Friday, July 29, 2016

2016 Tevis Cup: Part 1

July 28 2016
by Merri

This year's Tevis Cup was different from the beginning - it seemed quiet, less frantic… a bit subdued. Last year when we drove into Robie Equestrian park in the Tahoe National Forest - basecamp for the start of Tevis - with a horse trailer Wednesday evening (Steph and I were crewing for Nance Worman and the Levermann girls), we couldn't nab our usual place to park in the Back Forty, because everywhere was full of rigs.

This year, driving into Robie my car on Wednesday evening, I saw a whole two, count 'em, two parked trailers. In fact, I wondered briefly if I had arrived for the right weekend.

In the Back Forty I found who I was looking for, Suzy Hayes from Montana with her gorgeous 16.1-hand Anglo-Arabian gelding Greenbriar Al Jabar. I camped beside Suzy and her crew Lynn Lee and Ona Lawrence, because I knew I could bum hot water from them in the mornings for my coffee!

"Atlas" looked rather stunning, all big and white and flaunting rippling muscles when he walked. With a carefully orchestrated record of 33 finishes in 34 starts over 8 seasons, (all but 1 finish in the Top Ten) and 8 out of 9 100-mile completions, including a 9th in Tevis last year, Atlas and Suzy were fresh off a 2nd place finish in the Ft Howes 75 miler in June. The 13-year-old looked fit and ready.

Oh yeah, that 9th place finish in Tevis last year? The trail opened up beneath Atlas' feet before Red Star at 28 miles, and he fell down, cutting himself up, ripping a hind chestnut off, leaving himself all bloody and holding the hind leg up. He walked it off, and in fact did not appear lame at all. He stayed sound all day and went on to finish 9th. Never mind Suzy had broken a couple ribs. "He was sound so I wasn't going to pull!" she said, rather nonchalantly.

They came this year loaded for bear, though Suzy was realistic about winning Tevis. "I've never even thought about winning Tevis, though it'd be thrilling to win the Haggin Cup [Best Condition award]," she said. "I like to stay on the safe side of the 'red line.' We go do our thing, and it depends on what everybody else does. He's as fit as I can get him. I've got a good horse; we'll see if he's good enough. Now the luck kicks in. You'll see if you have good luck or bad luck."

Suzy has nearly 23,000 AERC miles, a horse in the Hall of Fame and Pard'ners Award (Kootenai Zizzero) and 5 Tevis buckles. She planned to ride with Tony Benedetti (8 Tevis buckles) and his 10-year-old gelding FV Abu Antezeyn.

Suzy Hayes' crew got an extra boost when former World Endurance Champion Becky Hart and World Endurance Champion Crew Judith Ogus showed up on Friday to help pack gear and head to Auburn in the evening, all the better to get an early and closer start in the race to set up a good crew spot at Robinson Flat, the first hour hold at 36 miles.

Very few people had pulled into Robie Park on Thursday, and not until around 10 AM on Friday did the trailers start rolling in. It seemed so subdued, and I wasn't the only one who noticed.

It had to be the glaring absence of a person who's been such an integral part of endurance riding and the whole Tevis ride experience since his first Tevis finish in 2007. Kevin Myers took his life less than a month earlier, leaving so many of us with desperately shattered souls in his wake. His absence left a huge, glaring hole many of us tried to fill with tears and hugs and good memories throughout the weekend. All of Kevin's friends - and he had so, so many - all rode emotional roller coasters of despair, and of joy in each other's company over the weekend.

3 Haggin Cup winners: Auli Farwa, Rusty Toth, Farrabba

Kevin's partner Rusty Toth would ride, for the first time, Kevin's horse Auli Farwa ("Far"), a 16-year-old bald-faced chestnut gelding with a record of 4080 miles in 67 finishes in 67 starts over 10 seasons. 13 of those were 100-mile completions; 6 of those were Tevis Cup finishes - 5 of them with Kevin.

Far won the Haggin Cup last year with Jenni Smith riding. All of this after the gelding tore a front fetlock open as a 7-year-old, partially severing his extensor tendon and leaving his endurance career looking iffy.

Jenni Smith would ride Kevin's horse Farraba ("Stoner"), a 16-year-old gelding with 3320 miles, 60 finishes in 63 starts, including 7 100-mile finishes in 7 starts. 5 of those were Tevis Cup finishes (4 with Rusty, 1 with Nick Huynh), and included the Haggin Cup award in 2012 with Rusty.

A number of horses in the ride would sport the logo IR4KM inked on their butts - "I Ride For Kevin Myers" - a beautiful tribute to this beautiful man that so many were carrying along in their heart over the weekend.

Crysta Turnage of Carson City, Nevada, would ride her 11-year-old gelding Dream Makker ("Digs") on his first 100-mile ride, in honor of Kevin, who gave the horse as a gift to Crysta back in 2010 after her horse Sinatra died of cancer. Crysta said weeks before the ride, "TEVIS. Sinatra was a *sound* horse. When we started in 2007 I knew if we didn't get behind on time, we would finish, and we did. Digs has never been a sound horse. His first ride was a RO-L pull and his record reflects that trend. I'm never confident he's going to finish a ride. And so I've been waffling, and debating.

"But I've decided. We are going to ride. We are going to ride for Kevin, and Lisa's horse Tux [who died marking the Tevis trail] and my own sweet Gunny. We are going to ride for those who will never have the chance to go down this magical trail again. And while our chance of finishing may be lesser than others, we have a CHANCE and I'm going to take it. Because you never know what life has in store. And I'm going to carry them all in my heart, and hopefully get them to Auburn."

Digs was a 4-year-old when Crysta got him, and the pair have come a long way, working through broken bones (Crysta) and inconsistent lamenesses (Digs), while performing in endurance, cattle sorting, and the Rosebowl Parade.

Colorado's Garrett and Lisa Ford were returning to ride The Fury and GE Cyclone. Kevin was a close friend of the Fords, and an integral part of Garrett's EasyCare company and family. Garrett, with 8 Tevis buckles, had ridden The Fury to 4 Top Ten Tevis finishes, winning in 2012, and winning the Haggin Cup in 2010. Fury's just a magnificent animal and he knows it!

