March 30, 2010 -- Amid the hoopla of its annual convention last month in Reno, Nev., the American Endurance Ride Conference's (AERC) Dave Rabe was inducted into the nonprofit organization's Hall of Fame, along with Tulip, the ultra-long distance half-Arabian gelding owned by Dr. Les Carr.
Also winning one of endurance's top prizes, the Pard'ners Award, was Robert Ribley and his endurance horse, Tari.
Hall of Fame Person: Dave Rabe
Dave Rabe, a retired postmaster from Carson City, Nev., is currently third on the list of high-mileage riders in the organization's 38-year history, with 46,512 miles through 2009. Those numbers include 862 ride finishes--200 of them in the top 10, with 55 completions of 100-mile, one-day rides.
"I guess I like to ride more than most of you," said Rabe to the hundreds of endurance riders assembled at the national awards banquet, held at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.
Rabe is as well known for his typical riding outfit--a tank top and cut-off jean shorts--as he is for the miles and miles of trails which he marks before most rides. "Dave is the only person I know who will get to a ride early to mark trail for the ride managers, ride the ride, then go around helping people and filling water troughs in camp, then go out and mark more trail for the next day of the ride," said Stephanie Palmer-DuRoss of Queen Creek, Ariz., one of the many people who nominated Rabe for the Hall of Fame award.
An exemplary rider, Rabe is often trusted to ride other people's horses. As the award presenter, Ride Manager Dave Nicholson, DVM, said, "He'll ride anything." Rabe answered back, "I like a horse to buck and run away once in a while."
"Dave is one of the few people I will trust with one of my own horses," said rider Karen Chaton, of Gardnerville, Nev. "I know that Dave will always have the horse's best interest at heart. He can take horses that nobody else can even stay on and turn them into incredible athletes."
He is also known for helping out riders along the trail, even risking his own placing to do so. "On the trail during a ride he slows to help any lost, beginning, wayward or worried riders and horses," said Kevin Waters of Rimrock, Ariz.
Hall of Fame Equine: Tulip
The invincible Tulip, Dr. Les Carr's half-Arabian gelding, finished the 2009 endurance ride season with 21,155 miles. As the first endurance horse to surpass 20,000 miles, the 21-year old equine athlete's Hall of Fame induction was well-deserved.
Since Tulip's first endurance ride in 1993, he has averaged more than 1,200 miles of sanctioned endurance rides every year, an incredible average considering the minimum length of these rides is 50 miles. More than 25 different riders have contributed to Tulip's mileage, although Dr. Carr, of Somerset, Calif., has taken over exclusively since 2001 (except one ride where Dr. Carr's wife, Jill, rode Tulip).
"Tulip shows no sign of aging when I see him on the trail and looks like he will go on forever," said John Parke, who nominated Tulip for the year-end award. "Tulip is amazingly tolerant of quirky people and ponies, and is a true character in his own right. We have ridden so much together that I always relax a little riding next to him out of some inner recognition that I am really out on the endurance trail where I belong."
Pard'ners Award: Robert Ribley and Tari
A coveted AERC award, the Pard'ners award, named in honor of the late Mae Schlegel and her horse Pard, honors the horse and rider team that exemplifies friendship, enthusiasm and sportsmanship. While Tari is now deceased, he and Robert Ribley, a longtime endurance rider from Grass Valley, Calif., had a long and storied career together that made them deserving of the award.
Tari, a 3/4-Arabian, 1/4-Standardbred gelding, started 116 rides with Robert between 1985 and 1994, and finished 116 times, an amazingly difficult feat. Of those, 25 rides were 100-mile, one-day rides.
Tari's last ride was the 20 Mule Team 100, when Tari was 27 years old. "To get a 27-year-old horse through a tough 100-mile takes teamwork. That's why Robert and Tari are Pard'ners," said nominator Mike Tracy of Hollister, Calif. "However competitive they were, they always had good sportsmanship. As a rookie myself, back in 1989, I was always asking Robert questions during a ride. Even though we were competing against one another, he never failed to give me good advice.
"Tari was much more than an endurance horse," said Tracy. "Robert used him for bow and arrow hunting. On one such trip in the mountains they got lost. They kept going around in circles until about midnight. The Robert decided to drop the reins, and Tari found their way back to camp."
The AERC convention focused on a theme of "Preserve Our Trails" which emphasized the importance of trails to distance riding. Along with speakers who spoke on horse health and anatomy subjects were trails specialists Mary Hanson and Rick Potts, representing the National Park Service.
Endurance riders are currently midway through the 2010 ride year, and look forward to the 2010 convention, which will be held next March, again at the Grand Sierra in Reno, Nev.
To join AERC, or for more information about endurance riding, visit target="_blank">www.aerc.org.