Thursday, June 05, 2003

Fort Howes Rides -- June 5, 2003

On Behalf Of Fritz Harshbarger fthowesride2003@yahoo.com
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RURAL GROUP HOSTS TOP NATIONAL ENDURANCE RIDE


Ashland, Montana (June 5, 2003): Riders and horses continued to arrive and
set up camp in a grass/alfalfa field 20 miles South of Ashland, Montana.
This is the site of the Fort Howes Endurance Rides, held each year on Bill
and Jan Stevens Circle Bar Ranch and the surrounding Custer National
Forest. There is a 50-mile and a 100-mile on Sunday, June 8. Fifty-mile and
25-mile rides will be held on June 7.

Today the Stevens' field is the home to a small village of mostly
self-contained horse rigs. Thursday night there were about 50 rigs. Thursday
the 100-mile riders were riding their horses out to check the trails and
make last minute adjustments. When new arrivals first let their horses out
the horses began immediately to eat grass. Pen areas were established for
each rig's horses. Friendly rivalries are being renewed. Riders from as far
away as Vermont, Virginia, Minnesota and Canada were converging with those
riders arriving from the Western states.

Much of the talk on Thursday centered around the weather. It seemed that in
two hour cycles there would be rain showers and then bright sun. There has
been plenty of rain this spring and the grass is high and abundant. Wild
flowers are in bloom. Most people arriving remarked at how beautiful the
site is this year.

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This year's Fort Howes Endurance Rides are drawing a large field of
entrants. The 50-mile ride on Saturday, June 7, determines the AHA (Arabian
Horse Associations Region 6 championship. The 100-mile ride on Sunday is an
FEI qualifier and demonstration ride. Between 100 and 120 entrants are
expected.

The entrants in the 50-mile ride are given 12 hours to complete the course.
Entrants in the 100-mile ride are given 24 hours to complete the course. A
time of 13 hours is considered a good time in the 100-mile ride. Horses must
make mandatory, periodic stops during ride. During these rest stops a
veterinary checks the horse for soundness and metabolic fitness. If a horse
passes the veterinary check it can proceed on the next leg of the ride.

The Fort Howes Endurance Rides are held about 25 miles South of Ashland,
Montana, off Otter Creek Road. They are hosted by Bill and Jan Stevens on
the old Circle Bar Ranch. The rides traverse their property in the valley
and the Custer National Forest in the hills above their ranch. They include
100-mile, 50-mile and 25-mile rides.



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