Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 Fire Mountain - Nick Warhol


Baylor/Gore Photo

Fire Mountain 50, 2017

I had a great almost week down in the desert with only one glitch. I
got really lucky driving down on Tuesday, leaving the Bay Area in the
rain, and arriving in Ridgecrest in nice weather. Tuesday evening the
storm blew in and closed highway 395 due to the high wind. Whew! That
was close. Ride manager Gretchen Montgomery put me up in her house
again with pens for my horses. (The ride base camp is a 5 minute walk
away)

On Wednesday (after the daily morning hike in the hills) I went out on
the bike and worked on the 20 Mule Team trail in the wind. Wind does
not bother a dirt bike much. I figured out the new route to the 395
crossing since we can’t use bikes or quads any more on the old trail,
and then scoped out the new 50 mile trail in the morning. I rode the
whole 50 to check mileage. The desert was wet, which makes it
perfect. Such fun!

On Thursday morning, in nice breezy weather, after the hike I got to
work on the fire mountain trail. Gretchen has guys who mark it, then I
go out and fill in ribbons, put chalk down on the turns, put up signs,
and then ride it backwards on the bike to be sure it is marked okay
for day 2 which is the day 1 trail in the other direction. I noticed I
was coughing and sneezing a little, uh oh. The clouds rolled in as I
finished loop 1; I headed out on loop 2 and was high up on the ridge
when the front came in. I could see this black wall of rain heading
right towards me, and yes, it hit. Whammo! The wind came, and it
poured, hard, and even hailed. I continued with the trail, enjoying
all of it but the cold. Wet desert is magic on the bike! Unfortunately
my soaked gloves made my hands freeze, so bad that I had to stop and
put them on my engine to warm them enough to open the clothes pin on
the ribbons. The chalk was also useless in the downpour and wind. I
finished the loop soaked and cold, and after a lunch break and drying
out period, I finished the third loop in the sunshine. Thursday night
brought more coughing and a sore throat, oh great. Just what I need.

After a short hike on Friday morning, Gretchen rode my Donnie with me
on Sorsha, along with Peggy on Gretchen’s Coquette for 90 minutes or
so. It went well except for a couple of spooks from rabbits. We spent
the rest of Friday getting ready for the ride, with Gretchen doing
tons of stuff, and me running errands and putting up signs out on the
trail. The weather was supposed to clear, but it remained overcast
with light rain on and off all day, and pretty cold. My riding buddy
Ines Hofmann Kanna drove down on Friday afternoon to ride Donnie with
me on day 1. She stayed in my camper at base camp while I lounged with
my horses in the Montgomery Hilton, 5 minutes away. She camped next to
Brenda and Jenni, but poor Jenni could not start due to her horse
being lame on Friday night. Late Friday night I knew I was
sick. Perfect. I did the best I could to sleep, but it wasn’t much.

Saturday morning came clear and cold, and zero wind. Finally! At 5:30
am, sick as heck, I walked the two horses over to base camp and we
tacked up and headed out at 7. We rode out at the back of the pack
with Kristin Ojala from the Bay Area on her nice mare Lani. She and I
have been riding a little up here, with her helping Sorsha get used to
other horses. Sorsha did pretty well at the start with so few horses,
but she’s still too sensitive to horses being behind her, and in front
of her if it’s not Donnie. She’s a little competitive in the
morning. I can’t thank Ines and Kristin enough for helping me the
whole ride. I’d just ask them to be in front of me, or behind me, or
further behind. They were helping me do my ride on my young horse, and
I really appreciate it. Sorsha did really well passing other horses
and when other horses passed her- this was a real issue in my two
rides. I was very pleased when a horse cantered past us, and she did
okay when the 4 limited distance leaders came flying by later on. The
first loop is 15 miles, some rocks and climbing, but a lot of nice wet
desert. I had a strange problem in the last half of the loop- I was so
sick that my eyes were burning, and the wind from riding was killing
them. It made them burn, and it was so bad that I actually rode the
last 4 miles or so with one closed the whole time, and sometimes
both. That was weird. Blind Endurance! The first vet check went
perfectly, I spent the 30 minutes with my eyes closed. I tried eye
drops which them burn more. I had an idea- I had my bike stuff here,
so I put a pair of dirt bike goggles on over my sunglasses, then put
on my horse helmet. I looked really stupid, but it worked! Perfectly!
I rode out of camp on loop 2 looking like a bug, but it solved my
problem, and I could see again! And the goggles matched my helmet!
Ines thought I should have done that for the pictures, but no. The
weather was as nice as it gets in the desert- clear, cool to warm, and
calm. I had a little bit of young horse excitement on loop 1, nothing
bad, but it’s just not like riding Donnie. It’s fun to ride along with
him with another rider on his back. It’s a neat view of my best pony I
don’t get to see that often! Loop 2 turned into a fantasy ride; I left
camp in a tee shirt. Sorsha was perfect, well, almost. Just once when
Kristin came up a little close Sorsha did a little kick backwards:
Kristin backed off a little, and that was that. It was absolutely
fun. Ines and I took turns leading; Sorsha really prefers to be in
front, which I love. And this horse can move. What a motor! Kristin
led us down the valley for a couple of miles at a quick pace down to
camp for our lunch on a fantastic trotting trail. I told someone at
the check that if this were a test ride on this horse, I’d be getting
out my big checkbook. She was absolutely splendid. If I sound happy I
am. Wait till this horse is fit, and gets a few more rides under her
saddle! The hour lunch went quickly, and off we went on loop 3. This
loop has some fantastic trotting on it, which we did in wet perfect
desert. We picked up Tim Martin on his new mare after his wife was
pulled. Sorsha was even better on this loop. She just motored along,
her motivation and forward attitude never once even feeling any
different than she did at the start. I just LOVE it when you ask your
horse to trot from a walk, and they just spring forward, instantly,
even on the way out from camp. Donnie has always done that. The four
of us just bopped along the whole way, and we even survived the
infamous recliner chair that has been marking a turn for years. Sorsha
drank well all day, and was eating the desert vegetation as we
went. At the last water Tim led his horse for a while, so the three of
us trotted down to the finish just as the sun was setting. The
temperature started dropping about a degree every 5 minutes, but
that’s what it does out here. The horses vetted out great- Donnie with
his always CRI of 44/44, and Sorsha was at 40/40. This was her second
ride! Well, technically third, since I stopped because of me at gold
rush shuffle because of the weather. We had a nice ride dinner, and at
about 7:30 I led the ponies back to Gretchen’s, put them up, went to
bed and slept for 12 hours. I was sick, and no way was I going out on
Donnie again today. Didn’t matter- he blew through the ride as
usual. I loaded up and sneezed and coughed my way home on Sunday.

