Updates for Cuyama and Lost Padres

The dates for Cuyama I at Inyokern are the same as for the originally scheduled dates:  March 23-24-25. Thats Friday Saturday and Sunday of this next weekend.  Four people proof read the notice I sent this morning and no one picked up the wrong dates.  Thanks to Marci Cunningham for advising me.   If I get time I will send out individual corrections but time is short.  

Our next ride:

2018 Cuyama Oaks XP


There are two separate events:

CUYAMA I is scheduled on March 23 thru 25 at the Laurel Mt camp in Inyokern.

The location was changed due to weather forecasts in the Cuyama Valley before the ride. The weather forecast is actually good for ride days in both locations, however the desert soils get better with rain while the foothills of the coastal ranges do the opposite.


CUYAMA II is scheduled for April 6 thru 8 in Cottonwood Canyon, New Cuyama.

The date is the same date as the Lost Padres ride. We will not hold the Lost Padres ride this year. All previous information about Cuyama Oaks remains the same EXCEPT for the date. Last minute information for Cuyama II will be emailed to confirmed entries approximately five days before the ride.


I sent a message titled “Dear Cuyama Riders” to everyone who sent an entry for the Cuyama Ride that explained the change and the reasons for it. Apparently, there is still some confusion that I hope to clear up with this message. This message may very well be the last one I send one on one. Any future messages will be on the very top of the XP Website Home Page and the XP Facebook page. If this message confuses anyone, I will update the information and present the clarification on the web page without going through the time consuming individual messages.


Because of the confusion we will abandon our requirement to prepay for either event. We have not cashed any checks at this time but we will be depositing the checks from people who indicate they will be attending Cuyama II in April. I will not be answering individual emails, nor will I be sending out ride information in addition to this. Let’s be clear, we usually require riders to pay in advance for Cuyama and Lost Padres and do not send out confirmation information, directions and last minute updates unless payment has been received. WE ARE SUSPENDING THAT PRACTICE FOR THESE TWO EVENTS. If you sent a check and told us you were coming to Cuyama II, we will deposit your check. If you have not confirmed you are coming to Cuyama II we will be holding your check and will work out the finances when you get to the ride.


Here is what we need you to do:


Reply to this email with a few simple responses:


Yes for Cuyama I

Yes for Cuyama II

Yes for Both Cuyama I and II


If the answer is yes for Cuyama I & II let me know if you want me to hold your check or deposit it. If you have already answered these questions in a manner I can understand them you don’t need to do anything else. If you are one of those who said “I’ll be there” I need to know where “there” is.




The following information has been briefly edited from the January Laurel Mt Ride


            We have a good weather forecast for ride days. You will be able to get into the camp regardless of the weather. The road is old pavement to camp and the camp itself has a very solid base that will withstand any amount of rain.


            We live very close to the ride camp; therefore we will not be there until Thursday mid day. If coming early and needing water or anything else you are welcome to stop by our place at 6132 Autumn Ave on the corner of Autumn Ave and Oriole in Inyokern. You can call Dr. Nicholson at 907 209 8881 or Ann at 907 821 1819. Cell service at ride camp is excellent. If you are coming late, be sure to arrive and have your horses looked at BEFORE the ride starts. The control judges will be leaving camp before the first horses do and will no longer delay the start of the ride for late-comers.


Basic Ride Info: The winter ride has been expanded to three days for Cuyama I. We will start the series, on day one, with a trail that will take you into the ghost town of Randsburg. This was a popular route in the past and the locals as well as the riders enjoyed riding through the old town. We have made some slight changes to the winter ride to end the confusion on our part at the finish on all of the days. In addition we have removed some of the boring stretch down the Inyokern Red Rock Road into lunch on the last day. We also changed the trail out of Last Chance to the Bonanza trail, which goes through an old mining area with cabins and mines of interest. The ride includes a loop that goes through the Last Chance area and looks down upon Red Canyon.   The camp has no amenities other than the water and portable toilets supplied by ride management.  The second day trail heads out towards Laurel Mountain then down into the Garlock Valley before climbing back through Goler Gulch onto Mormon Flat and back to the camp. The third day returns to Mormon Flat, then turns west into the Last Chance area and the upper Red Canyon drainage then back to camp via the west side of Black Mountain. Most of the trail is excellent desert footing and spectacular desert scenery, with green grass and early flowers. A motel, the only local feed store, hardware and best Mexican restaurant in Kern County is located in Inyokern just 6 miles to the north.  More choices for accommodations and culinary options are available 8-10 miles away in Ridgecrest.


