Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Tom Quilty Cup - getting ready: 2008

by Jay Randle

The Tom Quilty Gold Cup ride over 160km (100 miles) commences at 4am next Saturday morning (20th September). This is the Australian National Championship ride, and is one of the premier 100 mile rides in the world.

Unlike the Tevis Cup, the Quilty rotates around the states of Australia each year, meaning that each state hosts the Quilty once every 6 years. I live in Queensland, which is the northeast quarter of Australia, and our last Quilty was in 2006. So we weren't expecting the Quilty to return here until 2012.

BUT..... Australia got hit with the Equine Influenza epidemic last year, and that kind of stuffed things around a bit! The Quilty was supposed to be held in the southern state of Victoria this year, but the EI bug really caused a lot of grief and heartache, and the Victorian ride organising committee decided that they just could not continue with their plans with everything being in such disarray. So, luckily, a small band of people from the small town of Nanango, Queensland, applied for the opportunity to hold the 2008 Tom Quilty Gold Cup.

This group had hosted a very successful 160km ride in June 2007, and the infrastructure of the ride base, as well as the track, had been tried and tested, coming through with flying colours! So, bravely, from 1 March this year, this committee started planning for the 2008 Quilty. Normally it takes 2-3 years to organise the Quilty as, unlike the Tevis, the track changes every year.

In order to ride the Quilty, every rider must prove their ability by completing a 160km ride BEFORE they can enter the Quilty! And in order to enter any 160km ride in Australia, each rider must have already completed 3 x 80km (50 mile) rides. So, the qualification process for riders wishing to enter the Quilty is quite strict. As you can imagine, all riders in Queensland have spent 2008 trying to qualify for this unexpected 2008 Queensland Quilty.

And now the 2008 Quilty is fast approaching! AND.... Nanango is only a 2 hour drive from Splendacrest! BONUS!

I had been planning on taking 3 or 4 horses to the Quilty in Victoria this year (a 3 day drive), but now I can take more! Since the announcement that the 2008 Quilty would be held in Qld, the entire year of competition has been building to this point. So, at this stage, I am taking 12 horses to the Nanango Quilty. Am I crazy, you ask?


So, as I am very proud of all the Splendacrest horses and riders that will be competing at the 2008 Tom Quilty Gold Cup, let me tell you a little about them:

The youngest member of our team is Ingrid Ambrosiussen, at 15 years old. Ingrid has been riding for Splendacrest since January 2007, and is a lovely young lady. She will be riding Shaah, a pure Polish 8 year old brown arabian gelding, standing at 15hh. I purchased Shaah as a 2 year old, and this is his third season of competition. Ingrid will be riding in the Junior division of the ride (juniors here do not need to be accompanied by an adult, so she will be riding by herself).

The next youngest member of our team is Tarnia Kittel, who will be 16 in November. Tarni has been riding for Splendacrest for 3 years, and has the amazing balance of a gymnast (which is how she used to spend her time prior to discovering horses!). She will be riding Splendacrest Dryad, a 13 year old bay Arabian mare, 15hh. Dryad has been a part of Splendacrest for 7 years, and this is her 6th year of competition. Tarni will be riding in the Middleweight division.

Then we have Gerard Bou, commonly known as "G", who is in his 30's, 6'4" tall, skinny as a beanpole with no butt, long haired, and bearded! G has been riding for Splendacrest for 20 months, and has taken to the sport like the proverbial duck, even though he hadn't ridden for close on 20 years prior to starting with us. G will be riding Splendacrest Fiesta, a 9 year old bay Arabian mare, 15hh when she's standing on tippy toes! I bought Fiesta as a 3 year old, bred her and gained a beautiful filly foal, and then started her under saddle once the foal was weaned. Fiesta was a real handful to begin with, but is now a reliable and gutsy performer. I then sold her as a 6 year old to a Japanese client who elected to leave her here in training, and who flies over to ride her 3 or 4 times a year. Unfortunately he is unable to ride the Quilty, so has graciously asked G to ride his horse for him.

Liz Cullam is a very good friend of mine who lives on the other side of the country, in Western Australia. She is coming over to the east coast to join us, and to ride Bullarto Fiorelli, a 9 year old brown Anglo mare, 15.2hh. Fiorelli is often a naughty girl, but Liz loves her as she successfully completed the 2006 Quilty on Fiorelli for a Top Ten placing. I'm looking forward to catching up with Liz, and you can be sure there will be a lot of tall tales told around the campfire!

