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Ride and Tie Events: Two People, a Horse, and An Exhilarating Race


2019/06/15


Megan Wilson and Greg Bradner (running)

Barb Mathews and Liara Gonzalez (running)
By Kristie Bradner

You’re on a trail ride and see a horse up ahead in the woods whose saddle and tack appear to be in place. He’s standing there as though abandoned, and as you approach, you note that he’s tied to a tree. There’s no rider in sight, the horse isn’t agitated, and you wonder what’s up. It might just be the equine third of a trio of partners, the other two of whom are human, and all three might be participating in a ride and tie event.

Ride and tie events started in St. Helena, California in 1971 as a public relations effort to promote the durability of Levi Strauss jeans. In a ride and tie event, two people leapfrog one another: the first rider ties off the horse and begins running, and when his partner catches up to the horse, the partner jumps on and keeps going. Eventually this person overtakes the one who’s now on foot. The horse is tied off again and waits for the team mate, now coming up the trail.  This alternating I ride/you run with you ride/I run is what ride and tie is all about. And the people who participate tend to love it. Some say it’s the most fun thing they’ve ever done with a horse!

Ride and tie races begin with most of the riders and horses trotting out just ahead of the runners, and off they all go into the woods or across a field, looking for the next ribbon that indicates a turn. Many human participants elect to run/ride for a specific amount of time. Sometimes one person is better on foot and will spend the bulk of his or her time running – or vice versa. Either way, human partners must make all mandatory switches determined for the race.

For longer events, there’s a mid-race check, when veterinarians check such things as the horse’s pulse, respiration, and gait. This is also where crews – if teams have one – go to work holding horses, getting out food, and helping participants make necessary adjustments. While ride and tie competition isn’t necessarily fierce, some teams don’t hold back. Other teams prefer tackling the race in a sure and steady manner with the desire just to finish topmost in their minds.

Following the race, human participants exchange race tales while horses munch on hay near their owners’ trailers. Did you see those dogs? I missed a turn and had to go back. I had to do every water crossing on foot! My horse lost a shoe, and I didn’t know it right away. There is an abundance of camaraderie, and participants enjoy hearing about one another’s race.

At the start of 2019, there were 25 events nationwide on the ride and tie calendar, with Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Maryland among the east coast locations. East Fork Stables in Jamestown, Tennessee will be the site of this year’s World Championship Ride and Tie on August, 17-18, 2019.The event is open to everyone who’s interested, and newcomers are always welcome!

Anyone who wants to learn more about ride and tie can find information on the website rideandtie.org. There are also two Facebook pages: Ride and Tie and East Coast Ride and Tie Folks. Either one is a good place to ask questions and get specific information on this fun and unique sport.

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