Wednesday, November 30, 2022
November 28, 2022 / Ashley Wingert
I can’t think of a better way to wrap up a ride season than how this ride ultimately went. A few weeks ahead, I had waffled back and forth on if I should go for the 75-miler or 100-miler. The impatient part of my brain really wanted to try the 100-miler, but the reasons for doing so were not plentiful, and there were far more reasons to curb my enthusiasm and do the 75-miler. The overriding reason being that Liberty has never done anything longer than a 1-day 50, and we haven’t done any back-to-back rides, and ultimately, my gut was telling me that doubling her distance in one go would be too much. Or if we pulled it off, it might not be pretty…and what I’ve learned with this horse is every time I’ve tried to bite off too much or gotten too ahead of myself, it’s turned around and bitten us.
To that end, I entered the 75, and as the ride approached, I found myself getting really excited about it. Hard to know specifically why, but I felt probably the most excitement for this ride than I have any other ride this season. Probably the biggest question mark and misgiving I had (aside from the general “I hope we don’t find a rock with our name on it, nothing goes wrong, etc” pre-ride worries, since I’ve learned to never ever take it for granted that I’m going to finish a ride) was how the night portion would go.
A couple weeks prior, we had done a mini-clinic on night riding…and she was rather awful once it got dark. Very amped up and jigging (riding our “home” trails and leading a group of riders who were new to riding in the dark, and she thought we could be going a lot faster than the pace we had set), flinging her head around at bit pressure, and legitimately terrified of the glow lights I had put out. Like, stop and stare at the green glowing lights, snort, try to whirl or bolt past them, trembling, shying…it was a side of her I had never seen displayed before. And I kind of ran out of time to do any further practice with the notion. So I was hoping that having significant mileage under her girth on ride day (I anticipated probably being able to make it at least 60 miles or so before I lost the light) would settle her, or at least make her reactions not so dramatic...
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Friday, November 18, 2022
by Jessica Black
November 16, 2022
As my brother pointed out, being too busy to ride worked out great. Jazz was second place and best condition at his first 50 this weekend. Unlike his first LD, 30 miles at the Bill Thornburgh ride two weeks prior (read about it here: Jazz’s first LD), this ride tired him out. Hopefully he will now have a more realistic understanding of his job!
As I had at the Bill Thornburgh ride, I took both Fantazia and Jazz. This is a mixed bag for Jazz. On the one hand, he is no doubt happier at the trailer with company, and it’s nice to pony him for a bit. On the other, he hates being separated, and makes a fuss during vetting and while we ride alone. For Fantazia, it’s torture. She hates being left at the trailer. She expects to do endurance, so she’s anxious, and then she doesn’t. Of course, she would also be unhappy at home without Jazz. And she’d drive my mother crazy whinneying.
I take both in part because I don’t want my parents to stress. But I also do it because I want to be able to ride both of them as soon as Fantazia is fit enough. I want her to learn that going to a ride doesn’t mean competing. I want them both to learn to wait patiently at the trailer. Also, this lets me condition Fantazia away from home...
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Wednesday, November 09, 2022
November 8 2022
I lean forward, as still as possible in the saddle, talking to my horse as he flies along, telling him what a Good Boy he is, how strong and powerful and phenomenal he is, how lucky I am to have him, how lucky I am that he willingly and happily carries me so swiftly over these trails. One of his ears flicks back to listen to me, then flicks back forward as he rockets forward, devouring the trail, focused on his mission of flying through the desert.
A preface to this story: Hillbillie Willie looooooooooooves DWA Barack, his pasture mate. Barack likes Willie - maybe a little love returned, but Willie loooooooves Barack. They can easily go to rides without each other, but when they go to rides together, things can get complicated if/when they don’t ride together.
I wasn’t sure what Hillbillie Willie and I were going to do at the 3-day Owyhee Halloween ride, the last one of the season. A 50 and some LDs (25 milers)? All LDs? At this ride last year, after Willie finished his 50, he gas colicked and was on IVs till midnight. It scared the bejeezus out of me and I have been forever since paranoid. Over his 5-year endurance career, he’s completed 26 50-mile rides for 1065 miles and never had a metabolic problem until last Halloween, but now I always ride him with a heart monitor and watch him like a hawk from the start to the end of the rides. And always worry...
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Saturday, October 08, 2022
by Marlene Moss
October 5 2022
So a little (lot) more detail on our Autumn Sun Pioneer Endurance Rides 100 mile ride - and a pic or two. Stace and I spent the 10 days prior to this competition in Spain, riding horses on the Camino el Cid and I'll do more posts on that soon. We planned our return flights to get home in time to sleep 6 hours, get up, pack the trailer, load Topper and Alamo and head to Gooding ID.
I'd originally planned to ride Hank, but our relationship wasn't good enough for a tough ride (ie one with lots of rocks with my head's name on them!) and then I found out there was a Shagya division for the AHA Distance Nationals. So I signed up Alamo even though when he did that ride 4 years ago I swore I'd never take him back there, even if I went back! The footing is technical and Alamo was a total clutz. Since then he's had lots of chiro (limited hip movement had him collapsed in the shoulders) and hock injections (silly boy decided to have a 3" growth spurt all in his legs at age 7, if I'd known, I wouldn't have been competing him before that) and just before this ride, the vet suggested coffin joint injections. This was definitely getting beyond my comfort zone on whether I should be competing him at all, let alone a 100. But since he's been trying to unweight his hocks making his fronts sore, it really was a necessary thing no matter what, just for his comfort. What a difference!
We also had front pads under his shoes and did pour in pads on his hinds. So lots of things to both help his body and help him connect his body to his brain.
Alamo mostly doesn't care about the trail, he likes to wander, so riding in the dark has been a challenge and he was nervous at the start so we started with Topper in the front. This always causes some tense moments between me and Stace because Topper is hard to control at the start, but I didn't want to loose the end of the ride by energy wastage at the start. Topper got us through a couple groups of riders to our window and then we put Alamo up front.
He did awesome with my headlamp, a first for me and him, even through some cows which normally terrify him. Then we just let the miles roll by.
Most of this was on really nice roads (who says that? ha, when the alternative is rocks!) But they were really nice roads and Alamo has a steady 9-10mph trot when the footing is good.
Very early in the ride Stace noted that his tights with silicone patches were wearing holes in his legs, so we knew there might be some difficulty there. But we rolled into the out check at 36 miles (probably the extra mile came from a change to avoid some of the cows) in pretty good shape. Except for Stace, he was in pain from the hole in his leg and his core was getting a workout trying to protect it.
Alamo was head down eating the entire hold. He loves the oat float we take out (Topper doesn't), either wet or dry even coated in salt. We didn't syringe electrolytes since they both do well without, but I had some just in case. Alamo had excellent gut sounds and had ate and drank at every opportunity.
I know Stace was sore but he was trying very hard to make sure he wasn't the reason I didn't complete another 100! I was 0 for 5. So he sucked it up for the next 25 miles which was very, very technical. We'd been over part of that loop at the start of the 100 the year before, but it was dark so I didn't know how tough it was - although then it was uphill so easier than downhill in the light (when our opinions matter more than the horse's, heehee). So it was a slow loop though the warmest part of the day, but it wasn't really that hot. I never sweated, but poor Alamo already has a winter coat and was a dusty, crusty mess!
I told Stace I would be totally fine if he needed to pull. I had no doubts I could ride Alamo at this ride in the dark, alone if needed. I know he didn't want to pull, but at some point you realize that riding poorly isn't helping you or your horse so he did the right thing.
This worked out because David Lewis and Joslyn Terry had heat issues so were hanging out longer at the hold so we hooked up so there'd be someone to dial 911 if either of them ran into further trouble. David was riding the amazing Alexander Hamilton and they helped us make some pretty good time on the 22 mile loop back to camp even though it was still tough on David.
Alamo took over the lead through twilight and continued without a headlamp since the half moon helped us perfectly. We moved out when we could, but kept it careful over the 3 miles of rocky downhill since David was so quiet I was worried and of course I'm always overly sensitive to Alamo on rocks.
Sadly David was pulled because his horse was a little stressed with the rest of his buddies leaving on the last loop as we came in for our last hold. Jos and I left on the last 16 mile loop. Back up the 3 miles of climb and rocks, then I led down the steeper hills until we got back to trottable surface. By then Jos was really tired. I gave her my last Jolly Rancher and a Hammer Gel and we started swapping stories and entertaining each other and soon she was wide awake (and a bit cold!)
It was a slow loop since what goes up must come down and there were either rock or shadows that looks like rocks, but we trotted where we could and finished with strong horses pulling at 9-10mph when we got back to the good road. I was so thrilled with Alamo, his second attempt, but first completion and he was so competent all day both with footing and taking care of himself metabolically.
No question this is a challenging ride, but it's supposed to be, right?! It's unfortunate we couldn't see the cool hoodoo canyon, but that just wouldn't have worked to get the 100 mile route and not something you'd do in the dark!
We finished and I'm doubly proud that it was Alamo for my first 100 mile completion and that we did it on a ride that I love which proved that we've overcome a lot. Bonus was that we were the only Shagya team so got all the swag! Here's some pics other people took, first two by Merri Melde and one demonstrating while we'll never be on the cover of Endurance News!
by David Lewis
October 5 2022
It's a good thing that my horse (Matay) doesn't have Facebook so he can tell that I was cheating on him! This was by far the most brutal ride I've ever done.
I don't know what made this ride so difficult, but out of 29 starters, only 16 finished (55%).
I was not originally planning on going to the Distance Nationals at Autumn Sun because my horse had the equivalent of a tendon sheath sprain from Old Selam. Not a serious injury, but some time off and rehab are needed before doing another ride. Alexandra looked to move up from doing LDs and double her distance to attempt a 50 at the AHA 50-mile National Championship. Of course, I had to go to Nationals to crew for her, and then Stevie said she had an available horse to ride! The legendary Alexander Hamilton! This horse is a Tevis finisher and one that Becky Osborne would never shut up about. Now I didn't have an excuse to not make an attempt at my first 100-mile race.
I was so nervous I barely slept at all before the ride. It was like piling on all the nervousness from every ride I've ever done and bottled it up into a single night and the 3:50am alarm jolted me awake for what felt like 8 hours too soon.
The start time was 5:30am, which meant the first nearly 2 hours we'd be riding in pitch black darkness. I used to ride in the dark frequently, but it was a new experience to be doing it for this long at an endurance ride with only the occasional glow stick to guide your way and know that you're still on the trail. The stars were so clear above your head and I'd find myself making out constellations and making rapid wishes upon the shooting stars. The far-off city lights from the valley never seemed to go away until sunrise.
Getting on Alexander for the first time, I could tell within a few seconds that this horse has some amazing dressage training in his background, training that would come in handy throughout our ride and part of what made him the most incredible horse I've ever ridden, and by far one of the easiest horses to ride. His body control made you feel like you could Piaffe down the trail if you really wanted to. I had to resist the urge frequently.
Our group of 5 horses had green glow sticks that Stevie attached to our breast collars that made us look like a train of aliens flying down the trail. Even though we started in a field of 30 riders, nobody spoke a word. The darkness gave you an almost spiritual feeling that you didn't want to break by speaking. The darkness riding was so much fun, even being blinded by Stace Moss's 40,000 lumens headlamp riding a quarter mile behind us, which we just *had* to give him crap about. The miles flew by quickly.
One of the biggest challenges to riding this ride in the dark was not accidentally riding over a cattle guard. You had to make assumptions to avoid plowing right through a cattle guard since you couldn't see them, then the heard of untold hundreds of cattle who you could only make out as black blobs bumbling out of the way in front of you.
The sunrise brought conversations back that typically accompany a group of riders on a long endurance ride, and we all started to get to know each other. Stevie, our fearless leader, riding Sparta. Stevie owns Intergalactic Equine and these amazing five horses that we were riding, she leases out these horses to people like me looking to do something so crazy like riding a 100-mile race or competing at Tevis. These horses are second to none in their conditioning and rideability.
Courtney was riding Hero and the only rider (that I'm aware of) who has completed the Mongol Derby, the Race of the Wild Coast, top-10 Tevis completion, and the Goucho Derby. She's an incredible athlete and rider. Carmen, riding Chuck Norris, has completed Tevis twice and was not only an excellent rider herself, and an absolute joy to chat with, but seemingly had an entire pharmacy in her backpack. Something that would come in handy later. Then Joselyn, our junior and daughter of our vet, Dr. Cassee Terry, was riding her second 100 on big-boy Sonic and one of the toughest riders I know. Our group apparently looked like a centipede weaving down the trail. The lead horse would weave around the rocks and instinctively the other horses would follow in identical footsteps.
Our game plan was to just ride to completion, we weren't going to be racing today because there was such a full field of top-level riders on the trail and there appeared to be little to no chance of us getting anywhere near the top 10. It was going to be a long day in the saddle.
The first loop was longer than it stated on our GPS tracks and we rolled into the first vet check at 36 miles after about 6 hours with sound and very ravenous horses. Stevie did the majority of the crewing for us feeding the horses, handling the tack, and giving us motivational speeches. What does she not do?! Just to remind me that I was doing an endurance ride, Chuck Norris, probably kicking at a fly, roundhouse kicked me in the shin, which was fortunately padded by my half-chaps, and then not 60 seconds later, Alexander thought my finger was a carrot to snap in half while trying to grab a giant bite of alfalfa.
Back on the trail again and around mile 40, something went wrong in my stomach. Started getting light-headed and nauseous. Stevie would ask how everyone was doing and I'm thinking to myself, I don't know if I've ever felt worse on a ride. 20 miles to go before the next vet check and this loop would prove to be the most challenging with the hellish rock fields that we had to walk over. The next vet check couldn't come soon enough and with every mile, the nausea was getting worse. I stopped drinking my electrolytes because it felt like the last thing I wanted to put into my stomach, I think this made things worse.
