ABA Banking Journal - May 2013 - (Page 56)
Peace of the long-distance rider
Racing through America helps banker slow down
Astride one of his Arabian horses in an endurance race,
Jim Lewien’s mind narrows to the trail ahead and his
mount’s performance. “You don’t think about work, the
bank, or anything like that,” says the Colorado executive.
“It’s very hard riding, but it’s very recreational, because
it’s very physical and you don’t have the same mental
element you do on the job.”
Lewien, chairman of the Denver region of $22.2
billion-assets Commerce Bancshares, grew up riding the
horses of an across-the-street friend. They just hacked
around, but he kept that love of riding. Yet, life happened in the meantime, and the banker didn’t do much
more regular riding, other than working some cattle on
a relative’s farm. Then, about nine years ago, at 59, he
discovered endurance riding and bought several young
horses that could grow into good competitors.
Distances vary according to race, rider class, and
time and trail available. In common to all races is that
under the rules of the American Endurance Ride Conference—its motto is “To Finish Is To Win”—horses
undergo checks before, during, and after a race. Lewien
explains that a horse pushed too hard by a rider—or its
Jim Lewien rides Dublin in one of the annual “Happy Jack”
races held in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming.
own competitive instincts—won’t “pulse down” within
the time limit. This costs horse and rider some standing.
himself, he wears a helmet, tight
“The health of the horse is paramount,” says Lewien. Typically, during the
breeches designed to minimize chafdays that many events last, the rider sleeps near his horses. (Riders may ride
ing, and half-chaps to protect the
multiple horses in a meet.) Lewien’s horse trailer has a small bunk space.
Endurance races run from 15 miles to the Tevis Cup, a 100-miles in a day
Riding in the sport’s mature diviannual event held in the Sierras, between Auburn, Calif., and Lake Tahoe.
sion, Lewien has placed first twice,
In making these rides, Lewien says, he and fellow equestrians view beautiful
and drawn a “best condition” on
western country in National Park and Bureau of Land Management lands
finishing with Willa once.
that many never get to explore. The furthest that Lewien has competed is at
There’s much fellowship among
the 35-mile distance.
event riders, according to Lewien,
Lewien’s companions on these rides are two mares, Willa and Angelica,
but the nights tend to be early ones,
and a gelding, Dublin, who is his fastest mount. Lewien used to try to hold
once the horses have been cooled
Dublin back early in a race, but the horse just loves to run and be in front.
and put away.
“He is just a machine,” says Lewien. “He has the most personality.” Lewien
“When you get back from an
once got marked down, because Dublin hated to be held back and didn’t
endurance ride,” says Lewien, “you
“pulse down” quickly enough.
sleep very well. Endurance riders
Typically, races run at a fast trot, not cantering or galloping much. Like
are a pretty determined bunch.
Lewien, one in two riders use a modified Western saddle, with no saddle
They don’t like to quit unless the
horn. Lewien prefers to use a hackamore—bitless steering gear that frees the
horse isn’t doing well.”
horse to eat and drink during a race. Many riders prefer Arabians or part—Steve Cocheo, executive editor &
Arabians, because they are bred for distance versus quarter-horses, which are
digital content manager
sprinters. Lewien has seen a variety of breeds ridden, as well as mules. For
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ABA Banking Journal - May 2013
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