Destination information for health certificates: Health certificates are required for horses coming into California from other states. They are not required for horses coming from within the state. The requirements for health papers vary depending on conditions both in California and other states. Your local veterinarian will be able to counsel you on current requirements. The destination address is EP26 and Brown Road, Inyokern, CA 93527.  If you brought a horse into a state in the past with a proper health certificate and have not taken it back out of the state you will not need a new health certificate regardless of what anyone tells you. 


Meals: Annie will not be doing dinners in ride camp as there are a multitude of restaurants in Ridgecrest, as well as a fine Mexican Restaurant in Inyokern. Annie’s free lunches are available at all XP Rides including Laurel Mtn.


Ride Rules: AERC rules apply. The management, unlike the AERC Board of Directors, is able to differentiate between an endurance ride and an endurance race. If you are into endurance riding you will probably enjoy this ride. If you are a real competitor and are looking for a race you are likely to find the lack of structure here to be an abomination. This is an old time endurance ride like we used to have when you could print all the AERC rules on a single page. Back in the good old days we used to ride more and read less. Those were better times.



Travelers from all directions should take US Hwy 395 to the junction of South China Lake Blvd and Brown Road. This is the location of the vet check on the Twenty Mule Team Ride. Instead of turning towards Ridgecrest, go west on Brown Road for 4 miles. Turn left on Wiknich Road/EP26, an old paved road, for 1 mile to the ride camp. The GPS coordinates Wiknich/Brown are 35° 34.024’N x 117° 46.730’W  The coordinates for camp are 35° 33.277’N x 117° 47.590’W.


From the San Fernando Valley area: Take Hwy 14 to CA 178. Turn right to the town of Inyokern. Turn right on Brown Road at the gas station/convenience store and follow Brown Road to Wiknich Road/EP26 and turn right to camp.



You can pay at the ride after determining how many days you end up riding. Entry fees are $110.00 per day. Entry fees in general are discussed on the website’s home page. Intro Rides are $65.00 per day.




See you soon,


The Nicholsons and friends



Addendum to XP Pre Ride Information

2018 Ride Season


This is a club ride for XP Riders and you must be an active member of the club to participate. This is an endurance ride as opposed to an endurance race. You should note that the word RACE never appears in the AERC rule book. Should you have any questions about this please read article #2 below and/or speak with the KBD. We hope you will take the weekend to relax and enjoy the camaraderie and vistas this ride offers. Please be patient with ride management as we are getting old and forgetful. Last year we found several people on Facebook who evidently either did not read what our rides are all about, did not read the releases they signed and mistakenly thought they were on a well managed endurance race. They were disappointed. We try to be upfront with what we offer but some people just prefer to ignore all warnings and whine later. We have grown weary of the victims in today’s society, especially in this sport. It is imperative you understand all of the material that was sent to riders who entered online. This online entry reply referred riders to five different items included on the XP website. We prefer you use your smart phones or other internet devices to read these, however for those who are cyber challenged, we have reprints available at the check-in table. Many of the more frequent complaints about our rides have resulted from a misunderstanding of what both XP Rides and the AERC actually offer. We hope to clear that up as more people in the world are becoming victims and we certainly don’t want to victimize anyone.


The five articles are:

  1. Riders of the Lost Duck Riding Club: http://xprides.com/ride-entry/riders-of-the-lost-duck/
  2. Riding vs. Racing: http://xprides.com/ride-entry/riding-and-racing/
  3. Veterinary Pre Ride Information: http://xprides.com/ride-entry/veterinary-pre-ride-info/
  4. Medications: http://xprides.com/pitfalls-of-riders-medicating-their-endurance-horses/
  5. Limited Distance: http://xprides.com/ride-entry/limited-distance/




We generally set pulse criteria at 60 BPM for all checks INCLUDING THE FINISH. Control Judges have a great deal of leeway in making decisions regarding a horse’s ability to continue or complete. Just because you, or your best friend think your horse is fit to continue does not overrule the CJ’s opinion. XP Ride rules have set a lower pulse criteria for completion than AERC and our CJ’s will make the determination on the grade of lameness and what is causing that lameness. Those evaluations are what will determine the fate of your completion at control points and the end of the day.


