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Endurance.Net Home 2022 Distance Horse National Championships

Official Event Website

Take the Idaho Ironhorse Challenge!

One Horse & Rider
Nine Days
Four Hundred Sixty Five Miles

...or a variation thereof...
This year's rides are City of Rocks, Top O' The World, Old Selam, and Autumn Sun

2020 Autumn Sun
Images by Merri Melde
Merri Melde's Ride Photos on Smugmug


Sept 30-Oct 2

Open AHA/AERC 25, 50 & 100 mile rides

Breed Nat'l Championships & LD Challenge


Day 1 & Awards

Day 2 & Awards

Day 3 & Awards

Sunday BC & Awards

2022 Autumn Sun Pioneer/Distance Horse National Championships

by Merri Melde
October 10 2022

The 2022 Autumn Sun Pioneer/Distance Horse National Championships, hosted by the Arabian Horse Association, took place September 30-October 2 outside of Gooding, Idaho. Partnered breed Championships, besides Arabians, included the Appaloosa, Paso Fino, Shagya-Arabian, Morgan, Akhal-Teke, and American Saddlebred.

Some of the top tier of riders came to contest the Championships, from as far away as California, Texas, and Canada.

This is by no means all, but here are just a *few* highlights from the weekend.

4 Tevis Cup winners graced the ride entries this year! left to right Sanoma Blakeley, mom Gabriela Blakeley, Jeremy and Heather Reynolds...

Read the rest at:

2022 Distance Horse National Championship 100 - David Lewis

by David Lewis
October 5 2022

It's a good thing that my horse (Matay) doesn't have Facebook so he can tell that I was cheating on him! This was by far the most brutal ride I've ever done.

I don't know what made this ride so difficult, but out of 29 starters, only 16 finished (55%).

I was not originally planning on going to the Distance Nationals at Autumn Sun because my horse had the equivalent of a tendon sheath sprain from Old Selam. Not a serious injury, but some time off and rehab are needed before doing another ride. Alexandra looked to move up from doing LDs and double her distance to attempt a 50 at the AHA 50-mile National Championship. Of course, I had to go to Nationals to crew for her, and then Stevie said she had an available horse to ride! The legendary Alexander Hamilton! This horse is a Tevis finisher and one that Becky Osborne would never shut up about. Now I didn't have an excuse to not make an attempt at my first 100-mile race.

I was so nervous I barely slept at all before the ride. It was like piling on all the nervousness from every ride I've ever done and bottled it up into a single night and the 3:50am alarm jolted me awake for what felt like 8 hours too soon.

The start time was 5:30am, which meant the first nearly 2 hours we'd be riding in pitch black darkness. I used to ride in the dark frequently, but it was a new experience to be doing it for this long at an endurance ride with only the occasional glow stick to guide your way and know that you're still on the trail. The stars were so clear above your head and I'd find myself making out constellations and making rapid wishes upon the shooting stars. The far-off city lights from the valley never seemed to go away until sunrise.

Getting on Alexander for the first time, I could tell within a few seconds that this horse has some amazing dressage training in his background, training that would come in handy throughout our ride and part of what made him the most incredible horse I've ever ridden, and by far one of the easiest horses to ride. His body control made you feel like you could Piaffe down the trail if you really wanted to. I had to resist the urge frequently.

Our group of 5 horses had green glow sticks that Stevie attached to our breast collars that made us look like a train of aliens flying down the trail. Even though we started in a field of 30 riders, nobody spoke a word. The darkness gave you an almost spiritual feeling that you didn't want to break by speaking. The darkness riding was so much fun, even being blinded by Stace Moss's 40,000 lumens headlamp riding a quarter mile behind us, which we just *had* to give him crap about. The miles flew by quickly...

Read the rest here:

2022 Autumn Sun/Distance Nationals 100 - Marlene Moss

by Marlene Moss
October 5 2022

So a little (lot) more detail on our Autumn Sun Pioneer Endurance Rides 100 mile ride - and a pic or two. Stace and I spent the 10 days prior to this competition in Spain, riding horses on the Camino el Cid and I'll do more posts on that soon. We planned our return flights to get home in time to sleep 6 hours, get up, pack the trailer, load Topper and Alamo and head to Gooding ID.

I'd originally planned to ride Hank, but our relationship wasn't good enough for a tough ride (ie one with lots of rocks with my head's name on them!) and then I found out there was a Shagya division for the AHA Distance Nationals. So I signed up Alamo even though when he did that ride 4 years ago I swore I'd never take him back there, even if I went back! The footing is technical and Alamo was a total clutz. Since then he's had lots of chiro (limited hip movement had him collapsed in the shoulders) and hock injections (silly boy decided to have a 3" growth spurt all in his legs at age 7, if I'd known, I wouldn't have been competing him before that) and just before this ride, the vet suggested coffin joint injections. This was definitely getting beyond my comfort zone on whether I should be competing him at all, let alone a 100. But since he's been trying to unweight his hocks making his fronts sore, it really was a necessary thing no matter what, just for his comfort. What a difference!

We also had front pads under his shoes and did pour in pads on his hinds. So lots of things to both help his body and help him connect his body to his brain.

