Saturday, March 25, 2017

Murrumba Magic

Marvelendurance - Full Story

March 13 2017
by Marvel Endurance

After the disaster that was our morning (see last month’s edition if you missed it…) we were finally on the road to the Murrumba Magic 100km. I had an awful feeling that we were going to have a terrible ride, I was not in a good place after enduring the terror of missing horses, my stallion getting caught in a cattle grid and a crazed call to the vet.

Siri was safe and sound at home being watched over by my mother and sister, my dear friends were plying him with antibiotics and pain medication – and my husband put me in the car and started driving. I was the least fun person to be around that day.

We finally arrived at the ride base, Jasmine and her dad and our friend Rob had found us a spot to set up our yards in the main ring. We were right next to my friend Tasha who was riding in the 40km with her mare Miss Jayne, her second horse was being piloted by Mindy in the 100km. The horses were soon fed and watered, the boys were setting up the campsite, we grabbed our gear and headed to the secretary’s tent to weigh in and nominate. Seeing the horses happy and eating after travelling so well, I was starting to relax. I still needed a bit more of a pick me up though, so I detoured by the Dixon Smith tent and bought a new helmet – yep, that helped….!

Time to make sure the horses were ready to vet in. A little feed with their electrolytes and they were ready to go down to the ring. Sahala, Milton and Koda vetted in with HR’s of 29, 30 and 31 respectively and trotted out well – except little miss Koda who still hadn’t gotten the hang of trotting out, Erin wrestled her from start to finish much to the amusement of the vet! On my way to vetting I was approached by several people enquiring about Milton and sent them straight over to Rob.

We were ready to start and it was time to chill out and rest before the early morning start. We had our traditional pub dinner at the Woodford pub – by far the coolest pub we had found so far – which was packed to the seams with riders, strappers, drivers and friends. We had our pre-ride discussion about our strapping system...

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Rides of March 50 2017: Kenny Chronicles - Full Story


In November of 2015 I traded a pair of Renegade Hoof Boots for a crooked legged 14.1 hh Chestnut gelding named Kenny. He was 11ish years old and is a Morgan/Welsh Pony we think. It’s not entirely known, as he was bought literally off of the slaughter truck some years and a few homes ago; what’s undeniable is the magnitude of attitude packed into his little red frame, the smoothness of his gaits, and the high quantity of laughs that he has brought to my life nearly every day since.

We’ve changed bits and saddles, been through steel and various trim, boot, and vet incarnations, been on Ulcer meds, and ridden a lot of miles both snarking at and enjoying each other.

Last April we completed an LD at the Whiskeytown Chaser and this March we tackled our first 50 at Rides of March in Nevada. I had never been to the ride and was still half convinced Kenny’s wonky front legs were going to fall off partway through, but if you aren’t a little nervous you aren’t doing something awesome, right?!

The final step in little Kenny’s prep for his endurance debut was a smashing clip job done last weekend by his former owner and our great buddy (and my trailer host for this ride!), T. We had clipped Kenny last spring and it seemed to help him a lot, as he’s heavily muscled despite his short stature and has excessive yak Morgan hair. The weather for this ride turned out to be quite interesting overall, but on both Arab and Morgan we were happy that we had clipped as it allowed them to dry quickly from both their and the skies exertions.

T picked us up Friday morning and we were all in good spirits, the horses looked good–and we went all of ten miles before an intermittent ominous WHOMPWHOMP noise started to cut off our conversation and cause nervous smiles and half hearted dismissals.

Maybe there’s mud in the tires/undercarriage from recent 4 wheeling…

yeah, sounds good!

If you caught my story of my first 100 Mile attempt from last month, you may be empathetic to the amount of NO EFFING WAY a DTN (Disturbing Truck Noise) this soon into this trip caused me. We did in fact pull over, peer under the truck, pronounce it a Truck with Intact Tires and Bits We Think, and continued on our way feeling worse and worse–until I glanced over my shoulder while under way and saw the grooming tote in the truck bed heaving itself up and around in an intermittent mini vortex behind the gooseneck hitch. WHOMPWHOMP.

Thank you horsey jesus...

