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2022 Midnight Rider


Midnight Rider!

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2023 Midnight Rider - Connie Holloway

August 14 2023
by Connie Holloway

It’s so nice when your hard work pays off, and I’ve been working hard on both of my horses.With DWA Barack going on our fourth year together. (I am going to write a story about him and our attachment issues. But I think we’re fairly well attached to each other now, somewhere this year, I really started to love this horse.) And DWA Papillon is coming along wonderfully.

We had so much fun at the Mount Adams endurance ride. And that’s why I’m in it I realized more for the fun than anything else and I love challenges. Things you have to work hard for. That put you in all kinds of situations and riding horses in the outdoors because all the elements, various terrain, can be super tricky at times and all the wild stuff that jumps out at you etc. So much is out of your control and it’s all fairly exciting, and throw wind and thunderstorms and that’s interesting. But we had none of that. We had stellar weather.

Speaking of stellar I took DWA Papillon out on the night ride. On Saturday both rides were at night. We did the first 12 mile loop in the daylight and the second time at night. Bobbi does this to give riders an opportunity to take there horse out at nite, normally only hundred mile rides you’re out in the dark! I so love this concept. Also, Christoph gave an excellent talk on riding at night. I learned so much more that was really helpful for me and my horse.

I chose to ride by myself with Pappy as usual and Pappy was a bit anxious and energetic. On the first loop leaving camp I decided to get off him and lead him for a bit, because his action was more up-and-down than forward and he was riled up. He could hear the horses coming in his direction through the woods on the road but not quite see them. I had started him last he didn’t know what to think of it all but I knew he’d settle down. I got on him as soon as I got down to the flat road and he took off at like a 20 mph trot. I did not know he could trot out that fast. !!!!!

He’s got a super good mind snd did settle down after the climbs. I’ve learned this horse really wants to race and go and his bred for it but we’re not doing that now, he still has his training wheels on. I should’ve gotten on him earlier in the day, but it was too hot and I was feeling lazy like Barack so it was a bit of a challenge for both of us at the start ! 

The 2nd Loop was the real gem because you’re repeating the first, only now in the dark and following little green twinkling lights, and sometimes you came to intersections and saw some twinkling blue lights and red lights and purple lights. It was like a fiesta in the forest. These little teeny lights. And my friends know how I like Christmas lights so I was really digging that. And was relishing the night under the stars and the meteor showers peak nite.

Halfway through the loop there was party Central. There was mash, hay and water for the horses, and for us coffee and Baileys, hot chocolate and Bailey’s, or straight Bailey’s, whatever you wanted and cookies. There were more sparkly lights here and friendly trail angels. I had Baileys and coffee to wash the cookie down, thank you very much, while I spoon fed mash to Pappy who is scared of the tub. He is very royal.

Endurance is fairly new for him and all the different shaped water tubs and everything is suspect. He hasn’t figured it all out yet, but he starting to. He was super awesome in the dark moving right out and I loved being by myself with him, he relying on me and me relying on him, that’s how the bond really develops. We saw other horses out there a few times, it would surprise him every time but for the most part we really were all alone other than a little passing here and there.

For the non-riders, you don’t use white lights, it blinds people and the horses. Horses see just as good at night, it’s OK to use a red light which I used often on for me, but not my horse. I really liked it when I had no light on. If you’re lucky enough to ride in a moon, you don’t need anything. Imagine riding in the Moonlight that’s magical too. but I’ll take no moon and meteor showers. Thank you universe !

I didn’t want the ride to end. In fact, I didn’t go to bed till 2 AM because the evening was warm, and the stars were putting on a show. So I hung outside my tent with the horses and Alexstoney. I can’t recall having so much fun as I did on this loop.

And at the finish, I was handed a little cup of champagne, it just doesn’t get any better than that. All the fun people celebrating and helping us. I so appreciate it. I was so pleased and giddy with this night experience! Whenever I do a Limited Distance, I always say I’m only doing an LD. But I think that’s pretty lame. I think they all matter what you do with your horses .I’ve ridden only 4 100 milers so I’ve been out at night, but never by myself. It’s something completely different. and I really loved it.!

I also rode Barack and he was such a good boy in the 50 miler on Friday, he had to go out and leave camp three different times which is hard. Sometimes they think they’re done when they go home, but we had three different loops, and he was a good sport about it. He certainly did some relaxing the next day sunbathing in the pen.

Thank you, Bobbi Walker your husband, Mark, the water, people, the party people all the good people you had to help put on that ride. I love how you give people an opportunity to ride at night even people that will never get to do 100 they can go out and ride at night in an LD or 50. Next year I’m going to do the 50. And thank you Regina Rose of course for bringing me. Always fun. We have a good camp and Kristin and Sara were right next door. Merri Melde for the photos.

It was fun to be back in this area I used to do spotted owl work in Glenwood, which isn’t too far off so I went back that way through many other places I knew and love the whole Klickitat Canyon area. Oh, I forgot to mention that Bobbi gave away coupons for huckleberry milkshakes, and OMG they are the best I’ve ever had. I might have to make several detours in the future. Such a great fun area.

Celebrity Crushing at the 2023 Midnight Rider

I was #CelebrityCrush ing with two of my mentor/heroes at the Midnight Rider in Washington!

If you all don’t know, on the left is Suzie Hayes from Montana. She has over 26,000 miles, she just earned her 11th Tevis Cup buckle this year, and she has an AERC Pard’ners Award in 1997 with Kootenai Zizzero, and Hall of Fame Horse (2011) with “Kooter”.

On the right is Ann Hall. She has over 14,000 miles, 10 Tevis Cup buckles. Ann and her husband Hal live right above the finishing trail of the Tevis Cup in Auburn.

Ann drove up from California to Midnight Rider near Trout Lake to team up with Suzie on her two monster horses. Ann rode Sanstormm (16.3 hands) and Suzie rode Darc Legacy (“Pitch”) (I think he’s 17.2 hands) to finish the 100 miler in 3rd and 4th place. It was Pitch’s first 100, and San’s sixth 100-mile completion. It was Suzie's 100th 100-mile completion!!!

Suzie and Ann have teamed up numerous times over the years to ride Suzie’s horses, but this was Ann’s first time aboard Sanstormm. And this 100-miler was Ann’s first endurance ride this year!

Both of these women are a delight to be around. Suzie’s a very focused competitor, and she is happy to share the knowledge she has learned over the decades of her Endurance career. I’ve learned a lot from her. And if you’re ever looking for Ann in a Ridecamp, just follow the bolt of sunshine.

2022 Midnight Rider

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
September 15 2022

When Bobbi Walker decided to attempt her first Tevis Cup ride, she first rode in the Tevis Education ride. That’s designed to give Tevis riders a chance to ride over the very trail they’ll be riding in the dark.

However, Bobbi had never ridden in the dark before riding in the Tevis Cup. And that last third of the Tevis trail is where most riders find themselves negotiating their way in the sometimes-pitch black.

That’s what birthed the idea of Midnight Rider in Washington state, started in 2017, to give riders a chance to confidently experience the dark for the first time, in a controlled situation over a loop they’d just ridden in the daylight. An experienced rider speaks to the group about riding in the nighttime (this year Bruce Weary was the clinician), sharing experiences and boosting confidence. 25-milers and 50-milers start their ride before dark, covering trail they will repeat in the dark. Trail Riders start before dark and ride into the dark. You may have a full moon to ride by, or old growth trees may obscure the moon rays you think you will need. Don’t worry, your horse will safely get you down the trail!

Trail Angels (wearing light-up wings!) ride along with the Trail Riders and LDs (and therefore they ride the same night loop as the 50s) to further boost riders’ self-assurance, and to help anyone who needs it. Saturday’s night ride did have a full moon…. though it rose blood-red with the smoke that moved into the area, and riders were already in the dark by the time it rose high enough to give off any significant light.

This was the first year Midnight Rider was held at Mt Adams. Bobbi had a lot of help from friends with trail marking, over trails she wasn’t yet completely familiar with.

At next morning’s awards and night riding ‘post-mortem’, everyone admitted to having a great ride, and feeling a little more sure of themselves. Midnight Rider is an opportunity and experience - unique for many - of learning to communicate with and trust your horse in the dark, to give you more confidence the next time you ride at night.

Watch the calendar next year for an earlier-season Midnight Rider that will allow the use of more FS and private trails below Mt Adams!

Midnight Rider: The Magical Experience of Riding in the Dark

by Merri Melde-Endurance.net
August 19 2019

The Northwest region's Bobbi Walker put on the Midnight Rider endurance ride outside of Chehalis, Washington this past weekend.

The previous two years Bobbi put on an unofficial 25-miler and a trail ride to work out the kinks; this year the Midnight Rider was PNER-endorsed and AERC-sanctioned. Bobbi is an avid endurance rider who loves riding in the dark, and wants to help acquaint and encourage inexperienced night-riding endurance riders to dip their toes into the magic of night riding, to help them with long-range goals of attempting 100-mile rides. Starting times - from afternoon to evening - were arranged so that each distance would ride at least part of their second loop in the dark.

It was a bit of a blow when, during the summer, Tevis was rescheduled to the same weekend as Midnight Rider (due to concern over late snowpack in the High Sierra trails), but it was fitting (and certainly exciting!) that the Northwest Region's Sanoma Blakeley won Tevis right around the same time the first riders were crossing Bobbi's finish line at Midnight Rider.

Supported by PNER - Pacific Northwest Endurance Riders - Saturday morning, a night riding clinic was held, designed to give first-time night riders an idea of what to expect, tools to use, and tips on being brave and staying confident. Conducted by Northwest rider Merri Melde, she led a lecture and demonstration and discussion session on riding in the dark, and related experiences of her rides and tips from other highly experienced international endurance riders.

An after-ride session on Sunday morning indicated that the first-time night riders (who numbered around 20, including an 11-year-old Junior who also rode her first 50) had very good experiences, and an eagerness to try night riding again.

Taking place on the Willapa Hills State Park trail - one of five long-distance routes managed by Washington State Parks - this relatively flat, multi-use 56-mile trail is a key segment in the cross-state network spanning from the Idaho border to the shores of Willapa Bay. It was originally acquired by State Parks from the Burlington Northern Railroad in 1993. 

Here's the history of the trail:

"In the late 1800s, the Northern Pacific Railway used the line as a spur track for logging. Train tracks once crossed more than 2,000 miles from Willapa Bay to Lake Superior, but freight traffic declined in the late 1950s, and the Willapa Hills route was abandoned in 1990. State Parks acquired the railroad right-of-way for use as a trail in 1993.

The railroad brought rapid change to the land around Willapa Bay. Small communities, many with sawmills, rose up to process lumber. Newly cleared acreage was converted into farmland. Crops were loaded onto railroad cars and carried to markets throughout the American West. Railroad bridges and trestles were also added, spanning big and small waterways along the route.

With the rise of automobiles, passenger service along the route ended in 1954. Freight traffic declined during this period as well, and the route was abandoned in 1990. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission acquired the railroad right-of-way for use as a trail in 1993."

The Willapa Hills trail is in Bobbi's back yard, and one day while riding the trail, she passed the Willapa Hills Farm and pegged it as a great place for a Ridecamp. She rode in, introduced herself and her idea, and the owners were all in, offering the fields for parking and their gorgeous restored 1938 barn as a meeting spot for ride meetings. Willapa Hills Farm is a working family farm nestled on the banks of the Chehalis river, with a committed goal of natural farming, sustainability and environmental Stewardship.

The successful turnout for the trail rides, 25-miler and 50-miler, and the great night-riding experience for the majority of riders gives Bobbi hope that she can continue to put on this ride, and continue to provide a safe and fun environment and trail experience of riding in the dark, with a long-range goal of elevating more endurance riders to 100-mile endurance riders.