2017 Grizzly Mtn Ride Wrap Up

I have a few things to say about the ride…obviously, but I want to start with lost and found though so it doesn’t get lost in the mix.


UPDATE! Both headstalls and the hoof boot have been claimed and will be reunited with their owners!

Does anyone recognize these headstalls? They were both left in the vet area in camp. A black Renegade boot was also left there. Any takers?

They’re pretty nice! I’d be crying by now if I had lost one of these. Contact me if one of them is yours so I can get it back to you! Same with the hoof boot!


Jessica Wynne was our ride photographer, and she got some spectacular shots! Because she is also my daughter, and the mother of my two awesome grandsons, she and my son in law, Justin stayed over for Easter, much to my joy! They headed home today, Monday, so you can expect to see her pictures posted to her Smugmug account any time.

Your ride photos are available here:


Jess photos

Thank you for your patience!


Last year when Max and I decided to go ahead and take the reins to the Grizzly Mtn Ride, we knew we wanted to sort of do what we did at the Mt Adams Ride. Take a great ride and make it even better, if possible.  We foolishly thought that the Grizzly Mtn Ride would be substantially easier than the Mt Adams Ride. HA!! WRONG!

Max dealt with all of the USFS wrangling and I am so glad he did! I just don’t have the moral fortitude for the paperwork and “stuff” that goes into getting the permits to ride on public lands. Max is a born negotiator though and did a superb job of dealing with the local office in Prineville. We did find out, through this experience, that there is more than one department in that office and the departments don’t communicate well at all. Just a few weeks prior to the ride we found a bunch of juniper trees felled right into our trail! A quick get together of PNER friends cleared up that problem.

3-18-17 Grizzly Trail Work Crew
The Grizzly Mtn Trail Gang! PNER Members, Elayne Barclay, Leonard Bottleman, Max Merlich, Holly and Les Rouska and Darlene Anderson, flanked by Blake and Rocky, AND Adakai!

The easiest part of the Grizzly Mtn Ride, this year, was finding a new ridecamp, since teh old one is for sale now. Sara and Roger Miller willingly and happily “donated” space for us! They are located right on the trail, so it was a no brainer!


The view of ridecamp from atop Kathleen Ferguson’s trailer!

We began marking the trails about a week ahead of the ride, finishing the last trail on Thursday before the ride.

Low and behold, reports came in on Saturday morning (yes, ride day!) that a portion of our trail had been obliterated by the infamous juniper eradication crew!

Fortunately, the riders going through there showed some finely tuned critical thinking skills and made their way through the fallen trees. I thank you all for that! We were so excited about this new trail! I feel like the moment was ruined by this, but hardly anyone complained! Thank you for that!

I am very particular, as a ride manager, about how things get done at “my” ride. From the way the camp is laid out, how the trot lanes work out, where the waters are set, whether or not there are enough porta-potties, and most especially, how the trail is marked.  I’ll just say it, trail markings are probably my biggest AR hang-up. I am SO particular about how the trails get marked!

A little example of my Ride Manager thinking:

With regards to trail marking:

  1. Use easily identified ribbon that can be differentiated from a different trail’s ribbon. (i.e. stripes, solids, checks, etc.)
  2. On common trail going the same direction, ribbons must be next to one another, or within close proximity…like within a foot of one another.
  3. On common trail that goes opposite directions, ribbons must be hung across from one another or as close to that as possible. (More easily done at Mt Adams in the woods, than at Grizzly Mtn…in the desert. Gah)
  4. Yellow CAUTION ribbon marks a turn.
  5. On common trail, the CAUTION ribbon should be with the ribbon that is turning, so as not to confuse riders as to which color is turning.
  6. Signs! Signs are not overrated. Pie plates are great, but a stake driven into the ground with a laminated legible sign (i.e. waterproof!) and an arrow is worth a big bunch.

With regards to participant comfort and happiness:

  1. Feed your riders!
  2. Feed your riders on Friday night, prior to the ride meeting, so they all come!
  3. Do not feed your riders potluck. There are too many people who ditch potlucks because they don’t trust the food. Understandable.
  4. Feed your volunteers! Feed them a lot, keep them happy so they want to come back!
  5. Have porta potties, or equivalent (sanitary equivalent!).
  6. Have a central fire, if allowed. Great gathering point.
  7. Have a sound system! A new one for me. EDRA has purchased a nice little battery operated sound system for the rides to borrow. Wow…it was cool. I love it. The people in the back could hear the meeting!
  8. Give decent awards. This does not equate to money spent, it equates to, “Wow, this is so cool!”
  9. Have an awesome vendor, like American Trail Gear, there to have those items we all forget! Thank you Diana Seager!
  10. Be open to things changing in an instant and be ready to flex!

That’s just a small sampling of how I drive Max crazy with my expectations of how a ride “should” be managed.

Awards made by Jesse Craig in Redmond, OR.


Woody, Celena, and Chris did an amazing job of feeding the people. The salads were fresh and delicious, the beer was a bonus, and the beef, well, it was stupendous. (Max and I brought out some “Chuck” for your dining pleasure). Thank you! We are so happy to be able to support local business!

Landmark Catering did an awesome job!
Woody and Celena, who own the Sandwich Factory and Landmark Catering in Prineville, did an outstanding job of feeding the riders on Friday evening! Hamburgers, veggie burgers, brats, and all the fixins! Oh, and beer too!

Before I go any further, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to every single rider, crew member, friend, foe, family member, acquaintance, etc, who decided to take a leap of faith and jump out of their comfort zone this past weekend. The Equine Distance Riding Association (EDRA) is very much an infant organization, but as has been stated before, it was founded by some folks with decades of experience in distance riding horses. It also has a few new comers to our sport that decided to have faith and take the membership leap as well. There are some kinks to work out in the EDRA fabric, and there were some very special moments at the Grizzly Mtn Ride. I saw members of the TYM relay discussing some things, I saw the veterinarians and ride secretary working hard to get used to a different, but similar competition format. I had other PNER/AERC ride managers out volunteering, and even helping pull ribbon! I saw people coming together for a common greater good! I saw people who had been very vocal about their opposition to a new organization put their personal feelings aside, and come to the ride anyhow, and like it! One of the major perks of having our ride be EDRA sanctioned, is that all EDRA rides have a Steward. Someone who makes sure the rules are followed. The steward also goes into immediate conflict resolution if there is a problem. This will prove to be an invaluable addition to any ride, I predict. I appreciate every single person who came out and supported Max and I’s decision to “go EDRA” this year. We don’t regret it one bit! We hope you don’t either.

Riders raising a toast to a new beginning!

I saw our PNER community come together quickly when one of our own, Chuck Cowan, suffered a life threatening health crisis early Friday morning, necessitating a trip to St Charles in Bend in a helicopter. Fellow riders helped get the rig packed back up, gave Theresa hugs and moral support, and sent her dad off with prayers for a recovery from a very dire situation.  That’s the sort of thing that continues to make me proud to be a PNER member. Hugs and much good mojo your way, Chuck. Hopefully you’ll be on a horse again soon. Not too soon…but soon enough. Theresa, you’re a great daughter, showing a grace under pressure that is commendable. You did right by your dad and your ponies. I know he must appreciate it very much.

At the ride meeting, the two 75 mile riders agreed to start with the 50’s, which meant we all got to sleep in a bit! The start was very chilly! There was a heavy frost on the ground that resembled a light snow fall!

I even heard tell of a frozen banana. The sun was out though, and moods were jubilant! People were happy to be emerging from a long and tedious winter. Some riders even drove a really long ways to be here. About as far as Max and I drove to ride the Nevada Derby! Why you ask? Because she wanted to be a part of the very first EDRA event.  That made us very happy! It warmed up nicely though and turned out to be a banner day in many respects. I even went short sleeved for a bit.

Ridecamp landowner, and Out Check Queen, Sara Miller!
The first place awards, donated by Sabiq Arabian Ranch!


Our ride secretary, Anna Sampson, is inarguabley (is that a word? I decree that it is, if it isn’t already) the best Ride Secretary, EVER, was having technical difficulties with her printer. She is so kind to us that she took the time to go all old school and write out the results for me so I had them at the ride meeting. Thank you Anna!

Trail results
These are the riders who rode the trail ride. Thanks for coming out!
50 mile results
We had 24 start the 55 miler and 18 finished. Congratulations to Dick Root and his mare, Ali, for earning the Best Condition Award!

25 mile results - 2

25 mile results

There were 36 signed up for the 30 miler with 30 completing. Stace Moss and his Medicine Hat horse, Topper, earned the Best Condition Award!

Two riders on the 75, Dennis Summers and Sanoma Blakely. Dennis and his horse Jagger won and took home the Best Condition Award.

Dennis Summers and Jagger, overall and BC winner in the 80.

New to the Distance Riding format, the EDRA Test Your Mettle Relay made its debut! Four teams signed up this year. I’m sorry, I sent my sheet with Guy Cheek so he could get the awards that weren’t picked up to the right people.

TYM Relay Results:

1st Place: Team A: Sue Summers & Jennifer Kaplan

Tie for 2nd Place: Team D: Jo Weinstein & Tom Dean

Tie for 2nd Place: Team C: Sandy Cheek & Sue McLain

DNC:  Team B: Kathleen Ferguson & Kendal Ingraham

*Sorry, I don’t have the combined times, but Sandy Cheek should. I sent the paper with her and her hubby.

**I didn’t post pics of everyone in the relay because I have categorically stolen most all of the pictures posted! (PS, send me a few!)


These folks all bent over backwards, went above and beyond to help us get this ride off the ground.

Roger and Sara Miller, Carol Giles, Ron Sproat, Elayne Barclay, Leonard Bottleman, Les & Holly Rouska, Kristen Maholland-Grace, Darcy Bean-Hollander, Charleen Farrell, Jesse Craig, Celena Pentrack, Woody Stevens, Dennis and Sue Summers, Dr Cassee Terry, Dr Kelley Jones, Dr Susan Dent, Anna Sampson, Mary Nunn, Jo Weinstein, Jessica Wynne, Lois Fox, Suzy Zurcher, and most importantly, Dennis and Linda Tribby for trusting us with “their” ride.

I know I have forgotten more than one of those who worked so hard to make this ride happen. When I remember you, I’ll add you to the list, because I want you to know how much I, we, sincerely appreciate everything you did to make this ride happen. It really and truly does take a village.

I stated at the start of this missive that we quite mistakenly though this ride would be substantially easier to get off the ground than Mt Adams was. Oh boy…maybe we’ll feel that way in about 5 years. That’s about how long it took for us to feel like we had some sort of rhythm going with Mt Adams.

One last time, thank you so much, to all the riders who showed up to…just ride. We appreciate it, and because of your faith in us, we’ll be back. I’ve always believed that,


However, I’ve always felt a little like, oh wow, what if this happens?

If You Build it They Will Come... Just Kidding...

But it never has! Because I think the take home message isn’t to just build it, but build it right. Put a solid foundation under it. That’s when the magic happens.

Build it they come

Oh, and a little of this…


We’ll continue to build because you continue believe in us. That is huge, and it’s worthwhile.

And now, lastly, and sadly, my least favorite award to give out…


Anyone who has attended one of the rides I manage knows that I have some pretty high expectations of not only myself, as a ride manager, but equally of the people who attend any ride. I expect riders and their crews to be polite, sportsmanlike and cordial. I also realize that things sometimes get out hand when there is the pressure of competition combined. That said, I expect riders to show common courtesy and admit their faults and more importantly show some class when they find out they may have made a mistake or perhaps insulted someone they didn’t intend to insult. I’m getting wordy here, so I’ll cut to the chase. I expect riders to behave like adults and give one another common courtesy. Making obscene gestures to another rider who is attempting to keep you on trail is unacceptable! Blowing a turn and allegedly refusing to go back and do the trail correctly is grounds for disqualification. However, this was a perfect opportunity for the EDRA Steward, Lois Fox, to go gather some intel, and decide what to do. The offended party chose not to pursue the matter, even though it probably cost her a few placings. Thank you for being a good sport. You know who you are.

4 thoughts on “2017 Grizzly Mtn Ride Wrap Up

  1. Darlene and Max you both did an outstanding job of putting on the very first EDRA ride. Thank you and all your crew for the hard, hard work you all did to make this happen.


  2. i love how you write about the weekend! you guys did a fantastic job and have set the bar high. be assured that i will be asking you MANY questions about how to build my ride here in montana. thank you for a wonderful weekend.


  3. Thank you for an outstanding ride. This was my first ride and have no comparison but everything I needed or wanted was provided and laid out well. Everyone I met was welcoming and helpful. I know there is so much involved behind the scenes in successfully hosting an event like this. Kudos to you and the local team who made it happen!


  4. Darlene and Max, thank you for an excellent ride. I wanted my training buddy, McKenna, with her 27-year-young Morab Nicky, to experience the atmosphere of camaraderie and horse-love that is an endurance ride. We did the trail ride both Friday and Saturday – a total of 25 miles ridden and 600 driven! All the way home, McKenna was talking about “the next ride”, so what a great job you did! The scenery and trails were beautiful, the trail markings were perfect, and today we have the awesome bonus of fantastic photos by Jessica to keep forever! Super job!


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