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20 Mule Team - 40th Anniversary

40th Anniversary of the 20 Mule Team in Ridgecrest, California

February 25 2019

The 40th anniversary of the 20 Mule Team ride took place in near-perfect weather in Ridgecrest, California, on February 23, 2019 with distances of 35, 65, and 100 miles. The trails were the same that will be covered in the AERC National Championship rides on October 31-November 3.

Chris Martin's Monk, ridden by Ann Hall, was third cross the finish line but ended up the winner, in a ride time of 13:09, when the first 2 finishers were pulled. Second place went to Melissa Montgomery aboard West Winds Dragon in 13:52. Justin Loewen and Par Devant finished third in 15:35. Fifth place Susie Kramer and A Ali Aseel took Best Condition. It was the gelding's first 100 mile ride. 36 started the 100, with 22 finishing.

Dominique Freeman and Rising Heat won the 65 miler - and got Best Condition - in a ride time of 7:15. Sheri Weast and AA Arikhem finished second in 7:17, and Allan Horn and Shez Mostly Zipped finished third in 7:45. 24 started the 65, with 23 finishing.

Lauren Horn and her mustang Midnight Special won the 35-mile ride in a ride time of 4:25, and got Best Condition. Carolyn Hock and SX Whisper finished second, and Alissa Stephan and Limited Edition finished third. 19 riders started the 35-mile ride, with 18 finishing.

**Unofficial results until posted on AERC website**


2019 20 Mule Team 65 - by Nina Bomar

February 24 2019

I’m always enlightened by my fellow endurance riders. As we drive home from the 40th annual 20 Mule Team Endurance Ride, I’m heartened by the many stories that were shared over this past weekend. For some people it just wasn’t their weekend, while others were floating on cloud nine and ecstatic with their horse’s accomplishments. It doesn’t matter the distance but it’s more about the process that one goes through to get out there and do it.

With the recent weather, I’m sure there were many who couldn’t come but for those who did, I sincerely applaud their efforts. There were first timers in all distances and then there were folks like Laurie Birch who rode her mare Scud Run, completing their tenth 100 miler and reaching her horse’s 11,000 mile achievement. It’s truly mind boggling.

Kudos to my friend and frequent training partner Lisa Rushing for braving the snow and ice and still coming out with her horse Razor and completing the 35 miler. She often makes the trek all the way down to Malibu and we spend hours together climbing mountains and conditioning the horses. They are committed to building strength and confidence and will soon be doing the 50 -100 milers. I look forward to that day!

It was on this ride a few years ago in 2015 that I rode the 100 miler with my good friends Carlita J Roberts, Helen and Marci Schmidt Cunningham We had such a fantastic ride that year and I’ll always remember them passing by my trailer in the morning to pick me up so that we could ride together. This year Carlita did it once again completing the 100 miler with nothing but giggles and smiles. She is so inspiring and her wealth of energy is off the charts. She is always happy and having a good time. This morning we joked about how it was our 4 year friendversary and I feel blessed to have met her at such an iconic ride. She is as special as the history of this ride, which always reminds me of its earliest beginnings when Jackie Baumgardner got it all started. In fact John was given a special recognition award this year for his volunteerism after all these years. He rode the very first ride and is humble as pie and an unbelievably sweet man.

During the ride, Cheeky and I had the pleasure of sharing the trail with a variety of friends over the course of 65 miles. It was truly a solo ride for us with intermittent join ups that always left us smiling. Allan Horn on his hot mare Rosie went on to finish in the top 5 but there was a time when he slowed her down and we got to chat for a mile or two. She’s an impressive girl who reminds me of my Glorianna, with her busy mind and flawless movement. Allan is a big guy and his girl carries him with ease. It’s quite a site to see.

On a few occasions, we rode together with Crysta Turnage She is the ride manager for the Virginia City 100, which Cheeky and I also completed back in 2015. She shared with me how much she loves putting on the ride and said that she has a lot of great helpers to rely on. She’s a project manager by trade so keeping the ride going is her passion and a skill that she has lots of experience at doing. She also hosts AERC clinics and actively contributes to our sport. I enjoyed listening to her many achievements, while I admired her horse as we trotted alongside one another for several miles.

My longtime friend Lisa Schneider was out there on her boy Sky. We have done many training rides together and although we have not seen each other much of late, it was great to see them floating down the trail. Lisa lives in an area that was affected by the fire and most recently the rains. Her road and its bridge have been washed out for months now making it extremely difficult to get in and out with a rig. I look forward to the day when all that mess gets cleared and we can resume training. She and Sky enjoyed an impressive ride with an 8th place finish.

Terrie LaPorte had a very unfortunate dismount after completing nearly 90% of the 100 mile course, when her horse suddenly spooked and she found herself on the ground. Her story is harrowing but in true Terrie spirit, she managed to make it back and her horse is fine too. She’s another gal who loves endurance and no matter what’s thrown her way, she has goals fulfill and ain’t nothing stopping her.

Above all I’d like to express my deepest admiration for my horse Cheeky. He carried me with enthusiasm and purpose from the start until the finish. His vet card was testament to his level of fitness and his ability to take care of himself throughout the ride. I loved our time together and my heart swells with pride and sincere admiration for my special boy. He worries like me but always gives it his all and uses his skills to get us through. I wanted to finish before dark and he made that happen for me. We also crossed the finish line with all four of our grape colored Renegade Hoof boots... thx Gina Lander for sending us the good luck color 💜 Cheeky had lots of attitude as he showed off for Juan who was out there cheering for us from the start until the finish. It was a magical ride and we thank all the volunteers, veterinarians and ride management for making it happen.

