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2019 AERC National Championship - California

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2017 AERC National Championship - Colorado

2016 AERC National Championship - Utah

2015 AERC National Championship - Virginia

2014 AERC National Championship - Texas

2013 AERC National Championship - Idaho

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2013 AERCNC - City of Rocks AERCNC
Images by Merri Melde

2021 AERC National Championships

50 Mile Championship - June 11 / 100 Mile Championship - June 13

AERC Young Rider Championship - June 15

Also 25/35/50/65/100 Mile Open Division rides, Ride & Tie/Equithon

Two Weeks: Two Endurance Championships for the Reynolds, Abroad and At Home

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
June 22 2021

The World Endurance Championship in Pisa, Italy, on May 22, was a total bust: the USA Team withdrew before the ride when one of the Team horses came down with a fever. 

Heather and Jeremy Reynolds were crushed, because they knew their Arabian mare Treasured Moments (DA Adios X Hidden Treasure, by RD Five Star) had a big performance in her. But bad luck turned into good luck, as Jeremy and Treasure (along with his teammates Holly Corcoran and Poete, and Cheryl Van Deusen and Hoover the Mover) were invited to participate in the May 29th 160-km Isola della Scala, the Italian Championship, and pre-ride for the 2022 World Endurance Championship.

And though they couldn’t technically be crowned the Italian Champions, since they are from the USA, Jeremy and Treasure, an 11-year-old mare bred by CreRun Farm, stormed home the winners. Jeremy was understandably quite emotional after the win, particularly after missing the previous weekend’s World Championship. 

“This horse is something special. It’s just that her easy way of going is just so fast and so effortless,” Jeremy says. “She’s in a rope halter from the start, she doesn’t stress about anything. She’s just a dream to be around. She’s just so special to me.”

Not one to rest on their laurels, 3 days after arriving home in Florida, unpacking, repacking, and Jeremy shoeing their 24 horses, the Reynolds were in their horse van with a load of 6 horses, 3 dogs and a cat (“the traveling circus” Heather calls it) headed for the AERC National Championships at Fort Howes in Montana.

Jeremy and Heather both rode in the 50-mile race on June 11; and while Jeremy can’t technically be crowned the USA 50-mile Champion, since he rode in the open division, he and 9-year-old Arabian Supersonic Zell finished first, in a smoking ride time of 4:05. The Reynolds train Zell for Pegasus Racing and Richard Ferrari. 

Heather was crowned the AERC 50-mile Champion; finishing second just 11 minutes behind Jeremy and Zell, she rode Misfit Toi to the Championship division win. Also owned by Richard Ferrari, this 13-year-old Arabian gelding is “a very intense horse, he likes to go,” Heather says. “He’s not spooky at all; he’s the bravest horse in our barn. You could ride him through a burning building and he’d probably take off with you through it.

“He’s a funny horse! An interesting guy. And he’s very sweet, not a mean bone in his body. But you ask him, he is a champion in his own mind. He’ll win whatever race there is if you ask him.”

The Reynolds have ridden at Fort Howes many times, but say the Ride Managers, Jan and Bill Stevens, outdid themselves this time. 

“They did a spectacular job with all the different events,” Heather says.

Jeremy says, “And all the water they put out. It was just incredible.”

“And,” Heather adds, “they are not close to anything. So the fact that they can get anything done out there is amazing. And then for the numbers of people that were there, it was truly commendable. 

“And the steak dinner was just as good as ever!”

See more from the AERC National Championships at:

Alex Shampoe and Fine Cut Gold Win AERC Young Riders Championship

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
June 19 2021

The finale of the AERC National Championships at Fort Howes near Ashland, Montana, showcased the AERC Young Riders in a 75-mile National Championship on June 14.

Of the 13 starters, 19-year-old Alex Shampoe, of Colorado Springs, and Fine Cut Gold (aka “Cut”) crossed the finish line first in 9 hours, an hour ahead of second place Kimberly Loutzenheiser and Shahqeem. Fine Cut Gold also got Best Condition and High Vet Score. The 10-year-old is a purebred Arabian mare with French lines who probably raced on the track, by Thoroughbred X Cashmeire, by Calin de Louve.

