Tuesday, May 28, 2013

2013 Owyhee Fandango

Monday May 27 2013

If you came to the 3-day Owyhee Fandango in southwestern Idaho May 24-26, you were lucky to witness two icons of the sport of Endurance Riding reach an amazing milestone.

In winning the 100-mile ride on day 3, Joyce Sousa's awesome mount LV Integrity finished his 33rd 100-mile ride, and he crested 8000 AERC miles. He also received the Best Condition award. It was the pair's 5th visit to the annual Owyhee Fandango.

Over 15 seasons of riding, 20-year-old "Ritzy" has completed 127 of 132 starts, with 16 wins, 66 Top Ten finishes (including a 6th in Tevis), and 3 Tevis buckles. Joyce Sousa has over 22,000 miles. The pair were the 2003 Lightweight National Champions, and the 2002 and 2009 National 100 Mile Champions.

Joyce and Ritzy completed the 100 miles in 12:43. Second and third were Tara Rothwell and Roz Cusak riding Tara's horses Legendary Impression and Laser Wynd. On the third loop, Laser Wynd tripped and threw Roz to the ground, knocking the wind out of her and banging up her shoulder. Roz re-mounted (with effort), and the 4 of them continued on, finishing the ride together in 13:24. It was Legendary Impression's first 100-mile ride. Both horses are Tevis-bound, if all things continue smoothly along that trail.

Robert and Melissa Ribley finished 4th and 5th in 15:55, on Mi Esmet and Regret.

Cynthia Peticolas sponsored Junior Anya Levermann on Anya's first 100-mile ride; they finished 6th and 7th, on BBA Fareed and Bishop, in 19:05 when the near-full moon was up over the Owyhee desert.

Christoph Schork of Global Endurance Training Center was the only pull in the 100 when his horse Sand's Bad Debt hit a gopher hole which left him lame at the 3rd vet check.

Dian Woodward, also of Global Endurance Training Center, won the 80 mile ride and Best Condition on Starlit Way, in 9:17. Lee Pearce was 2nd on Fire Mt Malabar in 9:57. Junior Tori Church finished 3rd in 13:02.

The Owyhee trails covered the desert and scenic Sinker and Hart Creek canyons, and followed the Snake River and the historic Oregon Trail, and took a tour around 10,000-year-old Native American Indian petroglyphs on Snake River boulders.

3 horse-and-rider teams completed all 3 days of the LD. 5 horse-and-rider teams completed all 3 days/160 miles.

This corner of the AERC Northwest region has a strong Junior contingent. They're the future of our sport! Over the 3 Fandango days, 11 Juniors completed 21 various ride distances and spent all their spare time horsing around, riding extra horses bareback and playing together. 10-year-old Sarah Holloway not only rode her first 50 mile ride, she rode her first 160 miles. Junior Anya Levermann completed her first 100-mile ride. Canadian Junior Karalee Anderson (riding horses owned by Gail Jewell and Elroy Karius) finished all 3 days/160 miles to complete her qualifications for this year's Tevis Cup.

Twenty years from now, several of these juniors will probably be riding 8000-mile horses, and brandishing a slew of 100-mile rides under their Tevis-buckle belts.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Amazing Sinker Canyon

Saturday May 18 2013

It's Sinker Canyon like you've never seen it before. Lush, red (canyon walls), green (trees and grass), ripply (water), old mines, and one cow.

It'll be day 1 of the May 24-26 Owyhee Fandango.

[video here]

or link:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Mystery Road

Monday May 6 2012

Red rhyolite cliffs rose high above us like impenetrable crenellated castle walls,

and guarded the verdant Castle Creek alongside which we rode.

The canyon walls squeezed together in places, providing excellent lounging/hunting hangouts for cougars (we didn't see or smell any), and widened in others to provide open meadows where homesteaders long ago eked out a living. Remnants of their orchards still survive in this canyon with year-round running water. The homesteaders left behind plows and harrows,

collapsed corrals,

a well-preserved (and elegantly constructed) dugout stone house,

and an old car, its innards rusting into the desert.

Beaver ponds

and meadows of rich grass made it easy to see why pioneers preferred this out-of-the-way canyon.

Just before the road dead ended far up the canyon, we saw another mysterious, enticing, and clearly-once-used two-track road that beat a path up and out of Castle Creek canyon, heading up a draw and aiming for the flats, toward the Owyhee Mountains.

Where did it go? Would it connect up with Alder Creek and the road to the Crazy Woman Mine? Most importantly: Could we make a new scenic loop for the next endurance ride?

Working for ride managers, you get that same compelling urge they have to explore, to discover new trails, and incorporate them into endurance rides, to share the beauty of new country with riders.

We marked the road for future exploration, and took up the research back home, on maps and google earth. That road doesn't show up on a topo map, and it's only a faint track on google earth for a ways.

But it must be a road that connects up somewhere. Surely the early pioneers didn't create a two-track road just up out of the canyon to make their cell phone calls? Cattle, at least, must have continued beating the track into a well-used trail on up toward the mountains, because that's what cows do.

It's a road that clearly must be explored another day.