Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Big Horn 100 2022 - Kelly Stoneburner


July 26 2022

Our trip started with a lay over with Steve Hugus and Isabelle Farmer who helped us get much needed rest and fed us delicious food as we were still pretty worn out from Tevis. We got to see their wonderful horses including their adorable foals who Cassidy especially enjoyed scratching and loving on. Isabelle gave Cassidy some lessons on her very talented upper level Parelli horses and Cassidy soaked up her knowledge and teaching skills! 
 
We met Kay Ickes at base camp- she drove 14hrs to come crew and be a part of the ride! 
 
The ride started at 4am. Jesse and I decided we would make the most of the flat lands in the cool early morning and both mares felt calm and relaxed and navigated the trail in the dark with ease. We met our crew before heading up into the mountains and both horses were eager to get going. We took it easy over the next part as the climbing starts and doesn’t stop! The views on this section are not easily captured with words as this is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Jesse did all of the steep up hills on foot to be sure to save Bonnie’s energy. 
 
Coming into the first vet check we started to worry that Bonnie wasn’t eating with her normal gusto. Jesse convinced me to go ahead and he would hand walk Bonnie the rest of the way. I didn’t like to leave them but the mares were being very independent and this allowed me to get Reckless vet checked then help with Bonnie when they arrived. Bonnie passed the vet check but Jesse felt like something wasn’t right so he rider optioned. This impresses me more than winning or finishing any ride- putting your horse first! He said that on their walk to the trailer Bonnie clearly started to feel better and started eating ravenously. We think she had a little tummy upset but thanks to Jesse taking care of her like he did she will have lots of rides ahead of her! 
 
One rider left the vet check well ahead of us but Reckless left on a mission to catch up. I loved getting to ride right by where Jesse and I exchanged wedding vows one year prior up on a bluff overlooking the trail. We caught up to Jennifer Kaplan and her amazing gelding and we ended up riding the rest of the day together becoming fast friends and being thankful we didn’t have to do the long lake loop and trek down the mountain solo. 
 
Our horses just felt great and ate up the miles as the day progressed. It was so fun to have crew at each check as Reckless is such a big girl she takes some extra work and ice to cool her down! I felt very spoiled and pretty confused when I was told to go sit down and eat something as my crew had it under control.
As we headed out on the third loop- the very long lake loop- I realized that Reckless was missing a hind shoe. She stood perfectly still while I booted that foot. I noticed her other hind shoe was twisted as I had started the ride with shoes that were a little old and she had sheared the nails right in half on both hinds. In true endurnace fashion all decisions have pros and cons. I had chosen to keep shoes that were a little older to let her have extra long feet which she greatly appreciated on all the rock never taking a questionable step all day but now I was paying the price as I only had one boot on the foot that lost the shoe and a shoe half falling off. Jennifer helped keep eyes on my situation planning to tell me when the shoe fell off so I could keep it and nail it back on at the next check- this was gonna be a long loop of worrying. Coming up a long climb to the road I saw our truck and crew!!! I could not have been more thankful. While Reckless ate and drank I nailed the twisted shoe back into place and we were headed down the trail in confidence with a tight shoe in just a few minutes! 
 
At the last vet check Reckless was so hungry she ate huge bites and enjoyed lots of attention before we headed off on the last loop with both horses looking strong and happy. We had been leap frogging with two other riders and were fully expecting to see them again and swore many times we saw headlights right behind us once the dark settled in. I have never seen a single mile of that loop in the daylight and it turns out it was actually quite beautiful. The horses were happy to get water at Trappers creek and then we saw our crew one last time who even had hot coffee for us! We headed to the finish ready to be done with that long last stretch working as a team to spot glow sticks and stay on trail. 
 
We crossed the finish line and decided to tie for first which felt so good as we really did ride the majority of the ride as a team. 
 
Much to my surprise Reckless won best condition- this was definitely because of the hard work of my mom, Cassidy, and Kay who took the absolutel best care of her all day- thank you! 
 
Reckless has quite the story which deserves a little mention. CJ Wise and Derek Wise trusted me with her four years ago when they ended up with her because she had failed as a dressage horse and terrified her previous owners. We immediately named her Reckless after the heroic Sgt. Reckless from the Korean War. Reckless proved to be a challenge- she was so sweet and willing but would be overtaken by moments of “psycho” where my biggest challenge was just keeping her feet on the ground as she would stand straight up or throw huge bucks that were no joke. Loving her new job as an endurnace horse she proved to be very athletic and capable except when it came to pulsing. She would get anxious and worked up at the vet checks and we got pulled several times for not pulsing down if there was too much going on around her. I almost gave up on her as an endurnace horse. Nick Kohut and William McCullough you two were instrumental at Ft. Howes and Spanish Peaks for your incredible patience and kind way with her and I believe that you both had a huge hand in her mentally figuring things out and helping her become a real endurnace horse. I can’t thank either of you enough. 
 
For anyone who has not attended the Big Horn it is truly one of the most amazing rides and you should come. This ride means so much to me and Jesse that we exchanged our wedding vows right off the trail.
This year was in memorial to Jeanette Tolman as she poured her heart and soul into this special ride during her lifetime. Her family did an amazing job and gave her a wonderful tribute by beautifully putting on this ride. I will be forever grateful I got the privilege to ride this year and could not be more thankful for my family and could not be more thrilled with Reckless.
 
 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Tevis 2022 - Annette McGyver

by Annette McGyver

Tevis 2022: it’s a long one, We did ALL the things. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

I saw somewhere on Facebook that if somebody doesn't think they're going to finish Tevis then they're wasting their money when they go. I don't know if this is true or not. I do know that I filled out my application as soon as entries opened and I planned on riding Johnny and I certainly planned on finishing. But then the gremlins struck and now I'm rehabbing Johnny. My friend Terry offered a horse to ride; I was still “in”. I previously took Rupert through the canyons and on a few other sections of the trail.

We had a great time, we started out by ourselves and he was a rock star through that fast start, (it sure seemed fast this year). It was a bit of a stressful ride through granite chief. We got stuck in a Congo line of 31 horses with a bad whiplash effect. (In hindsight I should have pulled off and let them all leave). As it turns out my friends caught me at Lyon’s ridge. I was happy to ride with them into red star. But when we got there, we were up against the clock; he was a little dehydrated and hanging at 72 but eating and drinking just fine, peeing and pooping as well. He got pumped up with an optional IV. We got Rupert settled in at Foresthill.

Time to rally and wait for our riders at Michigan bluff. I was refilling everyone's drinks and cooling anyones horses that needed it. Our riders were chasing cutoffs all day and gave it up at Foresthill, leaving just one of our group of four gaited horses out there. Scott had it in the bag, his horse looked good and strong!

Unfortunately he slipped off the trail just after Cal 2. We’ve all had a foot slip off and scramble back on, makes your heart skip a beat. Not this time, it was a pretty sharp drop off and they went over, tumbling down 15 or 20 feet to a couple of trees. The duff was deep and the soil was loose and it was just impossible to get back up again. It was pitch black. (*I will never ride these cliffs without a green or red headlamp again)

By the time I heard this was happening, they already had a team working on it but they needed some more manpower and equipment. I was told it’s best to get a horse settled and wait until daylight to attempt extraction, now I see why. Unfortunately he was not in a good spot for waiting. The team was amazing and the rider is one of the best horseman I know. He stayed in there working with the team for hours until the horse was back on solid ground. Wow, it sure takes a long time to shimmy a horse down 100 feet to the next switchback. The amazing rescue team got it done! On the hike out It took all of us to carry everything out. I couldn’t walk by his saddle there on the side of the trail, I am surprised I managed it!

I’m so sorry that this was his tevis experience - it was a crazy year and as I thank my crew for my ride (thank you), I have to show some love for the ride management, net control, horse rescue personnel, veterinarians, volunteers, SOS, and I don’t even know who I don’t know. The trackers were very useful for locating off trail horses and the enormous team of people involved in the background of this ride is overwhelming.

An honorary mention for Lucy Chaplin Trumbull , she did not start as her horse was NQR. She rallies like no other and jumped to join my crew. So glad she did as they are from out of town and it was awesome to have Lucy there. Thanks Laura Matthews!! Once I was pulled, she assisted in the live webcast, then helped locate horses that were off trail. Her extensive knowledge of the trail and access points is really unbelievable! 

Forgive me if I missed anybody, I don’t always know if I should name names either, there are a lot of people involved in a lot of aspects of this ride I was previously unaware of

And….Eddie (the horse) is looking good, heading home now. Now I can cry about it

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Great Britain: Golden Horseshoe Ride May 20-22nd 2022 by Jo Chisholm

EGB.myclubhouse.co.uk - Full Story

GOLDEN HORSESHOE RIDE MAY 20-22ND 2022 by Jo Chisholm

The Golden Horseshoe Ride has been a large part of my life over that last 25 years – from competing in many of the different classes from the 2-day 80km to the ultimate endurance test of the 2 day 160k class, and to being part of the organisational team from 2017 to 2022, this being our final year. However, next year the mantle is being handed over to a new team headed up by Shelly Bates and Maggie Pattinson. We are very pleased that someone has stepped up to take on this iconic ride as it is a part of the history of endurance in this county, and indeed is amongst the few endurance rides globally that many in the equestrian world have heard of.

This year, sadly, there were no entries in the top class of the 160km/2-day Golden Horseshoe and only three in the Exmoor Stag 120 km/2 day and two in the Exmoor Fox class 80km/1 day. The main entries were spread over the more popular Exmoor Hind class 80km/2 day and the single day 40 km and 24k classes. The lower-than-normal numbers are probably due to various factors taking their toll – the last two years have meant that many riders have not kept their horses up to full competition fitness and also the cost of fuel may restrict many to local rides rather than travelling further afield. It was clearly demonstrated that Exmoor demands the fittest and best prepared horses and riders, with the ‘introductory’ novice classes seeing a higher attrition rate than the higher mileage classes, where more experienced combinations were competing. The conditions were just about perfect with Exmoor having had a reasonably quiet winter and so, apart from the usual areas that tend to stay spongy, the moorland still had plenty of grass cover with firm going and the tracks had not been washed out. The weather was also kind to us during the weekend with just the right amount of sunshine...

Read more here:
https://egb.myclubhouse.co.uk/Client/Cms/Attachments/2/Golden_Horseshoe_Ride_2022_by_Jo_Chisholm.pdf

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

2022 Old Dominion - Todd Hezeau

by Todd Hezeau

Okie dokie.

I know I I have not written on here in a long time but some have asked for a report of the National Championships at the Old Dominion so since I have minimally gotten back on Cr$pbook as a lurker, I figured I could oblige, so here it goes.

It was a tough ride! There ya go… just kidding.

We left on Monday and traveled over 2 days utilizing shorter days over a period of time rather than longer days of travel which the shorter travel times between destinations is better IMO. So we overnighted in Jackson TN the first night, Bulls Gap the second day, where I glued Wynd’s boots on the next morning inside the protection of the barn and arrived in camp on Wednesday late afternoon. Wynd traveled well and arriving Wednesday allowed her to rehydrate and eat.

On Thursday we were awoken early to the sound of Reveille playing on the PA that is set up all along the edge of ride camp which is a long pasture with a road down the middle at I think around 5a. Apparently it is tradition to play reveille before the ride start and then followed by what is called the “bubble” song, which sounds like a bad ring tone that you will never get out of your head once you hear it. We went back to sleep but got up around 8a because we were to travel to Cass WV to ride the Cass scenic railroad which is an old logging railroad that utilizes geared locomotives to pull and push you 11 miles to the third highest point in the Alegany mountains. Being a rail fan, (I secretly love trains, in particular geared locomotives), I was like a kid in a candy store and took many pictures and videos.

We barely made it in time as the drive across the mountains to get there was intimidating to say the least. Roads were steep and curvy and we got lost on the way back so we were late getting back to Wynd. She had plenty of hay and fortunately the folks watching her filled up her water. Thank you to Christo and his wife (the people whom put on the Alabama Yellowhammer ride and owners of Dinklemann Arabians) whom we befriended. Talked with them quite a bit and man, I could listen to him and his wife for hours!!!

Anyway, we awoke to Reveille again on Friday and again went back to sleep. We met Tim Worden and his wife, Lara, Thursday evening, whom I had been conversing with on FB getting information about the ride which was very helpful and we went out for a small trek Friday morning before vet in to get an idea of the ride and make sure all was well with tack and such. Eventually I went to fetch our rider card and vetted Wynd in around 3p where the vet said one quad of her guts were quiet which concerned me so I really watched her and checked them before we went to bed and they were loud and gurgling so she was good to go.

We finished getting things together since all the holds were out of camp and Kathy, my amazing crew person was doing all of the crewing task on her own! By herself! Lara said she would be happy to let Kathy follow her to the holds since Tim and I planned on riding together. It was interesting that they have the the PA lined up parallel to road in ride camp, we did not have to walk the distance, which we were pretty far away from the meeting tent, so we just stayed at the trailer and listened to the meeting from there! We went to bed about 8p and awoke to rain around midnight. I fed Wynd the evening meal, she had her rain sheet on as the temp was rather chilly that evening.

I awoke around 3:45a as ride start was 5:30a. I obviously was not paying attention or with my hearing didn’t comprehend, that start was at 5:30. I heard 5:15 so we were early to check in. Anyway, we tacked up in the rain and the ride commenced at 5:30. It was planned that Tim and I would ride together but he was late at the start so we started with everyone else. I did not wish to wait because from everything I learned about this ride, there is a lot of walking involved because of the rocks and time is everything so we just moved forward and did not wait.

We were with probably 8-10 other horses durning the start which went off down the road. It was raining, not hard but steady. We turned off into the woods about 1/2 mile down the road from the start. The trail was muddy in places and we eventually came to our first climb which is about a 1300’ elevation gain. It had some rocks, particularly along the ridge that we rode along once at the top which consisted of some thin, vertical rocks sticking out of the ground about 2 to 4 inches and although a few horses passed us trotting along this, I opted to walk her as she was tripping on them because of the fact they were hard to see.

We started our descent to the first vet check which was down a gravel road for most of the way, some of which was steep. We made it to Bird Haven and Kathy was there waiting on us. Mind you she was our only crew person throughout this entire ordeal. She crewed this ride by herself and without her Wynd and I would have never made it! Wynd vetted through without a hitch and ate well durning the hold. To show how hydrated we were, I had to stop and pee 3 times during that segment and she did also! She has learned that when I pee she can too!

That hold was 40 minutes and we left back out on time and went back up the road we came till it broke off into the woods. All this time I was wondering, “where are all the rocks?” All I have heard about this ride is how bad the rocks were and on that first segment I saw nothing worse than what we encounter on rides here in Texas or elsewhere.

Well, once we broke off the road and started our second climb, I was not disappointed in the rocks. They came in abundance and never ended after that. Yes, this ride has ROCKS and plenty of them. Lots of walking in the segment of the ride. Rocks were everywhere!

We eventually came to the 2nd VC at Laurel Run. This VC, crew was not allowed but the volunteers at this ride did not disappoint. There was feed and hay bountiful for the horses and they had water, P&B sandwiches, granola bars and plenty of other snacks for the riders! You were very much catered to. They had thought they lost my bag, of which I did not pack one for that hold, and the head volunteer was a bit upset that they lost it till I told him that I never had one sent.

Again, Wynd pulsed in quickly and ate great at this hold. It was 45 minutes and off we went down the road and back up the mountain and although this climb was steep it was pretty much all road and she trotted the relatively flat parts and walked the steep sections. When we got to the top of the climb she was ready to rock again.

We came to a trough and caught up to two other riders there of which we wound up getting stuck behind for a good while. The trail in this part was rocky but not terrible as there were places to move but nowhere to pass at it was very narrow and the ladies we were behind elected to walk the entire section. Finally came to a part where we could pass and pass she did. She lost a boot almost to the end of this segment combining into the 3rd VC and there was a bridge crossing a creek, which she does not like crossing but fortunately we had caught up to another rider and so long another horse goes across the bridge, she will, other wiser I have to hand walk her. The bridge was surprisingly slippery and she panicked a bit on the footing, which is where I think the boot came off, not the rocks… LOL.

Kathy was waiting for us again and someone we had been talking about the night before,Aubrey Hager, former central region rider, who helped Kathy and us while waiting her sister came in off of trail. I replaced her boot before we came into the P&R. Again, she vetted through pretty quick and had great scores and ate and drank well. On a side note, we had been having some issues with gut scores at some prior rides, so I did some research and had a recommendation of adding magnesium to her elytes, which we did at the 75 out at the Grasslands. Her appetite and gut scores dramatically improved so we utilized the same remedy at this ride with very good results.

Soothes hold was 50 minutes and we set out after we were released. From this point on the trail was a little easier with the big climbs out of the way but not the rocks so much.We had been lucky all day as themes had been low and they continued to be that way, never really getting out of the 70’s. I have heard that this ride can have some relatively high temps along with the high humidity that we were already experiencing.

This trail was no different in the case of the rocks. There were plenty to go around but there were sections of road and flat areas where you could move out and she did. We acquired another rider a little after leaving and rode with there and her horse for the rest of the ride. This lady had completed this ride 4 times now and although her horse was a yo-yo horse, meaning he would speed up and slow down, Wynd figured out real quick that she could keep her normal pace and not have to do the same thing. She is so smart!

This section would be particularly long from what I was told. We had a 10min gate and go where once your horse reached criteria, they would let you go 10 minutes. Both horses seemed ravenous and ate very well and as we were getting released to go, the ladies I was behind earlier had caught back up to us but never saw them again. Wynd and the other lady’s horse were eating everything at this point. Any grass they came to they would want to eat and move along.

I was told to get ready for the Mail Trail. How the hell anyone delivered mail up this trail is beyond me. I was also told that this was the trail they cleared rocks off of and I was assured by the lady we were riding with that this was a lot better than it has been in the past. That was nice. This trail was a NEFT trail, (Never ending f$cking trail) and every ride has one. It is also the point in the ride where you start questioning your sanity.

We made it to the Little Sluice courtesy stop, it’s not a hold but they have volunteers there that have water, snack, hay feed. We stopped for a bit and let the horses eat and drink. It was only 4 miles to the next hold, the Big92 VC.

Kathy and Aubrey were there waiting on us and had everything ready! Again, as it had been through the whole ride so far, she pulsed and vetted in quickly and ate just as well. This hold I believe was 40 minutes and we left on time with our guide person. The next hold was 7+ miles away and were 70+ miles through the ride and she was moving out very well, even with all the climbs and rocks and soon to be mud, Wynd felt great and was doing very well so far.

This section is about half road and half through the woods. The rocks seemed to diminish to an extent which made going easy but being dark we walked a bit more through the woods. We came to Laurel Run VC which was the 5th VC and a 30 minute hold. Kathy passed us earlier going down the road and meet us there and had some major help from the ever helpful volunteer named Ryan, whom helped us earlier in the day at the same VC. He was awesome, carrying everything from the truck to the hold and even parked the truck!

Again she ate and drank, but this time it was getting a chilly so I did not remove her saddle. The vet at the vet check was very impressed with her recoveries, 52/52 and this hold had a pretty steep incline in the trot out coming back to the vet. She was like that all day. He gave her a compliment.

So we were off after our time. Next VC was 13+ miles and was mostly road although we had some hills to climb with, you guessed it, rock! At this point it was dark and couldn’t really see anything as her glow sticks on her breast collar lit up the trail, we made it to Bird Haven and VC 6, the last hold, which was only 20 minutes.

Wynd had picked up the pace a bit as she knew we were headed back, especially in her walks as our guides horse was a bit of a slow walker so she led a little for periods of time. Left her saddle on for this VC as well and the vet gave her another compliment for 52/48 CRI. She ate and ate the either time we were there. We had 6 miles to go!!!!!

We left the hold across the pasture we entered and loped out of the VC! When the trail turned into the woods, we had to walk. The mud combined with the rocks made things a bit slow but she had a pretty go pace at a walk. We reached the road leading to camp and both horses took off at a fast trot and as we got to the lights we picked up a lope.

Now since this woman we were riding with lead pretty much the entire time we road together, I wasn’t going to go blow past her at the finish but Wynd had other ideas. We broke into a light lope and then she, without warning, bolted into a gallop with many people footing and cheering! I was not ready for that but I guess she was done… lol.100 miles of that terrain and she does that. Wow!

We walked down the vet check as Kathy went to get the wagon. I pulled her saddle and we walked to the vet. She was trying to eat everything. We got to the vet and she gave us another compliment on her CRI which was 48/48. Her P&R pulse was 40! She never had a CRI above 60 all day. Yes, she did a 100 miles.

She trotted out sound and all of her other parameters were great! We completed, 8th out of 32 starters! I cannot be any more proud of my little girl! She was strong all day, ate and drank well all day. She performed fabulously!

We brought her back to the trailer and took care of her legs and such and went to bed. We were exhausted. The next morning we awoke for BC showing. I made the mistake of not putting a heater on her and trotting her out in her collar which caused her head to be up in the air but she looked good. She flinched a bit when palpated near the knee on the LF and had a rub between her heel bulbs on the RF which she lost the boot on and reacted to that so her BC scores were not the greatest but I don’t care! She did fabulous.

I cannot convey the appreciation I have for Kathy and all she did for us. If it were not for her, we would have never completed this ride. She did everything by herself! Load, unload, reload again, Drive, unload, carry, lather, rinse, repeat as all of the VC’s were out of camp… She is the super crew and I am very luck to have someone even remotely willing to this for us! I did try and get her some help but, in the end was unable to secure anyone. She did have a bit of help from Audrey and I am extremely appreciative of that.

Since I have ridden the the big 3 now, of which I have only completed one and attempted another numerous times to no avail, which we shall be going back to kick it's ass, I have had time to think about It and I have rated them in order of difficulty. This is my opinion with the experiences I have had at each ride so take as you may.

Big Horn IMO is the most difficult It terms of climbs and sheer daunting remoteness. There is no one, other than maybe another rider, and I mean no one, between each of the holds and it is 20 miles between each hold. The elevation change is majorly drastic. When I did it the ride changed a bit but from the first hold to the second was a 4000'+ change. The canyons we had to climb were straight up and down with no switch backs.

OD would be #2. They are not kidding about the rocks at this ride, they are brutal. Lots of walking. You don't have the elevation like the other two but the climbs are long and add the rocks, well, there ya go. There was one rider I heard of that lost 3 shoes after the second section. We lost one glue on so I consider that pretty lucky. Look at the picture of her boot and the wear the rocks caused. And we were lucky with the temps as it never got out of the 60's. Maybe reached 70º. The humidity was in play though and from what I have been told, these temps are not the normal temps for this ride. I can imaging what it would be like if the temps were in the 90's with the humidity!

#3 unfortunately Is the ride in California. Yes, it can get hot, but with no humidity It is very tolerable and yes the canyons are a tough part of this ride but in all honesty, the toughest part of this ride is the logistics! So, mind you this is my opinion from the experience I had at all three rides!


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

2022 Wild West Day 2 - Nina Bomar

by Nina Bomar
June 21 2022

It was day 2 @ Wild West Ride… Niño and I headed down to the start. He trotted out quietly and behind most all of the other riders. After a few miles, there was a spotter on the trail for the sharp left turn that took us up the single track. Normally there are just ribbons but they’d mentioned at the riders’ meeting how there might be a few extra helpers on trail!

We made our way up the switchbacks with Carrie Ellinwood riding in front and another Kerrie who was riding behind us! The first Carrie was on an incredibly beautiful flea bitten Arab named Jamboree and oh boy was he impressive. I’d commented to her at the start how they looked like they were entering the Dressage show ring, poised, collected, balanced and he was such a beautiful mover. He was all business too, very serious and focused, which I could tell from the get go. They plan to ride the Tevis this year and I can envision them sailing through the 100 mile course without issue.

The second Kerrie who was riding behind us was on a large Spotted gaited horse who was a big mover, animated and very forward. It was to be their first 50 miler and she had expressed some concerns about pacing him properly. Somehow Niño and I got sandwiched between the two and when we came upon a second spotter on the single track trail, he stood up from his chair and had us veer left instead of continuing straight. We all followed suit and continued on the single track that took us up and then more up. We climbed for at least a few miles, until we reached the very top and I sensed something was wrong, even though there were ribbons once we had reached the ridge.

We made a left turn that seemed poorly marked, but it put the ribbons correctly on our right side; however in my heart, I had that icky feeling that something wasn’t right. The marking had been excellent on this ride with three ribbons at every turn but there also was no where that we could have gotten off trail. We trotted on for a few more miles before reaching another intersection and the infamous water tanks along with the trail that would take us back to camp. I then declared… I’m going back… this is wrong!! I thought to myself… ride management will kill me if I show up in camp like I did last year. In fact on day 1 they had even placed a sign out there for me saying… Nina don’t go this way!!! And mind you I was so careful and never got lost!!!

As I reminisced about all we had done, I really felt like we shouldn’t have climbed the big mountain because I remembered comparing the first loop to the prior day’s loop, which shared some common trail early on. I knew that I had never ridden that up that single track climb.

While none of it made any sense, I wanted to go back down the mountain, which we had just climbed and the girls were reluctant with my thinking out loud. After a bit of back and fourth on the ridge we all agreed to stay together and make our way back down the single track.

When we got all the way back to where the volunteer was who had told us to go that way, he was still there and he said… Oh you were supposed to go straight here (which was now a left turn for us). I questioned him in disbelief and he said… I didn’t know that earlier, but now I’ve just confirmed it as he held up a phone or radio… 😳 We kinda all looked at each other …cleared our throats and thanked him kindly! I did ask him what his name was and he said Glen, but ends up no one knew who he was 🙄

Onwards we continued and finally made it to the first water troughs where Bob asked if we had been lost… The LD riders were already coming through so we were behind for sure! I also explained to Bob that I didn’t dare ride back to camp 😂 He gave me a smirk and admired my good decision but he also shook his head in disbelief for what had happened to us.

Niño and I took some time and then continued on after I gave him a snack baggie full of mash and he enjoyed a long drink along with a few bites of hay. We thanked them for the great hospitality and continued. It wasn’t long before we caught up with Carrie and Jam and we rode the lollipop together, making our way back to the troughs again and then on into camp for the lunch hold. My gps had us at 29 miles for the first loop… double ugh 😩

Niño vetted through easily and we enjoyed the hour break and then headed out onto the second loop by ourselves. It was beautiful, familiar and I felt worry free. Soon after, Carrie and Jam caught us and we again rode together. She had me laughing so hard I nearly pee’d my pants. The skies got dark and the air was cool. Carrie said that hopefully we wouldn’t see anymore volunteers and that phrase stuck with me throughout 😂

Soon the thunder began to rumble and a few sprinkles dropped from the sky. Carrie said it wasn’t looking good weather wise and then she mentioned something about lightening and forest fires. My PTS clicked in on high alert and soon I was terrified. We made it back to camp, vetted through, but before getting back to the rig for our 1/2 hr hold, the skies opened up and an icy cold downpour came and drenched us. Soon it was followed by a wicked hail storm with icy rocks pelting down on us like an angry Mother Nature who then threw in some wet snow. It was wild… Needless to say my poor Niño was not a happy camper. It broke my heart to have had him work so hard and now to see him being pelted with ice and the sudden bitter cold. I threw three layers of blankets on him and then went to ask management what should we do… ?? Bob quickly reminded me “That’s why it’s called endurance!”. I walked back to my rig and threw the towel in. I couldn’t do it to my horse. We called it quits.

I got my saddle off Niño, put lots of warm blankets and a raincoat on top and then tucked myself in the camper. Soon the Ride management graciously came to ask if we’d like to continue? Oh hell no, I replied. I wouldn’t do that to my horse nor to myself. We took a rider option instead and I think we made a great decision. The storm moved on almost as quickly as it arrived but I had chosen to pack and leave early the following morning. I’d had enough and mostly I wanted Niño to keep his happy spirits.

With all the challenges, it was still a wonderful experience and a gorgeous ride. Kudos to management for their commitment and ability to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.

Friday, April 15, 2022

2022 Huasna 2-Day Endurance Ride - Jeanette Mero

April 11 2022
by Jeanette Mero

What a great weekend. Even though Reyna gave a nice recap, I thought I’d share some pics and videos. It was a brand new ride about 20 miles east of Arroyo Grande. I’m always left feeling so grateful and appreciative to be allowed the privilege of riding in such pristine, wild country. It was indeed all up or down, but that’s normal for our mountain trained horses. Huasna is a private working ranch of some 58,000 acres and the Angus cattle were some of the best I’ve seen.

As Reyna said we had a very successful weekend. We won both days, but they can’t allow ties, so Lena got the wins and Reyna showed Clippie for BC both days winning BC on Day one. We jogged them both post ride and Clippie by far looked the soundest so I told Reyna it was her and Clip’s turn to shine.

It’s been such a tough journey with this talented half sister to Lena. Clip has struggled with feet and shoeing issues and has spent much of the last two years on and off sound, mostly off. After yet again more lameness work ups, and diagnostic X-rays - we made some big commitments, and big changes to her shoeing and we are so very grateful to Cody Hill for getting this mare finally going in the right direction. It’s clearly well worth the long drive and time it takes to get the mares to him for his expertise. A talented farrier is worth their weight in gold! Without them we can’t even begin to be successful in this sport.

As for the spill Lena and I took - well it wasn’t pretty. We had done a great job dodging those darn ground squirrel holes all weekend, as the ranch was dotted with them everywhere. We were on the last section, of the last loop, on the last day, when I looked down and suddenly there was a dam hole right under Lena and I. It all happened so fast I really don’t know what happened other than I tried to jerk her up over it and someone she did manage to not stick her front leg right down in it, but she went down on her knees I think catching part of a foot in it. It was pretty ugly for about three seconds or so and I wasn’t sure she wasn’t going to summersault over top of me, or just snap her front leg off in the hole. But I got clear sort of, bashing my face, taking a hoof, or a knee, or a back leg, or something, to my lower back and somehow we both survived. As I tried to stand up, bloody faced, with broken sunglasses and a bit dizzy- my first question to Reyna was “is Lena ok????!!!!!”

Of course Reyna’s first question to me was - “what day is it, do you know where you are?” Good on her for checking to make sure I wasn’t knocked out or suffering from a concussion.

I wasn’t and all I could think about was my mare, who’s been the gift of a lifetime, and how she surely must be broken and wrecked. But by the grace of God, and probably her athleticism, she only had some light scraping on her knees. She was completely sound. And stayed completely sound. If there had even been the slightest off step with Lena we would have quit. But it appeared thankfully I caught the brunt of it all and my mare was fine. After I had a chance to walk a bit and clear my head, I was able to get back in the saddle. I wasn’t dizzy anymore and I could actually still post and carry on at a trot. So off we went and finished up the last 12 miles. Reyna was scolding me most of the way, worried about me and wanting me to take a Rider Option. I didn’t remember till later on that at just the last ride we had come upon a rider that got into a wreck and was knocked out cold and suffered head trauma. So Reyna was understandably worried and peeved at me, especially since I guess from her view the wreck was quite impressive. All’s well that ends well though, no head trauma, no broken legs on Lena, and two mares that are training up very nicely in preparation for Tevis!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Old Pueblo 50, March 2022 - Ashley Wingert

Gopony.me - Full Story

April 7, 2022 / Ashley Wingert

Ah, Old Pueblo. It’s a ride that’s considered a bit of an Arizona institution, having been around in some form since the 1990s. Despite that, it’s a ride I’ve been to only a handful of times, and a ride I’ve had questionable luck at. It was my very first attempt at a 50-miler, catch riding a friend’s horse, and my day ended with an inglorious Rider Option partway through after the constant torquing of an out-of-position stirrup fender left my ankle sprained and unable to bear any weight. So, yeah, that was fun…

I did a couple of really fun LDs with Mimi, in which my little spitfire pony actually Top Tenned (there are a ton of gates along the trail at this ride, and some of them can be gotten from horseback, if you have a gate-savvy horse…Mimi is the savviest of gate-savvy horses [literally, she will push the gate open if you unlatch it for her] and we were able to save so much time and [comparatively] fly through the courses), and then for the next number of years, consistently ran into schedule glitches and conflicts when it came to attending this ride.

2013 saw me doing my first back-to-back 50s (on Rocco and Frenchy), and then I didn’t make it down to OP again until last year, and the infamous Snowmaggedon day (aka, “Liberty’s first 50-mile attempt that involved 26 miles in a blizzard and a pull at 42 miles because apparently someone needs electrolytes even when it’s snowing”).

This year, I had redemption on my mind...

Read more here:
https://gopony.me/2022/04/07/ride-story-old-pueblo-50-march-2022/

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

2022 Antelope Island - Merri Melde



by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
April 12 2022

This was Jeff Stuart’s 7th year to put on the Antelope Island Endurance ride on Antelope Island State Park in Utah, carrying on a decades-long tradition. He always tries to come up with new combinations of trails, and with Ridecamp in a fenced field by the historic Garr Ranch on the south end of the island this year, Jeff got permission for the first time for riders on Day 2 to have their Hidalgo moments and gallop on the dry lake bed. Some horses have apparently seen that movie as they did indeed make off like Hidalgo did when he was chased by a haboob.

(Riding on the lake bed was also made possible by this being the LOWEST level of water the lake has ever had - more and more people moving in suck up the water from creeks and rivers before it ever gets to the lake. One day the island buffalo will be strolling into downtown Salt Lake City for day trips when they can just walk across an entire dry lake bed, at which time The Great Salt Lake will be renamed The Great Salt Basin.)

Because of crazy record number of visitors to this Island State Park since COVID sparked the outdoor craze, this year entries were limited to 50 riders a day. It’s a nice state park, and a great example of multi-use management, with hiking, biking, bike races, horse riding, horse races, camping, and raising buffalo. There used to be boating, but the docks are all on dry ground now.

I’m always amazed at how good and fit and healthy most American Endurance horses look, and with this year’s entries, there was so much equine eye candy to behold.


Numero uno was unloaded from Suzie Hayes’ Montana trailer. Several of us literally gasped at her 6-year-old 17-hand Anglo-Arab, Darc Legacy, aka “Pitch,” (we immediately nicknamed him “Tiny”), arrived for his first Ridecamp experience and first 50-mile ride ever. (They finished, a successful day, no forced dismounts from 17 hands in the sky!)

And always my favorite, Kvistur fra Hvammi, aka “Kris” the Icelandic horse ridden by Bill Marshall on Day 2’s 25. I LOVE HIM! (The horse, not Bill. Although Bill is a very nice and pleasant man.) They finished!


And if you’ve ever been looking for Mangalarga Marchador horses (a gaited Brazilian breed), of course the Antelope Island Endurance ride is the first place you’d think of finding them. The Nelsons from Montana showed up with 4 of their Marchadors for all of their first Endurance rides, and very coincidentally, Nick Button showed up with *his* Marchador from Oregon for his first Endurance ride (they did not know each other). They all finished! (The 2 grays in the top photo are Marchadors.)

At least a dozen first time Endurance riders attended this year and were started down the path of Endurance addiction.

As they have every year of late, vet students from the Utah State University School of Veterinary Medicine came to help learn and vet the horses with head vet Mel Schwartz - future Endurance vets (and maybe riders) in the making. As usual a great group of volunteers helped to put on the ride - the unsung heroes of all Endurance rides everywhere.

It was fun seeing a familiar face from (my) days past riding in the West and Pacific South region. DVM Susan McCartney, who vets rides in those regions took a turn in the saddle for the first time in 5 years and for the first time at Antelope Island, riding Christoph Schork’s GE Pistol Annie to finish Day 1’s 50, and Day 2’s 25.


Gwen Hall and Sizedoesntmatter (Dakar) came to Antelope Island for the first time loaded for bear. Among others, Gwen and Dakar have won the 2021 AERC National Championship 100 at Fort Howes, Montana; the 2017 AERC National Championship 100 in La Veta, Colorado; a first place in the  USA team starters for the 2018 World Equestrian Games Endurance Championship in Tryon North Carolina; AERC Decade Team; and three Top Ten finishes in the Tevis Cup (4th in 2014, 2nd in 2015, and 8th in 2019). 

They tied Christoph Schork and GE Atticus Golden Sun for the win on Day 1, with Atticus getting Best Condition. Christoph and GE VA Blizzard of Oz won Day 2’s 50 and got Best Condition, and Christoph received his umpteenth Antelope Island ride award jackets.

Weather was chilly and windy, which was perfect for riding, and the ride itself was perfect timing for most everybody to get home before the snowstorm (in mid-April!!!) hit over much of the Northwest. 

See you here next year at one of the best rides in the Mountain region!

More fun photos and such at:
http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2022AntelopeIsland/

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

2022 Owyhee Dust Bowl - er, Owyhee Tough Sucker - Merri Melde



by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
April 4 2022

My goodness. We expected the wind to blow in the afternoon, but nobody predicted the Dust Bowl that the trails became, or that Ridecamp morphed into throughout ride day. But, as Mike Cobbley said, “Hey, I’m looking on the bright side. No gnats!” That’s because all the gnats were hurled into the next state by the wind and dust. (You are welcome, Nevada!)

Once you were already out riding in the wind you just took it. Even when it was blowing so hard, if it was coming from behind you, dust clouds blew forward onto and enveloped the leading horse, and it buffeted you around in the saddle up on the Hallelujah Rim and some of the wind-funnel valleys.

But oooooh the poor, wonderful volunteers and crews and vets in camp had it the worst. All of us, riders, horses, in-campers had dust in every pore and crevice, and oooooh the poor eyeballs. Brings up the question, what did/do the Bedouins in the Arabian deserts do? They are covered from head to toe except for their eyeballs, day after month after year after decade. How do they not go blind from the dust storms?

It was so dusty in camp that Regina forgot and left one of her truck windows open during the day and consequently captured about 60 pounds of dust inside. It was so dusty Regina bagged baking lasagna for dinner on her outside grill as it would have been Dust Lasagna. It was so dusty that the next day when I washed clothes, washing only polished the dirt but didn’t remove it.

And one reason that it was so dusty was because we had to shift Ridecamp pastures at the last minute; two days before our ride, a rancher’s bulls were in our pasture (“they are NOT nice bulls,” said ride manager Regina), then they were gone for a day, but then they were herded back into the pasture Friday evening (which was quite entertaining for some of the horses in camp.) Our new camping ’pasture’, sparsely covered with dead tumbleweeds, quickly turned to dust with horse hooves and truck tires.

But (despite the wind) the weather was perfect for riding, trails around the Snake River and along the Oregon Trail were pretty and the footing fabulous.

It wasn’t a big crowd, but 27 hit the trails on Saturday morning, with, at the finishes, only one lameness and one rider option. Highlights were Cat Cook finishing her first 50, after umpteen years of riding LDs, and on the famous-and-sometimes-wild-man Talladega, owned by Mike Cobbley. Cassee Terry, who’s been vetting northwest rides since 2006, finished her first 50 on Kristen Grace’s JoJo. She rode with Kristen and her daughter Joslynn. She *says* she was only a little stiff the next day. Brad Drake and Mi Coy Raven rode their first Idaho ride and tied for the win in the 50 with David Laws and Che Ole, and Dick Root and OFW Alivia (Best Condition). Karen Steenhof and WMA Proclaim (Riley) were familiar faces getting the LD Best Condition award.

Photos and more from the ride at:
http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2022OwyheeToughSucker/

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Ride Story: Wickenburg Land of the Sun 50, Feb 2022 - Ashley Wingert

GoPony.me - Full Story

April 1, 2022 / Ashley Wingert

The month preceding the ride has been a difficult one, after losing my grandfather and one of my dogs, Artemis. Much of the time, I’ve been going through the motions, trying to sort through my grief and emotions. Saddle time has been good therapy for me, but there have been many days that even going through my usual routines and habits has been hard because Artemis was so intertwined in my daily life, and everything reminds me of her. Including going to rides, especially because I had such big plans this year for taking the dogs with me on the road to as many rides as I could.

So my enthusiasm was admittedly low going into the ride. As much as I enjoy the Boyd Ranch basecamp, I loathe the 8+ miles of washboard dirt road that it takes to get back into camp. My one experience with riding the Wickenburg trails out of this location was the first year that the ride moved to the Boyd Ranch, and it was met with mixed results. (Long story short: Liberty and I ended up with the sort of ride you look back on years later and go, “Well, it was a good learning experience.” Didn’t feel quite so magnanimous about it at the time, though, and wasn’t looking for a repeat performance.) I’d heard from others that the trails had been drastically improved since that ride, but there’s only so much you can do to avoid the inevitable rocks and sand that make up much of the Wickenburg area.

A nice rain storm and cold front blew in on Wednesday before the ride, which altered my original plans of “give Liberty a good bath, and do some experimenting with gluing boots” into “I’ll give her a thorough currying at the ride and her regular strap boots will be fine.” Friday morning, I packed up the last of the feed/camp supplies that I store down at the barn, loaded up Libby, and hit the road, with Sofie riding shotgun in the front seat...

Read more at:
https://gopony.me/2022/04/01/ride-story-wickenburg-land-of-the-sun-50-feb-2022/

Monday, March 28, 2022

2022 New Cuyama - Nina Bomar

March 28 2022
by Nina Bomar

We had a wonderful time at the Cuyama XPRide. It’s such a peaceful place to both camp and of course to ride. Ann Nicholson and the Duck worked extra hard to get three days of trail marked in the rugged terrain, where much of the course cannot be marked by Jeep, but instead must be hiked, ridden by horseback or moto. We were blessed with a bit of water in the creeks, a few assorted wildflowers and plenty of green grasses for trail-side snacking. It was a welcomed surprise, especially considering we’re in the middle of a drought.

The weather was warm and the trail was challenging. It was the perfect combination for a great ride that has seen its 20th year running. The Nicholson’s have nurtured so many special relationships within this small community of ranchers who have resided in the area for many generations. We are blessed to have the opportunity ride through their properties, descend upon their valleys and cruise their mountaintops. The views are always spectacular and this year was just as special as in all the previous ones.

Juan and I got VIP parking so that we could be nearby to help with the cooking and the Duck duties. He ran Juan through a bit of bootcamp during their wild excursions in the Jeep, occasionally sending Juan off to pull ribbons without drinking water. Juan said he had to remind the Duck that he’s not a camel. It’s such a spectacular and unique experience for Juan to get out there and really see the country with a man who knows so much about the topography. They enjoyed many conversations along the way and I get a kick out of seeing Juan in remote places along the trail, enjoying himself, laughing and always learning new things with the Duck.

On Day 1 I rode Niño and he didn’t disappoint. I hadn’t been on him since the 100 miler a few weeks earlier and he was ready to go. Saudii stayed back at the trailer and threw a few whinnies, but they both behaved themselves. Dave Rabe and I rode together and he was on Cocamoe Joe. We never know if we’ll get to stay together, but we seem to have figured out a system that works, and I’m very thankful for our good times together.

Annie made sandwiches for everyone at the lunch stops, which were back at camp and I washed mine down with a cold beer. She spoils us all and wants to make sure everyone feels happy and is enjoying themselves. She also had assorted chips and her infamous ice chest full of candies and chocolate. Juan was mostly out running around with the Duck, but I had it all under control… beet pulp soaked, hay bags filled and water bottles ready to replenish the ones I had emptied.

Day 2 was Saudi’s turn and he danced with joy, while Niño was a bit naughty about being left behind. Dave rode White Cloud and we again had a lovely ride. Poor Cloudy, he still had some heavy winter coat, so we took it easy and got off to climb a few of the big mountains. We took some rest breaks in the shade and allowed the horses time to graze on the sweet baby green grasses. It was a very relaxing 50 miles and I loved it.

By Day 3 it was Nino’s turn again and he was rearing to go. Cocamoe Joe turned on his little crackhead and we zoomed down the trail. I didn’t drink beer at lunch on this day out of fear that I’d might go take a siesta and never get back out on trail. We saved it for the finish, where we celebrated. Juan always loves to greet us with a cold one.

On the final evening Annie splurged big time and provided us all with filet minion, baked potatoes and salad. I got to sit with Caroline De Bourbon and marvel at what a lovely and smart young lady she is. She too rode all three days, finishing in the top five, looking fresh and smiling as if she hadn’t done a thing. She’s an accomplished rider with an impressive ride record and she is an incredibly thoughtful and well mannered person. I loved listening to both her and Dave talk about their rides … hearing his versions and experience and watching her expressions and feeling her fresh and youthful enthusiasm. It was such a treat and a joy to be there and to get to know her a little more and to witness first handedly how Dave continues to influence us all both young and old and always in such a positive manner. It was a great ending to a perfect multi day ride that was filled with so many blessings!

Friday, March 11, 2022

2022 Twenty Mule Team - Nick Warhol

March 10 2022

This year‘s 20 mule team ride in Ridgecrest California did not disappoint. It is my favorite ride of the year, and the best week of the year for me since I bring both my horse and my dirt bike down for the week. I spend a few days working marking the trail on my dirt bike, then I ride the hundred on Saturday on my horse. It was a fantastic week all in all, but it certainly presented some difficulties. It was very windy on Monday when I drove down; I got really lucky that I made it to Ridgecrest before the big wind hit. These are the winds that blow semi-trucks over, close highways, and would’ve stopped me in my truck and camper on the way down. (The new truck is splendid by the way!) Monday afternoon was so windy it was impossible to even go outside. The wind was so strong that Brian and I literally could not open the rear door of my horse trailer to unload the motorcycle. It was that bad. You just had to stay inside or be in a vehicle. Tuesday morning arrived with just as much wind, and even worse! I was supposed to go out and work on the trail, which I did, but it was too difficult to really do anything. We ended up scouting the trail for a new potential ride we’re looking at doing in October in the same area. As long as you have your goggles on, the dirt bike isn’t so bad in the wind. Except for trying to ride 60 MPH against a 60 MPH wind! It was stupid.

Tuesday night we got the rotten news that we had lost yet another vet for the ride, which meant we couldn’t use the long traditional 65-mile loop. We did some last-minute scrambling with our head vet Mike Perales, who was trying to find us a vet, to no avail. Brian and I basically changed the entire route of the ride on Tuesday night and started working on it Wednesday morning. We would have to do multiple loops out of camp which was OK, but not desirable. It’s not possible to do the long 65-mile loop with only three vets. As a result, with three days to go we completely changed the ride. We created and marked new loops, made all new maps, found different hay and water stops, set new radio locations, scheduled less porta potties, the whole thing. It all worked out, since lucky for us the wind stopped. On Wednesday it was overcast and we actually had a few snow flurries in town. Oh great! At least there was no wind. On Thursday morning the weather became perfect! Clear, cold, calm, just right for riding in the winter in the desert. We got jamming on the trail marking and worked all day Thursday and most of Friday to get ready in time. It turns out we had a great turnout after all- over 100 riders across all the distances, with the 100 having the most with 38 starters! That’s a very good sign!