Lisa, with 3 Tevis buckles, had ridden Cyclone to two Top Ten Tevis finishes, and one wrenching pull at the finish line.

Utah's Christoph Schork, the new 300 Win man, was riding GE Pistol Annie, a mare with a 25 for 25 record (16 of those wins) and a Tevis Cup finish with Christoph last year.

Absent from the top riders were last year's Tevis Cup winner, Potato Richardson and SMR Filouette, and previous Tevis Cup winner (2006, 2010) and Haggin Cup winner (2006) Heraldic, who was pulled last year. However, Heraldic's owner John Crandell brought LR Bold Cody back again; he was pulled last year with Marcia Hefker; Aussie Julie White would be riding Cody this year.

Florida's Heather and Jeremy Reynolds, responsible for 5 Tevis Cup wins and 3 Haggin Cup wins between the two of them, were returning on horses doing their first 100-mile rides, RB Code (Heather) and Danire (Jeremy). Heather would be escorting Elaine Lemieux on the Reynolds' mare CH Formal Affair, on Elaine and "Benz"'s first 100 mile ride. No better escort than a 5-Tevis-buckle/20,000 AERC miles/top international competitor companion than Heather!

Southern California Mother-son duo Karen and John Donley were back, hoping to finish together for the first time; Karen had finished 4 Tevis cups aboard Royal Patron, and John had finished one aboard My Mamselle - but never in the same race. It was John's first time in Tevis as a senior rider.

The Blakeley family, from Terrebonne, Oregon, returned hoping to finish all 4 together: mom Gabriela (4 finishes), dad Wasch (1 finish) and juniors Barrak (2 finishes, Haggin Cup 2014 with MCM Last Dance) and Sanoma (1 finish) - but never all at the same time.

Chris Martin's gelding Monk was returning after an 8th place finish last year with Lindsay Graham Fisher. Among other outstanding accomplishments, Monk and Lindsay won the 2009 AERC 100-mile National Championship; competed on the USA team at the 2010 World Equestrian Games Endurance Championship in Kentucky; finished the Presidents Cup in Abu Dhabi in early 2012; and they were trying out for a spot on the USA team for the World Endurance Championship in Great Britain in 2012, when Monk injured a front tendon. After a successful stem cell treatment and over 3 years of rest and rehab, the 14-year-old gelding returned to competition in 2015, completing all 7 of his rides, finishing 8th in Tevis with Lindsay, and winning the Virginia City 100 (though rider John Stevens was disqualified). Monk looked to be in top form, skinny as always but fit and sleek.

Lisa Schneider, a 5-time Tevis finisher from Agoura, California, would be riding the somewhat famous Tennessee Walker John Henry in Tevis this year. Owner Dr Susan Garlinghouse had been so busy at work the last few months that she didn't feel she could give the horse the most perfect chance of completing from her end - and with Tevis, you always want to pave the way as best as you can, before Tevis Luck jumps in to have a say.

John Henry and Susan have quite the fan club following. It's no wonder. After giving previous owner Bruce Weary his first Tevis buckle in 2009, John Henry carried subsequent owner Susan to 3 Tevis Cup finishes. He doesn't much look like his fellow sleek, slim Arabian competitors. As Bruce says, "He is a roundish, gluttonous, opinionated, good hearted human being who looks like a horse." One more Tevis completion would make John Henry the only gaited horse to have finished Tevis five times.


 A first time Tevis rider was Japan's Kyoko Fukumori. I became acquainted with Kyoko through international endurance rides, and remember her best for her ride in the 2012 World Endurance Championship in England. She didn't finish, but her ecstatic smile on course was evidence of the unbridled joy she had riding in the event. On Saturday she'd be riding the 13-year-old mare Rushcreek Shawna, owned by Shawn and Lisa Bowling. It would be the first Tevis for both, and Kyoko was obviously thrilled to be there.

Friday's vetting in, which started at noon and ran till 6 PM, seemed rather tranquil, with horses trickling in throughout the afternoon as the horse trailers finally started arriving.

It's always enjoyable to watch Tevis horses vetting in for the ride. They're simply eye candy. They're the most fit, trim, athletic, collectively best-looking horses at endurance events anywhere in the world. Not too fat nor thin, lively but not out of control, and mostly well-behaved - which is not always the case at major endurance races around the world. Tevis riders should be and are rightly proud of their horses.

Some horses would just catch your eye, or pull a gasp from your throat with their trot outs or their looks.

Garrett Ford's The Fury is gasp-worthy mover.

Golden Knight (2 Tevis completions), a Friesian cross owned by Nicole Chappell, is beautiful.

This white mule of Abigail Madden, UCD Actions Shinanigan, was gorgeous in attempting their first Tevis.

John Stevens' gelding Rabbalat was showing off a bit

Far just has 'that look'

Coming up: 2016 Tevis Cup: Part 2

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Fall Special for New Endurance Riders from the American Endurance Ride Conference

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) is making the first step to endurance riding a little easier this year with their 2016 Fall Special promotion.

Beginning now, new members can join for the remainder of the 2016 ride season and all of the 2017 ride season, which runs throughNovember 30, 2017, for the discounted price of $88.75. Additional adult family members are $57.50; those 17 or younger are $27.

More than 3,000 riders have requested AERC’s free “Discover Endurance Riding” booklet, which shares the adventure and camaraderie experienced by members of the nonprofit organization.

“Fall is a great time to get started in endurance riding, with cooler weather and spectacular autumn foliage,” said AERC Executive Director Kathleen Henkel. “If you’ve been riding regularly, your trail horse may already be ready for one of AERC’s limited distance rides of 25 or 30 miles.”

Many endurance rides also offer 10 to 15 mile “intro” rides, just for equine and rider teams to get acquainted with ride procedures and etiquette. Each equine, even at fun rides, will be checked by a veterinarian before and after the ride, with a check that includes heart rate, limb soundness, hydration and gut sounds, to ensure the horse is deemed “fit to continue.”

“Every year our Fall Special brings in around 100 new members to AERC,” said Henkel. “We’re hoping to get even more signed up this year.” Members receive a monthly magazine, Endurance News, in the mail every month, as well as an endurance riding handbook, rule book and educational materials that come along with their membership card. Fall Special members will receive both 2016 and 2017 AERC ID cards.

Online Fall Special signups may be made at If interested in receiving more information about AERC and endurance riding, request a copy of Discover Endurance Riding here:
About AERC

In addition to promoting the sport of endurance riding, AERC has encouraged the use, protection, and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historic significance, since 1972. Many special events of four to six consecutive days take place over historic trails. The founding ride of endurance riding, the Western States Trail Ride or Tevis Cup, covers 100 miles of the famous Western States and Immigrant Trails over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These rides promote awareness of the importance of trail preservation for future generations and foster an appreciation of our American heritage.

The American Endurance Ride Conference, established in 1972, is headquartered in Auburn, California, “The Endurance Capital of the World.” For more information please visit us at

Contact: Troy Smith

American Endurance Ride Conference

866-271-2372, 530-823-2260

Mountain lion sighting near Tevis Cup trail - Full Article

Ride officials opt not to tell riders; no sightings on Western States Trail

July 26 2016
By: Gus Thomson of the Auburn Journal

A mountain lion was spotted near the Tevis Cup endurance horse ride trail on Saturday, with ride officials opting not to inform riders.

Trailmaster Steve Hallmark said Monday that the ride – with 165 starters Saturday morning from Squaw Valley and 87 finishers by Sunday morning in Auburn – was a “non-event year,” with no rattlesnake delays, extreme weather issues or injured riders or horses falling off the trail or running away from riders.

There were also no interactions with bears or mountain lions – something riders are warned about before setting out on the 100-mile endurance test through isolated wilderness areas to Auburn. Five years ago, Western States 100 runners were temporarily stopped in their tracks by a mother bear protecting two cubs.

Ride officials were made aware Saturday of the presence in the Michigan Bluff area of a mountain lion, Hallmark said.

A volunteer driving out of the veterinary aid station near Michigan Bluff reported sighting a mountain lion crossing the road, he said.

“It’s a reminder that riders are out in the wilderness,” Hallmark said...

Read more here:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

KAREN'S CUP: Mother-son duo trot to Tevis Cup title

2016 endurance ride proves to be daunting task as 87 of 165 riders finish

By: Steven Wilson, Sports Editor - The Press Tribune

Auburn Journal

A week prior to the start of the Tevis Cup, it appeared a wildland blaze through the American River canyon could have cost fans the enjoyment of one of the most illustrious endurance races of the year.

But the Trailhead fire spurted to a halt and the Tevis Cup 100-mile endurance horse race from Squaw Valley to Auburn went off without a hitch.

A total of 165 riders snaked through the canyon trails on their horse, each seeking to cross the finish line first, but only one lucky competitor could claim top billing.

The Mother-son Donley duo paced the pack through the majority of the second half of the trail. But John Donley, who competed as a junior rider last year, had to withdraw in the final 20 miles, leaving his mother, Karen, alone to claim the title.

Karen Donley mustered all the energy she had left and used a burst through the Lower Quarry river crossing to outlast Garrett and Lisa Ford, who were hot on her trail, to earn first place in the 2016 Tevis Cup with a time of 16 hours and 33 minutes. This was Karen Donley's sixth Tevis Cup endurance ride and her first title.

“This is a great feeling,” Karen exclaimed after stepping off her horse, Royal Patron. “It’s unfortunate John had to go back for a re-check for gut sounds, but I couldn’t be happier with our performance.”

Donley, who is from Mountain Center, California between Temecula and Palm Springs, pulled away from the pack in the final 14 miles as John left her side and her husband Ron, who helped crew the team, cheered her on. She took the lead just past Deadwood before Michigan Bluff and never relinquished it en route to the title. Lisa Ford was a close second behind Donley, while Garrett Ford entered the fairgrounds third.

Loss of partner propels Rusty Toth

The power of love should never be underestimated.

Rusty Toth and his life partner, Kevin Myers, competed in the Tevis Cup for years — it was their way of life. The ate, slept and lived endurance racing until Myers took his life just two short weeks ago.

“It’s an emotional day, obviously because I lost my best friend and partner,” Toth admitted. “But I rode his horse and I’m really happy with how he did.”

Toth registered a top-11 finish in just over 18 hours, but after leading the pack through 36 miles, he was passed up six miles before Michigan Bluff and could not regain the lead.

Carrying Toth to the finish line, 16-year-old Auli Farwa — an Arabian horse who goes by the shortened name Far — has now racked up over 4,000 miles in endurance racing and has finished 100-mile races 65 times in 65 tries. He even won the James Ben Ali Haggin Cup award last year as the best conditioned horse.

“He’s a machine,” acknowledged Toth’s close friend and fellow competitor Jenni Smith, who rode Far last season. “I mean, 65 for 65, he’s a freak of nature. As a rider, it’s can be tough because he can be jarring and he can pull, but he’s an amazing horse.”

Smith took fifth last year in the Tevis Cup, but she had to withdraw from the race this year after hitting the 36-mile marker at Robinson Flat. Her horse, Farrabba (Stoner), suffered a lower leg injury and the crew played it safe and withdrew.

“It’s pretty common, but I actually don’t know how it happened,” Smith admitted after a check-up at Robinson Flat. “He looked great and then he got to the vet and he couldn’t run. Sometimes that just happens. It’s common with this kind of terrain and the speed we go over it at. This is a ride that less than half the competitors finish.”

She was one of 78 riders who could not finish the race.

100 Miles, One Day

Rattlers, steep drop-offs, exhaustion by both horse and rider and 100-degree heat all took their toll on competitors this season.

Even a good start, like the one 75-year-old Redding native Jesse Caswell had through Robinson flat as he held third place, and the one John had through 70-plus miles, can fizzle due to the domineering terrain from Squaw Valley to the Gold Country Fairgrounds.

“I actually like it better when it’s hot like this and a little bit harsher,” admitted John Donley, who was riding five-time Tevis Cup competitor, My Mamselle (Mya). “Because our advantage is in our crew.”

Riding alongside his mom for most of the race, John Donley blew through the first half of the course, coming into Foresthill with Karen 14 minutes ahead of the next closest rider.

“My mom’s always ridden with me, ever since I was young, and she’s always supporting me throughout the ride,” John explained. “My dad’s the head of the crew and we couldn’t do it without them. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”

John Donley’s first test on the Western States trail came when he was 12 years old as he rode 29 miles into the race to Red Star before being pulled. He’s also been pulled twice before at Lower Quarry — 94 miles through the race — and finished the trail once as a junior rider. But he had to withdraw just past the river crossing leaving Karen on her own....

Full story and photos, Auburn Journal

Thursday, July 21, 2016

From Chase to Lumby and then the Tevis!

by Heidi Telstad

Horse Canada, Chase Endurance - full article and photos

In preparation for riding (and surviving) the Mongol Derby, I have been trying to ride as many different horses as possible in as many different terrains and various saddles. This year a new ride was introduced in Chase, BC put on by Lori Bewza. At first I didn’t think I would be able to attend as Jamison was still not feeling very well from his incident on the Island and I didn’t want to rush him into anything. Luckily Lynn Wallden offered her sweet gelding, Hawk, to me to ride in the 50 mile.

The ride started at the private property of Chase Creek Cattle Co, which was an absolute treat. There is so much history at this ranch, that everywhere you looked you were seeing a part of Canadian ranching. We were also very lucky to have a clinic the day before from veterinarian Dr. Jim Bryant, who has a long history with the endurance community and lots of FEI experience. Everyone at the clinic questioned Jim for hours as they tried to learn as much as possible at this rare opportunity.

It’s always fun to ride in someone else’s saddle and to see their set-up. Lynn is only a few inches taller than me, but her stirrup leathers were about a foot longer than mine. I tried to ride with longer stirrups than I am used to, but it always feels a little off balance. In the Mongol Derby handbook they recommend changing your stirrup length to try and save your knees over 1,000km.

I just love riding single track trails and Chase definitely had a lot of it. Hawk is really sure footed and rarely took a misstep, which helped us keep up a decent pace. He is such a good safe horse, that even when a brown bear appeared beside the trail he took a look and kept on going. I highly doubt I will have the same kind of safe horse in Mongolia.

My next training ride was at the Timber Ridge Trails in Lumby, BC and I was lucky once again to have Hawk. Unfortunately about two or three miles into the second loop Hawk’s shoe came off. I grabbed it and put it into my backpack just in case it was possible to put the show back on. Hawk really wanted to keep up with the other horses, but I didn’t want to take the chance of him going lame while I waited to get a borrowed boot on that hoof. So I hand walked him until I ran into some very kind ATV & dirt bikers who happened to have a fresh roll of duct tape.

I made a boot out of the duct tape, but this did not mean I would be able to pick up the speed as the duct tape would wear through pretty quick. However, after crossing a rather deep river the duct tape boot came off. For this next taping I used up the whole roll of duct tape to make a boot. It was thick and sturdy and lasted until almost the end of that 18 mile loop when I able to borrow a “real” boot. I hoped that the boot would be good enough to finish the final 10 mile loop, however, I could feel while riding that Hawk was a bit unbalanced, so I got off and led him the remaining seven or eight miles to the finish. All of this walking would be great conditioning for the times, I’m sure, I’ll be walking during the Mongol Derby (as I understand it, everyone loses a horse at one time or another).

My final training ride before the Mongol Derby will be the 100 Miles One Day Western States Trail Ride, fondly known as the Tevis Cup. I have the wonderful opportunity of riding a little grey Arab gelding by the name of Pimpin who is owned by Jesse Jarrett. Jesse is an amazing endurance rider so I am thrilled to be riding with and learning from Jesse, who is riding 50 Shades. The icing on this training ride is that Sam Jones, 2014 Mongol Derby winner, will also be riding one of Jesse’s horses, a stallion called Majestic, so I get to pick her brain as well. And, the cherry on top is that Stevie Murray who also rode in the Mongol Derby will be crewing for us. I couldn’t be happier to have such a strong group to teach me the ropes!

At home on the reins - Tevis Cup rider Jeremy Reynolds has finished the race three times – and won all three

By: Mike Ray,

Full article, Auburn Journal

In an illustrious endurance horse riding career which has included competition at the highest levels nationally and internationally, Jeremy Reynolds has finished the prestigious Western States Trail 100-mile Ride only three times.

However, in each instance — in 2004, 2007 and 2011 — Reynolds has gone home with the coveted Tevis Cup for being the first rider to reach McCann Stadium at the Gold Country Fairgrounds.
“I’ve only finished the race three times but I’ve been fortunate to win it in those years,” said Reynolds a San Jose native who also runs a endurance horse center in Florida where he raises and trains endurance horses.

But as Reynolds notes, finishing the Tevis Cup with a horse in good condition is more important and everyone’s goal.
“The horse is the primary focus of everyone who rides,” said Reynolds. “It’s the only way to ride in these.”

Reynolds is entered again this Saturday with Indian Lucy in the what will be the 61st edition of the Squaw Valley to Auburn endurance ride that brings riders from all over the United States. In addition, as of early this week, 17 foreign riders from Canada, Australia, Portugal and Argentina are also entered.

While Reynolds has three first place finishes, he’s also just as proud of being awarded the Haggin Cup two times. That award goes to the top ten finishing horse which is in the best condition.
“It’s really about the horses,” said Reynolds. “They’re most important.”

In 2014, Reynolds’ wife Heather won the Tevis Cup riding Hadea. She covered the 100-mile distance in 14 hours and 17 minutes, the swiftest finishing time since 1999.
Heather Reynolds is entered Saturday and will be riding RB Code but is not expected to be a top finisher.
“Heather is riding with a friend who is in the ride for the first time,” said Jeremy Reynolds. “She’s going out Saturday just to help her out.”

Another rider with past Tevis Cup glory to his credit that will be competing Saturday is Rusty Toth of Rio Verde, Arizona.
But has Toth puts it, Saturday’s ride will be perhaps the most emotional for him of the four Western States events he’s entered.
Toth will be riding Auli Farwa, the horse that won the Haggin Cup in 2015, in honor of the late horse’s owner who passed away this year.
“It will be a different ride for me for sure,” said Toth. “I’ll have the best ride I can but it will be emotional. We’ll get out there and see how it goes.”...

Full article, Auburn Journal

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tevis Cup: Online Live GPS Tracking Available!

Tevis Cup riders will be able to sign up for live GPS tracking during the ride.


• GPS tracking available for every rider
• Satellite map of the trail populated by dots - one for each tracked rider -will move along it in real time
• Crew will know location of horse and rider to be ready at checks
• Users can hover over dots to identify riders and click in for specific information
• Friends and family can track the ride remotely and see exactly how riders are doing
• Better information and better safety for a better ride!

The map is up and ready to go - check it out here:

SIGN UP NOW! $40 fee per rider

Additional questions? 
Please contact Jenni Smith at

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cancer survivor takes on Tevis Cup Ride - Full Article

July 19 2016
Mary Ann Norbom

The oldest modern-day endurance ride in the U.S., the Western States Trail Ride -- commonly called the Tevis Cup Ride -- is a 100-mile test of rider and horse. You might expect to find only the healthiest and fittest of competitors out on the trail. The Valley's Lora Wereb and Spin-Out Merlin are far from that stereotype.

Wereb is a cancer patient. Spin-Out Merlin is 18 1/2 years old, an abused, broken-down rescue when Wereb adopted him three years ago. Neither one of them should probably still be alive, Wereb acknowledged. They're beating the odds, and doing it together.

Wereb was working as a veterinary technician in Santa Barbara and living near Lake Cachuma when she discovered a lump in her breast in March 2013. The diagnosis was devastating. Wereb had three tumors, stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her liver. Treatment began with three months of weekly chemotherapy, followed by surgery for the breast cancer. The liver cancer is inoperable. She's on daily oral medication for that.

Home on disability with time on her hands, a friend asked Wereb if she'd be interested in a horse she'd just rescued. Her previous experience had been exclusively with small animals, so Wereb had to learn about horses on the fly. Taking on the challenge, she named the horse Spin-Out Merlin...

Read more here:

Monday, July 18, 2016

5 Days till Tevis: 171 Entries

July 18 2016

With 5 days left till the 61st Tevis Cup, there are 171 entries, including 9 Junior riders, from 8 countries: the USA, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, Portugal, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa. The small part of the Western States trail near Foresthill where the Trailhead fire burned has been cleared, and the original Tevis trail will be used as normal.

Take some time to fly over the Tevis trail with google earth!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Western States Trail is officially reopened

July 15 2016

From Steve Hallmark, head of the Tevis Trail Committee: Trailhead Fire Update

The Auburn State Recreation Area has informed the Western States Trail Foundation that the Western States Trail is officially reopened within the Trailhead Fire boundary. Volunteers will have the Tevis Course flagged through this area by mid day onSunday, July 17th.

Once again, huge thanks to the Auburn State Recreation Area staff for working diligently to keep the Tevis Cup Ride Management so well informed and the trail reopened prior to race day.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning with Karen Chaton - Listen in!

July 12 2016

Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - we have so much fun stuff to talk about. Our guests will be Crysta Turnage from the Western States Trail who will tell us how to follow riders during the ride and keep up with Tevis news online, plus Dr. Julie A. Bullock will discuss heat stress in our horses. We may also have time to fit in an update on how Valerie is doing on her ride across the USA on her OTTB's, they have already gone from CA to (almost) CO! Tune in live at 9 am Eastern or recorded later in the day at or on the HRN App, just search Horse Radio Network in the IOS or Android App Store.

Tevis Ride Director Optimistic About Tevis Trail Use

July 10 2016
Message from the Ride Director Chuck Stalley

Today I am very optimistic that we will be able to use the Tevis trail in the area damaged by the Trailhead Fire. That is a bold prediction, as we have not yet been allowed to examine that section of trail which burned. What gives me confidence is that the fire was much smaller on the Western States trail (which is on the Placer County side of the river) and the fire lines did not run down the trail but instead intersected it in several places. There were a few thousand acres burned on the El Dorado side of the river. For now this section of trail from California Street in Foresthill to Francisco's at Driver's Flat Road is closed to the public as it is still an active fire area. 

Please be respectful of the fire restrictions and stay out of this area. We will let you know via Facebook and
our website at how you can volunteer to assist in clean up and restoration of this section of trail when the time is right. Thank you to all those who have offered to help. Downstream from Francisco's several trees are down on the trail. We are getting to them as quickly as we can, but be advised obstacles are prevalent on this section of trail.

Monday, July 11, 2016

2016 AERC Award Nominations due August 1

July 11 2016

AERC Members: It's time to make your nomination for Hall of Fame Person, Hall of Fame Equine, Pard'ners Award, Volunteer Service Award, or the Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award. Nominations are due by August 1, 2016.

The nomination form is here:

Technology Meets the Tevis

NEW for 2016!


• GPS tracking available for every rider
• Satellite map of the trail populated by dots - one for each tracked rider -will move along it in real time
• Crew will know location of horse and rider to be ready at checks
• Users can hover over dots to identify riders and click in for specific information
• Friends and family can track the ride remotely and see exactly how riders are doing
• Better information and better safety for a better ride!
The map is up and ready to go - check it out here;
$40 fee per rider
Additional questions?  
Please contact Jenni Smith at

Meet a horsewoman with a talent for writing - Ronnie Eden - Full Article

July 10 2016
by Ron Walker

I met Ronnie Eden at a book signing. She’s published a children’s book, which she both wrote and illustrated.

She joins Orllyene and me, in our home, for a glass of iced tea. An attractive blond woman, I’m filled with a high degree of expectancy, at the thought of meeting a real, live published author. When she comes through the front door she says, “Oh, this is so beautiful,” and is very complimentary to Orllyene, who designed our home. We sit down to a glass of iced tea, adorned with a sprig of mint. I salvo my first question. “Ronnie, what’s your passion?” thinking she will reply, “being an author,” or possibly an “artist.” “Horses. Without a doubt, horses are my absolute passion. I’m an endurance-rider. It’s a sport you know. I have an endurance horse (Kip), and I take all the 24 hours they allow you, in the Endurance Ride from Squaw Valley to Auburn. Some of the ‘hot shoes’ do it in 12 hours. Also, I ride 10-15 miles, three times a week,” she says...

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Women to tackle America’s toughest equine endurance ride - Full Article

Route covers 100 miles on Western States Trail

July 10, 2016
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

FAIRFAX - A rural Fairfax woman who owns a horse stables just north of Fort Ridgely State Park will lead a group of six women including teenagers to compete in America's most grueling equine endurance ride on a 100-mile trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains set for July 23.

Fort Ridgely Equestrian Center owner Sarah Maass, her daughter Dana Gasner, and their friends Grace Steffl, Sleepy Eye; Cassidy Wiethoff, Gibbon; Emma Christopherson, Mitchell, S.D., formerly of Nicollet; and Alexis Unangst of Michigan, will compete in The Tevis Cup.

Maass and her daughter have competed in The Tevis Cup twice and finished once, which is close to the overall average completion rate of about 54 percent...

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Saturday, July 09, 2016

25,000 Miles for Ann Kratochvil

July 5 2016
by Karen Bruhn Balch

Longtime American Endurance Ride Conference rider Ann Kratochvil from Ridgecrest, California, rode into the AERC History books having ridden 25,000 miles - eclipsing the Earth’s circumference at 24,901 miles. Or another way to put it, Ann has ridden 99 miles further than the Earth's reported circumference at 24,901 miles!

Ann’s virtually unimaginable accomplishment was aboard a variety of magnificent, beloved equines including: GF Brazils Envy (10,150 miles), Azh Nadoor Roonie (6,000 miles), Dano aka Red (5,000 miles), Pandoras Pixy (700 miles).

In October 2015 Ann joined the elite AERC “Perfect Ten” as the eighth person to have ridden 10,000 miles on the same horse, GF Brazils Envy, an Arab mare, for 10 years, winning 10 First Place Endurance Rides, and 10 Best Conditions.

The final leg of Ann’s astounding 25,000 mile achievement was accomplished riding Girls Gone Wild aka “Gypsy” at Dennis and Linda Tribby’s five-day Oregon Outback Pioneer Endurance Ride on Tuesday, July 5.

Olin Balch and Karen Bruhn Balch photos

Friday, July 08, 2016

Young rider fights through storm to finish 50-mile race - Full Story

Jul. 7, 2016
Pittsburg, Kan.

It was a ride that reminded them of what cowboys must have faced during cattle drives when they had no choice. Southeast Junior High School 8th grader Skylar Zortz, her mentor and their horses finished a 50-mile race this past weekend despite thunder, lightning and flash flooding.

“The last part of it was kind of crazy,” Zortz said when looking back on the ride.

At 7:30 p.m. on Saturday July 2, 12 riders started the 50-mile Owl Hoot Trail Endurance Race held northwest of Vinita, Oklahoma.

Being under 14 years of age, Zortz rides with a mentor — neighbor Wendy Justice.

"I think some of the appeal for endurance riding is that people of all ages can do it," Justice said. "It is an Olympic sport. If you really like to ride you get to spend hours riding and you get to see parts of the country through parks and conservation areas that a lot of people may never see. We get to see up close and in the middle of national forests or red-dirt canyons like out at Kanopolis State Park..."

Read more here:

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Three Hundred Win Man

July 6 2016
by Merri

Many of you probably know Christoph Schork as a long-time endurance rider. Or you might know him as a runner or biker or a ski coach or an all-around "outdoors guy." Maybe earlier on you might have known him as a rock climber or mountaineer, kayaker or sailplane flyer.

After this weekend in Colorado at the new Doubloon 50 mile endurance ride, you can refer to him as the Three Hundred Win Man. When he crossed the finish line in first place on Sunday, July 3, 2016, Schork set an AERC record that is unlikely to ever be equaled. Win number 300 put Schork far ahead of the sport's next two winningest riders, Linda Hamrick with 163 wins, and Darolyn Butler with 162 wins.

Riding the 8-year-old mare GE Pistol Annie, Schork tied for first place with Kerry Redente, riding TM Burning Bridges (owned by ride manager Tennessee Lane), in a ride time of 7:06.

"I'm so proud of Christoph and happy he was able to reach 300 wins here," Lane said. "Christoph and Dian are like family to me."

The 300th win was a little spot of brightness during a time of great sadness for Schork and the endurance community at large. Close friend to many, endurance rider Kevin Myers died suddenly 4 days earlier, and he was close in the thoughts of many riders over the weekend.

"Everything is a little dampened by the tragedy that had happened," Schork said, "but it was nice to have something that pulled us out of the doldrums. It felt really uplifting and positive, to reach a goal, a landmark number nobody in the world has reached.

"I know it's just a number, and it's just 1 more than 299, but still, as humans we are all number oriented. I raised the bar, and accomplished my goal, and I felt really happy about it."

Besides the record 300 wins, Schork, 63, originally from Germany and now from Moab, Utah, has amassed an impressive 30,500 AERC endurance miles over his 29-year career, (11th on the all-time mileage list) with 549 completions out of 593 starts - an incredible 92.5% completion rate. He has finished 42 out of 59 100-mile rides (including 5 Tevis Cup finishes), and his horses have won 128 Best Condition awards. Schork also won Australia's 2007 Tom Quilty Gold Cup - the equivalent of USA's Tevis Cup - aboard Arovo Mini Harvest, tying with Anton Reid (who supplied Schork with the horse) aboard Endurowest Kumari.

Schork and Anton Reid tie for first place in Australia's 100-mile Tom Quilty, September 2007

It was Dian Woodward, Schork's life partner and business partner in Global Endurance Training Center, who first noticed GE Pistol Annie at a breeder's farm in eastern Idaho when Annie was 3. "She had a nice disposition, nice conformation, and breeding was nice. Everything seemed to fit, so I went and picked her up," Schork said. "We just took our time training her, conditioning her. Now she is doing very well."

"Very well" means that Annie, a half Arabian (by Sulte) half Quarter horse, currently has a perfect 25 start-25 finish record in 1400 miles over 3 seasons, with 15 wins and 9 Best Condition awards.

Another mare that did very well for Schork is GE Stars Aflame. The 14-year-old mare by Flaming Tigre out of Samoa Star, by Samstar, has a record of 2940 miles over 8 seasons, with 54 completions in 57 starts, 12 Best Condition awards, and an astounding 38 first place finishes - the second most wins of Schork's record.

Along the way, this pair garnered numerous AERC awards, including 2010 War Mare award (the most points accrued by the same mare/rider team during the season), 2011 National Middleweight 100 mile Champions, and 2013 National Middleweight 50 mile Champions. And it was Stars Aflame that Schork was riding when he won his 200th ride (also an AERC record) on September 18, 2010, at the Las Cienegas 100-mile ride.

Schork and GE Stars Aflame win the 50-mile AERC National Championship in a thrilling race-off with Dennis Summers and Hey Soulsister, September 2013

Schork and Woodward got Stars Aflame, aka "Dapple," sight unseen, in a package deal of 6 racehorses from Florida 8 years ago. "We liked her dam and sire. Looking at her, she's a little small, but it doesn't bother her!"

Her nickname "Dapple" came from the fact that Schork didn't immediately know any of the horses' names, and referred to her as "the dapple" in choosing to keep her. "The nickname is totally not applicable anymore. There are no more dapples; she's just flea-bitten. But the name stuck."

Schork's most wins (41) came aboard GE Double Zell. By Brusally Orlen out of Little Sisterzell, by Brusally Orlen, the 2001 chestnut gelding completed all 58 of his starts, covering 3150 miles over 8 seasons (another win came with Carla Lakenbrink in 2013). He completed all 6 of his 100 mile starts, including 4 Tevis Cup finishes (1 with Schork; 3 with other riders).

Double Zell came from Scott Powell's Arabian herd in Salt Lake City. "He had tons of horses and they were all running loose. We went there and looked at some of them, and that guy [Double Zell] just followed us around and stood right next to me as if he belonged to me. Everything else fit, so that's why we got him."

Schork and Double Zell win the Owyhee Fandango 100, May 2010

Schork has also had great success riding a number of horses bred by Robert Bouttier's Drinkers of the Wind Arabians in Bellevue, Idaho. Bouttier was one of the first breeders that Schork met when he first got into endurance riding in 1988.

DWA Sabku +// was the first Drinkers of the Wind Arabians horse Schork rode. By *Sabson out of Saranade, by El Camino Samir, Schork had 13 wins aboard DWA Sabku over six seasons together. The gelding ultimately earned 4370 miles over his 15-season career, with 78 completions in 85 starts, with 11 100-mile completions in 14 starts, and 18 Best Condition awards. Schork leased DWA Sabku to UAE rider Ali Khalfan Abdullah Hamdan Al Jahouri for the 2004 Tevis Cup; the pair finished fifth, though they were on track for a possible win before Al Jahouri went off trail near the finish.

DWA Powerball was another horse that played a large role in Schork's win record.
Schork rode the gelding to 31 wins in 8 seasons (Woodward also rode him to 3 wins). The 1997 gelding by *Sabson out of WMA Lotto, by Cacko, went on to earn 3720 career miles with 72 completions in 75 starts.

Schork and DWA Powerball finish 2nd in the 50-mile Resolution Ride, December 2010

"It is an honor to have Drinkers of the Wind Arabians horses, owned and campaigned by Christoph Schork, contribute to 67 of his 300 wins," Bouttier said.

Riding so many good horses to so many wins, Schork is diplomatic when it comes to choosing his most favorite horse. "You know, to be honest, I get along with just about all of the horses," Schork says. "Do I have really a favorite? Let's put it this way. I have a lot of favorite horses. And what makes them my favorite horses is they work with me, if I want to get off and run, if they tail, if they are eager to compete, if they are high spirited, if they love the sport. That's what makes them my favorite."

It's this relationship with horses that is one reasons why Schork enjoys endurance riding so much, and one of the reasons he's been so successful.

"It's why I like endurance rather then jumping or dressage, because you are with the horse for so many, many, many hours at a stretch. You get to know each other. You can develop that partnership much more in depth as compared to fast, short timed equestrian events."

Schork and GE Starlit Way finish 7th in the 100-mile AERC National Championships, September 2013

Schork also enjoys the basic endurance aspect of the sport. "I always did long distance sports myself. And I like to cover ground. I like to be in the wilderness. I like to be out there where there is nobody, so to speak, and really cover ground. Even as a kid, I liked to cover a lot of ground."

Besides taking from on 1 to 5 horses out on conditioning rides every day that he's not at an endurance event, Schork conditions himself as diligently as he does his horses. "In the summer I do mostly running and mountain and road biking, and I do some swimming. I go to the gym where I do some weights as a cross training to kind of stay balanced muscularly within my body. I always try to do some yoga, as well - a little more in the winter. It's just to stay limber and to stay stretched and balanced out. I think yoga and balance are probably more important than strength and conditioning."

Schork credits long-time and early endurance riders Bob and Arlene Morris, from Idaho, as being his earliest mentors whom he looked up to and learned from. Schork got one of his first endurance horses from the Morrises, Dahn Hallany, and began his AERC career on a winning note (the duo won their very first AERC ride, and overall placed first 4 times and second 6 times). "I was new to endurance," Schork recalls, "and I also didn't know much about what you looked for in an endurance horse. I went strictly by conformation then. And kind of a little bit by how I felt about him - a little instinct."

His instinct and feeling naturally grew into knowledge over the years as his success at winning grew. Factors that Schork considers that helped him achieve such success he can put into 3 succinct points. "First is having the goal - being goal driven. Second is to have a plan. And third is attention to the detail. Always attention to the detail."

Schork and Double Zell finish 12th in the 100-mile Tevis Cup, July 2010

It sounds simple, but there is so much that goes into details of bringing along and successfully racing an endurance horse with the objective - besides winning - of having a sound, healthy horse at the finish.

Schork elaborates, "I'm talking everything, from breeding, selection of the horse, training, conditioning, proper schedules, saddle fit, hoof care, to all these things that make up a successful ride. It's watching the horses, studying the horses, knowing when they can do it, and also understanding and knowing when they cannot do it. It's knowing when something is missing, just really being in tune with the horse, being in touch with it, feeling it, working in partnership with the horse."

Fellow endurance rider and competitor and friend Dennis Summers compliments Schork, "I say this about very few people. As well as being fearless, Christoph is a true horseman. It is not dumb luck that got him 300 wins. He has many tools in his toolbox, from selecting great athletes and preparing them well, to great race strategy. He is a great competitor, a great sportsman, a great friend. My hat is off to him."

As if all the horse riding and personal conditioning didn't keep Schork busy, he still finds time, at Global Endurance in Moab, to train and teach other endurance riders, and to host endurance workshops and hoof clinics. And at multi-day endurance rides, if Woodward isn't along, as if Schork didn't have enough to do with 3 or 4 horses to care for and ride (and possibly a few dogs to keep an eye on), he still has time to help other riders with tack, or advice, or gluing on hoof boots, or giving a clinic. The man never stops moving and working.

Schork giving a hoof clinic at the AERC National Championships, September 2013

Another endurance rider Kevin Waters also compliments his friend, "On the trail Christoph shows up with horses conditioned and ready to go. Tack, boots, feed… all correct. While accumulating all these firsts he has done it uniquely by keeping a string of ten or so horses in race condition (along with partner Dian Woodward.)

"To learn and compete on that many horse personalities to the success he's had is an astronomical achievement of hard work and horse understanding! He's a great person on and off the trail."

Despite his record-breaking achievement, Schork has some fairly modest goals. "I want, of course, to keep on riding, and keep on placing well and doing well. And I would like to win more national awards."

It's a pretty safe bet that the Three Hundred Win Man will accomplish that.

Top photo: Schork and GE Stars Aflame win the 50-mile AERC National Championship in a thrilling race-off with Dennis Summers and Hey Soulsister, September 2013

Monday, July 04, 2016

They ride with him in world’s longest horse race - Full Article

July 3 2016

Tim Finley to compete in Mongol Derby, an endurance horse race

Iraq veteran riding in honor of vets who have committed suicide


Stretching 621 miles, the Mongol Derby bills itself as the longest and toughest horse race in the world.

It’s common for riders who enter the 10-day competition to drop out before the finish line.

That doesn’t faze Air Force Capt. Tim Finley.

Finley, 36, has trained for the 2016 derby throughout the past year, working out seven days a week and traveling around the country riding “everyone’s horses under the sun” to prepare for the many different horses he will ride during the derby.

The derby is modeled after the legendary Genghis Khan’s relay postal system and provides riders with semi-wild Mongolian horses switched out every 40 kilometers. It brings about 40 riders each year to the steppes of Mongolia, a country nestled between China to the south and Russia to the north. The 2016 race will be run Aug. 1-14.

For Finley, completing the race is not only a personal goal but part of a larger mission: He’s competing in honor of veterans who commit suicide – 22 on average each day – a cause with which he has personal experience...

Read more here:

Christoph Schork Earns 300th AERC Endurance Ride Win

July 3 2016

Riding GE Pistol Annie, Christoph Schork, from Moab, Utah won his 300th AERC endurance ride in the new Doubloon ride near La Veta, Colorado on Sunday, July 3. Schork tied for first place with Kerry Redente, riding ride manager Tennessee Lane's T M Burning Bridges. They finished in a ride time of 7:06 for the 50 miles.

Schork, who has ridden more than 30,000 endurance miles over a 29-year endurance career, has an admirable 92.5% completion rate. His 200th win (also an AERC record) came on September 18, 2010, at the Las Cienega 100 mile ride in Arizona.

GE Pistol Annie is an 8-year-old half Arabian, half Quarter horse mare with a perfect record of 23 finishes in 23 starts with 15 wins. She has 1265 miles over 3 seasons, including 3 100-mile completions and 9 Best Condition awards.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Gold Country Endurance Ride Cancelled Due to Trailhead Fire

July 2 2016

The July 9th Gold Country endurance ride near Georgetown, California, has been cancelled due to the active Trailhead fire near Foresthill. Dru Barner Equestrian campground is closed.

The Trailhead fire is currently at 3218 acres and is 12% contained.

for updates on the fire.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Trailhead Fire near Foresthill grows to over 2000 Acres

July 1 2016

The Trailhead wildfire in Placer County near Foresthill, California, has grown to 2,151 acres with 12% containment as of noon on July 1.

The Trailhead Fire is currently burning on the Western States Trail in the area of Cal 2 and Cal 3, which are approximately 74 to 80 miles into the Tevis trail ride course, between Foresthill and Francisco's Vet Checks. Once the area is deemed safe by Cal Fire and the US Forest Service, Tevis ride management will examine the area for safety and usability.
Should they find the trail to be too damaged for safe passage, ride management is looking at other trail options in that area for the July 23 Tevis Cup ride. There are optional routes at this time, but they will not be able to decide on which course adjustments will be needed until the fire is out. Cal Fire has a projected containment date of July 3rd. They will know more about the potential status of the trail at that time.

Map and more information at:


Kevin Myers 1966-2016

The endurance family was devastated by the passing of Kevin Myers of Durango, Colorado on June 29.

The world lost a bright light in this warm, compassionate, clever, generous man. He was a mentor and close friend to many and will be missed by all.

Condolences from around the world are being shared among his friends and family.

A Celebration of Life will take place in Durango on Friday July 8th.

Farewell, dear friend. Happy trails.