Walla Wall - Horses and Hits
By Bret Rankin | July 22, 2009
photo: Cassandra Berube
WALLA WALLA — Local riders Ernie Schrader and Cassandra Berube continue to excel in endurance racing with Schrader’s two horses, Captain Calypso and I’m a Sweet Steele.
They tied for second place at the 100-mile Sun River Race at Mount Bachelor, Ore., on June 20th. Captain Calypso again won the coveted Best Condition award. This was his fifth Best Condition award in as many races this year, at distances of 50, 75, and 100 miles.
I’m a Sweet Steele had the highest veterinarian score, just slightly higher than Captain Calypso, but Captain Calypso won the award because he was carrying 42 more pounds of weight for the entire 100 miles, and was in better condition at the end of the ride than the winning horse.
Schrader and Berube rode the entire race together, but had some bad luck. They were “in front of the pack” and reached the second veterinarian check point 30 miles into the race — before the veterinarians arrived, and before the staff had marked the stop location. They continued down the trail past the stop until they realized they must have missed the check point. After riding an additional 25 minutes, they returned to the vet check which, by that time, had been posted in time for riders who were trailing behind them. This allowed five riders to get ahead of Berube and Schrader.
In the next 55 miles, they caught all except the leader, who finished about 10 minutes ahead of them. The next horse behind them was about 40 minutes back.
This was Berube’s first race at the 100-mile distance. She had been practicing for it by riding at night, but that practice proved unnecessary. Schrader and Berube finished well before dark. The last finishers came in at about 3:30 a.m.
Schrader and Berube’s next race will be the Tevis Cup on Aug. 1, along with local rider Dean Hoalst. The Tevis cup is considered to be the toughest horse race in the world, starting near Lake Tahoe. It covers a 100-mile distance over all types of terrain including a climb up the ski slope at Squaw Valley, reaching 8,700 feet at Emigrant Pass, a series of climbs and downhills in deep valleys with temperatures ranging from near freezing to over 100 degrees, swimming the American River at night, crossing the “No Hands” timber bridge and the cable “Swinging Bridge.”
After about 15,000 feet of total elevation change along the 100-mile trek, the race finishes in Auburn, Calif. All riders must finish within a maximum 24-hour allowed time.
Typically, less than half of the 200 pre-qualified international starters actually complete the ride in any given year. Most of the non-completers are “pulled” for various reasons at one of the vet checks along the way. As with all sanctioned endurance races, any horses showing any signs of serious distress, fatigue, lameness or other issue are not allowed to continue. Riders are not checked and may continue injured.