Columbus, OH — Three years ago Bruce Weary answered an ad on Craigslist for a horse in Tennessee and bought him sight unseen as an endurance prospect. That horse, that Standardbred, Solar Partner, is now the 2018 High Mileage Standardbred, presented by the USTA in partnership with the American Endurance Ride Conference. Weary will be presented the Award at the AERC Convention, March 8-9, at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev.
Solar Partner, known in the endurance world as Trooper, is an 11-year-old gelding by Shark St Partners, out of the Admirals Galley mare Solars Lady B. The roan gelding from Michigan earned just over $22,000 on the track and took a mark at 3 of 1:58.4 at the now defunct Sudbury Downs in Ontario.
In 2018, only their second year competing in sanctioned AERC rides, Weary and Trooper recorded 520 total miles at nine different rides in Arizona and Utah. Two of those rides included back-to-back days, a 50 or 55 mile ride the first day, followed by a 30-mile ride the second day. Multi-day rides are used in preparation for longer 100 mile rides.
“They (Standardbred trainers) leg them up so well, so that’s a good preparation for what we do in this sport,” explained Weary, an Arizona resident. “I like gaited horses quite a bit. Trooper is a very easy-going, athletic horse.”
Weary has been riding endurance since 1984 and has logged more than 13,000 miles on horseback with 35 different horses. He is very active on Facebook, posting stories, accomplishments and advice in the groups Team Standardbred Distance Riders, AERC: American Endurance Ride Conference and North America Endurance Green Beans (for those new to the sport of endurance). “Troopers Tail,” a blog of sorts to follow along with Trooper’s training, achievements and challenges, has a loyal following in all three groups.
Coming off a 13th place finish out of 40 horses at the Twenty Mule Team 100 mile ride in Ridgecrest, Calif., on Feb. 23, Trooper and Weary are well on their way to one of endurance riding’s ultimate goal, the Western States Trail Ride, also known as the Tevis Cup.
“He rocked the trail this weekend and finished his first 100 mile ride,” said Weary. “He was awesome; just amazing. People from all over the world are following him and cheering him on.
“We hope to take a shot at Tevis. He’s a bigger horse and has a little struggle with heat, but in May we’re planning on doing the Mt Carmel Pioneer ride (in Utah). If he can do three days there, we may try Tevis this year.”
Tevis is a 24-hour 100 mile ride held in Truckee, Calif., on July 20. The ride starts at 5:15 a.m. and includes two mandatory holds for rest and veterinarian evaluation as well as other vet checks along the trail. Through 2017, there have been more than 10,000 starters with 54 percent of them completing the ride; 2019 marks the 64th annual ride. For more information on Tevis, visit www.teviscup.org.
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.