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CH-SH Mo’ Motion Jack Finishes 37th in the 2021 Tevis Cup 100 Mile One Day Ride

We extend our congratulations to Natalie Mayer Law and her American Saddlebred CH-SH Mo' Motion Jack (Brave) for finishing 37th in the 2021 Tevis Cup 100 Mile One Day Ride," the world's best known and most difficult equestrian endurance ride!" It is thrilling to see #asbdreams come true in this Iditarod or Kona Ironman of distance riding.

Natalie and Brave's accomplishment is made more special as they completed the test of Tevis alongside daughter Kyla Law and her hackney pony Piece Of Perfection. These teams were 36 & 37 of the 166 entered riders. Only 63 were able to complete the ride.  We send a Saddlebred Salute to this remarkable team for their success in the "Horsemen's Journey" and representation of our beloved breed!

CH-SH Mo' Motion Jack (Kalarama's One-Eyed X Classy Kay Motion) is a 9-year-old gelding owned by Natalie Law and bred by Pamela & Shelah Heiman

Natalie took to Facebook last night to provide a full account of their journey. With her permission, we share her Saddlebred Story from Tevis below. Natalie said, “I hope it inspires others to just enjoy the ride and see where it takes them.”

Photo from Natalie Law by William Gore at Cougar's Leap during Tevis

The Tevis Story from Natalie Mayer Law

At the Sunday banquet, I read a crew shirt that said “No sleep til Auburn” and I laughed and laughed and laughed. While I’ve finally had a chance to kind of get some sleep and recover. My life doesn’t slow down much even after getting to Auburn. I’m a Mom. I have 4 kids and more animals than I can count. We’re still on summer break which means next on the list is a family reunion and then my brother’s wedding and then school starts. I’ve been thinking my crew shirt might read “no sleep till your dead” but I guess I’m fine with that because life is too short and there are adventures out there.

Everybody wants THE Tevis story and I don’t even know where to start. Many people have the bucket list dream of getting to Tevis, but I had never even considered it when I started riding endurance. It never crossed our minds when Kyla got her wild pony. It just happened. The pieces just fell into place. We didn’t try to MAKE it happen, we were just guided one ride at a time.

While I could write a novel about Kyla and Flash I’m going to leave that to her. She’s been asked to co-author some children’s books and I couldn’t be more happy. They truly have an incredible relationship and it hasn’t come easy. Long story short she bought him with her own money when she was 9. He was feral and when people compliment how well broke he is we laugh because truly he’s only broke for Kyla.

Ok how on earth did we get that pony (and my big lanky Saddlebred) to Tevis. Well we just kept going to rides.  I mean his first 50 we got lost and it turned into 68 miles and he was so wild that she didn’t even have a loose rein until 40 miles in. Some people ride for points and miles and first place finishes. We ride to see the beauty of this earth. We happen to live in Southern Utah surrounded by some of the most rugged and surreal terrain. We are also lucky enough to be in the land of XP Rides put on by Ann Nicholson and Dave Nicholson. We would not have ever gotten to Tevis without his rides and this teaching. They are rugged. They are hard. They are a true test of endurance and partnership with your equine.

Kyla and Flash have ridden AERC, EDRA, and WDRA rides. We continued all through 2020 when many didn’t have rides. We got lucky with that. Kyla was fighting the clock as she outgrows Flash so we set out for our first 100 in December of 2020. We thought that was Kyla’s last ride on Flash. In January when Tevis entries opened up I sent mine in because I thought, “hey I think Brave can do it and I hear the trail is stunningly beautiful so why not.” I knew Kyla wanted to go but I just assumed she was too big. When the Tevis Cup 100 Mile One Day Ride - Western States Trail Foundation announced that juniors ride free this year it got my mind churning. I asked my best friend and trainer Shelah Wetter what her thoughts were on Flash carrying Kyla. She said that pony is tough he’d be fine. I trust Shelah with the world. She is the most incredible horsewoman I know. So that’s all it took. We gathered Flash’s mileage history since it’s spread between so many organizations and sent in her entry. I mean come on what was there to loose? Whether we finished or not it was an opportunity of a lifetime and we weren’t going to miss out.

We sent up a training schedule for the season to get us to Tevis. Kyla’s little sister Layla entered the endurance world and together they put many more miles on Flash.

Next on the list of concerns was hoof protection. Flash has never worn any sort of hoof protection. Ever. He does all of his rides barefoot and if it’s particularly rocky I’ll use Hoof Armor to add a bit of extra protection. As many know per Tevis rules all equines must have some sort of hoof protection. I contacted just about everybody in the hoof protection world for help. I had an outpouring of support from EVERYBODY!!! I spoke with Dave Rabe, Christoph Schork, Tenney Lane and Dave Nicholson and probably many many others about Easy Boots. We tried every size possible but nothing was small enough. SoCo Endurance went out of their way and said whatever route we choose they would cover the cost. What a generous offer! Mark Lindsey was willing to design a synthetic shoe to fit him but ultimately I wasn’t willing to chance a trial on Tevis. But it was beyond gracious for him to offer. Stacy Pratt went above and beyond and sent me boxes of Heartland Scoot Boots for Minis until we actually found some that fit. We had a couple months before Tevis and decided to do our trial at the City of Rocks pioneer ride. I had nobody here with experience gluing on Scoot Boots so the task fell on myself. I googled, called, and text anybody I knew to get suggestions. I couldn’t be more appreciative to my farrier Don Stewart. Flash’s feet are solid. He did all the shaping/prep and I glued the boots on. They looked great but at City of Rocks, he lost all 4 boots within the first 30 miles. But that didn’t stop Flash. He continued and finished all 100 miles barefoot. After this we considered just putting steel shoes on for Tevis but again it didn’t settle well. Ultimately, I decided to use the glue ons again, but try to find a professional to glue them on. Barrak Blakeley offered to glue them on but 2 weeks before Tevis life happened and he couldn’t make it. Jeremy Procopio recommend his friend John Perry who agreed to help out. If he knew how terrible Flash was he probably wouldn’t have lol. So Friday afternoon, the night before Tevis John got to work on Flash’s hooves. To say thank you would be an understatement. Flash is a really sweet pony, but an 11.2hh pony doesn’t complete Tevis without a bit of fire in his soul At one point Flash reared up and almost went over John’s shoulder. I said “he was just trying to give you a hug.”  What should have taken about 1 1/2 hours ended up taking about 2 1/2 hours. The ground was dusty, the pony was rotten, but he got 4 boots on that pony so we could start.

Ok so back to getting to Tevis. I spent 6 months messaging everybody I could imagine asking for suggestions and tips for riding the trail. I picked the brains of top finishers and end of the pack riders. I wanted everybody’s story and experiences. Off the top of my head thank you to Lindsay Fisher, Darlene Merlich and Max Merlich, Kathleen Dunham, Sandra Cheek, susan summers, Diane Seaby Stevens, Dave Nicholson, Sanoma Blakeley, Caroline De Bourbon, and I’m sure many more. Every ride I went to I pestered the people I rode with if I learned they’d ridden Tevis. I asked every question I could imagined and logged it away. In my teenage years, I had to learn from my on mistakes now I’m trying to be an adult and learn from others.

As time approached, it was time to put a crew together. Once upon a time years ago, I asked Shelah Wetter “if I ever go to Tevis will you crew for me”. She foolishly said yes and didn’t think anything of it. She was the first person I called when it was time to go. I knew if I was going to Tevis I NEEDED her. If I had nobody else there I knew she alone could get me through. From there I picked someone close to Kyla. I picked Kacey Oar. A junior that rides with us often and too dreams of riding Tevis. She has been a big sister to Kyla and I knew she would do anything Shelah said and be the love and support that Kyla would need on this rugged day. From there I brought the 3 other most important people in my life. First my Husband Adam Law. The man that is allergic to horses and hay that said never more than 2 horses the man that supports my dreams no matter how insane they may seem. The one that puts everything he wants aside for me. And well we laugh because technically we bought Brave to be his horse so i guess i needed him there for me to ride his horse in Tevis. Lastly, I brought my mom and dad (James Mayer and Wynona Mayer) they are the people that never even doubted that we would finish. They raised me to be strong and achieve whatever I wanted. And that was it. Our team consisted of 7 people and 2 equines that had NEVER been to Tevis or even set foot in Auburn cheers to the adventure.

We showed up in Auburn Wednesday afternoon. We relaxed and enjoyed the little town. The horses relaxed and fueled up in stalls. Thursday Kyla and I took the advice of a friend and we were dropped off by lower quarry and rode the last 6 miles in daylight. Flash almost got bit by a rattlesnake but missed it and I don’t know how.  Then Friday morning we set out for Robie Park. I couldn’t help but just laugh and smile at the attention Flash received. The vets fought over who got to vet him. Brave followed along like the sidekick he is. Brave needs that pony. We call it his emotional support pony and as long as they were close, his heart rate was great lol.

When we got our little campsite set up you could look in Flash’s eyes and see that he did not approve of his 7x7 corral he was stuck in. You see Flash is like a trail dog. He’s never truly been contained. Whenever we go to rides Brave just ties to the trailer and Flash runs around like he owns the place. He never goes far and because he’s been tied up in ropes before I get too nervous tying him overnight. Kacey and Shelah slept in a tent.  Kyla and I slept on an airbed in the back of my little 2 horse stock trailer. No fancy bathroom for us. No shower or warm breakfast lol. Just my girl and I snuggled up together on a deflating air mattress rolled to the middle getting squished all night long.

3:30am came quick. We climbed on our horses at 4:30am and just started walking around. We eventually made our way to pen 2 and wandered around until someone said it was time to go. Somehow, we ended up close to John the farrier so we kind of stuck with him since he’d been there 6 times. He was super kind and gave us the details of walking out and what was going on. Brave was totally chill. Flash was a fire breathing dragon that Kyla could barley contain. So we did what we used to do back when Kyla was trying to break him. Kyla stuck his nose right behind Brave and used him as a brake. We all started cruising the trail and just followed the train we were in. Nothing seemed out of control. We cruised at a nice pace and just held on for the ride. We stuck with John for the first long while. He was great! He guided us over some of the really rocky sections in the Granite Chief Wilderness, and while it’s not the most rugged stuff we’ve ridden on I can completely see why so many would come up lame if not using wise judgement or even if luck just ran out. It was beautiful!!! As we climbed high up the wild flower were vibrant and the mountain spring that ran through the trail was dreamy. Remember we don’t ride for points we ride to see the beauty, and beauty we truly saw!

Up just past High Camp, I think it is, we saw the funniest guy!!!! He had a Viking horn kind of cap on and an American flag flying. He cheered us on and right there were started to experience the love and support that so many people talk about. I had no clue that this was just the start of the amazing people that gather for this event.

As we continued to cruise along the trail Kyla was getting more and more excited for the approaching Cougar rock. She and that pony love to climb around like mountain goats. It was no surprise that he bounced up it like it was nothing. To be honest we climb stuff just as, if not more, rugged in our back yard. So both of our horses took it on like nothing and I loved the climb too! I like stuff like that lol.

XP Rides are known for their 50 mile loops so having our first real vet check at 36 miles wasn't a concern for us. We got in and got vetted immediately. Brave vetted in at 56/64 and that caused the vet to want to do a recheck. We learned not to feed in between Hr checks for their CRI. He came back in 30 minutes with a 56/56 and we were totally good to go. The rest of the day Brave maintained 56/56 at every vet check. This is phenomenal for my 16.3hh Saddlebred that often comes in to vet checks at 80 and drops quick. He’s big. He’s hot. And he’s not an Arab. And Flash maintained 52/52 all day long. We got out of Robinson about 10 minutes late. Looking back now I realize how crucial ever single minute is. Luckily we were about an hour above cut off so we were still maintaining well.

As we left Cassee Steed Terry says “it’s gonna get hot and you’re going to drop into the canyons so get your shirts wet” so we did. And that is what we did for the rest of the day. We consciously wore sun shirts that we could soak in every trough we came across. As the day heated up and we dropped into the canyons, we remained quite comfortable. Maybe it was the shirts or maybe it’s the fact that we live in the desert which has been ridiculously hot and 110+ consistently for the last month. Regardless the canyons didn’t bother us or the horses one bit. While

I had planned to hike down the canyons I looked at the trail and decided Brave could navigate down much more efficiently that I could. I would have been flat on my butt lol. And Flash, he’s a mountain goat so he bounced down like it was nothing.

Getting down to the swinging bridge was magical. The water was crystal clear and the temperature was perfect. Brave got his legs in and Kyla took Flash in deep enough he almost had to swim. We’d been told to not start the next climb until our horses were fully cooled. We took a moment to relax. Enjoy the water. Admire some of the other horses down there. There was a stunning Kreiger Mustang in the water that was magnificent. All I could think about was how blessed and lucky we were to be experiencing such an incredible place. When the horses were cooled we set off on the climb to Devil’s thumb. It reminded me of a trail we do down here in southern Utah. Our house is located at about 3500ft and the mountain behind us reaches 10,000ft. There is a trail on that mountain  that was almost identical. So when we started the climb Brave and Flash seemed to know it was time to put it in 4wheel drive. We didn’t rush. We didn’t push. We just climbed. And climbed. And climbed….. anddddd climbed lol.

We cruised through deadwood and set out down Eldorado canyon. Again we just kept a nice steady pace down and a nice solid climb up to Michigan Bluff. And THAT was my all time favorite stop of the entire day. The town was adorable. The people were so sweet as they cared for our horses. They cooled them. They brought us snacks and drinks. And they cheered us on. My heart was amazed at that little town!!!

And then they told us 4 more miles to Chicken Hawk…. They didn’t tell us it was the longest 4 miles that seemed to go strait up when we got in there we saw lots of people with their crew but we choose to get in and out of there on our own. I think I timed it that we were there for 16 minutes. In my mind we only had a little bit further until we got to Foresthill so why stop now.

When we arrived into Foresthill, it was time to find the farrier. Flash’s front left boot had come off at mile 28. His back left boot came off at mile 45. And near Foresthill his front right was floppy. We vetted in and went strait to the farriers and said get these boots off him. They were kind of confused that we didn’t want more put on, we wanted them OFF I told them Flash was annoyed and wanted them off. And so they quickly removed the last 2 boots so that Flash could be balanced again. Shelah, Wonder Woman, slathered all 4 feet with Hoof Armor. In the canyons his left side was sliding differently than his right, but now he was golden again.

At Foresthill, this is when the crew kicked in high gear (not that they weren’t already) but it was the time Kyla and I needed more help. They brought us fried chicken. Got the horses fueled back up. Repacked our saddlebags. And let us nap, for about 8 minutes speaking of saddlebags and saddle pads, Carrie Sheree Moyers with Horse Bums went way out of the way to get us custom pads and bags just 3 weeks before Tevis. And when she learned Kyla didn’t have her own Carrie’s favorite she included one just for her and Flash. And let me tell you, her bags and pads are the highest quality and most useful I’ve found.

Ok back to Foresthill. After are most amazing 8 minute nap it was time to climb back on and head to Auburn. We set out with our little red led fairy lights into the darkness and through the town. What a fun experience that was!!! And let me tell you the crowd went wild when that pony started trotting through town. We left the town and dropped into the darkness of the forest. This is where the true test of your trust in your steed comes out. Somehow we managed to be in front of a group of horses including Lindsay Fisher who had won the Hagen cup in 2019. I asked her what this trail is like in the dark and she said “I don’t know I’ve never ridden it at night” she tucked in behind us and I turned the reins over to Brave. Kyla was a bit worried here but I told her just to ride that pony and he’d take care of her. For those that don’t know about Brave he is a total wimp regarding his footing. He loves to move out but if the footing is junk he won’t do it. Man was I grateful then. When I turned the reins over to him he took care of our entire train. He set a fabulous 5.5ish walk/slow gait on the tricky stuff then he flew through the forest anytime the footing was good. It was an experience I’ve never had. The best I can explain is that it’s like riding a rollercoaster, through a black tunnel, with unexpected twist, turns, and drops. It was incredible!!!

We continued down the trail and rolled into Francisco. We must have had quite a train behind us because that spot filled up so fast and we were all tucked in tight around the water tanks. The horses were getting heated and a stallion was making us all a bit nervous so we booked it out of there as quick as possible.

As we rode through the night I could tell Brave had figured out that we were following the glow sticks. The footing was getting better and better by the River and we started to run through the night. The glow sticks moved from in the trees to on the ground. We came around a corner to some tents and then we were greeted by the most exciting loud bunch of supporters thus far. I just laughed and laughed as the offered us everything from fireballs to Gatorade. I choose the Gatorade lol. We passed them up and came to the river crossing. At this moment Brave came to a screeching halt and I watched his mind kinda explode lol. He looked down at the glow sticks on the ground and his head followed them through the river and to the other side. He looked right. He looked left. He looked back down at his feet and back across the river. Then he looked at Flash like, ummmmmm you go first it might be dangerous. Flash walked up to enjoy a nice long drink and a nice gal named Molly, who had been riding with us, brought her horse to the banks. Once Brave saw Flash drink from the scary river he decided, it was ok. He slowly waded into the water where his whole body relaxed as he felt the cool against his skin. He worked hard to follow the glow sticks even against the river flow. I looked back to Flash who was deep enough that his saddle pad was getting wet. Kyla was laughing and squealing about her soggy feet and legs. My heart was happy. That river crossing truly was magical. And then we were out. The horses were cool and fresh and off they went. On to lower quarry.

Lower quarry was super cute. But as we went to vet in all the rocks on the vet trot out line made me nervous. Flash had been barefoot since mile 68 and were now at 94. But before I could even watch we did our trot out and the vets were once again in awe at that little rugged pony. Even on the nasty trot out lane he was sound as can be and ready to head home. And it was time to head home, home to Auburn!

At this point we had no idea what place we were in. I looked back at all the horses still at Lower Quarry and worried. I knew it was getting close to cut off but I just assumed this was normal. I said goodbye to many of the people I’d been riding with, wished them luck, and Kyla and I set off into the dark again.

It didn’t take long for Flash and Brave to realize they had been here before. Riding this section before the ride was a huge advantage. It’s like they smelled the air and kicked on another gear. They never once seemed tired. They were a pair on a mission and they were going back to their fluffy well bedded stalls in Auburn. Up to this point both Kyla and I had doing a really good job taking care of ourselves. But I was starting to slip. Once upon a time my husband asked my dad for my hand in marriage. My dad replied “one bit of advice, keep her fed and you’ll always be happy”. 16 years later this still applies. I was getting exhausted and now pony was leading the train. He was more forward than he’d ever been and I was digging through my saddlebags for any type of energy shot I could find. I managed to find some nasty tasting gel that I choked down and it did the job. I was starting to come back to life. Meanwhile Kyla did what she did on our first 100 together. She giggled, she danced, and she and her perky young self led us to the finish line. So many say congrats mum on all you’ve done but I don’t think I could have done either of my 100s with out this girl. When going gets tough, she gets tougher!!!

On our rode to Tevis our only squabble was who went on the victory lap first lol. She was mad because she wanted Brave to go first so she could hold back that firey pony and run the lap. And I was so worried that if that happened nobody would be able to see him behind my big ol’ horse. So we ended with a totally boring victory lap under the banner. But you know what we BOTH finished. We both vetted through. And we both had happy healthy ponies in the end.

Our entire crew was there cheering for us. They took care of us. They took care of Brave and Flash and we couldn’t have done it with out them.

What an incredible journey!!!! And in the end my greatest appreciation goes out to my God above. He created this beautiful earth. He created these magnificent creatures that carried us through some of the most rugged terrain imaginable. It was Him who watched over us through our entire journey and helped us both finish strong. Cheers to endurance. To Finish is to Win!!!

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Photo courtesy of Natalie Law & 2021 Tevis Cup.