At the 60-mile vet check, I was half-hoping something was going to be up with the horses so I'd have an excuse to pull, but I would have no such luck as Alexander was as strong and mighty as ever and made it obvious that he was more than ready to keep going. Me and Joselyn, on the other hand, were about to faint and vomit from heat exhaustion. I'm so thankful for everyone at the out vet check area especially Layne Lewis and Cassie who soaked jackets in cold water and put them on us and force-fed us nausea meds and Hammer fuel and electrolyte Gels.
Stevie came over and said "Before you make a decision on if you want to pull, think of how hard past-you has worked to get to this point and think of future you who will remember the decision you made today to complete this ride or to quit. But present you is fleeting and you won't remember how sick you were today." Well, there was no way I could quit now! Stace rubbed a hole into his leg riding Topper and so that left Marlene and her Shagya-Arab, Alamo, to do the remaining 40 miles by themselves. This was perfect, we could spend an extra hour at the vet check recovering and go out with them on the 3rd loop back to the 84-mile vet check back at camp. We'd be riding through Sunset into the dark, so we dawned the headlamps and headed out an hour after Stevie, Courtney, and Carmen left.
Alexander knows his place in the herd of 5: "I gotta be second!" he would insist throughout the ride. But now it was time for him to lead and lead he did so well, throwing out a "wait for me!" whinny every 5 minutes for 23 miles. This horse was a frickin' powerhouse on this loop, while I wanted to just fall off and pass out on the ground because I was convinced I'd somehow feel better that way, he kept on trucking as if we were still on mile 3.
As the ride progressed, I found out that time is not the only thing that feels subjective. Distance does as well. Every mile started to feel like 5 or 6 miles and it seemed to take forever for the miles to melt away, no matter how fast we traveled.
After 19 miles of leading, I was still so sick and tired, and having taken a break to lie down, knew that relief wouldn't come until we got into camp. Now that it was dark, Alamo took the lead while I set Alexander in behind and just rode with my eyes closed while concentrating on my breathing. Maybe this way I could feel somewhat rested, I thought, as the night turned the heat exhaustion into vertigo.
We made our way down the last 2 miles of steep downhill into camp at 9pm and walked down the road at the exact same time that Alexander's buddies were all leaving camp on their 4th and final loop. Well, Alex was NOT happy about this!! "Wait for me!" he continued to plead. Alexandra met me at camp and handed me some meds and said "Go sit down, we've got your horse" and Sonic pulsed down immediately, followed by Alamo. But Alexander stressed about his now-gone herd-mates. He was so strong, eating, drinking, moving, and pulling people around camp. This horse was so far from done.
While I watched sat in a chair, shivering and covered in a blanket that Jessica Huber brought over, waiting for my horse to pulse down, Jeremy Reynolds brought over a jar of pickle juice and said, "Here, drink this. This will settle your stomach and get you through the ride." Never thought about it, but I actually liked it! Jeremy went over to check on how they were doing trying to get Alex's pulse down, but I could tell something was wrong. I never heard them call out my number saying he pulsed down.
Alexander was like a truck with an unwavering engine and a bottomless gas tank. Yet looking off into the dark hills watching his buddies all leave, nobody could get his pulse down to 60 in the allotted time, so we were forced to end our ride there after 84 miles.
Joselyn and I had talked about taking a nap before going out on the final loop, and at first, I was relieved to not go out, and then so disappointed because of how close we came and how able we were to still go on and finish. It would have been so hard but so worth it.
Marlene on Alamo and Joselyn on Sonic went on to finish their ride, and what an amazing job they did.
Even though Alexander didn't pulse down, that horse was so far from being done. He pushed the pace for all of the 84 miles even if he was supposed to be in second. He wanted to push the pace as often as he could.
I stopped taking photos and videos by the second loop because it took so much effort to battle nausea, plus there was never anything different to take a photo of, the views and terrain on this ride never changed. It looked the same from mile 1 all the way through mile 84. The ride itself wasn't particularly hard, but somehow was also the hardest ride I've ever done, and Ride With GPS saved us at least 12 times from missing turns and getting off trail like so many other riders had, and that turned out to be a huge advantage as the other three, Stevie, Carmen, and Courtney were able to place in the top 10!! Most riders we passed had their phones out trying to follow the GPS tracks to avoid getting off the trail. Don't underestimate the necessity of RideWithGPS, and this ride has given me new material for the talk Stace and I will give at the PNER convention about how it helps keep you on the trail, but also can confuse you if you don't know how to use it. -- And then to everyone trying to follow the loops on their phones, it's a great idea to get a really good GPS watch.
I'm so grateful to so many people who helped out with such an undertaking, from my beautiful wife in her sexy red curly hair, the ride management, Stevie, Diane Seaby Stevens' amazing Crazy Legs tights that kept me comfortable beyond any other tights I've worn, to Jessica Isbrecht's partner, Byron, who made me a pair of hot tacos and walked them to my trailer at the end of our 84 miles. Those were the best damn tacos I've ever had.
Now, 2 days later as I reflect on this ride, I feel hungry. Like a super bowl loser. You're desperate to get back to training in the off-season to get back here and get that elusive win.
84 miles was not enough, and I didn't get the T-shirt award for finishing, yet 30 miles further than I've ever ridden and Alexander was awesome. Not that I had any doubt, given Becky's constant bubbling about how amazing he is.
I'm still after a buckle.
Wednesday, September 07, 2022
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
September 7 2022
You’re seriously missing out on one of the best rides in the Northwest region if you haven’t been to Old Selam Pioneer in southern Idaho.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Here’s what Haggin Cup winner Lindsay Fisher, aboard Haggin Cup winner Monk said:
“Old Selam Endurance Ride in Idaho City is a must!!! It is rare to find a mountain ride with incredible views and a light sandy footing!!!”
Lindsay rode with her daughter Hailey (Lindsay rode Monk on day 2), for Hailey’s first multi-day ride aboard Starlight, and she got Best Condition Junior both days!
Marlene Moss said, “The footing is generally awesome and there probably isn't a better marked trail in the country.”
Darlene Anderson said, “The trails are beyond incredible. The views are to die for, the trail markings this year were A-mazing!”
Alex Lewis said, “David and I had a blast on the beautiful trails, that were perfectly marked, and the views were outstanding!! Idaho City has GORGEOUS countryside to ride through!! If you haven't been to this ride, you MUST go next year! The folks that put on the ride are generous and kind, the camp is fantastic, and the ride itself has great footing and is beautiful!”
The old logging roads and cross-country trails wind through 1860’s gold mining country in the Boise Forest between the old mining towns of Idaho City and Centerville. The name Old Selam comes from a workhorse from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary in 1901 that 2 different prisoners used to escape on. The first prisoner was caught and Old Selam went back to work in the prison. The second prisoner took off on Old Selam 6 days later. The prisoner was never found, but according to some reports, Old Selam was found 6 months later near Swan Falls. He probably didn’t have to go back to work in the prison!
Since 1979, the Southwest Idaho Trail and Distance Riders have attempted to re-trace the trails used by Old Selam in his two escape attempts. Ridecamp and the trails have shifted over the years around the area, but since 2017 have been along the old dredged Henry Creek. Maybe Old Selam galloped past our campsite 116 years ago!
The 3-day ride is a club ride for our local SWITnDR (Southwest Idaho Trail and Distance Riders) group, and so many members (and some non-members) donate so much of their time to put this ride together, donating the Ridecamp site, clearing trails, marking then unmarking trails, putting out water, checking and double checking things. Matt and Veronica Stanley took over as ride managers this year for the first time and did a super job.
It can be hot this time of year, and while the afternoons baked this year, the mornings were cool and invigorating. There’s nothing better than trotting along a gently-sloping, winding sandy logging road on a quiet green forest ridge trail.
You won’t find a better organized or a better marked Endurance trail, and you won’t find better footing than Old Selam.
There were 43 starters on Day 1 (both distances), 29 on Day 2, and 32 on Day 3, with only 11 pulls all weekend, most of them Rider Options.
Three horse and rider teams finished all 3 day of the Limited Distance 25s, and 3 horse and rider teams finished all 155 miles of the Endurance distance.
A few lucky Endurance riders got to see a few moose on trails, and maybe the ghost of Old Selam watched through the trees as riders passed over the trails, and dreamed of the escapes he made so long ago.
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Tevis 2022: it’s a long one, We did ALL the things. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I saw somewhere on Facebook that if somebody doesn't think they're going to finish Tevis then they're wasting their money when they go. I don't know if this is true or not. I do know that I filled out my application as soon as entries opened and I planned on riding Johnny and I certainly planned on finishing. But then the gremlins struck and now I'm rehabbing Johnny. My friend Terry offered a horse to ride; I was still “in”. I previously took Rupert through the canyons and on a few other sections of the trail.
We had a great time, we started out by ourselves and he was a rock star through that fast start, (it sure seemed fast this year). It was a bit of a stressful ride through granite chief. We got stuck in a Congo line of 31 horses with a bad whiplash effect. (In hindsight I should have pulled off and let them all leave). As it turns out my friends caught me at Lyon’s ridge. I was happy to ride with them into red star. But when we got there, we were up against the clock; he was a little dehydrated and hanging at 72 but eating and drinking just fine, peeing and pooping as well. He got pumped up with an optional IV. We got Rupert settled in at Foresthill.
Time to rally and wait for our riders at Michigan bluff. I was refilling everyone's drinks and cooling anyones horses that needed it. Our riders were chasing cutoffs all day and gave it up at Foresthill, leaving just one of our group of four gaited horses out there. Scott had it in the bag, his horse looked good and strong!
Unfortunately he slipped off the trail just after Cal 2. We’ve all had a foot slip off and scramble back on, makes your heart skip a beat. Not this time, it was a pretty sharp drop off and they went over, tumbling down 15 or 20 feet to a couple of trees. The duff was deep and the soil was loose and it was just impossible to get back up again￼. It was pitch black. (*I will never ride these cliffs without a green or red headlamp again)
By the time I heard this was happening, they already had a team working on it but they needed some more manpower and equipment. I was told it’s best to get a horse settled and wait until daylight to attempt extraction, now I see why. Unfortunately he was not in a good spot for waiting. The team was amazing and the rider is one of the best horseman I know. He stayed in there working with the team for hours until the horse was back on solid ground. Wow, it sure takes a long time to shimmy a horse down 100 feet to the next switchback. The amazing rescue team got it done! On the hike out It took all of us to carry everything out. I couldn’t walk by his saddle there on the side of the trail, I am surprised I managed it!
I’m so sorry that this was his tevis experience - it was a crazy year and as I thank my crew for my ride (thank you), I have to show some love for the ride management, net control, horse rescue personnel, veterinarians, volunteers, SOS, and I don’t even know who I don’t know. The trackers were very useful for locating off trail horses and the enormous team of people involved in the background of this ride is overwhelming.
An honorary mention for Lucy Chaplin Trumbull , she did not start as her horse was NQR. She rallies like no other and jumped to join my crew. So glad she did as they are from out of town and it was awesome to have Lucy there. Thanks Laura Matthews!! Once I was pulled, she assisted in the live webcast, then helped locate horses that were off trail. Her extensive knowledge of the trail and access points is really unbelievable! ￼
Forgive me if I missed anybody, I don’t always know if I should name names either, there are a lot of people involved in a lot of aspects of this ride I was previously unaware of￼
And….Eddie (the horse) is looking good, heading home now. Now I can cry about it
Sunday, July 03, 2022
GOLDEN HORSESHOE RIDE MAY 20-22ND 2022 by Jo Chisholm
The Golden Horseshoe Ride has been a large part of my life over that last 25 years – from competing in many of the different classes from the 2-day 80km to the ultimate endurance test of the 2 day 160k class, and to being part of the organisational team from 2017 to 2022, this being our final year. However, next year the mantle is being handed over to a new team headed up by Shelly Bates and Maggie Pattinson. We are very pleased that someone has stepped up to take on this iconic ride as it is a part of the history of endurance in this county, and indeed is amongst the few endurance rides globally that many in the equestrian world have heard of.
This year, sadly, there were no entries in the top class of the 160km/2-day Golden Horseshoe and only three in the Exmoor Stag 120 km/2 day and two in the Exmoor Fox class 80km/1 day. The main entries were spread over the more popular Exmoor Hind class 80km/2 day and the single day 40 km and 24k classes. The lower-than-normal numbers are probably due to various factors taking their toll – the last two years have meant that many riders have not kept their horses up to full competition fitness and also the cost of fuel may restrict many to local rides rather than travelling further afield. It was clearly demonstrated that Exmoor demands the fittest and best prepared horses and riders, with the ‘introductory’ novice classes seeing a higher attrition rate than the higher mileage classes, where more experienced combinations were competing. The conditions were just about perfect with Exmoor having had a reasonably quiet winter and so, apart from the usual areas that tend to stay spongy, the moorland still had plenty of grass cover with firm going and the tracks had not been washed out. The weather was also kind to us during the weekend with just the right amount of sunshine...
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Wednesday, June 29, 2022
by Todd Hezeau
I know I I have not written on here in a long time but some have asked for a report of the National Championships at the Old Dominion so since I have minimally gotten back on Cr$pbook as a lurker, I figured I could oblige, so here it goes.
It was a tough ride! There ya go… just kidding.
We left on Monday and traveled over 2 days utilizing shorter days over a period of time rather than longer days of travel which the shorter travel times between destinations is better IMO. So we overnighted in Jackson TN the first night, Bulls Gap the second day, where I glued Wynd’s boots on the next morning inside the protection of the barn and arrived in camp on Wednesday late afternoon. Wynd traveled well and arriving Wednesday allowed her to rehydrate and eat.
On Thursday we were awoken early to the sound of Reveille playing on the PA that is set up all along the edge of ride camp which is a long pasture with a road down the middle at I think around 5a. Apparently it is tradition to play reveille before the ride start and then followed by what is called the “bubble” song, which sounds like a bad ring tone that you will never get out of your head once you hear it. We went back to sleep but got up around 8a because we were to travel to Cass WV to ride the Cass scenic railroad which is an old logging railroad that utilizes geared locomotives to pull and push you 11 miles to the third highest point in the Alegany mountains. Being a rail fan, (I secretly love trains, in particular geared locomotives), I was like a kid in a candy store and took many pictures and videos.
We barely made it in time as the drive across the mountains to get there was intimidating to say the least. Roads were steep and curvy and we got lost on the way back so we were late getting back to Wynd. She had plenty of hay and fortunately the folks watching her filled up her water. Thank you to Christo and his wife (the people whom put on the Alabama Yellowhammer ride and owners of Dinklemann Arabians) whom we befriended. Talked with them quite a bit and man, I could listen to him and his wife for hours!!!
Anyway, we awoke to Reveille again on Friday and again went back to sleep. We met Tim Worden and his wife, Lara, Thursday evening, whom I had been conversing with on FB getting information about the ride which was very helpful and we went out for a small trek Friday morning before vet in to get an idea of the ride and make sure all was well with tack and such. Eventually I went to fetch our rider card and vetted Wynd in around 3p where the vet said one quad of her guts were quiet which concerned me so I really watched her and checked them before we went to bed and they were loud and gurgling so she was good to go.
We finished getting things together since all the holds were out of camp and Kathy, my amazing crew person was doing all of the crewing task on her own! By herself! Lara said she would be happy to let Kathy follow her to the holds since Tim and I planned on riding together. It was interesting that they have the the PA lined up parallel to road in ride camp, we did not have to walk the distance, which we were pretty far away from the meeting tent, so we just stayed at the trailer and listened to the meeting from there! We went to bed about 8p and awoke to rain around midnight. I fed Wynd the evening meal, she had her rain sheet on as the temp was rather chilly that evening.
I awoke around 3:45a as ride start was 5:30a. I obviously was not paying attention or with my hearing didn’t comprehend, that start was at 5:30. I heard 5:15 so we were early to check in. Anyway, we tacked up in the rain and the ride commenced at 5:30. It was planned that Tim and I would ride together but he was late at the start so we started with everyone else. I did not wish to wait because from everything I learned about this ride, there is a lot of walking involved because of the rocks and time is everything so we just moved forward and did not wait.
We were with probably 8-10 other horses durning the start which went off down the road. It was raining, not hard but steady. We turned off into the woods about 1/2 mile down the road from the start. The trail was muddy in places and we eventually came to our first climb which is about a 1300’ elevation gain. It had some rocks, particularly along the ridge that we rode along once at the top which consisted of some thin, vertical rocks sticking out of the ground about 2 to 4 inches and although a few horses passed us trotting along this, I opted to walk her as she was tripping on them because of the fact they were hard to see.
We started our descent to the first vet check which was down a gravel road for most of the way, some of which was steep. We made it to Bird Haven and Kathy was there waiting on us. Mind you she was our only crew person throughout this entire ordeal. She crewed this ride by herself and without her Wynd and I would have never made it! Wynd vetted through without a hitch and ate well durning the hold. To show how hydrated we were, I had to stop and pee 3 times during that segment and she did also! She has learned that when I pee she can too!
That hold was 40 minutes and we left back out on time and went back up the road we came till it broke off into the woods. All this time I was wondering, “where are all the rocks?” All I have heard about this ride is how bad the rocks were and on that first segment I saw nothing worse than what we encounter on rides here in Texas or elsewhere.
Well, once we broke off the road and started our second climb, I was not disappointed in the rocks. They came in abundance and never ended after that. Yes, this ride has ROCKS and plenty of them. Lots of walking in the segment of the ride. Rocks were everywhere!
We eventually came to the 2nd VC at Laurel Run. This VC, crew was not allowed but the volunteers at this ride did not disappoint. There was feed and hay bountiful for the horses and they had water, P&B sandwiches, granola bars and plenty of other snacks for the riders! You were very much catered to. They had thought they lost my bag, of which I did not pack one for that hold, and the head volunteer was a bit upset that they lost it till I told him that I never had one sent.
Again, Wynd pulsed in quickly and ate great at this hold. It was 45 minutes and off we went down the road and back up the mountain and although this climb was steep it was pretty much all road and she trotted the relatively flat parts and walked the steep sections. When we got to the top of the climb she was ready to rock again.
We came to a trough and caught up to two other riders there of which we wound up getting stuck behind for a good while. The trail in this part was rocky but not terrible as there were places to move but nowhere to pass at it was very narrow and the ladies we were behind elected to walk the entire section. Finally came to a part where we could pass and pass she did. She lost a boot almost to the end of this segment combining into the 3rd VC and there was a bridge crossing a creek, which she does not like crossing but fortunately we had caught up to another rider and so long another horse goes across the bridge, she will, other wiser I have to hand walk her. The bridge was surprisingly slippery and she panicked a bit on the footing, which is where I think the boot came off, not the rocks… LOL.
Kathy was waiting for us again and someone we had been talking about the night before,Aubrey Hager, former central region rider, who helped Kathy and us while waiting her sister came in off of trail. I replaced her boot before we came into the P&R. Again, she vetted through pretty quick and had great scores and ate and drank well. On a side note, we had been having some issues with gut scores at some prior rides, so I did some research and had a recommendation of adding magnesium to her elytes, which we did at the 75 out at the Grasslands. Her appetite and gut scores dramatically improved so we utilized the same remedy at this ride with very good results.
Soothes hold was 50 minutes and we set out after we were released. From this point on the trail was a little easier with the big climbs out of the way but not the rocks so much.We had been lucky all day as themes had been low and they continued to be that way, never really getting out of the 70’s. I have heard that this ride can have some relatively high temps along with the high humidity that we were already experiencing.
This trail was no different in the case of the rocks. There were plenty to go around but there were sections of road and flat areas where you could move out and she did. We acquired another rider a little after leaving and rode with there and her horse for the rest of the ride. This lady had completed this ride 4 times now and although her horse was a yo-yo horse, meaning he would speed up and slow down, Wynd figured out real quick that she could keep her normal pace and not have to do the same thing. She is so smart!
This section would be particularly long from what I was told. We had a 10min gate and go where once your horse reached criteria, they would let you go 10 minutes. Both horses seemed ravenous and ate very well and as we were getting released to go, the ladies I was behind earlier had caught back up to us but never saw them again. Wynd and the other lady’s horse were eating everything at this point. Any grass they came to they would want to eat and move along.
I was told to get ready for the Mail Trail. How the hell anyone delivered mail up this trail is beyond me. I was also told that this was the trail they cleared rocks off of and I was assured by the lady we were riding with that this was a lot better than it has been in the past. That was nice. This trail was a NEFT trail, (Never ending f$cking trail) and every ride has one. It is also the point in the ride where you start questioning your sanity.
We made it to the Little Sluice courtesy stop, it’s not a hold but they have volunteers there that have water, snack, hay feed. We stopped for a bit and let the horses eat and drink. It was only 4 miles to the next hold, the Big92 VC.
Kathy and Aubrey were there waiting on us and had everything ready! Again, as it had been through the whole ride so far, she pulsed and vetted in quickly and ate just as well. This hold I believe was 40 minutes and we left on time with our guide person. The next hold was 7+ miles away and were 70+ miles through the ride and she was moving out very well, even with all the climbs and rocks and soon to be mud, Wynd felt great and was doing very well so far.
This section is about half road and half through the woods. The rocks seemed to diminish to an extent which made going easy but being dark we walked a bit more through the woods. We came to Laurel Run VC which was the 5th VC and a 30 minute hold. Kathy passed us earlier going down the road and meet us there and had some major help from the ever helpful volunteer named Ryan, whom helped us earlier in the day at the same VC. He was awesome, carrying everything from the truck to the hold and even parked the truck!
Again she ate and drank, but this time it was getting a chilly so I did not remove her saddle. The vet at the vet check was very impressed with her recoveries, 52/52 and this hold had a pretty steep incline in the trot out coming back to the vet. She was like that all day. He gave her a compliment.
So we were off after our time. Next VC was 13+ miles and was mostly road although we had some hills to climb with, you guessed it, rock! At this point it was dark and couldn’t really see anything as her glow sticks on her breast collar lit up the trail, we made it to Bird Haven and VC 6, the last hold, which was only 20 minutes.
Wynd had picked up the pace a bit as she knew we were headed back, especially in her walks as our guides horse was a bit of a slow walker so she led a little for periods of time. Left her saddle on for this VC as well and the vet gave her another compliment for 52/48 CRI. She ate and ate the either time we were there. We had 6 miles to go!!!!!
We left the hold across the pasture we entered and loped out of the VC! When the trail turned into the woods, we had to walk. The mud combined with the rocks made things a bit slow but she had a pretty go pace at a walk. We reached the road leading to camp and both horses took off at a fast trot and as we got to the lights we picked up a lope.
Now since this woman we were riding with lead pretty much the entire time we road together, I wasn’t going to go blow past her at the finish but Wynd had other ideas. We broke into a light lope and then she, without warning, bolted into a gallop with many people footing and cheering! I was not ready for that but I guess she was done… lol.100 miles of that terrain and she does that. Wow!
We walked down the vet check as Kathy went to get the wagon. I pulled her saddle and we walked to the vet. She was trying to eat everything. We got to the vet and she gave us another compliment on her CRI which was 48/48. Her P&R pulse was 40! She never had a CRI above 60 all day. Yes, she did a 100 miles.
She trotted out sound and all of her other parameters were great! We completed, 8th out of 32 starters! I cannot be any more proud of my little girl! She was strong all day, ate and drank well all day. She performed fabulously!
We brought her back to the trailer and took care of her legs and such and went to bed. We were exhausted. The next morning we awoke for BC showing. I made the mistake of not putting a heater on her and trotting her out in her collar which caused her head to be up in the air but she looked good. She flinched a bit when palpated near the knee on the LF and had a rub between her heel bulbs on the RF which she lost the boot on and reacted to that so her BC scores were not the greatest but I don’t care! She did fabulous.
I cannot convey the appreciation I have for Kathy and all she did for us. If it were not for her, we would have never completed this ride. She did everything by herself! Load, unload, reload again, Drive, unload, carry, lather, rinse, repeat as all of the VC’s were out of camp… She is the super crew and I am very luck to have someone even remotely willing to this for us! I did try and get her some help but, in the end was unable to secure anyone. She did have a bit of help from Audrey and I am extremely appreciative of that.
Since I have ridden the the big 3 now, of which I have only completed one and attempted another numerous times to no avail, which we shall be going back to kick it's ass, I have had time to think about It and I have rated them in order of difficulty. This is my opinion with the experiences I have had at each ride so take as you may.
Big Horn IMO is the most difficult It terms of climbs and sheer daunting remoteness. There is no one, other than maybe another rider, and I mean no one, between each of the holds and it is 20 miles between each hold. The elevation change is majorly drastic. When I did it the ride changed a bit but from the first hold to the second was a 4000'+ change. The canyons we had to climb were straight up and down with no switch backs.
OD would be #2. They are not kidding about the rocks at this ride, they are brutal. Lots of walking. You don't have the elevation like the other two but the climbs are long and add the rocks, well, there ya go. There was one rider I heard of that lost 3 shoes after the second section. We lost one glue on so I consider that pretty lucky. Look at the picture of her boot and the wear the rocks caused. And we were lucky with the temps as it never got out of the 60's. Maybe reached 70º. The humidity was in play though and from what I have been told, these temps are not the normal temps for this ride. I can imaging what it would be like if the temps were in the 90's with the humidity!
#3 unfortunately Is the ride in California. Yes, it can get hot, but with no humidity It is very tolerable and yes the canyons are a tough part of this ride but in all honesty, the toughest part of this ride is the logistics! So, mind you this is my opinion from the experience I had at all three rides!
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
June 21 2022
It was day 2 @ Wild West Ride… Niño and I headed down to the start. He trotted out quietly and behind most all of the other riders. After a few miles, there was a spotter on the trail for the sharp left turn that took us up the single track. Normally there are just ribbons but they’d mentioned at the riders’ meeting how there might be a few extra helpers on trail!
We made our way up the switchbacks with Carrie Ellinwood riding in front and another Kerrie who was riding behind us! The first Carrie was on an incredibly beautiful flea bitten Arab named Jamboree and oh boy was he impressive. I’d commented to her at the start how they looked like they were entering the Dressage show ring, poised, collected, balanced and he was such a beautiful mover. He was all business too, very serious and focused, which I could tell from the get go. They plan to ride the Tevis this year and I can envision them sailing through the 100 mile course without issue.
The second Kerrie who was riding behind us was on a large Spotted gaited horse who was a big mover, animated and very forward. It was to be their first 50 miler and she had expressed some concerns about pacing him properly. Somehow Niño and I got sandwiched between the two and when we came upon a second spotter on the single track trail, he stood up from his chair and had us veer left instead of continuing straight. We all followed suit and continued on the single track that took us up and then more up. We climbed for at least a few miles, until we reached the very top and I sensed something was wrong, even though there were ribbons once we had reached the ridge.
We made a left turn that seemed poorly marked, but it put the ribbons correctly on our right side; however in my heart, I had that icky feeling that something wasn’t right. The marking had been excellent on this ride with three ribbons at every turn but there also was no where that we could have gotten off trail. We trotted on for a few more miles before reaching another intersection and the infamous water tanks along with the trail that would take us back to camp. I then declared… I’m going back… this is wrong!! I thought to myself… ride management will kill me if I show up in camp like I did last year. In fact on day 1 they had even placed a sign out there for me saying… Nina don’t go this way!!! And mind you I was so careful and never got lost!!!
As I reminisced about all we had done, I really felt like we shouldn’t have climbed the big mountain because I remembered comparing the first loop to the prior day’s loop, which shared some common trail early on. I knew that I had never ridden that up that single track climb.
While none of it made any sense, I wanted to go back down the mountain, which we had just climbed and the girls were reluctant with my thinking out loud. After a bit of back and fourth on the ridge we all agreed to stay together and make our way back down the single track.
