Wednesday, October 29, 2014

James “Jim” Helfter, 72, Sherrard, Ill - Full Article

James “Jim” Helfter, age 72, of Sherrard, Illinois, died Sunday, October 26, 2014, at Trinity Hospital in Rock Island, Illinois.

Funeral services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, November 1, 2014, at the Champion-Bucheit Funeral Home in Osage, Iowa, with Pastoral Minister Annette Uker officiating. Burial will be in St. Peter’s Cemetery in New Haven, Iowa. Visitation will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Champion-Bucheit Funeral Home.

Jim was born June 6, 1942, in Osage, Iowa, the son of John and Merna (Coonradt) Helfter. He graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in New Haven in 1960. On December 30, 1988, he married Gwen Eileen Pike in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Jim worked at Martin Marietta in Colorado. He was currently CEO of Helfter Enterprises, Inc. in Osco, Illinois, in the field of customized organic feed animal supplements. He was a member of the American Endurance Riders Association and the Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Riders Association...

Read more here:

Woman Battles Stage 4 Breast Cancer, Shares Story of Hope - Full Article

Santa Ynez Valley woman surpasses two year life expectancy

Meredith Garofalo, KEYT - KCOY - KKFX Meteorologist & Reporter,

October 29 2014

SANTA YNEZ, Calif. -
Two years ago, 34-year-old Lora Wereb and her horse, Merlin. were an unlikely pair.

"I never thought I'd love a horse," Wereb recalled.

But their paths crossed after this Santa Ynez Valley woman was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.

"They found it throughout my chest, through my liver, up my neck," Wereb said. "It was everywhere. Everywhere but my bones, which was the best news I could have gotten."

Wereb was thrown into a whirlwind of chemotherapy, seven different surgeries, and many different medications. In addition, she received a terrible life expectancy.

"You're given six months to two years sometimes," she said.

It was a very scary moment for both Lora and her boyfriend, Bryan Snyder.

"I guess my reaction was, I guess, to hope for the best you know?" Snyder said. "Because it's just a big question mark."

However, it was hope that kept her from giving up and help from a four legged friend...

Read more here:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Survivor Run honors breast cancer survivors - Full Article

October 24 2014


Life-long horse enthusiast Megan Hruska of Canfield wanted to honor breast cancer survivors, including her mother, in the way she knew best - with a Survivor Run consisting of a 12.5 mile clinic ride to help spread awareness of early breast cancer detection and to get others involved in her mother’s passion for riding.

The Survivor Run took place at Buckeye Horse Park on Oct. 11.

Hruska’s mother, Sallie Sullivan, was diagnosed last October with first stage breast cancer...

- See more at:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014's Book of the Month: The Lighter Side of Endurance Riding

by Angie McGhee (Jan 1, 2006)

If you haven't read this book already, it's about time you did!

From one of the funniest story tellers on horseback, Angie looks at endurance riding like nobody else can.

"The only thing that might force you to put this book down before reading it cover to cover is the laughter induced, side splitting stomach ache you will experience within a few paragraphs. A must for everyone who has ever loved, and been confused by, horses and riding. Barbara White"

2015 Dates and Location Announced for Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships Presented by Gotham North

RELEASE: October 16, 2014

Lexington, Ky. - The Organizing Committee of the 2015 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) presented by Gotham North is pleased to announce the dates and location of the 2015 Championships.

Returning to the Kentucky Horse Park, the best Junior and Young Rider competitors from North America will compete for prestigious Team and Individual medals July 14-19, 2015. With unwavering support, Adequan will mark its fifth consecutive year as title sponsor of the event.

“We are very excited to be returning to the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park next summer,” said USEF CEO Chris Welton. “NAJYRC is an important Championship for the future of equestrian sport, giving many top riders their first experiences in international competition. The wonderful support of Adequan, Gotham North, and all of our sponsors make the event possible.”

Supporting the only FEI multi-discipline Championship held annually in North America, NAJYRC is lucky to have a long list of dedicated sponsors, which include: Gotham North, SmartPak, U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, U.S. Dressage Federation, U.S. Eventing Association, Equine Canada, and the Federación Ecuestre Mexicana. For a full list of NAJYRC sponsors and to learn more about partnership opportunities, please visit

To get involved with NAJYRC please contact Mark Coley at

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Raffle Horse at 2014 Old Dominion on October 25

Time is running out to buy tickets for Kaptivant CS a 2009 gelding, donated by Asgard Arabians for 2014 Old Dominion endurance ride fundraiser. The drawing will be the weekend of October 25. Raffle information can be found at Raffle tickets are available at all OD endurance rides and clinics, and from any of the OD Board Members at any time. Contributions towards the raffle are tax deductible - please make checks payable to the Old Dominion Endurance Ride, Inc (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.) The winning ticket is pulled at the final OD ride of the year. Winners need not be present to win. Tickets are $10 each, or 5 for $40.

Need not be present to win, so all you riders looking for your next endurance horse, buy a ticket...... Or several. Cross country shipping really isn't that expensive and it's for a good cause. The Old Dominion club is a non-profit organization that puts on 3 endurance rides a year and one Ride and Tie.

The OD organization extends a very deep and appreciate thanks to Halldis and Tom Sayvetz of Asgard Arabians who have donated one of their purebred Arabian horses every year since 1998 to the Old Dominion organization as a raffle horse. Many of those raffle horses have gone on to have fabulous endurance careers with their happy owners with outstanding placings in AERC endurance rides.

Asgard Arabians also offers many outstanding horses for sale for endurance, show, and sporting disciplines. Several of Asgard horses are competing at the top endurance rides in the US and abroad, and also at the highest level of international FEI. Asgard Arabians is located in Sinks Grove, WV 24976. Telephone (304) 645-1670 to schedule an appointment.

For more information on OD or the Raffle Horse, see

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dave Rabe - AERC's Newest Highest Mileage Rider at 60,580 Miles

October 17 2014

At the October 10-12, 2014 Paunsaugunt XP endurance ride (also know as the Bryce Canyon XP), the accomplishments of AERC's newest highest-mileage rider at 60,580 miles, the incomparable Dave Rabe, were celebrated.

A party followed Saturday night's dinner, where fellow riders shared their comments about Dave around the campfire, and Annie Nicholson read Garrett Ford's tribute, "The Man With The +". "We all had a lump in our throat and tears in our eyes," Carla Richardson wrote afterwards. "Annie read it with a quivering voice."

Photographer Steve Bradley, who's been photographing Dave Rabe on endurance rides since at least 2007, presented Dave with a digital photo album of his rides (some are seen at the link below).

Informally known among many endurance riders as "The Ambassador of endurance riding", Dave is one of the most erudite, helpful, and selfless riders you can ever hope to share a mile of trail with, or have come to one of your rides, as he'll help you mark trails before the ride and unmark trails after the ride; and he'll stop at any time in the middle of a ride to help a fellow rider in need. He'll even jump your truck in ridecamp if you run the battery down, or help fix a flat, or he'll glue your Easyboots on.

He's most recognizable for his tradition of wearing shorts, no matter the weather. He's usually got a tank top on, though if it's snowing, he'll throw on a windbreaker and maybe a pair of gloves. He was elected to the AERC Hall of Fame in 2009, and was National Mileage Champion in 2010.

Overcoming a serious traumatic brain injury in December of 2012 when coming off a bucking horse, after surgery, a long hospitalization, and rehab, he returned to the endurance saddle (on the same horse that bucked him off) in June of 2013, with a helmet, and he hasn't looked back.

And Dave Rabe still has many more miles to go.

