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2009 Strawberry Fields Forever
Images by Merri Melde
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Merri Stories: A Ride in Utah! || Strawberry Fields Forever - Day 1 || Strawberry Fields Forever - Day 2
Strawberry Fields Forever - Day 3

2009 Strawberry Fields Forever

Photos by Merri Melde

Day 1 and 2
Day 3

Photos by Vicki Gaebe - Park City Photography


BRIEF RESULTS - COMPLETE RESULTS at Aerc.org

DAY 1 - 25 miles

1. Suzie Barbour - Kenlyn Tuxedo
2. Georgia Karbe - Khan
3. Bill Fullmer - Emmie Lou

Day 1 - 55 miles

1. Jan Bright - Casino
2. Scott Graves - Amazing Ku
3. Christoph Schork - DWA Powerball

Day 2 - 25 miles

1. Suzie Barbour - Kenlyn Tuxedo
2. Beth Buzis - CL Calais
3. John Buzis - TR Phantom

Day 2 - 50 miles

1. Garrett Ford - GE Cyclone
2. Christoph Schork - Double Zell
3. Tennessee Mahoney - DW Khyber

Day 3 - 25 miles

1. Suzie Barbour - Kenlyn Tuxedo
2. Bill Fullmer - Emmie Lou
3. Elizabeth Ekberg - Hazzie

Day 3 - 50 miles

1. Laura Yost - OT El Din RSI
2. Gentry Yost - OT Rafisa RSI
3. Martin Abrams - M Star Amazing Grace

Monday June 22 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever - Day 3

Well, I can't say I was TOO disappointed about not riding 50 miles today, as Sue and I hunkered down in her trailer early in the morning, watching the rain stream down the windows, and watching the horses stick their heads down and their butts to the gusting rain. Nor was I complaining as I poured myself a third cup of Starbucks coffee, perked in Sue's Moka Expresso Maker on her stove in her horse trailer, as she put on layers of clothes underneath her raincoat, preparing to go out.

I did have a little twinge of jealousy, however, as the 16 die-hard 50-milers and the 4 25-milers headed out on the trail, shafts of sun very briefly poking through the clouds and mist as riders whooped and yee-hawed their way northward up the canyon, back into the mist. I went back to the trailer and had another cup of coffee.

The lunch vet check was out of camp, at the Corrals way up Bjorkman road. I went there with Linda Howard, who had ridden the first two days (on her horse that almost drowned in a bog here a couple of years ago), and who was crewing today for her nephew. She had me drive so she could finish her breakfast, and it was all fine until we got to the corrals - where the road turned to a sea of mud in a meadow. Oh dear! I gunned it and whipped the steering wheel wildly back and forth (a learned desperate habit from the sands of Dubai!) so we wouldn't get stuck, and made it to some dry ground and parked. "YOU get to drive back!" I said to Linda.

Although she didn't ride today, you could also call Linda a hard core endurance rider. Last year she was in a cast from her neck to her waist, after breaking her neck - on Mother's Day. Of course she's back riding now. Linda has over 8600 miles, and over 21 seasons of riding, she has only 4 pulls! And one of those was a Rider Option - the Almost-Bog-Drowning!

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Sunday June 21 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever - Day 2


Photo by Vicki Gaebe - Park City Photography
If you want to know what the weather is going to do for the day, don't listen to the forecast (yesterday was supposed to be rainy, today was supposed to be the best day). Just look south out the door of your horse trailer when you get up to see what's headed your way.

Headed our way this morning was rain. Gray everywhere, dark clouds, and rain. It was already wet from rain during some of the night.

If you want to know what to wear, check out what Dave Rabe is wearing. Tank top with his shorts, and raincoat? If so, I only needed 2 layers. That's what I put on under the raincoat Sue loaned me. She offered me a bright yellow, stiff, body length raincoat, which would have kept me dry, too warm, and unable to bend my arms. So I opted for a 99 cent plastic job stored in her tack room door for emergencies. I left my camera behind though... didn't want to take a chance on getting it wet.

I don't think any of us 50-some riders in the 50 and 25 milers were bothered by the rain, especially since we'd gotten such a wonderful freebie good day yesterday. Khan was more relaxed starting out - no shaking while we saddled up, and only a mimimal of jigging. He felt very strong underneath me, and was very willing to move on down the trail. That's what you love to feel on a multi-day ride - your horse feeling stronger the next day.

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Saturday June 20 2009

Strawberry Fields Forever - Day 1

You never quite know, when you climb on a horse for the first time 5 minutes before the start of a 50-mile endurance ride, what you will be in for. Is he going to run off with me or dump me? I REALLY don't want to get hurt. Will we get along, or will we be fighting all day - is it going to be fun or miserable? And what about the horse? I REALLY don't want to tie up or colic or hurt someone else's horse.

By the same token, someone who loans you one of their horses to ride that you get on 5 minutes before you leave the starting line, never knows how you and their horse are going to get along, or what they are going to have left at the finish.

And so it was, that just before the start of Day 1's 55-mile ride I climbed on Sue's horse Amazing Khan for the first time, to take him through only his second endurance ride. "He gets a bit excited," Sue said, "but nothing bad." We were letting most everybody go ahead of us because we were going to hang out a pie plate showing the way on Day 2, after all the riders had passed today's turn off. That was probably good for me, so my horse wouldn't have a pile of horses and riders to deal with around the start and down the trail.

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Friday June 19 2009

A Ride in Utah!

It started with an email from Sue Hedgecock to Steph: "Would any of you like to whip down here, relax and ride at Strawberry?? What would it take??"

A 3-day ride in Utah?? All it took for me was an offer of a horse to ride.

"Do you like a tall horse or a short horse; can you tolerate a sensitive horse, or do you want to be more laid back? What do you want to ride? 25's? 50's? All the days?"

My requirements were 1) a horse that preferably does not buck, because I only stay on them about half the time, 2) a horse that is not crazy, because I prefer to have fun (my motto is, "Lazy is better than Crazy!"), and 3) ride 50's every day!

Sue's only requirement was, "Bring your Starbucks!"

With enough gear to make it look like I was moving to Utah, I caught a ride from Idaho with the rather famous northwest endurance horse Frank, and his driver Tom Noll, to the ridecamp at 8200' up the Strawberry River valley in the Uintah mountains - the highest mountain range in Utah.

Put on by Howard Kent for the 7th year, the Strawberry Fields Forever Endurance Ride webpage says "The terrain is challenging, but not difficult, with trails winding through aspens and meadows filled with wildflowers and spectacular mountain scenery. The area is blessed with some of the most pristine, gorgeous riding terrain imaginable."

(I also noticed the "You can expect the occasional thunder shower so come prepared" - yikes!). On the trails, if I could peel my eyes away from the scenery, I'd be on the lookout for deer, elk, moose, beaver, and bears that lived in the Uintah range. Doesn't it all make your endurance muscles quiver with anticipation!

By the time we pulled into ridecamp Friday afternoon, the sun was out - first time in days, as the area had been hammered by rain/hail/thunderstorms.

We were set up for a gorgeous weekend of mountain endurance riding in Utah.

Merri