High Sierra Challenge: Woman, 64, Takes Annual Trek With Horse And Two Mules

Mary Breckenridge crosses the High Sierra every year with only her horse and two mules for company.

The beauty, the self-reliance, the solitude drive her.

With her horse, Surprise, and mules Dixie and Woody,  Mary Breckenridge guides them across Mono Pass on the second day of her trans-Sierra trip.

Taking in the view of Mono Pass

She always leaves in September, when heat still tents the Central Valley but cool mountain breezes stir silvery-green aspen leaves.

Higher up, the nights can be so cold that the water in her coffeepot turns rock-hard. It’s happened. She kept going.

Mary comforts Woody after he was spooked.

Packing and unpacking 300 pounds of gear daily, making and breaking camp, starting her fire from twigs.

Trekking the High Sierra makes her feel thrillingly self-reliant. A true Western woman.

This is my church, says, Breckenridge

Except, now that Mary is 64, and she’s not sure she can do it anymore. Not alone.

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For the entire story and video of Mary Breckenridge and her High Sierra Challenge:  Los Angeles Times

Photos: Katie Falkenberg

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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.

NewsLink:

Photo: Lynne Glazer

Winter Scene: Sleigh Ride in the Snow

Original Upload:

Olympian “Poggio” ~ A Former Pack Horse

From humble beginnings,
Poggio proves to be a winner.

~~~

Amy Tryon and Poggio II , the 16 year old bay thoroughbred gelding, are again representing the U.S. Olympic eventing team in Hong Kong.

Tryon, 38, helped win the team bronze medal on Poggio II at the 2004 Athens Games.  And now they are back for the 2008 Olympics.

A decade ago, while most of his competitors were being groomed for blue ribbons or thoroughbred racing, Poggio was lugging camping gear and other equipment up and down the Cascade Range east of Seattle.

Tryon, a recently retired firefighter from Duvall, Wash., didn’t find Poggio in a stall.

She didn’t witness the veiled potential of a horse that has since won an individual bronze medal at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Germany and helped the U.S. equestrian team to a bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and gold at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Spain.

 She found the only horse to qualify for every U.S. national team over the last six years in the classified ads of a newspaper.

Poggio’s definitely had some humble beginnings, to say the least,” said Joanie Morris, communications manager for the United States Equestrian Federation.

“I’d have to say he’s the only pack horse to be in the Olympics. He’s an anomaly, for sure. Not too many Olympic horses are found in the want-ads.”

It was not love at first sight.

“He was in pretty sad shape,” Tryon said. “His feet needed attention. He had been living in a paddock with a bunch of horses and was a bit chewed up. And his feet were not put on his body very straight. He had long hair that needed cut.

“He certainly wasn’t a show horse.”

Poggio had a short and failed career in thoroughbred racing before becoming a pack horse.

Tryon’s challenge: Make Poggio a master of dressage – the disciplined display of natural movements often called “horse ballet” – plus show jumping and cross-country racing.

Throughout exhaustive retraining, Poggio showed his inherent jumping ability.

Within one year, he was the first horse Tryon rode in a world-class eventing competition. Three years later, they were world champions.

Now they are back for the 2008 Olympics.

Tryon says, “I’m planning this to be Pogie’s last big international competition. He certainly doesn’t owe me anything,” she said.

“What I want for him is to step away from competition when he is still healthy and happy.”

Reaching the Olympics twice … “Oh, yeah,” Tryon said, “this is certainly much more than I expected Poggio and I to achieve.

”I’m so proud of my horse” Tryon said.