Saturday morning came very cold at the start, but clear and totally calm- no wind. I saddled up Sorsha and started the ride with my new friend Mary Vrendenberg, who was attempting her and her horses very first ever 100 mile ride. We rode out at the back of the pack, but calmly and quietly passed several horses as we trotted up towards boundary Road.

There were a couple of horse accidents on the way up to the ridge in the first couple of miles, requiring some stitches and a hospital visit for falling down horses that really injured their knees. At about 10 miles or so One rider in particular had dismounted for a rest room stop, and was re-mounting her horse. The horse took off and she fell off backwards hitting her head on the ground hard. It cracked her helmet, and gave her a pretty serious concussion. Several riders stopped, including Lori Oleson, who walked her to the highway crossing before continuing the ride on her big gelding Fargo. J Mero and her daughter Reyna ponied the horse to the highway, fast! They blew by us with the horse in tow at a canter. That was pretty cool! I heard Reyna say “the horse does not know how to pony, so we are just going fast!” It turns out the rider was OK, just had a serious concussion. We rode the rest of the first 35-mile loop with no issues, vetted through at 25 miles fine, and made it to camp at 35 miles. There was one problem in camp- long vet lines. But what does a good ride manager do? Brian hired J Mero, who had been pulled, to be another vet. That’s quick thinking, and thanks to Dr. J for stepping in to help. After an hour hold we headed back out and had to ride the two new loops that Brian and I created the day before, the pink loop, and the blue loop, 15 miles each, out and again back into camp. Both loops went fine, no issues, just lovely trotting in perfect weather. Sorsha told me every time we were passing home, since we had to pass Gretchen’s place at the corner, every time we headed out and came back in. She would pause, I’d say, no, lets go on, and she would. Good girl!

After the blue loop, we returned to camp after 65 miles at about 4:00 PM, which was earlier than normal. This new format ride was clearly easier than the traditional ride. Now all we had to do was the last 35 miles, the traditional 35-mile orange loop, the night loop for the traditional ride, that we had done earlier in the day. We headed out in the daylight, and trotted up the same way we gone this morning up to boundary Road. The sun was just setting and getting dark as we turned right on boundary for the 10-mile trot to the highway. Just after dark, Chelsea and Buzz Arnold caught us and decided they liked me once again for my lights! I have these homemade LED blue lights on my breast collar that cast a nice, soft light in the pitch-black desert. The four of us rode the entire last 30 miles or so together, having just a splendid ride at night. Sorsha and I were next to buzz and Gus in front, with Mary and Chelsea following behind us. Mary was hanging in there, riding along with no issues or complaints. I love it! We rode like that for several hours, and arrived at the last check at mile 90, which was really cold. Dennis Sousa reported it was about 19 to 20°. Burr! As long as you were riding it was fine, with the right clothing, but standing around fingers and toes got cold. It was funny- Buzz and I kept zipping and unzipping the jackets, removing them and putting back on, gloves on and off- it just depended where you were at the moment and if you were trotting or not. But once past the check it stayed very cold. I pulled a bozo in the vet check, fully embarrassing myself by stepping on a hunk of hay and crashing to the ground. My land legs were acting up a bit, I guess. Nice! I looked like the fourth Stooge! It was okay- only a few people laughed!

It was only 10 miles to go to the finish, and right before the highway crossing Mary’s horse took a trip and kaboom, down went Mary on the ground. Oh no, not now! She hopped back up, remounted, and we continued on no problem. We rode the last 8 miles into town down past the college (on my new route that I like a lot better), through the city and to the finish, finishing at about 11:20 PM in ninth and 10th place. Chelsea and Buzz held back a little bit to allow Mary her first top 10 in her first ever attempted a 100. Thanks again Chelsea and Buzz; you guys are a class act, and I really appreciate that gesture. It was only 11:45 when I walked Sorsha the quarter mile back home to Gretchen‘s to put her up in her pen. I’ve never finished the ride that early before. I walked back to my WONDERFUL camper where I turned on the heater, had a cold IPA from the fridge, took a hot shower, in 20 degree weather outside, and curled up under my two down filled comforters with 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Yes, this is the life! Much better than the tent I spent last year in.

The next morning was clear and cold again, and I declined to show Sorsha for best condition since Christoph Shork beat us by over three hours! And his horse looked fabulous! Wow. He ended up with Best Condition, which he deserved. Special congratulations to Mary for doing a perfect ride on her and her horse’s first 100. They were smiling all day and looked great. The 20 Mule Team is one of the best first 100-mile rides anywhere, and this is exactly how you do it! Special mention goes to the Quicksilver club- we started 12 horses across all distances, and finished 11! That’s a 91 % completion rate for the club. And get this- in the 100, we started 6 and finished 6, including 4 in the top 10! Nice! I’m also thrilled to report a 72% completion rate for the 100. That’s the best in a long time! I went back out on Sunday morning and spent the day cleaning up the ribbons and arrows off the course while people packed up and went home. On Sunday night Brian took us all out for dinner and we had a nice meal.

On Monday morning I packed up the bike, Sorsha, and headed home. It was yet another great day at my favorite ride in the desert! Sorsha is now four for five at 100-mile rides, every one of them here. We are looking forward to getting to the Big Horn this year in July, with a few other California riders. I’m really looking forward to that adventure. I think Lori and Tracy are in, any other takers? Next ride, Whiskeytown in the middle of April. It is another one of my favorites, since it’s almost all single track. Then maybe Cache Creek, then by al means the new ride in Point Reyes in June. Point Reyes is my favorite place to ride a horse in the state, and there has not been a ride there in over 30 years. I’m REALLY looking forward to that one!

Nick Warhol
Hayward, Ca.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

2022 Twenty Mule Team 100 - Nina Bomar

by Nina Bomar
February 27 2022

I asked Andrew Gerhard how long it takes him after he’s ridden a 100 miler to forget about all the pain and suffering. He replied… “about a week!” I guess that’s why he has now completed 25 100-milers!

I couldn’t have been in better hands at my first return to riding 100 miles, after a very long and dry spell. When I initially sent my entry in for the 20 Mule Team 100, Juan asked me… “ Why??? Why do you need to do the one hundred miler? What do you need to prove? and on and on he went… giving me every reason to believe that my decision was a foolish one at best.

After some time, I thought about my reply. My answer was simple. “Juan…”, I said… “I need to prove to myself that I can still do a hundred miler”. His comeback was quick and hysterical, when he blasted me about how we’d ridden 3 & 4 days of 50’s wasn’t those good enough?? I retorted… “It’s not the same honey… 100 miles in one day is a little different challenge and I feel the need to see if it’s still possible; nonetheless, if I have it in me, despite the fact that it had been 7 years since I’d completed one.

I had no doubts about my horse Niño doing his first 100. He’s a beast and a smart horse who has a work ethic that continues to delight me. He didn’t disappoint and while I felt terribly guilty at the 50 mile mark, knowing that we had to go out there and do it all over again, I couldn’t think of a better horse to get us through it. I knew in my heart that he had the abilities and the blessings to getter done.

Niño never faltered once, but instead, he gave me the courage when I felt like my own had run dry. I had moments of utter … wtf was I thinking? What did I need to prove? Why would anyone in their right mind ride 100 miles in one day? And lastly…. It’s was so fricking freezing cold out there in the desert. Why??? Just why??? Juan crewed us through to the end and he was amazing. He made so many mashes for Niño, fed me sandwiches and snacks, brought us lots of warm blankets at every arrival and he was simply spot on. Everyone wanted tacos but I didn’t let him bring the grill, which meant there were a lot of hungry disappointed people but Niño and I had his full attention and we were grateful for all that he did for us.

We had a terrific ride and met some truly wonderful people. We spent most of the day riding with Tracy Hofstrand and her handsome boy Harry but when they rider optioned, she didn’t hesitate for a moment to find me friends to ride out with on the last loop. I’ll never forget her kindness, her genuine consideration and how she was awake to congratulate us upon our completion.

Many thanks to Andrew, Kelly Williams Stehman and Jax for letting me hook up with them in the final loop, which was in the dark. I really had to hang on and put those big girl panties on. Kelly Williams is a rockstar in her own right and while she herself has now completed 14 100-milers, she’s an incredible mentor and a sponsor who really cares. Every time she’d sweet talk her amazing junior, who happened to finish his second 100 miler with the first being Virginia City (with Andrew!), my heart would melt and I’d imagine her pep talking the little girl inside me. It was super special and her words were always encouraging… One time she joked that we were on the Space Mtn ride, when the ground deviated in the pitch of the night and without forewarning. Whoop!…. She exclaimed excitedly, meanwhile I noted that I hate roller coasters. Juan and I like the predictable ones like the log ride...we go to the amusement parks to wander and eat cotton candy… not for the rides.

I prayed lots during our ride, tried to appreciate the dark desert sky with all its amazing stars and I also made an effort to enjoy the ride. It ain’t easy and after riding 100 miles, I was questioning my goals, my sanity, but mostly feeling thankful to have made it through and finished. Niño had a CRI of something ridiculous like 46/43 and an A+ for impulsion. I on the other hand looked pretty tore up and don’t ever recall feeling so trashed after a ride.

The 20 MT management really put on a super endurance ride and the trail marking was superb even throughout the night. They care about their participants and it showed in more ways than one.

This morning Juan went and brought me a blueberry muffin. It’s to die for and he said it was my award. He’s also made me a coffee … he says his is county coffee and mine is.. the good stuff

Friday, January 21, 2022

2022 Fire Mountain - Cari Johnson

by Cari Johnson
January 17 2022

All summer, my friend Cathy and I had been eagerly talking about our next endurance ride. We were getting "the itch", but since Covid hit we hadn't done an endurance ride since Sesenta Anos in 2019.

We'd been averaging about 20 miles a week training rides in the mountains, with myself on Sierra, and her on Gallant, so we figured why not give Fire Mountain a shot! The horses aren't as conditioned as I would like, but we planned on just going for fun and completion, we had planned on "turtling" or coming in last place, settling on a nice easy slow pace for the horses as to not over stress them. Well, as Murphy would have it, the weekend before the ride we were on our last conditioning ride in Cuyamaca and suddenly 5 miles in Gallant comes up dead lame on his right front foot. This is a leg he's never had any problems with before, so after walking back, cold hosing, and pondering a bit, we decided he must have clipped it with his back leg. Well poop! We decided to rest him the rest of the week, and then decide Friday morning if he was sound enough to go. He wasn't, so we decided last minute to take Ares instead. We had planned on taking him just to camp, and experience everything, as it would be his first overnight trip ever. Cathy was bummed she couldn't ride, since Gallant was out, but she had prepared herself mentally all week for volunteering instead.

The entire drive up I was pondering if Ares could possibly be ready? Could he do it? Was he ready? Is he fit enough? Was I asking too much? How would he be camping? Would he be a good listener, or would he lose his mind around all these other horses? I decided that I would determine once we got to camp, and I could see how he was behaving.

We arrived early Friday with plenty of time to pick a spot, get camp set up, and get the horses settled in. We did just that, and as the afternoon wore on I debated back and forth with myself... should I enter the ride on Ares and let Cathy ride Sierra? Or is he not ready? I watched and scrutinized his every move. He was slightly nervous being in a new situation, but really taking everything in stride so well. He was eating and drinking like a champ, and had no qualms about peeing or standing tied to the trailer for so long. I finally decided, based off his demeanor and behavior, to enter on him.

I talked to Cathy and let her know that our plans had changed yet again. I could tell she was ecstatic! I was nervous but figured if we went slow and calmly, that Ares could handle it. I was happy with my decision, but nervous. How was he going to act in the morning with all the horses leaving at the start!? We also found out while we were registering that it was 30 miles, not 25! It had been listed as a 25, and that's why we had planned on riding Saturday. We were nervous about the extra distance since the horses aren't as conditioned as I like. (We found out after the ride that it was actually 33 miles!)

After a long night, the morning of our ride was finally here. Ares camped incredibly well, standing tied at the trailer all night and consuming all of his alfalfa, mash, and most of his Teff. A moment to interject here that Sierra must have camped at some point in her past life, as she was cool as a cucumber, and I couldn't have asked her to be any more perfect! Not one ounce of nervousness to be seen. She was the best camping companion for Ares possible! She is an incredible mare.

We woke up, ate breakfast, and got ready for the ride, our LD start time was 8:00am, which was nice that it wasn't too early. Ares was slightly nervous, but no more so than at home, or in the mountains, or anywhere else. After tacking up, I did some ground work with him to see where his brain was and he was perfect! Attentive and listening to me well!

We started the ride with Rebecca, whom I have ridden with before, and was glad to have her company and her sweet mustang mare Josie. Josie and Sierra were calm as could be and were such a great influence on Ares. I hand walked about a quarter of a mile then got on. Ares stood quietly for me, and although at first he was just a little prancy, he was listening to me perfectly. We all walked calmly for about a mile or two then slowly picked up the pace to a nice slow comfortable trot. Ares was doing great and listening to me so well. We slowed to walk often, and especially over rocks, the deep sand, and when the incline increased. Ares is 8, so he's physically mature, but he isn't conditioned for fast riding yet, so I wanted to take the utmost care with him. In a bit Rebecca continued on a little faster, and we were content to pace and ride by ourselves.

Both horses were strong and happy. We went up into the mountains, over dirt roads, through some pretty steep inclines and declines, and through some beautiful terrain. Truth be told, I hadn't trotted on Ares this much, so I really practiced on keeping him straight and remembering to switch my diagonals often. Also, truth be told, this was the first time I had ever cantered on Ares outside of an arena. He was so incredibly smooth and was listening so well. He's an absolute dream to ride.

We went around the college, down the long back side and then happened upon the ride photographer! Woohoo! My favorite part! But wait, what's that!?! Oh no! There's 3 hikers in bright clothes with lots of gear and walking sticks! They're going to ruin our pictures! We each ended up retrying the approach to the photographer about 3 times, as our horses kept shying and going wayyyy around the group of people that were now standing right at the photography station.  We called it good, then headed on. At first I was mad, but then Cathy mentioned, "hey they might actually be BETTER because the horses were a little amped up". LOL! I conceded, and didn't let it bother me after that.

We were pacing well, not pushing the horses at all, and watching our clocks to make sure we would arrive at the vet check on time, which was at mile 15. We were making perfect timing, not too fast, not too slow. The horses were strong, happy, and moving extremely well. Ares "looked" a lot at all the hikers, bike riders, motorcycles, and other horses that we'd come upon or pass, or that would pass us, but never did he falter.

We finally came to the road crossing, which was about 5 miles from the vet check, (10 miles in), and I got off and walked, as I didn't know how he'd be with the ground changes. We waited until there were no cars at all, then safely crossed. No issues! He was amazing! I remounted on the opposite side of the road, and we continued on our way.

HOWEVER, mayday at mile 11.5! We had just been walking and decided to trot again, I was on the first or second step of Ares going into a trot, and on the upswing of my post, when my right stirrup completely snapped in half! It happened so quickly, and because I was on the up tick, not the down swing into the saddle, it completely caught me off guard, and off balance! I tipped to the right and felt myself going off his right side. We were on a hard packed dirt road at the trot. As I was falling, in the air, about half way down, he got spooked, of course, and kicked out and caught my leg with his back hoof. Good aim!  I hit the ground HARD, but quickly stood back up, and as I watched my horse trotting off into the desert, I desperately called to him... he did a big loop around the three of us standing there, (myself, Cathy and Sierra), and then came trotting right back up to me. I'm sure I hugged and kissed him. I asked Cathy to hold him a minute so I could sit down for a second to regroup and stop shaking. I was pretty sure nothing was broken, just sore, so after a couple minutes I decided we needed to keep moving if we were to keep our finishing pace. However, I quickly realized I wasn't going to be able to walk fast enough to get to the vet check and be on time, so we took stock of the broken stirrup and thought about what we had on us that could fix it. Eventually I decided nothing would hold the weight of my leg, but figured out I could at least get my toes into the cage that was left dangling, so we could make it to the vet check. That was all that was on my mind, just make it to the vet check. We found out from a passing rider that we were still about 3.5 miles away. Well that's nothing (quick) if you're trotting, but everytime we started even a tiny little trot, I would get shooting pain in my ribs. Not to mention my foot was barely in on the right side. So we ended up walking the entire distance in.

After a little bit, I decided we weren't going to be able to keep up our pace to make it in to the vet check on time. What should I do? Should I try and call someone and have them bring another stirrup? Even if I did get another one, would we be able to finish on time to complete? Another slow mile goes by and I've decided I'm going to RO. I'm in too much pain, even with a new stirrup, to trot 15 miles back home. ANOTHER slow mile goes by, what about Cathy? What should she do? Should she go ahead without me? No, both horses would freak out if separated. What about once we're at the vet check? Should she try and make it back in time? We're finally getting close to the vet check and look at the time, the last 4 miles, plus the 30 minute vet hold, will have robbed us of almost 2 hours. That means after we vetted in we'd only have an additional 2.5 hours to go 15 miles to get alllll the way back to camp. The horses aren't as conditioned as I'd like. I don't want to push them. I don't want to compromise Sierra. I tell Cathy, and she agrees. We decide to RO and pull. Both horses vetted completely sound and happy and were vacuuming up all the hay and water at the vet check. Everyone there is astounded at the way my stirrup snapped. They are less than a year old! And the left side is cracked at the rivets! I'll be contacting the company for sure.

We are happy with our decision, and even though I'm in pain, I'm happy the horses are happy and healthy, that's what matters to me. The people at the vet check were amazing. One remarked how well behaved Ares was and what a nice horse he is. They all regaled us with amazing historic ride adventures and prior life experiences. I wish I could remember each and every one of their names, but I can't. But I'm thankful for them taking care of us and the the horses and for staying with us until the truck and trailer came.

#firemountain was an incredible ride. Everything was amazingly done and put together, and even though it didn't turn out as planned we couldn't have asked for a better experience. Thank you to Gretchen Montgomery ride manager, the vets, and all the volunteers, for the wonderful weekend!

And most especially thank you to my incredible Ares, for being such an amazing horse, with an incredible bond, and for doing so well, and for doing so much that I ask of you, even though you're so super green. And thank you for taking care of us (and yourself!) and for not running away in the middle of the desert. I love you.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

2022 Fire Mountain Day 3 - Nina Bomar



January 17 2022
by Nina Bomar

It was my third day and Niño’s second at the Fire Mountain Ride. It was a bitterly cold morning by my standards, but Dave Rabe showed up in his usual attire, shorts and a lightweight jacket. I was bundled up like we were headed for the snow. My fingers felt like frozen icicles and I blew on them with hopes that my warm breath would help them to thaw. I’m sure I was making my discomforts known out loud, when Dave blurted out to me an early morning story that suddenly occurred to him.

We were less than a mile down the trail and we had let most everyone pass us. Dave reminisced about way back when and Calina, the Ducks daughter was a very young girl and probably much less than 10 years old. He said that he and Connie Creech sponsored her on the Grand Canyon ride and it was about 5° out there first thing in the morning and brutally cold. Little Calina began to cry because she said her hands were cold. They told her to hush up and ride and that she did. They all finished the 50 miler that day and walked the last loop in because Calina’s horse was a little off but they made it.

Oh I got the message and quit whining It was a beautiful and sunny morning out here in the desert and it wasn’t before long, when I began to shed my own layers. Dave and I had initially planned to only ride one day together and that was supposed to be on the second day, when he would ride White Cloud.

He surprised me on Day 1 when he said that we should give it a try, while mingling at the start and with him riding his sometimes crazy boy Cocamoe Joe. He and Niño know each other well and have ridden miles together. Luckily for us, on this first day it was an uneventful ride and a beautiful success.

On day 2, I rode Saudii with Dave who was riding White Cloud and again we paced well and had a fun ride. We were both thrilled and spent the day chatting, telling stories and griping about all the things that bother us and then laughing it all off.

On day 3 Cocamoe was up again and paired with Niño but within the first 10 miles, he suddenly turned into what I call a crack headed horse. He just decides that he’s gonna win the race and there’s no turning back. Sadly Dave had his hands full and I offered to do whatever was necessary to let them find their way.

By the first vet check, which was at 20 miles, Cocamoe had surely pissed Dave off, but after the 1/2 hour hold, he figured that his boy would return to his senses. We went out together and moseyed along at a nice pace that wasn’t too slow, but we also weren’t screaming maniacs flying down the trail.

It was then that Dave told me about how he’d gotten Cocamoe in 2011 from Charlie who lives in Australia. He’d come to the USA to ride the big XP Ride and he’d bought a few horses mostly in Missouri to use for the ride. In the end, the plan was to sell them before returning to Australia but no one wanted to buy Cocamoe. He had a terrible reputation after within his first few rides, when he stepped on a plastic water bottle and the crunching noise spooked him. He dumped Charlie, breaking his ribs and took off running for several hours before they could locate and capture him. Needless to say, Charlie was pretty broken up in more ways than one and he wasn’t able to ride him anymore. They stopped at the Rushcreek Ranch and Dave picked out two new horses and then unknowingly, Charlie picked out two and they were the same horses!

After the XP Ride, Dave brought Cocamoe home and put him out to pasture for at least a good six months, but then started riding him. He never has bucked him off and they recently earned their decade team award after riding for 10 years together at distances of 50 miles or more. With 8,500+ AERC miles, he’s been a phenomenal horse.

Congratulations to Dave and to Cocamoe who together are a force and full of great successes and accomplishments. They could take home 1st place finishes on any course, but Dave’s goal is to manage him carefully and reach 10,000 miles with him, by keeping him strong and healthy…

Thanks Dave for accompanying us this weekend on the trail. We always enjoy your camaraderie and all the wisdom that you share. Both me and my boys Niño and Saudii feel honored, brimming delightfully with joy … and so much more.

Until the next ride, thank you all for coming along and for your support. Thanks to Epona for the best horse shoes ever and for their awesome hoof products and education that helps keep my horses sound and moving down the trail. It’s been great fun sharing with y’all… now to go home and hug my herd!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Ride Story: Jingle Bell Trot 50 2021 - Ashley Wingert

GoPony.me - Full Story

December 22, 2021 / Ashley Wingert

It’s been a full year since Liberty and I hit the competition trail in earnest with finishing the LD at Jingle Bell Trot in 2020, and we celebrated that “ride anniversary” with a 50-mile finish at Jingle Bell Trot this year.

2021 was a ride season full of ups and downs as we worked through the learning curve of figuring out the particular combination of boxes to tick in order to happily do 50-milers. We ran through the whole gamut: saddle fit, electrolytes, feet, diet. And while I know we are never really “done” with figuring out what works and what doesn’t for each individual horse, I feel like this fall has gotten us on the right track and moving in the right direction. With a solid 50-mile finish at McDowell in November, that was the first major hurdle crossed — to finally get that official 50-mile completion. From there, Jingle Bell Trot would be a true test — it’s a very rocky course, and I consider it a pretty challenging ride. It’s not a high elevation mountain ride with massive amounts of climbing, but it’s a trail that does a lot of small up and down, and is fairly “non-stop relentless” in that it’s either rocky, or up/down, or if it’s nice footing, you’re really moving out to make some time, so there’s not a ton of “downtime” for either horse or rider along the way.

One of the fun things about this ride for me is that it’s a fairly “new” ride — its first two years were run as the “Dashing Through the Trails” ride, under ride manager Effee Conner, and then last year and this year, the “Jingle Bell Trot” with ride manager Debi Sanger. There have been some trail changes here and there, but for all intents and purposes, it’s remained essentially the “same” ride…and it’s one of the few rides I’ve ridden every year...

Read more here:
https://gopony.me/2021/12/22/ride-story-jingle-bell-trot-50-2021/

Monday, December 13, 2021

Twister the Standardbred's First Endurance Ride



"When you are on a great horse, you have the best seat you will ever have." Winston S. Churchill

by Kimberley Schneider
December 12 2021

This horse, Twister the Standardbred, has not only done everything I have asked him to do, he's done it better than I could have imagined. When we had him in race training and asked him to race, he did it and he took us to the winners circle. When I asked him to outride with me, he did it with no hesitation. From riding through the Canadian Rockies to the beaches of California. When we were asked to do a parade he never batted an eye as he pulled the cart down main street. Like he'd done it a million times. He takes everything in stride and he takes care of me so well - some times it's hard to believe.

Our first endurance ride, the Cayuse ride in California, was no different, with the abundance of mentoring, and overall help we received from Robin Schadt and the support from Quentin to go out and make this happen while he and the crew made sure there were no short comings in the barn - we signed up. A 30 mile ride down in Santa Margarita (about 5 hours from Sacramento) was going to be our first attempt to see if Twister could pull off yet another feat to add to his resume, and to show just how versatile the standardbred horses truly are. The forms were filled out, the entry fees were paid - we were in. Everything that could be done to prep Twister was done, and Friday morning we were loaded and rolling by 830 am.

Twister has never "camped" before, and anyone who knows him knows he enjoys the comforts of his deeply bedded stall and the freedom to move inside, or outside and not having to face any sort of weather. Because of this I worried he may not fair well having to sleep outside, tied to the trailer, with no security of his 4 walls around him. Of course, being who he is he never argued about a thing. He never acted frantic, or nervous in any way, he was quiet and relaxed, he ate and drank every bit as well as he does at home. I thought at one point how silly to ever doubt him in any way about anything. I should know by now, he's able to handle anything that I throw at him. That same afternoon we went over to get our rider packets which consisted of a map, written directions and the vet card and then we had to vet in. Vetting in consists of the vet assessing your horse's overall body condition, soundness, whether they have any abnormalities or sores etc etc. Twister vetted in with A's all across, no wounds or saddle sores and a body condition of 5 which is basically the best you can be rated.

Saturday morning we were up at 5 it was cold. We had to break ice off their water pails and there was a nice layer of frost. We got the horses warmed up, tacked up - packed out water and snacks and mounted up. We were on the trail at exactly 7:02 am. The ride was beautiful, we did a TON of climbing. It seemed like we were either going up, or going down with very few spurts of flat land. The majority of our time was spent trotting and again, Twister handled it like a champ, like this was nothing new, seeing all the horses and going at a quick rate didn't phase him at all. We hit our vet check about 15 miles in. Twister took a little longer to pulse down than his Arabian competition, but we did get there and he was graded all As again for his overall attitude, soundness, recovery etc. There is a 30 minute hold at that check and as soon as our 30 minutes were up he and Katie we're both ready to get back on the trail. Robin and Katie ride with us the whole time, making sure we paced ourselves well and explaining the ins and outs of the vet check. We made it back to camp and to our final vet check at 1208, making our ride time 4 hours 30 minutes for 30 miles in steep terrain. Upon arrival Twister was already pulsed down, and at the final vet check he got a little excited so we had to wait for him to settle a bit which he did. For his final vet check he came through will all A's again. No sores, no saddle rubs, no wounds. He was happy, he was sharp and I felt like I had just won the lottery.

In the world of endurance Twister has a lot going against him. He's big boned, he's heavy built, he's dark. He looks like a horse they'd use to go into battle in the medieval times, nothing like the light, sporty athletic Arabians built to withstand extreme temperatures and rugged terrain with little to no water for long periods of time. We stood out, something like a sore thumb but I asked him to do it, and not only did he do it, he did it with all As on his repots, he did it with 2 hours and 15 minutes to spare, and he acted like it was no big deal. Just another day, another ride at another place. He is a living testament to the willingness and capabilities of our standardbreds. I am so lucky to have him in my life, I am positive we were great friends in a past life, sometimes I am still in disbelief that he is mine. I can't thank Robin enough for all of her help, her mentoring, for driving her rig down, making dinner, the laughs, the memories made I am so beyond happy and grateful we crossed paths and she's become family to me. And of course to the best husband in the world who never argued about a thing and was so incredibly supportive about Twister and I going down for the weekend to try to turn this into reality. To everyone who has followed Twister through his many adventures, who support him and I, we can't thank you enough or ever express how much we appreciate you. Most importantly to the best boy, Twister for always, always, always coming through for me, my heart horse.

Followers