Saturday, July 28, 2018

Chief Joe part 2 - 2018

Wednesday I rode out on Peanut for day 3, and I couldn't even begin to tell you where we went. We went up hill and down hill, through the trees, rocks, deadfall, thickets, you name it and we had it. This was also the day of "the slide' which I was too busy trying to stay upright, unlike a few, so I don't have a good photo of this slip slidey vertical drop down to a creek. But it was dicey and it takes 110 horses a little while to get down something like that so we got a bit backed up.
Then down along a creek for a bit where we met the three bears. The cubs scurried up a tree and mama got a bit anxious. I had Peanut up front then and he just watched, probably because head scout's horse stood so confidently. I think AJ's horse has seen it all but it was new to Peanut. 
Somewhere out there was a big spring and three troughs that the horses all enjoyed. 
Wednesday PM camp was somewhere near Cottonwood, and we had a gorgeous sunset! 
Thursday began warm and sunny just like all the others. I think this was possibly the hottest weather I've experienced on this ride. Karen Vining took this one of us first thing in the morning as were getting ready to ride out. 
On this day the end goal was to drop the 2500 plus feet back down to the Salmon River in the bottom of Hells Canyon. As AJ said at dinner Thursday night, if you aren't going uphill, down hill, or in through the rocks, then you aren't going. Pretty much! 

We went by an old homestead, the site of the McCarvel School 1895-1934, a cool cabin, with an old steam engine, complete with a herd of cattle and a couple humongous bulls. 
Lunch was at a ranch and we had the last of the days shade before out 8 miles of down hill to camp just above the river banks. In some places the grade was easy but steep in others and we could see the river and camp way down below. And everyone enjoyed the respite at the river. 

Peanut had never seen a swimmer before. HAHA not sure how AJ did that with his hat and boots! 
I opted not to ride the last day. I'd been told it was very rocky, and even though I managed to keep boots on Peanut's hooves the Thursday, I felt like he'd been through enough rocks. Peanut had a lot of growing up this week, new experiences and he is quite the horse! Pretty proud of my boy. Friday's route left the Salmon, uphill as that was the only way, they'd go through Rocky Creek and Rocky Canyon and come out just shy of Tolo Lake with a short ride from the break to camp. 
I haven't said much about the support crew but let me add that they are all fantastic hard workers! Each day the entire kitchen, dance floor, etc is packed up. Those who tent get their stuff transported in the UHaul. The food is truly the best you will find in any fine restaurant, don't plan on losing any weight here let me tell ya! If you go away hungry it is your fault and no one else's! On the trail the scouts watch out for all of us and we have doctors, farrier and a wrangler with emergency supplies! If you want to know more about this awesome yet tough event check out

Chief Joe - Tolo Lake part 1

After some very last minute changes, plan C or D was scrapped, and Peanut and I set out for the 54th Annual Chief Joseph Trail Ride on Sunday July 22. Peanut, aka HH Storm Runner, is 6 now but this whole CJ experience would be very new to him. The "new" plan, since Lynn Welborn's horse had gotten injured on the 21st, was bring Peanut, and she could ride him a couple days and I could drive etc.
This years trail would be the only loop where assembly and destination camps are the same, as that is what the Nez Perce did during their flight from Gen. Howard in 1877. Tolo was an encampment often used by the Nez Perce in the 1800's, and they would race their horses on the prairies and hunt. Our route would take us down into Hells Canyon and back up again twice during the loop.

I rode day one as we left Tolo Lake and headed out around wheat fields that were once Camas prairies, and down ravines into the timber. We were treated to a big herd of elk right after Chip's wife said, "this looks like a great place for elk!" Boom there they were, haha!
Lunch was in some shade along a little creek. Peanut was a bit nervous with 117 horses but I eventually drifted to the rear, getting him out of the ruckus, and rode with Michele McGorky, the wrangler, with her pack mule. Peanut likes Perlita and she tolerates him, which is pretty good I'm told. At one point we had to all gather in a as tight a clump as we could and cross Hwy 95. That was scary. The crew was equipped with radios so we all knew when it was clear and safe to cross. We wasted no time in crossing and it resembled 117 horses leaving the starting gate! The water truck had horse water on the other side and Jeremiah Kraft and helpers had cold Gatorade for us! Then it was downhill to Whitebird battlefield and camp.

Monday night's camp was at a ranch adjacent to Whit Bird Battlefield. A total of 34 of Howard's men were killed but only 3 Nez Perce were wounded in this 1877 battle. The Nez Perce crossed the Salmon and the flight to freedom would run for months until the end at Bear Paw. The route is approximately 1300 miles and the organized Chief Joseph ride encompasses 100 miles a year and takes 13 years to complete. This is my fave photo of the whole week!!
On Tuesday my friend Lynn Wellborn rode Peanut. I'm not in the habit of loaning my horses but Lynn's horse had just gotten injured and she was heart broke. She needed some salve for the soul. She is a good rider and I trusted her so off they went. She had a good day with Peanut but had boot problems since I don't usually boot him, and wasn't planning on taking him to the ride, I didn't even know what size would work for him. The whole week was an unplanned experiment. So she only rode him one day. 
I drove that day up Doumacq grade. Whooweeee what a drive! Camp was some where on Joseph Plains. 

The picket line

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The 2018 Version of Owyhee No River

Owyhee No River May 2018                Karen Bumgarner

                First, I would like to say thank you to all my helpers, volunteers and ride vets for making this ride a success, because it couldn’t happen without you!! Without all of you this entire sport of endurance and distance riding would not exist. So, thank you so very much! Special thanks to Matt White and his boy scout Troop 255 of Middleton, ID for hauling our water. What a fantastic job they did. Thank you!

                For some silly reason I always want to do things a bit differently. It must be in my DNA. One year I had a Ride & Tie which was fun but not a huge success as 1) it requires a lot of work on the rider and runner’s part, and 2) there isn’t a lot to tie to out here. Then I had the BIG loop of 55 miles because I love big loop rides. However due to fires, storm erosion of trails, BLM losing sage grouse habitat (we have no sage grouse but they think we do), vandalism, and the fact that an out-vet check requires even more volunteers, I just had to let that go. I added trail rides that became an ApHC Regional Trail ride for my Chief Joe friends to use for conditioning on a daily basis to prep for the 5-day ride in July. And then this year I added what could have been (as far as I can tell), Oregon’s first Competitive Trail ride. All in addition to the usual 25/55-mile AERC Endurance rides.

All these trails took a long time to mark and my BFF, Colleen Martin, and I were given refreshments from the lady doing weed patrol. She saved our lives! HAHA

                The trail rides had 25 riders!! Yay! Only two were SWIT members though, Barb McGann and myself. Glad to attract non-members but I think we need to promote the club a bit more. Let’s be inviting our friends to gatherings.

               Friday’s Competitive Trail Ride, CTR, was sanctioned by AHA not NATRC, mostly due to simpler rules. However, I see NATRC has some proposed rule changes that may improve this. NATRC may attract a few more entries. The big reason I did it was to allow riders to get their AHA horses qualified for upcoming AHA Distance CTR Nationals. A horse needs two CTR’s to qualify for the National ride along with mileage, refer to AHA for all info on that. And maybe someday other breed registries will join the CTR Championships like they have the endurance Championship.  I would call the CTR a success with 7 riders, three totally new to distance riding so maybe we’ll see them again. The trail was 2 loops, a scenic loop of cow trails connected out to the Sand Castles, where we hauled water and riders went by it twice due to a spring not being in working order. I have a plan to maybe take this to a spot on the canal next year for water, we’ll see. After a vet check and 30-minute hold they rode the creek loop. The winner, with a perfect score, was Dirty Martini, ridden by Ann Kuck!! Reserve was The Big Brass and Jessica Cobbley. Congrats to all who came and participated. I’ve been asked will I do it again? Yes, but I need a ride manager!! I could even add it to the Pie Ride but I need a ride manager. The pay for the job is horrible but if you’d like to act as such I would happily let you do that. Special thanks to Lucie Hess for making this ride happen.

                Saturday the 25-miler had 22 entries and 21 complete. Riders had a 15-mile loop that we’ve used previously, followed by vet into a hold, and the scenic creek loop which is 9.25 miles according to Garmin. Simone Maul and a mob of others came in with the Mule gang. Boogey pulsed down first and took BC honors two years in a row! First Junior and 2nd overall was Sydney Jackson aboard the mule, John Henry. Winning time was 2:41.  

                The 55 had 22 start and 18 finishes. The 55’s had two loops with some repeat through the creek, lots of new trails this year and people seemed to love all the cow trails. Two loops put the vetting in camp. The second loop had a couple miles of hit and miss gravel road that used to be dirt, sorry but in reality, that really isn’t bad compared to some rides and there was a soft shoulder at least. David Laws won in 5:47 aboard his Rocky Mountain horse, Che Ole, in 5:47. Second was Beth Claussen and Beau De Valeroso. Best Condition went to JAC Wynterhawk, ridden to 4th place by Lee Pearce in 6:53. There were no Junior riders on the 55-mile ride.

Michele  McGorky and her critters helping me unmark trail She did most of the work :) 

                Two horses deserve an extra mention because they competed two days in a row. Dirty Martinis participated on both the 25-mile CTR and the 25-mile LD. Owyhee Justice finished both the CTR and the 55-mile ride. Three riders also did CTR one day and endurance the next, congrats to Ann Kuck, Jessica Cobbley and Karen Bumgarner.

                The Longhorns and a rattlesnake sighting added some special interest. Oh, and let’s not forget the sight of our dedicated photographer, Dave Honan, wading in the creek either!!

                We raised $300 for Troop 255 and $1500 for the Reboot Veterans Horse Camp in Idaho. Donations to Reboot allow Veteran’s to participate all week for free!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Deja Vu?

While it's true we can't go back in time and do-overs don't exist, there are times that stir some great memories. And some things just feel like you're home again.

This is one of my fave photos of  Moka's Pat A-Dott, (aka Speedy), and I taken at the Chief Paulina ride in 1985. Speedy was the only horse to ever do the CP 100 five times and I still have the blanket awarded to him for that. 

And now, umpteen years later, I'm lucky enough to have another colorful leopard that like to go places. This is Owyhee Justice, aka Rio. I got him for my Chief Joe horse but he wasn't particularly happy walking along. He wanted to do more than that. And when I ride him he reminds my of my good ol' Speedy. Deja Vu!! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Death Valley Escape

This ride has been on my "must ride" list for years and I finally got to go!! The locals call it the Death Valley Encounter, but for me it was a brief escape from cold and snow, and as I write this, it's 18 degrees so I'm ready to return!!

The day after Christmas when most people are shopping, I was trying to make my way through Boise. It was like being on a suicide mission with two big wrecks in the West bound lanes and more piling up as drivers ignored all the flashing lights warning them of what lay ahead. On my side, heading East, all the Einsteins were rubbernecking at the wrecks and then slamming on their brakes, only to slide off and land in the median. I was scared spitless, or something like that, the spelling varies. You don't get pictures of that since I was still doing my own driving. Once the other side of Boise I had to stop at the rest area and relax my shaking hands. Then onward to Gooding, meet the Cobbley's and stow my rig at Huber's.

The remainder of our trip was uneventful. We marveled at the sun and the rising temps, we were so excited to meet 60 degrees!!! We made it to Ely, NV and stayed at the fair grounds there. Brrrr in the morning. We piled in the truck and Mike says "where to today Miss Daisy?" "Oh anywhere warm will do nicely", I replied.  We made it to Trona, CA. and camp around 3'ish. I don't recall exactly we were all way too excited.

Camp was the Trona Golf Course and Country Club. It was a full campground but we found a spot half a mile from the vetting area and such necessities.

Then there is all the "get ready to go" stuff to be done. It was dark by 5 so you better hustle hauling water, feeding, organizing and putting goo in Brass's hooves. Dinner, ride meeting, set the alarm and get ready in the morning.

Now I won't lie. I "love" a good Duck ride.  The Duck and Annie Nicholson put on good rides, and Duck always promises you a cave with a bear to wrestle. I think our bear was rocks but you can find your own bear. :)  I have always counted the Duck as one of my endurance heroes. I love it when he says these are "endurance rides, not races". I fully appreciate that he points out we are here to ride in harmony with our horses and enjoy what the mountains and desert have to offer.


It was cold starting in the morning. "I can't feel my legs" Jessica said, as we marveled at the unstoppable Dave Rabe, in his signature shorts! The man has over 69,000 AERC miles now I might add. Somewhere along the "burro trail" we got into the sun, shed a layer, and then rode across the vast Panamint Valley to lunch. We had multi-million dollar entertainment as we watched the jet pilots fly maneuvers.

After lunch we again climbed over the Slate Range and had an easy descent back into the valley to arrive in camp after the sun had set but wasn't quite yet dark. Oh what a marvelous day it had been, the stunning views and vistas were unmatched! We had so much fun, Thunder and Brass did so well, that we signed up for Day 2.

Day 2 gave us two loops. A 30 mile loop where we backtracked up to the Slate Range crossing, then across more mountains on a very good old motorcycle trail, then up to the radio towers. Endomondo said we were at 3757 elevation at the top of something Peak via the Tower Trail. Then through Manly Pass, down Goff Canyon and into camp for lunch.

Our hope that morning had been to have a bit of a faster day but the slog over the Tower Trail and all had us 6 hours into the ride at this point. Ugh! Leaving at 2 for 20 miles we knew it'd be dark when we would finish. The horses were doing great, even though Thunder had been pretty warm and panted a lot during the heat of the day. However the trail turned away from camp about a mile from camp. Thunder was convinced I was the biggest idiot and horse could be stuck with. How could I possibly be going this way? They were happier when we turned back towards camp. And camp was a welcome sight!!
We vetted through just fine and because Thunder had gotten so warm earlier in the day, I had already decided I was sitting out day 3. Turned out Day 3 trail wasn't a lot different from Day 2 so no big loss.

Mike was happy as he had ridden two short rides on Khalid who is just beginning, I had my two days, but Jessica was going to try for 3. But when trotting Brass out he just didn't look quite comfortable, so she opted to not start. They went to town for propane etc., I went down to the vetting area to help Annie for a bit. Then I gave the horses a massage. It was a lazy relaxing day. I was completely happy with my two mid-winter rides on my wooly horse. All of us decided we'd gotten our money's worth, if we skipped day 4 and headed home we wouldn't miss any work. So as we spent the night at another fairgrounds, all the DVE riders were having a New Years Eve Party and steak dinner.

About noon I was back on the road in my own truck heading home. What a fabulous way to spend Christmas break and see 2017 out the door. Thank you again Mike and Jessica Cobbley for letting me travel with you. It was so much fun!!! Thanks Andi Sorrell for taking good care of the home ponies. What a great experience, I am so grateful! I want to do it again someday!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Merry Milestones

Every once in awhile a horse comes along when you aren't needing or even looking for one. Sometimes they can even turn out pretty good. Such is the case with The Big Brass. At the time he came, I had five horses and wasn't looking for a sixth, especially a half wild one with no training! Oh what a lot of work he has been. And not just for me either but for my friends who have ridden him and been successful him. You see Brass can be a bit complicated, you have to know how to read him, and if you can't, well - he will teach you. You also must possess certain skills to ride Brass. If you don't have them, again - he will teach you. I already have a horse like this, yes it is Thunder, so I didn't need two of them. They are so time consuming and the drama; holy cow! The rewards are many though when you can look back and see how far they have come. Kind of like peeling an onion and getting to new layers of their life, and yours.

In May 2016 when my friend Jessica Cobbley needed a horse to ride, I dangled Brass in front of her nose. Like any sick endurance rider, she grabbed the bait. Fast forward and they now have two successful seasons together and Brass is remaining at their house. The Big Brass surpassed his 1000 miles and is well on his way to 2000 as he currently has 1460 AERC miles! Congrats to Jessica and the Brassman for this wonderful accomplishment and I know they'll have many more! They have become a great team as Brass leaps around at the end of his lead rope in camp before a ride and Jess just stands there, calmly smokes a cigarette, and waits for the drama to subside! Then it's time to get on and go see new trails.

Besides seeing Brass get 1000 miles, I also had a goal of 2000 miles for Z Blue Lightening. Blue has always had set backs that foul up the best plans. When he was younger Thunder would kick him, or bite him in a strategic place, so then Blue had to stay home and not be ridden. This meant more miles, rides and attention for Thunder the red beast. Poor Blue, always left at home, and yet he didn't really care. He isn't the over-achiever his cousin Thunder is. I could take him to a multi-day as a spare and his attitude was, "No it's OK, you go have fun. I'll be camp lizard, and eat hay all day." In order to get Blue ridden and get some miles, since Thunder hogged the limelight, he was often ridden by my family and friends. Amazingly Blue has packed ten riders around the trails other than myself! That's a pretty rare endurance horse actually. One year I didn't even ride him at all!

This year Blue was supposed to go to a few more rides, as usual, it was one thing after another. He got a bad cough the end of May, in July before Top of the World he had some skin issues on his back. Then the ride I was going to ride for his 2000 miles was canceled and a few days later he got a nasty wound in his chest. On what I have no idea, may have been a kick but it was pretty deep and they're all barefoot so I doubted that. I was sure he was out for the rest of the year, still stuck at 1980 miles. I just said "Fine, he'll never get his 2000 miles at this rate!" But it healed quickly and I managed to squeeze in that very  last ride of the season to round off his AERC mileage to 2030! Maybe now we can finish up that Decade award. :)

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.