Beautiful Biltmore! An event I will return to.
I had the opportunity to ride the Biltmore Challenge Endurace Ride over the May 5th weekend and what a beautiful experience it was. I've never done an FEI event or an event east of the Mississippi, but an invitation from Heather and Jeremy Reynolds to take a young horse through his first FEI 50 mile event was all it took. At first I thought of all the life and work excuses that would prevent me from going but decided to get out of my box and do an east coast event and an FEI event.
My flights were crazy and I ended up arriving into Asheville, NC at 3:30a.m. Not much time for sleep because Jeremy Reynolds are I were planning on a run the next morning. The run was great on my mountain lungs but the heat and humidity was very apparent. Jeremy and I went straight from running to helping several riders apply Easyboot Glue-Ons. I finally had the opportunity to meet Farzad Faryadi and his son Steven. Farzad and I have been e-mail and Facebook buddies for several years and Farzad has done very well in Easyboots. 11 year-old Steven was getting ready for his first 100 mile event.
The Reynolds had me paired with a very nice horse named Bound For Honor. Honor is a tall and well put together grey off the track and has a bit of endurance experience. Heather and Jeremy have many very nice horses but I was especially pleased with my mount. Strong, forward but very manageable. Beautiful trails are much more fun when doing it on a beautiful horse, I knew I was going to have fun.
Barbara Hershberger, Garrett Ford, Jeremy Reynolds, Heather Reynolds and Rachel Shackleford. All riding Reynold horses.
Barbara Hershberger and I were going to ride together. Barbara was on a very nice Kenlyn Arabian horse bred by Linda Fisher of Colorado and also owned by the Reynolds. Barbara and I started toward the back of the nearly 85 entries in the 50 mile event.
Barbara Hershberger on Kenlyn Baily, I'm on Bound For Honor.
We moved down the trail at an easy clip with a goal to get these two young horses their first FEI 50 mile event. All was great until about 9 miles into the first loop when a loose horse came ripping down the pavement toward us. The photo sequence below caught by Genie Stewart Spears caught the whole thing.
Loose horse! Watch out, loose horse!
I felt for the horse and wondered if the rider was OK. Loose horses bring visions of terrible things and I cringed as the horse galloped out of site. As we rounded the next bend the loose horse was on his way back toward us.
Look at me. I know exactly what is going through my head. "Hey I can catch that horse".
I quickly jumped off Honor in an attempt to catch the horse. He was getting close just as Honor pulled back and pulled the reigns out of my hands. The only thing worse than a loose horse is two loose horses. Some words that can't be repeated came out of my mouth and I was in full chase mode. This fine young horse of the Reynolds was now loose and I was the ding dong responsible for his well being. Crap!
Long run back to camp! Thanks for catching the sequence Genie.
Two hours later Honor and I were reunited at base camp. Honor looked perfect, no cuts, no grass stains from falls, tack was in place except for his reigns were missing, and his Easyboots were all perfect after his 9 mile gallop back to camp. New set of reigns and off we went to start the ride all over again two hours later.
Honor doing was he does best, clicking down the trail.
I was very thankful that Honor was sound, safe and healthy. The miles of beautiful trail on a beautiful horse gave me a chance to think and really take it in. Honor and I, no other horses and riders and miles of incredible trail. The miles gave me a chance to think about the blessing we have to have horses in our lives. They gave me a chance to think of Steven Faryadi (the 11 year-old boy that was riding his first 100 mile event) and the lessons Steven would learn during his first 100 mile event that would shape the rest of his life. It made me think of my five year-old daughter at home and how I long to compete side by side with her in the future. As the miles passed and the brain continued to wonder I was taken by the beauty of the trails and the incredible organization of the event. Beautiful Biltmore continued to stick in my head and I will make sure I return.
Trees and vines tricked the mind and made every mile memorable
Honor and I clicked off the miles and he finished looking perfect. He picked up 18 extra miles of fitness and I learned some valuable lessons. After Honor was vetted, washed and fed, I headed down to help crew for Jeremy, Heather and Rachel. Lynn and Mark Ashby were performing perfect crew duties for all five horses but I knew they could use some help. Heather and Rachel were cruising through the 75 and Jeremy was up front competing for a win in the FEI 100.
Jeremy went out on the last loop with two other horses and Stirgis looked great. The 100 was shaping up for an exciting finish. Two riders emerged from the trail and excelerated toward the finish. Jeremy and Stirgis were in full gear racing a 16 hand anglo arab. They didn't pull it off but they gave it 100%.
Jeremy Reynolds and Eone Williams race to the finish. Both horses were in hoof boots!
The day ended with Jeremy and Stirgis showing well for Best Condition. Stirgis was indeed awarded BC the following morning. Reynolds Racing had five horses finish the event in Easyboots.
Beautiful Biltmore is a race to put on your list. Incredible trails, top notch organization and fun competitors. Put this one on your list to do, I'll see you there.
President & CEO
I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.