Bringing home the gold

Marshalltown native wins two Equestrian Special Olympics events

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS - Marshalltown native Tesia Cave earned another couple of medals for her collection earlier this month at the Iowa Equestrian Special Olympics at Jester Equestrian Park in Granger. Cave is shown here sporting the two gold medals she won this year, one for barrel racing and the other for horsemanship.

It was another successful year at the Equestrian Special Olympics for Marshalltown woman Tesia Cave as she earned two gold medals at the event earlier this month.

“I feel good,” she said with a smile, her two gold medals donned. “One is horsemanship, one is barrel racing.”

Cave and one of the horses she often works with, Astro, teamed up to earn the awards on Sept. 15. She had to have a wide range of skill to win the two very different events.

For horsemanship, obedience and following the rules are key. The judge observes and gives commands to the horse and human pair, then assesses how well they execute the directions.

“We do reverse, trotting, rocking and back up the horse,” Cave said.

Barrel racing requires a different set of skills. The rider must have a strong connection with their steed as they race around set up barrels, trying to outpace competitors’ times.

“It’s kind of like a three-leafed clover … you do a figure-eight,” Cave said of the event. “Then, you come back to the starting line.”

While this year was a particularly good year with two gold medals, Cave and her mother, Betty Lou Cave, said she has earned a variety of medals at past events.

“She just gets so excited, I mean sometimes she just shivers with excitement,” Betty Lou said. “She usually has a big smile on her face – when she competes, she’s very, very serious, though.”

Betty Lou said Tesia has been getting training from director Kris Lager and her team at One Heart Equestrian Therapy in Ames.

“We’re really excited about the new facility that they’ve got, because when she started the lessons they were held at the Nevada Fairgrounds,” Betty Lou said of One Heart, which moved around to several places before settling on a facility in Ames, 2710 W. 190th St.

Tesia, who has Down Syndrome, said the first horse she ever rode was named Booger. She met the horse during a pit stop on a family vacation in New Mexico in the mid-2000s. Betty Lou said Tesia has been horse riding ever since.

Growing up seeing people in movies and on television riding horses, Tesia said she loves riding and connecting with the animals during training. She said she’s excited to continue competing.


Contact Adam Sodders at

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