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2011 Old Selam
Images by Merri Melde

2021 Old Selam Pioneer

September 3rd, 4th, 5th, 2021 ~ Centerville, Idaho
Endurance, Limited Distance, and Trail Rides ~ Sanctioned by AERC

before the ride

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

2021 Old Selam Pioneer: Put This Ride on Your Bucket List

September 9 2021
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

The Old Selam Endurance ride is named after a legendary horse named Old Selam who helped two prisoners escape from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary in 1901. The first man to try was Bob Meeks, of the Butch Cassidy gang. He unhitched Old Selam from the wagon and took off, headed north into the hills (the very hills the ride traverses), but he was caught the next day and returned to the prison with Old Selam.

5 days later another prisoner, Sam Bruner stole a saddle and bridle and Old Selam and escaped. Same was never caught, but Old Selam was found 6 months later far south near Swan Falls dam on the Snake River.

Nobody knows if Old Selam was drafted or if he was complicit in the escapes, but we’d all like to think he was gung ho for the adventures, and that we’re all chasing his spirited ghost out there on our Endurance ride trails. The Old Selam ride started in 1979 right out of the prison, (which opened in 1872 to “some of the West’s most desperate criminals,” and functioned until 1973), trying to retrace some of Old Selam’s escape trails, and eventually moved up to the current Ridecamp in New Centerville, which is surrounded by its own deep history of mining during the gold rush.

It’s a true village that puts on the Old Selam Pioneer ride in southwest Idaho over Labor Day. It’s SWITnDR’s (SouthWest Idaho Trail and Distance Riders) fundraiser ride. Club members put the ride on and run it. Our Ridecamp is on Cini Baumhoff’s family land in a sweet spot under the trees by Grimes Creek.

I like to call Old Selam the ‘best kept Endurance ride secret in the Northwest’… but we don’t want it to be a secret. Put this on your Bucket List. It’s a challenging ride with the ups and downs of the forested hills (riding day 1’s 50 aboard Owyhee Justice, Karen Bumgarner recorded over 5400 feet of elevation gain), and the footing is simply spectacular. I have not ridden another Endurance ride in the USA with such incredibly good footing over the entire ride.

Trails are so well marked, you’d have to be a total doofus to miss a turn (and 4 of us did, at a water trough, because we were totally distracted :) , total pilot error). Weather was almost perfect this year, below freezing in the mornings (!!!) and just reaching the 90s during the days, with just enough breeze to make it decent, and, beside a certain water trough each day on the loops, FROZEN OTTER POPS!!!!!!

About 35 riders started each day, and over all 3 days, of the 113 starters, there were only 3 pulls.

3 completed the 155 mile Pioneer: David Laws on Che Ole, Virginia Jenkins and RA China Doll, and Nicole Kinsey on Phyre Storm Z. 4 finished all 3 days of 25s: Vicki Nickels on TCA IMA Famous Star, Bethany Booher on Jean, Carrie Johnson on DWA Einstein, and Jennifer Leach on her lovely mule Applejack.

Vet’s Choice of Getaway horses, you know, the mount you’d like to have if you were escaping from prison and trying to put great distance between you and the authorities, were RA China Doll and Applejack.

This year’s Old Selam was proud to be the showcase for a couple of astonishing AERC records:

• Suzie Hayes of Montana reached 100 Best Conditions when her Al Marah Triple Speed won and BC’d on Day 1’s 50.

• And after finishing the Day 1 50 on OT Rasa RSI, Crockett Dumas from Utah reached 50,000 AERC miles.

Just a little more inspiration for those of us trotting along behind or beside them.

Come ride Old Selam Pioneer!

We will offer 3 fabulous days of riding in the beautiful Boise Basin where Gold was discovered in 1862, and wonderful treasures are still found today.

Day 1 – Friday September 3rd , 25 and 50 mile endurance rides
Day 2 – Saturday September 4th, 25 and 55 mile endurance rides
Day 3 – Sunday September 5th, 25 and 50 mile endurance rides.

