They're OFF! Tevis Cup 2009 Riders Hit the Trail

After months of planning by ride officials, and often years of conditioning for both human and equine participants, the Western States Trail Ride 2009, popularly called the Tevis Cup Ride, started with around 171 human/equine teams at dawn on August 1 from Robie Park (7200 Elevation) near Lake Tahoe. If past statistics hold, only about half of the teams will complete the 100-mile journey to Auburn, Calif., within the allotted 24-hour period.

About the Tevis Cup Ride
The Tevis Cup, which has been held annually since 1955 and is by the American Endurance Ride Conference, is the oldest modern day endurance ride.

According to the Tevis Cup Website: "The ride was first organized by Wendell Robie, an Auburn businessman and devoted rider of the Sierra high country. Many people in the 50s doubted that any modern-day horse could cover the rugged trail from Lake Tahoe to Auburn in a single day. Wendell and a few of his friends proved them wrong in August of 1955. He continued to hold the ride annually thereafter and organized the Western States Trail Foundation to preserve the 100 mile trail and the Ride.

Tevis Cup Vet Checkpoint

There are 11 checkpoints(including the start and finish) along the 100-mile journey where veterinarians examine each horse to make sure it is in sound condition and "fit to continue."

A silver Completion Award Buckle is awarded to each rider who finished the course within the 24-hour time limit and whose horse is judged "fit to continue."

The Tevis Cup trophy is awarded to the person with the fastest time and whose horse is in sound condition and "fit to continue."

Tevis Cup Victory Lap

Tevis competitors take to the trails.

The Competitors
Five former first place finishers, Loreley Stewart (#17), Hal Hall (#7), Marcia Smith (#12), Potato Richardson (# 20), and Becky Spencer (#11), all bear watching due to their proven expertise in caring for their mounts and covering ground. Also in contention could be Claire Goodwin, DVM of Laytonsville, MD. Goodwin won the 2009, 100 miles Ol Dominion, but arrived at Tevis without another mount Sundown Reveille, because "Rev hauls better and I live 2,000 miles away."

Goodwin bred and raised Rev and claims, "Rev imprinted my husband. That is exactly what I mean. This horse means so much to my family." Rev, a regal gray 8-year-old Arabian has not attempted a 100-mile event. Goodwin pointed out her Old Dominion win came on another 100-mile virgin. Saving his energy for the ride, Rev stood calmly, watching the other horses check in.

Top Ten riders should start crossing the finish line about 10 p.m. (PDT) with ride times of around 15 hours for the 100 miles. Often the real drama comes from those just striving for a completion. Although entry is not free and rules require riders to have completed 300 sanctioned miles in 50-mile events or longer, which should include at least one 50 mile one day ride, Tevis is affordable enough to be open to all with the dedication, skill, and horsepower. Tevis allows many riders to chase a dream of riding the West and finishing something few others will ever experience. Successful competitors recalling the finish line often insist, "It was the best moment of my life."
First time rider Joe Mathein (#121) of Oak View, Calif., predicted a finish for his 7-year-old Morgan/Arabian cross as he led his horse away from the clearing surrounded by tall pines where the 17 Tevis veterinarians were checking in horses. "I think I'll finish." He paused and thought of the volunteers standing by to haul stressed and tired horses to safety. The realist surfaced. "Unless they haul me, or call 'time'."

Follow the horses via the Tevis Cup Web site. You can also watch live streaming video on the Tevis Cup Web site.


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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