At 10 p.m. on Aug. 5, Tennessee Lane and the 17-year-old Arabian gelding Auli Farwa (or “Farr”) crossed the finish line 12 minutes ahead of their nearest competitors to win the 62nd Tevis Cup.
The iconic endurance challenge requires each horse and rider team to cover 100 miles within 24 hours. Multiple veterinary checkpoints, including a final vetting after finishing, are designed to keep equine athletes healthy and safe throughout the competition. Of this year’s 174 starters, 92 finished the course for a 52% completion rate.
This win brought Farr’s life-time endurance competition record to 74 starts with 74 finishes, now including eight Tevis completions. In 2015 Farr, then partnered with rider Jenni Smith, was awarded the Haggin Cup. The Haggin Cup which recognizes superior horsemanship as demonstrated by the condition of the contestant’s horse during and after the ride.
“I felt tremendous responsibility riding Farr,” said Lane following the awards ceremony.
Farr’s owner, Rusty Toth, felt certain Lane was the perfect choice to accompany his horse along the trail to claim a victory over a field that included several past-winners.
Lane battled the last third of the ride with second-place finishers Lindsay Fisher and Monk, who have represented the United States in international endurance competitions including the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Jeremy Reynolds, aboard the 7-year-old mare Treasured Moments came in third; Treasured Moments received the Haggin Cup on Sunday. Karen Donley and Royal Patron, who won last year’s Tevis Cup, crossed the finish line in fourth place this year.
Due to this year’s exceptional snowfall in the High Sierras near the traditional starting point near Lake Tahoe, ride director Chuck Stalley moved the start to Soda Springs. Riders traversed Duncan Canyon before arriving at Mile 36 at Robinson Flat and rejoining the traditional Western States Trail route. Rerouting the 100-mile ride through remote country required extra effort including help from California’s senators and congressmen.
“The trail was harder,” stated local competitor and five-time finisher Terryl Reed, “but I liked it better.”
Unusually cool temperatures seemed to help the horses as they traversed the tough terrain, but morning rain made the rock sections slick, prompting ride management to extend the noon cutoff time into Robinson Flat by 30 minutes.
Fifty of the 92 riders that earned a Tevis belt buckle finished in the last hour.