Thursday, July 28, 2016

Catching up from April...Dubai to Tevis - Heather Reynolds Blog - Full Story

July 26 2016
by Heather Reynolds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Our Big Horn 100 adventure 2016 - Katrin Levermann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More photos of the ride at:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Wild and Rugged – 2016 Big Horn 100 by Tom Noll

Wild and Rugged – 2016 Big Horn 100

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Regards,
Tom Noll
SW Idaho

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New trail - Strawberry Fields - Karen Bumgarner

Karenshorsetales Blog - Full Story

July 11 2016

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

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

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Sunday, July 03, 2016


Jim Belsley photo

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

June 30 2016
by Nina Bomar

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaited Endurance in Really High Heat– Dead Dog Creek 2016 - Full Story

by Keith Kibler
July 2 2016

I started Endurance on this course 11 years ago. It is the closest ride to where I live and I want to support he Mowrer family in their selfless commitment to the sport of endurance, so I always try and make the ride.

It is extremely technical , but not as tough as the Shawnee National Forest and that is where we ride almost every week. Technical courses are the best on for the gaited horses that we train and compete. We have the horse version of a 4 wheel drive and because our horses don’t have a time of “suspension” when all 4 feet are off the ground at the same time. The horses have “gaits” and that usually mean a running walk, a racking gait and a canter. Our really top horses, that are mature, also have a gallop. We use our knowledge of the horse, the gps watch, and a heart rate monitor to know when to switch gaits.

Sandy , my hero of a wife, was in Seattle with grand babies so I got to prep for this solo. Fortunately, I had a friend named David and a friend named Kelley who wanted to crew and a friend named Gaby who also wanted to compete. Gaby has one of the 18 twhs who have successfully completed a 24 hour 100 mile aerc ride. Her mare, Cheyenne, is a muscled racking machine...

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