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2020 Antelope Island


Ridecamp
Day 1
Day 2


2020 Antelope Island - Merri Melde

Wednesday September 20 2020
by Merri Melde

It was a bummer when the Antelope Island endurance ride (on Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake, Utah) was cancelled in April due to COVID-19, but it was the State Park people who contacted ride manager Jeff Stuart in the fall and asked him if he wanted to put on the ride then. Jeff was able to scramble together a date and plan, and for the first time in memory (not counting the AERC National Championships in 2016) Antelope Island happened this last weekend in September. We all remembered “Aunt” Shirley Fox, who’s been an integral part of this ride since the beginning over 30 years ago. She passed away suddenly last fall, and she left a big hole behind her.

Driving in on Friday the whole area was blanketed in the wildfire smoke that’s been plaguing the West the last couple of months and hampering training and riding and living conditions for so many people. But by Friday evening the smoke had cleared from the island and surrounding mountain ranges, revealing the familiar scenic mountain and lake views that make this ride so spectacular.

But wait - what happened to the Great Salt Lake?! Due to thirsty humans, the water level has receded so far you can only see the blue water in the distance, even if you are standing on the (ex-)shoreline of Ridecamp on White Rock Bay. The thirsty humans aren’t drinking the salty water itself, but sucking almost dry the in-flowing rivers before they get there. The water is almost 11 feet lower than in it was 10 years ago and shrinking more than a foot a year. It’s noticeably lower than it was at the ride just a year and a half ago.

Because it wasn’t buffalo calving season, day 1 trails took riders on the southwest side of the island, where the ride rarely gets to go.

Days 1 and 2 had a rider limit due to state COVID restrictions on gatherings. Day 1 was right at the limit, but only about half the riders hit the trail on day 2, which always seems to happen on the multi-days, even in this weird ride season.

Here are some highlights of this year’s ride:


Sunsets were just amazing! You can pretty much count on one every night.


Young Rider Alex Shampoe from Colorado Springs, who has an envious habit of pick-up riding, pick-up rode the 50s, finishing 7th on Day 1 aboard BH Chief, and 4th aboard DWA Malik on Day 2.


Christoph Schork was a familiar face in the 50-mile ’winner’s circle’, finishing first on both days, aboard aboard GE Atticus Golden Sun and GE Haatra (and Best Condition). One of his awards was a dozen fresh chicken eggs from Tonya's chickens!


Gayle Pena and Bo achieved Decade Team after day 1’s 50 - at least one 50-mile ride over 10 years. Congrats!


Diane and John Stevens made the journey from Northern California. They both rode and finished both days of 50s. Titan, ridden by John, got his 3000 miles.


Nina Bomar and Juan traveled all the way from southern California to finally do an endurance ride this year. Nimo did his first 50-mile ride on Day 1, and Saudii did Day 2. Of course Juan made his famous tacos, and a couple other meals, one of which I was lucky enough to time just right!


THERE WAS AN ICELANDIC HORSE AT THE RIDE!!!!

“He’s fresh off the boat,” William Marshall said of Kvistor. It brought back memories of my 8-day ride in Iceland last fall aboard Icelandic horses for 300+ kilometers, one of THE. BEST. adventures of my life.

Kvistor was tired after his first 25-mile ride, and I’m sure William was like, OK, enough already, because I couldn’t keep my hands off his horse, but I had to photobomb him!

Kudos to Jeff and Tonya Call Me Annie Stroud Oakes and Gary Oakes and Terri Williams, and the crew/recruited Dave Goodwin, the vets, and all those enthusiastic vet students, and all the other volunteers, for pulling off another great edition of Antelope Island.



Per State/Island/AERC guidelines you will be required to wear a Mask/Social Distance while in a group setting, RM Area and Vet Checks. Please be kind to all around you when it comes to a mask. I know we all have different opinions on the issue, but we have worked very hard to get this ride on the calendar and would like to have a great weekend for all.

Dogs!!! Jeff and I Love dogs, but the Island has a Very Strict Dog rule about leashes.. We always seem to have that one or two dogs that their owner seems to let them run free. PLEASE make sure your dogs are not free running at any given time. We do not want to loose what we have on the Island because of this issue. PS The Dog Leash Ticket is over $100 if you happen to get one for a loose dog.

We will have a limited number of Porta Potties (we will NOT be cleaning them in between people) in camp so if you are self contained the Island does have a FREE Pottie Dump station on the beach side on your way on/off the island.

We will have horse water available at RideCamp and at Vet Checks, but NO water to fill LQ tanks or use loosely. We will have bottled water as needed in RideCamp and Vet Check, but please bring what people water you will need for your camp.

Bugs have been very light on the Island as I have been riding out there. I do not expect there to be bugs at the end of Sept, but as always when coming to the Island be prepared just in case.

I will be setting up RideCamp the Thursday before the ride and if you will be arriving on Thursday please send me a note or email (cm.annie@yahoo.com) because there will be some instructions that you will need. This is for Thursday only. The gate to the Island is closed from Dusk to Dawn so please plan on arriving during daylight hours.

We are still working on a Sat meal, but other than that please bring what food you will need for your camp. I will have snacks at my trailer if needed or maybe you just need a little sugar boost. We are trying to navigate with COVID-19 and what we can/can not do. If possible I will try and have a (Free to all) pancake breakfast on Friday Morning to get you going for the weekend ahead. We had a great time at the pancake breakfast for Big Horn.

We will have a dumpster in RideCamp because all trace of your camp and your horse(s) has to be picked upped before you leave. We will have trash bags at my trailer free for use for the weekend.

We will be posting more information as the ride gets closer, but if you have any questions at all please just send Jeff or myself a message and we will give the an answer as best as we can....


2019 Antelope Island: One of the Country's Most Beautiful Rides

by Merri Melde
April 19 2019

You get a little bit of everything at the Antelope Island Endurance ride (it was around the 35th year of the event) on Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake in Utah: sun, clouds, rain, hail, wind, thunderstorms, absolutely perfect weather; trails both easy and challenging; and wildlife - birds and antelope and buffalo.

And you get a lot of scenery. No matter which direction or what part of the 14-by-5 mile island you're riding, the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking, with the Great Salt Lake on all sides, and different snow-covered mountain ranges in all directions. The island has its own peak, 6596-foot Mt Frary, which often wakes up with a dusting of snow on its peak and ridges. I have not been to all the beautiful endurance rides I want to ride or shoot, but Antelope Island ranks in my top five of most scenic rides in the country.

Every endurance ride has some unexpected events that riders and management have to deal with on the fly, and this year's Antelope Island ride was no exception. For example, ride manager Jeff was suddenly grounded from all ATV use (he may or may not tell you all this story one day :), and young volunteer Colby saved the day by biking some 10 miles early Saturday morning in a hailstorm to mark the last bit of trail. Then there was the loose horse late Saturday morning that ride manager Jeff got to climb aboard and ride down from the top of the island back to Ridecamp (the dis-mounted Junior doing her first ride was unhurt, but disappointed). And don't forget the loose cantering 2-day 100-mile horse that the ride photographer (me!) caught near the end of day 2, where the rider was unhurt, and was able to re-unite with the horse and finish the 100.

Head veterinarian Mel got biffed in the nose during vetting in on Friday (and veterinarian Jessica slipped right in there to fill in), and sported a broken nose and black eye(s) the rest of the weekend, but that didn't seem to faze her a bit since she already was sporting a concussion from a previous event. Another rider got biffed in the nose by her mount, and probably broke it, but completed her Saturday ride.

You could watch a great variety of horse breeds at the ride: Arabians of course, mules, Missouri Fox Trotters, mustangs, palominos, appaloosas, paints, pony mixes, gypsy vanners, Standardbred, Thoroughbred.

Dr Kathleen Crandall, ph.D. from Kentucky Equine Research, came to give a horse nutrition talk, and she got to slip out on a 25-mile AERC ride for the first time since 2003, and to volunteer the rest of the weekend.

For the Day 1 photos, Jeff had in mind a little out-and-back climb to the top of the island at Beacon Hill Knob Spur, for a historical photo at the site of an old line cabin that ranchers used back in the mid-1800's to mid-1900's for shelter when working cattle on the island. (Of course, the island has erected a state-of-the-art communications tower and building not 6 feet from the shack, I guess so that the shack does not get lonely!) And lucky me, it is now occupied by a pair of nesting Ravens, who spooked off the nest, and entertained me throughout the morning with their aerobatics between riders.

On top there by the shack, in the perfect weather window there's a view across the lake to the snow-covered mountains in the east…. which we mostly didn't see because of the hailstorm and thick clouds. Every 10 minutes the weather changed - often different for each rider that came by - and clouds and mountains played hide-and-seek around the island. One set of dark gray clouds boiled like water in a tea kettle, above a low strip of sunshine. Mt Frary ducked above and in and under clouds and fog.

You have the option of several different rides over the 2-day weekend: an Intro trail ride on Saturday, and 25-milers, 50 milers, or a 2-day 100.

39 started the 25-miler on day 1 with 32 finishing. Amy Goodwin and Bubba Gump won in 3:05. 6th place Marc Lindsay and Bazooka Blue got Best Condition. 20 started the 50 miler with 19 finishing. Suzy Hayes aboard Sanstormm, and Jennifer Kaplan aboard Rushcreek Fiscus tied for first in 6:37, with Sanstormm getting Best Condition.

On Day 2, 18 started the 30-miler with 14 finishing. Dana Cervak and Bubba Gump won in 5:14, with 3rd place Amy Goodwin getting Best Condition aboard Bazooka Blue. 7 started the 50 with 6 finishing. Jacob Cukjati won aboard Melika Kamaal in 5:34, with second place Suzy Hayes and Atlas getting Best Condition. Take note: 23,700+ mile Suzy Hayes has some 80 Best Conditions under her endurance girths, with 15 of them earned by Atlas and 4 by Sanstormm.

4 started the 2-day 100, with 3 finishing. Christoph Schork and GE Danex won in 12:57.16 and got Best Condition. Chetty Crowley finished her first 100, finishing second aboard GE RR Jazz Dancer (the riderless horse I caught as he cantered by me!) in 13:36.17. Third was Tennessee Lane and her golden Thor in 14:33.

Antelope Island is in a sweet spot on the ride calendar with sweet trails. If your horse isn't quite conditioned from the winter, the trails are challenging enough to put some conditioning on him. If he is fit, there are plenty of trails you can move out on. And there's the scenery - it's worth the trip just to camp out or crew if you don't want to ride (but who wouldn't want to ride!).

Put it on your calendar for next year!

Official ride photos are here:
https://www.theequestrianvagabond.com/Clients-Endurance


Dr Kathleen Crandell To Be Guest Speaker at Antelope Island Endurance Ride, Utah


Camille Champagne photo

March 7 2019

"Some exciting news about the upcoming 2019 Antelope Island endurance ride," said ride manager Jeff Stuart. "Dr. Kathleen Crandell from Kentucky Equine Research has graciously agreed to come and speak about Endurance horse nutrition. We are so excited to have her come and share a career worth of knowledge with us. She will be riding the 25 mile ride on Saturday 13 April and speaking later that evening. You don't want to miss it."

Antelope Island will be held April 13 and 14.

For more information and to pre-register, see https://antelopeislandride.weebly.com/


2018 Antelope Island - by Merri Melde

April 19 2018

There aren’t too many endurance rides that rival the combination of challenging trails and a spectacular scenic setting for Ridecamp and the ride trails than the Antelope Island 2-day endurance ride on Antelope Island State Park in the middle of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. With lake views from almost every trail, and Frary Peak lording over the island at 6596 feet, any direction you look can take your breath away. “Antelope Island is a little like Mongolia and a lot like the foothills of Mordor,” competitor Maddie Smith wrote.

Many slices of the endurance pie showed up for the 38th annual Antelope ride: first-time riders, AERC’s winningest rider; a Tevis Cup winner; cowboys on their annual single LD ride; a skilled dressage rider doing her first endurance ride; an enthusiastic Junior doing his second endurance ride with his dad; veterans with tens of thousands of miles, 2 former Mongol Derby riders, 2 future Gobi Desert Cup riders. The horses were just as varied: Arabians to Paso Finos to Mustangs to Appys to Quarter horses to Paints to Curlys to Anglos to Shagyas, to a Kentucky Mountain horse.

You had a variety of rides to choose from: Introductory rides on both days, an LD on both days, a 50 on both days, or a 2-day 100.

This year’s ride weather was pretty spectacular compared to last year’s test of stamina and endurance: no rain, hail, thunderstorms or gusting winds. This year's cool weather and a slight breeze kept the gnats away most of the weekend… although if you rode out on the Split Rock Loop trail curling around White Rock Bay on Sunday afternoon, you had to ride with your mouth shut unless you wanted bugs on your windshield (teeth).


The island is well known for its buffalo herd, but the buffalo at this time of year were few and far between (or, rather, on the southwest part of the island where we weren’t allowed to ride because it’s calving season); but the antelope, the occasional lone buffalo bull, and the scenery did their best to make up for it.

55 riders started on Day 1: 5 in the 2-day 100, 18 in the 50, and 32 in the LD. There were also more than a dozen riders in the Intro Ride.

Winner of the 30 was Brad Hanson on Chief, with Ronda Davis and Buster pulsing down a second later. 10th place Katalyn Senn and Echo got the Best Condition award.

Miriam Rezine from Bluffdale, Utah, won the 50 aboard her little ‘pony,’ MG Crown Jewel in 5:27. Suzy Hayes and Sanstormm, and Bill Hobbs and LS Sir Gibbs tied for second place in 5:31. Sanstormm got the Best Condition award. Suzy and her friend and crew extraordinaire Lynn Lee fled the bad weather of Montana for Antelope Island. They bypassed a closer Wyoming ride because it wasn’t far enough away from rain and mud. There were no pulls in the 30 or 50.

Five riders started the 2-day 100, with 1 pull at the end of Day 1.


13 riders started Day 2’s 25-mile ride, with 12 finishing. After finishing 8th and 9th on Day 1, Blackfoot, Idaho's Mike and Jessica Cobbley moved up to first and second aboard Talladega and The Big Brass, in 4:34 and 4:38. Dega won the Best Condition award, capping a great comeback on the endurance trail for a horse that colicked terribly last fall and almost died. But the tough little monster horse is back, and thought they were covering the miles entirely too slowly all weekend.


7 of 8 riders finished the Day 2 50, with Suzy Hayes easily winning the ride on her stunning Greenbriar Al Jabal. Suzy had planned to ride Sanstormm again, but didn’t like how he was moving in the morning, so she pulled ‘Atlas’ out of his hay and saddled him up. “He gave me the Stink-Eye,” Suzy said, “because he thought he was on an eating vacation.” Atlas smoked the 50, finishing in 4:31, an hour ahead of second place finisher Chetta Crowley - one of those Mongol Derby veterans, aboard Christoph Schork’s Pinky. Chetta had started the 2-day 100, and when her horse was pulled after Day 1, that left her free to ride the 50 on Pinky, riding with Christoph’s group on their second-day 50.


Christoph, aboard his War Mare and 100-mile National Champion GE Pistol Annie, and Stephanie Chase, aboard DA Serabarrs Secret, tied for the 2-day 100 miler win, in 10:52. Maddie Smith - the other Mongol Derby veteran - finished with that pair in third aboard GE Medinah MHF, and Tennessee Lane rode Gambler to fourth place in 11:46. Pistol Annie won the Best Condition award.

Ride management does everything they can to keep riders happy and coming back, and chalk this year up as another success. Jeff Stuart has been ride manager for the Antelope Island ride since 2014 (and been helping long before then), and he likes to show off “our island. I just want everybody to have a good time,” Jeff said. The Indispensables, Shirley and Dennis and Terri, kept things running smoothly behind the scenes, and Regina Rose brought her calculator mind and computer program for the paperwork.

If you haven’t done this ride before, put it on your calendar. It’s a beauty.


Antelope Island Endurance Ride is one of the premier rides on the AERC calendar. Come experience one of the great landmarks in the State of Utah. This will be our 35th Year of holding this ride. We welcome all to "My Island".