Sunday, May 21, 2017

FLX EquiTrek 2017

We headed out out in the finger lakes national forest for our three day adventure. Seven riders, two guides, nine horses, to camping sites, and over 50 miles of trails.

The weather was perfect for our adventure with medium temperatures and nice sunny days. The first day was a 25 mile trek from the Painted Bar Stables to our remote farm, The Elkins Equine Park at the north end of the Finger Lakes National Forest.

At the Elkins location we set up a rough camp and with the support of Luca Pandolfi, made both a gourmet campfire dinner. The next morning we discovered how to make campfire french toast and then headed back down the trails.

The second day we rode 15 miles, exploring different trails as we routed back south to camp at the Backbone Horse Camp. On the way we stopped for lunch in one of the northern fields. Video of Luncheon on the Trail >>

The third day completed the trip with a 10 mile trail ride.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Welcome baby Loki!

Loki was born on May 10th and is now owned by our very own Jen Schrage.  

Loki is full brother to Thor, his mother being Crystal and father Sierras all The Gold. He looks JUST LIKE his big brother in so many ways. From his solid Palomino color to his wide forehead it's going to be pretty hard to tell Loki and Thor apart in the future as he gets bigger!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Biltmore Challenge Endurance Race

After 1756 miles of driving, 7 states, and riding over 50 miles in 4 locations we finally made it home from our adventure to North Carolina! 

On Wednesday, May 3rd we packed up the trailer and headed down to North Carolina with our amazing teams of horses and riders. 

Photos of our team:

Erika Eckstrom & Rainbows Poco Spade
Logistics Coordinator

Jennifer VanDusen & JPR Rock On
Team Leader
Reka Reisinger & Merlin's Beard
Team Optimist
Lorraine Moyer & Bachelors Foolish Blonde (aka Dutchess)
Danielle Winterton & SS Sultani (aka Nymeria)
Laura Engel & Double My Scotch

We were supposed to head all the way to North Carolina on a big 12 hour journey the first day, but unfortunately we ran into a couple of snags on the way:

Sheered Trailer Cable
The trailer cable somehow got loose and unplugged while we were headed down the highway.  By the time we could pull off the cord had been dragged and sheered down to the wires.

Luckily there's a Tractor Supply Company every 30 miles or so and we were able to go get a new plug and wire it back together in the parking lot!

As we headed back down the road, we only made it another hour before the truck lost power and was unable to continue forward. We were stuck on the side of the road with our 6 horses! 

Luckily just before the journey I had made sure my USRider plan was ready to go. USRider provides 24/7 nationwide roadside assistance for you and your horse, unlike AAA which will not service diesel vehicles and cannot tow trailers. 

USRider hooked us up with a wonderful tow guy who had a connection to an auto shop where the owner also happened to have horses on site. Little did we know that we were about to meet some of the most generous and kind people who also happened to own the most FANTASTIC auto shop we have ever seen. 

Windview Truck & Trailer Repair was an absolutely beautiful shop specializing in high end semi-trucks. They have some of the best truck
The gorgeous view from the pasture at Windview
technicians in Pennsylvania and have won numerous awards, including national awards for best paint job. Their skilled hands were immediately obvious!

Not only did they get our truck in for repair, but they also gave us a glorious grassy pasture for our horses, let us use their camper to spend the night so that we all had a bed to sleep in AND they let us use their Jeep so we could head to town for dinnerWe also had the luxury of being able to ride around on their beautiful farm and the surrounding roads. 

Click here to see a video from that ride!

The culprit for our adventures is this very specific lift pump. When it broke it caused the PV pump to go as well. 

The pump we replaced it with had to be the exact one (different than the more typical stock) and Evan at Windview Truck & Trailer Repair had to drive over an hour away to get us the only one in stock in the entire of Pennsylvania.

Once the part was back at the shop it only took an hour or so to get the truck finished and we were off, heading down to our house in North Carolina. 

While we had missed the Friday race, the gang at the Biltmore was nice enough to let us enter in the Saturday race instead! We actually lucked out because it had been raining all day Friday and was miserable and the weather was better for the Saturday race.
Second Loop
First Loop

The route we were to take was the Orange East loop, followed by the Black Bridge Access and then the Yellow West.

The Orange East loop takes you through the more manicured portions of the estate. The trail consisted of wooded trails and jaunts through rolling lawns. Basically it was like riding on a golf course - every equestrian's dream!

View of the Biltmore Castle over the reflection pond
The Black Bridge Access was the only portion of the entire journey we got to do twice, once on the way out and then retracing it on the way back in. This graveled trail takes you past the reflection pond as you head for the bridge to the west side of the estate.

The west side of the estate is less manicured with more wooded access trails meandering you up to the top of the mountain.

Roughly 25 miles into the race you come to the vineyards that produce grapes for The Winery At The Biltmore Estate. At the top of the mountain, the views are awe inspiring. 

Riding past the Biltmore Estate castle! 
It isn't until mile 28 or so that you end up on one of the most beautiful views of the Biltmore: the view of the castle! This view is only accessibly by horseback or by booking the site for a wedding. That's it! Equestrians are incredibly lucky!!!

The trails were pretty rough - with all of the rain from the days prior the mud was deep and it was quite slippery. Many of the horses from the day prior had come up lame from the slippery footing in the hilly terrain. For us we decided it wasn't about winning, it was about finishing. 

Of the 45 starting riders, only 33 finished with most of the 12 non-finishing horses coming up lame. Erika (25th), Jen (27th) and Lorraine (30th) all placed. Danielle completed the entire race, however was considered non-finishing because Nym's back and legs were sore on one side. Reka and Laura planned from the start to only do the first half of the race.

The next day, after sleeping in and resting, we took the horses to Dupont State Forest for a slow, easy ride to stretch the horse's legs. 

Unfortunately when we got there the parking lot was full of cyclists and hikers leaving little options for parking. By some miracle and to the amazement of the crowd, Erika was able to park the 6 horse trailer by backing into a double pull through spot between two cars. 

The trails were perfect for a follow up ride - level sandy trails taking us past waterfalls and down to a swimming hole for the horses! We couldn't have asked for a better post-race ride!

Painted Bar Stables Biltmore Endurance Team at Dupont State Forest

Poco is so happy to have a well bedded stall and a good nights rest.

Heading back north, we overnighted at the Bed & Breakfast at Penmerryl Farm. Dan and Erika had overnighted here the previous fall and knew it was the perfect spot to finish the epic journey.

The horses each had their own deeply bedded stalls to sleep in and us humans had a wonderful log cabin. The trails around the farm were simple and beautiful to ride the following morning.

All of our horses have been amazing troopers.