Endurance Horse Passes 20,000 Miles

Tulip, a 21 year old Morab gelding is the first horse in
American Endurance Ride Conference history
to surpass the 20,000 mile mark.


Tulip, a Morab gelding who will turn 21 on June 21,2009  is endurance riding’s most enduring equine, with 20,805 miles to his credit and he is still going strong.

Tulip‘s name? The rumor, according to Dr. Les Carr, Tulip‘s owner, is that a bed of lovely tulips was nearby during Tulip’s birth.

The 15.2-hand Tulip, registered as a half-Arabian by the Arabian Horse Association, is by the Morgan stallion Calamity’s Pizzaz, whose sire is from the Kingston line. His dam, Belif, is a granddaughter of Bu-Zahar, a son of Ferzon-Hall of Fame sire of National Champions.

Carr, of Somerset, Calif., has amassed 46,460 miles of his own during his 24 years of AERC competitions. Both Carr and Tulip exemplify AERC’s commitment to valuing equine longevity.

Although he has completed four 100-mile rides, Tulip’s specialty is the 50-mile endurance ride, especially when combined into AERC Pioneer Rides, which include at least three consecutive days of 50- to 55-mile rides. And the grey gelding’s not burning up the trail; he and Carr tend to finish towards the back of the pack in most competitions.

“The AERC motto is ‘to finish is to win’,” noted Carr. “However, winning can be accomplished in different ways. One way to win is for the rider to make the decision to ride the same horse over a long period of time and place at the middle or tail end of the ride. This approach has been my choice.”

Most years, Carr and Tulip would complete around 1,000 miles of competition a year. Their highest mileage year was 2006, when the completed 1,970 miles. Along the way, the pair have picked up numerous awards from AERC, including regional mileage championships and Pioneer Awards.

At age 74, Carr keeps himself in shape with bodybuilding and weightlifting when he’s not riding. At 5’8″, he keeps his weight at a trim 148 pounds. A practicing clinical psychologist, Carr considers riding “a mystical and spiritual experience.”

Carr has no plans to retire Tulip. The pair have already completed 670 miles in the current ride season. But Carr said that he and Tulip will no longer be doing as many five-day Pioneer Rides (250 miles over five days), instead focusing on one-day 50s and the three-day, 155-mile Pioneer Rides.

“Life along the endurance trail is unpredictable, in line with our universe that is inherently chaotic and unpredictable,” said Carr.

But the septuagenarian, who rides along with his wife Jill and her trustworthy mule, Walker, at his side, Carr hopes to ride Tulip as long as possible along the endurance trails.


Photo: Lynne Glazer


Super Pony With The Heart Of A Winner


 “Teddy” and Karen O’Connor win the Gold
at 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil


Good things are said to come in small packages. And “Super Pony” Theodore O’Connor proves it.

Teddy, also known as the Flying Pony is the exciting new star of a tough equestrian sport called eventing.

At 14.1 hands high — a little more than 56 inches at the top of his shoulder — this mighty midget is a hair short of the height of a horse. But that hasn’t stopped him from winning big — really big.


Teddy thrilled the horse world by winning an Individual Gold Medal and helping the United States win the Team Gold at the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil this past July.


If he continues to perform at this level over the winter in Florida and into the spring, he and his rider, Karen O’Connor, of The Plains, Va., could make the U.S. Olympic equestrian team next year and travel to Beijing.


Teddy once again displayed his amazing athletic ability, under the skillful guidance of his Olympic veteran rider, to the delight of their growing throng of international fans.


Teddy, Karen’s bionic pony partner, is a 14.2h sport pony, bred by P. Wynn Norman. “He doesn’t know he’s small,”   says Karen.


He has tremendous springs and a huge jump, making even the most difficult combinations look like simple gymnastics.

Teddy is 3/4 Thoroughbred, 1/8 Arabian, and 1/8 Shetland Pony and, with Karen on board, thinks all things are possible!


Eventing is a demanding three-part test of horse and rider.

Part I is usually dressage. The goal is to make a difficult set of carefully controlled movements look simple. It requires precision, balance and grace.

