2012 Gold Medal – Carey Brock and Belesema Khandy Khiss

Carey and Khandy at Death Valley Encounter. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Rider and horse name:   Carey Brock and Belesema Khandy Khiss

Horse Barn name:   Khandy

Breed:   Arabian

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles

This was our first year together as a team. We did four days of the 2011 Grand Canyon ride. That was the first time I realized just how much potential Khandy had. We started the 2012 ride season at the Death Valley Warmup ride and just kept going from there.

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year?

My current all-time favorite ride in the world is the Grand Canyon ride. We did all five days of the ride in 2012. That was our first five day accomplishment ever. The terrain is lovely. Riding through the canyons and meadows is exquisite. Coming around the turn to see the Grand Canyon in front of you is breath taking.

Carey and Khandy at the Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why?

We found the Mt. Carmel ride to be pretty tough in 2012 and we only did three days of the ride. The reason we found it to be difficult is that I did not have very good saddle fit for Khandy. She lost some weight during the ride and so “not very good” saddle fit became terrible saddle fit. That was my fault. Khandy would have done the last two days had I asked her. But she earned a better life than that.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year?

Khandy and I struggled with each other for more than a year. I finally realized that tough females of any species have many wonderful qualities. A push-over personality just isn’t one of them. I finally got smart enough to quit fighting with Khandy and start working with her as a teammate. We are a couple of really tough chicks. Now we work well together and we are both happy.

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 would have ordered Khandy’s custom fit saddle much earlier. I also have learned that in the first couple of days, I need to start Khandy out late – like 20 minutes late. I do not want to run top ten even though Khandy could do it. I can start late and we still don’t finish last. But Khandy is pretty relaxed and happy to “chase down” the herd. Keeping Khandy relaxed is important.

What do you think was the best thing that you did do?

The best thing we did is start Khandy’s career at the XP rides. The atmosphere is quiet and many folks there are doing multi-days. So, they are saving their horses. I only want to ride multi-day rides and I only want to bring one horse. Starting Khandy at the XP rides and riding her multi-days right from the start clearly established in her mind what her job was. However, I also had nearly 1,000 conditioning miles on her prior to her first ride to get her ready. Last, I have a great farrier. Your horse needs feet to get down the trail.

What are your horse’s best qualities?

Khandy has that fluid, get-down-the-trail trot. She can trot all day at 8 MPH. She can easily trot at 10 and 12 MPH for long periods. She also has a glorious walk. Khandy looks down the trail and never looks back. Once you point her down the trail, you’d better be ready to ride.

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year?

Dave Nicholson looked at Khandy and I on our first ride. He said to me, “You just need to keep riding her.” That’s what I did. The rest is history. Khandy earned 1600 total endurance in the first 12 months of her endurance career!!

Carey and Khandy on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Photo by Steve Bradley.