Alamo mostly doesn't care about the trail, he likes to wander, so riding in the dark has been a challenge and he was nervous at the start so we started with Topper in the front. This always causes some tense moments between me and Stace because Topper is hard to control at the start, but I didn't want to loose the end of the ride by energy wastage at the start. Topper got us through a couple groups of riders to our window and then we put Alamo up front.

He did awesome with my headlamp, a first for me and him, even through some cows which normally terrify him. Then we just let the miles roll by.

Most of this was on really nice roads (who says that? ha, when the alternative is rocks!) But they were really nice roads and Alamo has a steady 9-10mph trot when the footing is good...

Read the rest at:

2021 Autumn Sun Pioneer: A Fine Trial Run for Next Year's Distance Horse National Championships

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
October 12 2021

A more welcoming and well-organized group of ride management family and friends and vets you won’t find than at the Autumn Sun Pioneer ride in southern Idaho. Put on by Jessica Huber and her family at 4500’ in the Gooding foothills out of a spacious and sheltered Ridecamp,

this year was the fourth year for this new(ish) Ride Manager, who next year will hold the The Distance Horse National Championships (50 and 100 miles), hosted by the Arabian Horse Association along with the usual Autumn Sun Pioneer.

The endurance of horses and riders were front and center, as Idaho presented all kinds of weather over this year’s 3-day event: sun, wind, rain, fog (trails were marked so well that nobody got lost in the fog!)

The ride had a bit of Endurance royalty in attendance: AERC Hall of Famer and highest-mileage-rider-ever Dave Rabe (73,000+ miles) and two of his rather famous horses, White Cloud and Cocamoe Joe, parked next to us in Ridecamp; AERC’s winningest rider Christoph Schork rode the 100; Suzie Hayes (AERC Pard’ners Award with Kootenai Zizzero in 1997 and Hall of Fame equine in 2011) rode the 100; Joyce Sousa (AERC Pard’ners Award with Jim Bob in 2001; Hall of Fame equines Jim Bob in 2005 and LV Integrity in 2015) rode with her daughter Jennifer Neihaus in the 100. And you couldn’t miss Piece of Perfection, aka Flash the Hackney pony, (Tevis Cup finisher this year), who carried Kyla’s little sister Layla on day 2’s 55-miler.

The 100-miler, run on Sunday, day 3, had 13 starters and 7 finishers. Tying for first place were Suzie Hayes and Al Marah Triple Speed, Christoph Schork and VA Blizzard of Oz, and Tom Currier and Zell the Bull in a ride time of 13:50. Al Marah Triple Speed earned the Best Condition award, and Suzie finished her 96th 100-miler. Finishing 6th and 7th were Joyce Sousa on Shahs Gold Nugget and Jennifer Neihaus on Bak Jabari, for Joyce’s 93rd 100-mile completion.

The Idaho IronHorse champion was The Duchess of Beatty’s Butte (Ness), ridden by Steven Coziah. This pair finished all 3 Limited Distance days at Idaho’s City of Rocks Pioneer, all 3 days of LDs at Top O’ The World, and all 3 days of LDs at Autumn Sun. Congrats to Steven and his super mustang mare!

And the Junior Idaho Ironhorse champion was Tai Juan ridden by Olivia Valtierra, finishing all 3 LD days at City of Rocks, Top O' the WOrld, and Autumn Sun. She's one of our Idaho Super Juniors!

Day 3’s 100 was the first 100-miler that Jessica Huber put on; with her test pilot riders this year, and their wise inputs, next year’s Championship ride trails will be dialed in to perfection. And the ride will be a weekend earlier in 2022, so you can *almost* guarantee the weather will be perfect!

Junior Olivia Valtierra Claims Idaho IronHorse Title

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
October 15 2021

11-year-old Endurance rider Olivia Valtierra claimed the 2021 Junior division Idaho IronHorse LD last weekend. This title is awarded to the rider who completes at least nine days of the 3-day City of Rocks Pioneer ride in Almo in June, the 3-day Top o’ the World Pioneer ride near Spencer in July, the 3-day Old Selam Pioneer in Idaho City in August, and the 3-day Autumn Sun Pioneer near Gooding in October. Olivia rode all days of LDs except Old Selam.

Riding her 19-year-old trusty gelding Tai Bo, Olivia was sponsored on most of the rides by her mom Jessica Valtierra and grandmother Veronica Simpson (these 3 were on the cover of the June Endurance News magazine) and her aunt Lindsay Fisher. She also rode parts of the Top O’ the World trails with Steven Coziah, who, aboard his mustang The Duchess of Beatty’s Butte, earned the senior division title of Idaho IronHorse LD.

2021 was Olivia’s first year of Endurance riding, completing all 11 of her rides with Tai Bo - watch out for this Junior in the future!

A couple of Endurance Joes at the Autumn Sun Pioneer ride this weekend in Idaho. Well… not really. On the left is Christoph Schork, AERC’s winningest rider. He’s got over 400 wins now (http://tracks.endurance.net/.../christoph-schork-is-aercs...). (And, of course, over three hundred wins - http://tracks.endurance.net/.../the-three-hundred-win-man...), and almost 40,000 AERC miles. On the right is Hall of Famer Dave Rabe, who has over 75,000 AERC miles. If you look at Dave’s jacket, as Christoph is pointing out, Dave has won twice as many rides as Christoph, if you take to heart AERC’s motto, “To Finish is to Win.”

We all get a good giggle out of that one! Either way, these two are icons of our sport!