Saturday, October 24, 2020

Christoph Schork is AERC’s Four Hundred Win Man

An ongoing passion for the sport of endurance riding leads Christoph Schork to a phenomenal 400 wins

October 24 2020
by Merri

To the casual eye, the 5-day Autumn Sun Pioneer ride in October in Gooding, Idaho, was just another endurance ride. It wasn’t even all that unusual when Christoph Schork won all 5 days of the 50 milers. But what will be remembered of this now-historical event is that with his wins, Schork set another AERC record that’s unlikely to ever be touched. The Three Hundred Win Man transformed into The Four Hundred Win Man. If it wasn’t enough setting that win record, he also became the first rider to reach 200 Best Condition awards with his mounts.

According to AERC records, the endurance riders with the next most wins are the Midwest region’s Linda Hamrick with 178 wins, and the Central region’s Darolyn Butler with 168. The riders with the next most Best Condition awards are the Mountain region’s Crockett Dumas with 147, and the Pacific South region’s Suzy Kelley (who passed away in April 2020) with 138.

And if you think he’s excessively busy with just riding 50-milers and winning, you’d be missing the whole picture. Particularly during this strange COVID season, where his usual interns from Europe have been prevented from flying to the US, Schork has been handling a trailer full of horses at a multi-day ride by himself. After he pulls into Ridecamp, he’ll set up his 4 or 5 horses with food and water, and get each horse’s equipment ready. (He’ll also have several busy, opinionated little dogs to take care of.) After he finishes competing on Day 1, he’ll get back to camp, take care of the other horses, and take Day 2’s horse out for a warm-up ride, and so on throughout the event.

But he also stays busy helping other riders. Need advice or help with hoof care or glueing on boots? Schork will help. Need a saddle fitted before your ride? He will make time to do that also. His helpfulness is bountiful and his energy seems limitless.

Schork set the tone of his 33-year endurance career from his first ride in 1988 with a win. Since then he has completed 676 rides in 730 starts for a 92.6% finish percentage with over 38,000 miles, an outstanding figure when you realize he’s almost always competing to win. And many of his horses have had long careers, several having surpassed the 3000-mile mark, including:

• GE Double Zell (Brusally Orlen X Little Sisterzell, by Brusally Orlen) 3150 miles, 58 finishes in 58 starts, 8 seasons, 12 BCs, 6 of 6 100s (Schork’s most wins, 41, came aboard this horse)

• GE BW Triple Divide (Kishkov X BW Pavlova, by *Statuss) 3230 miles, 63 finishes in 69 starts, 9 seasons, 7 BCs

• GE Pistol Annie (Sulte X Sissy, by Baahy) 3550 miles, 63 finishes in 66 starts, 7 seasons, 31 BCs, 7 of 9 100s

• GE Stars Aflame (Flaming Tigre X Samoa Star, by Samstar) 3660 miles, 67 finishes in 72 starts, 12 seasons, 16 BCs, 5 of 8 100s

• DWA Powerball (*Sabson X WMA Lotto, by Cacko) 3720 miles, 72 finishes in 75 starts, 8 seasons, 7 BCs, 2 of 3 100s

• DWA Sabku +// (*Sabson X Saranade, by El Camino Samir) 4320 miles, 78 finishes in 85 starts, 15 seasons, 18 BCs, 11 of 14 100s

Schork’s Global Endurance Training Center in Moab, Utah, an ambitious endurance venture which he started with Dian Woodward in 2002, (she has since left), is the base of his endurance operations. Here he conditions his horses and also trains endurance riders, most notably for Mongolia’s Mongol Derby and the Gobi Gallop. He also leases his horses to endurance riders; multiple clients have earned Tevis Cup buckles aboard his horses.

Such a rise to the top rung in this sport has come with trials and errors and growing knowledge and fine tuning of Schork’s techniques over the decades. Though he makes it look easy, he’s the first to maintain he’s not an expert.

Asked how he’s earned such success, Schork summed up his methods.

First you have to have an inherent sense of competitiveness. If you’re not really competitive by nature, you’re probably not going to be that successful.

After that, you have to have a commitment to success. You must want to succeed. That only works if you have the dedication to the sport, that you actually love what you’re doing. If you don’t really have the passion for it, then you’re not going to succeed. That’s kind of the foundation.

Then after that, you have to have a plan. And in that plan, I think what’s really important is to have an alternate plan, or plan B, if it’s not working the way you want it to work.

And with both plans, the key is attention to the detail - the little things that could make or break success. If everything goes well, you’re doing OK. But if not, and you’re missing a detail, you might not succeed.

Never stop learning. That’s a big one. You have to learn from others, as well as from your own mistakes.

Also for success is my willingness to help others. If you actually sacrifice yourself sometimes for others, it always comes back to you and turns out as a benefit for you. So the time you spend and the energy you put into helping others to succeed also will come back as an additional benefit to you.

And last, whatever happens, always stay humble. Always be open to learn more. Be willing to admit to your own mistakes and your own shortcomings and work on improving on it. Learn from your own mistakes.

Schork also attributes part of his success to doing his own hoof care, changing over years ago to synthetic shoes and boots made by Easycare. Schork says, “Easycare was one of the front runners in that, and that certainly helped my horses to cover ground more expediently and more efficiently, and it also helps protect the joints and cartilage of the lower legs. Easycare’s R&D [research and development], their support, and their commitment to the welfare of the horse is a big thing for me.”

Asked what Schork has learned between win #300 (July 3, 2016 aboard GE Pistol Annie) and win #400 (October 11, 2020 aboard GE VA Blizzard of Oz), he points first to his horses’ mental states. “The more I work with horses, I realize how important it is to work with the psyche and the mind of the horses - getting more in touch with their minds and feeling the horses more, feel their strengths and weaknesses, and work close within these parameters,” he says. “I want to keep them happy, because a happy horse performs better.”

Schork has also learned to take each horse’s mind and ability into account. “A horse can have the perfect body and the best heart rate and lots of skills and talents, but if there is no drive or desire on the horse’s behalf, the best body does not bring home the gold. But the best mind can often overcome physical shortcomings. Discipline and mental toughness trump talent and conformation almost all the time.

“Another thing I realized as I learn more, that the more you try to force something or the more you are wanting something really bad, like forcing the win, the less it might happen. So I give much consideration to a horse’s mental state, allowing a win to happen, not forcing it. Stay relaxed about it, as the more relaxed you can be about it, the more relaxed the horse is going to be, and the better you’re going to perform as a team with the horse.”

He adheres to the phrase he coined years ago: “‘At any given day, ride the horse you have, not the horse you wish to have.’ Always be astute about the stage your horse is in at any given day; that will help minimize failures.”

While Schork himself is a person many endurance riders look up to, he cites several people who he has admired over the years, starting with his first mentors, Arlene and Bob Morris, longtime endurance riders now retired in the Northwest. Schork got his first endurance horse, Dahn Hallany from them.

“I was always looking up to Kevin Myers. He’s not with us anymore, but his dedication, his knowledge, and his problem-solving skills were always very inspiring, and we were also good friends.

“Another person I always look up to and admire is Garrett Ford, for his endless strive, for his ability to think outside the box, and to come up with solutions to problems. His mind is never resting. I think I’m able to say that I’m always busy, but not compared to Garrett, who’s in hyperactive mode in his mind all the time and physically. I certainly look up to him, and he’s also a friend. I can always learn something from him.

“I’m also always looking to Suzie Hayes for her tenaciousness, for being how relaxed she is, how successful, for how she never gives up no matter what comes her way. She’s always overcoming obstacles. She definitely falls in that category as somebody I look up to and respect highly.”

While Schork won’t single out a favorite horse (he says, “I have a lot of favorite horses. And what makes them my favorite horses is they work with me, if I want to get off and run, if they tail, if they are eager to compete, if they are high spirited, if they love the sport. That's what makes them my favorite”), he does have some favorite accomplishments over the years.

"The National 100 mile award on Pistol Annie in 2016 is one of my favorites, then the National Best Condition Award on Ozzy last year, then the two times War Mare Award on Stars Aflame and Pistol Annie in 2013 and 2017, and also the National Championship in 50 and 100 on Stars Aflame.

“Certainly the Top Ten finishes at Tevis fall in that category. (His highest finish was a 3rd on Taj Rai Hasan in 2005). The Big Horn 100 win (on DWA Express in 2008). The Virginia City 100 Best Condition (BC and 2nd place on GE VA Blizzard of Oz in 2018). The Australian Quilty win (in 2007 aboard Arovo Mini Harvest, owned by Anton Reid, who tied with Schork aboard Endurowest Kumari). The Gobi Desert Cup win in Mongolia (2018).

“And that win is maybe one that really sticks out, because you ride different horses, most of them are half wild, and they’re not really conditioned for 50 miles. They are conditioned for 30 or 35 miles, so you have to read the horse, know how you can ride the horse to their full potential, but not over their potential, but not too much under their potential, because otherwise you’re not going to win. So it’s a very fine line. Riding these horses to that exact point is just a special challenge, compared to one where you know exactly how it’s going to perform because you know their strength and weakness. There you have to really feel the horses and get in synch with them rather quickly.”

As for Schork’s goals, the 67-year-old is not ready to slow down yet. “Certainly I want to reach the 40,000 miles, which hopefully will happen in the next couple of years if the Coronavirus doesn’t cancel too many rides.” Schork is 7th on the all-time AERC mileage list, and during many normal ride seasons, he’s ridden well over 1800 miles.

“I would like another try at the French Florac (France’s most famous 100-mile ride). I also want to reach my 10 Tevis finishes. I have 6, and I’d definitely like to get the 1000 mile buckle.

“And, who knows what the future brings, but maybe I’ll make it to 500 wins before the inevitable retirement, sooner or later, when the body isn’t as strong anymore as the mind,” Schork laughs.

With Schork’s sustained passion for the sport of endurance and his quest to continue learning, it’s entirely conceivable he’ll achieve all of these goals.

Garrett Ford sums up his friend:

“There is not another person in the sport that is close [to his wins and BC records]. I would bet these marks will never be surpassed.

“Christoph has achieved these accomplishments with respect for his horses and fellow competitors. He’s a class act that is most often helping others with Hoofcare or saddle fit during events.

“I’m proud to call Christoph Schork a close friend.

“I’ll shed some tears when he enters the AERC Hall Of Fame.”

*top photo, Day 4 of Autumn Sun, Christoph Schork hitting win #400 aboard GE VA Blizzard of Oz
**bottom photo, Day 1 of Autumn Sun, Christoph Schork and GE Pistol Annie tie for the win with Ellen Hensley and Amira Bint Jahbon, and Suzie Hayes and Sanstormm. Pistol Annie also provided Schork with his 300th win in 2016

Friday, October 23, 2020

Angela Kay Davidson Passes Away

Angela Kay Davidson – age 61 of Laurel

October 22, 2020 Cook-Rosenberger Funeral Home

Angela Kay Davidson, of Laurel, was born on January 7, 1959 in West Harrison, a daughter to Robert and Laura Wolfe Farmer. She married Terry Davidson on January 11, 2000 in Brookville. Angela worked at Sperry Rubber for 25 years but her love was horses. She enjoyed endurance riding and was a member of the Daniel Boone Distance Riders and the Arabian Horse Association. On Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at the age of 61, she passed away at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois.

Those surviving who will cherish Angela’s memory include her loving husband, Terry Davidson; son, Wade Markland; daughters, Lorayne (Jason) Heaston and Karissa Markland; 16 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; 3 brothers, Robert Farmer, Mitchel Farmer and Curtis Farmer; a special aunt, Norma Geis and several nieces and nephews. Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by a grandson, Dylin.

Friends may visit with the family on Monday, October 26, 2020 from 5 until time of service at 7 p.m. at Cook Rosenberger Funeral Home, 929 Main Street, Brookville.

Due to the COVID-19 precautions and state mandates, all attending will be asked to follow proper social distancing protocol, including wearing a mask that covers the face and mouth while inside the funeral home. If you are not feeling well, or if you have compromised immune system, you are encouraged to stay home.

Memorial donations can be directed to the American Cancer Society. To sign the online guestbook or to leave a personal condolence, please visit The staff of Cook Rosenberger Funeral Home is honored to care for the family of Angela Davidson.

Friday, October 16, 2020

2020 October's Horses in the Morning Podcast - Listen

Gobi Gallop Solo Endurance Challenge, Young Barrel Racer Shooting for National Finals for Oct. 7, 2020 by State Line Tack

Oct 7, 2020

Julie Veloo from the Veloo Foundation joins us to talk about her solo ride across Mongolia; setting off to ride the longest annual charity endurance adventure, the 700 km Gobi Gallop…by herself. Along the way she will be sharing the adventure in real time via various social media platforms.

In our monthly Black Reins magazine segment we are joined by Tori Bush, a young barrel racer who has her sights set on qualifying for the National Finals High School Rodeo.

Debbie Loucks tells us about the new Monty Roberts’ Mustang & Transition Horse Program at Flag Is Up Farm streaming on Horse & Country TV.

Listen in...

Mary Margaret Byergo 1930-2020

October 13, 2020

Mary Margaret Byergo


Mary Margaret Byergo passed peacefully at her home in Warrenton Virginia on October 9, 2020. She was born in Maryville, Missouri on October 26, 1930, the daughter of the late Austin Gregory Felton and Eva Margaret Felton. She is survived by her husband of 70 years, Keith Morris Byergo. They were high school sweethearts, married December 23, 1950. Mary Margaret is also survived by her three daughters Elaine Margaret Byergo and her husband, John Burghardt; Madalyn Barbara White and her husband, David White; and Laura Gay Byergo and her husband, Mark Willis; and four grandchildren Megan White, Chris White, Nora Burghardt and Keith Burghardt.

Mary Margaret loved nothing more than a challenge. After earning her B.S. degree in Home Economics from the University of Missouri she joined her new husband Keith in California where he was serving in the United State Air Force for three years. Returning to Missouri, she taught High school Home Economics for several years before the two of them decided to go see the world with their three daughters. Keith joined the Agency for International Development and in February 1960 they took their first international flight to Iran.

Mary Margaret was an adventurous traveler, always curious about exploring another country. Keith and Mary Margaret lived in Asia and the Middle East for 15 years. Mary Margaret made a true home for her family in each posting. She looked forward to every new country telling her daughters, “Every posting is what you make of it.” She said that about life too. For herself she relished the chance to ride horses with Iranian tribal chiefs, teach nutrition to Iranian nurses and English to Pakistani and Turkish ladies. She developed a curiosity about Hittite ruins in Turkey and eventually began teaching the archivist of the national museum how to use cloth rubbings to bring out the secrets of carved stones thousands of years old. She used to tell us, “Be a ‘Momengator;’ a catalyst, a force of action.”

A savvy businesswoman, Mary Margaret managed family farms in Missouri, Iowa, and Wyoming, from around the world. When she came home to Missouri she brought the spice and color of the world back home with her. The farmers and businesspeople who worked with her told us many times with respect, “Your Mother was smart, she never missed a trick.”

Mary Margaret was a natural competitor. She found her passion raising, training and competing Arabian horses. Her grandfather gifted her a former circus pony when she was three years old and she grew-up riding horses while helping her father with the cattle. Settling in Virginia after their years overseas, Mary Margaret returned to riding. One of her proudest achievements was successfully raising a set of Arabian twin foals, a rare feat. She served as the Field Master of the Pohick Hunt in Virginia for several years. In her Fifties she began competing in 100 mile endurance trail riding, completing dozens of 100 mile races. In 1990 she competed in the World Equestrian Games as a member of the United States Endurance Team in Stockholm, Sweden.

She was a lifelong member of PEO, a Sorority Sister of Alpha Gama Delta, and a member of the Warrenton antiquarians.

She is deeply missed and remembered by friends and family for her strong spirit, keen wit, and the firm support she gave each of us to be true to ourselves.

A private family graveside service will be held October 14, 2020 at the Little Georgetown Cemetery. The service will be conducted by Rector Weston Mathews of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia.

A public celebration of her life will be scheduled in the spring.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, friends wishing to may provide a donation to:

The Grace Episcopal Church: 6507 Main Street, P.O. Box 32, The Plains, Virginia 20198

The Alzheimer’s Association: 225 N. Michigan Ave. Floor 17 Chicago, IL 60601,

PEO International: 3700 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, 50312,

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Five Wins at Autumn Sun Endurance Ride Propels Christoph Schork to 400-Win AERC Record

October 13 2020
by Merri

Moab, Utah's Christoph Schork crossed the 400-win mark in AERC rides at the 5-day Autumn Sun endurance ride in Gooding, Idaho this past week/weekend.

July 3 2016 marked his 300th win; win 400 came during a discombobulated year of COVID-19 which caused months worth of ride cancellations. Jessica Huber's Autumn Sun ride, normally a 3-day Pioneer, became a 5-day ride this year, attracting riders from as far away as California, and providing Christoph the path to his 400th win.

