Sunday, 3/22/20:

XP Rides and the Nicholson Family

Last Sunday we finished the Eastern Mojave Ride without incident.  Christoph, Tennessee and Kerry planned to stay till mid week to find if the Old Pueblo ride was going to happen.  The three of them, along with our veterinarian Paul Griffiths, Annie and myself were able to get the trail unmarked by early Wednesday.  Annie and I then started moving all of our rigs and equipment to Mt Carmel.  These are troubling times and like everyone else, we have no idea what the future will bring.  Regardless of the personal decisions of ourselves and the XP Family we are at the mercy of the local and federal governments.  We all have differing opinions on what that will mean for us going forward.  If I did not listen to the news or internet I would have little concern here in Kanab Utah.  Life is going on, businesses are operating and while some stores are a little short on some supplies the owners are limiting purchases and new stock appears daily.  As we drove through southern Nevada and southern Utah we saw what appeared to me to be an unusually large number of campers and OHV use going on.  I have checked the Kanab Utah BLM website and they are closed without giving any information on permits.  We have 5 weeks before Mt Carmel so there is time to see how the situation will develop.  I will keep everyone posted on this website and Facebook. 

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 definitely plan to continue with our remaining 2020 ride schedule.  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


The Mount Carmel XP

Ride date changed to May 17-23, 2020

I have received the permit for the MC ride however I have not received any word back from the BLM about any cancellation due to Covid-19.  Much of the country is on a “shelter in place” order, that will likely continue through the end of April at a minimum.   Ann and I are staying at home in Kanab.  AERC has approved the date change.  Six weeks is a long time away in today’s crazy world. WHOA.  I received an email saying the change was approved.  Then later I received an email saying its a violation of Rule 16 and has to go to the other regional director and the executive committee.  Since its a big deal to change a date and requires action from the AERC executive committee the ride may just continue as a WDRA event.


The Cuyama Oaks XP


2020 Cuyama Oaks XP


It is with deep regret that Annie and I have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Cuyama Oaks XP. There are a number of factors that have influenced us in the past 48 hours. Roosevelt said “The greatest thing we have to fear is fear itself”.   The fear and panic that has been promoted by the politicians and media has created a situation that makes it unwise and almost impossible to carry on.


Why have we quit?


  1. The CDC had advised to limit gatherings to 50 people, then it dropped to 25 and now the President has declared 10. AERC has advised we should be following governmental recommendations. FWIW, while listening to C-Span this morning I heard someone of authority saying we are only 14 days away from the strong possibility of a complete shutdown. Continuing with an event that could attract up to a hundred people could cause a real problem for the ride, the sport and the residents in Cottonwood Canyon.


  1. Even if I personally decided it was safe to continue, the ride could be cancelled at any moment by any of the state or local governments.


  1. We are low on necessary supplies, such as paper towels, trash bags, cleaning and disinfecting products that we usually purchase before an event. All of those supplies are unobtainium at present.


  1. The meetings and camaraderie are a big part of all XP Rides and it is especially important at Cuyama. Not being able to offer meals and even lunches just doesn’t seem right.


  1. Since we have committed to accurate statute miles we have lost a lot of riders. Entries are down and with the winning times of 6 plus hours at Cuyama we would anticipate 8 hour finishing times with many overtime riders. I wont do that to the horses. Those of you who haven’ t been interested in politics better wake up and either join another organization or get the AERC to come to their senses. The idea of running repetitive “bonus loops” on great trails like Cuyama makes me sick.


  1. The weather. If all of the above were not a consideration we would be stressed to the max about the weather. It has been raining and it is going to be raining much of next week.


With all of the above taken into consideration the Nicholson family simply cannot afford to take the chance of putting on the Cuyama Ride. We do plan to continue with our Mountain and Southwest region rides at this time.



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


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 2020 Ride Season

(Subject to AERC & Landowner approval) 

We have been forced to move rides from our traditional dates in the PS region which has eliminated the Lost Padres ride.

Due to the elimination of Lost Padres we have turned Coso and Laurel Mt into 3 day events. 

Coso Junction ~ December 6-7-8, 2019

Death Valley Encounter ~ December 28-31, 2019

Laurel Mountain ~ January 31 ~ February 1-2, 2020

Annual Awards at MRER Convention ~ February 21-22, 2020

Eastern Mojave ~ March 12-13-14-15, 2020

 Cuyama Oaks ~ March 27-28-29, 2020

Cuyama Rain Date ~ April 3-4-5, 2020

Mt Carmel ~ April 26-27-28 Rest Day April 30-May 1-2, 2020

Lonesome Duck Distance Ride ~ June 2 – July 25, 2020

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

Strawberry Fields ~ July 31-August 2, 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 



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.