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    [RC] Award Winning Post - Steph Teeter

    I do believe this post receives the 'Most Elegant Ridecamp Post' for 2002! Very nice!
    (Howard... your last post was pretty awesome too... maybe a finalist for 'Most Improved' :)
    -----Original Message-----
    From: ridecamp-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ridecamp-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Linda Cowles
    Sent: Sunday, November 10, 2002 12:45 PM
    To: DVeritas@xxxxxxx
    Cc: ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Subject: RE: [RC] National IAHA Championship on TV

    Hey Frank, you're absolutely right... running is not my job, so I can stop doing it any time I want.
    As a matter of fact I haven't been able to run for the past 2 months because something more important has to take place. I have to earn my place in this world, and right now it's a bit of a struggle. I don't have the time to run or ride. I took over ownership of a new tack store that was on the verge of folding, and it's paying it's bills but, like these horses, I could quit but I know where the feed bag hangs.
    I get to talk about riding a lot, and am surrounded by riders and kids, so I'm definitely not complaining.
    I'm like Red at the 90 mile mark... this is tough and sometimes I wonder if I'm really going to make it, I think about the grass along the trail, too. I'm not in great shape like Red is, so it's harder for me, but for as tired as I am, I feel strong. I want this. Like Red, I stretch, take a deep breath, crest the hill and start thinking about the bucket of mash I know I'll find back at camp.
    Horses CAN choose not to run, but these horses choose to keep going. They understand that running is their job, how they earn their position in the community. It's their job, for gods sake. Some of you may not understand that, but somehow these horses do. Horses understand the stark reality of life better than we do because of their awareness of the constant presence of unseen predators. They understand that we're the leaders who protect them, they have no illusions about a mythical Uncle Sam who'll take care of them if they choose to quit trying. 
    Endurance horses can quit, and many do. You don't see the quitters racing for championships; the quitters become pleasure animals, are shipped to Texas, are backyard pets, mediocre endurance horses. It takes tenacity and desire to achieve what these world class horses achieve. It also takes superb riding and management. Many of our best endurance horses could have gone to the bone knackers... but someone understood their abilities and supported their success.
    Animals are phenomenal communicators, but people don't always listen.  Kerry and Christine Ridgeway were up here visiting last week, and Kerry talked to our Redwood Riders riding club about saddle fit.  I video taped it and... Damn, Kerry is so good... let me tell you, that man REALLY knows his stuff. And he can communicate what he knows effectively, share his knowledge.
    Someone else there was good at communicating too. Know who stole the spotlight from Kerry?  
    The horse with a sore back who had something to say, and said it with stunning clarity. Through the video  camera, I watched this horse with saddle fit problems try painstakingly to articulate exactly what hurt and where. His communication was as eloquent as any mime I've ever seen. He was communicating to us - the more intelligence species - and Kerry showed us how to listen. 
    Their interaction was thought provoking.  I wish you could see this tape.
    When horses have something to say, they say it. Riders like Heather and Valerie listen better than most of us. They have to!! These horses are their wings. You and I can make stupid mistakes and not have them scrutinized and regurgitated in public, and even if our blunders do make it to Ridecamp, the embarrassment isn't the same thing to us as it is to them. They pay for being in the spotlight. Practically speaking, if their horses falter, so does their reputation.  If their horses start getting stale and resistant, they need to give them time off and they know it. Horses won't compete this well against their will. They will quit. For Heather, endurance is her life, and Reds welfare is paramount, from emotional and practical perspectives.
    I've been around race tracks, show barns of all types, breeding barns, feed lots and ranches, and these high caliber endurance horses have, by and large, an extremely good life. I've ridden with Valerie in Fort Valley, and her horses get the best of everything. I've boarded horses alongside Red, and that boy has a very good life.
    Horses aren't toys, they are alive, they understand the rules for staying alive as well as we do, and probably better. They don't have our illusions to contend with. They have to uphold their part of the deal or all bets are off.
    Someone else can have my soap box now... Bye!
    Linda Cowles
    Horse 'N Hound 
    New, Consigned & Used Tack
    9155 North State St.,  Redwood Valley, CA 95470
    EASY  access with Hwy 101 frontage!
    Store: 707-485-0347               Fax:  707-485-4053