It was a great trip where I got to ride both the bike and horses in
the perfect desert, which I really love. I’m happy beyond words with
how Sorsha is doing. Wow. Thanks to Gretchen and Mike for putting me
up in their house- it’s a plush way to do a ride. Thanks to Ines and
Kristin for really helping me on the ride. Ines said I really had to
twist her arm to come down to ride Donnie. Next stop- 20 mule team. I
have not decided what I’ll do yet. I’d like to ride both horses again
like this ride, but also want to do the 100 on Donnie. We shall see.

It was hard to hear that our dear friend Jackie Bumgardner passed away on Tuesday, the day I arrived. It was not unexpected, but that does not make it any easier. We will all miss her very much. There will be an unofficial small memorial service for her at the 20 mule team ride, a ride she founded, on Friday after the riders meeting. It will be a chance for people to celebrate her life and share a couple of stories about her. I have some. Godspeed, Jackie.

More on the ride at:
2017 Fire Mountain on Endurance.net


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Australia: Trot to the Top: Riding the Bicentennial National Trail - Kim Delavere

Trot to the Top

Hi, I’m Kim, I’m 25, and I’m riding from Healesville, Victoria, to Cooktown in Queensland, along the Bicentennial National Trail!

The BNT is a 5330KM long track that has been specially designed with self-reliant trekkers in mind. It has taken me ten months to prepare myself and my steeds for the trip!

I began the trail on the 15th of December, 2015, with my two horses, Clem and Pippin. We travelled along the trail, over the mountains to Omeo where I retired my packhorse Pip and continued on with my gelding Clem. After arriving in Canberra Clem ran into traffic and was injured, putting a halt on our trip. I started the trail again in Winter with two new horses, Koshi and Archy, but we got snowed in at Crookwell. Now I’m heading back out on the trail with just Archy, while Clem enjoys a new home far, far away from any bike paths, and Koshi enjoys time with his new family.

My trip is unsupported and solo (and so much fun!), but could not have been made possible without the help and support from so many people. The Long Riders Guild has been a terrific source of advice and support, and have asked me to carry the LRG flag as I make my way along the BNT, which is totally exciting!

While I am embarking on this very ambitious adventure up the way, I plan to raise support and awareness for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. The Indigenous Literacy Foundation works to provide remote and isolated communities with books and literary resources to improve education and opportunities for Indigenous kids. They work within communities to increase exposure to books and literacy at a young age, in order to give children the best chance at a great education that they will benefit from as they become adults. The ILF also publish books written in English and first language, as well as fund other literacy projects too. They currently work within 230 Indigenous communities, receive no funding from the government, and continue to raise community awareness of the many issues surrounding Indigenous literacy levels. I believe that education is a vital key in improving the quality of life in any child. I also know from my own experience that reading, being read to, and developing an imagination, an understanding, and a passion for stories is a gift that should be shared, encouraged and nurtured.
Donations can be made through this link: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/116245/riding-the-bicentennial-national-trail

So please show some support! And hopefully I'll see you along the trail somewhere ;)

You can follow the entire adventure here:
https://www.facebook.com/Trot-to-the-Top-Riding-the-Bicentennial-National-Trail-1558904634379513/



Friday, January 06, 2017

Death Valley Encounter XP 2016 - Redheaded Endurance

Redheadedendurance.com - Full Story

January 3, 2017 / Redheaded Endurance

I was incredibly fortunate to end my 2016 calendar year, and start my 2017 AERC season, adventuring through Death Valley with good friends and borrowed horses. I rode all 4 days of the event, something I’ve never done before, and rode a different horse each day. It was an incredible adventure that I hope to do some justice to with a bit of summation, as there’s many things to say and pictures to share.

We left early the morning after Christmas–we being myself and my gear, hopping aboard childhood schoolmate Elicia’s rig, along with new buddy Jo. Elicia brought her Arabian Kenlyn Amir, one of Mark Montgomery’s Mustangs, her mini horse companion Jellybean, and Jo’s amazing Morgan mare Beetle.

It was a happily uneventful drive and we pulled into a relatively empty ride camp just after dark. Mark and the rest of his Mustangs rolled in later that evening but as we hadn’t entirely sorted out my sleeping quarters to that point I spent the first night on my cot in the cozy christmas light-decked tent of a kind new acquaintance, Lora, and her cutest-ever dog. The tight community feel at these XP rides truly cannot be overstated!

As usual, having “a whole extra day!” in camp quickly seemed like not enough time, as everyone settled in, Mustangs were clipped, and we got through our two sets of pre rides getting all the necessary steeds legs stretched. It’s a singularly interesting experience to be at a ride you’ve never been to, sleeping you’re not sure where, riding a number of new horses, in saddles you have not yet decided on. I’m fairly certain a number of Endurance Tenets were broken (don’t try something new at a ride? Pshhhh!!) throughout this saga but hey, that’s adventuring!...

Read more here:
https://redheadedendurance.com/2017/01/03/death-valley-encounter-xp-2016/

Monday, January 02, 2017

Something Wonderful - Marvel Endurance

MarvelEndurance Blog - Full Story

January 1 2017

Next up on our calendar for the year was one of my favourite tracks – Biggenden. The ride has never been run over the exact same trail, every year is new! What did Sue have in store for us this time? The last thing our horses wanted – a bloody big hill…

Here at home we don’t have hills. Not real hills, they’re more like gentle slopes really, so our horses tend to struggle on the hillier tracks and we have to slow down a good deal and take care of them through the tough parts. Most of the Biggenden track was undulating and good under foot which is a lot like what we train for, but that hill – oh lordy that hill…!

We had four horses in the 80km – Jasmine riding her horse Hala, Adriana with Sam, Erin on Koda and myself with Milton. We also happened to meet a new rider in our area who we managed to help along to the ride with her horse – her name was Kat and her little mare is Vegas. They were entering the 40km so we would begin a bit earlier.

Before we vetted in, Adriana and I clipped Sam and left a snowy patch of white hair in his yard which Revan (my dog) found to be such fun to play in. After a quick brush we vetted in and decided to go on a quick pre-ride. It was a lovely afternoon, Spencer and Erin’s dad, Craig, got the fire going and we all huddled around before heading off to the Biggenden pub for our customary pre-ride dinner...

Read more here:
https://marvelendurance.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/something-wonderful/

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A riding I will go............ - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales Blog - Full Story

December 9 2016
by Karen Bumgarner

Summer came and went. I rode here and there and every where. I neglected my blog as I played with horses all through the fall and into the snowy weather. So now, since it's 26 degrees and dropping frozen rain drops on top of yesterday's snow, perhaps I'll get a bit creative.

