Friday, September 8, 2017

6000 Miles of Red-tude

Red - tude? In case you aren't familiar with it, it's that go getter attitude that seems to belong to those dang redhead horses. Thunder is a pumped up, get outta my way and let's go kinda guy. I can grumble but he just finished out his AERC 6000 miles so I couldn't be more proud. The crooked legged beast just gets the job done!

We got off to  a slow start this year but after my wisdom tooth misery we made it to Top of The World and rode all 3 days. Photo by David Honan.
It wasn't my intention to do all 3, I planned to do 1 and 3 and trail ride with my BFF Colleen Martin. But Mike Cobbley said, "You have to ride day 2. It's the best because we ride up over the Continental Divide and it's really pretty." So OK I'll do days and two and trail ride on 3. Well the red beast was so rotten the last few miles in, trying to dump me, spooking and tossing that big white nose in the air saying "nanner nanner", that I told him he just bought a ticket to day 3! Made him happy because he was a bigger jerk the third day than he was the first! HA! Typical Thunder.

He finished Top just ten miles short of 6000, so close! Photo by David Honan

The next ride coming up was Old Selam and my daughter, Andi, decided she wanted to finish up her 5000. I gave her the choice of riding Blue or taking Rio on his first ride. She chose the big spotted beast vs the little scrawny grey. They did just fine although the first couple miles was a bit intense. It got really hot but everyone just kept a trucking up and down the hills. The completion of 50 miles at Old Selam got Andi her 5000 and Rio's first 50. And Thunder finished that 6000 and started the next 1000 miles because he isn't done playin yet! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

And So It Begins ..... Again

It has been 140 years since the war with the Nez Perce, and here I am - on land that was first inhabited by the Nez Perce. Gorgeous valleys and vast prairies lay before me and the snow capped Wallowas are watching over it all.

This was the 53rd year for the Chief Joseph ride, sponsored by the Appaloosa Horse Club, and yes you must ride a registered Appaloosa on the ride as it's all about the history of the Nez Perce and the horses. This year the ride reset to the 5th cycle and started once again at Joseph, OR. Each year riders complete approximately a 100 mile segment of the historic route of what is often referred to as the greatest retreat, until they reach the end once again at the Bear Paw Battlefield. All because the whites found gold and wanted to run the Nez Perce onto the reservation lands. Joseph was just one Nez Perce leader, and he didn't want war nor did the people want to be on the reservation, it was decided by council to escape first to Idaho, and later to reach Sitting Bull and be safe in Canada. There is far too much history to list here, many books are available as well as information online. Check it out for the full story. 

My BFF, Colleen Martin, and I arrived early enough Saturday, July 15, to unload Rio near Joseph, OR., and walk into town, meander through a few shops, and take pictures of some great statuary and murals around town. Then Molly got to play in the creek and cool down before we headed into assembly camp. Colleen was driving for my friend Dennis Schultz, so I could ride this year. I'd promised Dennis last year I'd find him a driver so I could ride instead of drive. Thanks Colleen for that opportunity. Admittedly this is not my style of riding, too much hurry and wait in this huge group, but I am glad that I went and rode it like I have always wanted to do. 

Sunday morning Rio got a quick ride before I took my truck and trailer ahead to destination camp. Then he got another ride that afternoon because my normally calm and quiet horse was no longer calm and quiet. BIG camp, nearly 200 horses and he was just a bit excited. Monday morning wasn't much different as over 165 riders set out onto the prairies heading North. 

During the weeks trails we traveled much of the Nez Perce hunting range and the lands they enjoyed. Some trails are not accessible. Not just because of land owners but because along the trail, there is simply no place to camp well over 100 large trailers and such. To me this is the biggest limiting factor. For example previous years of this leg ended near Dug Bar, down in Hells Canyon along the Snake River, but the road would rip the bottom out of many of the trailers providing they could even make the corners. In the early days of this ride most vehicles went to destination camp. Riders camped all week, tossing their belongings in the club Uhaul daily so it would arrive in camp each night. The few trucks and trailers were of modest size not today's 30 foot or longer LQ trailers. Each day camp, the entire kitchen, dance floor/stage, all the water, potties, etc.,  is packed up and moved to a new site. Driving on this trek is even an interesting experience, just ask one of those lucky folks who made the wrong turn and took the side trip to Imnaha. :) 

The second days route took us through Zumwalt Prairie, where over 300,000 acres of grasslands are home for elk and deer, all of what was once Nez Perce hunting grounds.  I'd guess we saw between 250- 300 elk. There are so many elk in this area that several special hunts are needed to thin the numbers for herd survival or many would starve. All through here are several little draws with a creek and Pine trees. Old homestead remains are scattered across the lands along with the occasional farm implements. 

There were numerous views of the Hells Canyon, Seven Devils mountains, the Eagle Caps and still the Wallowas. The route went up and down small ravines and traversed across very rocky ground as the trail headed towards the Grande Ronde through more trees. 

When we arrived at camp along the rim of the Hells Canyon there was a sizable fire burning. We saw a few planes dump retardant and some choppers with water buckets miles in the distance.  Talk about dinner with a few, lawn chairs lined the rim as riders soaked up the canyon views. 

The last day we wound around trees and draws as we left the canyon and ventured on to destination. It was an awesome week of new friends, old friends, fantastic food, good music, and many really nice Appaloosa horses. Saturday morning we all gathered for one last breakfast, we thanked the many crew members that make this adventure possible, said all our "see ya next year!" goodbyes and loaded up. Next year - Tolo Lake. See you there.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Snow days 2017

Another day of snow and drinking too much coffee. 

A day to be grateful for all the fun I had in 2016. Thunder and I had a great year, AERC 5000 mile horse, AERC Pioneer Standings, lots of PNER awards coming our way including the coveted Sandybaar Award for ten consecutive completions. Thunder is a nut but he is my nut so I have to ride him! Some days it's hard to be thankful for him but he is an incredible horse. 

I had a great time riding the others too, getting Peanut going under saddle was my summer challenge. A day to look forward to the many more "spotted" miles to come. 

Molly and I will go play in the snow later.

A day to plan and day dream of adventures that lay ahead. I have few things planned but my big adventure is the Chief Joe with my Rio. I'm really looking forward to fulfilling the dream that has been on my list for many years. And maybe, just maybe, I might even make it to the beach this summer. Really hoping for that one too. 

Sprinkled in with all of that will be endurance and trail rides and playing with horses. Happy New Year!! C'mon spring!! 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A riding I will go.........

Summer came and went. I rode here and there and every where. I neglected my blog as I played with horses all through the fall and into the snowy weather. So now, since it's 26 degrees and dropping frozen rain drops on top of yesterday's snow, perhaps I'll get a bit creative.

Somewhere during summer my AERC patch for riding 26,000 miles on rides arrived in the mail. That doesn't include fun rides, trail rides, conditioning or goofing off rides. Just sanctioned AERC endurance rides. 

I started this crazy activity in 1977 on my pony horse from the track, Sunny Spots R. At our first ride a vteran rider told me that Sunny would never make it because he was too big. Yes he was 16.2 and weighed 1250 pounds and I retired him from endurance years after that with 4,410 AERC miles and many awards. This photo was taken by Gene Peterson at the very first Sun River 100 where we placed 4th on our first 100 and rode with Nancy Cox on Rakar. And yes that is a bit of snow on the ground. 

Endurance riding has led me to many places and taken me on some fantastic adventures. In 1979 Lew Hollander hosted a 150 mile ride, and several of us said "Why not?" Took us around 27 hours and as we were heading for camp the horses trotted faster and faster. Someone hit a canter, then someone had a gallop and before we knew it the race was on! People couldn't believe we'd race in after 150 continuous miles but there we were, and the fever was contagious as we ran for home. The winner, Hanne Hollander, and 2nd place, Dodie Eason, were already finished so we placed third, Gene Carpenter was 4th and Arlene Morris took 5th. One more rider, Arthel Westlake, behind us crossed the line about 20 minutes later. We made history on the first ever 150 mile ride in AERC! 

And then, just in case doing a first continuous 150 mile ride wasn't enough, I turned around and did it again a few years later. This time on "Speedy" aka Moka's Pat-A-Dott. And we did it in just under 24 hours. :) He was also the horse I finished Race of Champions with after two failed attempts with Sunny. Speedy was an incredible mount, with unbelievable stamina and epitomized the word tough with 23 one-day 100 mile completions and his 150 miler for a total of 5515 AERC miles. 

A couple years later "multi-day" rides were introduced. This is from the Lost Wagon Train Ride, Vale to GI Ranch and on into Alfalfa, 6 days and 310 miles. Now that was an adventure through rocks, ruts, past pioneer graves, across rivers and over mountains! Absolutely amazing! A total of 13 horse/rider teams did the whole thing! 

I was looking for a picture of old Tonka and he is here in the group shot, second from left. Yes he was 14.2 standing next to 16.2! But he was one tough guy and had also been my track pony horse. He is a story all on his own but he had 1895 AERC miles and was sound till the day he died at 37. Sunny on the left with 4410, Speedy on the right with 5515, and Chollima, Al's Arab, had 3105 AERC miles. That's a lot of miles in one photo as these 4 horses represent 14, 925 miles. Doesn't count Tonka or Chollima's Ride & Tie miles either - that again is another story. 

The good Lord blessed me with more great horses than I have good sense. Here is Zapped+/ on his 100th completion in 2003, 6,480 AERC miles, 19 one-day 100's and two complete multi-days. An awesome horse that was a bucker, Al got him going and I stole him. We became one of AERC's first Decade Teams! He was tough to ride but I was younger then so it was OK. 

Cold Springs XP, another multi day adventure in 2004 with Rushcreek Faroan, a granddaughter of Rushcreek Mark. An amazing mare that I hated to sell but life predicted I must. She completed 1,085 miles and on our second XP she was the 5 day winner and BC horse! 

And then this red beast has become my signature horse in these later years. Z Summer Thunder, from my Rushcreek Hollie. He dang near killed me once and my friends searched for him for six days in the Owyhees. Regina Rose found him and brought him home and a few months later I was riding the bonehead again. We've completed over 100 rides and 5,680 AERC miles. We haven't competed on the 100 milers so much (hey I'm not as young as I once was) but we have done a lot of multi-day rides. Plus he is my second Decade Horse and we've won so much stuff it's mind boggling. 

This is my favorite picture of Z Blue Lightening. He looks so much like Zap it's uncanny, even has that little twist to his nose, ♥. I bred and raised Blue from Rushcreek Carrye, and he has always been shoved to the back by his demanding relative, Thunder. It seemed like every time I'd plan to take Blue to a ride Thunder had scuffed him up, kicked him, bit him or something, and then Thunder would get to go to the ride. Many of my friends have ridden Blue on rides, he's my "dude" horse. Lazy as can be on a training ride but full of himself at an endurance ride, a little schizo. Even at that he has managed to travel 1,830 AERC miles. Maybe in 3 years he'll be a Decade Horse too! 

Some other fine horses have been sprinkled throughout my riding escapades. I even rode Les Carr's famous Tulip on a ride! Endurance has allowed me to ride in so many places I wouldn't have other wise, it has given me sensational adventures, and has also introduced me to many friends. AERC says I've ridden 338 sanctioned rides since 1985, that doesn't include all my pre-1985 rides as I already had 6,190 miles when AERC began to track with computer data. With the last few years the spotted horses have returned to my life and with them came some new goals, like the Chief Joseph ride. 

Ariding I have gone - and ariding I will continue to go! See you some where on the trail! 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bear Paw Battlefield Part 3 of the Chief Joseph Ride

The final portion of the 1,300+ mile journey would end at the Bear Paw Battlefield, 40 miles from freedom and the Canadian border. Volumes have been written regarding the Nez Perce, the battle and I won't attempt that here. Just google it and be amazed at all the people endured prior to Joseph's immortal words -
"Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before I have in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Tu-hul-hul-sote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say yes or no. He who led the young men [Ollokot] is dead. It is cold and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food; no one knows where they are – perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs. I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever."

As riders neared camp on the last day of the ride this year, they entered the Bear Paw Battlefield area and circled the flag and the monument. It was a time of sorrow. A time of reverence for all who had suffered and died in this very spot. 
April Herrin captured the moment here in this beautiful photo of Kristen Reiter riding past the flag at half mast in respect for the dead. 

I walked around the Battlefield and looked at the markers and read the signs. This marked where Chief Ollikot was killed. 

A ceremony like none other then took place at the Bear Paw Battlefield. The Nez Perce of all ages rode out in their finest regalia. Three Nez Perce men beat on the drum and sang traditional song. 

The Empty Saddle presentation was made by the youth of the Nez Perce.

Otis Halfmoon and Emmit Taylor Jr, of The Nez Perce tribe, told us much of the Nez Perce and Bear Paw Battlefield history and that through forgiveness comes healing.

They say a picture says a 1,000 words.

Nez Perce, young and old, participated in the Healing Ceremony.

It was a very moving tribute to not only the Nez Perce but also to our veterans. After the ceremony and after dinner, Seymour Young Dog, gave the closing speech and prayer to this years Chief Joseph Trail Ride. 

The ride resets and starts back at the beginning next year, Joseph, OR.. It will be another 13 years before the ride returns to the Battlefield. Come join us for a unique experience. More information can be found on the ApHC website. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

FUNdraising & Awards at Chief Joe

The Chief Joseph Trail Ride overflows with activity for all ages from sun up to sundown.

First at 5:30AM or close to it, music would ooze through the dawn thanks to Dr Rustebakke. Be thankful I didn't find that version on youtube! LOL
This little gal and others like her get to ride the CJTR thanks to scholarships that are made available through fundraising efforts. 

But seriously, the Chief Joe ride continues to be more than just riding. I learnt to bring "fun" money because three groups work very hard to earn money to give scholarships to kids so they can ride the CJTR. The Chief Joseph Foundation and the Nez Perce Appaloosa Horse Club both have Raffles and Silent Auctions with the funds going to help kids get to the rides. We all know that as we get older, it is the kids who will carry the torch and keep this ride going forward. This year 7 youth were sponsored by the groups wonderful efforts which of course are supported by the riders. They also sold some nice T-Shirts! 

And we can't forget Kirk Knowlton who sacrificed first his "stash", then some how lost his hat in the deal too as it was auctioned off for youth funds money. Jehnet Carlson won that bid and was given the honor of shaving Kirk's mustache while wearing what was his hat. That's a BRAVE man! 
Beth Wendell is a 13 yr rider and her received his ApHC Medallion award

ApHC Director, Lori Richards, also heads up the Chief Joseph Trail Ride Experience, a 501.c3 Non Profit which again awards scholarships for qualifying youth. This is funded by sales of artwork and T Shirts or people can donate funds in memory of people to whom this ride has a significant part of their lives.

All of which is a very cool and fun way to help a youngster fullfil their dream!

The ApHC Museum also sold some shirts, books and had a fundraising Raffle for a free entry into next years ride. 
This is Kristen's photo of the plaque she received for 13 years! Yeah I want one :)

Beyond all of that, there are trail awards given to those who participate for 5 yrs, 10 yrs, 13, 26, 39 and yes even 52 years. And that 52 was Anne Mischel, featured in my previous blog. 
Pat Roberts and Dirk Vanderby were awarded 26 yr buckles! 

And no one forgot the horses who make all this possible. All horses must be registered Appaloosas to enter, and the ApHC has included the Chief Joseph Trail Ride in the prestigious Medallion Award system. Horses who complete the ride for ten (yes ten) consecutive years will be awarded an ApHC Medallion. There is also an award for horses who are ridden on the ride for 13 years, remember it takes 13 years to do the entire trail at approximately 100 miles a year. 

Lucy Samuels and her mare come up to the podium for their ApHC Bronze Medallion

The ride really does offer a lot to the people and the horses. The week long event takes on a life of it's own through all the activities, dinner, dancing, riding and fun. And as the sun goes down, Marcos Dominguez is strumming his guitar and playing some fine music! It's no wonder some of these people just simply can't stay away and keep this event going for all of us! 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

52 Years of The Chief Joe - Part One

The Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) hosted the 52nd Annual Chief Joseph Trail Ride, July 18-22, 2016. The Chief Joseph Trail Ride is a point-to-point ride. A portion of the ride is completed each year, with the entire sequence taking thirteen years to complete. Its route traces, as closely as possible, the route Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce took while attempting to escape the US Cavalry in 1877. The Chief Joseph Trail Ride was first held in 1965 and has been completed FOUR times!! The only person to ride and participate all 52 years is Anne Mischel. The ApHC presented Anne with a special sash for her dedication to this ride. But we all know that she is as addicted to being here as the rest of us. Way to go Anne! ♥

The ride is exclusive to the Appaloosa breed and is the longest-running and most popular trail ride hosted by the ApHC, therefore you MUST be an ApHC member AND the horses MUST be registered with the ApHC. It is a very historic ride as it retraces the route of the Nez Perce as they tried to make their way to freedom in Canada, where they would not have to live on a reservation. During the 1300+ mile flight to freedom they endured attacks from the Cavalry, their people died, they endured more hardships than you can ever imagine. One measly rabbit might feed 10 people. Lets see that would be maybe two bites of food! 

Last years ride ended near Roy, MT. This year we picked it up again about 20 miles from Roy, North of the Missouri River. When I arrived Saturday evening the camp was filling rapidly. The picket lines were up and and the dance floor was down! 

Sunday AM all of us drivers took our cars and extra vehicles out to "destination", then we got a bus back to camp. The storm waited until after dinner and the opening ceremony before it attacked.  The ground turns to gumbo in the rain and after Sunday nights big storm it was decided that we weren't moving camp. Remember, we aren't just moving a few vehicles but more than 150 trucks, trailers, and such. The road going into what was supposed to be Monday nights camp required 4 WD on a "good" day, so we were staying right here and letting it dry out until Wednesday. Camp was on a bit of a slope, and after all the thunder storms and heavy rain Terry Wade renamed camp, Snotty Knob.

Now this put a different spin on things because "normally" each day is an average of 20 miles so that the ride covers approximately 100 miles of trail, thus taking 13 years to complete. Luckily this year the ride had a guide, a local fellow who had ranched for years and knew the trails. So it was decided that we'd delay the start of day 1 for an hour, with riders going out North to an old homestead then loop back around to camp. This would have them doing the only first part of the route that was originally planned. Having to return meant they would not be going to Cow Creek, the Island or Spencer Ridge. That was pretty disappointing for most but it was the safe option for the day. I believe 143 riders rode out and it was a typical Monday morning rodeo with a couple buck offs in the first mile. One fellow got back on his horse and rode the day with broken ribs, but he rode!! Another walked back to camp and led his horse. And A.J. went out with the 4 wheeler to bring the other rider in. There was a later incident in a bog but those riders were OK. No one had to be flown out to a hospital so it was all good! It takes a really good minded horse to do this ride. Marcus Dominguez was still playing his guitar and people were on the dance floor when the big storm bashed us again! The hail stones were the size of grapes and Molly and I hunkered down in the horse trailer and stayed dry at least. Yeah we needed more rain! 

Tuesday the guide led riders towards the Missouri River, down along some gullies for some great views and then return to camp. This was an area not previously used for the ride. Unlike wagons following one another and making deep ruts that were visible for years, this trail is harder to find because the bands of the tribe fanned out a bit. This gave their horses a bit of graze as they went along. Tuesday night Otis Halfmoon of the Nez Perce came and spoke about Joseph and all the Chiefs. He told us many stories that led up to the siege at Bear Paw prior to the surrender. 

It rained a little early Wednesday morning but everyone packed it up and we were rolling out of camp at 9:15. We had good road and by the time we got to the two track road it was mostly dry with only a couple boggy spots that we pulled around. Our camp at Benson Lake was one of the most gorgeous spots. From the hilltop one could see for miles and I could even get a pic sent out on my phone! Woohoo. The skies were always so beautiful with so many colors rippled through them. It was amazing. 

It was a beautiful sight when riders rode by the lake Thursday morning. The water was still and the reflections were pretty cool!  We were back on track with close to 150 riders heading out on the trail, riding point to point and ending at the camp site planned for Thursday night. The distance that day was GPS'd at 15.75 miles. A day of rolling hills, grasslands and wheat fields.  

The ApHC gives out awards for 5, 10, 13, 26, 39 and 52 years. These riders received awards for 13 years. Sorry I don't know all of them but there was Kristin Reiter, Lucy Samuels, A J, Bob Vetter, Mike and Barbra Croy,  Christy Wood and Beth Wendell. Horses can also earn an ApHC Bronze Medallion for 10 consecutive years at the Chief Joe, and nine horses received that prestigious honor! 

The final day, Friday, and everyone is filled with anticipation as we all approach the historic Bear Paw Battlefield, south of Chinook, Montana. A ceremony is planned as we will learn more about this significant event where after five days of battle with the US Calvary, Chief Joseph gave the eternal speech, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”