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Mentors

MENTORING PROCESS

1. Find A Mentor

Find a mentor to help you learn the ropes of distance riding for both horse and rider. Don't be afraid to ask!

2. Get Experience

Continue talking with your mentor as you condition your horse(s) and start learning what works best for you.

3. Become A Mentor

Eventually we'd love to see your name here! Get experience to give back what others have shared with you.

HOW TO: GET PAIRED WITH A MENTOR

Who Is This For?

Equine Distance Riding Association (EDRA) was founded on the principle that this association would always be available and willing to help any member requesting it.  Our mentor program is one of the foundations of this principle. It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to this sport or have tons of experience but your goals have changed.  Any EDRA member can request a mentor.

* Program note: this is voluntary. Some members learn from friends, some are happy with current progress, or they just don’t want help. * If you want a mentor because you feel you could up your game,  fill out the fillable form on this page.

You have made a great decision to take advantage of EDRA’s mentorship program. We believe there are no “stupid questions.” You can ask all your questions and get advice or direction. We will match you with a mentor whose interests and experience closely matches your description of what you hope to achieve. Then you and the mentor will communicate between yourselves in whatever manner you all choose. There is no prescribed process for the mentor/mentee relationship. The mentors are happy to help with your endurance journey whether it is help finding your first horse or aspirations of winning a 100 mile race or something in between.

If you have additional questions before submitting the form you can reach out to the Mentor Coordinator, Sophia McKee, directly at sophia.m.mckee@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from all of you! It’s time to throw a leg over this program and see where the ride takes you. Let’s get out there and “Start Ready and Finish Proud”!

Mentorship Request Form

    Your Name & EDRA #

    Location

    Your Email

    Your Telephone

    In a nutshell, what is your experience with horses?

    Have you ever done a long distance race with your horse?

    Do you have a goal for this upcoming season, or seasons?

    What breed horse do you ride/compete on?

    On a scale of 1-10, How competitive a rider do you see yourself? 1 being really excited to finish your first distance ride thru 10 wanting to win a 100 mile ride?

    What kind of information do you desire from your mentor?

    How do you prefer to interact with your mentor?

    LIST OF MENTORS

    JENNIFER KAPLAN

    I have been involved with endurance for the last 20 years or so. My
    first race was probably around 1999/2000. Its been a while so I don’t
    remember exactly.

    When I first started I had young children. As my children grew older
    the demands on my time changed and so did the way I rode. I started
    with a 25 here and there over the course of a couple of years and when
    my daughter and son got old enough to ride with me we got in more
    miles and moved up in distance. As many of you with children know, as
    the kids grow older what they want and need changes, thus my riding
    changed as well. I have done the gamut, ridden twenty five mile rides
    playing “I spy” to coming in 2nd in a just under 12 hours and winning
    BC at the Sun River 100.

    I have done multi day rides ( for those of you who don’t know, these
    are 3 day rides of 50 or 55 miles each day), I have done slow 50s, I
    have done fast 50s, I have done middle of the pack 25/50/75/100 mile
    rides. I have started Tevis twice and finished it once with a 17
    place finish. I have started Big Horn 100 three times and finished it
    twice with a 4th place and a 14th place finish. You learn something
    from every single ride you enter, whether you win, finish or get
    pulled.

    I would say that my forte is with building an endurance horse. I am
    not the person that likes to start young horses for the first 30 days
    but I love bringing a young horse into the sport. It takes years to
    get a young horse going but it is very worth it. I have just spent
    the last 4 years bringing one of my horses to an upper level and this
    is the year I get to see how high we can reach. It may not take 4
    years for all horses but he is a special (head) case.

    If it seems like I may be able to help you or answer questions that
    you have please feel free to let the mentor coordinator know. I am
    not going to be available on Facebook. I have stopped using that as I
    find i have more happiness and less wasted time with out it. I will
    be happy to help you via email, phone call, FaceTime, or in person.
    good luck to all of you!

    KATHLEEN FERGUSON

    I started endurance and ride and tie in 1982 while at WSU in grad school. I was looking for a sport that could combine my love for running and riding horses in a fair but competitive environment. Distance riding was the perfect fit!

    I attended a clinic sponsored by the IEDR (Inland Empire Endurance Riders) and met Lorie Stobie who became my mentor and best friend. Lorie had several thousand miles experience and was wise about the welfare of the horse before that ever became a focus for rules. I still use everything she taught me (and a host of other mentors along the way) during our years of riding and traveling together.

    I have just over of 7000 miles experience. I have ridden every distance 25-100 and 2 and 3 day rides. I have been tail end and have won rides and earned BCs and everything in between. I have had talented competitive horses and horses that I rehomed to a new career because distance riding wasn’t their forte. I’ve ridden a number of horses and all that I’m no longer riding retired healthy and sound to second careers after endurance riding. I have also served as a Ride Steward, Ride Manager and on the BOD so I am comfortable mentoring those goals as well.

