Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Western States Tevis Cup - Rusty Toth - Full Story

July 28 2010

My Tevis journey began on a whim. Kevin mentioned he was not going to ride, so I offered to take his horse. And so it began.

We began the walk to the start a mile down the road in pen one: 70 horses packed together three to four wide and as deep as you could see in the morning twilight. The tension and excitement made the air thick with energy. Farrabba AKA The Stoner is the kind of horse you trust to always be relaxed, even keel, a true gentleman. I would not see this in him until mile 95.

The mass arrived at the start line where the trail funnels into a two horse wide path with seven minutes to go. As we stood shoulder-to-shoulder Stoner transformed into a ball of fire. At 5:15am the trail was opened...

Read more here:

Vermont 100 - Bad Luck, Bad Choices but a great time!!! - Nancy Sluys

July 21 2010

I had been riding Blue (Indigo Blue) all year with the Vermont 100 in mind and he was so ready but it was not meant to be. Our bad luck started 2 weeks before the when he got kicked on the leg just above the knee. It wasn't a critical area but he swelled up pretty good and was cut in 2 places. I iced and hosed and rubbed and did everything I knew to do but a week before we were to leave he was still a little off. At first I thought about cancelling but I had gotten so psyched up for this ride I really wanted to go plus my sister lives in Vermont and was going to visit me at camp. I devised a plan that sounded good at the other horse, Zanie (FYF InZane), has been coming along great and maybe she was up to doing the 75. She is only 6 but I have been steady training her in the mountains for 3 years and she had done 4 50s this year with a best condition at her last ride. All my friends said go for it. It seemed like a good gamble to me. I made up my mind to take her instead even though the day before we left Blue's leg looked pretty darn good.
We left last Wednesday and drove 11 hours to a friend's Standardbred training farm in NY state to lay over. The next day we made the last 5 hours to the ride. Here's where I made a mistake that cost me. Instead of taking HWY 84 to 91 which would have been highway almost all the way we took the advise of our friend and went a shorter way that took us through Albany NY then on secondary roads through Vermont to the ride. This was also the same route that Mapquest and Google recommended so we went for it. Well, it was very beautiful but the frost heaves and twists and turns made for a very rough ride for the horse and it was the longest distance she had ever traveled so far. She seemed to look good when we unloaded her so figured she had made it through just fine. We rested the rest of the day and the next. I did take her out for a little ride to stretch her out but it was mostly in the grassy field and a little bit of walking on the road. At that point she felt fine to me, maybe a little stiff but I didn't think much of it.
The next morning I got her ready and once again warmed her up a bit in the field. As soon as the ride started and we hit the harder surface of the dirt road I could feel that she was off. I immediately pulled her up and went to my trailer to see if I could figure out what was up. I had Easyboot glue ons and had filled the bottoms with Goober packing so thought maybe I had put too much in and there was too much pressure. I pried the boots off and put her Gloves on and trotted her again on the road but she just felt discombobulated and sore everywhere, it had nothing to do with the boots. That's when I realized that the trailer ride had done her in. Maybe she had gotten thrown against the wall a few times, or the concussion of the pot holes and frost heaves on the last part of the trip had made her joints and muscles sore. Whatever it was we were done before we even got started. Needless to say I was very disappointed.
I was putting Zanie away when Claire Godwin came up and related an opposite story. Her horse had gotten kicked by her stable mate in their paddock 2 days before and she did not vet into the ride the day before. Today, however, she seemed all better so she was trying to find a vet to look at her and maybe she could enter the 50 which wasn't starting until 2PM. Only problem was that she was supposed to crew for several other folks who were doing the 50 and she didn't want to leave them in the lurch. This sounded like the perfect antidote for the day and I volunteered myself and my crew for the cause.
So, mission accomplished, Claire was in the 50. Now we were crewing for 4 riders, Claire, Lisa Downs riding Claire's other horse, Pat Oliva and Ashley Kemerer. The day was hot, we worked hard, the riders rode smart and they all finished. I developed a healthy respect for how hard my crew works and we got to be a part of the ride. That and the beautiful Vermont scenery and the added aspect of the runners made it a most memorable experience.
In reflecting on the weekend I realized that I made some mistakes that I hope I will not have to repeat (although I think I have made some of these mistakes before!)
#1- If you have several options always take your strongest horse to a ride that far away and important. Blue looked good the day before I left but I had already made up my mind to take Zanie.

