Riders from 13 states 'endure' Shaker Village

December 09, 2004|SUZANNA THOMAS

PLEASANT HILL - More than 50 riders and horses came from 13 states as far north as New York and as far south as Georgia to compete Saturday in the first-ever endurance competition at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

Twenty-seven riders were entered in the 25-mile ride and 25 riders in the 50-mile ride that traversed 2,900 acres of Shaker Village's rolling land.

The event was the brainchild of Jim Rogan, a Boyle County attorney, who has been a competitive endurance rider since 1984. The scenic and challenging terrain coupled with the hospitable assets of Shaker Village's comfortable rooms, good food and secure stabling led Rogan to believe that the ride and site would draw competitors. Working with Shakertown naturalist, Don Pelly, Rogan worked for 18 months in planning the event.

"We had to evaluate the facilities for such a big equestrian event," said Pelly. The courses had to be selected and marked, gravel laid, additional paddocks prepared, and new parking laid out.


Endurance riding has intrigued the American spirit for decades, but it is in the past 30 years that it has been an organized sport in this country explained Susan Kasemeyer, southeast director of the American Endurance Ride Conference. Riders begin with a gun shot start, but then proceed at their own pace, strategically balancing the demands of the terrain with their own personal resources and that of their horse.

Once during the ride, competitors brought their horses in for a vet and pulse rate check and a breather before setting out to complete the course. The rider who crosses the finish line first wins, but only if his horse's pulse rate returns to normal within a given time.

"Because of the open pastures and varied terrain, Shaker Village presented interesting challenges," said Connie Caudill, a seasoned endurance competitor who has ridden more than 11,000 competitive miles.

"The course was very scenic and demanding with all the creek crossings and those little hills that just keep coming at you," said Caudill.

The hills didn't dampen 8-year-old Michaela Rausch's spirits any. She was competing on her 10-year-old Arab gelding, Foxx, in the 25-mile endurance ride. Her freckled face broke into a big grin when asked what she liked about the ride. "Everything, the horses, the people, all the new stuff to see."

"Endurance riders are real horse aficionados," said Rogan. "They are in it for the sport. They like the outdoors. They are motivated by the challenge of training the horse and their focus is on getting through the ride."

Kasemeyer agreed with Rogan saying, "Our motto is, to finish is to win!"

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