Austin360.com - Full Article
By Pam LeBlanc | Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Toodles and I teamed up for a long-distance ride at the Parrie Haynes Ranch northwest of Florence this weekend.
Toodles, you may recall, is a sturdy, sure-footed mare with a velvety nose and a trot that feels sort of like sitting in a gently swaying Barcalounger. She belongs to my friend Elaine Swiss, an all-around awesome gal who competes in distance riding and competitive trail riding events.
Elaine let me ride Toodles in a competitive trail ride a few months ago. We chugged through a course spiced up with obstacles like loading and unloading a trailer, side stepping a log, and opening a gate while mounted.
Now Elaine is preparing Toodles and one of her other horses, a gray mare named Roulette, for a distance ride, where horse and rider teams trot cross-country, racing to see who can cover a marked route in the shortest amount of time.
Rest periods are planned into the course, and veterinarians periodically check the horses along the way to make sure they’re sound and healthy. (The humans, however, are on their own!)
Elaine plans to ride Roulette at the Arabian Horse Association Distance National in September, held on the grounds of the swanky and historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. Her sister will ride Toodles in the two-day event, which consists of a 50-mile and 100-mile endurance ride.
I’m Toodles’ backup rider. If I get the last-minute call, I will swoop in and ride Toodles through the cool, misty hills of George Vanderbilt’s old stomping ground...
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