Steve Bradley Photos:

or slide show:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Idaho Endurance Riders Participate in Horsemanship Clinic

October 12 2014

Six endurance riders and a possible recruit attended a 3-day "Foundations and Beyond Horsemanship" clinic by clinician Ted Nicholes of Parma, Idaho. Up to a dozen others audited the clinic. The clinic was held over October 10-12 at the Teeter Ranch, basecamp for many endurance rides in the area.

Participants and their horses spent the first day learning ground work, and the next two days were practice at both ground work and riding exercises. Nicholes also demonstrated round penning on day 3 with an unbroken 2-year-old filly owned by Teeter.

Nicholes' clinics are designed to help the rider make her horse a better, safer, more willing partner. His goal is that everyone leaves with a good bunch of tools (exercises) which they have learned to use well and which increase their safety and their confidence with their horses.

A colt starting clinic is likely to happen at the Teeter ranch in the spring.

For more information on Ted Nicholes, see


Endurance Day on Horses In The Morning with Jessica Bishop and Janet Tipton - Listen!

October 14 2014

Endurance Day with Karen Chaton opens with her usual assortment of endurance adventure stories, tells us how to ICE a cell phone before we get the low down on leg protection from The Distance Depot. Our guests this month highlight the variety of equids that can excel at endurance; Jessica Bishop who competes with her mule Speed Racer and Janet Tipton tells us about her mustang Lady Jasmine. Listen in...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AERC Records to Remain Open

October 14 2014

The AERC Board of Directors, after much consideration and enthusiastic input from our members, recently voted to return to an "Open Record" policy with regard to all horse and rider statistics as historically available on the AERC website.
In order to offer a more complete understanding as to how this issue has evolved, it should be noted that there were two main concerns that led to the experimental decision to close AERC's Horse and Rider History records: 1) How to reverse declining membership, and, 2) How to gain new members, primarily through adding value to AERC membership.

Our membership has steadily decreased since 2008. The "Open Records" policy hadn't seemed, historically, to have had a measurable effect in gaining or retaining members. It was suggested that making a part of those records a "membership-only" benefit might help encourage riders to join or renew. During the decision making process that led to closing the records on a trial basis, the Board had received significant member feedback, including complaints from current members that a non-member has almost all of the value of membership without paying dues. Their miles show up online in their history, even riding as a day member. AERC still adds to the lifetime miles of their horses every time they compete. They can still access a number of articles in Endurance News online and they have access to all the educational material AERC provides. They benefit from our trails support, grants, and research. While the records are open as they have been, a non-current member, at first glance, seemingly has almost all of the benefits of a dues paying member with the only disadvantage of paying a day member fee.

Under a completely open records system, some felt the impression could be given that the only advantages to joining are not having to pay a day-member fee and a more complete Endurance News, though, of course, full AERC membership offers much more indeed. Shining a brighter light on the value of membership was part of the reasoning behind the decision to make the Horse History and Rider History limited to members only. All other records such as the ride calendar, ride results, point standings, horses owned/ridden, member location, were to remain open.

However, in the time since the decision was made to close the records, there has been strong opposition voiced on the part of many of our members and non-members regarding the closure. While too numerous to mention here, many substantive examples have been put forth as to why open access to the AERC records on behalf of all interested parties of the general public benefits AERC, its members and prospective new members, as well as aids indirectly in horse welfare and trails preservation efforts. Upon re-examining this issue and the consideration of the associated member feedback, it was voted at the recent AERC Board of Directors teleconference on October 13, 2014, to reinstate open records access.

The Board would like to thank all the members who took the time to respond and give their feedback regarding records access. Member input is critical in assisting the Board as it leads AERC though times of economic uncertainty and declining membership. We have listened and responded. The records will be reopened shortly. The Board is tasked with assuring AERC remains a viable organization in the future, and to do that we must sometimes make decisions that are not popular. This has been a very positive experience in light of the magnitude of member feedback stimulated by this issue.