    I have 39 years of experience with distance riding and 35 years of experience as a science teacher and leadership coach so I bring communication and organizational skills to the table. Ideally, we would meet and ride together, but I have also mentored people on the phone and through email. I will listen to your input, make suggestions, and steer you towards resources. I expect you to let me know when you need help or feedback – the level of activity in the relationship is mentee driven. I will respect your instincts and judgement and don’t expect you to follow every suggestion –ultimately you must decide what works for your team.

    I really enjoy helping new riders get started in distance riding because my mentors laid the foundation of my career early and helped me to avoid some of the common pitfalls that happen to beginners. I have mentored several new EDRA riders over the last 4 years who are enjoying quite a bit of success. Over the years, I have mentored several riders that have gone on to become active distance riders. I am a competitive rider – but know how to balance my need for competition and my horse’s welfare. Distance riding is my passion, my Zen time and my nirvana – I love helping other people to discover the joy of bonding with a horse and being a team member with a spectacular equine.

    LAYNE LEWIS

    A little about me: I started riding endurance in Texas in 1990, but moved to Idaho in 1995. I have learned a lot over the years I have been competing and have ridden over 8000 miles. I have two decade horses, and I love learning with them as they mature. I love riding my horses and I love helping folks get through “their first” – be that a 25, a 50 or a 100. I can be competitive, but I also know how to dial that down.

    I have been an athlete myself since I was 9 and I have competed in Ride & Tie events as well. I often take a horse in hand and run with them on the trails out by our ranch, which helps our relationship immensely.

    Like most of us, I am very busy. I run my own company, which means that I work a lot so finding time to train and compete can be difficult but over the years I have come up with a few tips and tricks. Sneaking away for a few days and taking time off to spend a weekend with my horses and friends is such a joy for me. I want very much for horse enthusiasts to experience our sport.

    CAROL GILES

    I have been involved with horses since I was 4 years old. I participated in many different disciplines including barrel racing, western pleasure, halter, and show jumping until I was introduced to endurance in the early 1980s. Once I did my first endurance ride, that was it – I was hooked. I now have over 13,000 miles and have participated in all aspects of endurance – multi-days, international racing, and national events all around the country. While I enjoy vigorous competition my training and racing philosophy revolves around two things: good sportsmanship and welfare of the horse.

    I believe good sportsmanship is important because it helps remind us that there are things more important than winning, awards and our own desires. It’s about respect, honor, relationships and having fun. The win means nothing if it is not done with integrity and grace.

    I likewise believe that taking good care of my horse is paramount. I strive to give every horse I ride a long and healthy career. That means being realistic about the strengths and weakness of each horse, not over racing the horse in a particular race or over the course of its career and continually striving to learn more about every aspect of horse care – shoeing, nutrition, electrolytes, training, etc. It also means that I need to hold up my end of the partnership by being the best rider I can be by taking lessons and working with an instructor. I believe in starting horses out slowly and bringing them along gradually. I train and race very methodically with a specific ride plan in place for every single ride. This allows me to critically evaluate my horse’s performance and make adjustments for that particular horse. I am best suited to mentor someone who can keep their eye on their long-term goal and enjoys the process as much as the journey’s end.

    SANDY CHEEK

    I have been in love with distance riding since 1983. I started up in Canada and rode in BC for a number of years before moving to Washington State. I haven’t had a ton of horses in the sport, but the ones that I’ve been lucky enough to partner with have been amazing athletes. My first horse Stranger was a ranch bred gelding, with a nice mix of Arab, Thoroughbred, and Appendix Quarterhorse. He took me to the North American Open Championship Endurance Ride as part of the Canadian team doing the 100 mile distance. I did quite a few 100s on him and retired him sound at age 21. Smoke was my other great partner—he’s got close to 5000 miles, a Tevis buckle and has one pull on his record. Now he gets to do Ride and Tie and TYM relays. My current horse Wilson is a little Ferrari—keeping up with me keeps me working on my horsemanship. I love helping new riders and old riders and sharing what I’ve learned over the years—but I also feel like I learn as much from others as I hope to teach to them. I live in Central Washington and try and make it to most of the EDRA rides. I am happy to talk on the phone, text, email, or you are always welcome to come ride with me if that’s feasible. This is an amazing sport, and if you have focus and discipline, you can accomplish your goals. Happy to help

    MAX MERLICH

    I became interested in endurance in 2003 at the age of 50. I was given the book “The Great American Horse Race” about the pony express ride/race across the country in 1976. I found it to be very inspiring. At that time I owned a big quarter horse and a paint John mule. Neither were suited for the sport. I had only ridden a bit and mostly back country packing type stuff. Did not have any childhood experience with equines.

    The mule and I learned the sport together and he mostly forgave me for my mistakes.  I gleaned information from everywhere I could. I did a season of LD’s but I knew I wanted to do longer distances. People were friendly and helped me. I hung out with people who had lots of miles and I found they would answer questions. I wandered camps and looked at gear, pens, rigs, tack and horse foods. I went to conventions. Then I moved up to 50’s and longer. I was a mid to back pack rider.

    My old mule Junior did nearly 4000 miles and ten 100’s including Tevis, Bighorn and Swanton Pacific. Never got a win or a BC yet I consider him a champion today. He was bred to chase a cow 200 feet and rest. Non-typical breeds and types within breeds can do the sport but bring challenges. I rode the pony express 2011 race from St Joe Missouri to Virginia City Nevada. Fifty miles a day five days a week. I started with two mules and an Arab. One mule made it all the way. She did 19 rides 50 miles plus in 2011. The other two lamed up and I switched them out. It was an eye opening experience to watch equine management on that trip!

    Today I ride my first Arab who I got as a baby. I also ride a mule that is very suited for endurance. We go faster yes and it is a terrible amount of fun. However if I had the equines I have now when I was new to the sport some or all of us would not have survived. I would have had no idea how to manage a big forward Arab or a rank mule with a lot of attitude and go. I was lucky to have good mentors and I hope to be able to help folks wanting to learn the sport. But be careful… it can change your life!!

    SUSAN SUMMERS

    My endurance career started back in 1988 and I can blame it on a Western Horseman magazine. While on a pack trip in the high country (our hobby at the time) I brought along a magazine that had an article on the Tevis and on adopting BLM Mustangs. At the time I had never heard of the sport of endurance riding and I had no idea about the Mustang situation in the US. Being young, curious and very headstrong I made it my mission to adopt a BLM horse with the goal of doing this Tevis thing. As luck would have it our hunting partner at the time happened to board his horse with someone that did this crazy endurance stuff. We got hooked up (thanks Laurel Kingman) and almost 20,000 miles and 50 plus 100 mile rides including competing all over the world the rest is history. I started out on 50’s with an 18 year old Quarter horse eventually doing longer distances with her. I did adopt a BLM horse; B Banshee who became one of 3 of my Decade team horses and I did complete Tevis on her. I excelled at riding non-typical bigger bodied horses in the longer distances and although they aren’t all suited for this sport I feel I can help riders that have that one that is an exception to the rule.

    In 1999 I decided to go to Farrier school in Walla Walla WA as I had always been intrigued with horses’ feet and was excited to learn the craft in hopes it would give us an edge in the sport. I have since been educated on the use of synthetic shoes and glue-ons and although use all types of shoes I believe having a large bag of tricks is what makes us successful.

    TANI BATES

    I was at a feed store one day in 1987 happened to notice an advertisement for an endurance ride in my area. I didn’t know much about endurance, but I was intrigued as I rode my horse all the time. I figured this was the sport for me! I hated the show ring and the western type riding was too boring. I tore off the contact number and never looked back. Little did I know my life was to change forever. I have enjoyed endurance riding for 29 years. Some years I didn’t compete because of moving and other life events, but I never stopped training my horses. I have almost 10,000 competition miles. My entire life is centered around my horses. They make me who I am, and they make me whole.

    I have mentored several riders over the years. I’ve helped them with conditioning, feeding programs and actually hauling them to rides. I usually have a young horse to ride, so bringing along a newbie is the perfect combination. I enjoy sharing what I have learned over the years. It takes dedication to bring along a strong competitive horse. I have found few riders are willing to put in the time or the miles to be competitive. That’s OK, as long as we are having fun and our horses are enjoying it too.

    BECKY OSBORNE

    I started endurance riding in 2002. I have a less-than-competitive ride history—I just like to go, see new places and see friends, hang out with horses, and ride through the beautiful Northwest, in the presence of veterinary help if I need it. Endurance lets me do that.

    I don’t have a lot of time to train, so usually just stay with the limited distance rides. I’ve done about 10 50s. Nothing longer. If I can ever retire, that might change.

    In the meantime, my ride divides into three parts:

    • Arrive safely to ride camp
    • Have a successful and safe ride ending with a healthy horse as the number one priority (healthy rider is the next priority)
    • Arrive home safely.

    I over prepare everything if humanly possible. I try to think of every possible contingency and every need, and address that. Because of that, I have, in my opinion, an overly-thorough list of what to take with you to the ride. I have a sportpak full of emergency equipment—like a Wells Fargo wagon going down the trail if you need a boot, zip tie, or BCAA—I am your overly-prepared person.

    DARLENE ANDERSON

    Introduced to the sport of endurance riding as a youngster, Darlene grew up riding first a Welsh pony, then Arabians and Arab crosses.

    In the mid 90’s, Darlene began competing as an adult, mostly riding borrowed horses. This opened the door to having some of her mentors begin asking her to ride their young stock on their first rides, or their first long distance rides of 75 or 100 miles. This went on for several years while Darlene’s daughter, Jessica competed on her horse, MC Isaac, who retired from endurance with over 4,000 miles.

    Darlene has started horses for people, started their horses in the sport, and she has also started people in the sport, mentoring many new people over the years.
    In 21 years, Darlene has amassed over 10,000 competition miles in all distances of endurance, including multi-days, LD’s, and distances 50-100 miles, on over 50 different horses with over a 90% completion rate overall.

    Darlene has been managing endurance rides since the late 90’s. She has managed the Mt Adams Ride for the past several years, helping it to stay the most attended ride in the NW, usually hosting over 150 riders, many of those riders traveling from out of region.