Thursday, September 13, 2012

‘To finish is to win’

Dylan Brown photo-Independent Record - Full Story

By DYLAN BROWN Independent Record
September 12 2012

Long before the sun breaks the horizon, Helenan Julie Muscutt is up feeding her horse a high protein mash with electrolytes. She fills a water bowl and heads back to bed. Muscutt says, “Just like marathon runners, horses need to hydrate.”

Her alarm buzzes and she’s back outside in the dark, strapping on a saddle. The horizon is burning red and her horse snorts in anticipation for the ride to come. She’s preparing for the seventh annual Pioneer Cabin Endurance Race, which is a two-day event on the Dagnell Ranch off Lincoln Road. She is one of several locals competing in the endurance race, which draws people from around the state and as far away as Calgary.

On Saturday, 12 racers competed in the 50-mile endurance race, 16 in the 25-mile limited race and two in the fun ride. On Sunday, three competed in the 50-mile endurance race and seven competed in the 30-mile limited distance race — this is the race Muscutt was preparing for.

As the sun beams across the wide Canyon Creek valley, the 50-mile riders let their reins down and head off across the dry landscape, kicking up dust streaked by rays of light. The 50-mile course is composed of two 15-mile laps, one 12-mile lap and one 8-mile lap. After each lap, the riders and their horses take a 45-minute break while veterinarians check the horses’ vitals, such as cardiovascular, skin tenting and gut sounds.

Muscutt says it’s all about the horse. “It’s really fun; it’s a thrill,” she says. “There isn’t a dress code, no political hype, none of that. Come be friendly and take care of your horse. If you don’t take care of your horse, you’ll get a bad rap really quick. If you don’t take care of your horse you won’t get along with these people...”

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