UC Berkeley News


The trail rider
Ute Frey

| 13 September 2006

Ute Frey is an equestrian, but not the kind who engages in arena riding, jumping, or dressage. Frey, associate director of marketing and communications at the Haas School of Business, is a trail rider, a discipline that emphasizes endurance and riding skills.

Ute Frey (inset by Jon Paul Casella; large photo courtesy Ute Frey)

Riding "challenges me on a physical and mental level, and gives me an incredible bond with another creature," says Frey.

This past spring, she began training for the Tevis Cup, also known as the Western States Trail Ride — a 24-hour, 100-mile race that starts just south of Truckee and ends in Auburn. To train, Frey rode for 90 minutes to two hours once a week, and five to eight hours on the weekend; she also ran and hiked in the hills.

Frey first tackled the Tevis in 1999 and managed to finish with 15 minutes to spare. This August marked Frey's seventh time competing in the Tevis. When the race begins in the morning, it's the rider's job to pace her horse, because the animal typically is anxious at the start of the competition, says Frey. "By nighttime, you reverse roles and put the horse in charge," since the animals can see better in the dark than humans. The race organizers try to schedule the competition on a Saturday when the moon will be full. This year, though, they were unsuccessful: "You couldn't see a thing riding under trees and through deep canyons," recalls Frey.

The most rewarding part of the competition for Frey, who finished an impressive 18th in a field of 200 riders, was riding through the darkness. Her job was to ride light and balanced, while trusting her horse to see the course. "They do it so well, it will bring tears to your eyes," she says.

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