The one hundred mile, one day Tevis Cup Ride is recognized as the toughest endurance course on earth. Starting at Lake Tahoe, it challenges horses with 17,000 feet of climbs and 22,000 feet of descents in altitudes between 8700 feet and 1500 feet. Its heat, rocks, and river crossings test the physical fitness of a horse as no other ride in the world. I forced this challenge on my Peruvian Paso mare, *Marinera, on two occasions.
This small blue roan mare from Peru, without a buck, rear, shy, or stumble in her repertoire, brought me to the finish line both times. I may have been a good rider, but I was not a good horsewoman and there is a vast difference. The burden carried on her back was offset by her stamina, physical fitness, and courage. She finished 22nd out of 92 entries in 1966 and 24th out of 125 in 1968. I’d give anything to have had the knowledge I have at this time. I could have done much, much better!
In 1968 *Marinera finished 3rd out of approximately 60 horses at the Castle Rock Challenge 50-Miler and won the award for Best Conditioned Horse, defeating some of the sport’s biggest names. She was lame only once in the 24 years I owned her, after climbing a very steep hill with a gang of riders going much too fast. After about six weeks of rest she was fine. To the best of my recollection, none of my other Peruvians was ever lame or injured despite being ridden many hundreds of miles in rough country.
*Marinera’s progeny inherited her longevity. From this computer desk, I can look out at my barn, paddocks, and pasture and see where she lies with her daughters, Danzarina and Carolana—who lived 30 and 24 years—and her grandson, Carioco—who lived 24.
I had *Marinera for 24 of her 30 years during which she was the trainer and I the student as she taught me to become a horsewoman. She showed me what it was to be thirsty, hungry, too cold, and too hot—but not give up. It was a privilege to own her. Many horses have passed in and out of my life, but *Marinera is my email address as well as the name of my ranch, my publishing company, and the street where I live. If I had to describe her with one word, it would be gallant.
I think *Marinera was an exceptional Peruvian from the point of view of endurance racing, but I also think there are more *Marineras out there. I hope the lucky people who have them enjoy the breed as much as I did.