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

5 to 10 cm of snow still coming to Fraser Valley: Environment Canada

Hard to say when the freezing rain will turn to regular rainfall, Environment Canada says

Slideshow: Hope’s winter weather in photos

Readers submit photos of Hope under a blanket of snow

RCMP looking for tips in rash of crime in Hope

Theives broke into homes and cars in the Kawkawa Lake area

Fraser Cascade superintendent announces retirement

Dr. Karen Nelson has worked for School District 78 for 29 years

FVRD seeking outdoor rec feedback

Open house meetings slated for next week

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in lingerie store

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Update: Highway reopens after crash west of Revelstoke

Drive BC also reported a vehicle incident 10 km east of Golden.

Most Read