Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Arizona Endurance ride produces local winner

The Wickenburg Sun
photo: Cheri Noel and her horse ‘Blue’ with prize buckle

Participating in her first endurance ride, local businesswoman Cheri Noel rode across the finish line in the 25-mile portion of the Land of the Sun Endurance Ride on Saturday, Jan. 24, tying for first place.

Riding “Blue,” an 8-year-old grade roan gelding, she completed the course in two hours and 30 minutes. Noel purchased Blue from the Kay El Bar Ranch last May after the resort closed for the season and, as far as she knows, this was his first competition as well. For their efforts, she received a gold belt buckle, T-shirt, and a piece of artwork from local artist Tammi Riggs. Blue also received the award for “Best Condition” of all horses in the 25-mile competition.

Lawrence and Maureen Serrano and Cruz Ruiz, other local 25-mile competitors, placed within the top 10 finishers. Brothers Jose Roberto and Benjamin Ruiz also rode in this division, which had 65 participants.

In the 50-mile competition, locals Bruce Rosenthal finished ninth and Cindy Thal finished 18th out of 71 riders. The last competitor in the 50-mile division finished at 7:41 p.m. in total darkness. This rider came from Pahrump, Nev., and was thrilled to be given the opportunity to complete the course even though she was disqualified for being overtime. Special thanks go to the drag riders and rescue crew for accompanying her in her quest for a finish.

This ride has been held here for more than 30 years with the Wickenburg Horsemen’s Association (WHA) sponsoring it for the last seven. It is a sanctioned event by AERC (American Endurance Riding Conference) and riders come from all over the nation and the world to participate. The trails are maintained and groomed by WHA members and on the day of the ride at least 100 volunteers are out in the desert making sure everyone is safe and stays on course. The High Desert Search & Rescue also donates time by providing communications and emergency assistance. Veterinary services are provided by Drs. Jim Lytle, Sid Vargas, Mike Close, Robin Waldron, Joanne Naylor and Rich Kiely as well as the pre-vet students from the University of Arizona. Nancy Halsey, WHA treasurer, served as ride manager again this year.

Everyone had a great time on a beautiful Arizona winter morning. WHA appreciates the assistance of Vivian Helmsworth, DD Western World, Serenity Farms, Bashas’, Sundance Pizza & Tastee Freez, Tom & Tammie Riggs,, Laura Bovee Photography, Creations in Thread, together with Theresa Capriotti and her crew who prepared the banquet on Saturday and everyone who volunteered their time to help make this ride possible.

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