#2 Be flexible - don't make up your mind until you trot your horses out the day before if you have 2 good to go....again...take the strongest horse.

#3 Go with your gut feeling - which was that Zanie was still a bit young for such a big trip and ride. I did not consider the toll that the trailering would take on her. Blue has trailered millions of miles and is very conditioned to it so I didn't think about it for Zanie.

#4 Stick to the highway when at all possible even though the route may look longer it will probably take less time and will be easier on the horse.

#5 - Stay focused. I let the injury to Blue be a sign that maybe it was Zanie's turn. I was relatively sure that the kick was superficial and that he would be ok but I got all excited of the prospect of taking Zanie even though I knew she did not have the experience or level of conditioning that Blue had. He has been competing in distance riding for 13 years and she is just getting started.

I'm sure there are more things for me to think about, there always are when working with horses. The main thing was that the trip was a good one even though some bad things happened, those I can learn by. Zanie proved to be a great traveler, eating and drinking the whole time and behaving very well when we off loaded her at truck stops for rest. Except for the soreness she did great. She looks much better today with only a very slight amount of stiffness left and that was after the long ride back home. I met some new friends and put a good deposit in the karma bank for the future. Vermont is beautiful and I look forward to coming to the ride more prepared next year because I sure do want to ride that trail!!!

Happy trails, Nancy Sluys (from North Carolina)

PS...Oh, I almost forgot to mention a tire blew out on the highway on the way home and we had forgotten our drive up jack and had to call US Rider. So...#6 don't forget your jack!! Always be prepared for on the road emergencies!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bandit Springs: Ride, Baby, Ride! - Amanda Washington - Full Story

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 by Amanda Washington

And ride we did. At the 2011 Bandit Springs Endurance Ride, in the Ochoco National Forest. Again, it was easily one of my absolute FAVORITE endurance rides of all time. As I posted last week, we were "just" doing the 80. And I must say that was a damn good decision! While my mare could have done twenty more miles, she was sufficiently tired at 80 and I was spent! The last 20 mile loop would have been loooooooong!

The ride really started the week prior, as it seemed to take forever to pack and prepare. I got my Easyboot Glue-Ons glued on with a new-to-me method and we didn't finish up packing until Thursday morning, when we were supposed to be leaving! We finally got out of town and were on our way to Oregon!

We arrived Thursday afternoon to the most beautiful ridecamp you could imagine. I can never get enough of this place. It was hot and muggy, both of which we haven't had this year. I was a bit worried about the humidity, specifically, as that can really hurt your horse. We had an amazing dinner hosted by John and Susan Favro of Healthy As A Horse, and chatted with good friends. The next morning dawned HOT AND humid! Yikes! It was a really fun day filled with mini-seminars by farriers and two of the ride vets, my husband and head vet, Cassee Terry. The ride ALSO put on a mini-clinic, Endurance 101, which for a minimal fee newbie endurance riders could attend. I volunteered to be a mentor and had a lot of fun. I hope it helped the transition to the endurance community for some of these newbies. I was also able to help another rider with Easyboot Glue-On shells that I happened to have used from last year, as he didn't have the right size.

We got to bed at a good hour and I actually slept great! 4AM came too quick, but I was up and ready with time to spare. The 80's and 100's started the ride at 5AM, and with only a dozen or so riders on the trail, winding through the mountain meadows in the soft light of dawn was quiet and peaceful. Unfortunately my mare had other ideas...

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bighorn: The Most Unpredictable Ride of Them All - Kevin Myers

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do you remember what you were doing in 1970? It was the year the Neel Glass invented the first Easyboot. In Shell, Wyoming, a group of hardcore endurance riders decided to put on a 100-mile race of epic proportions. The event would take the riders from the hot, arid badlands just outside town up into the high mountain pastures filled with wildflowers and wildlife that only a handful of people get to see in a year.

