Criteria for Tevis Veterinarians Judging Haggin Cup Winners

Veterinary involvement in the selection of the Haggin Cup, awarded to the horse found to be in the "most superior physical condition" after successful completing 100 miles of the Western States Trail, is extremely important.

Greg Fellers, DVM, head veterinarian of the event for the past five years, explained, "The physical examination findings carry the most weight when selecting a winner.

Tevis Cup

Garrett Ford and The Fury, 2010 Haggin Cup winners during their veterinary observation.

"Of this examination, the trot out is most important," explained Fellers. Fellers, along with the other 14 veterinarians observe each of the first ten horses to finish the demanding course at 10 a.m. Sunday following the ride.

First a veterinarian will perform a cardiac recovery index by taking the equine’s pulse and then having the rider or their representative trot the horse out 120 feet and back. Exactly 60 seconds from the beginning of the trot out, another will be performed. "Any fit and rested horse should have the same rate at both checks," Fellers explained.

With each vet observing and taking notes, the horse is then led at a trot around a 120-foot circle. "We look first for soundness, and also willingness, energy, impulsion, and fluid motion, which are really all part of impulsion," said Fellers.

Observations are also made on metabolic factors; any soreness to the withers, back, and legs; as well as wounds or gall sores caused by tack. In the meeting that follows, veterinarians are asked to nominate their selection for the Haggin Cup. Notes are reviewed and open discussion is encouraged over observations and rationales for selection.

Should there be a tie, they will look at the horses’ completion times and the weight carried.

The veterinarians make their recommendations to the Cup Committee, which is charged with awarding both the Tevis and Haggin Cups. The committee reviews all rules and can consider horsemanship in awarding or denying awards, but they usually rely on the veterinary recommendations.

Garrett Ford and The Fury received the 2010 Haggin Cup. John Crandell and Heraldic, 2010 Tevis Cup winners, won both the Tevis Cup and The Haggin Cup in 2006.

The 2010 Tevis saw 182 equines start and 96 finish the event. The 56th Tevis will be held July 16, 2011.

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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