Rider Cards




All riders are required to fill out rider cards when they enter the ride. There are now three cards required for each day’s ride. The first card is a small green card you will present to the control judge at check in and carry with you during the ride. These cards are useless and contain only the minimum information required by AERC. They will be collected at the end of the ride and kept by ride management. More on this subject can be found in article #3, Veterinary Pre-Ride Information. This green card should have your name and horse’s name printed legibly on the back side. The next card is the larger orange entry card. This needs to be filled out LEGIBLY and completely, and then entered into the entry box every night before 2100 hours. The final smaller orange card will contain your name and horses name and will be placed in the entry box within one hour of the start of each days ride. This second card assures AERC that everyone is present and accounted for at the beginning of the ride. It also assures us who is actually riding and what horse they are riding. We are not required to do a shotgun start. We prefer riders with fractious horses to leave camp in a calm manner instead of being worked into a frenzy at the starting line. We request that all riders leave camp within 15 minutes of the official start so drag riders can pull ribbons and make sign changes on the trail. You must keep up a pace that will keep you in front of the drag riders. If you get off trail you may find the ribbons have been removed and will only have hoof prints to mark the trail forward. This is a chance you must be willing to take when riding in any event, so keep your temper under control when you blow by a turn, even if it’s been poorly marked. We MAY allow a later start in some circumstances, however the pre ride exam must take place before going out on the trail. There is a distinct possibility the control judges will need to leave prior to the official start. This makes it the rider’s responsibility to present their horses at least 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the earliest group. During this exam the CJ will note any SIGNIFICANT wounds as well as the basic parameters to start the ride. They will not go over your horse with a fine tooth comb to write down insignificant wounds and scars. If you have some area you wish written on the card, feel free to bring that to the CJ’s attention and then you can write on the card yourself after the check if the CJ did not feel it required comment. Be advised that we generally use a pulse criteria of 60 at all stops including the finish. This is more stringent than AERC requirements and you are being notified of that fact at this time. Our control judges are often out on the trail and they will pull your horse from competition at any time or place on the course. Control Judges will use their discretion in allowing your horse to continue or complete and are not bound by any specific criteria regardless of what your friends or misinformed AERC board members may have told you. Dr. Nicholson will be glad to go over the rules with you in private if you are unable to understand them correctly. Your cooperation with these XP procedures and rules are mandatory.




Those of you who do not want to abide by some of the more strict rules of the AERC are welcomed and encouraged to enter the Duck Rides, also know as the Fun Rides or Introductory Rides. Starting in the 2018 season we will be more diligent in our recording of Duck Rider Miles. You will still need to go through a preliminary exam and a post ride exam and GENERALLY follow the LD rules as interpreted and modified by the KBD. If a rider is riding the Duck Ride and wants to go less than the prescribed distance they can arrange with the ride manager or the KBD to an agreed course to follow if there is not a designated Duck Ride. The mileage for these rides will not be reported to the AERC but they will be retained by the XP Riders and will count for lifetime XP miles and will accumulate towards the end of year XP awards. Riders in the AERC divisions will usually automatically drop into the Duck Ride class if for some reason they do not qualify for an AERC completion or award. Of course this decision will rest entirely with the KBD who makes all of the arbitrary and capricious decisions for the club. It’s best to be a really nice person and display good sportsmanship and there will never be a problem. Duck Riders will receive the same completion awards as the AERC riders and in addition will pay a lower entry fee and receive free lunches and dinners. Entry fees are determined by what option you choose to start the event with. XP Rides do not differentiate between Endurance Miles, LD Miles or Duck Miles. They all count for the year end XP awards, all of which are based on XP mileage points.




The trails are marked with ribbons on clothespins and some intersections are marked with pie plates giving the waypoint and directions. The trails are sometimes marked with different colored ribbons tied to clothespins. We primarily use pink ribbons for the endurance distances and blue or blue/white ribbons for shorter distance cut offs. We place these markings on both sides of the trail so you won’t get confused trying to remember what color ribbons you are supposed to follow, nor will you have to pay attention to what side of the trail they are on. As with all rides, we have major problems with vandals removing the ribbons. There are usually well written step by step directions at GPS waypoints throughout all ride days. Each WPT marks a different spot along the daily courses. Often the plates will have and WPT- followed by a number. There may also be a number for the day of the series of events and is what we believed at press time to be accurate, however we often have to change days because of weather or last minute conflicts with other forest users. The WPT number corresponds to the data on the GPS receivers that were downloaded prior to the ride. We encourage GPS use, however you must adhere to the agreement of its value in the release you signed. You must discard that data at the end of the ride. The data is proprietary and we don’t allow it to be used for any purpose other than assisting you on this ride. This simple device will assure you will never be lost again, regardless of what trail vandals do to the markings. We have been subjected to increased trail sabotage every year, therefore we strongly advise that you pay particular attention to your location and continue to confirm your position throughout the ride. Be sure to carry a warm jacket and matches in case you get lost and have to spend a night alone in the forest or desert. Should this become necessary, go to the middle of the largest clear area you can find, preferably with a well-traveled road through the middle of it and STAY PUT. Don’t be too proud to ask others for help. Most other back country visitors are willing to assist you in an emergency. Keep some water and an emergency pack with you. Spend some time thinking about your survivor skills. It is a big forest out there. This ride is somewhat unique in that many of the trails are inaccessible to vehicles thereby taking a joint effort on volunteers to get them marked and then removing the ribbons. Because of this there will be drag riders pulling the ribbons. Of course this problem can be alleviated by simply using a GPS, then you will have no problem staying on course after the ribbons are pulled. Please note: there are no safe places for a finish line on most rides. Establish your placings before the finish line or request a match race at the finishing timer. When two or more riders arrive within 10 seconds of each other one of them can request a match race. This will allow us to set out a course with some safeguards for their horses as well as the innocent by standers. The KBD will make any difficult decisions as to finishing placing. If you have any questions about how this is going to be conducted you MUST discuss this before the ride and not after crossing the finish line.


The Forest Service and BLM require all hay and feedstuffs brought onto federal lands to be certified weed free. Respect these requirements and make sure that you don’t introduce non-native plants to the area with your horse feed. All traces of our passing should be removed, which means, among other things, that any hay or feed placed on the ground must be removed when your crew leaves the lunch area. You are responsible for the actions of your crews; make sure they live up to the spirit and letter of the law. Make sure your vehicles stay on well-worn vehicle paths. We want to maintain a low profile so that we have less problems we have in the future, whether on public or private land. The XP policy regarding hay and manure is that you should not throw large amounts of hay and bedding on the ground and should pick up what remains when you leave camp. Please spread the manure over the area your horse is confined in, then cover the area with a very light covering of hay and finally throw your remaining water over the organic material to hold it all in place.



Some footing is hard and rocky and some is like riding on a golf course. Plan for the worse and you wont be disappointed. You can certainly make most rides with nothing but regular shoes, but with any ride, the Duck recommends some sort of additional hoof protection. Easyboots over a pair of shoes is cheap insurance. Perhaps the best aid for keeping horses from becoming sore footed is simply to look where you are going and to make use of the cow trails along the sides of the harder roads. None of the natural obstacles in the trail have been marked; you are expected to pay attention to what your horse is doing. There are rocks and holes that can severely injure a horse. There may be a few precipitous sections of consequence on the trail, but they won’t be a problem if you take your time and use common sense. The best advice is to lead through any section that worries you. Remember, this is just a ride and that you are doing it for fun. Your happiness and rewards should depend upon spending time in the outdoors with your equine and human friends. We try to have water available at strategic places on the trail, but bad things sometimes happen to nice ride managers. There are many things to go wrong during the management of a ride and the failure of a water truck is perhaps the most serious. Fortunately horses can go 50 miles without water, and prudent riders will always ride with enough reserve to do just that, should all else fail. Should you come upon an empty water tank that appears to have a mud hole around it, you can assume that some inconsiderate rider, or riders, in front of you have chosen to sponge their horses instead of leaving the water for your horse to drink. You should make note of who those villains were and take care of them at a later date. If you ARE one of those villains and have been inconsiderate in the past, you should repent now, while you have the chance. Water does not come out of a faucet. It comes from ride management and is hauled at great expense. While we intend to do our best to provide you with the essentials, the ultimate survivors are those who always keep enough in reserve that they will overcome any unforeseen difficulties. Depend only on yourself and you will never have to play the blame game. If you are a new member of the XP Riders, you should familiarize yourself with the veterinary procedures and make sure you understand that you are the only person ultimately responsible for your horse’s welfare. Even the most novice rider has an insight on their horse’s condition that can exceed that of the finest veterinarian. Riders should learn to develop the skills necessary to keep in tune with the true condition of their mount. The Control Judges will never overrule your decision to quit the ride with a Rider Option. While we have the means to offer standard emergency therapy to sick and injured horses, we are a long ways from significant medical help. Seriously ill or injured horses should be transported to a full service veterinary treatment center. We will assist you in finding one of these centers but take no responsibility for the care you receive there. We only look for the availability of services, not the quality. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ACCEPT COMPLETE AND UNEQUIVOCAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HORSES WELFARE, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME AND YOU SHOULD LEAVE THIS RIDE AND THIS SPORT.


We constantly have people wonder how we do these rides “all by ourselves”. The sometimes not so obvious answer is that we have an enormous support group. In addition we have numerous members of the XP riders who pitch in at P&R stops, work on trail projects, donate time, money and goods for the rides. Without this support we wouldn’t have the rides. We sincerely thank those who work so hard and have given so much to their fellow XP riders. We thank them all, along with Easycare, our primary sponsor.    


Good luck and have a great ride,     The Duck Family









New for 2018

Starting with the 2018 ride season the XP Rides will be adding an Intro Ride to all of our events.  These rides are also known as Fun Rides or Duck Rides.  We have offered Duck Rides for many years but we are going to formalize the events to a limited degree and will be more diligent in keeping track of the rider mileage in ALL divisions. This means that your ALL of your mileage will count  for the year end awards regardless of what division you rode in.  Just to be clear, we will include AERC Endurance Miles, plus AERC Limited Distance Miles, AS WELL AS XP INTRO/FUN/DUCK MILES. We are doing this as we now have many riders and horses who have reached an age at which it is no longer fun or even possible to “go the distance”.  These old campaigners, have been reluctant to drop to the “lower” levels of competition for various reasons. We miss them and want to offer them an opportunity to continue in the sport they have supported for so long.  Starting with the Coso Junction Ride in December we will track mileage from all divisions including the Intro/Fun/Duck rides.  This cumulated mileage will then be the basis for the year end XP awards.  

We are expanding our 5 day events (Mt Carmel ~ Grand Canyon ~ Virgin Outlaw) to 6 days.  They will start on a Sunday and run for three days. Then there will be a rest day on Wednesday. Another three day Pioneer Ride will start on Thursday and run though Saturday.  We have received numerous requests and suggestions for this so we will give it a try and see how it goes.  

2018 Results through Eastern Mojave are now posted. XP Rider, Carol McLeod has volunteered to build a data base for XP Results.  At some time in the future we will offer an option to include all your lifetime XP mileage in that database. Many thanks to Carol for taking on this task


3-Days of Pioneer AERC Rides plus 10-15 mile Intro/Duck Rides

These distance are subject to change due to weather and land owner restrictions
April 6-7-8, 2018 Fri-Sat-Sun




This is the 17th year of our popular ride in New Cuyama, located in the grasslands and oak covered foothills between Bakersfield and Santa Maria. When the wildflowers and spring grasses are blooming its one of the most beautiful places on earth. This year may be absolutely spectacular again if we get a few days of warm sun. The creeks are starting to run and the early spring flowers look promising for a spectacular display at ride time.  The Cuyama Ride has always been very popular and we are therefore required to limit entries. After sending us an entry we will respond a few weeks before the ride with further instructions on payment and commitment instructions.

Jon and Mari Jones, ranchers on Cottonwood Road, allowed us to camp on their property in 2014. In 2017, when the Jones property was too wet the neighbors to the west allowed us to move camp there. Those neighbors, the Thomson and Hazlet families have welcome us back this year.  The trails connecting these property to the trails south of the North Fork are all still available, so we’re able to use all the scenic loops near the mountains that we have in the past. Once again, Jon has checked with neighbors to the west for access to lands we haven’t been able to use in the past.  Due to the recent rains and soft ground we have set up camp on the Thompson/Hazlet Ranch just west of Jon’s place. 

TRAIL: Most of the ride takes place on private lands that trace back to the old Spanish Land Grants. The trail is more difficult than most XP Rides and ranges from a crude single track to dirt roads. There will be wire gates to open and close as we pass through private cattle country. The trail has some rocky portions that some feel necessitate the use of hoof protection. The elevation ranges from 1600 to 5600 feet if we chose to ride to the top of the Sierra Madre Range. The area is home to mountain lion, bear, coyotes, and an occasional Frozen Duck. The trails wind through the same rolling pastures that have supported cattle since the days of the California Vaqueros.

AWARDS: Participation awards will be given to all participants. Horse and rider teams that complete all three days receive special vest or sweatshirt awards.

Ride Photographer: Lynne Glazer will be shooting this ride!

AWARDS: Participation awards will be given to all participants. Horse and rider teams that complete all three days receive special vest or sweatshirt awards.





Entry Fees in General: 

Ride information will be sent to those who have entered online usually within a week of the event. If you have not received a response with the information you are looking for you should call or email us. 


We do not require pre payment for most of our rides, so its easiest to just bring cash or check to the ride and pay when you decide how many days you have ridden.  Its the old time way of doing business based on trust.  


Entry fees are a composite of ride entry fees along with other charges that must be passed on to the riders. These hidden charges include fees to the various government entities such as the BLM, USFS and NPS as well as camping fees to state, country and private entities. They also include drug testing taxes levied upon the riders from the State of California and/or the AERC. In addition there are AERC rider fees which vary depending upon membership status. XP Rides and the XP Riders host a number of events, all of which have different financial conditions.  Not only do fees vary from ride to ride, they also vary within most rides. Our policy of not publishing fees comes from accusations of government officials going to the ride site, extrapolating information and applying it as they wish.  We have not increased any of our ride fees for many years and have no plans for any increases in the foreseeable future. Cuyama and Lost Padres are the only XP Rides that require prepayment.  Most riders pay at the end of the ride on all the other rides.

Photos for Lost Padres and Cuyama available at:


Photos for Mt Carmel, Strawberry and Grand Canyon available at:


XP Rides for 2018 Ride Season

Coso Junction ~ December 2 & 3

Death Valley Encounter ~ December 28-31

Laurel Mountain ~ January 27 & 28

Eastern Mojave ~ February 8-11

Bar H ~ AERC Clinic PLUS Bar H Ranch Ride ~March 3

The AERC website is incorrect. There is no sanctioned endurance or LD ride at Bar H.

Cuyama Oaks ~ March 23-25

Lost Padres ~ April 7 & 8 DO NOT SEND RELEASES TO THE RANCH.

Mt Carmel ~ April 22-23-24 Rest Day 26-27-28

Strawberry Fields ~ June 29-30 July 1

Grand Canyon ~ August 26-27-28 Rest Day 30-31-Sept 1

Virgin Outlaw ~ September 23-24-25  Rest Day  27-28-29

Sesenta Años ~ November 9-10-11

You can learn more about each of our rides by going to XP Rides and Dates on the menu bar and scrolling down to the one you are interested in. 





EasyCare, Inc. is proud to provide year-end awards to XP riders. EasyCare, Inc. has a full line of hoof boots and natural hoof care products that protect the hoof, allow horses to cover rough terrain, act as a spare tire in case of a lost shoe, and aid in the treatment of laminitis and other hoof problems. EasyCare’s hoof boot brands include the Easyboot, Boa Horse Boot, Old Mac’s and EasySoaker.  While the main focus at EasyCare is horse boot design, we proudly make other top quality products for trail riders and recreational horse owners such as Stowaway Saddle Packs, EZ Ride Stirrups, Comfort Pads, hoof boot accessories and natural hoof care products.





Please don’t be offended if the Duck doesn’t add you as a friend or associate on Facebook,  LinkedIn,  or  any other type of social media.  He just simply does not participate in those things!



Over the years our family has made a lot of great friends along the trail. We always look forward to the new ride year to renew those friendships and to make new ones. We hope you will be able to join us on the endurance trails this year. Come ride with us, you will be glad you did.