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Mosquito Fire Assessment Re: The Western States Trail


On September 6, 2022, the Mosquito fire started at Oxbow Dam. The fire quickly spread uphill towards Michigan Bluff and Foresthill. As of today the fire is 95% contained and has burned over 76,000 acres. 78 structures were destroyed, many in the Michigan Bluff area.

Regarding the Western States Trail the easternmost extent affected by the fire is near Swinging Bridge (mile ~46 on the course) and the westernmost extent affected is the Patent Road Fire Break (5.7 miles west of Foresthill, or mile ~68 on course). While this is a total of about 22 miles of trail, the trail through Volcano Canyon and Foresthill was not inside the burn perimeter, and therefore only about 16 miles of the trail were directly impacted by the fire.

With respect to post-fire restoration we will be working with three land agencies/owners: US Forest Service (USFS) from Swinging Bridge to Bath Rd, a private land owner from Foresthill to just before Cal-1, and Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA) for the westernmost 3 miles to the Patent Road Fire Break...

Read more and see photos here:

Meet My Endurance Horse: HCC Elessar +/

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

HCC Elessar +/ aka Monster
17-year-old stallion by MMF Faramir X HCC Sharzara, by Koszar
owned by Kristen Grace

6140 miles
14 100-milers
12 Best Conditions
2 Virginia City 100 buckles
2 Tevis Cup buckles
3 Big Horn 100 buckles

To see him now at Endurance rides, HCC Elessar is so mellow and uncomplicated that it’s hard to believe he’s a stallion and that he’s ridden by Juniors. But in the beginning, nothing was easy with him.

In 2007, Endurance riders Lew and Hanne Hollander recommended that Kristen Grace go look at an unhandled 2-year-old colt owned by Cheri Briscoe in Tehachapi, California.

“I drove down to see him, and I was like - what?!” Kristen says. “He was tiny. He was the size of a greyhound! Never handled. Nothing.

“They called him Cookie Monster because the only way they could get near him was with cookies because he has a sweet tooth. I thought, I can’t call him that because that’s silly. I’ll call him Monster because he’s so little.

“We couldn’t catch him or get near him, so we backed the trailer up, and hazed him in. I drove him to Grants Pass, Oregon, to my boyfriend’s at the time.”

Between the two of them, they got Monster haltered in the trailer, got him out and tied him to a tree. They would go out several times a day and hand feed and water him, and get him used to being around humans, and depending on humans for sustenance. After all, he did have a sweet tooth.

It took a week before Monster was tame enough to be petted. When he started trusting them more, they hand walked him, and taught him to lunge. They were able to load him in the trailer again, and Kristen took him home and commenced with the next part of his training.

“It took me a full year to be able to put a blanket on him. He wouldn’t let me near him with one. He freaked out about anything being on top of him. So then we taught him how to carry a pack saddle with panniers, and I used him as a pack horse. We went up in the wilderness and did overnight trips. He’s never bumped my knee on a tree, ever, because he learned to carry panniers.

“So then I started him under saddle for riding. It took FOREVER. He was very, very, very difficult. Any time I moved a hand on top of him, then he would bolt and spin and run off. And I fell off A LOT.

“I fell off so many times, I used to use what I call a stallion strap. It’s a parachute cord and it went from his bit to my pants, so that when I fell off, I had something to hang onto. One year at Bandit Springs [ride], it ripped my pants off!”

Monster started in Endurance as a 6-year-old, and over the years they eventually eased through his reactivity with a lot of practice of Kristen raising her hands/arms/feet while on board. Now he’s pretty bomb-proof - safe and fun, and he’ll take care of you.

Kristen and Monster were involved in a rescue of a fallen Endurance rider a few years ago. Monster had to gallop up and down the trail for Kristen to reach cell reception and relay the rider’s vital stats to 911. When the helicopter flew in, Kristen had to signal where they should land. “And Monster stood there and let the helicopter land right next to us. Even with the blades going he stood there. The EMTs said they’d never seen anything like this, like why isn’t your horse freaking out? He knew it was an emergency.

“So Monster is really cool like that. If it’s in a pinch, he’s got you.”

After exclusively riding him for his first seven years in Endurance, Monster mellowed out enough for other riders. In 2021, he started carrying two Juniors on numerous rides.

Sara Anderson, who’s ridden Monster in three rides, says, “He’s so cheerful. And when the kids ride him, and they canter on ahead, he’s just like - happy. I don’t know how else to describe it. He knows his job.”

Through his dam, HCC Sharzara, 14.2-hand Monster comes from the Hyannis Cattle Company breeding stock. HCC of Nebraska selectively bred great working horses from the 1960s to the 1980s. They were mainly Crabbet/Kellogg Egyptians Arabians crossed with Polish breeding and were known for being rugged, and for possessing good legs and good bone, strength, and stamina. Ann Hall rides Monster's half-sister, HCC Zara RR, who has 3700+ miles, 11 100-mile completions (3 Top Five finishes in the Virginia City 100) and 11 Best Conditions in 12 seasons of riding. Monster and Zara rode the 2020 Mary & Anna Memorial 100 together and finished 4th and 5th. "Zara and Monster were like identical twins," Kristen says, "except one is white and one is black."

Monster also traces back in three lines to Witez II, the famous survivor of World War II Poland who was brought to the US and became a show champion and super sire. “When you look at pictures of his great great grandsire, they look like twins. Monster’s the spitting image of Witez II.”

Kristen had an idea early on that Monster would be a good horse, and she started selectively breeding him at 3. He has numerous proven offspring on the Endurance trail, several who have also completed 100-mile rides. “His offspring are amazing. They all have good minds.”

Top photo: Monster and Kristen at the Idaho Autumn Sun Pioneer
Bottom photo: Monster and Kristen at the Wyoming Big Horn 100

Hillbillie Willie and 2022 Old Selam: Best Ride Ever!

September 7 2022

OMG I love this Standardbred!

And OMG I love the Old Selam Pioneer Endurance ride near Idaho City, Idaho. It’s one of my favorite Endurance rides, in the forest, on some of the best footing anywhere in the USA.

This year I couldn’t handle the thought of riding 50 miles in the heat. I’ve toughed it out before but the older I get, the more I hate the heat and just can’t take it anymore, and I don’t have to. So Hillbillie Willie and I opted for a different goal: 3 days of Limited Distance 25-mile rides!

Willie had done just two 25-milers before. He’s used to 50’s and we almost always place mid-pack on his rides, not fast, not slow, just steady. I never know exactly where we place, and I don’t care. (Willie’s way more competitive than I am.) My main goals are always to have an easy start, a sane, forward horse to ride on a loose rein, and to finish with a low heart rate. Criteria is always 60 beats per minute at the vet checks and at the finish, but when Willie finishes a ride with a heart rate in the 40s, I’m positively giddy.

Day 1: We didn’t really have a plan, or a riding partner. My goal was simply a smooth and calm start and a fun day. And it all magically happened! We fell in near the front of 18 riders, just because that’s where we were. Simone and Boogey took the lead, and stayed there all day. Willie ended up behind Sarah from Oregon and her handsome Arabian Batman, and ahead of Jo from Wyoming and her big honkin’ Tennessee Walker Jake, and we 3 pretty much stayed together all day with our horses moving well and comfortably together...

Read the rest here:

My Nomadic Life Part 1, Traveling with Horses

Rideclimb.com - Listen

July 5, 2022
by Jess

Part 1 of the My Nomadic Life Series covers the ins and outs of traveling with horses in our fulltime digital nomad lifestyle.

I’ve spoken about our lifestyle on the podcast before and it always makes people curious. I decided to dedicate an entire episode to answering questions that I’ve received from podcast listeners, blog readers, and social media fans. It turned out to be so extensive that I broke it into a series...

Listen to the podcast here: