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[RC] That Was Then........... - Bruce Weary DC

My first attempt at a 100 mile ride was the Tevis. I had found a horse who was 1/8 Thoroughbred and 7/8 grade, living in a plywood and chicken wire pen in Chandler, Arizona.When I first went to see him, as it was 112 degrees out, I only rode him in a 50 ft circle two or three times before deciding to buy him. He tried so hard for me, a stranger, that something in me couldn't resist. I brought him home, named him "Thor," and put him right to work in endurance riding. We completed six or seven 50's, and about two weeks before ride day, I decided to "try" Tevis.
My plan was to finish, as at that time in my career I hadn't had much experience with not finishing. I hiked as many hills as I could to help Thor, who was a trooper all day. He fell to his knees and then to his haunches while scaling Cougar Rock, until a firm rope slapped across his shoulders caused him to tuck his front feet off the ground and leap to the top. The photo of that exact moment hangs over my fireplace mantle. Oh, I look quite brave in the picture, but I took my earliest opportunity to change my shorts after that. I literally taught him how to tail at the bottom of the first canyon, and he pulled me out of there flawlessly. Same for the second canyon, and we made our way to Foresthill without incident. I had done zero night riding prior to that day, so I had no choice but to trust Thor's eyesight and judgement as we negotiated the California trail. But as the night wore on, all the hill hiking I had done took its toll on me and progressive dehydration set in and with it my two friends "Nausea" and "Dysequilibrium." At Francicso's, I couldn't keep food or liquid down, and though the vet said "Your horse looks good. You can go on," I told him I couldn't. I passed out on a folding lounge chair, and someone threw a sleeping bag over me. Thor remained saddled and wandered and grazed freely on the piles of hay that had been scattered about, but he never went more that 20 feet from me, until I woke up a few hours later when a truck and trailer arrived to haul us back to Auburn.
I was 14 miles from a buckle. That day haunted me for years. But I later came to realize that I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. I used more of myself that day than any other day of my life before or since. And I took care of my horse. And he took care of me. And just becoming associated with the Tevis trail, though I have yet to conquer it, has led to so many other good things and friends and experiences that I might never have seen if I hadn't failed that day.
I have attempted the Tevis five times and not brought home a buckle yet. In fact I probably hold the world record for the most miles of the Tevis trail ridden without a completion. But I will return until I see the finish line from the back of a horse. Because I get so much more out of me for trying that I might not otherwise find.
And that's why 100's are special to me. Bruce Weary
P.S. Thor went on to complete over 1000 miles of endurance, even winning and getting BC once. He never took a lame step, and had a 100% completion rate---except for our day together at Tevis.


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