Tuesday, September 06, 2005
This year was the 25th anniversary of the "Shahzada" a 400k Endurance Marathon, held each year at St.Albans near Wiseman's Ferry, this ultimate test of endurance riding is run over a 400 k course of 80k's a day for five days.
This year as for the last three, the McDonald valley was gripped by drought making for beautiful sunny days, however it was very dry, dusty and hard underfoot. The course varying from flat hard gravel roads, to climbs up and down steep rocky tracks and some lovely sandy trails along the ridges through national parks and private property.
The event this year was held from 22nd - 26th August, although riders and horses start to gather at the village of St Albans from the Wednesday before to allow the horses time to settle in and recoup from their sometimes long float trip and riders time to relax and socialize before the marathon begins. This year there were eight competitors from Queensland, one from South Australia and two from Victoria, from a total of 60 entries, 16 riders were attempting Shahzada for the first time.
This year the Lachlan Endurance Riders Club had three riders pre-nominated for the event, however unfortunately Petrina Besedic's mare injured herself two weeks before so only Robyn Gossip from Tallwood riding her Arab gelding "Sudan" and Karen Rhodes from Woodstock riding her Stock Horse X Arab gelding " Shadow" started, with Robyn withdrawing after 240ks as the rigors of the course took their toll.
Karen and Shadow who have developed a special relationship over the last five years continued to successfully complete the course, being one of only fourteen to do so.
This was Karen's twelfth successful Shahzada completion from thirteen attempts and Shadow's fourth completion from four attempts. Karen's previous successes were seven from eight attempts riding her home breed Australian Stock Horse mare "Karrana Kelly" and her first attempt and successful completion back in 1993 was riding the Stock Horse gelding "Barry's Buzz" owned by local Woodstock identity Barry Blinman.
I asked Karen why she keeps going back to compete in the Shahzada each year and her reply was, "because it reassures me that I am still capable, Shahzada is a personal challenge that I enjoy, it is a true test of horsemanship, not just a race and there is a lot of satisfaction in having a horse that listens to you and is kind to you." "A good endurance horse has to have legs of steel and a heart of gold"
"Besides Shahzada is a great social week, with my sister Anne and Brother in-law Steve coming down from Queensland to compete each year and our friends and relatives who live in Sydney and Gosford usually drive down to visit us. We also enjoy the company of the alternating members of the Lachlan Club who come each year, as well as catching up with many friends and acquaintances from the endurance fraternity at large"
Lachlan Endurance Riders were well represented in the three day training ride which attracted 50 entries, it was 40 ks a day for the three days Tuesday to Friday. Petrina Besedic riding her paint stallion "DAVELYNN RAPT IN BLACK", Matt Thuaux riding his Arab X Stockhorse "ALOHA MINGARA", Ray Rhodes riding his new Stock Horse gelding "CHARLIE", Annette Bailey riding her Arab gelding "ROSEMONT PATHFINDER" and Andrew Bailey riding his new Arab gelding "ALOHA ZELUS"
Unfortunately Matt and Andrew both had lameness problems on the second day and didn't get to finish, however Annette, Petrina and Ray rode their young horses around for successful completions.
By Steph - September 06, 2005
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