Forty years later, the event is still taking place. Big Horn is the grande dame of endurance rides, now the longest continually running 100-mile race in North America.

What better year to attend? 32 riders took on the good fight this year: their opportunity to stand face to face in front of destiny in the most unpredictable of settings. Big Horn is one of those races that just keeps you guessing from start until the horse steps his hind legs across the finish line.

The ride meeting was held at the community center in town, ten minutes’ drive from basecamp. A local band was playing on the stage when we walked in and a long snake of tables would soon be host to hungry riders and crew. At almost 8 PM, Jeanette Tolman stood in front of the restless crowd to walk us through the trail that lay in wait.

It was past 10 PM when we got to bed, and the 2:30 AM wake-up call came quickly. The 50 and 100-mile riders all started together at 4 AM. 43 riders milled around the start line for the roll call, and soon enough we were out on our controlled start for a mile along a dirt road before we were set free on a two-track road across the badlands towards the great Big Horn mountain range. The pace at the front of the pack was consistent and riders and horses were all speechless with anticipation of what lay ahead. It was thrilling...

Read more here:

Bighorn Stories, Part 1 - Cindy Collins

Kevin nailed it perfectly with "epic." First, I was too exhausted and then too busy to write with some home/work obligations and I've decided this may have to come in pieces and parts. Perhaps others will fill in parts I leave off or can't recall. I am a much better oral story teller than writer, so hopefully those of you more gifted with the printed word will also fill in.

I am, of course, heart-broken that I did not finish the ride. But, I have so much gratitude that not finishing the ride seems almost embarrassing to mention. There are several heroes in my story and I want to repeat their names several times in my tale...Ronnie Eden, Walt Benhardus, and Tim French. IF you ever need help, I hope you are surrounded by folks half as fine as those three are. A big thank you, also, to the Haeberle family of Laramie. They'll be in my story, too. Ronnie sacrificed her completion of the ride staying with me, taking over my horse, and trying to get us help. She spent a lonely, wet, cold night on the mountain babysitting her horse and mine. I can't imagine how frightening that must have been. They just don't make many people like that in our world and if you ever get to meet her, I hope you will tell her how special she really is! Then, there is Walt. He didn't know me from "Adam." We'd never met before when he chose to stay by my side and lead me on foot down Black Mt Rd. It was a Herculean effort. Wish I could tell you why I got sooo sick. I'm infamous for my normal vertigo in the dark coming off that mountain. My normal pattern is to puke once, then I'm fine and go on to finish. That didn't happen this time. Don't know if it's because I'm older, or because I got soaked several times and was chilled to the bones (yes, I had two raincoats and they were both soaked through by the third rain storm), or because I was so stressed knowing that the horses were slipping and sliding all over the trail in the down pour and each step felt like they might injure themselves permanently or because I was so stressed thinking about all of the people lost in the cold rain and mud on the mountain...who can know...what I can tell you is that I have never been that sick in my life. Someone who was there said I vomited at least nine times. I couldn't ride, couldn't walk, was shivering so hard that my teeth rattled and Ronnie and Walt kept holding me in a bear hug on either side trying to warm me and keep me from shock. Ronnie gave me her wonderful Aussie raincoat and when I think of her alone on that mountain trying to sleep in a huddle without her coat, it just brings me to my knees.

Mother nature certainly caused 99% of the problems on the ride, if not all. In the 30 years I've been on that trail, I've never seen rain like that during the ride. Snow, yes, but not rain. Ride manager, Jeanette Tolman, was heading from Ranger Creek to Jack Creek to put out the night markings for the trail during one of the down pours. She was hauling her four wheeler in her horse trailer when her truck and trailer slid off the road and her trailer with the four wheeler was left hanging off a cliff. Hopefully, Dr. Haeberle will post his photo of the rig. So, that's the short version of why there were NO markings on the trail off the mountain when we riders took off down it in the rain. Of course, I didn't know any of that at the time. Since everyone knows how prejudiced I am about this ride, I'll ask others to comment on the ride markings before this point. To me, they were perfection. I'd say it was the best marking ever on the trail up to the Jack Creek stop.

I am going to take a break in my story right now because really, truly I am starting to cry and need to compose myself before I continue with part 2. Cindy

Pre-riding the Tevis finish - Karen Chaton - full story

We had a nice ride this weekend, going from the Overlook (finish) of Tevis down to the Poverty Bar river crossing and back. It was a 24 mile round trip day and took us around five hours. We spent a lot of time down at the river cooling ourselves, and the horses. It was fun for me getting to see this section of trail in the daylight.

The blue line that is going straight across the GPS tracks image near the bottom – is pointing directly to my house, across the Sierras in Nevada from the Tevis finish line! Now I know it’s a straight shot as the bird flies but a little more difficult if you do it by horseback!

I have completed the Tevis twice and till now have only been through most of that part in the dark. I had a friend go with me and ride Bo. I rode Chief. This way both horses are ready to go and I will have the option of one or the other depending upon which one I think looks the best as the ride gets closer on July 24th.

tevis trail preride 033 Medium 300x225 Pre riding the Tevis finishWe had a lot of fun on the ride. The horses got one heck of a workout. It was 98 degrees when we got back to the trailer, and also a lot more humid than we are used to...

Read more here:

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Shamrock 2010: Rough Roads & Wacky Weather Make Memorable Ride

Michelle Smith
July 7, 2010

What is it about the Shamrock Ride in Wyoming that keeps people coming back year after year, some from places as far away as Canada, Ohio and Missouri? My first time at the Shamrock Ride in 2006 was punctuated by record-breaking heat -- close to 100 degrees. It was my second time doing a fifty mile endurance ride, and despite a very successful completion, I swore I’d never go back.

Next year I was unexplainably and inexorably drawn to return. Go figure. Maybe it’s the BBQ dinner that Ride Manager Susie Schomburg puts on every year, on the Saturday night of the three-day ride: Real beef ribs, about a foot long; pork ribs and BBQ chicken, all grilled in front of you by a crew of her “regulars”—cowboy types turned volunteer chefs, good naturedly piling up your plate with more meat than you’d normally eat in a month.

Or maybe it’s the incredible scenery, making you feel like you’ve just stepped into a wild and woolly Western movie, about to come face to face with John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in the next canyon. The mountains are jagged and stark and streaked with red, jutting up above sage-brush encrusted rolling hills, dotted with cattle and prong-horns. Turn a corner, descend, and find yourself in a lush valley with crystal clear tinkling creeks, rustling aspen, a waterfall, and sheer granite rock faces on either side. This is a land of stark contrasts, extreme weather and wide-open country, where the Code of the West still seems alive and well and modern 21st Century life seems fake and faraway.

As I’ve noted before, the vets are God at an endurance ride, and one must choose one’s God carefully. In which case, the cherry on top of the sundae at the Shamrock Rides might just be the Vet Staff that remain constant and vigilant year after year: Max Smylie, Head Vet, usually assisted by Tom Currier and Glenna Hopper. The relationship between vet staff and rider is a complex and sometimes complicated one. On the one hand, you want a vet that’s going to demand that your horse is safe to race. The bar must be set high to ensure this standard. As a rider and devoted horse owner, you’re depending on the vet to help you know when it’s safe to continue and when it’s not. But on the other hand, you don’t want the vetting process to make it so tough that the “average” horse and rider become disqualified—this would keep folks from continued participation in endurance and membership would suffer. From what I’ve seen over the years, Max Smylie is somehow able to strike just the perfect balance, and that can be a tough thing to do. I’ve spoken with numerous riders that keep coming back to the Shamrock Rides because of the vetting. A great vet makes for a great ride.

...full story at

Monday, July 05, 2010

Tour de Washooo Ride - Karen Chaton

July 3 2010

The ride went really well yesterday. I decided to take Bo. He’d been feeling a bit left out when I ended up riding Chief all 4 days of the Strawberry Fields ride. Granted, Bo did get to mark trail and has been getting in a lot of additional riding — he is the kind of horse that gets bored easily. So this ride has his name on it!

It’s fun to go to local rides when they are so close. This one is at the Washoe State Park in Washoe Valley, Nevada. The park has been being improved over the years and is a really nice equestrian park. There are hitching posts, water spigots, a nice big gazebo, restrooms and plenty of parking. They are even putting in a big arena right now. Showers are also available over in the RV parking area. There is even a dump station.

