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2017 AERC National Championships

2017 AERC Nat'l Chammpionships
Images by Merri Melde

2017 AERC Nat'l Chammpionships
Images by Merri Melde


Ride photos by Merri Melde

Wahatoya Cup - July 2-3

25 - 50 - 75 - 100


Day 1

Day 2 - the 100 and more!

Sunday awards

2021 Wahatoya Cup in Southern Colorado

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
July 6 2021

This high Colorado mesa outside of La Veta, Colorado, has been in Tennessee Lane’s family for 25 years. She’d been dreaming of putting on an endurance ride and sharing the beauty of this country with riders, but with all the endurance rides she went to and competed in herself, she never had time.

“Until I busted my knee in 2015. Then I had time to design and develop trails, and talk to land owners, who graciously allowed me to use their private land.”

And so in 2016 was born SoCo Endurance, Ridecamp at 8000’ (you’re not going to find many higher base camps!), and trails from 7000-9000 feet below and on the flanks of the twin Spanish Peaks in southern Colorado near La Veta.

All the 130 miles of trails are on private property, and thanks to the Lanes and the generous landowners, endurance riders get to experience things a normal person can’t, that are “keynotes” of this ride. “The ‘keynotes’ of the Spanish Peaks/Wahatoya trail system are Boone Point, Little Kansas (the fairy village), The Big Wall crossing, the Cucharas River, the Ridgeline climb (hill of death), the PistolWhip descent, WildCat canyon, Long Canyon, the Wahatoya Valley and creek…and more,” Tenney said. You can guess how some of these got their names!

In 2017, SoCo Endurance hosted the AERC National Championships.

This year’s 2-day Wahatoya Cup followed right on the hooves of the 5-day Spanish Peaks Pioneer (one day off between). The perpetual Wahatoya Cup goes to the winner of the 100-miler, and the Kevin Myers Memorial Cup goes to the Best Conditioned horse of the 100.

A super group of volunteers and officials make this ride possible: veterinarians Carter Hounsel (from Texas), Gail Conway (from Texas, who also brought 2 horses and got to ride several days), and local Miranda Andress; Cody (the voice of SoCo), the radio guys, and a whole host of family and friends and new friends, and endurance riding crews and not-riding riders.

This is wild country: you might see deer, elk, antelope, bear (a couple of riders saw bears, including a mama and 2 cubs), cougars (I am sure I heard one while out shooting photos one day).

The weather can be wild: it was brown and dry last year, but this year it ran the full gamut of heat, cold, sun, clouds, thick fog, heavy rain and thunderstorms, sometimes all in one day. Chest-high grass carpeted the entire area, which was great for horse gut sounds.

With the cancellation of the 5-day Fort Stanton ride in New Mexico, riders came from Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, and from as far away as Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia. In endurance days of old, riders would bring one horse for all 5 (or 7) days, but most riders now bring multiple horses.

Day 1’s 25 was won by local Linda Browneller; Debbie Ediger finished second on Jeelee Montana RA; that made 6 days of LD’s this week on her lovely mare.

Day 1’s 50 was won by a race-off with Oklahoma’s Gunnar Frank just nipping local Sami Browneller by a head, with Gunnar’s horse getting Best Condition.

Friday evening as the ride meeting started, a heavy fog blew in fast followed by rain, rain and more rain, which would make for some new boggy spots and a flew slick areas for Saturday’s rides.

Despite that, the 100-miler was a fast one (Tennessee moved some of the hard mountain loops to ‘easier’ loops where riders could move out more). High Lonesome Arabian’s Erin Lemmons and Tuscarora John from Texas and local Sami Browneller and Kaytwo raced for the finish, with Erin and TJ winning by a couple of lengths. Christoph Schork and GE VA Blizzard of Oz cantered in third over the line, and Ozzie won the Best Condition award. Young Rider Taylor Fisher and Kenlyn Kourvy won the 75 miler.

And meanwhile, back in Ridecamp…..

There was Wednesday evening’s Whole Hog Hootenanny with a pig roast and live music.

A new tradition was started at this year’s event/s: the epic puzzle, which gobs of people worked diligently on during the 5-day ride, and which got blown over on the ground Thursday night, and which was picked back up, and *almost* got finished by Sunday’s ceremonies.

The challenge and the beauty of the trails and the unique atmosphere all make this a very special endurance ride, where many new riders became friends, and many old friends became family, which is a big part of SoCo Endurance.

More photos, and stories to come at:

Ride camp opens June 22nd 2021.

Base Camp

Primitive camping- horse water will be provided at the tanks in camp. There are permanent “cowboy bathrooms” and a trash dumpster available to you. A septic wagon will be available for those who need it, you may service your own trailer and dump it in the “cowboy bathroom” septic pit.

Please spread your manure and fill in any holes your horse digs. We are happy to announce that we are building a community turnout, please be respectful of each other’s time and share it in 15 minute intervals if there is a line. No overnighting of horses in the community turnout pen.

We have very nice single-horse, pipe corrals at camp, as well as panel round pens for multiple horses to share. Yes, you can park right next to your corral. These may be reserved, send Tenney a message to reserve them or to get on the waiting list. To see the list, click here.

Dogs allowed in camp. Any aggressive dogs should be left at home or kept on a very short leash. NO LONG leashes on dogs, it’s too dangerous for the horses. Any dogs that bark incessantly, instigate fights, or get in to our food buffet, will be given a large bowl of spicy chili and a king-size snickers, and then locked in your LQ for a splatterfest.

The Trail

This is a true representation of the Southern Colorado Rockies and I don’t intend to butter that up for you. If you are worried about it being too challenging or technical, then ride the LD, I will make sure the LD is geared back so that inexperienced riders and horses can enjoy a less challenging but equally beautiful ride. The awesome geology around here makes for diverse terrain, with lots of climbs and descents as well as a few flat easy miles to cruise on. There will be some brief technical stretches to keep you entertained, so dismount when prompted if you are nervous. As for the longer distances (50+ miles) yes, this will be a challenging ride interspersed with technical stretches that will slow you down, so be smart with your pacing, make up time on the easy stuff and take your time in the tough stuff. I have designed the loops to mix it up, nice easy fast stretches interspersed with slow challenging climbs, descents, and fun technical stuff to keep you awake and give you something to write home about. The scenery is truly unbeatable, the ride camp setting is gorgeous, and as I said, the trails are diverse, with footing varying from flat, canterable-sandy-loam, to steep, walk-it-rocky. The land we are riding across is cattle country – there will be gates. I’m doing my best to minimize the number of gates, and improve the functionality of the ones we must keep closed. There is ample water on the trail, mostly cow tanks but also natural streams and ponds. Altitude: Camp is at >8000′ and the ride will range from 7000′ to a little over 9000′. Please feel free to give us constructive comments, advice, and recommendations, we’re doing our best for you!