When the 64th running of the 100-mile Tevis Cup commences at 5:15 a.m. on Aug. 17, head veterinarian Mike Peralez, DVM, and his team of 13 vets will carefully monitor all horses for signs of lameness, metabolic, or hydration issues at 10 checkpoints along the trail.
Statistically, only about 50% of the horses finish the challenge. Who cares for the roughly 75 to 100 horses that are eliminated along the way, often in remote locations? Horse transport coordinator Brad Weston and his 24 volunteer drivers traverse rough roads and bring the “pulled” horses safely back to civilization.
“Out part is relatively thankless,” Weston said, who carries with him a spreadsheet filled with driver names, checkpoint locations, and mileage estimates to trail access points. Volunteer drivers use their own equipment and stock up with water, hay, carrots, and extra halters, as well as snacks and drinks for tired and often extremely disappointed riders.
The job isn’t easy, either. Volunteer driver Christine Crum recalled once hiking a mile down a steep trail segment to lead an exhausted but unharmed horse to her awaiting trailer.
Weston relies on the approximately 75 volunteer ham radio operators, some mounted, to keep him in touch with ride director Chuck Stalley. All communication goes through Net Control, which links the 800 volunteers along the trail.
Crum, Weston, and the volunteers have a singular goal: “We just want to keep all the horses safe.”