Columbus, OH — Shotgun Rider, a.k.a. Owyhee Shotgun Rider in endurance circles, is the third repeat High Mileage Standardbred since the USTA started recognizing the award in 2011. Merri Melde, Shotgun Rider’s partner and owner, was recognized this past weekend at the American Endurance Ride Conference convention at the Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada.
“The only changes (since we won the last award) is that I own him now!” exclaimed Melde. “Stephanie (Teeter, his previous owner) quit endurance and horses and generously gave him to me in April…he’s actually the first endurance horse I’ve owned.”
Merri first started riding in 1998 and became involved competitively in endurance in 1999. According to AERC records, she has logged 9,040 miles in 200 rides, with an additional 360 LD (limited distance) miles.
“What I love about Endurance is the time you put into getting your horse fit and competing,” said Melde. “You can form a real partnership over hundreds or thousands of miles, and Standardbreds seem to really enjoy having a person. Standardbreds who raced have a great foundation under them and have been exposed to a lot so they can be quite steady and trustworthy.”
Shotgun Rider is by Distinguishedbaron out of the Big Towner mare Anatola Hanover. The now 10-year-old gelding earned just $10,319 during two racing seasons at Cal Expo and Running Aces, last racing in the summer of 2015. While he did take a mark of 1:56.2, he has found his groove in endurance, having recorded 1,040 miles at AERC sanctioned rides since 2017. Around the barn, and on her blog, Melde affectionately refers to Shotgun Rider as Hillbillie Willie.
“Steph’s trainer Ted, who broke Shotgun Rider to saddle, gave him the barn name Willie,” explained Melde. “Naturally I stuck Hillbillie on the front. It’s the perfect name for him because he can be a total dork. He’s a fun ride and he loves being out on trails and he loves to explore. He takes me to places I’d never make it on foot.”
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.