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2009 Land Of The Sun
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The Day Before: The weather looks great! and we're headed to Wickenburg for this total frills ride... (...more)

The Day After: An Awesome Ride!


It was a 'Perfect 10' weekend for us in Wickenburg. Ten people, 8 horses, 4 trucks, 3 horse trailers and one camper trailer loaded up and left Kevin and Rusty's Gotta Go Ranch (Land of the North Folk) for the Land of the Sun ride.

This annual ride is a Wickenburg affair. Hundreds of people donate time and stuff to make this a most welcoming and wonderful ride. The local horse clubs and community clubs make a day of it - volunteers everywhere, to hold horses, sponge horses, feed horses (bran and carrot mashes, hay, and Horse 'd orderves (little bite size carrots stuffed with hay), and buffet food for riders - breakfast, lunch and snack. Plus a gala dinner and awards at the community center afterwards - with music and fantastic food.

Robin Ollendick and Nancy Halsey (Wickenburg Horsemen’s Association) were the ride managers - and did a perfect job of managing 71 50-mile entries and 65 25-mile entries. Lots of people, lots of horses. It's a real local ride as well, people from every horse discipline, different breeds, lots of cowboy hats and western rigging. A fun event.

And every one of us from Gotta Go Ranch had a great and satisfying ride! How rare is that!? :) Kevin and Rusty and Leslie (she and her mom flew over for the ride, Kevin bought his awesome horse 'Far' from Leslie and they have since become good friends) rode together all day, taking it easy through the sand washes, careful over the rocks, and then letting them fly on the last loop - the horses did great, and a fun fast finish put grins on their faces. Bill (keeps a horse at GGR) and Corrie (girlfriend who flew in from Pittsburg) rode Bill's horse Dude, and Rusty's horse Jack on the 25, along with Charlie (the friend and neighbor who rode Wyatt, who used to be Rusty's awesome 100 mile horse and now enjoys semi-retirement with the ever doting Charlie) and friend Paul (another Canadian who spends the winter in Arizona). They also had perfect fun rides.

John and I rode together the first loop - at a pretty good pace, giving Mac his first taste of the competitive. We had the perfect start (actually on time at the start after actually tacking up on time and an actual warmup too!) and we had the perfect first loop (Mac stayed behind Rhett which kept Rhett from wanting to go tooooo fast and which kept Mac from dumping John into a cactus with one of his impressive spooks) . Both horses pulsed right down but then John stayed a little longer at the hold so he could back off and do a slower pace with Mac, and I could go on alone see what kind of ride Rhett was up for. We both had the perfect ride. John and Mac moved along at a fair pace all day, no spooks, Mac was mostly all business and breezed through the ride.

And I had one of the best rides ever on Jaziret Bey Musc. We just kept a steady pace all morning - he was pulsing down fast with low heart rates, very forward and moving beautifully. We picked up the pace on the second half, he was so ON, it was a blast. It got hotter and we cruised through the sand washes and twisty trails (this ride has the most fun trails! - up, down, twisting, dodging cactus, rocky stretches and washes, you really have to concentrate and 'ride the trail' to go fast, but it is a blast on a horse that is willing and listening to the rider!) We came into the 3rd vetcheck pretty hot, in about 20th place, Rhett took almost ten minutes to pulse down (!!) but we still gained about seven places - all the horses came in hot and tired from the miles of uphill sand wash we had to go through.

I left the last hold in 13th place, hmmm.... 13 miles into camp, just maybe I could catch some horses and we could top ten. We motored along, not too fast - but steady. Passed one, then another - then a whole bunch - and Rhett was really really on - fast and aggressive but not stupid - it was one of the most fun times I've had on him. We ended up finishing 7th, but almost blew it. I thought the finish line was on the road above camp where we called out our numbers and a bunch folks were sitting, as another rider and I came in at a nice easy trot having lost the group earlier. I got off and starting walking Rhett down to the vet area, only to see the 'Finish' sign at the entrance to the vet area down below and simultaneously hear a big commotion and thundering hooves behind us - as the pack was bearing down and about to pass us to the finish line! I discovered I still had a little sprint left in these old legs! We 'won' by a nose:)

Another great weekend in Arizona (and - thank the stars, kiss the earth, pat the horses and hug the friends - another good day :)

Steph


On Volunteering - Maria Langer

January 25th, 2009
Twenty hours this weekend.
This weekend, I spent a total of about 20 hours as a volunteer on the annual Land of the Sun Endurance Ride in Wickenburg, AZ. This was my fifth or sixth year as a volunteer — I’ve lost count — and it’s one of the feel-good things I do for my community.

The event, which is sponsored by the Wickenburg Horsemen’s Association, depends upon volunteers to be a success. There are countless jobs to be done, from marking and grooming the 50 miles of horse trails to marking numbers on the butts of horses. There are folks who handle registration paperwork for this AERC-sanctioned event, folks who order t-shirts and sweatshirts and prizes, folks who handle special requests and complaints. There are folks who buy or prepare the food for attendees, put it out on long tables, and clean up after every meal. There are folks who put out hay and bran and carrots for the horses, folks who fill the water troughs at vet checks, and folks who stand ready with clipboards while paid veterinarians call out horse vital signs. There are folks who check off the numbers of riders as they leave and as they return, and folks who track down riders who haven’t come in yet. There are folks who pick up injured — or just plain tired — riders and horses who are dropping out of the event, using trucks and horse trailers. And there are even folks just hanging around every 3 or 4 miles out on the desert trails, handing out water bottles to riders as they pass. These are just some of the jobs. There are doubtlessly many others I don’t even know about.

What I like about volunteering at the endurance ride is that I’m truly needed and appreciated as a volunteer. I come in and do my job(s). I’m not micromanaged or criticized. And I really get a charge out of the thanks I get from participants just for doing what I’m supposed to.

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2009 Land of the Sun

Head Veterinarian: Sid Zargas DVM * Rich Kiely DVM * Jim Lytle DVM * Mike Close DVM * Robin Waldron DVM & JoAnn Naylor DVM

When: January 24, 2009 50 mile ride start time 7:00 a.m. - 25 mile ride start time 8:00 a.m.

Where: Rodeo Grounds, Wickenburg, Arizona

Trail: Consists of two 25 mile loops. For the 50 milers there will be a one hour Vet Check at Base Camp and for the 25 milers there will be a one hour Vet Check at approximately 13 miles out at Vet Check One. Base Camp is the finish line for all riders. The trail is single track and old two-track jeep trails with some short sections in sandy washes and one section of graded dirt road for about 4 miles. The trail will have short up and downs and will go back and forth between all the trail descriptions listed above. There are rocks, so please be forewarned and address this condition to your speed at which you will be riding. Elevation at Base Camp is around 2000 feet and none of the trail will go over 3,200 feet in elevation. Beautiful Sonoran Desert and a view of the town of Wickenburg is visible almost all day long as you ride. There will be water every 3-5 miles. There will also be food for riders and horses at all Vet Checks.


Kevin's 2007 ride story
...The start of the ride was a textbook example of how to do it with 66 horses. I started out with Clydea on Czar, Barb Debi, Steph and John. Some were skeptical about the safety of riding the first two miles next to a blacktop road, but it presented no challenges for us. We walked, then we slow trotted, then we medium-trotted, and by mile two we were moving out at an impressive working trot. The ground beneath us began to roll up and down as the sun rose and the horses settled. We turned left off the dirt road and onto the first of countless washes filled to the brim with deep, sandy sand....
..full story

2008 Pictures

2007 Pictures

2006 Pictures

2005 Pictures

2004 Pictures

Land of the Sun Ride 2007 - Kevin Myers

The Rock and Ditch Riders, or Land of The Sand
January 28, 2007

There is nothing more appealing to me than an endurance ride that starts less than 90 minutes from my home. Sleeping in your own bed on the night of the ride is the ultimate luxury.

That is one of a score of reasons why Land of the Sun is a must-do ride. Arizona in January means you may get temperatures in the high 60s, so while New York City was enjoying bone-chilling temperatures in the low 20s, we got to ride in t-shirts this weekend. It goes a long way to offsetting the inhumane Arizona heat of June, July and August. I’ll take it. Thank you very much

CR Zebra Splash is one of those horses you just get spoiled on: he eats, drinks and pees without blinking, and just loves to truck down the trail. He is one of those magical horses that makes the complexity of a successful 50-mile ride surprisingly simple. He camps like a champ by eating his way through the night before. Clydea Hastie has done an incredible job of making this horse a gentlemen with a taste for moving forward.

The start of the ride was a textbook example of how to do it with 66 horses. I started out with Clydea on Czar, Barb Debi, Steph and John. Some were skeptical about the safety of riding the first two miles next to a blacktop road, but it presented no challenges for us. We walked, then we slow trotted, then we medium-trotted, and by mile two we were moving out at an impressive working trot. The ground beneath us began to roll up and down as the sun rose and the horses settled. We turned left off the dirt road and onto the first of countless washes filled to the brim with deep, sandy sand.

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Day Before: The weather looks great! and we're headed to Wickenburg for this total frills ride. Bran, hay, carrots for the horses at every hold, buffet of goodies for riders at every hold, people to hold your horse while you eat at every hold. This will be the 3rd time at this ride for John and I. I'll be riding Jaziret (Rhett) who is moderately fit, and minimally clipped, and we'll see what kind of ride we have once it gets going! John is riding Rushcreek Mac, this will be his second ride with Mac, and he just might be going for another Turtle award. (they have great awards!).
The whole household is going - Rusty on Rocky and Kevin on Far, Brian and Darla (still here on visit from Canada) will come up for the day but won't be riding, Leslie and her mom Linda (here for a visit and Leslie will ride Kevin's other red horse Red), Bill and his girlfriend (who we haven't met yet) - Bill will ride his new mostly broke horse Dude, and his girlfriend will ride Rusty's other gray horse Jack. And Charlie the neighbor will be riding Wyatt (Rusty's Other gray horse, Pan Am team medal winner, all-round awesome endurance horse that is now in his 20's and living the good life with Charlie.
(yes, it's a full house here in Scottsdale, where the days are warm and sunny, and the north country friends are many :)

Steph