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.” 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Oregon Outback makes Thunder 3 for 3

After returning from Strawberry, we still had time for riding before Colleen had to return home. We rode the nearby hills, got in some Rio and Peanut time at Succor Creek and we even rode the Eagle hills. We drove out to Owyhee Reservoir and over to Celebration Park, with a stop at Gene Winchesters so Colleen could see some of my horse’s relatives.
I even got in a treasured ride with both Andi & Colleen. A first!

Then I said, “You know. We could go to Tribby’s and you could ride the first day of Oregon Outback and just go home from there.” I didn’t even have to twist her arm and she said “OK”. So we packed up again and headed to Fort Rock, did a little walk about the old town buildings there and made the last 10 miles to ride camp.  Colleen and Blue got in their “extra” 50, giving them 155 miles in three weeks. Not bad for a person who only really rides when she comes to visit me! HA!

Colleen got our picture with Trish Frahm at the start of the second day before she headed for home. 

We had a lot of fun riding with Mike and Jessica Cobbley and she is doing a great job with The Big Brass as they are 5 for 5 on AERC rides at this time!! 

Thunder and I finished all three days once more! Outback gave Thunder his third complete Pioneer multi-day for the year! That’s a lot of miles, and now he gets a break as I prepare to take off for the final leg of the Chief Joseph Trail Ride in Montana. Stay tuned, if you’re lucky it might end up in a blog sooner or later.

New trail - Strawberry Fields

Last year the plan for my BFF Colleen Martin and myself was to go see some new trails, namely the Strawberry Fields multi-day in Utah. For various reasons it didn't happen. But it wasn't forgotten and it became the game plan for this year.  June 15 we packed up the boys, Thunder and Blue, a grand assortment of stuff and we left at the dim light of dawn for Heber City, Utah. Roughly 25 miles from there was Strawberry Reservoir and camp at Co-Op Creek. Camp was large sagebrush flat area lined on one side with aspens and another side by the creek. We set up alongside the aspens for shade.

As we admired these red rock cliffs from camp we had no idea that we would be riding to them and across the mountain top behind them. Steve Bradley, photographer, said we reached 12,000 feet at that time.

We set out for a ride on Thursday and joked this was the first time we had ever encountered ride ribbons attached to snow poles. After crossing a creek and getting into a large thicket of brush amid the Aspens we saw what looked and sounded like a Sandhill Crane. I’ve only seen grey ones but we learned they come in more than one color and that the brown ones are common to this area.

And when we returned towards camp and preparing to cross the creek we were met with a grouping of magnificent butterflies along the edge, dancing over the muddy bank. 

Thunder and I on day 2, photo by Steve Bradley

I had heard the area was gorgeous and offered some of the most beautiful trails to be found anywhere and we were not disappointed. Tons of wildflowers, many creek crossings, a few bogs, and even a couple snow fields. The trails were plenty tough, definitely not for the faint of heart. But again, oh do beautiful with rich mountain views and the Strawberry Reservoir below us.

Colleen Martin and Blue on day 3, photo by Steve Bradley

Thunder and I were lucky enough to complete all three days of this Pioneer ride. Colleen and Blue met her goal of finishing days 1 and 3, taking day 2 off just to have a good time. We were truly blessed to be able to have this adventure. And now we wonder “What the heck are we going to do in 2017?” 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hallelujah! 5000

What better place to finish up Thunder's 5000 AERC miles than at Outback Hallelujah Trail multi-day! Gorgeous trails, wonderful footing and big loop rides with very little repeat. Extremely refreshing! And then to be able to top it off with our special accomplishment of 5000 miles among good friends, well it just doesn't get much better.

photo by Sierra Westlake

The first day started out cool with frost on the ground and ice on the water buckets. Thunder was full of himself and acting like a stupid kid, a few people thought I must be riding a new horse and it couldn't possibly be the one with all the miles. We circled, we zigzagged, I tried all sorts of stuff and then finally did what usually works. Got off and led him until he settled his silly bad self down! Then I got back on and we trotted on down the trail. He still had attitude but not as much! We only had a few miles left and he saw two horses ahead and just had to pass them. I tried to convince him to eat grass and just chill but no way. So with about 2 miles left I told the gals ahead that we were coming around. Thunder cantered by and kept on going to finish 8th. 

photo by Sierra Westlake

The second day we rode with my friend Trish Frahm. Thunder loves her mare Sahra and waits for her. So we had a much calmer ride as Sahra set the pace to suit herself. Different people kept asking me "How many miles do you have on Thunder now?" I knew if we finished that day we'd have 5000 but I didn't want to say anything for fear I'd jinx us. So I'd mumble something and wander off. HA! But when we were vetted through by Cassee Terry DVM at the finish I said, "Yeah he got his 5000 today!" With an 8th place finish.

And just because we could, we rode the third day also. Lots of gates on this day but some nice trails. The vet check was in a shady Pine grove and Thunder chowed down happily. We placed 6th all by ourselves and had a great day! 

From the time Thunder was born he knew he was important. He said "Look out world, here I come." I owned his sire then, Z Mufaurwa, who now stands at VanGilder Arabians. His dam, Rushcreek Hollie, was my pick for the mother of my next endurance champion. I picked the oldest bloodlines as close as I could find them. Hollie had over 25 lines to the great war mare *Wadduda 30, imported by Davenport. Like any good horse it seems we had setbacks. Surgery on a leg that was developing crooked and later required special shoeing. A setback in training as we had a wreck in the Owyhees and he ran free for 6 days before being found pretty much unharmed. We persevered and with the help of great friends and the good Lord, Thunder and I made it to goals I thought we never would. 

I can truly say "Hallelujah we made it!" 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New AERC Decade Team

The Owyhee River Challenge endurance ride marked Thunder's and my tenth year of completing AERC rides. Thunder is my second AERC decade horse. Zapped+/ was my first.

Back when Karen Chaton interviewed us about Zap and our Decade award, a question asked was "In choosing my next horse what would I look for?" I replied that I already had him. Thunder was two yrs old then, I'd owned his mother, Rushcreek Hollie, and his sire, Z Mufaurwa.  He was born with that attitude that you knew would make him a good tough horse.

This is the view I've mostly enjoyed for thousands of miles and many many trails. Our journey hasn't always been fun and games. I have spent many a moment cussing him! Yet he is the endurance horse I bred him to be. We completed our first AERC ride in 2007 at Weiser Rail Trail. Then we had a huge train wreck in the Owyhees that fall. The short version is he spent 6 days in the Owyhees and was found by my friends while I spent 3 days in the hospital. But, again with the support of friends, we made it back and Thunder is now on the edge of his 5000 AERC miles.
Thunder and I with Jessica Cobbley riding The Big Brass and Sarah Jackson on Street Cop. Photo by David Honan

After that rough "come back" year, Thunder and I just kept going, we had issues to work through but I never quit! I think my favorite ride on him was Owyhee Canyonlands 5 day where he won the 5 day and got overall Best Condition. I remember just sitting out there with him in the moonlight and enjoying his presence, and being grateful for the team we'd become. Nothing like a good strong horse to put you in awe of their amazing power!
Jessica and I strolled into the finish of Owyhee River Challenge 55 miles. Photo by David Honan

Thunder has spent many a mile trying to make my battered old body into a faster rider. I've spent many a mile trying to slow his red head down so my body could manage to ride the miles. Somewhere in there we reached a compromise! Congratulations Thunder! And here is to maybe another Decade! Although we'll both be pretty long in the tooth by then!