The Old Selam Endurance ride  is named after a horse used in two different escapes from the Old Idaho State Penitentiary on Warm Springs Avenue in Boise. Selam was reported to be one of the best horses in Idaho and had been used for both riding and driving.

On December 24th, 1901, Henry "Bob" Meeks, who was serving a 35-year sentence for a robbery in Montpelier and supposedly a pal of Butch Cassidy, was working around the hog pens in the prison complex when he unhitched Selam, then an old horse, from the front of a wagon,  jumped astride, and gave the horse his head without removing the harness.  About a mile from the pen, he cut the harness and left it on the road. According to prison records, he “went up the hill road by the reservoir and, turning to the left, ‘lit’ out for the mountains.”  The trail went up what was known as the Hillman Trail to the Boise Ridge, 2 miles west of the Delphi mine. From there he turned east and south back to the Boise River.  Tracks showed that Meeks had gotten off Selam and walked alongside him as they climbed the steep hillsides.   Trackers caught up with Meeks on December 25 at his camp along the Boise River 10 miles above Mores Creek.  Selam recognized the guards who captured Meeks and nodded and neighed to them.  They attached him to the buckboard that carried Meeks back to town.  Prisoners were said to be glad to see Selam when he returned to the prison.  The warden was glad too and said it would have been a pity to have such a noble horse “knocking around” with people who didn’t appreciate his worth.  He acknowledged that Meeks had taken care of the “thoroughbred” but nevertheless threatened to charge him with horse-stealing.

A few days later, on December 30, 1901, Sam Bruner, who was serving a term for stealing sheep, escaped through the main gate on Warm Springs Avenue. The lights in the prison began to dim at 2 am that morning. Investigation showed that trusted prisoner Sam Bruner was not at his duty station in the power plant. A check of the prison revealed that Old Selam, as well as a saddle and bridle, were missing. Bruner was spotted at 2:30 am traveling southwest of Boise as fast as the horse could carry him.  In January, the warden got word that Bruner had turned Selam loose with his saddle on and that Selam was wandering in the Bernard’s Ferry area along the Snake River. Bruner stole a horse from a man named Harberg. He then hung out with friends at Cow Creek and left on one of McKenzie’s horses, never to be re-captured.  Prison officials thought Selam would find his way home soon, but he didn’t.  In February 1902 the warden offered a reward for Selam’s return.  In early June 1902, Selam was found grazing and “taken up” six miles above Swan Falls.

Beginning in 1979, the Southwest Idaho Trail and Distance Riders  attempted to re-trace the trails used by Old Selam in his two escape attempts. The first Old Selam endurance ride was managed by Byron Meredith. The 1979 ride was held in mid-October inside the old prison complex. Camp was in the area next to the old barns. Riders had an opportunity to tour the prison, and the pre-ride briefing was held inside the historic Bishop's house. In later years, camp moved to Rocky Canyon Road, and the trail went just above the prison. From 1986 through 1991, the endurance ride camp moved back to the site of the Old Penitentiary. In 1991, endurance riders followed Old Selam's trails in the moonlight. In 1992, the ride camp moved to the Douglas Ranch north of Boise. In 1993, ride camp moved farther away from the prison to a clearing near the confluence of Grimes and Clear Creek on the backside of the Boise Front. In 1996, the ride moved to Henry Creek, near New Centerville, its current location.   The ride had to be cancelled in 2015 because of fire danger in the area, and in 2016, the ride moved to Council on the Weiser River Rail Trail because of the Pioneer Fire near Idaho City.  The ride has been back at Henry Creek since 2017. 

Each year the Southwest Idaho Trail and Distance Riders Inc. sponsors the Old Selam ride. The club relies on volunteers to manage rides. Past ride managers have included:

2023 Tami Bromley
2022 Matt and Veronica Stanley
2021 Regina Rose
2019-2020  Debbie Grose
2016-2018 Beth Bivens
2012-2014 Beth Bivens
2011  Liz Smallwood
2009-2010 Beth Bivens
2008 Cini Baumhoff
2007-Sonny Hornbaker
2004-2006- Cini Baumhoff
2002-2003  Sonny & Marilyn Hornbaker
2001 Carl Gilbert
2000 Valynn Mathie
1997-1999 Sonny Hornbaker
1996 Barb Recla
1994-1995 Whit Whitham
1993 Carl Gilbert
1991-1992 Cathy Whitham
1990 Lurina Egusquiza
1989- Mike Whitham
1988  Arlene Gilbert
1987 Carl Gilbert
1986 Carl and Arlene Gilbert
1985 Don Roloff
1983-1984 Sharon McCollum
1981-1982 Carolyn Roberts
1980  Mary Van de Bogart
1979  Byron Meredith