Terrell Williams/For the Capital Press
Horse trainer and endurance rider P.J. Blonshine of Gooding, Idaho, is riding her purebred Arabian, Pasha, cross country along the Pony Express route. She says a good endurance horse needs to be strong-willed to be ridden 50 to 100 miles in a day.
Capitalpress.com - Full Article
July 7 2011
Club follows the original trail, participates in races
By TERRELL WILLIAMS
For the Capital Press
GOODING, Idaho -- In 1860 and 1861, Pony Express riders made a relay run from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, covering 2,000 miles in nine days and 23 hours.
This month a riding club of 35 riders is on the same trail, feeling the accomplishment -- and pain -- of those hardy, historic mail carriers.
"It's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime deal," said retired businessman Max Merlich of Sandy, Ore., who is riding the cross-county route. "What would possess a person to do something like this, I have no idea. ... The Pony Express only lasted 18 months before telegraphs took over, but there's a huge amount of folklore."
Merlich has read numerous books on the Pony Express era, and was always fascinated by this brief but dramatic events. So he decided to take his endurance riding hobby to a new level.
His riding club, called XP, left from St. Joseph over Memorial Day weekend, and is covering an average of 50 miles a day, five days a week, for about eight weeks.
The ride's manager has worked hard to secure the trails, Merlich said, so the riders can travel on back roads and across wide open space most of the way.
Each rider has a support crew to drive trailers and campers. They are following the original route from Missouri, across Kansas and Nebraska, through Wyoming and Utah, then into Nevada, where the ride will end in Virginia City, since they cannot get permits to continue into California...
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