Thursday, September 29, 2016

AERC 2017-18 Director-At-Large Nominations Close Tomorrow

AERC 2017-18 DIRECTOR-AT-LARGE NOMINATIONS close Friday, September 30. There is a full slate of candidates but it's not too late to toss your riding helmet into the ring.

Requirements: current AERC membership, a $5 nomination fee and a nomination statement (up to 600 words, due next week).

Call the AERC office until 4:00 Pacific today, 866-271-2372, or use our handy online nomination form:

Winding Trails: Sleeper competes in World Championships - Full Article

By Staff | NJ Advance Media for
on September 28, 2016

SAMORIN, SLOVAKIA — The United States' Meg Sleeper and Tom Hagis gave a strong effort across a rugged five-loop course at the 2016 Longines FEI World Endurance Championships for Seniors on Saturday.

Although they rode with confidence, they were unable to overcome the vigorous challenges the course presented and were pulled at vet checks along the way...

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blood on the Trail: The history that equine endurance racing will never escape is back to haunt it - Full Article

New book "American Endurance" looks back at the controversial roots of endurance racing in the United States

By Fran Jurga | 9/26/2016

When last week's FEI World Endurance Championships ("WECH")in Slovakia made the news for all the wrong reasons, echoes of endurance races of the past rumbled to the surface. For the past 125 years, organized equine endurance spectacles have pitted horses against fate. Thanks to FEI TV, we could all watch the WECH horses in action, acting out the latest chapter in endurance history, for better or worse.

This fall, that colorful and often controversial history will be spotlighted in a revealing new book that cannot--and should not--be ignored.

To be truthful, the only time we usually hear about endurance at the international level is when something goes wrong, and it usually has to go very wrong to attract the media's attention at all. How much worse can it get?

Last week, Ajayeb, the 15-year-old chestnut mare ridden by Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum (UAE), was euthanized on the trail, after she tripped and fell on the fourth loop of the track, suffering an irreparable injury to her right front leg. reported that he mare allegedly slipped on a plastic water bottle discarded by riders who came before.

Victory celebrations for some countries stopped short when the first group of finishers didn't meet the veterinary inspection criteria. Two horses ridden by United Arab Emirates riders,Napoli Del Ma (Saif Ahmad Al Mazroui) and Quran El Ulm (Ganem Abdullah Al Merri), were vetted out and Uruguay’s LG Muneerah wasn’t presented by Jonatan Rivera Iriarte.

Grumbles and growls from around the world criticized the race on even more issues than direct welfare questions related to the fatality and the condition failure of the first to finish. Many competitors rode rented European horses that they did not own or even normally ride because the transport for their own horses was not paid for by the event.

The required FEI necropsy of the deceased horse was bypassed because the horse could not be transported across the border to Austria to undergo post mortem tests at the University of Vienna. According to news reports today in the British magazine Horse and Hound, the horse's remains were shipped to a crematorium instead.

All of this might have been written last week--or 100 years ago. Endurance--at least the American version of it--is about to look itself in the mirror when Random House Penguin's new book, American Endurance: The Great Cowboy Race and the Vanishing Wild West by Richard A. Serrano hits the bookstores...

Read more here:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

2016 Distance Nationals 50 and CTR

September 25 2016

The 2016 Distance Nationals are underway in Vinita, Oklahoma, this weekend. They are being run in conjunction with the Appaloosa National Championship Endurance Ride.

Jacoby Hayes and DJBCC Mattingley Wizard won the AHA Purebred 50 Mile Championship in a ride time of 5:44. Terry Reed and TR Olena were second in 5:46, and Kathy Broads and Fougueux were third in 5:56. 9 out of 10 starters completed the ride.

Wendy Justice and Rococo Amber won the AHA Half/Anglo Arabian 50 Mile Championship in a ride time of 5:44. Louise Burton and CR Blonde Bombshell finished second in 6:12, and Kerry Lowrey and Takoda were third in 6:30. Junior Skylar Zortz and Rococco Safire finished 5th in 8:05. Five of six starters completed the ride.

All 3 starters completed the AHA Purebred CTR Championship, with Terryl Reed and TR Olena taking the Championship win with a score of 197. Deanne Prusak and TA Kaiser were Reserve Champions with a score f 194.

2 starters were in the Half/Anglo CTR Championship, with Taylor Walker and Backstreetstrutter GSA taking the Championship with a score of 193. Miranda Miller and Brittany Rolsthedice were Reserve Champions with a score of 188.

The 100 Mile ride is underway today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

14th Annual Arabian & Half-Arabian Sport Horse National Championships are Nampa, Idaho Bound

(16- Sept.-06) − AURORA, COLO. – The Arabian Horse Association (AHA) is celebrating the 14th anniversary of the Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show September 21 – 25, in Nampa, Idaho at the Ford Idaho Horse Park.

This horse show is unique - not just to the Arabian horse breed, but to other breeds as well. AHA is the only breed association that offers a Sport Horse only, National Show for its horses and exhibitors.

Arabian Sport Horses are known for their athleticism, strength and diversity and will showcase these abilities at the National Event. From Dressage to Hunter/Jumper, Pleasure Carriage Driving to In-Hand classes and much more, AHA invites the residents of Nampa and surrounding areas to come out and see the best equine athletes in the industry. Class sessions begin respectively at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The show is FREE to the public and also offers the Total Arabian Interactive Learning (T.A.I.L) tours on Thursday, September 22 at 6 p.m.; Friday, September 23 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.; and on Saturday, September 24 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Tours are FREE and open to all ages. Tours are led by an expert guide and invite attendees to participate in a behind-the-scenes view of the show. Kids and families on the tour will meet Arabian horses, watch classes and take home information on the Arabian horse. Contact AHA at or call (303) 597-8251 to schedule a FREE tour of the facility and meet some Arabian horses!

Event attendees can learn more about the history of the Arabian horse by enjoying the Tour of Arabian Horse Legends: A Miniature Exhibit. The exhibit will be open daily and boasts a timeline of where the Arabian horse started, and where it is today.

Additionally, the Sport Horse National Show is hosting a silent auction to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Nampa and the Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund (AHDF). Donation items, both equine and non-equine will be accepted at the horse show. AHA invites the community to participate in the auction and help to support these two organizations. Contact for more information on the Sport Horse Nationals Silent Auction.

For more information on AHA’s Sport Horse National Championship Horse Show, visit

Contact: AHA

Three Events – One Breed: Experience the Diversity of the Arabian Horse

(19-SEPT.-16) – AURORA, COLO. – Heralded as the most diverse and athletic horse on the planet, the Arabian horse excels in a variety of disciplines, all with grace and beauty. This week kicks off three prestigious events for the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) – the Arabian breed registry in North America.

First, on Wednesday, September 21, the 14th Annual Arabian & Half-Arabian Sport Horse National Championship kicks off at the Ford Idaho Horse Park in Nampa, ID. Running through the 25th of September, Sport Horse Nationals is the only Sport Horse show offered by a breed association.

From Dressage and Carriage Driving, to Hunter/Jumper and In-Hand classes, Sport Horse Nationals demonstrates the athletic diversity of the Arabian and Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian horse. A live-stream of the indoor arena can be viewed at Learn more about the show at

Then, on the evening of Wednesday, September 21 at 7:00 PM EST, the Arabian horse will be presented at the Arabian U.S. Open Horse Show, as part of the Rolex Central Park Horse Show in New York City, New York. While not a national or rated show, this platform displays the Arabian horse on a worldwide stage, potentially to an audience that has never before experienced their magic.

Horses and riders at the Arabian U.S. Open attend by invitation only, with just eight classes offered: Arabian Mounted Native Costume, Arabian Junior Mare Halter, Hunter Pleasure Pro/Am, Arabian Junior Stallion Halter, Western Pleasure Pro/Am, Arabian Senior Mare Halter, Country English Pleasure Pro/Am and Arabian Senior Stallion halter.

This unique setting is a huge marketing opportunity for the Arabian breed and is presented by AHA and Aljassimya Farm. To learn more about this show, visit The show will be live-streamed Wednesday evening by the Arabian Horse Global Network on

Finally, on Thursday, September 22, the first ever multi-breed National Distance Ride will take place in Vinita, Ok. The AHA Distance Nationals has teamed up with the Appaloosa Horse Club for a four day competition that proves the endurance of the Arabian horse; challenges rider and horse teams to compete to their best ability; and awards hard work and determination.

The Arabian horse has dominated the Distance sport for years due to the breed’s stamina and natural endurance abilities. The event is comprised of a two day Competitive Trail Ride National Championship and a 50-mile and 100-miles National Endurance Championship Ride for both Purebreds and Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian horses, along with several open Endurance and Competitive Trail rides. Distance Nationals wraps up a year of hard work, determination and many miles for AHA distance riders and their horses. Learn more about the AHA Distance Nationals at

Three events – one amazing breed. The Arabian horse will truly set the standard this week for diversity and athleticism in motion. Endurance, Sport Horse, Halter and Performance horses will all prove to the world why the Arabian horse is the best – all within the same 48 hours!

To learn more about the most amazing breed on earth, visit and discover the Arabian horse!

Contact: AHA

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Brandon Reed and BA Treacle Win Virginia City 100

September 18 2016

Brandon Reed and BA Treacle won the 49th annual Virginia City 100 endurance ride Saturday near Virginia City, Nevada. They finished at 10:55 PM. The start was 5 AM, in front of the Bucket of Blood Saloon in downtown Virginia City. The mare is owned by Hugh and Gloria Vanderford; Brandon rode her to a 14th place finish in the Wild West 50 in June, and a second place finish on the Camp Far West 50 on September 3.

BA Treacle also won the Best Condition award. High vet score went to 4th place MM Cody, ridden by Samantha Ellis.

44 riders started, 29 finished.

Interesting stats from the ride (thanks Lucy Trumbull!)
• Robert Ribley's 27th place finish was his 97th 100-mile finish
• Jamie Kerr finished 26th, after years of being head vet for the ride
• Carolyn Meiers completed her 10th VC 100. She sponsored
• Junior Alex Neihaus, who finished her 6th 100-mile ride this year!
• Gina Hall and Fire Mtn Destiny - Destiny's 12th VC 100 finish! an all-time record
• there were 11 first-time VC riders who completed
• Pat Chappell got her 17th VC 100 completion
• 5th place Suzanne Ford-Huff finished her 47th 100-mile ride
• NASTR Triple Crown winner (NV Derby 50 in the spring, NASTR 75 in the summer, and VC100 in the fall) - Leigh Bacco and Picante

Full results, photos can be seen here:

Saturday, September 17, 2016

2016 AERC National Championships in Utah: Riding With Buffalo - Part 3 (the 100)

by Merri

Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.

Just 17 starters in the AERC National Championship 100 on September 10, but it was a strong, competitive group. Riders left on the trail at 5 AM, dark.

Suzy Hayes and Greenbriar Al Jabal ("Atlas") led the way out, and yes, it was quite dark. "I couldn't see anything!" Suzy said later. "Like my husband says, 'It was darker than the inside of a cow!' I just had to trust Atlas and let him go." Just four miles out, she found herself splitting a herd of buffalo, but Atlas just carried on.

An expectant group gathered at the out vet check at the White Rock Bay parking lot: vets (head vet Olin Balch, Karen Balch, Greg Fellers, and Jared Christensen), vet students, who would be taking pulses and getting a taste of vetting at an endurance ride, crews, and friends of crews.