Lastly... I want to thank all those responsible for gifting me the gorgeous Virginia City 100 sterling silver belt buckle. I never dreamed that would happen. I thought I didn’t want “stuff” anymore since the fire but this buckle has made me smile and it’s a beautiful reminder of one of Cheeky and my greatest achievements together. The inscription on the buckle is priceless and says it all. Please believe me when I say that my heart is completely filled with emotion and gratitude and total surprise that y’all did that for me... Muchas gracias from the bottom of my heart.


2019 20 Mule Team 100 - by Lucy Chaplin Trumbull

It hurts to breathe - I’m suffering from full-body work over - but we got it done:

20 Mule Team - Turtle version:

I was super happy to complete the 100 for the sixth time (on three different horses) and got my 5,000 miles in the process. I don’t ride many rides each year, so was happy to reach this milestone.

This year I had the pleasure of riding Andrea Maitland’s mare Lily - chaperoning her #2 horse, Wyatt, on his first 100.

We had a couple of incidents of Wyatt’s brain falling out during the course of the ride, so had to adjust our pace accordingly. Add in some unexpected course changes, and we found ourselves several hours behind schedule, both a little frazzled (Andrea from dealing with Wyatt’s antics, me from riding a strange horse in a strange saddle on too little personal conditioning [i.e. I haven’t actually ridden anything close to a conditioning ride since last summer]).

By 65 miles, I was close to tears trying to get everything done in the “hour hold”. Of course we were parked about as far away from the vetting area as possible. I opted to switch to my treeless saddle for the final 35 miles, but that meant switching stirrups and rump rug onto it, attaching a pommel bag, and transferring the contents of the bag; I needed a headlight taped to my helmet (the moon didn’t rise until 10:45 and was then behind cloud cover - and riding rutted trails in pitch black is much tougher than I realized - even if the horse can see the way); I needed glow sticks that actually gave out light taped on (the red ones make you visible to others, but don’t actually give out any ambient light); I needed to switch out my entire lower half of clothing - and “anti-chafe” my legs which were rubbed to cr*p from the strange saddle; I needed to tack up Andrea’s horse (health issues mean she has difficulty you that time of the ride); and I needed to feed myself.

Thankfully, Anne Williams (fresh off her 65 miler, and “off to take a nice shower” - b*tch)(and I mean that in the nicest possible way) drove past and came to my pathetic-state rescue, helping me with all the above)(well, not the clothing/anti-chafe part). Many thanks to her.

The result was we were out 30 mins late (not helping our “tight on time” schedule), but at least we were out.

Doing the math as we set off into the darkness to anxiously spot glow sticks, I realized we had to maintain slightly over 5 mph for the next seven hours. Which may not sound bad, but it includes several long climbs and a couple of descents, and sand.

Andrea had “Endomondo lady” on her phone, calling out the miles as we checked them off. I told her we needed 12 minute miles, or below if we wanted to finish. In addition, I worked out that we needed to be in to VC5 by 3:30 latest.

v We stuck Lily in front and told her “trot” and trot she did. That little mare maintained a consistent trot for the next 15 miles, much of it uphill in sand, carting my extra 35-40 lbs of unused-to weight (her usual rider Andrea is less, er, “muscular” than I).

By the time we reached the 395 crossing (80 miles ish) around 1 am, we’d bought ourselves about 25 mins of time. Just as well, as we both got dizzy and peculiar when we stopped trotting here, and Andrea’s body decided enough was enough, and she had the pleasure of her first endurance-induced puke fest. Thankfully Wyatt didn’t care (stood in front of hay), and after 5 mins of wavering, she sucked it up (so to speak) and off we went again.

We even caught and passed a couple of riders at this point and worked hard enough to get into VC5 by 2:45.

It was freezing at this check, but the horses scarfed down mashes and Andrea scoffed down tums.

To show you how far gone I was, when we arrived, I unclipped my tailing rope from the saddle, hopped off the horse and walked her over to the in timer. Only when I got there, I realized that my tailing rope wasn’t actually attached to the horse - I was just holding an empty rope - and she’d gone off, got herself a drink, and found the hay.

The vet pronounced her “a little stiff” (you think? After what she just pulled off?) and by then we had 2:45 hours to get the last 10 miles, so we took it really easy on the way in and finally got in at 5:40 am (ride start was 6 am the previous day).

This would have been fine if, by then, I wasn’t hallucinating from tiredness (not the first time on this ride). Amongst other things, I hallucinated an elephant, two dragons, an extra horse that Andrea was ponying, and an overhead banner that was so real I reached out to touch it (it turned out to be the skyline). I had to hand-walk Lily down the long hill to stay awake, and at one point when she stopped to pee and I leaned over her neck, I fell asleep completely.

But get it done we did - and Wyatt was still rooting and pulling and wanting to go faster at the end of his first 100 - amazing.

Many thanks to Andrea for hauling the horses from AZ and entrusting me with her gem of a mare. Such a great mare to borrow.


Relive '20 Mule Team 💯 2019'


Andrea Maitland's Relive Ride