Here it Comes Again

So here we are. 2013. And Tevis is coming around again. ?Fast.

this is the sole prize for successfully covering 100 miles in 24 hours – totally worth it

This year the world’s toughest endurance ride will happen on July 22nd. It will be my tenth attempt on the eighth horse in a series. ?I’ve?crossed the finish line seven times so far, which exceeds the norm (only about half of starters finish each year). So here I sit, with my eyes closed to slits, waiting for statistics to catch up with me…

For readers new to this blog, my name is Jenni Smith and I’ve been riding the sport of Endurance (learn more at the AERC website) ?for a dozen years or so. ?I now find myself rapidly approaching the 3,000 mile mark – amazing, that. Two years ago I blogged about my adventures doing the Western States Trail Ride on a superior creature named Bear. Despite a tricky snow year – the ride was first postponed for two months and then rerouted to avoid two different seasons of the pesky white stuff – Bear and I eventually covered 100 miles together.

Last year I did not blog, but Bear and I again made the attempt – this time on the traditional trail sans snow – and finished in grand style. Stay tuned for the story of that adventure?

This year I hope to share with you a successful ride on, and yet, a different steed. If I were a betting girl (not so much, too dark and smelly in casinos) I would feel better about my chances this year – based solely on my horse – than any previous year.

Me and Stella

Stella is a star. She’s as level-headed as any mare can make claim to, sure footed, efficient and built like a racehorse. Seriously. She’s not much to look at as Arabians go, but she’s a damn cute horse for all that. Her father, Sam Tiki, is one of Arabian horse racing’s most accomplished stallions.

Stella – whose full name is M Dash Stellar – has already finished Tevis twice and, at nine years old, has started consistently landing in the top ten at races she’s done in the last year. Her recoveries – how quickly her heart rate drops to vet check criteria (usually 60 bpm) – are stellar (pun intended). I can’t emphasize enough what a bonus that is as both a competitor and a human responsible for the well-being of a horse that is carrying me many miles at speed.

She’s also a really solid horse. Now, she’s still an Arabian and capable of finding drainage pipes stuck in hillsides absolutely petrifying, but among the collection of creatures?I’ve?started this crazy-ass race on Stella is the one I feel certain will do her absolute best. I will be truly surprised if she does anything stupid along the way. Of course, now that I’ve said that?

I’m riding again with my good friend Jennifer Waitte. Stella is Jenn’s horse and ?sister’ (not truly related but grew up with) to Jenn’s mount, Czoe. Czoe (M Dash Czoe) is just about Stella’s polar opposite. Jenn employs her enviably-long legs effectively to stay on a mare that can shoot sideways 20 feet in the midst of a 12 mph trot with zero warning. Czoe has beautiful ground manners, but starts every ride with a hump in her back that Jenn bravely rides out of her.

The good thing, the REALLY good thing about Czoe is that she wants to go. Stella is too smart. She will begin to wonder if leaving a vet check is really a good idea, but if Czoe goes she’ll follow. Stella will see a steep hill and consider flipping a u-turn, but if Czoe goes up the hill in a springy trot, so will Stella. That’s not to say that Stella is Czoe’s shadow. She likes to get out front and has started to show signs of becoming highly competitive, tracking down horses she sees far ahead on trail. But that slightly nutty “let’s go!” quality that Czoe has is a really nice bonus in any endurance pony.