NOTCHO by Roberta Klemm
Horse Name:    P.D.G. (Pretty Darn Good) Notcho
Mostly Arab / Gelding / Grey -- born 1983/84

I was doing Endurance riding and was having problems with my horse PlayFavorite, lameness, thumps and tying up. I needed a back up endurance horse. Marilyn Russell told me about a horse for sale in Ridgecrest, So. Calif. He was 6 or 7 years of age, a “tank” per Marilyn, and a good candidate for endurance. Notcho was given to Jackie and Jim Bumgardner to sell, they are endurance people in Death Valley. We hooked up the trailer and headed to Ridgecrest to try out this horse. When we drove up we saw Notcho tied to a hitch rack. He looked good, big bones, short cannon bones, very Arab, and a notch in his left ear! Hence name: Notch "o". I tacked him up and got on but he wouldn't stand still, he was very high-spirited. I walked him a short way to a gate where he reared up and wouldn't stand for me to do the gate. I finally got through and rode him up hills. He was very powerful and enthusiastic. He galloped down hill – oops, that is scary. I didn't like that and was beginning to think he may be too much horse for me. I loved his speed uphill and not getting tired at all. I decided to take Notcho home for a two-week trial period. Marilyn was pleased and said she would train him to stop galloping down hills, which she generously did and also taught him to do gates perfectly. She said he was very smart and a quick learner. I was thankful for all her help and experience. Wow, that was great! I got a pre-purchase vet exam and he passed with flying colors so I bought him.

I was afraid to do the first endurance ride on Notcho, so Marilyn did the 50-mile Oakland Hills Ride on him slowly. Notcho and I didn't know the word SLOW. That was in June 1990. In July, I rode him on the 60-mile Western States Ride, which is the last 60 miles of Tevis. Marilyn rode Sultan, which she bought in Ridgecrest just before I bought Notcho. We did the ride together. Marilyn said we needed to go fast at the beginning of the ride so we wouldn't get stuck behind riders on the single-track trails later. Wow, that was exhilarating (as Tom Slone would have said.)

In September, 1990, I took PlayFavorite and Notcho to the two day Nevada International Benefit Ride. I rode PlayFavorite the first day. As we were leaving camp, everyone was yelling at me. I looked back and here comes Notcho with blanket and leadrope draging on the ground. He wanted to go on the ride. He was taken back to the trailer. PlayFavorite got pulled (thumps). Day two, I rode Notcho. He was so happy to go and finished in 6th place and fit to continue. Notcho and I did the Las Trampas 50 Miler in September. Marilyn rode him in the Rain or Shine 50 Miles and Mt. Diablo 50, finishing in 9th place. Marilyn leased Notcho from me for a while. Sultan didn't work out and she sold him. She wanted to take Center and Notcho to the Apple Gate Lassen Endurance Ride, in the Nevada Black Rock Desert. It was a five-day ride, 50 miles each day for a total of 250 miles in five days). You didn't have to ride the same horse each day. She asked me if I would go with her and Crew. I was excited and practiced driving her stick shift truck. I would move the truck each day and Crew when she was doing the ride. This was in May 1991. Marilyn rode Center a couple of days. It was my birthday so my dear friend let me ride Notcho that day. Notcho and I finished 2nd place and Best Conditioned horse. Marilyn rode Notcho and won the ride – First Place. On the last day, we did the ride together, me riding Notcho and Marilyn on Center. We had so much fun. It was snowing when we started the 50 miles, then it rained and hailed. We laughed so much. We still do when we talk about it. We thought we were in 1st and 2nd place but it turned out we were 2nd and 3rd and very cold and wet.

Marilyn did 150 miles on Notcho at the High Rock Country Ride in June 1991. July 27,1991, Notcho and I did our first 100 mile ride – Tevis. Notcho flew over Cougar Rock like he had wings. We finished in 23hrs, 15min and did our Victory Trot in the arena in Auburn. All my friends that crewed for us were there cheering including Marilyn, Jean and Jack Schreiber, Karen Schwartz and others. When we got home, there were write ups in the newspaper about us doing Tevis. Notcho made us Heros – I was so proud of him and Marilyn for all her help.

In 1992, Notcho and I did 12 more endurance rides, mostly 50 milers, one 70 mile and two 100 milers. August 1992, we did Tevis again and finished. Galloping in the Victory arena, Notcho and I won our second Tevis Buckle. Three weeks after Tevis, we did 100 miles in Virginia City, Nevada. We would have top ten but I got lost and did one loop twice. We won a beautiful 25th Anniversary Buckle on that ride. In November 1992, we placed 9th in AERC West Region, middle-weight. Notcho has 1560 career miles, I did 1210 of those miles on him and Marilyn did 350 miles. In the year 2000, I discovered Notcho had Cushings Disease. He takes a pergolide pill daily and still loves to trot, trot trot! He is still sound too. I have to get those clippers out soon and get all that hair off of his body. So he is a "Pretty Darn Good Notcho."