37-Year-Old Horse Elmer Bandit Wins Competitive Trail Ride

Adding another 60 miles to his North American Trail Conference (NATRC) career, 37-year-old Elmer Bandit was declared the Open Sweepstakes division winner this past weekend at the Dave Smith Fall Fiesta competition near Lehigh, Iowa.

"We had a grand time trotting," said Elmer's rider and lifetime owner Mary Anna Wood of Independence, Mo. "Elmer was just plumb happy."

The Open Division is the most difficult NATRC class. Horses cover around 60 miles during the two-day event, with Open-level horses usually travelling at least 5 mph for the duration. Contestants are required to cover "obstacles" such as side pass logs, or maneuver around downed trees. Both horse and rider are evaluated.

Elmer Bandit at the Dave Smith Fall Fiesta competition near Lehigh, Iowa

Mary Anna and Elmer set up to do a sidepass obstacle on a lake bridge at the Dave Smith Fall Fiesta.

Open Sweepstakes honors go to the highest scoring Open horse at the event. Elmer also garnered the Half-Arab breed award, as well as first place Open Lightweight Horse.

"I had so much loot I had to find a pair of jeans to pack it in," Wood reported on her drive home.

The weather kept horses and riders damp with drizzle and mist for most of the 28.9 miles Saturday. A 15 mph wind accompanied by 55° temperatures kept horses cool Sunday.

The ride brings Elmer's mileage total to an unofficial 20,540. Saddlebred Wing Tempo holds the record with 20,710 miles.

Elmer and Wood plan to enter the October 4 Kansas Flint Hills ride held at Randolph State Park near Manhattan, Kan.

Read more about Elmer Bandit.

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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