Friday, April 15, 2022

2022 Huasna 2-Day Endurance Ride - Jeanette Mero

April 11 2022
by Jeanette Mero

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Old Pueblo 50, March 2022 - Ashley Wingert - Full Story

April 7, 2022 / Ashley Wingert

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

2022 Antelope Island - Merri Melde

by Merri
April 12 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More fun photos and such at:

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

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

by Merri
April 4 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos and more from the ride at:

Sunday, April 03, 2022

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

April 1, 2022 / Ashley Wingert

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

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

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

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