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OUR NEXT RIDE:

Chicken Creek XP

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The Summer XP at Chicken Creek

July 19-20-21, 2024

Basic ride information:  The Forest Service has a hard and fast rule about not allowing an event before June 1st.  This year we were advised the high country was expected to be impassible in early June.  Because of other commitments and the AERC schedule the only date we could make work for 2024 is on the third weekend in July.  This will be the third summer XP ride at Chicken Creek. Pictures of the camp and the surround area speak for themselves. There is nowhere on earth that is more beautiful than the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.  There is no season that is not breathtaking.  In 2023 the summer ride was expanded to three days.  The camp is in a beautiful meadow off a paved forest road, about 8 miles north of Mancos Colorado. Mancos is between Durango and Cortez on Hwy 160 in the Four Corners area. This is a place you will want to return to for years to come.  We are a short drive from the famous cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde as well as the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway.   Cell service is good in camp for ATT and Verizon as well as those providers who use the same cell towers.  GPX files will be sent a few days before the ride as soon as we determine all the trails are open.

Certified weed free hay is required on all public lands. Compressed bales of weed free hay and pellets are available at most farm stores like Intermountain Farmers, Big R and Tractor Supply. We will try to keep the water buckets filled but we have to haul water from Mancos and its very expensive. PLEASE DON’T WASTE IT.  There are many creeks on the course so there will be no buckets out on the trail. Horses that won’t drink from natural sources are a danger to themselves and their riders.  This is a good place to educate those equine misfits, as there is nothing but natural water out on the trail.

Meals: There will be no dinners served but its only a short drive to Mancos for those who don’t want to cook. Annie will continue doing the XP free lunches featuring her world famous Egg Salad Sandwiches for riders and their crews.

Trail Information: The trails are mostly a mix of single track horse and hiking trails combined with some narrow 50″ Forest Service trails. There are some short sections of Forest Service roads.  The trails wind their way through tree lined meadows with frequent access to natural water sources.  In 2023 there were still snow banks in the high country on this weekend. 

Directions: Starting at the only stop light in Mancos Colorado on US Hwy 160, go north approximately a quarter mile on CO184 to County Road 42.  The turn off is to the right and there are signs directing you toward Jackson Lake and Mancos State Park.  Follow that road for 8 miles and you will come to the third cattle guard. There are corrals and a loading chute on your left. Go over the cattle guard and turn left on the road with the XP camp sign. The camp is about a quarter mile off the main forest road.  There is a short cut if coming from the north or northwest.  If coming from Monticello on US 491 turn left at the Conoco Station and Bubba’s Café onto Hwy 184.  This junction is 11 miles north of Cortez.  After going about 8 miles on CO 184 you will turn left towards Delores and go about a quarter mile and turn right to continue on CO 184.  There are mile markers and when you come into the outskirts of Mancos the turn off to Jackson Lake and Mancos State Park will be on the left just past milepost 25. This route saves the dealing with the traffic in Cortez.

Health Certificates: Health certificates (CVI) are required for horses coming into Colorado from other states. They are not required for horses coming from within the state. The requirements for health papers vary depending on conditions in other states. Your local veterinarian will be able to counsel you on current requirements. The basecamp address that you can use for health certificates:  Chicken Creek Endurance Ride, Doc Lowell Flat, Forest Road 416, Mancos, CO 81328.

Entry Fees

The following is our basic fee structure for 2024:

LD and Endurance Distances are $135.00 / PayPal $140.50

Juniors, Intro riders and XP club riders are $100 / PayPal $104.00

Riders who are not current members of AERC riding an AERC LD or Endurance ride pay an additional $20.00 non-member fee per day. $155.00 / PayPal $161.20

Riders who enter within 4 days of a ride add $10.00 post entry fee. 

All we require to be registered for the ride is a prepayment for one day of riding.  Even if you are planning on riding more days you only need to prepay for one day.  There will be no post entry fee for riders that have made that first day’s payment.  Why do we do this after over fifty years of just trusting people?  It’s because we are getting more and more riders/people who seem to enter a ride and then never show up.  This problem has now got to the place it has been almost 50% no shows at some rides.  This often means we have to find a way to bring a third vehicle and order more food and awards than we need.  I wish we could just go back to the simplicity of former years but we all live in a new world that I really don’t like.

REFUND POLICY

Cancellation Refunds:  Ride entry withdrawal requests received via email on/before 1800 on the 7th day prior to the first day of the ride will receive a full refund. There will be an administrative fee for refunds during the week prior to the ride. No refund for withdrawals within 48 hours prior to the start of the ride, or for no shows. 

AERC has raised their non member fee to $20.00 per day.  AERC non members are charged a day member fee of $20.00 to participate in the AERC sanctioned ride.  This does not apply to the intro/fun/xp club rides.

Mail your checks to Ann Nicholson at 19898 Road V, Lewis, CO 81327 or you can use PayPal and send to entry@xprides.com. When you make the payment let us know by return email that you are coming and which days you are planning on riding.

 

Ann Nicholson, 907 821 1819

Dave Nicholson  970 880 0150

 

 

2024 XP Calendar

February 17-18, 2024  Picket Post XP

West of Superior, AZ

 

March 15-16-17, 2024 Western Mojave

Laurel Mtn/Inyokern, CA

 

March 29-30-31, 2024   Cuyama XP Ride

Cottonwood Canyon, New Cuyama, CA

 

April 19-20-21, 2024      Caballo Sin Nombre XP

Between Navajo Dam and Aztec, New Mexico

 

May 2-3-4-5, 2024  Mt Carmel XP

Mt Carmel Junction, Utah

 

May 30-31, June 1, 2024  VIRGIN OUTLAW XP

Bryce Canyon, UT

 

June 28-29-30  Strawberry Fields XP

East of Heber, Utah

 

July 19-20-21  Chicken Creek XP

Mancos, Colorado 

 

August 29-30-31 September 1, 2024  Grand Canyon XP

North Rim Grand Canyon, Arizona

 

September 27-28-29, 2024  Colorado Fall Colors XP

Mancos, Colorado

 

November 7-8-9, 2024  Sesenta Años

John Parke’s Ride

Santa Barbara, California

If you are experiencing trouble entering a ride you can always send an email to entry@xprides.com with the information on the entry form.

Very Tentative Dates for 2025

We are working on a new venue at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings, Nevada. The Pioneer Saloon does not have sufficient parking for and event but I am planning on doing some control checks there and camping close enough to enable riders to go there for meals.  Lots to do working with a new government agency.

We are also working on returning to the Mojave Preserve at Cima Road to resurrect that ride after the wildfire that had a devastating effect on Cima Dome. 

Both of the above venues will require approval from the appropriate public land managers.  I have contacted the land managers and both venues look promising for getting approvals.  Updates will be posted here.

Jan 3-4-5. Death Valley Encounter, Trona CA
Feb 7-8-9  Mojave Preserve XP. Mountain Pass, CA
Mar 14-15-16  Laurel Mtn XP  Inyokern CA
Mar 29-29-30  Cuyama XP New Cuyama CA
April 4-5-6 Cuyama Rain Date
April 18-19-20 Caballo Sin Nombre XP.  Navajo Dam, NM
May 8-9-10-11 Mt Carmel XP   Mt Carmel UT
June 27-28-29 Strawberry XP. Heber City UT
July 18-19-20 Chicken Creek XP,  Mancos, CO
Aug 28-29-30-31 Grand Canyon XP,  North Rim, AZ
Sept 19-20-21 Colorado Fall Color XP,  Mancos, CO
Nov 7-8-9 Sesenta Años, Santa Barbara, CA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

2011 Gold Medal: Dave Rabe and Midnight Melody Marie


Rider and horse name: Dave Rabe and Midnight Melody Marie

Horse Barn name: Emmy

Breed: Anglo Arab mare

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles Dave: started in 1984 and around 53,000 miles. Emmy has 3600 miles and ten years in endurance.

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.

Death Valley Encounter 2011. Photo by Steve Bradley.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? I learned that I can make Emmy go slow, even though she doesn’t like it. I learned I can get along with a mare.

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’d probably put shoes on my horses. (because Chris Herron said so). Just kidding.

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? Slow Emmy down.

What are your horses best qualities? She has good recoveries and has the ability to go fast and run up front if I were to let her. I’m happy that I have her, she is a sweet mare.

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? I didn’t bring a raincoat with me on the first day of the XP and had to borrow one from Dave Chaton, which saved the day. That was probably the worst thing that happened. I almost drowned out there!  It was great that Chris Herron was a little weenie that day and quit at lunch, so I finished riding using his raincoat that he had also borrowed from Dave Chaton!