The win wouldn’t be a surprise to anybody who’s spent any time around Alex. Besides her excellent horsemanship and her self-effacing manner, most impressive is her AERC endurance record. In her 7 seasons and close to 3000 miles of AERC endurance, while she’s only owned 1 endurance horse (“He’s been retired, because he likes to hurt himself”), she’s ridden 52 different endurance horses for many different owners. One would have to be a good rider to be able to successfully handle so many different horses.  

Fine Cut Gold, owned by Valerie Kanavy, and Alex have been getting acquainted the last 8 months at Kanavy’s farms in Florida and Virginia, and Alex now works for Valerie. “I do a lot of FEI,” Alex said, “and last winter I asked Val if I could come ride some of her horses, because she’s got really nice horses!

“So I rode for her for a couple months, then in January we decided that I would try for the USA Young Rider World Championships in the Netherlands in September.

“We were thinking about our options as far as our horses go, and Cut was one of those options. So I rode her in January on a 75 [at Broxton Bridge, 2nd place], and then in February on a 75 [at FITS, 1st place], and then in May on a 75 [at Let’s Have Fun, 1st place], then this Championship 75.”

Due to the extreme heat wave that the 100-mile riders had to deal with on June 13 and that was forecast to continue, the start for the Young Rider Championship, scheduled for the morning of June 15, was changed on short notice, for the welfare of the horses and riders. It became a night ride, with a start time of 6:30 PM on June 14. It was still around a hundred degrees for the start, but as the sun set, the temperatures became comfortable.  

“I planned to ride a couple of loops with people,” Alex said, “and then see how my mare felt and see if she wanted to go faster or slower. But my strategy went out the window the first loop.

“First place kind of took off at the start, and I was riding with a few people on and off, all the way to the out vet check at 11 miles. Then from there, I rode with a guy for the last 15 miles back to camp.” Cut pulsed down quickly at the first hold, moving Alex up into first place. “After that, I rode alone for the rest of the race.”

They started the second (white) 14-mile loop in the dark, with a bit of a moon, and a little sunset light on the horizon. Loop 3 was a repeat of the white loop, and by then it was completely dark, which Alex rode sans light. “Cut goes better without a headlamp, so I rode without one, but I trust that mare. She did the whole thing with little to no help from me!” she laughed.

“We trotted out of camp, and Cut decided, OK, we’re cantering now, so I was like OK, whatever you want. She cantered everywhere she possibly could, and it was a little nerve-racking at first, but she wanted to do it. She knows what she’s doing, that’s for sure.”

Alex describes Cut as “very forward. She’s got good brakes, and she’s got a good mind. But you have to put her together and help her think a little bit clearer, and then she’s a dream to ride.”

There’s a little more to it than that, said Kelsey Russell, who works for Valerie. “Cut is not a push button and face her down the trail kind of horse. She takes support and reminding of how she should [be] carrying herself efficiently. Alex has played a huge role in making this talented mare into a ‘dragon’ who can now travel down the trail carrying herself properly.

“I don’t normally get emotional after many races, but this race pulled at my heart joy strings. Alex did such a great job keeping Cut in line and taking it one loop at a time. Alex and Fine Cut have been working hard on improving each other and their relationship since January this year as her other mounts changed the plans. Having watched her dedication and hours of work being put in, seeing this pair grow and improve with each lesson, and race, brings such satisfaction and joy.”

“Alex has become a very talented competitor and rider,” Valerie Kanavy said. “The cool thing about her accomplishment with Cut, is Cut may be my horse, but Alex has done the work that has made her a champion. It wasn’t that she just came and got on her horse. Cut had some special needs and Alex, through arena work and dedication, has made her into a top competitor.”

Alex really didn’t take any credit for her win, attributing all of it to Fine Cut Gold, and to Valerie and Kelsey and her mom Aileen Ellis, for being the “best crew,” and for helping her throughout the ride. “I’d ask them, ‘OK, how fast should I go, should I stay with other riders, should I just go.’ And they gave me a lot of advice on how to rate Cut so she could go all night all by herself, and how to bring her in so she could pulse down as fast as possible, and where to walk, where to trot, and where to canter.”

Every moment with Valerie is a teaching moment, Alex said. “I learn so much from her every day. Val has so many different things you can do with the horses, like swimming, and a canter field and a trot hill and a gallop hill, and long rides. Her place [in Virginia] is amazing. It’s really cool learning how to train on all those different terrains that she has in once place.”

Alex also credits Ride Manager Jan Stevens and her husband Bill for going above and beyond in this huge multi-Championship event.

“Bill and Jan were amazing all night. And Bill, he helped mark the trail and put out the glowsticks. Every single loop I’d come in, he’d ask, ‘Is it OK? Do I need to change anything? How can I fix it?’

“And Jan, on the two white loops in the dark, she was at the halfway point. We’d go up to her, and she’d take down our number, and she’d make us talk to her for a little bit to make sure we were OK and we were still chugging along. I can say that on the second white loop, I was really looking forward to seeing her!

“They put on an amazing ride, and the vets were all amazing. They took care of our horses all day.”

Alex’s mom sees the bond that exists between Alex, Valerie, and Kelsey. “[They] have an unspoken connection with each other. They all know their role and do it very well…

“There was a calmness about Alex, that I have never seen before. My daughter has grown up and found wonderful mentors, friends and family in Kelsey and Valerie. I am so grateful to both of them.”

*top photo: Alex and Fine Cut Gold. Photographer Becky Pearman donated a 4x6 print to all Championship entrants

Gwen Hall and Sizedoesntmatter are Victors in One Tough AERC National Championship 100

"This was the hardest 100 I have ever ridden."

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
June 17 2021

Gwen Hall, of Woodland Park, Colorado, and the 15-year-old Arabian gelding Sizedoesntmatter (“Dakar”) already had an impressive resume before tackling this year’s AERC National Championship 100-mile ride outside of Ashland, Montana at Fort Howes on June 7: three Top Ten finishes in the Tevis Cup (4th in 2014, 2nd in 2015, and 8th in 2019); a first place in the 2017 AERC National Championship 100 in Colorado; USA team starters for the 2018 World Equestrian Games Endurance Championship in Tryon North Carolina; AERC Decade Team.

They’d won the Fort Howes 75-miler in 2017, and finished 2nd on the 100 in 2019, so they were familiar with the usual course; but this year things were different. Ride manager Jan Stevens had to change some of the regular loops, and, the weather was hot.

The 50-mile Championship, run on Thursday, June 11, was pleasant, but a heat wave hit for Saturday’s ride. Described by several riders as ”HOT" and "a brutal heat wave" and “absolutely brutal” and "incredibly hot" and "extreme heat," the weather conditions were a big contribution to the high pull rate (of 44 starters in the Championship 100, only 13 finished).

While the heat did have some effect on Dakar, Gwen and her gelding still won by almost 1 1/4 hours, in a total ride time of 13:14. Coincidentally, Hannah Johnson and Kourageus Hope (“Stuart”) finished second, just as they did to Gwen and Dakar in the 2017 Colorado Championship.

“It was a tough ride, not the flat and fast course that I think a lot of us had done in that race before,” Gwen said. “There was a lot of technicality to it.”

While 7 of the 13 finishers were from the Southeast and were used to heat and humidity, living at 8500 feet in Colorado was likely a bonus for Dakar, even though Gwen was concerned for him. They’d had no heat acclimation/training - they had frost on the ground at home as recently as 10 days before the race.

Gwen and Dakar started the 100 out in the front, with Jeremy Reynolds and Richard Ferrari. Jeremy was pulled after loop 1 and Richard after loop 4; the next 40 miles Gwen and Dakar did solo, “just another layer to the day’s challenge.” It was getting very hot, and Gwen was cooling both herself and her horse at the water stops on trail. “We toughed it out, walking all the steep/longer uphills/downhills and stopping to graze at several points along the way. We were able to slow down since the heat was taking out horse/rider combinations at an amazing rate.”

Gwen was very conservative with Dakar on the final 14 miles, finishing just before dark. “I was a little worried because he was showing a little tightness in the back end before we went out [for the final loop], although he was showing less than I was! But I didn’t want to jeopardize anything, so I literally got off and led him up all the longer steeper hills. I led him on the downhills. I jogged with him down the road coming in, trying to help him out as much as I could. I really thought we could be giving back a lot of time here, but I felt it was necessary, because you can’t win if you don’t finish!”

Gwen used some of her knowledge gained from the disaster of the Tryon World Equestrian Games Endurance Championship fiasco they participated in, to help get Dakar through the Fort Howes ride.

Gwen and Dakar follow Hannah Johnson and Stuart, en route to a win in the 2017 AERCNC 100 in Colorado

She and Dakar had started with her team, but officials messed up the start, and decided they would re-start the ride as a 75-miler. Then during the second loop, Hurricane Florence hit. “I have never ridden in a deluge like that in my life. It was like someone was shooting a fire hose at you sideways. It was the worst rain I have ever been in.

“And then of course the heat cranked up, and the horses started dropping like flies. It was probably 90 degrees and 95% humidity.” Dakar sank to mid-cannon bone on parts of the course in a mix of sand and clay. “I walked it. I didn’t want to hurt my horse.” And then the officials stopped the ride. “In some ways while I was disappointed they stopped the ride, from a welfare standpoint, I was glad they did, because I do think the attrition rate would’ve been worse.

“I'd had no experience riding in heat and humidity like that. I cannot express my gratitude enough to Valerie Kanavy. She opened up her home to me for the 4 weeks before we went and staged at Aiken. She let me live with her, and I trained with her and her horses. She had 5 horses going to WEG, 2 for the US team and 3 for other riders.

“And she was always very open with information, like ‘This is what we’re doing here.’ And while you’re always hesitant to change what’s been working for you, it opened up my eyes a lot to what I can do and what I should do.

“And that information, what I learned there with Valerie, directly translated into some of the management things that i did for this particular Championship race with the heat. And it was obviously very helpful."

And Gwen and Dakar couldn’t have won without the support of a crack crew. “I could not have been successful without the help from my crew, [my husband] Tim, Cassadee Jaksch and her mom Claudine as well as the support and encouragement from so many friends. I cannot tell you how much it meant to me.”

And the heroics of Ride Management did not go unnoticed by this grateful competitor.

Gwen and Dakar en route to a win in the 2017 AERCNC 100 in Colorado

“Ride management did an incredible job given the number of events, the normal challenges presented by managing a ride of this size and the particular challenges posed by the weather.

“[They] did a great job with the last minute changes (trail loop changes, light marking on trail, etc) and the vet team was amazing - I am not sure they slept much at all since vet in started Thursday.

“They were the real endurance champions of the weekend.”

*Top photo - Gwen and Sizedoesntmatter finishing 4th in the 2013 AERCNC 50 in Idaho

Taking the Heat at the AERC National Championships

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
June 15 2021

It's been a hot week at the AERC Nationals outside of Ashland, Montana.

Described at various times as "HOT" and "a brutal heat wave" and "incredibly hot" and "extreme heat," the ride was a challenge in more ways than just the terrain this year.

Friday was the 50-miler; Sunday was the 100-miler; Tuesday was scheduled to be the AERC Young Rider National Championship, but due to extreme heat forecast of 108*, the start time was moved up to 6:30 PM Monday evening - ride is still underway with 13 starters.

Winning the National Championship 50-miler was Heather Reynolds and Misfit Toi in 4:17. Niki Beck and Cloudy finished second in 4:18, and Rachel Land and Matla were third in 4:33. Best Condition and High Vet Score went to Matla. 48 finished the ride.

Jeremy Reynolds and Supersonic Zell won the open 50-miler in 4:05; they also got Best Condition and High Vet Score. 17 finished the ride.

Repeating their 2017 AERC National 100-mile victory in Colorado, Gwen Hall and Sizedoesntmatter ("Dakar") crossed the finish line first in 13:14. Also repeating the finish in Colorado was second place Hannah Johnson and Kourageus Hope ("Stuart"); they finished in 14:28.01. Third place went to Suzie Hayes and Sannstorm, who rode with Hannah all day. There were 13 finishers in 44 starters in the Championship. Best Condition and High Vet Score went to fourth place The Maclean Machine, ridden by Marvin Brangman, in a ride time of 14:29.

Two out of 9 starters completed the open 100, with Kelly Stoneburner finishing first aboard Reckless in 19:05.

More stories and results to come!

Endurance Ride Photographers Guild’s Becky Pearman Donates Photos for AERC National Championships

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
June 13 2021

Becky Pearman, a member of the Endurance Ride Photographers Guild, is the Official Photographer for this weekend’s AERC National Championships.

From Ivanhoe, Virginia, Becky traveled to Ashland, Montana to cover the championship even June 4-6.

As a sponsorship for the rides, she is donating a 4x6 commemorative portrait with the championship logo to all riders in the 50-mile and 100-mile championships with their horses wearing a garland that was used in the 2001 AERC National Championships in Kentucky.

Becky’s ride photos will be available online after the event at https://beckypearman.smugmug.com/Other/Endurance-2021

Fort Howes: Celebrating 24 Years!

(Well, it could be considered 25 years if one were to discount 2020 as the COVID Competition year!)

What a better way to celebrate 24 (25) years of AERC Endurance Rides at the Circle Bar Ranch and the adjoining Custer-Gallatin National Forest than to host the AERC National Championship!

Homesteaded in 1883 by Captain Calvin Howes (a former sea Captain from Massachusetts), the Circle Bar Ranch is the home of the Fort Howes Endurance Rides - See Ranch History Link. As noted, starting in 1997, the Fort Howes rides have grown from a one-day ride offering a 25-mile Limited Distance ride and a 50-mile Endurance Ride to hosting the 2021 AERC National Championship.

We'll start the ball rolling with the AERC 50 Mile Championship on the 11th. On the 12th we'll have an open ride day with two Limited Distance rides - one starting at 7:00am and the next starting at 3:00pm. In addition to the two LD rides we'll have a 50-mile ride. Finishing out the weekend on the 13th we'll have the AERC 100-mile Championship. But wait, in order to keep the ball rolling and the party going, we are extremely excited to offer the AERC Young Rider Championship on Tuesday the 15th. The AERC Young Rider Championship will be a 75-mile ride with a Team aspect thrown in for good measure!

Trails consist of Open Meadows, Cow Trails, and unimproved Jeep Trails. Riders can expect to have at least one 1000' elevation change in each loop they ride out on. Water is available out on trail every 3-5 miles. Although most Vet Checks will be in basecamp, we will have out checks for the 100-mile ride and the AERC Young Rider Championship 75-mile ride and we'll make arrangements to haul your crewing supplies out, if necessary.

Basecamp is a huge open field of more than 15 acres with lots of room and plenty of horse water available.

We will again be offering our Rancher's dinner on one of the nights - probably Thursday - including steak and all the trimmings. We're also anticipating that the local Amish ladies will have freshly made donuts and other baked goods available during the ride. We are working with a couple of the local food trucks to have food for purchase available for the weekend as well.

Temperatures in the early part of June range in the 40's overnight and up into the 80's during the days. Though one should always plan for anything - this is Montana after all and we subscribe to the saying "Don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it will change".

Please be sure you read the "Important Travel Information" page as it has information for people entering the state of Montana with horses.

We’re looking forward to once again opening our little piece of Heaven to our endurance community with the offer of "come early, stay late", but don’t be surprised if you get "put to work" while you’re here!

Bill, Jan, Heather, John, Tyler, Cody, Kaylee, Jennifer, Chet, Milo, and Megan.

Start of the NC 50 miler

ASuddenGift MHF Overcomes the Odds to Win Best Condition at the 2019 50-Mile AERC National Championship

Story and photos by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
January 10 2020

This gelding’s mysterious, undiagnosable, painful back condition almost ended his endurance career

Any time you’re around Heather Reynolds when she’s riding ASuddenGift MHF, you’re likely to hear a version of this: “He is my favorite horse! I love this horse!”

Heather first laid eye on “Sudden” at a racetrack in California as she was shopping for potential Arabian endurance horses. “I never got his name, and I never saw him outside of the stall, but I really liked the look of him.” But he was too short; the Reynolds prefer horses 15.2 or taller to buy and re-train and re-sell, as that’s what a majority of endurance riders prefer.

Fast forward six months, and Heather saw a 15.2-hand gray horse for sale on Facebook that she really liked the looks of. She bought him sight unseen. “He arrives,” Heather said, “and he comes off the trailer and I thought, oh my gosh, he’s so little. He was lucky if he made 14.3 hands. And then I took a closer look, and I thought, this is the same horse!”

ASuddenGift MHF is by Sudden Mischief, a stallion that stood at Michelle and Dr. Mickey Morgan’s Mandolynn Hill Farm in Texas. The dam, AER Wiqueen, by Wiking, was owned by Longin Blachut, and he’s the breeder of ASuddenGift MHF.

Read more at:

Never Quit: Ciera Schwartz Rides Blue Hearrt to 2019 AERC Junior Championship

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
January 2 2020

14-year-old Ciera Schwartz's journey from zero endurance miles to 2019 Junior AERC National Champion in one season (in less than 6 months!) is nothing short of extraordinary.

"She had to go from zero! Think about that. From zero to 505 miles. Really think about it. It's amazing - amazing what that young girl pulled off!" says Robert Weldin, Ciera's sponsor and mentor during the 2019 AERC season in the quest for the Championship.

Along the way it's taken a village of enthusiastic, selfless supporters who helped her get there...

It was Marilyn Scholl who first introduced Ciera to endurance riding in 2016, near her home in Winters, California. "When I met her, she asked me if I could ride with her," Ciera says. "I was like, yea, I don't know what you're talking about though." Ciera started riding at age five in an all-around discipline barn. "I decided to do Western Pleasure in general." But thanks to Marilyn, it was endurance that became her métier and passion.

Read the rest here:

Jeanette Mero’s Ozark Kaolena SWA Wins Best Condition at AERC National Championship 100

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
November 19 2019

Receiving the Best Condition award for the 2019 AERC National Championship 100-miler in Ridgecrest, California, was a perfect ending to an outstanding endurance season for Dr. Jeanette Mero’s mare Ozark Kaolena SWA. In the November 1st ride, Jay and Lena finished fourth in a ride time of 12:10, and next morning the mare was judged to be the best of the seven Top Ten horses showing for the BC award.

Most remarkable, this was Lena’s first season of endurance. The 7-year-old mare, by Kaolino X FMR Ozark Eklipse, by Cassels Roszlem, has achieved a record of 20 finishes in 21 rides, four of them wins, and two Best Conditions. Earlier this season they had easily satisfied the entry requirements for the National Championship, of 500 lifetime miles each (Lena now has 1110 miles; Jay has 5760), including completion of either a Pioneer ride together (they did several) or a 100-mile ride together. That was fulfilled with a 17th place finish in the Tevis Cup...

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Legendary Endurance Stallion Sierra Fadwah+/ Scores Big in AERC National Championship 100

His descendants finish first and third in the 100 mile Championship

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
November 15 2019

The legend that is endurance stallion Sierra Fadwah+/ carried on at the 2019 AERC 100-mile National Championship in Ridgecrest, California, on November 2.

Winner of the 100 miler in a ride time of 10:51 was 12-year-old RTR Rimfires Etta, a granddaughter of Sierra Fadwah; and third place, by 14 minutes, was 11-year-old RTR Thunders Nusabre, a grandson of Sierra Fadwah and half brother to Etta.

Sierra Fadwah+/ was bred by Bob and Lorry Wagner of Sierra Dawn Arabians in 1973, and purchased by Jim and Jackie Bumgardner of Ridgecrest as a 7-year-old in 1980. By Fadjur out of Judhi - a full sister to another endurance legend and sire Bezatal - the Bumgardners started Fadwah in endurance, where he proved to be exceptional...

Read the rest at:

My 2019 AERC National Championship 100 - Caroline De Bourbon

by Caroline De Bourbon

RTR Thunders Nusabre led us to a 3rd place victory at the 2019 AERC 100 Mile National Championships. Could not have asked for a better weekend with this amazing horse.

At 6:15am on Saturday, Sabre and I headed to the starting line, ready to take on the trails ahead. We headed out in the controlled start and before we knew it the trail was open! I found myself in about 20th place and quickly realized that if I wanted to place high then I would need to be competitive. Sabre picked up a lovely canter and squeezed us into the top 10 riders. We stayed with them heading into the first vet check at 17 miles.

Even though we came into VC 1 with many riders, we were able to leave 2nd due to Sabre's amazing ability to pulse down fast. We left VC 1 feeling great. Soon, Jeremy Reynolds and his horse Etta (Sabre's sister) caught us. I guess Sabre enjoyed seeing his big sis again so we continued on with Jeremy. I had ridden this part of the trail earlier in the year at the Laurel Mt duck ride so I knew where we were going. We came into Vet Check 2 (33 miles). Once again, Sabre pulsed down quickly and we were out of there in no time.

We continued up Rattlesnake Wash and down power line road into the 395 vet check (55 miles). We were held there for 30 minutes then we were back out on the trail in 3rd place. By this time I was riding with Jeremy and Alisija Zabavska. The horses flew into the hour hold at camp (65 miles).

My crew and I cooled Sabre down and immediately took him over to vet. He looked awesome on his trot out, gut sounds and everything else. However, the vet was a little concerned about his CRI. Sabre had been getting amazing CRIs all day so this through us all off a bit. The vet said that I should come back in 30 minutes to recheck him. We did another CRI a half an hour later and this time it was much better and back to normal. However, the vet said that It might be wise to see how he was feeling and if I needed to slow it down, slow it down. And I defiantly agreed.

We took off from camp following Jeremy and Alisija. Sabre felt like he had done 20 miles not 65. The hour rest definitely helped him. We began to climb up the mountain side with the sun beating down on us so Alisija I decided to take it a bit slower. We made it to the top and headed down the other side and caught up with Jeremy and all rode into the 395 south crossing. Etta seemed to be juiced so they pulled away. However, Sabre caught his second wind now that the sun had set so we cantered most of the way into the last vet check at 395 (90 miles) for a 20 minute hold.

As we were waiting to leave to head back to camp, the out timers told me that Sabre had a lot more gas in him and that he was ready to go. That boosted my confidence for the 10 mile ride home. Alisija left 1 minute after us and caught us soon after. We rode the rest of the way home together. We raced across the finish line and she beat us by a close few seconds. It didn't really matter to me as I was THRILLED by Sabre's performance on his 3rd ever 100! We walked in the last stretch with a huge smile on my face and a pep in Saber's step. I held my breath when we vetted through, crossing my fingers that we would get our completion. And yes, we did! A 3rd place completion! I was beyond amazed by this horse.

I spent most of the night getting up and walking Sabre around the fair grounds in preparation for the Best Condition showing in the morning. He seemed a little stiff the morning of but we decided to show anyway. Regardless if we got BC or not, I was extremely proud of this horse. A huge thank you to the Ribely's for putting on a wonderful National Championships and all the volunteers and ride staff for helping out. A huge congratulations to all the riders as well as Jeremy Reynolds and Alisija Zabavska for getting 1st and 2nd! It was a honor to ride with both of them for most of the day. Thanks to Bill Whitlock for letting me ride your amazing new horse and trusting me with him. Thanks to my mom and Bill for crewing for me and brining me anything and everything I needed. Last but not least, the biggest thank you goes out to my amazing steed, Sabre. None of this would be possible without him. He gave me a wonderful Tevis this year and now an outstanding 100 mile National Championship. This was my first 100 by myself and he made it super easy. Love him with all my heart!

Thank you to everyone who made this happen and I can't wait to see what next season will bring!

Rough and Ready woman, 65, earns endurance riding championship

Jeremy Reynolds and RTR Rimfires Etta Win AERC National Championship 100

November 4 2019
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

Jeremy Reynolds, from Dunnellon, Florida, riding RTR Rimfires Etta, won the 100 mile AERC National Championship near Ridgecrest, California, on Saturday. The winning time for the desert ride was 10:51.

RTR Rimfires Etta is a 12-year-old Arabian mare by RTR Rimfire X PS Sierra Sage, by Kezoram. She is owned by Dublin "Tinker" Hart, of Wellington, Nevada, and her mom Kay Matthews. Tinker bred, raised, and trained the mare. Jeremy started campaigning her in late 2018; the pair finished second in this year's Tevis Cup by a whisker. Jeremy was First Middleweight in the Championship 100.

Best Condition went to fourth place Jeanette Mero and Ozark Kaolena SWA. First Heavyweight went to seventh place Bryce Hackley aboard Sericko. First Lightweight went to his mom, eighth place Peg Murphy-Hackley aboard HE Khem Chee. First Featherweight went to second place Alisija Zabavska-Rogers riding MSA Silver Gazal. First Junior was Ciera Schwartz, who finished in 28th place aboard Blue Hearrt, riding with her sponsor Robert Weldin.

67 started the Championship 100-mile ride with 36 finishing.

More stories and photos to come at: http://www.endurance.net/international/USA/2019AERCNC/

Susannah Jones and Diablo Maj Win AERC National Championship 50

November 1 2019
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

Susannah Jones, from Rough & Ready, California, and her gelding Diablo Maj smoked the 50 mile AERC National Championship course in the Mojave desert near Ridgecrest on Thursday. The winning time was 3:57. Diablo Maj is a 17-year-old Arabian by Rushan AHSB X Paradisa, by El Paso. Susannah was First Featherweight.

Best Condition, sixth place, and First Lightweight went to Heather Reynolds of Dunnellon, Florida, aboard A Sudden Gift MHF. First Middleweight and second place went to Mark Montgomery aboard MM Gus, and first Heavyweight was 8th place Allan Horn aboard Shez Mostly Zipped.

80 started the Championship 50-mile ride with 61 completing.

Festivities continue at the Ridgecrest Fairgrounds, basecamp for the rides, with seminars on Friday, and the Championship 100-mile ride, and a 35-miler, 50-miler, and 65-miler on Saturday.

Florida rider wins endurance race

News-Ridgecrest.com - Full Story

Hundreds on horseback vie in local endurance championships

Florida rider wins endurance raceBy KELLY COSNER, News Review Correspondent

This year’s American Endurance Ride Championship at 20 Mule Team, known as the destination ride for our country’s most dedicated riders, was host to hundreds of competitive riders and their mounts from all over the United States and Canada.

The championship started with a 50-mile course on Oct. 31, with a 100-mile race on Nov. 2.

Riders departed from the start line at the Desert Empire Fairgrounds livestock entry gate and headed south for the foothills where they traversed dusty roads, rocky passes and moderate elevation changes.

In addition to the usual roster, this ride also had a Junior Division where riders age 16 and younger were accompanied by adult riders...

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2019 AERC National championship 100 at 20 mule team - Nick Warhol

Nov 2, 2019
by Nick Warhol

Or, a long, busy, and very rewarding week in the desert!

A year and a half ago Robert Ribley mentioned they wanted to have the 2019 national championship ride at the 20 mule team ride, and was I interested in doing the trail? “I’m in!” I told him. I have been riding the ride since 1993, and coming down and working on the trail since the year 2000. I take that trail very personally. I love the desert and riding both my dirt bike and horses in it, so how could it be any better? Ride managers Robert and Melissa Ribley, along with 20 Mule team ride manager Brian Reeves, put a LOT of work into this event. The goal was to make it a real championship caliber event, and we did not disappoint. Everything I heard about the ride was really positive in every aspect.

I packed my truck and trailer to the gills, loaded up my big, brown, girly horse Sorsha and headed down to Ridgecrest on Sunday in a wind storm. Lucky me- the wind blowing down highway 5 was about 40 MPH, but it was a direct tail wind giving me incredible gas mileage all the way down. The wind was a little dicey when I hit the desert and headed east, but I made it to Ridgecrest without the camper being blown off the truck! I dropped Sorsha off at Gretchen Montgomery’s place (a mile and a half from the fairgrounds) where she basically boarded my horse for a week. Thanks G and Mike! On Monday morning I met Brian at the fairgrounds and helped him unload. Cripes- I thought I had a lot of stuff! He had three trailers packed full of gear. We spent half a day unpacking and getting base camp set up.

On Monday afternoon Gretchen and I loaded up the horses and went out to the new location for Vet 1 on the 100. We needed new, bigger locations for both vet 1 and vet 2 due to the size of the ride. The new check required a new mile of trail across the desert to get to the new location, so we took the ponies out for a mission and spot marked a new route from the trail to the new vet check. I liked it! You can never have enough cross country desert trails. We had a nice ride and the horses both felt fresh and ready to go. I would finish the new trail on the bike later on. Brian and I had dinner at the infamous Casa Corona and very large drinks!

On Tuesday morning I went out early in 38 degrees on the quad to start marking the trail through town. It was not as cold as being on the bike! Signs, ribbons, and lots of chalk on the ground. When it warmed up a bit I headed out on the dirt bike to mark the 35 mile orange loop. It’s the night loop for the 100, so it needs a lot more big chalk arrows on the ground. There would not be much moon on Saturday night, so it’s critical to have lots of big arrows out there. I got done in good time by the early afternoon, so I headed back out to start on the pink loop in the hard to get to areas, and I’m really glad I did since there was still so much to do. We have 50 additional miles of new trail at the ride this time for the championship 50 that had not been used before, making our total trail mileage to mark 165 miles. I rode the bike back and forth a few times on the new trail to wear it in a little...

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