FROM: Petra Keller, Nevada NPEA
June 21st, 2016 PST

Thank you to all the incredible folks along the route to make this the best Re-Ride year to date for Red & I. Re-Ride 2016 for Red & I are in the ‘books’ and a very memorable one!

Petra and Red on Jacks Valley Road

My first leg started at Mormon Station, Genoa. I woke up early and checked the tracker and saw the mail making good progress by the California division. Jim De Glopper helped me load and provide ‘valet services’ for the day (his words and much appreciated!). We arrive early at Mormon Station; Red unloads and is a tad uneasy with all the new things around him. I get him settled in and start saddling up. The Nevada Division had a special event planned at the Mormon Station; emceed by Kim Harris. As part of the days activities at the stockade, we have a ‘Dress Up’ and sit on a Mochila planned, Squeeze In Sponsor talk, music by Richard Blair, History of the Pony Express, Rider Oath, and much more. Great XP helpers for the event Kim, DebiLynn, Judy, Sally, Doyle, Anita, Carrie and Chloe for helping – THANK YOU! Lots of familiar faces in the crowd – thank you ALL for coming out and support the Pony Express. Whilst waiting for the incoming rider we talk to lots of folks at the venue.

Squeeze In folks that sponsored the Mochila arrive and the Young & Morris folks meet Red. The event at Mormon Station starts and Richard Blair plays his newly composed “Pony Express” song to the audience. The incoming Rider Deby O’Gorman arrives in the Stockade, we exchange the Mochila from Pony to Red, some photos with the Squeeze In folks and off we go. Riding out of the Mochila, we spy Buffalo Bill standing at the corner of the Stockade. We nestle in between the sheriff escort and down Jacks Valley Road we go. We alternate between a canter and walk avoiding the manhole covers and grates along the route. Then we come across two corrals of sheep, first one Red is unsure about those woolly creatures dashing away from him but continues on, second corral – the sheep are running towards us! A bit more than what he expected and we crossed the road to be able to get away from the fence with the sheep watching us. Note to self; expose Red to more sheep (and probably goats)! Along the route several folks had pulled over to greet and cheer on the Pony Rider; always fun to see so many folks out supporting the Pony. We arrive at our exchange at Genoa Golf Course. Ride Captain Mike Ryan is helping with the exchange – and off goes the next team. We hang out to have Red cool down a bit and share the Mormon Station event with Mike. Jim then moves the previous teams rig to the their end point and we chat with Cortney and Jane about their ride. As we are making our way towards home, we see the next rider up ahead. He is having some trouble with the horse; we pull up next to him and see if he wants help. “Yes, please”. We pull off on the shoulder of the road and unload Red. I don’t think I have ever saddled him so fast! I get back on Red and try to encourage Dale & Duke to follow. Duke, a big Belgian draft, is used to moving along with his teammate another Belgian Draft – not a ‘small thoroughbred’, and did not buddy up with Red. Dale & I talked about options and decided that he would give the Mochila to Red & I and we would take on that leg. Another Mochila exchange and off we go! Red and I take it down Jacks Valley Road – and I realize that I am not sure where my turnoff is supposed to be! I ride up next to the escort car and let them know I need help with the route. They were amazing and made sure Red and I knew the route to the next exchange. Note to self … make sure you know the route for legs before and after yours! Jim is waiting for us with the trailer and we unsaddle Red (again!) and head home. Good thing that we were taking our time at my end point, else we would have been ahead of the team and unable to help. A quick stop at the Carson Ride Captain handoff; to wish first time Ride Captain Heather Graziano Good luck (She rocked it!). A brief stop home before picking up Carrie & Chloe Young and Lassen we head out to our campout in Cold Springs. I am thrilled how well Red handled all of the days events, he was calm and relaxed at the stockade, not phased by all the activities and commotion around him! Even pulling him out of the trailer on the side of the road with lots of activities – he was good with everything going on around him.

We arrive at Cold Springs on Hwy 50 – set up camp, picket line the horses from the truck to the trailer. The riders start trickling and setting up camp for the evening. Riders meeting in camp to discuss the next day’s events, several first time riders for this section. Potluck dinner, Doug Jares BBQ tri tip and we have a wonderful dinner. We talk about the events of the day – mentioning the Mormon Station event – Doug inquires if there was media at the event and any chance that I might be in some local coverage. Little did I know that the Jares Family tradition is if you make media you need to buy a round. Good thing I was prepared for this (unknowingly) – I had bought a bottle of German Apfel Schnapps with shot glasses for the campout! After a great dinner and talk around the ‘campfire’ we settle in. The night was one with little sleep – Lassen was fidgety on the picket line, moving around all night, the movements cause the camper to rock just a bit and of course each time, you check to see if all is OK. Also checking the hotline and tracker page overnight for progress to see if the Pony is running early / late. We rise early in the morning to feed the horses and hear that the Pony is running a couple of hours late. We pack up camp and go to our starting point. This year I have a 4H youth rider, Cloe Young on Lassen, as a shadow rider on my 5 mile let from Hwy 50 to Edwards Creek. Red must feel the excitement in the air, he is unable to stand still. Thankfully, he wasn’t like this the day before! This leg is a dirt road with a couple of cattle guards, gradual uphill until you reach the “white house” at Edwards Creek. Thankfully Cloe’s dad, an ultra runner, ran along with us and was able to open all the gates by the cattle guards. We would leap frog each other along the road. Chloe and I would canter down the road side by side and the two horses did great. Next year Chloe will be old enough to be a rider carrying the Mochila. Looking forward to seeing her doing that next year! We arrived at the white house and handed over to Ride Captain Doug Jares who carried it over the mountain to Smith Creek Ranch. We were also blessed that we had several photographers who came out to photograph the riders and route! Thank you to everyone that helps make this a fun event! Riders, Support Crew, HAM operators, Photographers and Pony Fans!

At the end of that leg, we unsaddled and put the horses in the cowboy corrals at Edwards Creek. To camp here has been on my list since my first Re-ride in this area! Thanks to Darren, Carrie & Chloe for camping out after the Re-Ride and exploring the canyon the day after. Beautiful place – here some photos from the campout and ride.