For some odd reason, doing Tevis has become a burning desire of mine. The history and mystical nature of Tevis calls to me along with the challenge of the terrain. Considering I'm a cautious rider and adverse to risk, I'm not sure why I have this fascination with such a ride. Completion rates for Tevis over the past several years have been in the lower 40%--it's that kind of a ride. Why would someone from FL want to travel 3000 miles across the country to do such a ride with such a low chance of success? But I do want to do it and after going out to watch the last 2 years, I still want to do it. I have set a goal of riding Tevis in 2008.
The question is, do I have a horse to do it? That is yet to be answered. I had thought Eclipse would be the one but he showed me this past ride season that it is doubtful he's up to such a tough ride. He doesn't tend to use himself well enough naturally and I think the climbs would do him in. He had some right hind lameness issues that have left me concerned. And he can be a bit of a drama queen and get too pumped up to adequately take care of himself. While he's always controllable and rateable, he's still a bit "up" and easily distracted in the holds. At Tevis, I think a horse that comes in and goes to work eating, drinking, and relaxing has the better chance at completing. This is something Eclipse doesn't do well. He finishes 50s and still trots circles in his corral instead of relaxing. He's a fun ride and a horse that looks good at the vet checks because he's so peppy but he just doesn't chill out sufficiently.
Lyric has the right attitude--she's very laid back and takes care of herself well. And she's got the bloodlines to do it--Al Marah dam line. But she's a bit of a funny mover that makes vets scrunch up their faces during trotouts. She's a bit uneven in the front thanks to some winging on her right fore which also happens to be white while her left front is chestnut. Talk about drawing attention to yourself! She's an easy ride and very careful on the trails but that trotout issue can really bite you at the most inconvenient times. So she's questionable. I'll probably spin her back up this coming ride season and see how she does and see if we've managed her hooves better so she moves more evenly. I really like riding her--she's like a little red sports car.
So that brings me to Boomer. I bought Boomer on impulse at a local auction in April 2006 for the grand sum of $425. He was sold as an Arab but really could have passed as a non-Arab. I think he's a part Arab; his head is as non-Arab as they come. He's a big 15 hands and has a huge walk. So far he's done 4 50s and other than his 2nd one, he's done fine. He's another laid back dude, so much so he gets the "looks tired" comments from the vets. But he goes on and completes the rides well. He's just not animated--he's a daisy clipper supreme in his movement. He takes care of himself well and naps at the holds in between eating. I'm still getting used to how he acts as he's no Eclipse! Of the 3 horses I currently ride, he's the one I think has the best chance at Tevis. We did one ride with some climbs and he handled them well--very surefooted and powerful. I think his natural way of using himself will help him deal with climbs and descents. So this coming ride season, he's the one I'm betting on. We'll go for the 100 at Goethe in December and see how he does. That will tell me if he's going to get me out to Tevis in 2008.
Making a trip out to Tevis from FL is a big undertaking. I'm figuring that the trip out should be limited to 600 miles/day for a total of 5 days. Such a trip is pretty hard on a horse so you need recovery time. At least a week is what I'm planning. And once there, I'd like the opportunity of pre-riding some of the sections that you ride in the dark although there are parts that you might be better off NOT seeing in the daylight due to the narrowness of the trail and the dropoffs. Still, riding some parts is a good thing so your horse knows which way is "home."
So, my own grand Tevis adventure is slowly starting. Lots of little steps must be taken along the way to get there. If things don't fall into place for 2008, I'll just regroup and plan for another year. But in order to ever get there, you need to plan and work hard. They say getting out to Tevis is the hardest part; once the ride starts, it's all downhill!