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 Claire Toomey for giving me such a great mare!

2011 Gold Medal: Lynn Rigney and Predictable

 

Lynn and Mio in Nebraska. Photo by Paschal Karl (Karl Creations).

Rider and horse name: Lynn M. Rigney – Predictable — AKA – Mio

Horse Barn name: Mio

Breed: Arabian

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles – Mio 4 years and I have been riding endurance off and on since the 70’s. Most concentrated time has been in the last 4 years – total number of miles is 2450 for rider (recorded with AERC) and 1580 for the Mio… I rode endurance when I was much younger – in my teens before AERC was keeping computerized records, riding in Northern California.

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? Pony Express of course!

 

Lynn and Mio at Eastern Mojave. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why? Pony Express of course! Logistics of getting people to crew (and getting them in and out of different locations), getting the horses ready, getting my trailer ready, and leaving my husband for 9 weeks! Doing a ride cross country has been on my bucket list since I was a kid, well before bucket lists were even thought of! Just having all the supplies, my horses being healthy, and having everybody trained on all the little nuances of my trailer, how I would like things done, and finding our way across country was a GREAT challenge!

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? That being with my horse on the road was a special experience. Mio and I developed a deeper bond and respect for each other (he is still learning about being respectful and patient!). This travel across the country also gave me the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people that will be in my life until the day I leave this earth.

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 Dave decides to do this again (maybe a 2 or 3 week version) – Count me in!

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? Ride as many miles as I could on the Pony Express!

What are your horses best qualities? His strong spirit!

Did anything funny or strange happen on any of the rides this year? Several people on the PX ride had a water fight with Tom and Betty’s kids. It was a great break from the day to day events. The laughter of a child changes everything!

2011 Gold Medal: Terri Tinkham & Oliver Twist

Rider and horse name: Terri Tinkham & Oliver Twist

Horse Barn name: “Stubborn Damn Pony”Breed: Tennessee Walker/Standardbred cross.

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles Bought him in the Fall of 2004 and at the end of 2011 we had 8200 miles together.

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year? I liked Eastern Mojave the best. It is scenic and varied and the weather was agreeable.

Which ride did you find the most challenging, and why? The big long 2011 XP this Summer. Even though I only rode 700 miles of it, the hard roads with the mind numbingly boring one mile square grids, the biting flies and mosquitoes and the incredibly bad weather in the midwest took a huge toll on my morale. Oliver was leg weary and had a sore back so we took 12 weeks off once we got home. Unfortunately because of this I had to miss one of my favorite rides: Bryce Canyon.

What do you feel is the most important thing you learned about yourself and your horse this past year? That I would never ever do anything like that long XP again.

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 knew then what I know now, I would have skipped riding in the midwest entirely and would have started in Western Nebraska once the terrain made agriculture impractical and tornado threats became non-existent. By the time there was interesting scenery and decent footing, I was burned out.

What do you think was the best thing that you did do? Gave my horse a well-deserved three months off once we got back.

What are your horses best qualities? Stamina and safety. I can ride him in a halter and feel completely and totally safe.

2011 Gold Medal: Karen Fredrickson and MRR Pyro

Karen and Murphy at the Bryce Canyon XP. Photo by Steve Bradley.

Rider and horse name: Karen Fredrickson & MRR Pyro

Horse Barn name: Murphy ( AKA: Himself)

Breed: Arabian

Horse & rider years in endurance & # of miles

I rode my first endurance ride in 1992 and have 15, 060 miles. 2010 was Murphy’s 10 th year in endurance

Which XP ride did you enjoy the most this year?

XP 2011

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

XP 2011. The lenght is a test of horses, horsemanship, and rider/crew relationship.

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

Dave always said you need to calm down and work with the horses you have. He is right. Things didn’t go as planned, but in the end they went better.

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)?

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

I had my tack and feed worked out along with leg care long before the long ride.

What are your horses best qualities?

Murphy is sound, honest and strong. He always gives me what I ask for. He is an amazing horse.

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

On a snowy might at Grand Canyon, Murphy looked up at the light in the overhead and called to me. He kept it up until I got up and put him in the trailer. I’ve had the dogs asked to come in on a cold night but that was the first time my horse asked to come in.

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!