Carrollspaper.com - Full Article
February 23 2013
She and Amigo finish famed Tevis Cup and are competing this weekend in Oklahoma
By LARRY DEVINE
Riding a horse on narrow trail with sheer cliff on one side and straight drop-off on the other isn’t for the faint of heart.
Navigating such terrain safely, riders employ their considerable skills and also put great trust in their horses.
A misstep can mean tragedy.
That’s the challenge Tracy McIntosh of Glidden accepted this summer when she and her 14-year-old Arabian horse, Amigo, who’s already proved himself to be a survivor, participated in the annual Tevis Cup in California, considered to be the country’s pinnacle of endurance horseback endurance racing.
Riders push to complete the 100-mile course that steers riders and horses through highly demanding of terrains — mountain, canyons and switchbacks — within 24 hours.
Tevis Cup began shortly after 5 a.m. Aug. 4, at Robie Equestrian Park near Truckee, Calif., crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains and finished at Gold County Fairgrounds arena at Auburn.
Right off the bat, riders climbed from 6,200-foot elevation at Squaw Valley to 8,750 feet at Emigrant Pass.
For McIntosh, that was a grueling start but also a favorite part of the ride. “That was really beautiful climbing. And the scenery was beautiful up there,” she says.
Indeed, the course’s dramatic changes in elevation was one of the biggest challenges for McIntosh and Amigo.
“In Iowa, there’s no place you can train for those elevations,” she says. “You can’t really train for the altitude. You just have to put in your miles and try to do some hills.”
With the cliffs, canyons and dropoffs, the Tevis Cup course has a lot of other features McIntosh doesn’t normally see.
Danger adds to the challenge.
“You don’t have a lot of trail space,” she says. “The trail can be barely a foot wide. They’ve widened it a little bit, but you have cliffs and you have dropoffs, so you can’t add too much.”
With the course crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains, she remarks, “It’s tough stuff. You just have to trust your horse you won’t slip and fall...”