Saturday, May 18, 2013

First Person: Peace of the long-distance rider - Full Article

Racing through America helps banker slow down

By Steve Cocheo, executive editor & digital content manager

Astride one of his Arabian horses in an endurance race, Jim Lewien's mind narrows to the trail ahead and his mount's performance. "You don't think about work, the bank, or anything like that," says the Colorado executive. "It's very hard riding, but it's very recreational, because it's very physical and you don't have the same mental element you do on the job."

Lewien, chairman of the Denver region of $22.2 billion-assets Commerce Bancshares, grew up riding the horses of an across-the-street friend. They just hacked around, but he kept that love of riding. Yet, life happened in the meantime, and the banker didn't do much more regular riding, other than working some cattle on a relative's farm. Then, about nine years ago, at 59, he discovered endurance riding and bought several young horses that could grow into good competitors.

Distances vary according to race, rider class, and time and trail available. In common to all races is that under the rules of the American Endurance Ride Conference-its motto is "To Finish Is To Win"-horses undergo checks before, during, and after a race. Lewien explains that a horse pushed too hard by a rider-or its own competitive instincts-won't "pulse down" within the time limit. This costs horse and rider some standing.

"The health of the horse is paramount," says Lewien. Typically, during the days that many events last, the rider sleeps near his horses. (Riders may ride multiple horses in a meet.) Lewien's horse trailer has a small bunk space...

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