Come ride southwest Idaho's trail & distance treasure.
Over 40 years and still growing!

Pre-register NOW and Pay later! Click here

Please pre-register to save time and let us plan for awards.(Registration also available in camp).


Directions: From I-84 in Boise take Hwy 21 NE 36 miles to Idaho City. Turn Left (north) onto Montgomery St. At the end of the street, turn left (west) and continue for 7 miles (dirt road between towns) to Centerville. Turn right (north) onto Henry’s creek Rd. and continue approx. ½ mile into camp.

Camp: Ride camp is located on private property, but borders public land so weed free hay is preferred. Horse water will be supplied but bring people water. DOGS are always welcome, but must be leashed at all times. Do NOT bring dogs to registration, vet area, ride meetings or awards dinner. FIRE danger is very real this time of year – only one community fire will be allowed, if any. Bring your own food. No meals provided.

FEE Schedule: All Distances $110 for the 1st day ridden, $105 for additional days, current year/reciprocating ride managers 50%off (one day only; other days at full price). Trail Riders $25 for the 1st day ridden, $20 for additional days. Non-AERC members will be subject to an additional $15 per day non-member fee

JUNIORS (under age 18 as of 1/1/21) ride FREE

Starting Times: 50 and 55 mile riders @6:00am; LDs @ 7:00am. Trail ride any time after 9am but no later than 3pm (trail riders must check in & out with ride management) Check-in and Vetting to start approx. 4pm on Thursday Sept 2nd for Friday riders, Pre-vet times for Saturday and Sunday will be at the discretion of the Vets.

Trails: Trails are primarily old logging roads, ATV and single-track trials on private property, US Forest Service and Idaho State Lands. The terrain is mostly sound footing with sandy surfaces, but there are rocky sections. Hoof Protection is STRONGLY recommended for all horses competing.

2020 Old Selam: Best Kept Secret In The Northwest!

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
September 10 2020

The secret is out (or will be after this year’s edition): Old Selam is one of the best endurance rides in the whole Western end of the U.S.

With some AERC members off-shoot splintering into separate little groups - at least one of which is now imploding - I sure do appreciate our little local grassroots endurance riding group, SWITnDR, SouthWest Idaho Trail And Distance Riders. The club was incorporated in 1979. The "Old Selam Endurance Ride and Ride & Tie," managed by Byron Merideth, was one of the club’s first projects in 1979, with Ridecamp inside the old prison complex of the Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise, next to the barns.

So this year marked more than 40 renditions of Old Selam, in some form or another (one year we had an ‘Old Selam Redux’ near Weiser when we couldn’t use the usual forest trails around Idaho City). The ride is named after an old horse, Selam, who worked in the Idaho State Penitentiary. He was used twice by inmates to escape the prison. One of Butch Cassidy’s pals, Bob Meeks, ‘borrowed’ Selam to make his escape on December 24, 1901. He was caught the next day (Merry Christmas, Bob!) and both he and Selam returned to the prison. Five days later, prisoner Sam Bruner nabbed old Selam to make his escape, and the two were never seen again.

COVID chaos moved the Mary and Anna Memorial ride in Oregon to the weekend before, which probably hurt both of us, but Old Selam this year was a 3-day Pioneer ride, which gave you more bang for the driving buck, particularly for those riders from Nevada and California and Arizona, since rides have been few and far between in some states, due to COVID-19 and the restrictions placed on rides, and due to wildfires burning up western states.

Old Selam is our club fundraiser ride, and so many people work so hard to come together to put this ride on. I won’t even attempt to name all the people who chipped in with the months of planning, weeks of camping out and marking trails, and all the volunteering with the many jobs during the ride to keep things running smoothly, and all the days (weeks?) afterwards that people will be unmarking trail. Special mention does go to Cini Baumhoff, whose family owns the land that we Ridecamp on beside Grimes Creek near the old town of New Centerville.