Out to watch and participate for the weekend was Robert Bouttier of Drinkers of the Wind Arabians, sponsor of the 50 and 100 Mile Championship winners and Best Condition, with custom blankets. Robert enjoyed jumping in to help Christoph at the vet checks; Christoph has partnered in the past on several successful horses bred by DWA Arabians.

Anya and Monk
It was a treat seeing Junior Anya Levermann's father, Peter, present at this ride. He was giving his wife Katrin a break for the weekend. Peter and Anya drove down from BC (Canada) in their car, taking two days to get here. Anya was riding Chris Martin's Monk, whom she rode to a 5th place in the Sunriver Classic 105 in June. I like to call the Levermanns endurance jet setters, as this year, Anya and, often, her mom, are traveling all over the country doing 100 mile endurance rides together, including the Titanium Run, Big Horn and Santiam Cascade. Anya is, in fact, tied with fellow Junior rider Alex Neihaus for the Junior National 100 mile award - both were at 405 miles before the National Championship. Alex was also riding this AERCNC 100 on her horse Airborne, with her grandmother Joyce and Joyce's newly minted Hall of Fame gelding, LV Integrity.

Alex and Airborne

The first riders began arriving into the first pulse-down-trot-and-go vet check at 14 miles in just under 1 1/2 hours. It's a flat, nice, rockless stretch that horses can move out on.

The leading riders into this first check were a hint as to how the finish would ultimately turn out late in the evening. Dean Hoalst (Pay Attention) and Melissa Ribley (Ever Ready) were the first to arrive, with Suzy Hayes close behind. Dean and Suzy pulsed down first ahead of Melissa. Just after them were Leah Cain (OT Dyamonte Santo), Pam Bailie (Bailie Skrit Ablane) and her sponsoree, Anya Levermann (Monk). After a gap of 9 minutes, Ann Hall (HCC Zara RR) pulsed down, followed by "the two Jennies," Jenni Smith (M Dash Stella) and Jennifer Waitte (M Dash Czoe), aboard Waitte's two homebred mares.

The rest of the riders trickled in over the next 23 minutes, a spread of 41 minutes between first and last: Christoph Schork (GE Pistol Annie), Alison Farrin (Shalimar Yukon), Kevin Waters (Belesemo Impressario), Joyce Sousa (LV Integrity) and her granddaughter Alex Niehaus (Airborne), Robert Ribley (Regret), Kecia Smette (LC Tripleplay) and Kathy Backus (Dynazel).

Thursday's 50-mile winner, Jill Haunold, helped crew for Dean Hoalst. Jill and Dean rode together for the first 14 miles of the 50. Dean had the smallest crew bag ever in the 100 mile ride. It was so small - it was packed for 4 out checks at this spot - ride management overlooked it off-loading everybody else's crew bags. In fact we were so astounded by Dean's tiny bag, that we rummaged through it, so that we could perhaps learn how not to pack body bags full of things for single out vet checks.

Seriously, look how small Dean's vet check bag is!!!

I mentioned in Part 1 how this ride was small in numbers, but big on friendly competition, and seemed like one big family. At this vet check, and throughout the day, while crews waited around for their own riders who were on trail, almost all of them jumped in to help other riders when they came in to the vet checks.

L-R: Leah, Anya, Pam
The horses headed out onto the mountain to finish their 14 mile loop, back into this out vet check for their first hour hold. Dean, Suzy, Leah, Pam, Anya, and Melissa were still within 3 minutes of each other at the end of the 14 miles. This group kept up their fast pace and left a gap between the next group of nearly 30 minutes. Ann and the Two Jennies arrived next, and unfortunately Jenni Smith's mount M Dash Stella was pulled for lameness. Jenni and Jennifer always have a good time riding together, "chattering away," Waitte said, but Waitte and Ann Hall teamed up the rest of the day, also having a great time together and chattering away whenever I came across them. The great smile never left Ann's face all day; she was thrilled to be riding on Antelope Island for the first time, and for the stars to align for her to be riding her beloved Zara in the Championship 100.

Following them 10 minutes later were Christoph, Kevin, and Alison. There was an approximate 45 minute gap back to Joyce and Alex, followed by Robert, Kecia, and Kathy.

Next was a 22 mile loop, back up the mountain for an abbreviated repeat of the previous loop, then the 12 mile stretch back to basecamp at 50 miles and another hour hold. The morning had started out quite chilly - cooler than all the previous mornings - but the day was quickly warming up and, with no wind, becoming the hottest day of the week.

Leading the way into camp at the 50 mile mark were Anya and Monk (he was full of beans today for Anya, who was riding him in a sidepull) and Pam and Bailie. Melissa and Leah, then Dean and Suzy, were hot on their tails. Leah's and Pam's horses pulsed down first; Pam would wait for Monk who pulsed down 4 minutes later, so it was Leah and Santo who would head out first on the second half of the hundred.

The next few miles were a long, hot climb up the south end of the island's mountain, 14 miles before the next water stop (it was impossible to haul water anywhere on this loop, "so make sure your horses are well hydrated before you leave camp," ride manager Jeff Stuart cautioned, "and ride accordingly"), and another 6 miles into the out vet check at 70 miles.

Leah and Melissa

All 6 of the front horses pulsed down within 5 minutes of each other and passed the vet check, cleared to go. But as the lunch stop went on, Dean was concerned that his horse wasn't eating. He opted to stay longer in the vet check, and eventually pulled rider option, because he decided it was not their day. Kathy Backus' horse Dynazel pulled here for lameness.

Suzy Hayes and Atlas left in second place on the next loop, but Atlas also had not eaten all that well at this vet check, which was unusual for him. So she was going to baby him the next stretch, ride him according to how he felt, and not push to stay in or near the lead.

