"Hey Molly, I think I have an opportunity for you. You know that 100 mile horse race that takes place every year up in the Sierra's?". Jessica's voice sounded upbeat and enthusiastic. I was immediately suspicious. Why you ask?
Because the Tevis Cup was a horse race that crazy people did every year. Crazy people like Linda. One hundred miles over the Sierra mountain range, from Lake Tahoe to a town just north of Sacramento called Auburn. Trails 8 inches wide on the side of cliffs. The possibility of mountain lions and bears. Oh, and let's not forget the rattlesnakes. See? Crazy.
"Ummm yeah......What exactly do you mean, an 'opportunity'?"
"There was a huge fire a couple years ago that burned a substantial amount of the trail, including several wooden bridges. Fortunately it's been easy to re-route riders around the bridges, through the rivers. As usual there is no money and a shortage of volunteers and the trail conditions are getting worse because of substantial erosion on parts of the trail and the burnt trees that burned are falling. Apparently it's getting to the point where the race directors were considering canceling the ride."
"mmm...." I muttered distractedly. Estella had a chunk of mud on top of her head. HOW? I wish Jessica would get to the point. Jessica was avid outdoorswomen in her precious spare time and even though not a horseperson, loved the Tevis trail and regularly volunteered with the trail foundation.
"....so anyways, I think it would be a perfect chance for you to network and as a bonus you could get in a little moonlight ride on your little mare. What do you think?"
"What? what? What are you talking about?"
"Molly, did you hear a word I said? Some big sponsor has come along and offered a 1 million dollar purse to the winner of the Tevis cup, and full funding for the next 5 years for all trail maintenance projects, as well as providing a labor force to get into the wilderness areas."
"Wow!". I knew the trail foundation was struggling. Relying on local donations and volunteers, the local newspaper was constantly running announcements of trail work days and fundraising events. I couldn't imagine why a sponsor would pour money into such an event. The remote, mostly un-accessible trail meant no spectators and no live film coverage.
"Yeah. It's a big deal. Apparently the committee jumped at the opportunity and is putting a plan in place for what they expect to be a full and competitive field, including putting race officials along the trail and on horseback to discourage any funny business. I was thinking it would be a good opportunity for you. "
"Jessica, I still don't see where I fit into this. I'm not an endurance rider and trotting down the trail for hours and hours and hours, even with the title of "ride official" is not my forte."
"Molly, it's perfect! You are a more than competent horsewomen, and you won't attract attention because no one knows you. You only have to ride a small section of the trail and you get to hang out with the vets all day."
"Can I hang out with the vets all day and not ride?"
Jessica was quiet. I think she was disappointed in me but I just wasn't cut out for riding the type of trails they had at Tevis. I just wasn't!
"Jessica, I'm really sorry, it's just -----"
Jessica interrupted me. "No, it's OK. I'm just trying to think. I actually think that the person that usually assists Dr. Krutz at one of the vet checks might be willing to ride a section as an official. Which means her vet-assistant spot would be open. Let me do some checking and I'll get back to you."
I hung up the phone, satisfied. There are worst ways to spend a weekend than hanging out with vets all day, watching gorgeous horses, and getting possibly even getting fed lunch. Not exactly an adventure...but since I preferred my "adventures" to occur with an option of a warm bed, hot meal, and no real danger to life or limb.....I'd take it!