Steamboat Springs In 51 years of North American Trail Ride Conference competitions, no horse and rider team has ever won the organization’s top four national awards in the same year.
That changed in 2011 when Craig resident Ken Wolgram, 47, and his 12-year-old half Arabian, half quarter horse, Awesomes Fire N Ice, blazed a new standard.
Wolgram, a native Coloradan and Craig resident since he was 12, has been riding since he was 5 and competitively for the last 15 years.
He took home the NATRC President’s Cup for high point horse in the nation and the Jim Menefee award for combined horse and horsemanship in 2002.
Nine years later, he won those two trophies again and added two additional pieces of hardware to the collection — the Polly Bridges Memorial Trophy for high average horsemanship and the Bev Tibbetts Award for high average horse — to complete the organization’s first ever grand slam.
“That’s the first time anyone has ever won those top four awards in NATRC history,” Wolgram said. “I’m really proud of our accomplishments. I probably won’t be able to top this again, but I guess I can always try.”
NATRC sponsors trail riding competitions from Alaska to Florida and the organization is divided into six regions.
Colorado is in Region 3 with Utah, Wyoming, Montana and New Mexico.
Wolgram and Ice participated in all nine regional events plus three more competitions in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Events typically feature trail rides of 50 to 60 miles, which are completed during a weekend and are judged not only on a rider’s ability to control the animal but also by a veterinarian who monitors each horse’s pulse rate, respiration, dehydration levels and general overall soundness during the ride.
“The objective is to end with a horse in as good of shape as what you started with,” Wolgram said. “A good horse plays a tremendous role. You need a sound horse, good breeding and good genetics.”
Wolgram bred and trained Ice.
Wolgram said he did not begin training Ice until the horse was 5 and has only been competing him since 2010.
“Horses are herd animals and they like to be with each other, so it’s hard to train a horse to listen to you when there are a lot of other horses around,” Wolgram said. “This is just his second year competing, and he won all this.”
As Wolgram began competing Ice in 2010, he knew the horse was something special. In addition to the 12 NATRC competitions, Wolgram decided to test his animal in the two hardest endurance races in the country.
The team traveled first to Wyoming for the one-day, 100-mile Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run, taking seventh place out of 28 riders.
Wolgram and Ice also went to California for the Tevis Cup, another one-day, 100-mile race that draws close to 200 hundred horse and rider teams from as far away as Australia and United Arab Emirates.
Out of a field of 178 riders in 2011, Wolgram and Ice placed 22nd.
Because of the additional accomplishments, NATRC also recognized Ice for logging more than 1,000 competitive miles in just two years and named him the 2011 Overall Open Heavyweight Horse in the nation.
“To win all of the NATRC awards in one year is an incredible accomplishment,” Wolgram said. “But to do so well at the two hardest races in the United States really shows what a special horse Ice is.”