There are some equine events that leave you with a great sense of community prosperity. The Prescott Chaparral ride on April 23 & 24, 2011 was one such ride for me.
Here's what made the ride stand out for me.
1. Close to Home
It's not that I don't like to travel: I love a day-long road trip. But attending a ride within two hours of home is a rare treat.
2. A Base Camp Above All Others
Camp was set up at the L Bell ranch in Skull Valley, Arizona. It was easy to get to; the base camp field was full of grass and had ample space. It was tempting just to stay in camp and enjoy the pastoral setting.
3. A Sense of Community
Michael and Julia know how to put on an event. They treat their riders with respect: they listen, they answer questions; they believe truly in what they do; and they are both generous. That spreads throughout the whole camp.
4. Trail Artists
The two days of trail - just about 100 miles of trail in all - were put together the way an artist makes a painting. And the ride managers' years of riding XP trail helped them build courses that were diverse, challenging and memorable. The high chaparral desert in the Prescott area is some of the finest land in the country. It's a trail rider's paradise and the trail took us over mountains straight from a western movie; through grassy fields; along sand washes and down sweeping single-track trails. I still have images of the views popping in my head.
5. Great Vets
Kathy Backus and Rick Poteste took good care of the horses without making each day feel like we were putting our horses through a pre-purchase exam. They both had a keen eye for the health of the horse.
Food matters. And since both days had out checks, it sure was nice to have a variety of sandwiches, drinks and chips available for the riders. And the horses scored, too. There were bales of hay, bran mashes and beet pulp buckets spread all around the vet check.
7. Good Volunteers
Almost any volunteer is a good volunteer. This event had many volunteers who were engaged; helpful and excited about their job. Ray and Kathy Sansom were there managing the check-in process. They deserve a knighthood.
8. Good Meetings and Good Awards
The pre and post-ride meetings were on topic, full of good humor, populated by fine people. The awards were lovingly thought out.
9. Happy Boot Users
We worked with ten boot users on the day before the ride, helping them assess fit and aiding in gluing boots for those who wanted it. Even Sabrina Liska, whose front boots on her mare were larger than I would have liked, had a successful booting experience. As far as I can tell, it was a perfect two-day event for Easyboots. And Kim Abbott scored a perfect ten with the vets, earning the coveted Best Condition award on her horse on Day 2.
10. A Hunt
This is not something you expect every day, but since Day 2 was Easter Sunday, Julia and her volunteers had laid out scores of chocolate eggs along the trail with numbers inside them. At the end of the day, a drawing took place for three bundles of Easyboot Gloves.
Thanks to Michael and Julia and to Horses Dacor. You scored a perfect ten.