WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla endurance riders have had a good start to the season.
Dean Hoalst won the 75th “Home on the Range” endurance race in April near Washtucna, followed by a win two weeks later an hour ahead of the next rider at the 50-mile “Tough Sucker” race south of Boise on his horse, Rocket.
At Washtucna, Walla Wallan Heather Ruth Wimer took fourth place in the 25-mile race.
In early May at the 25-mile Prineville, Ore., race local horses Captain Calypso and Sweet Steele, owned by Walla Wallan Ernie Schrader came in second and fourth, with Schrader on Sweet Steele and Katie Glawoski of Stanwood, Wash., on Captain Calypso.
Liz Erb of Walla Walla placed third on a horse owned by local Jerry Parton.
The three finished at the same time but “pulsed down” about a minute apart, Schrader said.
In the longer distance races, the finish time is when the horse crosses the finish line, and subsequently passes the veterinarian exam.
In the shorter races, the race time stops when the horse crosses the finish line, the horse reaches a pulse rate of 60 beats per minute, and passes the vet check. Thirty minutes is allowed to reach the pulse criteria, or the horse is disqualified.
The local horses crossed the finish line with heart rates of about 140, Schrader said, but with their conditioning reached the 60-beat criteria in just a few minutes.
Peak heart-rate horses can approach 200 beats per minute during the most strenuous parts of a ride.
Endurance riding has a long history in Walla Walla. In the 1970s, Walla Walla had some of the best horses and riders in the nation, including state and national championship winners, Schrader said.
The sport waned locally until the past 10 years, with Hoalst being the high-points rider for the Northwest last year and Schrader finishing second in the 2007 National Championship 100-mile race.
The two also competed in the Australian National Championship 100-mile race.
There now are about 6,000 endurance ride competitors in the United States and thousands in most countries around the world, with international competitions and a worlds championship ride.
Schrader and Hoalst are preparing for this year’s National Championships.