Part II is usually cross-country, which involves 25 to 40 jumps strung across a course of several miles. Cross-country showcases strength, endurance and smarts.

Part III is show-jumping, which is done in a ring. This measures speed, nimbleness and accuracy.

In all three areas, Teddy makes up for his size with something that can’t be measured in inches: a huge heart.


“It doesn’t cross his mind that it can’t be done,” says O’Connor, even though Teddy is so small he sometimes can’t see what’s on the other side of a cross-country jump.

As Teddy approaches a jump that might be four feet high and 6 1/2 feet wide, O’Connor’s job is to keep him “wanting to be careful but also brave and confident.”


Eventing takes a lot of training, which takes a lot of time. Many horses in the sport are teen-agers. Teddy, a chestnut gelding, is 12.

Several trainers passed on a chance to work with Teddy because they thought of him as a kid’s mount. O’Connor saw past his size to his potential. The result is a champion pairing that’s the talk of the eventing circuit.

Teddy comes from a breeder who has been experimenting with a mix of thoroughbreds, Arabian horses and Shetland ponies. Although Teddy is worth $300,000 to $400,000, the group that owns him isn’t looking to make money; it just wants to support his career.


O’Connor’s husband, 2000 Olympic gold-medalist David O’Connor, compares Teddy to a wide receiver in football or “a 5-7 point guard” in basketball.

Teddy beats much larger competition because he is so quick, intelligent and athletic, David O’Connor says.


 His wife agrees. “Size is never going to stop Teddy,” she says. “He feels like a giant out there.”


Farewell, Teddy
May 29, 2008

News Link: Washington Post

Link: O’Connor Event Team

Link:  Photographs from O’Connor Pan Am Gallery

Great Santa Fe Trail Ride ~ Updates

The Great Santa Fe Trail Ride ~ 2008 




Great Santa Fe Trail Ride ~ 2007


Riders trot out the first leg of the 515-mile Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race on Labor Day morning in Pecos, N.M.


Sept 17, 2007
End of the Trail


Chelsey Palmer, left, and Carolyn Smith ride into the Independence Square Saturday evening to commemorate the mail messengers of the Pony Express. Chris McNeill, Beth Jones, Josh Jones and Britney Palmer also rode for the post office Saturday


Six horses and their cowboy-clad riders arrived on the Independence Square Saturday afternoon, commemorating rides by messengers who worked for the Pony Express.
The symbolic messengers greeted applauding spectators on the east side of the courthouse, and Mayor Don Reimal proclaimed the ride a historic representation of the days when the Pony Express delivered mail.

One rider even carried a leather satchel, like the ones carriers used to deliver mail, which she presented to acting Independence Postmaster Bruce Logan. The mail pouch represented one brought up the Santa Fe Trail from New Mexico.

The historic ride was held at the culmination of an 800-mile horse race that ended in Gardner, Kan. The winner was Scott Griffin of Seattle, who was competing in his first horse endurance competition.
The race’s founder and coordinator, Rob Phillips, of Lawrence, Kan., originally wanted the race to end in Independence, following the trail of the covered wagons that once traveled there. But that route had too many roads, highways and other barriers.
From the Square, the horses and riders went to the Bingham-Waggoner Estate to be part of the annual Pig Pickin’ Chicken Lickin’ roast.
Emery Staton, who met up with the riders and horses on the Square, said she liked the historic aspect of the event.

“I thought it was pretty cool because it was a re-enactment,” said the elementary-aged student who considers herself a horse lover.

Rita Porter, vice chair of the city’s Tourism Advisory Board, said such re-enactments are important. “The historical things make up our culture, and when our culture’s strong, so is our community.”

Another spectator, Nina Anders, of Independence, said she was glad to see young faces in the crowd as well as on horseback. “It’s nice to see young people who want to be a part of something historical,” she said.

Mark Inglett, manager of the Truman post office, agreed that history is important. “It’s nice to rediscover our roots sometimes.”

News Story:


Sept 16, 2007
The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Ends


Griffin gives a kiss to his horse, MN Khourusen
after winning the Santa Fe Race.

Griffin, who was competing in his first horse endurance race, and his horse MN Khourusen finished without injuries.


Scott Griffin of Seattle won the race, competing in his first horse endurance competition. His reward was a belt buckle presented Saturday night by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. There was no prize money, just bragging rights.

The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race began Sept. 3 in Santa Fe, N.M., with about 60 riders and 160 horses and finished Saturday in Gardner.

About half the riders reached the final day. Some dropped out because of dehydration.

The race (participants preferred to call it a ride) covered 515 miles. Only two riders completed the route without changing horses. Many wore spurs attached to tennis shoes. Instead of cowboy hats, they wore helmets.

Riders spent nine to 12 hours in the saddle each day for three days, rested and traveled a day, then repeated another three days at a different location along the old Santa Fe Trail.

Jeanie Hauser, a veterinarian from Leavenworth County, said all the horses received regular inspections by veterinarians each day. About five or six horses a day were eliminated for minor ailments.

“They have fared very well, and that’s because people have been taking very good care of their horses,” she said.

Phillips, the race organizer, said some riders often walked miles to rest their horses. Water troughs were spaced every five miles.

Although injuries are rare in endurance horse racing, there is an element of danger.

Rick Lee, a rider from Adams, Neb., said wearing the right clothes was important, especially for riders spending hours in the saddle. A rider wearing just a pair of jeans would finish the day with badly battered legs.

Rick Medlin, a team rider from Paola, Kan., said Saturday that he could have gone three or four more days and wasn’t saddlesore.

“The most enjoyable thing is seeing the country and riding horses,” he said. “It’s the adventure of a lifetime.”

News Link:


Sept. 14, 2007
On The Way To The Finish Line

Jim Hole was among the riders in the Great Santa Fe Horse Race finishing the 515-mile endurance ride this weekend in a town where pioneers had to decide which route to take on their westward journey.

The race called for riders to go 50 miles a day for 10 days, sometimes through blistering heat and daylong downpours as they covered the sweeping landscapes of open prairies and rolling plains.
Hole, of Sacramento, Calif., was one of two riders Friday who had made the entire trip on one horse, even though the rules allow for multiple horses.

Since the start, Hole’s constant companion has been Little Big Man, an 8-year-old bay Arabian gelding he calls his “friend and partner.”

For Hole, the race was a link to the past, as he slept under the stars with his horse and saw much the same landscape the settlers saw.

“Sometimes you have to experience what they went through to appreciate what you’ve got today,” Hole said.

“You feel the wind on your shoulders, the smells, hear the birds. It takes you back to another day.”

That’s something Rob Phillips, founder and coordinator of the race, had in mind when he came up with the idea a year and half ago.

“We wanted them to get the feel for the terrain, and I think they are getting a good feel for that, but you can never replicate how it was in the 1800s,” said Phillips, of Lawrence

Susan Thompson, of Sweetwater, Tenn., took a scheduled break while her horse, a 7-year-old brown Arabian gelding named Thee Macade was being checked by veterinarians — one of four vet checks each horse undergoes each day.

Thompson said the biggest challenge at the start was the New Mexico heat. But she said the day-to-day challenge is taking care of the horses.

“They can’t tell you when they don’t feel good, or are hungry or thirsty,” she said.

The arrival of the riders coincides with 150th anniversary celebration of Gardner, which owes its start to the Santa Fe and Oregon trails.

News Link:


Sept 14, 2007
Nearing the Finish Line

Riders in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race are due in Gardner, Kansas this weekend to finish their trek.

Riders in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race are finishing their 515-mile trek this weekend in a town where pioneers had to decide which route to take on their westward journey.

The arrival of the riders coincides with 150th anniversary celebration of Gardner, which owes its start to the Santa Fe and Oregon trails.

Race officials say the journey from Santa Fe, New Mexico, started September 3rd with 60 riders, but that number has dropped to 45 or 50.

The endurance race has traveled backward along the wide, meandering trail that opened in 1821 as a trade route between Santa Fe and its starting point in Independence, Missouri. But the 35 miles between Gardner and Independence is a metropolitan area and too congested for the ride.

Today the riders started at Melvin Lake in Osage County to race on a horse path around the lake. They planned the same routine tomorrow at Hillsdale Lake south of Gardner to wrap up the race.

“The original settlers were blacksmiths and suppliers for people on the trail. This was the last stop before deciding whether to use the Santa Fe, Oregon or California trails,” said Chamber of Commerce President Peter Solie.

The three trails were one coming out of Independence through Gardner. Then, west of town, the Santa Fe went southwest, mainly as a two-way trade route, while the Oregon settlers’ route split to the northwest. The California Trail then parted from the Oregon in southern Idaho.

The overall winner is the person with the shortest time.

But the true winners are the ones that arrive at the finish line with safe horses and safe riders.

As race organizer, Rob Phillips says, with that accomplishment … everyone has bragging rights for the rest of their lives.


Sept 14, 2007,
Scenes Along The Trail



Jason Stasiuk of Humble, Tx., pours water on his horse during a break in The Great Sante Fe Trail Race Thursday across the Flint Hills near Council Grove.


Thirty miles into his 51-mile race through the Flint Hills on Thursday, rider Jason Stasiuk dismounted and pulled the saddle off his horse.

He walked alongside the animal as they arrived at a required rest stop.

At a water trough, as Razzmataz drank, Stasiuk dipped his cowboy hat in the cold water and began pouring it not over himself but over the 18-year-old Arabian horse.

“He takes real good care of me,” said Stasiuk, from Humble, Texas. “And I need to take care of him.”


The 60 riders are racing the 515 miles over 13 days — for the experience and for bragging rights — in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race.

Veterinarians travel with the race, and twice a day the horses must pass inspection. If there is a question that a horse is suffering, it’s pulled from the race.

“We’re doing this not for the ribbon, not for the money, but to promote our breed of horses,” said Mac McSwain of Winona, Texas, who raises Spanish mustangs.

“The horse means more to me than a race.”


Riders leisurely made their way east toward the rising sun. Some of the more ambitious went ahead at a slight trot, careful not to push their horses too hard, too early.


Endurance racing is all about going the distance in all kinds of conditions. In this race, which began Sept. 3 in Santa Fe and will end Saturday with an awards ceremony in Gardner, horses and riders have gone over sand and mountains.


They’ve persevered through rain and wind, on highways and chipped rock.

The 10 legs of the race average about 50 miles a day — nine to 12 hours a day. Most of the time they travel back roads and lonely highways.


Joe Reilly, Humble, Texas

The riders come from Washington state, Maryland, California, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Kansas and Texas.


Susan Thompson

They’ve brought Arabians, mustangs, quarter horses, Tennessee walkers and Morgans.


McSwain, who is in his 60s, wanted one last great adventure. He and his wife brought six Spanish mustangs, intending to ride as a team.

On Monday a crowd in Dodge City, Kan., frightened the horse he was on. It reared, and McSwain fell off, breaking his collarbone and shoulder.

“He’s a country horse,” McSwain said Wednesday, arm in a sling. “He’s not used to people yee-hawing. He’s not a bad horse. He just had a bad rider.”

April Cyrek of Humboldt County, Calif., was concerned about her 5-year-old Arabian stallion and 9-year-old Arabian mare. The mare is blind in one eye, and the rain and wind on Wednesday blew into the horse’s good eye.

Still, she was glad she was on the endurance ride.


“You can see the country on the back of a horse,” she said.


Jay Allen, Fresno, California

The Great Santa Fe Trail Race has been an experience filled with memories … another chapter in American History.

News Link:  
Photo Link:


Sept 14, 2007
Stories Along The Trail ~
 Stepping Back In History

Minnesotan Craig Opel looks like your modern-day cowboy. He’s dressed in boots, blue jeans and a short-sleeve flannel shirt and a wide-brim cowboy hat — perfect for the fickle Kansas weather over the past two days — and is even traveling with a pack of horses.

So it’s surprising and a bit unexpected when instead of mounting his horse and continuing his journey on the Santa Fe Trail, he simply turns the ignition key in his PT Cruiser and puts the car into drive.

Opel is one of the nearly 100 teams of people involved in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Endurance Ride – – an 800-mile journey from New Mexico to Missouri.

While most involved are riding teams competing against time and each other, Opel is here for a different reason. Major Gouverneur and Anna Maria Morris — Opel’s great-great-great-uncle and aunt — traveled the exact same trail by wagon train from May to July in 1850.

In March, Opel said he stumbled upon the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race online and began to research it.

It was around that same time he discovered his great-great-great-aunt’s published diary in the pages of the book Cover Wagon Women, Vol. II: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails.

“When I found out it was her diary about the exact same journey I was looking at, I just thought, ‘oh my gosh! This is fantastic,’” Opel said.

Opel’s reenactment of the Santa Fe Trail ride began Sept. 2 with the rest of the participants. Since he wasn’t involved in a riding team — Opel said he hasn’t ridden horses since his hunting days, which were many years ago — he signed up to work with the vets who check the horses three to four times a day to insure proper health during the riders’ 50-mile spurts by horseback.

In his time off from helping the veterinarians with paperwork, Opel uses a laminated neon green travel log of the 1850 journey to visit the same locations his relatives wrote about 157 years ago.

“When you can stand some place, in the exact spot in some cases — and I mean exact — where she stood 157 years ago, that’s pretty amazing,” he said.

“I’m also keeping a diary every day, because maybe 150 years from now, they’ll wonder about their great-great-uncle who traveled along with the new Santa Fe group,” Opel said.

Story Link:


Sept. 14, 2007
Looking For The Answers

Officials to Investigate Horse Deaths at Endurance Ride

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) will investigate the deaths of the two horses that were hit by a car after crossing the finish line on day seven of the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Ride, said AERC President Mike Maul.

The investigation will be conducted independently of the insurance investigation into the incident.

Rider Teresa Wilcox suffered bruises and scrapes. Rider Sandy Olson suffered a dislocated hip and broken thumb. Both riders were released from the hospital and returned to the ride site.

“This is a terrible thing that has happened,” said Maul. “My heart goes out to the riders who were injured. I am so glad to hear that they are back at the ride site.”

“An incident such as this during the ride or at the finish has never happened before in the 35-year history of AERC,” said Maul. “

All incidents, whether large or small, are investigated by the AERC with the purpose of making the sport safer for both riders and the horses participating in the event.”

According to Maul, the AERC sanctions almost 800 rides in the United States each year, with more than 23,000 total entries.

“AERC sanctioning provides a uniform standard for those rides, which are put on by members of the AERC as ride managers,” said Maul. “The ride itself is supervised by the ride manager and is not under the supervision of the AERC.”

The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race is an 800-mile endurance ride completed over a 13-day period. The ride started in Santa Fe, N.M., on Sept. 3 and will end in Missouri on Sept. 15.

One of the main objectives of the race is to educate the public not only on the national historic Santa Fe Trail, but also to introduce the sport of endurance riding to thousands, said Maul.

It’s extremely rare for horses to perish during endurance rides, said Mike Maul, president of the American Endurance Ride Conference, a national governing body for long-distance riding that sanctioned the Santa Fe Trail race.

“It’s very tragic and it’s very sad that it (Tuesday’s incident) happened,” Maul said.

Maul said it appeared as though riders Tuesday had adequate room to stop their horses between crossing the finish line and reaching the paved road.

Dennis Latta, director of the New Mexico Sports Authority, said that agency- which is listed as a “partner” of the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race on the event’s Web site, along with the New Mexico Tourism Department-would also evaluate the incident.

Indications are, however, that it “wasn’t a matter of poor planning on the organizers’ part,” Latta said.

“There were no real problems in New Mexico, and I don’t think there would (have been) in Kansas if they (Wilcox and Olsen) had stopped at the finish line,” he said.

McPherson County Sheriff’s Department officials consider the incident an accident and have not pressed charges, Johnston said, adding that the driver of the car was on a “straight through” section of road and unable to avoid the animals.

Riders were told before the day’s stage began that the road was just a half-mile away from the finish line, Johnston added.

News Link:
News Link:


Sept. 13, 2007
Two horses killed, 3 injured in collision


Organizers of an 800-mile horse race that finishes in Gardner this weekend are investigating an accident Tuesday that killed two horses and injured two riders.

The collision came on the ninth day of the 13-day race that began in Santa Fe, N.M., and snakes through parts of the Midwest before ending Saturday.

The two riders, a woman from southwest Missouri and one from Oklahoma, were airlifted to a Wichita hospital, where they were recovering Wednesday. The driver of the car was also injured.

“It’s made everybody sad for what’s happened,” said Rob Phillips, organizer of The Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race.

On Tuesday, the two leaders of the day were finishing the race just before 2 p.m. when they collided with a car traveling down a blacktop road south of Canton, Kan.

Jim Johnston, McPherson County undersheriff, said the two riders had sprinted past the finish line about a half-mile back and kept riding.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, if they got caught up in the excitement and just kept going or what happened,” Johnston said Wednesday. “But when they got to the road, there just happened to be a car there at that exact time.”

Undersherrif Jim Johnston clarified the details of the accident saying, “the car hit one horse the other horse hit the side of the car.”

“It was like hitting a dad gum brick wall,” Wilcox said of her horse slamming into the Buick.

Phillips said the finish line was clearly marked about a half-mile back from where the crash occurred. Someone was there clocking times. 

“We take it as a very serious incident,” Phillips said.

Both horses, Mr Valentine and Foxfire, were killed instantly.

They were buried at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.

News Link:
News Link:


Sept 11, 2007
*Tragedy Strikes -Two Riders Airlifted*

An accident at 1:58 p.m. Tuesday marred the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race traveling through McPherson County. The accident at 27th Avenue and Cimarron Road seven miles south of Canton.

A vehicle struck two horses and two women riders were airlifted to Wichita after sustaining apparent disabling injuries, according to the McPherson County sheriff’s department.

The driver of the vehicle was transported to McPherson Memorial Hospital, according to officials.

Eyewitnesses reported the women riders apparently went past the finish line and into the path of a vehicle moving northbound to Canton.

The McPherson County sheriff’s department, Canton fire and EMS personnel and Moundridge EMS were dispatched to the accident.

The riders followed a route from Dakota Road to Fifth Avenue, to Cimarron Road across McPherson County Tuesday.

News Link:


Sept 8, 2007
Dodge City
Riders Reach The Halfway Point


A farrier works on a horse Saturday at the Dodge City Roundup Rodeo grounds. Participants in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Endurance Ride stopped in Dodge City for a weekend stay.


For Joe Reilly, one of the most enjoyable moments of the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Endurance Ride came when he rode out of Santa Fe, N.M., the first day and saw the spectacular scenery around him.

Joyce Adams also raved about the scenery in Santa Fe. But for her, the most memorable part of that day was just finishing the race.

“I took a flatlander horse from western Kansas, and I took it up to the mountains and we completed it right in the middle of the pack,” she said in an interview Saturday.

“I wanted to say, ‘Look at us! Look what we did!'”.

Reilly is an experienced endurance rider, while Adams is a novice.

Both of them are competing in the first-ever Santa Fe Trail Horse Race, which began Sept. 3 in Santa Fe and will end 13 days later in Independence, Mo.

The race route mirrors the old Santa Fe Trail, with overnight stops in several communities along the way.

The riders took a weekend break at Roundup Arena in Dodge City, then saddled up early Sunday morning and hit the trail again.

News Link:  Dodge Globe


Sept. 7, 2007
Special US Postmark Available

The Overbrook, Kansas Post Office will offer a special postmark to celebrate the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race Endurance Ride from Santa Fe, N.M., to Independence, Mo., Sept. 3-15. The special postmark will be applied to any item with first-class postage affixed and will be available from 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 7.


Update: Sept 6, 2007

According to a phone message I had late Sept 6 with Rob Phillips, who is one of the race organizers, the race positions were at that moment:

First: Scott Griffin
Second:  Theresa Wilcox
Third:  Dawson Higgins


Sept 6, 2007


 Kathy Myers and her Arabian horse Blue, the only Santa Fe area duo participating in the 515-mile Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race, ended their bid to finish the event today.

The team made it through back-to-back 50 mile rides on Monday and Tuesday with flying colors. But Wednesday, near Clayton, N.M., Blue stepped through a metal panel on a small bridge at mile 39 and cut one of his rear legs, according to Pete Myers, the rider’s husband.

Although the gelding was fine, Kathy Myers felt it was better to take Blue home and let him rest.

The only other New Mexicans — Shawn Davis and Dawson Higgins, both from Tucumcari — are still in the event, which drew 60 riders from all over the U.S.

Update: Sept 5, 2007

Team Liberty of Tucumcari is in the No. 3 spot after two days in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Endurance Race, said Shawn Davis, Liberty Team captain from Tucumcari.

“We’re in third. We’re doing okay. We’re right up there where we need to be,” said Davis in a telephone interview from Springer, the layover for the second day of the ride.

“They’re doing good,” said Rob Phillips, one of the race organizers in charge of accommodations.

Dawson Higgins, also of Tucumcari, rode the first day and completed 50 miles from Santa Fe to Las Vegas in the 850 mile endurance race. Davis took the second leg, another 50 miles.

“We’re really surprised,” said Davis.

Riders and horses are doing well, said Davis.

The horses, all five of which are from Quay County, “are performing better than we expected,” Davis said.

Higgins and Davis will ride a fresh horse for the first five days, and then begin again on the most rested horse.

During the race, veterinarians on the trail check each horse to be sure that its in race condition.

Today, Higgins will ride again starting out at 7 a.m. from Springer, Davis said.

Their destination today will be Clayton.

Davis heard about the race at least 14 months ago and was inspired by the challenge.

“It’s a challenge because of the length of the race and it’s never been done before,” said Davis, when he began drumming up support for team members and for the trail ride.

One of the main objectives of the race is to educate the public not only about the national historic Santa Fe Trail, but also to introduce the sport of endurance riding to thousands, according to its organizers.

It’s also a test of horse and rider, who will gain a greater appreciation of the trail that brought many homesteaders and adventurers westward.

Davis said before he left, that often because of the terrain or to meet daily goals, the rider will have to dismount and run along with his horse during the race.

The name Team Liberty has roots in the past.

“I picked the name Liberty to stay with the Santa Fe Trail era,” Davis said. “Tucumcari used to be a community north of here called Liberty.”

Liberty was founded in the late 1800s, north of Pajarito Creek, for the soldiers of Fort Bascom. Five men from Liberty founded Tucumcari in the early 1900s when the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad decided to build a line to connect with the El Paso and North-eastern Railroad at Santa Rosa.

Race organizers said early on that they wanted to make the ride as much fun and as competitive for as many riders as they possibly could, so that it will be an event that can be repeated annually.

Entrants were able to enter as a team or as an individual. It’s also why the event has a targeted 50- to 55-mile goal race day, so that more people would enter. There are also many prize categories, including a $2,500 saddle.

Over the past year, Davis has been soliciting support from sponsors, both for the entrance fee and for their travel budget, that includes five horses. In all he estimated the costs could reach $20,000.

On Friday night, there was a sponsors’ dinner to say thank you and to support Team Liberty on its entry in the inaugural race.
Win or place, when Davis started out he said he just wanted to complete the 515-mile endurance race.

Team Liberty
Team Number: 2
Team Rider:
Dawson Higgins, Shawn Davis
Horse Breed:
Quarter Horses, grade horses
Team Members:
(All from Tucumcari where noted)
Shawn Davis
Dawson Higgins
Austin Higgins
Dereck Owen
Donnie Bidegain
Jason Lafferty
Ryan Hamilton
George Price of Capitan
Van Robertson
Pete Walden Silver City
George Owen of Clovis


Sept. 3: Start from Santa Fe Start to Las Vegas, 50 miles
Sept. 4: To Springer, 50 miles
Sept 5: To Clayton   55 miles
Sept. 6: No Ride
Sept. 7: To Elkhart, Kan. 50 miles
Sept. 8: No ride
Sept. 9: To Larned, Kan., 50 miles
Sept. 10: To Lyons, Kan., 55 miles
Sept. 11: To Council Grove, Kan., 50 miles
Sept. 12: No ride
Sept. 13 : To Burlingame, Kan., 50 miles
Sept. 14: To Gardner, Kan.
Sept 15: To Independence, Mo., 55 miles
Total miles: 515                                       

New Mexico News Release


John Crandall Riding “Heraldic” Wins Endurance Race, Again!


 Crandall and Heraldic ~ AERC 2007


John Crandell, riding his famed Arabian horse, Heraldic, has just finished and taken First Place in the 2007 AERC National Championship 100 Mile race.

Crandall and Heraldic won this feat in 2006 taking First Place in the AERC that year, as well.

This years event was held in the Owyhee Country of Southern Idaho, which highlighted a 5 day Festival of Endurance in North America. 


Crandall and Heraldic Accept Tevis Cup, 2006


Last year, John Crandell set one of the most astounding records ever accomplished in the history of endurance riding.

Crandall and his brilliant horse, Heraldic, swept wins in all of the top three endurance rides: The Old Dominion,  the Tevis, and the AERC National Championships.

Story Link:  AERC National Championship 2007

Story Link:  Tevis Cup 2006

Twin Arabian Horses Celebrate A First Happy Birthday !


 It all began a year ago when Scandalous Love successfully delivered twins and made the newspaper headlines.

This was a rare event in the horse world.


Scandalous Love, a 7-year-old Arabian, stood by her foals, unsuspecting of the humans in the small stall.


 Lying on a bed of hay, Scandalous Surprise put her head between the back legs of her brother, Scandalous Trouble, trying to use him as a pillow.

Her brother, also on his side, tried to kick her off his body, to no avail.  Laughter filled the stall of the Graham, Washington horse farm.


“You’d never see other foals do this,” said MiKael Caillier, who owns the farm and horses.

Siblings generally aren’t so close in the horse world. But there’s something else that’s unusual about Scandalous Surprise and Scandalous Trouble.

They are twins, and they are alive.

“This just doesn’t happen,” said Jack Gillette, a Graham veterinarian who helped deliver them on May 8.

In his 20-plus years in the business, Gillette said he had never personally come across twin foals.

The only other time he saw it was at Colorado State University, 10 or 15 years ago.Gillette said the chance of twin horses being born and surviving is anywhere from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 500,000.

The foals were born at Rising Rainbow Arabians, a five-acre farm Caillier and her husband, David, opened about 17 years ago. They have 26 horses, all Arabians.

This past May 8 the twins celebrated their first birthday with a frolicking romp in the pasture.


The story of this wonderful event can be read on the links below. It gives details complete with all the ups and downs  of raising twins and keeping them alive and healthy.

Link:  The Birth of the Twins

Link:  The Twins ~ A Year Later

Link:  MaKael’s Mania ~ Arabian Horses

Tevis Cup Endurance Race Won Twice By Fritz, the Half Blind Horse


 Marjorie Pryor, of Rough and Ready, and her Arabian gelding, Fritz, won the Tevis Cup in 1982 and 1983.  Fritz is the only horse in Tevis Cup history to win with sight in only one eye. 

Race Motto: To Finish Is To Win

 All you have to do in the endurance horse competition called the Tevis Cup is ride your horse over a mountainous one-hundred-mile course within a twenty four hour period gently enough so that when you arrive at the finish, a vet pronounces the animal completely fit.  Whether you are still fit apparently doesn’t matter.  

In California‘s Sierra Nevada mountains near Lake Tahoe, riders from all over the world have gathered for fifty years to test their own and their horses’ stamina and courage in the Western States Trail Foundation’s famous Tevis Cup 100 Miles In One Day Endurance Ride.  

Considered one of the most challenging events in the world of equestrian sports, the Tevis Cup is the ultimate test to both horse and rider.

Entrants come from around the world. Some arrive to win, many come with just the hope of realizing their dream of simply finishing the race.

The Race That Endures

Tevis Cup Homepage