Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Breeding Program of Belesemo Arabians

Belesemo Arabians stallions carry on after foundation stallion Belesemo Trad

December 27 2016
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

Belesemo Arabian's foundation sire, Belesemo Trad, died in 1997. His sons Belesemo Magic, Belesemo Image, and Belesemo Ibn Trad have carried on their sire's lines during and after Trad's death. They were outlined in this story - Belesemo Arabians: Beautiful and Enduring.

The breeding program of Belesemo Arabians continued through other stallions during and after the time of Belesemo Trad.

Owner Kim Johnson said, “In looking for outcross stallions to use on the Belesemo Trad daughters, we were extremely blessed to be gifted with the stallion RD Arizon, a Crabbet Ferzon/Raffles cross stallion that had a successful show career in many different divisions including Scottsdale.”

RD Arizon (Perlezon X Na Warda, by Comar Garit) is the sire of many successful show and endurance horses for Belesemo Arabians, including Belesemo Sundance, who accumulated nearly 1000 miles, and BA Fantizon, bred by Belesemo Arabians and bought and campaigned by Ralph & JoAnn Kewish, earning 2,640 miles and the AERC National Jim Jones Champion stallion award.

RD Arizon’s offspring, who are still producing the next generation at Belesemo Arabians, include Belesemo Obsidian and Belesema Arizona.

Belesemo Obsidan (RD Arizon X Velvet Dawn, by Misimma Ibn Shiko), an Idaho Futurity Champion Stallion, has produced several more winning grand-get for RD Arizon in the U.S. Reserve National Champion Sport Horse Yearling Colt, and several up-and-coming endurance and sport horses. RD Arizon's great grandson, HHR Jammazon, has over 1400 miles with Tamara Baysinger.

“RD Arizon’s most famous offspring, BA Fantizon (RD Arizon X ASA Miss Fantasia, by Barich de Washoe), came back to stand here at the farm in 2000 and 2004,” Kim said. “To date, Fantizon has produced 12 winning offspring that have over 1,000 AERC miles, and they will still be racking up the miles and titles for years to come.”

Four of BA Fantizon's best offspring sired on his return to Belesemo Arabians include Belesemo Impresario (over 3,800 miles, National Pioneer Heavyweight and Lightweight Champion, and 2016 100-mile AERC National Championship 1st place Heavyweight), Kismet Fandansk, (5,400 miles and 3rd National Champion Pioneer Award), Belesemo Emperor (over 1,100 miles), Belesemo Odyssey (over 1,000 miles), and Performizon (over 1,300 miles).

BA Fantizon continued prior to his death in 2014 to produce 1000+ mile offspring for his owners, the Kewish's Kismet Arabians, including Kismet Janina, WF Fantazee, Kismet Bolero, and Beauty’s Fantasy.

“The next stallion to become a part of the Belesemo program with RD Arizon was Overlook Farwa (Abu Farwa X Al-Marah Zaibaq, by Indraff), acquired in 1994,” Kim said. “Overlook Farwa had been a National Champion cutting horse owned by the Guytons from Nevada. Due to his advanced age, we were able to get 9 of 21 foals he produced during his time with us.”

Of those 9 foals for Belesemo Arabians, his most noted offspring were Belesema Keepsake (1,120 miles; 23 completions in 24 starts), Belesema Charrika (over 1,400 miles; holder of multiple AERC regional mileage awards), Belesemo Legend (3,200 miles; AERC title holder), and Belesema Silvress (805 miles). “Overlook Farwa was indeed a piece of history we were blessed to have for a short time.”

“We were also blessed to have Belesemo Epic+++/ , a multiple sport horse/dressage stallion purchased from Belesemo Arabians by Mona Tobias, return to stand at Belesemo Arabians for two seasons,” Kim added. This Belesemo Trad son has produced several National Sport Horse offspring which include National Champion Half-Arabian In Hand mare, four National Top Ten Jackpot 2-year-old colts, and multiple others. “He has been a phenomenal sire with limited offspring being shown.”

A third stallion to join the Belesemo roster late in life was Sanskrit (*El Shaklan X KA Samantha, by Boreau), at age 26, owned by Dee and Victor Matlock of Singing Springs Ranch. “Sanskrit was a true gift from his owners, as he came to us as an already well established sire of endurance and sport horses,” Kim said.

“He brought in different bloodlines to Belesemo Arabians through his sire, *El Shaklan, but his dam line still possessed the CMK breeding we value so highly through Raseyn, Abu Farwa and Naseem. His cross on our Belesemo Trad, Belesemo Magic, and BA Fantizon daughters is phenomenal, and although we only had him for 3 short years we still have frozen semen we are using from him that will ensure more of his foals in the future.”

Prior to coming to stand at Belesemo Arabians, Sanskrit had many notable offspring. Excalaber+/ was bred by the Matlocks and owned and ridden by Sue Nance. He had over 2,000 miles to his credit with 30 1st place finishes, including 16 Best Conditions and many titles. Sancja earned over 2,600 miles with 29 Top Tens and 4 Best Condition awards. Bailie Skrit Ablaze currently has 1,830 miles and 17 Top Tens, including four Tevis completions. In 2016, he and Pam Bailie were 1st Featherweights in the 100-mile AERC National Championship. Jessie Caswell's Sanskrit son, Appolo LH, has 1,065 miles to date with 6th place in the 2016 Tevis and 7 Best Conditions. Sans Premium Edge and Six Shooter Ruger are among some of Sanskrit's National Champion sport horse/dressage competitors.

Belesemo Arabian's most recent addition to the stallion roster is the pure Crabbet stallion BR Gold Sovereign (Seffer X PR Silver Dream, by Silver Vanity). He achieved 3 National Top Ten Sport Horse Stallion in hand wins, in addition to Regional Reserve Champion Stallion and Top Five Sport horse under saddle. His first foals arrived at Belesemo Arabians in 2016. “We are looking forward to his great addition to our breeding program for the future,” Kim said, “returning to even more Crabbet infusion.”

The broodmares of Belesemo Arabians have also contributed to the ranch's legacy. “We have been so blessed in not only the great stallions that have been a part of our breeding program, but the phenomenal mares that have produced outstanding offspring,” Kim said.

“Many of our broodmares are top endurance and sport horse champion mares themselves. They have thousands of endurance miles to their credit and many show ring placings. Our mares include multiple 1,000+ mile mares, National and Regional AERC winners, AHA 50 Mile Champion, Pioneer Award winners and WEG alternate team mares. These mares are bred to excel in the performance divisions but can still win in beauty and conformation classes.

“Mares are the bread and butter of any breeding program and are even more important than the stallions, especially in the disposition department.”

Kim sums up the challenges, hard work, successes, and joys of her lifetime developing the Belesemo breeding program:

“One, is that a breeding program should not be judged just by the number of winning horses produced or seen out on the trail, but by the percentage of winners vs. the number of horses produced. A breeding program can produce 30 foals per year and perhaps have 2 or 3 winning horses out of each foal crop. However, if a breeding program is producing only 5 foals per year and has the same 2 or 3 winning horses out of each crop, that is the true test of breeding success.

“Secondly, all of the Belesemo horses have been taken to their wins by their respective purchaser/owners. We ourselves have never ridden any of our horses to their titles – their wonderful owners have. We offer this as proof that the Belesemo horses are some of the most versatile and competitive horses being produced, with multitudes of different individuals having accomplished wonderful goals with their trail companions.

“This is the real test of a breeding program. We have been supremely blessed in the individuals that have taken our horses to ride and compete with. They are truly the wind beneath our wings as breeders, and we give them all the credit for our horses achieving their success on the trail and in the ring.

“We are honored they chose a Belesemo horse to share their journey with. We cannot thank them enough for their confidence in our breeding program. We look forward to the future welcoming even more members, both human and equine, to the Belesemo family.”

For more information on Belesemo Arabians, see:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Marci Cunningham's Fire Mt Zoom+/ is 2016 AHA Distance Horse of the Year

December 21 2016
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

15-year-old Fire Mt Zoom+/ , owned and ridden by Marci Cunningham of Bakersfield, California, is the recipient of the Arabian Horse Association's 2016 Distance Horse of the Year award. He was chosen from among 15 nominees.

Recognizing the significant accomplishment of an Arabian or Half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian horse in distance riding, the award was instituted in 2004.

"Zoom," bred by Mary Dale Underwood, is by Sierra Fadwah X Rushcreek La Hand, by Cougar Rock. Cunningham bought the gelding in 2011 from Steve and Marsha Workman, and she started him in endurance in 2012.

Over 5 seasons, Fire Mt Zoom has accumulated 3940 miles, with 76 completions in 76 starts, including the 100-mile Tevis Cup. During 2016, the pair completed all 24 of their rides for a total of 1205 miles.

"I've always loved Fadwah horses," Cunningham said. "Zoom is one of the toughest horse I've ever ridden."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Endurance Riding Convention Set for March 10 and 11, 2017

December 19 2016

Endurance competitors and enthusiasts from all over the United States and Canada will gather for the annual American Endurance Ride Conference convention March 10-11, 2017, in Grapevine, Texas.

Education is a main component of the 44-year-old nonprofit organization, which sanctions rides ranging from 25 to 100 miles in one day, and the convention’s eight seminars will provide cutting-edge knowledge for current and prospective endurance riders.

Seminars at the 2017 AERC convention:

· Seeing Yourself as a Public Lands Advocate with Back Country Horsemen of America’s Randy Rasmussen

· Gadgets for Gait Analysis with Yvette Nout-Lomas, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVECC, an assistant professor of equine internal medicine at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary and Medical Science

· Equine Transport Research Results – a look at breaking research into transport stress on horses, with Jerry Gillespie, DVM

· Equine Learning and Human-Horse Relationships with Jessica A. Klassen, PhD, a lecturer at Texas A&M University in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences

· Colic and the Endurance Horse with AERC Veterinary Committee Chair Jeanette (Jay) Mero, DVM

· 2016 Member Survey Results with AERC Education Chair Susan Garlinghouse, DVM, which will discuss member opinions on the future of the sport of endurance riding

· Murmurs, Arrhythmias and Heart Rate Recovery with Meg Sleeper, VMD, DACVIM, of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine

· Simple Carbohydrates: Rocket Fuel or Failure to Launch? A second seminar presented by Dr. Garlinghouse, a well-respected equine nutrition expert.

Two early-morning free “hot topic” sessions involve endurance riders in thought-provoking discussions. This year’s topics include “Revisiting the AERC Drug Rule” (one of the strictest in all equine sports) and “Responsible Equine Management.” Both are hosted by AERC legal counsel and board member John Parke.

But the convention isn’t all serious education. It’s also a celebration of accomplishments, with both regional and national award ceremonies, and a Friday night dance.

In addition, conference attendees always enjoy the popular annual Tack Swap that allows riders to pick up tack and related items at bargain prices, with 10% of proceeds benefitting the AERC.

All visitors are welcome at the free trade show which runs Friday 9:00-6:00 and Saturday 9:00-5:00 and features a wide variety of vendors offering endurance gear—everything from tack and saddles to heart rate monitors and rider clothing.

Located a quick shuttle ride away from the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the Hilton DFW Lakes (800-984-1344) is a spectacular site for the midsize convention, with plentiful public and private hotel space, dining options, and indoor gym and pool. Special AERC convention rates are limited so early reservations are a must.

For more information, and to register and receive the best pricing on conference seminars, please visit https://aerc.org/convention.

About the AERC

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) was founded in 1972 as a national governing body for long distance riding. Over the years it has developed a set of rules and guidelines designed to provide a standardized format and strict veterinary controls. The AERC sanctions more than 700 rides each year throughout North America and in 1993 Endurance became the fifth discipline under the United States Equestrian Team.

In addition to promoting the sport of endurance riding, the AERC encourages the use, protection, and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historic significance. Many special events of four to six consecutive days take place over historic trails, such as the Pony Express Trail, the Outlaw Trail, the Chief Joseph Trail, and the Lewis and Clark Trail. The founding ride of endurance riding, the Western States Trail Ride or “Tevis,” 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. For more information please visit us at www.aerc.org.

Contact: Troy Smith, AERC Publications, 866-271-2372, endurancenews@aerc.org

Friday, December 16, 2016

2017 Owyhee Endurance Ride Dates Sanctioned

December 16 2016

The long-running Owyhee endurance ride dates in southwest Idaho have been sanctioned for 2017.

The Owyhee April Fools 25/50 (Tough Sucker) is April 1.

The City of Rocks Pioneer 3-day ride is June 8-10 in Almo, Idaho (almost Owyhee!).

The Owyhee Canyonlands Pioneer, which also includes the 2017 Distance Horse National Championships AHA & ApHC (Appaloosa) hosted by the Arabian Horse Association, is October 6-8.

The Owyhee Hallowed Weenies 25/50 is October 28.

For more information as it becomes available, see

Thursday, December 15, 2016

2017 AERC National Championships to Colorado

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
December 15 2016

The 2017 AERC National Championships have been awarded to Tennessee Lane's SoCo Endurance venue at the base of the Spanish Peaks in La Veta, Colorado.

Tennessee has designed the trail loops "to mix it up, nice easy fast stretches interspersed with slow challenging climbs, descents, and fun technical stuff to keep you awake and give you something to write home about.  

"The scenery is truly unbeatable, the ride camp setting is gorgeous, and as I said, the trails are diverse, with footing varying from flat, canterable-sandy-loam, to steep, walk-it-rocky."

Last year was Tennessee's first year to host Spanish Peaks rides out of her Remuda Run ranch, from 25 to 100 miles, and they proved highly successful and satisfying to competitors.

The AERC National Championships will be held August 18th (50 miles) and August 20 (100 miles).

Tennessee is delighted to host the championships. "Game on! This is God's country. The Rockies are what endurance legends are made of.

"Let's remind the world what real endurance is about: not just speed, metabolics and logistics... but a horse and its strategic and attentive partner, overcoming gorgeous, fun, and challenging terrain.

"I'm stoked. You'll love the trails. See you in SoCo!"

For more information, check back at

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Oreana Idaho to Host 2017 Distance Horse National Championships AHA & ApHC hosted by the Arabian Horse Association

December 14 2016

Oreana, Idaho will repeat as host for the 2017 Distance Nationals in October, newly renamed as the "Distance Horse National Championships AHA & ApHC hosted by the Arabian Horse Association." The new name is because the event is starting to include different breeds in the Distance Championships. The dates will be October 6-8.

The ride will be held in conjunction with the annual Owyhee Canyonlands 3-day Pioneer endurance ride. Additional events in 2017 will include the AHA (Arabian Horse Association) Distance Nationals (endurance 50 miles, endurance 100 miles, and Competitive Trail for purebred and half Arabians), and the ApHC (Appaloosa Horse Club) Appaloosa National
Championship Endurance Ride.

More events may be added. Stay tuned for more information at:

December's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning

Horsesinthemorning.com - Listen


Today on Karen Chaton's Endurance Episode Valerie Ashker talks about what she learned on her 3,000 mile ride across the U.S. and Matt Scribner shares his adventures at the Equus Film Festival where his film "Untethered" won a Winnie. Listen in...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

AERC Director at Large Election Results

The following individuals have been elected to serve on the AERC Board of Directors as 'Directors at Large' for the 2017 and 2018 ride seasons. The board is composed of 18 Regional Directors elected by members of their own region (two from each of the nine regions) and eight Directors at Large elected by the entire membership.

Susan Garlinghouse

Michael Maul

Olin Balch

Mollie Krumlaw-Smith

Heather Reynolds

Robert Marshall

Christopher Schork

Paul Sidio

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

AERC Lauds Passage of Trails Stewardship Act

December 5 2016

Late last month, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (NFSTSA) was signed by President Obama. The American Endurance Ride Conference, along with partner organizations like the American Hiking Society, American Horse Council, Back Country Horsemen of American and the Wilderness Society, were proud to be proponents of the bill.

The bill requires the U.S. Forest Service to partner with organizations that can help to decrease the backlog of trail maintenance plans, currently at $314 million. With 158,000 miles of trails, the U.S. Forest Service’s trails are integral to many endurance rides, and AERC welcomes the opportunity to work with the USFS to plan and coordinate trail maintenance wherever possible.

“The signing of the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act by President Obama is a great opportunity for volunteer trail advocates of America to keep our trails open on United States Forest Service property. So much of the forest service budget is used yearly to fight wildfires, leaving little funds to maintain trails,” said AERC Trails and Land Management Chair Monica Chapman of Pleasanton, Kansas.

“Now is the time for AERC members and other interested equestrians to get organized and contact your local Forest Service Ranger and ask how you can help keep trails maintained for an endurance ride, to condition your horse, or just enjoying nature,” Chapman said.

Chapman traveled multiple times to Washington, DC, to promote the bill and expressed her gratitude to Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), the bill’s sponsor.

Because AERC members compete in distances from 25 to 100 miles per day, well-maintained trails are an integral part of the nonprofit organization. The group has more than 100 members who are AERC-Certified Trail Masters, who have the knowledge to properly design and build new trails and maintain and improve existing trails.
The organization, founded in 1972, also has an active trail grant program and is the nation's leader in encouraging the use, protection and development of equestrian trails, especially those with historical significance.

More information on endurance riding is available by visiting www.aerc.org or by calling the AERC office at 823-2260. By request, the office will send out a free information packet to prospective members.

Contact: Troy Smith
American Endurance Ride Conference
866-271-2372, 530-823-2260

Monday, December 05, 2016

18,000 Miles for Karen Steenhof: A Long Way From Sunday

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
December 4 2016

It's a ways back to 1985 and Karen Steenhof's first endurance riding season aboard her little pony cross mare, Sunday. But she remembers the most fun ride she's ever had like it was last week.

"That was the year we had a very early snow. It started snowing on November 2nd, and it never stopped. We did not see the ground until February. There was a Cold Turkey endurance ride on Thanksgiving weekend in Eagle, Idaho. And this was my first year, so i didn't know that much about anything. And Sunday's shoes had been pulled because of winter."

Karen ran into someone in the grocery store who asked if she was going to the ride. "I said, 'They're not really having the ride, are they?' Well of course they were! I said my mare didn't have shoes, and they said, 'So much the better! We're on a foot of snow, you don't need shoes!'

"The ride was on a Saturday and Sunday, and I drove my car out on the first day just to see, and everybody was having a great time. So I hitched up my trailer and drove out there with little Sunday - and I got the trailer stuck in the ditch on the way.

"But that ride was the most fun. It was the last ride of my rookie season. Sunday just went along on this 50 mile ride in the snow, and the great part was learning that you could do things that you never thought you could do."

31 years and some 17,655 miles later, Karen Steenhof is still having the same enjoyment riding the endurance trails aboard her current gelding, WMA Proclaim (Riley).

Born in Illinois outside of Chicago, Karen grew up in a very horsey community. "There were 14 polo fields and a fox hunt, so I started riding when I was 6. I got my first horse when I was 11. I rode English hunt seat; I was a junior member of the hunt, which was fun. Endurance riding is kind of like fox hunting without having the jumps."

Karen moved to Colorado in when she was 14, then attended Colorado State University, then the University of Missouri before moving to Idaho where she started working for BLM as a graduate student. She became an analytical wildlife biologist then ultimately retired as a research wildlife biologist for the USGS in 2008. If you're a birder, it's a real treat to ride the trails with Karen.

Sunday was Karen's first horse she owned as an adult, after finding her in the newspaper in 1983. "I boarded her near Eagle, and I would go out riding in the foothills every once in a while. I used to have a dog, and in his last days, just before and after he died, my grief was to kind of transfer my attention to the horse and ride farther and farther into the hills. At that point I started running into endurance riders.

"I finished my first 2 LDs (Limited Distance - 25 miles and 30 miles) on Sunday. She had amazing sickle hocks, and the veterinarian Loretta Burman told me when she completed me on the second LD, 'You're fine, but don't ever take this horse on a 50!'

"2000 miles later…" Karen laughed.

"Sunday did fine. But after 2 years in endurance, I realized I had to get an Arabian."

And so started Karen's lifetime of endurance riding aboard Arabians. She's put serious miles on almost all of them, and each one found a good home - often Karen's back yard - after their endurance careers. She's ridden mostly in 50 mile rides, though she's completed 19 out of 20 75's and 9 out of 13 100's along the way. "I always loved 75s and multi days. But I don't know if my body's up for 75s anymore."

Her seasons have ranged from 50 miles to 1290 miles completed. She snagged 25 Best Condition awards along the way (thank her previous gelding Rusty for most of those), and with 336 completions in 357 starts she has a 94% completion rate.

Two of her most favorite rides over the years - which exist no more - have been the 5-day Ft Schellborne XP in Nevada, and the 50-mile Buckskin Challenge in eastern Idaho. "Ft Schellborne was peaceful. It was the hidden Nevada. You know, the Nevada you see on the highway is flat, and then you go into this beautiful country on horseback.

"The Buckskin Challenge was a really hard ride. There aren't that many rides that I can remember saying, 'Oh no, it's over already!' Usually you're like, 'Whew - finally, I'm finished!' But this one I was thinking, 'Oh, I wish we could go longer!' I was crushed when they decided not to have that ride anymore."

Ambers Thorn was Karen's first Arabian, and her "most special horse."

"Where I grew up was all Thoroughbreds; Arabians were these little prissy horses. So I found this ad on the outhouse door at one of the rides, about this 5-year-old chestnut gelding named Ambers Thorn (War Zarim x Amber) with chrome, 14.1 hands, and a big trot.

"I went and picked him up at my friend Andrea Day's. She jumped on him bareback and rode him around in a circle. I guess I didn't ask her that much; he just looked very broke. So I just got on him and started riding him at home.

"I'd call Andrea now and then and say, 'Oh yea, we had a great ride,' and every time she'd say, 'Wow, that's amazing, he didn't really have that much time under saddle.' Each time I'd tell her about some progress, and she finally said, 'You know, he only had a saddle on twice when I sold him to you!'" Karen laughed.

Karen and Thorn covered 7200 miles of endurance trails together, (they ranked 8th in National mileage standings in 1995), though he actually wasn't that easy to ride and he had a lot of physical issues.

"I worked through so many problems on him. He was the next best thing to going to vet school, because he had almost every kind of issue there was." The gelding was diagnosed with osteochondritis dessicans (OCD) in his shoulder, and he came back from that. He had 2 annular ligament surgeries - one in front, one behind, and he came back completely from the first one in front, though the second one in back he never completely came back from. He also had an anterior enteritis where he almost died in Calgary in the North American Championships (one of Karen's 1 3/4 FEI rides). Then he started having tying up issues, and it took a while for Karen to figure out that her cross-training in dressage was causing that.

"Thorn was also always a challenge in that he was very hard to rate. And he did spook at things, but I was elastic back then!"

Karen started looking for another endurance horse after the Calgary ride. She got Cyandarac (Cyam x Prairie Dawn, by Gallant Royal) from Andrea Day again. "'Simon' had a few more miles on him than Thorn had, but he also was very opinionated!" Karen said. "In a 5-day ride I could never get him to relax and stand at one of the out checks and eat his own food. He would always drag me around until sometimes maybe on day 5. He was a character. He still is a character!"

Karen's first ride on Simon was in 1994 (Thorn's last ride, at age 19, was in July of 2000). They went on to earn a little over 4000 miles together. Simon was the PNER (Pacific Northwest Endurance Riding) Champion in 2002.

"Simon is not a personable horse. He's the boss of the pasture, even though he's 28 now. He's still just always kind of cranky and opinionated."

WSR Spellbinder was Karen's next endurance horse. This gelding came from Gail Williams in Washington in 2000. "Spellbinder was a character too. I think I put 1300 miles on him. He was just a handful - he just wanted to race. So he was kind of not that fun for me to ride.

"When he came up lame in the fall of 2005, Ona Lawrence decided to trade me him for her gelding El Jay Zalal (Willow).

"What a sweet little horse he was. He came to me having done 2 endurance rides. On the second one with me, he broke my wrist when he fell down and tripped." Did she finish the ride? "Of course! it was 45 miles into a 60, and it never occurred to me not to go on. Never crossed my mind." And of course, she was still elastic back then!

"I kept riding Willow after my arm healed, but not in endurance, because he kept stumbling." Willow ended up with the life of luxury, after Karen's neighbor Tish bought and lavished love on him. "Willow hit the lottery!" Karen said.

Admiral Gil (AM Gilded Gypsy x AM Bay Bridge, by AM Sea Captain) was Karen's next endurance horse. He was 5 or 6 years old when Karen found him in Oregon on the Dreamhorse website.

The pair rode 1500 miles of trail together starting in 2006, even though Gil turned out to be Karen's most insecure horse to ride. He was a stumbler and a spooker too, and she came off him many times.

Looking for an additional endurance horse, Karen tried out a mare for a couple of months. Getting off to lead her across a creek when she balked, the mare knocked her down, ran over her ankle, and broke her fibula. The incident only added to her own growing insecurities.

"By now I'd had a couple of these injuries, and I was losing my confidence. And Gil is the most insecure horse I've ever had, so I was in a slump for a while there. Because Gil wasn't giving me the confidence, and I wasn't giving him the confidence, it was kind of a bad mix."

When in the fall of 2009 Gil started having some lameness issues, Karen put out the word she was still looking for another endurance horse. Her friend Skyla send her an ad of a horse to check out. "The person who had him had no ideas how to take pictures," Karen recalled. "The horse had this giant head, and this teeny little butt. I thought he was the ugliest horse I'd ever seen! He was advertised as half Arab and half Quarter horse."

But when Karen went to look at him, the horse didn't look like that at all - he looked much better. And when she lunged the horse she really liked how he moved, and she knew she wanted him. Turned out a neighbor Regina had owned this horse several years prior and she recognized him and confirmed that HMR Redstone (Rusty) was no part Quarter, horse, but purebred Arabian (DA Athir Muharrik X Mistanny Dab, by HMR Mistabi).

Rusty was 10 when Karen got him, and the pair started down the endurance trails in 2010. "He was such a handful. He was always competitive. You had to have him near the front so he couldn't see a bunch of horses in front of him. And that was hard."

Over 1830 miles together, Rusty was PNER champ in 2013, 7th in the National Best Condition standings in 2012, and 2nd (reserve champion) in the National Best Condition standings in 2013. 

It was ultimately bilateral lameness - caused by bad shoeing - that did Rusty in. That happened roughly around the time Karen had major family issues to take care of, so she had a forced sabbatical from endurance for almost 1 1/2 years. Because of this she wasn't in a rush to find another endurance horse, and she had time to shop around.

Last year she was turned onto a gelding in Oregon owned by Karen Standefer. Friends pointed out he had great racing bloodlines, to which Karen replied, "I don't need another hot horse! I don't want to race!" WMA Proclaim (Riley) actually had raced on the track, twice, and race results say he was "not a factor."

WMA Proclaim had already done a few endurance rides (several LDs and 2 50s), and he had proved to be calm and rate-able, finishing first, top ten, or mid-pack, and earning a Best Condition award. Karen arranged to try him out during a fall endurance ride, riding him by herself and trail riding with a friend, and he never got excited or worried, nor spooked from anything.

So it was Riley who brought Karen back to the endurance trails in 2016. The pair got to know each other, as they established a strong base together of 12 LDs and 3 50 mile rides, in Idaho, Oregon, and Utah, finishing top ten, or mid-pack, and earning a Best Condition award.

And Karen timed it just right to earn her 18,005th endurance mile in her Idaho back yard with a 6th place finish in the October Owyhee Hallowed Weenies, the last ride of the season.

She looks like she's found her "safe, sane, short" endurance horse - as Julie Suhr has put it - for the older rider, because, as Karen said with a laugh, "I'm 63, and my body's falling apart!"

Karen can look out her back window and see both her past in endurance and her future: she still has 4 of her endurance horses. Simon is 28, Gil is 20, Rusty is 17, and Riley is 9. (Thorn died in 2012 at age 31.)

"I seem to get roughly 1000 miles every 2 years, and it would be fun to get to 20,000 miles, but I don't know if my body will hold up. And now my whole thing is to go to different rides that I've never been to. I really want to do that."

During the 2016 season, she and Riley competed in 3 new rides for Karen: the Pacific Crest in Oregon, and Strawberry Fields and the Outlaw and the Virgin in Utah.

The future trails look bright and inviting, as Karen and Riley have a good start on their way to accomplishing her new endurance goals.

Top photo: Karen and Riley finish 3rd in the 2016 Old Selam, their first 50 miler together

Sunday, December 04, 2016

10,000 Miles for Gretchen Montgomery

December 1 2016

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

The West region's Gretchen Montgomery reached the 10,000 mile mark in AERC competition at the Gold Rush Shuffle over Thanksgiving weekend. Spending her retirement time between Bridgeport and Ridgecrest, California, Gretchen hit the cent-mark aboard her part Standardbred mare HS Coquette.

Gretchen and Coquette have over a thousand miles, and many other thousands of miles have come aboard her mare Definetly Spice (formerly known somewhat affectionately as "Bitchy Spice") - her Decade Team horse, and the gallant gelding Royal Raffiq, who died in 2010.

Gretchen manages the Fire Mountain ride in Ridgecrest in January, and the Eastern High Sierra Classic in Bridgeport in August.

See more on Gretchen here: