Elmer Bandit, 37, breaks trail-riding record

October 30 2008

by Neil Clarkson

Flowers and a bucket of apples from one of his fans awaited Elmer Bandit as he crossed the finish line in Kansas to claim a new competitive trail-riding record of 20,720 miles.

Elmer Bandit with Mary Anna Wood during a trail ride in October, 2006, in the Kansas Flint Hills.
© Olivia Huddleson
The 37-year-old part-Arabian finished the journey on Sunday with his lifetime owner, Mary Anna Wood, of Missouri.

Elmer's record of 20,720 miles surpasses the mark previously held by Wing Tempo by 10 miles. The results will not be official until published in the North American Trail Conference official publication, Hoofprint.

The ride and record spells an end to the trail-riding season for Elmer, who is back in Missouri, with winter beckoning. The first major frost of the season had only just occurred, knocking back the garden, Mary Anna said.

Mary Anna said she had entered two more trail rides but she would not get enough points for a national championship, which was her goal for the season.

That being the case, she will remove his shoes and declare the season over for the pair. She said she had no immediate plans for next season, but said she would no doubt do some fun stuff with Elmer during the winter.

Mary Anna said she would like to continue their dressage lessons but their teacher has moved away and comes to the area less frequently.

Elmer's last ride of the season, at Kanopolis State Park, was not without its challenges. Conditions were pleasant on the Saturday, with Elmer trotting for about 80% of the course. However, the temperature dropped on the Sunday and a strong wind greeted the more than 40 competitors.

Mary Anna said the trail was a mix of crests and canyons through the worn-down Smoky Hills. There was also quite a lot of water around after rain late in the week. There were a number of quite deep crossings but the pair did more of the crest loop to avoid them.

Mary Anna said the countryside was great, with colourful sandstone sculpted by weather into different shapes, and many colourful lichens.

Elmer, as usual, took the ground and conditions in his stride, although he was held up at the last pulse and respiration stop because they were both a little high.

The pair nevertheless made it to the finish on time. The last obstacle was to load on and off a stock trailer, which Elmer completed with aplomb.

Elmer received a bucket of apples, a bunch of flowers and a winter turnout rug when he strode across the finish line.

Apples are one of Elmer's favourite foods and Mary Anna has plenty in stock for the grey gelding to enjoy - a pleasant treat on any autumn day.