Leona Jones (left), riding J.J. and Denise Pascucci, riding Nikea trotted to top-4 finishes at the Cariboo Plateau endurance ride at 108 Mile, in August. Monika Paterson Photography

Leona Jones (left), riding J.J. and Denise Pascucci, riding Nikea trotted to top-4 finishes at the Cariboo Plateau endurance ride at 108 Mile, in August. Monika Paterson Photography

Hope riders take second and fourth place at summer competition

Nearing retirement, Denise Pascucci’s Arabian steed Nikea still has a few more years left

A life-long love of horses is nearing a turning point — but before then, there should still be a few good years of riding for Denise Pascucci and her Arabian steed, Nikea.

“I’ve always been around horses,” said Pascucci (pronounced “Pas-KOO-chee”). “I had aunts and uncles who had farms outside Winnipeg, in Vassar and South Junction. I got my first horse when I was 18.

“I got the one I currently own on my forty-first birthday, 18 years ago, from Del and Carl Augustine. He’s a pure Arabian and his registered name is Aur Lanii but I call him Nikea.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Musical Ride delights in Hope

“I started riding endurance about 13 years ago, with Buffy Miller — and Shelley Taylor rides with me now. I keep my horse at Shelley’s place, by the airport. We’ve got morning and evening feeds, so Shelley usually does the mornings and I do the evenings and we work around our schedules.”

In 2012 and 2013, Pascucci and Nikea took part in the Cariboo Plateau endurance event at 108 Mile, then injuries, forest fires and other encumbrances kept them from returning until this year. On August 11, she partnered up for the competitive 25-mile ride, with fellow Hope rider, Leona Jones and her standardbred named J.J.

RELATED: Hope woman finds her calling with equine healing

There were 20 riders, with 10 in the 15-mile and 10 in the 25-mile event.

“A lot of the riders were from the Island, where they hold a lot of these rides,” said Pascucci.

“In this particular area, it’s rolling hills,” she explained. The trails are all marked with coloured ribbons. Because it’s a ranch, you ride through cattle in some places. In many places, you’re riding on cross-country ski trails, so the hills aren’t very steep. Where we train, up the Coquihalla and around Tulameen, the horses get a good workout, so this was easier for them.”

“You ride alone or in pairs and I rode with Leona,” said Pascucci. “Every group is spaced 10 minutes apart, so technically, if you run the ride the way you’re supposed to, you would never see the other riders.

“After the first loop, which is 15 miles, you have a mandatory 45 minutes to rest your horse and get a vet check.

“Your horse is given 300 points at the start and when you have your vet check, you lose points or keep your points,” she said. “They’re looking for saddle sores, limping, cuts and hydration.

“To check for hydration, they expose the inner lip and do a pinch test, to check for capillary refill,” said Pascucci, who is a lab assistant at Fraser Canyon Hospital.

“At the start, they told us we had 6 hours and 42 minutes to complete the ride, including the rest period — so we had to calculate our finish time. More than 10 minutes too early or 10 minutes late and you’re disqualified.”

Within that window, every minute early loses two points and every minute late loses one.

Riding at a pace of 4 or 5 miles per hour, the pair finished very close to their allotted time… then it was up to the final vet check, to see how many points they had retained.

“I got second place and Leona got fourth,” said Pascucci. “My horse managed to keep more points. He also won the senior high point award.”

Pascucci plans to retire next year, after 30 years at FCH. Nikea will be 23 years old by then. How long can they keep going?

“It all depends,” said Pascucci. “I know some people are riding horses that are 30 years old. Myself, I’d probably retire him by age 25.”

RELATED: Fire in barn that housed therapy horses has been confirmed an arson


Is there more to this story?


news@hopestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lydia Koot (centre) receives the Conservation Officer Service’s Chief’s Special Recognition Award from Conservation Officer Service Sgt. Don Stahl (Second from the left) at Memorial Park in Hope on Thursday, Feb. 18. Koot is the first civilian to receive such honours from the COS. (Photo/Adam Louis)
Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee founder receives conservation award

Lydia Koot awarded COS Chief’s Special Recognition Award for her advocacy for black bears

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged with criminal negligence in Coquihalla crash is accused of ignoring smoking brakes

Just before crashing the smoking truck was seen entering Zopkios brake check and leaving shortly after

The Hope local health area saw six new cases of COVID-19 from Feb. 14 to 20. (Graphic/BCCDC)
Hope area sees six more COVID-19 cases

The running average for 2021 is about five cases per week

(File Photo)
Crash causes delays on Coquihalla southbound, travel advisory issued

A vehicle incident between Merrit and Hope has caused major delays heading south

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

‘She very clearly had some form of control over that vehicle,’ Crown argues

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read