Read more here:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017 Rides of March (or Dave Rabe Is Incredible)

by Elicia Kamberg
March 19 2017

Rides of March might have been my craziest adventure yet. It's a long tale but quite entertaining.

Started out with a peaceful drive to Reno. Took the exit for the ride and went 15 miles looking for a turn with ribbons onto a dirt road. Along the drive I had seen single pink ribbons on the side of the road. Get to the mileage, see a sign saying public land access and a cluster of pink ribbons and pink spray paint on the road so I turned. First big mistake. Rutted road with two high tracks to drive on and a ft deep ruts on each side and in the middle. Though this was weird but it was marked so will go a bit further. Now there's no where to turn around, I continue in hopes that this is correct or I will find a spot to turn around and I come to a big washed out looking section. Hop out to look at it and yep, can't cross that, back to the truck to recess. Second mistake, trucks running and Aria jumped on the door and locked me out.

Nothing else to do but scream and walk up to the main road and look for help. Thankfully the rm saw my rig and texted for help, Wes and Dave to the rescue! They were incredible and Wes with a wood wedge and a wire clothes hanger got my truck unlocked and backed it down the road.

Next bad decision, I didn't want the horses in the rig backing down the road in case it ended up in a ditch or got stuck. So unload and I had seen trailers taking the turn several hundred yards down from this road. Thought well that looks close, I'll just walk them over the hill to camp while the guys get my rig out. Dave says go to the cattle guard, take a left and it's a mile to camp. Ok, off we go, take the left and a little walk. Nope! I was supposed to turn hard left and I took the middle trail and went 90 degrees left.

After about 5 miles I made it to the top of a ridge and was heading in the direction of the main road as I knew I was lost when flying to my rescue again... comes Dave in the razor. He tracked my footprints through the desert! We made it down to the jeep road the ride used and then I sat on the back of the razor and held on to the horses as they flew along trotting back to camp behind us.

Then to find my rig in camp. I'm so frazzled I can't find it and actually start to wonder if I am crazy when nope it's down the road and didn't make it quite to camp. Off Dave goes again, did I mention Dave Rabe is incredible! Delivers and parks my rig and were finally settled. I made it to the area at 12:30, it's now almost 5pm. I had plans to go for a short test ride as had lots of new gear but no time now.

So the insanity is done right??? No again. Morning of the ride and tack up and get ready. Think I should hop on and test my stirrups as I have only ridden in this saddle twice (I had been riding in another model owned by a friend and had just bought this one new sized for Apache) have new stirrups leathers, new fuzzies and a new girth. Hop up, he takes one step and immediately launches into the air bucking. I stayed on for one buck then fly off of course landing on my bad hip as always. I lay there and watch him continue to buck, Dave catches him and he still bucks a few more times in place. Side note: Dave was there the last time I fell off at Death Valley and caught my horse lol. The guy watching the whole thing said wow, for a little horse he can really buck. His forehead was almost touching the ground and his hind legs went straight up.

It's the girth, all that caused by using a split girth that the back strap sat 2in further back than a normal girth. That was my third really bad decision. I knew Apache had flank issues. He gets really nervous when I take my feet out of the stirrups. Poor guy was scared out of his wits and shaking. Maybe this time the impact of hitting the ground will knock my brain back in my head. Changed out his girth and hoped on and he's just fine. Not a single naughty behavior all day.

SO the GOOD NEWS is the ride was a success!!! Apache successfully completed his first 50 which was tough as was true GPS mileage and sand the whole way. He finished with a pulse of 56 and overall vet out with an A. As his longest previous ride was around 20 miles I was super impressed with his toughness and willingness to go all day and leave camp 3 times. He looked a bit shocked and dazed at the end not sure what just happened lol. Now for some peace and quiet at home. No adventures for a bit please!

Thank you to all my friends that came to the rescue. Wes Fletcher, Dave Rabe, Gordie Cowan and more :)

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

20 Mule Team 100 2017: Endurance, All Ways, All Days - Aurora Grohman - Full Story

February 28, 2017 / Redheaded Endurance

I’m freshly back from my first 100 mile attempt at the 2017 20 Mule Team Ride based out of Ridgecrest, California and I couldn’t be more amazed at both human and animal perseverance–and my desire to sign up for another 100 miler as soon as possible. If that has you wondering about possibly smooth travels and a successful ride completion I must immediately burst your bubble and instead urge you to settle into a comfortable chair with some popcorn and prepare to read a winding tale of Things Gone Wrong, Everywhere, that still ended with big smiles, hugs, and the desire for more.

Thursday 2/23/17, The Getting There

In mid January my friend W asked me if I’d like to ride her 19 year old Arabian stallion Aur Aquavit in his first 100 mile attempt at 20 Mule Team on February 25th, with her crewing for us. I had never ridden Aqua before, or any stallion, and had never done a 100 miler either, but was fresh off a successful 4 day multi-day catch riding at Death Valley and while not high mileage in any way (655 endurance, 505 LD), I have quite a number of catch riding completions on different breeds and temperaments and thrive in the cold, so felt that I could give 100 miles on a new horse in the Southern California desert in February a good shot...

Read more here:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2017 20 Mule Team 100 - Nick Warhol

February 27 2017
by Nick Warhol

What a week! It really is my favorite “vacation” of the year, although it’s much more relaxing to return to work. I was leaving Tuesday morning, but on Monday night, in yet another bay area 2017 rain storm, crash down comes a 20 inch in diameter tree in my driveway. Not across the drive way, where 4 cuts would have gotten me out, no, down the driveway, the long way. Come on! I spent 2 hours early Tuesday morning cutting it up and moving the wood so I could leave. What workout?

My plan this year was to try and ride Donnie on the 100. I was not sure it was a good idea, since he’s going to be 20 in a few weeks, he has not done a 100 in 3 years, (nor have I) but more specifically this is the horse I was worried might die in 2015 from the poison hay incident. I took it easy on him last year, but certainly kept him going. Ines rode him at Fire Mountain in January and he was perfect, and he just felt so good riding him at home. My Good friend and “the person who helped me get into horses” Jean Schreiber gave me some good advice. She said “try it, and you will know if he’s okay. If he’s not he will tell you. But try it while you can.” So I did.

This year I trailer pooled down to the ride in my rig with Kristin Ojala and her young mare Lani, who were doing the 50. The drive down was actually un-eventful and nice; we were lucky we did not go on Wednesday. Gretchen Montgomery put me up in their house again, it’s so plush. Kristin got my camper. On Tuesday night the desert gods decided to let us mortals know who is in charge out there. They sent the wind. Thanks so much. On Wednesday I spent 7 hours doing about 80 miles out on the bike marking the trail, but could not think about the required chalk on the turns due to the wind. The wind only blew my bike over once while it was on the kick stand. I did the 35-mile loop and about a third of the 50 with ribbons, and I put up 4 signs at the trail splits way out on the trail.

The really big wind came Wednesday night. Thursday morning came with a light wind - those desert gods actually showed some mercy. I went out in the morning on a borrowed quad and spent 2 hours marking in town, about 5 or 6 miles all told. Ribbons, chalk, and signs. Then Kristin, Gretchen and I went out for a 90-minute horse ride, and then it was back out on the bike to work on the 65-mile loop.

I finished that up just before dark, but discovered something depressing. As I came down the common trail shared with the 35, I noticed that there were no ribbons anywhere. Oh wait, there’s a clothespin on the bush with a stub of an orange ribbon. A sixteenth of an inch long. The wind had either removed the whole thing, or blasted the ribbons right off the pin. Groan. And my signs? Somewhere near Barstow by now I imagine. That would mean another trip out around the 35 mile loop.

That would have to wait, because on Friday morning, I went out on bicycles with Gretchen to mark 6 miles of trail on the pedal pushers, since the trails here in this key part of the ride were now off limits to all motor vehicles. Even mine. Have you ever tried to ride a bicycle in a sandwash? Nope, no go. We rode and pushed the VERY UNDER POWERED two wheeled thing to get the trail marked, and once done, we went and picked up the 12 bales of hay and distributed them out to all the vet checks and water stops. I made it back by 1pm, and set out on the bike (The real bike, the one with the motor!) again to re-mark a lot of the 35-mile loop. Much more like it.

