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2010 Biltmore
Images by Sandra Fretellier

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Photos by Sandra Fretelliere

Stories: Mary Howel || Sandra Arrival || Sandra Ride Meeting

Results Posted
Friday April 30 - - Sandra Fretelliere

On Friday morning, the already very packed camp was still having trailers coming in, a lot of people to finally get to meet in person (vs facebook).

I'm trying to keep twist barefoot and booted for conditioning/racing so I had planed to meet with jeremy Reynolds (representing easycare) so he could put glue ons on Twist but the ground/grass was still dewy at 8:30, so we waited until 10, in the mean time we went to get the registration papers. After Jeremy glued the boots on Twist it was almost time for The FEI horses to be vetted in , so I went to take some pictures.

I would like to give particular attention to a couple of young riders who were trying to qualify for the youth championships hapenning in July. I managed to get some information on some of them and will report soon. I'm very pleased to see for the 2nd year the youth championship being a real endurance event, challenging all the young riders, i'm calling myself a baby endurance rider, as i do not have a lot of experience and I admire young persons like Kyle Gibbon, Josie McGhee, Steven Hay that are barely half my age but they all have so much more experience, they are very inspiring to me and I hope to a lot of people and to a lot of juniors.

I do think north america is lacking young riders and junior riders, they are the future of our sport.

Back to Biltmore:

So time to go get vetted, jen and I go together since twist and snicks are SO attached to eachother. I'm happy to get vetted by Art King, I met Art at my 1st ride in 2006 and see him to most of the rides I go to.

Many horses to get vetted but it's well organized and there was no line. Both horses vetted in at 36 and all As :-)

Time to go ride a little bit, Jen wanted to have a solo ride on snickers, so I tacked up Twist and off we went, I wanted to go for a 1 hour easy ride, but when i decided to go back, the trails got a little trickier and I end up doing almost 10 miles in over and hour and a half, a little longer than I wanted but Twist was great, I hosed her off quickly, walked her and put her back in her pen, it was almost time to go to the ride meeting, so I showered and ahead towards the tent.

The ride meeting was a little confusing, going back and forth between 50, 75 and the 100, but all in all, it was quite easy, I marked the order of my loops with their distance on my forearm so i would remember during the ride.

The dinner was really good, with some yummy black currant cobbler with REAL whip cream!

Everyone went to bed early, I walked the horses one last time and called it a night too.

Thursday April 29 - Sandra Fretelliere

We arrived at biltmore Thursday around 11am (we would be Jen, her husband John, their son CJ, Pam a friend coming to crew).

Let me describe what would be my day before arriving at Biltmore, starting Wednesday morning:

7:30AM - Brooklyn: waking up, check up one last time if I packed everything I need for Biltmore
9:30AM - Soho - NYC : work in a retouching studio ("photoshoping" some models and products)
7:00PM - Penn Station - NYC : hoping on the train to get to Hamilton (1+ hour train)
8:20PM - Hamilton NJ : car drive to get to the barn (thanks Shana) 45 min

9:05PM - Stockton NJ : arrived to the barn, Jen and I usaully get everything ready the previous weekend of a ride.
10:00PM - Stockton NJ : leaving for a long trip to Biltmore, I don't drive (I need to get a US license, procrastinating, me???), so Jen and John are the driving gurus, thanks guys!

11:00AM - BILTMORE! Yeah!

Talk about a long day, but it is always worth it, because I always get to ride nice trails with good friends and horses.

So, as you can read, we had a 13 hours drive and did it at night and we all loved it.

There were already a lot of people when we arrived. We got told to park in the 2nd field, we were the 1st in there! The weather was beautiful and we got set up in no time.

Twist (my new mare) and snickers (jen's horse) are easy campers. So once they were all set, we were able to go say hi to old friends and make new ones.

Jen and I went for a short ride and enjoyed the little bit of trails we did. Nice soft footing on single tracks in the forest, a lot of sneaky roots to watch out for though!

Talk about a long day, but it is always wor Once the horses were fed and tucked in their pen, we went to town to have diner, we were all so tired we stopped at the 1st place serving food, a TGI's Friday (I know all the way to North Carolina and we picked a chain place), it did the trick, a little food, a little beer and a huge dessert, we then went to get gas and had a good laugh being brain washed because we were all so exhausted.