It was looking to be a very pleasant ride weekend… and then came the heat wave. Day 1 the temperature reached 102*. Days 2 and 3 were about as hot, though slight relief came in the form of, ironically, haze and smoke that drifted in, taking away the pretty views but veiling the power of the sun. There was approximately a 50* difference between the night lows and the day highs!

55 riders hit the trail on Day 1’s 25 and 50.

Carrie Johnson and Payback Daysea Duke won the 25 miler in a time of 3:43, with 9th place Roz Cusack getting BC on Sally Tarbet’s Greta. 24 of the 27 starters finished.
 Winning and coming second in the 50 was the familiar Montana duo of Lynn Lee and (second) Suzie Hayes, aboard their youngsters in 6:42, with Suzie’s Al Marah Triple Speed getting Best Condition. If you’ll recall, Suzie was fresh off winning the Big Horn 100 aboard Sanstormm 5 weeks earlier… which gave all her broken bones time to knit more! Cadence Pearce, granddaughter of Lee Pearce and Naomi Preston, finished her first 50 mile ride aboard Belesema Esperanza (and got the Turtle award!). A couple of riders collapsed from heat exhaustion, but fortunately they were sufficiently revived by cold drinks, air conditioning at Cini’s parents’ house, and nurse Marilyn Hornbaker. 26 of 28 starters finished.

22 started Day 2’s 25 miler, with 20 finishing. Liesl Lemke won aboard Race T Wildfire in 3:39, and got Best Condition.

14 started the 55 miler, with 12 finishing. Suzy Hayes and Atlas won in 5:45. They were almost 1 hour and 45 minutes ahead of second place Jeff Stewart and DWA Malik. How do they move so fast? Well, take one look at the amazing Atlas, 16.2 snowflake-white Anglo Arabian, and after you fall in love with him and watch him move, you’ll totally see how. They also got Best Condition.

Day 3’s 25 had 28 starters with all finishing. Karen Steenhof and Riley smoked the course in 3:28, with second place Lynn Lee and Al Marah Fastnfire getting Best Condition.

Day 3’s 50 had 14 starters, with 13 finishing. Suzie Hayes and Sanstormm won in 5:05, and (surprise) got Best Condition. Cadence Pearce finished in 13th with Belesema Esperanza again, her second 50-miler, and proclaimed she loves endurance, even after she was ceremoniously dunked in the water trough afterwards.

Old Selam’s trails really are incomparable - for a mountain ride, they are remarkably un-rocky, and many of the old two-track logging roads are gentle climbs and descents. Water troughs were strategically placed everywhere, and the best water stop of the day was the one where a cooler awaited with ice water and otter pops - most welcomed on sweltering days.

And the trails were marked so well, it was impossible to get lost (which one or two people still managed to do…). At least one rider saw a bear, and Liz and Linda shuttled many people a mile or so out of camp on Day 3 to gawk at a HUGE moose sitting in a meadow. Coyotes serenaded Ridecamp every night, and though I didn’t hear them this year, you might get lucky one year and hear a pack of wolves. And if you get really really lucky, next year you might catch a ghost-glimpse of old Selam, galloping through the forest with an escaped prisoner on his back.

Hillbillie Willie says hi to famous Dave Rabe and famous Cocamoe Joe and famous White Cloud

I pose with the Monanans, including 3 Big Horn winners (from right Atlas, Suzie Hayes, Sanstormm)

Old Selam trails are The Bomb - look at that footing!


Just a wee slice of the many many volunteers, post ride!

More photos at:

The Story of Old Selam

The Old Selam Endurance ride is named after a horse used in two different escapes from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary on Warm Springs Avenue in Boise. Selam was reported to be one of the best horses in Idaho and had been used for both riding and driving.

On December 24th, 1901, "Bob" Meeks, a member of the Butch Cassidy gang, was working around the hog pens in the prison complex when he unhitched Selam, then an old horse, from the wagon and took off. Meeks and Selam headed north into the hills. Trackers found where he had stopped to cut the harness from the horse. Tracks showed that Meeks had gotten off Selam and walked alongside him as they climbed the steep hillsides. Meeks was re-captured on Christmas Day, and both he and Selam were returned to the prison...

More at:

2017 Old Selam: A HOT Time in the Old Town

September 6 2017
by Merri Melde

Centerville was a hot town in the old 1860's mining days: a population of around 3000 people, with a hotel, stables, stores, and saloons. And presumably other kinds of hot parlors, to keep those miners entertained after they were tired of digging out the $250,000,000 in gold in the area over the next decade.

It was hot in Centerville over the 2017 Labor Day weekend, but that's just because of the contrary weather compounded by plenty of smoke in the air. A good group of endurance riders gathered for the SWITnDR fundraiser ride, Old Selam, back in its proper place after two years' absence. Ridecamp was on Cini Baumhoff's family property, and lined with signs that said Private Property, No Camping and No Mining, because there still might be some gold diggins' under our horse trailers.

I spent Saturday shooting the ride (photos coming on SmugMug soon) and guarding a gate to keep out those wood-lusting woodcutters.

24 started the 50-miler, with 22 finishing. Layne Lewis won aboard Royal Immage (ride time 6:29) by a second over Debbie Grose and Jack, who took Best Condition. Layne didn't show for BC, because she went back out on an extra loop, as good heat training for next month's AHA 100 in Oreana. Tough rider and tough horse! The rest of us were melting in camp as the temperature hit around 100 degrees.

20 started the 30-miler, with only one near heat-stroked rider option. Kathleen Hite won aboard American Ally EF in 4:10, and also got Best Condition. Jill and Chris Haunold finished second and third on the 'Curly Brigade' (their Curly horses), Penny's Isabele and CC Handsome Dark Knight, in 4:24 and 4:25.

Kaili Worth, who finished 12th on Red, was the hero of the day, as she went out on trail to help rescue Barb, the too-hot rider, and rode her horse Blue back to camp, pretty much bareback, since she couldn't reach Barb's long stirrups.

I psyched myself up to ride in the heat on Sunday. Steph/Smokey and Carol/August hauled Steph's standardbred Hillbillie Willie from up the Pickett Crick to the ride for me. It was only Willie's third attempt at a 50, after finishing his first one at City of Rocks in June, and getting pulled very anti-climactically at Top O' the World in July on the first loop of the first day with sore feet. He'd be wearing easyboot gloves over his shoes at Old Selam, which had worked for conditioning at home, but the biggest trick is keeping those boots on over shoes once they get wet. And we'd have quite a few creek crossings to deal with.

I hadn't ridden Old Selam since 2011, and I was thrilled to be back in the forest, despite all the smoke and pretty much no views from the ridges because of the smoke, and despite the heat.

Sunday the 50's had two 25-mile loops, and we made it comfortably through the first loop before the heat started settling in. Willie loved leading on the overgrown two-track forest roads, ducking under the branches (while I got whapped in the face, because he's so tall it's difficult to throw myself all the way down on his neck, and just easier to take the hits) and zooming around blind corners. I was hoping to Moses we would not run into a big moose in our path around one of those corners, and thankfully we didn't!

It did get hot at places on the second loop. If you kept trotting, you had a bit of a breeze. If we did walk, we didn't do it in the sun, only in the shade. The water sources were a bit spread out for such a hot day, and several times, Willie was looking out for water and wanted to take a detour off trail anywhere that it looked like there might be a creek, because he's a canny outdoorsman horse now.

But just about the time we, horses and humans, were about to die for lack of water to drink and dunk our clothes in, there appeared water troughs or a real creek to bury our heads in. The biggest treat ever were the coolers full of iced water and otter pops, dropped off by ride management at two different places on the loop - delightful treat!

One of the creeks and crossings was obviously part of the beaver dam Liz had been talking about when she marked the trail. By Sunday the water had risen to over the horses' knees, which was fine with the horses. They all did some splashing and thinking about dropping down in the creek (and Willie dropped to his knees wanting to roll in the sand after we got out!)

I rode Willie out of the creek, so I could stand on the edge of the water and dunk my vest and helmet. I ended up getting a helmet full of beaver water in my eyes… we all know that drinking beaver water can give you giardia (it is known as "beaver fever"); I will let all of you know later if you can soak in giardia through your eyeballs.

Our Pickett Crick team of 3 finished in a ride time of 7:35 and Hillbillie Wonder Willie ended with a pulse of 48. 48 in that heat! Mine was way over 48. Willie's best most favorite reward before, during, and after the ride was the water/wheat bran/oats/carrots slop that he would bury his face in.

15 started the 50, with 14 finishing (one Rider Option) with Oregon riders taking the top 3 spots. Kristen Maholland and HCC Elassar won in a ride time of 6:34, with Darlene Anderson and TER Ramone the mule she stole from Max for the weekend a second later. Third place Elayne Barclay and Merlot's Kwest got Best Condition. Elayne has had a terrible time lately, with her other horse Fletch missing in an Oregon forest for 30 days. Elayne almost didn't come to Old Selam because of that, but this was a nice break and a welcome treat for her.

16 started the 25 miler with 15 finishing. Karen Steenhof and Riley won first in a ride time of 2:58, out-finishing Connie Holloway and DWA Saruq, and Junior Sarah Holloway and Noble Desperado by a minute. Riley got Best Condition.

It was a great testament to all the riders taking such good care of their steeds on such a hot weekend.

A couple of milestones were celebrated: two mares made their first endurance starts as The Cutest Mare(s) Ever. Tamara Baysinger finally returned to endurance riding Saturday aboard The Cutest Mare Ever, Minji. They finished 11th in a ride time of 7:45 for the 50. Trish Frahm rode Saturday's 25 on The Cutest Mare Ever, BPA Jasmine Blu, a flashy Appaloosa.

Andi Paulo reached 5000 miles; Karen Bumgarner's Z Summer Thunder hit 6000 miles; and Nance Worman's little energizer bunny Big Sky Quinn, ridden by many other riders including me (Tevis, 2009!), hit 5000 miles. Debbie Grose made him a carrot cake. :)

And it was an enormous SWIT group effort to put the ride on. As Beth said, "I won't name any names either, for fear of leaving somebody out. But you know who you are." Great job. The trails were fabulously marked, the footing was pretty awesome the entire ride, the forest was a delight, and it was just all around a good, hot September ride. If you have to be out in the heat, you might as well be endurance riding!

Directions: From I-84 in Boise take Hwy 21 N.E. 36 miles to Idaho City. Turn left (north) onto Montgomery St. Where street ends, turn left (west) and continue for 7 miles (dirt road between towns) to Centerville. Turn right (north) onto Henry’s Creek Rd. follow approx ½ mile to camp.

Camp: Ride camp is located on private property, but borders public land so weed free hay is preferred. Horse water will be supplied but bring people water. DOGS are always welcome but must be leashed at all times. Do NOT bring dogs to registration, vet area, ride meetings or awards dinner. FIRE danger is very real this time of year—only one community fire will be allowed, if any.

Fee Schedule: 50 & Limited Distances (25 & 30) $95 each distance, each day. Juniors $65. Current year ride managers $47.50 (one day only; second day at regular price). Non-AERC members – additional $15 per day. Trail Riders $20/day.

Starting Times for Both Days: 50 mile riders @ 6:30 am; LDs @ 7:30 am. Trail Ride anytime after 9:00am but no later than 3:00pm. (Trail riders to check in & out with management.) Check-in and vetting to start approx 4:00pm on Friday, Sept 1st for Saturday rides. Pre-vet check for Sunday-only riders any time Saturday at the discretion of the Vets.

Trails: Trails are primarily old logging roads, ATV and single-track trails on private property, U.S. Forest Service and Idaho State land. The terrain is mostly sound footing with sandy surfaces, but there are short rocky sections, so hoof protection is strongly recommended for all horses competing 50 mile and Limited Distance events.

Meetings: Registration starts approx 4:00pm on Friday. Pre-ride meeting Friday approx 7:00pm. Potluck dinners Saturday & Sunday around 6:00 before award meetings. Please bring a dish to share. Award meetings following dinner.

2016 Old Selam Reux

Inconvenient that, for the second year in a row, a forest fire (this one over 100,000 acres and burning on for several more months) dashed the hopes of a renewal of the Old Selam ride near Idaho City, Idaho.

Convenient that many members of SWITnDR are members of Friends of the Weiser River Trail, and vice versa. At rather the last minute, Old Selam basecamp was moved to Council, Idaho, so the New Old Selam Redux endurance ride could be held over the Weiser River Trail.

Long time SWIT member, Dot Wiggins, who cowgirled in the area years ago, joined the FWRT Board of Directors in its early formative years, 1999. Dot has been very passionate about preserving and growing the Weiser River Trail, and she was in fact was presented with the Ann Parr Lifetime Achievement Award for Trail Preservation at the AERC Convention last year for her tireless work on this trail. Dot came to the ride, hanging out all day Saturday in Ridecamp.

The Weiser River Trail in Idaho is one of around 1800 rail-trails in the country. This one runs for 85 miles from Weiser in the south end to West Pine on the north end, and it’s open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. There are numerous restored trestles, many of which were rather exciting for some of the horses and some of the riders. Hundreds of fruit trees line the trail from Council north through Fruitvale – apples, apricots, plums and more, free for human and bear picking. Indeed, I had fresh bear prints by the Combs Trestle where I waited to take pictures, and a couple riders did actually see a bear during the ride. I expect most of them were sleeping off their fruit sugar highs during the day.

The big village of SWITnDR pulled together to communicate with the locals, set up ridecamp at Council’s rodeo grounds, haul water, and mark trail. Tthat was brutal,” said ride manager and SWIT president, Beth Bivens. “We must have put out 30 ribbons.” “Really,” said Pam Haynes, “there’s nowhere else to go. Stay on The Trail!” The rail grade is approximately 2% and pretty darn straight, a pretty deceptively easy ride, though you need to consider changing your diagonals and gaits to give your horse a break from 25 or 50 miles of cornerless trotting.

37 riders showed up to ride, 19 in the 50 and 18 in the 25. They all had the treat of cooler weather, and a lucky dodging of the thunderstorms that swirled all around Council in the afternoon.

Montana’s Linda Strelnik and Gus cruised to the win on the 25 in 2:18. They also won the Best Condition award. Mike Cobbley and Talladega finished second 28 minutes later, a second ahead of his wife Jessica aboard The Big Brass. Mike got some good natured ribbing afterwards about nosing out his wife. There were 4 pulls in the 25, 3 of them rider options.

Naomi Preston and JAC Winterhawk won the 50 in 6:23, a second ahead of her husband Lee Pearce, aboard the energizer bunny gelding Fire Mt Malabar. Winterhawk got the Best Condition award, and Naomi thanked her husband for the ride on his horse! Karen Steenhof and WMA Proclaim came in third 8 minutes later. “I didn’t mean to come in third!” Karen said, but “Riley” obviously felt good in finishing their first 50 together. Karen has been bringing her new gelding along nicely, spending the last 2 years getting to know him in LDs. Karen is 2 50-mile rides away from 18,000 miles. There were just two pulls in the 50, both of them sadly at the finish line.

Despite no “old” Old Selam for the second year in a row, this new Old Selam Redux ride was a successful and fun event. It is SWITnDR’s only fundraiser ride for the year, and veterinarians Robert Washington and Keith Ruble generously donated a portion of their fees.

Ride photos can be seen at: