Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 April's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - Listen in

April 11 2017

Today's Endurance episode starts with Karen Chaton's advice for mud season, Ruth Ann Everett has a preview of the Biltmore Challenge ride, Gordon Ainsleigh shares some stories about the legendary Wendell Robie and Phyllis Keller reports live from the Pacific Crest Trail. Listen in...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

AHA Distance Nationals is Right Around the Corner!

April 20 2017

Distance Nationals is going back to Steph Teeter's Ranch in Oreana, Idaho, October 6-8, 2017. We are very excited this year to have added the Paso Fino Horse Association along with the return of our partner the Appaloosa Horse Club. These organizations have decided to partner with the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) in holding their National Championship Rides in conjunction with the AHA Distance National Championship Rides.

There are several ride opportunities at the Distance Horse National Championships starting on October 6 with the AHA Competitive Trail Ride (CTR) National Championship, AHA Open CTR, AHA/American Endurance Ride Conference(AERC) Open Limited Distance ride and AHA/AERC Open 50 Mile ride.

There will be offered on October 7 the AHA 50 Mile National Championship, Appaloosa National Championship Endurance Ride, Paso Fino National Championship Endurance Ride, AHA/AERC Open 50 Mile ride and AHA/AERC Open Limited Distance ride.

On the last day of Distance Nationals, October 8, there will be offered the AHA 100 Mile National Championship, AHA/AERC Open 100 Mile, AHA/AERC Open 50 Mile ride and an AHA/AERC Open Limited Distance ride. All Open CTR, Open 100 Mile, Open 50 Mile and Open Limited Distance rides are open to ALL BREEDS and are recognized by both AHA and AERC, so plan on attending the 2017 Distance Nationals in beautiful Oreana, Idaho!  

The Distance Commission would also like to thank all of our current 2017 Distance Horse National Championship Sponsors:
Corporate Sponsors
Awards Recognition Concepts (ARC)
Regional Sponsors
Region 8
Region 10
Region 12
Region 13
Club Sponsors
Rancho California AHA
• Green Country AHA
Texas Arabian Distance Riders Association (TADRA)
• Knoxville Arabian Horse Club
Individual Sponsors
• Lisa Blackstone
• Micky Hegg
Belesemo Arabians
• Cynthia Richardson
Product Sponsors
Valley Vet Supply
Hammer Nutrition
Riding Warehouse
If you would like to join our list of sponsors click here or contact Paige Lockard at or 303-696-4535.
All camping spots will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and will require a one-time processing fee of $10 per rider. Horse pens will be available for $50 each and must be reserved prior to arriving; reservations must be made through Steph Teeter at (208) 473-4877 or AHA is not responsible for any camping or horse pen reservations.           

Mongol Derby Racer Tim Finley on the WHOA Podcast - Listen in

APRIL 18, 2017 BY JOHN

Mongol Derby Racer Tim Finley

A few weeks ago I interviewed Keith Swenson of Stone Horse Expeditions, a horseback adventure company operating in Mongolia. Keith talks about the wonders of Mongolia and how you see them on horseback. It’s a good show, you can listen here: Play Stone Horse Podcast. I received several emails from people telling me how much they enjoyed hearing about Mongolia. One listener and friend, John Zeliff, emailed to suggest I interview Tim Finley who competed in something called the Mongol Derby. While I hadn’t heard of Tim or the Derby, I headed to the interweb for a little research.

The Derby

Wow! The Mongol Derby is the longest horse race in the world. One thousand kilometers or 621 miles across Mongolia. A group called Adventurists, who raise money to help environmental issues organizes the event and want to have fun doing it. While about 40-50 riders start the race, only a little more than half finish. They are riding Mongolian horses. Each horse rides 25 miles. Each rider picks one of the horses from a string. We learn the mechanics of the race from Tim Finley.

Tim Finley

Tim Finley had a career as an Air Force Captain with a tour in Iraq and was part of the Honor Guard. As with many servicemen, Tim struggled with PTSD from his experiences. Because the Air Force is unlike the other armed forces, getting help is more difficult. Horses turned out to be a great outlet for him, particularly when he found a horse at a killers sale. Tim worked with apparel maker Nine Line bringing awareness to returning veterans committing suicide after returning home.

Tim is out of the Air Force now and wrote a book he hopes to publish soon about his experience with horses. And, now he’s working on another about the Mongol Derby. This year he plans to ride in several endurance competitions...

Listen to Tim's interview here:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Equine Longevity Award Honors AERC Competitors

April 18 2017

In a sport with a motto that declares "to finish is to win," the American Endurance Ride Conference has produced a lot of winners.

The nonprofit organization has recently launched a new award program for horses that have competed for 10 or more years, completing at least 50 miles of AERC competitions each year. The award is a complement to the highly coveted AERC Decade Team Award, given for horses-and-rider teams who have completed endurance rides (50 miles or longer) for 10 or more years.

"There should be more recognition of our members whose equines compete year after year at any distance, while maintaining the well-being and health of their equines," said Terry Woolley Howe, of Southern California, the organizer of the award program.

"This program recognizes the equine regardless of who was the rider so long as the owner is an AERC member, the equine was entered in AERC's mileage program, and the equine completed at least 50 miles a year at any AERC-sanctioned event," said Howe.

To date, owners of nearly 800 equines have received 10-year pins. Five horses have been honored with 20-year pins, including AERC Hall of Fame equines Ramegwa Drubin, Remington and Robin Hood. Another 70 equines have earned 15-year pins.

"The Equine Longevity and Decade Team awards are unique to AERC," said the organization's executive director, Kathleen Henkel. "Many new members say that AERC's emphasis on long-term goals are a key reason for choosing to join." Members and their equines can accumulate lifetime mileage achievement awards, starting at 250 rider miles, and also compete for annual awards in a variety of categories.

Interested in pursuing a 10-year Equine Longevity Award for your horse? The trail to that recognition will start with a single 25- or 50-mile AERC ride.

For information about AERC or to request a Discover Endurance Riding booklet, visit

Contact: Troy Smith, AERC Publications, 866-271-2372,

Monday, April 10, 2017

Darley Awards Hollywood Sparkles With the Best - Full Article

HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival – sponsored Awards at Dolby Theater in Hollywood

by Pamela Burton

1 April 2017, Los Angeles, California, USA ~ Naziq was named the ‘Best 4-year-old filly’ in the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley (International) Awards while Scott Powell and his Champion Purebred Arabian race horse Paddys Day along with US owner-breeders Betty and Joe Gillis and US breeder Dianne Waldron stole the limelight at the 2016 US Darley Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Friday night, 31 March.

Once again the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival along with the Stewards of the Arabian Racing Cup put together a dazzling Award Ceremony at the very same venue where the Oscars was held just three weeks ago.

The Purebred Arabian fraternity was given star treatment walking the red-carpet at the famous Dolby Theater while the ceremony never faltered with racing commentators Derek Thompson (UK) and Victoria Shaw (AUS) as presenters with some innovative ‘Drone-dancing’ on the sidelines of the laser-lit theatre.

It was no surprise as Paddys Day scooped the Horse of the Year and the Best Older Horse awards while his owner Scott Powell was named Trainer of the Year in the 2016 US Darley Awards...

Read more here:

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Sam Glaser Named EasyCare CEO

Easycare Blog - Full Article

Monday, April 3, 2017 by Garrett Ford

Exciting news! Sam Glaser has been named the organization’s next chief executive officer, effective April 3, 2017.

“Sam is a leader with a track record of leading teams that create measurable bottom line growth,” said EasyCare president and owner, Garrett Ford. “We are thrilled to bring Sam into the EasyCare family as we continue to position this company as the global pioneer in innovative equine products.”

Sam recently received his Executive MBA from the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business, and joins the EasyCare team after 15 years of experience in diverse leadership roles within the oil and gas, publishing, and outdoor service industries. In his most recent role, Sam served as Director of Operations for Abadie|Schill, PC, an energy law firm practicing in 14 states...

- See more at:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Kansas: Big Hill to host national horse challenge - Full Article

March 29, 2017 7:43 pm
By Marsha Hayes Back Country Horsemen of Kansas member

CHERRYVALE — On Saturday the equestrian trails at Big Hill Lake, Cherryvale, will be the site of 50- and 25-mile challenges for horses.

Sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference, the ride has drawn over 50 entires from various states including Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska as well as Kansas.

Ride manager Wendy Justice encourages anyone interested in the sport to visit Ride Camp at the South Big Hill Equestrian Area from Friday through Sunday. Judging for the Best Conditioned Award will be Saturday afternoon and evening as the first finishers return to camp.

“Attending a competition is one of the best ways to learn about the sport,” Justice said. “Everyone is really friendly, and there is so much to learn about horses...”

Read more here:

Janice Kay Dean 1952 - 2017

Janice Kay Dean

August 20, 1952 - March 22, 2017

Salem, Oregon - Janice Kay (Wilson) Dean, 64, died March 22, 2017 with her family by her side at her home in Salem, Oregon. She was born August 20, 1952, in Oakland, California. She found her life partner when she married Tom Dean in 1971. In 1970, Jan graduated from Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, California. After moving to Oregon, Jan obtained her BA from Oregon State University and her Masters Degree from Portland State University. She retired in 2015 from her Assistant Director position at Oregon Youth Authority.

Jan is survived by her husband Tom, son Jeremy Dean (wife Sherice Dean) and her two grandchildren Gavin and Zander. She had the most generous and loving heart and touched the lives of all who knew her. Her family and friends will always be thankful for the gift that was her life. While Jan had many interests, she especially enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, running marathons, riding her endurance horse, cycling with her husband and creating gourmet meals. In keeping with the family wishes, there will be no funeral service. Comments can be sent to
Published in StatesmanJournal on Mar. 24, 2017

- See more at:

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017 Tevis Cup Headlamp Policy

March 29 2017


In the early days of 100 mile rides, riders would carry flashlights when riding at night. The problem was that riders couldn’t hold the flashlight still while riding. The bobbing light would bother the horses and give the riders motion sickness. Etiquette did evolve for the use of flashlights during this period. Riders did not ride upon other horses with their flashlight beam flashing about and riders turned their flashlight off when asked. Flashlights were mostly used for an emergency or for equipment repair.

Now there are LED headlamps. They weigh almost nothing, mount nicely to a rider’s helmet, and for under $25, one can be purchased with lumens ranging from 150 to 2,200. The use of these headlamps is displeasing to many riders as the lights have become more common and brighter. There are complaints that these lights scare horses when coming from behind, these lights make it difficult for other riders and the horses to see in the dark as the beams are blinding, and the lights make some riders motion sick. Some riders complain that these bright lights ruin the enjoyment and solitude of riding down the trail in the dark. This is a situation where the equipment of some riders ruins the enjoyment for other riders.

After many years of complaints, the Board of Governors is now addressing this issue. The BOG has decided to implement a rule limiting the size of lights/headlamps and educate riders to the etiquette of their use. Of course the use of headlamps for emergencies and equipment repairs is always acceptable. The Cup Committee will enforce the following rules regarding the use of headlamps/lights during the ride.

Headlamps or any other devices providing light during the Tevis Cup Ride are subject the following policy:

• Headlamps shall not exceed 250 lumens.

• Riders shall turn their headlamps off as they approach other horses and riders from behind.

• Riders shall turn off headlamps at the request of other riders.

• Glow sticks attached to the front of a horse are allowed.

The Cup Committee will monitor for lights that are too bright and ask riders to not use them. The Cup Committee will also address complaints about riders that are disrespectful with their use of headlamps. The intent of this rule is to find a middle ground where some lights can be used but not to the annoyance of other riders.

Tevis Cup Snow Update

SNOW Update, because we know everyone is wondering:

March 27 2017

1. We believe there is a high probability that Tevis will be able to use the original trial since this is a late ride on August 5th. Hope for a warm spring and early summer .

2. If the trail is unsafe or impassible due to snow, we are working on having an alternate start near Soda Springs with overnight camping. We have two to three sites that we are in contact with and they seem to be definite possibilities. This plan will allow us to intersect the original trail at the Redstar vet check, at worse, and intersect Lyon Ridge before Cougar Rock, at best. The mileage will be made up in the Royal Gorge area ( This is very possible but not absolute.

3. In the very worse scenario, Robinson Flat will be snowed in and we will work on setting up a trial similar to 1983 which involved French Meadows. We think this is a remote possibility because the ride is on August 5th. We also have no absolute knowledge at this point if that is feasible.

Tony Benedetti, WSTF President

Holistic horse trainer April Battles comes to Maui - Full Article


The healing services of international horse expert April Battles are now available in Maui. Battles is an international certified instructor of equine musculoskeletal unwinding and owner of Holistic HorseWorks, which helps horse owners and trainers bring their horses back to proper form and function.

Kihei-based Battles offers services direct to horses, and training for owners in the form of group classes, one-on-one private sessions, and videos available free and for purchase. Her systematic approach facilitates physical, energetic and spiritual changes which are immediate and lasting.

“April empowers horse owners,” said Marla Braun-Miller of Kahalawai Farms and Stables...

Read more here:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sisters planning cross-Canada horseback trek starting in N.S. - Full Story

Published March 27, 2017

Two young Canadian sisters are saddling up next month in Nova Scotia, then setting off on a journey of a million hoofprints.

Jewel and Katie Keca plan to dip their feet — and their horses’ hooves — in the Atlantic Ocean off Mahone Bay on April 22, then head to Canada’s Great Trail, hoping to reach the West Coast by November.

“We’re going to see how far we get,” said Jewel, 18. “We’ll just take our time and see where we end up.”

Katie, 23, said, “It’s just me and Jewel and our two horses. Our parents are driving to Nova Scotia with us, but just to send us off, and then we’re on our own.

“We’re hoping to not rely too much on other people. We’re planning to camp in a tent every night, but if we can find a barn to stock up on feed that will be amazing. Obviously, we will pay for the feed.”

The sisters have dreamed of a long-distance trip on horseback since they were small girls, said Jewel, who has been riding for eight years.

“I was in high school (when) I realized I didn’t really want to go to university,” she said. “So I decided to pursue this dream, hoping that Katie would come with me.

“At first, she was hesitant, but then I bought her a horse,” Jewel said with a laugh. “And she ended up coming.”

The sisters’ equipment list for the trip includes endurance saddles — with “special extra-padded seats, to avoid saddle sores,” Jewel said — and riding helmets.

“We’d love to wear cowboy hats, but we have to stay safe.”

The sisters have mapped out a rough route, but mostly they are “just winging it,” Jewel said...

Read more here:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Alabama: RBCEP hosts Hodges Hootenanny - Full Story

By Alison James
Email the author
Published 8:28 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Last year, it was the Rock Bridge Canyon Canter. This year, it’s the Hodges Hootenanny. But whatever it’s called, the equestrian park’s endurance ride is a challenge that is open to all who are in it for the long haul.

The Hodges Hootenanny, which is set for April 21-22, will include a 50-mile and a 25-mile ride, as well as a 10-mile introductory ride. The competition is being coordinated by endurance rider Tina Cochran.

The event replaces the Rock Bridge Canyon Canter of last year, whose organizer decided to host her ride in Bankhead Forest. Not wanting to see the park lose its spring endurance ride, “I stepped up and decided I’d do it,” Cochran said...

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Oregon: Physical therapist and horse lover Wes Rau - Full Article

As a physical therapist and horse lover, Wes Rau finds satisfaction in knowing he can make an impact for both the animal and the rider.

by Lauren Davis Baker, for The Bulletin Special Projects
Published Mar 11, 2017 at 12:00AM / Updated Mar 21, 2017

Wes Rau is checking out the patrons of Wild Ride Brewing as they wander into the Redmond establishment in search of beer and a bite. He looks patrons up and down. As an experienced physical therapist, he can’t help assessing posture and gait as he people watches. By force of habit he scans for visual cues that indicate how well the bodies he seeing passing by are functioning. Rau is all about keeping bodies moving — running smoothly and efficiently — making it possible for his clients to keep doing the things they love to do.

From the Redmond office of Step and Spine Physical Therapy, Rau endeavors to help his clients achieve their goals by improving strength and mobility. From skiers to cyclists and from runners to golfers, physical therapy enables a wide range of athletes to remain active as long as possible.

Now in his 60s, Rau is well aware of the challenge of staying fit and healthy despite the ravages of time. He is meeting that challenge head-on.

“I want to be an aging competitive athlete,” he said, noting that his personal goal is to compete in a 100-mile competitive endurance horseback ride.

As an equestrian hiself, Rau has a special fondness for working with horse people.

“They’re easy,” he said. “They understand the relationship between movement and health.”

That understanding likely comes in part from knowing that movement is essential for horses to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Horse owners know that if a horse stops moving, every major organ in his body is effected, including the large intestine. If the intestines shut down, the condition can be serious — even life-threatening. So, horses are encouraged to keep moving within reason, through injury, illness and even surgical recovery.

While lack of movement may not be as life-threatening for humans, it significantly affects their quality of life.

“Wes helped me when I first started battling lower back issues,” said 81-year-old Dolly DeCair. “After my hip replacement, he had me back on a horse within six months.”

Getting back in the saddle was important to DeCair, an accomplished endurance rider who has competed in six Tevis Cup Trail Rides — a grueling 100-mile route that stretches from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, the very ride that Rau has set his own sights on...

Read more here:

Monday, March 20, 2017

2017 March's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning

Horsesinthemorning - Listen in

March 14 2017

Today on Karen Chaton's Endurance Episode Tom MacGuinness shares why qualifying for WEG 2018 was so important, Sarah Schick talks about hoof balance for equine athletes, Patti Stedman introduces a web based course for Endurance riders. Listen in...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Colorado: Horse disease outbreak biggest in decades - Full Story

By Carly Moore | Posted: Wed 11:44 PM, Mar 15, 2017

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- A contagious disease is causing major concerns for horse owners in the Grand Valley.

Owners are on high alert of a serious outbreak of what's called equine Strangles disease.

It’s one of the biggest outbreaks vets and owners have seen in a couple decades.

Vets said it’s like the flu or strep throat for horses, and it spreads very quickly from horse to horse. People who care for animals can also spread the infection on their shoes and tools.

“Everyone is very concerned, about what's going on,” said Shane Prentice. “It has the potential to spread across the valley, if we aren't on top of it.”

“This is by far the most I've ever seen in the valley... it's a significant number of cases, and it's something people should be aware of,” said Dr. Dominic Carrica, owner of Amigo Animal Clinic.

Once horses are diagnosed, they require mandatory quarantine, because it’s such a contagious disease...

Read more here:

Friday, March 17, 2017

AERC and USEF Joint Statement Regarding Equine Welfare

March 17 2017

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) join other countries around the world in expressing increasing alarm over continued disproportionate equine deaths, equine doping and catastrophic injuries in National and International events held in Group VII.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) has previously sanctioned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with suspensions, rule changes and educational measures. Clearly, further intervention is required, and therefore, the USEF and AERC were very pleased to learn that the FEI is working with new leadership at the United Arab Emirate Equestrian & Racing Federation (EEF) to put in place and ensure compliance with safeguards to protect horses and when warranted, impose tougher and more severe sanctions.

USEF and AERC share strong beliefs and concerns regarding horse welfare and fairness in competition and we recognize that not all Group VII endurance venues are tainted by the lack of respect for horse welfare. Innovations in other regions of the UAE are to be commended.

The USEF and AERC are committed to working together and with the FEI and National Federations worldwide to ensure that the welfare of our horses and fairness in competition in the sport of Endurance is given the highest priority.


About 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

Contact: Troy Smith, AERC Publications, 866-271-2372,

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tevis Ride Director’s March Message

March 9, 2017

The 2017 ride season should be in full swing, but out here in the west someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. In March we have close to a record snowpack in the Sierra Mountains which keeps trail repair crews off the trails as well as the equestrians from training on the trail in these early days of the season. There are trees down on the trail in the canyons that will not be removed until April. On the positive side that keeps the erosion to a minimum from horse traffic on wet trails.

I expect the snow pack to melt in time to allow us to use the historic trail on the August 5 ride date. If the snow pack makes it impossible to use the trail through the Granite Chief Wilderness area, an alternate trail would be used. This would most likely pick up the historic trail in the area of Robinson Flat and follow the traditional trail to Auburn. **It is too early in the season to speculate what the conditions will be in August.**

Tevis has had a great relationship with Calstar air flight rescue company. Calstar has been sold and is now part of the AirMedCare network. This company has greatly increased the geographic service area for members, and a yearly subscription is available at the group rate of $55 to each rider, crew member and volunteer involved with Tevis. Past Tevis group members will get their renewal letters in the mail and new members can subscribe by calling 800-793 0010 or visiting their website at Please remember to mention Tevis to receive the Tevis group rate of $55.

We are delighted to get the ride chart results out for the AERC conference. Last year’s Tevis riders will get their copies mailed to them directly next week. A great deal of information can be gained from studying these charts whether you are riding to win or riding to finish. The WSTF Board of Governors would like to give a big Thank You to Kathie Perry and Phil Gardner for all the hard work and dedication they put into pulling the data together to create this ride chart for riders to use in planning their future ride pacing. If you know someone who needs a copy, please call the WSTF office.

Tevis is offering a free entry to the winning essay from a sixty-year-old or older first-time rider who would like to ride in 2017. Please refer to the Tevis website for more details of the contest. This contest is a result of the inspirational 2016 Tevis experience of 75-year-old Jessie Caswell. Jessie's story of his ride to a top ten finish (as well as all other top ten riders) is covered in the Tevis article in the September 2016 Arabian Horse World as well as in the 2017 Tevis Forum which will be out in June.

I hope to see you out on the trails and at the rides.

Enjoy the journey,
Chuck Stalley

3 Young Riders are Recipients of AERC's Anne Ayala Scholarship

AERC chose 3 young riders as recipients of the annual Anne Ayala Scholarship, presented at the AERC Convention in Grapevine, Texas, March 10-11.

Connie Burns-Caudill presented the awards:

"All 3 of them are seniors who are straight “A” students, have great work ethics and excel in endurance riding.

The first recipient has almost 3000 endurance miles which includes; 9 – 75 mile rides and 3 one day 100 mile rides. She has volunteered on many rides including one that she helped her Mother manage. She is also a dedicated Hockey player driving 60 miles one way just to practice. She is hoping to complete the Tevis this summer before entering the University in September.
Katya Levermann from 100 Mile House, BC, Canada

The next Young Rider has over 3000 endurance miles and nearly 1000 LD miles. She has completed the entire 250 mile Shore to Shore trail an astonishing 7 times! She has always competed on Morgan Horses. She is also a dedicated athlete participating in cross country and other sports in her high school. She plans to major in pre-veterinary studies at college and hopes to eventually serve as a ride vet and give back to the sport by protecting the safety of the animals involved.
Morgan Loomis from Philipi, West Virginia

The final recipient has ridden a total of 3000 miles in both LD and endurance and over 100 events without a single pull. She has logged over 40 hours of endurance volunteer time. She has been coaching a middle school science bowl team. Besides having straight A’s all through high school, I have also heard that she had perfect scores on her SAT and ACT tests. Since science is has always been her passion, she plans to study Material Science Engineering and pursue a career as a Research Professor.
Lily Turaski from Friendsville, Tennessee

Sunday, March 12, 2017

National Award Winners at AERC Convention

The AERC fun and festivities at the annual convention, held this year in Grapevine, Texas, concluded with the Saturday night banquet and awards ceremony, and the announcement of the National awards.

Jackie Bumgardner of Ridgecrest, California, was posthumously named to the AERC Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame Horse is GE Brazil's Envy, owned by Ann Kratochvil of Ridgecrest, California.

Pard'ners Award winners are Don Bowen, from Dorris, California, and his gelding Wild West ("Willy").

Other highlights of the evening were Joyce Sousa receiving the Perfect Ten award for her gelding LV Integrity +/ (10,000 miles in 10 years, 10 wins, 10 Best Condition awards), the Ann Parr Trails Preservation Award going to Greg Jones, M.D., and the Volunteer Service Award going to Susan Garlinghouse DVM.

There were 51 new Decade Teams (at least one 50 mile ride for a horse and rider team for at least 10 years) in 2016.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Centauride: Long Rider Coming Through Your State

The Centauride: One woman. One horse. One goal: 48 states for Domestic Violence Awareness

Meredith Cherry and her Peruvian Paso-Mustang palomino gelding Apollo are doing nothing short of epic.  They will be traveling alone together for four years, 10,000 miles, to 48 states, on a continuous ride. 

Meredith is doing this long ride to raise awareness about domestic violence.  This "silent epidemic" is extremely prevalent in our society.  Although it is not often talked about, it is estimated that 1 in 3 women will be domestic violence victims at some point in their lives (usually between the ages of 19 and 34). 

Meredith will be riding to domestic violence centers, women’s shelters, schools and community centers to bring awareness about the realities of this issue and to provide hope to women dealing with the effects of DV in their own lives.

Meredith and Apollo began their journey on January 1, 2017 and plan to complete the ride in 2020. 

A little about Meredith and Apollo.

"I've been riding horses for 20 years, and have a B.S. in Equine Science from Colorado State University.  Apollo is the first horse I've owned.  I was raised as a city girl, moved to the country as soon as I could, and love dirt roads, seeing the stars at night, deer in the yard but not in the garden, and bugs (most of them, anyway). I also like to write about food, gardening, essential oils, and the California missions (I've written two travel guides for these)

I escaped a domestic violence relationship a few years ago, and what I had missed most during my marriage was horses and travel.  Thus came about the wonderful, crazy idea to buy a horse with my paltry divorce settlement and ride it around the country.  And since I feel so grateful for this opportunity, and so saddened at the thought that anyone else is going through what I did, I felt it was right to use the ride to help everyone I could meet along the way.

I met Apollo in 2014, and it was love at first sight.  He is a spunky Peruvian Paso-Mustang palomino gelding who is a different color in the summer versus the winter.  I waited a few months after I bought him to tell him about our long ride plans though!  He's not so sure he wants to work that much, but since he does like seeing and tasting new things, he's agreed to be my ride partner."

For a map (maybe you will have a place for Meredith and Apollo to stay), and more information on this adventure, see

Thursday, March 09, 2017

June Tevis Talks Featuring Pat Parelli

February 28, 2017

Save the date! This June, the Western States Trails Foundation will again be hosting an intimate evening at the State Theater/Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center for a conversation with a legendary horseman. This year we are excited to welcome Pat Parelli to the stage. More information, including how to purchase your tickets, will be available on the Tevis Cup website so check back frequently and subscribe to our email list at

Tevis Talks brings you Pat Parelli! June 7th at the State Theater in Auburn – a limited number of gold-level tickets include an intimate hour-long chat with the famous clinician.


• Doors open at 6- no host bar

• Show starts at 7:30 PM


General Admission Tickets $ 22.00

Gold Level Tickets* $ 175.00

*includes preferred seating, appetizers, cocktails and an hour with Pat – limited to 15 people

Available for purchase online through the Tevis Store.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

2017 AERC Convention Starts This Weekend

March 8 2017

The annual AERC Convention begins Friday March 10 in Grapevine, Texas. The 2 days of seminars, shopping, Saturday night banquet and awards presentations guarantee an educational and fun time for attendees.

Seminar topics include Becoming a Public Lands Advocate; Gadgets for Gait Analysis; Equine Transport Research Results; and Equine Learning and Human-Horse Relationships (on Friday); Colic and the endurance Horse; Safety from Home to Competition to Back Home Again; Murmurs, Arrhythmias and Heart Rate Recovery; and Simple Carbohydrates (on Saturday). Free Hot Topics sessions first thing Friday and Saturday mornings include Responsible Equine Management and Revisiting the AERC Drug Rule.

You can still sign up for and attend the Convention! For more information, see:

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Prize Possessions - Full Article

American River Classic endurance ride manager Joby Souza recently came into possession of a pair of trophies long thought lost. He wants to see them restored and put on display. But he’s having trouble finding the money.

Saturday Mar 04 2017
By: Jeff Nicholson

Joby Souza still remembers his reaction the first time he saw the trophies.

“My jaw dropped. I thought they were pretty fantastic, very unusual and unique. Something that should be brought back to life,” says the 42-year-old ride manager of the American River Classic.

Souza is sitting at a picnic table at the American River Canyon Overlook Park in Auburn, one of the primary checkpoints of the endurance - it serves, in fact, as the finishing point for the short-course riders and the midway and finale for the long-distance competitors.

There's little sign this day of the hustle and bustle to come on April

29: a few trucks with trailers, the occasional horse and rider passing through, stopping at the watering trough.

Even so, Souza's delight in these trophies, in this race, is clear. He greets the riders who come through by name, looking at least eight years younger than 42, his short light hair untouched by silver, eyes squinting in the sun. He asks them if they're going to ride in this year's race. To a man and woman, they all say yes, as long as the weather and trail conditions will allow.

The ones who come by when the trophies are still out, sitting on the rim of the circular trough, admire them.

“This ride is a historical piece of Auburn, and we would like to see this ride continue and have these trophies refurbished,” Souza says...

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Saturday, March 04, 2017

TCA Award of Merit recipients of 2017 announced - Full Article

March 3 2017

Thoroughbred Charities of America has named equestrian Denny Emerson and Down the Stretch Ranch as its first TCA Award of Merit recipients of 2017. Award of Merit recipients are nominated by the leadership of state Thoroughbred owners and breeders associations and are presented at each state association’s annual awards ceremonies.

Originally started in celebration of our 25th anniversary and now its third year, TCA Award of Merit recipients represent those individuals and organizations working to uphold TCA’s mission among the constituencies of the state breeders associations,” said Mike McMahon, president of TCA. “Within our industry there are many organizations and people working on behalf of Thoroughbreds and those who care for them. We feel it is very important to recognize the efforts of those that often don’t receive recognition for their dedication and commitment.”

Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron presented Emerson with the TCA Award of Merit on February 11 at the North Carolina Thoroughbred Association’s annual awards dinner in Chapel Hill, N.C. Described by the Chronicle of the Horse as one of the most influential horsemen of the twentieth century, Emerson is the only equestrian to have won both an international gold medal in eventing and a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance riding...

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Bonnie Mielke: A Lifelong Ride - Full Article

Karen Pilarski ,
Published 3:28 p.m. CT March 2, 2017

Retired Mukwonago teacher trains horses for long-distance riding

Bonnie Mielke's face lit up as she spoke about her love of horses. She was at the Mukwonago Community Library wearing a jacket with the name of her horse, Loki.

Loki is a fifth-generation of horses Mielke has trained to do long distance riding. Mielke became involved with the sport in 1974.

The retired Mukwonago teacher recalled growing up on a farm and hearing her mother talk about horses and cowboys. She wanted a horse but her family was of limited means.

Mielke's dad told her to finish college and buy a horse herself after she had a job. She quipped, "So I did."

She purchased a horse named Mitzi, an unregistered Arabian, because she was beautiful. Mitzi was Loki's great-great-grandmother.

In 2016 Loki was the regional champion for the American Endurance Ride Conference, Upper Midwest Endurance Competitive Rides Association champion and Arabian Horse Distance Riding Association part bred and grand champion. Loki is third in the national champion in Limited Distance for American Endurance Ride Conference...

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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Dream Makker: A *Real* Endurance Horse (and More) in the Making - Part 2

Part 1 is here.

by Merri
March 2 2017

With behavioral kinks sorted out, and a solid foundation of partnership between them now, Crysta Turnage and Dream Makker were ready for his first endurance start in May of 2010 as a 5-year-old. It was not an auspicious debut.

Crysta originally planned to ride the 2 days of LDs at the Nevada Washoe ride with some of her regular riding partners. But they weren't able to come at the last minute, so Crysta went with Plan B, opting for the 50 on the first day with her good friends Lucy and Leslie, who were happy to escort Digs and Crysta on a slow ride.

Bad luck struck on the first loop, when Digs clipped himself going down one of the infamous S.O.B. hills. He got back to camp for the first vet check with an inconsistent lameness. The vet first said it was the left front, then at the recheck said it was the right front. Knowing the next loop was sand hills, Crysta opted to pull him. "His very first ride was a RO-L. So we haven't had to worry about preserving a perfect ride record!" she laughed.

While Diego's mental matters had been sorted out, the other half of the Dream Makker endurance equation was coming to light. "In regards to endurance, he's been a challenge in that he's always had very delicate legs. This is a horse that, even from the very beginning, I'd take him out on a little 10 mile ride, and he'd come home and stock up in his corral overnight. That's just him." And these leg issues have randomly plagued Digs throughout his 7-year endurance career, adding another aspect to endurance riding that so many endurance riders must often deal with.

Crysta and Digs took the rest of the year to continue both his physical and mental conditioning, and be able to start the next season fully ready for 50 mile rides. With 4 starts the next year, 2011, Crysta considers that their first actual season. Digs finished 3 of his 4 rides - two 50's and 1 LD - getting pulled with a minor lameness on one of the 50's. "That pull was another good learning lesson. He was trimmed too close to the ride and ended up foot sore. He does best if he's not trimmed more than a week before any event."

Then due to various issues - including a new job and much less time to ride and condition - the pair managed only 3 rides over the next 2 seasons, with Digs finishing 2 50's and getting pulled lame on one.

In the interim, they also branched out into other events, adding to Digs' repertoire of skills. The gelding enjoyed cattle sorting (he tried to bite the cows if they weren't moving fast enough), reined cow horse clinics, and he performed in several parades in full Arabian costume. It just proved what a solid, and fun, horse Digs had matured into.

In 2014, Crysta had more time to ride and condition. Three strong 50-mile starts and finishes on Digs early that season had her entertaining thoughts of that iconic 100-mile Tahoe-to-Auburn ride with her now-solid 9-year-old.

"We were having a really good year so far, and we were prepping to ride Tevis. He'd been doing amazing on our training rides, and we were doing a lot of NEDA rides (a local endurance riding and driving club) in addition to AERC rides, and he was very strong and very consistent."

Then at the May Mariposa Run for the Gold ride, trotting in off the first loop, Digs had a big hind slip on some oak leaves going down a hill. He scrambled and caught himself from falling. At the vet check, the vet could see a slight, inconsistent lameness. Digs went on to complete the Mariposa ride sound, but at their next ride in the June Wild West, Digs had a major groin cramp coming in from the first loop, and he was pulled.

At the July Lake Almanor 50-mile ride, Digs finished the 50, but Crysta could still feel a kind of a skip in the hind end. Veterinarian Michele Roush looked at him and said he looked great, but when they lunged him in a circle, they could see something.

"So at that point we scratched all our plans to do Tevis," Crysta said. "I just gave him some time off, thinking we were probably dealing with some muscle issues at that time. I tried bringing him back in November, but even on training rides, that slight hind lameness came back after 10 miles on the trail."

Other issues had also arisen throughout that season. It turns out Digs had thrown his back out and misaligned his sacrum during his slip in May, and it took a lot of body work with a chiropractor to set him straight. When ultrasounded at the vet clinic, it was discovered that Digs had a high suspensory avulsion on the right hind. Instead of pulling the suspensory itself, he'd partially detached it from the bone. The vet also discovered he'd strained his right front suspensory, possibly from catching himself when he slid in May.

The veterinarian put them on a 90 day rehab program, first hand walking, then an hour riding under saddle at the walk, and eventually working in 5 minutes of trotting at a time. "Thankfully his initial time off had already started some healing. We did all that rehab over the winter… all done after work, in the snow, walking around the neighborhood in the dark."

When re-ultrasounded in February 2015, they got the green light: "The vet told me, 'He looks awesome, go ride the horse. Tevis isn't out for the year.'"

But Crysta was ultra-conservative with Digs, and kept her Tevis dreams on the back burner for yet another year. "We just started back with doing shorter training rides again, then working to the 20 mile rides. We did our one 50 for the year in September, in the Kristina Chesterman Memorial ride. We took the entire 12 hours, with only 3 minutes to spare, and I burst into tears when we crossed the finish line."

Crysta had actually started to feel that slight hind end lameness again on the last loop of that ride. The vet didn't see anything at the finish, but Crysta was worried that she had brought Digs back to endurance too quickly, despite the 14 month break from it.

"I think I can feel it more under saddle than what it shows, probably because I'm so paranoid and attuned to it now. When you know you've got a horse that's got a lameness issue, you judge every step that they take. You start to question everything.

"2015 was about putting everything back together again - getting Digs sound again, getting his body corrected, doing different activities, getting him strengthened. We did a lot of dressage lessons that summer since I couldn't take him to rides, working with him on how to use himself better, how to really come through from behind and lift his back and support himself better as we're riding."

The pair qualified to be Sweep Riders for the Tevis Cup that summer. And through their participation in numerous parades, they earned the unique honor of being one of 2 dozen horses and riders that would represent the AERC in the Tournament of Roses parade on January 1, 2016.  "I didn't even realize that was on my bucket list until the opportunity arose.  Once I heard about the AERC Group, I just HAD to be a part of it.  It was one of those lifetime memories I'll cherish forever."

Crysta and Digs in the Tournament of Roses Parade

The time out taken for rehab and re-conditioning and the extracurricular activities helped prepare Diego for a new 'real' season of endurance again in 2016. The idea of the Tevis Cup started forming at the AERC Convention in February, when Crysta's friend Pam Anderson won the Tevis Cup entry in the raffle. Crysta had won the raffle's Tevis Cup entry in 2007, the year she finished on Sinatra.

The pair hatched a plan: they would condition and attend rides together, and pre-ride parts of the Tevis trail together; and if the stars aligned, Crysta and Digs would escort Pam and her gelding Shezada Saheem on the Tevis Cup. The two geldings clicked together, and the season started out well enough.

The 4 of them finished the Rides of March together. Crysta said, "Digs was fine, but not stellar. He got through it OK, no lameness issues, but he didn't feel like a Tevis horse at that time. But it was early in the season, and I told myself we still had plenty of time to get there."

Crysta and Digs then finished two April rides, Whiskeytown Chaser and the American River Classic, riding slow, but finishing without any problems.

Photo by Rene Baylor - Gore/Baylor Photography

The 4 teamed up for the Cooley Ranch 50 in June. It turned out to be a miserably hot traffic-jammed 8-hour commute, and it was a hot ride. The plan was to take it easy and ride both days of 50's, but on day 1, Digs came up with the same on-again-off-again hind end lameness at the 30-mile check. He failed to recover - his pulse hung at 68, and Crysta was sure it was because of the hind end lameness.

"Cooley was our go-no-go ride for Tevis," Crysta said. "And with being pulled metabolic, it threw this huge question mark in the plans.  I took Digs to a well-known lameness vet for an evaluation after Cooley Ranch. The vet couldn't find anything obvious going on in his hind end. It was his left rear which he had been having trouble with this time, not his previously injured right rear. The vet did find a bone bruise on his right front fetlock, which may have been a contributing factor. We started Digs on a round of Pentosan and some Surpass for his fetlock, and he had a few weeks off per recommendation.

"I hadn't had that one ride on Digs yet, all year, where I was like 'Yes. He's awesome. He's totally on and he feels amazing.' I'd sent in my Tevis entry, but I was debating on pulling it, because they hadn't reached the deadline where there was much of a fee to cancel at that time." Crysta knew the stats: even with a perfectly sound and fit horse, one has about a 50% chance of finishing the ride.

Then a couple of terrible monumental events influenced the situation.

Crysta's son Taren riding Digs, Crysta leading Gunny

Around this same time, Crysta had been bringing along her new horse Gunny, a 6-year-old Arabian gelding she found as a rework-needed rescue case on Facebook. She'd done a lot of confidence building and restart work with him, and had just had her first little ride on him.

At the end of June, Gunny got himself into an appalling panicked wreck in her home arena when he got tangled in his bridle. "It was the most horrifying thing I'd ever had to deal with. He was throwing himself on the ground and bashing his head on the ground before I could get his bridle off."

The vet came out immediately and treated him with what she could, but Gunny ended up with severe neurological damage, putting out the vision in his left eye, and paralyzing part of his face to where he couldn't drink. He deteriorated over the week and started to have seizures, and on Tuesday Crysta made the decision to put him down the next afternoon.

Crysta could not get out of going to work Wednesday morning, and her husband AJ stayed home to keep an eye on Gunny until Crysta and the vet could come in the afternoon.

"So I'm at work that morning, knowing we're going to put Gunny down in the afternoon, and I get on Facebook, and I hear about Kevin Myers. It was that day it came out that Kevin had committed suicide. I went in the bathroom at work and had a total breakdown, just shaking and crying. I called my husband and said, 'I can't stay here, I don't know how I'm going to get through these meetings. I'm totally falling apart."

Crysta's dear friend Kevin Myers - who had given her Dream Makker as a youngster in 2008 - devastated the world around him when he ended his life the day before.

"My husband told me, 'You can do it, you're just going to have to block it off, put it aside for now and totally focus at the task at hand. I know you can do it.' Somehow I got through my meetings until I could leave, and I went home and we put Gunny down the same day I'd heard about Kevin.

"That was ultimately my motivation for riding the Tevis. Here's a very dear friend, that Tevis was very special for him. And here's this horse I'd just gotten, that I'd had a lot of hopes and dreams and big plans for, and now he's gone too.

"I still didn't think Digs and I would actually finish Tevis, but I thought, at least I'm going to start, just to honor everyone who wants to do Tevis and can't. I thought, we are going to ride for Kevin, and Lisa's horse Tux (just weeks earlier, Crysta's friend Lisa lost her horse while marking trail for the Tevis), 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."

July 23 2016 - the 61st Tevis Cup

165 riders and horses at the starting line, 2 of which are Pam Anderson, aboard Shezada Saheem (Sammy) on their first Tevis Cup adventure, and Crysta Turnage, aboard Dream Makker (Digs), an endurance horse with an imperfect, unimpressive record, with 600 miles to his name (and never even back-to-back 50-mile finishes), on his first 100-mile ride.

From finishing in 2007, Crysta knew pace-wise what they needed to do. The four of them made it without mishap to Robinson Flat vet check, the first hour hold at 36 miles. "Digs had to trot twice for the vet at Robinson Flat; the vet saw something but it was inconsistent. He couldn't even pick a leg, just 'hind end,' but we were cleared to go. I hadn't felt anything in the saddle yet, but it certainly put my radar up."

The horses were strong though the hot canyons, but Crysta was starting to feel the little hind end hitch again coming into Foresthill, the second vet check at 68 miles. She was being really careful, managing which diagonal she was posting on, to give him a break on that left rear.

"At the Foresthill vet check we had to trot out THREE times, with them adding a vet each additional time, so we had three watching by the end. And then the vet held our card, and we had to come back for a recheck before leaving. It was the left hind again. Talk about nerve wracking!"

Crysta and her crew fed Digs and got everything ready, in case they were going back out on the last 32 miles. A friend, Karon Dutcher thought that Digs had a cramp in his left rear, and she pinpointed the muscle, showing Crysta's crew, friend Ronda Gentry and husband AJ, how to massage it.

Crysta was having this huge internal debate with herself. "I was thinking, he's not 100% right, should I just Rider Option and pull him? We'll be going for four more hours until the next vet check. It's a long way to get to Francisco's (Gate and Go at 85 miles), and that's the worst place to be pulled, with the logistics of being hauled out.

"Then I decided, well, let's just see how he looks at the recheck, and let the vet make that decision. If he's still questionable, then I'll pull him." AJ trotted out Digs for the re-check while Crysta watched with the vet. "He looked really good. Much better! We were cleared to go.

"Leaving Foresthill, Digs was super strong, because he'd ridden that section of trail 3 times over the last couple months." Everything was fine until they passed the Cal 2 point at 78 miles, when Digs suddenly went Dead Lame. "Like the leg had fallen off. I had such a guilt trip! I thought I broke him. I shouldn't have asked that of him."

Crysta threw Digs' rump rug down to keep his hind end warmer, and she jumped off to lead Digs, instructing Pam to ride on without her. After a long while, three ladies came up behind them and wanted to pass, but the trail wasn't wide enough. Crysta got on Digs so they could move a bit faster to get to a wider area in the trail. She asked him to jog… "and he felt good again! I left the rump rug on him, and we jogged on and off, and he still felt fine by the time we arrived at Francisco's."

Catching up with Pam there, Crysta massaged Digs' hind leg again while the horses rested and ate. She took Digs to the vet for the moment of truth. "We trotted out and back, and the vet said, 'OK, here you go,' and handed me my card. He was cleared to go!"

Two hours later, at 3:31 AM, Pam and Crysta arrived at the Quarry, the last Gate and Go check, at 94 miles. "Same thing. We let the horses eat, got the rump rugs on, got our blankets on, grabbed some snacks for us, massaged Digs, headed over to the vet… trot out, trot back, 'Here's your card,' and off we went!"

The girls covered the last 6 miles of the Tevis trail in an hour and 15 minutes, arriving at the finish at 4:53 AM, with 22 minutes left. Now came the final moment of truth.

"Jamie Kerr vetted us out, and I had my husband AJ trot him, so I could watch him go. I started crying as I watched him trot out, because he looked GOOD."

It had been a long, long trail, and a very challenging journey from that first dubious endurance start - a pull - back in 2010. Crysta and Dream Makker had completed the Tevis Cup.

"It was very emotional. The ride wasn't about me at all. I knew I could do it. But could Digs? It was about honoring those who couldn't do the ride, and about achieving a goal with Pam and riding as a team. 

"To set that goal together with her, way back in February at the AERC Convention, of, 'Let's do this Tevis thing', and to help get a rider and a horse who had never been through Tevis before, and Digs with all his issues he had - to get there, and to get through it, and to actually finish, when I started the ride thinking that there was no way we were going to make it to the finish, that we were going to get pulled somewhere along the trail…

"It was just amazing. I don't know if anything will ever compare.

"Digs has come so far, from being that spooky crazy horse that kicked me in the face, and dumped me on the ground and broke my arm, and freaking out about a kid climbing on the fence, to becoming the horse I absolutely trust to take care of me, and anyone else who rides him. He's reliable, and he's just amazing, and this Tevis was really special, because of Gunny and Kevin and Tux, and all of that. It was like, 'Roll credits!' - the ending to a great movie."

Crysta and Digs will continue down the endurance trails, taking each ride as it comes (Digs was pulled lame at his next 50-mile ride in October, on his left front leg, which ironically hasn't had a problem before). Long-term, flexible goals are riding more 100's, and working on being a Decade Team.

"Does one Tevis finish make him a 100 mile horse? I don't know. But we're going to try some more of them. And as for Decade Team - with all his lameness issues, a couple of seasons we only rode and completed one 50. But I fully intend we'll get Decade Team."

With Crysta's careful management, exceeding patience, immense caution, and the lack of her need to push her horse hard, there's no doubt they'll get there.

Crysta and Dream Makker's endurance odyssey was by no means what everybody would or should take to reach their goals, but their journey was infinitely rewarding, the end product being a completely trustworthy partner, an ultimate working partnership in a sport (and many other activities) they both enjoy.

"I love to share Digs with people, because it has been such a journey to get where he's at now. It gives people hope. They don't have to be extraordinary and be riders with all this mileage. i just hit my 2000 miles last year.

"It's all been part of that learning process as I go."

*top photo at Cougar Rock by Bill Gore - Gore/Baylor Photography

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Super Senior Sport Horses - Full Article

By Sarah Evers Conrad Feb 24, 2017

A look at three equine athletes that are excelling in their golden years, along with how their owners and veterinarians keep them feeling young

There are exceptional equine athletes in every discipline—those stars who stand out from the pack and win awards and titles time and again. We typically expect these athletes to be at that magic age where horses peak for a specific breed or discipline. However, some exceptional horses are defying logic, competing well into their senior years. Retirement doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon for some of them. We talked to the owners and riders of three senior horses who still have plenty of “get up and go” and continue to excel in their disciplines.


Hadji Halef Omar is a purebred Arabian endurance horse who has logged 8,575 lifetime miles over 170 American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) rides with owner and endurance veteran Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss. In 2014 the gray gelding completed the Tevis Cup, and in 2015, at 23, he placed in the Top 10 in 11 out of 19 rides. Palmer-DuRoss, of Queen Creek, Arizona, calls Hadji irreplaceable...

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Endurance horse riding: The Sport of Perry Como (probably) - Full Article

By Roy Bragg, San Antonio Express-NewsFebruary 27, 2017

BANDERA — Most sports demand maximum effort.

Dig in. Fight back. Stay focused. Go big. Play hard. Never give up.

But on a cold, clear Hill Country morning, 100 competitors took the field in a game requiring — no, make that demanding — restraint.

Endurance horse riding, which took over a back corner of the Hill Country State Natural Area over the weekend, revels in its humanity and its prudence.

The sport’s name is deceptive, making it sound like an event where the fastest, hardiest horse triumphs and the others collapse in large heaps of equine failure along the side of a track.

No one leaves anything on the field here, other than a few thousand pieces of … you know.

If you are the type of person who must win whenever you compete, avoid this game. This sport is about the long game and the preservation of resources.

If traditional horse racing is the sport of kings, endurance horse riding is the sport of folks who hang out in piano bars. If Perry Como were alive, I have no doubts this would be his sport...

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Share Your Gaited Horse’s Trail Adventures and Win Prizes - Full Article

An Instagram contest for gaited horse riders rewards participation in endurance and competitive trail.

By Leslie Potter | February 23, 2017

Gaited horses often have the endurance, sure-footedness, and yes, the smooth gaits required to be excel as trail horses. If you’ve got a gaited horse in your barn, there’s a new incentive to get out and try one of the competitive trail sports.

Friends of Sound Horses (FOSH) is an organization devoted to promoting sound gaited horses in a variety of venues. This year, FOSH has introduced an Instagram-based contest to get more riders competing in trail events and sharing their enjoyment and success with the world on social media.

The contest is simple. Take a photo of you and your horse at a qualified competitive trail ride or endurance event (more on that below.) Share the photo on Instagram using the hashtag #FOSHDistanceContest as well as a hashtag with the name of the ride where the photo was taken. You can also hashtag your horse’s breed. One entry from each ride will be counted...

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C. Mike Tomlinson is HHRF's new President

February 24 2017

C. Mike Tomlinson, DVM, MBA, from Thousand Oaks, California is Horses & Humans Research Foundation's new president.

Dr. Mike Tomlinson became an avid horseperson in the fifth grade. From that point on, his life has been focused on horses. Mike earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of California at Davis. The first job after picking up his diploma was working at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He had a performance horse practice until returning from the Stockholm World Equestrian Games, when several of his best clients explained that he cannot be gone for six weeks straight for the events – he had to choose between traditional veterinary practice and doing the big events. It was clear which way he was to go. So it was back to school, this time earning his Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Since then, Mike has been a C-level executive of several corporations, continuing today as the CEO, COO and/or Board Member of several multinational corporations. He has been extremely active in para equestrian sports since 2000 including helping found the US Para Equestrian Association in 2010 and being an executive board member since then. He is very active in sport governance having been on the USEF board for 12 years and still very active as chair or member of a dozen USEF committees. 

Dr. Mike has been Chef d’Equipe for the USET Endurance Team and the USET Team Vet for numerous competitions including three World Equestrian Games. He is a FEI Vet for Dressage, Endurance, Eventing, Vaulting, Para Equestrian, and Jumping, a FEI Steward, and is a FEI ‘O’ Judge, Course Designer and Technical Delegate in Endurance. Dr. Mike lives in Southern California where he can enjoy riding year ‘round. Last year Mike taught FEI Officials’ courses and officiated at over 20 FEI 3, 4 and 5 star events in countries all around the globe.

“I am a believer - I know positively that horses facilitate an accelerated path to healing and personal progress.  What a thrill to support research that encourages the world to make it more accessible." 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dream Makker: An Endurance Horse in the Making - Part 1

by Merri
February 23 2017

This is not a story of an AERC Hall of Fame horse, nor a Tevis or Haggin Cup winner, nor a high-mileage endurance horse. You wouldn't even call his an impressive endurance ride record, and he's still a ways from a thousand-mile medallion.

For a while early on, Crysta Turnage's horse Dream Makker had a bad reputation just this side of unsafe, and later he had (still has) soundness issues. A majority of endurance riders - who also don't have Hall of Fame horses or high mileage horses - will recognize some similar struggles in their own endurance journeys.

But ultimately, this story of a rider and a somewhat dubious endurance horse that takes a long, circuitous journey towards the goal of riding in the Tevis Cup is one of perseverance and patience, and of friendship and redemption.

This now-12-year-old CMK-bred gelding by Mackies Image X Falah Dream, by Sarat Thani, came from the pastures of the Van Gilders in Oregon. It was endurance rider Kevin Myers who bought "Diego" as a yearling and took him home to Arizona for a few months, before sending him to southwest Idaho to grow up and run with Steph Teeter's herd for a couple of years.

Crysta Turnage of Spanish Springs, Nevada, entered the picture when Diego was coming 4. She'd been riding her one and only endurance gelding, CT's Sinatra, for 6 years, since 2003. They'd finished Tevis together in 2007. The next year, in a devastating blow, Sinatra was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

That's when Crysta's dear and generous friend Kevin stepped in. Crysta remembered, "Kevin told me, 'I have this unstarted 4-year-old up in Idaho. If you want him, just go get him.' So my mom and I went and picked him up in October, and we brought 'Digs' back home with us."

It was a big change of venue for Diego. "He had never been to 'town' before!" Crysta said. "He'd grown up in Idaho on the ranch. Everything here was cause for alarm!

"I don't know that he'd ever seen a kid before. My son Taren was 6 at the time, and he'd go out and run around or climb on the corral panels and be loud and fast like kids are, and Digs would snort, like 'Oh my gosh, what are you?'

"Cars and trucks driving around, mail boxes, trash cans - all of that seemed very much a novel experience for him. i don't think he'd ever been exposed to that more suburban environment."

Diego had had a bit of ground work and had worn a cinch-and-saddle pad in Idaho, but it had been more for fun than serious training. Crysta didn't have an arena or round pen at her place, so she had to trailer to local arenas or go for walks around the neighborhood when she wanted to work with him. Although she had taken a colt starting class for a semester in college, ridden young/green horses, attended clinics, and worked briefly for a trainer, Digs would prove to challenge all of her growing skills.

Then came that memorable day in January 2009. "It was winter, and he hadn't been out for a couple of weeks due to all the snow, and I wasn't able to get my trailer out. So I decided to take him for a walk by hand through the neighborhood.

"Walking behind some houses, a neighbor's dog lunged at a fence, and when he hit the fence, Digs freaked out and took off running. I tried to pull him back and turn him around, but he got to the end of the lead rope, ducked his head and kicked me in the chin, and knocked my teeth in." (It also fractured her jaw.) She gives Digs the benefit of the doubt: "He kicked, and I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I had given him too much lead. I should've let him go. Maybe he wouldn't have kicked if I hadn't yanked on him that one last time. Who knows."

Then right about the time she healed up from all that, Wham. At the beginning of April she hauled Diego to her local arena and had just climbed aboard him when a horse loading in a nearby trailer scrambled and made a terrific commotion. "Digs just freaked out," she said. "I stayed on well for the first few bucks, but when I tried to pull him into a one-rein stop, I threw myself off balance.  I remember flying through the air sideways - looking at Diego, and then hitting the ground." It broke her upper arm in multiple places and required immediate surgery.

The two incidents right on top of each other caused by a spooky, reactive young horse gave her pause. "You know, we ride horses. It's not a matter of if you're going to get hurt, it's a matter of when. And I'd been hurt before. I don't even know how many different times I've come off over 20-plus years in the saddle. But something about that just really shattered my confidence in riding in general."

Many endurance riders would have sold such a horse immediately, and rightfully and obviously so. But that's not how Crysta saw it.

"So then I was faced with this decision of, here I have this young horse, who I can see has a lot of potential and many really good moments, but when he's bad, he's REALLY BAD, who's proven to be spooky and fast. And everyone (including her mom, her husband, many friends) is telling me to sell him, to get rid of him. But I felt I needed to put enough training into him so he would actually have value to then be sold, so I could buy something else that I could endurance ride on.

"That was a really long process to come back from. I'd sit at work at my desk and have panic attacks thinking about riding Digs. I would literally get shaky and my palms would get all sweaty, and I'd have to tell myself, 'You're not in that situation right now, just stop thinking about it.'"

Before doing any more with Digs, Crysta had to start her own riding comeback after her arm healed. "I started riding other people's horses again, some really good steady, well-broke horses.

"My friend took me out for a long trail ride, and I remember we could only walk for the first hour and a half. It took me that long to get my confidence up, being able to move out again, to do anything faster than a walk. That's what I did to get back in the saddle, just started riding other people's horses slowly again."

Attending the Sacramento Horse Expo in June with her mom, and watching some horsemanship demonstrations, Crysta acknowledged that Diego was the most difficult horse she ever had to work with, and she realized that she was lacking in two very key elements: control and trust. "I knew I had to gain more control, and thus increase his trust in me."

Over the next several months, she took a big step back with Digs and really got back to basics. "We did a ton of ground work. I took him to some de-spooking clinics, and we just did stuff in hand. I just gave myself permission to not have to ride him until I was ready."

They did a lot of lunging, in different areas and over obstacles, and they worked on establishing good verbal cues. They worked on ground driving, where Digs had to learn to overcome some of his confidence issues while doing it, where Crysta was no longer the 'leader' out in front of him, and instead he had to be responsible for choosing where to go with some direction from Crysta. They also went to a bomb-proofing clinic.

It wasn't till the first of August that Crysta started getting on Digs again, but it was very slowly and carefully.

"I would climb up on the corral fence, and have him come stand next to the fence. I would swing a leg over, but be standing on the fence still and have my hand on the top rail, so that if he moved at all I could just pull myself back on the fence rather than have to stay on him. Eventually I worked up my confidence to being able to just sit on him without hanging onto the fence."

They eventually progressed to walking around a little bit while mounted, but Crysta knew they still had a long way to go to gaining mutual trust in the saddle. "The little voice in the back of my head was telling me that the spooking and bucking wasn't a 'done' issue. I would have been happy if that little voice was wrong though."

In September she hauled Diego to Bob and Dovie Pickering's ranch, where Bob, who did Parelli natural horsemanship, watched Crysta and Diego work together. The nervous elements were still there: "We were feeding our anxiety off each other," she said. "He'd get nervous, so he'd spook and jump, and I'd get more anxious, and get grabby cuz he was moving around. It was just kind of this bad spiral that we'd put ourselves into."

Bob got on Diego and rode him for a while that day, to help give Diego that confidence booster of a more relaxed and calm rider. Then Bob offered to keep and ride Diego for 30 days.

"Bob pretty much rode him every day, even if it was just for a 5 minute bareback ride around the yard," Crysta said. "It was just giving Digs that confidence of 'You're OK! It's OK to be ridden. There's nothing that's going to happen,' just getting him over some of that jumpiness he had." Crysta would go to the Pickerings' on weekends and ride and spend time with Diego.

At the end of the 30 days, Crysta and Digs went on a little 10-mile 4H ride accompanied by Bob and his horse. "I think I walked on foot for half of the 10 mile loop, but I did ride him. I'd just get off him again if I'd get anxious and walk for a while, then get back on again.

"That was really the strategy I used more and more as I went forward with him. I just gave myself permission to get off if I was nervous, and just lead for a while. I didn't feel like I had to ride it out.

"The other thing I taught him which was really helpful was to 'touch it.' He'd spook at something, and I'd say 'Touch it', make him go touch it with his nose. And he'd realize, oh, OK, it wasn't anything that scary. I drug home a bunch of stuff from the Goodwill, and set up little obstacles around the yard. And when he'd snort and blow, I'd make him go up and touch it. And the second he would sniff it and see it up close, he would relax about things.

"Actually, to this day I'll still use it. If he's starting to spook at something, I can tell him 'touch it,' and I can feel him actually take a deep breath, 'Oh, OK,' and relax.

Crysta continued riding during the winter with friend Elizabeth Funderburk. "She had a horse she wanted to do endurance with, but didn't have a trailer. So I would pick her up in my trailer, and she and Dixie would help babysit me on Digs, the green horse.

"We did a lot of riding together. And by about May of 2010, I realized that I wasn't looking to sell Digs anymore. I was having fun riding him.

"Personality wise, I've always clicked with him really well. He's a really sweet horse, very friendly. He likes to get attention, loves to come over and see what you're doing. The challenge was in getting him over some of that reactiveness he had, and helping him learn that everything wasn't so scary, and that he didn't need to react or have such HUGE reactions. He learned how to spook in place and not spin a 180 and freak out. That's where a lot of those clinics and different things really came in handy."

Handy enough to mold a partnership of a confident horse and a confident rider.

Handy enough to step into Sinatra's hoof prints and start down the endurance trail.


AERC Northeast International Sponsors 2017 100-mile Challenge

February 22 2017

AERC Northeast International is sponsoring a special 100-mile challenge in 2017. Current AERC members who complete all 3 of the Old Dominion 1-Day 100 on June 10th, the Vermont 100 on July 15th, and the Northeast Challenge ono August 26 will receive special recognition and a USA Northeast 100-mile Challenge Triple Crown Award.

A special award will be given to the horse/rider combination with the best overall ride time at all 3 events, and a Rookie award will be provided if a horse or rider completes his/her first 100 miler as part of the series.

Blaine Jack, manager of the Northeast Challenge came up with the idea. "USA Northeast International wishes to herald our region's historic 100-mile endurance rides that have inspired generations of AERC members!," said Mary Howell.

For more information, see:

Information and entries for each ride can be found here:

Gaited horse Hooch is US trail riding’s new “golden boy” - Full Article

February 21, 2017

A champagne colored Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse gelding has been named the winner of the 2016 President’s Cup, the highest award of the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC).

Turnner’s Wildcard (aka Hooch), who is owned and ridden by Lin Ward of Westcliff, Colorado, received the award at the NATRC’s national convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week.

Lin purchased Hooch as a seven-year old after an intensive search and after first riding him under a full moon, at night, on a trail at the breeder’s facility. Lin recalls, “he just listened and did all I asked.”

After getting him home, Lin changed his name. “Never name a horse something you don’t want them to be. With a ‘Kentucky Full Moon’ ride as our first experience together, he became Hooch.” She says it fits him well as he has lots of personality.

It took 13,137 miles of trailering, competition in 16 NATRC rides, and winning in different states and regions beginning in March and finishing in the first week of November, to put Hooch at the top...

Read more:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February AERC Board Meeting

The AERC Board of Directors met February 13.

The Board of Directors approved funding for the Research Committee to complete data analysis for the Cooley Ranch project. The board also approved special sanctioning for 3 rides -- 2 in the Northwest and one in the Mountain region.

The board heard a review of the 2017 budget provided by Treasurer Mollie Krumlaw-Smith.

Jan Stevens, AERC liaison with USEF, reported on the USEF Annual Meeting and on a conference call with USEF CEO Bill Maroney. The upshot of that call is that both USEF and AERC desire better communications with one another and will plan a joint press release approved by both boards to express our mutual dismay at the abusive treatment and management of horses in Dubai as well as appreciation for the more positive actions in the Boudhieb initiative. AERC and USEF will be negotiating a new agreement between the two organizations in the next year.

The AERC board also heard a report by Vice President Lisa Schneider on the Rules Committee's work. Finally, the board discussed the need for support of Ride Managers in various situations. The board was unanimous in its support of Ride Managers.

The next board meeting will be March 9 at the convention in Dallas/Grapevine. We hope to see you all there.

2016 Darley Nominees Released by Arabian Racing Cup - Full List

The Arabian Magazine, Racing
Mon, Feb 20, 2017

The Arabian Racing Cup announces the following nominees for the coveted USA Darley Awards. These nominees were selected by the Cup Stewards as the best of Arabian Racing in the U.S. for the year 2016. Beginning next week, the Darley Voting Academy will review detailed statistics and performance data from the Arabian Jockey Club about these nominees and cast their votes via confidential ballots.

The winners will be crowned Darley Champions of 2016 at the 30th Annual Darley Awards March 31 through April 2, 2017 in Hollywood, California. The glittering ceremony and gala weekend is sponsored by the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival. According to Lara Sawaya, Director of the Festival, the Darley Awards themselves will be presented on March 31 at the Dolby Theater in Highland Center. On April 1 the focus will shift to Santa Anita Race Course and the $100,000 HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Darley Award Stakes (Gr.1 PA). Sunday evening, April 2, the Celebration Banquet and annual stallion breeding auction will be held at the host hotel, the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel. Please refer to the Cup’s website,, for more details as they become available.

Founded in 1983 by Dr. Sam Harrison, the Arabian Racing Cup’s Darley Awards ceremony is the showcase of U.S. Arabian racing. In 2012, the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and the Cup joined together to promote this prestigious event. The Darleys are headlined by the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Darley Awards recognizing international women in Arabian Horse Racing...

See the list here:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sign up for AERC Convention by Friday for Discount

February 20 2017

Sign up for the March 10 and 11 AERC National Convention in Grapevine, Texas, before February 24th, to save on seminar ticket prices and be entered to win 10 raffle tickets! (Lots of great raffle prizes, including gift certificates for boots, ride entries, and much more). 

AERC's convention is the most fun you can have without your horse! Two days of informative and thought-provoking seminars on Friday and Saturday, shopping galore, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, awards presentations, Hot Topics seminars, plus fun Friday night entertainment and the awards banquet on Saturday night.

Sign up by Friday, February 24, and save $10 per day on speaker fees!

For more information on the Convention and for an online registration form, see:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2017 Tevis Educational Ride

Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2017

As of January 29, there is a waiting list for Day 1 from Robinson Flat. A shorter Day 1 option is now available as well. For more information about this year's July 7-9 Tevis Educational Ride go here.

The entry form is available here.

Coming Soon! Endurance Essentials Web-Based Course! - Full Article

By Patti Stedman | February 19th, 2017

A few years ago we got very involved in educating new and aspiring endurance riders.

Education is kind of in my blood. My mom was a teacher, and my safety consulting business — 18 years old last month — focuses on providing creative, engaging and interactive training about OSHA regulations to the employees of my clients.

So back a few years ago, while planning to teach a clinic for new folks at our farm, creating an Endurance 101 Powerpoint presentation felt a bit like falling off a log. It’s the sort of thing we do all of the time.

We shared that Powerpoint with AERC and other aspiring 101 clinic facilitators and held lots and lots of Endurance 101 Clinics all over our region.

In the mean time our consulting business evolved and started to catch up with the tech age. (Please understand that this has been a massive leap for me, she who still keeps a paper calendar and who can use her SmartPhone to do only a few basic things.)

We started a spin-off business, creating web-based training services to our clients who preferred to have their employees take their training in front of a computer instead of in a classroom.

Ahoy, PCS Custom Training Solutions LLC!

Then, this summer, we got inspired and involved in a little “passion project” as I like to call it …

We decided to take the Endurance 101 Clinics and bring them to the web via

Read more here:

Thursday, February 16, 2017

2017 February's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - Listen in


Today on Karen Chaton's Endurance Episode USEF Endurance Chef d'Equipe Mark Dial explains the new team selection protocol, Randy Winter tells us about his invention the Rein Safe and Karen gives a history lesson. Listen in...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

60 or Older? Win a Tevis Cup Entry!

February 13 2017

Are you 60 Years of age or older?

Would you like to win an entry to the 2017 Tevis Cup Ride?

Through the generous donation of a fellow horseman WSTF is offering an entry to the world famous Tevis Cup 100 Mile Ride. The entry will be awarded to a First-Time Rider that is 60 years of age or older who has successfully completed the Tevis Cup mileage requirement as of May 1, 2017.

 We want to hear about your dream of riding the Tevis Cup!

To enter the contest, in 500 words or less tell us about yourself, your horse and your journey together as a team. Please share the experiences that you feel have prepared you for this challenge. Let us know the impact this entry will have on reaching your dream of participating in the legendary Tevis Cup.

 Entries must be postmarked by May 20th, 2017. The winning rider 
Please include your name, mailing address, phone number and email address so we can contact you if you win.

Mail entries to:
Western States Trail Foundation,
150 Gum Lane #103
Auburn, CA 95603
Best of Luck!