2011 Gold Medal: Carla Richardson and SS Kharady Khid +/

Carla and Khid at the 2011 Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Rider and horse name: Carla Richardson and SS Kharady Khid +/Horse Barn name: Khid, and at times, Goober Pea, or Roo (as in Tigger and Roo)Breed: Arabian purebred

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles 4 years, 6,635 miles at the end of the 2011 ride year. (Currently 6,835 miles after Death Valley 2011)

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? Grand Canyon, as always, because of the beauty, because it’s not a hot (temperature) ride, I love the crisp cold mornings and the gold aspen leaves, the occasional snow on the ground… although this year the snow was more than “occasional.” (and that’s A-OK with me!)

Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why? A TIE, between Death Valley, because of the climbs, the dry climate and no grass, but it is also one of my favorites because of the vast space and beauty of the views. And the other, Outlaw & Virgin, which would not have been hard except for the rain that made for muddy slick trails. It was so beautiful and the challenge was well worth it, though. It proved to me that I could really trust my horse on a scary trail.

Carla and Khid at the 2011 Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? Trailering — Always be sure to stop every 4 hours when I trailer him, Khid arrives in camp better when I make frequent stops on the way when we have to trailer for all day. He doesn’t always drink, but he does get to get out and walk around, get his head down and graze a little when I can find grass for him. He’s so great about unloading and loading back up, no problems on the road. As always, I am the weak link, not my horse – he is strong and true. I wish I wasn’t 60 years old, it would have been wonderful to have discovered this sport when I was 25 instead of 55, but I am so lucky to have Khid. He is the perfect horse for me.

Is there anything you did this year that you would do differently next year? (or, if you had a chance to do this last year over again)? I can’t think of anything that I would do differently, Khid had a wonderful year and stayed in shape all year. The vets and other riders always complimented him on his condition and his attitude.

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? To just keep going. I was not able to go to the 2011 XP ride, which was agonizing to me. I read the facebook posts from Karen Chaton and Tom Noll, which kept me vicariously involved. I had wanted to go, but there was no way for me to leave home for two (or more) months, or get that much time off work. So, instead, I went to the “other” XP rides — Death Valley, Eastern Mojave, Mt. Carmel, Bryce, Outlaw and Virgin, and Grand Canyon. Almost half of my rides this year were XP rides. There is simply NO comparison of other endurance rides and the XP rides, they are so well run and so beautiful. Khid reached 5,000 miles at Mt Carmel XP (he reached 3000 miles at Mt Carmel in 2010!) and he reached 6,000 miles right before Grand Canyon XP, and now he’s very close to 7,000 miles. I am anticipating reaching that 7,000 milestone at Eastern Mojave Scenic in February 2012. I am also very proud that he achieved his AHA Legion of Supreme Honor this year. Going to the XP rides made all of this possible.

What are your horses best qualities? He is incredibly sweet, and is so smart, so resilient, and tough (understatement!). He loves going down the trail and I love being with him. He is a great trail horse that has a 5 mph walk, which saves my knees! He has wonderful legs and hooves that just keep going and going – he’s my energizer bunny horse. He has been the ultimate multi-day horse, having completed a very tough 3 day, two 4 day rides and two 5 day rides in this year’s XP rides, not to mention previous years multi-day rides.

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? I can’t think of anything especially funny or strange, I am pretty boring. I guess that could be a good thing. I am so thankful for all the friends I have met by going to the various XP rides, and seeing everyone again is a huge motivation for me to keep going, to keep getting in my truck and heading down the road, just so I can get to the next XP ride camp. Khid definitely knows when he’s in ride camp, he settles right in, happy to be there, just as I am.

“Thank you” will never be enough, for this joy: to Karen Chaton, who works so hard in keeping the records and the write-ups of all the riders, and to Ann and Dave Nicholson and the rest of the Duck Gang, for keeping all these incredible historic trails open for us.