Mel wrote an awesome post recently about the stories that happened before she started blogging.
That got me thinking that I should maybe tell the story of my very first experience at an endurance ride.
The year was 1998, and I had recently moved my horse, my dogs, and myself away from my hometown.
In the process of moving, I fell among questionable company. You know, the kind of people who ask questions like, "Hey, I've been thinking about this endurance thing. You wanna try it?"
Oh, hell yes.
Although I was enrolled in graduate school and working a full-time job, I wanted to do that endurance-thing more than anything else in the world. I rode my mare constantly that summer, read the old Ridecamp listserv like a crazy woman, and dreamed of the Tevis.
It never occurred to me at the time that my beautiful-on-the-inside mare and I wouldn't quite fit in. I knew that endurance riding Was. My. Destiny.
But, when we arrived in camp, clearly there was One of These Things That Was Not Like The Others:
|1998 picture of Story, me, and Merridog on the trail|
My horse wasn't slender and spritely. She didn't have a chiseled profile, a babydoll head, dear little tiny ears, and a "blow-up-my-nose-and-I'll-carry-you-to-the-moon" expression on her face.
My riding companion was not much help. Her horse (a foxtrotter/arab cross) at least looked like an Arab, and he was being an idiot. He looked like he belonged in the crowd.
My mare was brown. She was sturdy. She had a head like a boot-box and an expression that clearly said "I am too sensible to let you get hurt out here."
We didn't fit in.
My heart was somewhere near my knees, and I was ready to load that good mare back in the trailer and go home before we even started.
And then....Steph Teeter trotted into camp, having done the first (?20 mile?) loop of the 100-miler on her world-class horse Nature's Khruschev.
I recognized Steph from photos I'd seen posted on Ridecamp. But I'd never seen a picture of her horse.
|2010 photo of Krusty stolen from Merri Melde's blog.|
He's a Orlov--in other words, a Standardbred with a Russian accent!
Nature's Khruschev didn't have a babydoll head, or dainty ears. He didn't look an Arab at all! He looked like Story...only about 8 inches taller.
And when Steph dismounted, it made sense. She is at least 8 inches taller than me. (and about as big around as my left arm, but that's not important here).
Clearly, not having an Arab wasn't slowing down Steph Teeter. She and Krusty took first, last, and best condition at the Bully Wully ride that day.
I decided to stay. We rode the novice distance--14 miles. We got lost twice. We stopped and picked blackberries. And when we got back to camp, my sensible mare vetted through like she'd spent her whole life waiting to do this sport.
|photo by Merri Melde, stolen from Facebook|
Although my mare Story died too young in 2006, Krusty and Steph are still together. She posted a photo of him on Facebook yesterday.
He still doesn't have a babydoll head or dainty ears.
I think he's beautiful.