More to come on this remarkable accomplishment at

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Talkin' Trot Podcast: Episode 13

Talkin' Trot: Endurance Riding News and Views - Listen

October 6 2020
by Angie

Finally! Episode 13 is here, we are so glad to be back!

Angie and Bridget catch up on what's happened since the last episode, including a first 100 mile attempt. Bridget shares the details on that ride plus her ride at the beautiful Antelope Island. Angie fills us in on what's she's been up to while she takes this season off from competition.

Listen now at:
Or by using Amazon Podcasts, Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Happy Trails Podcast: No Hoof, No Horse Podcast - Listen

September 28, 2020
by Jess

Good hoof health is essential for all horses not just those in high performance events. Today’s episode will take some of the mystery out of hooves and hopefully inspire you to learn more and perhaps take up the rasp yourself.

My guest, Paige Poss is the owner and creator of Iron Free Hoof and co-creator of Anatomy of the Equine. She has taught trimming techniques and anatomy around the country and internationally through live dissections and her incredibly detailed photography. She teaches horse owners and hoof professionals about the internal structures of the lower leg through her online module at

In the following interview we discuss hoof care, horse health, and anatomy of the hoof as it relates to function and soundness. Paige gives some tips for identifying a laminitic horse as well as good or bad hoof shape. She tells me about her childhood, fearlessly riding the fields and trails of Arkansas and North Carolina. Then talks about, her current struggle to overcome riding anxiety after losing her trusted horse, Sophie.

Listen, and more at:

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Endurance riding runs in the family - Full Article

By Joe Sylvester October 4 2020

MUNCY — Sally Jellison doesn’t know why she enters endurance horseback rides, especially the 1,000-kilometer Mongol Derby across part of the Mongolian steppes.

She competed in that 10-day race in August 2019. In the race, riders change horses every 40 kilometers.

“I do endurance riding a lot,” said the 57-year-old Navy veteran, who runs a horse farm with her husband, John Dugan, 53, in Delaware Township, Northumberland County. “I think I have a mutated adventure gene.”

Dugan’s and Jellison’s daughter, Charly, 15, a Warrior Run High School sophomore, seems to be following in her mother’s footsteps. Jellison said Charly, in just her second season of competing, is ranked as one of the top juniors in the Northeast by the American Endurance Ride Council, one of the equestrian organizations to which both belong...

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Riders navigate woodlands course, raise money in hunter pace competition - Full Article

By Joe Sylvester
Sep 27, 2020

MUNCY — When Sally Jellison moved to Northumberland County about three years ago, she was disappointed that no one held a hunter pace competition.

In a hunter pace, competitors ride their horses through the woods on a marked trail that includes obstacles and jumps to simulate a foxhunt.

“When we permanently moved here, I was sad nobody did a foxhunt or hunter paces,” said Jellison, 57, who moved with husband, John Dugan, and daughter, Charly, from New Jersey, just outside of New York City, to the rural Delaware Township property they already owned.

So they started holding the hunter pace events. They held the third one in three years on Sunday, with the help of neighbors who volunteered to help out at the checkpoint and other duties.

“I wanted to reach out to the equestrian community,” said Jellison, who previously worked in New York City and has been riding in endurance competitions for 20 years.

Jellison, who competed with her daughter, Charly, in the Big Horn 100 in Wyoming over 24 hours this summer and competed in the Mongolian 1,000 (kilometer) race in the Mongolian steppes last year, Sunday rode “Roo,” a 7-year-old full-bred Arabian who is the number one endurance horse in the Northeast United States...

Read more here:

Friday, September 18, 2020

Canada: Endurance riders go the distance in the Cariboo - Full Article

Sep. 17, 2020

The race must go on, even under cloudy skies and during a pandemic.

More than 60 horses and riders from across B.C. and Alberta competed in the Titanium Gold Pioneer Endurance Race last weekend at Spruce Hills Resort. The three-day event – a combination of the Titanium and the Cariboo Gold Rush – featured a timed loop of 20 miles followed by two 15-mile loops.

“We kind of got together to have an event or it would have been cancelled,” ride manager Tara MacLeod said Monday. “It’s gone very well. We’ve had a couple of pulls but that’s normal. It’s challenging and rocky in places so horses have to take care, and ride strategically...”

Read more here:
No comments:

Monday, September 14, 2020

2020 September's Horses in the Morning - Listen

World’s Toughest Race, New Horse Challenges, Non-GMO Horse Feed: Endurance Day for Sept 8, 2020

Sep 8, 2020

Karen and Jenn chat about the unique challenges that come with Thoroughbreds transitioning to endurance and the popular Sweetwater Recipe. Guests Devan Horn and Heather Russell share their excitement about the upcoming Eco Challenge World’s Toughest Race. Daily Dose Equine founder Janet Geyer introduces us to their totally non-GMO feed line up.

Listen in...

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Throwback Thursday: Lost But Resourceful, Sanchez Improvised For 1960 Tevis Cup Win - Full Article

By: Kieran Paulsen
Sep 3, 2020

The Tevis Cup, that infamous 100-mile endurance ride across some of the most difficult terrain California and Nevada has to offer, has gone virtual this year like so many other races thanks to COVID-19. Participants may submit 100 miles at their own pace on their own trails at some point between Aug. 1 and Nov. 9 to the Western States Trail Foundation as a fundraiser to support the foundation instead. (You can walk, run or bike too, if you don’t want to ride the full distance.)

Since there won’t be any breathtaking photos of climbing Cougar Rock this year, we thought we’d take you back 60 years to one of the stranger editions of the Tevis Cup, when it was won by a polo trainer aboard his Thoroughbred-mustang cross and reported on in the Oct. 28, 1960, issue of the Chronicle.

“At a dinner sponsored by the Auburn California Chamber of Commerce for some 400 contestants, their families and interested horseman, Ernie Sanchez of Woodside, California, riding Marco B was announced the 1960 winner of the Lloyd Tevis Grand Award for Horsemanship and winner of the 100 Mile One Day Endurance Ride...

Read more here:

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Applications Open for AHA Youth of the Year

AHA youth members are anything but average, and we know it! In fact, AHA offers the Youth of the Year award, which honors one outstanding youth member annually. The Youth of the Year is selected for his or her achievements and contributions to the Arabian horse industry, AHA, and his or her community. In addition to previous achievements, the successful Youth of the Year candidate will show dedication to the Arabian breed and a desire to remain involved in the industry, serving as an ambassador and role model within the Arabian horse community. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship sponsored by the Arabian Horse Foundation. They will also be honored on the youth website, recognized at Youth Nationals, and have the opportunity to work on a special interest project to help improve the Arabian horse industry.

All applications are due September 1 of the given year. Please see the current AHA Handbook for complete rules.

If you would like to apply for Youth of the Year, application forms can be found here.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Talkin' Trot Podcast: Hannah Johnson and the Big Horn

Talkin' Trot Podcast - Listen

Episode 11 - Talkin with Hannah Johnson about Big Horn

Join us while we chat with our good friend and 5 time Big Horn 100 winner, and this year's Big Horn 50 AND Best Condition winner, Hannah Johnson!

Hannah and her amazing one eyed horse Stuart are an incredible and hard to beat pair.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

2020 August's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - Listen

Five Day Tevis Adventure Ride, Big Horn 100 Winner, Karen’s New Horse: Endurance Day for Aug 11, 2020

Aug 11, 2020

Robin Barseleau Chriss and her grand kids tell us about their five day long adventure riding the Tevis Cup trails and Suzie Hayes talks about her big win at the Big Horn 100 mere weeks after a serious accident. Plus Karen Chaton got a new horse, Apollo, and we get the details! Listen in...

Thursday, August 06, 2020

The Epic 2020 Big Horn 100

 by Merri
August 6 2020 

As if the Big Horn 100 weren’t hard enough when everything goes fairly right, this year’s edition (the 50th anniversary by most counts) got the double whammy of happening during a COVID-19 year, which stopped AERC endurance rides cold from the end of March through the beginning of June, leaving many riders with little to no endurance rides in which to prep their horses. Usually, most entrants have several rides under their girths halfway through a normal season, so some had to rely on just conditioning rides at home to prepare their mounts.  

And this year, since Tevis was cancelled, many riders flocked to Shell, Wyoming, to tackle the west’s other epic 100-miler in the mountains, setting a record for entries (for a non-Race of Champions Big Horn ride). 

And this is no pansy endurance ride. It’s one of the “real old school” endurance rides, as finisher Jeanette Mero called it. It’s one big loop, starting from hot base camp in the dark, up into the Big Horn mountains for a hundred miles, where the weather can be anything, back down to hot base camp arriving in the dark for the finish (and if you’re not in the top ten, you’ll be negotiating many mountain miles in the dark). The other hard 100 in the West, Tevis, has some 800 volunteers on the trail. Big Horn has less than a hundred, scattered in base camp and vet checks. If you or your horse get into trouble up there, you may be waiting a long time for help, as there’s mostly zero cell service (including base camp, even if you can call out to someone there for help), and little access to trails. Come prepared, or don’t come. 

You want to get your ducks in a row for this ride. You bring a fit horse, or you’ve already cut your finish chances by half. Bring yourself fit, also, and prepare for anything, (bad weather, nausea, bugs, etc) because you’re not doing your horse any favor if you get sick up on the mountain (it happens… the altitude and the often brutal heat down below). And don’t even consider starting without a 100% sound horse, because he’s not going to improve miles on down this trail. It’s good to also have a decent sense of direction, or to be able to pay attention well to trail markings and have common sense, because you don’t want to waste time getting lost off trail. 

Some riders got hit with the usual summer Big Horn thunderstorms; a severe one dumped hail and cold rain, making the trails on the descents muddy and slick, some of that in the dark for many people. 

“Big Horn was everything its reputation was reported to be - incredibly tough, rugged, and remote trail. Climbing up to 9000 plus foot elevations. It’s forest service roads, single tracks, rocks, sand and relentless, literally relentless, up and down climbing from the start all the way to the finish,” Jeanette said afterwards. “…at the end we had to come down a piece they called the ‘slick rock’ at about 95 plus miles into the ride. It was an impressive couple miles of downhill, large sheets of white, ice skating rink, type rock. And that was after finishing the last couple hours in the dark trying to avoid all kinds of trail hazards like deep washes, cattle guards, and ruts that would swallow you and your horse whole.” 

Riders came from 23 states: Texas, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Virginia, South Dakota, California, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oregon, North Dakota, New Jersey, Nevada, Florida, Washington, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Oklahoma, Maryland, North Carolina. 

We saw some of the top riders from around the country: the Blakeleys (they’ve won the Tevis Cup or Haggin Cup more than once), the Reynolds (they’ve won the Tevis Cup or Haggin Cup many more than once), Suzie Hayes (has one horse in the AERC Hall of Fame, Kootenai Zizzero, 2011), Hannah Johnson and Kourageus Hope (the one-eyed Stuart, winner of the Big Horn 100 three times - entered in this year’s 50 miler), and more. 

20 started the 50 miler with 15 finishing. Hannah and Stuart crossed the finish line first in a ride time of 8:00. Stuart won the Best Condition award. The 50 milers rode the first half of the 100-mile loop, finishing at the highway crossing, and getting a trailer ride (eventually) back to camp.

80 started the 100 mile ride with 42 finishing. Gabriela Blakeley and LLC Pyros Choice crossed the finish line first in the 100, just after dark, but her horse didn’t pulse down in the required 30 minutes, hanging just above the criteria.  

Which left the second horse to cross the line, Sanstormm and Suzanne Hayes the winners of the 100 miler in a ride time of 15:15. Most of you know that Suzie is an amazing horsewoman and human being. Some of you may not know that just 7 weeks earlier, Suzie had a terrible horse wreck where she broke 10 ribs (some in multiple places - Suzie said, “Go and google ‘flail chest’” (!!!!) ), punctured a lung, cracked a vertebra, and lacerated her liver. It was only Tuesday before the ride that her doctor approved her riding. Of course, she probably did not tell him what kind of riding she would be doing. She rode with a protective vest, a crash vest tethered to her saddle so that if she came off, the vest would inflate before she hit, and a Spot locator in case of emergency. And she looked better than I did on Sunday morning! 

Ann Hall rode Suzie’s other horse Greenbriar Al Jabar (Atlas) to a third place finish, just 4 minutes behind Suzie. 

Second place went to Cameron Holzer (in 15:15.02) a top rider from Texas who’s got over 11,000 AERC miles and 25 100-mile finishes, and Lily Creek Kong, who has over 1800 miles, with 9 50-mile wins, 1 75-mile win, and 4 100-mile wins over an 8-season career. 

Colorado’s Sami Browneller and Annapurna finished 4th in 15:19.02. Fifth place went to Vicki Holzer - Cameron’s mom - and SW Majestica in 15:19.03. They also got the Best Condition award.  

Sixth place was Sanoma Blakeley and OMR Quicksan (15:26), 7th place went to Jeanette Mero and Ozark Kaolena SWA in 17:08, 8th place was Jeanette’s daughter Reyna Mero and Vaz Djets On in 17:08.01, 9th was Heather Reynolds and ASuddenGift MHF in 18:10, and 10th place was Melissa Montgomery and Masterful. Of the top ten finishers, only Suzie Hayes and Sami Browneller had ridden the Big Horn trail before. 

A few take-aways from this year’s event:
My heroes are: 
10-year-old rider Cassidy Miller, from Colorado, was going for her third 100-mile completion (she finished the Big Horn last year, and the Vermont 100 in 2018!). Cassidy and her mom pulled at a vet check up on the mountain, “due to some mistakes I made preparing the horses (this sport is so humbling but they both are happy and doing great now),” said Cassidy’s mom, Kelly Stoneburner. “Cassidy was such a trooper and good sport about being pulled and I think sometimes learning to accept a different outcome is excellent character building!”

And Suzie Hayes, the winner. She was my hero anyway, but just the fact that she rode this Big Horn, not to mention winning it after being in ICU 7 weeks earlier, made her my super hero. As Connie Holloway said, “Suzie set the bar WAY HIGH!” Unattainable, for most of us! 

At least 2 riders got their decade team status with this year’s Big Horn 100: Kristen Grace and HCC Elessar (aka Monster), and Michelle Seaman and Me Encanta Dinero (this was Dinero’s first ride of the season!). 

The one mule entered on Saturday finished the 100 (completion only). Jet’s Danny Herlong and Nancy Sluys had never ridden the Big Horn before; Danny had never attempted a 100 before. This Arab-mule’s dam is Joni Burden’s mare’s half sister - Joni and Jambor be Petit Jet finished the Big Horn 100 in a ride time of 20:03. 

And if you think riding the Big Horn 100 is hard, putting on the ride itself is not for the faint-hearted ride manager. Any endurance ride can knock the stuffing out of a ride manager, but adding the stress of COVID, a record number of riders on a remote trail, and taking over from the previous Big Horn 100 group that put it on, makes a big-loop 100-miler the stress test of the century. And that doesn’t count for the usual trail sabotage (though so many riders said the trail was excellently marked; Kristen Grace, who finished the 100, commented, “It was so well marked that parts of it were lit up like Christmas trees!”), the unpredictable weather (some riders got caught in a hail storm and were left with treacherously slick trails to contend with up on the mountain), and various other things that always come up. 

Cindy Collins did a great job of putting the whole shebang together this year, and the veterinarians and the volunteers were stellar and tireless. Days after the ride Cindy and volunteers are still pulling trail markers. 

And so ends another epic Big Horn 100 ride adventure. Jeanette Mero summed it up best: “The memories we made over the last couple days will keep us laughing and crying for years.”

For more stories and photos from the Big Horn, see

Rural Arlee woman battles through pain, wins 100-mile horse race in Wyoming - Full Article

Bill Speltz Aug 5, 2020

MISSOULA — Six weeks after landing in intensive care after being thrown from a green horse, Suzanne Hayes was back in the race Saturday.

The 10 broken ribs and collapsed lung couldn't stop the 66-year-old rural Arlee resident. Neither could the fractured vertebrae or lacerated liver.

Hayes' specialty is all about endurance. Her father, the late Bob Hayes, attained legendary status in Missoula as an endurance runner. His daughter, Suzanne, favors endurance horse races.

On Saturday, Hayes won the 50th annual Big Horn 100 in Shell, Wyoming, in a time of 15 hours and 15 minutes.

"My doctors probably aren't going to be happy to hear I did this, since I was in ICU for five days and the hospital for another 10 after that," she said...

Read more here:

Monday, August 03, 2020

Suzie Hayes and Sanstormm Win Big Horn 100

by Merri
August 3 2020

In a phenomenal comeback to the saddle, Montana’s Suzanne Hayes, 66, won the 50th anniversary of the Big Horn 100 aboard her half-Arabian Sanstormm in a ride time of 15:15. It was less than 7 weeks ago that Suzy was bucked off a green horse and broke 10 ribs (some in multiple places), punctured a lung, fractured a vertebra, and lacerated her liver. She rode with a protective vest, a crash vest (attached to her saddle so it would inflate if she came off), and a Spot locator.

Suzie was actually second over the finish line by 10 minutes, but the first over the line, Oregon’s Gabriela Blakeley and LLC Pyros Choice, didn’t pulse down to 64 within 30 minutes. This was Sanstormm’s first Big Horn 100 finish.

Rounding out the Top Ten were:
2nd Cameron Holzer and Kong (15:15.02)
3rd Ann Hall on Suzie Hayes’ horse Greenbriar Al Jabal “Atlas” (2012 Big Horn 100 winner)(15:19)
4th Sami Browneller and Annapurna (15:19.02)
5th Vicki Holzer and SW Majestica (15:19.03) (BEST CONDITION)
6th Sanoma Blakeley and OMR Quicksan (15:26)
7th Jeanette Mero and Ozark Kaolena SWA (17:08)
8th Reyna Mero and Vaz Djets On (17:087.01)
9th Heather Reynolds and ASuddenGift MHF (18:10)
10th Melissa Montgomery and Masterful (18:35)

80 started the 100 miler, with 39 finishing.

Hannah Pruss, from South Dakota, and the phenomenal one-eyed Kourageus Hope won the 50-miler in a ride time of 8:00. “Stuart” is a Big Horn fixture, having won the 100-miler three times (2015, 2017, 2018, and Best Condition twice).

20 started the 50 miler, with 15 finishing.

More stories and photos to come at:

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Appaloosa Endurance and Competitive Trail Championships Cancelled

July 24 2020

MOSCOW, IDAHO — Scheduled to be held September 25-27 in La Pine, OR at the Lava Cast Forest Site, the Appaloosa National Championship Endurance Rides (50-mile and 100-mile) and the National Championship Competitive Trail Ride have both been canceled for 2020. The Appaloosa Horse Club has partnered with the Arabian Horse Association for several years to offer a National Championship Endurance Ride. The event has grown to include six breed association championships including the Appaloosa Championship Competitive Trail Ride, and 2020 would have been the ApHC’s first-annual 100-mile championship ride. After much discussion with all breed groups, a decision was made to cancel the 2020 ride because of ongoing safety concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Reluctantly, we agree that it has become necessary to cancel this much-anticipated and prestigious event because of ongoing COVID-19 concerns,” ApHC President Ken Johnson said. “While not everyone will agree with this decision, the health, safety and well-being of all participants is our primary concern. We look forward to working with all parties involved to provide expanded opportunities in the future for our competitive trail and endurance riders.”

The ApHC would like to recognize and thank our event sponsors including Tioga Territory, the Equine Distance Riding Association, Schneider’s Saddlery, and the Western Washington Regional Appaloosa Club for their ongoing support of these events. We’d also like to thank those sponsors who were in the process of signing on for the 2020 event. The ApHC and our distance riding enthusiasts appreciate the support and passion of these individuals and businesses.

More information from the Arabian Horse Association can be found here:

The Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) was established in 1938 with a mission of preserving, promoting and enhancing the Appaloosa breed. The ApHC has since registered more than 700,000 Appaloosas, which are known for their distinctive color, intelligence and even temperament. True to their reputation as an extremely versatile breed, Appaloosas can be found in nearly every discipline including racing, endurance riding and serving as reliable family horses. The international breed registry is headquartered in Moscow, Idaho, the heart of the Palouse region—the Appaloosa breed’s namesake and point of origin.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Night racing at Ehrhardt SC to handle weather conditions - Full Article
23rd July 2020

Broxton Bridge Plantation in Ehrhardt, South Carolina, USA. Friday 10 and Saturday 11 July 2020.

This event was originally scheduled for May and postponed due to Covid 19. When the USA NF and FEI resumed the ability to hold CEI events, it was very challenging for the OC and Ride management to host the event with face coverings, social distancing, and no group meetings or meals! In addition, it was summertime and the heat index was well over 100 Fahrenheit (39 Celsius). Thus, the start times were late afternoon 17:00 -18:00 to ride through the night. The course was in great shape on one side of the Plantation, but the Bear Bay side was very wet and saturated from all of the summer rains and thunderstorms. Around 100 riders overall participated in the CEI and national distances. It was a great venue for night rides and for young novice horses. Distances offered included the 40, 80, 100, 120 and 160km events over three days.

In the 100 km, young rider Alex Shampoe, won the event along with Best Condition on her own Arabian gelding, TA Kwik Dance...

Read more here:

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Riverside Rescue: Pulling an Endurance Mare to Safety on the Deschutes - Full Article

What started as a pleasant day on the trail could have turned deadly when the riverbank failed as riders watered their horses. Thankfully, the area has a team of trained responders. This is how they helped.

Posted by Tracy Gantz | Jul 20, 2020

On July 16, a group of people in Central Oregon from all walks of life coordinated to save a trail horse, proving that pulling together can save lives.

Endurance rider Kris Olin and two friends were trail riding, Kris aboard Dixie, her 24-year-old Arabian who had logged more than 2,000 miles during her endurance career. They came to the Deschutes River and looked for a likely spot where they could water the horses.

“It looked like solid ground,” said Olin. “The water appeared to be shallow. We took a step or two in, and as soon as we did, we went down about three feet.”

Olin was able to dismount Dixie safely, but the mare became stuck in mud and water up to her back and could not extricate herself...

Read more here:

New Castle college student wins endurance ride in South Carolina - Full Article

July 21 2020
by Marjorie Lewter

On July 10, Laurel Pollock of Craig County tied for first place in the AERC endurance ride at Broxton Bridge Plantation in Ehrhardt, South Carolina.

Laurel is a dean's list student studying equine science and sociology at Emory and Henry College. This summer she has been working two jobs in the agricultural field and training for her first 25-mile American Endurance Ride Conference event. She and good friend Mikayla Nunn trailered their horses to the "Moonlight Madness" competition. The riders took off at 7:30 p.m., riding through the night hours on separate courses. Laurel crossed her 25-mile finish line on her Arabian, R-Kons Able, with fellow competitor Brooks Prater at 1 a.m. It is not unusual for riders to team up on the trail and finish together, sharing the top honors. Mikayla and her racking horse, Denver, crossed the 50-mile finish line at 6 a.m...

Read more here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Distance Nationals Suspended for 2020

July 21 2020

After careful consideration by the Arabian Horse Association and the Distance Nationals Show Commission, Distance Nationals has been suspended for the year 2020. The DHNC were to be held September 25 - 27, 2020 near La Pine, Oregon in conjunction with the Lava Cast Forest Memorial Endurance rides sanctioned by American Endurance Conference (AERC). This decision was made first and foremost with the health and safety of our competitors in mind.

Although AHA will not be involved with the ride, competitors can contact ride managers Paula and Suzy for information regarding the Lava Cast Memorial Endurance Ride.
For questions about refunds, please contact Rebecca Hankey at Any entries for the Arabian Horse Association, Appaloosa Horse Club, Paso Fino Horse Association, Performance Shagya Registry, Akhal-Teke Association of America, American Morgan Horse Association and American Saddlebred Registry affiliated rides will be refunded. 

Please find the press release here.

Friday, July 17, 2020

2020 July's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning

Endurance Day Emergency Preparedness, Melinda Guice and Diets for July 14, 2020

Jul 14, 2020
Glenn is joined by On this Endurance Riding Episode Victoria Beelik discusses the most important things to do to plan now for an emergency with your animals. Rider Melinda Guice stops by to tell us about her recent ride at the Bandit Springs Endurance ride in Oregon and Karen offers some good resources for exercise and diet programs. Listen in...

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The 2020 Virtual Tevis Cup!

2020 Tevis Cup - Virtual Western States Trail - 100 Miles in 100 Days

Sat August 1 - Mon November 9, 2020

Virtually travel along the Tevis Cup (Western States) Trail - Robie Park (Truckee, CA) to Auburn, CA
Your Trails, Your Location


About the Event

The Tevis Cup Ride is the founding modern-day equestrian event of its kind in the world. It is seen by many as the pinnacle of the sport of equestrian endurance and is a "bucket list" item for many riders. The magic of the trail is strong and special, and like a siren calls those to come and take on its challenge. Therein lies the essence of the Tevis Cup Ride and the historic Western States Trail.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Western States Trail Foundation Board of Governors voted for the first time in history to cancel the annual Tevis Cup Ride. But we want to offer a way for our riders, crews, volunteers, supporters and lovers of the trail to still be able to participate. Thus the creation of this virtual event.
You can complete the 100-miles in as many smaller excursions as you choose to finish the goal. We absolutely recommend NOT riding the 100-miles all at once unless you are participating at an actual sanctioned event with veterinary controls. As you log your completed miles, you will receive updates of where you now are on OUR historic Western States Trail. 

So pick your equine partner, or register for our non-riding division, and join us for 100-miles, on YOUR own trails at your own pace.

Description and Dates

The "Ride" will start on our original planned date of August 1, 2020.  Riders and their mounts (or those joining us without a horse) will have 100 Days to complete their 100-miles.  All miles must be completed by November 9, 2020 and results submitted by November 11, 2020.  Miles are ON YOUR HONOR.  We are not validating or requiring proof of completion, this event is for fun and to help support the Western States Trail Foundation.  The only person you would be cheating is yourself.

Riding Division

Riders MUST complete the challenge on ONE horse - just like the real ride - one rider, one horse, one hundred miles.  Riders are allowed to enter more than one equine and complete 100 miles on multiple horses if desired (one horse per entry please).  

Non-Riding Division

Want to participate but don't have a horse?  This is the division for you!!  We appreciate your support of this event.  Complete your 100 miles any way you choose under your own personal power (no motorized vehicles) - run, walk, bike, swim, crawl, shuffle, do the boogie, however you feel like getting it done!

International Participants

We welcome participants from ALL locations.  Feel free to sign up in either or both divisions!  Please note, due to the cost of shipping internationally, finishers from outside of the US will receive the bandana and sticker rather than a Tshirt.


All who complete the full 100-mile Challenge will receive a Tevis Cup Sticker and Finisher T-Shirt or Bandana.  Please be sure to specify your size when registering. You will also receive virtual milestones along the way in recognition of your ongoing achievement and quest to complete the trail. Please note in the interest of safety, there will be NO awards offered based on speed or for achieving greater than 100 miles within this time frame.  There may be other awards offered from our Sponsors, which will all be based on having participated in the challenge in either division.  Awards will be mailed at the conclusion of the EVENT, rather than when participants finish individually (sorry to make you wait, but its easier on our volunteers).

For more information, see!_Copy&utm_medium=email

Friday, July 10, 2020

100 Milers Back on AERC Calendar

July 10 2020

This weekend the Broxton Bridge Plantation Moonlight Madness ride in the Southeast region (South Carolina) will be the first 100-miler approved under the new AERC/COVID-19 regulations.

The Northwest region has the Top O' The World 100-miler approved for July 24 near Spencer, Idaho, (part of the 3-day Pioneer ride). Pre-entry is required for this ride

The Mountain region's Big Horn ride in Wyoming is approved for August 1. Entries and the wait list are closed due to the large numbers already entered, and Covid restrictions.

Good luck to all, be patient, be humorful, and enjoy the rides!

Friday, July 03, 2020

Talkin' Trot Podcast - Episode 10

Talkin' Trot Podcast - Listen

Episode 10 - Talkin about City of Rocks & an Interview with POTATO RICHARDSON!

We are so excited to bring you Episode 10!

We talked to riders from the City of Rocks ride in Idaho, one of the first rides to be held under the new guidelines.

Then we interview 3 time Tevis Cup winner Potato Richardson!

We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did!


Thursday, July 02, 2020

Schedule Released for AHA Distance Nationals

The 2020 Arabian Horse Association Distance Nationals is scheduled to be held September 25-27 at the Lava Cast ride site in La Pine, Oregon.

The Distance Horse National Championships is the overhead titled event hosted by AHA which include Open Lava Cast Forest Rides along with breed National Championships. Our partnered breeds are the Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), the Paso Fino Horse Association (PFHA), the Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry (PShR), the Akhal-Teke Association of America (ATAA) and the American Saddlebred Registry (ASR).

Along with our many National Breed Championships we also offer an Open Lava Cast Forest AHA recognized Competitive Trail Ride and several Open Lava Cast Forest Limited Distance, 50 Mile, and 100 Mile rides. This year all endurance Open Lava Cast Forest Rides will be sanctioned by the Arabian Horse Association (AHA), the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC.) The Distance Horse National Championships have also added the LD Challenge to the event which is for the same rider/horse combination entered in the all three Open Limited Distance Rides; rules and the point schedule can be found under the Exhibitor Information tab. Remember that all Open Lava Cast Forest Rides are open to all breeds and require no qualifications or memberships!

Ogden Group Camp
La Pine, OR 97739

For more information and to see the schedule, see:

Friday, June 26, 2020

Trail’s Open: Endurance Riders Hit the Trail After COVID-19 Lockdown - Full Article

City of Rocks in south central Idaho became one of the first three rides allowed to proceed with American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC)-approved safety regulations.

Posted by Merri Melde | Jun 25, 2020

Walk through any endurance ride camp, and you might raise your eyebrows at some riders’ fashion choices. But with the added specter of life during coronavirus, ride camp at the three-day City of Rocks Pioneer endurance ride June 13-15 resembled a masked bandit convention in the Wild West. Underneath those masks, though, were smiling riders delighted to return to the endurance trails.

With the entire horse sport industry, including endurance riding, shutting down for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, City of Rocks in south central Idaho became one of the first three rides allowed to proceed with American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC)-approved safety regulations...

Read more here:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

2020 June's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - Listen

On this Endurance episode Karen talks about how to get started in Endurance, The FEI gets tough on cheaters and rides are starting up again. We speak with Cathie Birmingham of the God’s Country Endurance Ride in the Missouri Ozarks and Sharalyn Hay of the Santiam Cascade ride in Oregon. Listen in...

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

New MOU Signed for AERC and Bureau of Land Management Cooperation

June 2020

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bureau of Land Management. This agreement, dated June 7, 2020, establishes a framework for joint collaboration on “mutually beneficial programs, projects, training, and activities,” according to the MOU.

“AERC is excited to have a signed MOU with the Bureau of Land Management. We look forward to working together as partners in the future,” said AERC Trails Committee Co-Chair Monica Chapman.

Because the BLM and AERC work to promote participation in recreational activities on public lands, this MOU recognizes the benefit to both organizations, the BLM with its 245 million surface acres in the U.S., and the 501(c) (3) nonprofit AERC with its thousands of endurance riding members.

Both AERC and the BLM are devoted to sharing an interest in disseminating information to the public regarding the relationship between equestrian recreation and natural resource conservation. AERC has provided funding and AERC members have contributed thousands of hours toward trail design, trail building and trail maintenance projects.

AERC will also be encouraging its members to work on BLM planning projects to improve awareness and potential equestrian recreational opportunities.

“AERC members are constantly looking for new and exciting places to ride,” said Chapman. “We hope to continue our existing rides that are on Bureau of Land Management property and seek out new trails for new rides.”

As part of the MOU, the BLM will encourage AERC members and affiliated equestrian groups to attend events and projects on public lands, where communities and other agencies maintain and provide equestrian recreation opportunities. This is vital to the continuation of AERC’s endurance rides, which often take place on trails in public lands.

For its part, AERC will encourage members to be involved in the BLM planning processes “to improve awareness and potential equestrian recreational opportunities.” The MOU also notes that AERC will provide technical assistance to BLM offices involved in equestrian recreation management.

One section of the agreement encourages AERC members to attend wild horse and burro events with the possibility of using adopted wild horses in endurance riding.

“BLM Mustangs are resurging in popularity in the world of endurance riding. In the last few years a number of beautiful mustangs have placed in the top ten of the famous Western States Trail Ride (Tevis Cup) and at our National Championship Ride in Ridgecrest, California in 2019,” Chapman explained.

The MOU was entered into under the authority of Section 307(b) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), 43 U.S.C. 1737(b).

More information about AERC is available through the association’s website,, or by calling the AERC national office, 866-271-2372.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Happy Trails Podcast: A Very Unlikely Trail Horse - Listen

Recorded on June 12, 2020

I’ve always loved an underdog story so I was immediately intrigued when I learned of a miniature horse competing in endurance. Kricket and her owner, Jen have accomplished amazing things out on trail and have some very entertaining stories to share. I had a great time interviewing Jen for this episode of the podcast. I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing their story.

Listen at:

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Happy Trails Podcast: Stewardship and Preservation - Listen

May 27 2020

On this episode of the podcast, Jess speaks with Holley Groshek, Executive Director of Equine Land Conservation Resource a non-profit dedicated to preserving lands for equestrian use.

The US is losing 6,000 acres of open land every day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Large open spaces and contiguous tracts of land are critical to providing the space we need to support our nation’s equestrian heritage and economy. Concerned citizens across the nation are eager to get involved at a local level, but may not know where to start. Equine Land Conservation Resource provides easy access to the information, resources and tools that help horse people take action. Since 2007, ELCR has assisted in the protection of more than 200,000 acres of land and more than 1,200 miles of trails.

See more and listen here:

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Update to COVID-19 Competition Action Plan for USEF-Licensed Competitions

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Jun 17, 2020, 10:07 AM EST

Dear USEF Members, Competition Organizers (Licensees and Managers), and Licensed Officials,

Now that some competitions have resumed, it is important that we all remain vigilant in our efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19 virus transmission when attending a USEF-licensed competition. Please remember that we are among the first sports to reopen, and by strictly adhering to these requirements and best practices we can demonstrate to local, state and federal authorities that the equestrian community is able to manage our sport in a safe and responsible manner. This process might be inconvenient and even uncomfortable at times, but together we can keep our sport going and avoid any further shutdown.

Public health authorities continue to promote social distancing and the use of face masks/face coverings as two of the most important tools in combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Included here are some best practices and guidance to assist you in maintaining compliance with the requirements.

Please note that there have been some recent adjustments made to the USEF requirements concerning use of face masks/face coverings for participants in driving competitions and to the social distancing requirements for members of the same household. These modifications can be found in the latest version of the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan.

Face Masks/Face Covering

Requirement: Face masks/face coverings must be worn whenever you have the possibility of being within six feet of another person (including members of your own household), except when mounted on a horse or seated in a horse-drawn carriage or cart. Please do your part and wear your face mask/face covering as required.

Because you cannot predict when another person may be within six feet of you, it is best to keep your face mask/face covering with you at all times while on competition grounds, including those times when you are going to an area where you may be alone or at a greater distance than six feet from another person. This will ensure that you are able to apply your face mask/face covering prior to being within six feet of another person.
Make sure you are wearing your face mask/face covering prior to entering competition areas where you are likely to be near other people, including areas such as the in-gate, arena, schooling area, restroom, food stand, show office, vendors, stabling, etc.
If you become hot while wearing your face mask/face covering, move to a location where you are alone or at a distance greater than six feet from another person (and preferably 12 feet or more), and lower or drop one side of your face mask/face covering to cool off.
If an official, competition organizer or member of the organizer’s team requires you to don a face mask/face covering, you must comply. The competition organizer can impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the Plan.

Social Distancing

Requirement: All individuals must practice social distancing (or physical distancing) at all times while on the competition grounds by staying at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from any person who is not a member of their immediate household. Exception: social distancing is not required while competing (including warm-up) in driving classes where more than one participant is seated in a horse-drawn carriage or cart.

An immediate household is comprised of individuals who may or may not be related but are consistently living in the same house or dwelling.
Members of an immediate household are still required to wear face masks/face coverings when there is a possibility of being within six feet of any other individuals, including members of their own household.
Competition organizers are encouraged to implement a system that visually (e.g., numbered or colored IDs or some other form of credential) identifies members of the same immediate household.
If a competition organizer requires that everyone on the show grounds respect social distancing for the consistency of enforcement, you must comply with this requirement. The competition organizer can impose more stringent requirements than those contained in the Plan.


We encourage competitions to utilize the downloadable, printable poster and digital graphic below to assist in communicating the face mask and social distancing requirements.

It is critical to our sport that if (or when) a positive case is reported on a show grounds, participants and competition management have complied with the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan for USEF-Licensed Competitions. If contact tracing takes place and the investigating party determines that protocols were not followed, then equestrian sport as a whole can be shut down.

The safety and welfare of our members and their horses must continue to be our top priority. Thank you for doing your part to make sure everyone stays safe.

Best regards,

William J. Moroney
Chief Executive Officer

More at:

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Senior Showcase: Reyna Mero certainly stays busy - Full Article

June 04, 2020

Assistant editor

Reyna Mero is one busy athlete.

In the fall, she dedicated herself to volleyball, as the Mariposa County High School varsity team’s setter. Come springtime, it was all about softball.

She had her spring softball season cut short due to Covid-19. The senior outfielder was batting .375 in four games prior to the season being called off. She had scored two runs as well.

But in between those school sports, she finds time to endurance race, which is a sport in which riders, in partnership with their horse, travel typically 50-100 miles in a race.

The sport is recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports Endurance riding and is in many ways a solo sport, such as tennis or golf.

With no further ado, here is a profile on the versatile Mero...

Read more here:

Behind the Lens: Get to Know Endurance Ride Photographer John Miller

by Merri
June 1 2020

Next in my “Behind the Lens” series, featuring members of the Endurance Ride Photographers Guild (ERPG), we meet long-time pro photographer John Miller from the Northeast region.

John says he’s “had a few images on magazine covers” though he’s probably being modest, and he’s had a lot of images in calendars.

John’s website is

Where do you live?
Belmont, Vermont

What is your profession?
I've been a professional photographer for 30 years. I started as a ski photographer at Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. I now work at a hotel to pay the bills.

Do you have horses? do you ride?
No I don't have horses. No I don't ride.

How did you first get into photography?
I started Spectrum Photography in 2000 and then converted to digital in 2004. We have provided photographic services to individuals, couples, families, seniors, at events, for non-profit organizations and corporations in Vermont and New England for 15 years. It is a family owned and operated business.

What equipment do you normally shoot with?
I shoot Nikon.

When did you start shooting endurance rides?

Why do you like shooting endurance rides?
Because I get to spend time in beautiful places. I really enjoy the beautiful places I get to shoot and where I get to spend my time.

What are challenges you find in shooting endurance rides?
Watch the legs, and getting nice backgrounds.

What are one or two of your favorite ride shooting stories/adventures/misadventures?
I can't think of any stories to tell.

Here are a couple of John’s favorite photos:

The Myopia Hunt Club in October in Hamilton, Massachusetts

“This is a fun story,” John says. “I took this picture while chasing an endurance ride. Then years later I got to meet Anya, one of the horses in the picture.”


Behind the Lens: Bill Gore profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Genie Stewart-Spears profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Susan Kordish profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Becky Pearman profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Dave Honan profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Linda Sherrill profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Steve Bradley profile is here:

US Equestrian Approves Additional COVID-19-Related Rule Modifications for 2020

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Jun 5, 2020, 6:30 PM EST

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has approved additional modifications to USEF rules in accordance with a resolution approved by the Board of Directors to address issues related to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A summary of the most recent modifications is listed below, and the full content of each modification has been added to the comprehensive listing of modifications and appears in blue font. The full listing of rule modifications related to COVID-19 impacts can be viewed by clicking here. Additional rule modifications continue to be reviewed and will be published when approved.

In an effort to minimize the risk of virus transmission through the physical handling of paper, modifications have been to made to rules allowing for judges’ cards and score sheets to be stamped as opposed to hand-signed, and adding the requirement for submitting all USEF Medication Report Forms electronically unless online submission is absolutely impossible.

The modifications listed below are effective immediately and remain in effect for the remainder of the 2020 competition year...

Read more here:

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Long Rider: HER JOURNEY

Bernice Ende photo - Full Story

Long Rider Bernice Ende

By: Sun Cooper

A singular rider surveys a sweeping landscape from horseback. The image is iconic to America; but this time, the rider isn’t emerging out of a Hollywood Western or a Great American Novel. This is real-life Lady Long Rider, Bernice Ende. Her signature wide straw brim wards off the kind of relentless weathering that comes from riding full days under the sun. The worldwide Long Riders’ Guild defines a long rider as someone who has ridden more than 1,000 continuous miles on a single equestrian journey. From 2005 till now, she has exceeded that distance thirty times over.

Long riders are rare today; still rarer it seems, a traveler who doesn’t construct a feed or a following. Bernice camps without internet, almost full time. I had traced her map where I could, following snippets on social media where someone had driven past her on a highway or hiked across her campsite. She navigates her way through urban cities and untamed lands at 4 miles per hour, and fences have taken on the grievances they inspired in the Old West. She has encountered grizzlies and snowstorms, outrun a tornado, had a stranger pull a gun on her, and has foraged for her own food and shelter daily. The day Bernice Ende set out to ride her Fjords – a strong horse breed from the mountains of Norway – across the country and beyond, she was fifty-years-wise. At a time in life when people are usually settling in, Bernice Ende was starting out on her most extraordinary journey...

Read more here:

Friday, May 22, 2020

2020 Big Horn 100 Date Changed to August 1

May 22 2020

The AERC Board approved the change of date for the Big Horn 55/100 to August 1, 2020. This gives us time to meet all of the new requirements, locate a larger (more spread out) ride camp in Shellm and gives folks time to condition and for their travel and quarantine restrictions to lift in their home states.

It is likely that I will have to cap entries soon, but first, let me say that if you pre-entered and are not able to attend the new date, please email me at and I will refund your entry. Also, I want to be upfront about what will happen if I need to drastically reduce numbers. If that is absolutely necessary, I will start by dropping the 55 miler and refunding those riders. I hope that is not necessary. If further reduction in numbers is required, the decision will be made based on date entry and payment was received.

We have the time now to wait and see what happens when the state updates its restrictions at the end of May. Thank you for your kindness and patience and your support of this iconic ride.

Cindy Collins

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

2020 May's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - Listen

May 12, 2020
Endurance riding artist who makes pottery, t-shirts, decals and hosts virtual endurance rides Anne York and AERC board member Michael Campbell stops buy to give us an update on last nights board meeting and what the status is of the remaining 2020 ride season. Plus Karen introduces us to Milo the Mustang. Listen in...

Monday, May 18, 2020

City of Rocks Pioneer a Go: New Ride Safety Protocols to be Followed

May 18 2020

City of Rocks Pioneer Endurance Ride in Almo, Idaho is currently on schedule for June 13, 14, and 15 in Almo, Idaho, with certain COVID-19 safety measures to be followed, per AERC rules regarding coronavirus issues.

The ride will be following the state of Idaho's re-opening restrictions and travel rules. Please be aware conditions can change any day due to the virus, and the ride can be cancelled at any time by Idaho having to shut down again if current disease cases start to go up again. In other words, the ride is a Go until it is not.

We will have certain mandatory protocols in place to protect our volunteers and veterinarians and fellow riders.

Riders *must* pre-register with ride manager Regina Rose. Please email her your entry information to Not having to register at camp will prevent riders and ride manager from close contact.

Face masks or bandanas *must* be worn at vet checks, including pulse line and vet line. If you do come to vet in your horse or consult with the vets without face protection at any time, you'll be asked to go get your mask and come back to vet in or talk with it on.

You will be required to untack to vet in at the vet checks (all of which will be in camp), to minimize the contamination possibilities with our volunteers and pulsers. The pulsers will have special hand baggies for vetting each horse to protect themselves and riders and to minimize the risk of spreading germs between different horses and people.

There will be no meals or big gathering for meals. BYOF - bring your own food!

There will be portapotties in camp but... use at your own risk. We can't clean and sterilize between each customer. We recommend you come to the ride self-contained. There is a dump station on the road that leads into the park campground (you can see it from Ridecamp). And note that some or all of the park potties may be closed.

There will be no ride meetings. Protocols and all ride info (ride meeting information, vet check time, start times, trail information) will be emailed to you after you email your intent to enter the ride. You can ask questions via email or when you arrive at camp.

Please remember that you yourself may feel healthy as a horse, but you could be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19, and we want to protect our volunteers and veterinarians who will be constantly near every single person at the ride, as well as riders who may be jonesing to ride but who may have compromised conditions. Please take these COVID-19 protocols and precautions seriously at this AERC ride.

Thank you for your cooperation. Please be patient, kind, humor-ful, and please follow the rules. Times are different; we can easily adapt to these minor changes.

We look forward to seeing you at City of Rocks, and getting back on the endurance trails!

Keep checking for updates and developments at either of these pages:

Regina Rose

Friday, May 15, 2020

Behind the Lens: Get to Know Endurance Ride Photographer Bill Gore

by Merri
May 15 2020

My "Behind the Lens" series, featuring members of the Endurance Ride Photographers Guild (ERPG), showcases the West region's Bill Gore.

Most of you probably know him best for shooting Cougar Rock with his team at the Tevis Cup. For over two decades, Bill Gore has been behind the lens recording your endurance ride memories, starting with, in fact, the Tevis Cup. There's a good story behind that, of course, that Bill will tell you here.

Bill's website is

Where do you live?
Auburn, Ca 

What is your profession?
Fuel Transfer Engineer (Truck Driver)

Do you have horses? Do you ride?
I currently have 4-year-old mustang mare. Last endurance ride was Tevis 2004. Usually rent a horse when I go hunting.

How did you first get into photography?
Around my freshman year in high school I received my first camera (Pentax ME, which I still have). I used to carry that camera most everywhere but didn’t have a specific subject to shoot. It wasn’t until 1997 that I got into shooting endurance.

What equipment do you normally shoot with?
I shoot Nikon. First decent camera I got (at least that was how I looked at it at that time) was a Nikon N90 kit camera. So when I went to upgrade the body I already had Nikon glass, so I stuck with Nikon. I currently shoot a Nikon D5 with a 28-300 lens.

When did you start shooting endurance rides?
First endurance ride I shot was Tevis in 1997.

Why do you like shooting endurance rides?

Shooting endurance felt like a natural fit. Some disciplines you feel like an outsider, but when shooting endurance I felt like I belonged. The people in endurance are down to earth, always willing to help each other out. When at rides I feel like I am with my extended family.

What are challenges you find in shooting endurance rides?

There are plenty of challenges when shooting endurance.

Weather (insert wind, dust, wind, dust, rain, fog, snow, temperature (I can’t feel my fingers anymore) wind and dust). Operator error. Low battery, malfunctioning equipment, forgetting to update camera settings from previous shoot. Low light, you find that perfect spot but the horses arrive before the sun rises. Walking to chosen spot to shoot only to find you need to wade through a creek or swampy area. Forgetting bug spray.

Travel to rides can be a challenge. And stressful. Figuring that if you get up by 1:00 am and out the door by 1:45 am you should be able to get to the ride, park and hike in before the riders get to your spot. But once on the road you realize you need coffee, gas, snack and somewhere along the drive nature calls all cutting into your precious time. Once at the ride you park, grab all your gear (Hopefully) and hustle to your spot. Get there and put up your signs, check settings on camera, check trail to look for any fresh tracks. Then you can hear the front runners heading your way.

What are one or two of your favorite ride shooting stories/adventures/misadventures?
It is very difficult to pick a favorite story from a ride as there are so many.

From the simple; while shooting you notice that there is something just not right about the rider approaching only to realize they only have one stirrup attached to the saddle and the other is in their hand. But having seen the photographer sign they tried to ride past me to get their photo. They didn’t have anything to fix the issue. I pulled the shoe laces from my shoes and was able to patch together a quick fix and she was able to make that last until the next vet check.

To a more emotional story, which seems to happen a couple times a ride while shooting Tevis. When I get to watch a rider approach Cougar Rock with a look of focus, determination and a little fear. And when they make it over Cougar Rock I can hear them sobbing while they praise their horse saying, “We did it.” I always feel honored to be there to memorialize that moment for them.

Any other pertinent info you’d like to share with us?
When I first started shooting Tevis I met Kate Riordan. That progressed into me helping out showing film crews different locations along the trail. Which led to a very cool experience of being able to go up in the helicopter with a film crew.

All of my helping out/ volunteering for Tevis ended up rewarding me when I received a call from Melinda Hughes. She told me that she had contacted Kate and explained to Kate that she was giving up shooting Cougar Rock. (Which had to do with their photographer falling off CR and getting life flighted out the previous year.) Melinda said she wanted to hand over the reins of Official Cougar Rock Photographer and wanted suggestions for a photographer from Kate. Kate gave Melinda my name and I will always be extremely grateful to Kate for that.

As a side note, the first year I was to shoot Cougar Rock the ride didn’t even go over CR. That was the year they started in Auburn and finished in Auburn.

This is one of Bill's favorite shots, taken at Swinging Bridge on the Tevis Trail.

Bill explains: The photo is a shot of the cover for the Endurance News yearbook 1998. After I picked up the yearbook from the post office in Auburn I ran into Doyle Patrick just outside. As I recall, Doyle was the Executive Director of Endurance News. (I could be mistaken on the title.) While we were talking, Charlie Barieau [early eminent endurance photographer] walked over to us, showed Doyle the yearbook and said, "This is what an endurance ride photo should look like." That was a nice compliment coming from someone I considered a mentor to my endurance photography.

**Top photo is Bill and Diana Hiiesalu, who often shoots with Bill on rides. And, thanks to photography, they are engaged!

Behind the Lens: Genie Stewart-Spears profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Susan Kordish profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Becky Pearman profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Dave Honan profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Linda Sherrill profile is here:

Behind the Lens: Steve Bradley profile is here: