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Eagle Canyon 25 & 50 - April 20-21 2024

This year it's a 2-day ride!


Day 1

Day 2

2024 Eagle Canyon: Help, My Horse is on Crack! - Merri Melde

April 26 2024

For all you Hillbillie Willie fans who’ve been following his Endurance career, you all know that all I really want out of an Endurance ride is a calm start and a sound horse at the finish. At Eagle Canyon, I got neither!

I always underestimate Willie’s fitness in the first ride of the seasons, but I still opted for caution in doing the 25 on Day 2 (I shot Day 1’s ride; Steve Bradley shot Day 2 so I could ride!), particularly because Willie is not a hill-climbing horse, and this ride is *full* of hills. It’s a tough ride for your horse’s first one of the season.

I had no indication Willie would suddenly become demonically possessed at the start of this ride. We’ve been working on calm starts the last 7 years, and last season was pretty much perfect, going out calm every ride on a loose rein, either in a group or riding solo.

I took him on a long uphill walk on Friday, and he was perfect. After shooting on Saturday, I rode him on a solo warm-up trail ride (I tried this at Autumn Sun two years ago, and he was a total freak riding by himself leaving his buddies in camp; I felt like I was on a half-broke 2-year-old); he was perfect.

Ten minutes before the start on Sunday, he was walking around mostly calmly, grazing, watching horses, a little squirmy, but nothing unusual. I expected everything to go smoothly, because he gave me no indication that a dragon was about to erupt.

As Regina hollered, “Trail’s open!” I tried to find a little bubble. I didn’t want to be right in front of a bigger group, but I didn’t want to be near the faster starters. I found a small bubble but as soon as we hit the road, a crazy demon took over my horse. All his brain cells went out the proverbial window and he morphed into Secretariat (he is an ex-racehorse after all). Oh my lord. Worst start I’ve ever had on him...

Read the rest here:

2024 Eagle Canyon - Emilee Randal

Eagle Canyon Endurance Ride - Day 1

By Emilee Randal
April 22 2024

I’ve never been to this ride before but I had an absolute BLAST. I rode with Max both days.

Fire vetted in perfectly Friday night and I felt confident about holding a strong pace. I wasn’t sure if I had ridden her enough, but Darlene told me about a million times that my horse was fine and we would do well. She was right.

We started at 7:30, nothing hectic and we held 1st and 2nd for a little while. Eventually Suzanne Hayes (the woman with 100 100s!!) passed us and we knew we’d be fools to try and keep up, since we were planning on riding both days.

4 miles in I was in agony. The Ghost I’m using has a flap that rubs my knees and I had to vet wrap my legs. It was hell.

We held 2nd and 3rd the rest of the day. We saw an antelope and a few burrow owls, along with a coyote.

I had to compensate funny because of my knees (which were swollen and bruised) so I was very sore the next day. Uh oh.

We finished about 30 minutes behind Suzie and Fire had all As, along with a 56/48 CRI, so Max and I showed for BC. Max won, along with high vet score, and there weren’t any other juniors on the 50 so I didn’t qualify for Junior BC. No biggie.

Fire started devouring more food than she had in the 2 days we’d been there and she was drinking fabulously. I think she knew we were going again.

Eagle Canyon Endurance Ride - Day 2

Again, we started at 7:30. this time, Layne Bownds Lewis (the fab ride manager) was riding. What happened is her story to tell, it is posted, but I ended up galloping back into camp to get her husband and some help, and then I galloped back out again. Layne is tough as shit, pardon my language but it’s necessary.

Thankful for good horses, and I’m sure Layne would appreciate if you all would keep her in your thoughts.

We rode the first two or three miles with Leah Cain, then split off on our own and watched as Suzie trotted out of sight with David and Melissa Laws in front of her. We wanted to keep a steady pace since we were riding horses who weren’t fresh - and that is what we did. The girls were hotter Sunday than they were Saturday, so we decided if they still felt great at the end, we’d pick up speed on the last loop (10mi).

Layne lent me a saddle cover for the Ghost so I could ride without issue, and my knees got better all day, but I was sore as hell from needing to ride funny the day before. Last year in Moab, Fire was backsore by the end. This time, she was not. Anywho, we saw lots of antelope, great blue herons, and a plethora of whistle pigs. We ended up making time on the last loop and I felt Fire get tired about 4 miles into that loop, so I kept that in mind and we came into camp.

Her 10 minute CRI was 60/64, and at the hour it was 60/60. I think she will recover just fine and be ready for The Mary and Anna Memorial Ride.

Thank you to all of the people who helped me through this ride. Joslynn Terry wrapped Fire’s legs for me and crewed for me all day, knowing how sore I was. I couldn’t have asked for a better helping hand. Darlene Merlich is a wealth of knowledge and I’m thankful for her guidance these last few months. Celena Pentrack’s voice was in my head ALL day, reminding me to ride well. Marlene has been so patient while I figure out the Ghost and I’m very pleased with it, as long as I have that seat saver. Everyone knows how wonderful my mom is and I am so thankful for her hauling me all over and being my #1 supporter.