So back to camp and to bed, a good night of rest to be ready for Friday.

To quote Amigo, we all had a ACN.


Mary's Biltmore Story - Mary Howell

This was my 11th year at Biltmore. I was transporting a friend's horse from SE Virginia and planning to crew for that friend and a few others in the FEI 100. We arrived just before dawn on Friday to find camp already almost full. After a few hours sleep, I headed over to registration to sell raffle tickets to help subsidize this year's AERC championship (visit www.2010aercnationalchampionship.com for details). While there, I enjoyed catching up with old friends and meeting new ones as folks came by our table after registering.

Early that afternoon, Kathy Downs asked my if I could ride a horse for her in the 50. After checking with those I'd promised to crew for, who were very understanding, I squeezed in registration and vetting "Gibby" along with my other duties. To check tack, I took him out for a half hour before the ride briefing, and de-spooked him on the big rock you pass near the start. He was leery at first but then started licking it like a salt block - too funny!

Friday afternoon was windy and fairly cool, but ride morning was much warmer than the previous morning and I knew we were in for it. The 50's 7am start was mellow, thanks to Jeannie Waldron and Sarah Fletcher, who led at a steady trot. I enjoyed riding behind Meg Sleeper's veteran horse "Troy," who never broke a trot and barely broke a sweat as he negotiated the trail. HIs rider, Sarah from NH, was one of the many young riders there prepping for the Young Riders Championship in July.

Since this was Gibby's first 50, I eventually slowed up and came into the first hold around 8:40. Kathy's husband Stan helped me crew while I ran back to the trailer for a t-shirt and my favorite reins. Leaving on the 2nd loop, I hooked up with Leigh Ann Pauley who set a great pace. The first part of the trail went along the woods behind my rig, so I called out through the trees to my now-retired Shiloh, who was serving as a buddy horse that weekend and whinnied back as he recognized my voice. He seemed glad to have the day off!

After a long drink at the water tub, our horses headed off the riverbed into the hills and that's when my left stirrup broke as the bolt holding its bar in place came unscrewed. I sent Leigh Ann on while figuring out how to patch it together. Claire, a SE region rider who caught up to me, loaned me some wire but I ended up using my sponge string after taking about 15 minutes to try patching with the wire.

I needed to go slower anyway since Gibbey's owner wants to take him through the FEI series, which means 3 50s slower than 5 hours before trying an FEI 50. I rode the last half of the 2nd loop with Natalie Muzzio and Steven Hay, who were great company. Gibbey vetted through around 11:40, and by that time the heat and trail were starting to take their toll. My friend Sarah Schick's horse Legs was off so she was out of the 50, which was a real bummer since it was her birthday. Megan, my friend in the FEI 100, had also pulled. Teddy at RunningBear was very hepful in trying to help with my stirrup, but since we couldn't find the right size bolt and nut, I borrowed a stirrup from Lynn Kennelly,.

With no other horses to pull him along, Gibby was sluggish leading out on the last loop so we just walked along in the sun and heat until Steven Hay caught up. He explained that Natalie had rider optioned. They pulled us along at a better pace and halfway through, Sandy Thompson, one of my teammates (Biltmore lets you pick teams and gives out special awards) came blazing by on her wonderful mare. We stayed with her a bit, but then slowed since Steven just needed a completion to be able to go to Young Riders and I was close to being under the 5 hour mark. We crossed 8th and 9th with a 5 hour 6 minute ride time. I was so proud of Gibbey, who was 9 but had just been under saddle about a year. Kathy said I could ride him again for her!

Now I put on my crew hat and started helping Eone, Megan Savory's protege from South Africa who had already qualified for the WEG in Kentucky on one of Megan's other horse and was now trying to qualify a second horse, the same one I had ridden with Megan in the 2009 Biltmore 100. Shammi is an elegant, gentle Saddlebred cross who is easy to crew and trot out. I also enjoyed watching other finishing up their rides - Nicky Meuten's horse, who won the 75, looked fantastic cantering out on the last loop.

Sarah and went into town to get supplies and watch the Derby (I'd promised Eone some ice cream when she came into her last hold around 7:30pm). We drank margaritas in a nearby sports bar and had a great time watching the TB's who looked like they'd been mud wrestling as they came around the muddy track. That rain was heading our way from Kentucky, but it was still hot when we got back to camp and the pink of cookies and cream disappeared in about 10 minutes between Eone and Austin Shaffer, who she was sponsoring since Deb Shaffer's horse had been pulled.

Standing by the finish line around 9:30, we first watched Samantha Sandler and Elliptic canter across all by themselves looking great. Our riders came in about a half hour later (ended up 3rd and 4th), as spurts of rain came down here and then. By the time Shammi finished vetting through and I'd shown her for BC, it was well after 11pm and time for bed.

At awards the next morning, we learned the completion rate was lower than usual - 70% of the 50s and only about 50% of the 75s and 100s completed. There were some hard luck stories, but one of the worst was the horse Anne Hall sold to Mr Hasumi. She had flown the horse in from California and he had flown in from Japan, only for the horse to step on a screw somewhere between his pen and the way to the vets in and not even be able to start. Ann was amazingly composed when we talked, saying at least the vets caught it before it could have been a career ending injury.

Sarah had a chance to have the vets check her horse before we left and fortunately his lameness appears due to a minor issue. We were on the road by 10:30am and I reflected how fortunate my Biltmore experience had been (Our team of Sandy, Ruth Sturley and myself was 2nd team in the 50).

Every year, Biltmore can serves up a share of disappointment, but if you hang in there long enough in this sport, you'll eventually have enough good days to make up for the bad luck ones and be able share in the joys of your friends when they have their GREAT days!

Angie McGhee's news and stories and photos from a previous Biltmore
Angie's Story:
John knew we were riding and he'd take what he could get. Add to that rain on rain and it's hard to pull out any electrical equipment to get destroyed. Then add in trying to gather info to send in while crewing for a wife & daughter with the truck a 1/2 mile MUDDY walk away...and you *know* there's always something you forgot to bring to the check that they've decided they want. (wouldn't it be nice if the sponge water was HEATED a little??)
So..Bill rose to the occasion (more or less...somewhat he says) and kept up with the front runners while trying to keep us up and going.
The ride started in RAIN. We *did* get to saddle up in the dry, but then the sprinkles became a steady light shower. Unfortunately they'd had HEAVY rains Thursday and the ground was saturated already. I've done this 100 after a night of rain when the trails held up well, but I guess the Thursday rain had a big affect and in no time it was an absolute MESS. First loop 15.4 miles wasn't too horrible, but it was getting there. First thing I heard at the first check was that Val's horse got pulled. He was a *big* gray and has some definite issues with the blanket they put on him afterwards and a lot of big eyed people were waving their arms describing the rodeo that ensued. :-P

her story

About the Biltmore

The Biltmore Equestrian Center, located on the grounds of George Vanderbilt’s historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, will host the sixteenth annual Biltmore Challenge Endurance Ride on May 1, 2010. Three distances will be offered: 50 miles, 75 miles, and 100 miles. All riders will be entered in the AERC Open category. Riders will have the option to enter the FEI (open FEI and Young Rider FEI) rides (separate entry required) with additional qualifications and rules. Riders will also have the option to enter the AHA local ride competitions (separate entry required) that have additional qualifications and rules. If entered in the AHA event, sweepstakes points can be accumulated for sweepstakes-nominated Arabian and Half-Arabian entries.

Team Competitions ! The Biltmore Challenge will also host team competitions, open to all riders within the 100-mile, 75-mile, and 50-mile AERC competitions. At least two full teams within the same distance are required to have team competition awards. Form your own team of four riders, with time for the top three finishers on each team counting towards awards. This is a good opportunity to practice team riding.... Check out how strategy and opportunities change in this environment!

General Conditions: Built in 1895, the Estate trails promise a challenging ride along the French Broad River and over rolling hills and low mountains. Pads are often used but are not necessary. We recommend that all horses be shod. Breast collars/cruppers may be helpful. Each loop will circle back to a central vetting area adjacent to the main camping area. Weather is somewhat unpredictable in early May, but it is usually humid with temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s.