Newcomer takes out US trail riding’s premier award

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Jonni Jewell and Fran Muench, friends enjoying a wooded trail at the Robbers Route CTR in Oklahoma.
Jonni Jewell and Fran Muench, friends enjoying a wooded trail at the Robbers Route CTR in Oklahoma. © Mike Collins

Proving that age and a late start is no barrier to success, a 17-year-old Texas distance riding horse who came to the sport only three years ago has been honored with the President’s Cup by the North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC).

Arabian gelding Tezuby, aka Ted, was named the winner of the NATRC’s highest award at its convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico earlier this month.

Three years ago, Ted was 14 when friends gave him to Jonni Jewell of Decatur, Texas. With conditioning, he bloomed into a handsome horse with a willing-to-please attitude, who won his first National Championship in 2016, his first year of competition.

Ted is Jewell’s second President’s Cup horse and could not be more different from the first one, a bay Arabian named Hank.

“Hank naturally took excellent care of himself on the trail eating and drinking constantly. Ted never passes up food, but he is not one to drink well on the trail. I tried different methods to get Ted to drink better on the trail, and finally decided he would drink when he was thirsty. Hank always had his own agenda and I had to figure out quickly how to make things my idea. Ted, on the other hand, really does want to please, tries very hard to do what I am asking, and not second-guess me like Hank would.”

Throughout the ride year, this winning team was chasing another rider in points. It took trailering 9800 miles and 13 rides, with five firsts, five seconds, two thirds and one fourth, to clinch the Cup at the final ride. Through this outstanding performance, Ted and Jonni also earned his second National Championship, the combined horse and horsemanship award (Jim Menefee Memorial), 1st overall heavyweight class horse, 1st overall heavyweight class horsemanship, 1st heavyweight class in their region, high point Arabian, and Ted’s 1000 mile award. All this was despite Ted having been laid off for two rides because of a stone bruise.

Tezuby and Jonni Jewell in action.
Tezuby and Jonni Jewell in action. © Jim Edmondson

Tezuby must be a living example of the old saying: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

In accepting the award, Jonni Jewell said, “If you have a dream, don’t give up on it. One of my favorite lines from a song is ‘Keep on dreaming, even if it breaks your heart.’ You just never know when a dream may turn into what you think is impossible, possible.”

The NATRC is the USA’s oldest and largest long distance competitive trail ride organization. It offers rides with several divisions providing challenges for those new to the sport as well as for experienced competitors.

Jonni Jewell and Tezuby walking into a pulse and respiration (P&R) check.
Jonni Jewell and Tezuby walking into a pulse and respiration (P&R) check. © Mike Collins

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