Other projects currently underway designed to encourage growth and stability for AERC include: hiring a marketing contractor to increase AERC's brand awareness; an improved mentor program; more educational clinics at many levels; more educational videos available on AERC's YouTube channel; an updated website; and a program to recruit new ride managers. We invite you to stay abreast of changes within AERC, now and in the future, through the AERC website. If you have any questions, comments or a desire to get more involved in helping AERC to grow and prosper, please feel free to contact the friendly AERC office staff or any Board member for further information. Thank you, and we hope to see you at an AERC event soon!

AERC Board of Directors

Saturday, October 11, 2014

2014 AHA Distance Horse of the Year Award Nomination Deadline Extended

October 11 2014

Submission deadline for Arabian Horse Association's Distance Horse of the Year has been extended to November 1. This award recognizes the significant accomplishment of an Arabian, Half-Arabian or Anglo-Arabian Horse in the distance sports. Persons who wish to have their horse considered for this award or persons who know of an outstanding horse to be considered for this award must complete the official nomination FORM and submit it to the AHA office by November 1 2014.

Description of the criteria is as follows:

Arabian Handbook description
1. Purpose. This award is to recognize the significant accomplishment of an Arabian, Half-Arabian or Anglo-Arabian Horse in the distance sports. As this is a special, significant recognition award there may be years when there is not a recipient.
2. Procedure.
a. The owner of the nominated horse must be a current Competition Card member of AHA in the nomination year. (BOD 2/11)
b. A nominated horse must be registered with the Arabian Horse Association, Canadian Arabian Horse Registry or the Canadian Partbred Arabian Registry.
1) The horse must be living at the time of nomination.
2) The horse to have competed in the year it was nominated.
3) There is no requirement for the horse to have competed in an AHA regional and/or national events.
4) Award is to be based on the horse’s overall distance career. Emphasis is to be placed on the horse’s overall miles and years in competition.
5) Endurance and CTR both to count. (BOD 2/11)
c. Any AHA member can nominate a horse by completing the official nomination form available on the AHA website or the AHA office.
d. A member’s horse may be nominated more than once, but may be selected for the award only once.
e. Nomination deadline is September 1st of each calendar year.
f. The Award Sub-Committee (Awards, AHA Distance Ride Commission and Distance Ride Committee Chairs plus two at-large from the Distance Committee for a total of 5 members) will make the selection at the annual AHA Convention. (BOD 2/11)
g. The owner of the chosen horse agrees to allow AHA to use a picture of the horse and his winning criteria both within AHA publications (magazine, website & brochures) as well as publications outside AHA.
3. Description. A bronze sculpture, designed by Joe Staheli, with a wooden base that includes plates for the engraving of the annual winners was purchased by AHOF and will be displayed in the AHA office. The award for each annual winner will be a suitable award presented to each recipient.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Idaho: First in nationals for equine endurance - Full Article

October 8 2014

The 2014 Arabian Horse Association Distance Nationals was held in Oreana. Emmett resident Flora Gertsch won first place for the Arabian 50-mile National Championship Endurance Ride. She and her horse Finalia took third place for all around. The event was held Saturday, Sept. 27, at Teeter Ranch in Oreana.

An endurance ride can best be described as a cross-country contest of 50 or more miles. It is an equestrian athletic event with the same horse and rider covering a measured course within a specified maximum time. Flora and the horse Belesemo Finalia, covered 50 miles in 4.5 hours...

Read more here:

Monday, October 06, 2014

Man vs. Horse: Riders cross finish line together for their animals - Full Article

10/5/2014 6:02:00 AM
31st Annual Man Against Horse Race
Man vs. Horse: Riders cross finish line together for their animals

Horseback riders Troy Eckard and Dayna Weary were dueling at the front of the pack throughout the Man Against Horse Race on Saturday, but you wouldn't have known it.

Instead of grinding it out until the bitter end, Eckard and Weary decided to trot their horses, OT Rymonigly and Max, respectively, to the finish line together to protect their animals from harm.

They crossed the line in just over 7 hours, becoming the first of about 35 riders in the 50-mile race to do so. Eckard and Weary lost to runner James Bonnett of Phoenix, but earned belt buckle prizes nonetheless.

"We're not ultra runners - it's not all about us and it's not all about the ego," Weary said of she and Eckard's rationale for coming in together. "It's about the relationship with the horse and what these horses give to us..."

Read more here:

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Now That's Endurance: the 2014 AHA Distance Nationals/Owyhee Canyonlands Pioneer

October 1 2014

You can define endurance riding success in many ways: starting a horse, overcoming your fears and getting his first completion (as Lynne White so eloquently described here); completing your first 50 mile ride as a junior; finishing 4 days in a row of LDs when you're an older rider with a painful old injured knee; winning an AHA Distance National Championship; or finishing a dark, wet, cold 100 miler after about 23 hours.

All of that and more transpired over Sept 25-28 in southwest Idaho at the Teeter Ranch. Ride managers Steph Teeter and Regina Rose marked the trails, the AHA people came to run the 2014 Arabian Horse Association Distance Nationals/Owyhee Canyonlands Pioneer CTR/endurance rides. Last year's AHA Distance Endurance and Competitive Trail Ride Championships took place in Illinois. While open to all, this year's rides in Idaho attracted riders from the West, Northwest, and Mountain regions (the USA is a big place, after all, and a long distance to drive for those further east and south).

Cooler weather prevailed - temperatures in the 70's and dropping over the weekend - great for horses. Some rain was predicted for the weekend, but the forecast kept changing, so there was no point worrying about it too soon.

Day 1 you had a choice of a 25 and 50-mile AERC ride, and the first half (40 miles) of the CTR Championship.

14 started and finished the LD, including the 2013 Haggin Cup winners Sue Hedgecock and LZP Julioslastchance, babysitting me and Sue's horse "D" (afterwards known as "Big D"!) on his first endurance ride.

16 started and finished the 50. Christoph Schork continued his winning ways on GE Starlit Way, coming in first place over an hour ahead of his nearest competitor in 4:24, and winning Best Condition, the horse's 10th BC award.

Day 2's 30 miler had 12 starters and finishers with David Brown and Chip, a first time rider, winning in 3:13 and getting Best Condition.

Day 2's 50-miler had 14 starters and finishers, with Christoph and GE Starlit Way repeating their win and Best Condition; they tied for first with Amanda Washington and Truly Majikhal in 5:04.

The second half of the CTR, 30 miles, brought a conclusion to the Arabian Horse Association Competitive Trail Ride on Day 3. Only 4 riders total competed in the CTR Open; only 1 rode in the Purebred Arabian division, and only 2 rode in the Half-Arab/Anglo-Arab Championship. Winner of the Purebred Arabian division with 196.5 points out of 200 was Montana rider Julie Muscutt and Satin Image AZ, a 7-year-old gelding experienced in both CTR and endurance. You could see Julie applying a technique at the mandatory pulse stops of getting her gelding to lower his head, which helped drop his pulse right away. He's a horse that likes to go, and since you have a set pace you must ride in the CTR (finishing 15 minutes either side of the finish time deducts points), between 5 and 7 mph, Julie tries to stay in front on him.

Winner of the Half-Arab/Anglo-Arab CTR Championship with 197 out of 200 points was another Montanan, Suzy Hayes and Sanstormm. The 6-year-old 16.3-hand half-Thoroughbred gelding is by Sanskrit out of Alta Snow, and is quite forward, and can be "intimidating," but he's "a very talented horse."

Suzy's been around the endurance and CTR block a time or two: she started CTR in 1966, and endurance in 1972. Her first endurance ride was the Tevis Cup. Almost 40 years later, she has close to 4000 CTR miles, over 21,000 endurance miles, two slots in the AERC Hall of Fame (her Kootenai Zizzero was 2011 Hall of Fame Equine, and they earned the 1997 Pard'ners Award). Suzy doesn't believe in running horses too fast too soon in endurance, particularly such a young horse who's so big. "The CTR ride was just the perfect way to make one little more step up."

