2011 Gold Medal: Karen Chaton and Pro Bono D

Death Valley Encounter 2011. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Rider and horse name: Karen Chaton and Pro Bono D

Horse Barn name: Bo, Bo-bo or Bo-NO!

Breed: Arab

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles: Bo finished 2011 with around 4600 miles, and I had just over 30,000. Five years for Bo, sixteen or seventeen for me.

Bo ended up with 1,990 miles total on XP rides in 2011, which is the most ever done by a single horse.

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? The 2011 XP.

I love all of the XP rides though, so it isn’t fair to have to pick only one.  I really enjoyed being able to complete all 5 days of the Grand Canyon XP this October on Bo – it was his first five day ride completion and he came through it without a single issue and never gave me anything to worry about.  I think that ride will always be remembered as one of my more favorite rides on Bo, next to the long XP ride.  Riding in the snow was a blast, and the scenery was just incredible with the white, green, blue (when the sky came out) and brilliant red, gold and orange fall colors.  Breathtaking!

I also thoroughly enjoyed the 3 day Outlaw and Virgin ride, because it was on a lot of new trail that was also mind blowingly beautiful.  It was like riding in Disneyland.  I rode Bo on all 3 days of that ride.  He was such a trooper when I took him up that slippery snotty Blue Fly trail in the mud.

Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why? The 2011 XP, riding forty days on two horses is a pretty big challenge. It’s hard to compare a 2040 mile cross-country ride with anything else, it kind of is in a class by itself.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? I learned that Bo is a lot tougher than he was before this summer. He sure turned out to be a nice, reliable, solid endurance horse.

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)? It’s hard to second guess when the year turned out to be pretty spectacular. I asked a lot out of my horses, and they came through more than 100%. I couldn’t ask for more and am grateful that we were able to accomplish what we did.

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? Bring two well prepared horses on the long XP, and ride them conservatively. I think ultimately, what worked was riding my own ride.  I put a lot of effort into preparing and planning for the ride.  I wanted to see if I could do better this time.  In 2001 I rode 1925 miles on two horses on the Pony Express trail and my goal was to better that.

What are your horses best qualities? Bo loves to go down the trail and does a great job taking care of himself. He’s got a lot of enthusiasm for what he does and makes riding fun.

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? Oh my, where do I start? I think probably the most unnerving thing that happened with Bo was after several days of the XP. I was tacking up in the morning, tired from the first several days of riding through severe weather and going on little sleep. I goofed up and got Bo’s tack all hooked up but failed to buckle the girth. Well, the saddle fell off under him while still being attached to his breast collar. He jumped and hopped about for a few seconds, then realized that wasn’t helping so froze and wouldn’t move. After that moment he never expended any ounce of energy for anything that wasn’t absolutely required. And I learned to be much more careful about little details like buckling girths FIRST!

I want to thank my husband for being the best crew a gal could ask for, plus the most supportive husband in the world. I also want to thank everyone that helps with these rides because without each and every one of them, we wouldn’t have these rides. I am always amazed and impressed at how The Duck does such an excellent job of finding new trails and putting it all together to make the rides turn out really great. Thanks to all that helps to keep these rides going. You are much appreciated. I also really appreciate the support of my sponsors and their contributions towards my success – THANK YOU ALL!