Somewhere during summer my AERC patch for riding 26,000 miles on rides arrived in the mail. That doesn't include fun rides, trail rides, conditioning or goofing off rides. Just sanctioned AERC endurance rides.

I started this crazy activity in 1977 on my pony horse from the track, Sunny Spots R. At our first ride a vteran rider told me that Sunny would never make it because he was too big. Yes he was 16.2 and weighed 1250 pounds and I retired him from endurance years after that with 4,410 AERC miles and many awards...

Read more here:
http://karenshorsetales.blogspot.com/2016/12/a-riding-i-will-go.html

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Rough Going - Marvel Endurance

Marvelendurance Blog - Full Story

DECEMBER 4, 2016
MARVELENDURANCE

I remember a loud cracking sound, and I remember the feeling of my foot bending in a way it shouldn’t be expected to. I remember realising what was happening as I fell into the newly dug and uncovered fence post hole. The front half of my foot had almost made it over, another inch and I might not have even known the danger.

Earlier in the 2015 I had offered a young girl the opportunity to try endurance, riding my then 5 year old Arab Connemara mare, Ardair Skoda. The two of them got along very well and they came along so nicely in training that we planned for them to start in their first 40km at Rockybar, where I planned to do my next 80km with the new horse we had in training.

Haze went home on the 28th of March. I was heartbroken, but I knew that it was just too easy to keep riding the seasoned horse while the young ones stayed fat in the paddock so I had to remove the temptation. It isn’t like I would never see Haze again, he would be at Rockybar in preparation for the 50th Tom Quilty later in the year.

We had gotten into the year with one hell of a swing, things were going pretty damn well! I was two rides through novice, Jas had made it through her first 80km completion at Cooyar, Adriana had made a brave call on Sally at the ride and I couldn’t imagine a better outcome – the future was looking bright! Little did I know that tings were going to come crashing down around my ears in a short space of time...

Read more here:
https://marvelendurance.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/rough-going/



Sunday, December 04, 2016

Gold Rush Shuffle November 2016 - Nick Warhol

My first rider option pull!

November 27 2016
by Nick Warhol

I took Sorsha and Donnie to Camp Far West Lake for the three-day ride, hoping to ride day two on Sorsha on her second 50, and Donnie on Day 3. Rain was in the forecast, but who cares about a little rain? Gretchen Montgomery brought her two horses up from Ridgecrest, rode Coquette Friday on day 1, and finished, getting her 10,000th endurance mile. That’s a big accomplishment. Congratulations to Gretchen! Friday was nice weather wise; I drove up on Friday, having done thanksgiving with the family. The forecast for rain kept changing, and now it was supposed to start Saturday morning at 8am. Saturday morning came nice; clear and cool. Gretchen rode her 5K mile horse Spice with Sorsha and I. Sorsha passed test number one- she just walked out of camp with me, not caring in the least about leaving her pasture buddy. Nice! We left at 6:30 am near the back of the pack, with spice leading Sorsha and I down the road. Sorsha did a good job, being more relaxed than her first ride. She still gets a little nervous when horses pass us, especially at a trot. She wants to go with them! She also likes to be in front, but will follow other horses if need be. We switched back and forth as we rode the first hour and a half or so, having a really fun time. (the pictures above were taken before 8am!) Guess what happened at 8am? The rain started. Lightly at first, no problem. Then the front came in. The wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and the rain started. Real rain. In no time we were pretty wet, but worse was the cold temp and the wind. The trails were not too bad so far, but they were deteriorating fast. Real fast. By the time we got to the gun range the trails were either slippery mud, or actually running water, like little streams. It was very slippery, so we walked a lot, only trotting on the couple of roads we touched for a bit, and on some of the trails that were flat. By the time we got to the old ride Camp, the whole area was a swamp. There were deep mud holes you could not see under the standing (running!) water on the trails. And the cold. The temp as in the high 40s, we were soaked, and it was windy. We got off the horses and walked with them to help keep warm, but I kept falling down in the mud. Just past the old camp we got on a gravel road that was trottable, but it was covered in water, a couple of inches in places. When I first brought Sorsha home, she would not cross water or muddy spots. We spent a a lot of time working on that, but Boy, that’s a thing of the past! She’s an official water horse now, having done half of the whole loop in the water and mud. She was such a good sport.

We were cold to the bone, soaking wet, and walking in the slop. Reality set in when we looked at the clock. This loop was what, 22 miles or so? It was noon and we were still not near camp. It was an easy decision to quit. First, we were cold and quite uncomfortable. The rain, cold, and wind would not stop. Second, there was no way on earth we were going to finish on time, or in the daylight, since we still had 2 loops to go, and I was not going to trot her in this mud. But most importantly, I was not going to risk hurting my horse in this slop. If I hurt her I would not be able to forgive myself. We slogged our way into camp, arriving at about 12:45. We started at 6:30. We vetted the horses, turned in our cards, got the horses fed and blanketed, and hit the campers. Thank you whoever for the camper! That furnace and hot water heater were never more appreciated. It took a while to thaw out, and the hot chocolate and warm food made us feel more like humans again.

Was I going out the next day on Donnie? I don’t think so. Not a chance. Many people were not going out the next day after hearing the stories about the trail. Am I sorry I quit? Nope! She looked fantastic for the vet at the end, pulse 36. This was my pull, not hers. I think it’s the first time in my 24 years of endurance that I quit a ride because of me. On the bright side, I got the best practice ride in water and wet conditions for my horse I could ever hope for. Are you kidding? I would NEVER have done that as a conditioning ride. Yuck. You should have seen her trotting on that road, through 2 inch deep water for a half mile at a time, water spraying up over us like being sprayed by a fire hose. Diddn’t matter, we could not have gotten any wetter. I wish I had come a day earlier, but oh well. We drove home Saturday evening in the rain, all the way home. Okay rain, you can stop now. Im happy for Gretchen and her 10K miles, and im happy with how Sorsha is doing so far. Next stop- fire mountain in January, and 20 mule team in February.

You can read many more of Nick's entertaining endurance ride stories here:
https://www.facebook.com/nickwstories/

Friday, November 04, 2016

Skymont - Heather Reynolds

Reynoldsracing.us - Full Story

by Heather Reynolds
November 1 2016

The Skymont ride was a very nice change in weather for us. The temperature notably dropped from Florida up to Tennesee. It was a huge relief. The drive was an easy one and the horses were happy to get away from the heat as well. Jeremy and I took 2 horses each to ride one per day. I took Derby for day 1 and Gus for day 2. Jeremy took Lou for day 1 and Rictik for day 2.

When we arrived our friends Jesse and Aubree were waiting in camp for us, they had saved us a parking spot. We started to park and soon saw that our short bed truck combined with the auxiliary fuel tank in the bed of our truck was not going to allow for much navigating on the uneven terrain. We just got a new flatbed put on our truck and we have not gotten the sleeve needed yet to give us the distance we need to safely clear the gas tank. New dent... Oh well. We got it parked. Now to set up. We started to get everything set up and organized but when the time came to extend the slideouts we found out they didn't want to play this weekend. Damn things. One of them came out all slanted and jammed up. Jesse and Jeremy used a come-along ratchet strap and brute force to get it back in. One slide out worked but was leaking hydrolic fluid. Funtastic. (Turns out the hydrolics on both slides went bad and the AMAZING part about the design is that one of the slide's hydrolic systems is built in such a way that you actually have to tear out the living quarters to get to it, and this trailer company wonders why it went belly up??)

We vetted in and hung out. The ride camp is nicely shaded and by a lake. It was a pretty place. That evening we hiked, really hiked to the ride meeting. If Aubree hadn't been with us I would have totally thought we were just going out an a trail loop. It was about a mile to get to the meeting, on the trail. The meeting went on VERY long with a branch by branch trail description. Dinner was also served with the meeting. This ride is at a boys camp so the meeting is in the mess hall. It was pretty fun walking back, it was very dark and there were glow sticks...

Read more here:
http://www.reynoldsracing.us/heathers_blog/view/541/skymont

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Chief Joseph Trail Ride

Equitrekking.com - Full Article

June 27, 2016

Learn about this historic, progressive trail ride that traces the route Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce took while fleeing from the U.S. Cavalry in 1877.


by Jocelyn Pierce

The Chief Joseph Trail Ride, hosted annually by the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), is a progressive ride that follows the approximately 1300-mile trek the Nez Perce people took while attempting to escape the U.S. Cavalry in 1877.

The ApHC held the first Chief Joseph Trail Ride in 1965 in homage to the historical route traveled by the Nez Perce Tribe. It is the longest-running and most popular trail ride hosted by the ApHC, with a portion of the ride completed each year. This year marks the fourth time the ride will be completed, culminating at Bear Paw Battlefield in Montana, where Chief Joseph surrendered. Every year, riders travel 100 miles over a 5-day period, which means it takes a total of thirteen years to complete the entire trail from start to finish...

Read more here:
http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/the-chief-joseph-trail-ride/?mc_cid=4e763d0cf9&mc_eid=290b655fe3

Friday, October 21, 2016

Great Britain: The Red Dragon Endurance Festival by Jo Bond

Hay-net.co.uk - Full Story

by Jo Bond
11 october 2016

The Red Dragon is a mythical endurance competition that people talk about being incredibly tough but incredibly beautiful. It takes place near Builth Wells in S Wales and takes you across amazing mountain landscapes. When we moved back from France this competition went on my Wish List for this year and I’m so pleased that we got there.

It really has something for everyone with Pleasure Rides through to the 2 day Red Dragon covering 80kms each day in a race ride. I decided to attempt The Dragon’s Days. This is 126kms over 3 days with 3200m of climbing.

The venue is stunning, being at the Welsh Show Ground and so there are lovely stables for the horses, trot ups indoors and even an on-site residential centre to stay at (but you do have to book early).

Day 1 was stunning with mild weather, red kites dancing overhead and the most beautiful views. I kept finding myself gasping at the views. There were of course big climbs but the going was nice and we both really enjoyed ourselves.

Day 2 was sent from hell. Torrential rain all day just destroyed the tracks and it got dangerous out there. It needed really steady riding...

Read more here:
http://www.hay-net.co.uk/jo-bond/9873/the-red-dragon-endurance-festival-by-jo-bond

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Colombia - Heather Reynolds

Reynolds Racing - Full Story

October 7 2016
by Heather Reynolds

I have once again missed the boat in a big way on posting my blog! On our drive home from California to Florida (back in August!), just after we cleared Auburn, we received an invite from our friend Cristina Mutis to ride in the Colombian National Championship. Jeremy and I would be riding her horses on the 75 mile FEI ride. We thought about it very briefly and agreed to go...When else would an amazing opportunity like this come up?

This ride happened to be only a week after we left CA so we would have to get across the country and get things organized in a hurry and then head to the airport. We managed to get everything done and found ourselves sitting on a plane just a little over a week after leaving CA. CRAZY.

When we arrived in Bogota it was late in the evening and Diego Arboleda picked us up. We had never met Diego in person so I sent him a picture of a bright ball cap I would wear, to which he sent me a pic of an orange Bass Pro hat he would wear. It worked perfectly. When we were walking to the car we noticed that we were at elevation as our breath was short. Bogota is around 8675 feet.

Diego drove us to his farm where we spent the night. It was an amazing old house with a straw thatch roof, like from a fairy tale. In the morning we looked around his farm and met his horses.

It is colder in Colombia than we had imagined. The whole time we were there it was around 55-65 for the high and drizzling rain off and on.

We drove to the ride site, the road was a windy mountain pass. The roads in general are pretty rough. There are also amazingly random speed bumps in the middle of a two lane highway where you were just driving 50 MPH and then... SURPRISE! We managed to not meet the roof with our skulls but had a lot of really close calls.

Once at the ride site it was the same familiar territory of any endurance camp. The venue was really nice, it had an indoor lounge with full catering of breakfast, lunch and dinner that you could purchase as well as hot drinks and a fireplace going. Then there was music playing over a PA system all weekend. Just outside from this meeting area was a covered arena for vetting. There was a very nice social aspect to this event as far as being able to comfortably hang out. There were actually a surprising amount of spectators who had simply come to hang out...

Read more here:
http://www.reynoldsracing.us/heathers_blog/view/535/colombia_

Thursday, October 06, 2016

South Africa Sandymont Express Day 4 - Devan Horn

http://www.endurance.net/international/SouthAfrica/2016SandymountExpress1000/

october 4
South Africa Sandymont 1000 Day 4!!!

I am thrilled to report we are halfway there!!! Coco Channel was stronger today during her loop than yesterday, Hidalgo beasted up to 160 kilometres sound and happy, and Avatrix came through for our 45 kilometre loop like a dream. We have wrapped up day 4, and I’m beginning to get my schedule down:

4:00AM – Wake up

4:05AM- Breakfast (1 banana, a piece of toast with peanut butter, and a double espresso)

4:50AM- Rykie drives me to race site. She also picks what music I will have stuck in my head all day. Popular choices include Avicii and OneRepublic, at top volume.

