Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jaziret Bey Musc: Too Much Horse

Tuesday July 30 2013

He was Too Much Horse in the beginning.

Kris Hazelbaker got Jaziret Bey Musc as a weanling from breeder Kathy Ann Judson, but as a 5-year-old, he was still too much horse for Kris. Kris contacted Steph Teeter and asked if she was interested in a big heavyweight horse.

"At the time I had Krusty (Nature's Kruschev, Steph's internationally competitive endurance horse), so I thought of (neighbor) Rick Brand, whose regular horse had lameness issues," Steph says. "They went to look at Rhett, and got him in the trailer - that was the first time he'd been in a trailer - and took him home. Then Rick started 'doing Rhett' - which is great, because I don't think anybody else could have 'done' Rhett."

"He was way too much horse for me, too!" says Carol Brand, Rick's wife. "Rick rode him for about a year before I ever got near him. 'Get him away from me!' I'd said. I didn't want anything to do with that horse!"

Rhett as a 6 and 7-year-old was snorty, and hot, and a bolter. His tendency wasn't so much to spook as it was to just GO. "The first training ride I went on with Carol, and Rick on Rhett," Steph recalls, "I was riding Krusty. We were all kind of doing our normal thing down this logging road, then all of a sudden - BOOM! Rhett was just gone, and Rick's coat was flapping in the wind! He was a bolter - you couldn't take your coat off or anything!" (You still can't!)

Rhett's first 2 endurance rides were LD's in Idaho at the age of 7. His first 50-mile endurance ride 2 months later was not just a 50-mile ride - it was all 5 days in a row (265 miles) of the legendary and challenging Outlaw Trail in Utah.

On Day 1, Rhett almost drowned in a bog.

"We were trying to get him out," Carol recounts. "He was going down for the third time, went clear under the mud with his head, and he was exhausted, and wasn't fighting anymore. And then 3 other riders came along, and we took apart everybody's tack, and made a lasso, and all 5 of us drug him out of the bog.

"And the next day he was fine. The saddle was all screwed up, still wet and covered with slime, but we put it on him, and off we went!" Rhett and Rick ended up winning top Heavyweight honors for the 5-day ride.

Rick partnered with Rhett for 2 full seasons - 14 of 14 rides and 615 miles - before Carol finally rode him on a 50 at the end of Rhett's 8-year-old year.

When Rick started having back issues, Carol rode Rhett the next season to 4 of 4 completions, including Rhett's first 100-mile ride, an 8th place finish at the Mt Adams National Championship Qualifier.

When asked what her impressions of him were, Carol says, "He was an amazing powerhouse and you had the  feeling that he could do absolutely anything, which has turned out to be quite true. Those were truly the best rides of my life. Rhett has always been my “10” of all the endurance horses I have ridden. All of the horses that came after had some very large (#2) shoes to fill!"

Carol enjoyed riding Rhett, but she had her own horses to ride, and Rick still had back problems, so they decided to sell Rhett.

Steph Teeter suggested some FEI riders who might be interested in him, and it was multiple World Endurance Champion Valerie Kanavy who expressed an interest in buying Rhett, if she could see a video of him first, before she drove across the country to pick him up.

"I decided I'd have Steph to ride him for the video, and I hired a videographer," Carol says. "When the day came for making the video, the weather was just awful. It was raining, and thundering and lightning. I had Rhett caught up, and he was running around doing laps in his pen away from his friends, and just was like a complete fire breathing dragon, and i didn't want to have anything to do with him!

"That's when Steph drove up, and looked at him, and she said, 'I Want That Horse! He's MINE!'"

Steph doesn't describe the thunder and lightning and the fire breathing dragon, but she does recall calling off the video shoot, saying "I'm going to buy him!" She'd ridden the Mt Adams 100-miler alongside Carol and Rhett, and she remembered he was "just amazing"; and something about Rhett that day at the Brands sealed the deal for Steph.

And Rhett has been absolutely amazing, and snorty, and All Go, since then, adding another 4000 miles, and some very unforgettable rides for Steph over the next 13 years.

"Probably one of the most memorable is the 2001 XP (the cross-country Pony Express ride put on only a handful of times by the Duck)." The first day on the XP was just Steph's third ride on Rhett. "For 1 month, Rhett rode every other day, 500 miles total. He just did it, and I was holding him back the whole time. Literally!"

Then there was July of 2010, that Steph got a whim a week before the 100-mile Tevis Cup, to enter Rhett. He was 19 years old that year. Rhett got his 5000 miles in completing his first attempt at the Tevis. "He was amazing!" Steph said in tears, after they crossed the finish line at 4:58 AM. "He never ever didn't give!"

And then, there was the local 50-mile Owyhee Fandango just this May, that Steph herself put on. "The other most memorable ride, really, was the last one I did on him at Fandango, with [husband] John on Sunny - we Top Tenned, just - WHOOSH - I cried at the end. I mean - THAT HORSE! That was really amazing. That was a high!" That horse is now 22 years old.

By Scooter Bey Musc (of the Muscat lines) out of Justy Karliya, by Witez, Jaziret Bey Musc is nearly all Russian, with a little Polish. He's 15.2 hands, superbly steady and purely athletic, with enormous feet (size 2.5 Easyboot gloves) and good bone. Through May of 2013, he's completed 121 of 128 rides with 6 Best Condition awards, and 9 of 12 100-milers. He's got a little gray hair hiding underneath his forelock now, but his body is still magnificently conditioned.

It's not only the Brands and Steph Teeter that Rhett has impressed. He has carried 15 other riders on endurance rides (including Canadians, Belgians, and an Argentinean), and countless others on training rides, and left them all with fond memories. "A warrior like I like them, just up to the rider to manage his temperament and extreme courage!" said Belgian Leonard Liesens. "A true athlete," Carrie Johnson said. "He was in a league all his own," Connie Holloway commented.

Rhett was one of the first endurance mounts I rode in Idaho. I found him powerful, athletic, and extremely balanced beneath me, and All Go. You still don't ride him in anything other than a 3-ring bit. At 22, even though he is roughly the equivalent of a 60-year-old man, he is still all of that, with no indication he'll change any time soon.

So if you're out on the trails and hear a fast horse coming up behind you, and you see a dark bay with an All Go gleam in his eye and a tail that characteristically waves high in the air like a flag (a silhouette that is unmistakable, even across mile and miles of desert), you'll know that Rhett is still burning up the endurance trails.

And he's still too much horse: Steph will still be holding him back.

Rhett admiring himself on the September 2011 cover of Endurance News

P.S. Sherry Morse commented with this valuable tidbit, which I'm adding here: (thanks, Sherry!)
I couldn't help myself and I did his percentages because the 'nearly all Russian, with a little Polish' didn't sound quite right to me.
So...the little Polish part is correct - about 13.28% roughly, and almost all of it from Witez except for the Aramus. I would expect that's where most of the 'hot' comes from.

However, there's more Crabbet in there than Russian by a good bit - officially 49.54376% Crabbet (using the Eastern Crabbet Society's spreadsheet) and only about 37% Russian - and all of that is through Muscat and Nariadni but both of them also have Crabbet blood behind them although ECAHS is probably the only people who recognize that since they were both born in Russia. There's also a bit of Babson way back on his dam's side but that's probably less than 1% of him all together.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Mythical Tevis Cup 2013: Part 2

The Mythical Tevis Cup 2013: Part I is here

Saturday August 20 2013

"The heat changed EVERYTHING," Kevin Myers said Sunday morning, after tired riders and crews congregated at the Tevis Cup awards. Myers finished 5th on Auli Farwa (their 4th straight Tevis finish), at 10:58 PM. "It was hellishly hot and humid."

Hopes and strategies were affected by the extreme heat on this year's Tevis trail, particularly the deep canyons that were rumored to be as hot as 118°F. "There was this layer of humid mist that just sat on the canyons," Myers said.

Winners Rusty Toth and 8-year-old Take a Break (Quake) were judged fit to continue at their final vet check at the finish line at the Auburn Fairgrounds at 10:12 PM Saturday night. The pair never owned the lead till 5 miles from the finish line. "The game plan was to try to get to the front sooner than that," Toth said afterwards, "but today the heat and humidity slowed me down quite a bit. I'm from Durango, and we have no humidity. This was very challenging weather-wise for us."

Of the 160 starters, 75 completed. 27 horses were pulled for metabolics, and there were a number of rider options, some of them related to the heat. Clydea Hastie, a tough-as-nails 10,800+ AERC mileage rider and 6-time Tevis finisher from hot Arizona, was one of those. "My horse was fine, I wasn't!" Hastie said afterwards. "I had to get off my horse and sit for a while at the bottom of the second canyon. My legs were complete rubber!" EMTs monitored her condition for half an hour. Once Clydea made it to the top of the canyon and to Michigan Bluff, she pulled herself. A friend rode her horse on into Foresthill, where transport out was much easier for the horse.

"The ride was HARD!" said Melissa Ribley of Grass Valley, California, riding 14-year-old Sakajawea. She would know, being a 19,000+ AERC mileage rider, and going for her 10th Tevis completion. After the heat of the canyons, she told her husband and riding partner Robert (32,500+ AERC miles and (now) 13 Tevis finishes) riding the 8-year-old Appaloosa gelding Crow Pony, "We're never doing this ride again!" She was kidding of course, and was beaming when she received her 1000-mile buckle from Robert at Sunday's awards, after they finished in 53rd and 54th place at 4:32 AM. Melissa is the 71st rider to receive a 1000-mile buckle.

By the first hour hold at Robinson Flat at 36 miles - sometimes referred to as 'the Pressure Cooker' for the intensity of the crewing situation - 21 horses had already been pulled, including a horse who suffered a severe fall, and had to be euthanized. 10 more riders were pulled at Robinson. Temperature at Robinson Flat was still mild, in the low 80's.

First riders into Robinson were mother and son team Karen and (Junior) John Donley, of Palm Desert, California. John just squeaked out his first Tevis finish in 2012 with 10 minutes of time left on the clock, after having changed sponsors when his mom was pulled earlier. He was again riding his 10-year-old mare My Mamselle, with his mom riding 11-year-old Royal Patron. The duo led by 5 minutes out of Robinson, and still held the lead by minutes coming into Deadwood at 55 miles, where Jenni Smith and Jennifer Waitte took over the lead by 5 minutes. Those 4 traded the lead until Foresthill at 68 miles, where Jennifer Waitte left first by 2 minutes.

The "Two Jennies" (also humorously referred to by Rusty Toft as "the poor Jennies") rode Jennifer Waitte's homebred mares, 9-year-old M Dash Czoe (Waitte) and M Dash Stellar (Smith). They had the Tevis ride in mind all year, having previously completed three 65 or 75-mile rides to prepare for it, where they finished first or 2nd in the last two rides. Both horses looked great leaving Foresthill, cantering through town on their way to the California loop trail, Waitte in first place, and Smith in 4th, 5 minutes behind her.

Andre Ruggeri, riding 10-year-old Falcon JE, and going for his first Tevis completion, arrived at Robinson in third place, followed by Willemina DeBoer riding 8-year-old Frisia Mameluk (DeBoer finished 7th in the Tevis in 2012 riding SMR Filouette), followed by the 'Two Jennies', followed by Kevin Myers and Rusty Toth, then Jeremy Reynolds riding 8-year-old RR Chances. Chances is a half-brother to the 2012 World Endurance Championship USA team horse A Kutt Above. 9 minutes separated these first 9 riders.

Utah rider Suzanne Hedgecock, riding LZP Julioslastchance, arrived in 15th place, and Utah's Beverly Gray, riding Jolly Sickle, was in 17th place. Hal Hall, going for his 30th Tevis buckle, was in 22nd place, 31 minutes behind the leaders, while perennial Tevis favorite Barbara White, riding Djubilee came in 77th place, arriving 2 hours behind the leaders.

Positions of the top riders stayed much the same at Last Chance checkpoint at 50 miles, with the Donleys still in first by 2 minutes over the Two Jennies, followed closely by Willemina DeBoer, Myers, Reynolds, and Toft.

The heat of the canyons caused many horses to become inverted - their respiration was equal to or higher than their pulse - and caused many riders to slow down. 21 more horses were pulled at Deadwood at 55 miles after the first canyon, 6 of them metabolics, 7 of them rider options. Watching the rider board at Foresthill was something you did and didn't want to do, for the disappointment of seeing another one of your favorite riders on the pull list. Groans could be heard when someone saw a friend's name: "Awww!"

10 more riders were pulled at the second hour hold, at Foresthill, including Barbara White, (Awww!) who herself was recovering from a horse fall the previous Monday. The accident "left me with a pretty useless left knee and bruised ribs. I thought I could gut it out, but it took its toll on Djubilee's back which became very sore," White said later. While disappointed in not finishing, she was proud of her mare, and she was looking forward to presenting some of the awards at the next day's ceremony.

Arriving at Foresthill after 68 hard, rocky, and dusty miles of trail, is an oasis on the Tevis trail, a half-mile long walk under shade trees lined by dozens of waiting crew members and Tevis groupies, cheering the riders and horses in to the vet check. Volunteers jump in to hose off horses and hand out carrots to the hungry horses. It picks up the spirits of tired riders, and the horses know they're at a rest stop. The horses and riders have an hour hold to eat and rest up for the last third of the Tevis trail. All would be riding at least part of the 32 miles in the dark, much of it along cliffs high above the American River.

Leaders out of Foresthill were: Jennifer Waitte and M Dash Czoe, followed 2 minutes later by Kevin Myers and Auli Farwa, and Rusty Toth and Take a Break; followed 3 minutes later by Jenni Smith and M Dash Stellar; followed 3 minutes later by the Donleys.

Leaving Foresthill in 7th place 14 minutes after the Donleys was Utah's Christoph Schork (24,000+ AERC miles), riding GE Starlit Way, a 10-year-old Arabian gelding, owned and trained by his partner, Dian Woodward. Starlit Way's last 2 rides were two 1st-place finishes and a Best Condition award in a 50 and an 80-mile ride, both in May with Dian. Christoph had been steadily moving up since the 5:15 AM start at Robie Park: 19th at Red Star (28.5 miles), 17th at Robinson (36 miles), 16th at Last Chance (50 miles), 10th at Deadwood (55 miles), 8th at Chicken Hawk (64 miles), and 7th at Foresthill (68 miles).

Schork and Woodward's Global Endurance Training Center crew was quite busy, with 4 horses in the ride. Foreigners Australian Rose Ross rode GE Stars Aflame - 2011 AERC 100-mile National Champion (15th leaving Foresthill), and Britain Sally Toye rode GE Honky Tonk Hector (23rd leaving Foresthill), and Nathalie Weemaels of Ecuador rode Pico (SBD) (27th leaving Foresthill).

Sue Hedgecock and LZP Julioslastchance left Foresthill in 11th, 49 minutes behind the leader; with Beverly Gray and Jolly Sickle 8 minutes behind her.

35 minutes separated the same top 7 riders leaving Francisco's vet check at 85 miles, with Waitte still maintaining a lead of 12 minutes, with 15 miles to go.

The final vet check is at the Lower Quarry, at 94 miles. The Donleys were the first into the Quarry, followed 2 minutes later by Toth and Waitte and Smith, and 7 minutes later by Myers and Schork, with Jeremy Reynolds arriving 3 minutes later. Reynolds' horse RR Chances was pulled here for lameness. John Donley's mare was having trouble pulsing down, and she was slightly lame behind; the vets held him longer to see if the mare would improve. His mom (and sponsor) stayed with him, giving up her lead.

From here on, with 6 miles to the finish, the web-watching audience was left suspended, as the webcast did not update! It wasn't until Toth and Take a Break suddenly and surprisingly came bombing into the stadium at Auburn that the fans at the finish knew who was in front.

The Two Jennies actually left the Lower Quarry in the lead by 2 minutes over Toth, and at the awards next day, Waitte described what happened next:

"My riding partner and I, Jenny Smith, who finished 3rd… We were heading home, in first and second place on the road coming up to Highway 49, and something BLEW BY. And we went 'What was THAT!?' It was like it split hairs!

"I asked Jenny, 'Did you see anything?' We just felt this breeze up the back of our necks. It was Rusty!"

Toth added his own version: "…I didn't get the lead till 5 miles from the finish line. The last 2 riders left about 2 minutes before me...

"This horse is off the track, and he's got the most amazing canter, ever. And I knew we could catch them, and we went for it. I just dropped the reins, and let him go…

"I caught the '4 Jennifers' after the Lower Quarry."

Toth and Take a Break finished 17 minutes ahead of Waitte and Smith, followed by Schork, 17 minutes later. Myers and Auli Farwa were 5th, followed by a solo Karen Donley, whose son's mare had finally been pulled at the Lower Quarry. Mark Schuerman and French Open finished 7th, followed by Sue Hedgecock and LZP Julioslastchance in 8th, Beverly Gray and Jolly Sickle in 9th, and Ann Marie Barnett and Ravvens Allune, a 12-year-old Arabian mare, in 10th, at 12:45 AM.

The Global Endurance team completed with all their horses: Australian Rose Ross and Stars Aflame finished 11th, Britain Sally Toye and GE Honky Tonk Hector finished 10th, and Ecuadorian Nathalie Weemaels and Pico (SBD) finished 21st, at 2:34 AM. Ross said at the awards, after receiving her first Tevis buckle: "Crikey! You Americans are so lucky having a trail like this! Keep it going!"

Every horse and rider who finished this hot Tevis ride was notable, but particularly exceptional finishers were Hal Hall and PR Comet, in 34th place at 3:32 AM for Hall's 3000-mile Tevis buckle; Joyce Sousa and 20-year-old, 8000+ mile LV Integrity, in 35th place at 3:35 AM for their 4th Tevis buckle together; 3 of the 4 Blakeleys in 42nd to 44th place at 3:55 AM, with junior Sanoma Blakely finishing her first Tevis on Taii Myr (brother Barrak was unfortunately pulled at Francisco's at 85 miles); Japan's Hiromi Kitaike finishing on Patrick's Fire in 51st place at 4:27 AM for her 3rd Tevis completion in a row; and the tail enders Ed Seider riding Il Remirame, and Michaela Costello riding Nubira, finishing at 4:58 AM.

The next morning's Haggin Cup judging was a whirl of emotions for the 9 riders who showed, and for Dr Greg Fellers, who presents the Haggin Cup. His voice always breaks with emotion when he speaks of these extraordinary horses that participate in this very demanding ride. "These horses today that we looked at, they are more than machines, they are athletes," he said. "They represent power, stamina, grace, heart, will, and they are our teammates. These 10 athletes that we looked at today represent the crème de la crème, the best, the most elite; out of that group we were asked to pick 1 that survived the challenge of the last 24 hours, the one who was in the best condition.

"It is my great honor to announce the 2013 Haggin Award goes to: Julioslastchance ridden by Suzanne Hedgecock."

Hedgecock has over 10,800 AERC miles. Julio is a 12-year-old Polish-bred (on the dam's side) Arabian off the racetrack with over 2000 AERC miles, and a record of 39 completions in 43 starts, including 5 of 6 100-mile finishes, with 6 Best Condition Awards over 7 seasons.

It's been a difficult ride for Hedgecock the last few years with health problems in her family; though she has 2 previous Tevis buckles, this year's Tevis experience was very emotional for her. "Just to be out there showing for the Haggin Cup with all those famous people - it was overwhelming.

"I love my horse. I'm lucky to be here. I loved this opportunity."

*For a previous profile on Sue Hedgecock and Julio, go here:

*Complete Tevis results can be seen here:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Mythical Tevis Cup 2013: Part I

July 19 2013

"It's Mythical!" said Nathalie Weemaels, of Ecuador, when asked why she'd come to ride in her first Tevis Cup. She'd be aboard Christoph Shork and Dian Woodward's Pico (SBD), a 9-year-old Arabian gelding. "I want to learn about this kind of endurance riding, so I can show my fellow Ecuadorian riders there is a choice between the flat racing endurance and this kind of endurance riding."

The Tevis Cup has been a mythical institution since Wendell Robie and a handful of friends first proved a horse could do this 100-mile ride in one day from near Truckee, California, to Auburn, California in 1955.

Even if you're not a first timer, the legendary lure of Tevis probably has drawn you back into its web. When you look across the Sierra Nevadas on the drive down that forest road into Robie Park, and know you'll be riding 100 miles over those mountains into Auburn, it can't help but stir your emotions, no matter how many times you've ridden the trail.

And the smitten came again, this year only 161 of them signed up to ride. (Around 200 are usually entered.) "Tevis Gremlins," said Dave Rabe, referring to the low number of entries. Dave came to crew for friends Kerry Redente and Bill Taylor, going for their first Tevis finishes. Dave just recently returned to the endurance trails after a bad accident in December where he fell off his horse and hit his helmet-less head. He wasn't ready to tackle Tevis again though: "I've been having trouble with the heat."

The heat: Mother Nature always plays her part with the Tevis trail and participants, but this year was going to be a particularly hot one. Temperature predicted for Auburn on Saturday was 102° F, which meant those canyons that the horses and riders would be traversing would be even hotter. "The heat is going to make it a ride, not a race," said Kathy Perry, who would be riding her friend Becky Spencer's horse Home Run Derby, a 10-year-old Arabian gelding, in quest of Perry's 22nd Tevis buckle.

Some people prepared for the expected heat, training themselves and their horses during the hottest parts of the days, and putting blankets on their horses while training. Two returning Tevis riders in particular did not have heat training on their side. Kevin Myers and Rusty Toth of Durango, Colorado, only have the mountains and altitude to train in. That is probably a good alternative, as Myers (riding Auli Farwa) and Toth (riding Farraba) finished 3rd and 4th respectively last year, with Toth and Farraba winning the Haggin Cup (Best Condition judging the day after).

This year Toth would be riding 8-year-old Take a Break, with a 13 for 13 record, including 2 100-mile finishes. Myers would be again riding Auli Farwa, a 13-year-old Arabian who has over 3000 miles, and a 50 for 50 record, including 10 100-mile finishes and 3 Tevis buckles. That is after a freak ankle injury almost ended his career before it started at age 5.

"That wasn't the plan," Myers said. "I was going to ride Stoner (Farraba), but he got a girth gall. All the hard training, massages, and supplements went into Stoner, but we pulled Far (Auli Farwa) out of the 'back 40' for this ride." Myers was somewhat exaggerating, as Far's last 2 rides in April and May were two 2nd place finishes and 2 Best Condition awards in two 55-mile rides.

Hal Hall would be going for his 3000-mile Tevis buckle, his 38th attempt at Tevis, riding Fred Emigh's 16-year-old half-Arabian half-Standardbred gelding PR Comet, a horse with a 27 for 27 record, and a 10th place finish in the 2009 Tevis Cup under Mark Engemann.

Barbara White, 65, calls this an annual pilgrimage, and a "spiritual experience." This would be her 43rd Tevis ride, and she'd be going for a record 33 Tevis buckles. (Barbara herself is Mythical to some of us : ). She'd be riding Djubilee, a 12-year-old Arabian mare. With a 37 for 38 record, it would be Djubilee's first Tevis, and first 100-mile ride.

Another pair of endurance legends would be hitting the Tevis trail together. Joyce Sousa - 22,000 AERC miles - and 20-year-old LV Integrity ("Ritzy") - 8000 endurance miles, and 33 100-mile completions - would be going for their 4th Tevis buckle together. The pair most recently won the 100-mile Owyhee Fandango in May, and completed two back-to-back 50-mile rides in June.

Dayna Weary had unfinished business with her horse, 15-year-old The Reverling TGE (Crickett) on this year's Tevis trail. She'd gotten him at 7 and had him for 8 years, but had never ridden the Tevis on him. Some years she had other horses to ride, and 2 of those years were special circumstances. "In 2007 and 2009, Barbara White had needed a horse to ride, so I gave her Crickett to ride. She finished both years, which was fortunate, as those were her 28th and 29th Tevis finishes. That allowed her to get her 30th buckle the next year, which her dad (Bob Suhr) was able to see before he died. That was very special!" There had to be some good Tevis Karma in that. So this year Dayna and Crickett would team up together for the first time to tackle the Tevis trail together. Unfinished Business was the name of her team.

Clara Berner, a 15-year-old Junior from Washington, was back for her 2nd attempt at Tevis on her adorable blue-eyed 12-year-old Arab/Welsh/Paint pony Benjamin. Last year she and her mom Mary Kraus were overtime; this year Clara would ride with her mom, and had Kathy Sherman lined up as a back-up sponsor, in case her mom got pulled. Clara was a not-quite-addicted endurance rider when I first met her at the Owyhee Canyonlands in September of 2009 when she did her first Limited Distance ride, but showing up for Tevis the second time proves that has changed. She and Benjamin have been working hard at the Tevis goal the last 2 years. Benny looked outstanding - buff and fit, one of the fabulous-looking Tevis horses that belonged on this trail. Clara was one of the 10 Junior riders whose entries were sponsored by EasyCare and Echo Valley Ranch.

What stood out to many people at the Vet In at Robie park was the outstanding condition of the horses. I heard it from many people I talked to. "I've never seen so many fabulous-looking horses than here at the Tevis," said Jeff Stuart, an endurance rider there to crew for Andy Bown, going for his 3rd Tevis completion on Tucker, a 14-year-old Arabian gelding. "Unlike some of the FEI competitions," he added.

It is true that 99.9% of this year's Tevis horses looked like outstanding athletes, not too overweight and not too thin (unlike many FEI competitions around the world), and all exceedingly fit. Likely every one of the Tevis riders know exactly what they're getting into and exactly how challenging this course is: 100 miles of rock and dust; cumulative 19,000 feet of ascent and 22,000 feet of descent. "It's a hard ride and it's not for wimps or horses that aren't trained for it," said vet scribe Diana Hiiesalu-Bain, who has seen every aspect of the Tevis Cup, having scribed, crewed, and ridden and completed it. (See her blog entry on Scribing for this year's Tevis.)

The stories go on and on: Utah's Bev Gray and her outstanding Jolly Sickle (37 for 37 rides, 5 of 5 100's and 13 Best Conditions, 11 wins, 1 Tevis buckle), who was ready to "bust out of his skin"; Utah's Sue Hedgecock and LZP Julioslastchance (38 of 42 completions, 4 100-mile completions, 5 Best Conditions) - "I'm just here," Sue said; Stephané Chazel from France returning to attempt his second Tevis completion, riding Potato Richardson's SMR Filouette, who finished in 7th place in last year's Tevis with Willemina DeBoer; Japan's Hiromi Kitaike riding Patrick's Fire, going for her 3rd Tevis buckle in a row; the Blakeley family of 4 from Oregon - father Wasch going for his first Tevis buckle, mother Gabriela going for her 3rd buckle, junior son Barrak going for his 2nd buckle (he was pulled last year, at The Quarry at 96 miles), and junior daughter Sanoma riding in her first Tevis…

The stories would continue on ride day and afterwards, starting at 5:15 AM July 20th, in the 58th running of this mythical Tevis Cup.

**image of Hal Hall and Fred Emigh by Krista Turnage and the Tevis Cup folks!**
see pre-vetting photos of all the competitors at
http://www.teviscup.org/webcast/webcast.html# and click on the riders' names.