Keep true to the dreams of thy youth – Johann von Schiller
…and one of those dreams was The Tevis. Yes, when I was in my youth, as it says…the Tevis was a dream. To compete in this prestigious and difficult endurance race was what I practiced for as I rode Mr. Brown, a ranch gelding I grew up with. The appeal? Partnering with my horse in a challenge we could meet and defeat together.
Life happens and it was not to be. Knees damaged by years of soccer and horseback riding led to less challenging sports in these later years…my fifties…but I always read about it and my gaze was drawn to photos of the competitors climbing Cougar Rock or another landmark of this 100 mile race.
The ride is from Tahoe to Auburn, California in one day…across the mountains, veterinarians checking the condition of the horses throughout the race. Not everyone finishes. Horses are pulled as are riders for various health related issues that develop during that day.
So, out of the blue sky…as God loves to do…my wish has been granted. No, I am not competing but I have been asked to be on the race crew for a friend who is. Tracy Kelly, my veterinarian friend from Waco and her daughter are both experienced endurance racers. They both ride Arabians, the predominant breed found in this type of competition, and Tracy asked me to be in charge of her horse during the veterinarian checks during the race.
My job will be to calculate when the rider will be coming into the vet check area. At that time, I will take the horse from her, possibly remove the saddle or loosen the girth to help in the cooling process, clean the face and legs with cool water, offer water to the horse and dose her with electrolytes, massage tight muscles, whatever it takes to help the horse lower its heart rate and expel body heat. Take the horse to the vet for its pulse and respiration check, put the saddle back on and make sure this all happens in the time designated. I will do this multiple times during a 24 hour period and probably just be getting good at it at the end of the race. The race begins in the dark and ends in the dark. Wow!
Of course, I’m a little nervous about it because my intention is to do a good job and be an asset to the crew, but I have never done this before and I can read till the cows come home about what to do but the proof is in the pudding. Cows…pudding…what is she talking about?
So, wish us luck. The race is July 20th. I’m flying out to watch my husband compete in the Vineman Triathlon where I will be on the wine sipping crew because that race takes place in Sonoma, California…
…but then I drive to the Tevis race site. My heart rate went up just thinking about it.