A H W
the official Arabian breed magazine of the
photos by Lynne Glazer
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Facing page, left: Horses and riders break for water. Right: A rider leading her horse over the famous â€œswinging bridge.â€? This page, top: First place finishers Sarah Engsberg and K-Zar Emmanuael (Fasas x Amira Leopsha by *Shamadan) cross the finish line at 10:20 p.m. Bottom left and right: Second to finish and winners of the Haggin Cup for Best Condition, Melissa Ribley, DVM, and LD Monique (*Patent x Monoklero).
Tevis Overview by Cindy Reich
he 2008 Tevis Cup was canceled due to the severe wildfires in California. The danger posed by the unpredictability of the fires and the poor air quality caused the organizers to think first of the safety of the horses and riders. Therefore, dreams that had been put on hold for a year were ignited afresh early on an August morning. The riders assembled on August 1, 2009, for the 54th running of the Western States Trail Ride, more commonly known as the Tevis Cup. The Tevis Cup was named for Lloyd Tevis by his grandson, an early benefactor of the ride. The Tevis Cup was first awarded in 1959 to Rick Mansfield, riding Buffalo Bill, a Thoroughbred/ cross gelding.
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The goal. 100 miles in 24 hours, replicating the bet that Wendell Robie made in 1955. He bet that he could ride from Lake Tahoe to Auburn, California, in one day. He made good on his bet and repeated the feat the following year with a group of friends and thus began the Western States Trail Ride. Wendell Robie not only founded the Western States Trail Ride, he founded the Western States Trail Foundation to preserve the 100-mile trail route. It might be added that his mount, Bandos (not to be confused with the Polish import *Bandos), was an Arabian.
The buckle. Everyone who finishes the ride within the 24-hour time limit and whose horse is judged “fit to continue” is awarded the coveted silver Completion Award Buckle, which gives one bragging rights forever after. This year Barbara White earned her 29th buckle, making her the all-time leader for the number of successful completions of the ride.
Top: Marcia Smith and AM Sands Oftime (SSA Csea Dream x Al-Marah Xanthium), pictured here climbing the ski slopes of Squaw Valley, finished third. Left: Bronwyn Swan and Splashes Maskrade (Gulastras Splash x Tamarah Knight) finished fourth. Below: SE Sanctioning Director Susan Kasemeyer, head vet Jim Baldwin, DVM, and Jim Edwards, DVM. It was Dr. Edwards’s 40th year vetting at Tevis!
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Left: Kathie Perry and Inkhogneto (Instigator SF x Sharaya SF) finished fifth. Top right: Sixth place finishers Tennessee Mahoney and Salty (Half-Arabian) make their way through the town of Foresthill. Bottom right: Chirstopher Baker and SMR Zoltaan (x Cameo Corrine) finished seventh. Eventual winners Sarah Engsberg and K-Zar Emmanuel are just behind them as they climb out of one of the steep canyons.
The statistics. This year a total of 169 riders started, including six “Junior” riders who were under the age of 18 and could only compete if accompanied by an adult rider throughout the ride. Eighty-two riders pulled and 87 completed the ride for a 51 percent completion rate. Unfortunately, one horse, Ice Joy, ridden by Skip Kemerer, slipped while being led on the trail and fell off the cliff edge, sustaining a fatal skull injury. The rider was not injured. The Tevis Cup trophy is awarded to the person with the fastest time and whose horse is judged “fit to continue.” Sarah Engsberg from Atlanta, Georgia, riding K-Zar Emmanuel (Fasas x Amira Leapsha by *Shamadan), a 15-year-old Arabian gelding, crossed the finish line first at 10:20 p.m. Please see K-Zar’s story beginning on page 130. Close on her heels at 10:31 p.m., Melissa Ribley, DVM, of Grass Valley, California, finished second on LD Monique (*Patent x Monoklero by*Monokl), a 13-year-old Arabian mare. Sixty seconds later, Marcia Smith, DVM, of Loomis, California, a three-time Tevis winner, finished third on the 13-year-old mare AM Sands Of Time (SSA Csea Dream by Dreamazon x Al-Marah Xanthium by AM Count Rafla). The ride officially ended at 5:15 a.m. August 2.