Reserve Half Arab/Anglo-Arabian Champion was Lynn Lee and Londonn's Invader. Suzy Hayes won the Open CTR; Julie Muscutt was second; Lynn Lee was third; and Kathryn Lewandowsky was fourth on Majestic Kid. Only a half a point separated first and second, and a half a point separated second and third! These were some very fit and evenly-matched CTR horses.

Day 3's 25 miler had 11 starters and 10 finishers, with Carol Delisi and DJ Restless Wind winning first place and Best Condition. Ride manager Steph Teeter slipped out on the LD and rode her 23-year-old former World Endurance Championship competitor Nature's Khruschev (Trusty Krusty) with husband John Teeter on Sunny. They turtled, but they didn't tell Krusty that.

Day 3 was also the AHA 50 Mile Championship. 6 started and finished the Arabian purebred division. Winner of the Purebred Championship was Idaho's Flora Gertsch and Belesema Finalia in a ride time of 4:35. Flora started riding the Belesemo Trad mare in 2012; they most recently won the Old Selam 50 at the end of August.

Reserve Champion Purebred went to Colorado's Kerry Redente and 6-year-old AM Great Othello+. Kerry was a busy gal over the weekend. The AHA US Sporthorse Nationals were going on the same weekend in Nampa, Idaho, an hour away. Kerry stopped there first on Thursday and Friday with AM Great Othello+, and rode away with a Top Ten placing in the Purebred Sporthorse Under Saddle Amateur Owner to Ride out of 36 horses. Amanda Washington and Eternel Indian Summer scored a double Best Condition award, in the Purebred Arabian and the open AERC division.

Winner of the Half Arab/Anglo-Arabian Championship was Colorado's Pete Hommertzheim and his 8-year-old mare Classy Investment. "Jessi" and Pete won last year's 100-mile AHA Distance Nationals Championship in Illinois. Elizabeth Dagnall and Roses April Rain were the Reserve Champions; there were 3 starters and 2 finishers in this division.

26 starters were in the open AERC 50 with 22 finishers. Pete and Jessi won the overall ride by a galloping length over Boise's Errol Fife and Joker (yes, he has been called Errol Flynn many times). Another standout finisher in the open 50 on Day 3 was just-turned-12-yr-old Junior Greta Berner, completing her first 50-mile ride ride on the sometimes-naughty, always-cute pony Benjamin. Greta and her Junior sister Clara rode the LD the first day with their mom, who was, at times, she admitted, a nervous wreck. Riding with your kids in endurance is rewarding, but it can be stressful!

Day 4 featured the 100-mile AHA Championship, in addition to a 30 and 50 mile ride. 10 started and completed the 30-mile ride, with Sally Tarbet and Jassen's Legacy Stone winning first place in 3:07, and Best Condition. Carol Delisi finished 3rd; she was one of the 3 riders completing all 4 days of LDs on the same horse. Chris Cane did the same on her eye-catching Paso Fino Phaetana Del Padre, as did Carolyn Roberts on Manhattanincident - the older rider with the wrecked knee, which just goes to show, the definition of "endurance" is different to all people, but can be just as challenging and rewarding!

California's Ann Kratochvil won the 50 on GF Brazil's Envy in 5:58. Envy has won the AERC War Mare award the last 2 years (based on the most overall placing points accrued by the same mare/rider team during one season). She has over 8300 miles; Ann has over 23,000. Best Condition went to second place Lynne Mahoney and WCF Summ Cyte. 8 of 9 starters finished the 50.

Some of the country's best horses and riders showed up for the AHA 100-Mile Championship (well, those from the western half of the US, anyway!). The competitors signed up for the purebred AHA division were 22,000+ mile Joyce Sousa and 21-year-old, 8800+ mile LV Integrity; 2013 Haggin Cup winners Sue Hedgecock and LZP Julioslastchance from Utah; 16,000+ mile Suzanne Ford Huff and SD Expressa (second in last year's 100-mile AERC Championship) from Nevada; Idaho's Layne Simmons and Beauty's Harley; Californian Tom Johnson and AM Lady Liberty Wins; and 2012 Haggin Cup and 2013 Tevis Cup winner Rusty Toth of Colorado riding FV Aul Mystery.

Competing in the Half-Arab/Anglo-Arab division were 29,000+ mile Connie Creech and LS Steele Breeze from Nevada; AERC Hall of Famer Suzy Hayes riding Greenbriar Al Jabal from Montana; Washington's Carla Eigenauer and NEH Annie Oakley; Nevada's 12,000+ mile Beth Kauffmann and Pal-Ara Durango; and AERC's winningest rider Christoph Schork from Utah riding GE CMS Oso Elegant.

8 more open 100-mile riders rounded out the 18 starters, including 2 Juniors from BC, Canada - Katya and Anya Levermann - riding with a trio of Idaho girls, Carrie Johnson, Jodie Lucas, and Nance Worman as their sponsors.

Sadly, after driving all the way from California, LV Integrity was off in his trot-out at the vet in, and did not pass the starting inspection, so the Sousas loaded up Saturday and headed back home. While it dimmed the luster of the event a bit, it didn't diminish Joyce's gratefulness with her horse and the sport. "I'm just thrilled to be here," she said when they arrived. "I know Ritzy doesn't have too many rides left in his career, so I enjoy every one of them." This year's AHA Championship would turn out not to be one, but there will still be others.

Right about starting time, 7 AM, under heavy gray skies and about 65*F, the rain began. What had been weeks of dusty trails became slick clay in places for the first two loops. Rain held off the rest of the day until the next phase of the storm came in that night.

Six riders came in to the first vet check together off the first 15 mile loop: Huff, Hedgecock, Toth, Eigenauer, Hayes, and Tom Johnson. After a 15 minute hold in camp, they headed out on a big loop into the desert.

After 19 more miles, the field was separated into 3 definite groups. Front runners Huff, Eigenauer, Hedgecock, Toth, Tom Johnson, and Hayes were within 3 minutes of each other. The last group of Worman, Carrie Johnson, Lucas and the Levermann juniors were over an hour back already, walking in the last several miles because Johnson's horse was lame. The girls were all in good spirits, though Katya was riding with a bad cold, and mother Katrin was a nervous wreck. Notice this theme with mothers and endurance riding daughters?

After another 19 mile stretch around Wild Horse Butte along the Snake River, the same front runners again arrived within minutes of each other, and Toth's horse was pulled for lameness.

Another 12 miles back into basecamp for Vet check 4 completed the big loop. Three riders pulled Rider Option here: Eigenauer, and open riders Kaci Monroe and Sherrie Calaway.

After the 5th loop of 20 miles, at a total of 85 miles, Huff and Johnson led out on the final 15-mile trail, followed by Hedgecock a minute behind, and Hayes a few minutes after that. Tom Johnson earlier predicted he'd finish the ride in about 10 hours' ride time. And in 8 minutes short of 10 hours, just before dark, Johnson aboard AM Lady Liberty Wins came galloping in two lengths ahead of Sue Hedgecock and LZP Julioslastchance, the Champion and Reserve Champion, respectively, in the AHA Purebred division. Twelve minutes later, Suzanne Ford Huff and SD Expressa crossed the finish line.

37 minutes later, Suzy Hayes and Greenbriar Al Jabal crossed the finish line as the Half-Arab/Anglo-Arab Champions.

Just as Christoph Schork stepped off GE CMS Oso Elegant at the finish line over an hour later as the Reserve Half-Arab/Anglo-Arab Champion, the first drop of rain fell.

