Hand In Hand

Lisa and I crossed the finish line at Tevis hand in hand for the third year in a row.  Although the results won’t show it, Cyclone and Fury tied for first place.  Lisa and I both won the most difficult 100 mile horse race in the world. 

Lisa’s 2012 Lloyd Tevis Cup Medallion.

Tevis has dominated my dreams and goals since I was a young boy.  I’ve dreamed about having my name on the Scripps Foundation Cup, The Haggin Cup and the Tevis Cup.  I would go to bed making the turns of the California loop when I was twelve years old.  I would watch the chalk circle being drawn for the Haggin Cup judging and I would work on trotting my own horse in that chalk pattern at home.  Making the 100 mile journey over the Sierra Mountains on a horse that I was responsible for conditioning and finishing first would fulfill my wildest Tevis dreams. 

I thought I would feel different.  Although I’ve now accomplished my Tevis and endurance goals I’m left with a feeling that is different than I expected.  The cups leave me with a feeling of “So What”, but the journey and the process working toward the goal have changed me.  It’s not about having my name on the Scripps Foundation Cup, it’s not about having Fury win the Haggin Cup, it’s not about Lisa and I finishing first and winning the Tevis Cup.  The memory of the cups and accolades will quickly fade.  Most memories blur with time but I vividly remember the feel of Lisa’s hand in mine as we crossed the finish line, I will remember the tears in my mother’s eyes, I will remember the hours getting special horses ready, and I will remember how racing endurance horses has changed where I live, what I drive, how I smell and what I do for a living. 

Hand in Hand for the third year in a row.

The last three years I’ve broken one of my own rules on the way to finishing the Tevis Cup.  One of the pieces of advice I tell others when getting ready for the Tevis Cup is to ride your own ride, don’t ride with a friend or relative, and don’t let another rider get attached to you during the ride.  In 2010, 2011 and 2012 Lisa and I crossed the finish line hand in hand all three years.  We rode each section of trail together, ran the canyons together, vetted through each check together and crossed the finish line hand in hand.  Yes, this strategy wasn’t the best to optimize the strengths of each horse but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Finishing hand in hand with Lisa is burned in a special place of my most coveted memories.

In the chaos of a very well executed 2012 awards banquet I wasn’t given the opportunity to speak.  I’m still disappointed in myself for not tracking down the microphone and publicly thanking the folks that made Lisa and my ride possible.   My parents were seated in the audience and I was not only eager to thank them for all the help on the day, but thank them for giving me a gift that has changed my life.  As I look back at the memories in life that built family, work ethic, character, compassion and competitiveness many seem to be associated with horses, road trips with horses and the Tevis Cup.  I’m thankful for my Mom and Dad having the wisdom to involve the family with an animal and a sport that would help shape my life.

After thanking my parents for giving me the opportunity to grow up with endurance horses I would have thanked them for all the help and support leading up to, during and after the 2012 Tevis.  Lisa and I knew we had fit, veteran horses going into the 2012 event and we knew we needed to assemble the best crew possible.  Our 2012 crew started with Team Ford: Amy, Rodger and Cole Ford.  Amy Ford was the crew boss and ran the show.  My mom is the glue!  She has several Tevis buckles and has helped each family member earn multiple buckles with her detailed crewing and organization.  We owe everything to you mom, without you we would have never got into this awesome sport. Dad had the hard locations in 2012 and made a massive difference.  Dad has eight Tevis buckles and knows the trail and crewing better than anyone.  In 1997 dad and I crossed the finish line hand in hand.  I have memories from that day that still make me laugh and cry.  My younger brother Cole came out from Tucson and took care of Lisa and I in the most difficult crew areas.    

Next would have been a gracious thank you to the other 2012 crew members.  Duncan McLaughlin came over from Australia.  Dunc performed countless hours of body work on all six Durango horses in the weeks before Tevis (Reynolds, Ford, Toth and Myers) and gave us a huge edge. Gene Limlaw flew out from Vermont.  Gene was responsible for Fury on the day of the ride.  His attention to detail is incredible and he most often notices the little things before others.  The Sullivan family are long-time family friends with many Tevis buckles.  They started our day right at Robinson and continued to Foresthill and the finish.  Dale Gurney flew out from Vermont with Gene.  Dale took care of Lisa and I with food, fluid and electrolytes.  Dave Van Wicklin is a long time Foresthill resident and has two WS 100 run buckles.  Dave ran the Michigan Bluff crew stop that changed our day!  Chris Martin has three Tevis buckles and huge crewing experience at the international and FEI levels.   Chris was a major help at Michigan, Robinson and Foresthill.   

Lisa and I had a banner day but it wouldn’t have happened without the right conditioning plan.  Heather and Jeremy Reynolds are two of the best endurance riders in the world and share four Tevis Cups and three Haggin Cups between them as a couple.  The Reynolds were interested in bringing their horses to our Durango, Colorado home in order to sharpen the altitude training for both their Tevis and London horses. I immediately said yes to the request and knew we had the opportunity to learn from two of the best endurance riders in the sport.  Heather and Jeremy improved our training, we changed to their electrolyte program and we talked horses over many a campfire. The Reynolds program helped peak our horses for the event.   

Lisa and I remember each and every member of our team and know the outcome would not have been possible without them.  Thank you for making our day possible!

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. -Oprah Winfrey

The rocky trail conditions at Tevis are one of the many reasons that finishing statistics are traditionally less than fifty percent.  Even with impeccable planning your horse is unfortunately one rock away from that perfect day.  Easyboots are growing in use at the event and help limit your horse’s exposure to the rough trail.  First place, second place, third place, fourth place, ninth place, the Tevis Cup winner, the Haggin Cup winner and 27 other horse and rider teams finished the 100 mile Tevis Cup in 2012 in Easyboots.  The barefoot and booted endurance horse is not only here to stay but can and will compete at the highest levels of the sport.  I’m proud to be part of a company that has been one of the leaders in challenging the status quo of the horse industry.

2012 was a great year and one that will be remembered forever.  With that said I still have unfinished dreams that will help fulfill the Tevis journey.  Finishing the Tevis Cup with my daughter’s hand in mine is the last piece of the puzzle.  Alyxx is currently six years old and we have several years before she is allowed to ride.  My ultimate dream will be to come back and finish hand in hand with Alyxx.  It won’t be just about finishing it will be to pass on the same gifts my parents and Tevis has given me. 

Alyxx joined us in the winner circle.  I’m dreaming about her joining me on the trail.

Garrett Ford

easycare-president-ceo-garrett-ford

President & CEO

I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.

 


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