Virginia City 100 – 1960s

The finishing chart for the first Nevada All-State 100 mile trail ride October 5, 1968.


Cliff Lewis and Dean Hubbard approached Nick Mansfield who hosted the start and finish of the Ride at his 102 Ranch in Sparks, NV. They wanted to make sure that the trail included all the great features of the area. Shannon Yewell Weil and Cliff Lewis finished first with the same time – 19 hours 41 minutes (minus the three hours of vet holds, for a 16:41 riding time). 33 starting riders, 11 finishers, with 2 more finishers over the 24 hour limit. The ride chart shows that the two riders overtime – Shirley Wheeler and Mark Steen – received buckles. It was a lunar eclipse, plus way over 100 miles. Horses had to carry a minimum of 150 lbs.


1968 Nevada All-State Trail Riders 100-Mile Ride


Shannon Yewell Weil (age 21) on Big Red, a Thoroughbred slaughter-pen rescue, and Cliff Lewis on the ground covering machine, Blackjack. Seen here leaving the Steen Arabian Ranch Vet Check on the west side of Highway 395 at mile 43.
Shannon: “This was my first 100 mile ride. Jeans and tall black hunt boots and a McClellan saddle. I still remember how my bum felt on that day. That year the trail was 125 miles long – no joke!
Blackjack had confirmation that allowed him to ‘sit in a pocket” and let those legs cover the ground. I’ve never seen a horse quite like him since. He was a character too. Blackjack also had a D-D brand on him. Don’t know what that stood for.”


1968 Nevada All-State Trail Riders 100-Mile Ride


“Finish Line” (although, as Andrew Steen notes, “we didn’t really have a line at all”) – Shannon Yewell on Big Red and Cliff Lewis on Blackjack. Cliff and Shannon were first and second with the same time.
Photo: Andrew Steen


1968 – Martha Merriam and Solo – Steen Arabian Ranch


Martha: “We finished last but finished! It was the year of the total eclipse of the moon. I remember Wendell coming upon me – Solo and I fell because it was pitch dark – and saying, “I’ll send someone back for you Honey.” But we got up and rode in. Just resting.
That was the year Phil’s dog Snoopy did the ride too.”


Debbie Early, Louie Henderson, Martha Merriam, Wendell Robie, and Dru Barner in 1968 at the Steen Arabian Ranch


Connie: “Louie was riding Witezarif as a five year old. Witezarif went on to complete the ride 11 times and currently holds that record*. Louie had 13 finishes.”
(* This record was broken in 2016 when Fire Mtn Destiny and Gina Hall finished the ride for the 12th time)


1969 Ride Meeting


(shown include Bruce Branscomb DVM, Louie Henderson, Bob Nelms, and Pat Fitzgerald.)


1969 Virginia City 100 ride chart


note the variety of horses used – only twelve “arabs” out of 54 horses listed




Shannon Yewell Weil and Big Red at the start in downtown Virginia City.


1969 Virginia City 100 Winner (tie with Cliff Lewis & Blackjack)


Sue Scantlebury from Australia riding the great Witezarif – 6 year old Arabian gelding – Riding Time 10:59. Witezarif also won the Best Condition Award


1969 Virginia City 100 – Shannon Yewell Weil and Big Red


Shannon: “This picture was taken just a few minutes after the one above of Susan Scantlebury on Witezarif. Cliff on Blackjack is behind me. We were in hot pursuit of Susan.
Later when we were literally racing along the long road heading towards Washoe Lake, Cliff and I were trotting at what Earl Guyton clocked at 26 mph and Sue and Witzarif were galloping to keep up with us. Sue exclaimed “I can’t believe this horse, he’s just amazing!’ Indeed he was.”
Connie: “I remember Witezarif wasn’t a fast trotter, but he could canter – light on his feet – mile after mile.”


1969 Virginia City 100


Cliff and Sue coming in to Virginia City from the old reservoir


1969 Virginia City 100 Winners (tie)


Cliff Lewis riding Blackjack – 8 year old 1/2 Arabian gelding and Sue Scantlebury riding Witezarif – 6 year old Arabian gelding – Riding Time 10:59
“Blackjack was a phenomenal horse back in the day! He won the Mapes Cup Best Condition award in 1974 with Elsa Seeger.”


Sue Scantlebury receiving the Mapes Cup Best Condition award in 1969 for Witezarif.


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