January 2014 Issue - page 6

Page 6
January 2014
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
by Marcella Peyre-Ferry
Debbie Schultz of Har-
leysville, PA is being recognized
by the American Endurance Ride
Council for completing twenty,
100-mile rides on her Arabian TR
Notablymishaah.
Schultz was originally a
hunter rider when she was in-
troduced to endurance riding by
friends. “I didn’t like being in a
ring. I liked the fox hunting part
but those jumps got bigger and
bigger. I would do it, but my heart
would be in my throat,” she said.
Friends introduced Schultz to
endurance riding, and she knew
this was the sport for her. “At that
point it was so - wow, that these
horses carry you for 50 miles and
the bond that you develop with
that horse over 50 miles, I’d just
never experienced that,” she said.
“The whole motto of endurance
is ‘to finish is to win’. You’re so
proud after doing 50 miles with
the same horse. I just loved that.”
Once she had decided that
endurance was the sport for her,
Twenty 100 Mile Rides No Problem for Former Hunter Rider, Age 56
Schultz was prepared to make
a serious commitment to be
competitive. “I had been riding
other people’s horses for years and
decided it was time to have one
of my own,” Schultz said. “I did
the hunter jumpers for years and
years. When I got into endurance I
realized I had to get an Arabian.”
Rescued as a Two Year Old
Responding to an online
advertisement, Schultz found TR
Notablymishaah in New Jersey.
“He had been rescued from an
auction by the gal that owned
him. She got him as a two-year-
old. He was going to go to the
killers,” Schultz said.
While the Arabian proved
to be a good horse, he was not
well suited to the work his owner
wanted to do. “She was big into
dressage and combined driv-
ing,” Schultz explained. “He just
didn’t like pulling a carriage, but
he loved to be out on the trail
and go, go, go. He’d never done
endurance, but she thought he
would be a good prospect.”
One of the things that has
always been among TR Nota-
blymishaah’s best assets is his
strength at the walk. “It’s his atti-
tude and he has the most incredible
walk. In endurance, a lot of times
we have to walk when the terrain is
very rugged and up hill. His walk
is so powerful and ground cover-
ing,” Schultz said. “He doesn’t fit
the typical Arabian mold. He’s very
big and muscular, he’s rock solid,
he looks like a quarter horse.”
Endurance training can be a
time consuming process as you
gradually build a horse’s fitness.
TR Notablymishaah did not need
long to get started, taking on a
limited distance ride in 2006, in
his first year with Schultz, and
moving on to 50 mile rides the next
year. “Because this horse had had
several years of being ridden and
trained and because he was already
5 coming 6, I took him to just one
limited distance, 25-mile ride and
he just sailed through it. He was
ready for 50,” Schultz said.
Winning Through Attrition
Even at fifty miles, her horse
was soon showing her that he was
able to do more. In 2008 the pair
completed three 100 mile rides.
“His recoveries are great. He did
so incredibly well at the 50s. I’m
always pulling back - its whoa
instead of go,” Schultz said. “We
started 100s and went very very
slowly. I think that’s the key to
his success. Invariably I go slow
and we end up winning through
attrition. Most people are highly
competitive and they go out fast.
I wave goodbye and at mile 70
or 80 their horses have been over
ridden. That’s how we’ve done
well. I always start in the middle
of the pack or sometimes dead
last but we end up in the front.”
Schultz reports that she typi-
cally does five to seven 100 mile
rides each year, and she has always
done well. She has finished in the
ERC’s top ten in the featherweight
division each year with this horse
except one year where she took
time off for a shoulder surgery.
Schultz is supported in her
sport by Paul, her husband of 32
years, even though he does not
become directly involved in her
competitions. “He has never been
to one of my races. His thing is
golf,” she said, adding that he takes
care of the animals while she is
gone, allowing her to travel. “He
loves the horses from the ground,
he has no desire to ride them.”
Transports Horses
For many years she was a
teacher, but Schultz now works
transporting horses. By being in
that business, she is able to travel
easily to events. Her favorite is
Old Dominion, considered the
most challenging endurance race
in the east. “It’s very tough. It
is a lot of mountains, it’s cross-
ing the Shenandoah River - you
swim across with your horse - it’s
incredible,” she said.
TR Notablymishaah is now
12, with more years of competi-
tion ahead of him. “I am very
lucky to be able to take him fur-
ther distances to rides,” Schultz
said. “I try not to think too far
ahead. In our sport we’re riding
vet check to vet check.”
Schultz is 56 and proud to
be competing. “I can be my age
and beat kids half my age. This is
the only sport I know where three
generations can be riding in the
same event,” she said.
Debbie Schultz of Harleysville, PA finishes a 75-mile ride in South
Carolina on her Arabian, TR Notablymishaah. The gelding, rescued from
slaughter as a two year old, has completed twenty 100 mile rides with his
56 year old owner, who makes her living transporting horses.
Photo credit: ©GenieSS, Inc.
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