Ride Photos

One of my favorite mementos from a ride, beyond t-shirts and buckets and other logo’d items, are ride photos.

If a photo is available, I buy it.There have only been a small number of rides I’ve been to where there has not been a photographer, and as a result, I have an entire album that is filled with photos. It’s one of my prized possessions, kept in an easy-to-grab location, and is worth hundred, if not thousands, of hours of memories.

Just for fun, I thought I would go through and post a photo from each ride that I have…the good, bad, and hilarious, from the beginning (March 2001) up through the most recent ride (Feb 2016).


Taxman. Estrella Mtn Park NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Goodyear, AZ. March 2001


Skip Me Gold (“Mimi”). First of Spring NATRC. Novice 1 Day. El Cajon, CA. April 2002


Skip Me Gold. Helen Logan River Romp NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Santa Ynez, CA. June 2002


Skip Me Gold. Descanso Desperados NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Descanso, CA. October 2002

[MISSING PHOTO: Skip Me Gold @ Sage Hill NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Santa Ynez, CA. November 2002.


Skip Me Gold. Estrella Mtn NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Goodyear, AZ. March 2003


Skip Me Gold. First of Spring NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Warner Springs, CA. April 2003


Skip Me Gold. Chino Hills NATRC. Novice 2 Day. Chino Hills, CA. April 2003


Skip Me Gold. Helen Logan River Romp NATRC. Novice 2 Day. Santa Ynez, CA. June 2003

[MISSING PHOTO: Skip Me Gold @ Descanso Desperados NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Descanso, CA. October 2003.]


Skip Me Gold. RAHA Rally NATRC. Novice 1 Day. Ramona, CA. October 2003


Skip Me Gold. Estrella Mtn NATRC. Competitive Pleasure 2 Day. Goodyear, AZ. March 2004


Skip Me Gold. First of Spring NATRC. Competitive Pleasure 1 Day. Warner Springs, CA. April 2004



Skip Me Gold. Man Against Horse 25. Prescott, AZ. October 2005


Skip Me Gold. Land of the Sun 25. Wickenburg, AZ. January 2006

[MISSING PHOTO: Zander Syene @ Old Pueblo 50. Sonoita, AZ. March 2006.]


Skip Me Gold. Desert Forest Spring NATRC. Competitive Pleasure 2 Day. Wickenburg, AZ. March 2006

[MISSING PHOTO: Skip Me Gold @ First of Spring NATRC. Competitive Pleasure 1 Day. Warner Springs, CA. April 2006.]

[MISSING PHOTO: Skip Me Gold @ Man Against Horse 25. Prescott, AZ. October 2006.]


Skip Me Gold. Las Cienegas 25/25. Sonoita, AZ. December 2006


Skip Me Gold. Desert Forest Spring NATRC. Competitive Pleasure 2 Day. Wickenburg, AZ. March 2007


Skip Me Gold. First of Spring NATRC. Competitive Pleasure 1 Day. Warner Springs, CA. April 2007


Skip Me Gold. Descanso Desperados NATRC. Competitive Pleasure 2 Day. Descanso, CA. May 2007

[MISSING PHOTO: Skip Me Gold @ Man Against Horse 25. Prescott, AZ. October 2007.]


Skip Me Gold. Land of the Sun 50. Wickenburg, AZ. January 2008

[MISSING PHOTO: Skip Me Gold @ Devil Dog 60. Williams, AZ. June 2008.]

[MISSING PHOTO: Skip Me Gold @ Man Against Horse 50. Prescott, AZ. October 2008.]


JM Scatez Harley. Land of the Sun 25. Wickenburg, AZ. January 2009


Skip Me Gold. Valley of the Sun 50. Fountain Hills, AZ. February 2009


Skip Me Gold. Man Against Horse 50. Prescott, AZ. October 2009


Skip Me Gold. Valley of the Sun Turkey Trot 50. Fountain Hills, AZ. November 2009


Skip Me Gold. Land of the Sun 50. Wickenburg, AZ. January 2010


Brahma PFF. AHAA Halloween Ride 30. Fountain Hills, AZ. October 2010

[MISSING PHOTO: Rushcreek Thor @ Resolution Ride 30. Rio Verde, AZ. December 2010.]


Kodaakhrom. Fire Mountain 30. Ridgecrest, CA. January 2013


Rocco. Old Pueblo 55. Sonoita, AZ. March 2013


French Splendor. Old Pueblo 50. Sonoita, AZ. March 2013


Rocco. Prescott Chaparral 55. Skull Valley, AZ. April 2013


Liberterra (“Liberty”). Prescott Chaparral 30. Skull Valley, AZ. April 2013

[MISSING PHOTO: Rocco @ Ride the Divide 55. Socorro, NM. May 2013.]


Kodaakhrom. Bill Thornburgh Friends & Family 30/25. Inyokern, CA. October 2013


Liberterra. Lead, Follow or Get Out of My Way @ Bumble Bee 25. Bumble Bee, AZ. January 2014

2016-Bumble Bee proofs-0468

Liberterra. Lead, Follow or Get Out of My Way @ Bumble Bee 25. Bumble Bee, AZ. January 2016


Liberterra. Wickenburg’s Land of the Sun 25. Wickenburg, AZ. February 2016

Special thanks to photographers: Cristy Cumberworth, Jane Grey, Cheryl Erpelding, Ray Brezina, Vern Wingert, Laura Bovee, Dean Stanton, Robyn Burgess, Steve Bradley, Tony Wilkie, and Susan Kordish.

‘Plan’ is a four-letter word

And I think it’s also a jinx trigger. Quick, someone give my a synonym for “plan” so that I can still discuss upcoming things I would like to do and have tentatively attached to my calendar.

“Things I would like to do” is a mouthful. “Commitments” is too “set in concrete” for something as changeable and unpredictable as horse activities. “Opportunity” is just that — a chance to do something, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to do it.

Or I just take up voodoo ritual and use all of the gremlins that keep targeting me and my calendar full of opportunities and things I would like to do.

antigremlin copy

no more. you are not cute. you are an annoying nuisance and I’m sick of you interfering with my life.

They’re PLANS, dammit, and I am not going to let myself get sucked into some mental superstition that says if I cross my fingers three times, trip over the backyard rock, walk backwards around a purple-flowering shrub, and hide a toenail under a mushroom that everything will be magically better.

The gremlins just need to find another target.

So I was supposed to head over to the local NATRC ride this weekend with Mimi and do the fun ride…which then got canceled due to lack of entries…so I arranged to drag ride part of the trail on Sunday, so we’d still get out and participate in an event (smart pony knows the difference between an event and a training ride).

And then one of the horses at the barn starting showing some suspicious, strangles-like symptoms. And since the potential to spread any contagious disease around a public venue tends to make one extremely unpopular, the barn owner decided it would be best to keep all horses on the property, even if we’re not actually sure if it’s strangles or not.

Better safe than sorry, I get that…especially having been at a couple of barns when strangles went through.

But why did it have to be the one weekend I had a chance to go do something with my pony?!?!

Theoretically I’m supposed to attend the Bumble Bee ride this weekend. Theoretically, there were several rides I was supposed to attend in a riding capacity last year, and those plans all got gremlinized. I was hoping 2016 would be different, but this is not the start I was hoping for.

I thought about doing a “getting ready for ride season” post, but that just seems like it would be waving the red flag in front of the already-pissed-off bull. So maybe I’ll just not do anything, and wait until I get a text from my horse-provider for Bumble Bee that they’re actually on the road — no, wait, make that at ridecamp, so I know their vehicle hasn’t broken down along the way — before throwing stuff in a car and driving there.

Seriously, gremlins. Just go the #*@% away.


“Yeah, what my mom said. Go away or I’ll pony-punt you across the pasture, and then drag you back to my stall and use you as kick-padding against the wall.”

Then and Now

From this: 
March 2001
Estrella Mtn NATRC
photo by Cristy Cumberworth
To this:
January 2014
Bumble Bee 25
photo by Susan Kordish

Coming up on 14 years of a lot of blood, sweat, tears, miles, and above all, learning. May my capacity to learn never cease, and the wisdom provided by horses keep coming.

cover girls

Not too long after we started distance riding, one of Mimi’s and my ride photos was the cover page for the Long Riders Gear (now Riding Warehouse) catalog. I think it was one of the 2003 catalogs, since the photo was from 2002.

We were both babies then…Mimi was 9, I was 16. I chuckle a bit that yes, at one time, I actually started with basic black tack. (As I gaze now at my current tack hooks loaded with all things purple and orange and colorful… :))

Looking back, it makes me smile…I had us loaded down for a safari expedition with bags and packs…all for one 20-mile NATRC ride. This was only our second ride…we were both still learning. (Witness Ashley riding in paddock boots and Mimi pulling to go faster…well, at least one of us learned, since someone still likes to pull at opportune moments.)

That was the Helen Logan River Romp ride, held in Santa Ynez, CA…still one of the prettiest rides I’ve done.

I was so glad I found this the other day during my magazine sorting. All sorts of happy memories.

First of Spring 2002

I was sorting through my flash drive today and found where I had scanned a ton of my ride photos taken by professional photographers and saved them. I thought I had lost them when my *$%!& computer crashed in November, but apparently I did a better job of backing up certain things than I thought (we’ll not talk about all the other pictures, and steno software realtime translation dictionary, and writing that I lost). That got me thinking about how I’ve wanted to start trying to put together stories, even vague snippets, of my early rides. This seems to be as good a place as any to start…

So for your entertainment, I present to you, Mimi’s and my first NATRC ride together. This is the First of Spring ride, held in Alpine (just outside San Diego, around El Cajon), CA, in April 2002.

She would have been around 9, and we had been training for distance riding since summer of 2001. Dad’s foxtrotter mare Kelly had come down with EPM in the spring of 2001, and it was a slow road to recovery, bringing her back up to strength. We would literally trailer out to one of the trailheads, tack up, ride for half a mile out, then come back. We really embraced the idea of Long, Slow Distance training.

Fortunately, Mimi and I also had 4 years of POA show training behind us. POA shows were all-day affairs, starting at 6a.m. and usually not wrapping up until 9 or 10p.m., and we were riding all day long. Western classes, including pleasure, equitation, showmanship, reining, and trail; English classes, including pleasure, equitation, and jumping; gymkhana, usually 6-8 different events. Yeah, we were nuts. But it was a great foundation in stamina and endurance. And eating and drinking under stress. (This one was more for me, not the pony. To this day, I still have no problem chowing down on food in the middle of a ride, and it likely harkens back to my mother stuffing mini-muffins and anything she could get her hands on in my mouth as I’m spazzing out over a jumping class.)

FoS was a one day ride, and we were riding the Novice division, which was a total of about 20 miles. We were fortunate enough to be camped next to one of my best friends, Kaity, whom I had shown with in POA. Her POA Sonny is actually a cousin to Mimi, although they look nothing alike. Kaity had been riding NATRC for a couple years ahead of me, so she was able to give me a lot of tips and pointers.

The rest of the story gets kind of fuzzy, as it was seven years ago, and time has dulled some of the more colorful moments. I recall check-in being fairly easy…we had showmanship and halter training to instill good ground manners (kind of). Ride day, however, started out very interesting. Alpine is close enough to San Diego to catch the morning fog that comes in off the ocean. The trail headed out next to a paved road that wound back though some horse properties, by some avocado trees, and then it turned into a wide dirt fire road that wound its way down into the base of a canyon area.

Mimi discovered the joys of jigging 1/4 mile into the ride. We jigging down the canyon. We jigged across the floor of the canyon, whcih sort of went out, then looped back around through some oak trees and tall grass, where the ride photos were taken. We jigged back up the canyon to a P&R stop. We pulsed down, actually stood for mounting, then jigged our way the last 1/2 mile back to camp for lunch.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I went to drag myself back into the saddle after lunch, but I think it was probably something along the lines of “What am I thinking?” And we continued to jig. Down the side of a 2-lane paved road, with cars going by at least every 2-3 minutes. *sigh* We finally got off the road, onto a double-track road that sort of went up and down through a couple little hills, then onto a single track that stitchbacked its way down a very steep canyon. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was to be the start of my Tevis training and exposure to narrow dropoff trails…*grin*

And Mimi is still jigging. Inexperienced at distance and trail riding I might have been, but even I knew not to get into an argument with her on the side of a cliff, so she got to merely jig along with her head stuffed up Kelly’s tail until we made it down to the bottom, where she stopped jigging long enough to drink from the little stream flowing there.

We jigged our way another 1/2 mile or so to the second P&R check. We pulsed down, although not as well as the first one. (Hmmm, do you think the jigging is starting to catch up?) She deined to walk out of the P&R and back up the switchback trail. At this point, we caught up to Kaity, and rode with her the rest of the way back into camp, the same way we had come out for the second section. Oh, yes, and after a brief couple miles of walking, she jigged her way back into camp. *sigh*

The most amazing thing? Her back wasn’t the slightest bit sore. We both came out with first place for Novice Junior in Horsemanship and Horse. I was completely staggered, and so proud of her! The next morning, my shoulders and arms were so sore, and I wasn’t feeling quite so complimentary. But I had a six hour drive back home to nurse my sore muscles.

Man, writing that up makes me realize one thing: “You’ve come a long way, baby!” And that’s for both of us. A closer look at the picture will reveal: a Myler level 3 semi-jointed ported kimberwicke and running martingale; Big Horn barrel saddle with the horn still intact; massively stuffed saddle packs; waaaay too many rider layers; crappy paddock boots (actually, they’re a pair of nice Ariats I still own, just bad for trail riding and gaining any kind of traction on dirt). The stuffed pommel and cantle packs for a 20 mile ride still crack me up. Ironically, it took me until endurance to start realizing I didn’t need to pack half the cavalry with me. The joy of crew bags in endurance. :)

It’s pretty amazing…I remember a lot of odd details about that ride. I guess a first ride kind of burns an impression in your memory. Hope y’all enjoyed a little blast from the ride history past!