Team Liberty setting pace on Santa Fe Trail ride

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Team Liberty of Tucumcari is in the No. 3 spot after two days in the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Endurance Race, said Shawn Davis, Liberty Team captain from Tucumcari.
�We�re in third. We�re doing okay. We�re right up there where we need to be,� said Davis in a telephone interview from Springer, the layover for the second day of the ride.
�They�re doing good,� said Rob Phillips, one of the race organizers in charge of accommodations.
Dawson Higgins, also of Tucumcari, rode the first day and completed 50 miles from Santa Fe to Las Vegas in the 850 mile endurance race. Davis took the second leg, another 50 miles.
�We�re really surprised,� said Davis.
Riders and horses are doing well, said Davis.
The horses, all five of which are from Quay County, �are performing better than we expected,� Davis said.
Higgins and Davis will ride a fresh horse for the first five days, and then begin again on the most rested horse.
During the race, veterinarians on the trail check each horse to be sure that its in race condition.
Today, Higgins will ride again starting out at 7 a.m. from Springer, Davis said.
Their destination today will be Clayton.
Davis heard about the race at least 14 months ago and was inspired by the challenge.
�It�s a challenge because of the length of the race and it�s never been done before,� said Davis, when he began drumming up support for team members and for the trail ride.
One of the main objectives of the race is to educate the public not only about the national historic Santa Fe Trail, but also to introduce the sport of endurance riding to thousands, according to its organizers.
It�s also a test of horse and rider, who will gain a greater appreciation of the trail that brought many homesteaders and adventurers westward.
Davis said before he left, that often because of the terrain or to meet daily goals, the rider will have to dismount and run along with his horse during the race.
The name Team Liberty has roots in the past.
�I picked the name Liberty to stay with the Santa Fe Trail era,� Davis said. �Tucumcari used to be a community north of here called Liberty.�
Liberty was founded in the late 1800s, north of Pajarito Creek, for the soldiers of Fort Bascom. Five men from Liberty founded Tucumcari in the early 1900s when the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad decided to build a line to connect with the El Paso and North-eastern Railroad at Santa Rosa.
Race organizers said early on that they wanted to make the ride as much fun and as competitive for as many riders as they possibly could, so that it will be an event that can be repeated annually.
Entrants were able to enter as a team or as an individual. It�s also why the event has a targeted 50- to 55-mile goal race day, so that more people would enter. There are also many prize categories, including a $2,500 saddle.
Over the past year, Davis has been soliciting support from sponsors, both for the entrance fee and for their travel budget, that includes five horses. In all he estimated the costs could reach $20,000.
On Friday night, there was a sponsors� dinner to say thank you and to support Team Liberty on its entry in the inaugural race.
Win or place, when Davis started out he said he just wanted to complete the 515-mile endurance race.
Team Liberty
Team Number: 2
Team Rider:
Dawson Higgins, Shawn Davis
Horse Breed:
Quarter Horses, grade horses
Team Members:
(All from Tucumcari where noted)
Shawn Davis
Dawson Higgins
Austin Higgins
Dereck Owen
Donnie Bidegain
Jason Lafferty
Ryan Hamilton
George Price of Capitan
Van Robertson
Pete Walden Silver City
George Owen of Clovis
Sept. 3: Start from Santa Fe�Start to Las Vegas, 50 miles
Sept. 4: To Springer, 50 miles
Sept 5: To Clayton���� ������� ��� ����������������� �������� 55 miles
Sept. 6:�No Ride
Sept. 7: To Elkhart, Kan. 50 miles
Sept. 8: No ride
Sept. 9: To Larned, Kan., 50 miles
Sept. 10
To Lyons, Kan., 55 miles
Sept. 11: To Council Grove, Kan., 50 miles
Sept. 12: No ride
Sept. 13 : To Burlingame, Kan., 50 miles
Sept. 14: To Gardner, Kan.
Sept 15: To Independence, Mo., 55 miles
Total miles: 515������������� ����������������� ��������
The Quay County Sun will be posting updates on Team Liberty�s progress in the Great Santa Fe Trail Endurance Race as they become available on its Web site at: