NBC Olympics and equestrian coverage

I'm rather surprised and pleased with how good is this time around. Sure there are annoyances like expecting users to download a Microsoft plugin, although it appears that the plugin is even available for Linux and Firefox. The site and approach aren't without their flaws. It remains clear that NBC doesn't grok the internet. They don't understand how people want to access data and they require you to click through a screen which says you subscribe to a local cable/satellite service as well as provide a zip code so they can target advertising on the page to their local affiliate.

So I'll certainly give the benefit of the doubt and say it looks like progress. I'm looking forward to the olympics of the future where networks compete globally and if the BBC has the best equestrian coverage I can not only view it easily but download and remix it in ways they never intended.

For now, this is better than a sharp stick in the eye. Although the next DirecTV terminator advertisement it might not be.


The good ones are never here long enough. This morning Encore passed quietly into the pasture everlasting. Though her name on her papers was Charry-Dat she became known to us as Encore. The name had meaning on several levels from the degree of involvement we had in music growing up to the similarity of her markings to those of one of my father's past horses.

It was a cool December day when I first met the horse that would become my first horse. We were celebrating Christmas in San Diego and had seen a couple of horses listed on the board at the feed store. We ended up with a trio of thoroughbreds from a stable outside Del Mar. Two-year-old Encore came with her chestnut half brother Tarn, who passed a couple of years ago, and the dark bay three-year-old Tenaya.

With the VW Bus packed and a new engine freshly installed we set out for home on New Year's Eve. About sixty miles later, while pulling a grade, the new engine quit and we were forced to be towed back to the grandparent's house. The next day after a trip to the rental car agency we packed what we could into the Chevy Astro Van and set out for home again. The horses arrived a few days later and were boarded at a neighbors while the corral panels we'd purchased were delivered.

When they first arrived my heart was set on the young stud-colt. I knew I wanted him to be my horse. It quickly became apparent that he was too much horse and too green for my first horse. The horses spent the next few weeks at the neighbors and we would go each afternoon we were home to work them in the round pen. Within a few weeks the corrals were setup and the horses moved to our place.

The tale of a con

Tired and dusty the cowboy rides his noble horse across the desert. From the arid plains of Arizona, through the deserts of the southwest and into the Rocky Mountains. Miles of wide open range greet the solitary traveler in Big Sky country. And all for a good cause... helping feed children who might otherwise go hungry. A noble cause indeed.... if only the cowboy had been so noble.

The tale of Richard Fipps' con goes back several years. In the late 1980's Fipps was convicted of armed burglary, a conviction he appealed on the basis that Fipps didn't carry the rifle with him while committing the burglary. Florida's appeals court found the facts fit the crime of armed burglary and that the minimum sentence would stand.

While in prison Fipps changed his name to Richard Handy, a moniker he'd keep for several years before changing it back to Fipps several years later. In the meantime Fipps didn't stay out of trouble with the law. Another conviction came in 1993, this time for stealing horses.

The would-be horseback con

The Long Rider's Guild has a story about Richard Fipps. Fipps came to the attention of Nevada authorities earlier this year when his supposed charitable ride was exposed as a hoax. We'd written about it here and began talking with the Guild to put together all the information we could. In the end it is a very sad tale of a felon spinning a story of an old-west cowboy working to help kids when in reality it was a horse and car stealing armed burglar in court on domestic violence charges when he was supposedly riding the wide open range.

Monday we'll have more about how the sloppy journalism of newspapers who failed in every aspect of fact checking helped this con man to ply his trade anew with more victims taken in.

One fraud or two?

That Richard Fipps made up the tale of his ride from Mexico to Canada earlier this year has been well established. Along with neighbor's accounts of Fipps at his Las Vegas home during the supposed trip the Las Vegas Sun reported last week that the owner of the stable where Fipps' horses are stabled stated they hadn't been gone for more than a long weekend during the ride.

Three years ago Fipps also claimed to have made an epic trip. Much of the documentation of that trip has disappeared from the web but The Cullman Times has an article from the following summer with extensive quotes from Fipps.

When he reached Colorado, Fipps had decided to rest a couple of days and enter a rodeo. He ended up winning the rodeo and staying for a week.

He helped a local rancher push cattle. He helped a patrol officer herd escaped cattle off a road.

When he neared Grand Junction, Colo., Fipps experienced the only scary part of the trip.

"I had packed for four days and told my rig to go on ahead of me, I'd meet it in Grand Junction," he said, planning to ride across some mountains.

Warning signs

The first clue should have been the entry form. When signing up for a Spirit Therapies charitable trail ride all of the information about when and where the ride was was on the part of the entry form that went back to the organization.

Waking with the dawn we laid in bed a while longer and went out about 6 AM on Saturday to get the horses and tack ready for the day's ride. We'd be trailering with Linda, one of our neighbors to Spring Mountain State Park, near Red Rock Canyon west of Las Vegas. Methodically we moved the saddles, cleaned the horses, double-checked for the extra sun-screen, lugged the five-gallon water jug and got ready for the trip. All set for our 7 AM departure. We waited, and waited.

Eventually, deciding there must be a problem, Sarah called and woke Linda up. The day after a swing-shift Linda was sleeping when the phone rang. She reminded us that the trail ride was on Sunday. Linda went back to sleep and we loaded up for a ride across Sandy Valley instead.


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