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2023 Top O' The World 3-day Pioneer



2019 Top O' The World Pioneer

Monday August 5 2019

’Twas a weekend of adventure in the Targhee National Forest near Spencer, Idaho, site of the Top O’ the World Pioneer endurance ride. Jessica and Mike Cobbley and friends and family jumped in headfirst 3 years ago to start this ride, and it’s improved every year.

It’s a challenging ride. A fabulous mountain meadow base camp is at 6500’, and days 1 and 2 climb up to over 9500 feet onto the Continental Divide Trail. Top O’ the World is also the second leg of the Idaho Ironhorse Challenge: one horse & rider, 9 days, 465 miles (and also various 9-day combinations) of City of Rocks, Top O’ the World, and Autumn Sun. Four horses were in contention for the ultimate Idaho Ironhorse coming into the ride; three showed up to take on the ride on top of the world in eastern Idaho.

Excitement started a couple days before the ride when Suzy Hayes' and Lynn Lee’s 3 horses escaped and ran off into the night. A crowd of people stayed up late into the wee hours of the morning trying to find them - we got glimpses of their glowing eyeballs a couple of times, and Jessica H even got close enough to touch one horse… but they disappeared again.

Suzy and Lynn were out on an ATV with a bucket of grain looking for them next morning when the three of them strolled back into camp - because they were thirsty! I think they looked a bit chastened too, particularly the young bay who had an owie on his foot. We crowded around and pampered them while Tammy Gagnon doctored the injured foot.

And Susie rode her big bay Sanstormm next morning on the 50 because she was pretty sure he was the instigator! (He sure didn’t come when she called him that night.)

The nights were chilly (great for sleeping) and the days tolerable. If you carried a raincoat with you on Day 2’s loop 2, you were probably comfortable when that big and fast-moving thunderstorm hit, dumping rain and plenty of hail in the area. In ridecamp we saw it coming, and 3 of us literally had 15 minutes to run to our trailer, blanket 4 horses, throw 3 dogs in a truck, and grab important outside things (including a tent that almost blew into a big pen full of mules!) and throw them inside anything we could find before the rain hit.

On Day 1, 26 started the 25 miler, with 21 finishing. Carrie Johnson and Payback Daysea Duke pulled off the win in 3:51, the first of a triple win on all three days! Sixth place David Brown’s Tezeros Hot Shot won Best Condition.

37 started Friday’s 50, with 33 finishing. Susie Hayes and her escape artist Sanstormm tied with Christoph Schork and GE Pistol Annie for the win in 6:11, with Sanstormm getting Best Condition. The 3 Ironhorses finished: Debbie Grose and Jackpot Jackson, Lee Pearce and JAC Winterhawk, and Nance Worman and Last Chance Fance. But there’s a little more to the Ironhorse story on day 1… near the finish of loop 1, Debbie had closed a gate and was about to remount Jack from a rock, when the “said rock removed itself from below my feet”, Debbie said. And catching her fall, she broke her wrist. (The *other* arm from last year!) Of course she didn’t pull. Someone vetted Jack and took care of him, others took care of Debbie and bandaged her up and of course she went back out and completed the ride before Layne took her to the hospital (and she came back with a cast). "I had to finish," Debbie said, "because it was Jack’s 1000-mile mark!"


Day 2’s 25-miler had 27 starters and 26 finishers. Carrie Johnson and Payback Daysea Duke won both first place and Best Condition, in 3:22.

Day 2’s 55 had 18 starters and 13 finishers. Christoph Schork and GE Haat Rod Express tied with Dick Root and OFW Alivia in 7:41, with Ali getting Best Condition. Lee Pearce and Winterhawk sat out the day, as did Debbie Grose and Jack (Debbie would have ridden, but it’s like really bad news if you break a casted arm), so that left only Nance and Fance in the Ironhorse. They were caught out on trail in that big thunder/rain/hailstorm in the evening… but of course they were saddled up and ready to go again the next morning!

25 started Day 3’s 30-miler with 23 finishing. Carrie and Daysea won again, in 3:38, with second place David Brown and Tezeros Hot Shot getting Best Condition.

16 started the 50 with 14 finishing. Christoph Schork and GE Pistol Annie won in 6:20 and got Best Condition, with Lee Pearce and JAC Winterhawk finishing second. That leaves only Nance Worman and Second Chance Fance (a rescue, hence her name) carrying the torch in the Idaho Ironhorse for 50 milers. Fancy also won the Getaway Horse award here for the second year in a row. “Fance is such a blessing!” Nance says.


8 horse and rider teams are still in contention in the 25-miler division of the Idaho Ironhorse, having finished all 6 days so far. Shyla Williams and Bes Soumra Bint Karah are the only pair to do all 6 days at mixed distances. Dave Rabe is the only Iron Butt rider to have completed 6 days of 50’s on (3) different horses.

Autumn Sun Pioneer, the last leg of the Ironhorse is October 11-13.