Archive for the Ride Stories Category

Fort Howes 2013 100 mile ride

Sandy Laing and I decided a long time ago to attend the Fort Howes ride in southeast Montana. Jan Stevens is the ride manager and happens to be the new president of AERC. I had heard from others that this was a well run ride with trails through beautiful country in the Custer National Forest in SE Montana. We left on the Wed Paladin Ft Howes 2013before the ride, stayed overnight near Missoula at Jeff and Darlene Patterson’s farm, and arrived at the site on Thurs night. Long drive!

Paladin needed glue on boots because I didn’t want to use the strap on easyboot gloves we train in. I had previously contacted Jason Stasiuk on a recommendation from Jan. While I couldn’t line up an easyboot rep for the job, Jason was a Renegade boot rep from Texas (married to Darolyn Butler’s daughter, Ceci) who really knew his stuff. He put some cool Gold boots on my boy and we were good to go. After getting the boots done early, Friday was a day to organize, go for an easy ride, and plan for Sandy’s 50 mi ride on Saturday. Ride management served us up a BBQ steak dinner complete with all the fixin’s; nice touch!

I was camping in the back of Sandy’s horse trailer, which was surprisingly comfortable on my thick foamie mattress. Was I ever glad I was secure in that trailer when the storm of the century blew through on Friday night! Lightning, high wind, whipping heavy rain and thunder. Katrin Levermann was in a tent and we found out later she had to stand up and hold on to the walls of it to stop from being flattened. Several horses escaped and some electric fencing simply blew away. Our horses were OK in their solid panel pens.When Sandy got up in the middle of the storm to check them, they were just eating hay, whew!

Saturday morning was Sandy’s 50. 19 horses started and they got a nice cool day with no rain, but the trails were muddy in places from the storm the night before. Sandy was spoiled rotten by having Elaine, terre and me as crew to help him through his ride. His first loop did not exactly go as planned as his horse insisted on staying with some of the front runners. He came in sooner than we expected but he got back on track for the rest of his ride. Jazz finished sound and healthy around middle of the pack, and Sandy’s “team” won the bronze medal! I think about 16 finished the 50. Katya Levermann completed her 75 mi FEI ride too riding one of Jan Worthington’s horses, and MacLeods finished the 50. The Canadians from BC were off to a good start.

For our ride on Sunday, Terre and I were teamed up with Kat Irwin and Colleen DeVry from Alberta under the name of “The Pony Espressos”. While I have done a half dozen or so 100’s, it was Paladin’s first. Except for me, the other gals were all riding the FEI 100. I rode the AERC 100, which was the exact same ride in every way except for the few FEI rules about weighing and tack off, etc. We hit the trails at 5 am. I was treated to some early excitement with Paladin bucking about 10 times on the way out of camp. Very out of character for my horse, and NOT FUN. I was determined to stay on as I didn’t want my ride to end so soon after all I went through to get there. I managed to hang on and terre waited while we re-grouped. We headed down the trail once the crowd of horses was out of sight. All was OK after that, thank goodness.

Koszaar was setting a brisk early pace at about a 12 mph trot. I was concerned that this was too fast a pace for Paladin’s first 100 so periodically requested that terre slow down. She graciously worked hard trying to do that, and by some many miles later we were working along usually around 10 mph. The first loop was 23 mi. The other loops were 25, 17, 10, 10 and 15 mi. Holds ranged from 40-60 minutes and we were well taken care of by Sandy, Elaine and sometimes with help from Chelsea who traveled with Kat and Colleen. We had an area set aside with chairs, a canopy, food and water for the horses, and the same for us. Tack was off at every hold, and the horses were sponged and given whatever they wanted to eat. Right beside the pit crew area was a fabulous grass/alfalfa field so the horses preferentially went for that. Whatever they wanted, as long as they ate!

While the horses did not exactly have matched paces, they worked it out over the course of the day and we were a good team overall. The day turned out to be HOT at around 30oC, so there were many hours of the day between about noon and 6pm where we had to slow down and be diligent with sponging and electrolyting. The horses drank and ate well all day. There were many pulls over the course of the day, some due to the excess speed in the heat, so we were glad we didn’t push it in the hot afternoon sun. Our team members, Kat and Colleen unfortunately didn’t complete their rides. They were in the FEI ride and had aspirations of going at qualifying speeds, which took a toll on their horses.

There were a couple of rider option pulls too, with one nice gal (Erica) from Colorado riding in pain from an injured ankle, finally pulling herself in unbearable pain at around 2 am with only about 5 miles to go. Her horse was doing well (Vegas, half brother to Christy Janzen’s Sakic), but it would have to be another day for Erica.

Terre and I were pretty pleased that we had done 47 miles by noon. Right around that point I noticed one of my glue on boots was ripped because Paladin had stepped on the heel of it. Jason Stasiuk was able to replace that one back in camp and we didn’t lose any time for that – good!  However, thoughts of finishing by dark were out the window as the heat became intense, and then with a bit of bad luck. Going down a rocky hill on the first 10 mi loop, Koszaar lost his footing and nearly went down. In the scramble, he ended up with blood on his right lower leg and lost his right front shoe. We still were 5 miles from camp. Smart terre had an easy boot with her but it was no small feat getting it on. With about 15 minutes lost there, we trotted off but terre still wasn’t happy with the way he was going. She wanted me to trot ahead into camp and get a farrier lined up to replace the shoe. Koz was not at all interested in staying behind so that plan didn’t work, but we did manage to get back into camp faster than we would have with Plan A. Back in camp, in less than 10 minutes a farrier was found and had  the shoe replaced. We were back in business!

Off we go on the 2nd last loop of the ride, the same 10 mi loop we just finished. The day was cooler by then and we made good time, but the time lost with delays and riding during the heat caught up with us. The horses had lots of energy as often happens when the temperatures cool on these long rides. We finished that second 10 mi loop about 9:40 pm and daylight was fading fast. I was thrilled when Paladin got 48/48 on his CRI at this 85 mi point in the ride, and all As for everything else. Koszaar was doing equally well.

The real challenge followed with riding the entire final 15mi loop in the dark. This was a new loop that we had never ridden before, making it difficult to follow even with our glow sticks and headlamp. The route was mostly well marked with glow sticks and you could always see the next one, but we could not see the footing very well at all. There was one creek crossing where Paladin decided to swing wide and drag my head through the bushes and his feet into soft sinking mud. This is kind of scary when you can’t see anything! Even with the challenges, there were times where it was an obvious wide road so we did a fair bit of trotting in the dark.

I was getting really tired by then as midnight came and went. We came into sight of camp around 1 am, but in the last half mile, the glow sticks failed us and we ended up going back and forth on a road close to camp, but not the right trail into the finish. AAARGGH! We finally gave up and went the wrong way into camp to ask where the h*** we were supposed to go! We were guided to the correct route after wasting about 20 minutes, and made it back. We were greeted by Elaine and Sandy, who were waiting patiently in the cold for us. A quick vet check where we trotted the horses in side-by-side lanes with several vets watching, and then… the nod – you completed! What a moment of elation for us, big hugs for the horses, blankets on, and back to the trailer. I think I fell asleep in about 2 minutes. One thing about 100s is you don’t have a lot of time to socialize when you finish after midnight. I was sleep-deprived and physically tired, and was I ever glad to be done.

We were among the 13 of 25 starters that completed the ride (52% completion rate). We were 12th and 13th and proud of it. For me, it was mission accomplished. Complete Paladin’s first 100 with a healthy horse at the finish – done! Terre would more than likely have gone faster, but she was a team player and good friend who hung in with us for the day. For next time, I’ll know I have lots of horse under me and we’ll see where and how fast we go. The National Championship ride this September is an option for Paladin and I, as we’re now qualified. Just sayin’… but not decided on that yet.

Terre and I were in awe of the scenery at this ride and spent a few minutes now and again taking photos. The area had beautiful sandstone rock formations, huge jutting sedimentary rocks, but it also showed evidence of the forest fires that raged through SE Montana in 2011. Every loop had some amazing views. It is obvious why riders return to this ride every year and come from almost every state in the nation, plus many provinces. It was a true privilege to ride at this Team Challenge ride. I would love to do it again some time.

Brenda Miskimmin

Wine Country Wrangler – Terre’s Story

Terre, Barbara and Grant, ROTR

A true 50 mile endurance ride. Good, tough trails with some wonderful scenery–this is what it’s all about. Yep, some rock and yep, some hills–but nothing more than we are used to in BC. Kind of hot by the standards of us West Coast wusses, but we had a nice (dehydrating!) breeze, so it could have been worse. Great campsite, food concession, great awards (I think everybody got something)–the completion award was WINE!!

The 25 mile ride had 46 horses start, and 41 finish–excellent completion rate given the heat of the day and the toughness of the terrain. The 50 mile ride had 15 start and 12 finish. All minor lameness and ‘failure to recover’ in the heat–everybody’ll be back for more in short order! And there were seven fun riders, to boot!

What a great ride! i can’t believe I’m the first to post!

Great vets, great volunteers, great sponsors, great ride in general. HUGE kudos to Cory, Dana, and ‘crew’ for pulling this off under very trying conditions of trail vandalism, etc. The trails were fabulously well marked–and Dana and Karen Lang were out after the ride meeting on Saturday night re-marking pink YET AGAIN. (On the orange loop I missed a turn off a ‘road’, went a little further and picked up orange ribbon and ‘paint’–turns out not to be ours. Dithered around for awhile–when I finally figured out I had to backtrack FURTHER than the last orange ribbon, I found the corner I missed–it was marked with 3 turn ribbons and a stump painted blaze orange. and an arrow on the ground. So…)

Thanks to the ever-fabulous Ruth for timing all day in the heat, to Elaine Bessuille for PRing and then doing all the results in the computer, to Scott for PRing and Lana for trying to keep the vet check under control…and to many, many others who worked so hard to make this fabulous ride happen. (and thanks to Bianca for holding my horse at the first check so I could look after myself a little).

All in all a wonderful ride, in a REALLY fun place. Everybody should come early next year and stay late–wine tours, zip-line, lake, restaurants…a real summer vacation for crew and family as well as riders.

Results will be up soon (waiting for a detail I’ve forgotten).

Thanks a bunch and good work you guys!


Long Lake Alberta FEI Ride

The 100 mile ride had 10 entries and 4 completions, Terre & Koszaar, Kathy Irvine & Nightwind Savanna, Ariel McLeod & Zorro, and Gail Jewel & Doc (Jolly Holiday). The start was at 5:00, and Terre finished at 8:15, 25 minutes ahead of CoC time. Both Kath and Ariel made the time, too. And Gail made it in before dark, to everyone’s relief. The Saturday had a 50 and a 25, and the Sunday had a 25, 50, 75, and 100. The ride trails suffered badly from the heavy rain Friday night. Because of the poor weather, and cold wind, Terrehad put Kos in the trailer, then let him out when the rain backed off, then had to put him in the trailer again during the night. So we were hoping that the trails would stand up. Nope.

Saturday riders had some rain, but the real killer was a sharp wind out of the north that kept the crew and volunteers and FEI folks frozen. Sunday was only marginally better, with only a few light showers, but the temperature stayed low (6 C) and the wind stayed brisk. The trails were set up so that riders traveled the loops twice in succession. The 25 milers did Pink twice. The 100’s did Orange twice, then Black twice, then Yellow twice. Originally, the 100’s were to ride pink (12.5 miles), not yellow. But rain and hooves had done a number on the footing, and there were very poor conditions on that trail. In addition to the fact that every section was ridden twice, some stretches were common trail for coming and going, and/or two different loops.

There was also a major issue with a dangerously bad downhill, and Ride Management was trying to find options around it. With only 5 minutes until Terre (leading) was to head out on Pink, Ruth Carlson came over to tell her that the Ground Jury had made a change, and they would now ride yellow, a 10 mile loop, with some of the same poor trail as pink, but good stretches of sand road as well. In order to make up the distance difference, the riders would travel 2x around the big loop around a farm at the far end of the trail the first time. Terre was relieved, Kathy was relieved (“Thank you, thank you, Oh there is a God!”), I was relieved, Kos was just twitching to get going again.

Apparently the only one not happy with the change was Doc, who could not understand why Gail made him loop the farm again, and let her know he was displeased! The Black loop proved to be a major headache. Touted ahead of time as good riding, with lots of open meadows for making time, it became a source of frustration and delay. Terre and Kathy and Ariel were all riding together, and Kathy knew the trails, but they still got lost quite often. Then they would spread out looking for the next ribbon, one would spot the flagging, and off they went again.

With rain and wind winding ribbon tight to trees, and some ribbon lost to wind or on the ground, the trail just wasn’t that easy to follow. The second time around, the 3 riders still together, they still got lost 3 times. With time a-wasting, towards the end of the loop, Terre rode on alone. After 75 miles, she was just barely over time for a CoC. So the change to yellow gave her hope, as did a promise of a hot shower and a cold beer at the end.

After that loop, Terre had made up enough time (almost 30 minutes) that she could afford to ease up a bit on the final loop. Gail made up time on that loop, coming in almost a half hour ahead of expected. Kat and Ariel kept a good pace too, and after a strong second yellow finished up fairly close behind Terre. The first 3 horses showed for BC, and all looked really good, trotting their circles. Kos had a girth rub because the neoprene protector for his cinch ring was lost after the second loop, but neither of the others looked to have a mark on them.

We can’t say the same for the riders. Tree branches and faces – what else to day. Terre ended up very lame from hitting her knee on a tree trunk. Lee Hutton kindly trotted Kos for her in the BC and did an excellent job. Ariel and Zorro got BC. All for now

Canadian Championships, Sundre Alberta, Aug. 2 and 3, 2008

Hi all!

John and I are sitting here at Lori Bewza’s place and luckily logged in to someone’s wireless network.  It’s dark, Lori’s gone to bed and John and I are sitting outside our camper in the field with our great boys munching on the grass.  God, it’s great to be back in BC!

What a weekend! 

 As most of you have heard, it was a VERY tough course.  Between the bogs, rain, hail, thunder, cold temperatures, etc., it’s amazing that some of us, and our BC horses, faired as well as we did.

Most of you got the info right about the riders and standings.  I must say, it was interesting to watch Nellie and Bianca ride a CTR and do well.  We caught up to them at the boggy sections of the “red” loop and amazingly enough, we all survived.  For some of us who live in the wetter regions, we’ve come across similar situations, but John and I sure felt deep concern for the riders who ride in the drier climates of BC and had never experienced mud bogs before.

They were terrible, and we got our trusty steeds through just fine, but frazzled nerves on our part.  I did come off Shab and landed in a nice, warm swamp on the yellow loop, but all worked out and Shab got out of that bog without any injury to himself or to me.  I can laugh now, but at the time, I was **^&())(&$## and thought “that’s it!  I may be walking in now.”

Good thing John caught Shab as he came out of the swamp and back onto the road. 

 We, and I think I can speak for the general group who attended…..we learned many new things about rides, trail markings, timings, weather changes, courses, us and our horses.  Kudo’s to all the BC riders who pitched in and helped the competitive trail riders and vice-versa the endurance riders from our province.  It was evident that it wasn’t just individual discipline’s from BC, but all BC riders coming together for a common goal, and that was to get us all through with healthy and sound (as best as possible) horses at the end.  I’m proud to be from BC and to have so many great BC friends!

 The day after the 100, I think I saw most of the horses trotting and walking about and they did look good, and none worse for wear. 

 Shab and Comet look great today and are enjoying a good frolic in the field.  We’re tired and heading off to bed.  I know there will be many stories to add, but tomorrow is another day.

 We’ll be heading on the rest of our way home tomorrow and hopefully to catch the 5:30 ferry, and settling the “boys” at home late tomorrow night.  Until then….good night and happy horsey dreams!


Hi Everyone,

What a blast! Beautiful weather except for the day the 100’s rode, which turned the trails from challenging into dangerous and very slow. I heard that it took the last riders finishing the 100 about 6 1/2 hours to do the last 18 mile loop. They came in after 3:00 a.m. All our riders were fantastic, but thanks to Lori Bewza and Gail Jewell finishing for the team, British Columbia got bronze inthe 50-mile race and silver in the 100. Since there were so many pulls they had to go with whoever had at least one team member left! Congratulations to Elroy, Desiree and Julius for their 50 mile completion as well, but it was tough for Gail and Sandy thru the bog. There was a grizzly bear spotted at the outcheck and Julius, I think, rode thru a pack of howling wolves.

The CTR riders had it really tough as well as they were the first ones out on the trails, and it was from their experiences that endurance riders were able to get an idea of what was coming up for them. The CTR shorter distance had to ride the same rainy day that the 100’s did along with 200 unexpected quads. I don’t know who all the BC CTR riders were, but they too had a real challenge.

Jackie and I were treated like princesses by BC crew on our limited distance ride! loved that! haha and then we helped crew for them the next day. Daphne was an outstanding chef d’equippe and Desiree’s chocolate cake kept the crew going strong. Last day was fun, relaxing and watching the ride and tie start (people and horses running together – I just had to see it) and the pony express which looked like a lot of fun running that mail! Thanks to ERABC who gave us all beautiful shirts which we proudly wore at the closing banquet.

Very proud of our riders and crew, and happy to be home.
PS Titan doing fine, I pulled him to be on the safe side. Jackie did a great job on the 25 (which was upgraded to 30) with Pam’s little mare substituting at the last minute for Azar who got bit on the back just hours before leaving on our trip.

Like Carol said what a blast. I would like to thank Garry, Tunie, Terre O, Roberta for all the help that Carol and I got for our very own crew.

Camp was like Barb mentioned was a little city of Rigs lol. Tons of grass and no flys. It was quite different for some of us starting the ride on wide open rolly hills. lol Thanks to ERABC for the great shirts.

Congrats to all the riders.

We got back last night – after an uneventful but hot drive. Myrlyn ,very happy to see all the guys at home, flew out to the pasture and had a good long roll and looks great!

As many have said, the trails were abysmal for the 100 mile ride and not much better for the earlier 50 and CTR events. I know, I wasn’t on the trails but I was crewing for everyone and did hear a lot of comments. Suzanne Hayes, who has done 75 100 mile rides, said it was the most difficult she has ever done! Very boggy, very long and steep climbs, lots of road. Yes, great views but what could you see in the monsoons!! I think the weather really pulled the plug on a lot of the 100’s. I believe there were 7 rider options but not sure about that. Grant and Gary chose not to go out again knowing they did not have time to finish due to the deterioration of already very, very difficult trails. It took Gail Jewell 40 minutes to go 2 miles!

In the 50, both Gail and Sandy Laing pulled at the first check having both horses lamed in an especially deep and dangerous bog.

Elroy and Lori Bewza were the first through on that day and sunk into it up to their horses’ hocks. When Julius came through about 10th I think, he said his feet were actually in the water! Desiree, on her big horse managed OK but said her heart was in her mouth hoping that there would not be a lameness on the other side.
So you can just imagine what it and all the others were like after three hugh rain and hail storms had gone by just in the morning! Ride Management actually took part of a roof from a collapsed building, hauled it out there as close as they could by truck, then towed it with ATV’s to the bog where they installed it. Grant said it was a life saver! Thanks Brent!!

Enough about the trails! You get the picture!
Camp was great – a huge hay field adjacent to the cabins and ranch house. There must have been 200 to 250 rigs there separated out in blocks by province and FEI. What a site! Like a small town! There was a concession stand that tried very hard to keep up with the sandwiches for the volunteers and officials as well as orders from us ‘on the ground’! And Showers!! There was a bonfire and cowboy poets to entertain us every night. That was a real treat – some people picked up their guitars for a sing song as well. The bonfire was welcomed as it got cold at night but soon warmed up in the mornings with the sun rise – except on Sunday for the 100’s! That was overcast and a rain rise!

I’m not sure of the results – I guess we will have to wait to find out who finished (other then our own of course) as they didn’t have any completion awards!! Gee! If I had ridden and completed a ride like that I would at least have expected a public mention!! Oh well! I certainly know what Ride Management was going through! They had a lot of “stuff” thrown at them like 200 Quads in a poker rally on the same trails, injured riders, one who had to be air lifted out, huge coordination of 5 or 6 different events, and last but not least Weather!!

So, it was an experience – a huge learning curve for many of us but I don’t know about those Alberta trails!! The people are great but the ground?


Yes – it was an exciting time at The Nationals, watching all types of distance riding from endurance, to CTR to Ride and Tie to Pony Express. Competitors of all ages! Too much fun!

I don’t think Karen Eigler mentioned how well she did in the 35 mile CTR – lst place! WOW! And I believe John wasn’t too far behind her – check the website of RMC for the final placings.

I went to ride the 2 day (82 mile) CTR and was picked up by the Ontario team. They were all great and we had a super Chef d’Equipe who kept us well organized. Dante was a star (strong the whole time!) and Team Ontario took the bronze.

Many thx to the Petersons for giving us accommodation on the way to Alberta. Most appreciated!
And an extra special thanks to my crew person – June Melhuish – who worked her butt off the whole time helping me and the rest of the BC riders, whether CTR or endurance.

Does anyone know the BC couple whom I believe won the 20 mile Ride and Tie? We should get them to organize an R & T at one of our events!

A special thanks also to Elaine Bessuille for not only helping crew for endurance riders, but also for volunteering for 2 days for the championship CTR ride. It was great to see a familiar face out on the trail!
Karen Ellis – could you please send me your email address?

Am off to the airport to pick up my daughter but will try to write a report for you later – LOTS to tell – not all bad! No, unfortunately, Christy was pulled but Jaylene and Crystal finished so Alberta won the team championship. 10 out of 27 finished: Jan Marsh, Sue Summers and Carol Giles were about 1 1/2 hours behind Gail. Trisha finished too so would win the silver in the Canadian Championship

Quickly , in the 50 – Elroy first, Lori 5th, Desiree 7th – don’t know where Julius placed overall but he won the FEI CEI** – 50.  BC rocks! 


Hi All
Came home to an “overfull” email box and multiple messages from telus re bounces, so I have no idea what I’ve missed! Read the messages on the yahoo page, tho, and so will reply to a few of them.

Re: the handheld, Gail has it and will bring it to Skimikin. They came in really, really handy and were much appreciated.
We all, do, indeed have a LOT of stories! Quite the weekend! Ask Sandy about the grizzly, and Sue Summers about the moose…. But don’t ask ANY of us about the bogs!!! They DON’T have solid bottoms–or at least not after that much rain, and all those ATVs! Some loose logs under the mud, too… On the other hand there were ordinary mud puddles that DID have a solid bottom; however one of the ones I went through was chest deep on Koszaar–THAT’S how much it rained. (On the positive side the deep water washed off some of the bog mud from when he went down). Really, really tough conditions–and when we did finally get on some reasonable dry grass that you could move on….Koz just wanted to eat it! Ah, well–that’s why we call it endurance!

In a typically masochistic endurance rider kind of way we all had a good time, tho. It was sure cool to see all the BC folk–CTR and endurance riders, crew, family, etc–pull together and support one another, and share the occasional beverage. We had a great group of people there who worked hard, had fun, and most importantly of all took excellent care of our wonderful horses under very trying conditions. People made very good decisions for their horses and as a result they all–every one of them–came home sound and healthy. Everyone who was there in any capacity should be very proud of themselves.

Terre (ps, if anybody finds a white hrm electrode it belongs to Chris…she just doesn’t know I lost it yet! I DO however have Barb’s camera and a pair of glasses in a silver case and a small silver wrist watch–all soon to be found on ebay to help pay my gas bill!)

PPS—there WILL be pictures (possibly even Barbs!)