The first image is of my GPS tracks from the ride yesterday. The ride consisted of three loops. We started at 6:00 a.m. for the 50′s. The first loop was 25 miles, returning us to camp for an hour hold. Pulse criteria at pretty much all of the rides in this area is 60 for everybody...

Read more here:

Friday, July 02, 2010


Karen Bumgarner
Karen's Blog:

photo by Tami Rougeau
I have been lucky enough this year to be able to venture to Central Oregon for two rides. This has given me the opportunity to visit with old friends that I haven't seen for a long long time! What a treat! But all day as I traveled the 100 miles of SunRiver, people kept asking, "Karen, how many times have you ridden SunRiver?" A lot! That was my only answer but once home I did the research.

One year that I didn't have to look up was 1977, my first SunRiver. It was also my very first 100 mile ride on my big horse, Sunny Spots. Nancy Cox and I rode together, it was also her first 100 on Rakar. I broke a stirrup and rode into camp at the 50 mile point, packing my stirrup in my right hand. Not to be deterred I borrowed a saddle for the next 50 miles. This first year the ride camp was in a meadow on the banks of the Deschutes River near the town of SunRiver. It was beautiful!! The 50 mile loop was uphill for the first half and down for the last half. 10 started and 5 finished. We were out until pretty late, leading our hroses down a hill in the dark, and we saw headlights. This startled us a bit and we were trying to figure out who it could be. Turned out to be ride management out looking for us. Gene Petersen took one look at us leading our horses and said, "Time to ride girls!" He picked me up and put me on my horse and then followed us in the pickup - hey now we had lights. We were tired and sore but the horses were fine.

And that my friends was the first of many more 100 mile rides. I rode Sunny on five different Sun River 100's. One of those just a couple months after Andi was born. I rode the 100 four times on Moka's Pat-A-Dott.

One year I borrowed a horse, Reno, from Jennifer Horsman, so I could ride the 100. Zap did the 100 at SunRiver/Chuckwagon twice. Yet another year I took a new horse, Jafar, on his first 50 there. It is always a great first ride of some sort.
This year it was Thunder's second 100, only three weeks after River Run. A bit closer in timing than I like but I was able to go at that time and reasoned were weren't going fast so we would be fine. It stormed and rumbled and poured and flashed Friday as we stood huddled under a small shelter for our ride meeting and dinner. We all hoped this wasn't a preview of Saturday.

I met Tami Rougeau from Nevada, a fellow Easyboot Glove user, and we talked and decided to ride together.
We left a few minutes late and they never saw the other horses leave camp. May & Thunder walked calmly out of camp and were well behaved all day! It was wonderful. It was a cool 42 degrees! We'd had 85 at home just a few days earlier and these temperature extremes are hard on the horses and riders. I layered clothes and used a rump rug on Thunder for the first time. During the day we encountered some rain, sleet, sun and fog. It felt more like April than mid-June. But the trail had no dust and it really was good weather as long as we kept moving. We'd get chilled waiting in the vet checks. The biggest thing was the horses were starving. They tried to graze on the mountain nibbles of grass but it was sparse at best. Thunder never stopped eating in the vet checks, they just needed more time to eat. We picked up another new friend, Nancy Cardosa, around 55 miles and the three horses traveled well together. Thunder and his two mares, May and Elektrika, were all troopers and we just kept plugging away to the finish. Our CRI's were great at 40/40 and Dr Bensen said Thunder looked great at the finish. So we placed 11, 12 & 13 out of 17 starters. Not that it really matters to me. I just wanted to finish on a healthy horse!

So back to the original question of how many times did I ride it? A total of 14 times, 12 of those rides were on the 100 miler. I rode it when the ride moved camp out by the Rainbow Bridge, then up to Kiowa Springs when it was also renamed ChuckWagon Express. Then later camp moved to it's present site at Wanoga Sno Park and was eventually renamed SunRiver Classic. And a classic ride is what it remains today. Thanks to all who work so hard to keep this great ride going. The management is as classy as the ride!!!