Saturday July 25 2009
Garden Valley, California
0 Tevis starts
"Watching horses cross the finish line of Tevis makes me cry. Every time."
Lucy has been involved with the Tevis Cup every year since 1997 - either taking photos, doing the webcast, or crewing for friends. She's wanted to ride Tevis for several years, but she never had a horse that was appropriate for it. This year, for the first time, she'll be riding the Tevis, and she'll be on her own horse, AM Ruwala Land (Roo). "It will be interesting to be 'on the other side of the fence' this year," she says.
Interesting... and maybe a little scary?
"He spooks. In fact, he dumped me off Saturday." One might not find that to be the most valuable trait on a trail with many treacherous dropoffs. "Oh it's a regular occurrence. But he's really a good boy, a worker bee."
They've both pre-ridden 64 miles of the trail in pieces, from Robinson (at 36 miles) to the finish, so they are well prepared. There IS one part of the trail, after Deadwood, (at 55 miles), that gives her the Heebie Jeebies. "It's a 'one misstep and you plummet' trail." She and her husband were riding it, and the horses tripped and almost went over the edge. "I ride drop-off steep trails all the time, but there's something about that section really really frightened me."
How Lucy got to Tevis in the first place is all because of a single photograph. It was on the desk of a co-worker: a picture of an endurance horse going over Cougar Rock. One look at that picture, and Lucy said, "I want to do that activity!"
She'd started riding horses thirty-three years earlier when she was 10 years old in Holland. "I only rode in an arena. That's all they have in Holland!"
The Cougar Rock photo got her started in endurance in the US in 1998. "I bought one horse... that wasn't really suitable. I bought another horse... that wasn't really suitable. I bought another horse..." Eventually she figured out what she was doing, and now she's riding the Tevis.
She has a good partner in Roo. He's a 9-year-old Arabian, with 1740 miles, and has had only 3 pulls in 28 starts. He and Lucy completed the Patriot's Day 100 together last year, so there's no doubt he can do a hundred miles.
And he's got a great pedigree going for him also: he's a grandson of the mare AM Xanthium, whom Shellie Hatfield rode to a Tevis cup win (tie) in 1992. This year Roo will be competing against his dam, AM Sands of Time, (the daughter of AM Xanthium), who will be ridden by Marcia Smith. 'Sandy' and Smith finished 5th in the 2006 Tevis. "But Roo is not Sandy or Xanthium!" Lucy said with a grin - she's not going to be chasing a top ten placing.
While Lucy got a case of nerves a month ago, right now she's in a good place. "Now my To Do list is shorter than my Done list, so things are going good." The only thing Lucy is really worried about is dealing with the first couple of hours on the trail: "I tend to dawdle, and you can't do that on the Tevis trail."
It will be a great challenge, one she's looking forward to. And if she crosses the finish line on Roo early Sunday morning, you can bet her eyes won't be dry.