Endurance Riding

Jul 13 2014

The Sport We Call Endurance

Published by under Endurance Riding

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We are less than a month away from Tevis and my mind is filled with all kinds of thoughts. At night, I dream of crossing the finish line on my gallant mare, Asali, a horse I now know can do 100 miles.

I put together invitations for my crew to attend a pre-Tevis dinner and meeting. Inside, a quote by Julie Suhr reads, “I have never regretted a Tevis Cup start.” Julie continues by saying her best Tevis Ride was on a horse named Rumadi, on a day they did not finish. I was reminded of a ride, just a couple months ago, on my green-broke Arab, Dippi. It was our second attempt to finish our first limited distance ride together. Back in April, we had been pulled at Whiskeytown at the 12.5 mile mark when Dippi started cramping in the hind end. She recovered beautifully after some water and electrolytes, and I took her home for more training.

The weekend of Mother’s Day, we arrived at Cache Creek, ready to sponsor Jakob and his new horse, Zaza, feeling confident we wouldn’t let this 25 miles get to us. However, Dippi came up lame about 6 miles from the finish. I dismounted, and hand walked her in the entire way. As we came up over the ridge, it began raining on us. I stopped momentarily, took a deep breath, and was almost brought to tears by the beauty that spanned miles in front of us. I felt blessed to be alive, to be healthy enough to walk my injured horse however far I needed to, and to watch as my son completed his ride, demonstrating good judgment and horsemanship with his new mount. Another non-completion on our record, but a ride that left me with many more fond memories. A photo of Jakob and me, on Zaza and Dippi, from that exact ride, sits on my desk as I write.

Only two weeks later, I loaded Asali in the horse trailer and took her to Run for the Gold 50, our last ride before Tevis. We went alone, without Jakob, and we finished without incident. We had an enjoyable ride, riding almost the entire 50 miles with a woman named Laurie. The ride reminded me of our own training grounds at home and I spent a good deal of the ride on foot, not because I had to, but because I wanted to stay fit for Tevis. We returned home the day after the ride, and I spent the following month with Jakob, getting Beauty and Zaza ready for the Weaver Basin Express 50, as well as trail scouting and mapping for the endurance ride I’m managing in September.

It is now one week post the Weaver Basin Express, and I am once again, left with a pride I can’t explain. The Weaver Basin Express 50 was held out in Weaverville, in the Trinity National Forest. It was a gorgeous ride, with the trail being almost entirely single track. But it was a hot and technical ride, and we experienced some challenges on the day of the ride. Jakob was my saving grace. He didn’t complain, and when I expressed my frustration with the heat, the trail sabotage that occurred, leaving us guessing on the ribbons, the lack of water, or the thrown boot, he continued to remind me that everything was going to be fine. He and Beauty kept pushing me and Zaza forward. And when we found the finish line, 10 minutes before ride cut-off time, I was brought to tears. Jakob turned around, asking, “Mom, are you okay?” I smiled, said yes, and hid my tears behind my sunglasses. Jakob was the only junior to finish the 50 that day. And he was the only junior, after finishing both days at Whiskeytown on Beauty, to receive the Shasta-Trinity Triple Crown Award. Furthermore, the two horses we chose to ride that day were the two we know don’t usually do well in the heat. But they proved us both wrong, finishing just fine in almost 100 degree weather. The Weaver Basin Express 50 was one of the toughest 50 mile rides I have ever done, but it is only with those rides that you receive the greatest sense of accomplishment at the end. Despite its challenges, Jakob and I plan on tackling it again in the future.

And here I am, just weeks away from Tevis, feeling blessed beyond words, for the life I’ve been given. For the rides we’ve finished, and those we haven’t, for the wind that calls us, the trees that surround us, the friends we’ve made out on the trail, in the middle of nowhere, for the family that supports us and listens intently to the stories we come home with, to the horses who give us the chance to fly… to the sport we call endurance…

 

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