Groom Elite Founder to attempt feat no female equestrian has accomplished
Susan O'Hara Bates
No stranger to doing something no one before her had ever done, Susan O'Hara-Bates, founder, past board president and currently The Groom Elite Program's Secretary-Treasurer will attempt something no other woman has completed in its entirety when she sets out on May 1 to ride the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada . The trek starts near Lake Moreno in California the first of May and ends 5.5 months later 30 miles past Hart's Pass, Washington, some 6800 feet above sea level. (See a map of the PCT HERE
When asked what motivated her... (Read the rest of the first press release HERE
LET THE TREK BEGIN!! (second press release)
On May 1, Susan O'Hara-Bates and a female riding companion begin a trek that no female equestrians have yet accomplished - ride the Pacific Crest Trail from border to border. Each year on the first of May, hundreds of hikers and a hand full of equestrians begin at one end of the PCT on either the Mexican or Canadian border with the intent to hike or ride to the other border. While thousands of hikers and hundreds of equestrians ride portions of this National Park trail each year, only about 300 hikers make the entire 2650 miles. And, only TWO equestrians have EVER completed the journey in one season (May to mid-October). Neither of those "thru-riders" (a Canadian wilderness packer in 1988 and a veterinarian in 1992) were female. Susan researched, mapped, planned supply strategy and rode miles and miles conditioning both herself and her trusted trail horse for this daunting task.
On Friday May 1, Susan will lead her retired ex-racehorse, Four-N-Port out of his outdoor stall at the Manzanita Horse Camp in Boulevard, CA, tack him with her favorite trail saddle (refurbished and modified according to Susan's request by world renowned saddle maker Ava Vettenburg Master Saddler
), tie on her carefully packed saddle bags and load him in her trailer for what she hopes will be the last time he covers ground on wheels for about 5 months. When Susan's husband Burton Bates leaves them at the PCT Mexican border marker, Susan and Port will head North covering the first 20 miles of their epic experience. They will be joined by "day riders" that will also ride some portion of the "Crest" - some will ride just that first day, some for a week and a few for a month or more. Only Susan and her riding companion Janice Raddatz are starting out with the intention of "Riding the Crest" to the end.
Both "thru-riders" are using their challenging effort to bring attention to charities important in their lives. Janice for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation and Susan for The Elite Program Inc and its Groom Elite equine education programs. Susan is the Founder of The Elite Program and served as its President for the first 7 years of its existence, overseeing expansion from a single class to a comprehensive offering of equine care classes with something for just about everyone involved in the care of horses, particularly racehorses. Included in that group are inmates at two correctional facilities where The Elite Program's Second Chances Groom Elite 6-month vocational program is taught. Inmates are taught using Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation retired racehorses that have homes at the prisons. "I hope those that love horses and believe that the people that take care of them deserve a chance to learn about their horse so they can provide better care, will show their support by making whatever size donation fits their budget. All of the proceeds will go toward providing the education programs."
Suggested pledge amounts are shown below. You can make a one time donation through Pay Pal or by credit card by clicking on the link below the pledge form.
Susan aboard Port in the Buffalo River
You can "ride along" with Susan as a "virtual saddle pal" by making a donation to the Groom Elite program for every mile Susan. Pledge $1.00 a mile and be a "Saddle Pal". Saddle Pals will receive as their "trail supplies", a Groom Elite T-shirt, a Groom Elite Pocket English-Spanish translator a Groom Elite hat, a Groom Elite lapel pin and a certificate with a picture of Susan and her Thoroughbred trail horses at the completion of their journey. Other support levels will receive portions of those supplies. 1/4 of your pledge will be due May 15 once Susan is two weeks into the ride. The second 1/4 will be due July 1st , the third 1/4 September 1st. and the final payment at the completion of the journey around October 15.
The following support levels are suggested. You can make any size donation that fits your budget. Over 95 percent of your donation will go directly to providing education programs for grooms that work with racehorses currently racing and inmate-grooms taking care of retired racehorses at Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation farms.
Contributors will receive the "trail supplies" shown under the quarterly payment amount once their pledge amount is received. All participants will receive a certificate and picture of the team at the "end of the trail". Where more than one thank you gift is shown, the contributor can choose which gift they would like to receive.
$1.00 per mile
(Translator or Hat)
(T-Shirt, Hat or Translator)
You can keep up with Susan's progress here on the Groom Elite website as we will be tracking her via GPS.
Remember, you do not have to pledge to be a supporter
. Any and all amounts are greatly appreciated. A one time donation or $1, $5 or $10 will be used right along with the pledge amounts to teach grooms and thereby provide our horses with "Elite care". The link below will take you to a pay pal page where you can donate any amount. Thank you for your help.
Please fill in the form below to make your pledge. Select your pledge option from the drop down menu. Be sure to put the mailing address to which you would like your "trail supplies" sent. After submitting the form you will be taken to a page where you can make your pledge payment with the Pay Pal button. Your pledge will not be complete until you have submitted your payment.