And it never stopped. All night. Kauffmann and Creech finished in the rain 2 1/2 hours later, followed by Simmons, and Swiss gal Marina Huber riding Schork's horse RR Jazz Dancer.

Jodie Lucas was pulled at the last vet check - 85 miles - which left Worman and the two Levermann juniors to ride the last 15 miles in the very dark, very wet, and very cold night. Nance Worman is a hero to most of the northwest endurance riders: an "Owyhee Tough Sucker" who has often ridden 50 miles, 50 miles, and 100 miles at our 3-day Fandango rides, with 9500+ AERC miles and an always-cheerful personality even when she's worn out. She's had some extreme endurance rides this year. Caught out on trail in a lightning storm at City of Rocks in September, she said "That was the most frightened I've ever been!"

Schork had said that on the way in on his last loop, he couldn't see his hand in front of his face, and that was before the rain started. Oreana must have gotten half its annual rainfall that night, during which Worman and the Levermann girls continued marching along in the wet, foggy, cold, dark night, where they could only walk over the snot-slick trails. After finishing near 6 AM in more than 12 hours of rain Worman commented (not complained), "I was soooooo cold!"

The girls were bleary-eyed late the next morning (Katya was still sick and had lost her voice; Anya was grinning as usual) but Anya had finished her 4th 100-mile ride, and Katya had finished her second. It would help make their 850-mile drive back home a little less tiring - and a bit shorter than their 100-mile time in the saddle!

Next morning, with basecamp looking like Malaysia during the monsoon season, 3 horses showed for Best Condition. Suzy Hayes and Green Briar Al Jabal won the Half Arabian/Anglo-Arabian BC award, and Suzanne Ford Huff and SD Expressa won the Purebred Arabian, and the AERC Open BC.

Attendance was down at the ride - as it has been in general around the country, and AHA was probably disappointed with the turnout for the championship rides (no juniors participated), though they did provide lovely prizes donated by excellent and supportive sponsors**.

And can I say enough about the volunteers who help put on a big ride like this? Endurance rider Clarissa Hale in particular drove all the way from Redding California, without a horse, just to help all 4 days. Sometimes when you have high stakes rides held simultaneously with local competitions, tensions among those with different endurance goals can flare tempers. However, the AHA people who came for the ride were a fun and helpful presence all week and they slid smoothly into the ride management team: eastern Canadian veterinarian Art King; Devon Smith from the AHA office in Colorado; Rusty Cook, the Region 8 director from New Mexico; and Distance Nationals Commission chairman, ride secretary, and volunteer extraordinaire Eric Reuter from Tennessee. AHA President Cynthia Richardson - whose first endurance ride was in 1996 in the Tevis Cup - dropped in for the 100-mile ride, all day and night, not only watching but helping out by pulsing riders. Head veterinarian Mike Foss and his fellow vets King, Robert Washington, and Dick Root kept the rides rolling smoothly.

And can I say enough about the horses, who carry us over the endurance trails? From the multi-thousand-mile horses to the first-time LD horses, carrying Haggin Cup winners to first-time junior riders, through the wind and rain, 25 miles, 50 miles, or 100 miles, they got us down the trail, through the dark and daylight and dark, helping us accomplish our very disparate goals of winning Championships or completing rides.

Now that's endurance.

Photos and complete results can be seen here:

**If you get a chance to thank the sponsors, please do so! Without them, these events can't take place: Corporate Sponsors WeatherBeeta and Wintec and Adequan; Regional Sponsors from Region 7, 8, 10 11, 12, 13, and 17; Private Sponsors Platinum, Al-Marah Arabians, Belesemo Arabians, Ms Cynthia Richardson, Distance Depot, Donovan Rubley, EasyCare, FlexSleeve, Global Equine Training Center, Mandolynn Hill Farm, Margo Shallcross, Schneider's Saddlery, Southeast Endurance Riders Association, Texas Arabian Distance Riders Association, Triangle Farms, Troxel, and Troy Nelson DVM.