2011 Tevis Forum - page 10

8
TEVISFORUM2011
photobyHughesPhotography
scene. Just as in devel-
oping a new endurance
horse,hisfitnessprogram
to this time had favored
certainty that his sound-
ness durability had been
fully developed. He was
still not at peak physical
performance, but like the
Tevis, the Old Domin-
ion tests fitness and a lot
more. Heraldic at 90%
fitness is still not shabby,
and the Old Dominion
is our home turf (rock
andsauna).Wewerefirst
placeandBCbyamodest
margin.
Two weeks of rest
after Old Dominion and
thenseveral cardio/mus-
cular focused workouts
had us physically right
where I felt we needed
to be for Tevis.Myhorse
Greyson had been on a
similarwork schedule all
season,andwasperform-
ing flawlessly, so hewas
the clear choice for an
alternate. It takes a lot of investment
of timeand logistics toprepare for the
Tevis fromout of the region. It’sboth
practical and fairest to the horses not
toput all that pressureononehorse.
To have Shannon Constanti ride
Greyson was a late opportunity of-
feredbyLindaGlazier,whowithher
husbandRogerYohehadbeen trusted
friendsandgracioushosts inourTevis
adventures for several years. Heral-
dic is strong and focused to the end
withorwithout company, sowe had
performed in quiet solitary formuch
of our endurance races. I estimated
that the rider weight difference be-
tweenmeandShannonwouldbe just
enough tooffset theveryslightdiffer-
ence in the ability of the two horses,
and that they would be very well
matched together. Iwas determined
to ride eachhorse to its ownbest ad-
vantage, but knew thatwe justmight
be able to stay together all day.
Irealizedas Iwoke themorningof
Tevis that the high altitude tempera-
turewas freakishlywarm. Iknew that
wewere aswell prepared for heat as
anyone could be, so it only bolstered
my confidence. The “new” Heraldic
gaveme thecalmest,mostdisciplined
startever, sowewarmedupandmov-
edoutwith excellent early efficiency.
I never have as much concern
about the competitive racing aspect
of thechallengeasmostpeoplewould
think. Tome theday is simplyanop-
portunity for a nature-based test of
training theories and techniques, and
otherriders in thefieldaresimplypro-
viding welcomed additional bench-
marks. Iwas a little concerned that I
might be over-pacing
when we pulled into
Red Star Ridge only a
fewmomentsbehind the
leaders, but the horses
pulseddown faster than
I could take a wiz, and
wewereonourway.
With careful regard
to the low oxygen lev-
els at that elevation, we
cruised along at a very
conservative pace to
Robinson Flat. These
horses have trained at
<15mph paces through
extended mountain
grades, so the pace we
heldwas comparatively
lazy. The trail afterRob-
inson Flat is dominated
by gentle downgrades
onfairfooting. Theseare
bone-jarring to horses
that arenotwell educat-
ed for a controlled and
collected ride, but they
are an opportunity to
demonstrate low stress
“free mile” canters for
thewell prepared.
While theWestern States Trail is
often referred to as a tough and rug-
ged course, I’d like to offer another
perspective that better describes this
test’s value as a benchmark for horse
andhorsemanship.Tosimplysay this
isa toughcourse is reallyonlyacom-
parison, relative to themodernnorm
in endurance riding today. Against
thewhole of challenges in the evolu-
tionofhorsesandhorsemanship, this
test isnot really such an extreme.
The Tevis is really much more
than justagruelingchallenge. In fact,
onlyamodestportionof the100-mile
distance isreallyall thatarduous. We
spend a lot of our time in thosemore
ruggedsectionsof thecourse,but they
are not really as large a part of the
totalmilesof testing. It’s the comple-
JohnCrandell onHeraldic takes the lead coming intoMichiganBluff.
JohnCrandell’s alternate horseGreysonwas capably ridden byShannon
Constanti. The two riders and theirmounts finished the
2010Tevis in a riding time of 14:59, 2 hours and 12minutes
ahead of the thirdfinisher.
(photo byLynneGlazer)
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