5:00AM- Get to the race site. Go through list of stuff I have to do. Find out Jaco and Elias have already done the stuff I thought of and everything I’ve forgotten as well.

5:30AM- Ride an awesome horse

8:30AM- Ride another awesome horse

11:30AM- Ride a fantastic horse

4:00PM- Dinner 1 (cheese and either antelope or springbok, preferably both)

5:00PM- Dinner 2 (Brai…I look around in expectation when anyone says this word. It involves throwing some sort of animal over and open flame and cooking it with delicious spices. It’s like a dry rub barbeque) and a potato if there’s room.

9:00PM- Dinner 3 (Biltong in bed)

9:30PM – Sleep

I’m chronicling what I eat because as every endurance athlete knows, at some point during the race you usually hit a wall, slump, mental droop, or low point. For me, it has historically been day 3 of the race. This time, I have had ZERO slump or fatigue, and my body feels like it hasn’t started working yet at all. It’s probably because I’m in fair shape right now, feeding it correctly, and have the best possible fuel. Every Hammer Electrolyte product I packed for this trip is worth its weight in gold. During the ride I’m fuelling with HEED, E-lyte electrolyte pills, and 1-2 Hammer Gels.

We’re going into the back stretch, and not only am I 100% fresh, I have two horses that haven’t even done any miles yet on my string. The horse that I have ridden so far are happy and sound. I got a really nice complement from the vet today on how my horses’ backs are looking extremely good, which makes me feel great!
On to day 5!!!

“He said, "One day you'll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember."
My father told me when I was just a child
These are the nights that never die
My father told me
When thunder clouds start pouring down
Light a fire they can't put out
Carve your name into those shining stars
He said, "Go venture far beyond these shores.”” -Avicci

The Spanish Peaks Endurance Endeavour - Christoph Schork

The Ride Manager and Team Easyboot Member Tennessee Lane at Base Camp

Easycareinc Blog - Full Story

Monday, October 3, 2016 by Christoph Schork

What a privilege it has been for me being able to join Tennessee Lane, ride manager and dear friend, together with other well known riders for the inaugural Spanish Peaks 100 mile endurance ride last week. The location was very close to La Veta, Colorado; in fact, just a few miles outside of this marvel of a small town in southern Colorado. After the National Championship Ride in Utah three weeks ago, (I wrote a Blog about it last month) this ride was another highlight of the season.

The base camp is situated at over 8000 ft with the magnificent Spanish Peaks as a background. I am using the present tense, because this base camp has been permanently installed with buildings, water wells and electricity by the Lane family and will serve as base camp for all future rides there. All pertinent info for present and future events there can be found on the SoCo Facebook page.

As to be expected, the management and organization were first class, trails perfectly marked. Exquisite catered dinners for riders and crew were the reward for everybody's efforts and labor...

- See more at: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/bootmeister-natural-hoof-care-tips/the-spanish-peaks-endurance-endeavour#sthash.nGJLnyk3.dpuf

Saturday, October 01, 2016

South Africa Sandymont Express Day 1 - Devan Horn

October 1 2016

(You better sit down this one!)

Well, I came here to fight, and Africa threw the first punch! I started out the ride on Cowboy, setting out with 9 other riders on our first loop. It was impossibly beautiful starting out at sunrise with the wild game, until the buffalo attacked! Buffalo in America are fluffy cows. Buffalo here are tanks happy to charge horses and chase them if you come up on them unexpected! Luckily, Rachel and I got to sit on our horses and watch them chase the front runners instead of being chased. We waited until we were sure they were gone and continued our ride. I had a great loop with Cowboy, he was the smallest of my string but had the biggest trot! We went all the way around the loop, and started making the decent into camp. Suddenly, he was tender going downhill. I thought to myself "Oh no, this isn't happening, this is my first loop and first horse, he can't possibly be lame!" But when we got to the vet, he was footsore. He could technically ride again in 2 days, but we will probably give his miles to another horse.

As you know, if there is something wrong with your horse at Sandymont, you must repeat the entire loop...

And that's how I ended up riding 160k (100 miles) on my first day!

I did it in about 12 hours. After Cowboy vetted out, I became conscious of the fact that I was now in last place by a matter of hours. But luckily I was able to instead focus on doing the best for my team that I could, which did NOT include bumrushing to make up time, but getting them around safely and slowly, so we could keep going through the week. The course is a huge challenge, and more technical than I had given it credit for. I re-rode my first loop on Aviatrix, then rode Zara and Hidalgo as well. Luckily, I was able to get around without further penalties. Aviatrix is a solid veteran, takes care of herself and won't be rushed! Zara did her first endurance ride today, and rocked it, even if she is a bit green under saddle! Hidalgo is also a veteran, but would happily gallop every loop if I let him. He was not impressed by my attempt to get him to slow down.

So everyone else finished in between 1 and 4. I finished just before 6. On my last loop, I got a really nice surprise when fellow rider Tines packed his truck with friends and beer, and met me on the turnaround one extra loop! It was really awesome of him, It was a fantastic pick-me-up, and made me feel better about being out there so long. What a great competitor.

Elias says a bad beginning means a fantastic ending. At the end of day 1, I'm hours behind and have 40k extra on my legs. But...my horses look great, and I feel fantastic! Have you ever seen a more beautiful challenge?!?

Follow more of Devan's adventure at
http://www.endurance.net/international/SouthAfrica/2016SandymountExpress1000/

Monday, August 01, 2016

Tevis 2016: THINK PINK! - Aurora Grohman

Funder picture
Redheadedendurance.com - Full Story

JULY 30, 2016 / REDHEADED ENDURANCE

This was my fifth consecutive year crewing Tevis–and my favorite. If you immediately imagine 24+ hours of dirt, sweat, pain (blood? check!), excitement, hope, and inspiration, you are correct. If you were topping that imaginary scenario with a Completion and Buckle, sorry, that wasn’t the case. In fact, with a 28 mile Metabolic pull at Red Star, my rider made it the shortest of either her (she made it 55 miles in 2012) or my (I’ve crewed 3/4 buckles previously, the 1 non buckle being a Finish line pull) experiences.

Why on god’s green earth would a short ride and metabolic pull be your favorite experience, you whisper, perhaps horrified?

Because the heart of this sport of endurance besides the amazing partnerships with our horses are the great people we come to know and the true endurance it takes just to get to these starting lines. To have a great ride and finish is a true accomplishment–as is to do all that, *not finish,* and keep trucking undaunted, in it’s own right. Tevis has a completion rate of +/- 50% every year, no matter what–that’s a whole lot of technically qualified teams getting pulled despite their best efforts. No matter the end result, it’s no small thing just to be among the Vetted-in at Robie Park on Friday of Tevis weekend...

