Introduction to Tevis

The Tevis Cup. The official name is the Western States Trail Ride. But if you’re good friends with it you just call it “Tevis”. Kind of like a guy named Robert that most people call Bob but his close friends call him Skippy.

Actually – the Tevis Cup itself is just one of two awards given out at the end of the 100-miles-in-one-day race. The first-place finisher gets the Tevis Cup. But the horse among the top ten finishers that looks the most ?fit to continue’ the morning after the ride gets the Haggin Cup. There is debatably more respect given to the rider of the Haggin Cup winner – because they did it fast on a horse that was well-conditioned and that they took great care of so it looked amazing the next day.

I’m attempting Tevis again this year. My number of attempts to date stands at seven, completions at five – better than the 50% average rate but inching in that direction. I was lucky enough (and really, it is a good bit about luck) to complete the first five times I tried in a row.

In my seven attempts I’ve ridden six different horses. And I have to say that it actually feels almost exactly the same every time. Odd, when you consider, but the herculean task of covering 100 miles of trail in 18-23 hours kind of erases individualism. And after 15-30 miles, even the most fractious, quirky pony settles into the groove.

I don’t own a horse; I’ve been happily riding other people’s animals since college. My love for Arabians helped me tumble head-long into endurance, for this sport is nearly custom made for the breed. Their ability to assimilate heat and recover quickly puts them on top of the heap, scooting over just slightly to let Mustangs join them.

Traversing the Granite Chief Wilderness on Lakota in 2009.

I’ve done Tevis fast (top ten finishes in 2002 and 2003) and slow (36th in 2004 and 45th in 2006). I highly recommend fast – but, to be clear, it never really feels “fast”.

The best way to think about this race is as if it is three 30+ mile races strung together in the same day. Really.

Check back for a description of each of the three sections of the race!

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