A Champion Recruiter for the Championship

By Joan Ruprecht

The Start (Taylersville California 1994). A cluster of rushing riders and runners is a typical sight at the start of the race but that soon changes

Ride and Tie was something I heard about from my friend, Carol Driscoll (an artist), who had done one of the early events. Then another artist friend, Gail Hought, an early on R&T'er, told me I should try it. Well that year R&T was being held in Davenport, California and since I had gone to neighboring Santa Cruz High, I knew this area so thought it would be a fun adventure.

Since Gail (a nurse) was willing to truck my horse, and Bob Dickerson (an Economics Professor), the marathoner friend of Ted (my husband the Demographer Economics Professor), would run, and I (the Microbiologist) could ride, I figured it was game to at least train and see if it happened. Bob was not a horse person and I really did not run, but we both progressed. We trained like you wouldn't believe; it was always a game and always fun! For 6 months Bob and I traipsed into our local forest and created new trails and repeated old ones. Even getting lost did not matter; it was all part of the game. One night, for example, I got home first, and eventually had to call Peggy, Bob's wife, to say "Bob is lost, but he will be here soon!" Even she understood; he had the horse so he was safe as they will always bring you home.

We had so much fun practicing that we decided to do the race. It was at Barbara McCrary's (she was my grammar and high school classmate) Ranch in Davenport (1978). I borrowed my daughter Janet's mare Felina, a fat but fit Quarter horse Morgan cross. Husband Ted was so sure we would self destruct that he decided to be our manager, pit crew, and strategy planner. Ted, because of having gone to Occidental College on a track scholarship, having great running abilities, and having coached the women's track team at Humboldt State University, knew what he was seeing.

So plan and organize he did. Out came the topographical maps and after much scowling, into our hands were put replicas with blue markings for me and red for Bob, showing exactly where each of us should run and ride.

What the three of us learned after 2 years of this teaming was we were incapable of following directions. The unexpected happens and you just cope. The horses were never a problem; they quickly learn how the game is played. In San Jose in 1982, Ted's instructions said "tie at the windmill" but there was not a windmill to be seen. I was running along when I surprisingly saw a horse looking back along the trail; she nickered and raised her tail, revealing her familiar melanomas. My horse... without a windmill.  If she had not welcomed me, I'd have kept running forever. Because the horse gets to rest during her tied period, it is like a horse in nature resting, thus being able to handle the running part very well.

... and sometimes the trail gets long and lonely, hot and dusty, dry and desolate. (Julie Mooreland & Ted Prenville, Oregon 1999)

One of the great benefits of R & T is the special bond that develops between horse and runners. It is especially strong because both horse and humans are experiencing the same things - speed, fatigue and stress. We are together, far from anywhere, fully dependent on each other for success (and maybe even survival). This builds real respect and love.

For our third year the championship was held at the Big Bear California ski resort. Bob's daughter Cathy (one of Bob's later partners) was graduating from Stanford on R&T Sunday. SOOOOOO Ted had, as he saw it, no alternative but to DO IT as my partner and of course Win the Husband-Wife category and the 100 Year category, "Century in the Saddle", (which means the riders combined ages add up to at least 100). Bob and I had already won it the year before in Sun River Oregon - where, by the way, we had lost Faratha (our second daughter Carol's half Arabian, half generic mare) due to  improperly tying her our first night at camp... and where, on race day, she had me -first woman' after about ten miles. Pretty scary, but a good start for my first place Masters Woman award.

But one of Joan's secrets is taking advantage of opportunity. (Me, Davenport California 2000)

Next someone mistakenly took our horse Faratha (instead of their own) from the tree where I had tied her, and when Bob arrived to their grey horse, he knew it wasn't ours so kept running... while the other rider, going back, passed him, saying, "Did you see a grey horse back there?" Well that slowed us down, but I still took first Masters Woman.

Well Ted "the Martyr" did practice with great seriousness; he knew I could get faster, and over the next 19 years I kept telling him I only get older, not faster. That first year when going up the back side of the Ski Resort, I was ahead on foot and on one of the switchbacks I looked below and saw my husband leaning on our daughter Carol's horse (the spirited half Arab), too tired to run and too weak to mount. Ted looked like a scene from a western movie where they bring in the dead guy slung over the horse.

Same team, same place, different moment... the story of Ride and Tie. (Joan and Ted Ruprecht, Big Lagoon, Trinidad California 1992)

The first year, I almost killed Bob - too many hills, and I had to give him the horse on the last one to get to the finish. He was so cramped he could not walk up to get his awards! Here I was killing my husband and later I did the same to my son-in-law Tom Gey (dehydration) and my friend Lynn Dellamas (we are the first and only Woman Century in the Saddle winners, having taken that title twice - once on Magic Nisaba, Fort Bragg and once on C-Bow's Gola/ Soca Springs), and my grandson Louis Ruprecht. However, I never lost one of them; we always completed, and they all went on to do more R&Ts.

We all learned that to Finish 'IS' to Win.

I went on to set up numerous teams and each of my partners did the same, so we mushroomed. Most of these people are still R&T-ing. Our Elaine partnered first with another 13-year-old, Libby Smultea, then Mike Harding, who continued with Julie Moreland, followed by a cute boy that Bud Johns matched her with, and then Elaine teamed for several years with Jim Clover, who I then introduced to Annette Parsons; they married and partnered in R&T, so Elaine joined brother-in-law Tom Gey and have been partners ever since. Elaine married Jim Howard, long time R&T star, and as of yet they have not partnered. I have partnered with two other women, Daphnia Hodges and Francis Howard, in non-Championship R&Ts.

All three team members must finish to complete, but the crowd of riders sure does get spread out by the Finish. (Santa Cruz California 1992)

Ted has gone on to team with Marlene Allan, Liz Carey, and Uri Driscoll, and now for several years with Tom's wife, Carol (our second daughter). This last year was his 22nd championship completion and 1st place Century in the Saddle +10. With Elaine's team and Louis's, we had three teams in competition. With other grandchildren coming along, maybe this year we will have more.

Over the years we have used a variety of horses. Most are at least part Arab, as the sport covers long distances. Only one of our horses is pure; the rest are part Morgan, or Quarter, or generic. Almost all have been bred, raised and trained by us. Anwar Magic, a purebred Arabian stallion (Fajur grandson) belonging to third daughter, Elaine (also an R&T horse for her family) bred a whole generation of babies for us. We are now in the fifth generation of our own horses, all of whom have done Endurance and R&T. This is a good combination and works well to build their minds and bodies. Ride and Tie is the frosting on the cake.

Thanks go to these horses, who all did their share of Ride and Tie.

Come join us, and welcome to the family!

Photos were kindly provided by Joan Ruprecht.

About the author:

Joan Ruprecht continues to compete whenever possible and will celebrate her 70th birthday in July.