A Quick Race for The Gold At Quicksilver Pro-Am

By Biz Eischen

Brandi, Laurel , and Raj
Copyright Carl Rossi

Reprinted with permission from www.EquiSearch.com

SAN JOSE , CA., 2003--There's no better way to separate the Pros from the Ams than the first three quarters of a mile in the annual Quicksilver Pro-Am Ride and Tie held at Almaden Quicksilver Park in San Jose , California . Cardiac Hill, a gnarly 800-foot climb, confronts competitors at the starting line and quickly weeds out the seasoned 100-milers from the weekend warriors as the runners ascend. If by chance there's any doubt of who's in winning shape after the first 5-mile loop, runners get to climb Cardiac Hill for a dreaded second time as they start the second loop of the 23-mile running and riding endurance event.

Proving once again that practice, experience, and hillwork pay off in the long (hilly) run, Ride and Tie veterans Tom Johnson and Mary Tiscornia on Albi handily won the Quicksilver Ride and Tie in 2 hours, 30 minutes, beating the second place team by 11 minutes. Albi, logging highest scores on two rigorous 12-point vet checks, was awarded best-conditioned horse.

Johnson and Tiscornia are experts in Ride and Tie, whether they team together or with an amateur. They know when to ride, when to tie and just how far they can push their horse to consistently win. At the 2002 World Championships in Truckee , CA , Johnson's Pro-Am team took third place overall and their mount, Zar Za Fire, was awarded best conditioned. Right behind Johnson at Truckee was Tiscornia, who finished fifth overall on Albi.

At Quicksilver, Johnson and Tiscornia applied basic textbook business strategy to win. Stay well ahead of the next two gold contenders and let them battle it out to the end.

The second place team of Pros John Osterweis (overall winner of the 2002 Quicksilver event) and Mark Richtman on Victor, finished just seconds ahead of the winning Pro-Am team of Laurie Wilson and Carrie Barrett on Cougar's Clown; both with a time of 2 hours, 41 minutes. This was Wilson 's ninth Quicksilver event and her fourth win in the Pro-Am category. Wilson, new mom and savvy competitor, is notorious for teaming with a first-time Ride and Tie partner and then winning the race.

Speed and strategy of the humans in a Ride and Tie is crucial, yet it's the mental and physical states of the horse which ultimately determine the outcome of a race. A horse who has a long history of endurance rides, best-conditioned awards, and race wins is a horse who knows how to pace himself, keep hydrated, stay sound, and excel to win.

Third place finisher, Cougar's Clown, is a perfect example of a proven athlete. Hidden behind his name and friendly Paint coloring, Cougar's Clown is a very serious stealth endurance competitor. Having logged over 2,000 miles in 40 sanctioned endurance competitions since 1991, Clown consistently out-paces and out-performs the rest of the pack and quite often takes home the coveted best-conditioned award.

Several other notable finishers of the Quicksilver event span the young to the venerable. Caylin Trocha, who celebrated her seventh birthday the day of the event, and her veteran Ride and Tie Dad, Bob Trocha, ran and rode their horse KB to a sweeping victory over the grueling 5-mile loop short course. This was Caylin's second Ride and Tie and based on her huge smile, it looks like she's hooked.

Meanwhile, forever young-at-heart endurance veterans, Warren Hellman and Jeff Townsend (who together claimed 110+ years combined at the World Championships) finished the Quicksilver course in the very respectable time of 2 hours, 55 minutes on another Ride and Tie veteran, 20-year-old Corky.

Warren Hellman and Corky

Copyright Biz Eischen

Much like other Ride and Tie events, the annual Quicksilver Ride and Tie continues to attract champions and rookies, the young and the not-so-young; some on new horses, others on ageless stars in the endurance circuit. Unlike most other equine events, Ride and Tie requires a concerted team effort to get all three team members around the course and across the finish line in good form.

Because of the team aspect of Ride and Tie and increasing interest in slightly wacky sports, it's easy to get rookies racing - if they know who to call to get started. The Ride and Tie association's formal mentor program helps newbies get into the sport, find training and racing partners, and find a horse. It's safe to say that all Quicksilver finishers are winners, some have just been winning longer.

For complete race results and more information on Ride and Tie, please visit the Ride and Tie website at www.rideandtie.org.


About the author:

Smitten with anything equine at an early age, Biz Eischen often mucked a neighbor's paddock in exchange for riding their Shetland ponies. Despite dogged determination to keep up with the older girls and to stay on the pony, Biz usually found herself bruised and alone running home after the wily mount. When she discovered Ride and Tie in 2002, Biz was a natural: she rides like crazy for a half mile and then spends the next half mile chasing the galloping horse on foot. And to think they made a sport out of a previous daily humiliation.