by Jessica Schroeder, USTA Outreach & Membership Enrichment Coordinator
Columbus, OH — California bred Shotgun Rider is the 2017 High Mileage Standardbred, presented by the USTA in partnership with the American Endurance Ride Conference.
By Distinguishedbaron, he is the 16th and final foal out of the Big Towner mare Anatola Hanover. Thirteen siblings made it to the races, with four taking marks of 1:53.3 or better and five earning more than $100,000. The now 6-year-old gelding earned just $10,319 during two racing seasons at Cal Expo and Running Aces. He took his 1:56.2 mark in California as a 3-year-old, but seems to have found his calling as a Wild West endurance horse.
Affectionately now known by his connections as “Hillbillie Willie,” he competes in AERC events under the name Owyhee Shotgun Rider with Merri Melde, a friend of his current owner Stephanie Teeter. In their first year competing, the pair completed 255 miles, all of which were of standard distance (50-plus mile rides).
Teeter has been riding with AERC since 1992 and rode her other horse, Owyhee Smoke Signal, on many of the rides that Melde rode “Willie.” She also manages sanctioned endurance rides, some out of her Teeter Ranch in Oreana, Idaho.
Melde writes a blog, Merri Travels, and here is a link to her post about how the pair got Willie and his first endurance ride on June 8, 2017. Willie also has his own set of cartoon stories, which can be viewed here.
The AERC High Mileage Standardbred award is given to the Standardbred that has the most miles ridden during the ride season (Dec. 1 through Nov. 30). All rides are considered, including the limited distance 24-35 mile rides, and standard endurance rides (50-plus miles). Riders must be a member of AERC in order to track horse and rider mileage. For more information on the AERC, visit their website at www.aerc.org.
Since 1996, the Standardbred Equine Program has worked with owners of off-the-track Standardbreds to educate the general public about the many disciplines Standardbreds excel at once they are retired from racing. For more information about the SEP at the USTA, visit LifeAfterRacing.ustrotting.com, or send e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.