Thursday, January 19, 2017

AERC’s Century Club: Rider + Horse = 100 Years

January 19 2017

Endurance riding is a sport that mandates awards – it is the “to finish is to win” sport, after all.

Right in the rule book (rule 6.3) is the requirement that every finisher of every American Endurance Ride Conference competition “must receive a completion award.”

But those are just the start. AERC recognizes mileage accomplishments starting at 250 miles for both human and horse. There are best condition awards for exceptionally fit horses. There are awards specifically for stallions, for mares, for those who compete in Pioneer rides of three days or more in a row, for 100-mile riders, for high-mileage families. There are age-based awards, for junior riders, young riders, and for older riders, including one very special acknowledgement.

One of the more recent awards to catch the fancy of many riders is the Century Club Award, which honors rider/equine teams who earn the recognition when they complete a ride once their ages total 100 or more.

So far the roster of Century Club members totals four:

Connie Berto and Eco Stardust (California). Connie dreamed up the Century Club award. She is a long-time endurance rider and she and her Morgan gelding, Eco Stardust (AMHA 129921), completed 5,000 endurance miles in 2013 – after Connie’s hip replacement surgeries in 2007 and 2013.

Mary Chmielewski and Quicksilver (Ohio). Mary (her last name is pronounced “mah-les-key,” 83, is a typical older endurance rider. She still trots out her own horse at competitions, and enjoys riding her 18-year-old grey Arabian gelding, GKA Quick Silver (AHR 570114). Mary even completed the AERC Trail Master course in her home state of Ohio in 2016. Her AERC mileage totals to date: 2,515 endurance miles (of 50 miles or more) and 1,115 limited distance miles.

Dorothy Sue Phillips and Montana Flyer (Wyoming). Dorothy is the highest-mileage rider of this elite bunch, with 17,695 endurance miles (those are competition miles – that figure doesn’t count all her training miles!) and 1,035 limited distance miles. She switched over to the shorter-mileage rides in 2015. Montana Flyer (AHR 527262) has 7,945 endurance miles and 590 LD miles.

Leon Self, DVM, and Cole Younger (Missouri). Leon started out judging AERC rides, but was called to ride for the first time . . . at age 81. His mule, Cole Younger, was then 24 years old. They spent a half-year conditioning before entering the Pokie Okie 30-mile ride in 2014. Even with a combined age of 105, the pair wound up earning High Vet Score.

The American Endurance Ride Conference will be honoring the 2016 accomplishments of their members and equines at their annual convention March 9 and 10 in Grapevine, Texas. Yes, even more awards will be handed out, recognizing both annual and lifetime achievements.

Mary speaks for every endurance rider when she says, “I love the endurance riders, the camaraderie and friendships that I have developed over 40 years of long-distance riding. The endurance people have a true love of their horses and the horse discipline that they have chosen. I will always have a horse and ride until my body says to stop. As long as I can climb up on a horse, I will ride!”

To find out more about the “to finish is to win” sport, visit or phone the AERC national office at 866-271-2372.

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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

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rushcreek: The Bloodlines Continue at Snell Valley Ranch

January 16 2017
by Merri

Tucked away in the oak and pine covered hills in a corner of the Napa Valley is the Snell Valley Ranch.

The fertile valleys with good soil and spring-fed irrigation is the ideal spot for growing organic, historic-sourced grapes for exceptional wines for the Flying Horse Winery. It's also a fine place to raise horses. The horses you see on the 1400-acre Snell Valley Ranch, running the fields, climbing the hills, picking their way through rough oak and pine hills, laying a good foundation for growth, athleticism, and intelligence, carry historic bloodlines from decades back when a good Arabian was bred to work and built to last and knew his way around a ranch and the endurance trails.

Hendrik and Lettie Smeding, owners of Flying Horse Winery and Snell Valley Ranch, are the owners of these Rushcreek mares and foals, who are carrying on the name and legacy of their forebears, after the Nebraska Rush Creek Land and Livestock company dispensed with the breeding of their famed Arabians.

It was after World War II that the Nebraska ranch, established in 1885, turned to breeding Arabians for their ranch work, because their original horses - "part work horses and part Thoroughbred" - just weren't working out that well. The Arabians proved to be good all-around ranch and cow horses with great endurance; and the habit of turning the horses out in herds for 3 or 4 years on excellent grazing land before breaking and training made for good formative years.

It was around the 1970's that endurance riders discovered that these Rush Creek-raised Arabians made excellent mounts for their long distance riding passion.

And it was in 2012 when the Rush Creek board of directors decided to liquidate their Arabian herd. "Our understanding from Lyle," Lettie said, "was that Rushcreek Land and Cattle Company decided not to have a herd of horses of any kind. They wanted their workers (cowboys) to bring and use their own personal mounts whatever breed they are," Lettie said.

It was a sad day for aficionados of the Rush Creek-bred Arabians, and it galvanized a number of people to action. Laura Hayes, from New York, who had owned and ridden numerous Rushcreek horses in endurance, was instrumental in getting every one of the ranch's exceptional Arabians sold and into new homes.

Hendrik and Lettie Smeding, who had bred CMK Arabians in the past, were interested in starting up breeding again. "We'd both always admired the Rushcreek horses on the trail, and a friend told us in 2012 that Rush Creek was selling their horses," Lettie recalled.

Unbeknownst to Lettie, Hendrik had already made a call to Lyle Sherfey, horse ranch manager for Rush Creek Arabians, a couple of times saying he wanted some of those mares. "I just wanted to see foals on the ranch again," Hendrik said.

He left several phone messages for Lyle, and it wasn't till weeks later that Lyle got back to them. Lettie was taken aback when she heard who it was and what it was about. They did some quick investigating and negotiating, and eventually the Smedings ended up with 10 of the very top Rushcreek broodmares.

They also bought some youngsters and one of the ranch's current stallions, HV Suns Heaven and Earth, who had been the Rush Creek herd sire for about 7 years.

"The Smedings were extremely good to work with during the dispersal," Laura Hayes said. "I will be forever indebted to them for that. During the dispersal, my main goal was to not allow one of those 80+ horses to be euthanized or go to a sale. We accomplished that in less than 90 days using only social media and not spending a cent on advertising. The Smedings had a big part in that as they were our biggest buyers."

After getting the herd ensconced in 2012 into their new California surroundings, and letting the mares settle, even though Heaven had a nice temperament and attractive babies, the Smedings decided they wanted to look for a different stallion for their new herd.

"We have articles from way back in Western Horseman, and Rush Creek was known for really big horses - 15.2, 15.3 hands - big, stout, strong rope horses, because they were doing ranch work," Lettie said. "We were more interested in getting back to that long-ago path to Rush Creek horses. There's Polish and Russian in the Rushcreeks, but there's also really heavy Raffles, so we figured the best thing was to do was an outcross."

The Smedings ended up talking to former endurance rider Dianne Waldron, of Rosebrook Farms in Florida, about a stallion that they felt might compliment their mares. French import Doran SFBAR (Dormane X Ortie, by Djouran) was a U.S. stakes-winning racehorse, and stakes producer. He was the outcross the Smedings were looking for, with "big size and big bone and good movement."

In the 3 1/2 years since the Smedings started their hobby to continue the Rushcreek Arabian breeding, the future looks very bright indeed.

They have carefully winnowed their Rushcreek broodmares down to 5: Rushcreek Patti, Rushcreek Pecan, Rushcreek Tiki, Rushcreek Reata, and Rushcreek Tigger. With Doran SBFAR as sire, these 5 mares have so far produced 7 offspring.

Rushcreek Patti (Rushcreek Kip X Rushcreek Alibi, by Rushcreek Quincy) has a coming 2-year-old filly, SVR Patticake.

Rushcreek Pecan (Rushcreek Kip X Rushcreek Freon, by Shalimar Rhett) has a coming 2-year-old filly, SVR Pecan Pie.

"Both of those, oh gosh, when crossed with Doran, it's just like a magic cross with these horses," Lettie said. "They're huge. I was looking at some of the old Rush Creek pictures, you know, when you get the 15.1 and 15.2 hand, big, stout, horses. That's what we're getting again. It's awesome."

Rushcreek Tiki (Comar Raphael x Rushcreek Joni by SAHR Magnafy) has a coming 3-year-old filly, SVR Firefox. "Oh my goodness. She looks almost like a warmblood, a big dressage type of horse. She's also beautiful - big bones, super sweet, really really nice."

Rushcreek Reata (Comar Raphael X Rushcreek Gwen, by Sahr Magnafy) has a coming yearling filly, SVR Reata Creek, and a coming 3-year-old colt, SVR Firestorm. "'Creek' is a very nice looking bay horse, big for her age. Firestorm - I would say he's close to 15.2 hands - is a big tank. And he's a really sweet horse too."

Rushcreek Tigger (Comar Raphael X Rushcreek Kitti, by Sahr Magnafy) has a coming wearing filly, SVR Eyeofthetigger, and a coming 3-year-old colt, SVR Spitfire. "Spitfire is about 15.1, bay, and he's just gorgeous. 'Tigger' is nice also. They both have nice legs under them, and they're smart."

"They all have good minds. Just good horses."

Through Lyle Sherfey, the Smedings got permission from the Rushcreek Board of Directors to use the Rushcreek brand and and the name for their Arabians (Rush Creek continues to use it for their Nebraska ranch). Currently they are using SVR (Snell Valley Ranch) as a prefix, though they may decide to use Rushcreek at times. They will also freeze brand their horses with both the SVR and Rushcreek brands (Rushcreek is a clover leaf).

The Smedings plan to breed the mares back with frozen semen from Doran this spring (Doran is at stud in the UAE, and the Smedings collected and kept frozen semen from him for their breeding operation). They plan to keep the youngsters they have right now, and possibly try some on the racetrack. They will let some of them grow up a while and then see what they have. Right now, they are just enjoying the new horseflesh on their ranch.

Lettie said, "We're getting excellent crosses with Doran and these mares. They have such beautiful babies, and I personally think the babies can go on the racetrack, they can do endurance, and they can do dressage.

"The babies are getting Doran's laid back shoulder, and they're solid builds, with the good legs and hooves. They really look like the old Rushcreeks." Doran has an exceptionally calm and gentle temperament for a stallion, which seems to be passing on to his Rushcreek offspring.

The youngsters are getting a good upbringing on the ranch. "The mares take them everywhere. They make routes all over the place, literally miles every day. In the evening they're down in the valley, and in the morning first of daybreak, they're way up on top of the hills. Some of that is scrambling, picking through the rocks and going up and downhill. They can rock-pick like nobody's business! They drink from the creek and the lake, and they go through everything. They like to be on the move."

It is the Smedings' main desire to get back to the big old Rushcreek Arabians. "We were hoping that's what we'd get out here," Lettie said, "and it looks like we are. That was our goal, to get those nice big solid horses again. We're very excited about them!"

Back in the day, "Rush Creek-bred" and "Rush Creek-raised" meant something. Everybody knew what a Rushcreek horse was and what he/she was made of, and what they could expect out on the endurance trails.

Thanks to the Smedings, just a handful of breeders who wanted to see the Rushcreek lines continue, that day may once again be on the horizon.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Longtime New Mexico Veterinarian Sid Zarges Dies - Full Article

EL PASO, TX—JANUARY 14, 2016—Longtime New Mexico veterinarian Dr. Sidney T. Zarges, 80, passed away on January 8th in El Paso, Texas.
Dr. Sid was born in Raton, New Mexico on April 12, 1936. His father was Henry W. Zarges of Cimarron, New Mexico, and mother was Alma C. McDaniel of Roswell, New Mexico.

Dr. Sid married Sue Schroeder on Sept. 12, 1958 in Monte Vista, Colorado. The couple graduated veterinary school in 1960 from Colorado State University. They moved to El Paso where they practiced veterinary medicine and opened Zarges Animal Clinic in 1965.

They were the first veterinarians to perform equine surgery in the area. Dr. Sid focused on equine medicine and worked at Sunland Park Racetrack and Ruidoso Downs Racetrack.

In semi-retirement, he vetted equine Endurance rides all over the country...

- See more at:

NATRC convention focus--Fun, Mind, Body & Soul - Full Article

January 16 2017

The North American Trail Ride Conference convention, being held Feb. 17 and 18 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has a two-fold focus: fun and fellowship on Feb. 17, seminars Feb. 18 to enhance the mind, body and soul of the rider.

The fun begins with humorous stories written by author Angie McGhee from the world of distance riding; followed by an Equine Jeopardy game “show”; tours of the area; a presentation by Jean Abernethy, creator of the cartoon horse, Fergus, about his first NATRC ride; and ends with refreshments and old time mountain music performed by The Trail Buddies.

On Feb. 18, seminars will be held on photographing equines; a prescription for healthy, balanced and beautiful riding; the mental and physical approach to trail obstacles; keeping cool in a crisis; and a presentation on “The Legacy of NATRC.” The day will close with a banquet, raffle drawing sponsored by Riding Warehouse, and celebration of the amazing accomplishments of NATRC members and their equine partners...

Read more here:

Friday, January 13, 2017

USEF Unveils Complete Rebrand, Launches New Member Benefits

Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation is pleased to announce a rebranding, launch of a new fan membership, and additional membership benefits. Effective January 11, 2017, the Federation has become US Equestrian and has adopted a refreshed identity as part of a new overall strategic plan for the organization. This includes a refreshed logo that removes the shield element and better aligns the brand with other successful national governing bodies.

Introduced by incoming President, Murray Kessler, at the Annual Meeting in Lexington, Ky. on Wednesday, the vision of the new US Equestrian is to bring the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible. This closely coincides with the organization’s mission to provide access to and increase participation in equestrian sports at all levels by ensuring fairness, safety, and enjoyment. US Equestrian will strive to engage horse sport enthusiasts at all levels through enhanced member offerings and consistent championing of horse welfare and fair play initiatives.

The website, is now and has been completely reengineered into a user-focused and mobile-friendly site that offers many useful tools and resources. Member-only benefits on the website include horse and rider searches, standings, and competition results...

Read more here:

Justin Nelzen Passes Away

January 13 2017

Endurance rider Justin Nelzen, 40, died January 11 in Montgomery, Texas.

He was a veteran of the Marine Corps and Navy, and was an endurance rider, trainer, and farrier.

Justin won the 1000-km Mongol Derby in 2010, and he was part of a dramatic rescue of horses stranded by floods in Texas last year.

He leaves behind two children, aged 14 and 12, and a large community of endurance friends.

A fund has been set up to raise money for funeral expenses at:

Thursday, January 12, 2017

OT Rasa RSI wins 2016 Drinkers of the Wind Challenge

One more time our own Crockett Dumas has bred, trained and ridden the winner of the 2016 Drinkers of the Wind Challenge. His name goes one more time on the Schimanski trophy. This year Crockett won the award on OT Rasa RSI, a home bred that Crockett just started riding this year. Rasa got both trained and conditioned simultaneously as they competed very successfully in long mileage rides.

Crockett's lines hale back to Richard Pritzlaff's RSI horses, thus the RSI he continues to use in their names in respect for Richard. This breeding produced the wonderful OT Sara Moniet who is also sister to OT Rasa. Blood will tell!

Crockett and his horses exemplify the soundness, strength and durability of the best of the Desert Arabians and we are so proud to have him on the Board of Directors of the Institute because we feel it is so very important that the best of the best are proven, used and bred on so that the future will remain bright for these wonderful horses.

Every time a Desert Arabian goes into a group of horses and comes out the victor it is a great step towards preserving the qualities that we held dear with the horses that first intrigued us and even if the horses do not win, it they compete, they are promoting their breed by showing their quality to the world.

The Institute for the Desert Arabian Horse is committed to the global preservation of the Desert Arabian horse. We aim to identify the worldwide population, demonstrate publicly their athleticism and versatility, provide models of sound breeding practices, and conduct historical and scientific research.

See more at:

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jackie Bumgardner Passes

January 11 2017

Endurance riding icon Jackie Bumgardner passed away Tuesday morning at a care facility in California.

Jackie started endurance riding in the 1970's and accumulated over 30,000 miles. She owned 1992 AERC Hall of Fame Stallion Sierra Fadwah+/ , AERC 1996 Partners Award Winner Sierra Fadrazal+/ , and 2002 AERC Hall of Fame horse Zayante. Jackie and her husband at the time, Jim, bred Fadwah at their Fire Mt Arabians ranch in Ridgecrest, California, and developed a successful line of endurance horses that are still coveted today.

She was a mentor to many in the endurance world, and she left many more friends behind.

She will be missed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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

January 10 2017

Today on Karen Chaton's Endurance Episode Karen shares the joys of having a barn camera and a helpful hint on keeping your horse competitive for the long haul, Courtney Krueger explains Ride & Tie, Chrystal Woodhouse provides some pointers for riding and conditioning in cold weather Listen in...

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Kelsey Russell wins 2016 Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy

January 5 2017

USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) has announced Kelsey Russell as the winner of the 2016 Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy.

The Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy is awarded in memory of Kathy Brunjes, who was a successful endurance athlete and an active supporter of the Junior/Young Rider program.

As she closes out her young rider career, Kelsey enjoyed a successful year in 2016, starting the year with a win at the CEIJ2* 80-kilometer competition in Dunnellon, Florida, aboard Gesta Gold. Her next win also came in January at the Broxton Bridge Plantation CEIYJ3*, where she took home the title with Just Gold. Kelsey amassed four more titles throughout the year, two wins at the CEIYJ1* at Spruce Woods with Theatric and Fireman Gold.

The presentation of awards will be during the USEF Year-End Awards Gala on Saturday, January 14.

Meg Sleeper wins 2016 Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award

January 5 2017

USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) has announced Meg Sleeper as the winner of the 2016 Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award.

The Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award, sponsored by Gold Medal Farm, and Larry and Valerie Kanavy, is in memory of Maggy Price, who was the 1992 FEI World Endurance Championship Silver medalist instrumental in the development of international endurance in the U.S.

In 2016, Meg's success includes wins in the CEI3* 160-kilometer Biltmore Challenge with Syrocco Rabia, and in the CEI3* at Broxton Bridge Plantation with Syrocco Cadence. She also earned Top 5 honors in the CEI3* FITS event with Syrocco Cadence and in the CEI3* Fort Howes Zone Team Endurance Challenge with Shyrocco Rimbaud. She represented the U.S. with Shyrocco Rimbaud at the World Endurance Championship in Samorin, Slovakia.

The presentation of awards will be during the USEF Year-End Awards Gala on Saturday, January 14.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2017 AERC Junior/Young Rider Scholarship Deadline

The deadline for the 2017 Anne Ayala AERC Scholarship is approaching fast! The completed application with supporting documents and letters of recommendation must be received in the AERC office by January 7th.

The $1000 scholarship is open to AERC Juniors and Young Riders in good standing from their high school senior year through age 21 (must be younger than 22 as of 1/1/2017).

Applicants must have an unweighted GPA of at least 3.0 and a minimum of 500 AERC lifetime miles.

For more information and an application, see: