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Sierra Westlake

The Limestone Challenge endurance ride was a very hard 55-mile ride that went through limestone-covered mountains. Carmen, the horse I ride for endurance, is a 5-year-old Arabian mare who handled all the terrain well.

There were three different types of clay, some mud, puddles and lots of limestone on and near the trail. At the ride you would go down one small narrow trail that is probably more suitable for deer than horses, then you finally emerge from the brush and get on to the road for a while, then you go back on to an invisible trail. When you are finally tired of all the little trails you get to go on to the road for a little while only to go back in to more deer trails shortly after the road. There are also plenty of trees to hit your knees near the trail or in the middle of it, or so it seemed!

Despite all of this I still had fun riding my horse from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on the trail with some vet checks in between. When I got a chance to look around there were some wonderful views; we were probably on top of a few different mountains. It was very interesting to see all the different kinds of limestone which is a lot different than other rocks you see in the area.

My dad keeps telling me it is the oldest geologic formation in Oregon. Limestone can be very shiny and is a lot flakier than most rocks are. There was silver, brown and mixed colored limestone; there was also limestone that looked kind of like a regular rock.

I placed seventh at this ride overall. My mom, Darla, was eighth. I was also first place junior and junior best condition. I have a feeling that after the Limestone Challenge very little trail will ever feel challenging to Carmen and I as partners, but we will see how far I decide to take her in endurance.

Endurance has been my life since I was born. My first memory at rides was having water fights with dirty electrolyte syringes and playing in water troughs with my brother Nathan and sister Alex Ann. I remember waiting for my mom to cross the finish line with her horse RT Muffin and stuffing hay in Muffy's mouth.

When I was 9, the mare my brother and sister did their first rides on, WS Karamia, was retired. So my parents decided I could ride the new gelding my sister rode, MC Robyn. On my first year of endurance I was third place junior in AERC. This was the same horse my mom rode in Limestone last year.

Four years ago we heard about a 2-year-old, BRR Carmen Storm, that was related to Muffy. We looked at her and bought her the next week. Two years later I trained her to be ridden and the next year I started to condition her for endurance.

I am in eighth grade; My time is spent conditioning my endurance horse. I also ride my Welsh Cob/Arab mare in the United States Pony Club, where I ride in show jumping and eventing. This year I am going to focus on endurance, and complete as many rides as possible with Carmen.

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