A very good client of mine is Rod Strahan, who breeds endurance Arabians that are well-known and respected throughout Australia. You can visit his website at . Rod will be riding his home-bred 9 year old grey Arabian gelding Shardell Azrark, who stands at 16hh. And yes, he is a purebred Arabian! Azrark has been competing in endurance for 3 years, and has had some great results. I have been training this great horse since the beginning of this year.

Splendacrest welcomes riders from all over the world, and this year we will be joined by 4 Japanese riders for the Quilty. All of these riders have been here in the past, and have ridden with our team over the past 3 years or so. Mr Yukinobi Horiuchi will be competing on Pinfeather, an Australian Stockhorse/Arab cross gelding, 15.2hh, 14 years old. Pinfeather is owned by a great friend of mine, Alwyn Torrenbeek, who at 72 years of age will also be riding the Quilty for the 15th time!

Miss Satomi Kitamura will be riding Mt Eerwah Silver Mariner, aka "Pete", an 11 year old grey purebred Arabian gelding, 15.1hh. Pete has 3 fused vertebrae in his neck as a result of an accident as a yearling, and can't turn his head around to look at you as most horses will. However Pete has a heart as big as Texas, and is a real gentleman to ride. I have trained Pete for several years now, but only recently purchased him when the opportunity became available. He is a true gem among horses, and we all love him very much.

Mr Takeshi Ito will be riding Splendacrest Perfection, a bay 8 year old Anglo Arabian (Thoroughbred/Arab cross) gelding, 15.2hh. Perfection is truly remarkable, with a great laid-back attitude. Takeshi came to Australia in March 2007 and rode Perfection in his first ever 80km ride, and fell in love with him! He then returned to Australia in August 2007 and rode Perfection in his first ever 160km ride, completing successfully. In order to prepare for the Quilty, Takeshi returned in May this year for another 80km and in early August for a 100km ride, both on Perfection! And now he gets to ride his favourite horse in the Quilty next week. They make a beautiful pair.

Mrs Riyo Noyori will be riding her own horse, Bulgari Bentley, an 8 year old bay Arabian gelding, 14.3hh. This is Bentley's third season of competition, and his story is a very sad and interesting one. Bentley was bred and owned by a lovely man, Michael Gabriel, who rode him in 2006 and early 2007 before being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Unfortunately, Mike died early this year, and sweet Bentley was looking for a good home, so I took him on and prepared him for Riyo to try out. She came to Australia last month and rode him in an 80km ride, loved him, and bought him! Bentley will remain here at Splendacrest, and Riyo intends to come here 3 or 4 times a year to compete on him.

And we are VERY pleased to welcome a couple of our American friends to the Splendacrest camp! Kim Fuess was extremely welcoming to myself and my friends who accompanied me to the USA in February this year, and I am so excited that she is coming over to ride the 2008 Tom Quilty! Kim will be riding Lilonda Count Richael, aka "Ricky", a 16 year old bay Arabian gelding, 15.1hh. Ricky is a favourite here at Splendacrest, and is a real character! He has completed 4 previous 160km rides, including the South Australian Quilty in 2004. This is Ricky's 7th competition season, and he never lets us down. I am sure that Kim will end up loving him as much as we all do.

Charisse Glen is also coming to join us, and she will be riding Bacchante Silver Lace, aka "Quartz" an 8 year old grey Arabian mare, 15.1hh. Quartz is a lovely mare, with a never say die attitude. I bought Quartz 10 days before she foaled, and I now have a beautiful 4 year old filly out of her to carry on her lovely nature.

I will also be taking a 'spare' horse along, just in case, *fingers crossed*. Aratahnes Galaxy, aka "Chevy", is a 13 year old chestnut Quarab gelding, 15.3hh. Chevy is very easy to ride, and will be a great 'back-up' horse for everyone! He has been an institution here at Splendacrest for 7 years, and has taught many youngsters to ride along with providing many great completions for his riders. His job is to look and feel good and to provide me with a 'safety net' if I need one!! :-)

Can you feel how excited I am? I'm really looking forward to a great week, and I know that all my riders and guests will have a wonderful time at the 2008 Tom Quilty Gold Cup ride in Nanango, Queensland!

Best regards

Jay Randle

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Allegany SUAR

by Ashley Kemerer

We headed to Allegany SUAR this weekend and had a fantastic time. I just started law school and unfortunately have classes on Friday until 12. Luckily my parents were heading up on Thursday and taking the horses to give them some extra time to settle in to camp. I left Baltimore promptly at 12 and arrived at ride camp at about 5:45 with an uneventful drive up. The horses were already vetted and ready to go.

Kirah and I were to tackle the 75 miler, her first distance above a 50 (and only her third “endurance” ride). It was a daunting task and the ride was to be a difficult one, but we were going to at least give it our best shot. We were riding with my Dad and Moniet as well as off and on with a friend (Dana) and her horse Charlie.

The Friday night ride briefing was held in good spirit, and I even got a serenade from the entire clan in honor of my 21st birthday. Patti, the ride manager went over all of the loops detailing lengths, holds and the like. Our loops were to be Blue (10 miles) out to our away check at Bradford for a 15 minute hold. Then the Blue lollipop (10 miles) back to Bradford for a 30 minute hold. Back to the Blue lollipop for another ten miles and then a 15 minute gate. After that we headed back to camp on Green for 12 miles, with a 40 minute in camp hold. Next was the yellow loop (12 miles), followed by another 40 minute hold with the Red loop next (10 miles). One last hold (40 mins) and another jaunt over the red loop and we were done. Our ride would start at 6:15, and there were 12 riders in the 75 miler.

The wakeup call came at 4:45 and we were up and ready to get going. The horses were eager as we walked around camp to warm them up. We got tacked and ready to go by 6:10 walking them around camp awaiting the start. We started in the middle of the pack of 12 and quickly ended up in the back when Dad’s saddle pad slipped out . We easily made it up the first big climb with fresh horses, knowing that they would have to climb it several more times today (unbeknownst to the horses!). We continued on down the beautiful scenic trail and quickly made it to the 15 minute hold. We cooled the horses out while they were chomping down.

Out on the lollipop we headed for our 1o mile loop. The loop was absolutely lovely. It started out on a rolling two track grassy lane that was perfect. We headed into the woods and went down, down, down the mountain and then started climbing right back up. Up and up we went until returning back to the two track lane. At this point the 55s were starting the lollipop so they were going against us and we all offered hellos and good lucks. The horses were still fresh and happy heading back to Bradford for our 30 minute hold. We pulled tack and cooled them out easily heading to the vets. Kirah got all A’s with a resounding wow her gut sounds are great J

The 30 minutes flew by and in no time we were heading back out on the blue loop again. Kirah still had lots of energy and we were leading most of the way. I got down and ran a good portion of the downhill this time before almost running out of breath lol. We headed back to Bradford for our 15 minute gate. We had to pulse down within the 15 minute time frame but the time we pulsed didn’t affect our hold time. We didn’t have to vet, just pulse in, Kirah’s pulse was at 48 when we headed over J. The time went by in a blink and we were a bit late heading out in a rush. We were headed back to camp on the Green loop a mere 12 miles. Kirah was still doing beautifully with no signs of fatigue although Moniet was getting a little tired. So on this loop we went slower and stopped for grass every so often. The trail was uphill and then plateaued out and we rode along the ridge for a while trotting and cantering in blissful joy.

We eventually started heading back down the mountain and I got off and ran down again, hopping back on at the bottom of the hill and continuing on. We came back to the camp and wound around the little meadow so that we would come down the common trail hill to the vet check at base camp.

We pulled tack and cooled the horses out easily, vetting in with ease and happy horses. They ate and drank well for the entire 40 minute hold and we were headed back out on the Yellow loop. We had to go back up the big hill (the same one from earlier) and the horses were far more weary this time, but had regained some of their energy and were still chugging along. The Yellow loop was the longest for us and the hardest. It started out with that first big hill, and leveled out for a bit and then started heading down in an easy slope. Once we reached the valley we cantered along on some nice flat trail for quite a while. We came out on a road and turned left and went back up into the woods. And back up the mountain. This was my low point for the day, the trail went up and up and up and it was the longest uphill imaginable. Kirah was still happily chugging along we trotted whenever it leveled out even for a few steps. I was simply astonished at her and her abundance of energy and willingness to go forward. Finally we got to the top of the hill and headed back the way we came. Descended the steep hill and made it back to camp for our next 40 minute hold.

The horses pulsed down very quickly and we vetted right through. Kirah was eating everything in sight during the hold and had no signs of soreness or unhappiness at any point. We headed back out on our first of two trips on the Red loop. We were hoping for an easy loop since we’d already gone 55 miles and we would have to do it twice. Kirah was not very happy that we were going out again and she certainly didn’t want to climb the gargantuan hill again. She picked up after we hit the flat and started back out on what had been the Blue trail earlier. It made a right up a steep hill when it split from the Blue. I hopped off and walked up the hill and when it ended hopped back on and let the horses eat grass for a while. We continued on about a mile and half to end the lollipop. The last couple miles were easygoing and we made it in short order. The first and second place 75ers came up behind us and lapped us, we followed them in, it was a great treat to see them finish! We pulsed down almost immediately and vetted in for the last time. Kirah’s CRI was 48/44 and we got some great kudos from the vet J She was by far surpassing all of my expectations for the day.

One final time to go on the red loop and we would be done. None of the horses wanted to go back out, it was starting to get dark and it was drizzling. We made it all the way to the steep uphill before it got completely dark, it seemed much faster that time around and we knew we were almost done. We made it to the last big descent back into the camp and walked slowly and soon saw the campfire and knew we were done. Without removing tack the vet went ahead and pulsed us and Kirah was at 56. Nick told us to pull tack so we could go ahead and complete. We trotted out and he finished checking and we were DONE!! We had all done it and it was awesome.

12 horses started the 75 and 9 finished, not a bad finish rate for a challenging ride. Kudos to ride management for such a job well done, this was my first time at the ride and it was awesome. The volunteers were plentiful and helpful and friendly. We didn’t want for anything. Thank you so much Patti!!!!!!!!!!! Also a huge thank you to my crew (my Mom and friend Pat), we all couldn’t have done it without you J

I learned a great deal about my horse this weekend and had a great time doing it. I can’t wait until the next ride!

Monday, September 08, 2008

"The Toughest Race" - Frank Hopkins Revisited

By Charles Roth

We were sitting around the club after a ride. The conversation turned to great races and tests of horseflesh. One man held that the Grand National was the hardest race of all, demanding more of horses and riders than any other. From one corner of the porch came a noise that sounded suspiciously like a snort. We turned. It came from an old fellow named Thomas.

"A lot you fellows know about hard races," said he. "Let me tell you of one. What would you think of a horse race 1,800 miles in length?"

"Impossible!" said a youngster.

Thereupon Thomas told us about the longest horse race ever held in America, also the hardest: a race clear across the United States from north to south; a horse race, 1,799 miles long. All the men within hearing-distance were horsemen, but I doubt if any one of them had ever heard of this race before. Yet it took place within the lifetime of at least six of those present and was publicized at the time.

It was held in 1866. Two enterprisers of that age, Elias Jackson (Lucky) Baldwin and Richard K. Fox, promoted it. Horsemen from all parts of the country took part.

The winner of the race, one of Americas greatest horsemen, is still alive. His name is Frank T. Hopkins and he lives in retirement in Long Island City, across the river from New York. He had been dispatch rider for Generals Cook, Nelson A. Miles, Terry, etc., had come up from Arizona, where he had carried dispatches in the Geronimo campaign, and he learned of the race from his old friend, Buffalo Jones, who paid his $150 entry fee and backed him to win. Mr. Hopkins signed on in a small store opposite the post office at Fort Russell, Wyo.

As soon as I learned of the race and of Mr. Hopkins I sought him out to learn from him the true story of the hardest test on mount and man in the annals of American horsemanship.

The start of the race was at Galveston, Texas. The finish line was at Rutland, Vermont...


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Contrasts: Bryce 2008 - Kevin Myers

Far and Redford were not very well prepared for Bryce, so I was not very motivated to make the trip. I'm glad I went.

The drive up through Flagstaff is always nice because the temperature drops so quickly. I stopped for gas before heading north into the wilderness south of Page, then west to Kanab and north past the Mt. Carmel base camp. I got to the Bryce base camp at 8,000 ft in just over eight hours.

Jim and Clydea had saved a spot to the north of camp, and I set up the two horses as the sun set. The pump had broken on the XP water truck, so it was a fair walk down a sand hill to get water - two buckets at a time. ...

Original Story

The First of Many!: 50 Miles at Old Selam

Photo by Jennifer

by Tamara of In the Night Farm

I slept well, considering it was the eve of the race I'd waited years to ride. My first 50!

Still, when my alarm went off at 5:30 Sunday morning, I was already lying awake on my cot inside the horse trailer, listening to distant thunder and Aaruba's growing restlessness as raindrops dappled his blanket and neck. I pulled my riding clothes -- which felt at least as cold as the 34 degree air -- into the warm confines of my sleeping bag and struggled into them. My boots were colder still, but I was far too busy ticking off my pre-ride to-do list to care.

First: Feed Aaruba. He wasn't interested in hay, but that didn't worry me as I'd heard him munching consistently throughout the night. He deigned to consume a couple pounds of Equine Senior before resuming the nervous pacing of his pen.

Second: Feed self. I munched half a bagal with peanut butter while trying unsuccessfully to discourage Aaruba's pacing.

Third: Apply Easyboots. Normally, Travis does this for me, but he was home with the flu. I grabbed a hoof pick, a handful of nylon stockings, and a boot. Slipping two stockings over Aaruba's off hind hoof to help prevent gaiter rubbing, I went to work.

It was a bit like trying to stuff a very squirmy anvil into one of those plastic Easter eggs, but by the time my friend Jennifer arrived at 6:30, I'd progressed to the second hind boot. I panted a greeting and resumed my wresting match with Aaruba's foot. By the time I continued to the more-cooperative front boots, I'd shed four layers of clothing, all the way down to a tank top in the dawn twilight. On the bright side, the rain had stopped.

At 7:00, both ridecamp and Aaruba were wide awake, and I was immensely grateful to have Jennifer handy to mix electrolytes, then hold Aaruba while I finished tacking up for the 7:30 start. She also got out her camera and started snapping.

As usual, Aaruba calmed down the moment I swung astride. We checked in with the ride officials, then paced up and down with the other riders, warming up and waiting for the trail to open. Knowing Aaruba's tendency to be competitive, I made sure he and I were headed away from the starting line when 7:30 arrived and most of the horses took off. No racing today -- he'd need that energy later.

We set off once the leaders were well out of sight, but alas, my plan was thwarted by a U-turn at the very beginning of the loop. The moment Aaruba saw the herd ahead, his race brain kicked into high gear and I had a battle on my hands. He snorted fire when I refused to let him trot like a maniac over the rocky terrain, and as a few more riders came up from behind as we circled, he became so agitated that I dismounted and led him almost a mile up the trail before he quieted.

Finally, he settled enough to stand while I tied my jacket behind the saddle and re-mounted. Now quite alone, we tackled the trail at a brisk trot, climbing gradually up the mountain on old logging roads with excellent footing, slowing to conserve energy on the steepest parts. When we reached a long downhill, we let loose a bit to make up some time. An excellent downhill trotter, Aaruba flew along so quickly I feared we'd catch up with the horses ahead, but the only soul we happened upon was the ride photographer. Steve Bradley had set up shop in a meadow bathed in yellow sunlight. He snapped our picture and waved us along with a cheerful, "Have a good ride!" (You can see proofs of his shots on his website; we're number OS82057 and OS82058 on Day 2.)

We carried on, alternating walking and trotting, stopping for an occasional mouthful of grass as we climbed up a long hill, then down again to a narrow creek where Aaruba drank deeply.
Just over the creek was the section of trail we'd been warned of at the ride meeting: A couple hundred feet of rather narrow, very steep uphill made slick by the passage of many ATV tires. The sides of the trail offered more crumbly footing, but also tangled shrubs that I feared would catch an Easyboot. I pointed Aaruba up the center of the trail and grabbed mane. He plunged upward in a series of powerful leaps.
Halfway up, he drifted to the right as if to ask, "Are you sure, Mom?" (Or maybe it was, "Lady, are you nuts??") A touch of the rein set him straight, and he motored on, bumping my heels with his stifles as I crouched in two-point to free his back as much as possible.

We crested the hill in a surge of adrenaline that powered him along yet another logging road, this one freshly scarred by heavy machinery, then through a long and scenic stretch that I thought must be leading us back toward camp. I estimated we'd averaged 6.5 or 7 mph, and a glance at my watch told me we should finish the 20-mile loop at about 10:30. Sure enough, it was 10:25 when we finally caught up with another rider as she crossed the paved road that told us we were less than half a mile from camp. We rode in together, and Aaruba pulsed down exactly 180 minutes from the start. "Number 510, in at 10:30, out at 11:15!"

We vetted through with all A's except for an A- on gut sounds, which seems to be typical for Aaruba, then headed to the trailer. I removed his bridle and interference boots and left him in his pen with a pan of soaked beet pulp, a flake of alfalfa, and Jennifer (to keep him from rolling with his saddle on) while I ate a banana and mixed another dose of electrolytes. By the time I'd checked Aaruba's pasterns for gaiter rubs -- none! -- and emptied out the sand that had collected in his stockings, it was time to tighten the girth and go.

We were a couple minutes late out of the hold, but no matter. I figured we were already in last place, and besides, we had nothing to prove. All I wanted was to complete the race with a healthy, happy horse. Aaruba loved the early part of the 18-mile loop, a bit of technical singletrack that bounded up and over a series of short, sharp hills as it swooped down to the creek and up again, finally spilling us onto a wide road of decomposed granite that led up, up, up toward the clouds that billowed dark on the jagged horizon.

A chilly wind swept us along the trail and I wondered if I shouldn't have abandoned my jacket at the trailer after all. But as we kept climbing, mostly up and a little down, the exercise of riding kept me warm. About halfway through the loop, Aaruba's energy seemed to flag. No wonder -- we'd already covered more miles than he'd ever done before! Still, I knew were were just over halfway, so I dismounted to run with Aaruba. By taking the lead for a while, I hoped to give him a mental break as much as a physical one.

We'd been on Loop 2 for almost two hours when I heard female voices drifting on the wind. Several more minutes passed before Aaruba and I rounded a bend just in time to glimpse a pair of horses on the trail ahead. Aaruba perked up at once. He clearly had plenty of gas left in the tank, and we caught up with the other riders in short order. They were taking it easy because their horses had completed the Day 1 50 as well, so rode with them only briefly before trotting on ahead.

Soon, a sign on a paper plate informed us we were one mile from camp. Only a mile? We were ahead of schedule! Aaruba seemed to sense my excitement. He hustled down the last bit of trail, paused for a long drink at the first water tank he saw, then walked on to the pulse down area. In at 1:43, out at 2:28, and all A's from the vet -- even gut sounds.

More hay and electrolytes for Aaruba and a plateful of barley salad for me, then it was back on the trail for the final 12 miles. A few horses were finishing the third loop as we started out, and their presence seemed to rekindle Aaruba's enthusiasm. Though we soon found ourselves quite alone again, he plowed along almost as though we were just starting the race. I found myself working to pace him, lest he burn himself out before the end.

Still, we tore through eight miles or so before the day's work seemed to catch up with him. I noticed that although he remained quite sound, he'd grown reluctant to trot downhill -- Tired muscles? Sore shoulders where the points of the saddle tree slid forward against them? -- so I either dismounted to jog down, or held him to a walk while descending slopes. I later discovered that his skin was a little sore from the motion of his saddle pad in the lumber region, a problem both quick to disappear and easy to remedy. At 4:10, I promised Aaruba we'd be done in half an hour or less. Sure enough, it was 4:28 when we broke out into the rocky wash, crossed the creek once more, and headed for home. Jennifer was waiting with her camera as we approached the finish line, and the ride officials who knew it was our first 50 cheered as we trotted across. I didn't catch our exact finish time, but I think it was about 4:35, giving us a total ride time of 7:35 at an average speed of 6.7 mph. Perfect.

Even better, Dr. Washington (who, incidentally, was one of the vets involved with Aaruba's near-fatal impaction colic last October) marked all A's on Aaruba's completion exam. I couldn't have been prouder of my boy.

"So," Jennifer asked as we meandered back to the trailer. "How was it?"

"Easier than I expected," I said. "Guess I'll have to try for 100!"

And someday, I will.