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John's photos || Steve Bradley Photos

Stories
Day 1 (Steph) || Day 1 (Kevin) || Day 2 (Steph) || Day 2 (Kevin)

Steve Bradley Photos

Old Pueblo, Day 1 - Steph Teeter

We kept expecting the wind to blow sooner. It was supposed to start yesterday bringing in a cold front. Then last night, but it was cloudy and warm all night (I woke up roasting under all the covers... or maybe it was just hot flashes), and this morning it was still calm and just right - not too hot, not too cold. But just when we got in from the 2nd loop and settled into the hold, a monster gust came in, blowing our buckets hither and yon, sweeping the hay off the ground, grit in the eyes. It sort of settled down again, and we left on the last loop with a nice cooling breeze, but still not too bad.

Now we're done, hunkered in the trailer which is rocking in the wind, ghostly howlings through the vents and windows and under the gooseneck. The horses are standing in the lee of the trailer, eyes closed and just being horses. (maybe a little tired too - we had a FUN ride... and you know what that means :)

The start was lively - everybody was circling for a while waiting for the starter to say go, taking numbers, and all the horses were first- day-fresh. Kevin's lovely gentle Redford was bucking pretty good, Mac and Jaziret were doing the gallop in place thing, and it was a classic yeehaw start. We zoomed over two track roads, and single track cross country, and winding through the trees and brush and then there were lots and lots and lots of gates to open once we got into the big grazing allotment with all the cattle . This was actually good because the horses started getting their brains back after the umpteenth stop-open-go through-close-go. We did the first 20 mile loop in 2 hours - a good steady pace, and came into the first hold somewhere between 10th and 15th place.

We cruised through the second loop nice and easy, John/Mac, Kevin/Red and Jaziret and I taking turns leading. We rode some with Kevin Waters on his pretty palomino firecracker and Stephanie Palmer on her campaigner - another 'mature' horse at 17 and still going strong. The wind was getting stronger, but pleasant riding. When we left on the 3rd and final loop the horses were still strong, but not pulling as much - just right really. Coming in on the last 4 miles we could see a couple riders (Dominique and Joe) ahead of us and we sort of picked up the pace a little. We kept gaining on them and sure enough had to pass them and figured they'd just let us go by and we could trot on in.

We were thinking that we were close to top ten and passing two riders we'd be fer-sure top ten and after we passed them they picked up speed and so did we and before you know it we were galloping in. We came upon Marilyn McCoy (high energy ride manager) who was out there fixing the trail markings - 'last loop? that way!' - and I sort of hesitated and broke into a trot and then heard a little 'go!' and so I did :) We ended up finishing 4th, 5th and 8th (John held Mac back a little) and everybody was grinning, it was energizing. Dian and Kim had left on the last loop in front of us, but taken a wrong trail and did some extra miles, but still finished close behind us. We were surprised with our placing, and of course that made it even more fun!

Susie Kelly and Christoph Schork finished 1st and 2nd (at least 40 minutes in front of us), and Mary (?) finished 3rd. John and I are going to ride slower tomorrow, and Kevin is going to ride his other horse Far. (and fast I think).

Steph




Photos by Steve Bradley

Old Pueblo, Day 1 - Kevin Meyers

Picture a really rough ongoing work environment; the sale and departure of our LQ trailer and an eye injury to one of Rusty's horses on Wednesday out in the pasture. It just did not seem like the universe wanted me to be at the Old Pueblo ride in Sonoita, AZ this weekend.

Steph and John Teeter loaded my two red CMK horses into their trailer with their own two horses; left the house and came and met me just about at my office in downtown Phoenix at 1:30 on Thursday. Sweet!

We made the trip south and west of Tucson and pulled into basecamp at about 4:30. We pulled in next to Steve Bradley so we could hook up to his internet and set up camp. We've spent the last four winters together, so we sorta know what makes each other tick: we were all set up for the four horses in about an hour. Sweet!

We were in bed early - a good 8.5 hours sleep is nice before a multi-day. We left the trailer windows open and enjoyed the warm Arizona night. I hopped up at 5:25 and started coffee; then oatmeal and off to saddle up Redford and take Far over to Clydea's trailer to enjoy the safety of a high-tie for the day.

Soon we were mounted and starting - my quiet little sleeper horse Redford gave a couple of small bucks as we left and before we knew it we were riding nicely with Steph, John, Clydea, Kevin Waters and Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss. The plan was to ride slowly and take it easy, It was not to be.

It was a nice group - we would ride the next 20 flat miles together - at about 12 mph - taking turns to open the numerous gates that would seperate us from the first vet check.

We pulled back into base camp at 20 miles and and 2 hours. The three boys ate and drank well and the 45 minute hold sped by. Steph made a sandwich (why don't my sahnies ever taste like that?) and we got back on and rode out the opposite way from camp. The trail was pretty and the views were stunning. There was some rock, but I've seen worse. It was a good day, and Red, Rhett and Mac were pacing well together, wapping lead place every few miles. The only drag was that we lost the company of Kevin Waters and Stephanie Palmer. They dropped back just out of sight and their company was definitely missed!

We came back into camp about 90 minutes later. The horses were less eager to eat than at the first check, but they ate enough and drank enough and we set back out for a very fast last loop. The three horses paced well together; and within three miles of the finish, we saw Joe Ingram and Dominique.

We'd had such a good ride that we decided we would pass them. They gave us a ride for the money - we all five cantered in (except Dominique's horse was trotting while we were almost galloping) - and breezed in across the finish line in fourth through eighth place.

What a ride! It just does not get any better! Just like Endurance.net says: Ride Far, Ride Well. I plan to do so tomorrow. I'll keep you posted :).

Kevin




Photos by Steve Bradley

Old Pueblo Day 2, Kevin Meyers

Day Two at Old Pueblo in Sonoita was to be a big day for Far and me: I have been building speed on him since last October and I knew I wanted to hold him back less and let him move out more this weekend.

He was saddled and ready to go only moments before the start time and I had planned to start at the front of the pack, so I had to rush to get to the number-taker and make my way up towards the front of the pack. Far is the kind of horse that makes you feel nervous just getting on him and feeling how close he is to his untamed side.

He was as good as a pro and just happy to move out. I caught up to Clydea who was riding her husband's horse, Pepe, for the first time. We shared with each other how nervous we were and before long we were moving out down the hard-packed service road - Clydea at an extended trot and Far at a canter with lots of loft. He was very forward and did not respond to the bit or to my constant requests to bend a little at the pole. I have been working on his canter for several weeks now - he seems mechanically more suited to that gait than the trot most of the time, so this was to be an experiment with a different gait, too.

We climbed up and along a valley draw in a pack of six or eight people; alternating the gate-opening duty as we went along. We turned off onto the single track which would signify the start of crossing three or four climbs and some breathtaking views that would make your heart sing. Far was strong and pulled hard, no matter what the gait or the speed. We were up in the front five and the terrain was getting more technical and more challenging.

We passed the number taker at the road and saw the refreshment station for the runners who were out there sharing some of the trails with us on their 51 mile ordeal. As we climed up the mountain, Christoph Shork jumped off and started running. Suddenly I found myself up front and alone - which had not been the plan at all - and as I looked at the three different sets of ribbons going off in various directions and various colors, I quickly regretted not taking better note at the ride meeting of which robbons to follow. Far and I moved along, me with my map in hand, and Far following a trail with not a horse print in sight. It was a strange feeling and after a while I began to doubt myself. I slowed the pace down with the hope of hearing horses behind me and sure enough, Christoph and Clydea came upon me after a while. Phew.

We rode together for several miles, stopping at water where the horses would hardly drink, then down the hard-packed service road, past the runner's cars and down into a valley that would give Far ample miles to enjoy his negotaited canter. There were still more gates - too many to count.

Carrie Miracle Jordan appeared out of nowhere at a canter, and she and Christoph set off at a faster pace and soon Clydea and I were alone. Far settled into a much more manageable mindframe, we trotted more and catered less and within the hour we would see some 25 milers heading home: we knew the 30-mile out vet check was within a mile or so.

We pulled into lunch, pulsed, trotted and let the horses eat their way through the next hour. Christoph and Carrie were about five minutes ahead of us - we had a ten mile loop out - up and along a ridge, back down into a wash and to the ranch before circling back up over a mountain to the out check for a trot-by. Far and Pepe were pacing well - Far still prefering to canter and settling in to a really nice groove. We trotted by the vet and started the 12 plus mile trip back home the way we had left in the morning.

