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Endurance.Net Home 2009 Fort Howes

Official Event Website

Videos by Franklin Clay Films (wxyzvideos.com):

Fort Howes 2009 Enduance Rides - Part 1/3 - Pre-ride - horses and riders arrive (9 minutes)

Fort Howes 2009 Enduance Rides - Part 2/3 - Saturday - 35, 50, and 75 mile rides (10 minutes)

Fort Howes 2009 Enduance Rides - Part 3/3 - Sunday - 55 and 100 mile rides (10 minutes)

2009 Fort Howes
Images by Merri Melde

2009 Fort Howes
Images by Merri Melde

2009 Fort Howes
Images by Merri Melde

Home || Official Website

Merri Stories:
A stop at Yellowstone (Merri and the raven go tourist) || Fort Howes Endurance - Friday
Fort Howes Endurance - Day 1 || Fort Howes Endurance - Day 2

Saturday June 6: 35, 50/CEI*, 75/CEI**
Sunday June 7: 55/CEI*, 100/CEI***

Full Results

(FEI finishers in bold)
Saturday - 35 miles || Saturday - 50 miles || Saturday - 75 Miles

Sunday - 55 miles || Sunday - 100 miles

Saturday results in brief:
35 miles
1. Jennifer Stevens
2. Cindy Wagner
3. Mary Hutchinson
50 Miles
1. Karen Binns-DiCamillo
2. Sue Hedgecock
3. Tom Gower - BC
75 Miles
1. Jan Worthington and Golden Lightning - BC
2. Devon Horne
3. Kirsten Kimbler
Sunday results in brief:
55 miles
1. Eryn Rapp and Grannys Scarlet
2. Rita Swift and WP Front and Sinter
3. Jennifer Stevens and Phil - BC
100 Miles
1. Julie Jackson-Biegert and Nitro
2. Jan Worthington and Serloki
3. Suzy Hayes and Tezero's Gold

Photo Galleries: (photos by Merri Melde)

Thursday: Transit, a stop at Yellowstone

Friday: Arrival at Fort Howes

Friday: Arrival at Fort Howes

Saturday: 35,50,75 miles - I

Saturday: 35,50,75 miles - II

Saturday: 35,50,75 miles - III

Sunday: 55,100 miles - I

Sunday: 55,100 miles - II

Monday - The Aftermath

FORT HOWES DAY 2 - 55, 100 miles

Sunday June 7 2009


Endurance riding comes in all shapes and sizes: challenging terrain, challenging horses, fun rides, hard rides, long rides, all too-short rides. Day 2 of Fort Howes could have fit the Extreme Endurance category because of the weather and the footing.

"This was a mental ride," said Jan Worthington, who rode the hundred. (After winning the 75-miler yesterday).

Tom Gower, also on the hundred, echoed that: "It was mental from the minute I got up at 4 AM."

Extremely mental for the riders, very physical for the horses, for 8 to 20 hours: wet, cold, and muddy.

There were a dozen forms of precipitation that started at midnight and didn't stop till 4 PM, all of them involving some form of ice. By 8:30 it was sleeting; 9 AM it was sleet/snow; 10 AM it was snowing. One local said that for this time of year in Montana, this was "fluffy hail." An official, bundled up in many layers, said, "Excuse me, I'm from Florida, and this is SNOW!" Temperatures stayed in the low to mid-30's all day.


FORT HOWES DAY 1 - 35, 50, 75 miles

Saturday June 6 2009


It was some pretty muddy trails under some pretty heavy gray skies that 78 hardy riders took to on Saturday at the 3 distances, including 5 Young Riders and 4 Juniors. But so far: no rain.

I had brought my helmet and chaps with me, just in case, but so far I wasn't regretting not looking hard for a horse to ride. Of course I'm not a wimp, but... you know what I mean.

The twenty-eight 75-milers started out at 6:30 on the first of 4 loops, on a controlled start out of camp up a slick muddy road, underneath the hill on which is perched the ruins of Fort Howes. At the front of the pack were Doug Swingley of Montana on Pal of Mine, Suzy Hayes of Montana on JV Laredo, and Jan Worthington of Illinois on Golden Lightning (Leon).

Suzy has over 18,000 endurance miles, having started endurance 44 years ago, before the AERC existed, and Jan has over 26,000 miles, also starting endurance pre-AERC. Now though Doug is a relative newcomer to endurance riding on horses, having started in 2006, with 'only' 2000 AERC miles, he knows a thing or two about real endurance: he's a 4-time winner of the Iditarod. Not bad company to be trotting along with.



Friday June 5 2009

Here's a short list of essential items to bring along if you are planning to go to the Fort Howes endurance ride on the Circle Bar Ranch in southeastern Montana in June.

Shorts and tank tops.
Long underwear, winter fleece and wool layers, hat, gloves.
Very good rain gear.
Muck boots.
A sense of humor.
At least 3 changes of everything.

If you have all that, you'll stay comfortable and have a great time no matter what the conditions.

The first thing you might notice when you get to this ranch 20 miles south of Ashland is the simple beauty of the setting in the rolling hills of the Custer National Forest, at about 3000'. Bill Stevens' great great grandfather homesteaded here in 1883 - he was a former sea Captain from Massachusetts - and Bill and Jan's girls are the 6th generation on this ranch. You could say ranching is in their blood.



Wednesday June 3 2009

Oh, the forest! I love the desert, but it's when I get into a forest that it all comes back to me. The sound, the feel, and most of all, the smell, of pine and fir needles on a snowy pass. There is nothing like it. Oh, I miss the forest.

On my way to Montana to cover the Fort Howes endurance ride, I passed through Yellowstone. It really seems a crime to whiz through such a grand National Park, a felony to stop for a few minutes at spots and quickly jump out and take a picture, of Tower Falls, or a resting big-horn ram, or a raging river, and not spend time, like a few days, or weeks, exploring the backcountry (which I have yet to do). What do we really understand of a place if we only run the tourist route? We never seem to have, or take, the time to do it right.

But as I have no other time right now, that's just what I did.

Does it really count seeing wildlife if you see it from your car or you get out of your car and walk to the shoulder of the road? Well, sure it does. Immediately upon entering the park I saw a bald eagle on its nest (a sign announced: "Bald eagle area: no stopping or parking for next 1 1/2 miles" - if they'd posted nothing, probably nobody would have noticed). Then came a coyote, trotting down the shoulder of a road, delaying traffic, on what was probably a well-used trail for his ancestors along the river, before man came and put a road in. There was the bighorn sheep resting in a meadow, (always stop at a crowd of people, to see what they are looking at), buffaloes out the ying yang, elk with some HUUUUUGE racks, and of course Ravens.