When we got all the way back to where the volunteer was who had told us to go that way, he was still there and he said… Oh you were supposed to go straight here (which was now a left turn for us). I questioned him in disbelief and he said… I didn’t know that earlier, but now I’ve just confirmed it as he held up a phone or radio… 😳 We kinda all looked at each other …cleared our throats and thanked him kindly! I did ask him what his name was and he said Glen, but ends up no one knew who he was 🙄
Onwards we continued and finally made it to the first water troughs where Bob asked if we had been lost… The LD riders were already coming through so we were behind for sure! I also explained to Bob that I didn’t dare ride back to camp 😂 He gave me a smirk and admired my good decision but he also shook his head in disbelief for what had happened to us.
Niño and I took some time and then continued on after I gave him a snack baggie full of mash and he enjoyed a long drink along with a few bites of hay. We thanked them for the great hospitality and continued. It wasn’t long before we caught up with Carrie and Jam and we rode the lollipop together, making our way back to the troughs again and then on into camp for the lunch hold. My gps had us at 29 miles for the first loop… double ugh 😩
Niño vetted through easily and we enjoyed the hour break and then headed out onto the second loop by ourselves. It was beautiful, familiar and I felt worry free. Soon after, Carrie and Jam caught us and we again rode together. She had me laughing so hard I nearly pee’d my pants. The skies got dark and the air was cool. Carrie said that hopefully we wouldn’t see anymore volunteers and that phrase stuck with me throughout 😂
Soon the thunder began to rumble and a few sprinkles dropped from the sky. Carrie said it wasn’t looking good weather wise and then she mentioned something about lightening and forest fires. My PTS clicked in on high alert and soon I was terrified. We made it back to camp, vetted through, but before getting back to the rig for our 1/2 hr hold, the skies opened up and an icy cold downpour came and drenched us. Soon it was followed by a wicked hail storm with icy rocks pelting down on us like an angry Mother Nature who then threw in some wet snow. It was wild… Needless to say my poor Niño was not a happy camper. It broke my heart to have had him work so hard and now to see him being pelted with ice and the sudden bitter cold. I threw three layers of blankets on him and then went to ask management what should we do… ?? Bob quickly reminded me “That’s why it’s called endurance!”. I walked back to my rig and threw the towel in. I couldn’t do it to my horse. We called it quits.
I got my saddle off Niño, put lots of warm blankets and a raincoat on top and then tucked myself in the camper. Soon the Ride management graciously came to ask if we’d like to continue? Oh hell no, I replied. I wouldn’t do that to my horse nor to myself. We took a rider option instead and I think we made a great decision. The storm moved on almost as quickly as it arrived but I had chosen to pack and leave early the following morning. I’d had enough and mostly I wanted Niño to keep his happy spirits.
With all the challenges, it was still a wonderful experience and a gorgeous ride. Kudos to management for their commitment and ability to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.
Friday, April 15, 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
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...
Read more here:
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
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
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
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
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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Monday, March 28, 2022
by Nina Bomar
We had a wonderful time at the Cuyama XPRide. It’s such a peaceful place to both camp and of course to ride. Ann Nicholson and the Duck worked extra hard to get three days of trail marked in the rugged terrain, where much of the course cannot be marked by Jeep, but instead must be hiked, ridden by horseback or moto. We were blessed with a bit of water in the creeks, a few assorted wildflowers and plenty of green grasses for trail-side snacking. It was a welcomed surprise, especially considering we’re in the middle of a drought.
The weather was warm and the trail was challenging. It was the perfect combination for a great ride that has seen its 20th year running. The Nicholson’s have nurtured so many special relationships within this small community of ranchers who have resided in the area for many generations. We are blessed to have the opportunity ride through their properties, descend upon their valleys and cruise their mountaintops. The views are always spectacular and this year was just as special as in all the previous ones.
Juan and I got VIP parking so that we could be nearby to help with the cooking and the Duck duties. He ran Juan through a bit of bootcamp during their wild excursions in the Jeep, occasionally sending Juan off to pull ribbons without drinking water. Juan said he had to remind the Duck that he’s not a camel. It’s such a spectacular and unique experience for Juan to get out there and really see the country with a man who knows so much about the topography. They enjoyed many conversations along the way and I get a kick out of seeing Juan in remote places along the trail, enjoying himself, laughing and always learning new things with the Duck.
On Day 1 I rode Niño and he didn’t disappoint. I hadn’t been on him since the 100 miler a few weeks earlier and he was ready to go. Saudii stayed back at the trailer and threw a few whinnies, but they both behaved themselves. Dave Rabe and I rode together and he was on Cocamoe Joe. We never know if we’ll get to stay together, but we seem to have figured out a system that works, and I’m very thankful for our good times together.
Annie made sandwiches for everyone at the lunch stops, which were back at camp and I washed mine down with a cold beer. She spoils us all and wants to make sure everyone feels happy and is enjoying themselves. She also had assorted chips and her infamous ice chest full of candies and chocolate. Juan was mostly out running around with the Duck, but I had it all under control… beet pulp soaked, hay bags filled and water bottles ready to replenish the ones I had emptied.
Day 2 was Saudi’s turn and he danced with joy, while Niño was a bit naughty about being left behind. Dave rode White Cloud and we again had a lovely ride. Poor Cloudy, he still had some heavy winter coat, so we took it easy and got off to climb a few of the big mountains. We took some rest breaks in the shade and allowed the horses time to graze on the sweet baby green grasses. It was a very relaxing 50 miles and I loved it.
By Day 3 it was Nino’s turn again and he was rearing to go. Cocamoe Joe turned on his little crackhead and we zoomed down the trail. I didn’t drink beer at lunch on this day out of fear that I’d might go take a siesta and never get back out on trail. We saved it for the finish, where we celebrated. Juan always loves to greet us with a cold one.
On the final evening Annie splurged big time and provided us all with filet minion, baked potatoes and salad. I got to sit with Caroline De Bourbon and marvel at what a lovely and smart young lady she is. She too rode all three days, finishing in the top five, looking fresh and smiling as if she hadn’t done a thing. She’s an accomplished rider with an impressive ride record and she is an incredibly thoughtful and well mannered person. I loved listening to both her and Dave talk about their rides … hearing his versions and experience and watching her expressions and feeling her fresh and youthful enthusiasm. It was such a treat and a joy to be there and to get to know her a little more and to witness first handedly how Dave continues to influence us all both young and old and always in such a positive manner. It was a great ending to a perfect multi day ride that was filled with so many blessings!
Friday, March 11, 2022
This year‘s 20 mule team ride in Ridgecrest California did not disappoint. It is my favorite ride of the year, and the best week of the year for me since I bring both my horse and my dirt bike down for the week. I spend a few days working marking the trail on my dirt bike, then I ride the hundred on Saturday on my horse. It was a fantastic week all in all, but it certainly presented some difficulties. It was very windy on Monday when I drove down; I got really lucky that I made it to Ridgecrest before the big wind hit. These are the winds that blow semi-trucks over, close highways, and would’ve stopped me in my truck and camper on the way down. (The new truck is splendid by the way!) Monday afternoon was so windy it was impossible to even go outside. The wind was so strong that Brian and I literally could not open the rear door of my horse trailer to unload the motorcycle. It was that bad. You just had to stay inside or be in a vehicle. Tuesday morning arrived with just as much wind, and even worse! I was supposed to go out and work on the trail, which I did, but it was too difficult to really do anything. We ended up scouting the trail for a new potential ride we’re looking at doing in October in the same area. As long as you have your goggles on, the dirt bike isn’t so bad in the wind. Except for trying to ride 60 MPH against a 60 MPH wind! It was stupid.
