Pictured: Tanya and Desi coming in at the end of the 25 mile ride

From the desk of a rider brand new to DRM and to Endurance, Tanya Wieler:

The day was beautiful, the weather was perfect! Desiree, my daughter, and I, had been talking about trying an endurance ride since last May when we bought an Arabian gelding from an auction sale and started putting a few miles on him around home. Coming from a rodeo/ranching background, Arabians were not good enough for someone that has too much cowboy pride. So, for us to actually buy an Arabian to use for our personal riding horse was pretty much a miracle in itself.

August 1 I decided if I was going to try an endurance ride then I had better get serious and quick. Desi’s Paint mare, Fancy, had been sick at the end of July so we weren’t sure how hard to push her so we went slow and often I rode without her.

Entering and committing to ride at Spruce Woods was scary but exciting! I’ve wanted to try this sport for 20 years…So the Friday before the ride we packed up horses and camper and pulled into the campground around lunch, figuring we would also make it a camping weekend and more fun for the rest of the family. Right away we met Darice. She quickly helped us figure out where we should park/camp and started to explain how everything works. I felt totally blind walking into this adventure with lots to learn and no idea what I needed to make it all work. From there on in everyone we met and talked to was super friendly and helpful. Earl had volunteered to help on Saturday and was blown away by everyone’s energy and drive and how knowledgeable and helpful everyone was. There really was no such thing as a stupid question and that’s what made it truly fun.

Saturday morning I couldn’t sleep, was wide awake at 5:15 and tried to get Desi up at 5:30. She promised me she would get up in half an hour… So I went alone to feed horses. It was the coolest thing to watch the three riders warm-up and prepare to ride out at 6 am to do the 75 miles. It was still dark and a bit chilly, camp was quiet, not many people up yet. As I watched those three ride up the hill I wondered what makes them decide they want to ride 75 miles in one day?… And I’m still pondering that question.

I had entered the 25 mile and Desi the 12.5. As she is only 13 she would need a sponsor. They let me sponsor her so we would be able to ride together, which is great, our horses pace each other well. Start time was 9 AM, Desi was up and we easily got ourselves and horses ready to go. We had been told how and where to set up for our check stop for once we completed the first loop. Leaving at nine was exhilarating, the excitement in the air was contagious and my gelding, who my eight-year-old son named Spiderman, could feel it too. After having several people pass us Spiderman told me that he wasn’t going to let that happen anymore and we set off at a steady pace to pass who we could which wasn’t very many. It wasn’t long and we didn’t see anyone for the rest of the loop. We knew they were behind us or ahead of us but there was no way we could catch up.

The trail was fun. Spidey stayed on his feet really well. He’s known for being lazy and trips a lot. He only tripped once and that was when we were going down a steeper hill. We slowed to a walk thankfully, but he stumbled going right to his knees. I’m sure my feet were on the ground, at least it felt like it, but he picked himself up unhurt and we carried on. Oh and he is also spooky! He’s gotten a lot better but it still seems that the oddest things will all of a sudden become scary. I think that baby deer are cute but maybe not so much when they come running down the trail towards you. I’m sure Spiderman went from long trotting to trying to back up!! Desi laughed so hard!  She said that was a new move for him.

In January 2014, Desiree was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in her knee. She went through different types of chemo, one of which almost made her kidneys shut down. Then that May we were sent to Toronto where she chose to do rotation plasty, a type of surgery where they remove the bone that had cancer and reattached her ankle to become her new knee. Now she wears a prosthetic and has learned to ride very well with it. I’m proud of how well she rode on Saturday. She elevated from the 12.5 mile to the 25 mile to ride with me and to push herself and her horse.

I waited for her to complete her 45 minute hold and we rode out together to do our second loop. We could tell Fancy was a lot more tired than Spidey so we took it easy and did more walking to make sure we wouldn’t hurt her and just be able to complete what we set out to do. Finishing the 25 mile felt great and left us wanting to do more. Desi has already been asking for an Arabian, so maybe we might just buy another one. And we look forward to learning more and riding with these great people again.

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