2012 Gold Medal: Karen Chaton and Pro Bono D

Bryce XP Fall Colors. Photo by Darla Wright.

Rider and horse name: Karen Chaton and Pro Bono D


Horse Barn name: Bo, Bo-Bo

Breed: Arabian


Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles:

I have close to 33,000 miles and Bo reached 6,000 miles at his last XP ride (Bryce). I’ve been riding since 1994 and this is Bo’s 6th season.  Bo completed 1,055 miles on XP/SRR in 2012.

Karen and Bo at the Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.


Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year?

I enjoy all of the XP rides, especially the Utah rides. I think that my favorite ride this year was the Outlaw and Virgin ride even though it’s only 3 days. The terrain and scenery there is both challenging, technical, and incredibly inspiring. I really enjoyed the single-track trails on Thunder Mountain as well as the single-track up on Casto Bluff in the high country. The colors and terrain make it seem like you are riding through Disneyland and there is something to be said about riding a horse that you trust with your life on a trail like that.


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

I guess I answered that in the above answer. It stands to reason that the most enjoyable trails are sometimes also the most challenging, offering at the same time a test of a horse and riders ability to maneuver safely through it but also to be able to trust in one another enough to at the same time be able to enjoy the beauty and serenity.


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

I learned that Bo has exceeded my expectation for him in a lot of ways. I’m not sure if my standards were too high, or too low, though I suspect the former. It took Bo a lot longer to become a really solid endurance horse than some of my other horses have but once he got there I now know that he is a horse that I can trust with my life.

Karen and Bo on the Thunder Mountain trail. Photo by Steve Bradley.

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 try not to dwell on ‘what-if’s’, especially when everything did go very well for us. Everything worked out the way it did for a reason.


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

I think that one of the things that I have learned to be good at is judging which horse should or shouldn’t go on any certain day of a ride. While I prefer to alternate horses on some of the rides so they each get an equal break, there are times that it’s better to give one a longer break and ride the other one two or more days in a row. In doing that, I was able to keep both horses going strong and finish the year strong.


What are your horses best qualities?

Bo’s best quality is that he has a good sense of humor. I love that about him.


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

This was overall a really great year. I can’t remember anything happening that freaked me out involving either my horses, my rig, myself…or my friends. Now that is saying funny or strange. My friend Nannette was thrown like a lawn dart into the ground on the Arizona Trail at the Grand Canyon when we were marking trail prior to the ride, and that truly sucked because she was injured and could not ride any of the actual ride. Those kinds of things are probably the ones you remember over some of the others. I also had a bad thing happen at the Grand Canyon XP with Chief, who was stung by bees and strained something galloping to get away. That is what caused me to ride Bo on 4 out of the 5 days on that ride and is relevant simply because if that had not of happened, Bo would probably not have made Gold Medal. So you could add to Bo’s best qualities that he is able to step up when needed. On the 2011 XP, Chief was the horse that stepped up when the shoe (boot, ha ha) was on the other hoof. I love my horses, they take care of me and I do my best to take care of them. We are enjoying our adventures together.


I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that support and encourage me. I couldn’t do this without my wonderful husband, he is the greatest. My horses, of course, are also really special as are all of my friends and those that help support these wonderful rides that we are able to attend each season. The entire Nicholson family are the greatest and appreciated more than they know and have contributed so much to the sport of endurance riding. So again, thank you so much to all of the volunteers, vets, ride managers and contributors at endurance rides – we riders are so lucky to have you and believe me, you are appreciated! Also, lastly and most importantly thank you to my beautiful Bo for carrying me through with such enthusiasm and keeping me safe.


Here is a poem I wrote about Bo:


Mischievous Bay Horses

by Karen Chaton

Jan 2012

Pretty bay horses come in all shapes and sizes,

Shy and adventurous, full of surprises,

With a misshapen halo and

Mischievous grin,

Mine pulls out the stall mats and moves the feed bins,

Shakes every bucket and rattles each pail,

He carried me through history on the Pony Express trail,

And delighted me for a day (two, now) on the Tevis; for to finish is to win,

Now who was the one with the mischievous grin?

We traveled the countryside with nary a fail,

And never the thought “Oh @#$% I might have to bail”

Down the trail he dances, like in a ballet

Then snorkels his way through a lunchtime buffet,

He keeps me so busy, and yet all the while,

His eagerness brightens my world and makes me smile,

And what a treasure to ride a horse that isn’t a dodo,

That’s my loveable, mischievous bay horse, named Bobo


There is nothing better than seeing the world through a horses' ears!