Tuesday night we got the rotten news that we had lost yet another vet for the ride, which meant we couldn’t use the long traditional 65-mile loop. We did some last-minute scrambling with our head vet Mike Perales, who was trying to find us a vet, to no avail. Brian and I basically changed the entire route of the ride on Tuesday night and started working on it Wednesday morning. We would have to do multiple loops out of camp which was OK, but not desirable. It’s not possible to do the long 65-mile loop with only three vets. As a result, with three days to go we completely changed the ride. We created and marked new loops, made all new maps, found different hay and water stops, set new radio locations, scheduled less porta potties, the whole thing. It all worked out, since lucky for us the wind stopped. On Wednesday it was overcast and we actually had a few snow flurries in town. Oh great! At least there was no wind. On Thursday morning the weather became perfect! Clear, cold, calm, just right for riding in the winter in the desert. We got jamming on the trail marking and worked all day Thursday and most of Friday to get ready in time. It turns out we had a great turnout after all- over 100 riders across all the distances, with the 100 having the most with 38 starters! That’s a very good sign!
Saturday morning came very cold at the start, but clear and totally calm- no wind. I saddled up Sorsha and started the ride with my new friend Mary Vrendenberg, who was attempting her and her horses very first ever 100 mile ride. We rode out at the back of the pack, but calmly and quietly passed several horses as we trotted up towards boundary Road.
There were a couple of horse accidents on the way up to the ridge in the first couple of miles, requiring some stitches and a hospital visit for falling down horses that really injured their knees. At about 10 miles or so One rider in particular had dismounted for a rest room stop, and was re-mounting her horse. The horse took off and she fell off backwards hitting her head on the ground hard. It cracked her helmet, and gave her a pretty serious concussion. Several riders stopped, including Lori Oleson, who walked her to the highway crossing before continuing the ride on her big gelding Fargo. J Mero and her daughter Reyna ponied the horse to the highway, fast! They blew by us with the horse in tow at a canter. That was pretty cool! I heard Reyna say “the horse does not know how to pony, so we are just going fast!” It turns out the rider was OK, just had a serious concussion. We rode the rest of the first 35-mile loop with no issues, vetted through at 25 miles fine, and made it to camp at 35 miles. There was one problem in camp- long vet lines. But what does a good ride manager do? Brian hired J Mero, who had been pulled, to be another vet. That’s quick thinking, and thanks to Dr. J for stepping in to help. After an hour hold we headed back out and had to ride the two new loops that Brian and I created the day before, the pink loop, and the blue loop, 15 miles each, out and again back into camp. Both loops went fine, no issues, just lovely trotting in perfect weather. Sorsha told me every time we were passing home, since we had to pass Gretchen’s place at the corner, every time we headed out and came back in. She would pause, I’d say, no, lets go on, and she would. Good girl!
After the blue loop, we returned to camp after 65 miles at about 4:00 PM, which was earlier than normal. This new format ride was clearly easier than the traditional ride. Now all we had to do was the last 35 miles, the traditional 35-mile orange loop, the night loop for the traditional ride, that we had done earlier in the day. We headed out in the daylight, and trotted up the same way we gone this morning up to boundary Road. The sun was just setting and getting dark as we turned right on boundary for the 10-mile trot to the highway. Just after dark, Chelsea and Buzz Arnold caught us and decided they liked me once again for my lights! I have these homemade LED blue lights on my breast collar that cast a nice, soft light in the pitch-black desert. The four of us rode the entire last 30 miles or so together, having just a splendid ride at night. Sorsha and I were next to buzz and Gus in front, with Mary and Chelsea following behind us. Mary was hanging in there, riding along with no issues or complaints. I love it! We rode like that for several hours, and arrived at the last check at mile 90, which was really cold. Dennis Sousa reported it was about 19 to 20°. Burr! As long as you were riding it was fine, with the right clothing, but standing around fingers and toes got cold. It was funny- Buzz and I kept zipping and unzipping the jackets, removing them and putting back on, gloves on and off- it just depended where you were at the moment and if you were trotting or not. But once past the check it stayed very cold. I pulled a bozo in the vet check, fully embarrassing myself by stepping on a hunk of hay and crashing to the ground. My land legs were acting up a bit, I guess. Nice! I looked like the fourth Stooge! It was okay- only a few people laughed!
It was only 10 miles to go to the finish, and right before the highway crossing Mary’s horse took a trip and kaboom, down went Mary on the ground. Oh no, not now! She hopped back up, remounted, and we continued on no problem. We rode the last 8 miles into town down past the college (on my new route that I like a lot better), through the city and to the finish, finishing at about 11:20 PM in ninth and 10th place. Chelsea and Buzz held back a little bit to allow Mary her first top 10 in her first ever attempted a 100. Thanks again Chelsea and Buzz; you guys are a class act, and I really appreciate that gesture. It was only 11:45 when I walked Sorsha the quarter mile back home to Gretchen‘s to put her up in her pen. I’ve never finished the ride that early before. I walked back to my WONDERFUL camper where I turned on the heater, had a cold IPA from the fridge, took a hot shower, in 20 degree weather outside, and curled up under my two down filled comforters with 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Yes, this is the life! Much better than the tent I spent last year in.
The next morning was clear and cold again, and I declined to show Sorsha for best condition since Christoph Shork beat us by over three hours! And his horse looked fabulous! Wow. He ended up with Best Condition, which he deserved. Special congratulations to Mary for doing a perfect ride on her and her horse’s first 100. They were smiling all day and looked great. The 20 Mule Team is one of the best first 100-mile rides anywhere, and this is exactly how you do it! Special mention goes to the Quicksilver club- we started 12 horses across all distances, and finished 11! That’s a 91 % completion rate for the club. And get this- in the 100, we started 6 and finished 6, including 4 in the top 10! Nice! I’m also thrilled to report a 72% completion rate for the 100. That’s the best in a long time! I went back out on Sunday morning and spent the day cleaning up the ribbons and arrows off the course while people packed up and went home. On Sunday night Brian took us all out for dinner and we had a nice meal.
On Monday morning I packed up the bike, Sorsha, and headed home. It was yet another great day at my favorite ride in the desert! Sorsha is now four for five at 100-mile rides, every one of them here. We are looking forward to getting to the Big Horn this year in July, with a few other California riders. I’m really looking forward to that adventure. I think Lori and Tracy are in, any other takers? Next ride, Whiskeytown in the middle of April. It is another one of my favorites, since it’s almost all single track. Then maybe Cache Creek, then by al means the new ride in Point Reyes in June. Point Reyes is my favorite place to ride a horse in the state, and there has not been a ride there in over 30 years. I’m REALLY looking forward to that one!