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2008 Fandango

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2009 Fandango Day 2
Images by Merri Melde
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Merri's Stories:
Fandango Footwork || Wednesday May 20 2009 || Thursday May 21 2009 || Pre-Fandango
Fandango Day 1 || Fandango Day 2 || Fandango Day 3
MONK First but Second - Chris Martin

3 Days AERC * 3 Days FEI * AHA Region IV 100-mile Championship

100-mile winner Joyce Sousa with
1st prize Arabian Saddle Company
saddle from Bev Gray

100-mile BC Winner
Jennifer Niehaus

DAY I Results in brief (Full Results)
25 miles: 18 starters, 18 finishers
1. Ginger Head - JLA Slew
2. Amy Palmer - Navaar
3. Rick Glass - DA Al Rasan
50 miles: 51 starters, 39 finishers
1. Cody Boysen - GDE Sweete Legacy
2. Mel Hare - Woria
3. Sue Hedgecock - Fast Eddie
75 miles: 7 starters, 5 finishers
1. Jeanette Mero - Maksymilian
2. Laurie Birch - Scudd Run
3. Tony Benedetti - Exchange
DAY II Results in brief
35 miles: 6 starters, 4 finishers
1. Sally Tarbet - Bey Khan
2. Steven Clark - Al-Marah Regal Tryst
3. Jeanne Goldman - Ripper
50 miles: 15 starters, 12 finishers
1. Jan Marsh - Morning Line
2. Melanie Shirilla - Mick
3. Larry Cooper - GE Spartan
75 miles: 9 starters, 6 finishers
1. Gail Jewel - Apache Eclypse
2. Lindsay Graham - Monk
3. Lee Pierce - JAC Mr Turner
100 miles: 29 starters, 18 finishers
1. Joyce Sousa - LV Integrity
2. Cheryl Dell - Reason to Believe
3. Jennifer Niehaus - MC Gallantly
DAY III Results in brief
25 miles: 8 starters, 8 finishers
1. Amy Weidner - Angel of Mercy
2. Jim Archer - Belesema Replika
3. Tim Floyd - DWA Saruq
55 miles: 15 starters, 12 finishers
1. Michael Thomas - Kasino GM
2. Jeff Stuart - National Security
3. Dewayne Grown - Bailey
75 miles: 2 starters, 1 finisher
1. Christoph Schork - DWA Express


Wednesday - Merri Melde

Thursday - Merri Melde

Friday - Merri Melde

Saturday - Merri Melde

Sunday I - Merri Melde

Sunday II - Merri Melde

Monday - Merri Melde

Day 1 - Steve Bradley

Day 2 - Steve Bradley

Day 3 - Steve Bradley

Owyhee Fandango - Day 3

Monday May 25 2009

About half the riders that were signed up for the 55 didn't start today. One rider suggested that probably had to do with the fact that several were FEI riders who were burned out and worn out after two days of riding and trying to qualify horses, topped off by yesterday's 100 and the hours of standing around afterwards waiting for their horses to be tested.

As it was, the rest of us went out just to have fun in the desert. Only 2 riders started the 75-miler at 6 AM, 16 started the 55 at 7 AM, and 8 started the 25 at 8 AM. One on the 50 was Tom Noll... not on Frank, and not on Whiskey, but on Karen B's extra horse Blue Lightning. Another guy was going to ride her gelding with Karen on Thunder, but right away, he got bucked off at the start and said forget it. Karen left on the 50 with Lightning tied to her trailer and her friend Linda Ballard about to unsaddle him. However, Linda spied Tom Noll and asked him if he wanted to ride the horse. "Sure!" he said, never having even seen the horse before, and he hopped on Blue Lightning, and away they went down the trail on Blue's first endurance ride (with not a bit of bucking.) Karen saw them later : ) and was happy Tom was riding him.

It was another great day on the trails for Jose, me, and the Raven. The first 15 mile loop is one of two trails we take visitors on that we really like: the Hart Creek Homestead loop, south into the Hart Creek drainage, following the creek, then climbing back up onto the flats on a steep and sharp ridge past the narrows and overlooking the upper canyon. Gretchen and Mickey and I hooked up with Tinker Hart on her gray mare RTR Quiet Riot, on a morning that was just about perfect in temperature.



Owyhee Fandango - Day 2

Sunday May 24 2009

I'm not sure how or why it works this way, but it was one of those nights I was so exhausted I couldn't sleep. Another night with no sleep - darn it!

Today was the Most Momentous of Days: not because I was riding Jose again, but because Tom Noll was NOT riding Frank! In almost 4000 miles since 2002, nobody had ever ridden Frank on a single AERC mile. Everybody knows how Frank likes to go go go - that head up in the air and the black mane flying, pulling incessantly on Tom's hands double-wrapped around his reins - but today Frank and Connie were going to be babysitting Frank's 'pupil,' the mustang Whiskey, who did his first endurance ride at the Tough Sucker in April. I thought maybe since Tom rode Frank in the 50 yesterday, that might take some of the wind out of his sails, but Tom just laughed at me. Never happen. To top it off, it was Connie's birthday.

The 100-milers (29 of them) and 75-milers (9 of them) were on the trail at 5:30 AM, just as it was getting light. By 6:30 AM I was driving Tim Floyd and Tracy to the Sierra Del Rio ranch to get set up for the two vet checks out there. Tim had ridden the 25 yesterday (with a broken rib) and volunteered to help today; Tracy was glad to get out from behind the computer and help at the in-timer's table out of doors. I was happy to be at the in-timer's table because I could run out and take pictures of horses when we weren't swamped with little timer cards from riders.

The Sierra del Rio Ranch, formerly the Nahas Ranch, was a stop on the Oregon Trail in the 1800's where travelers could water their stock. Today, it's still a working ranch, and the manager, Craig Baker, happily and generously opens it up for our endurance ride every year. I'm not sure why he does it, but we are glad he does. We do make an effort to really clean it up after we leave. The center of the ranch is surrounded by rich green pastures (I've never seen it so lush), some with perplexed ranch horses watching the endurance horses do their thing, and towered over by the high buttes typical of the area along the Snake River. One of the cliffs holds a golden eagle nest (endurance rider Karen Steenhof took me to see it last year), and though I don't know if that one was occupied this year, I did spy two eagles flying around it way up high in the morning.



MONK First but Second - Chris Martin

Tuesday May 26 2009

MONK's ride is scheduled for Sunday the 25th of May. It is in Idaho which is about a 10 hour drive from our Ranch in Penn Valley, CA. MONK got a early 3 mile Pony and then locked in his stall for breakfast while we finished loading the trailer. MONK loaded easy and we were off. We plugged the Idaho ranch location into our GPS and it said that we would arrive at about 7:30PM. We had almost a full tank of diesel. Sign said that it was 74 miles to Winamucca, Dodge computer said that we had about 78 miles worth of fuel left, so we decided to fuel in Winamucca.. Well as the we got a little closer the signs read like 35 miles to winamucca, Dodge computer said 2 miles left. Nothing in either direction for miles and miles... As the computer DTE got to 0 a big sign was visible in the distance. Fuel at Puckerbush....now there is a name.. We pulled into the big truck bays and Nancy took cash into the store... 10 minutes later she came back out, she said that she had to get her drivers license for them to hold until I was done fueling... never heard of such a thing. Anyway, when you are on 0 or minus 0 can't complain too much. I told Nancy that it was a good omen, that MONK was going to do good. With a full tank we headed out. As we got into Winamucca there were lots of signs "Welcome Bikers", and bikers there were.... Funny how they all seem to look the same, my wife says I should no go into why I think they look all the same.. They were coming from the north, from the south, traveling in groups as large as 50, and all of them with no mufflers.

We made it about 50 miles north and decided to let MONK out for a short walk and let him eat some grass. We found a nice spot with tons of grass and pulled over. Not exactly where all our fuel went but again it was on DTE was on Zero within a few miles of our destination. The drive into the ranch is a nice 5 miles of dirt road, not something you would want to drive everyday, but not too bad. We found a parking place at about 8PM and headed for the check in to see if we could borrow some diesel. Our luck was holding, Steph Teeter, the foxy ride manager found a very generous neighbor who had some off road diesel which was delivered within minutes of the request, now that is service. Thank you Carol and Rick Brand for your generous donation, glad you did not know we were from California.


Owyhee Fandango - Day 1

Saturday May 23 2009

How could that alarm be going off already - I was still exhausted and I didn't remember sleeping at all! Well, no matter - up and out of bed, drink a cup of coffee, force down some breakfast, and get ready for a 50-mile ride on Jose! It's always a good day when you get to ride Jose.

Seventy-six riders hit the Owyhee trails today. That might have been a record. The 75 milers started at 6 AM, Jose and I (and the Raven) left at 7 AM with 50 other horses and riders, the sun already up and starting to warm up the earth. The LD riders left at 8 AM.

Jose was raring to go - he'd had a hard hilly ride at the Eagle Extreme two weeks ago, and here he was on flat ground and here he was on home turf, and he wanted to go! Fast riders and FEI horses were up front and moving out fast; we tucked in afterwards with Gretchen and Spice, my old riding pals from Bridgeport, California, Mickey and Dally, another old pair of riding pals from my winters in Ridgecrest, and local riding pal Nance and Quinn. Up a wash onto the northwest flats, the 15-mile loop followed the rim of Bates Creek Canyon along a nice single-track and two-track (dusty) trail. We crossed Bates Creek road and worked our way back along a ridge to the head of Pickett Creek Canyon, and back home into basecamp.

Sometimes it's a blessing when you are on your home turf, because your horse knows every step of the way. Sometimes it's not a blessing, because he knows every step of the way, and isn't going to slow down or dilly-dally around to do something as unimportant as taking a drink in the flowing Bates Creek or the nice water troughs put out by neighbors Rick and Carol. Sometimes the home horse just wants to cruise right back home to camp, with his friends and his piles of hay and beet pulp.




Friday May 22 2009

Geez - where to begin!

The 2009 3-day Owyhee Fandango is over - and I'm not sure about Steph, but I sure feel like I've been hit with two freight trains going in opposite directions. Steph's probably about the same, although for different reasons, because her voice and body posture was the same as mine on the Tuesday morning after: gravelly and dragging!

The first big rigs started pulling into basecamp on Wednesday, and from there things went non-stop. I'd talked my friend Tracy into coming from L.A. to do all the secretarial work for the ride. She'd worked on rides for Jackie Bumgardner in southern California, it was a break from her routine, and it was Owyhee county in Idaho with all our famous celebrity horses - who could refuse that! It sounded good to her, so Steph flew her in... only neither of us had happened to mention the incredible amount of work she would be swamped with: instead of a "3-day multi-day ride," she got buried under, technically, 18 different rides, when you count all the distances, AERC, FEI, AHA, and OMG (as Steph later put it).

I picked Tracy up at the Boise airport on Thursday (and we ran errands for the ride) and she immediately went to work as soon as she got to basecamp. As more rigs steadily pulled in, and as USA Chef d'Equipe Becky Hart and USA Team veterinarian Jim Bryant Jr held a couple of USEF clinics for international-aspiring riders, and Christoph Schork gave a hoofcare clinic in the morning, and as the local radio club set up their equipment, I was busy with our horses and helping set up for the ride.



Thursday May 21 2009

USA Chef d'Equipe Becky Hart and USEF Team veterinarian Dr Jim Bryant Jr gave a clinic for USEF riders this morning, discussing riding and training strategies, and reviewing the USA team's performance and silver medal in the Pan American Championships in Uruguay last month. More horse trailers arrived during the day, with more horses pouring out of the trailers than people. Most riders brought 2 to 3 horses. Christoph Schork from Utah brought 9 horses!

It was a busy day. Horses hit the trails for exercise. Deborah and Al from Blue Canoe Catering started setting up the outdoor kitchen where they'll be cooking the nightly meals. Susan and John of Healthy As A Horse, and Henry of Griffin's Tack set up their tack and gift booths. Several people flew in (stewards, ride secretary) and were picked up at the airport. Hay and alfalfa were delivered. And one of Steph's horses is due to have a baby - now!

Christoph will hold a hoofcare clinic tomorrow, and horses will begin vetting in for the first day of the ride (25 miles, 50 miles, 75 miles, AERC and FEI). Don't forget the wine and cheese party sponsored by VETTEC, with wine from local vineyard Sawtooth Winery..


Wednesday May 20 2009

They started rolling in around noon, and kept coming after dark: from (so far) California, Utah, Canada. Once the dust settled (and boy, do we have dust already) from one trailer, evidence of the next trailer could be seen far down the canyon. When the big trailers unloaded, there were more horses than people. With the new FEI qualification rules, and with the offering of three 1* 50 mile rides, three 2* 75 mile rides, and one 3* 100-mile ride, many FEI riders brought several horses to start on the qualifying system. Many riders will ambitiously try to ride all three days, and not just 50 miles! Other riders are coming to ride AERC, some are coming just for the fun of it. Carolyn Dawson is here to ride the 100 miler: "I haven't ridden a hundred in ten years!"

So far there are 32 riders entered in the 100 on Sunday. Weather should be dry and clear, in the low 80's. Stay tuned!


Fandango Footwork

Sunday May 17 2009

It will take place here next weekend - the 3-day Owyhee Fandango endurance ride.

"Our goal is to bring riders together to ride historic trails in America's 'Wild West', to build friendships and International camaraderie, and to experience it all on horseback.

Ride a relaxed pace - or a competitive race, for 50 miles, 100 miles, or 150 miles ... Any way you want it! " There are also trail rides of 10 or 15 miles for those folks who prefer that.

John and Steph are finishing putting ribbons out on trails. I'm ribboning a portion of trail on foot (I won't do 4-wheelers on trails any more, after I rolled one!). Carol and I hung colorful OWYHEE RIDE signs up on the highway today, pointing the way to base camp. Steph's pulling weeds, planting flowers, mowing and watering the lawn. Dudley's trying to lose a little more weight so he looks really good in his dappled coat.


Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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