Each year, some of the top endurance horses and riders in the country flock to California to try their hand at the Tevis Cup, a grueling 100-mile ride through the Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s no easy task for the most well-conditioned equine athletes in the prime of life. But what really impresses me is that each year, a handful (or more!) riders bring older horses to compete at Tevis É and many of them do very well!

This year, as in past years, our roving reporter Marsha Hayes was on-site with photographer Ron Osborn to cover the ride for TheHorse.com. She kept tabs on the golden oldies during the ride, keeping a special eye on the oldest horse in the field: 25-year-old PL Mercury (or “Merc” for short), owned by Claire Godwin, DVM, and ridden by Lisa Bykowski, both of Laytonsville, Maryland.

Lisa Bukowski and 25-year-old Merc (left) kick up dust alongside 17-year-old Amos, ridden by Merc’s owner Claire Godwin, DVM, as the pair head into the first one-hour rest hold at Mile aaep-2006.

Photo: Ron Osborn

Here’s what Marsha had to say:

Compared with Tevis 2015, the older equine population seemed to have chosen to stay home and skip the 100-mile challenge this year. Only six horses out of 165 equine entrants were listed at age 18 or older. And of those six, one completed the 100 miles within the allotted