Tevis 2011: Date Change Means Cooler Competition Weather

When the Tevis Cup endurance competition kicks off at 5:15 a.m. on Oct. 8, more than 200 horse and rider teams will attempt to travel 100 miles from near Lake Tahoe, Calif., to Auburn, Calif., in 24 hours or less. Greg Fellers, DVM, veteran head veterinarian at the ride, will oversee a team of 16 additional American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC)-certified veterinarians to make sure the horses navigate the trek safely.

Traditionally held during July, heavy snowfall along the traditional route in California's High Sierra Mountains forced ride management to reschedule the event to October. Never before has the ride been held in the fall, and the date change brings both new concerns and potential advantages.

"The weather could about 20 to 25 degrees cooler than a traditional Tevis date, and there could be a problem with a hot, hardworking horse coming into vet checks and standing," Fellers said. "It will certainly behoove both riders and vets to expedite the (vetting) process as quickly as possible."

Should hot equine muscles cool too quickly or thoroughly, muscle stiffness could result and injuries are more likely, Fellers noted.

"Word has gone out to all check point volunteers to make sure plenty of blankets are available to cover and keep muscles warm," he added.

Retired from active practice, Fellers continues to serve as a veterinarian for AERC events, Competitive Trail competitions, and Ride and Tie events.

"This Tevis could be way different," he commented, adding that the cooler daytime temperatures could allow for faster segments of the ride, but the loss of three hours of daylight in October as compared to July is "a slow-down factor."

Traditionally, Tevis only sees about a 50% completion rate, but Fellers believes the cooler temperatures could allow for a higher completion percentage: "I predict a higher completion rate, maybe even 60% as a wild guess."

Two trophies will be presented at the completion of the ride: the Tevis Cup to the fastest finisher and the Haggin Cup to the top-ten horse judged by event veterinarians to be the most fit continue.

About the Author

Marsha Hayes

Marsha Hayes has been covering endurance, trail, and other equine topics since 2005. She believes every horse has a story.

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