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Published August 03, 2007 10:04 AM EDT
Thompson Training Center, owned and operated by John and Susan Thompson, in Sweetwater is preparing for the biggest endurance horse race, The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race.
The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race starts Sept. 3 in Santa Fe, NM and will end 800 miles later on Sept. 15 in Independence, Mo. It is broken down into 10 rides of 50-55 miles a day over 510 miles. Only 100 teams will be allowed to enter with about 500 horses dashing over the landscape. Already, 76 riders from 22 states have signed up, paying entry fees ranging from $3,500 to $4,500.
Susan has ridden, trained and competed on horses almost her entire life. Her riding accomplishments include prominence in barrel racing and endurance riding. She has endurance raced since 1996 and has completed 44 of 50 races and accumulated almost 2000 competitive miles.
Thompson is entered in the most prestigious team type, one rider on one or more horses for the entire race and is the only entry from the state of Tennessee. She will be taking two straight Egyptian bred Arabian horses, Thee Pilgram, an 8-year-old gray gelding and Thee MaCade a 7-year-old bay gelding, both sired by Thee Desperado, alternating them each day.
Thee MaCade, in 2006, his first year of competition, finished four of five fifty mile races accumulating 175 competitive miles and finished sixth in the Arabian Horse Association, Region 12 - 50 mile Championship. Thee MaCade has started the 2007 season with a very impressive fifth-place finish in the 50 mile Biltmore Challenge out of 103 competitors in the worst conditions. Rain began to fall around 6 a.m. that morning and continued throughout the day making the trails slick and dangerous. Thee Pilgram, who just began his endurance career in 2007, finished his first race/first 50 at the GERA Fundraiser under the heavyweight division with John Thompson aboard placing 10th.
After a long day in the saddle, riders will be able to rest at race villages. Each village will consist of a 30-acre area resembling a traveling fair, with food vendors, a dining tent, merchants, farriers, veterinarians and places for riders to clean up and rest. The race has already attracted several major sponsors, including the RFD-TV cable-satellite network, the U.S. Postal Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Chevy Trucks, and the Kansas Lottery
Spectators are encouraged to turn out to greet the riders at “race villages” where participants and their horses will spend the night in 11 locations across New Mexico and Kansas. More than 100,000 people in total will be on hand to watch as the competitors arrive.
The Imus Ranch, a New Mexico ranch that helps children with cancer, is the event’s designated charity and will get a portion of the entry and sponsor fees.
Some of Susan’s current sponsors are Mayfield Dairy Farms, Merita Bakery (IBC-Hostess), The Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Valley Farmers Co-op, Farm Credit Services of Mid America, Fort Dodge, Farnam, Incor Design & Promotions and Maiden Chase Arabians.
More information is available at www.sfthorserace.com and www.thompsontrainingcenter.com.