Tevis Cup 2017

When I was sitting at home in the comfort of my arm chair and taking my horses for gentle hacks along the groomed trails near my barn, 174 riders set out on a 100 mile trail ride of brutal territory, determined to finish in 24 hours or less.

Endurance riding was first developed in the early 1900s as a military test for cavalry mounts. Horses were required to go on a 5-day, 300 mile ride carrying at least 200

The First "Bucklers"
The First “Bucklers” — Wendell Robie, Bill Patrick, Pat Sewell, Dick Highfill and Nick Mansfield.

lbs. But many people consider the Tevis Cup to be the father of endurance rides. The first ride was organized in 1955 by Wendell Robie, Bill Patrick, Nick Mansfield, Dick Highfill, Pat Sewell, set out to prove that modern horses could traverse the rugged trail from Lake Tahoe over the Sierra mountains to Auburn in a single day. They all succeeded. But their finish rate is unusual. From 1955 through 2011, there have been 9,278 starting entries, of which 5,066 (54.6%) finished.

Tevis Buckle
What’s the reward for riding 100 miles in 24 hours? A belt buckle. Earning a Tevis buckle is the crown jewel for endurance riders.

In 2017, 92 riders completed the ride; 82 did not. Some horses came up lame, some had metabolic issues. All horses must pass a pre-ride vet check for soundness and horses at Tevis are inspected at 20 checkpoints along the ride. During these mandatory holds, horses’ heart rates must recover to 60-68 bpm and then they are inspected by vets to make sure they are fit to

Barbara White
Barbara White, shown here on the infamous Cougar Rock, has 31 Tevis Buckles

continue. Not all “pulls” are horse problems, though. Some riders suffer from altitude sickness or dehydration. The elements of the ride are unforgiving—with temperatures ranging from 40F to 120F in the span of 24 hours, trick footing and deep, treacherous canyons.

Tailing up Cougar Rock.

So steep are the canyons that some riders choose to navigate them on foot, often using “tailing” to allow their horses to pull them up the slope.

Hardly surprising, this is a ride dominated by Arabians. In fact, the top 10 finishers this year were all arabs. But there are a smattering of other breeds and the occasional mule who also complete the race.

2017 Winners

Tennesse Lane won the 2017 Tevis Cup
This year’s winner was Tennessee Lane who completed the ride in 10 hours on her 17-year old Arabian gelding Auli Farwa.
Lindsay Fisher was second on Monk
Second place went to Lindsay Fisher on her 15-year old Arab gelding Monk.
Jeremy Reynolds was third on his 7-year old Arabian Mare Treasured Moments.
Jeremy Reynolds was third on his 7-year old Arabian Mare Treasured Moments.

To recreate the Tevis Cup experience, I hope you enjoy the videos below. They aren’t from 2017 but they do give a good sense for some of the toughest — and most beautiful — parts of the ride.

2 thoughts on “Tevis Cup 2017

  1. I had a great time watching this year, I’ve also crewed and ridden sweep. It’s an amazing accomplishment just to get to the starting line, all the preparation involved. There are only a few places to watch the riders as it is so remote, but watching them come up Bath Road into Foresthill after 68 miles is inspiring (and the Finish of course!). And all the crew and support, it takes a village for sure.

  2. I’d love to watch or crew. Many years ago I was riding in Vermont when the GMHA 50 mile ride was happening. I was astounded to watch some of those riders charging down some very technical hills. It completely changed my perception of what could be accomplished.

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