Riding and Racing
Some years back I wrote an article on riding vs. racing that explained my personal opinions on the differences. At the time I was supportive of the FEI for those who chose to go that route. Although I do not have the time at the moment to edit that editorial, which is posted below, I have to now state publicly that I have become disgusted about where the FEI has taken our sport and fear the backlash will come to haunt us for years to come. AERC needs to make some clear distinctions between what the FEI is doing and what a large number of our members are doing. The Western States Trail Ride remains the ultimate accomplishment for this sport. I knew Wendell Robie personally and I can assure you he is rolling and twisting in his grave over what this sport is becoming. There is no connection between what is happening at the FEI level and what the sport of endurance riding is all about.
Endurance Racing and Riding – a discussion by Dr. David Nicholson
Apparently there are many who are unable to understand the difference between Endurance Riding and Endurance Racing. While the fine points of the definition can be argued forever, a race is an event where the first entrant across the finish line is the winner. I suggest that a ride is an event where the entrants set their personal goals and only those entrants know if those goals were realized during the event. The XP Rides have catered to those who enjoy long distance riding and the personal challenges offered. We have placed little emphasis on winning or going fast on any given day, feeling that true endurance champions are proven over years and many different conditions. Events like the AERC National Championships, the Race of Champions and FEI sponsored events are Endurance Races. There is a place for both and the sooner we stop arguing about it and appreciate that both venues offer a place for horses and riders to enjoy the great outdoors, the better off we will all be. I suggest that ride managers have the prerogative to set the tone for the type of event that they desire to conduct and that they have the responsibility to design their event accordingly.
While our rides appeal to many, they offend others. Some consider them a detriment to the sport of Endurance Racing that prevents the sport from attaining Olympic status. Others insist that the FEI and hardcore racers are threatening the gentle sport they love. While there is some truth to both points of view, the real truth lies in the mind of the beholder; both racing and riding have their place. Obviously, long distance horse racing is a sport with great potential for death and serious injury to the horses and riders. Everyone should understand and agree that endurance racing needs a lot of control. Similarly, everyone should agree that a group of horsemen out for a long ride don’t need the controls required in a race. . Endurance Racing is a strenuous sport that places severe stress on the equine athletes. I personally believe that horses should race no more than once or twice a year. On the other hand, I know that horses can ride 30 to 60 miles a day, five days a week, essentially forever. I believe that the time has come for AERC to take the middle road and formulate rules to address the needs of both factions of our sport
I believe that ride managers should make clear to prospective entrants just what kind of event they are coming to. XP Rides emphasize riding over racing. We offer meager awards and give no recognition to placing in the various divisions. I submit that the ride itself is the reward. We stress the responsibility of the rider in caring for the horse and use the services of veterinarians to help the riders get through the event safely. Our approach has worked well for us in the past and we hope that it will continue to work for us in the future.
New for 2018~2019
Rumors abound regarding the Nicholson Family Plans and some things have been misinterpreted. The facts are that we have moved our winter home from Inyokern California to Kanab Utah. We were never residents of California nor did we ever have any intention of becoming California residents. We have owned property in Utah since 1962 and have always intended to move there when we were forced for health reasons to remain in one place year around. That time has not come but it is time for use to start building plans for that day. As for the California rides, we are planning on continuing with the rides we have done all along for at least the foreseeable future. Those critical of the XP for having too many rides in SoCal should bear in mind that the Coso ride was taken over at the request of Sue Benson. The Death Valley ride was taken over at the request of Jackie Bumgarner. The Eastern Mojave was created at the request of Al and Nanette Young. The Cuyama rides were taken over at the request of Jim Mitchell. The Lost Padres and Sesenta Anos rides were taken over at the request of John Parke. That leaves one single ride, the Laurel Mtn ride that was the sole event originating from the Nicholson family. If and when we decide to no longer conduct these events there will be lots of people waiting in the wings to continue them.
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 Grand Canyon 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
OUR NEXT RIDE
Santa Barbara, CA
Sesenta Anos Endurance Ride I II III
November 9-10-11, 2018
25 or 30 & 50 all days; plus 10-15 Intro/Duck rides all days
Ride Photographer photos: Lynne Glazer Click here!
Ride Location: This ride will be held on the beautiful Rancho San Fernando Rey in the upper Santa Ynez River Valley north of Santa Barbara. This is an original Spanish land grant rancho of 37,000 acres looking much like it did 200 years ago. The terrain is classic central California rolling hills and valleys covered with oaks and grass. Unlike John’s ride twelve years ago, this time the basecamp and every inch of the trail will be located on the Ranch.
Trail Description: There will be a different trail each day. The trail should be considered moderately difficult since there will be some climbing, however John has pledged to make the ride easier by eliminating some of the multiple steep climbs. There will be plenty of water on the trail at spring fed stock tanks. The trail will mostly use dirt ranch roads and cow trails. Since it may still be very dry in mid November, hoof protection is advisable.
Rules: The rules of the American Endurance Ride Conference will apply. The ride is open to every breed of horse or mule. AERC rules require horses entering the 50 mile ride to be 5 years or older and horses in the 25 mile ride to be at least 4 years old. Since John rides perhaps the strangest horse in endurance, he encourages everyone with a reasonably fit trail horse whether it is an Arab, a quarterhorse, a gaited horse, a mule, or whatever, to give at least one of the shorter distances a try. In addition to the AERC rules there are some things about the XP Rides that differ from other Socal rides. Please take the time to read our thoughts on medications, riding vs racing, and general behavior of riders and crew members. Our family and friends organize these events to have fun. They are not intended to be high class international competitions.
Special Considerations: Because this is a private ranch, the Rancho San Fernando Rey’s own release form must be signed by every single person coming onto the property, whether as a rider, a crew, a volunteer or anything else. You will not be allowed to enter the Ranch without a signed RSFR release for every person in your vehicle. To protect the ranch roads and the pasture where the basecamp is located, the ride will be cancelled in case of substantial rain during or immediately before the ride. Because this is a working cattle operation, loose dogs will not be tolerated. Best to leave your dog at home . Click here to download the RSFR Release form.
Early Arrivals: If you need to arrive before THURSDAY, John suggests you contact Rancho Oso, a private equestrian campground just a few minutes down the road from the ranch entrance. Ranch Oso has excellent facilities. Camp for Sesenta Anos will open on THURSDAY.
Entry Fees: $120 each day for the 50 mile and 25 mile rides which includes the increased camping fees for this years event. $65 each day for the introductory fun ride. Add $15 each day if not an AERC member. Lunch is included, but dinner is $15 extra.
From the south: drive through Santa Barbara on Highway 101, turn onto Highway 154 over San Marcos Pass, turn right onto Paradise Road a mile or so after crossing the bridge, turn left after a mile or so into the Ranch at our sign. If you are concerned about going up San Marcos Pass with a really big rig, then stay on 101 until Buellton, turn right onto Highway 246, and turn right onto Highway 154 to join those coming from the north.
From the north: drive through Santa Maria on Highway 101, turn onto Highway 154, turn left onto Paradise Road after passing Lake Cachuma, turn into the Ranch at our sign.
Address for Health Certificates: Rancho San Fernando Rey, 166 Paradise Rd., Santa Barbara, CA 93105. If you are already IN California, you don’t need a health certificate.
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 WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT PAYPAL THROUGH THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY OPTION.
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.
XP Rides for 2019 Ride Season
(Subject to AERC & Landowner approval)
Coso Junction ~ December 1 & 2
Death Valley Encounter ~ December 28-31
Laurel Mountain ~ January 26 & 27
Eastern Mojave ~ February 8-9-10
Cuyama Oaks ~ March 23-25
Cuyama Rain Date ~ March 29-30-31
Lost Padres ~ April 6 & 7 DO NOT SEND RELEASES TO THE RANCH.
Lost Padres Rain Date ~ April 6-7
Mt Carmel ~ April 28-29-30 Rest Day May 2-3-4
Strawberry Fields ~ June 28-29-30
Grand Canyon ~ August 25-26-27 Rest Day 29-30-31
Virgin Outlaw ~ September 22-23-24 Rest Day 26-27-28
Sesenta Años ~ November 8-9-10
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.
THE UNSOCIALIZED DUCK
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.