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Auburn woman to ride 30th Tevis Cup

Perry has completed race 21 times
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Kathie Perry has seen her fair share of the trail over the years, but fear has never ridden with her.

Perry, of Auburn, will ride in her 30th Tevis Cup next week. She has 21 completions under her belt, one first-place finish in 1978 and has been pulled from the race eight times. She is also the president of the Western States Trail Foundation.

Since she began endurance riding and competing in the Tevis Cup in 1975, Perry has dealt with the challenges of the trail and taken everything that comes with it in stride, including three broken ribs last year.

But when it comes to the day of the ride, she knows no fear.

"Once it starts you're out there but a week after I'll go out and ride the trails again and pull down ribbons and say ‘wow, I did this in the dark or at a trot,'" Perry said. "It all comes back to you and you realize the thing that you've conquered."

Perry started endurance riding around 40 years ago, but she's been around horses her entire life. Originally a Kansas girl, Perry grew up on a farm surrounded by horses.

Her father decided that California would be a better place to raise his children, so they moved to the Bay Area. Eventually, a love of endurance riding would bring Perry and her husband, Ernie Perry, to Auburn. The Perrys rode quarter horses early on in their marriage but switched to Arabians when they became involved in endurance rides.

As a matter of fact, the sole reason Perry wanted to move here was the Tevis Cup.

"We said ‘you know, Auburn is where the Tevis Cup is, so what better place to move than the capital of the world of endurance riding?'" Perry said.

Though Kathie will ride her 30th Tevis Cup next week, Ernie has started three times but was pulled from each race. Riders can be pulled if a horse appears to be dehydrated, lame or undergoing a variety of other complications that would make completing a 100-mile race detrimental to its health.

Kathie has been pulled eight times, all of which were due to lameness.

"They can step on a rock and become lame very quickly and you don't want to ride another 80 miles after that," Kathie Perry said.

Ernie, who stopped doing endurance rides after 11 years on the trail, said he never worries about his wife. Kathie has her 2,000-mile belt buckle, won the Tevis Cup in 1978 and has finished in the top 10 multiple times.

"She pretty much knows what she's doing out there and she has a lot of friends who take care of each other," Ernie Perry said.

In this year's Tevis Cup, Kathie will most likely be riding Incognito, an Arabian horse. She said it's important for riders to remember to train themselves and their horse properly before a race like the Tevis Cup and to always stick to what they know.

"Don't ride someone else's horse, ride your own because you know what he can do and you know to let him do it," Kathie Perry said.

As president of the Western States Trail Foundation, she also enjoys the aftermath of the race when everyone has gone home and there are still ribbons to be picked up and adventures to be had.

"We've got to give back to our trails. My pace has slowed down over the years between my 30s and my 70s, but I don't see me giving up this sport," she said. "I love it."

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.