucks have a tendency to misbehave around me. Here I would like to record a BIG shout out to W’s 1997 Ford, who laid to rest all past transgressions by charging through the 14+ hours of travel like a fresh faced youth, apparently unphased by being backed into at ride camp mid weekend. Thank you, Ford!

Suffice to say that we arrived at ride camp as planned late afternoon on Friday–and that’s about where “as planned” ended for the weekend! Things got real quite quickly, as Kenny has barely made his opening tour of the grounds and taken in his ride camp spot before it started hailing– with conviction...

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