Retired Racehorse to Go 2650 Miles for Education and Other Retirees

Susan O'Hara-Bates and a female riding companion begin a trek that no female equestrian has 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. 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) was female. Susan researched, mapped, planned supply strategy and rode many miles conditioning herself and her trusted Thoroughbred ex-racehorse for this daunting task.

On Friday May 1, Susan will lead her retired former racehorse, Four-N-Port out of his outdoor stall at the Manzanita Horse Camp in Boulevard, CA, tack him with her favorite trail saddle, 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 six-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.”

For more information, to make a pledge based on the number of miles Susan completes or to make a one-time cash contribution, visit The Elite Program’s website at You can also follow Susan’s progress on the trail log on the Groom Elite website and on Google earth as located by “Spot”.

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