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The Haggin Cup. This award is given the day after the ride for the horse that finishes in the best condition. The top ten horses that finish are presented to a panel of veterinarians. Second-place finisher, Melissa Ribley, DVM, and LD Monique were awarded the Haggin Cup for 2009. In a nod to modern technology, for the first time, Karen Chaton acted as webmaster for live coverage of the event, uploading photos, videos, and Twitter messages to the webcast homepage. Viewers could see YouTube clips taken from the saddle, which provided a very “real-time” experience of the ride.
Weather conditions this year were decidedly cooler than in previous years, which undoubtedly came as a relief to both horses and riders. “I was not in front most of the day,” said second-place finisher Melissa Ribley. “I was probably in the teens for most of the ride. My goal was just to have a consistent ride. However, my mare was having a very strong day — probably one of her best days on a ride. “At the last checkpoint, just past the lower quarry, about six miles from the finish, the first-place horse was pulled. That moved me up to third place, with the first- and second-place horses together as we all rode for the finish. When we were about four miles from the finish, the volunteers told me I was only about two minutes behind the leaders. I pushed it at that point and went into a hand gallop. It was the most exciting ride I have ever had. It’s dark out and we were jumping creeks and going through ditches on this narrow trail. “When the two grey horses appeared out of the darkness [the leading two riders were both on greys — Melissa’s mare is bay] I couldn’t believe I had caught them. After four miles at the gallop, my mare told me she needed to slow down, so we dropped to a trot, and came in second, 11 minutes behind the winner.” Jaede Miloslavich, who volunteered to place and pull markers on 25 miles of the Tevis trail, was at the finish line as a spectator. “Everyone thought Jeanette Mero, DVM, from Mariposa, California, was going to win this year,” Miloslavich said. “She was in the lead until the last possible place to be pulled. This gave K-Zar Emmanuel the chance he needed to pull ahead and win. K-Zar came in first. He trotted across the finish line with his head high and a happy look. He headed to the water tank, drank a huge draught, and then while they pulled his saddle, he gazed around at all the other folks there. He looked like he could go another 100 miles. Incredible gelding, and gorgeous.”
Miloslavich continued, “Not only were the pulled riders there at the ‘real’ finish, but families, locals, all kinds of horse and endurance enthusiasts. In the dark, there is nothing like hearing hoofbeats of the winning horse come up the single-track hill trail out of the dark and cross the line.” The following day, the top ten finishing horses would be presented to a panel of veterinarians to be judged for best condition and the coveted Haggin Cup. Ribley’s mare, LD Monique was awarded the Haggin. “I was surprised,” said Ribley. “It was not on my radar screen. I never thought I would win the Cup. There were very good horses and very good riders there. However, Monique is a very calm horse. She was able to rest overnight — nothing bothers her — and she ate really well. She really recovered overnight. When presenting the following day it was hard to know how she looked, but a lot of people in the audience told me later that she looked fantastic.” Ribley was on her way to Australia on the day we spoke, to be one of the veterinarians working on Australia’s version of the Tevis Cup — the Tom Quilty. “There is an exchange program between veterinarians in Australia and the U.S.,” she said. “They send up some of their Quilty vets to the Tevis and some of our vets from the Tevis go there. I have been a vet for the Tevis Cup before, and was invited this year to work the Quilty.” Ribley was pleased that Arabian Horse World gives coverage to the Tevis Cup each year. “This is the one area of competition where Arabians really excel — they deserve to be recognized.” Miloslavich echoed the opinion. “I get tears in my eyes just thinking about these amazing athletes and their devoted riders who have given their all for another Tevis buckle. This is the only sport in which our Arabians are truly the absolute best in the world. Would I, could I dream that someday I will cross that Western States trail finish line on a great Arabian endurance horse? It used to be that almost any Arabian bloodline would produce endurance winners, but now you see breeders specializing in long-distance horses. Unlike Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racehorses, Arabian endurance horses still race well into their teens. If you want a productive and sound horse to share your life for 25 or 30 years, buy an endurance-bred Arabian!”
Facing page, top: Eighth place Kanga Roo (MW Buckaroo x MJ Hasan Bakura) and rider Megan Doyle coming up Deadwood Canyon after the swinging bridge. Haggin Cup winner Melissa Ribley and LD Monique are tight on their heels on one of the infamous switchbacks. Bottom left: A rider leads her horse over the swinging bridge. Bottom right: Tenth place Mark Engemann and PR Comet. This page, left: Ninth place finishers Jennifer Nice and BA Bearcat (Bearfoots Ladid x Bint Bint Suddona) stop for a drink. Right: Linda Morelli, who placed 20th on Falling Leaf, illustrates the increasing popularity of alternative shoes. An evolving trend, many riders are able to keep their horses barefoot during training, dependent on their terrain, only to boot them for competitive rides. The most obvious change in this year’s entrants was how many were wearing glue-on solutions, which allow a lower profile on the hoof. They are lighter than the now-traditional ones which use straps or buckles. Use of nailed-on composite or plastic shoes started sometime in the mid-90s, and some of the new designs are catching on with endurance riders. Pictured is one of the new strap-on boots, which is highly padded, lightweight, and easy to apply, especially if one’s mount is dancing in eagerness to get going.
K-Zar Emmanuel (Fasas x Amira Leapsha)
Melissa Ribley, DVM
LD Monique (*Patent x Monoklero)
AM Sands Of Time (SSA Csea Dream x Al-Marah Xanthium)
Splashes Maskrade (Gulastras Splash x Tamarah Knight)
Inkhogneto (Instigator SF x Sharaya SF)
SMR Zoltaan (Shagya Stallion x Cameo Corrine)
Tevis Cup Winners
Haggin Cup Winners
Shagya/ Arab cross
Kanga Roo (MW Buckaroo x MJ Hasan Bakura)
BA Bearcat (Barefoots Ladid x Bint Bint Suddona)
the tale of a tevis winner by Genie Stewart-Spears
ome only dream about doing it; others wouldn’t dream of doing it. The Western States Tevis Cup: 100 miles of trail from Lake Tahoe, California, to Auburn, California, in less than 24 hours. It is an awesome but grueling journey that leaves you breathless with the beauty of the land. Even as a “newbie” endurance rider in 2002, the late Mike Bailey dreamed of competing in the Tevis Cup. His widow, Alison Bailey of Waxhaw, North Carolina, said, “Mike bought books and videos about Tevis. He researched it on the Internet. It became one of his dreams. He thought that his purebred gelding, K-Zar Emmanuel (Fasas x Amira Leapsha), would be a horse that could take him there.” In October 2006, Mike realized a dream and exceeded his own expectations when he competed in the AERC 50-Mile National Championship. 8 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b OCTOBER 2009
K-Zar carried him to win the 50-Mile National Heavyweight division, with a fifthplace overall finish, and earned the Best Condition Award as well as High Vet Score. Mike, of course, was elated! Just 11 days later, on November 2, 2006, Mike died in his sleep. Struggling with her and their 6-year-old son Patrick’s devastating loss, Mike’s widow, Alison — with the support of the endurance community — took K-Zar to the Carolina Ride just 23 days after Mike passed away. As difficult as it was, she felt it would be part of healing for the three of them. Unknowingly at that time, she was starting the
bucket list of things Mike had planned to do with K-Zar, as this event was on his list. At the ride venue, the day before the ride, a couple was out stretching their horses’ legs on the trail when Alison and K-Zar trotted by. The couple said they got chill bumps as she passed because they felt that Mike was there too and that they were watching the winning horse go by. Sure enough, K-Zar carried Alison to win the 50-mile event, and K-Zar earned the Best Condition award. So the healing began. “After Mike died,” Alison said, “I decided to try to accomplish some of the goals that Mike had for himself and K-Zar, starting with doing 100 miles at the Biltmore Ride to prepare for the Old Dominion 100. Then I put the Tevis Cup ride in the bucket. However, I knew that I could not fulfill this one because of my terrible fear of heights, and I wondered how I was going to pull off this goal.” In the meantime, Alison entered the Biltmore 100 in May 2007. “I went to Biltmore with an entourage of people and then didn’t finish,” she said with regret. “After walking for about 12 miles with someone who asked me for help on the next to the last loop K-Zar got a muscle cramp. It was cold and rainy, and Dr. Ken Marcella indicated that maybe I had walked for too long. You live and learn. However, I had such a good time that I started trying to plan for the next attempt. I looked at the Southeast ride calendar and there wasn’t another 100 until the fall. But in the Northeast there was the Old Dominion in mid-June. I phoned my best friend and faithful crew person of many years, Marta Widmayer, down in Florida, and begged her to come with me. She agreed and off we went. I finished and the feeling was amazing. I kept thinking about how Mike said that I would never do a 100-mile ride. And to think that the first 100-mile ride I completed was Old Dominion! I rode two more 100-milers that year on K-Zar and top tenned at both. “The next goal was to ride the 2008 AERC National 100-Mile Championship ride. I consulted with my friend Duane Barnett, DVM, who rides as well as vets endurance rides, as to what rides I should enter in preparation. I followed his advice and that really paid off. K-Zar and I completed in fourth place overall and were reserve champions in the middleweight division,” said Alison. Then January rolled around, and Alison thought, “What next? Tevis had been on Mike’s brain since he very first started endurance riding, so at the Southeast Endurance Riders Association convention in January 2009, I asked Sarah Engsberg if she had ever ridden the Tevis. She said that it was one of her life’s goals, but she had never felt that she had the right horse. I asked her, ‘Well, what if I had the right horse?’” The Tevis Cup date was August 1, 2009, and, after much soul-searching, Sarah accepted the offer and went into training. Sarah is an experienced rider who is held in high regard by the endurance community, including the many veterinarians who had worked events she had competed in. The Tevis would be her 20th 100-mile competition. “Mike had once said to me,” said Alison, “‘Just think what K-Zar might do someday if we put one of those tiny-hineys on him.’ (Tiny-hiney is a reference to featherweight riders.) Well, Sarah fit that build; she was a featherweight rider.” “The more time I spent with Sarah during the six months of training and preparation, the more she reminded me of Mike,” she added. “There are certain aspects of her personality that are just like him. She is very organized and was driven to learn all she could about the trail, leaving no detail in question. And she has a very calm demeanor. I can’t really explain it, but I am sure that K-Zar picks up on that too.” Sarah Engsberg is all GRITS – “Girl Raised in the South” – originally from North Carolina and then residing in Georgia. She is an enterprising woman – a farrier by trade 9 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b OCTOBER 2009
Top: Mike Bailey on K-Zar Emmanual at the 2006 AERC National Championship Old Dominion where they won the 50-mile National Heavyweight division and earned the Best Condition Award. Mike died 10 days later. Bottom: Alison Bailey and “Zar” won the South Carolina 50-mile ride two months after husband Mike’s death. Photos by Genie Stewart-Spears.
“Zar” with Sarah Engsberg after the ride.
