Horseback riders weaved their way through 155 miles of trails on the Fort Ord Public Lands on Thanksgiving weekend during the fifth annual Desert Gold Pioneer I, II, III endurance ride.
photo: Dennis Tracy takes his horse Brilliant Disguise for a quick trot so that a veterinarian can check the horse's legs during the Desert Gold endurance horseback rides Nov. 26 through the Fort Ord Public Lands. (Conner Jay)
"The horses love it here with the rolling hills, natural grass and friendly people," said Tracy Hofstrand, chief steward of the race, referring to the hikers and mountain bikers who shared the trails with riders in the race. "This really is the perfect place for multiple disciplines and sports."
Riders chose to cover 90 miles (30 miles each day) or 155 miles (first day 55, second and third days 50 miles each) during the three-day event. While many riders stayed at a base camp at the old Fort Ord Travel Camp, others rented rooms at local lodgings.
Hofstrand said the Monterey area's many hotels and attractions provide extra comforts that aren't always available at endurance races.
After riders finish the day's race, they can enjoy tourist attractions, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a hot shower at a hotel.
"It's a great trail to ride," said Lindsay Graham, who is also a member of the U.S. Endurance Team. "These kinds of rides with multiple days are fun, 'cause after you take care of your horse for the day, you can have a glass of wine and kick back by the fireplace."
- Conner Jay