Ride manager Jeff took me on the ATV on the start of this loop, the long, sometimes steep climb up this Sentry trail to the ridge on the southern half of the island, with a terrific view of the eastern half of the Great Salt Lake (and ridecamp far below) and the western half of the lake. I hung on for dear teeth-gritting life and thanked my lucky stars for a good driver and trusty ATV! We passed Ann and Zara, Jennifer and Czoe going up the hill; then we waited for them on top to trot on by us. Of course they wore big smiles on their faces. These two got a lucky glimpse of a few of the island's big horn sheep herd.

As Jeff and I headed back down on the ATV, we met Christoph, Kevin, and Alison coming up the mountain. Christoph and Kevin were on foot. Running. Uphill. In the heat. Christoph estimates he was off and running some 10-15 miles of the ride - his customary MO for endurance rides. (Kevin may have run double that; leaving the last out vet check in the late afternoon with 28 miles left, he walked and ran on foot, managing his horse who had earlier had an occasional hitch in his hind giddyup.)

First into the 70 mile out vet check for a 1 hour hold, just after 2 in the afternoon, was Leah and Monte, 2 minutes ahead of Pam and Bailie, Anya and Monk. Melissa and Ever Ready were another 2 minutes back, followed by Suzy and Atlas a minute later. The gap to the rest of the group was 52 minutes. There were still approximately 30 miles to go, where anything could happen, but these front runners still looked strong after this hot loop.

Ann and Jennifer arrived next. "That stretch was amazing," Ann enthused. "It was beautiful! We rode up to these big cliffs, and I watched Jen up ahead of me, and it looked like she was going straight up this rock wall." Those two were followed 40 minutes later by Christoph, Kevin and Alison. Still later were Joyce and Alex, Kecia, and Robert.

Heading out for one more loop in the mountains of around 14 miles, riders came back through the vet check for one more 20 minute hold. First in again was Leah, maintaining a two minute lead over Pam and Anya. Suzy Hayes and Atlas had moved into 4th, 5 minutes behind Monk. Atlas ate better at the out vet checks, and he perked up more as the weather got cooler. Suzy was letting him dictate his own pace. With only 7 minutes separating these top horses and riders, with 16 miles to the finish, and with the weather cooling down, any of them could arrive home first.

The sun fell behind the mountains, but it was still daylight when, at 6:52 PM, Leah Cain and OT Dyamonte Santo crossed the finish line in first place, in a ride time of 10:32. The pair was 2 minutes ahead of Pam Bailie and Bailie Skrit Ablane, and Junior Anya Levermann and Monk. Suzy Hayes and Greenbriar Al Jabal came in 4th, in a ride time of 10:51. Leah was first Lightweight, Pam was first Featherweight, Anya was first Junior.

There was almost an hour gap to 5th place Ann Hall (12,000 miles) and HCC Zara RR, 6th place Jennifer Waitte (10,000 miles) and M Dash Czoe, and 7th place Melissa Ribley (21,000 miles) and Ever Ready, in a ride time of 11:48. It was Jennifer's 23rd 100 mile completion, and Melissa's 53rd 100-mile completion.

Christoph Schork (30,000 miles) and GE Pistol Annie, coming off a 50 mile win at the Grand Canyon just 6 days earlier, finished 8th in a ride time of 13:18. Christoph was first Middleweight. Alison Farrin and Shalimar Yukon finished 9th in 13:19. Finishing 10th in 16:09, and first Heavyweight, was Kevin Waters (27,000 miles) and Belesemo Impressario. It was Kevin's 37th 100-mile completion.

The next three to finish, in 17:48, were a picture of perseverance. Junior Alex Niehaus and Airborne, her grandmother Joyce Sousa and LV Integrity, and Kecia Smette and LC Tripleplay, were worth waiting up for. Leaving the last out vet check, Joyce and Alex actually went off trail up on the mountain - not their fault, because some kind bicyclists had pulled over and stopped to let them by - and had stopped in front of the red pie plate indicating a turn. People far below in the vet check actually saw them going the wrong way, and a series of frantic texts were sent to Joyce, but Joyce didn't see them until they'd gone several miles out of the way. So you can call that a 105+ mile ride they completed!

The completion was Alex's 5th 100-mile ride of the season. When I need advice on how to ride 100's, I am going to talk to 15-year-old Anya Levermann and 14-year-old Alex!

LV Integrity: what more can be said about this 23-year-old Hall of Fame horse that hasn't been said already? This was his 40th 100-mile completion, out of 46 100-mile starts. Some horses don't have an entire career with a record of 40 out of 46 starts at any distance. His mileage stands at 9845 miles over 18 seasons. No wonder he's in the Hall of Fame. (To read more on Joyce and LV Integrity, see From Bucker to Blessing, written after he reached 9000 miles last December.)

Not to mention it was Joyce's 90th 100-mile completion, and she has two horses in the Hall of Fame (Ritz and Jim Bob), but this 24,000-mile rider would always rather talk about her amazing horse anyway.

LC Tripleplay, on the other hand, completed only his second 100-mile ride in the Championship. But who knows, Ritz probably gave him plenty of endurance tips on the trail under the moonlight!

The final rider was Robert Ribley and Regret, a leggy handsome 17-year-old chestnut gelding in his 10th season of endurance, who is now 5 for 5 in the 100-mile ride department. Not to mention Robert is another AERC Hall of Famer (Pard'ners Award in 2009 with Tari), a 35,000-mile rider, and it was Robert's 96th 100-mile completion.

Next morning, 6 of the Top Ten horses showed for Best Condition: Leah Cain and OT Dyamonte Santo, Anya Levermann and Monk, Suzy Hayes and Greenbriar Al Jabal, Ann Hall and HCC Zara RR, Melissa Ribley and Ever Ready, and Christoph Schork and GE Pistol Annie.

It was Leah's OT Dyamonte Santo who won Best Condition, and Melissa's Ever Ready who won High Vet Score.

So it was a small but excellent field of horsemen and horses who contested the 2016 AERC National Championships at the beautiful, unique, and challenging Antelope Island State Park. Head vet Olin Balch complimented the horses and riders at the awards ceremony. "You all did a fabulous job as riders. There were no treatments on the 50 or 100."

Though Dudley and I finished next to last on the 50 on Thursday, it truly was an honor to be in such estimable company on the endurance trail.

top photo: Leah and Santo trotting out at the out vet check

Thursday, September 15, 2016

49th Virginia City 100 This Weekend

September 15 2016
by Merri

The 49th annual Virginia City 100 takes place on Saturday near the historic mining town of Virginia City, Nevada.

45 riders, including three Juniors, are expected to start this iconic bucket list ride. The late addition of Junior Alex Niehaus is an exciting one. Alex and fellow Junior rider Anya Levermann just finished the AERC National Championship 100 last weekend in Utah, and the two girls are tied for the National Junior 100 Mile award with, so far, 505 miles this year.

There are several VC100 icons in this year's ride. Connie Creech, riding LS Steele Breeze 10, will be going for a record 25th buckle. AERC Hall of Fame Pard'ners Award winners, Gina Hall and Fire Mt Destiny will partner up again. Gina has 16 finishes, and Destiny has 11.

The trail consists of three loops (51, 25, 24 miles), each returning to base camp in Virginia City. It covers hard pack and rocky terrain on historical wagon (now jeep) roads with some sandy single track footing and several mountain climbs.

Endurance rider Joan Zeleny describes it well: "I think it's tougher than Tevis… not enough shade to cover a lizards butt... long views of a long trail... rocks and more rocks..."

Stay tuned for stories and photos at:

2016 AERC National Championships in Utah: Riding With Buffalo - Part 2

by Merri
Part 1 is here.

Start for the AERC National Championship 50 on September 8 was at 7 AM, just before sunrise. Dudley and I left the trailer and Saruq and Dezzie, looking for our riding partners, Simone Mauhl and Boogey. Fortunately Dudley doesn't mind leaving his stablemates; he's happy to go out with just about anybody.

Simone and I rode around ridecamp waiting for the other 19 riders on the 50 to get going down the trail. We timed it just right so the rest of the field was past the ranch and around the corner on the single track trail as we started out - it was like we were going out for our own fun trail ride by ourselves along the lakeshore of this beautiful island!

With buffalo! We saw our first herd just a mile or two out of camp. Neither horse paid any mind to them (the herd was 50 yards away); the two just trotted purposefully down the trail. Loop 1 (14 miles) took us straight north along the eastern edge of Antelope Island for some 12 miles, before we turned in toward the White Rock camping area on White Rock Bay.

As the sun rose above the eastern Wasatch range in the pleasantly cool morning, it threw our long shadows across the buffalo grass toward the mountain spine of the island.

Trail markings were minimal for the rides - they weren't needed. No ribbons; just the occasional red pie plates at any critical junctions. "Just follow the trail you're on," said ride manager Jeff Stuart. "If you come to an intersection where you're supposed to turn, you'll see a red pie plate. Otherwise, stay on the trail."

That worked great, and we never had any questions - except at the chain link fence that we went through. I was in the lead for less than 10 yards when I realized there was perhaps just one set of horse hoof prints on the trail below Dudley's feet. I recalled some talk at the ride meeting about turning at the chain link fence (it pays to listen at these meetings!). I pulled out my handy dandy trail map, and indeed the map said to turn. Simone and I backtracked to the fence, and read the hoof prints turning left up the fence. It was Dudley who found the red pie plate on the ground! Probably a buffalo hoping for a piece of pie took it down. Since we were the last riders, we didn't have to hang it back up for anybody.

We continued up the trail, heading for White Rock Bay. This vet check was just a pulse and go, but we stopped for 10 minutes to let our boys have a good drink and a little bit of food. We could just see Connie and Sarah heading out ahead of us on the next loop, just about 15 minutes ahead of us.

Next loop of of 22 miles took us on a climb onto the island's spine, where we could see the spread of the Great Salt Lake to the east and to the west below us. We followed the Beacon Knob trail, then the Elephant Head trail, dropping over a ridge and down to Split Rock Bay, journeying into and through the burned area of the island. The trail dropped to near the water before climbing a long stretch of rocky trail, "Rock A$$ Trail," Simone and I dubbed it, zigzagging back and forth, up and up, back in a loop to the Elephant Head trail.

It had a special kind of beauty, this stark, rocky, blackened and charred moon-like landscape, contrasting with the deep blue of the lake in the distance, and the layered mauve and purple Lakeside and Newfoundland mountains further beyond to the west.

Our horses greedily guzzled from a special water tank set out on trail some 4 miles from camp. It was getting low, so we sure hoped it would be filled by the time we came out for our final loop that passed around this way again, before heading back to camp! We shared the tank here with Dean Hoalst and Errol Fife, who were already on this last loop, and who would finish 5th and 6th, some 3 1/2 hours ahead of us. See what I mean about the great diversity of riding you can do at a National Championship ride - racing and poking and everything in between - and still have a blast?

The vet check was welcome for our hungry horses, who hadn't been impressed with the burned vegetation on the trail (not even the brand new green sprouts of grass; they must have tasted poorly because Dudley eats everything!). Both horses never lifted their head from their feed buckets during the hour hold.

Our final 22 mile loop took us back out on an abbreviated version of our previous loop in the hills. We found a good gap through a long string of moving buffalo, though there was one rambunctious, bucking buffalo baby romping around his mother that we gave a wide berth, moving off the trail to accommodate them. Dudley thought the Big Fat Hairy Cow baby was just plain silly.

We Boogey-ed (get it?) back around to our favorite - refilled - water trough (thank you, ride management!!!) where Dudley was so thirsty, he almost plunged his entire nostrils under water while drinking. He drank so long and so deeply I got concerned enough to pull (didn't work) then yank him out for a breath!

After another 4 miles, back at the vet check, we didn't have a mandatory stop, but we swung back in to give our horses another drink, and to snack for 10 minutes. When we headed out for the 12 miles back to camp, we came upon Beth Buzis and TR Phantom, just as we approached a big water trough… with Big Fat Hairy Cows standing at it.

The buffalo were drinking. We wanted to let our horses drink. We all eyeballed each other. I nudged Dudley forward. He gave the buffalo the stink eye. The buffalo blinked and started to back off. The three of us moved in and our horses drank, while the buffalo politely waited around for us to finish. They really are bizarre creatures - and rather huge - particularly the bulls. But still so soft and fuzzy and rather cute with their little brown eyeballs surrounded by a lot of big brown frizz and fiber. But we were ready to bolt away if need be!

Leaving the water trough (the buffalo returned to finish drinking), we realized we had a whole, very close, migrating herd to get through on the trail down the fence line. Cars were stopped on both sides of the road to wait for the buffalo, and to watch and gawk at them (and us!).

"Now what do we do!" I said to Simone and Beth. We could have gotten off trail temporarily and ridden down the other side of the fence - but there was no trail there, and there were buffalo there too. Impossible to go around the herd, because we'd have to slice through them first.

"Well, I'll let Dudley decide!" And Dudley just kept on walking forward on the trail, confidently throwing the stink eye about, and the cows and calves and bulls just moved on out of his way, and made way for all of us to ride on down the trail.

The only somewhat disconcerting thing was the breathy fire-breathing gurgling rumbling coming from some of the buffalo throats. They sounded exactly like Khaleesi's dragons on Game of Thrones. If you don't watch Game of Thrones, this is what dragons sound like (around 0:56 to 1:02). Dragons and buffalo.

We left that herd behind and dropped onto the nice flat smooth sandy trail near the lake shore for our southward last 10 miles to the finish line. We did have a couple more buffalo obstacles to contend with - two bulls. One standing right on the trail that we politely swung far around, and one who was sitting down right near the trail. Even sitting, he was very large, and when he moved a hind leg to scratch his fuzzy itchy neck, that unnerved Dudley more than anything else had!

One more vet-check-no-hold at 6 miles to the finish, and our horses felt great. But since this was the one stretch of trail that had the only grass that our horses had a taste for (long tall grass with seeds on the top), we walked or slow-trotted a lot of these last miles, our horses grabbing snacks the whole way. Dudley's main goal on an endurance ride, after all, is getting all A's on his gut sounds!

And we crossed the finish line in just under 9 hours - 4 hours after the winner - accomplishing our goals of finishing with forward, healthy, sound horses in the AERC National Championship 50. Former head Tevis vet Dr Greg Fellers did the final check on Dudley, and the Dude finished with all A's - except for B's on 2 of his 4 gut quadrants, which he commenced to correct immediately back at the trailer. Dudley was pretty proud of himself.

Fellow southern Idaho rider Jill Haunold, riding Solara SS, was the winner of the 50 in a ride time of 4:43. Jill picked out this now-8-year-old Arabian mare off the classifieds. She didn't cut it in the show ring, and had changed owners 7 times in 7 years, but there was something about her that attracted Jill.

They didn't get along much for the first year or so, but they have figured it out in their 2 seasons of endurance together. This year Solara has completed 6 out of 7 rides (the lone pull a rider option), winning every one of them. They also received the AERCNC Best Condition award. This on top of it being Jill's birthday made for a pretty darn good day for them!

Sarah Holloway was the only Junior rider and consequently scored lots of swag from several of the many generous National Championship sponsors, including Jen X pads, Riding Warehouse, Kerrits, and Crazy Legs Tights.

18 of the 21 starters completed the ride.

It was a great day!

Part 3, coming soon!

Results photos and more at:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 AERC National Championships in Utah: Riding With Buffalo - Part 1

by Merri

"Welcome to Antelope Island State Park and the 2016 AERC National Championships," said ride manager Jeff Stuart. "If you're here, congratulations. It's a privilege for you and your horse to be in this ride. It means you are both healthy and fit, and you met qualifications to be here."

The Antelope Island endurance ride was started in 1994 by Dean and MJ Jackson. The ride has been handed down through the years to different managers; Jeff Stuart took over the reins from his aunt Shirley Brown 3 years ago. Assistant Ride Manager Tonya Stroud has been part of the event for over 10 years; they are all rightfully proud of their unique multi-day ride on this 14 square mile piece of land sticking up out of the Great Salt Lake (you could actually call the island a peninsula now, because of the low water level), with challenging and scenic trails, and views and herds of buffalo to ride amongst. There are also herds of deer, antelope, and big horn sheep. Antelope Island ride management felt this would be the perfect venue for the AERC National Championships, which roam between the regions every year.

Basecamp was in a fenced-in field beside the Fielding Garr ranch on the southeast end of the island. Native Americans were, of course, the first dwellers on this island; in more recent history, Mormon pioneers arrived in the 1840's. The island was used as a cattle and sheep ranch, established in 1848. The island changed hands over the decades, and the State of Utah bought the northern half of the island in 1969, and the rest of it in 1981, when it was established as a State Park. Our ridecamp was right by the original ranch buildings, which include the adobe ranch house, silo, bunkhouse, stables, springhome, and blacksmith shop, but I never had one whit of extra time to even think about it, much less visit anything. In fact, I brought my banjo to plunk in the evenings with any willing musicians, but I was so busy I didn't even remember that I brought it!

At the Antelope Island ride over the years, there'd been some interesting in-camp buffalo/horse encounters (ask Tom Noll about his mustang Whiskey having a nose-to-nose wild animal story telling conversation with a buffalo one night a few years ago), so this new fenced area was nice so we didn't have to worry about anything!

It was rather Wild West-ish, driving onto the island at dusk, seeing great big buffalo beasts silhouetted in the colorful western sunset. Not many places left on the planet that you can do this.

It was also bittersweet, coming to the National Championships here, knowing that two people who would have, should have been here with us, were not. Kevin Myers and Sue Hedgecock, I still miss you both with a stabbing ache, but I know you were here with all of us in spirit.

While National Championship plans had already been underway since early in the year, a lightning-caused wildfire that started on July 21 about caused heart attacks for ride management, as they watched smoke and flames on the west side crest the island's spine and start down the eastern slopes. 15,000 acres burned, but it only affected 20% of the ride's trails, and eventually the go ahead for the ride was given by the park less than a month ago.

Attendance was unfortunately low at this National Championship; ultimately 21 would ride the 50 and 17 would contest the 100. However, it was a good group of people - it reminded me of a big family reunion with friendly competition between riders and friends.

One thing that I find particularly neat and unique about the sport of endurance, and the AERC National Championships in particular, is that you don't have to be a racing fool to participate. I have no competitive bones in my body, and I don't ride your typical endurance horse. Owned by Steph Teeter, Belesemo Dude, aka Dudley, is part Arabian, part Orlov Trotter, part fat, part naughty, and part management nightmare (his main goal in life is to overeat, and just wait till he tells his Saturday stomach pumping story), but Dudley and I still got to participate in this same national event with Hall of Famers, Tevis Cup Top Tenners and Haggin Cup winners, National Champions, and multi-thousand mile riders. The big names were mostly in the 100 mile event, and we'd be riding the 50, but I still shared the same endurance trails with these elite riders that I admire and look up to.

Pard'ners award Hall of Famer Suzy Hayes, riding "Atlas"

I knew I'd be riding Dudley slower, as this was only his third endurance ride of the year - my goal was to win the prized Turtle pillow (for last place) that assistant ride manager Tonya Stroud makes. Fellow Owyhee up-the-cricksters Connie and Sarah, riding DWA Saruq and Noble Desperado, would be riding faster, so I'd either have to luck out and find a riding partner, or try to get Dude through a ride by himself, at a new venue. With buffalo. I ride Dudley all the time by himself at home, but endurance rides are a different situation. Particularly endurance rides with buffalo. Dudley knows cows, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to convince him that the buffalo were just Big Fat Hairy Cows.

On Wednesday, the day before the 50, I saddled up Dudley and took him out alone, starting up the trail on foot, as he was a bit leery of the new Utah scenery. I was hoping we'd see buffalo somewhere, so he could give them the stink eye today, instead of tomorrow during the ride. It just so happened that another rider came up behind us, and it turned out to be Julie Muscutt, riding her 9-year-old gelding Satin Image AZ. This pair was the winner of the 2014 AHA Purebred Arabian Distance Nationals CTR in Idaho.

I asked if we could tag along, and Dudley got to follow an experienced CTR and endurance horse, and get a decent look at buffalo for the first time. He didn't really care much about them, since he participates in the occasional cattle drive at home, and since I insisted, "Really, I swear Dudley, they are just Big Fat Hairy Cows!" He got in a good workout for a couple of miles and a taste of the trail he'd be riding in the morning.

Later in the day I got good news: Simone Mauhl, from our area in Idaho, would be riding her horse Boogey on his first 50 (in the non-championship division), and yes, they would be our riding partner, and yes, we'd ride slower, and yes, we'd start at the back of the pack!

It was going to be a great day!

Part 2, coming soon!

Results photos and more at:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2016 Distance Nationals Early Bird Discount Extended

September 6 2016

Attention distance riders! The Distance National Commission has extended the Early Bird Discount for the 2016 Distance Nationals in Vinita, Okla through the event from Sept. 22 - Sept. 25. Thank you to all the riders who submitted entries by August 31. We will be doing a raffle awarding two riders for their early entries along with posting all early entries in the Distance Program. 

For more information, see:
2016 Distance Nationals

Monday, September 12, 2016

Leah Cain and OT Dyamonte Santo Win 2016 AERC National Championship 100

by Merri
September 8 2016

Leah Cain of Gypsum, Colorado, won the AERC National Championship 100 mile ride Saturday at Antelope Island State Park in Utah. Riding her homebred gelding OT Dyamonte Santo, the pair finished in a ride time of 10:32. Finishing second and third, two minutes behind her were sponsor Pam Bailie, of Pilot Hill, California, aboard Bailie Skrit Ablaze, and Junior Anya Levermann, of BC, Canada, riding Chris Martin's gelding Monk.

Anya was first Junior, Pam was first Featherweight, Leah was first Lightweight. Christoph Schork, finishing 8th aboard GE Pistol Annie in a ride time of 13:18, was first Middleweight. First Heavyweight was Kevin Waters and Belesemo Impressario, who finished 10th in 16:09.

The next morning, Leah's OT Dyamonte Santo won the Best Condition award. Ever Ready, ridden to a 7th place finish by Melissa Ribley, won High Vet Score.

17 started the ride, with 14 completing.

Full results, photos, and more stories are accumulating at:

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Jill Haunold and Solara SS Win 2016 AERC National Championship 50

by Merri
September 8 2016

Jill Haunold of Boise, Idaho, won the AERC National Championship 50 mile ride Thursday at Antelope Island State Park in Utah. Riding Solara SS, the pair finished in a ride time of 4:43. Finishing second 13 minutes behind her was Christoph Schork of Moab, Utah, riding Medinah MHF. Californian Barry Waitte and De Lacruz were third in a ride time of 5:00.

Jill was first Featherweight, Christoph was first Middleweight, and Barry was first Heavyweight. First Lightweight was Dean Hoalst, riding Redwing of Courage, who finished 5th in a ride time of 5:18.

Sarah Holloway was the only Junior rider, finishing in 12th place aboard Noble Desperado in a time of 7:28. Sarah scored lots of swag from many of the generous ride sponsors.

23 started the ride, with 20 completing.

Full results will be posted tomorrow, along with ride photos from the trail, and a preview of some of the 100 mile riders at:

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

2016 Old Selam Redux

Inconvenient that, for the second year in a row, a forest fire (this one over 100,000 acres and burning on for several more months) dashed the hopes of a renewal of the Old Selam ride near Idaho City, Idaho.
Convenient that many members of SWITnDR are members of Friends of the Weiser River Trail, and vice versa. At rather the last minute, Old Selam basecamp was moved to Council, Idaho, so the New Old Selam Redux endurance ride could be held over the Weiser River Trail.

Long time SWIT member, Dot Wiggins, who cowgirled in the area years ago, joined the FWRT Board of Directors in its early formative years, 1999. Dot has been very passionate about preserving and growing the Weiser River Trail, and she was in fact was presented with the Ann Parr Lifetime Achievement Award for Trail Preservation at the AERC Convention last year for her tireless work on this trail. Dot came to the ride, hanging out all day Saturday in Ridecamp.

The Weiser River Trail in Idaho is one of around 1800 rail-trails in the country. This one runs for 85 miles from Weiser in the south end to West Pine on the north end, and it’s open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. There are numerous restored trestles, many of which were rather exciting for some of the horses and some of the riders. Hundreds of fruit trees line the trail from Council north through Fruitvale – apples, apricots, plums and more, free for human and bear picking. Indeed, I had fresh bear prints by the Combs Trestle where I waited to take pictures, and a couple riders did actually see a bear during the ride. I expect most of them were sleeping off their fruit sugar highs during the day.

The big village of SWITnDR pulled together to communicate with the locals, set up ridecamp at Council’s rodeo grounds, haul water, and mark trail. Tthat was brutal,” said ride manager and SWIT president, Beth Bivens. “We must have put out 30 ribbons.” “Really,” said Pam Haynes, “there’s nowhere else to go. Stay on The Trail!” The rail grade is approximately 2% and pretty darn straight, a pretty deceptively easy ride, though you need to consider changing your diagonals and gaits to give your horse a break from 25 or 50 miles of cornerless trotting.

37 riders showed up to ride, 19 in the 50 and 18 in the 25. They all had the treat of cooler weather, and a lucky dodging of the thunderstorms that swirled all around Council in the afternoon.

Montana’s Linda Strelnik and Gus cruised to the win on the 25 in 2:18. They also won the Best Condition award. Mike Cobbley and Talladega finished second 28 minutes later, a second ahead of his wife Jessica aboard The Big Brass. Mike got some good natured ribbing afterwards about nosing out his wife. There were 4 pulls in the 25, 3 of them rider options.

Naomi Preston and JAC Winterhawk won the 50 in 6:23, a second ahead of her husband Lee Pearce, aboard the energizer bunny gelding Fire Mt Malabar. Winterhawk got the Best Condition award, and Naomi thanked her husband for the ride on his horse! Karen Steenhof and WMA Proclaim came in third 8 minutes later. “I didn’t mean to come in third!” Karen said, but “Riley” obviously felt good in finishing their first 50 together. Karen has been bringing her new gelding along nicely, spending the last 2 years getting to know him in LDs. Karen is 2 50-mile rides away from 18,000 miles. There were just two pulls in the 50, both of them sadly at the finish line.

Despite no “old” Old Selam for the second year in a row, this new Old Selam Redux ride was a successful and fun event. It is SWITnDR’s only fundraiser ride for the year, and veterinarians Robert Washington and Keith Ruble generously donated a portion of their fees.

Ride photos can be seen at:

And fun photos can be seen at:

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Generous Sponsorships for AERC National Championships

September 6 2016

by Merri

There are always many sponsors that contribute to the annual AERC National Championships, and this year's edition at Antelope Island State Park in Utah is no exception. With participation and completion awards, riders from the winners to Top Tenners to Turtles benefit from the sponsors that help keep the sport fun and rewarding.

"The generosity of our sponsors for the AERCNC has been phenomenal," said ride manager Jeff Stuart. "We couldn't put on our endurance rides, and in particular, the AERCNC, without them. The riders are the benefactors, and their participation supports our sponsors." It's a Win-Win occasion.

"The generosity of companies has indeed been wonderful," added assistant ride manager Tonya Stroud, who, along with Shirley Fox Brown (also assistant ride manager), have been working non-stop with the sponsors and awards for months.

Sponsors for this year's AERC National Championships include: Hammer Nutrition, EasyCare, Redmond Salts, Rockin S Performance Horses, DWA Arabians, Vettec, Valley Vet, Home Depot, Purina horse feeds, endurance rider Chris Yost, Riding Warehouse, Arctic Horse, Saddle-Up, Crazy Legs Tights, Kerrits, IFA, Sox for Horses, Equipedic Saddle Pads, and American Trail Gear. Patty and Tonya are creating and donating special awards, and more are still coming in.

For more information on the ride, see:

Coverage for the event will be at:

‘World’s most popular’ horse breed struts its stuff - Full Article

September 2 2016
By Jennifer Paige

The Keystone Centre was filled with more than 700 Arabian horses 
during the Arabian Horse Association’s Canadian National event

The oldest and most popular horse breed in the world descended on Brandon for the Arabian Horse Association’s Canadian National event.

Arabian horses go back at least 4,500 years, according to the archeological record, and remain the most popular type of horse on a global basis.

“Throughout the world, Arabians are the biggest breed,” said Cynthia Richardson, president of the Arabian Horse Association (AHA). “I think it is just because of the desirable traits that these horses bring.”

According to Richardson, in North America the quarter-horse rivals the Arabian in popularity but throughout the rest of the world, the Arabian is by far the biggest breed.

“These horses are very easy keepers. The bigger, heavier horses take a lot more to maintain than Arabians. So, for areas with little space or high desert, Arabians are the obvious choice,” Richardson said during the event, held in Brandon Aug. 14 to 20...

Read more here: