March 28 2018
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
Marci Cunningham's Fire Mt Zoom+/ reached his 5000-mile endurance plateau in the Laurel Mountain ride in California on Saturday, March 24.
Foaled in 2001, the chestnut Arabian gelding is by the late Jackie Bumgardner's Hall of Fame horse Sierra Fadwah+/ out of Rushcreek La Hand, by Cougar Rock (son of the great endurance stallion Bezetal).
Marci was not looking for another endurance horse when her friends Marsha and Steve Workman contacted her about Fire Mt Zoom. "After I did the 2011 cross-country XP Pony Express ride (2000 miles from St. Joseph, MO to Virginia City, NV), I got a call from Marsha. She saw the results of the ride and said congratulations.
"Marsha and Steve had two Fadwah horses, two full brothers that were going to be their next endurance horses, but Steve started having back problems and he couldn't ride anymore. They thought about who they would want to have their horses, and they thought of me.
"I love Fadwah horses," Marci said. "I was really interested." One of Marci's previous endurance horses, FM Moonshyne+/ , was a daughter of Sierra Fadwah who accumulated 3000 endurance miles.
"And I was so grateful they thought of me, because they know that I keep my horses forever, and I don't over-ride them."
Marci didn't need another horse, and at 10 years of age, Zoom had never done endurance before. "But he had been trained and had been ridden on the trails a lot, and the more Marsha talked, the more I thought this was a once in a lifetime offer.
"Marsha sent me pictures, but I really bought Zoom off his pedigree. I know those horses; they're working horses. And after I rode him the first time, I made the decision to buy him. It was a no brainer."
Marci bought Zoom in the fall of 2011, and took him on his first endurance rides in February of 2012. They dove right in - the gelding efficiently completed three of the four 50-mile days of the Eastern Mojave Scenic Pioneer in California - and never looked back, finishing twelve 50-mile rides and 610 miles that first season.
Zoom loves the endurance trails and, as befits the son of durable Arabian horses, excels at it. "He's one of the toughest horses I've ever ridden," Marci said. "He's never had a pull. He has fabulous recoveries. He has a wonderful work ethic. And he loves it. At the end of a 5-day ride, he feels as strong or stronger than he did on the first day."
On endurance rides, Zoom is very independent and is comfortable being ridden alone or in a group, and he's a good eater. He also has "a fairly short back, and huge bone and huge feet," which have likely contributed to his soundness over the miles. And by Marci's reckoning, she's a low-key endurance rider, and she's been that way since she started competing in endurance in 1983. Her attitude has also likely contributed to Zoom's success.
Fire Mt Zoom was named Arabian Horse Association's Distance Horse of the Year in 2016, and he has now completed all 97 of his starts, including numerous multi-day rides, and the Tevis Cup in 2015. The pair look forward to many more miles together going down the endurance trails.