For the record, we did not do anything long distance. It was always "from the stop sign to the trail head" on the dirt road (I mean dirt not gravel-lol).
It was about 1/8th mile and our horses were in BTA physical condition because, back then, we all logged a lot of hours trail riding
I don't want anyone thinking we just pulled our horses out the pasture and rode heck-bent-for-election toward the next county. I don't remember any of our horses ever breaking much of a sweat, so it was a fair race, except for the fact that my Great Guy was way smaller than everyone else and still "walked away" from everyone
I was always a bareback rider and my worst fear was somebody's dog coming out of the woods unexpectedly -lollol
When I would sit straight up and loosen the reins, Duke would flick his left ear indicating he knew "the game was afoot". I would give him a nudge with my hands and off he'd go. It was just about as much fun watching him stage himself for the race as it was watching him win
Duke was 16 in the avatar, he turned 25 in October and we've been Best Buds since he was a coming three year old.