endurance horse

2012 Gold Medal: Laurie Birch and Scudd Run

 

Virgin and Outlaw Ride. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Rider and horse name:

Laurie Birch

&

Scudd Run

(Being a licensed pilot, I was delighted with my mare’s registered name. By definition, it’s a practice in which pilots fly low and fast to stay clear of weather, maintaining visual contact with the ground while avoiding physical contact with it… very apropos for her!)

Horse Barn name:

Taz

Breed:

Arabian

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles:

Rider – 10 years in endurance with 6010 miles

Horse – 5 years in endurance with 5410 miles

 

Death Valley Encounter. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year?

I enjoyed the Outlaw and the Virgin Pioneer for spectacular scenery with unbound territory.

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

The Paunsagaunt XP (a.k.a. Bryce Canyon), with its rocky terrain and elevated altitudes, made it a challenge but rewardingly manageable.

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

For me, it helped having things organized to make multiday ride preparations easy.

For my horse, it was how to manage calorie intake to keep up with the energy demand.

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)?

If I did this over again while managing a full time job, I would have “banked” more vacation to allow sufficient time to attend the rides.

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

Having the luxury of downloading the trail onto my GPS made navigating easy, with or without ribbons.

What are your horse’s best qualities?

I consider her safe and an easy keeper. Best of all, there is no “off” switch!

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

Little did I know how lucky those playing cards were that we had to pick up at specified locations on the trail in order to get credit. At the end of the ride, with your card being your raffle ticket, the prize, if you won…a genuine, one of a kind, “XP” branded wooden toilet seat!

Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

 

2012 Gold Medal: Carla Richardson and SS Kharady Khid+/

 

Mt. Carmel XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Rider and horse name:   Carla Richardson and SS Kharady Khid+/

Horse Barn name:  Khid

Breed:  Arabian

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles

5 years, 8770 miles


Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? 

Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

 

Mt Carmel XP, because I had some challenges to overcome and I got by with a little (lot!) of help from my friends. It was my first attempt to glue on my own boots, and I had several failures (lost boots!). Plus, I had made a mistake when unloading Khid in the dark when I arrived two days before the ride started. He ended up having a scraped hind leg, which I soaked in the creek for two days before the ride started, worried it would be hurting him. Luckily, he’s a tough horse and it didn’t bother him at all. (Whew!) So I was thrilled when we managed to finish all 5 days despite all my mishaps and missteps.

 

Outlaw & Virgin, because of my mistake with boots again! (I have to learn everything the hard way) I had neglected to put a spare Glove on my saddle and Khid lost a glue on boot on the very rocky trail, but I didn’t notice until he was already becoming a little ouchy, then I realized I had no spare for him and had to hand walk him to lunch. He was sound at the walk but off at the trot, so … a lameness pull and we didn’t get to ride the beautiful trails! This was one of my most favorite rides last year, it is such a gorgeous ride, so I am determined to be there again in 2013! I’m hoping it’s a 5 day ride in 2013.


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

 

Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

My horse is so willing and kind, I depend on him so much and he keeps me going. I’ve always known it’s my responsibility to take good care of him, because he’s counting on me. It really “came home” to me this year when I made mistakes, and I’m so very thankful it was just a temporary setback, but it still “cost” in terms of lost miles and not being able to finish rides. I’m very goal oriented, and I wanted to win the Gold XP medal again, and I am so thankful we were able to do it again, three years in a row!


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)?

 

 

Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

See above!

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

Go to as many XP rides as I can, because it keeps me happy and my horse loves the XP trails more than any others!


What are your horses best qualities?

Sweet nature, and tough physical and mental spirit. He’s a doer and a goer.


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

Not funny as much as heartwarming, to see so many friends that I’ve gotten to know over the past few years, when I pull into camp now I’m not alone, it’s like a family reunion at every XP ride. But now I notice when someone isn’t there, which can be hard! For funny coincidences, Khid and I reached 7,000 miles at the Eastern Mojave Scenic XP, and 8,000 miles at the Grand Canyon XP, and I hope we are going to reach 9,000 miles at Death Valley Encounter for New Years! (Khid and I have all our endurance miles together.)

2012 Gold Medal: Merina Mitchell and Dual-Es Grand Chance

Merina and Chance at the Bar H ride. Photo by Lynne Glazer.

 

Merina and Chance at the Lost Padres ride. Photo by Lynne Glazer.

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles – horse, seven years in endurance, 1,925 miles – rider, one year in endurance 1,115

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? Virgin Rim – most beautiful


Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why? – Bryce – most challenging… steep narrow trails, spectacular scenery

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? myself – I can do it!… my horse – she is a really good 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)? do more training on the ground with my horse to ensure safer leading on difficult trails

 

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? I bought a good, experienced endurance horse and had the good sense to listen to all those excellent experienced endurance riders and Vets who were kind enough to share their knowledge, homes, tack and riding clothes with me…

 

What are your horses best qualities? sure footed, brave and smart – Chance picks her way carefully on the steep downhills on the trail and leaps up slick rock like a goat… she never refuses on the trail… and puts all her energy into eating and drinking – she is a very lazy endurance horse…

Merina and Chance at the Virgin Rim. Photo by Steve Bradley.

 

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? met Laurie Birch who was kind enough to ride with me 600 miles this year and showed me how to ride endurance, keep myself and my horse safe and that there is no water too icky that you can’t pour it over your head…

Merina and Chance at the Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

 

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!

 

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.

2011 Gold Medal: Darla Wright and EM Darrha

Darla and Apollo at the Grand Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Rider and horse name: Darla Wright EM Darrha

Horse Barn name: Apollo

Breed: Arabian

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles : Rider = 12 years and 5895 miles, Horse =9 years 4880 miles

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? EMS 🙂

Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why? Bryce for some technical trail areas and Grand Canyon for the weather issues… 🙂 frozen water, frozen Renegades, malfunctioning furnace LOL!!

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? That age (his or mine!  is not a factor, we can do anything together, and he takes care of me as much (or more!) as I take care of him!

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)? If I had it to do over again… I would not have misssed Cuyama (I really like that ride!)… so I plan on making it there this year! Also, I reached a goal, so I hope to back off on Apollo some and start a new horse!

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? a 100% completion and ALL miles this year done on one horse!!! 🙂

What are your horses best qualities? He has a nice (smooth) trot, and is forward ALL the time 🙂 He takes care of me and I adore him for it!

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? omg! too many to list…. AMAZING ride year and was so happy to start it out at Death Valley and attain the ultimate honor for my best friend…. overall BC !  wow! still chokes me up! 🙂

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.

2011 Gold Medal: Kathy Neunzig and PAR Snickety+//

Rider and horse name –Kathy Neunzig and PAR Snickety +//

Horse barn name –SnickersBreed –Arabian

Horse and Rider years in endurance and # of miles –Horse:10 years,4475 miles Rider:20 yrs +/- ,6855 miles

XP ride most enjoyed ? Pony Express,of course!

Most challenging? Pony Express,of course!

Most important thing I learned –my horse can and will eat all types of feed and thrive;I amazed myself at the insane amount of miles I rode over those 8 weeks.

What would I do differently? Laugh more,not take things so seriously,and carry more batteries for the GPS

The best thing I did? Sign up for the XP,regardless of my apprehension

My horse’s best qualities –incredible work ethic and soundness

Funny or strange –the way all the horses on the Pony Express could smell camp from miles away,even though it was point-to-point

2011 Gold Medal: Dave Rabe and Red

 

The Duck looks on as Dave Rabe kisses his Ass!

Rider and horse name: Dave Rabe and Red the Mule

Horse Barn name: Red. Ass. My Ass.

Breed: Ass.

Ass & rider years in endurance & # of miles Dave: started in 1984 and around 53,000 miles. Red did 1175 in 2011 which was his first year of doing 50’s and up.

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

Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why? 2011 XP. It took a lot of planning and was quite an ordeal to pull it all together. It was challenging to bring a mule to a ride like this that had done only one 50 prior to the start of the long XP.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your ass this past year? I learned that he is very stubborn and hard headed. He has a real sweet disposition when you’re not riding him. I learned that he did a lot better by going every other day or every third day. Trying to ride him every day to start with took too much out of him. He was dead ass tired the first week.

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 brought White Cloud instead of Red, if I could have.

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? Give him days off in between riding. It also helped to ride Red with Max and his two ass’.

What are your ass’ best qualities? He has really big ears and a hard head. He was very conservative which was great. Once he got going down the trail he went great and took care of himself very well.

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? Red pulled my hamstring one day when I was attempting to trot him out and he decided it would be more fun to trot me out and drag me a long like a flag on a pole. He took off on a dead ass run and didn’t’ even trot. I went ass over teakettle and was left lying on the ground on my ass and left in the dust by my ass. My hamstring was very sore for the next two to three weeks. Lynn Rigney bandaged me up and that allowed me to keep riding.

I’d like to thank Dave and Annie for putting on another long XP ride, as well as my sponsors (EasyCare and Select).. Thanks also go to everybody else that chipped in and helped along the way. I want to thank Charlie Gaucci for giving me Cocomo Joe at the end of the ride. I had one of the best drivers on the ride – Dwight deserves credit for getting my horses and rig moved safely and without any mishaps. Also, thank you to Les and Jill Carr for letting me take Red on the ride and making it so challenging. I do love Les’s Ass!