Saturday, August 18, 2018

Long way back: From ‘Crawl of Grit’ to Tevis Cup, equestrian’s dream comes full circle - Full Article

Brian Hamilton
August 17, 2018

Crossing the finish line after the overnight horse ride from Truckee to Auburn, she wasn't just arriving at the race's end.

She had landed on the doorstep of her dream.

And the emotional release spilled out through tears, laughter and unbridled joy that spread a smile wide across her face.

Susannah Jones and her Arabian, Diablo Maj, had conquered the Tevis Cup. But the journey they'd completed extended far beyond the 100 miles they'd just covered.

Horse and rider set out that 2012 morning for their first endurance ride training, something Susannah said she'd wanted to do since first seeing the Tevis Cup.

But after a long ride out from camp, they came to a cattle grate blocking their path. They looked for an alternate route when Maj got tangled up in barbed wire and brought them both to the ground and rolling down a rocky embankment, the twisting barbed wire tearing at their flesh as their bodies were banged bloody, bruised and broken.

All alone on a 9,000 acre ranch in the middle of nowhere — an area known as the Renner Valley in the "Oregon Outback" — she knew she had to get help.

So Susannah, who turns 64 next month, set off on what she calls "The Crawl of Grit."

"We had our tendons severed at the knees and I had broken mine (kneecap) along with many other injuries," she said. "I somehow dragged myself for eight miles in desert heat … It was sheer willpower, man, because I was bleeding all over...

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