but more recently she has been making and selling jewelry and artwork in addition to her famous “Sarah’s Possum Sauce.” (Her ad reads: “The traditional Eastern Carolina barbecue sauce with a kick … so flavorful, legend has it, it even makes opossum taste good.”) Sarah took training for the Tevis as seriously as she does her business ventures. “I prepared for the heat by riding three horses a day at my farm in Georgia. I rode in the late morning and midday heat and humidity. I also swam laps several times a week at a local pool, took brisk walks and rode my bicycle regularly.” She rode K-Zar in March at the Sand Hills 55 for the first time, then at the Leatherwood 50 in April, and then did the Biltmore 100 in May on him. When asked about her chances of doing well on a trail she had never ridden, Sarah said, “I have ridden many rides on courses I have never seen. I just ride the trail in front of me, and the horse under me. I did, however, do my homework before starting the Tevis. I printed all the elevation and trail maps, printed off the ride results for the previous three years, the results that showed the split times and pulse parameters for each check point, and I overlaid that with the elevation map of the trail to see where top ten riders made time on the trail and where they had to lay back and be more cautious. This information allowed me to calculate the optimum miles per hour for each leg of the ride.” Sarah said, “K-Zar was prepared to finish the Tevis Cup in the top ten. But with me as a featherweight, we would have to win, and win by a decent margin, to have a chance at the best condition award, the Haggin Cup. I actually put on an extra 10 pounds of muscle, and we loaded my saddle and vest with as many provisions as possible to get my overall weight with tack up to 180 pounds, the same as John Crandall when he rode Heraldic. (Crandall, from West Virginia, won the Tevis Cup in 2006 and also the AERC National 100-Mile Championship the same year.) Weight is a primary factor in the Tevis ride. In compliance with the AERC standard, the rider is weighed at the finish line and must carry the weight through the ride. What I didn’t know is the Haggin Cup Best Condition judging doesn’t use the AERC standard and is decided by a panel of veterinary judges on the day of the presentation. The Haggin Cup is its own award 10 b ARABIAN HORSE WORLD b OCTOBER 2009
— poor Zar could have done the ride with a lot less weight on his back if I had only known. “Although all our preparation and strategy prior to the ride was geared toward a top ten finish, Alison and I had a frank discussion on Thursday before heading up to Robie Park,” explained Sarah. “She told me her primary goal was for me to finish the ride with a sound and healthy horse that she could take home and continue to ride and enjoy and perhaps one day her son Patrick would ride as well. The plan was to ride our negative splits (start slow and increase mph each leg of the race), evaluate the horse at each checkpoint, and decide to either take it up a notch or pull back as the horse dictated. But he never faltered or hesitated throughout the ride.” Alison and her son, young Patrick Bailey, Sarah Engsberg, and Susan Kasemeyer drove across the country, from North Carolina to California, with K-Zar in three-and-a-half days. They arrived the Monday prior to the ride. Sarah pre-rode the last four miles of the finish three times. “I wanted K-Zar to know where he was when we got there in the dark at the end of the ride.” Often you hear a rider speak of the proverbial stone on the trail with their horse’s name on it. Susan Kasemeyer reminded Sarah that the late Maggie Price (past president of AERC and international competitor) had a ritual she sometimes performed before a ride, and Sarah was not taking any chances. Prior to race day, she rode K-Zar out on the trail to perform the ritual in final preparation. “After crossing No Hands bridge,” said Sarah, “I found a small flat rock in the middle of the trail. With an indelible pen, I wrote Mike and K-Zar’s initials on one side and my initials on the other. I sat in the shade for a few minutes and contemplated all that was riding on this adventure, then I led K-Zar back to the
middle of the bridge, leaned out over the railing to get a good look at the river, and let the rock go, straight to the bottom of the river. “K-Zar and I walked to the near side of the bridge where I remounted and unlike the calm horse I had been riding all week, K-Zar suddenly had his game face on. He pranced and pulled all the way back to camp. When I got back I told Alison and my crew that I was no longer nervous. We were ready for the competition,” Sarah said. The ride started with 169 entries. Only 87 would complete. Sarah Engsberg and K-Zar were first to finish. Sarah said, “We just kept eating horses up on the trail and passing horses in the pulse boxes till the next thing I knew we were with the front-runners before we hit Foresthill, 68 miles into the course.” About the trail, Sarah said, “Most of the trail navigates very well; it is the narrowness of the trail itself and the terrain that the trail is on that gives the impression the trail is difficult and
dangerous. I stayed focused on the trail in front of me and would make myself look out and up to enjoy the beautiful scenery. One of the prettiest moments was as we crested the mountaintop at Squaw Valley; it looks like the whole world opens up on the other side. It really took my breath away.” About 15-year-old K-Zar, Sarah said, “He is the consummate professional about his job. He loves to go down the trail: he is forward and obedient. “Well,” she laughed and added, “he is obedient most of the time when not trying to run away and win the ride in the very first few miles!” Despite his exuberant energy at the start, she said, “His dressage training makes him a pleasure to ride. His three great gaits and his self-carriage keep him from exhausting himself. He always drinks, he eats, and he takes his electrolytes without fuss. It makes it easy to take care of him because he takes care of himself. “On the ride we were able to trot down all the hills because he knows how to sit on his hocks and trot ‘uphill’ on a downhill slope,” she continued. “We trotted and cantered all the hills except for the steepest. He walked out of the steep canyons at 4.2 mph where others were struggling to maintain 3.5 mph. “He will canter on both leads to use different muscles, and he does this crazy ‘tranter,’” she said, “where he trots on one end and canters on the other. I have to twopoint this gait because I haven’t figured out how to post or sit it yet!” Three riders left Foresthill in a clump, 68 miles into the 100-mile course, vying for second place — Melissa Ribley, DVM, and Marcia Smith, DVM (three-time Tevis winner), both experienced Tevis Cup riders, and Sarah Engsberg, riding the course for the very first time. “The first-place rider was at least 13 minutes ahead,” explained Sarah, “so at this point I thought we were riding for second place. What I didn’t know was that the horse had been re-presented (required to return for another veterinary exam before being allowed to go back on the trail) at Foresthill vet check and would either need to slow
down to preserve her finish — in which case we would catch her — or she would get pulled at the Lower Quarry vet check. What I did know was that I had way more horse than the two I was with, so as long as I controlled the pace, I had a good shot at second.” At this point, crew member Susan Kasemeyer had pulled Sarah aside and reminded her to stay focused on the horse and not to get sidetracked by the other riders. Not that she needed to be reminded, but to reinforce that taking care of K-Zar was first priority regardless of the outcome at the finish line. “This really allowed me to refocus and concentrate on the last third of the race,” Sarah said. “With this in mind, I set my watch to alarm when it was time to electrolyte. I stopped at water opportunities to let him drink and to give electrolytes. Because the other two horses weren’t drinking as well as mine, they would continue down the trail when I stopped to water and electrolyte K-Zar. But we kept catching them with ease. “The three of us rode into Francisco together, at 85 miles, into a gate-andgo vet check. (Gate-and-go is when the horse must meet the pulse criteria and then is allowed to continue down the trail in the competition.) K-Zar and Marcia’s horse out-pulsed Melissa’s horse, so we went out on the next leg without her. We rode together into Lower Quarry (at 94 miles) where K-Zar out-pulsed Marcia’s mare. The rider who was running in first place, Jeanette Mero, DVM, was still there
and her horse, Maksymilian (a bay Arabian gelding), had been pulled from the race,” explained Sarah. “Suddenly, we were racing for first place!” she said. “Marcia and I left out together, with six miles to go, before Melissa even made it into the checkpoint, which was another gate-and-go. We were told as we were leaving that there would be no glow sticks from there to the finish, as we had gotten ahead of the people putting them out.” They left the Lower Quarry at 9:24 a.m. “We rode the four miles together,” Sarah said, “side by side, with K-Zar setting the pace. Then down the hill to No Hands, where our crews met us for a flyby. Marcia’s crew were runners, so they jogged across the bridge with her, pouring water all over the mare to cool her. My crew met me on the other side of the bridge where Marcia took off. I stopped long enough for them to get one dose of electrolytes in K-Zar, and then I headed up the hill after Marcia. And, as Alison had told me to do when it was time to get to the finish line, I leaned over K-Zar’s neck and said in his ear, ‘Let’s go home Zar! It’s time to go home!’ “He was off like a rocket and a few minutes later we were back with Marcia winding our way toward the finish line. Suddenly, we heard a horse cantering up behind us and then going past like a bullet! It was Melissa on her bay mare. K-Zar and I took off after her, galloping through the pitch dark on trails. Now this was really scary, but I put my faith in the horse and just hung on. K-Zar had never been beaten in a raceoff. I knew that if we could stay with Melissa we would be able to pass her at the end. We galloped up to a graveled cul-de-sac, trotted over it and down the next hill to the hard right turn at about two miles from the finish line. She took off again with us on her heels, but I decided this was too dangerous in the pitch darkness and with the treacherous footing. I wanted K-Zar and me to get home in one piece and maybe second wasn’t so bad. I pulled him back to a canter, rounded a turn, and nearly ran into the rear end of Melissa’s horse. She was all but stopped in the trail because her horse wouldn’t go
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faster than a crawl no matter how hard she urged the mare forward. I asked if she was OK, and she said, ‘Yes.’ I asked if she wanted me to come around so she could draft off of K-Zar to the finish line. She replied, ‘No, just come around and get it done.’ K-Zar and I went around and off at a canter heading toward the finish line. This was when the realization hit me that we were about to win the Tevis Cup! “K-Zar cantered up the hill and across the finish line as my crew converged excitedly on us,” Sarah said, still in disbelief that she was first across the finish line. “K-Zar took a long drink from the rock water trough as our crew started pulling tack and getting him ready to present for the final vet through. His heart rate dropped almost immediately, and we presented him to Dr. Jim Baldwin. “Lynn Kenelly, who had come out from South Carolina to crew for us, trotted him out and back,” Sarah said. “He looked terrific! And then Dr. Baldwin gave me a hug, and said, ‘I’m very proud of you. Your horse looks great, and I am marking him with all As.’ That was when I finally let myself celebrate and there were hugs and tears all around.” “I am so proud to have been an integral part of a winning team. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel to Alison for giving me this opportunity and
Tough and beautiful: some faces in the crowd.
to be a part of making Mike Bailey’s dream a reality to his family,” she said. And Sarah added, “I send heartfelt thanks to our crew in California, John and Valerie Treese and Erik and Polly Gets, as well as all the outpouring of support we received from our Southeast family. The Southeast crew was: Alison’s son, Patrick; Sarah’s husband, Towson Engsberg; Susan Kasemeyer — voice of reason and AERC board member; Lynn Kenelly — crew chief and AERC international rider; and Jill Mooney — Sarah’s dressage trainer and best friend from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Alison said with pride and humility, “I don’t think that I ever would have predicted a win. Our hope was to finish and if, by chance, we could top ten, then that would just be gravy. Sarah and I discussed my expectations and we were exactly on the same page. Some Southeast riders told us ahead of the trip that K-Zar had it in him to win, but we tried to ignore that and just concentrate on the ride. We knew that K-Zar and Sarah were prepared, and we had to just ride our ride. “Words cannot explain the emotions that I am still feeling,” Alison said. “I know that Mike was there with us and that he knows that this occurred. At the Foresthill vet check, Patrick, Susan, my older brother Erik, and I were standing at the top of the road waiting for Sarah. Suddenly, Patrick announced ‘Mommy, there is Daddy’s car!’ We all turned around to see a white 5 Series BMW circling slowly around the top of the road. It looked as if the driver was just taking in the whole scene. The windows on the car were tinted so we couldn’t see inside. Susan said ‘Mike just wants us to know that he is still watching.’ I had chill bumps on my skin.” What’s next for K-Zar? “Becky Hart recently approached me about the pre-ride in October 2009 for the 2010 World Endurance Championship,” said Alison. “She even went so far as to tell me that she had a wild card vote and was very interested in K-Zar. I couldn’t do it without completely uprooting my and Patrick’s lives, but Sarah could possibly do it. We will continue to talk about it, but I am thinking more in terms of maybe riding him myself at the AHA Championship in Oklahoma and Sarah finishing up the season on him so that she can also have a jacket with his name on it.” Alison, teary eyed, added, “Fate is what gave us this horse that brought us together as a family. Then he has helped us get through the pain of the loss of Mike. He has given us more than anyone can imagine. He keeps Mike with us always. Someday he will return to his favorite master in heaven.”