There have been a number of cancellations for the Virgin Outlaw Ride.  There is likely now room for anyone wanting to attend.


I just finished getting the AERC and WDRA results on our results web page.  It has taken a bit of work to make the WDRA results fit a database that can work with all the WDRA results in the future. I know many are wondering if we are going to publish cumulative results and the answer is positively yes.  For now you can look at the XP Results page for both the AERC results and the WDRA results in the 2020 ride season.  

The Sesenta Años Ride will not take place under the banner of XP Rides. I have repeatedly tried to contact John Parke throughout the year and have not heard from him.  The turnout last year was barely a break even deal for us financially. The ranch has a large fee for using their property plus the terrain makes it difficult, if not impossible to meet AERC’s standards for mileage. 

I have contacted all of the counties in which we hold rides in Southern California within the second week of September.  Inyo County has not responded but there is reason to believe they may allow an event at Coso Junction. Kern, San Bernadino and Santa Barbara have responded that gatherings are not permitted.  San Bernadino and Kern Counties have both said gatherings are prohibited throughout California regardless of which county. 

We are having difficulty obtaining a permit in Washington County or on the Arizona strip.  If we are unable to obtain a permit for that area we have an alternative site picked out in Kane County south of Mt Carmel.  There is a lot of beautiful country out there but it is sandy but we should have some rain by then. Updates will be posted here.

Saturday, 7/18/20  The 2021 XP Calendar has been sent to the AERC and is published below.  I am confident we will be able to hold the events as scheduled with WDRA recognition. I am unsure we will be able to meet the AERC covid restrictions but we will try.  You may notice we have made some big changes in our traditional scheduling.  We have eliminated ending our events on Sundays.  This is especially important for those in California so they can travel home late Saturday or very early on Sunday to avoid the traffic.  In addition we have moved the dates of Coso Junction and Death Valley so Annie and our XP families can now spend their holidays at home.  Might not hurt to spend those Sundays and Holidays meditating with the congregations of your choice to pray for healing this troubled world.

Monday, 6/22/20:  I keep getting emails and calls about our plans for the foreseeable future.  It is our intention to continue doing the XP Rides on the same weekends as we have been doing.  However, I have no idea what the conditions will be at the time of the rides.  I do not agree with the restrictions set down by some of the government agencies nor do I agree with the AERC’s requirements.  I do accept that everyone is entitled to their opinion but Ann and I are part of the high risk population and therefore feel we must be more careful than some of our younger and healthier friends. 

We are unable to meet the AERC Covid restrictions.  In addition, we are unable to make some of our most scenic mountain region rides meet the AERC mileage requirements without endangering horses. We can address the mileage issue by adding insane little loops at the end of an otherwise great ride but we cannot mitigate the dangers associated with the AERC Covid policy.  Therefore we will not be sanctioning the upcoming rides with AERC until the Covid restrictions are lifted.  In the meantime we will continue with our rides but will be doing them as WDRA only events.  We will continue with our current XP Covid restrictions, which coincide or exceed the CDC and state regulations.  We will be limiting the rides to 25 with a possible expansion to 30 or more.  We will take things as they come and will make modifications based on current situations. 

THE ENTRY DEAL FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE: During the Covid crisis, which will undoubtedly remain into next year we will be only doing WDRA events until it is prudent and legal to meet governmental as well as AERC requirements.  Many endurance riders fall into the “most vulnerable” category due to age and existing conditions. We are not able to conduct an AERC event under these conditions but the WDRA offers us the flexibility to adjust our rules for the existing situation. 

XP Rides and the Nicholson Family

Ann and I are doing well, although we are still suffering from cabin fever. We are fortunate to be in southern Utah as life is going on much more normally than in other parts of the country. Kane County has now moved to code yellow and people are free to travel as long as social distancing is practiced.

Ann and I are committed to continuing with XP Rides as long as possible.  The entire sport seems to be dwindling away and our rides are no exception.  We hope to continue with our remaining 2020 ride schedule as WDRA events, but we will have to make some significant changes to do so.  Thirty years ago we moved to Southern Utah with the specific intention of sponsoring XP Rides.  As the sport dwindles we may be forced to give up the more expensive venues further away from our winter home but we have no intention to cut back on our Utah and Arizona rides. Indeed we are still working on resurrecting the Color Country ride and are looking at other sites for new and exciting ventures.  Although Annie and I, along with the vast majority of our riders are at an age that is most vulnerable to succumbing to viral diseases, we are going to continue living with a positive outlook for the future and encourage you all to do the same. 


There is now an option to obtain what is called an EECVI. You can Google it. This is a relatively new program that allows veterinarians to issue a CVI(health certificate) for a six month period and allows you to to to multiple states and venues.  Its worth checking out. 



Breaking news can be found on the xp facebook page https://www.facebook.com/XP-Rides-205291171799


Virgin Outlaw XP

Red Canyon, Utah
Two Separate Pioneer Rides separated by a rest day

September 20-21-22   ~   September 24-25-26, 2020

Due to the Corona Pandemic the 2020 ride will not be sanctioned with the AERC. This will be a WDRA event in 2020.

September 19-20-21   ~   September 23-24-25, 2021

AERC/WDRA 55 or 50, 25 or 30 plus 10-15  WDRA rides


Distances subject to last minute adjustments for weather.


Description: This ride will stay in the same camp again for all six days in 2020.  We are going to make use of the start of the Grandview Trail as well as the spectacular trails through Red Canyon and Mt Dutton. This will be the only XP ride in the area as we have cancelled the Bryce Ride after many years due to the decreasing number of entries.  Perhaps in the future we will offer it again if we have sufficient interest.


DirectionsBase Camp is located at 37° 45.602’N x 112° 13.175’W. From US Hwy 89, south of Panguitch, Utah, go 7.5 miles east on Hwy 12 to Forest Road 117, also known as the Tom Best Spring Road. Turn left (north) and continue 3.2 miles on the excellent gravel road FR 1080, which is on the left not far past the third cattle guard, turn left and go 0.6 miles to the new camp.

When you get the top of Red Canyon the turn off is only a third of a mile, so slow down and be ready to make that turn.  Should you miss the turn you can go to the Chevron station just down the road for a turn around.

Meals: No meals are provided during the Covid Crisis

Awards: Individual daily awards are available for the first to finish and the horse in the best condition. Daily participation awards will be given to all riders.  Riders who complete all six days will receive jackets or plaques.

 Basecamp address that you can use for health certificates:  Tom’s Best Spring Road and Hwy 12, Bryce Canyon, UT 84764




Alternate Reality Rides

I define an alternate reality ride as something more structured that a virtual reality ride but still a gathering where the social distancing rules are being practiced and large group gatherings are avoided.  We now have enough riders to make this happen. In fact we are approaching our limit. 

The event will start with everyone agreeing to some basic safeguards for the two weeks before the event. We should all be practicing those safeguard regardless of any riding plans. Riders must be extremely vigilant when traveling. Social distancing, masks, and gloves are the order of the day and must be followed, even if you are a person who does not believe in them. That’s our rule and it supersedes anything the government comes up  with. This thing is not going away and we all need to deal with it. If you cant deal with the XP restrictions there is no reason to keep reading.  We will be camping at our old barn in Mt Carmel. We had planned a different camp for the regular MC ride but this camp is better suited for the small numbers of riders. The barn is within walking distance of the restaurants and motels at the junction.  We will limit the ride to 25 riders and will require firm commitments in advance like we have done at Cuyama. We now have enough riders and know the ride is a go.  The camp has excellent cell phone coverage where we can communicate by phone and text.  If necessary we will split offer multiple ride meetings to maintain social distancing.  We will not have any unnecessary “hands on” veterinary checks.  We will not be providing lunches or any meals but meals will be available at the Thunderbird. There is a Subway that can prepare lunches.  We will have portable toilets but for your safety you shouldn’t use them. It is far safer and better to use self contained campers.  We MAY require GPS receivers.  We will have our regular maps and directions but we may not be able to get all the trails marked with existing conditions at the time. We will have some limited marking.  This is a great time to learn to ride a GPS only trail.  We have successfully put on 2000 mile rides with nothing but GPS markings.  These events wont be like the typical AERC endurance ride but they will offer a chance to get together and ride our favorite trails. Personally I believe they will be more fun and less pressure than what we are forced to do with AERC.   We have put off our trip home till after the ride.  See you there.

Phone 907 209 8881 or e-mail duck@xprides.com


There are several pertinent web sites for information on this ride.

http://www.xprides.com/ for general information on XP Rides

http://www.xprides.com/ride-entry/riding-and-racing for information on Riding vs Racing

http://www.xprides.com//veterinary-pre-ride-info for veterinary information

Convention News for 2020

XP Rides will no longer have a booth at the AERC Convention.  We have decided to support those who support us and have decided to have our booth at the MRER convention in Denver, Colorado. We will present the 2019 XP Awards at that time.  

The articles:




have been moved to the the General Ride Info Page

Results are now posted up thru 2019 Laurel Mountain

New for 2020

WDRA and the XP Rides: The Future is Now

Last year, I watched the AERC struggle with the issues that have plagued the organization for years – how to measure ride distance, rules, protests over rules, additional rules, a large and cumbersome management structure, and how to balance the interests of both racers and riders. I wrote an article on the XP webpage entitled A Look to the Future. In that editorial I laid out what XP Rides would do in the coming season. Early this year, as I started moving toward creating a new organization, I spoke with other ride managers to assess others feelings about the future of the sport. To my surprise, there were many with similar fears and concerns for our sport. Instead of branching out on my own I found others who were interested in proceeding with a new organization that expands the offerings aligning the interests of riders and ride managers.

Instead of the WERA that I talked about, the group decided upon forming the Western Distance Riders Alliance. WDRA deals specifically with the issues we have in the western part of the country. I am proud to be affiliated with this group and, while I am not an officer, I am a member of the board. 

Going forward XP rides will continue to offer the same AERC venues that we have in the past. The difference being that we will make sure all the rides meet AERC standards to the best of our ability. With so many rules and rule interpretations coming out of that organization it may be impossible to comply with every requirement, but we will do our best to try. The main take home point is that the AERC rides are going to be a full fifty statute miles, or longer, as there will no attempt to adjust the ride mileage for time or difficulty of terrain, as we have done in the past. We will also abide by the strict interpretation of the AERC completion requirements.

The XP will now offer an additional ride format to complement the AERC rides. Riders wishing to participate in an AERC sanctioned event will continue to have that opportunity but we will also offer the WDRA option so riders will have the opportunity to continue to experience all that we offered in the past.

The WDRA option is for riders who don’t care to subject themselves and their horses to the strict interpretation of the rules on AERC endurance rides. The WDRA offers us the opportunity to offer rides that fall out of the range of AERC sanctions. To be clear, AERC only offers the opportunity to enter a fun ride of less than 15 miles, an LD ride between 25 and 35 miles, or an “endurance ride” that is over 50 miles. The AERC definition leaves holes between 15 to 25 miles and 35 to 50 miles.

WDRA is a direct outgrowth of the AERC. All members of the WDRA board are AERC members and many of the WDRA board members are also AERC board members or past AERC board members. WDRA is not encumbered by some of the early mistakes of AERC that have never been rectified. I have yet to find an AERC director who does not believe 26 Board Members is unmanageable. WDRA has an upper limit of nine board members.

One of the most divisive issues facing the sport today is the issue of mileage. AERC has defined an Endurance Ride as 50 miles, no less. The 50-mile definition was done at a time when the Tevis Cup was thought to be an accurate 100 miles. WDRA has simply defined an endurance ride as “An equine event over natural terrain that demonstrates a horse and rider’s ability to perform.” WDRA also recognizes the inaccuracy of the AERC mileage database. Realistically, the AERC database has never been anything more than an indication of a rider’s participation in AERC events with an estimation of the distance traveled. WDRA has addressed the mileage issue by shifting the definition from statute miles to Mileage Points.   Mileage Points allow ride managers to continue doing what many, if not most, western ride managers have been doing since the beginning of the modern sport. Ride managers have always used time and difficulty of terrain along with distance to determine the ride mileage. All across the country this has never been a problem till GPS devices became mainstream and individual riders considered GPS measurements precise mileage recording devices. Besides the innate inaccuracy measuring miles with inexpensive devices, it is not realistic to compare rides on flat terrain with good footing to challenging trails across mountainous terrain with rocky footing. XP Rides have always favored historic, scenic, interesting and challenging trails over a flat and fast racecourses. Ann and I are excited to add the WDRA format to our XP rides and now other ride managers have the opportunity to offer rides on trails where an AERC completion may not be practical.

The bottom line is that I can now offer riders both an opportunity to compete in the AERC as well as the opportunity to enjoy the laid-back way Ann and I have fairly treated the riders and their horses. Instead of having to bend the AERC rules towards leniency and bending the XP philosophy towards more rigid standards, we can now offer both. We welcome you to XP rides, whether you choose to ride with the AERC or WDRA option.  More information on WDRA can be found at http://xprides.com/western-distance-rider-alliance/

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

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.  There will be a slight increase in fees on rides in the Peoples Republic of California due to increases in the charges for drug testing.  Cuyama is the only XP Ride that requires prepayment.  Most riders pay at the end of the ride on all the other rides.


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

 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. 

XP Rides for the 2020 Ride Season

Strawberry Fields ~ August 14-15-16, 2020 *Special date this year only.

Grand Canyon ~ August 30-31 September 1 Rest Day September 3-4-5, 2020

Virgin Outlaw ~ September 20-21-22  Rest Day  24-25-26, 2020

Color Country ~ October 31-November 1, 2020 Tentative Date

This is a resurrection of one of the oldest AERC rides. Located in southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  

Sesenta Años ~ November 13-14-15, 2020

XP Rides for the 2021 Ride Season

(Subject to AERC & Landowner approval)

Note that rides marked in red have changed days and weekends from their traditional times. 

Coso Junction ~ December 10-11-12, 2020 (ends on Sat)

Death Valley Encounter ~ January 1-2-3-4, 2021 (Ride starts after the NYE party on January 1. Three and Four day Pioneer offered)

Laurel Mountain ~ February 4-5-6, 2021 (ends on Sat)

Eastern Mojave ~ March 11-12-13-14, 2021 (ends on Sat)

 Cuyama Oaks ~ March 25-26-27, 2021 (ends on Sat)

Cuyama Rain Date ~ April 1-2-3, 2021

Mt Carmel ~ April 25-26-27 Rest Day April 29-30-May 1, 2021

Lonesome Duck Distance Ride ~ June 2 – July 25, 2021

This is a WDRA sanctioned event.  Entries are by invitation only.

Strawberry Fields ~ July 29-30-31, 2021 *Special date this year only. Ride ends on Saturday.

Grand Canyon ~ August 29-30-31 Rest Day September 2-3-4, 2021

Virgin Outlaw ~ September 19-20-21  Rest Day  23-24-25, 2021

Color Country ~ October 29-30, 2021 (ends on Sat)

This is a resurrection of one of the oldest AERC rides. Located in southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  

Sesenta Años ~ November 12-13-14, 2021



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.