Local Teens to Compete in Annual Ride

Three young Stone County women will compete in the seventh annual Hunting For Bigfoot Endurance Trail Ride on Saturday, October 16.

All three prepared for months with riding instructor Charles “Pawpaw” Bright, who owns White Oak Quarter Horses in Big Level.

“It’s definitely a sport,” 13-year-old Katherine Spacht said. “It wouldn’t hurt so bad if it wasn’t.”

Endurance riding is a timed race over several miles. Spacht, along with two other teens, will compete in the 25-mile race.

Twelve-year-old Makyla Breland and 13-year-old Rylee Fischer will join Spacht in the competition.

Breland, Fischer, and Spacht all knew each other from school but have developed a close friendship through their love of horses.

“I love that you get to fall in love with the horses and be free from reality,” Spacht said.

The trio practice together to build stamina for several months in preparation for the race.

The Hunting For Bigfoot endurance takes place in the Desoto National Forest. The event

attracts competitive endurance riders from all over the country who compete in the American

Endurance Ride Conference.

Divisions included a 12-mile introductory class, 25-mile class, 50-mile class, and 100-mile class.

The 100-mile riders have a total of 24 hours to complete their route. Riders are scored by their

times, but horses must pass veterinarian checks every few miles.

The veterinarians check the horses’ heart rate and look for signs of overexertion, such as heavy breathing or soreness in their legs and feet. This assures horses do not further injure

themselves in the race.

Last year, Fischer placed third in her division. This year, she wants to win.

Fischer will ride Phelps, a retired racing Quarter Horse.

Fischer said she loves making new friends on the trail, but most participants are over 18-years-old.

“It’s more challenging, and I want to experience more,” Fischer said. “Just the experience is enough.”

Overall, they love the challenge and dedication it takes to compete.

“It’s not just hop on the horse and go,” Spacht said.