The ride meeting was at 6, and I made it back in time. Thanks to Kristin for taking care of Donnie for me. She moved camps, vetted him in, and removed a lot of work for me. We had the ride meeting, and then the little memorial service for Jackie Bumgardner. It was nice, but certainly sad.

I went off to get ready for the ride tomorrow morning and realized I had been going hard from sunup to sunset for the past 3 days without a break, and that included 230 miles on the dirt bike. I went to bed tired, really looking forward to that 6am start on the 100. Saturday morning came perfect- cold, and light breeze. I rode out of camp with Aurora Grohman for a while, on a very cool 19 year old stallion on his first 100, but I went on ahead after a few miles. I had my first problem of the ride when my eyes started burning again, just like at Fire Mountain a month ago. It was really weird- if I was moving forward, or there was any wind, my eyes just burned, bad. I had to keep one or both closed for relief, tears streaming down my face. I had visine along with me just in case, but it just made it hurt worse. Just about 10 hours of eye pain. What a hassle.

Except for my eyes, I was having a nice ride on my best boy, until I got to Rene, the photographer, at mile 10. I smiled for my pictures, but then immediately realized that I was off trail. Huh? Where was the turn into the desert? Rene told me he had been sending people down this road with pink ribbons, but they were not mine. I rode backwards, and found that that someone had removed all my ribbons, the chalk arrows, and the chalk line I had drawn all the way across the road so no one would do what I had just done. What?

I rode back to where he was, and down this road marked in pink ribbon. My color. After about a half mile I ran into a sign that said “bicycles left, runners right.” Someone had another unknown event going, used pink ribbons, and took my trail down so “their” guys would not be confused. I rode Donnie frantically back out across the open desert to where my trail still had some ribbons, grabbed a bunch that were on the correct, but now inaccessible trail, rode back, and improvised our trail by using theirs, and then marking a new trail to the right to send our riders to the vet check. I had to kick away my chalk arrows, and pick up the ribbons going the other way, etc, etc. Great! I’m working on the trail during the ride. At least the 50’s had not been by yet, and I don’t think anyone got really lost here, since it was on the way and close to the 395 vet check. I was a little stressed as I rode away.

I hooked up with Brenna Sullivan and we rode together off and on to the first vet check at 15 miles. No issues there except for a horse that got loose and ran through camp like he was TRYING to mow someone down. It was scary!

We caught up with Lucy Turnbuckle Chipotle on her truck-size horse Fergus a couple of miles later. She was glad, as Fergus was missing some horse company. The three of us rode together for the next several hours, and I discovered my horse could not walk as fast as these two other horses. NO horse can walk as fast as these horses. It was stunning- Fergus has a big walk, and would just walk away from Donnie. As a result, Donnie would jig along to keep up while Fergus walked. Trotting was fine, but walking was a hassle. But Brenna’s horse would walk away from Fergus! I have never seen anything like that. I kid you not when I say that Donnie was trotting slowly next to her while she walked. She is a Walker, but it was really incredible. Donnie just didn’t walk during those 25 miles or so. Wow.

I discovered my next problem that started making me nuts- for some reason my ankles started rolling inward in my stirrups. I stopped and looked and found the foam pads in the stirrups were collapsed and flat as a pancake on one side. I left my good stirrups with the new E-Z ride “nubby” pads on Sorsha’s saddle at home, so I used the ones that came on the new specialized. It was very uncomfortable, so I stopped every 5 miles and reversed the stirrups, which helped for a couple of miles. I would certainly swap them for something at camp, even if I had to remove the pads and ride on the plastic.

We vetted through vet 3 and headed for camp, but about 5 miles away I trotted on ahead, since I was trotting anyway. Donnie was superb and blew through the check with all a’s. In camp Brenda lent me a pair of new E-Z ride stirrups with the “nubby” pads, same as mine at home, and problem solved. Yay! Thanks Brenda. Those stirrups are still on my saddle; they are not coming off. I just ordered her a new pair! I solved my eye problem by wearing my dirt bike goggles on the second loop, as I did at Fire Mountain, and that took care of my eyes. I’m going to get that checked.

I waited for Lucy and Brenna, and we left camp at about 7:40 or so in the dark and headed out for our last 35 miles. With all my problems solved I had a great last loop. We just rode along together, with Donnie trotting slowly along them when they walked, which we did a lot of. The stars were stunning, and we saw several shooting stars. We had a nice ride to the last vet check at 90 miles; it was a little cold in the wind, but I was very comfortable.

With about 5 miles to go, they were walking, Donnie was jigging, so I trotted on ahead like I did on the last loop and cruised into the finish at 2am. Donnie was totally fresh, with a cri of 48/48. I will admit he was fresher than I was. I was not sore, or hurt, but man, was I fatigued. I took him to roll, which he did with glee, and put him up with lots of food. The week had caught up to me, and at 2:30 am my head hit the pillow and I was out. Dead. I don’t remember being that tired in a long time.

I woke up at about 7 on Sunday morning feeling a world better. The ride breakfast was perfect, being catered by a local Mexican restaurant. Boy, it was good. Someone told me that cardboard would taste good at that point, and I agree.

The awards meeting was nice, we finished in 20th place of 25 finishers of 36 starters I think. Lucy and Brenna walked in and finished at about 2:45, but by then I was out cold. Poor Kristin only made it 7 miles in the 50, having to stop due to lameness in the rear on Lani. At first they thought maybe an abscess, but it looks more like the rear boots rubbing. She has some work to do to get it sorted out, but she will.

Brian and Val Reeves do a heck of a job putting this thing on- it’s a lot of work; they have a core of fabulous volunteers. After the awards meeting we packed up and drove the 8 hours home, stopping once in Lost Hills for the kids, who ate a TON of green grass.

To say I’m pleased with Donnie is an understatement. I won’t embellish as I’m known to do, other to say that he’s just the best. I’m going to keep riding him as long as he likes, it, and after Saturday, I’d say he’s nowhere near done.

Judy will be riding Donnie at Lost Padres on the 25 on day 1 along with me on Sorsha. She will enjoy it. It would be hard not to. He’s a good horse.

As always, we will take what we learned this year and make next year’s ride better. We have a little work to do on glow bars, I have an idea on some more new and better trail, etc. If all goes well with Sorsha I’d like to make this her first 100 next year, but hold on, there is this horse named Donnie...

More photos and more on the ride at:

Friday, February 17, 2017

South Africa: Race the Wild Coast - Full Story

February 17 2017

One rider. Three horses. And 350 kilometers of untamed terrain on the remote east coast of South Africa. Australian Brent Albuino was among the first to brave the inaugural Race the Wild Coast last year. He won’t be the last.

Start line—Port Edward

The rider’s pour off a rusty old trailer trying to pretend everything’s going to be ok and we’ve all got our sh*t together and this epic race sorted! I’m nervous but I’m hung over just enough to not care so much if I drown at the first river crossing...

The crew is tramping through the sand dunes to bring us our first horses.

As we await I remind Maudes that being the inaugural riders for this crazy race I feel like a bit of a Guinea Pig.

“You know what happens to Guinea Pigs, Brentski?”

“No, what?”

“They f** die!”

The crew arrives. Pip has my horse and she looks f*d from trudging through the sand dunes. This gives me zero confidence of what’s to come as Pip is an Aussie, hard as nails, born and bred in the Pilbara. She has red dirt running through her veins and a f* you attitude only an Aussie with a can of Bundy would understand.

Anthony Ward-Thomas was going to ride with Maudes and me until his horse did its best impression of a submarine on a training ride at start camp. He bailed on the race and I’m starting to think he may be the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. He was last seen drinking with the locals at Port St Johns. Nice bloke, I hope he’s ok.

I get on my horse, Amir. He seems relaxed, like he has no idea he’s about to carry me through 100 kilometers of torturous terrain.

The race is about to begin!...

Read more here:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Horse riding in Tasmania: exploring the Tiger Trail by saddle - Full Article

Feb 15 2017 at 10:00 AM

by Fiona Carruthers

With hindsight, attempting to clamber back into the saddle three wines down was bound to end badly. I don't even drink at lunch. No, really.

Just as my left foot hit the stirrup iron and I went to lunge off the ground and leap aboard in one graceful movement (in front of about, oh, 20 bystanders), my mount Coltie sidestepped that critical half-inch – just enough to see me come floundering down.

