Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Why I Do Endurance - Beverly Gray

As a very young girl, I can always remember loving and admiring every horse every breed, every color. I would cut out colored paper horses and supply them with bobby-pin legs and gallop for miles and miles across the green carpet of the living room (per grid inch it was an early endurance ride). My oldest sister had the liberty of the riding lessons and drill team. I watched, and I watched. My first horse was a ¾ Arabian filly that I purchased for $75 over 30 years ago in Park City. Her name was Uinta. She was magnificent.. I raised her. But in reality she taught me so much about patience and perseverance. I trained her, initially for pleasure rides then local fun rodeos and eventually Ride and Tie. Many might remember the rugged Park City Ride and Tie. It was quite a famous trail. Unita and my women teammates (several over the years but always with Uinta) won the 2 women’s division 8 out the past 10 years and won the National Championship in 1984. We were walking on clouds.
Perhaps the Ride and Tie encouraged my athletic interaction with my equine companions, which matured to the sport of Endurance racing. Or perhaps it was just riding the trails of the Pony Express, the hideouts of Butch Cassidy at the Outlaw Trail or even the haunting, driving pioneer spirits of the Applegate Lassen trails, Overland trails, Mail trails and Wagon train trails over our great American venture and quest for the good life of the West. Most of these nostalgic trails are still only accessible on a horse! It’s wild and I love it!
It’s not the blue ribbons, silver trophies or belt buckles(I've given most to children's riding camps) rather endurance is a race and we thrive on the stimulation of finding the trail and finishing with a sound, healthy, happy horse. My horses always felt the excitement, and knew they did what the Arabian horse was bred for over thousands of years – strength, stamina, endurance and to please the master.
It’s still there, in spirit. The nostalgia of the Old West trails seems to ease the pressure of everyday, Y2K rush and tension. And the giving and wishing only to please attitude and camaraderie of your equine companion. How can I say I have it better than any other equine sport, but it could be true. I’m out there! I’m out there with the Old West trails, breathing deep the rain on sage or feeling the warm glow of Bryce canyon on a cold Fall day - only warm from the intense color of the cliffs. I’m out there in the vastness of the Nevada desert and racing the antelope or Mustang Stallion stride for stride until their intuition and freedom allows a change of direction beyond the destination endurance trail. I’m amazed that although this might be my horses’ first journey on Pony Express, he seems to know the way from the signs left by previous pony spirits. It’s the complete trust in my horse, knowing he has the night eyes on a 100-mile ride following a marble canyon with just a glimpse of the full moon. Endurance is this powerful camaraderie and the athletic teamwork.
My horses have given me so much. So much more to life. And shared so much –
A once in a lifetime sunrise, the noon sun streaking through a thick forest heavy with fog, or alone with the sound of the musical tempo of hooves over a golden road of Fall leaves.
It’s poetry!

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