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  • Writer's pictureSanoma Blakeley

The Road to Tevis with Sanoma Blakeley

As July approaches, there is a group of endurance riders meticulously preparing for one of the toughest rides of the year, known as the Tevis Cup. Tasked with 100 miles in one day, these riders’ journeys with their loyal steeds have likely started years in advance and their preparations will continue up until the minute the ride starts. If you have your sights set on Tevis, or simply are curious about what it takes to complete a ride like this, read on for sponsored rider Sanoma Blakeley’s tips on the “Road to Tevis”. As a former winner of the prestigious race, she knows what it takes to make it across the finish line!


The road leading to Tevis begins in different places for everyone, but the end destination is the same: the Robie Equestrian Park in Truckee, California. Unfortunately, this road can be bumpy, and just like the ride itself, it has a lot of hills. While everyone’s journey to get to Tevis is different, here are some universal tips I try to keep in mind to help get my horse and myself to Robie Park.

Choose a Tevis horse: This is probably the most crucial step since it is impossible to compete in a horse ride without a horse. For many riders, the road to Tevis starts several years prior when we pick out the horse that will carry us across the Sierra mountains. To read my advice on choosing an endurance horse, check out my previous blog.

The Road to Tevis starts by choosing a prospect capable of long distances and tough days on the trail.​

Get your horse ready for Tevis: Once you’ve picked a horse to ride at Tevis, you have to prepare them both physically and mentally. Riding Tevis is very stressful and having a solid horse is helpful as there are river crossings, bridge crossings, and a lot of technical trails. Making sure they are okay being sandwiched between other horses on narrow trails is probably not a bad idea either. It is also critical to have a horse that eats and drinks well since they will need fuel over the tough course.

Condition your horse and yourself: Once your horse is prepared for the technical trails and bonded with you as the rider, we need to make sure they are physically fit for the challenge. Tevis is by no means an easy ride, but with plenty of conditioning, it’s possible that you could very well receive a shiny, silver Tevis buckle.

  • Hills: There is definitely no shortage of hills on the ride, so if you have the possibility, get your horse used to hills.

  • Heat: California is hot in the middle of summer, prepare yourself and your horses for the heat. Body clipping your horse could really help them on the ride.

Your horse should be willing to drink on the trail to keep themselves healthy in the heat of the race.​

Hoof protection and tack: The Tevis trail is rocky and technical, make sure you have adequate foot protection that your horse is comfortable with. Tevis is the last place you want a tack malfunction so double and triple-check check all your equipment. I personally like to use the EasyCare EasyBoot Glue-Ons for hoof protection on the ride. See more of my favorite endurance gear, here.

Feeding a Tevis horse: Every horse is different and each rider should be sure to make sure to feed according to their horses’ needs. I have noticed a fair amount of pulls at the early vet checks for ty-up. Even if your horse is not prone to tying up, the extra stress can increase his chances and feeding accordingly could be helpful. A low sugar diet works well for our horses as well as feeding additional electrolytes leading up to the race.

A carefully managed diet along with electrolytes before the ride can help keep your horse from tying up.

Take care of yourself: Tevis takes its toll on horses, but it also takes its toll on riders. Remember to drink plenty of water and electrolytes. It’s easy to make sure your horse is drinking but harder to remember to do it yourself. The same goes for eating. Prepare yourself for the heat and a long day in the saddle so that you will be able to take better care of your horse.

Crew: Gather up your friends and talk them into crewing for you. Having a good crew is important. I enjoy having a crew that I am comfortable being around even when I am tired or stressed. Having someone to support you, not only physically but also mentally, when things get tough is a prime quality.

Take care of yourself on the trail and choose a trustworthy crew to help get you across the finish line. Photo by Bill Gore of Gore/Baylor Photography.

Finally, have a good time! Enjoy the journey and soak up the experience. Whether you've just added Tevis to your bucket list, you're trying Tevis for the first time, or have a wall filled with Tevis buckles, every year is unique and has its own challenges and rewards. Just a bit of personal advice: even if you do everything “just right” things can still go wrong. Take a deep breath and it might not hurt to wrap your horse in bubble wrap... since horses seem to have plans of their own!

Thanks for reading and happy riding! Shop for all of your endurance needs and more at


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