~~~

Link:  Tryon and Poggio Olympic Blog

Re-written from News Sources

Save Gas ~ Ride A Horse! *Check Out Honest John’s New And Used Horses*

Thelwell Pony

~~~

Alright folks, step right up!

I can save you money on gas!

You don’t want to pay $4.69 for gas, no problem.

I have the perfect vehicle for you. Needs no gas, no oil, or even a battery, just a little grass and water will do these animals fine.

Now everyone has different needs, so choose from the following models:

Trail Horse
Your average run around town animal. Has the energy to get where you are going, the brain to find the best way to go, big enough to carry the normal sized American.

The Arabian
Perfect for those who travel long distances in a day and try to multi task while driving. Although the Arabian may not go to your home or office without specific instruction, it WILL go somewhere.

The Draft
Calling all soccer moms. This big guy can carry the whole team, their gear and snacks. Just like the big machines, this guy will require more fuel, and his shoes will be more expensive than the compact model.

The Western Pleasure
The right car for the high end white collar workers. This animal works harder and requires more special knowledge so only the best can figure this out. Be sure to take your cell phone. You won’t be stuck in traffic, you just won’t be getting anywhere fast.

The Parelli
Salesmen, stay at home moms, and high school kids will all enjoy this dream. You can load him down with flapping Wal-mart bags, ask him to walk in places a horse won’t fit, and you can dance with him as you listen to the latest tunes.

The Ranch
The most dependable animal available. He will go where ever you ask him to, at whatever speed is appropriate. You can tie him to the stop sign and he will be there when you get back. Best of all, this model has been specially engineered to be able to go without water for days and stay fat and slick by eating sagebrush and dead prairie grass.

~~~

Of course all models are available in base colors (sorrel, bay, black) Special order colors are available (dun, gray, palomino) and for an additional fee, custom paint jobs are also available (overo, tobiano, blanket, leopard).

No horse is sold with a warranty, however maintenance plans are available in the event brakes, steering, or accelerator fail.

~~~

Now’s your chance!  Shop early!
Gas prices are going up!

Hurry while supplies last!

Farewell Teddy …

 

Teddy
~~~
Rest In Peace

~~~

Sadly, Teddy, the little horse with the big heart that inspired and amazed us all was euthanized as a result of an injury in an accident at Karen and David O’Connor’s barn at The Plains, Virginia.

The O’Connors, in a brief statement, said: “Teddy got frightened and bolted. He slipped running back to the barn and suffered a severe laceration to his hind leg, severing the tendons and ligaments.

“Doctor A Kent Allen was on the scene immediately and it was determined after examination that the injuries were catastrophic.

“Everyone who knew Teddy is devastated.”

Teddy was a hot propect to attend the Olympics. The 13-year-old eventing super pony had defied the odds and gravity throughout his career.

Standing at just 14.1 hands, the Shetland/ Arabian/ Thoroughbred-cross gelding was the reigning Team and Individual Gold Medalist from the 2007 Pan American Games and had top-six finishes at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2007 and 2008.

He was the 2007 USEF Horse of the Year and had recently been named to the USEF Short List for Eventing for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Ridden by three-times Olympic veteran Karen O’Connor, Teddy developed a huge fan base.

“Seeing was believing with Teddy as it seemed impossible to imagine that a pony of his size could do his job with such tremendous ease,” the USEF said.

He will be greatly missed by all of his many admirers.

~~~

Earlier Post:   Super Pony With The Heart Of A Winner

News Link:

Right Out Of History: Wagon Trains Celebrate Minnesota 150th Anniversary

Minnesota Sesquicentennial Wagon Train

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The first weekend of May, Minnesota began the kickoff celebration of their historic past with the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train.

In all, about 85 people, on horseback and in covered wagons, buggies, surreys and one stagecoach are taking a week long,  100 mile journey, which will end Sunday at the State Capitol.

The arrival of the Sesquicentennial Wagon Train at the State Capitol is the linchpin for the kickoff for the state’s 150th birthday celebration.

The travelers started with two stuck wheels, a willful mule, a handful of skittish horses and a thrown rider. That was all before noon.

 A “green” horse three times took his driver off-road. A mule seeking his pasturemate took off, throwing his rider in the tall ditch grass.

When the group circled at noon, wagon master Olson was philosophical. I’m hoping for a better day tomorrow,” he said Monday. “The first day’s always an adjustment.”

Among the group were Pete Karpe who came from his farm in St. Francis, bringing his Percheron draft horses Trixie and Dixie, as well as his son, Mark, a capable, horse-mad 14-year-old.

Susan Longling, of Farmington, a confessed wagon-train addict, brought her Prince to pull the surrey she’d converted from her grandfather’s dairy (and bootleg liquor) cart.

As a strong sun broke through the crisp morning air, wagon master Jon Olson shouted, “Wagons, ho!” and the caravan rattled across the fairgrounds, onto the road.

Karpe had some trouble at the start, when the rig he drove became stuck in the mud. But once on the road, Dixie and Trixie easily caught pace with the group, their shod hooves ringing on the asphalt.

Townsfolk lined the streets of Cannon Falls, gathering before homes and shops to smile, wave and snap pictures.  A group of elementary kids held a hand-lettered sign: “Happy Birthday, Minnesota!”

This was “Americana” at its best!

The caravan continued, past bare fields and stands of cedar and elm.

Clay Christian the logistics man, said “We’ve got it easy”. “We’ve got county roads to go down, bridges to go across, no cliffs to take the wagons apart and lower ’em down.”

 The covered wagon is an icon of the American frontier. Still, in the 1850s, most arrived by water, via Mississippi steamboat.

From there, with the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the Mississippi behind them, settlers fanned out, often in wagons, all over the state.

The covered wagon was like the 19th century sport-utility vehicle, said Matt Anderson, a curator for the Minnesota Historical Society who specializes in transportation artifacts.

And contrary to the archetype, wagons weren’t meant for people. Usually, they were packed with luggage or cargo.

“Anybody who could walk, I’m sure did,” Anderson said.

Although the rigs at camp are more or less authentic, it’s hard to ignore some of the comforts of today: coolers, lawn chairs, RVs, digital cameras and the occasional chiming cell phone.

In spite of unexpected events along the way, when the ride was completed it was said that  “A bad day doing this is still better than a good day doing anything else.”

~~~

Re-written from news sources:

Horses In Transylvania ~ Protecting An Historic Way Of Life

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In Touch With The Past

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Transylvania, a well-preserved twilight zone of European history -a unique place in time – is about to slip away. 

The land that now lives in relative obscurity still remains closely connected to a medieval atmosphere with architecture treasures, history and a spirit worthy of preservation and protection. 

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It is a world away from the ravages of progress that too often has become the accepted way of life for the rest of the world.

In southern Transylvania, a high plateau of wooded hills and valleys shielded by the Carpathian mountains, where Saxon settlers and their descendants have farmed, traded and fought to preserve their land and traditions for more than 800 years,  life continues on as long ago. 

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With horse-drawn carriages and donkey carts rocking along the rutted roads and their drivers wearing handlebar moustaches and floppy felt hats, it has become a  time capsule for the Europe that was … over a century or more ago. 

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Great Britian’s Prince Charles wrote “The area represents a lost past for most of us – a past in which villages were intimately linked to their landscape.”

Not much happens in these villages. Depending on the season, most people are in the fields tilling or harvesting small plots of hay, oats and potatoes with horse-drawn implements handed down through generations.

The most common form of transport is the horse and cart, designed to carry crops, logs, people, sheep, tools, and anything else that needs to be moved. 

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However, time is changing for Romania.  Life is taking a dramatic jolt to the tranquility and link to the past.

With Romania’s entry into the EU earlier this year,  these village and communities now face monumental challenges and changes.

In hamlets where women still draw water from wells and shepherds guard their flocks by night from wolves, there is confusion and concern over impending rules and regulations that threaten their livelihoods.   

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Romania’s seven-year construction plan for the national motorway network means the Government needs to claim large sections of land, cutting through what has been unchanged for centuries.

Around 12.8 billion Euro is scheduled for investments in road infrastructure in the next seven years with 4 major highways crossing through the heart of Romania.

Authorities have issued laws banning horse-drawn carts from main roads in a disastrous attempt to bring the country into line with European Union laws.

Consequently, horses which for centuries have pulled wooden carts along the city’s streets or worked in the fields are now being abandoned by their owners.   

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The horses and their owners have become victims of a poorly conceived and politically derived path of progress.  And in the wake is the destruction of a hallowed way of life in Romania. 

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With a sense of preservation, plans could have been derived where both progress and the protection of the past could have dwelled together. 

That is, unfortunately, not the blueprint for the future of Romania.

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No one person knows about this enevitable devastation to land and lifestyle better than British Engineer and Equestrian, Julian Ross, owner and operator of the Stefan cel Mare, the longest-established equestrian centre in Romania.

Often quoted in various news media on the subject,  Mr. Ross states that the police have been too quick to blame animals for the high accident statistics.

As he clarifies, “The ban was slipped in stealthily,” he said. “There are some villages where farmers cannot legally get to their fields any more.”

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Not only was this lifestyle pretty to look at, it was the ideal method of transport and no danger to anyone in the quiet lanes of the village.

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The problem is that Romania’s horses and carts, adorned as they often are with bells and lace, are not just picturesque, they are a crucial way of life for many in the countryside.

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Julian Ross maintains a blogsite known as The Transylvanian Horseman. 

It is a must read for all those interested in a country and lifestyle whose touch with history is running out of time.

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For those who would like a personal trip by horseback through the historic beauties and serenity of Romania,  check this website for Stefan cel Mare.

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For those viewing Romania from home, enjoy these photographs taken by Julian Ross and remember this place and this time.

~~~
Photos posted by permission.
~~~

News Link:    The Guardian
News Link:   The Atlantic
News Link:  Business Week

Rancher On Horseback Finishes Ride Across America

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Bill Inman atop his horse Blackie
as riders in Hendersonville, N.C. welcome him

~~~

January 13, 2008

 An Oregon rancher who set off on a cross-country horseback ride seven months ago in search of what’s good in America dismounted Sunday, feeling encouraged by the spirit and stories of the people he met.

Bill Inman began his journey June 2 because he felt distress over how the country was being portrayed in news coverage and on TV shows. He rode his 16-year-old thoroughbred-quarter horse Blackie.

His wife, Brenda, and a four-person support crew joined him on the trip through eight states.

Along the way, Inman collected stories of hardworking, honest everyday people in rural America.

His cross cross-country trek was dubbedUncovering America by Horseback, a website that noted his experiences, including videos.

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The scenery in America is changing and I’m really proud we took snapshots at slow motion of this time period because 20 years from now it will be different,” he said.

Inman talks about the retired rancher in Idaho who he considers “a true image of America with his honesty and hospitality,” or people he’s met working multiple jobs to make ends meet, or another Idaho rancher e-mailing the progress of the journey to his son in Iraq.

“There is nothing like riding across the nation to learn about the people of this country,” he said.

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Among the people he met was a Wyoming deputy sheriff who drove 25 miles through a thunderstorm to bring dinner to him and his wife, and all 17 people of a Colorado town who came out to see him ride off.

An Idaho state trooper paid him $20 for the chance to sit on top of Blackie, he said.

“Sometimes, I was more intrigued by the stories they were telling than the stories I was telling,” Inman said.

Inman finished his trip riding into the southwestern North Carolina town under overcast skies. A crowd of more than 100 people greeted Inman as he ended the journey.

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Crossing the plains of Kansas

“I don’t know if that’s really sunk in yet. It may take me two or three days to think it’s over,” Inman said in a telephone interview.

Inman ticked off a list of what’s been bad about the trip — temperatures ranging from 108 degrees to freezing, pesky insects, water shortages, crossing mountains and desert and riding in a lightning storm. People aren’t on the list.

“I haven’t run into any bad people,” he said.

Inman bought Blackie in 2001. The two have clearly bonded.

“I know his capabilities and I know his flaws and I think he can say the same thing for me,” he said.  “Now if you think we’re constantly kissing buddies, I don’t think so.

Do I brag about him a lot? Yeah.”

~~~

Re-written from news sources: