Cjonline.com - Full Article
Published Tuesday, August 26, 2008
When she heard about a horse ride more than 500 miles along one of the most historic trails in the United States, Becky McDowell thought "why not?"
"I've got the horses, and I've got the time," McDowell said. "I have a hard time getting a job anywhere.
"I don't know how to do anything. But I know how to ride horses."
Starting Sunday, McDowell will take part in the Great Santa Fe Trail endurance ride, a 14-day, 515-mile horse race along a section of the Santa Fe Trail.
This is the second year for the race, which starts in Mountain Wagon, N.M. The course takes riders along the Santa Fe Trail with stops in various cities along the way. The 515-mile course is broken into 10 rides of about 50 miles a day, with two-day stops in Clayton, N.M., Dodge City, Lyons and Council Grove, where the race finishes.
The race awards two winners — one who rides the same horse the entire 515 miles and another who uses more than one horse.
McDowell, who qualified 17th in a preliminary ride, is taking two horses, the appropriately named One Eye (really, he only has one eye) and Prizzy. While One Eye will be her primary mount, Prizzy will be coming along in case One Eye needs a break.
Race officials monitor the health of the horses and can force a rider to quit if the horse's heart rate is too high.
For McDowell, a Hutchinson native who has lived in Topeka since she was a child, the race is a chance to see some great countryside.
"We start high in the mountains," McDowell said. "I'll be able to experience a little bit of what the pioneers went through, a little. Not near as much because they had a lot of hardships. We'll have tents, and some people will have campers."
While the chance to see some historic sights along a piece of history is one aspect of the race, McDowell said most of the competitors have one thing in common.
"We all have one love," she said. "We love horses, and we love riding."