Read more here:
https://redheadedendurance.com/2016/07/30/tevis-2016-think-pink/

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Catching up from April...Dubai to Tevis - Heather Reynolds

ReynoldsRacing.us Blog - Full Story

July 26 2016
by Heather Reynolds

I have been super lax on writing my blog!!! I see that I haven't done one since March! We went to Dubai after FITS with Rictik and Chachie. The trip was really brief this time compared to the month long stay we had in Dec/Jan. Both of the horses traveled well. Chachie and Rictik both handled the desert without an issue. On loop two Rictik did leave me in the sand, that was a drag as she really wrenched my back. That was the only casualty we had though. She saw something that I didn't (and no other living thing did either) and did a huge twisting leap from cantering on a loose reign. I was airborn before I even knew what had happened.

Rictik and Chachie finished the 120/75 mile ride as the sun was setting. It was a successful trip. We had stellar crew once again. The crew was my mom Jean, sister Hannah, Adam Farmer, Lynn Kenelly and my brother Jonathan.

From here, the organizing committee graciously agreed to fly our horses to the UK rather than back to Miami. The horses went to Nicki and Andy Thorne's place in the UK. They would do the Windsor FEI race which was roughly 5 weeks after the Dubai race. Nicki and Andy hosted us and took wonderful care of us and our horses. They helped make us in making the arangements.

When we returned from Dubai we went to the McCulley Farm ride with Emma and Elaine. We did the two day ride. This is a very nice ride. Fun trails and a well organized event. Emma rode Code both days, Jeremy rode Liger day 1 and Sinister day 2, Elaine rode Benz both days and I rode Kellora the first day and pulled her on day 2. It was a fun time.

Jeremy flew out to the UK after this to take care of the two horses feet and ride them for a couple of weeks after the horses had been resting in the UK for a couple of weeks. At this point we found that Rictik was not sound. After a vet work up not much was found. Her suspensory was sore but clean in an ultrasound. Bummer. She would just rest in the UK and skip the race.

While Jeremy was in the UK I took his horse Danire to a local 50. Elaine took her Rocky Mountain horse, Hershey. It was an elevator ride so Elaine was starting with the LD and depending on how hot it was going to be she would either do the LD or elevate to the 50. Danire and Hershey went around nice and easy together. We had fun. At the halfway point, we were arriving into our 1 hour hold as the leaders were getting ready to head back out and it was really getting hot so Elaine decided 25 was enough for Hershey. I went out to do the rest of the 50. I had trotted the first half of the ride and now for training purposes I planned to canter the rest. Danire went around at a nice canter for the rest of the ride and won by a healthy margin. The leaders had not expected to see me so that was pretty fun. Danire also won BC and high vet score. This was his first ride after his 100 in the UAE in Jan...

Read more here:
http://www.reynoldsracing.us/heathers_blog/view/534/catching_up_from_april___dubai_to_tevis

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Our Big Horn 100 adventure 2016 - Katrin Levermann



Part 1
It all started with our rather disappointing experience at Tevis last year.Vickie said to us, come and ride the Big Horn with me in 2016. You guys got the horses for it ! ....and so we started planning…

Begin of the summer it was decided that only Anya will ride with me. Katya had other plans for that time and lend her horse Draco to Anya, since Anya’s horse Tootsie was rehabbing from a suspensory injury. My friend and college Stefanie wanted to come with us to help. And then Regina contacted me, offering to crew for us… how exciting was that?! Things started to fall into places!

We departed at 7am on July 3rd and made it to the border at 3pm with one rest stop for the horses in between. After getting all the necessary groceries in Omak we pulled into Tiffany’s and Bill’s place in Coulee City, WA at 7:30pm. What a great place for a layover. The horses were so happy to stretch their legs. On the next day we made it all the way to Karen and Delmer’s place near Bozeman, MT. Again, our horses had the luxury of having their own pasture for the night. We enjoyed the hospitality of our friends over a Mexican dinner and Karen’s favorite Margarita’s. The evening went by way too fast.

The next morning we took our time, knowing that we only had about 5 more hours to drive. We arrived on Vickie and Dave’s place in Lowell, WY at 4:30pm. Vickie had already two corrals prepared and our horses were happy to roll in the sand. We spend a wonderful dinner with our friends, discussing our plans for the upcoming ride.

The horses got a rest the next day, while we went to visit the Yellowstone Park.

Part 2
On Thursday morning Vickie loaded her trailer and went to Antelope Butte, a ski hill with a nice camping area. There we met with Niki waiting to mark some trail sections with Vickie. We got our horses saddled as well and off we went. Much to our dismay, Draco and Buddy did not like the stop and go speed and almost exploded under their saddles.

In the evening we enjoyed the most wonderful dinner with gorgeous scenery all around us. And as the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountains, it cooled off quite a bit.

The next morning we took our two horses out again and this time we had a chance to let some of the steam off. They felt so much better after. At around 2 pm we packed and drove down to Shell. Vickie stopped half way to show us the beautiful Shell Falls.

We settled at the Ride Camp around 3:30pm. It was hot and dusty with a thunderstorm brewing above us. We vetted our horses in just as the rain hit.

Regina drove in and we were so happy to see each other. She made crew arrangements with my friend Stefanie. Who felt much relieved not being left alone in that scary crew situation. I was glad Regina took Stefanie under her wings.

In the meantime Karen came with her portable Margarita Bar and we tasted her newest creations. Everybody was in such an upbeat mood. Then we had a nice dinner provided by the ride management followed by the ride meeting.

Some last minute packing and re-packing took until about 9:30pm… and then… we went to bed…

Part 3
The morning came quick. I am sure many riders hardly even slept. At 2am I was up feeding. Our horses were eating like champs. A good sign! I was surprised how good our horses handled to be tacked up in the pitch black night with flash lights going on and off in every direction.

The ride started at 4am. Vickie came over to our trailer and the three of us waited patiently until most of the riders had left. And then we got going…

Vickie set a really good pace and we were zooming by several riders. After a few miles the visibility improved with the morning dawn. Our horses moved along with no tension. After 13 miles or so of going through the badlands we had a vet trot by. And what did they say as we left!?... Happy climbing!!!!

And climbing we did. We had to cross 3 canyons, apparently that the hardest part of the whole ride. …little did I know…! We hand walked our horses down the canyons and were riding them up again. It was tough!!! For horses and riders!! At one point my horse Buddy lost his grip and slid down the trail with me. I nearly lost my nerves. Those are trails for mountain goats, I thought.

After we came out of the last canyon we realized we had spent more time than we had planned on. Vickie kept on pushing us to the first vet check. She certainly knew why. I was relieved to see our horses pulsing down so quickly.Our crew team Regina, Virginia andStefanie were waiting for us, took the horses out of our hands fed them and let them graze after. The ride management provided breakfast for everybody.

Time was flying by and we saddled and had to leave for the second loop. We were able to make some time at the beginning of that loop until we came into the Antelope Butte area. I was surprised that our horses started to adjust to those rocky trails so well.

At the second vet check most of the riders came in close together. Our horses again pulsed down immediately. The vet looked at me and said “you have a lot more horse than you think”. And with a grin on his face he added, “sorry but you have to go out again”. Our wonderful crew took care of us again. Lunch was provided too but we weren’t hungry.

The third loop was the “(in) famous” shag nasty. (Sort of) famous for its boulders and ravines. But mostly for its spectacular views. We let Vickie go ahead. Our horses could just not keep up with Dancer’s power trot. As we left VC 2 a storm hit, just as we reached the plateau. It almost blew me out of my saddle. Our horses were not impressed.

And we were climbing and climbing again. The view on top of this mountain was stunning. Shortly after we were descending… (straight down a ravine), into a nice grassy valley with a creek. Now, we were close together with several other riders. Our crew came to a remote spot on the trail and gave water to all horses and riders. Thank God,Regina knows the back roads. Everybody so appreciated it.

Then the seven of us kept going with Peter setting a nice speed. When we arrived at VC 3 we were catching up with the front runners. Again, our horses pulsed down quickly. They ate much better at this vet check. The hold was reduced to 40 min to make sure everybody would finish in time. We pushed our horses as long as we could still see and slowed down when it got dark.

The infamous slick rock section of this last loop slowed us down drastically. We also got lost several times. Regina and crew came to Trapper Creek to give our horses water, since there was none on this trail. Oh, did they suck those buckets dry. With new energy we took on the last 7 miles and finished with ½ hr to spare. Our horses passed the last VC with a 44/48 HR. The vet was asking if they had even done something.

And then it sunk in, we completed the Big Horn 100!!! It was an amazing feeling. Our wonderful crew team helped us until the very last minute.

We tucked the horses in and went for a short nap, while the sun came up already on the horizon. Virginia and Regina slept in the truck. Before 7am, Regina knocked on our door greeting us with Baileys for our coffee. We went to the awards ceremony where Anya received her Big Horn buckle as the first and only junior.

Words cannot describe how thankful we are for all the help, motivation and encouragement. It was an incredible experience. The Big Horn 100 is the real endurance ride.

More photos of the ride at:
http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2016BigHorn/

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Wild and Rugged – 2016 Big Horn 100 by Tom Noll

Wild and Rugged – 2016 Big Horn 100

My Big Horn 100 story really starts about two weeks before the ride when I was contacted by someone who I did not know, who wanted to ride one of my horses, a horse that she had never met or ridden, on the Big Horn 100 trail, a trail that she had never seen, for her first 100-mile completion. What would you do?

Me, I checked her AERC record (lightweight rider, nearly 5000 miles, with a high completion rate). I thought about her request. And, after a day or so, I wrote back to say “yes.”

I hoped to take my two horses to the 2016 Big Horn 100. Both horses are Big Horn 100 veterans and both are tough. They run well together and they had both demonstrated their fitness and competence at the Strawberry Fields ride in Utah three weeks before the Big Horn. However, I did not have a rider for my horse Rocky. One afternoon at Strawberry, I discreetly mentioned that I might be interested in finding a lightweight, competent rider for the Big Horn 100 to one of my friends.

Now, Whiskey, the wild mustang, and Rocky, the Craigslist Arabian, were off to Wyoming together. My friend Cindy, who was my partner on the 2011 XP and who helped Whiskey and me finish the 2014 Big Horn 100, had made arrangements to fly to Boise from Vermont and help me with the 2016 Big Horn 100.

I made some repairs to my van after driving to Utah and back for Strawberry. My two horses were fit. I had a crew. I had a partner for the ride. We were ready and drove east to Wyoming.

The Big Horn 100 is my favorite ride. I am one of the lucky ones who has ridden both the traditional trail and many of the trail variations that are used today. I miss the traditional trail and I know that efforts are underway to address the regulatory issues and reinstate the traditional trail to Adelaide Lake from Shell Creek. My personal opinion is that the traditional trail was about two or three hours faster than today’s trail. The trail used today, and specifically the trail used in 2016, is as difficult as any 100-mile trail offered on the AERC calendar. A Big Horn 100 finish on the modern trail is possible with a fit horse, but there is almost no extra time to allow for unexpected difficulties on the trail.

I arrived at ride camp on Thursday afternoon and enjoyed a very pleasant time with the camp hosts Mel and Sharon sharing conversation on the back patio of their house. Mel and Sharon are most gracious and open their lives to the Big Horn 100 riders and horses each summer.

Other riders began to arrive and we began to renew our friendships. I met riders, some who I saw at Strawberry just a few weeks ago, and some who I had not seen in a year or more. It was a special group that had gathered with their horses on a July weekend for a somewhat obscure event in northern Wyoming.

My riding partner arrived on Friday. We fit tack on Rocky, talked about the ride, went on a very short trail ride, and I was confident that I had made the right decision. Lancette was the right person to ride Rocky in the Big Horn 100.
Lancette traveled from Arizona to Wyoming with four friends – three planned to ride the Big Horn 100 and one would crew. During the afternoon we all talked about the trail, discussed our plans, and prepared for the 4:00 am start.
Early in the morning we were off and heading north across the badlands of Wyoming under the dark desert sky. Whiskey and Rocky were running well in the cool morning air. We were riding with Lancette’s friends and another friend Vicki. We were a well matched group as we headed up the Dugway trail and into the canyons.

The Dugway and the canyons may be my favorite part of the Big Horn trail. The trail is rugged and wild and the climbs are difficult. Some other riders saw a bear on the trail but we were content with the mountain scenery. Several times on the trail I was overwhelmed with the beauty, the horses, and the companionship, and I remarked, “In this moment of time, life is perfect.”

We arrived at the first vet check about twenty minutes behind my previous times. We had some minor boot problems because Rocky’s feet do not have a normal shape and the day was becoming hot. We had resolved the boot fit but the heat would slow the horses the rest of the day.

