Thursday, May 16, 2019
You might want to read this article on the Kentucky Derby, by the Kentucky Derby horses, here first.
May 16 2019
Phinneas: I won, I won, I won the Owyhee River Challenge 50 to add to the rest of my impressive life resumé. I always win. I even won a cattle drive once. I always win because I am badass and handsome and THE GRANDSON OF THE BLACK STALLION.
DWA Saruq: He didn't win. He actually finished 8th. I finished 7th. And he thinks he won a cattle drive??!! He did not seriously just say that?!
Phinneas: I came to the Owyhee River Challenge with my neighbors August and Saruq. August is OK. Saruq always thinks he's hot stuff because he used to be a racehorse. However, *I* am THE GRANDSON OF THE BLACK STALLION. For real. That trumps everything and everybody.
DWA Saruq: Actually, Phinneas is a *great* grandson of The Black Stallion. But who really cares.
August: I did the 25 with Carol, so I didn't have to deal with the GOTBS drama at all. I'm all about no drama, as long as my boots are on right and my hair is combed and I am presentable.
Phinneas: I am so badass, even though Merri was going to ride me on the 50, Connie got on before the start and bucked me out so that I wouldn't buck Merri off like I almost did 2 years ago at the start (I tried so hard!). I'm 21 and I can buck harder than a rodeo bronc if I want to. And sometimes, I just want to. Because I'm a badass. And, Grandson of The Black Stallion.
DWA Saruq: I just grazed while Connie and Phinneas warmed up out of his shenanigans.
Fire Mt Malabar: I am 20 and I'm the real star here, 7200 miles and 47 Best Conditions, but I like to keep a low profile.
WMA Proclaim: I'm a former racehorse too. I didn't really like to run much. Endurance is so much better. And call me Riley.
Jackpot Jackson: I'm the real story here. I'm a rescue and I haven't told anybody about my past. I like keeping it a mystery. But endurance riding is the best. And you can call me Jack.
Second Chance Fance: I'm a rescue too. And I'm so cute. And my owner Nance just retired, notice how our names rhyme, and we are going to be doing a lot more riding together!
Phinneas: We didn't get out on the trail first, because of the buck-out thing, but I took off at a roar because I was for sure going to catch those 7 or 8 horses that charged out in front of me! Merri was trying to tell me to slow down. I always know what I'm doing, and I am always right. So don't tell me what to do.
DWA Saruq: Whatever. We've got 50 miles to go, dude. Chill.
Phinneas: Here I am, roaring down the trail, pulling mightily on Merri and looking so terrifically splendid and impressively masculine with my head bowed to my chest and my mane magnificently flowing in the breeze, leading Saruq of course, and what do you know, within 3 miles we'd caught up with the front runners. They seemed to be coming back in our direction, but anyway, by golly I caught them and ended up right behind them! We passed the photographer and my trot was bigger than a World Equestrian Games dressage horse. I can't wait to see the pictures. I can't wait to see Merri's face and see if she was grinning or grimacing. She wouldn't let me canter because she was afraid I might dump her for the picture.
DWA Saruq: I cantered by the photographer on a loose rein.
Phinneas: Those front runners got out of sight again, but I knew I was going to win anyway, and I kept charging hard. We went up and down and around, and then up this long hill, through a gate, and back down the hill, then through another gate, then down and down this long 2-track dirt road that was great for trotting. I was in front of Saruq of course and having a ball, when Merri pointed out to me that there were no other horse hoof prints on our trail - I WAS WINNING!!! I told you I was going to win.
DWA Saruq: I ate a lot of good grass along the way there. Phinneas missed out.
Phinneas: The only thing that slowed me down near the bottom of this two-track was this big bad bull sauntering down the road right in front of us. I am badass, but I know better than to mess with a bull. So we walked the rest of the way down to the canal then went waaaaaaay around him and his girlfriends.
DWA Saruq: That's where some horses who'd gone off trail caught up and passed us, but I don't think Phinneas noticed, because I stuck my tongue out at him and pretended I was going to get in front of him. He didn't like that. This next stretch of uphill sandy trail was loaded with arrowleaf balsamroot. I LOVE the taste of those yellow flowers. While our riders babbled about the beauty, I just ate them as we walked along. I was thinking, Yea, they are beautiful, in my gut!
Phinneas: Since I was winning, I ate some of the yellow flowers and grass while I walked. It just added rocket fuel to my Go-Go-Go, and then I went some more!
Buddy: This was my first 50. I did my first 25 at Eagle Canyon 2 weeks ago. I was going great guns this morning with the front runners till we all missed a turn somewhere and ended up behind a bunch of horses. Then we started catching up again, and I was about to pass this big black horse and WHOA, he like had a total conniption fit, like it was such a HYUGE DEAL I was catching up to him and wanting to pass, and his rider took him off the trail for me to get by. I got out of there fast because I've never seen such a hissy fit. It might be because I am palomino and gorgeous and maybe he was jealous of me.
Phinneas: Some horse had the nerve to come up behind me and try to pass me! I almost let him have it but then I found myself off the trail and I couldn't get at him. No worries. I'd get in front of him again later.
OMR Pristine: I passed this handsome bay dude and this handsome black dude with a long flowy showy mane. I saw the black one give that golden boy a fit when he passed, but I think he was mesmerized by my seductive trot, because he just bowed his head and pulled on his rider hard, and then he tripped and almost fell down. And then he was all embarrassed because he scrambled back up and just bowed his neck and pulled harder on the reins. I pretended I did not see him trip to save his face.
DWA Saruq: And then we rode down into this red canyon to a creek, and we drank and got splashed with cool water while that photographer guy took our picture again. We ate grass but then Phinneas had a burr up his butt, something about winning, even though we hadn't even finished half the ride, so we moved on to camp for the vet check and lunch.
Phinneas: That first loop was such a piece of cake for me because I am so fit and fabulous. And Saruq was behind me the whole way!
DWA Saruq: Only because I let him. Who cares. I ate a lot of yummy food on the trail.
Fire Mt Malabar: Blusterball Phinneas did not see Naomi and I, and JAC WInterhawk and Lee, heading out on loop 2 ahead of him. Neener neener.
Phinneas: After lunch in camp, loop two turned out to be exactly the same trail as loop one. These humans must not have noticed that they had already ridden this trail. I ate more flowers though. And because it was hotter in the afternoon, this loop I stopped at all the water troughs and the canal to drink and get sponged off.
Cows: What are these same horses all doing back in our canal again?
Phinneas: Connie and Merri had the big idea to stop and take my picture in a particularly lush field of yellow flowers. It was annoying, because I needed to keep bombing down the trail in front so I could win, but, I will admit that I looked pretty magnificently stunning, so it was worth the Kodak Moment.
DWA Saruq: He did look pretty fetching, almost like a great grandson of the Black Stallion.
Phinneas: Here we were again, heading for that red canyon. We passed that golden horse that passed me earlier. Neener neener, told you I'd pass him. His rider was sick. We sent the photographer, who was again in that canyon, out to rescue her, so I was like a total hero on top of being the winner and the grandson of the Black Stallion. Then on the way out of the canyon, we passed that pretty mare, who thinks I am hot stuff. She winked at me.
DWA Saruq: It was me she winked at.
Phinneas: And before I knew it, here we were coming up the hill into camp, and everybody, horse and human, had their eyes on *This Guy* as I came across the finish line. I WON!!!!!
DWA Saruq: I finished 7th and Phinneas finished 8th. Really. But don't tell him that. He still thinks he won and it's best to keep it that way. Just get my saddle off and let me roll in the dirt. Like, now, before I roll with my saddle on.
August: I finished my 25 much earlier in the day, and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging and eating!
Fire Mt Malabar: What did I tell you? Second place, and Best Condition #48. But I didn't point that out to Phinneas.
More on the ride at:
Friday, May 3, 2019
Friday May 2 2019
Any one of these perks would be a good excuse to ride the Endurance News-cover-worthy Eagle Canyon endurance ride near Eagle, Idaho: great trails, perfect spring weather, no mosquitoes or gnats, entertaining potguts (gophers) in camp, catered teriyaki chicken and pork fried rice, and custom roasted hot coffee and cold nitro brew all day Saturday courtesy of Café Mulé (and his human Matt) (and Guru Donuts!). At this year's renewal on April 27, you got all of that and more!
An added bonus was helping ride manager Layne Bownds to contribute over $1500 to the Women and Children's Alliance in honor of SueB. You can see the cross dedicated to SueB above the canyon riders pass; it's always good to give a thought to her and others who are victims of domestic violence. The hope of the WCA is to help other successful, smart, beautiful women like SueB leave these relationships before it’s too late.
All 17 riders finished the 25 miler, with Wade Mauhl and his golden Sundance finishing first in a ride time of 3:22. Second place Joan Zachary and her Paso Fino, Chico, got Best Condition. A couple of first time riders, Cory and M'Lisa, who both finished in the top 10, became instantly addicted to endurance riding and we expect to see them again!
14 started the 50 miler, with 12 finishing. The Cobbleys came from behind to win, Jessica on The Big Brass, and Mike on Taladega in 7:27 and 7:28. 6th place Trish Frahm and her cutest-ever appaloosa BPR Jasmine Blu got Best Condition.
For more information on Richard and his human Matt and their awesome craft coffees:
For more information on the Women & Children's Alliance:
More from the ride at:
Official ride photos are here:
Posted by The Equestrian Vagabond at 7:08 AM
Saturday, April 20, 2019
by Merri Melde
April 19 2019
You get a little bit of everything at the Antelope Island Endurance ride (it was around the 35th year of the event) on Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake in Utah: sun, clouds, rain, hail, wind, thunderstorms, absolutely perfect weather; trails both easy and challenging; and wildlife - birds and antelope and buffalo (and if you're very lucky, a bobcat or big horn sheep).
And you get a lot of scenery. No matter which direction or what part of the 14-by-5 mile island you're riding, the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking, with the Great Salt Lake on all sides, and different snow-covered mountain ranges in all directions. The island has its own peak, 6596-foot Mt Frary, which often wakes up with a dusting of snow on its peak and ridges. I have not been to all the beautiful endurance rides I want to ride or shoot, but Antelope Island ranks in my top five of most scenic rides in the country.
Every endurance ride has some unexpected events that riders and management have to deal with on the fly, and this year's Antelope Island ride was no exception. For example, ride manager Jeff was suddenly grounded from all ATV use (he may or may not tell you all this story one day :), and young volunteer Colby saved the day by biking some 10 miles early Saturday morning in a hailstorm to mark the last bit of trail. Then there was the loose horse late Saturday morning that ride manager Jeff got to climb aboard and ride down from the top of the island back to Ridecamp (the dis-mounted Junior doing her first ride was unhurt, but disappointed). And there was the loose cantering 2-day 100-mile horse that the ride photographer (me!) caught near the end of day 2, where the rider was unhurt, and was able to re-unite with the horse and finish the 100.
Head veterinarian Mel got biffed in the nose during vetting in on Friday (and veterinarian Jessica slipped right in there to fill in), and sported a broken nose and black eye(s) the rest of the weekend, but that didn't seem to faze her a bit since she already was sporting a concussion from a previous event. Another rider got biffed in the nose by her mount, and probably broke it, but completed her Saturday ride.
You could watch a great variety of horse breeds at the ride: Arabians of course, mules, Missouri Fox Trotters, mustangs, palominos, appaloosas, paints, pony mixes, gypsy vanners, Standardbred, Thoroughbred.
Dr Kathleen Crandall, ph.D. from Kentucky Equine Research, came to give a horse nutrition talk, and she got to slip out on a 25-mile AERC ride for the first time since 2003, and to volunteer the rest of the weekend.
For the Day 1 photos, Jeff had in mind a little out-and-back climb to the spine of the island at Beacon Hill Knob Spur, for a historical photo at the site of an old line cabin that ranchers used back in the mid-1800's to mid-1900's for shelter when working cattle on the island. (Of course, the island has erected a state-of-the-art communications tower and building not 6 feet from the shack, I guess so that the shack does not get lonely!) And lucky me, it is now occupied by a pair of nesting Ravens, who spooked off the nest, and entertained me throughout the morning with their aerobatics between riders.
On top there by the shack, in the perfect weather window there's a view across the lake to the snow-covered mountains in the east…. which we mostly didn't see because of the hailstorm and thick clouds. Every 10 minutes the weather changed - often different for each rider that came by - and clouds and mountains played hide-and-seek around the island. One set of dark gray clouds boiled like water in a tea kettle, above a low strip of sunshine. Mt Frary ducked above and in and under clouds and fog.
You have the option of several different rides over the 2-day weekend: an Intro trail ride on Saturday, and 25-milers, 50 milers, or a 2-day 100.
39 started the 25-miler on day 1 with 32 finishing. Amy Goodwin and Bubba Gump won in 3:05. 6th place Marc Lindsay and Bazooka Blue got Best Condition. 20 started the 50 miler with 19 finishing. Suzy Hayes aboard Sanstormm, and Jennifer Kaplan aboard Rushcreek Fiscus tied for first in 6:37, with Sanstormm getting Best Condition.
On Day 2, 18 started the 30-miler with 14 finishing. Dana Cervak and Bubba Gump won in 5:14, with 3rd place Amy Goodwin getting Best Condition aboard Bazooka Blue. 7 started the 50 with 6 finishing. Jacob Cukjati won aboard Melika Kamaal in 5:34, with second place Suzy Hayes and Atlas getting Best Condition. Take note: 23,700+ mile Suzy Hayes has some 80 Best Conditions under her endurance girths, with 15 of them earned by Atlas and 4 by Sanstormm.
4 started the 2-day 100, with 3 finishing. Christoph Schork and GE Danex won in 12:57.16 and got Best Condition. Chetty Crowley finished her first 100, finishing second aboard GE RR Jazz Dancer (the riderless horse I caught as he cantered by me!) in 13:36.17. Third was Tennessee Lane and her golden Thor in 14:33.
Antelope Island is in a sweet spot on the ride calendar with excellent trails. If your horse isn't quite conditioned from the winter, the trails are challenging enough to put some conditioning on him. If he is fit, there are plenty of trails you can move out on. And there's the scenery - it's worth the trip just to camp out or crew if you don't want to ride (but who wouldn't want to ride!).
Put it on your calendar for next year!
More info from the ride is here:
Official ride photos are here:
Posted by The Equestrian Vagabond at 7:16 AM
Monday, April 8, 2019
April 8 2019
I'll admit to a little case of the nerves before the start of some endurance rides on Hillbillie Willie, the off-the-track Standardbred racehorse-turned-endurance horse. On some of his last few rides, I haven't had a riding partner, so I haven't had a plan. He's not an easy horse to partner with; while he's not going to buck or rear, he can be hot and too fast (and, depending on how excited he is, rough to ride, and tough), and so big-strided that not just anybody can comfortably keep up with him. And on Willie, I can't worry about making the other rider comfortable - i.e. riding their ride.
I've got to start near the front with him, otherwise Willie will be in perpetual hot pursuit and I'll get a rough ride till he settles down and smooths out, which kicks in at about, oh, about 30 miles or so. (Loop 3 is usually fabulous!) He doesn't yet have the sense or experience to settle down and take it easy on himself, and not go out and kill himself by going too fast on a loose rein.
Last ride of last season - the Owyhee Hallowed Weenies in our back yard - we started with the front group and luckily sorted ourselves out with the perfect partners: Naomi Preston and Fire Mt Malabar (7200+ miles, 47 Best Conditions). Forever after known as "Uncle Mal," young Willie and 19-year-old Malabar matched strides and speeds just about perfectly and got on well together. Willie learned some tricks of the endurance trade (namely - calm your a$$ down, it's OK to stop and grab grass along the trail, it's perfectly fine to let other horses pass us on the trail, chill out and drink up at the water tanks, bub, etc), that hopefully absorbed into some memory cells to be called upon down the years.
In our Owyhee Tough Sucker ride here this weekend, the first ride of the season, I had no plan and I had a touch of the nerves the night before. Willie was fit, but I didn't want him racing with the front runners, who I expected would be smokin' fast. At the start, I let the group of 5 or so charge out first and fast, and we found ourselves setting out on the trail with - guess who - Uncle Mal and Naomi, and Cousin Hawk (GAC Winterhawk) and Lee.
The start was perfect - relaxed and easy - and the middle was perfect - relaxed and easy - and the rest of the ride was pretty much perfect. Willie's in-laws/out-laws didn't mind the company, so we stayed with them the entire 50-mile ride, and I'd say that was one of Willie's best rides ever. He's always a work in progress, but I could see and feel so much improvement in him - the calm start, very few moments of over-excitement, going along pretty much the whole ride with a lowered, relaxed head carriage (we have been working on this hard for over a year), no tailgating, not minding when horses passed him on the trail, eating lots of spring grass along the trails (he got an A on gut sounds at the finish!). He learned so much from his mentors on this ride.
Willie looks like a million bucks the day after his first ride of his third endurance season, and while I feel like I've been run over by a wild range cow ( ), it was all worth it!
You can see more photos and get a ride recap here: