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Ride Day

The Owyhee River Challenge Endurance Ride, as Told By the Horses

by Merri Melde

You might want to read this article on the Kentucky Derby, by the Kentucky Derby horses, here first.

May 16 2019

Phinneas: I won, I won, I won the Owyhee River Challenge 50 to add to the rest of my impressive life resumé. I always win. I even won a cattle drive once. I always win because I am badass and handsome and THE GRANDSON OF THE BLACK STALLION.

DWA Saruq: He didn't win. He actually finished 8th. I finished 7th. And he thinks he won a cattle drive??!! He did not seriously just say that?!

Phinneas: I came to the Owyhee River Challenge with my neighbors August and Saruq. August is OK. Saruq always thinks he's hot stuff because he used to be a racehorse. However, *I* am THE GRANDSON OF THE BLACK STALLION. For real. That trumps everything and everybody.

DWA Saruq: Actually, Phinneas is a *great* grandson of The Black Stallion. But who really cares.

August: I did the 25 with Carol, so I didn't have to deal with the GOTBS drama at all. I'm all about no drama, as long as my boots are on right and my hair is combed and I am presentable.

Phinneas: I am so badass, even though Merri was going to ride me on the 50, Connie got on before the start and bucked me out so that I wouldn't buck Merri off like I almost did 2 years ago at the start (I tried so hard!). I'm 21 and I can buck harder than a rodeo bronc if I want to. And sometimes, I just want to. Because I'm a badass. And, Grandson of The Black Stallion.

DWA Saruq: I just grazed while Connie and Phinneas warmed up out of his shenanigans.

Fire Mt Malabar: I am 20 and I'm the real star here, 7200 miles and 47 Best Conditions, but I like to keep a low profile.

WMA Proclaim: I'm a former racehorse too. I didn't really like to run much. Endurance is so much better. And call me Riley.

Jackpot Jackson: I'm the real story here. I'm a rescue and I haven't told anybody about my past. I like keeping it a mystery. But endurance riding is the best. And you can call me Jack.

Second Chance Fance: I'm a rescue too. And I'm so cute. And my owner Nance just retired, notice how our names rhyme, and we are going to be doing a lot more riding together!

Phinneas: We didn't get out on the trail first, because of the buck-out thing, but I took off at a roar because I was for sure going to catch those 7 or 8 horses that charged out in front of me! Merri was trying to tell me to slow down. I always know what I'm doing, and I am always right. So don't tell me what to do.

DWA Saruq: Whatever. We've got 50 miles to go, dude. Chill.

Phinneas: Here I am, roaring down the trail, pulling mightily on Merri and looking so terrifically splendid and impressively masculine with my head bowed to my chest and my mane magnificently flowing in the breeze, leading Saruq of course, and what do you know, within 3 miles we'd caught up with the front runners. They seemed to be coming back in our direction, but anyway, by golly I caught them and ended up right behind them! We passed the photographer and my trot was bigger than a World Equestrian Games dressage horse. I can't wait to see the pictures. I can't wait to see Merri's face and see if she was grinning or grimacing. She wouldn't let me canter because she was afraid I might dump her for the picture.

DWA Saruq: I cantered by the photographer on a loose rein.

Phinneas: Those front runners got out of sight again, but I knew I was going to win anyway, and I kept charging hard. We went up and down and around, and then up this long hill, through a gate, and back down the hill, then through another gate, then down and down this long 2-track dirt road that was great for trotting. I was in front of Saruq of course and having a ball, when Merri pointed out to me that there were no other horse hoof prints on our trail - I WAS WINNING!!! I told you I was going to win.

DWA Saruq: I ate a lot of good grass along the way there. Phinneas missed out.

Phinneas: The only thing that slowed me down near the bottom of this two-track was this big bad bull sauntering down the road right in front of us. I am badass, but I know better than to mess with a bull. So we walked the rest of the way down to the canal then went waaaaaaay around him and his girlfriends.

DWA Saruq: That's where some horses who'd gone off trail caught up and passed us, but I don't think Phinneas noticed, because I stuck my tongue out at him and pretended I was going to get in front of him. He didn't like that. This next stretch of uphill sandy trail was loaded with arrowleaf balsamroot. I LOVE the taste of those yellow flowers. While our riders babbled about the beauty, I just ate them as we walked along. I was thinking, Yea, they are beautiful, in my gut!

Phinneas: Since I was winning, I ate some of the yellow flowers and grass while I walked. It just added rocket fuel to my Go-Go-Go, and then I went some more!

Buddy: This was my first 50. I did my first 25 at Eagle Canyon 2 weeks ago. I was going great guns this morning with the front runners till we all missed a turn somewhere and ended up behind a bunch of horses. Then we started catching up again, and I was about to pass this big black horse and WHOA, he like had a total conniption fit, like it was such a HYUGE DEAL I was catching up to him and wanting to pass, and his rider took him off the trail for me to get by. I got out of there fast because I've never seen such a hissy fit. It might be because I am palomino and gorgeous and maybe he was jealous of me.

Phinneas: Some horse had the nerve to come up behind me and try to pass me! I almost let him have it but then I found myself off the trail and I couldn't get at him. No worries. I'd get in front of him again later.

OMR Pristine: I passed this handsome bay dude and this handsome black dude with a long flowy showy mane. I saw the black one give that golden boy a fit when he passed, but I think he was mesmerized by my seductive trot, because he just bowed his head and pulled on his rider hard, and then he tripped and almost fell down. And then he was all embarrassed because he scrambled back up and just bowed his neck and pulled harder on the reins. I pretended I did not see him trip to save his face.

DWA Saruq: And then we rode down into this red canyon to a creek, and we drank and got splashed with cool water while that photographer guy took our picture again. We ate grass but then Phinneas had a burr up his butt, something about winning, even though we hadn't even finished half the ride, so we moved on to camp for the vet check and lunch.

Phinneas: That first loop was such a piece of cake for me because I am so fit and fabulous. And Saruq was behind me the whole way!

DWA Saruq: Only because I let him. Who cares. I ate a lot of yummy food on the trail.

Fire Mt Malabar: Blusterball Phinneas did not see Naomi and I, and JAC WInterhawk and Lee, heading out on loop 2 ahead of him. Neener neener.

Phinneas: After lunch in camp, loop two turned out to be exactly the same trail as loop one. These humans must not have noticed that they had already ridden this trail. I ate more flowers though. And because it was hotter in the afternoon, this loop I stopped at all the water troughs and the canal to drink and get sponged off.

Cows: What are these same horses all doing back in our canal again?

Phinneas: Connie and Merri had the big idea to stop and take my picture in a particularly lush field of yellow flowers. It was annoying, because I needed to keep bombing down the trail in front so I could win, but, I will admit that I looked pretty magnificently stunning, so it was worth the Kodak Moment.

DWA Saruq: He did look pretty fetching, almost like a great grandson of the Black Stallion.

Phinneas: Here we were again, heading for that red canyon. We passed that golden horse that passed me earlier. Neener neener, told you I'd pass him. His rider was sick. We sent the photographer, who was again in that canyon, out to rescue her, so I was like a total hero on top of being the winner and the grandson of the Black Stallion. Then on the way out of the canyon, we passed that pretty mare, who thinks I am hot stuff. She winked at me.

DWA Saruq: It was me she winked at.

Phinneas: And before I knew it, here we were coming up the hill into camp, and everybody, horse and human, had their eyes on *This Guy* as I came across the finish line. I WON!!!!!

DWA Saruq: I finished 7th and Phinneas finished 8th. Really. But don't tell him that. He still thinks he won and it's best to keep it that way. Just get my saddle off and let me roll in the dirt. Like, now, before I roll with my saddle on.

August: I finished my 25 much earlier in the day, and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging and eating!

Fire Mt Malabar: What did I tell you? Second place, and Best Condition #48. But I didn't point that out to Phinneas.

The Regional ApHC trail ride was a huge success last year, ride all you want May 9-12, 2019! Ride one day $35 a day or all 4 trail ride days for $125, 4 day entries receive a hoody if you enter by April 20. If you want your ApHC recreational miles to count for your Appaloosa you have to be an ApHC member. You can trail ride on any breed of horse or mule, switch horses or ride the same horse/mule. Each loop is marked, you ride out when you like, report in on your return, ride at your own pace. So far I have a 20, 15, 13, 10, 8, 5 Your choice. NO dogs on the trail please. Please pre enter, there is an entry doc at the top of this page.

MAY 9 Thursday - start when you want after 9 AM, start at noon, start at 5 PM, basically whenever you want just be in by dark. Go in a group or ride out alone. Go in the morning, have lunch, ride out again. Lots of choices. Just ride. ​

May 10 Friday - Pick a trail and ride, start when you want. ​

Vet in for the 25-55 mile AERC endurance ride begins at 3 PM. Last day to enter AERC rides. No Saturday entries or vetting. Ride meeting and trail recognition etc at 7 PM.

May 11 Saturday - 55 mile AERC/PNER endurance ride. A loop to Coyote Springs, canal, sand castles and creek. Vet check in camp. Working on a new route down towards the park and around to the creek. The 25's will have a 15 and a 10 through the creek with vet check in camp, same as last year. See ENDURANCE page for more info.

May 12 Sunday - last trail ride day, tell me when you want to start. Competitive Trail Ride 25 miles- start at 7:30 AM- Entries must be rec'd by May 10 for the CTR.

SPECIAL awards for riding ALL 4 days, any activity, just ride!

The loops will have water crossings, cows, gates and rocks completely free of any extra charge. The beaver dams do make it interesting :) However included in your entry fee will be dirt roads, trails, sand, sagebrush, a few trees, maybe a rattlesnake for a bonus! GOODY bags for ALL entrants.

Bring a dish to share for the Potluck dinner Saturday night after last rider is in. During Saturday awards dinner we will do the RAFFLE!!!! $1 ticket!! The RAFFLE will benefit someone with a need, we haven't chosen yet. Middleton Boy Scouts Troop 255 will again haul water, please give them a big thank you! Great prizes!! $1 a ticket!!

Vets Jessie Heinrick and Paul Griffiths

Hoping some of my friends come to help with pulses, timing etc :) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!! We'll have a ride photographer!!

This is a no frills campground, no extra camp fee. Porta potties & Horse water hauled in. If you use any type of portable corral no more than two horses per separate pen. If you use electric your unit needs a proper ground, it must be on when occupied, it must be 4 ft tall and have 2 strands of visible tape. No exceptions. BLM requires weed free hay. No medical help on site. You will be in remote areas, plan accordingly. ​

Any cancellations received by May 9 will be refunded - no refunds for no shows.

Don't forget Saturday's raffle! Lots of great prizes for $1 ticket!! FUN!! You do not have to be present to win Raffle prizes just arrange pick up.

2018 Owyhee River Challenge - Merri Melde

With Smokey and Hillbillie Willie sitting this one out, Pickett Cricksters August and DWA Saruq and Dezzie headed to the Owyhee River Challenge 55 near Homedale, Oregon, with humans Carol, Connie, and Merri in tow (and Regina towing us all).

Connie's goal is Big Horn 100 with Saruq and Dezzie, and as Sarah couldn't make it for this ride, I (with of course The Raven) was the substitute jockey-du-jour on her horse Dezzie.

There were some reeeaaaalllly tough Owyhee suckers that participated in Friday's (possibly first-ever-in-Oregon) CTR ride, which Lucie Hess from Missouri flew out to oversee. Ann Kuck stole the win on that one, her first ever CTR ride, with her Dirty Martini - the horse, not the drink.

The CTR riders had a deluge of rain and wind, the wind of which continued on into Friday night, keeping most of us awake most of the night and wondering what was in store for the 25 and 55 milers the next day. When - amongst the wind gusts battering the truck and trailer - we heard the rain start to fall at 3 AM, Connie and I got up to put rain blankets on the horses.

As I laid awake trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep (I kept almost sleeping, almost dreaming that the rest of camp was unable to sleep and were all up and standing in a 3 AM breakfast line), I was pretty sure the weather must be better tomorrow. And since we were psyched up for bad weather, it was better the next morning - we only had wind to contend with most of the day. Which wasn't a bad thing, because it would have been warm in the afternoon without it.

22 of us riders climbed aboard for the 55-miler start at 6:30 AM on two big loops, with an hour vet check in base camp in between. This year ride manager Karen Bumgarner was able to route us into and along the pretty red rhyolite canyon of Succor Creek, a trail we 3 had never been on before. These series of red canyons that run through the Owyhee Canyonlands country are a pretty well-kept secret, which many of us would kind of like to keep, unless of course you're a horse rider and/or you appreciate them and will take care of them.

We 3 leap-frogged numerous riders throughout the day. We 3, and a few other riders, would like to publicly give a thank-you shout out to the younger and much more agile Kaili, our gate girl, for opening all the gates for us while we were riding with her.

Jessica Cobbley deserves her own special shout-out for experiencing probably the most adventurous ride of the 55, substitute jockeying for husband Mike, Talladega's regular rider, and experiencing a couple of Dega meltdowns, an unintentional splashdown in a creek, a broken stirrup, and another Dega meltdown or two.

Scariest part of the ride was the small herd of totally unintimidating longhorn cattle. Sure, Dezzie has seen cows before and doesn't care about them, but these bovines had Long Pointy Horns and he did not want any part of them and was rather appalled to have his picture taken near them!

20 completed the 55-mile ride, with David Laws and his Kentucky Mountain horse Che Ole, from Portland, winning in a ride time of 5:47, 24 minutes ahead of second place Beth Claussen and Beau De Valeroso. Fourth place Lee Pearce and JAC Winterhawk (riding with Naomi Preston and the redoubtable Fire Mt Malabar in 3rd) won Best Condition.

22 started the 25-miler, with Dudley's friend Boogey getting the win with rider Simone Mauhl in a ride time of 2:41. They just edged out Joan Zachary and Chico, and the entire Heart to Heart mule gang (7 of them). Boogey got the Best Condition award. There was only one rider option pull in the LD.

We had one of the best potlucks after the ride, and some good ride awards, which included a bottle of Winky Wash (for real), which was great timing as it came in handy for Monday's spring vet visit of teeth, sheath, and shots!

2018 Owyhee River Challenge - Jessica Cobbley

by Jessica Cobbley
May 13 2018

Well, we made it through the Owyhee River Challenge CTR and 55 mile endurance ride. It was a little more exciting of a weekend than I had planned.

Almost as soon as we unloaded, Khalid got his lead rope under the handle of the back door of the trailer, freaked out and snapped the latch off. Mike headed in to town to see if he could find a new latch, basically scotching his plans to ride the CTR on Khalid.

I saddled Brass about 10:30 Friday for a 25 mile CTR and he blew up at the trailer, indulging in about a 5 minute fit of hysterics. After the pre-ride meeting, I bridled up and started moving Brass around from the ground, and watched with growing skepticism of my survival as he bucked so hard and so long that my water bottles went flying, then got bucked on. He kept bucking until my saddle started climbing his neck. Eventually he sort of came to terms with the situation, but I walked him out of camp on foot for about a mile, then spent the rest of the loop basically sitting on an irritated lit stick of dynamite, hoping we would get through before the fuse ran out. He vetted through fine (if still freaky) and Mike decided to take Khalid out on loop 2, which made for a much less exciting loop.

Brass finished the CTR with Reserve Champion score of 97 out of 100, but his back was sore. Not sure if it was sore when I saddled and that’s why he bucked so hard or if he bucked so hard he made it sore, but either way he was a no-go for the 55.

After a quick conference with Mike, we decided I would take Dega on the 55 and Mike would take Khalid for a slow, first 55. I debated riding with him, but decided to go on out on my own. However, as Dega and I zig-zagged out of camp Saturday morning I realized my stirrups were about 2 holes too long and probably I was gonna die if I couldn’t get my legs under me. By the time I got my stirrups straightened out, I decided to just hang with Mike and Karen. Dega punished me for this decision every time his hooves hit the ground for about 15 miles. If you’ve ever ridden a super-pissed off pogo stick- it was like that. Finally, I decided to go on ahead and Dega took off like a bat out of hell. We ended up coming into the hold about 1/2 an hour ahead of Mike and Karen- even though we only left them about 6 miles from the hold.

Back on the second loop, we left camp with Cortney, but Dega was on a serious mission and she dropped back after 6-7 miles. Several miles later, Dega had passed about 6 horses. We stopped to drink at a creek and he somehow managed to slip without actually moving. He went clear to his knees and dunked his face but was unfazed. On we went, with Layne and Harley in his sights. We caught up, and slowed to ride with Layne. Jill and Trish caught up, too, and we cruised along the road for several miles.

I was struggling with my left stirrup for about 8 miles and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get my weight onto the ball of my foot. Suddenly, as we were trotting along, my left stirrup bar just came apart. The stirrup bounced and hit Dega in the leg while I was looking down trying to figure out wtf just happened. Dega took exception to this entire scenario and freaked out a little, launching me essentially over his head because I was so unbalanced by the loss of my stirrup. I landed mostly on my feet and Dega didn’t leave the county, so back up I went with one stirrup. I was pretty exhausted after a mile or so of that, so Layne whipped out some cable ties and engineered a solution.

We had gotten passed by several people during all this and Dega was dead set we were gonna pass them all again. I disagreed. So we mostly argued about it the rest of the way in to camp- a really, really, really, really long way.

Layne and Jill stuck with me and we all commiserated about how tired we were. I was entirely over it well before the finish line, but eventually we did get back to camp. We finished 8, 9, 10, with Cortney and Trish just behind us. Mike and Khalid finished about an hour and a half behind us after a nice quiet ride in which Khalid showed a ton of heart and willingness. He’s going to be a hell of a horse with time and miles.

I feel like someone beat me with a brick stick this morning and Mike is getting a nasty sinus infection. And I didn’t take a single picture all weekend because I chose life. Mike got a few though.

May 12 Saturday - 55 mile AERC/PNER endurance ride starts 6:30 AM. A loop to Coyote Springs, canal, sand castles and creek. Vet check in camp. Working on a new route down towards the park and around to the creek, used some on the fall trail ride. The 25's start 7:30 AM and will have a 15 and a 10 through the creek with vet check in camp. Potluck and Raffle after the last rider is in around 6:30 PM

​ The course will have water crossings, cows, gates and rocks completely free of any extra charge. However included in your entry fee will be dirt roads, trails, sand, sagebrush, a few trees, maybe a rattlesnake for a bonus! GOODY bags for ALL entrants.

Endurance Ride Entry fees: May 12 - 25/55 AERC/PNER entries $100. For AERC rides all non-AERC members add $15 per AERC rules; Please make checks payable to Karen Bumgarner; send to 26111 Doi Lane, Parma, ID 83660 zap6000@gmail.com Lots of awards! Downloadable entry form on Links and Forms page ​

Bring a dish to share for the Potluck dinner Saturday night after the last rider is in. During Saturday awards dinner we will do the RAFFLE!!!! $1 ticket!! Do not have to be present to win! The RAFFLE always benefits someone in need - just don't know who yet :) Great prizes!!

Head vet - Robert Washington DVM; Paul Griffiths DVM Hoping some of my friends come to help with pulses, timing etc :) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!!

David Honan will again be our ride photographer!!

This is a no frills campground. Porta potties & Horse water hauled in. If you use any type of portable corral no more than two horses per separate pen. If you use electric your unit needs a proper ground, it must be on when occupied, it must be 3 ft tall and have 2 strands of visible tape. No exceptions. ​

Any cancellations received by May 9 will be refunded - no refunds for no shows.

Don't forget Saturday's raffle! Lots of great prizes for $1 ticket!! FUN!! You do not have to be present to win Raffle prizes just arrange pick up.

2017 Owyhee River Challenge: Buckerufagus

May 16 2017
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

I should have known my endurance ride weekend would be a bit off kilter, when I got to Ridecamp and I realized I forgot The Raven!!!!!!! Only the second time in over 7000 miles.

Connie's horse Finneas, Grandson of the Black Stallion, and don't you forget it, was my mount for the 55-miler in this desert canyon country. Only in this ride, Finneas forgot about the "Grandson" part, instead thinking he was the O Great One in the flesh himself.

Everything worked out well at the last ride, Eagle Canyon, when Finneas and I arrived in the morning an hour before the start. While he was still Blusterufagus at that ride, he never saw his pasture mates in Ridecamp, so he didn't know he had to defeat and lord it over them all (being Grandson of the Black Stallion and all.)

The original plan at this Owyhee River Challenge *was* for me to arrive in the morning again with Regina, but plans got scrambled and changed (hence I forgot The Raven in the chaos), and we trailered with neighbor Carol and August, arriving in Ridecamp Friday afternoon. Which meant Finneas cast his Grandson-of-the-Black-Stallion Stink-eye over his herd mates tied to the trailers all Friday afternoon and night, planning his winning strategy.

Therefore when I saddled and bridled Finneas for the start of the ride, and then led him away from everybody, to let them go start and get ahead of us, and to wait for a quiet bubble to go out, Finneas realized what was going down, and it hit him right when I climbed aboard. He was absolutely furious, and he went to hogging it.

Yes, bucking. Seriously, royally pissed-off-bucking. I think he was roaring and screaming too, but not sure. He was madder'n'a hornet in a swarm of bees in a bucket. Did I mention this horse is 18 years old now?

I stayed aboard, and I sent him charging down the 2-track road toward the river canyon (the opposite way from the start, but he didn't know that) getting his mad energy into motion. Finneas was raging, "I AM THE BLACK STALLION! (forgetting the "Grandson" part) I AM FAMOUS!" spewing smoke and fire and sparks and outrageous indignation, and, by God, he was winning this race, winning it by far since everybody else was way behind him.

After a good mighty powerful quarter mile I slowed him down then turned him around…. at which point he was totally confused. Yeah, he won this race, but where was everybody else to witness His Magnificence? Where were all the lowly slowpokes dragging in his majestic wake? When I pointed him back uphill toward camp, the explosion that had been such an utterly breathtaking performance fizzled, and we slowly trotted back up the hill, to and through an empty ridecamp and out onto the trail.

I thought I'd cleverly obtained a beautiful Bubble for ourselves; the only 2 we could see ahead of us in the distance were Karen B and Linda B. We did catch up to them after a mile or 2, and I steered Finneas in a very wide path around them, because he is so terribly obnoxious when he passes horses, climbing upward and galloping sideways and trying to get in firing range of his punk-ass rivals. Finneas haughtily passed them and trotted onward, steam-engine snorting and bulling along, when suddenly a horse-eating rock leaped out from behind a sagebrush to attack Finneas.

Zip, he leaped 10 feet to the left, zip, my saddle flipped 90* to the right, and zip, so did I. I couldn't stay on, so I fell off, looking up at His Mighteousness, Grandson of the Black Stallion, who stood there looking, I might say, somewhat embarrassed at his behavior, because really, the rock had not attacked him after all nor even moved nor even looked remotely scary. I got up, shoved the saddle back up where it belonged, snugged down the cinch (which was quite loose now, though it had been tight when I left the trailer), climbed aboard, gave Karen and Linda the thumbs up, and on we went, with Finneas a bit chagrined and better behaved.

All would have been well… except here came Errol and OMR Pristine. Normally they arrive early and ride fast up front, but that didn't happen today. They arrived this morning, started late, and caught up with me and Finneas. And because of that, and because Errol and I could not find a turn in the trail, and then Karen and Linda catching up to point us in the right direction, my nice Bubble busted, and the first loop kind of went back to hell for many more miles. Finneas isn't as awful when a horse passes him, but when he passes a horse, he is just naughty, and he can stay mad for miles. After a couple more miles of riding a snarly-gnarly blustery ball of fire, leap-frogging horses, and having to go through a gate or 2, I finally just got off Finneas and led him on foot for 10 minutes, to let everybody get way the heck in front of us. Then the final miles of the 20-mile first loop were much better now that we had our bubble back (Finneas thought he was back in front and winning again).

Back at Ridecamp for our first vet check, I remembered to both pulse down and vet in (there was no hurricane blowing to distract me, you see, like there was at Eagle), and I watched some suspicious clouds starting to build on the southern horizon. As I rode out of camp onto Loop 2 (a repeat of Loop 1), they were definitely heading my way.

"Eh, they're moving south," Robert the vet assured me, when in fact it was obviously the opposite, with Ridecamp being directly north in the path. Clearly, Robert was throwing out a bit of #fakenews, but I guess it's okay if it's done to make people feel better. I hear that's what politicians do, so the same must apply to thunderstorms, right?

The repeat 20 miles of Loop 2 was just plain pleasant, since the trail was quite easy to follow now, Finneas was winning (with 3 riders behind him and the rest out of sight and well in front of him) and easy and pleasant to ride. I got off and walked or ran down hills, and Finneas cruised along on the flats and uphills. I was Stink-Eyeing the thunderstorms out of my path, and the wildflowers were putting on their brightest colors for the event.

And then there was Loop 3.

14-mile loop 3 started out the same direction (which Finneas was not impressed with), before turning off on a shorter version of the first loops. All went fine until about mile 8ish. We'd gone through a gate, he'd had a nice pee, he'd been grabbing grass most of the loop, and I got off to lead him over an uneven trail over grass, since we'd be walking it anyway. I stopped at his favorite grass to let him get a bite… and he pawed twice.


I pulled him along and walked to the next good grass spot… and he pawed again, 3 times.

Oh, crap. My God, he can't be colicking.

I pulled him along again, trying to pretend nothing was happening, when he then pulled me over to a nice grass spot. I let him go there, presumably to eat… and he went straight down on his front knees, wanting to roll.

Oh @$*($X.

My horse is colicking, and I'm 6 miles from home. I yelled at Finneas and yanked him to his feet and marched him onward down the trail, trying not to panic. I did not have a map, so did not know where I was exactly… only a long way from camp with a horse who is possibly in trouble. Karen and Shyla and Andi were behind me and I kept hoping they'd hurry up already and catch me, to go for help.

I marched Finneas along, not giving him any slack in the lead rope, not letting him hesitate at all, and hoping to God I wasn't dealing with a Zayante crisis (this terrifying story is in my book), for about 2 miles before the girls finally caught up with me. When I told them my horse was colicking, and I stepped off the trail to let them by, praise be, Finneas reached down and took a bite of grass. Best thing that could have ever happened. If he wanted to eat, the crisis may have passed. The girls went on, Karen saying she'd have Robert the vet meet me at the pond, about another 3 miles down the trail.

I led Finneas onward… and he took bites of grass the entire way. What a huge relief. It must have been a gas colic episode, which can come on very quickly and be very painful, and which can go away just as quickly. I'd had some horrible visions about what I might have to deal with, as I dragged him down the trail alone. Even when a rainstorm came over us and soaked us, it was wonderful because there was no lightning, and Finneas continued to eat his way through it.

By the time we got to the pond, we'd dried off, Robert was there looking for us, and Finneas was indeed fine. Pulse was 56, excellent gut sounds in all quadrants, looking bright-eyed (his eye had never looked glassy with pain), and still eating grass. I led him on to the pond, where he had a good drink, and I just stayed off leading him the final mile back to camp, with him eating all the way. It was a good hike.

So in the end, it turned out to be a fine day over pretty trails, nobody hurt, nobody colicking, Finneas still winning (he got some applause when we arrived in camp, and greeting-ful whinnies from his herd mates) as the glorious Grandson of the Black Stallion. Quite the adventure, all without The Raven. Although I could have done without some of those adventurous episodes.

17 started the 55 with 14 finishing. Layne Simmons and Royal Immage finished first in 6:14, with second place Mike Cobbley and Talledega winning Best Condition.

23 started and finished the 25, with Jordan Lanning and the mule Out of Idaho finishing first in 3:10, and Simone Mauhl and Dudley's friend Boogey winning Best Condition.

2016: It's All About the Joser: 4000 Miles for Jose Viola!

by Merri Melde
May 14 2016

The record would have been reached at the Eagle Canyon ride two weeks ago, but that one turned out to be too muddy for us to ride.

So it was the 55-mile Owyhee River Challenge where Jose Viola (affectionally alternatively known as José, Hose B, The Hoser, Josie, Sneaky Pie Brown, Little Bunny Foo Foo, Mister, or Buster, and formerly known as Joseph Coat of Many Colors [seriously!]) would go for his 4000 mile AERC mark.

Steph gave me the honors of reaching the 4000 miles on this 15-year-old, mostest sway-backedest gelding you've ever seen in an endurance horse. Seeing as his back could become an issue, Steph wanted to retire him when he's on top of his game, and this 4000-mile ride would be his last...