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Big Horn 100 - Shell, Wyoming

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Survivor!! Big Horn 2011!! - Kevin Waters

Tuesday July 19 2011

Just got back from one of the most beautiful rides of the AERC . It has EVERYTHING! you could ever ask for in an endurance ride/race. It is missing many basics but you cant have everything-right? definitly not for the faint of heart.While this is one of the Big Three endurance rides in the US along with Tevis and Old Dominion it is also a ride you must prepare for and you have to understand that you will be up in a remote area alone.Thisis the challenge ! If you or your horse have any issues you have to solve them alone . There is no plan in evidence to help you out if you or your horse or friends get hurt. there are no cell phones no radios nor ride managment commnication. You better take care of your ride and yourself because if you or your horse stopped for any reason you will have to hike out on your own go to camp and beg,borrow or steal a trailer to get your own horse out. ( i observed several people going up in the morning getting their horses alone. If you come in too late to a vet check there wont be one for you! Deal with it!

The Trail; probably the toughest , most scenic challenging trail you will find in the Endurance world . This trail is your reward and really the only reward you will need or get ! It goes from about 4200' to 10200' and up and down MANY times in between! There are bogs,mud,rocks,uphills,downhills,heat, views,trees,moose,bears,elk,deer,deep water,shallow water,more rocks. This year it was well marked for the 100!

not so well for the 50s or 60s as it turned out!

The vets were great! helpful,interested in the ride,interested in your horse. happy and friendly all day and all night long.

Volunteers; While this a very remote ride and the volunteers were few the ones that were there were wonderful. Tim French was at several of the vet checks and offered coffee and accurate trail descriptions. In the absence of a ride manager for most of the ride several volunteers and vets stepped in and kept us going in the right directions,doing paper work,calming people down and trying to ask questions

Friends ; A must ! and in particuliar a friend that ..e.id it the year before and has all the gps trail info. This is essential-ask the 50s!. But it's good to have a committee to decide which of the trail to take.Also neccessary if something goes wrong -remember there will be no help so you need someone to stay with the horses and someone to search for a trailer or vet or a way out.

GPS ; a must have because everyone will tell you a different way to go, give you wrong distance and landmark information with complete confidence that they are correct. However 32 miles is still 32 miles even if the person tells you it's 21! Lack of ribbons or marking wrong can make a ride difficult!

Ride Management; Thank You!for keeping this historical ride/race going! I know it must be hard. Tom Van Gelder and Jeanette Tolman ,Thanks. I know you must just keep it going for the history and for Tom. No ride managers were available for the Preride Meeting or thje Awards . Ride managemnt asked people to stay for a hot breakfast and awards at 830 Sunday,changed it to 10. they didn't show nor did thje breakfast. However Keri Greer broke out some Hostess twinkkee type rolls and juice. Tom Van G kind of gave us some pictures and placings. The volunteer photographer and his wife organized the placings

Someone got a hold of Jeanette at 10;30 to ask why she wasn't there.S he said shehad a meeting to go to and would be down after 11;30! This is understandable as the awards thing was only scheduled months ahead of time and many people who had come from 200 to 2000 miles away and had just ridden 20 plus hours on their horses and had to go home could wait.

This Ride is a part of AERC History, a great ride.

If you get a mixed messge from this that's kind of how you leave the ride However if you finish you leave happy because you know you and your horse have done a Friggin Great JoB in spite of it all!! You are pretty sure ride management wanted to do a ride. You love the volunteers!the vets! your friends! the people you met! steph and mary for crewing! Garmin! the Joe's father for making fajitas at the last vet check! the Stalleysand their friends for toughing it out on the mountain! and the friendly people in wyoming!!

Kevin Waters