PL Mercury, a 27-year-old Arabian gelding, and owner Claire Godwin, DVM, completed the endurance Triple Crown late last month when they finished 15th in the 100-mile American Endurance Ride Conference Championship ride held at the Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, North Carolina.
“Merc” successfully completed three 100-mile rides this year—the 100-mile Old Dominion Ride, which took place in Virginia in June, the 100-mile Tevis Cup in July, when he became the oldest horse to complete the challenging ride through the California mountains, and the Biltmore Estate ride.
“It would have been really easy not to finish this one,” Godwin said. “The temperatures were in the 90s,” and the humidity was high, as well.
Of the 33 horses that started the 100-mile ride, only 16 finished. Holly Corcoran and Poete won the event with a ride time of 12 hours and 26 minutes. Merc finished with a ride time of 17 hours and 44 minutes, slower than his normal pace.
“If I had let him go his normal pace in those conditions, how he likes to go, I believe he would have had trouble pulsing down,” Godwin said. “I wasn’t out to ‘wow’ anyone. I wanted to protect Merc and finish.”
She believes keeping a horse in competition for decades requites good veterinary care and intelligent decision making about “when to go fast” on any given ride.
Godwin said Merc’s future plans include leading a group of novice riders on an 18-mile loop to show them the ropes and perhaps one more 50-mile event in 2018. After a 2018 campaign including three difficult 100-mile rides, along with a couple of 50-mile rides, Godwin is pleased with Merc’s condition. “He looks good,” she said.