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2023 Fire Mountain Endurance Ride

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On winning an endurance ride (Road to Tevis # 83)

by Jessica Black
January 25, 2023

When I found myself wanting to delve into the doubts and second-guessing that happen when I’m riding in front at the end of my last blog post, I realized I needed to write a separate post on winning an endurance ride. What makes it possible to win? What kinds of things determine whether your horse comes in first, fifth, fifteenth, or twenty-fifth?

When you know your horse can win, if all goes well

Before the second day of the Fire Mountain Pioneer ride, I texted someone who had asked about the ride:

“I do 55 miles with Jazz tomorrow, all out in the desert. If he doesn’t kill me, he could win. He put on quite a spectacle today when we vetted in. Whistling, snorting, rearing, prancing.”

The next day I texted that we had indeed won. The reply?

“Congratulations! When you said you could win yesterday, I figured you probably would.”

My response?

“I knew I had enough horse to win. I had to ride for it though...”

Read more here:

Fantazia’s return to endurance and Fire Mtn. (Road to Tevis #81) = Jessica Black

by Jessica Black
January 20, 2023 Jazz’s first endurance win came last weekend on the second day of the Fire Mountain Ride, 55 miles. I knew going into it that I had enough horse to win, but I did not really expect to do so. Generally, I get a bit lazy in the last loop of a 50 (or 55). This time there were no “loops” per se–we rode out to the Trona Pinnacles and back–but if it hadn’t been for the weather, I’d probably have slowed down a lot. I like to collect rocks and take pictures of plants, and the horses are generally tired enough after 30+ miles that they will happily wait for me.

This time, however, the weather was awful, with rain and freezing wind beating down on us for most of the 30 miles back to ride camp. That, combined with the fact that Jazz and I were actually frontrunners, inspired me to push on rather than slack off towards the end. It helped not to be riding with Allan Horn–the few other times I’ve been close to the front with Fantazia, he and Ruby have taken off and left us in the dust..

Read the rest here:

Fantazia’s return to endurance and Fire Mtn. (Road to Tevis #81) = Jessica Black

January 17 2023
by Jessica Black

One year after completing the first two days of the Fire Mountain pioneer ride, Fantazia completed 50 miles on the first day in fifth place. Last year, we were also 5th–Time 6:27 according to our AERC record. I believe that doesn’t include holds, because in my blog I say we finished at 2:48. This year we finished at 3:34. Considering she had had nearly 8 months of rest, Fantazia’s return to endurance was not bad at all!

Fantazia’s return to endurance was slow

After not starting last year’s 20 Mule team because she was lame, Fantazia had a long time off (read about extended rest here). We couldn’t figure out why she was lame, just that it was below the fetlock and caused her foot to club up. I start riding seriously again in October.

I had planned to do the LD at Cayuse with her, but the ride was cancelled due to rain. By this last weekend, she was ready for a 50...

Read the rest here:

Fire Mountain

Base Camp: Base C amp opens at 11:00am on Friday, January 13 , 20 17 . It is locate d at the corner of San Bernardino Rd (aka County Line Rd) and Springer St.(double electrical pole line along the road), southeast of Ridgecrest, California. It is the site of the Valley Riders Equestrian Center and is currently undeveloped so camping is pr imitive (no electricity). There are accommodations, grocery stores and gas close by. Potable water will be provided. Porta Potties will be available. Base camp is at 2,500 feet .

Trailers are available for rent , go to hidesert trailerrntls.com . Their winter location is less than ½ mile from base camp and they set up in advance .

Horse pens are available for rent. $10 per night.

Check In: Pre - Veterinary check - in will be on Friday, January 15 , 20 16 from 3: 00 PM to 6:00 PM at Base Camp. All horses should be checked in and numbered by Friday evening. Riders who will be late, please call 775 - 376 - 6318 to set up a check - in time. Office op ens at 1 :00 PM.

Ride Meeting/Start Times: The pre - ride meeting will be he ld at Base Camp at 6:00 PM. All riders must start within 30 minutes after their designated start time – 6:30 AM for 50 - m iler; 7:00 AM for 30 - miler and 9 :00 AM for the introductory ride. (Subject to change at the ride meeting.)

The Trail: Riders will trav el on trails and dirt roads in the foothills of Rademacher Mountains southeast of Ridgecrest with all loops starting and ending at base camp. Hay will be provided at all vet checks and at some water stops. This trail is considered moderate and considered g ood for beginners with some mild climbs offering a great view of the Indian Wells Valley. You will be riding on Bureau of Land Management trails. NO SMOKING ON THE TRAIL.

Awards, Food and Fees: Ride Dinner will be approximatel y 5:00 - 7:00 PM Saturday and from 4 to 7 PM Sunday. Awards will be presented at base camp after d inner for the 30 and 50 milers. A ll riders completing will receive a completion a ward . Awards will be presented to top ten , first place in each weight category , 1 st junior , and BC for 5 0 and 30 milers . Entry fee includes the ride, vet exams, AERC fees, drug test fees, BLM land use fees, water and hay for the horses during the ride, awards and rider’s dinner. Extra dinners for crews or family will be available for $12.

Ride Rules: This is an AERC sanctioned ride and all rules will be enforced. See AERC rules at aerc.org 1. Juniors must wear an ASTM/SEI approved helmet.
2. There will be no ties.
3. The same horse and rider must pass all control points and stay on the marked trail in order to qual ify for awards and completion credit.
4. Any top ten finishers of the 50 or 30 mile ride who want to be considered for Best Condition must present their horse for the Best Condition examination within the time frame announced by the head vet.
5. Loose dogs in ca mp may result in rider disqualification. Please ensure your dogs are on a leash or kept within your rig.
6. Any abusive behavior or violation of any rule by a rider or associated crew will be subject to disciplinary action (i.e., disqualification and/or being asked to leave by ride management or a vet).
7. All horses must meet a pulse of 6 0 beats per minute within thirty minutes of crossing the finish line in order to meet Fit To Continue criteria and remain eligible for completion or placing.
8. Riders are respon sible for keeping track of their vet cards.
9. A $20 fee will be added when entering ride on or after January 15 2016.

INTRODUCTORY RIDE: (will be discussed at the pre - ride meeting – Saturday only )
1. Pre - ride and post ride vet checks are required for com pletion.
2. This is not a race and no timings or placings will be given, just completion awards.
3. No AERC membership fee is required for the 15 mile introductory ride.
4. Juniors can ride for the same nominal fee but must wear an ASTM helmet whenever mounted and be accompanied at all times by their adult sponsor.
5. Dinner is included will the introductory ride

2015 Fire Mountain: Confessions of a First Time Ride Manager

Friday January 23 2015
by Merri Melde

Not too many ‘Green Bean’ Ride Managers have jumped head-first into managing an established 2-day endurance ride, where everybody already has a certain level of expectations. But then, most people aren’t Gretchen Montgomery. A long-time endurance rider based in the Pacific South region with over 8400 miles, and newly-minted Decade Team with her horse Definetly Spice (formerly known somewhat affectionately as “Bitchy Spice”), the effervescent, personable high achiever is not one to turn away from a challenge.

Gretchen's many years of volunteering at the Eastern High Sierra Classic, Fire Mountain, Washoe, and Virginia City 100 rides, alternately as trail marker, vet secretary, finish line timer, and pulse-taker, built the foundation and confidence for stepping up into her new role as Ride Manager. "I’ve really wanted to take over the Eastern High Sierra Classic (in Bridgeport, California, in late summer) because that’s my home territory, and Jackie (Bumgardner) is ready to pass it on after 29 years, and I wanted that ride to continue," Gretchen explains. "And in the meantime, the Fire Mountain Ride Manager (Valerie Rogers) wanted to give the Fire Mountain ride up, but that’s been a long-standing ride too. So since they needed a Ride Manager this year, I volunteered.” The Fire Mountain ride takes place outside of Ridgecrest, California, in the Mojave Desert, where Gretchen spends her winters.

Recently retired from 25 years with the state of California, Gretchen’s previous job of Office Services Supervisor for the California Highway Patrol in Bridgeport brought her organizational skills into play as she was kept uber-busy with last minute on-line entries to avoid late fees, last minute entries at the ride venue (where no internet was available), checking AERC registrations, keeping track of 114 riders over 2 distances and 2 days, making changes for riders wanting to switch horses, or switch distances, or switch horses and distances, running back and forth to fill in as a vet secretary, checking on the in- and out-timers, helping with P & R’s, doing general maintenance, helping the ham radio volunteers to find an injured horse on trail, and playing the banjo. Playing the banjo? ... “I was a little crazy!” Gretchen laughs.

Managing the ride was made easier by excellent and numerous volunteers, particularly the Valley Riders club, a group of varied horse people from the area established in the 1960's. "This particular ride has soooo many volunteers, and I didn’t have to worry about the trail being marked, because there was already somebody in charge of that. I didn’t have to worry about setting out water, because somebody was already in charge of that. I didn’t even have to worry about the food, because one of the members of Valley Riders was all about cooking, and our facility has an actual kitchen right here at basecamp. So this was really good for my first time managing a ride - since this was the 36th year, people know what they're doing..."

Read more here.