Sprawling forest trails and breathtaking views are the big draw at the Wild West Endurance Ride and the reason riders keep flocking to it year after year.
“(The Wild West Endurance Ride) is unique in that it has a very fun and relaxed atmosphere,” Ride coordinator Melissa Ribley said. “We really stress people enjoying the country’s beauty and the trails and not stress racing so much. It’s beautiful camping and beautiful trails. The uniqueness here is the beauty of the Tahoe National Forest and its trails.”
Now in its 15th year, Friday’s Wild West Endurance Ride, which begins at Skillman Campground and winds throughout the Tahoe National Forest, is a three-day, 150-mile ride that draws nearly 80 riders each year.
“My husband (Robert Ribley) and I have been very active endurance riders since the 1970s and we would ride all over California doing lots of rides,” Melissa Ribley said.
“We live locally, so we train on the local trails and the trails are so beautiful we thought we would like to share them with our fellow endurance riders. That was the big reason, to share the trails at the Tahoe National Forest.”
This year there are close to 90 participants already registered, Ribley said, most of which just come for the scenic rides and social aspects.
“We used to get the standard endurance riders,” Ribley said. “The same people who do the rides all over, but what I’ve noticed in the last five years or so, is that we are attracting a lot of newer riders — people for who this is there first endurance ride.
“I think it’s because there are a lot of horse people in the area and they want to try endurance riding.”
To complete the 150-mile ride in three days is no easy task and that’s why there are shorter tracks available that run distances around 30 miles daily.
“To complete all three days, it takes a well-trained horse, a well-conditioned horse” said Ribley, who is an endurance rider and trainer.
“The majority of the horses you will see there are arabians. There are some other breeds, but the most common are Arabians. They are the most suited for this distance. It also takes an experienced rider to complete all three days, you can’t really be making mistakes or that will get you eliminated from the course.”
Ribley went on to say that pushing a horse too hard on the first day is the most common mistake that leads to a rider being eliminated. Ribley said there is about a 75 percent completion rate for riders at the Wild West Endurance Ride.
Horse safety is at the forefront of Ribley’s ride, she said. There is a pre-ride veterinary check and then vet checks every 15 miles, where horses are examined before being allowed to continue.
At the ride, the top-10 finishers will receive awards, with special awards going to the first-place finisher and the finisher who’s horse is in the best condition, which is a highly coveted award according to Ribley.
Riders from all over the West make their way to this ride, said Ribley, who expects to have horse/rider teams come from all over California as well as Washington, Oregon and Arizona.
The Ride gets started Friday with campfire potlucks every night except Sunday when there will be a catered banquet and live music.
For more information on the Wild West Endurance Ride, visit http://ribleystraining.com/Wild_West_Endurance_Rides.aspx.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.