In which the Renegade ride is not a simple thing for us to do

Crossing the finish line at Renegade Rendezvous with a happy healthy horse 
(and a friend) isn't a task for those who crave instant gratification.

Duana and Hana joined Fiddle and me at the finish line--
the first time in 20+ years of friendship that we've
done a competition together!

When Jim and I met ride managers Mike and Gail at the ride site back in May, 

Jim and Mike suss the damage thrown down by helicopter logging

we had a huge task in front of us:

There is a trail under there...somewhere....

repair or re-route more than 50 miles of trails that had been 

trashed by recent logging operations.

A lot of stuff got thrown off the trail by hand

It was a long, hard weekend. 

Ride Managers Gail and Mike Williams

We made a lot of progress.  But we weren't nearly done.

We returned to the ridecamp, 9 days before the Renegade Rendezvous event, loaded with chainsaws, hand tools, trucks and quads and horses.

loppers and gloves

chainsaws and quads

brute strength

Gail and Mike and their two dogs, plus Jim and me and our three dogs, plus Mike and Gail's grandson  Zach and his buddy Will, plus Patty and Henry and Joyce, plus Gail's two horses, plus Fiddle and Ariana.

First we cleared trails, then we marked them.

trail directions, and the beginning of a song

extra points for fashion <--we didn't get any

Often, we were route-finding, clearing, and marking trails all at the same time.

And it was HOT.

Luna taught the other floofs how to drink from a water bottle

No, really.  It was HOT.


We've never had such a huge trail crew for this ride--and we needed everybody, all week, to get things done.  We also had help from local riders like Marty and Janin and a few others.  

a detour around some deeply eroded trail took most of a morning

Even the guy hired by the Forest Service to decommission roads got sucked in to assist.

Straw bales, a fire truck, and a tarp.  You know where we're going with this.

Renegade is the most beautiful ride in our region.  It's also the most complicated to put together. 

After nearly 10 years of assisting ride management, I can usually find my way around the main least, I can find my way if the logging opps don't move all the furniture around.

There's a landmark in here...somewhere...

As long as there are a few landmarks remaining, Fiddle and I can find our way home.  

After all these years, we have some short-hand landmarks:  "the trail we made"
doesn't make any sense to most folks, but Madeline, Jill, Jim, Gail, Mike and I
know where that spot is in relation to all the rest of that section.

We worked hard every morning until the temps got too high.  Then we had a siesta mid-day


really zonked

before returning to trail work in the evenings.

back to work!

We also played around, of course.

Foxie taught the other floofs about the joys of wet feet.
Luna remains dubious.

Patty and I are big believers in wet feet.  See the straw bales!

Late in the week, riders started rolling into camp.  

The Usual Suspects arrived on Wednesday evening--Duana's first long
road trip with her rig!

It's hard to explain how it feels to the crew when the riders show up.

We're glad to see them...but they are so clean.  And so energetic.

I was a music geek in school, so it seems natural to me to compare the experience in camp to the experience of hearing "Stars and Stripes Forever."

We have an intro section, which is getting everything to camp.

Then the first and second strain, which is a huge team effort of trail clearing 
and humping tools around the mountain.

Suddenly, the third strain (commonly called the "dogfight") shows up, 
with a lot of interesting but alien energy.

By the final strain, we are all working together to get those horses across the finish line.

It takes real artistry to gracefully transition between the initial strains and the dogfight.  But we do it, every year.

Luna is the most graceful of us.

There were a few luxuries in camp this year.

Suzie Griffin brought her massage table--and FREE MASSAGES
for Ride Management and staff!  Wahooo!

We also had a bathroom.
We normally "rough it" in the woods until the porta-potties
are delivered just before riders arrive.  But this year,
Jim set up a restroom in the back of the trailer, complete
with bucket toilet and wash station.  

But, of course, we can't have a whole week without mishaps.  This year it wasn't the weather or my skeleton that went pear shaped.  It was Ariana!

Sugar bandage and bute...uh-oh.

Our best guess is that she was a little colicky during the night, and while rolling, she got hung up in the paddock.

It looks worse than it is.  But it's not great.

She'll be fine.  But, due to the scrapes on her legs (and the bute we administered for the bellyache), she didn't get to compete in the rides.  Bummer.

Hana was also not accident-free.  She spun a shoe twice--once at home, the day of departure, 

Du stopped at the farrier's house to get the shoe put back!

and then another time in camp.

Uber-farrier Sue Summers diagnoses the problem, and
recommends some solutions for Hana's feet.

Speaking of the rides, we had them.

A 25-miler on Friday.
Dragon = excellent form  Me = too much chair seat
But we had fun!  photo by M. Bretherton

Fifty miles on Saturday.

They are going to be so surprised when they
see us riding together!

photo by M. Bretherton

Beautiful trails

Uphill, through the doldrums.  Duana hopped off and walked.
I didn't.  The ground is too uneven for my still-wonky joints.

Hana gets checked by the vet--all good!

Overlooking the valleys

Up the hill...and back down again.

Finally:  the finish line.
Fiddle completed 75 miles in 2 days,
despite losing a shoe on Day 2.
photo by M. Bretherton

Unfortunately, Hana was slightly "off" at the finish line vet check.
Even the expert help of Dennis Summers didn't help--
the long, hard trail won that round, despite Duana's good care.

I can't emphasize this enough:  this trail is hard.  

Dennis and Sue Summers, who win the ride frequently, took more than 7.5 hours to finish it this year because of the extra demands of the heat.  Even in a normal weather year, the trail is challenging with tons of ascending and descending routes, tricky footing, and elk to eat the trail markers.  

If you want an easy ride, this ain't it.

If you want a beautiful, fabulous ride that will make you work as hard as your hard-working pony...well, here ya go.

It's Good.  

It's very, very GOOD.


  1. I loved your blog post and the photos. I am sad that I was not able to attend as I had planned.

  2. That kind of dedication makes my heart swell. Thank you for doing all that you do for this sport <3 It's a ride I hope to see some day, even though I'm in the wrong, wrong, wrong part of the country.

  3. Gosh, the air that Dragon gets! Can't bet a Standardbred for a lofty trot I guess?

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  4. Doing volunteer heavy labor in 104 degree heat = medal worthy commitment. A service to Mankind award. (Actually, you got that already for the hay bale pool). A humanitarian award. Though you may be sick of ribbons? Love the ribbon photos. Gorgeous country, and you and the dragon look totally amazing.


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