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
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.

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Last ride before the flies

The perfect cloud
We visited the most perfect field and saw a perfect cloud.

Today was the first day the deer flies were out. Sigh. Although I doused Zelda with Deep Woods Off, they still drove her absolutely crazy. Last week it was still safe to ride in the woods and I managed to fit in a glorious ride to my favorite field.

I hadn’t taken a good long ride in awhile, so on the Fourth of July, I set off with no deadlines. The beauty of the holiday was that no one was out on the trails. I know many people who don’t like to ride alone but Zelda is pretty steady and she is good company. She balked a little at one bridge crossing, but since she’s so big, I decided she was going regardless.

We covered about 8 miles and got back tired, hot and happy.

4th of July
Looking down toward the pond. Zelda has her fly mask on but the bugs weren’t bad.
stained glass
At certain times of the day, the leaves light up like stained glass.

 

Hunter Pacing

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It was a hot, steamy early summer day. But a great time to be out riding with friends. Today was our hunt club’s Spring Hunter Pace. In case you’ve never been to one, teams Great Brook.PNGof riders go out and follow a prescribed course trying to approximate a hunting pace. The team that comes closest to the ideal time wins. Today, my team was second!  The ideal time was 1:20:17 and our time was 1:21:40. Not too shabby.

I rode Zelda. Both horses had a bit more than two weeks off as I was caught up with family activities and traveling to California and she seemed the most controllable. Of course, she was a star but the fact it was 80 degrees and very humid certainly didn’t hurt. Great Brook Farm State park is a fabulous place to ride with wonderful trails and a full complement of cross country jumps. We rode a bit more than 6 miles and came tired and ready for a bath!

 

 

Great Brook Farm
Great Brook Farm has some lovely ponds. They looked particularly inviting today.

 

 

 

 

A field of dreams

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Spring is the reward we get in New England for suffering through winter. This past week, after two days of 90 degree humidity we were blessed with perfect spring days. Freedom and I went out for a long walk, aiming for calmness. We didn’t quite achieve that goal (if you saw the live version of this photo you would see how fidgety he is) but we did enjoy the crisp, clear day, the contrails streaking across the cloudless sky, and endless constellation of flowers across the meadow.

 

Duck, Duck, Goose

Today we came across two geese shepherding their three tiny goslings to the pond. I wasn’t able to get close enough to them to get a good picture, but Zelda was fascinated by the small parade. They were certainly much cuter than the very large coyote that we encountered a bit later in the ride. Looked way too much like a wolf for my liking. When the wolf . . . I mean coyote held her ground, Zelda and I took the long way home.