By Shelby R. King

The Bulletin

LONE PINE —

Horses and riders of all breeds and sizes spent the weekend in the Skull Hollow-Crooked River National Grasslands participating in endurance rides, trail rides and other challenges at the 43rd annual Still Memorial Weekend, formerly known as The Prineville Ride.

Sandy Mayernick, volunteer coordinator at Mustangs to the Rescue, an all-breed horse rescue and rehabilitation organization based near Sisters, said she estimated about 200 people participated in the three-day event.

“It’s huge this year,” Mayernick said. “Our numbers are definitely up. (Saturday) there were horse trailers as far as the eye could see.”

For the first 42 years, the event was known as The Prineville Ride.

When Mustangs to the Rescue Executive Director Kate Beardsley took the event over this year, she changed the name to honor Cole and Charlotte Still.

“They were big proponents of endurance rides,” Mayernick said.

The Stills were a local married couple who both died of natural causes within a short time of each other, Mayernick said.

Friday’s first event was a 25-mile endurance ride at 11 a.m., followed by a competitive trail challenge at 2 p.m. Saturday’s events started early at 6:30 a.m. with a 50-mile endurance ride and a 25-mile endurance ride at 7:30 a.m.

An endurance ride is a timed event in which a horse and rider traverse a marked, measured cross-country trail over natural terrain. The rides can be up to 100 miles, and riders are expected to cover the distance in one day. The sport is governed by the American Endurance Ride Conference, which sanctions over 700 rides a year in the U.S. and Canada. The AERC maintains ride points, lifetime mileage statistics and an awards database for each horse and rider.

“Riders are judged on how they and their horse handle obstacles along the trail,” Mayernick said. “We also put pink horseshoes along the trail for people to find. People who brought back a pink horseshoe were given a special prize.”

Mayernick explained that during the trail challenge, judges are positioned at different obstacles, such as at the top of a steep hill, and judge riders by how they tackle the obstacle and how well they control their horses.

Winners of the endurance rides were announced Sunday at 8 a.m., and then riders who were still there went out again at 10 a.m. for a trail challenge followed by a poker ride in which participants rode to different checkpoints where they drew a playing card from a deck. The winner was the rider with the best poker hand at the end.

There was also an in-hand trail challenge Saturday afternoon in which participants walked with their horses, guiding them through an obstacle course by their reins. Mayernick said a 5-year-old girl leading a pony was the youngest, and cutest, competitor.

Saturday night participants feasted on barbecue while watching a mounted archery demonstration.

“It was like dinner and a movie,” Mayernick said.

All proceeds from the event went to help fund Mustangs to the Rescue, which is run solely on donations and receives no public funding. Mayernick declined to say how much money the event raised.

Horses rehabilitated at Mustangs to the Rescue are adopted out to private citizens or placed in roles of service, such as search and rescue and mounted police patrols, Mayernick said.

Corrine Davis, of Maupin, brought her horse Winona to the event. She also brought her friend Becky Evans, who was visiting from the San Francisco area.

“There were all kinds of horses here over the weekend,” Davis said. “Events like these are good because it lets the Forest Service know people are using the land for riding their horses.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0376, sking@bendbulletin.com

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