Friday, September 25, 2009

Grahams grind it out on horseback

Mother-daughter duo excels in endurance events
Friday, September 25, 2009

Riding Chris Martin’s 7-year-old chestnut Arabian gelding, Monk, the Napa resident finished the technical course in 9 hours and 58 minutes. Graham, 27, finished 35 minutes ahead of the runner-up, Brad Green of Auburn, Calif., who rode his 10-year old Arabian cross gelding, Pawnee.
“I kept a very steady pace all day. People always passed me downhill, but I passed them uphill, and let (Monk) canter on the flats,” said Graham. “He has a very easy big canter and his heart rate drops significantly.”

The win came as a surprise to the Graham, who has 2,275 miles of endurance competition under her belt.
“The day just came together the way people dream of,” she said. “The Monk Man never slowed down. He gave me an incredible ride.”

A total of 61 horse-and-rider teams started the 100-mile competition at 5:30 a.m. Sept. 11 in the town midway between Redding and Reno. The trail varied from 3,800 to 6,100 feet in elevation, with spectacular views of Walker Lake and Lake Almanor. When the 24-hour time limit was up early the next morning, 42 teams had crossed the finish line.
“A 69 percent completion rate for such a high-level competition means that riders were really taking care of their horses,” said AERC Executive Director Kathleen Henkel. “It was a hot day, but the horses did great.”

At the Best Condition judging on Saturday morning, Graham’s horse was awarded top honors by the team of veterinarians who examined the top 10-placing horses.

“Monk looked great — bright-eyed, eating and drinking well, and just looked like a happy horse,” Graham said. “I am on cloud nine.”

Graham’s mother, Susan Graham Seibert, mounted her horse Phoenix Affair two days later to compete in the AERC’s 50-mile championship ride. Phoenix, who at 22 is one of the oldest competing horses in endurance, has racked up 4,120 endurance miles since 1993.


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