If you have questions we have people who have volunteered to help. Browse through and choose based on location or type of ride they've agreed to mentor and feel free to contact any of our mentors. They're waiting to help you
Jen Allen, Princeton, IL
Never in a million years did I think I would be riding a horse 25 miles, let alone 100 miles. In 2007, I was told of a person, Lori Windows, who needed someone to help condition her endurance horses. Upon talking with Lori, I agreed to campaign her 23 year old Arabian, Gandi, to his 8,000th UMECRA mile. We achieved this goal—riding over 350 miles together that season. Gandi not only took care of me, but also taught me how to hang on and endure. The following year I attempted my first 50, but was pulled at 40 miles—still a great feat for me, since it was perhaps the fastest and furthest I had ever gone.
At the end of 2007, a friend gave Lori and I a horse named Saleros Legacy. “Legs” and I rode Competitive and Limited Distance rides in 2008, his first real season and my first attempts at riding by myself at a ride. We went on to win the 2008 Arabian Horse Association National Competitive Ride. The following year, 2009, we began our “Endurance career”. We tried—and failed—our first 100 miler. It was very disheartening to have put in all the work and to feel so good going into mile 60, only to have a horse so sore he didn’t even want to move. After a few adjustments, we came back in 2010 and completed the Run for the Border 100 with a lot of help from friends, both human and equine.
Lori, still a great friend and mentor, pushed me into a sport that I thought I was going to die doing. Now I love it! It is very difficult sometimes, especially when the rides get long or difficult, but the end results are well worth it. I have gone from having a love of horses, to being addicted, especially when it comes to knowing how a horse thinks, acts, moves, eats, and works. I never realized that my own mental perspective could have such an effect on my equine companion. Even when I’m tired at mile 40 (or even mile 22!), I still try to keep an attitude that will give Legs more energy—instead of pessimism, trying a little optimism. I am a fanatic about my horse(s) eating—being a trail rider first, I was dead‐set against it. The saying “no feet, no horse” could translate into “no eat, no horse”, for a horse’s appetite has the potential to directly impact his performance, and his overall health. And because I had to learn about my horse’s diet and well‐being, I had to translate it into my own health. I now make sure that I am properly “electolyted” and “fed”. (Who knew that I would be sprinting to my horse’s stash of electrolytes when my legs cramp up?)
My advice for new riders might be to push yourself all the time. Riding a lot of miles is difficult, physically and mentally. I had no idea how difficult it was until I started riding for Lori. Four miles didn’t seem like much at the beginning, but when you’re constantly trying to balance, direct a horse, and hang on for dear life hoping you won’t die from a massive heart attack or pass out from a lack of oxygen, it seems like it will never end. You may not want to go out in the cold or rain, but sometimes the best rides are those that are performed in the harshest of circumstances. Another thing for “newbies”— learn, learn, learn! There is never an end to learning, or such a thing as too many sources. Learn from many people and events, then take what you learn and use it in a way that is best for you and your horse.
I still don’t know how some of these fantastic athletes go as far, or as fast, as they do. Someday I hope to be like them!
Katie Bachhuber, Mayville, WI
Maxine Bernsdorf, Kewaunee, WI
I started this sport on an Appaloosa stallion. Had been riding him miles and hours and he never got tired so I was looking for a job he could do. Saw an ad for a distance ride listed in Wisconsin Horseman and decided to try that. Had a friend who had done a ride in Florida once and she was willing to go along. Got to the ride in the Northern Kettles ready to roll...the 12 mile ride was cancelled. SO...we rode the 25. Didn't know about groups, holds, checks but was informed along the ride. I wore my cowboy boot, jeans, button down shirt, western hat and feather earrings. Still have scars on my knees from the jeans to prove it! My friend won a ribbon. I didn't. Rode 5 rides that first year. Every ride in the rain (and jeans). Found out I knew NOTHING about distance riding but I have learned over the years. I have been helped by many people over those years and want to give back to the sport I love.
TJ Edwards, Spooner, WI
I purchased my first horse in 1995 and in 1996 i started taking riding lessons at the age of 47.
In 1999 I learned of a sport called distance or endurance riding.
Entered my first distance event‐25 mile comp ride‐ at the sand dunes ride at Orrock, MN in May of 2000.
Had so much fun I entered again the next day with the same mare.
Rode my first limited distance ride later that same season.
Got serious about competing in 2003 and rode almost 500 miles that year.
Have ridden over 1100 competition miles in one season and currently have approximately 6000 miles between competitive, limited distance and endurance.
2004 won 12 year end awards from AHDRA, UMECRA, DRAW, MnDRA and AERC.
2009 won 13 year end awards including the UMECRA LD championship and Reserve Heavyweight endurance championship, DRAW LD championship, North American Anglo/Arabian endurance championship and had the most best condition awards in AERC (12).
Only ride mares and/or molly mules.
Currently am riding a 14 year old Anglo/Arabian mare and a 9 year old molly mule
I have made almost every mistake a distance rider could make multiple times so am a wealth of information on what not to do
Joan Duncanson Elbert, Inner Grove Heights, MN
I have been in distance riding for 5 years
Types of events Competitive
My husband and I both ride competitive. We have been riding long distance for 5 years. In 2007 we both placed in the Top Ten Rookie ‐ Competitive.
In 2009 & 2010 I was fortunate to place 1st in Lightweight Competitive in MnDRA and Top Ten Competitive Lightweight in UMECRA.
Special interests. My husband and I are very interested in providing the best nutrition and conditioning possible to help our horses do their best in the competitive events and in running our horses barefoot using the "natural trim" approach.
Bred of Horse. My husband and I both compete on part Arabs: my mare is a 3/4 Arab ‐ Warmblood cross, and my other horse is a 1/2 Arab ‐ Oldenberg cross
Wes Elford, Mayville, WI
Started vetting rides in 1984.
Started riding rides in1986 and these were all comp rides.
Started to do Endurance in 1990. Rode my first and only 100 in l995.
Have been doing only 50’s since an injury in 1996 and subsequent surgeries.
I vet a lot of rides and understand Endurance riders and Endurance horses.
I am a 4* FEI vet and enjoy the sport from all angles.
I serve on the AERC vet committee and can explain the theory and philosophy behind the rules and regulations that govern our sport.
Art Espe, Steward, IL
Katie Bachhuber, Mayville, WI
Jill Feller, Mayville, WI
Barb Gardner, Oakfield, WI
Roberta Harms, Wauconda, IL
Julie Jackson-Biegert, Geneseo, IL
I started endurance riding in 1999 and have since logged just over 4100 miles in endurance and about 1300 miles in Limited Distance. I have also competed several hundred miles in Competitive Trail. When I started, I knew nothing – only that I finally found a bunch of people who wanted to ride like I did. In the beginning, one 25 mile ride on a weekend was a huge accomplishment. I would be sore, but very proud of my horse and myself. Over time, after watching the 50 mile riders I got the urge to try a 50. A good friend who was experienced took me on my first one. Even though it took just over 9 hours I was hooked. My first endurance horse was a young Arabian cross gelding. He had excellent conformation for distance but over time, became too lazy for me and it was frustrating to ride him. He is now a well‐ loved trail horse for a local woman. My next endurance horse was Nitro, a purebred, unregistered Arabian. Nitro has been phenomenal and has completed eleven 100 mile rides and over 3100 endurance miles. He is now coming up on 16 years, and is still going strong. I compete at the FEI level (International) but also compete for awards in UMECRA and AERC. I train for Top Ten placing and see endurance (50 miles and above) as a race, not a ride. At the same time, my husband and I breed, train and sell distance horses and we ride a lot of Limited Distance rides as well as Competitive Trail for developing young horses. We do not race Limited Distance, but work on building a good base on our horses, teaching them to pace themselves and eat and drink on the trail and in checks. This applies in Competitive Trail as well. My philosophy is that there is a place for every rider in Distance, whether you are interested in winning or just the camaraderie of fellow riders. The key element is the desire and knowledge to take good care of your horse. In UMECRA, we value this above all and the mentors are here to help the newcomers learn how to do this.
Eileen Kirsch, Lacrosse, WI
After an ankle injury forced retirement from doing triathlons, I followed through on a long time dream of owning a horse and bought my 1st horse, Scooter, in 2003. I started doing competitive and LD rides that year and in 2005 moved up to 50’s and completed a 100. I bought my second horse, Nova, in 2009 after recovering from hip surgery (not horse related!!!) and have been competing her in LD.
The knowledge I’ve gained, people I’ve met and friends I’ve made, as well as the relationships I’ve developed with my horses have hooked me for life to the sport of endurance riding!
Success in endurance riding, whether it means finishing rides, or placing or getting Best Condition, hinges to a large degree on good care and careful planning that takes place at home. At rides I still camp the old fashioned way. I’ve learned and developed some very useful approaches to organizing camp and caring for my horses. I enjoy the mental focus that endurance riding requires out on the trail, in the vet holds….and all ride weekend long. And I truly enjoy conditioning and training my horses. I practice and study dressage and natural horsemanship to develop my riding and horsemanship skills, and my horses’ citizenship and athleticism.
I was mentored by Bonnie Mielke, Sarah Maass, and Bettina Koehn and I enjoy helping others new to the sport.
Sarah Maass, Fairfax, MN
Diane Meinders, MN
Bonnie Mielke, North Prairie, WI
Angie Mikkelson, Wadena, MN
Jeanie Miller, Reed City, MI
Mo Miller, Harvard, IL
Mentor for Volunteers
Linda Mowrer, Olney, IL
Chris and Marty Power, McLean, IL
We began distance riding in 2004 and have been riding over 500 miles each season ever since. We compete on three horses – WineGlass Debonair has over 1,000 miles, H. Bikaver has over 2,000 miles, and SA Te Jat has over 3,000 miles with UMECRA. So we like to “go the distance.”
We ride in all three distance disciplines, competitive trail (CT), limited distance (LD), and endurance. We start our horses with at least two years of CT to build a strong foundation. In CT they learn when to walk, trot or canter; to take care of themselves and eat and drink along the trail; how to stand quietly for PRs and how to trot out for the vets. As riders we learn patience and pacing. Although we now focus more of our time on endurance, we still like to compete in CT or LD when the horse or the rider needs a break from the longer distances.
We had two wonderful mentors (Myles Harston and JoAnne Gernant) who helped us learn about this exciting and challenging sport and we would like to share what we have learned with others to “pass it on.”
Vanessa Reichert, Paynesville, MN
Julie Roe, South Haven, MI
Linda Rudolphi, Noble, IL
Barry Saylor, Wykoff, MN
Endurance and LD Only
Kathy Schauer, Brownsville, WI
Deb Searle, Grant Park, IL
Joslyn Seefeldt, Milton, WI
Hi! My name is Joslyn Seefeldt and I have been involved in distance riding since 2003. For 6 years I competed on only 1 horse, a Paso Fino gelding. The bulk of his mileage has been in Limited Distance, over 2000 miles and about 500 endurance miles. I am a back of the pack rider, riding for completions and mileage awards. In 2008, Bert was AERC Limited Distance mileage champion with over 810 miles.
Last year I began competing a 7 year old Arab gelding in competitive trail with the goal of moving him up to endurance mileage this year. We finished off the season by doing a 40 mile competitive ride.
I really enjoy the multi‐day endurance ride. I feel it really teaches riders and their horses how to take care of themselves.
I am actively involved in our distance riding organizations, serving as a Director for UMECRA and as president of DRAW(Distance Riding Association of Wisconsin).
I love to help riders get started in our sport. I will warn you that it is a very addictive pastime!
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about our sport.
Ruth Stewart, Martinsville, IL
Tony Troyer, Earlville, IL
Tony Troyer (aka: The Big Red Bearded Guy!)
Ride Manager for: Rock River Chairty Ride, Mathissen St. Park, Utica, IL‐ 14 years, AHDRA‐ Big River Ride, Keithsburg, IL ‐ 4 years, AHA National Championship Competitive Trail Ride‐ Keithsburg, IL 2008, USEF Selection Trial's ‐ Oakwood, IL 2010
Arabian Horse Assoc: Distance Committee Vice Chair, Arabian Horse Distance Riding Assoc; Delegate
Heavyweight‐Rider / Driver
Joined UMECRA: 1989 / 90
Have completed in Endurance: Best accomplishment 3‐ Day 150 mile ride in Canada, Limited Distance, Competitive and Competitive Driving ‐ Top 5 UMECRA & MDDA Champion Rookie in 2007, Top 5 UMECRA 2008, and Champion Pair / Team 2009
I have competed with Quarter Horses, Purebred and Half Arabian's, and Spotted Saddle Horse's.
Offices held in UMECRA: Vice President 2 terms, IL Director 2 terms
UMECRA Committee's; Rules & By‐Laws, Mentor, Financial, Convention, International Competition’s Fund
Important info‐ I always have beer!!! This is also good information to know :):)