Karen Chaton

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!

 

2011 Gold Medal: Karen Chaton and Granite Chief+/

XP 2011 Day 40 Finish in Virginia City. Photo by Nannette Young.

Rider and horse name: Karen Chaton and Granite Chief

Horse Barn name: Chief or Cheefy

Breed: Arab

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles: Chief finished 2011 with 12,000 miles, and I had just over 30,000. Ten years for Chief, sixteen or seventeen for me.  Chief completed more miles on the long XP this summer than any other horse.

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? The 40 day 2011 XP.

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.  I love the feeling of riding through history on a historical trail like the Pony Express and Oregon/California trail.  We are so lucky to be able to do that; it will be a sad day when we lose trail access to these wonderful trails that are so much a part of us.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? Chief proved that he was the toughest horse I’ve ever had on the XP this summer. He was awesome, and I was so proud that he and Bo were awarded the best performance award after completing all 40 days of the AERC sanctioned rides. We had so many great adventures this year on all of the XP rides and I learned to really appreciate how fortunate I am to have been able to do this.  I learned that I can set big goals and achieve them, but that it takes a lot of work, effort and dedication….plus a bit of luck and having a great support system.

Karen and Chief. Death Valley Encounter 2011. 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)? 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, and trying to avoid the multitude of ongoing accidents waiting to happen in camp and on the trail.

What are your horses best qualities? Chief has always been a tough little horse with lots of go, attitude, and an incredible ability to take care of himself as well as me. I couldn’t ask for more in an endurance horse. I love Chief’s personality. He is a quiet horse, very easy to handle and has a lot of different facial expressions that tell me what he is thinking or feeling at that moment.

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? Fortunately, it was a pretty dull year as far as accidents or mishaps went. Most everything went very well for us especially where the horse’s were concerned – they both had a totally ‘on’ year and amazed me with what they were able to accomplish. The worst thing to happen all year was when I blew three tires and two rims out getting to the Grand Canyon ride in October.

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!

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!