Maynesboro Stud Memorial Ride Is a Hit

September 20, 2012

Article and Photos by Gail Scott
Berlin Daily Sun

BERLIN—” It was a blast, blast, blast,” said Susie Reinheimer, of Bowdoin, Maine. “I’ve never been on a ride that was so well marked.”

Reinheimer and her husband, Dave, were recreational riders among the some 50 who took part in the 2012 Maynesboro Stud Memorial Ride Saturday, organized by Walter Nadeau of the Berlin/ Coos County Historical Society and sponsored by many.  The event marked 100 years since W.R. Brown of the Brown Company started the Maynesboro Stud to breed Arabian horses, known then and now for their intelligence and endurance.

Reinheimer’s remarks about the well-marked trail were echoed by others.  Some 13 signed up for the 50-mile endurance ride and 19 for the 25-mile endurance ride and nobody got lost—which is not all that unusual on endurance rides, according to some of the tales told by support crew as they waited for their horses and riders to finish.   The competitors in the American Endurance Ride Conference-sanctioned event included some of the top riders in the northeast.

The leaders in the 50-mile endurance race in the 2012 Maynesboro Stud Memorial Ride Saturday decided to all come in together.

Placing first in the 50 mile ride was a trio of expert women riders: Kathryn Downs, of Jefferson, Maine, riding her Arabian, Bey Gibby; Ruth Ferland, of Cornish, riding Jedidiah Blackguard, a half Arabian; and Sally White, of Marlboro, Vt., riding RSF Rusty, another half Arabian.  At the last hold, the women agreed to come in together, said Downs, because while the trail was well marked, it was “rocky.”

“None of us can afford to trash a horse,” she said.  Before anyone knew of their decision, the race finish was moved up the trail and parked cars were removed from the road at the end of the trail, for fear the racing horses would overshoot the road in their headlong dash to and past the finish.

But there was no headlong dash. The lead three riders finished at a slow pace, three abreast, holding hands—the rider in the center, Ferland, holding her reins in her teeth.

A crucial point of endurance rides is the condition of the horse. “Holds” are scheduled along a course. During these holds of 30 or 40 minutes, timed from when the horse’s pulse rate drops to 60, the horse is checked by a veterinarian who observes a trotting test as well as testing heart rate and respiration, and watered and fed. In the trotting test, if the horse exhibits signs of uneven gait or refuses, the owner must withdraw.

“The horse is the athlete,” remarked Downs at the first hold of Saturday’s ride, as she and her husband, Stanley, fed Bey Gibby, covered him with blankets to ward off the cold wind blowing across the meadow, and offered him electrolytes in a drink—the equivalent of Gatorade, Stanley remarked.

“The horse is the athlete and every day will not be great. They have to tell you and you have to listen,” Kathy said.

The horse may be the athlete but rider has to know his or her horse and maintain a pace that will enable the horse to recover quickly at each hold and then begin the next leg with minimum delay.

“An endurance ride is 80 percent rider and 20 percent horse,” said Stanley, referring to the fact that the rider has to keep his or her head and not let adrenalin take over to the detriment of the horse.

Stanley has done his share of riding but now is mostly support for Kathy and Bey Gibby. Kathy has accumulated some 12,060 miles in endurance miles since 1986, but was by no means the top rider in the group that included Steve Rojek, who has clocked 22,340 miles in official American Endurance Ride Conference events since 1986, and Melody Blittersdorf, of Jeffersonville, Vt., who competed in the 2012 World Endurance Championship in England in August , among other things. Blittersdorf in the Berlin event chose to ride a young Arabian, Espoire, that she is training. Blittersdorf took a deliberate pace during the race and she and Espoire placed last.

Winners of the 25-mile ride were Cindy and Peter Seames of Oxford, Maine, who were ecstatic and loved the trail.

“It was gorgeous, gorgeous. We loved the trail,” Cindy said.

The couple held hands across the finish line, but Cindy got first and Peter second.

In the end, they were “fighting for pulse”, in competition with another horse that had come in close to their times, but their horses, half brothers Alar Enchanted Safire and Alar Aladinns Storm, recovered faster.

The best conditioned horse of the event was Zambizy’s Red Comet, a half Arabian, ridden by Wendy Bejarano, of W. Windsor, Vt. Bejarano was another one of the very experienced riders with 7,200 miles of endurance riding to her credit. She and the three first place winners all started the trail together at 6:30 a.m..

TA Fjord horse and owner (above) pause at the finish of the 25-mile ride during the 2012 Maynesboro Stud Memorial Ride in Berlin on Saturday.
Although most of the horses in endurance racing appear to be Arabian, other horse breeds also participate such as this tough little Fjord, Morgans, Mustangs, and others known for endurance.

“It was a moment in time,” said Rene Morneau, of the Berlin/Coos County Historical Society, speaking of the arrival of some 17 members of the Brown family for the Memorial Ride festivities at the barn, which was rescued from demolition by the Society. Morneau said that Fielding Brown, 88, searched a wall of the barn for the picture of a dragon that he had drawn there as a boy. He said his father, W.R., had added to the drawing by drawing a picture of a man running away from the dragon.

Nancy Lee Snow, the youngest daughter of W.R., now living in Falmouth, Maine, helped pique the interest of the Brown descendants who came to the event, said Nadeau. “I got in touch with her and she reached the others.”

Snow said that as the youngest, she didn’t really remember the barn and the Arabians of the stud, since all were sold during The Great Depression. But she had had a Welsh pony named Ginger, she said. “I loved her.”

“Father always said, a girl has to have a love affair with a horse before she has a love affair with a boy,” she said.

Nadeau credited an Arabian horse owner, Kim Fortune, with inspiring the Berlin/ Coos County Historical Society to organize the Memorial Ride. A year ago, when one of Fortune’s horses foaled, she looked up the pedigree, which went back to a Maynesboro Arabian.

“She saw that it had been 100 years since W.R. started the stud,” Nadeau said. “She traveled all the way up to Moffatt House to tell us we should do this.”

As a result, Walter contacted the American Endurance Ride Conference, who suggested that he talk with Tom Hutchinson, of Bethel, who puts on one or two such rides each year. Hutchinson agreed to help, talked over the year with Nadeau, and came to Berlin three times to help with the ride route.

Meanwhile, Nadeau, the event chairman, and others of the historical society, contacted an unbelievable number of people to help sponsor and to help run the event. Nadeau estimates more than 100 volunteers, including his sister, Annette Nadeau, and granddaughter, Marissa Mackay, helped, and all was well organized. They also found three veterinarians to check the horses at registra­tration and during the rides. They included: Drs. Amy Worrell, of Mohrsville, Penna., Ashley Leighton, of Voluntown, Conn., and Kerma Moore, of Keene. Barry Kelley, of Berlin, cleared land and loaned the society mowing equipment needed to clear the area.

Sarah Jack, of Nottingham, trots her horse, Q. H. Endeavour, during the horse check at registration for the 2012 Maynesboro Stud Memorial Ride in Berlin.
Young as she is, Jack has 1,835 miles riding in endurance events, starting in 2004. She was one of the riders in a six-way tie for fourth in the 50-mile ride Saturday.

A number of riders thought it would be wonderful if Berlin had another endurance ride next year or sometime in the near future. If Berlin does so, Hutchinson thought, it might be a good idea to keep the race to the east of the river and run it into Shelburne. Although the trail came in for much praise, some classified it as a “technical” trail, or one with more than the usual mix of difficulties such as loose rock and steep ups and downs.

But they thought it was fun. “I’ve never ridden across a bridge in a ride before,” enthused Susan Niedoroda, who had to withdraw when her horse developed a lame leg. “And spectators!! I’ve never seen so many spectators.”

Indeed, Berlin spectators were at the starts, at the 12th Street Bridge, which the trail crossed, at the High School grounds which the trail passed, and at the hold on the Godbout’s meadow.

Said Annette Nadeau, a surprising number of visitors to the barns remembered when W.R. Brown had horses here, they remembered their fathers taking them out along the E. Milan Road to see the horses.

The astonishing number of sponsors included: Neil & Louise Tillotson Fund of the N.H.Charitable Foundation, Better Buildings, Gallus & Green, Guardian Angel Crredit Union, White Mountain Lumber, Smith & Town Printers, Lacasse Paving & Construction, Northway Bank, The Luther Forest Corporation of Malta, NY, Annette Nadeau, Stillwater, NY, Region 16 Arabian Horse Association, St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts, Dave’s Auto Tech, Bisson’s Sugar House, New Hampshire Arabian Horse Association, Laura and Arthur Susmann, Dublin, Susan Levesque, Concord, Coulombe Real Estate, Berlin IGA, Bryant Fun and Kathy Brunjes, of Bethel, Sunworld Printers, Lynda M. Roberts & Associates, Hill Street Construction, Crackerjax Marketing, Richard and Christine Landry, Bernice Langlois, Savoir Flair.


Just before the start of the 50 mile endurance ride of the 2012 Maynesboro Stud Memorial Ride in Berlin, the historic W.R. Brown barns were brightly lit inside while outside a cold drizzle fell and daylight dawned ever so slowly.


The Berlin/Coos County Historical Society had special cakes made for the dinner the night before the start of the 2012 Maynesboro Stud Memorial Ride Saturday.


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