We knew Troy and Garret were fairly close behind us and as the miles turned, we began to feel quite attached to a top four placing opportunity, so we maintained our speed, and became quite skilled at opening and closing the remaining eight gates between the out check and base camp without dismounting.

The horses drank at the water tanks and maintained a good pace and good attitude. They even did well as we passed the people on the trail who were enjoying a little target practice.

We crossed the finish line hand in hand just before 1:30 with a ride time of just under 5.5 hours. What a rush! Clydea and I tied for third place - it is years and years and years since I finished at that end of the pack. Far's CRI was 52/52 at the one-hour re-presentation and his trot-out made me proud.

Thank you, Clydea, for an amazing ride! And thank you, Leslie Sptizer, for introducing me to this amazing equine. What a horse! Is he a horse!


Old Pueblo Day 2 (or Land of a Thousand Gates) - Steph's Story

Really, I'm quite sure I've never opened (and watched John open) as many gates on a ride as we did yesterday. not that I'm complaining... it was good training. It could have been worse - at least half of them (500+) were small horse-width gates with latches that could be opened and closed on horseback, horse willing. But good grief they must have small grazing lots in that part of the country to have so many fences and gates. But the grass -was- abundant everywhere we rode, and they can certainly manage the pastures better with smaller lots. (compared to the Owyhee country where fences and gates are few and far between... but so is the grass).

But - it was a spectacular ride. Lots of single track trail, winding up the mountains and down the mountains. Dirt roads winding through grassy hills, rocky mountain trails - picking the footing, slow enough to appreciate the sweeping vistas. Mountain ranges, foothills covered with last year's grass (still gold and brown) dotted with live oaks, and mesquite, and prickly pear. Juniper, century plant, agave, cedar, ocotillo ... an abundance, a variety. Many oohs and ahs all day. A cool sunny morning, perfect riding temperature. The air had cleared from the previous day's wind and dust. Warm in the afternoon, but never too hot. Really pretty all day.

Kevin and Clydea shot up front at the start of the ride, but John and I planned on riding slower. This would be the last ride of the southwest winter tour and the horses have both worked hard and I thought they might be tired. (not). But anyway we decided to take it easy. We pretty much rode mid-pack the first half of the day - a 28 mile loop - gorgeous, but we were ready for lunch when we got there.

We negotiated our planned (slower) ride throughout the morning. Mac is hungry. can't he eat while he's walking? Mac needs to rest. can't he rest while he's trotting? I thought you said slow. Isn't this slow? Jaziret was pulling the entire day, which is a wonderful thing in the grand scheme of endurance, but not conducive to slow. It's one thing to go slow on a horse that is content to go slow... but it's very hard on a horse that wants fast. I think we did a pretty good compromise myself!

The front runners were still at the hour hold when we got there. Kevin and Clydea both looked happy - moving along in 3rd and 4th place, horses strong. Kevin on Far (and fast), and Clydea on Jim's off-the-track horse Peppy (fast). Kevin said he was holding Far in the entire way. That horse is the border collie of horses - hyper - he even trots back and forth to food/water/shade/rest in the paddock. He's high energy. And so is Kevin... watch out. We had a really nice one hour hold, warm sun, the horses never stopped eating. Then headed out for the 2nd half of the ride.

Both horses were really really strong - pushing each other on - and I was hauling on the reins the entire way. We made good time and got back to camp around 3pm - a 7 hour (more or less) ride time over 55 miles. A little faster than what I had anticipated, but a great ride to cap the winter season! Both Mac (300 miles since Jan 10) and Jaziret (350 miles since Jan 10) looked fantastic.

Day 3 was supposed to be even prettier - using part of the new 'Arizona Trail. But we couldn't stay for the 3rd day because of other obligations. But - we had 2 good rides and it was a good time to stop. Now the horses will get a good long rest.

Sometimes you get the good times! No lameness, no problems (except for Rocky and Rusty who had to stay home from this ride because Rocky managed to cut his eyelid the day before), good weather, good company, it's been a wonderful 2 1/2 months 'down south'.

Marilyn and her friends made some really fun and unique awards for this ride. We received Indian 'spears' for top ten yesterday - wooden sticks festooned with beads and feathers and a wooden spear tip - really cute. Just right for a little dance around the fire, shaking the spear in the air, a little coyote yip, and thanking the ride gods for another good one!

Steph