Wow. To say the results of the 2010 Tevis Cup are a culmination of a lifetime of preparation and dreams is an understatement.
Lisa and I cross the finish line hand in hand. 100 miles side by side. What a moment in our lives.
My wife and I crossed
The Fury announced 2010 Haggin Cup winner. First time a barefoot booted horse has received this honor. Good thing I had glasses on because the tears were flowing.
Horses have been in the family and in the blood for the majority of my life. My first Tevis experience and a successful buckle completion was 26 years ago as a junior rider. The ride and the riders left a huge impression. Riders like Sandy Schuler, Boyd Zontelli, Marjorie Pryor, Becky Hart and Chris Knoch were my idols and their accomplishments of finishes, Tevis Cups and Haggin Cups were things to dream about.
Since 1984 I’ve come and gone from the sport a couple times. Each time I return I make it a point to hang around with successful riders and see what they are doing: I like to see what is working for them. I watch riders like Dave Rabe, Christoph Schork, Crockett Dumas, Kevin Waters, Heather and Jeremy Reynolds and Sandy Schuler to name a few. How do they pace, what do they feed, how do they take care of their horses feet, how do they use electrolytes? What type of events do the successful riders do before Tevis? How many miles do they ride before Tevis, what pace and are they 100 mile events, multiday events or single 50 mile events? Why reinvent the wheel? Use what works and learn from the great riders in the sport. I’m proud to say that this borrowed knowledge helped get Lisa and I through the event and gave us the opportunity to show our horses for the Haggin Cup.
I strayed from the sport of endurance to compete in ultra marathons, ultra mountain bike events, off road Xterra triathlons and road cycling. In 2001, I had the opportunity to run the Tevis on foot (Western States 100) and really learn about taking care of a horse. Running 100 miles on foot makes you a much better horseman. It’s teaches you how to drink, it teaches you how to eat and fuel the engine, it teaches you about electrolytes, it teaches you about gut sounds and what the lack of gut sounds does to performance and eating, it teaches you about foot care and foot protection selection, it teaches you about the trail and how to pace in the tough spots.
The lessons learned from ultra running, cycling and triathlons have been invaluable. As human athletes we have the choice to get behind on fluids, we have the choice to get low on calories, we have the choice to go faster than our conditioning and ruin our gut. When you get behind on fluids, low on electrolytes and the gut shuts down you end up vomiting and spending the day in the medic tent. I’ve done it to myself enough to know how much it hurts. Because of that experience, I now do everything possible not to put one of my equine partners through the same experience.
I took 10 years off from Tevis and wasn’t sure if I would be back. You need a fire to ride Tevis. You need to be committed: it’s not a ride that you can just show up and do. If you are not prepared and committed it will chew you up and spit you out like a dusty mess. Before the 2009 event I received a call from my good friend Kevin Waters. He offered me the opportunity to ride his back-up horse, Thunders Tahoe. Tahoe was ten for ten in 100 mile events to that point and I knew I had to jump on the opportunity. When someone offers you a horse for the toughest event in the sport it would be disrespectful to turn it down. Kevin Waters, Duncan McLaughlin and I went on to ride the 2009 Tevis together and all finished with a buckle. The 2009 event gave me back the fire and the desire to find the perfect Tevis horse.
I was looking for a Fury. After the 2009 Tevis I started putting out feelers for a big, strong, forward horse. I was looking for the type of horse that most other riders dislike: a forward horse that likes his job so much that he is almost out of control. I was confident I could use the Durango, Colorado training to bring a couple of these types of horses around. We have the kind of training there to take uncontrolled aggression and stream it into long-term determination. Horses change when they go from 6,000 feet to over 12,000 feet a couple times of times per week. They learn how to walk and they learn how to pace.
Lisa (on Fury), Kevin Myers and Rusty Toth at 12,000 feet. All the conditioning was done in Easyboot Gloves.
The Fury got off the trailer on January 24th 2010. He was an unpapered Arabian gelding from New Hampshire, owed by Deena MacDonald with the name of Furio. The name quickly changed to The Fury for his AERC registration. He had a bit of past endurance experience (200 miles) but I decided to register him under his new name and a new number for a fresh start.
Fury coming of the trailer from New Hampshire. January 24th, 2010.
He conditioned up quickly and our first event was an experience. We had some mishaps and some behavior adjustments to make but what blew me away with Fury was how he ate and drank. He drinks like no other horse I have ever ridden. He drinks so much you wonder where it’s going. When we got to the first vet check and he started eating I knew I had a great horse. He dove into is vet check calories like a teenage boy eating at In-N-Out Burger. I was blown away and knew he would be great at his first 100.
Six months later Fury was my first choice for the 2010 Tevis Cup. I knew several people were questioning his ability and his foundation going into Tevis. I could see it on people’s faces and from the questions they asked. It wasn’t worth explaining but I was confident in the horse, confident in his ability and confident in his way to drink and consume calories during an event. All the lessons learned from the leaders in the sport told me that Fury was ready. He was ready to complete the event and he was ready for a top ten at his first 100. From the start our goal was to ride
Lisa entered on GE Cyclone. I campaigned Cyclone in the 2009 season with a goal of the AERC National Best Condition award. Cyclone amassed nine best conditions but we fell short of the goal and the national BC award. He had a nice long break and I knew he would be awesome at Tevis and fly through the event with her 105 pound frame. Our first goal was to get Lisa and Fury (first Tevis and 100 mile events for Lisa and Fury) a buckle and then better the experience if possible without putting a successful finish in jeopardy.
The day started out a success but Fury was a bit of a handful coming through the technical trails of the Granite Chief Wilderness. He wanted to go and didn’t care about the trail, his feet or the rocks. With some scary moments and some tired arms we made it through. Riding with good friends (Duncan, Tennessee, Kevin Waters and Lisa) and other good riders helped calm Fury and make it through this section.
The Red Star Ridge checkpoint was my first indication that it would be a great day. Lisa and Crockett were the last riders to squeeze into the water tank and Fury and I were left with one of the five gallon sponge buckets. When I reached down to sponge him he put his head in and drank. When he finally pulled his head up the bucket was empty. One of the great check point volunteers looked at me and smiled and brought another bucket. He drank more from the second and we then took some time cooling him. He quickly pulled me away from the bucket and headed for some hay.
Rusty Toth, Lisa and I close to Robinson Flat. Fury was still a bit of a handful.
Robinson was much the same as Red Star Ridge. Fury and Cyclone came in, we cooled them down, they pulsed straight through and then they ate. They didn’t just eat at Robinson: they ate for the complete hour hold. The stars we starting to align and I knew we would have lots of horse going into the canyons.
Those canyons are special for me and I like to use the years of athletic training to get through them. I tend to run down all the canyons and either run/walk or tail up the canyons. Lisa is in great shape and also did the majority of the canyons on foot. We blasted down the first canyon on foot and quickly started passing horses. People were polite and courteous and made way for us to pass. One gentleman continued to ride and kept up with us all the way to the bottom. My quads and IT Bands started to feel the downhill and burned by the time we got to the bottom. The burn in my quads insured me that our horses would be happy later in the day.
Lisa and I take in some calories after the canyons. We look like crap so the horses didn’t.
Lisa and I approach Chicken Hawk
Foresthill at 68 miles was much of the same in terms of the horses’ behavior. The horses ate for the complete hour and Lisa and I had the opportunity to shower (thank you Leslie Spitzer). The encouragement we were getting from the vets and vet check volunteers was beginning to get exciting. “Wow, these horses look awesome!” “Best moving horse all day.” “Congrats: your horses look incredible.” I knew the rest of the course would be a good one for us when we departed Foresthill.
In the first 100 yards leaving the Foresthill vet check I could feel the power and freshness in Fury. I had a fresh horse coming into Foresthill but now I was on a monster. I looked at Cyclone and Lisa: they were both fresh and alert. It was time to make some time and see what we could accomplish. We rode past Rusty Toth as we went across the first pavement stretch and I told him “It’s Time To Unleash The Fury.” It gave me chills and Fury accelerated.
Fury went all the way to the finish like a diesel truck that has some type of illegal chip in it. He was strong, he was consistent and he was forward. Lisa and Cyclone tucked in behind us and we didn’t talk much. We both knew we were still in the twenties and we had to ride
The Lower Quarry was the point where we had to make it or break it. As we came down the road two horses were leaving the check. I asked the timer as we entered how many horses had departed. She said 11. I knew we had to PR fast and get down the trail. Both horses went directly to PR. Fury was down. After his trot out both the vet and vet check manager said Fury looked amazing. “Best horse we have seen all day, get down the trail and see what you can do to top ten”. It’s really something to have vets telling you to go faster at 94 miles into an event. Cyclone looked great and off we went.
At the Highway 49 crossing road I asked the volunteer how far the horses were ahead. “Twenty seconds”. My heart was pounding and Fury was now on the only section of trail he knew. We had ridden the last four miles the Wednesday before the event and he was now like a horse possessed. We caught sight of the number 10 and 11 horse going over No Hands Bridge. They were departing as we started. We quickly caught them and they politely gave us trail. One of the gals continued with us and the second dropped off to ride her own pace. We were now 10, 11 and 12. About two miles before the finish we caught Christoph Schork and Crystal Costa. I felt bad passing my good friend but knew he would do the same and it would cause no animosity. That put Lisa and I in 8th and 9th with about a mile of trail left. The horses continued to stick with us and I knew we had to continue at a decent pace or we would be passed.
We rounded the bend in 8th and 9th place. The horses were hot from covering the last 6 miles in 46 minutes. I was happy but worried at the same time. I wanted the final vet to say “You are finished and you have completed”. After cooling the horses we headed for the vets. Fury was down and off we went to trot. The vet had a smile on his face “Your horse looks amazing. Congratulations: you have finished”.
Jeff Herten gave me a yellow piece of paper that said “8th place Finisher”. He asked me to put it on Fury’s stall as the Tevis
President & CEO
I have been President and CEO of EasyCare since 1993. My first area of focus for the company is in product development, and my goal is to design the perfect hoof boot for the barefoot horse.