After the first vet check at Horse Creek, we were off across the Big Horn plateau past Antelope Butte and on to Shell Creek and the second vet check at Ranger Creek. We were still about twenty minutes behind pace. The modern course splits from the traditional course at Shell Creek just before the Ranger Creek vet check, and the modern course has multiple additional high-altitude climbs and descents on difficult footing. A summer squall came through just after the vet check at Ranger Creek and although the squall was windy and wet, it was short-lived and greatly cooled the temperatures.

Partway up the climb, the Big Horn 100 trail took a sharp turn to the left on a rough and rocky jeep trail. This was not good. I last followed that trail in 2006 and the extra climbs, descents, and rough footing contributed to my overtime finish. Also in 2006, I was pacing myself based on my experience on the traditional trail and I had not planned for the additional difficulties of the new trail which likewise contributed to my overtime finish.

The departure from the trail used in 2014 and 2015 had me worried about finishing in time and I voiced my concerns. Lancette said to me, “We are out here on the hundred and we will just ride the trail as presented” which was very good advice. We rode above timberline over the peaks and then down into the valleys. We descended hills too steep to ride and we crossed mountain streams. We climbed again to above timberline. We caught up with Peter Hommertzheim and some other riders and continued around the lakes and up the Shag Nasty. We saw wild turkeys on the trail.
We urged the horses onward, hustling along the trail, and made it to the last vet check at Battle Creek just before dark. Our timing was looking better.

I have never quite learned how to move quickly on the trail after Battle Creek on the descent off the plateau to the Big Horn basin. It is usually dark, the footing is inconsistent and can be rough, and the horses are tired.
The crescent moon had yet to reach the first-quarter and we descended in the dark while a major thunderstorm raged off in the distance. The continuous flashes of lightning along the horizon added an element of drama that made our ride seem surreal. There is magic in the second half of a hundred.

Eventually, we made it off the mountain where our crew met us at Trapper Creek. The horses were thirsty and hungry. We paused for some time to let them eat and drink. Our timing was good and it looked like we could finish. We left for the last few miles across the badlands under a coal-black sky pierced by a million stars. Shooting stars streaked by overhead leading us to the finish.

We were caught by some other riders on the last mile or so into camp. Bruce Burnham, Bob Bischoff, and Dana Landale came up from behind. I told them that they could go on ahead but Bruce replied, “You have ridden in front of us all day and you will finish in front of us.” I looked over at Lancette as I said to my horse, “Whiskey, let’s take it on home, come on, let’s trot.” Whiskey and Rocky quickly picked up the trot and trotted side-by-side that last mile or so all the way back to camp. We finished eleventh and twelfth with two sound horses about one-half hour before the twenty-four-hour time limit.

Today, I am back in SW Idaho, my friends have dispersed across North America, my horses are resting at home, but my heart and my mind keep wandering back to the Big Horn mountains and trails of northern Wyoming.

Best Regards,
Tom Noll
SW Idaho

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New trail - Strawberry Fields - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales Blog - Full Story

July 11 2016

Last year the plan for my BFF Colleen Martin and myself was to go see some new trails, namely the Strawberry Fields multi-day in Utah. For various reasons it didn't happen. But it wasn't forgotten and it became the game plan for this year. June 15 we packed up the boys, Thunder and Blue, a grand assortment of stuff and we left at the dim light of dawn for Heber City, Utah. Roughly 25 miles from there was Strawberry Reservoir and camp at Co-Op Creek. Camp was large sagebrush flat area lined on one side with aspens and another side by the creek. We set up alongside the aspens for shade.

As we admired these red rock cliffs from camp we had no idea that we would be riding to them and across the mountain top behind them. Steve Bradley, photographer, said we reached 12,000 feet at that time...

Read more here:
http://karenshorsetales.blogspot.com/2016/07/new-trail-strawberry-fields.html

Sunday, July 03, 2016

BACKBONE CHALLENGE RIDE

Jim Belsley photo

BACKBONE CHALLENGE RIDE 2016 July 18, 2016 – July 23, 2016

June 30 2016
by Nina Bomar

Five courageous ladies are embarking on a major challenge of skill and adventure in a couple of weeks. The
Backbone Trail Cowgirls are setting out to ride the entire Backbone Trail on horseback as the first group to do so since the trail was completely opened end-to-end and officially designated as a National Recreation Trail. The trail, which goes from Pt. Mugu State Park in Ventura County to Will Rogers State Historic Park in the Pacific Palisades, was officially designated as a National Recreation Trail by US Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis on June 4, 2016. By averaging about 11 miles each day, their journey will cover the 67 Backbone Trail miles of mostly rugged terrain with some pretty hefty elevation changes along the way.

This trip was spearheaded and organized by Ruth Gerson, 81 yr, who first rode the trail almost exactly 25 years ago. She will be riding her 19 yr old Mustang, Crystal. The other participants are Jeanne Wallace, 73 yr, with her 21 yr old Quarter horse, Dill; Janet Peterson, 63 yr, with her 19 yr old Peruvian Paso, Sunny; Tracey Potter, 53 yr, with her 9 yr old Red Roan, Scooter; and Kimberly Gustafson, 45 yr, with her 12 yr old Spotted Draft Quarter Cross, Chief. These ladies have chosen to do this ride for 4 reasons: to publicize the Backbone Trail as a National Recreation Trail, to inspire others to be adventurous, to demonstrate that age is only a number for horses and riders, and to illustrate the need for equestrian and hiker trail camps in the Santa Monica Mountains!

Their trip will begin at the Ray Miller Trailhead in Pt. Mugu State Park on Monday, July 18, 2016 and finish on Saturday, July 23, 2016. They will camp near the trail each night and have their horses in corrals or high lining them. No hotels for these women! They have a support team of friends who have volunteered to take on various tasks such as pre-riding parts of the trail to identify obstacles, clear brush and downed trees, drive the rigs from campsite to campsite, bring dinners in the evening, meet with water for the horses where the trail crosses roads if it’s very hot, and help in any other ways needed.

What an amazing journey this will be! These women will be riding across the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains. The views will be spectacular, not to mention the wildlife and wildflowers. It won’t be easy, but they all share a common thread, a sense of humor and a sense of purpose.

California State Parks, National Parks Service and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy are all strong supporters of this ride and have made every effort to ensure that all goes well. There are 2 non-profit organizations also supporting the ride: Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council (SMMTC – www.smmtc.org) and Recreation & Equestrian Coalition (REC – www.gotorec.org). Park Watch Report (PWR – www.parkwatchreport.com) is a website and phone app for State Parks that is used to improve trails and address safety issues by engaging the public; they are also supporting the ride.

The Backbone Trail Cowgirls will provide a daily update of their adventure on the Backbone Challenge Ride 2016 that will be posted on the SMMTC website (www.smmtc.org).

Followers