Packing for a four-day horse trek through Tasmania's rugged central north near the aptly named Meander River, I thought I'd covered all contingencies: from SPF50+ sunscreen to neck-to-toe oilskin, gloves, riding helmet still in warranty, boots with heels and fine-seamed jeans that wouldn't chafe. The prospect of drink-riding never occurred to me.

Out of curiosity, I casually phone the police on returning home to ask: "Is there a legal alcohol limit to riding a horse in Australia?"...

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

"Saddletramp: The Nevada Discovery Ride" exhibition - Full Article

Shared History Program exhibition features wild mustangs in need of home

Samantha Szesciorka will share her experiences traveling more than 1,000 miles to encourage wild horse adoption at on-campus exhibit opening Feb. 15

2/8/2017 | By: Hannah Richardson

Extreme weather, difficult terrain, route disruptions and broken gear all describe what might be a typical day on the trail for long-distance equestrian Samantha Szesciorka. Szesciorka rides hundreds to thousands of miles throughout Nevada on the back of her adopted mustang, Sage, to encourage wild horse adoption. At 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15, Szesciorka will share highlights of her most recent ride in a new exhibition titled "Saddletramp: The Nevada Discovery Ride." The reception and exhibition, hosted and curated by the Shared History Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, are located in room 120 of Lincoln Hall on the University campus.

The Shared History Program's exhibition will showcase select photographs and objects from Szesciorka's adventure in 2016, including journals, riding gear and things found on the trail. The exhibition will officially open with a special presentation from Szesciorka, followed by refreshments and socializing in the exhibition space.

Szesciorka moved to Nevada in 2008, and because of her love for horses and long riding, she began planning for her first long-distance ride in 2010. She was humbled to ride close to wild mustangs during her month-long, 500-mile journey in 2013, but was saddened to learn that many mustangs languish in holding facilities because they are not being adopted. This led her to begin the Nevada Discovery Ride project to encourage wild horse adoption...

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Journal of an Endurance rider: first time competing in New Zealand - Full Story

Posted by Jessica Aistrope on 06/02/2017

Endurance rider Jessica Aistrope shares her eventful journey across the Tasman to gain her FEI 1* qualification. Along the way she enjoys a feast of cocktails and chicken wings in order to make the New Zealand minimum riding weight and wracks up an exorbitant data roaming bill by accident….this is her story as she tells it.

"Late last year Stella Harbison and I began discussing our plans for 2017.

The Tom Quilty is a major priority for me and I am the course designer and have ambitions to ride also. Stella has some amazing horses and we thought we should also try to aim for some FEI events as well as the Tom Quilty. Given my lack of participation in FEI over the years, not by choice but simply limited events to attend. I realised I had not competed in FEI since I rode as a youth in 2010. Figuring I would need to start my qualification again I began thinking of the horses Stella had for me to ride, realising we had 2 horses whom had already gained their 1* qualifications, it would be almost a waste to drive 1800+km return trip for a 1*. Stella suggested we start looking for other alternatives.

Upon checking the FEI calendar I noticed NZ had a number of events scheduled before our first FEI ride in Aus. I messaged a friend Mark Tylee in NZ and explained my situation and if he could keep an eye out for a spare horse if ever the opportunity arose.

Surprisingly Mark got almost straight back to me with information that there was an event in a month’s time and a generous lady named Ashley Cole said I could ride one of her horses. It suddenly became a possibility and after speaking with Ashley, Stella and I had our tickets booked and we were heading to New Zealand!...

Read more here:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 Fire Mountain - Nick Warhol

Baylor/Gore Photo

Fire Mountain 50, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on the ride at:
2017 Fire Mountain on

Saturday, January 14, 2017

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

Trot to the Top

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can follow the entire adventure here:

Friday, January 06, 2017

Death Valley Encounter XP 2016 - Redheaded Endurance - Full Story

January 3, 2017 / Redheaded Endurance

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

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

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

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

Read more here:

Monday, January 02, 2017

Something Wonderful - Marvel Endurance

MarvelEndurance Blog - Full Story

January 1 2017

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

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

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

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

Read more here: