Thursday, March 23, 2017

Alabama: RBCEP hosts Hodges Hootenanny - Full Story

By Alison James
Email the author
Published 8:28 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Last year, it was the Rock Bridge Canyon Canter. This year, it’s the Hodges Hootenanny. But whatever it’s called, the equestrian park’s endurance ride is a challenge that is open to all who are in it for the long haul.

The Hodges Hootenanny, which is set for April 21-22, will include a 50-mile and a 25-mile ride, as well as a 10-mile introductory ride. The competition is being coordinated by endurance rider Tina Cochran.

The event replaces the Rock Bridge Canyon Canter of last year, whose organizer decided to host her ride in Bankhead Forest. Not wanting to see the park lose its spring endurance ride, “I stepped up and decided I’d do it,” Cochran said...

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Oregon: Physical therapist and horse lover Wes Rau - Full Article

As a physical therapist and horse lover, Wes Rau finds satisfaction in knowing he can make an impact for both the animal and the rider.

by Lauren Davis Baker, for The Bulletin Special Projects
Published Mar 11, 2017 at 12:00AM / Updated Mar 21, 2017

Wes Rau is checking out the patrons of Wild Ride Brewing as they wander into the Redmond establishment in search of beer and a bite. He looks patrons up and down. As an experienced physical therapist, he can’t help assessing posture and gait as he people watches. By force of habit he scans for visual cues that indicate how well the bodies he seeing passing by are functioning. Rau is all about keeping bodies moving — running smoothly and efficiently — making it possible for his clients to keep doing the things they love to do.

From the Redmond office of Step and Spine Physical Therapy, Rau endeavors to help his clients achieve their goals by improving strength and mobility. From skiers to cyclists and from runners to golfers, physical therapy enables a wide range of athletes to remain active as long as possible.

Now in his 60s, Rau is well aware of the challenge of staying fit and healthy despite the ravages of time. He is meeting that challenge head-on.

“I want to be an aging competitive athlete,” he said, noting that his personal goal is to compete in a 100-mile competitive endurance horseback ride.

As an equestrian hiself, Rau has a special fondness for working with horse people.

“They’re easy,” he said. “They understand the relationship between movement and health.”

That understanding likely comes in part from knowing that movement is essential for horses to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Horse owners know that if a horse stops moving, every major organ in his body is effected, including the large intestine. If the intestines shut down, the condition can be serious — even life-threatening. So, horses are encouraged to keep moving within reason, through injury, illness and even surgical recovery.

While lack of movement may not be as life-threatening for humans, it significantly affects their quality of life.

“Wes helped me when I first started battling lower back issues,” said 81-year-old Dolly DeCair. “After my hip replacement, he had me back on a horse within six months.”

Getting back in the saddle was important to DeCair, an accomplished endurance rider who has competed in six Tevis Cup Trail Rides — a grueling 100-mile route that stretches from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, the very ride that Rau has set his own sights on...

Read more here:

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 March's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning

Horsesinthemorning - Listen in

March 14 2017

Today on Karen Chaton's Endurance Episode Tom MacGuinness shares why qualifying for WEG 2018 was so important, Sarah Schick talks about hoof balance for equine athletes, Patti Stedman introduces a web based course for Endurance riders. Listen in...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Colorado: Horse disease outbreak biggest in decades - Full Story

By Carly Moore | Posted: Wed 11:44 PM, Mar 15, 2017

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- A contagious disease is causing major concerns for horse owners in the Grand Valley.

Owners are on high alert of a serious outbreak of what's called equine Strangles disease.

It’s one of the biggest outbreaks vets and owners have seen in a couple decades.

Vets said it’s like the flu or strep throat for horses, and it spreads very quickly from horse to horse. People who care for animals can also spread the infection on their shoes and tools.

“Everyone is very concerned, about what's going on,” said Shane Prentice. “It has the potential to spread across the valley, if we aren't on top of it.”

“This is by far the most I've ever seen in the valley... it's a significant number of cases, and it's something people should be aware of,” said Dr. Dominic Carrica, owner of Amigo Animal Clinic.

Once horses are diagnosed, they require mandatory quarantine, because it’s such a contagious disease...

Read more here:

Friday, March 17, 2017

AERC and USEF Joint Statement Regarding Equine Welfare

March 17 2017

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) join other countries around the world in expressing increasing alarm over continued disproportionate equine deaths, equine doping and catastrophic injuries in National and International events held in Group VII.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has previously sanctioned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with suspensions, rule changes and educational measures. Clearly, further intervention is required, and therefore, the USEF and AERC were very pleased to learn that the FEI is working with new leadership at the United Arab Emirate Equestrian & Racing Federation (EEF) to put in place and ensure compliance with safeguards to protect horses and when warranted, impose tougher and more severe sanctions.

USEF and AERC share strong beliefs and concerns regarding horse welfare and fairness in competition and we recognize that not all Group VII endurance venues are tainted by the lack of respect for horse welfare. Innovations in other regions of the UAE are to be commended.

The USEF and AERC are committed to working together and with the FEI and National Federations worldwide to ensure that the welfare of our horses and fairness in competition in the sport of Endurance is given the highest priority.


About AERC
The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) was founded in 1972 as a national governing body for long distance riding. Over the years it has developed a set of rules and guidelines designed to provide a standardized format and strict veterinary controls. The AERC sanctions more than 700 rides each year throughout North America and in 1993 Endurance became the fifth discipline under the United States Equestrian Team.

In addition to promoting the sport of endurance riding, the AERC encourages the use, protection, and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historic significance. Many special events of four to six consecutive days take place over historic trails, such as the Pony Express Trail, the Outlaw Trail, the Chief Joseph Trail, and the Lewis and Clark Trail. The founding ride of endurance riding, the Western States Trail Ride or “Tevis,” covers 100 miles of the famous Western States and Immigrant Trails over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These rides promote awareness of the importance of trail preservation for future generations and foster an appreciation of our American heritage. For more information please visit us at

Contact: Troy Smith, AERC Publications, 866-271-2372,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tevis Ride Director’s March Message

March 9, 2017

The 2017 ride season should be in full swing, but out here in the west someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. In March we have close to a record snowpack in the Sierra Mountains which keeps trail repair crews off the trails as well as the equestrians from training on the trail in these early days of the season. There are trees down on the trail in the canyons that will not be removed until April. On the positive side that keeps the erosion to a minimum from horse traffic on wet trails.

I expect the snow pack to melt in time to allow us to use the historic trail on the August 5 ride date. If the snow pack makes it impossible to use the trail through the Granite Chief Wilderness area, an alternate trail would be used. This would most likely pick up the historic trail in the area of Robinson Flat and follow the traditional trail to Auburn. **It is too early in the season to speculate what the conditions will be in August.**

Tevis has had a great relationship with Calstar air flight rescue company. Calstar has been sold and is now part of the AirMedCare network. This company has greatly increased the geographic service area for members, and a yearly subscription is available at the group rate of $55 to each rider, crew member and volunteer involved with Tevis. Past Tevis group members will get their renewal letters in the mail and new members can subscribe by calling 800-793 0010 or visiting their website at Please remember to mention Tevis to receive the Tevis group rate of $55.

We are delighted to get the ride chart results out for the AERC conference. Last year’s Tevis riders will get their copies mailed to them directly next week. A great deal of information can be gained from studying these charts whether you are riding to win or riding to finish. The WSTF Board of Governors would like to give a big Thank You to Kathie Perry and Phil Gardner for all the hard work and dedication they put into pulling the data together to create this ride chart for riders to use in planning their future ride pacing. If you know someone who needs a copy, please call the WSTF office.

Tevis is offering a free entry to the winning essay from a sixty-year-old or older first-time rider who would like to ride in 2017. Please refer to the Tevis website for more details of the contest. This contest is a result of the inspirational 2016 Tevis experience of 75-year-old Jessie Caswell. Jessie's story of his ride to a top ten finish (as well as all other top ten riders) is covered in the Tevis article in the September 2016 Arabian Horse World as well as in the 2017 Tevis Forum which will be out in June.

I hope to see you out on the trails and at the rides.

Enjoy the journey,
Chuck Stalley

3 Young Riders are Recipients of AERC's Anne Ayala Scholarship

AERC chose 3 young riders as recipients of the annual Anne Ayala Scholarship, presented at the AERC Convention in Grapevine, Texas, March 10-11.

Connie Burns-Caudill presented the awards:

"All 3 of them are seniors who are straight “A” students, have great work ethics and excel in endurance riding.

The first recipient has almost 3000 endurance miles which includes; 9 – 75 mile rides and 3 one day 100 mile rides. She has volunteered on many rides including one that she helped her Mother manage. She is also a dedicated Hockey player driving 60 miles one way just to practice. She is hoping to complete the Tevis this summer before entering the University in September.
Katya Levermann from 100 Mile House, BC, Canada

The next Young Rider has over 3000 endurance miles and nearly 1000 LD miles. She has completed the entire 250 mile Shore to Shore trail an astonishing 7 times! She has always competed on Morgan Horses. She is also a dedicated athlete participating in cross country and other sports in her high school. She plans to major in pre-veterinary studies at college and hopes to eventually serve as a ride vet and give back to the sport by protecting the safety of the animals involved.
Morgan Loomis from Philipi, West Virginia

The final recipient has ridden a total of 3000 miles in both LD and endurance and over 100 events without a single pull. She has logged over 40 hours of endurance volunteer time. She has been coaching a middle school science bowl team. Besides having straight A’s all through high school, I have also heard that she had perfect scores on her SAT and ACT tests. Since science is has always been her passion, she plans to study Material Science Engineering and pursue a career as a Research Professor.
Lily Turaski from Friendsville, Tennessee

Sunday, March 12, 2017

National Award Winners at AERC Convention

The AERC fun and festivities at the annual convention, held this year in Grapevine, Texas, concluded with the Saturday night banquet and awards ceremony, and the announcement of the National awards.

Jackie Bumgardner of Ridgecrest, California, was posthumously named to the AERC Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame Horse is GE Brazil's Envy, owned by Ann Kratochvil of Ridgecrest, California.

Pard'ners Award winners are Don Bowen, from Dorris, California, and his gelding Wild West ("Willy").

Other highlights of the evening were Joyce Sousa receiving the Perfect Ten award for her gelding LV Integrity +/ (10,000 miles in 10 years, 10 wins, 10 Best Condition awards), the Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award going to Greg Jones, M.D., and the Volunteer Service Award going to Susan Garlinghouse DVM.

There were 51 new Decade Teams (at least one 50 mile ride for a horse and rider team for at least 10 years) in 2016.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Centauride: Long Rider Coming Through Your State

The Centauride: One woman. One horse. One goal: 48 states for Domestic Violence Awareness

Meredith Cherry and her Peruvian Paso-Mustang palomino gelding Apollo are doing nothing short of epic.  They will be traveling alone together for four years, 10,000 miles, to 48 states, on a continuous ride. 

Meredith is doing this long ride to raise awareness about domestic violence.  This "silent epidemic" is extremely prevalent in our society.  Although it is not often talked about, it is estimated that 1 in 3 women will be domestic violence victims at some point in their lives (usually between the ages of 19 and 34). 

Meredith will be riding to domestic violence centers, women’s shelters, schools and community centers to bring awareness about the realities of this issue and to provide hope to women dealing with the effects of DV in their own lives.

Meredith and Apollo began their journey on January 1, 2017 and plan to complete the ride in 2020. 

A little about Meredith and Apollo.

"I've been riding horses for 20 years, and have a B.S. in Equine Science from Colorado State University.  Apollo is the first horse I've owned.  I was raised as a city girl, moved to the country as soon as I could, and love dirt roads, seeing the stars at night, deer in the yard but not in the garden, and bugs (most of them, anyway). I also like to write about food, gardening, essential oils, and the California missions (I've written two travel guides for these)

I escaped a domestic violence relationship a few years ago, and what I had missed most during my marriage was horses and travel.  Thus came about the wonderful, crazy idea to buy a horse with my paltry divorce settlement and ride it around the country.  And since I feel so grateful for this opportunity, and so saddened at the thought that anyone else is going through what I did, I felt it was right to use the ride to help everyone I could meet along the way.

I met Apollo in 2014, and it was love at first sight.  He is a spunky Peruvian Paso-Mustang palomino gelding who is a different color in the summer versus the winter.  I waited a few months after I bought him to tell him about our long ride plans though!  He's not so sure he wants to work that much, but since he does like seeing and tasting new things, he's agreed to be my ride partner."

For a map (maybe you will have a place for Meredith and Apollo to stay), and more information on this adventure, see

Thursday, March 09, 2017

June Tevis Talks Featuring Pat Parelli

February 28, 2017

Save the date! This June, the Western States Trails Foundation will again be hosting an intimate evening at the State Theater/Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center for a conversation with a legendary horseman. This year we are excited to welcome Pat Parelli to the stage. More information, including how to purchase your tickets, will be available on the Tevis Cup website so check back frequently and subscribe to our email list at

Tevis Talks brings you Pat Parelli! June 7th at the State Theater in Auburn – a limited number of gold-level tickets include an intimate hour-long chat with the famous clinician.


• Doors open at 6- no host bar

• Show starts at 7:30 PM


General Admission Tickets $ 22.00

Gold Level Tickets* $ 175.00

*includes preferred seating, appetizers, cocktails and an hour with Pat – limited to 15 people

Available for purchase online through the Tevis Store.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

2017 AERC Convention Starts This Weekend

March 8 2017

The annual AERC Convention begins Friday March 10 in Grapevine, Texas. The 2 days of seminars, shopping, Saturday night banquet and awards presentations guarantee an educational and fun time for attendees.

Seminar topics include Becoming a Public Lands Advocate; Gadgets for Gait Analysis; Equine Transport Research Results; and Equine Learning and Human-Horse Relationships (on Friday); Colic and the endurance Horse; Safety from Home to Competition to Back Home Again; Murmurs, Arrhythmias and Heart Rate Recovery; and Simple Carbohydrates (on Saturday). Free Hot Topics sessions first thing Friday and Saturday mornings include Responsible Equine Management and Revisiting the AERC Drug Rule.

You can still sign up for and attend the Convention! For more information, see:

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Prize Possessions - Full Article

American River Classic endurance ride manager Joby Souza recently came into possession of a pair of trophies long thought lost. He wants to see them restored and put on display. But he’s having trouble finding the money.

Saturday Mar 04 2017
By: Jeff Nicholson

Joby Souza still remembers his reaction the first time he saw the trophies.

“My jaw dropped. I thought they were pretty fantastic, very unusual and unique. Something that should be brought back to life,” says the 42-year-old ride manager of the American River Classic.

Souza is sitting at a picnic table at the American River Canyon Overlook Park in Auburn, one of the primary checkpoints of the endurance - it serves, in fact, as the finishing point for the short-course riders and the midway and finale for the long-distance competitors.

There's little sign this day of the hustle and bustle to come on April

29: a few trucks with trailers, the occasional horse and rider passing through, stopping at the watering trough.

Even so, Souza's delight in these trophies, in this race, is clear. He greets the riders who come through by name, looking at least eight years younger than 42, his short light hair untouched by silver, eyes squinting in the sun. He asks them if they're going to ride in this year's race. To a man and woman, they all say yes, as long as the weather and trail conditions will allow.

The ones who come by when the trophies are still out, sitting on the rim of the circular trough, admire them.

“This ride is a historical piece of Auburn, and we would like to see this ride continue and have these trophies refurbished,” Souza says...

Read more here:

Saturday, March 04, 2017

TCA Award of Merit recipients of 2017 announced - Full Article

March 3 2017

Thoroughbred Charities of America has named equestrian Denny Emerson and Down the Stretch Ranch as its first TCA Award of Merit recipients of 2017. Award of Merit recipients are nominated by the leadership of state Thoroughbred owners and breeders associations and are presented at each state association’s annual awards ceremonies.

Originally started in celebration of our 25th anniversary and now its third year, TCA Award of Merit recipients represent those individuals and organizations working to uphold TCA’s mission among the constituencies of the state breeders associations,” said Mike McMahon, president of TCA. “Within our industry there are many organizations and people working on behalf of Thoroughbreds and those who care for them. We feel it is very important to recognize the efforts of those that often don’t receive recognition for their dedication and commitment.”

Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron presented Emerson with the TCA Award of Merit on February 11 at the North Carolina Thoroughbred Association’s annual awards dinner in Chapel Hill, N.C. Described by the Chronicle of the Horse as one of the most influential horsemen of the twentieth century, Emerson is the only equestrian to have won both an international gold medal in eventing and a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance riding...

Read more here:

Bonnie Mielke: A Lifelong Ride - Full Article

Karen Pilarski ,
Published 3:28 p.m. CT March 2, 2017

Retired Mukwonago teacher trains horses for long-distance riding

Bonnie Mielke's face lit up as she spoke about her love of horses. She was at the Mukwonago Community Library wearing a jacket with the name of her horse, Loki.

Loki is a fifth-generation of horses Mielke has trained to do long distance riding. Mielke became involved with the sport in 1974.

The retired Mukwonago teacher recalled growing up on a farm and hearing her mother talk about horses and cowboys. She wanted a horse but her family was of limited means.

Mielke's dad told her to finish college and buy a horse herself after she had a job. She quipped, "So I did."

She purchased a horse named Mitzi, an unregistered Arabian, because she was beautiful. Mitzi was Loki's great-great-grandmother.

In 2016 Loki was the regional champion for the American Endurance Ride Conference, Upper Midwest Endurance Competitive Rides Association champion and Arabian Horse Distance Riding Association part bred and grand champion. Loki is third in the national champion in Limited Distance for American Endurance Ride Conference...

Read more here:

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Dream Makker: A *Real* Endurance Horse (and More) in the Making - Part 2

Part 1 is here.

by Merri
March 2 2017

With behavioral kinks sorted out, and a solid foundation of partnership between them now, Crysta Turnage and Dream Makker were ready for his first endurance start in May of 2010 as a 5-year-old. It was not an auspicious debut.

Crysta originally planned to ride the 2 days of LDs at the Nevada Washoe ride with some of her regular riding partners. But they weren't able to come at the last minute, so Crysta went with Plan B, opting for the 50 on the first day with her good friends Lucy and Leslie, who were happy to escort Digs and Crysta on a slow ride.

Bad luck struck on the first loop, when Digs clipped himself going down one of the infamous S.O.B. hills. He got back to camp for the first vet check with an inconsistent lameness. The vet first said it was the left front, then at the recheck said it was the right front. Knowing the next loop was sand hills, Crysta opted to pull him. "His very first ride was a RO-L. So we haven't had to worry about preserving a perfect ride record!" she laughed.

While Diego's mental matters had been sorted out, the other half of the Dream Makker endurance equation was coming to light. "In regards to endurance, he's been a challenge in that he's always had very delicate legs. This is a horse that, even from the very beginning, I'd take him out on a little 10 mile ride, and he'd come home and stock up in his corral overnight. That's just him." And these leg issues have randomly plagued Digs throughout his 7-year endurance career, adding another aspect to endurance riding that so many endurance riders must often deal with.

Crysta and Digs took the rest of the year to continue both his physical and mental conditioning, and be able to start the next season fully ready for 50 mile rides. With 4 starts the next year, 2011, Crysta considers that their first actual season. Digs finished 3 of his 4 rides - two 50's and 1 LD - getting pulled with a minor lameness on one of the 50's. "That pull was another good learning lesson. He was trimmed too close to the ride and ended up foot sore. He does best if he's not trimmed more than a week before any event."

Then due to various issues - including a new job and much less time to ride and condition - the pair managed only 3 rides over the next 2 seasons, with Digs finishing 2 50's and getting pulled lame on one.

In the interim, they also branched out into other events, adding to Digs' repertoire of skills. The gelding enjoyed cattle sorting (he tried to bite the cows if they weren't moving fast enough), reined cow horse clinics, and he performed in several parades in full Arabian costume. It just proved what a solid, and fun, horse Digs had matured into.

In 2014, Crysta had more time to ride and condition. Three strong 50-mile starts and finishes on Digs early that season had her entertaining thoughts of that iconic 100-mile Tahoe-to-Auburn ride with her now-solid 9-year-old.

"We were having a really good year so far, and we were prepping to ride Tevis. He'd been doing amazing on our training rides, and we were doing a lot of NEDA rides (a local endurance riding and driving club) in addition to AERC rides, and he was very strong and very consistent."

Then at the May Mariposa Run for the Gold ride, trotting in off the first loop, Digs had a big hind slip on some oak leaves going down a hill. He scrambled and caught himself from falling. At the vet check, the vet could see a slight, inconsistent lameness. Digs went on to complete the Mariposa ride sound, but at their next ride in the June Wild West, Digs had a major groin cramp coming in from the first loop, and he was pulled.

At the July Lake Almanor 50-mile ride, Digs finished the 50, but Crysta could still feel a kind of a skip in the hind end. Veterinarian Michele Roush looked at him and said he looked great, but when they lunged him in a circle, they could see something.

"So at that point we scratched all our plans to do Tevis," Crysta said. "I just gave him some time off, thinking we were probably dealing with some muscle issues at that time. I tried bringing him back in November, but even on training rides, that slight hind lameness came back after 10 miles on the trail."

Other issues had also arisen throughout that season. It turns out Digs had thrown his back out and misaligned his sacrum during his slip in May, and it took a lot of body work with a chiropractor to set him straight. When ultrasounded at the vet clinic, it was discovered that Digs had a high suspensory avulsion on the right hind. Instead of pulling the suspensory itself, he'd partially detached it from the bone. The vet also discovered he'd strained his right front suspensory, possibly from catching himself when he slid in May.

The veterinarian put them on a 90 day rehab program, first hand walking, then an hour riding under saddle at the walk, and eventually working in 5 minutes of trotting at a time. "Thankfully his initial time off had already started some healing. We did all that rehab over the winter… all done after work, in the snow, walking around the neighborhood in the dark."

When re-ultrasounded in February 2015, they got the green light: "The vet told me, 'He looks awesome, go ride the horse. Tevis isn't out for the year.'"

But Crysta was ultra-conservative with Digs, and kept her Tevis dreams on the back burner for yet another year. "We just started back with doing shorter training rides again, then working to the 20 mile rides. We did our one 50 for the year in September, in the Kristina Chesterman Memorial ride. We took the entire 12 hours, with only 3 minutes to spare, and I burst into tears when we crossed the finish line."

Crysta had actually started to feel that slight hind end lameness again on the last loop of that ride. The vet didn't see anything at the finish, but Crysta was worried that she had brought Digs back to endurance too quickly, despite the 14 month break from it.

"I think I can feel it more under saddle than what it shows, probably because I'm so paranoid and attuned to it now. When you know you've got a horse that's got a lameness issue, you judge every step that they take. You start to question everything.

"2015 was about putting everything back together again - getting Digs sound again, getting his body corrected, doing different activities, getting him strengthened. We did a lot of dressage lessons that summer since I couldn't take him to rides, working with him on how to use himself better, how to really come through from behind and lift his back and support himself better as we're riding."

The pair qualified to be Sweep Riders for the Tevis Cup that summer. And through their participation in numerous parades, they earned the unique honor of being one of 2 dozen horses and riders that would represent the AERC in the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1, 2016.  "I didn't even realize that was on my bucket list until the opportunity arose.  Once I heard about the AERC Group, I just HAD to be a part of it.  It was one of those lifetime memories I'll cherish forever."

Crysta and Digs in the Tournament of Roses Parade

The time out taken for rehab and re-conditioning and the extracurricular activities helped prepare Diego for a new 'real' season of endurance again in 2016. The idea of the Tevis Cup started forming at the AERC Convention in February, when Crysta's friend Pam Anderson won the Tevis Cup entry in the raffle. Crysta had won the raffle's Tevis Cup entry in 2007, the year she finished on Sinatra.

The pair hatched a plan: they would condition and attend rides together, and pre-ride parts of the Tevis trail together; and if the stars aligned, Crysta and Digs would escort Pam and her gelding Shezada Saheem on the Tevis Cup. The two geldings clicked together, and the season started out well enough.

The 4 of them finished the Rides of March together. Crysta said, "Digs was fine, but not stellar. He got through it OK, no lameness issues, but he didn't feel like a Tevis horse at that time. But it was early in the season, and I told myself we still had plenty of time to get there."

Crysta and Digs then finished two April rides, Whiskeytown Chaser and the American River Classic, riding slow, but finishing without any problems.

Photo by Rene Baylor - Gore/Baylor Photography

The 4 teamed up for the Cooley Ranch 50 in June. It turned out to be a miserably hot traffic-jammed 8-hour commute, and it was a hot ride. The plan was to take it easy and ride both days of 50's, but on day 1, Digs came up with the same on-again-off-again hind end lameness at the 30-mile check. He failed to recover - his pulse hung at 68, and Crysta was sure it was because of the hind end lameness.

"Cooley was our go-no-go ride for Tevis," Crysta said. "And with being pulled metabolic, it threw this huge question mark in the plans.  I took Digs to a well-known lameness vet for an evaluation after Cooley Ranch. The vet couldn't find anything obvious going on in his hind end. It was his left rear which he had been having trouble with this time, not his previously injured right rear. The vet did find a bone bruise on his right front fetlock, which may have been a contributing factor. We started Digs on a round of Pentosan and some Surpass for his fetlock, and he had a few weeks off per recommendation.

"I hadn't had that one ride on Digs yet, all year, where I was like 'Yes. He's awesome. He's totally on and he feels amazing.' I'd sent in my Tevis entry, but I was debating on pulling it, because they hadn't reached the deadline where there was much of a fee to cancel at that time." Crysta knew the stats: even with a perfectly sound and fit horse, one has about a 50% chance of finishing the ride.

Then a couple of terrible monumental events influenced the situation.

Crysta's son Taren riding Digs, Crysta leading Gunny

Around this same time, Crysta had been bringing along her new horse Gunny, a 6-year-old Arabian gelding she found as a rework-needed rescue case on Facebook. She'd done a lot of confidence building and restart work with him, and had just had her first little ride on him.

At the end of June, Gunny got himself into an appalling panicked wreck in her home arena when he got tangled in his bridle. "It was the most horrifying thing I'd ever had to deal with. He was throwing himself on the ground and bashing his head on the ground before I could get his bridle off."

The vet came out immediately and treated him with what she could, but Gunny ended up with severe neurological damage, putting out the vision in his left eye, and paralyzing part of his face to where he couldn't drink. He deteriorated over the week and started to have seizures, and on Tuesday Crysta made the decision to put him down the next afternoon.

Crysta could not get out of going to work Wednesday morning, and her husband AJ stayed home to keep an eye on Gunny until Crysta and the vet could come in the afternoon.

"So I'm at work that morning, knowing we're going to put Gunny down in the afternoon, and I get on Facebook, and I hear about Kevin Myers. It was that day it came out that Kevin had committed suicide. I went in the bathroom at work and had a total breakdown, just shaking and crying. I called my husband and said, 'I can't stay here, I don't know how I'm going to get through these meetings. I'm totally falling apart."

Crysta's dear friend Kevin Myers - who had given her Dream Makker as a youngster in 2008 - devastated the world around him when he ended his life the day before.

"My husband told me, 'You can do it, you're just going to have to block it off, put it aside for now and totally focus at the task at hand. I know you can do it.' Somehow I got through my meetings until I could leave, and I went home and we put Gunny down the same day I'd heard about Kevin.

"That was ultimately my motivation for riding the Tevis. Here's a very dear friend, that Tevis was very special for him. And here's this horse I'd just gotten, that I'd had a lot of hopes and dreams and big plans for, and now he's gone too.

"I still didn't think Digs and I would actually finish Tevis, but I thought, at least I'm going to start, just to honor everyone who wants to do Tevis and can't. I thought, we are going to ride for Kevin, and Lisa's horse Tux (just weeks earlier, Crysta's friend Lisa lost her horse while marking trail for the Tevis), and my own sweet Gunny. We are going to ride for those who will never have the chance to go down this magical trail again. And while our chance of finishing may be lesser than others, we have a CHANCE and I'm going to take it. Because you never know what life has in store. And I'm going to carry them all in my heart, and hopefully get them to Auburn."

July 23 2016 - the 61st Tevis Cup

165 riders and horses at the starting line, 2 of which are Pam Anderson, aboard Shezada Saheem (Sammy) on their first Tevis Cup adventure, and Crysta Turnage, aboard Dream Makker (Digs), an endurance horse with an imperfect, unimpressive record, with 600 miles to his name (and never even back-to-back 50-mile finishes), on his first 100-mile ride.

From finishing in 2007, Crysta knew pace-wise what they needed to do. The four of them made it without mishap to Robinson Flat vet check, the first hour hold at 36 miles. "Digs had to trot twice for the vet at Robinson Flat; the vet saw something but it was inconsistent. He couldn't even pick a leg, just 'hind end,' but we were cleared to go. I hadn't felt anything in the saddle yet, but it certainly put my radar up."

The horses were strong though the hot canyons, but Crysta was starting to feel the little hind end hitch again coming into Foresthill, the second vet check at 68 miles. She was being really careful, managing which diagonal she was posting on, to give him a break on that left rear.

"At the Foresthill vet check we had to trot out THREE times, with them adding a vet each additional time, so we had three watching by the end. And then the vet held our card, and we had to come back for a recheck before leaving. It was the left hind again. Talk about nerve wracking!"

Crysta and her crew fed Digs and got everything ready, in case they were going back out on the last 32 miles. A friend, Karon Dutcher thought that Digs had a cramp in his left rear, and she pinpointed the muscle, showing Crysta's crew, friend Ronda Gentry and husband AJ, how to massage it.

Crysta was having this huge internal debate with herself. "I was thinking, he's not 100% right, should I just Rider Option and pull him? We'll be going for four more hours until the next vet check. It's a long way to get to Francisco's (Gate and Go at 85 miles), and that's the worst place to be pulled, with the logistics of being hauled out.

"Then I decided, well, let's just see how he looks at the recheck, and let the vet make that decision. If he's still questionable, then I'll pull him." AJ trotted out Digs for the re-check while Crysta watched with the vet. "He looked really good. Much better! We were cleared to go.

"Leaving Foresthill, Digs was super strong, because he'd ridden that section of trail 3 times over the last couple months." Everything was fine until they passed the Cal 2 point at 78 miles, when Digs suddenly went Dead Lame. "Like the leg had fallen off. I had such a guilt trip! I thought I broke him. I shouldn't have asked that of him."

Crysta threw Digs' rump rug down to keep his hind end warmer, and she jumped off to lead Digs, instructing Pam to ride on without her. After a long while, three ladies came up behind them and wanted to pass, but the trail wasn't wide enough. Crysta got on Digs so they could move a bit faster to get to a wider area in the trail. She asked him to jog… "and he felt good again! I left the rump rug on him, and we jogged on and off, and he still felt fine by the time we arrived at Francisco's."

Catching up with Pam there, Crysta massaged Digs' hind leg again while the horses rested and ate. She took Digs to the vet for the moment of truth. "We trotted out and back, and the vet said, 'OK, here you go,' and handed me my card. He was cleared to go!"

Two hours later, at 3:31 AM, Pam and Crysta arrived at the Quarry, the last Gate and Go check, at 94 miles. "Same thing. We let the horses eat, got the rump rugs on, got our blankets on, grabbed some snacks for us, massaged Digs, headed over to the vet… trot out, trot back, 'Here's your card,' and off we went!"

The girls covered the last 6 miles of the Tevis trail in an hour and 15 minutes, arriving at the finish at 4:53 AM, with 22 minutes left. Now came the final moment of truth.

"Jamie Kerr vetted us out, and I had my husband AJ trot him, so I could watch him go. I started crying as I watched him trot out, because he looked GOOD."

It had been a long, long trail, and a very challenging journey from that first dubious endurance start - a pull - back in 2010. Crysta and Dream Makker had completed the Tevis Cup.

"It was very emotional. The ride wasn't about me at all. I knew I could do it. But could Digs? It was about honoring those who couldn't do the ride, and about achieving a goal with Pam and riding as a team. 

"To set that goal together with her, way back in February at the AERC Convention, of, 'Let's do this Tevis thing', and to help get a rider and a horse who had never been through Tevis before, and Digs with all his issues he had - to get there, and to get through it, and to actually finish, when I started the ride thinking that there was no way we were going to make it to the finish, that we were going to get pulled somewhere along the trail…

"It was just amazing. I don't know if anything will ever compare.

"Digs has come so far, from being that spooky crazy horse that kicked me in the face, and dumped me on the ground and broke my arm, and freaking out about a kid climbing on the fence, to becoming the horse I absolutely trust to take care of me, and anyone else who rides him. He's reliable, and he's just amazing, and this Tevis was really special, because of Gunny and Kevin and Tux, and all of that. It was like, 'Roll credits!' - the ending to a great movie."

Crysta and Digs will continue down the endurance trails, taking each ride as it comes (Digs was pulled lame at his next 50-mile ride in October, on his left front leg, which ironically hasn't had a problem before). Long-term, flexible goals are riding more 100's, and working on being a Decade Team.

"Does one Tevis finish make him a 100 mile horse? I don't know. But we're going to try some more of them. And as for Decade Team - with all his lameness issues, a couple of seasons we only rode and completed one 50. But I fully intend we'll get Decade Team."

With Crysta's careful management, exceeding patience, immense caution, and the lack of her need to push her horse hard, there's no doubt they'll get there.

Crysta and Dream Makker's endurance odyssey was by no means what everybody would or should take to reach their goals, but their journey was infinitely rewarding, the end product being a completely trustworthy partner, an ultimate working partnership in a sport (and many other activities) they both enjoy.

"I love to share Digs with people, because it has been such a journey to get where he's at now. It gives people hope. They don't have to be extraordinary and be riders with all this mileage. i just hit my 2000 miles last year.

"It's all been part of that learning process as I go."

*top photo at Cougar Rock by Bill Gore - Gore/Baylor Photography

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Super Senior Sport Horses - Full Article

By Sarah Evers Conrad Feb 24, 2017

A look at three equine athletes that are excelling in their golden years, along with how their owners and veterinarians keep them feeling young

There are exceptional equine athletes in every discipline—those stars who stand out from the pack and win awards and titles time and again. We typically expect these athletes to be at that magic age where horses peak for a specific breed or discipline. However, some exceptional horses are defying logic, competing well into their senior years. Retirement doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon for some of them. We talked to the owners and riders of three senior horses who still have plenty of “get up and go” and continue to excel in their disciplines.


Hadji Halef Omar is a purebred Arabian endurance horse who has logged 8,575 lifetime miles over 170 American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) rides with owner and endurance veteran Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss. In 2014 the gray gelding completed the Tevis Cup, and in 2015, at 23, he placed in the Top 10 in 11 out of 19 rides. Palmer-DuRoss, of Queen Creek, Arizona, calls Hadji irreplaceable...

Read more here:

Endurance horse riding: The Sport of Perry Como (probably) - Full Article

By Roy Bragg, San Antonio Express-NewsFebruary 27, 2017

BANDERA — Most sports demand maximum effort.

Dig in. Fight back. Stay focused. Go big. Play hard. Never give up.

But on a cold, clear Hill Country morning, 100 competitors took the field in a game requiring — no, make that demanding — restraint.

Endurance horse riding, which took over a back corner of the Hill Country State Natural Area over the weekend, revels in its humanity and its prudence.

The sport’s name is deceptive, making it sound like an event where the fastest, hardiest horse triumphs and the others collapse in large heaps of equine failure along the side of a track.

No one leaves anything on the field here, other than a few thousand pieces of … you know.

If you are the type of person who must win whenever you compete, avoid this game. This sport is about the long game and the preservation of resources.

If traditional horse racing is the sport of kings, endurance horse riding is the sport of folks who hang out in piano bars. If Perry Como were alive, I have no doubts this would be his sport...

Read more here:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Share Your Gaited Horse’s Trail Adventures and Win Prizes - Full Article

An Instagram contest for gaited horse riders rewards participation in endurance and competitive trail.

By Leslie Potter | February 23, 2017

Gaited horses often have the endurance, sure-footedness, and yes, the smooth gaits required to be excel as trail horses. If you’ve got a gaited horse in your barn, there’s a new incentive to get out and try one of the competitive trail sports.

Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) is an organization devoted to promoting sound gaited horses in a variety of venues. This year, FOSH has introduced an Instagram-based contest to get more riders competing in trail events and sharing their enjoyment and success with the world on social media.

The contest is simple. Take a photo of you and your horse at a qualified competitive trail ride or endurance event (more on that below.) Share the photo on Instagram using the hashtag #FOSHDistanceContest as well as a hashtag with the name of the ride where the photo was taken. You can also hashtag your horse’s breed. One entry from each ride will be counted...

More at:

C. Mike Tomlinson is HHRF's new President

February 24 2017

C. Mike Tomlinson, DVM, MBA, from Thousand Oaks, California is Horses & Humans Research Foundation's new president.

Dr. Mike Tomlinson became an avid horseperson in the fifth grade. From that point on, his life has been focused on horses. Mike earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of California at Davis. The first job after picking up his diploma was working at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He had a performance horse practice until returning from the Stockholm World Equestrian Games, when several of his best clients explained that he cannot be gone for six weeks straight for the events – he had to choose between traditional veterinary practice and doing the big events. It was clear which way he was to go. So it was back to school, this time earning his Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Since then, Mike has been a C-level executive of several corporations, continuing today as the CEO, COO and/or Board Member of several multinational corporations. He has been extremely active in para equestrian sports since 2000 including helping found the US Para Equestrian Association in 2010 and being an executive board member since then. He is very active in sport governance having been on the USEF board for 12 years and still very active as chair or member of a dozen USEF committees. 

Dr. Mike has been Chef d’Equipe for the USET Endurance Team and the USET Team Vet for numerous competitions including three World Equestrian Games. He is a FEI Vet for Dressage, Endurance, Eventing, Vaulting, Para Equestrian, and Jumping, a FEI Steward, and is a FEI ‘O’ Judge, Course Designer and Technical Delegate in Endurance. Dr. Mike lives in Southern California where he can enjoy riding year ‘round. Last year Mike taught FEI Officials’ courses and officiated at over 20 FEI 3, 4 and 5 star events in countries all around the globe.

“I am a believer - I know positively that horses facilitate an accelerated path to healing and personal progress.  What a thrill to support research that encourages the world to make it more accessible." 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dream Makker: An Endurance Horse in the Making - Part 1

by Merri
February 23 2017

This is not a story of an AERC Hall of Fame horse, nor a Tevis or Haggin Cup winner, nor a high-mileage endurance horse. You wouldn't even call his an impressive endurance ride record, and he's still a ways from a thousand-mile medallion.

For a while early on, Crysta Turnage's horse Dream Makker had a bad reputation just this side of unsafe, and later he had (still has) soundness issues. A majority of endurance riders - who also don't have Hall of Fame horses or high mileage horses - will recognize some similar struggles in their own endurance journeys.

But ultimately, this story of a rider and a somewhat dubious endurance horse that takes a long, circuitous journey towards the goal of riding in the Tevis Cup is one of perseverance and patience, and of friendship and redemption.

This now-12-year-old CMK-bred gelding by Mackies Image X Falah Dream, by Sarat Thani, came from the pastures of the Van Gilders in Oregon. It was endurance rider Kevin Myers who bought "Diego" as a yearling and took him home to Arizona for a few months, before sending him to southwest Idaho to grow up and run with Steph Teeter's herd for a couple of years.

Crysta Turnage of Spanish Springs, Nevada, entered the picture when Diego was coming 4. She'd been riding her one and only endurance gelding, CT's Sinatra, for 6 years, since 2003. They'd finished Tevis together in 2007. The next year, in a devastating blow, Sinatra was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

That's when Crysta's dear and generous friend Kevin stepped in. Crysta remembered, "Kevin told me, 'I have this unstarted 4-year-old up in Idaho. If you want him, just go get him.' So my mom and I went and picked him up in October, and we brought 'Digs' back home with us."

It was a big change of venue for Diego. "He had never been to 'town' before!" Crysta said. "He'd grown up in Idaho on the ranch. Everything here was cause for alarm!

"I don't know that he'd ever seen a kid before. My son Taren was 6 at the time, and he'd go out and run around or climb on the corral panels and be loud and fast like kids are, and Digs would snort, like 'Oh my gosh, what are you?'

"Cars and trucks driving around, mail boxes, trash cans - all of that seemed very much a novel experience for him. i don't think he'd ever been exposed to that more suburban environment."

Diego had had a bit of ground work and had worn a cinch-and-saddle pad in Idaho, but it had been more for fun than serious training. Crysta didn't have an arena or round pen at her place, so she had to trailer to local arenas or go for walks around the neighborhood when she wanted to work with him. Although she had taken a colt starting class for a semester in college, ridden young/green horses, attended clinics, and worked briefly for a trainer, Digs would prove to challenge all of her growing skills.

Then came that memorable day in January 2009. "It was winter, and he hadn't been out for a couple of weeks due to all the snow, and I wasn't able to get my trailer out. So I decided to take him for a walk by hand through the neighborhood.

"Walking behind some houses, a neighbor's dog lunged at a fence, and when he hit the fence, Digs freaked out and took off running. I tried to pull him back and turn him around, but he got to the end of the lead rope, ducked his head and kicked me in the chin, and knocked my teeth in." (It also fractured her jaw.) She gives Digs the benefit of the doubt: "He kicked, and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I had given him too much lead. I should've let him go. Maybe he wouldn't have kicked if I hadn't yanked on him that one last time. Who knows."

Then right about the time she healed up from all that, Wham. At the beginning of April she hauled Diego to her local arena and had just climbed aboard him when a horse loading in a nearby trailer scrambled and made a terrific commotion. "Digs just freaked out," she said. "I stayed on well for the first few bucks, but when I tried to pull him into a one-rein stop, I threw myself off balance.  I remember flying through the air sideways - looking at Diego, and then hitting the ground." It broke her upper arm in multiple places and required immediate surgery.

The two incidents right on top of each other caused by a spooky, reactive young horse gave her pause. "You know, we ride horses. It's not a matter of if you're going to get hurt, it's a matter of when. And I'd been hurt before. I don't even know how many different times I've come off over 20-plus years in the saddle. But something about that just really shattered my confidence in riding in general."

Many endurance riders would have sold such a horse immediately, and rightfully and obviously so. But that's not how Crysta saw it.

"So then I was faced with this decision of, here I have this young horse, who I can see has a lot of potential and many really good moments, but when he's bad, he's REALLY BAD, who's proven to be spooky and fast. And everyone (including her mom, her husband, many friends) is telling me to sell him, to get rid of him. But I felt I needed to put enough training into him so he would actually have value to then be sold, so I could buy something else that I could endurance ride on.

"That was a really long process to come back from. I'd sit at work at my desk and have panic attacks thinking about riding Digs. I would literally get shaky and my palms would get all sweaty, and I'd have to tell myself, 'You're not in that situation right now, just stop thinking about it.'"

Before doing any more with Digs, Crysta had to start her own riding comeback after her arm healed. "I started riding other people's horses again, some really good steady, well-broke horses.

"My friend took me out for a long trail ride, and I remember we could only walk for the first hour and a half. It took me that long to get my confidence up, being able to move out again, to do anything faster than a walk. That's what I did to get back in the saddle, just started riding other people's horses slowly again."

Attending the Sacramento Horse Expo in June with her mom, and watching some horsemanship demonstrations, Crysta acknowledged that Diego was the most difficult horse she ever had to work with, and she realized that she was lacking in two very key elements: control and trust. "I knew I had to gain more control, and thus increase his trust in me."

Over the next several months, she took a big step back with Digs and really got back to basics. "We did a ton of ground work. I took him to some de-spooking clinics, and we just did stuff in hand. I just gave myself permission to not have to ride him until I was ready."

They did a lot of lunging, in different areas and over obstacles, and they worked on establishing good verbal cues. They worked on ground driving, where Digs had to learn to overcome some of his confidence issues while doing it, where Crysta was no longer the 'leader' out in front of him, and instead he had to be responsible for choosing where to go with some direction from Crysta. They also went to a bomb-proofing clinic.

It wasn't till the first of August that Crysta started getting on Digs again, but it was very slowly and carefully.

"I would climb up on the corral fence, and have him come stand next to the fence. I would swing a leg over, but be standing on the fence still and have my hand on the top rail, so that if he moved at all I could just pull myself back on the fence rather than have to stay on him. Eventually I worked up my confidence to being able to just sit on him without hanging onto the fence."

They eventually progressed to walking around a little bit while mounted, but Crysta knew they still had a long way to go to gaining mutual trust in the saddle. "The little voice in the back of my head was telling me that the spooking and bucking wasn't a 'done' issue. I would have been happy if that little voice was wrong though."

In September she hauled Diego to Bob and Dovie Pickering's ranch, where Bob, who did Parelli natural horsemanship, watched Crysta and Diego work together. The nervous elements were still there: "We were feeding our anxiety off each other," she said. "He'd get nervous, so he'd spook and jump, and I'd get more anxious, and get grabby cuz he was moving around. It was just kind of this bad spiral that we'd put ourselves into."

Bob got on Diego and rode him for a while that day, to help give Diego that confidence booster of a more relaxed and calm rider. Then Bob offered to keep and ride Diego for 30 days.

"Bob pretty much rode him every day, even if it was just for a 5 minute bareback ride around the yard," Crysta said. "It was just giving Digs that confidence of 'You're OK! It's OK to be ridden. There's nothing that's going to happen,' just getting him over some of that jumpiness he had." Crysta would go to the Pickerings' on weekends and ride and spend time with Diego.

At the end of the 30 days, Crysta and Digs went on a little 10-mile 4H ride accompanied by Bob and his horse. "I think I walked on foot for half of the 10 mile loop, but I did ride him. I'd just get off him again if I'd get anxious and walk for a while, then get back on again.

"That was really the strategy I used more and more as I went forward with him. I just gave myself permission to get off if I was nervous, and just lead for a while. I didn't feel like I had to ride it out.

"The other thing I taught him which was really helpful was to 'touch it.' He'd spook at something, and I'd say 'Touch it', make him go touch it with his nose. And he'd realize, oh, OK, it wasn't anything that scary. I drug home a bunch of stuff from the Goodwill, and set up little obstacles around the yard. And when he'd snort and blow, I'd make him go up and touch it. And the second he would sniff it and see it up close, he would relax about things.

"Actually, to this day I'll still use it. If he's starting to spook at something, I can tell him 'touch it,' and I can feel him actually take a deep breath, 'Oh, OK,' and relax.

Crysta continued riding during the winter with friend Elizabeth Funderburk. "She had a horse she wanted to do endurance with, but didn't have a trailer. So I would pick her up in my trailer, and she and Dixie would help babysit me on Digs, the green horse.

"We did a lot of riding together. And by about May of 2010, I realized that I wasn't looking to sell Digs anymore. I was having fun riding him.

"Personality wise, I've always clicked with him really well. He's a really sweet horse, very friendly. He likes to get attention, loves to come over and see what you're doing. The challenge was in getting him over some of that reactiveness he had, and helping him learn that everything wasn't so scary, and that he didn't need to react or have such HUGE reactions. He learned how to spook in place and not spin a 180 and freak out. That's where a lot of those clinics and different things really came in handy."

Handy enough to mold a partnership of a confident horse and a confident rider.

Handy enough to step into Sinatra's hoof prints and start down the endurance trail.


AERC Northeast International Sponsors 2017 100-mile Challenge

February 22 2017

AERC Northeast International is sponsoring a special 100-mile challenge in 2017. Current AERC members who complete all 3 of the Old Dominion 1-Day 100 on June 10th, the Vermont 100 on July 15th, and the Northeast Challenge ono August 26 will receive special recognition and a USA Northeast 100-mile Challenge Triple Crown Award.

A special award will be given to the horse/rider combination with the best overall ride time at all 3 events, and a Rookie award will be provided if a horse or rider completes his/her first 100 miler as part of the series.

Blaine Jack, manager of the Northeast Challenge came up with the idea. "USA Northeast International wishes to herald our region's historic 100-mile endurance rides that have inspired generations of AERC members!," said Mary Howell.

For more information, see:

Information and entries for each ride can be found here:

Gaited horse Hooch is US trail riding’s new “golden boy” - Full Article

February 21, 2017

A champagne colored Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse gelding has been named the winner of the 2016 President’s Cup, the highest award of the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC).

Turnner’s Wildcard (aka Hooch), who is owned and ridden by Lin Ward of Westcliff, Colorado, received the award at the NATRC’s national convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week.

Lin purchased Hooch as a seven-year old after an intensive search and after first riding him under a full moon, at night, on a trail at the breeder’s facility. Lin recalls, “he just listened and did all I asked.”

After getting him home, Lin changed his name. “Never name a horse something you don’t want them to be. With a ‘Kentucky Full Moon’ ride as our first experience together, he became Hooch.” She says it fits him well as he has lots of personality.

It took 13,137 miles of trailering, competition in 16 NATRC rides, and winning in different states and regions beginning in March and finishing in the first week of November, to put Hooch at the top...

Read more:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February AERC Board Meeting

The AERC Board of Directors met February 13.

The Board of Directors approved funding for the Research Committee to complete data analysis for the Cooley Ranch project. The board also approved special sanctioning for 3 rides -- 2 in the Northwest and one in the Mountain region.

The board heard a review of the 2017 budget provided by Treasurer Mollie Krumlaw-Smith.

Jan Stevens, AERC liaison with USEF, reported on the USEF Annual Meeting and on a conference call with USEF CEO Bill Maroney. The upshot of that call is that both USEF and AERC desire better communications with one another and will plan a joint press release approved by both boards to express our mutual dismay at the abusive treatment and management of horses in Dubai as well as appreciation for the more positive actions in the Boudhieb initiative. AERC and USEF will be negotiating a new agreement between the two organizations in the next year.

The AERC board also heard a report by Vice President Lisa Schneider on the Rules Committee's work. Finally, the board discussed the need for support of Ride Managers in various situations. The board was unanimous in its support of Ride Managers.

The next board meeting will be March 9 at the convention in Dallas/Grapevine. We hope to see you all there.

2016 Darley Nominees Released by Arabian Racing Cup - Full List

The Arabian Magazine, Racing
Mon, Feb 20, 2017

The Arabian Racing Cup announces the following nominees for the coveted USA Darley Awards. These nominees were selected by the Cup Stewards as the best of Arabian Racing in the U.S. for the year 2016. Beginning next week, the Darley Voting Academy will review detailed statistics and performance data from the Arabian Jockey Club about these nominees and cast their votes via confidential ballots.

The winners will be crowned Darley Champions of 2016 at the 30th Annual Darley Awards March 31 through April 2, 2017 in Hollywood, California. The glittering ceremony and gala weekend is sponsored by the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival. According to Lara Sawaya, Director of the Festival, the Darley Awards themselves will be presented on March 31 at the Dolby Theater in Highland Center. On April 1 the focus will shift to Santa Anita Race Course and the $100,000 HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes (Gr.1 PA). Sunday evening, April 2, the Celebration Banquet and annual stallion breeding auction will be held at the host hotel, the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel. Please refer to the Cup’s website,, for more details as they become available.

Founded in 1983 by Dr. Sam Harrison, the Arabian Racing Cup’s Darley Awards ceremony is the showcase of U.S. Arabian racing. In 2012, the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and the Cup joined together to promote this prestigious event. The Darleys are headlined by the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Awards recognizing international women in Arabian Horse Racing...

See the list here:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sign up for AERC Convention by Friday for Discount

February 20 2017

Sign up for the March 10 and 11 AERC National Convention in Grapevine, Texas, before February 24th, to save on seminar ticket prices and be entered to win 10 raffle tickets! (Lots of great raffle prizes, including gift certificates for boots, ride entries, and much more). 

AERC's convention is the most fun you can have without your horse! Two days of informative and thought-provoking seminars on Friday and Saturday, shopping galore, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, awards presentations, Hot Topics seminars, plus fun Friday night entertainment and the awards banquet on Saturday night.

Sign up by Friday, February 24, and save $10 per day on speaker fees!

For more information on the Convention and for an online registration form, see:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2017 Tevis Educational Ride

Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2017

As of January 29, there is a waiting list for Day 1 from Robinson Flat. A shorter Day 1 option is now available as well. For more information about this year's July 7-9 Tevis Educational Ride go here.

The entry form is available here.

Coming Soon! Endurance Essentials Web-Based Course! - Full Article

By Patti Stedman | February 19th, 2017

A few years ago we got very involved in educating new and aspiring endurance riders.

Education is kind of in my blood. My mom was a teacher, and my safety consulting business — 18 years old last month — focuses on providing creative, engaging and interactive training about OSHA regulations to the employees of my clients.

So back a few years ago, while planning to teach a clinic for new folks at our farm, creating an Endurance 101 Powerpoint presentation felt a bit like falling off a log. It’s the sort of thing we do all of the time.

We shared that Powerpoint with AERC and other aspiring 101 clinic facilitators and held lots and lots of Endurance 101 Clinics all over our region.

In the mean time our consulting business evolved and started to catch up with the tech age. (Please understand that this has been a massive leap for me, she who still keeps a paper calendar and who can use her SmartPhone to do only a few basic things.)

We started a spin-off business, creating web-based training services to our clients who preferred to have their employees take their training in front of a computer instead of in a classroom.

Ahoy, PCS Custom Training Solutions LLC!

Then, this summer, we got inspired and involved in a little “passion project” as I like to call it …

We decided to take the Endurance 101 Clinics and bring them to the web via

Read more here:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2017 February's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - Listen in


Today on Karen Chaton's Endurance Episode USEF Endurance Chef d'Equipe Mark Dial explains the new team selection protocol, Randy Winter tells us about his invention the Rein Safe and Karen gives a history lesson. Listen in...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

60 or Older? Win a Tevis Cup Entry!

February 13 2017

Are you 60 Years of age or older?

Would you like to win an entry to the 2017 Tevis Cup Ride?

Through the generous donation of a fellow horseman WSTF is offering an entry to the world famous Tevis Cup 100 Mile Ride. The entry will be awarded to a First-Time Rider that is 60 years of age or older who has successfully completed the Tevis Cup mileage requirement as of May 1, 2017.

 We want to hear about your dream of riding the Tevis Cup!

To enter the contest, in 500 words or less tell us about yourself, your horse and your journey together as a team. Please share the experiences that you feel have prepared you for this challenge. Let us know the impact this entry will have on reaching your dream of participating in the legendary Tevis Cup.

 Entries must be postmarked by May 20th, 2017. The winning rider 
Please include your name, mailing address, phone number and email address so we can contact you if you win.

Mail entries to:
Western States Trail Foundation,
150 Gum Lane #103
Auburn, CA 95603
Best of Luck!

Friday, February 03, 2017

Arabian Horse Life – AHA’s New Member Magazine Hits Mailboxes in February

February 2, 2017

(2-FEB-17) – AURORA, COLO. – The Arabian Horse Association (AHA)’s new member magazine, Arabian Horse Life (AHL) is due to hit mailboxes the middle of this month. Now going to all AHA members, the publication is designed to emphasize and focus on all aspects of the Arabian breed and the Arabian horse industry.

The name of the magazine was selected by AHA members via survey and designed to reflect what the new magazine is all about – Arabian horses and the people who love them. The inaugural issue of the magazine boasts a cover photo that was submitted by an AHA member, via a photo submission contest that AHA hosted in January.

“Involving our members and making them feel like this is THEIR magazine, was really important to us,” says AHA Director of Marketing, Julian McPeak. “Our entire magazine, design and marketing staff have worked together to hopefully bring our members a magazine that they feel proud of; that they feel they are an integral part of. We want them to see pictures of their friends, their horses, their trainers and feel the feelings that Arabian horses give them when they flip through the pages.”

Editorial features will focus on the heritage, history and people, places and horses that have long impacted the breed. New columns bring important information about Arabian horse owners to light and feature the products they use, the stories they have to tell and the ownership tips they have to offer.

The column ‘Faves,’ highlights products used every day, around the barn, by AHA members and trainers. ‘Jibbah Jabber’ brings the latest news and interesting stories from around the industry. ‘Praiseworthy’ focuses entirely on highlighting AHA’s Achievement Awards, while ‘Focus Life’ shows off pictures that members submitted of themselves and their horses. Training tips, a newly design Youth section and so much more can be found within AHL’s completely re-designed pages.

The magazine has a brand new look and feel. With a fresh layout, divided sections for easy reading, it highlights all aspects of the industry - all disciplines, all levels of ages and participation, and most of all, the life that AHA members live, loving their Arabian horses.

With an increased circulation of nearly 23,000, AHL offers the perfect opportunity for advertisers to reach all AHA members with their message. Commercial and farm/breeder rates are available. To learn more about the magazine, to contact a sales team member, or for the media kit, specially priced packages and more, visit:


AHA is a major equine association serving 84,000 Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horse owners across North America. AHA registers and maintains a database of more than one million Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses. AHA produces championship events, recognizes over 400 Arabian horse shows and distance rides and provides activities, education, and programs that promote breeding and ownership.

Contact: AHA

Thursday, January 19, 2017

AERC’s Century Club: Rider + Horse = 100 Years

January 19 2017

Endurance riding is a sport that mandates awards – it is the “to finish is to win” sport, after all.

Right in the rule book (rule 6.3) is the requirement that every finisher of every American Endurance Ride Conference competition “must receive a completion award.”

But those are just the start. AERC recognizes mileage accomplishments starting at 250 miles for both human and horse. There are best condition awards for exceptionally fit horses. There are awards specifically for stallions, for mares, for those who compete in Pioneer rides of three days or more in a row, for 100-mile riders, for high-mileage families. There are age-based awards, for junior riders, young riders, and for older riders, including one very special acknowledgement.

One of the more recent awards to catch the fancy of many riders is the Century Club Award, which honors rider/equine teams who earn the recognition when they complete a ride once their ages total 100 or more.

So far the roster of Century Club members totals four:

Connie Berto and Eco Stardust (California). Connie dreamed up the Century Club award. She is a long-time endurance rider and she and her Morgan gelding, Eco Stardust (AMHA 129921), completed 5,000 endurance miles in 2013 – after Connie’s hip replacement surgeries in 2007 and 2013.

Mary Chmielewski and Quicksilver (Ohio). Mary (her last name is pronounced “mah-les-key,” 83, is a typical older endurance rider. She still trots out her own horse at competitions, and enjoys riding her 18-year-old grey Arabian gelding, GKA Quick Silver (AHR 570114). Mary even completed the AERC Trail Master course in her home state of Ohio in 2016. Her AERC mileage totals to date: 2,515 endurance miles (of 50 miles or more) and 1,115 limited distance miles.

Dorothy Sue Phillips and Montana Flyer (Wyoming). Dorothy is the highest-mileage rider of this elite bunch, with 17,695 endurance miles (those are competition miles – that figure doesn’t count all her training miles!) and 1,035 limited distance miles. She switched over to the shorter-mileage rides in 2015. Montana Flyer (AHR 527262) has 7,945 endurance miles and 590 LD miles.

Leon Self, DVM, and Cole Younger (Missouri). Leon started out judging AERC rides, but was called to ride for the first time . . . at age 81. His mule, Cole Younger, was then 24 years old. They spent a half-year conditioning before entering the Pokie Okie 30-mile ride in 2014. Even with a combined age of 105, the pair wound up earning High Vet Score.

The American Endurance Ride Conference will be honoring the 2016 accomplishments of their members and equines at their annual convention March 9 and 10 in Grapevine, Texas. Yes, even more awards will be handed out, recognizing both annual and lifetime achievements.

Mary speaks for every endurance rider when she says, “I love the endurance riders, the camaraderie and friendships that I have developed over 40 years of long-distance riding. The endurance people have a true love of their horses and the horse discipline that they have chosen. I will always have a horse and ride until my body says to stop. As long as I can climb up on a horse, I will ride!”

To find out more about the “to finish is to win” sport, visit or phone the AERC national office at 866-271-2372.

# # #

About the AERC

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) was founded in 1972 as a national governing body for long distance riding. Over the years it has developed a set of rules and guidelines designed to provide a standardized format and strict veterinary controls. The AERC sanctions more than 700 rides each year throughout North America and in 1993 Endurance became the fifth discipline under the United States Equestrian Team.
In addition to promoting the sport of endurance riding, the AERC encourages the use, protection, and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historic significance. Many special events of four to six consecutive days take place over historic trails, such as the Pony Express Trail, the Outlaw Trail, the Chief Joseph Trail, and the Lewis and Clark Trail. The founding ride of endurance riding, the Western States Trail Ride or “Tevis,” covers 100 miles of the famous Western States and Immigrant Trails over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These rides promote awareness of the importance of trail preservation for future generations and foster an appreciation of our American heritage. For more information please visit us at

Contact: Troy Smith, AERC Publications, 866-271-2372,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rushcreek: The Bloodlines Continue at Snell Valley Ranch

January 16 2017
by Merri

Tucked away in the oak and pine covered hills in a corner of the Napa Valley is the Snell Valley Ranch.

The fertile valleys with good soil and spring-fed irrigation is the ideal spot for growing organic, historic-sourced grapes for exceptional wines for the Flying Horse Winery. It's also a fine place to raise horses. The horses you see on the 1400-acre Snell Valley Ranch, running the fields, climbing the hills, picking their way through rough oak and pine hills, laying a good foundation for growth, athleticism, and intelligence, carry historic bloodlines from decades back when a good Arabian was bred to work and built to last and knew his way around a ranch and the endurance trails.

Hendrik and Lettie Smeding, owners of Flying Horse Winery and Snell Valley Ranch, are the owners of these Rushcreek mares and foals, who are carrying on the name and legacy of their forebears, after the Nebraska Rush Creek Land and Livestock company dispensed with the breeding of their famed Arabians.

It was after World War II that the Nebraska ranch, established in 1885, turned to breeding Arabians for their ranch work, because their original horses - "part work horses and part Thoroughbred" - just weren't working out that well. The Arabians proved to be good all-around ranch and cow horses with great endurance; and the habit of turning the horses out in herds for 3 or 4 years on excellent grazing land before breaking and training made for good formative years.

It was around the 1970's that endurance riders discovered that these Rush Creek-raised Arabians made excellent mounts for their long distance riding passion.

And it was in 2012 when the Rush Creek board of directors decided to liquidate their Arabian herd. "Our understanding from Lyle," Lettie said, "was that Rushcreek Land and Cattle Company decided not to have a herd of horses of any kind. They wanted their workers (cowboys) to bring and use their own personal mounts whatever breed they are," Lettie said.

It was a sad day for aficionados of the Rush Creek-bred Arabians, and it galvanized a number of people to action. Laura Hayes, from New York, who had owned and ridden numerous Rushcreek horses in endurance, was instrumental in getting every one of the ranch's exceptional Arabians sold and into new homes.

Hendrik and Lettie Smeding, who had bred CMK Arabians in the past, were interested in starting up breeding again. "We'd both always admired the Rushcreek horses on the trail, and a friend told us in 2012 that Rush Creek was selling their horses," Lettie recalled.

Unbeknownst to Lettie, Hendrik had already made a call to Lyle Sherfey, horse ranch manager for Rush Creek Arabians, a couple of times saying he wanted some of those mares. "I just wanted to see foals on the ranch again," Hendrik said.

He left several phone messages for Lyle, and it wasn't till weeks later that Lyle got back to them. Lettie was taken aback when she heard who it was and what it was about. They did some quick investigating and negotiating, and eventually the Smedings ended up with 10 of the very top Rushcreek broodmares.

They also bought some youngsters and one of the ranch's current stallions, HV Suns Heaven and Earth, who had been the Rush Creek herd sire for about 7 years.

"The Smedings were extremely good to work with during the dispersal," Laura Hayes said. "I will be forever indebted to them for that. During the dispersal, my main goal was to not allow one of those 80+ horses to be euthanized or go to a sale. We accomplished that in less than 90 days using only social media and not spending a cent on advertising. The Smedings had a big part in that as they were our biggest buyers."

After getting the herd ensconced in 2012 into their new California surroundings, and letting the mares settle, even though Heaven had a nice temperament and attractive babies, the Smedings decided they wanted to look for a different stallion for their new herd.

"We have articles from way back in Western Horseman, and Rush Creek was known for really big horses - 15.2, 15.3 hands - big, stout, strong rope horses, because they were doing ranch work," Lettie said. "We were more interested in getting back to that long-ago path to Rush Creek horses. There's Polish and Russian in the Rushcreeks, but there's also really heavy Raffles, so we figured the best thing was to do was an outcross."

The Smedings ended up talking to former endurance rider Dianne Waldron, of Rosebrook Farms in Florida, about a stallion that they felt might compliment their mares. French import Doran SFBAR (Dormane X Ortie, by Djouran) was a U.S. stakes-winning racehorse, and stakes producer. He was the outcross the Smedings were looking for, with "big size and big bone and good movement."

In the 3 1/2 years since the Smedings started their hobby to continue the Rushcreek Arabian breeding, the future looks very bright indeed.

They have carefully winnowed their Rushcreek broodmares down to 5: Rushcreek Patti, Rushcreek Pecan, Rushcreek Tiki, Rushcreek Reata, and Rushcreek Tigger. With Doran SBFAR as sire, these 5 mares have so far produced 7 offspring.

Rushcreek Patti (Rushcreek Kip X Rushcreek Alibi, by Rushcreek Quincy) has a coming 2-year-old filly, SVR Patticake.

Rushcreek Pecan (Rushcreek Kip X Rushcreek Freon, by Shalimar Rhett) has a coming 2-year-old filly, SVR Pecan Pie.

"Both of those, oh gosh, when crossed with Doran, it's just like a magic cross with these horses," Lettie said. "They're huge. I was looking at some of the old Rush Creek pictures, you know, when you get the 15.1 and 15.2 hand, big, stout, horses. That's what we're getting again. It's awesome."

Rushcreek Tiki (Comar Raphael x Rushcreek Joni by SAHR Magnafy) has a coming 3-year-old filly, SVR Firefox. "Oh my goodness. She looks almost like a warmblood, a big dressage type of horse. She's also beautiful - big bones, super sweet, really really nice."

Rushcreek Reata (Comar Raphael X Rushcreek Gwen, by Sahr Magnafy) has a coming yearling filly, SVR Reata Creek, and a coming 3-year-old colt, SVR Firestorm. "'Creek' is a very nice looking bay horse, big for her age. Firestorm - I would say he's close to 15.2 hands - is a big tank. And he's a really sweet horse too."

Rushcreek Tigger (Comar Raphael X Rushcreek Kitti, by Sahr Magnafy) has a coming wearing filly, SVR Eyeofthetigger, and a coming 3-year-old colt, SVR Spitfire. "Spitfire is about 15.1, bay, and he's just gorgeous. 'Tigger' is nice also. They both have nice legs under them, and they're smart."

"They all have good minds. Just good horses."

Through Lyle Sherfey, the Smedings got permission from the Rushcreek Board of Directors to use the Rushcreek brand and and the name for their Arabians (Rush Creek continues to use it for their Nebraska ranch). Currently they are using SVR (Snell Valley Ranch) as a prefix, though they may decide to use Rushcreek at times. They will also freeze brand their horses with both the SVR and Rushcreek brands (Rushcreek is a clover leaf).

The Smedings plan to breed the mares back with frozen semen from Doran this spring (Doran is at stud in the UAE, and the Smedings collected and kept frozen semen from him for their breeding operation). They plan to keep the youngsters they have right now, and possibly try some on the racetrack. They will let some of them grow up a while and then see what they have. Right now, they are just enjoying the new horseflesh on their ranch.

Lettie said, "We're getting excellent crosses with Doran and these mares. They have such beautiful babies, and I personally think the babies can go on the racetrack, they can do endurance, and they can do dressage.

"The babies are getting Doran's laid back shoulder, and they're solid builds, with the good legs and hooves. They really look like the old Rushcreeks." Doran has an exceptionally calm and gentle temperament for a stallion, which seems to be passing on to his Rushcreek offspring.

The youngsters are getting a good upbringing on the ranch. "The mares take them everywhere. They make routes all over the place, literally miles every day. In the evening they're down in the valley, and in the morning first of daybreak, they're way up on top of the hills. Some of that is scrambling, picking through the rocks and going up and downhill. They can rock-pick like nobody's business! They drink from the creek and the lake, and they go through everything. They like to be on the move."

It is the Smedings' main desire to get back to the big old Rushcreek Arabians. "We were hoping that's what we'd get out here," Lettie said, "and it looks like we are. That was our goal, to get those nice big solid horses again. We're very excited about them!"

Back in the day, "Rush Creek-bred" and "Rush Creek-raised" meant something. Everybody knew what a Rushcreek horse was and what he/she was made of, and what they could expect out on the endurance trails.

Thanks to the Smedings, just a handful of breeders who wanted to see the Rushcreek lines continue, that day may once again be on the horizon.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Longtime New Mexico Veterinarian Sid Zarges Dies - Full Article

EL PASO, TX—JANUARY 14, 2016—Longtime New Mexico veterinarian Dr. Sidney T. Zarges, 80, passed away on January 8th in El Paso, Texas.
Dr. Sid was born in Raton, New Mexico on April 12, 1936. His father was Henry W. Zarges of Cimarron, New Mexico, and mother was Alma C. McDaniel of Roswell, New Mexico.

Dr. Sid married Sue Schroeder on Sept. 12, 1958 in Monte Vista, Colorado. The couple graduated veterinary school in 1960 from Colorado State University. They moved to El Paso where they practiced veterinary medicine and opened Zarges Animal Clinic in 1965.

They were the first veterinarians to perform equine surgery in the area. Dr. Sid focused on equine medicine and worked at Sunland Park Racetrack and Ruidoso Downs Racetrack.

In semi-retirement, he vetted equine Endurance rides all over the country...

- See more at:

NATRC convention focus--Fun, Mind, Body & Soul - Full Article

January 16 2017

The North American Trail Ride Conference convention, being held Feb. 17 and 18 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has a two-fold focus: fun and fellowship on Feb. 17, seminars Feb. 18 to enhance the mind, body and soul of the rider.

The fun begins with humorous stories written by author Angie McGhee from the world of distance riding; followed by an Equine Jeopardy game “show”; tours of the area; a presentation by Jean Abernethy, creator of the cartoon horse, Fergus, about his first NATRC ride; and ends with refreshments and old time mountain music performed by The Trail Buddies.

On Feb. 18, seminars will be held on photographing equines; a prescription for healthy, balanced and beautiful riding; the mental and physical approach to trail obstacles; keeping cool in a crisis; and a presentation on “The Legacy of NATRC.” The day will close with a banquet, raffle drawing sponsored by Riding Warehouse, and celebration of the amazing accomplishments of NATRC members and their equine partners...

Read more here:

Friday, January 13, 2017

USEF Unveils Complete Rebrand, Launches New Member Benefits

Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce a rebranding, launch of a new fan membership, and additional membership benefits. Effective January 11, 2017, the Federation has become US Equestrian and has adopted a refreshed identity as part of a new overall strategic plan for the organization. This includes a refreshed logo that removes the shield element and better aligns the brand with other successful national governing bodies.

Introduced by incoming President, Murray Kessler, at the Annual Meeting in Lexington, Ky. on Wednesday, the vision of the new US Equestrian is to bring the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible. This closely coincides with the organization’s mission to provide access to and increase participation in equestrian sports at all levels by ensuring fairness, safety, and enjoyment. US Equestrian will strive to engage horse sport enthusiasts at all levels through enhanced member offerings and consistent championing of horse welfare and fair play initiatives.

The website, is now and has been completely reengineered into a user-focused and mobile-friendly site that offers many useful tools and resources. Member-only benefits on the website include horse and rider searches, standings, and competition results...

Read more here: