Thursday, January 30, 2020

2020 Distance Horse National Championship Set for September

The 2020 Distance Horse National Championships will be held this year in La Pine, OR at the Lava Cast Forest site on September 25-27. This is the first year at the Oregon location and we are very excited for the opportunity to hold the ride in Region 4. This year we are again partnered with the Appaloosa Horse Club, Paso Fino Horse Association, Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry, American Morgan Horse Association, Akhal-Teke Association of America and the American Saddlebred Registry to host their National Championship Ride(s). Among the many National Championships offered we also have three Limited Distance and 50 Open AERC/AHA Rides and a 100 Mile AERC /AHA Open Ride, along with an Open AHA Competitive Trail Ride. These Open Rides only require AERC membership and have no qualification requirements, however previously competing in a ride is recommended.
If you are interested in sponsoring this great event or have questions please visit the DNL Webpage or contact Paige Lockard at or (303) 696-4535. See you all in Oregon!

2020 Canadian Nationals

The 2020 Canadian Schedule is now online with comments being received. Please email
Click here for more information.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

AERC Decade Team: Standardbred East Meets West and Patricia Clark

by Patricia Clark
January 26 2020

This is a post that has been 12 years in the making. I adopted "Eli" from New Vocations back in 2009. He completed his first LD that season and then had a full season of LDs culminating with his first 50. Since then, he was the first USTA Standardbred distance horse of the year. He has also won SERA's 10 Consecutive Finishes award. He has 1280 Endurance and 525 LD miles.

We had a few setbacks last year and he didn't get to compete. We were all set to go to Carolina in November but he had a heel grab injury that needed more time. So, I decided to bring the big guy to Broxton Bridge which would undoubtedly be his kind of weather and ride.

We had a fantastic ride yesterday at Broxton. He was a handful for the first couple of loops but settled into his rhythmic big trot. We rode pretty conservatively and still managed to finish in 11th out of 28 and first lightweight. That was a quite a surprise! I figured we were in the 20s.

However, the most important and lasting victory for us was the completion of the ride that will award us AERC Decade Team. For those of you unfamiliar with the achievement, it is when an AERC partnership completes at least one 50 mile ride a year for 10 years. Anita Rees is checking around for me, but I believe that Eli may be the first Standardbred to achieve that designation. He has been a trail blazer for the Standardbred endurance horse in many ways and the pride I have for him cannot be put into words.

Thank you to all the amazing vets, volunteers, and ride management at Broxton. Job well done!

Oregon: Sisters Endurance Boot Camp

Sisters Endurance Boot Camp

Sisters Endurance Boot Camp on Saturday, April 25th and Sunday, April 26th. The clinic is designed to give you and your horse a real life endurance ride experience without the pressure of competition. Saturday will include three hours of discussion about various aspects of endurance riding led by practitioners, a community potluck and a "ride meeting". Sunday will feature a 4 mile and 12 mile loop with experienced riders available to accompany folks upon request. Fitness exams for your horse ("vet checks") with a real veterinarian are included. The ride will be based out of the Sisters Rodeo Grounds.

The cost is $40 for adults and $20 for juniors. Registration is limited to 30 riders. Auditors without horses are welcome to attend in exchange for helping out. If you're interested, please contact Jeff Tryens via email at

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Endurance Riding Convention Set for March 6 and 7 in Jacksonville, Florida

January 24 2020
Endurance competitors and enthusiasts from all over the United States and Canada will gather for the annual American Endurance Ride Conference convention March 6-7, 2020, in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two-day extravaganza at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront will include vendor booths, free and paid seminars, awards programs, and a chance for those interested in the sport to find out more about endurance riding from those who are more than happy to share their knowledge and welcome new riders to their ranks.

“This is AERC’s first national convention in Florida,” said AERC Executive Director Kathleen Henkel. “There are so many equestrian opportunities in the area, and we’re excited to welcome riders from other disciplines who want to see what endurance is all about.”

AERC, whose motto is “to finish is to win,” is headquartered in Auburn, California, which bills itself as the “endurance capital of the world.” Founded in 1972, AERC sanctions more than 700 rides from 25 to 100 miles in distance.

The no-cost vendor area, open to all from 8-6 on Friday, March 6, and 8-5 on Saturday, March 7, puts riders directly in touch with tack, equestrian clothing and gear, and saddle vendors and an assortment of other knowledgeable sellers of both needed (feed) and fun (jewelry) goods. A tack swap held during vendor hours is super for finding pre-owned items at bargain rates.

Shopping aside, education is a main component of AERC’s convention, with seven seminars on Friday and Saturday that will provide cutting-edge knowledge for current and prospective endurance riders. Seminar tickets, sold by the day, can be purchased at or at the venue.

Seminars at the 2020 AERC convention:

· Extending the Longevity of Your Horse’s Career with Melissa Ribley, DVM

· Gaining, Training and Retaining Younger Riders, with Jay Randle of the Australian Endurance Riders Association

· Recognizing Cardiac/Respiratory Problems with Mariano Mora-Pereira, LV, MS, DACVIM

· Joint and Tendon Therapies: What’s New? with Jennifer Taintor, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVSMR

· The Evolution of AERC’s Drug Rule, with Jeanette Mero, DVM

· Equine Chiropractic, with Troy (Ike) Nelson, DVM

· Lameness Evaluation (See What the Veterinarians See) with Robert Marshall, DVM

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

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

Local organizations, including The Old Dominion Equestrian Endurance Organization, Inc., East Coast Ride & Tie, Southeast Endurance Riders Association (SERA) and South Eastern Distance Riders Association (SEDRA) will be present to talk about local riding and competition opportunities.

The Green Bean Organization, designed for “green” or new endurance riders, will have a booth at the convention, and will provide friendly information to those new to the sport.

For more information, and to register and receive the best pricing on conference seminars, please visit
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.

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. 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

Friday, January 24, 2020

2020 January's Endurance Day on Horses in the Morning - Listen

Jan 14, 2020

Endurance Day Revisit: Sharing the trails with others, Dr. Jerrie Gillespie speaks about “Discovering the Dehydration Tipping Point”, Lori McIntosh speaks about Radiant Longevity and Karen’s clipper fiasco. Listen in...

Endurance Horse Podcast: Episode 31 Updates & Happy NEW YEAR!

EnduranceHorsePodcast - Listen

Welcome to episode 31 of Endurance Horse Podcast!

Sit back, hold on and enjoy the ride!

And Happy New Year or New Year’s Eve depending on which side of the great globe you reside on! Thank you for listening in, sharing and sending in audio files to Endurance Horse Podcast- you made 2019 a very happy and memorable year! Here’s to many more miles & many more memories in 2020! As we say goodbye to the last decade, lets say hello to some updates and friends new and familiar! Blessings to you all as you embark on the new journey that is rolling out in front of you in 2020!

~Christina Hyke~

Cheers to the last episode of 2019!


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Canada's 2019 Endurance Year-End Award Recipients Announced

Ottawa, ON, Jan. 20, 2020 – The Equestrian Canada (EC) Endurance Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Endurance Year-End Awards. These awards recognize individuals and equines that have put countless hours and tireless effort towards the pursuit of personal excellence in endurance, and the sport’s growth in Canada.

See the list here:

Monday, January 20, 2020

Jim Baldwin Tevis Trail Memorial Fund

Sue Hunter Jaffe is organizing this fundraiser on behalf of Western States Trail Endowment Fund. Donations are 100% tax deductible.

Created January 1, 2020

This fund is to raise money to memoralize our dear friend Dr. Jim Baldwin, DVM who passed on December 31, 2019. These funds will go directly to the Western States Trail Endowment Fund and will be used to adopt sections of the trail with the balance going to support ongoing maintenance of the trail in Jim's name.

Jim first got involved with endurance riding back in the mid 1980's when he was asked to work as a ride veterinarian. He later took up riding endurance himself. Jim traveled the world serving in many different roles supporting endurance riding. Jim loved the Tevis endurance ride and served as a ride veterinarian more than a dozen times. Jim rode and completed the Tevis in 1995 on his gelding Goose.

You can learn more about the Western States Trail Endowment Fund and the Tevis Endurance ride by going to

WSTEF is a qualified Charitable Organization. Your Adopt-the-Trail donations may qualify as a deduction for tax purposes. You should consult with your tax advisor for complete information. Upon request, the WSTEF Office will provide a donation receipt for your records. You can reach them at Western States Trail Endowment Fund, 150A Gum Lane, #103, Auburn, CA 95603. Phone number (530) 823-7281.

More information at:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Juniors and Young Riders: 2020 Anne Ayala Scholarship Deadline is February 1

AERC members from high school senior year through age 21 are invited to apply for the 2020 Anne Ayala Scholarship. Deadline for application: February 1, 2020.

• 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 1/1/2019)
• Applicants must have a minimum of 500 AERC lifetime miles
• Applicants must have an unweighted GPA of at least 3.0
•A minimum of one scholarship of $1000 will be awarded.The AERC scholarship can be applied to colleges and universitiesas well as technical schools and specialized training programs.
•Applications will be reviewed by the AERC Hall of Fame Committee
•Scholarship announcement will take place at the AERC Annual Convention on March 7, 2020, in Jacksonville, FloridaaPast recipients are not eligible

Applications must be received by February 1, 2020, and must be submitted tothe AERC office via mail: AERC, Attn: Scholarship, P.O. Box 6027, Auburn, CA 95604or e-mail: See application form for details:

Friday, January 10, 2020

ASuddenGift MHF Overcomes the Odds to Win Best Condition at the 2019 50-Mile AERC National Championship

Story and photos by Merri
January 10 2020

This gelding’s mysterious, undiagnosable, painful back condition almost ended his endurance career

Any time you’re around Heather Reynolds when she’s riding ASuddenGift MHF, you’re likely to hear a version of this: “He is my favorite horse! I love this horse!”

Heather first laid eye on “Sudden” at a racetrack in California as she was shopping for potential Arabian endurance horses. “I never got his name, and I never saw him outside of the stall, but I really liked the look of him.” But he was too short; the Reynolds prefer horses 15.2 or taller to buy and re-train and re-sell, as that’s what a majority of endurance riders prefer.

Fast forward six months, and Heather saw a 15.2-hand gray horse for sale on Facebook that she really liked the looks of. She bought him sight unseen. “He arrives,” Heather said, “and he comes off the trailer and I thought, oh my gosh, he’s so little. He was lucky if he made 14.3 hands. And then I took a closer look, and I thought, this is the same horse!”

ASuddenGift MHF is by Sudden Mischief, a stallion that stood at Michelle and Dr. Mickey Morgan’s Mandolynn Hill Farm in Texas. The dam, AER Wiqueen, by Wiking, was owned by Longin Blachut, and he’s the breeder of ASuddenGift MHF.

Sudden had been a decent racehorse, with a record of 2 firsts, 1 second, and 6 thirds in 12 starts over 2 seasons, and total earnings of $14,547.

All started out well on Sudden’s endurance career with Heather, and he was happy to start going down the trails. But after a couple of rides, his back started getting sore. After he and Heather did their first 50 together, the whole length of his back, from withers to loin, was swollen and had a lot of heat radiating from it. After a few days he recovered and went back to training. Heather switched saddles. But Sudden’s back issue continued.

“It would vary from decent to absolutely debilitating,” Heather recalled. She tried 15 different saddles. The Reynolds (Heather and her husband Jeremy comprise Reynolds Racing, based out of Dunellon, Florida) tried a variety of things. “We had accupuncture treatments, chiropractic Treatments, thera-plate sessions, tried injections in his back, we also did ground poles and collected work, nothing really helped him.

“His back would get so sore that he would show lameness in various limbs. It was never an injury; he’d be lame, then he wouldn’t be lame within an hour or so, but his back would be horrifically painful.”

The Reynolds asked every new veterinarian they encountered, telling Sudden’s story again and again. One vet Xrayed him and diagnosed him with kissing spines. The Reynolds gave Sudden the entire summer off, and his back was just as sore after 3 months off as it was before. “So then I brought him into the clinic to have the surgery for kissing spines, and the vet that was going to do the surgery re-Xrayed him, and said he didn’t have kissing spines.

“We even had a specialist down from southern Florida who does all the top end dressage and jumping horses. She came up and ultrasounded and Xrayed his entire top line and even did a rectal ultrasound of his S.I. (sacroiliac). I mean, we went as far as we could go to try to figure him out.”

Then after about 4 years of trying to figure out Sudden’s back issues, at South Carolina’s Broxton Bridge ride in January of 2018, Heather told yet another veterinarian (this one from South America) the story.

“She said, ‘Whether it seems like he has it or not, just treat him for EPM.’” Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis is a neurological disease that results from ingesting the Sarcocystis neurona or the Neospora hughesi protozoan from contaminated feed or water. (The oppossum is the main host for the protozoa.) Typically it penetrates into the gastrointestinal tract and enters the bloodstream and central nervous system, and horses usually exhibit hindlimb weakness, muscle atrophy, and incoordination. Without treatment it can progress to severe symptoms in hours, or years, and is largely diagnosed by clinical signs supported with serological testing.

Heather was taken aback. Sudden had never presented with any of the classic symptoms of EPM. “He’s always been super muscular, not atrophied anywhere, super coordinated, very ambidextrous; but she said it didn’t matter. Just treat him. He might not even have EPM, but those drugs sometimes fix back issues. And she said if we got results within 4 days, the drug was working.

“What did I have to lose? I ordered the drugs and treated him. And it was like magic. On day 4 his back felt fine. At 10 days he was great.” The Reynolds treated him again a few months later, and he was drastically better.

Since then, Sudden has lived up to the potential Heather knew he had. Returning to the endurance trails late in 2018, the 11-year-old gelding had no back issues, and he completed 2 50-mile rides. In 2019 he finished first in two of his five ride completions. He and Heather attempted his first 100-mile ride in the Tevis Cup; he finished fifth but was pulled for foot lameness at the finish line because of a boot malfunction. That didn’t diminish Heather’s enthusiasm for Sudden. She said afterwards, “I am so excited about this horse. His attitude was excellent, he took care of himself as well as me. Best of all his back is 100%. I am very proud of my horse. His first 100, he crossed the finish line in 5th place and he was darn close to completing. This also validated why I’ve kept this horse and worked through his issues for so many years. He is my favorite horse.”

Heather and Unicorn Sudden riding with Spiderman Jeremy Reynolds and Treasured Moments in the AERC Nat'l Championship 50

Sudden’s next ride was the 50-mile AERC National Championship in Ridgecrest, California on October 31st, where he placed 6th, 13 minutes behind the winner, (and Heather was first Lightweight), and received the Best Condition award, a validation of years of frustration, perseverance, and ultimate success.

(And two weeks later, the pair finished second by a race-off nose in the 75-mile USEF Regional Championships in Florida.)

“Most people would probably not still own this horse,” Heather said. “But if he hadn’t been sorted out, no one could have really used him. And I liked him so much, it was a big fear of mine that he’d end up just being put down, because he would not be a useful riding horse.

“I love this horse! He’s always happy and willing. He’s always got that little twinkle in his eye, and he’s just ready to do whatever it is you’re asking him to do.”

Sudden, happy to wear a Halloween costume as a Unicorn carrying a Princess, in the AERC Nat'l Championship 50

Thursday, January 09, 2020

AERC Decade Teams, 2019

January 9 2020

AERC DECADE TEAMS, 2019: Many people consider this the ultimate award in AERC -- taking care of your equine and competing together in at least one endurance-distance ride for 10 years. As always, many thanks to Karen Chaton who implemented this award, and CONGRATULATIONS to the 52 new Decade Teams (and one Double Decade team, Stephanie DuRoss and Hadji Halef Omar!).

Get started on your own Decade Team dreams:

Friday, January 03, 2020

Cheryl Van Deusen and Kate Bishop Awarded Top Honors in Endurance

Lexington, Ky. – US Equestrian is pleased to announce the winners of two prestigious awards in the discipline of endurance. Cheryl Van Deusen has been awarded the Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award, and Kate Bishop has been awarded the Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy.

The Maggy Price Endurance Excellence Award is presented to the top U.S. senior endurance rider. This award is sponsored by Gold Medal Farm and Larry and Valerie Kanavy, in memory of Maggy Price. Price was the 1992 FEI Endurance World Championship silver medalist and was instrumental in the development of international endurance in the U.S. The Brunjes Junior/Young Rider Trophy is presented to the top U.S. young rider and is awarded in memory of Kathy Brunjes. Brunjes was a successful endurance athlete and an active supporter of the junior/young rider program...

Read more here:

Minden chiropractor’s horse takes top spot - Full Story

January 2, 2020

by Sharon DeCarlo | Horse Tales

A horse owned by Minden chiropractor Dublin Hart won the American Endurance Ride Conference’s 100-Mile National Champion Trophy.

Running Thunder Ranch Rimfires Etta is a 12-year-old and is owned by Hart and her mother Kay Mathews.

Born in Smith Valley, Etta started her training in Carson Valley with Coreen Hutchingson, Shelly Edwards and Matt Coats.

She was trained in endurance by Hart and then sent to Reynolds Racing in Florida in 2017.

Etta was trained for the 2018 World Endurance Championships in Tryon, N.C., where she was leased and ridden by Team Endurance Israel.

Etta returned to the Sierra for the 2019 Tevis Cup 100-mile endurance ride where she and Jeremy Reynolds placed second in a run-off to the finish line in August.

On Nov. 2, Etta and Reynolds competed in the national championships in Ridgecrest, Calif., where they won the event, placing first overall and first middleweight...

Read more here:

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Never Quit: Ciera Schwartz Rides Blue Hearrt to 2019 AERC Junior Championship

by Merri
January 2 2020

14-year-old Ciera Schwartz's journey from zero endurance miles to 2019 Junior AERC National Champion in one season (in less than 6 months!) is nothing short of extraordinary.

"She had to go from zero! Think about that. From zero to 505 miles. Really think about it. It's amazing - amazing what that young girl pulled off!" says Robert Weldin, Ciera's sponsor and mentor during the 2019 AERC season in the quest for the Championship.

Along the way it's taken a village of enthusiastic, selfless supporters who helped her get there.

It was Marilyn Scholl who first introduced Ciera to endurance riding in 2016, near her home in Winters, California. "When I met her, she asked me if I could ride with her," Ciera says. "I was like, yea, I don't know what you're talking about though." Ciera started riding at age five in an all-around discipline barn. "I decided to do Western Pleasure in general." But thanks to Marilyn, it was endurance that became her métier and passion.

Marilyn sponsored Ciera on two Limited Distance rides in 2016, and one in 2017, aboard Marilyn's gelding Khavasea. When Marilyn didn't have a horse to ride with Ciera in October at Lake Sonoma, she asked Robert Weldin if he'd sponsor Ciera. "I did a pre-ride with him, got to know him a little bit," Ciera says. "Then we went out and we placed top 10 on the LD that day.

"Robert really liked the way I did things, so he told me that if I needed a mentor any other time that he would most definitely do it."

After Jaya Mae Gregory sponsored Ciera aboard Khavasea on an LD ride in April of 2019, Robert then stepped up in a big way. Not only did he become her sponsor and mentor for the season, but he also provided her with a fine 10-year-old gelding to ride, Blue Hearrt.

Ciera says, "I went with my grandpa to Robert's house [in Wellington, Nevada] for a visit. He had Blue, and he’d been working with him a little bit. (Blue was owned and campaigned the two previous seasons by Melissa Harris.) And Blue’s a real powerhouse, so Robert was looking for somebody that could handle him. And he let me hop on him and ride him around on his property, and we hit it off right away. So Robert was like yep, you’re the one."

Ciera makes it sound easy, but Robert points out Blue Hearrt is anything but.

Robert says, "Blue's 16 hands, and a very, very powerful horse - one of the most powerful horses I've ever had. She had to learn how to manage his strength and his power, because all he wanted to do was power through everything. She had to learn to teach him, hey, we've got to do this together."

Ciera's and Blue's first endurance ride together was so memorable in so many ways. She says, "We had Torre Creek Pioneer lined up (a 3-day Pioneer in Eureka, Nevada). Marilyn was nervous about me going to that because it was my very first 50. And 55. And my very first multi-day.

"So we went there, and it was raining, it was hailing; the weather was not on our side! But we finished all three days."

Robert says, "It was storming, raining, so bad, several people came up to Ciera and told her, it's OK to quit. And she dug deep, and continued on when it was cold and icy. She was able to get through all that, all 155 miles."

It would have been tough for a seasoned veteran endurance rider to finish three days in challenging weather, much less a 14-year-old on her first 50-mile endurance ride(s). "Oh, I felt tired," Ciera admits. "But I felt very accomplished. And afterwards, when I crossed that finish line I was so happy, pumped up with adrenaline. But a couple hours later I felt tired, sore, and wanted to go home!"

"She learned about not quitting," Robert says. "And she was always, from the start of our very first ride at Lake Sonoma to the very end, very, very humble. And she always, always put Blue first - at every vet check, everywhere we went, even when she couldn't stand up, the thought was Blue."

Finishing that first Pioneer ride cemented the vague thought of the National Championship 100 on November 2 in Ridgecrest, California.

"It was Robert's idea," Ciera says, "and everybody thought he was crazy, because this was my first season of really doing endurance. My grandpa and Marilyn were like - we’ll see.

"And Robert was like, she can do it! And I was with Robert on it, yep! Let’s do it! I don’t see why I can’t."

Setting that National Championship ride as their goal, and needing to qualify for it, they determined that Ciera needed 400 endurance miles on any horse, and a 100 miler on Blue. So in June, Ciera finished her second Pioneer ride, the 155-mile Wild West (two days on Rio, also owned by Marilyn, and one day on Blue), followed by a 50 on Khavasea in June, and a 50 on Rio in July.

Next came the Virginia City 100, a notoriously tough and rocky and (usually) hot 100. "I thought that was a really tough one because there aren't very many places where you can move out," Ciera says, "and because of all the elevation, between going up and down, and up and down, and the footing. That was a really amazing experience.

"And Nationals was a breeze, compared to VC!"

Ciera makes the AERC National Championship 100-mile ride sound easy, though in a way, it was another very difficult ride, because after 50 miles, she started getting shin splints. Anybody who's ever had these knows how painful it is to walk, much less ride a tough horse who's pulling on you because, as always, Blue wanted to go.

Robert himself was having trouble also, with his bad knee (he scheduled knee surgery for the end of December, so he could finish the entire endurance season). "We kind of had our goal on the Junior Championship, and we were sitting pretty well, but Ciera got leg splints, and at about the 50 mile mark, my knee just blew up.

"I had to lift her off the horse and carry her at the 50-mile vet check. I said, 'We can quit. It's OK. You have nothing to prove to anybody.' She couldn't stand up; her leg was all black and blue. My knee was the size of a volleyball. And she kept shaking her head no. She said just to give her the hour time. I said, 'Look, let's just slow down. We've got 50 miles to go. Let's just stay focused on what we came here for, on getting the completion of the 100.

"We iced her legs, she took some Advil, and she got back on; and we did the next 50 miles and finished at 4:20 in the morning.

"And the next morning, to Ciera's amazement - she didn't know it till they called her name out - she was able to win the Junior division."

Ciera naturally focuses more on Blue's accomplishment than on her trials in the National Championship. "Blue was really happy that he got to do his thing without a bunch of rocks [as at Virginia City] being underneath him. He really, really wanted to go, and he did not stop pulling on me. He is a real powerhouse, and I love that about him. He loves what he does."

It was an emotional moment for Ciera's fan club at the next morning's ceremony when Ciera accepted her awards, which included a Stonewall saddle. It's a tossup, but one could say Ciera's grandparents are her biggest fans. Russ Vancuren, who comes to Ciera's every endurance ride, agrees: "I am Ciera's head crew chief, biggest fan and one part of her large support base, and her grandfather. We all are so proud of her accomplishments this year."

"He is my number one support," Ciera says. "Well, a lot of people are, but he’s really been supportive of me, ever since I was little. And my grandmother supports from home."

Robert's wife Sharon also plays a major support roll behind the scenes, as does Marilyn Scholl, and Jennifer Sorrells, who drives a trailer to the 100-mile rides for Ciera to stay in. "It was a good team," Robert adds. "So many people were supportive."

I asked Ciera what she learned from Robert this endurance season, and this perceptive 14-year-old answered with advice many older, much more experienced endurance riders can take to heart. "Take it slow. It’s not a race, and it never should be. It's about you and your horse. It’s not about other people. And you pay to be out there, and you get to see these amazing things that not a lot of people get to see.

"Some little tricks here and there that I learned about getting through vet checks are really helpful, so we breeze through vet checks no problem. And there are just little things that you pick up from everybody. Robert would point out things that other people are doing, and he’d say ‘Hey go do that, see if that works.’

"So opening up your mindset is another thing that he taught me."

"She has really taught me a lot of things as well," Robert says. "She never complained. She was always, always taking care of Blue first. Even when she couldn't stand up, her thought was Blue.

"A couple of times we had a few tears together, but she never, never, never, never wanted to give up. That's one thing that really stood out with me. And she's been very humble, since the first time I met her until we got off our horses at 4:20 in the morning at the National Championship.

"And she always had a smile, from the start of the ride till the end of the ride.

"She's an amazing young woman."

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Dr. Jim Baldwin Passes Away

Sad to share the news that Dr. Jim Baldwin, beloved Central Region veterinarian (and so much more), has passed away after a long illness. More information will be coming about services and memorial donations.

Troy Smith shared the article first published in the May 2019 Endurance News, after Dr. Baldwin was named to the AERC Hall of Fame at the 2019 AERC convention.

Jim Baldwin, DVM
by Leslie Brown and Friends

Jim Baldwin, DVM (AERC #7205), was born on September 12, 1938, in Radium Town, a suburb of Claremore, Oklahoma. Growing up, he and his brother rode rank horses for their father, a horse trader, to get the horses ready for resale. Jim graduated from high school in 1956 and married his high school sweetheart, Janet. Their daughter, Lisa, was born 14 years later.

Jim joined the National Guard at 17, worked various odd jobs, attended Cal Poly to learn how to shoe horses, but wanting to do better he started college while Janet worked. He applied to go to veterinary school at Oklahoma State University, but was not accepted, so he joined the Army full-time and went to Officer Candidate School.

While at Fort Benning, preparing for Vietnam, word arrived—he had been accepted to vet school! He was able to get his orders canceled and started two weeks into the term.

Jim graduated vet school in 1969 and went to work at Belmont Park race track in New York, where he worked with high-dollar horses like Riva Ridge and Secretariat. He worked at Belmont for several years before returning to Oklahoma where he built, owned and managed several very busy veterinary clinics, that at one time had 60 vets. Jim and Janet completed a Coggins test course in Iowa and held the distinction of being one of the first two labs in Oklahoma to do the Coggins test on a private basis. Jim retired from full-time vet practice and sold all his clinics around 1979.

Shortly after retiring, Jim was invited to Dubai for a 45-day horse vet job. This turned into a seven-year adventure at a new state-of-the-art equine hospital. Jim traveled the world, and was part of the first veterinary team to work strictly with endurance horses in the desert. He traveled with the Dubai team for six months of the year and went back home to Oklahoma for the rest of the year. While in Dubai, he rode every day and even organized a steer roping event!

In the mid-1980s, Jeanne Waldron, DVM, hired him to vet Old Dominion, thus beginning his AERC vetting career. As an AERC ride vet he earned the nickname Jim “Pull His Own Mother” Baldwin. He pulled one rider several years in a row at Old Dominion, once at the finish. She got mad and challenged him to ride and finish! He went home and started conditioning his horse, Bugs Will (AERC #9579). They completed the 50 at 1990 Cougar Prowl in Oklahoma, but Jim knew Bugs wasn’t a 100 mile horse.

Matthew Mackay-Smith, DVM, convinced Jim to lease one of his horses for the next Old Dominion so they could ride together. The night before the ride, the horses were in a pen together and must have gotten into a kicking contest as neither one was fit to start the next day. That was the year Maggy Price hung a rubber monkey on Jim’s back and told him he had to carry it until he finished the ride, and only then could he pass it on to someone else. With that incentive, he went back to Oklahoma and started looking for a 100 mile horse.

Jim had a client who had a client’s Arabian horse for sale. The owner was scared of the horse because he was spooky. Jim rode the gelding several times but before he could buy him, the owner took the horse back. The owner had decided she didn’t want to sell a greenbroke horse to someone and have them get hurt.

Determined to buy the horse, Jim and Janet went by the owner’s home and, after much negotiation and assurances that the horse would not kill Jim, they were able to convince her to sell the horse. Jim went back the next day to get the horse and of course the horse wouldn’t load. After much more negotiating and convincing they were able to get him in the trailer.
The chestnut greenbroke “goosie little thing” became known as Goose (AERC #9580). Jim brought the gelding home on a Wednesday and hauled him to his first endurance ride the next Saturday. Jim rode Goose one loop to “test him and see if the horse was an athlete.” The gelding turned out to be quite the athlete and, more importantly, dependable. Jim and Goose completed their first endurance ride at the 1990 Jo Tate Memorial in Missouri and completed their first Old Dominion (their second 100) in 1991.

Jim (and his family and friends) competed on Goose for 12 years. Goose’s AERC record shows 5,405 endurance miles, 105 starts and 98 finishes, nine BCs, 175 LD miles, and a perfect finish record of 11 100 mile rides.

Jim completed his first Tevis ride in 1995, where he and the infamous Goose finished in 128th place in 21:48 (196 riders started and 129 finished). He joined the Tevis DNF club in 1998. Jim began vetting Tevis in 1997 and has vetted it 17 times!
Jim and his wife Janet founded two long-standing Central Region rides: Indian Territory in 1993 (which they ran for 13 years) and Season Finale in 2005. They started Season Finale for the sole purpose of providing one last ride of the season.
Jim believes that as a rider he should make it a goal to turtle the first three rides and then move up ride by ride. He advises everyone to “train the horse and volunteer at the rides. Do intros, LDs, loop by loop.”

Jim often says, “To finish first, you first must finish.” He also emphasizes that endurance rides allow you to win two ways: “Win with speed or win with persistence.” Another frequent phrase at rides: “Enjoy yourself!”

His favorite places to ride are St. Croix National Park in Minnesota, because of the nice trimmed trails for winter snowmobilers, and the Western States Trail (Tevis). He says Tevis holds a special place in his heart.

Jim turned 80 years young in 2018. He has vetted AERC rides for over 28 years, from his first Old Dominion to the 2018 Season Finale where he announced his retirement.

He joined the AERC Board of Directors in 1992, and served through 2004. He served on several AERC committees, many for multiple years, including the Vet Committee, the Protest and Grievance Committee, the Trails Committee, and the Competition Committee.

Jim competed in endurance for 20 years, completing 117 rides and accumulating 5,300 endurance miles, 675 LD miles and 10 BCs. He’s traveled the world as a ride vet. He’s a wise and witty man and truly deserving of his place in the AERC Hall of Fame.