Equestrian Trails Welcome Ride
WRITTEN BY Elaine Macdonald
The third annual Welcome Ride sponsored by Equestrian Trails (ETI) Corral 138 was held in June in the Palmdale hills.
Corral president Kimberly Dwight initiated the Welcome Ride as a way to introduce new people to the equestrian group.
ETI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of trails, good horsemanship, and equine legislation. Members should have their own horse for ride events and provide their own trailer for horse transportation.
Palmdale resident Susan Mustaffa-Rondone volunteered to lead the Welcome Ride and host a barbecue lunch. This was the third year that Mustaffa-Rondone has hosted the event with her husband, Vince Rondone. The couple plan to continue to host the ride and barbecue and make it a yearly welcome tradition.
“I always wanted to lead a ride out of my ranch,” Mustaffa-Rondone said. “My friend, Linda Koch, and I started designing the trail’s seven-mile route in January.
“The terrain was mostly sandy, single-track with riding through canyons, over rocks and some rolling hills with climbs. We even had a rattlesnake obstacle.
“I led the riders on a wide berth around the rattler. Originally the event was intended for our new members. But the last two rides were so much fun that we opened it up to all of our members.
“We had 21 riders, and several were new to the group. After the ride, family members of the riders joined in on a cowboy barbecue in my back yard.”
For the last three years, Vince Rondone has won the “People’s Choice Award” for his pulled-pork recipe at the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s barbecue competition.
“My husband, Vince, loves to barbecue,” Mustaffa-Rondone said. “His hobby is smoking, barbecuing and grilling meats.
“He started the barbecue grill for the Welcome barbecue lunch at 4:30 in the morning. He grilled tasty tri-tip steaks and pulled pork for the riders.
“I am very lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking for big parties and for me. We hope to continue to keep this an annual social event.”
and endurance rides
Mustaffa-Rondone said she has been riding horses for the last 14 years and enjoys the riding sport of endurance.
“I have ridden many endurance rides in Utah and Northern and Southern California,” she said. “I have competed in many 25- and 50-mile rides on my 18-year-old bay Arabian horse, Poncho.
“I have been riding Poncho since he was 6 years old. Poncho has done a lot of endurance rides, and he is very trail-wise. Together we have logged many adventurous miles.
“I have always wanted to ride in the coveted Tevis Cup 100-mile endurance race. I have second thoughts when it comes to riding on steep, narrow drop-off trails and riding at a trot in the dark.
“Riding the Tevis race includes all of the terrain that I am hesitant to ride. Besides, I had to be careful with Poncho. I didn’t feel that I had a horse to go the entire 100 miles.”
The Western States Trail Ride is known as the Tevis Cup and takes place in Placer County, California. The Tevis Cup trophy is awarded to the person who completes the 100-mile, one-day course in the shortest amount of time and whose horse is in sound condition and fit to continue.
“My friend, Linda Koch, rode and finished the Tevis Cup Ride,” Mustaffa-Rondone said. “Linda did a lot of riding to get herself and her horse in condition.
“She rode four days a week averaging 50 miles a day for a year before entering the Tevis Cup race. It takes a really big commitment to prepare for the endurance horse rides.
“In October, Linda and I are planning on riding the 25-mile endurance ride in Ridgecrest. Then we will travel to Bridgeport for the Eastern High Sierra, another 25-mile endurance ride.”
In the beginning
“I once lived in Michigan and originally had no interest in horses,” Mustaffa-Rondone said. “After moving to California I started spending time with my sister.
“My sister was the horse lover, not me. After I started riding my sister’s horses, a new world opened for me. I began taking riding lessons from a knowledgeable equestrian lady by the name of Donna Kush.
“The lesson horse I was trained on was an Arabian. It was natural that I fell in love with the Arabian breed of horse.
“I eventually bought the lesson horse and my riding horse, Poncho, from Donna Kush. Shortly after my horse purchases I started participating in endurance rides.”
Presently, Susan and Vince own three Arabian horses and one retired appaloosa horse. Vince Rondone is a sheriff’s deputy and trained with the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department’s Mounted Enforcement Detail.
“Vince rides our third Arabian horse named Kamper. My husband has been riding over 20 years, and he has ridden three 25-mile endurance rides with me. In the past Vince has participated in the Rose (Bowl) parade with his mounted unit,” she said.
“When we moved to the Antelope Valley we joined ETI and became members of the local corral,” Mustaffa-Rondone said.
Occasionally Mustaffa-Rondone volunteers her time to help ETI Corral 138 with trail trial events held at the Barrel Springs Equestrian Arena in Palmdale.
A trail trial is a judged competition on the trail using natural and man-made obstacles. Knowledgeable volunteers are selected to judge the horse-rider combination on their performance under difficult situations they may find on a trail.
“I helped design the trail for the competitors and was a judge for the motorcycle barrier obstacle. It is fun riding horses with the group. I enjoy meeting new, interesting like-minded people,” Mustaffa-Rondone said.
For more information about ETI, see www.facebook.com/#!/groups/ETICorral138/ or www.etinational.org. To become a member contact email@example.com.