Wednesday, August 19, 2009

USA: Thistle Down riders complete course, despite rain

Frazee-Vergas Forum
by Dale Fet
photo:Almost 2 inches of rain altered the course at the Thistle Down Run near Frazee this weekend. Riders (from left) Alexis Visser of Pequot Lakes, Karen Kersten of Pine River and Tara Saley of Brainerd headed out of the campground on a timed run Sunday. Photo by Gale Kaas

The Thistle Down Run endurance horse ride near Frazee was a success with over 80 riders entering for the weekend in spite of less than ideal weather.

The temperature in the days preceding hovered in the mid-90s with the first real warm spell of the summer. It then cooled for Saturday, but rain showers forced everyone to bring out the rain gear as the wet weather continued through Sunday morning.

As it always seems to happen, the sun came out Sunday afternoon giving everyone a warm, sunny ride home.

Endurance riding goes on rain or shine and, true to form, these riders showed they are serious horse people who love to ride.

Ride managers Teresa and Dale Fett made extra trail checks to make sure trail markers stayed up during the rains and wind so riders would stay on course. A few route changes were made to adapt to the wet conditions as safety and wellbeing for both riders and their horses is first priority.

The ride was held in memory of Ben Piche on the family farm of his children Scott (Lisa) and Renae (Ken). Thanks to Les, Pat, and Ron Kertscher along with Vinton and Joyce Vogler who allowed the ride to also cross their property.

The local crew of volunteers included Spencer Fett, Donna Fett, Orlynn Hanson, Clio Jepson, Robin Holmer, Vernette Johnson and Jessica Looker who handled sign-up, timing, vet scribe and general duties. Joyce Vogler kept everyone well fed with her excellent culinary skills.

Riders were offered choices of 50- or 25-mile endurance and 25-mile competitive rides Saturday. Sunday offerings were 25-mile endurance, 25-mile competitive, and an 8-mile novice ride.

The course was divided into two loops of 16 and 8 miles. After completing a loop, riders must have their horse vet checked for any health issues and then must take a mandatory 40-minute hold in camp to allow horses time to eat and drink.

They then mount up again and take their next loop until their particular class is completed. Vet checks are performed at the end to make sure all horses are healthy with vetting chores being handled by Dr. Dean Peterson of Ham Lake and Dr. Travis Kuhlka of New Salem, N.D.

Clio Jepson of Frazee endured a heavy rain shower Sunday morning on an Arab mare (Mi) to win the 8-mile novice class. Also in novice was Lisa Piche, who just started riding a few months ago under the watchful eye of Teresa Fett, riding her late father-in-law's grade mare (Penny) to a 4th place finish.

Teresa Fett, besides being a ride manager, competed both days in 25-mile endurance on her two new 4-year-old registered Arabs (Lillee and Mistir Aaz) with completions. These young horses are just old enough to enter this class and will take two to three years to get the experience and endurance needed to compete in the top of this class.

A rider's potluck was held Saturday evening with awards being given out and then Spencer Fett turned on the DJ music to entertain riders for the evening.

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