Haggin Cup Winner Auli Farwa is a Special Horse

He actually believes that cantering everywhere is possible

photo credit Dominique Cognee

photo credit Dominique Cognee

7 August 2015, California ~ The Tevis Cup 100-mile Western States Trail is a pageant of endurance. In the after hours of the ride, top ten finishing horses over the course are given the chance to show for Best Condition. For the 1 August 2015 ride, this examination and observation gave the 2015 Haggin Cup Award to Auli Farwa (Far), a flashy 15-year-old Arabian gelding with a bold white face, ridden by Jenni Smith of Moraga, California.

The Haggin Cup, created in 1964, honors the horse in the most superior condition and recognizes the rider’s sportsmanship and horsemanship.

Smith and Far finished fifth, 54 minutes behind Tevis Cup winners Potato Richardson and SMR Filouette.

Smith said her chance to ride Far was due to a skiing accident.

“I was supposed to ride Kevin Myers’ horse Stoner (Farrabba) and he was to ride Far – the same as we had done in 2014, said Smith.” But in early February, a Telluride ski slope had other ideas and Kevin required knee surgery. Myers thought Far would be up for the Haggin Cup this year, and was the better choice for Smith.

Smith picked up the story: “I was very much up for riding Far, even though he is a jack hammer. He’s fun, he’s got bottomless go and he’s all business on trail. If there’s trail, he’s goin’ down it. And he actually believes that cantering everywhere is possible, which alleviates some of the punishment.

Besides, I was going for my 10th finish and attempting on a horse with a perfect score of 62 lifetime starts, all of which he’s completed, seemed prudent.

The Friday before the start found Kevin and I staring morosely at Far’s pasterns. He’d contracted a pretty significant case of scratches and despite diligent treatment he was particularly sensitive on his left front. We discussed not starting him because we really didn’t know what 100 miles would mean. Kevin shared later that he was very close to telling me not to start. And I would have completely agreed. We were that unsure.

The scratches never signified. We loaded Desitin on him the entire day and he never took a wrong step.

Heading out of Foresthill, I knew we were riding on the bubble of the top ten. We rode a moderate pace into Francisco’s and there we found Garrett and Lisa Ford, Barrack Blakely and Kathy Broaddus. Lisa and Barrack left while I was still cooling Far down but I managed to get him out ahead of Kathy and Garrett, who were both having some delaying issues with their horses. Far picked up the pace as we headed to the river, the sun was setting and he definitely was feeling a second wind. The American River was deep and cool. A welcome respite in the humidity that was the canyon that night.

Far is a mountain horse from Colorado, so it was a substantive undertaking to get him cooled down at each stop. I pulled all his tack and pressed as many volunteers as I could bully into service. Water on! Water off ! Scrape with your hand!, Who’s got ice? Can we get some ice in this water?, Hey, big guy, can you put this saddle back on my horse? Not kidding, I’m a little militant during a race (my crew tells me lovingly).

As soon as his pulse dropped to criteria I’d run him out for the vets. It was in those moments that I started to tentatively believe in Kevin’s crazy prediction. Vet after vet in the American River Canyon said to me, ‘he looks good’ with a note of surprise and appreciation.

After we left the river, Far was a little under-motivated.Done with this thing.But Garrett caught us again and he was fired up by the presence of his nemesis, the Fury.

Haggin Cup Award with Jenni Smith and Kevin Myers

Haggin Cup Award with Jenni Smith and Kevin Myers

As we rode out of Lower Quarry, I saw Heather Reynold’s and Dace Sainsbury’s horses being loaded on the evacuation trailer. Tevis had knocked back and knocked out a decent piece of our competition.

The trip from Quarry was easy and fast, Far knew where he was and how to get to the end. So, let’s talk about cantering in the pitch black. The moon was sluggish in making its appearance and I have terrible night vision. Can’t see a thing. Far had his own ideas about the appropriate speed to go. It was a complete blast – I had no idea what to expect next and I’m pretty sure I was laughing out loud like a little kid. Definitely an e-ticket ride.

Cantering up that last rise to the finish under the arc of colored lights to the cheers of your family and best buddies and a couple hundred strangers is THE BEST THING. I highly recommend it.

My crew was stupendous. Far is a truly special and amazing horse, but that’s just one ingredient to a Haggin Cup. Crew can make or break. Not only did they take exemplary care of us all day and turn us in each vet check with precision, but they stayed up all night to ensure that Far was kept loose and comfortable.

The next morning I texted Kevin asking “Are we going to show (for BC, Haggin Cup)?” You never know what the night will mean to a horse that’s covered 100 miles at speed. He texted back. ‘I believe so. He looks sound.’

I wasn’t sure how sound I was, but I pulled myself together to run Far out. Most of the other eight horses that showed looked pretty good. Some years there are clearly just a few in contention, but this year it seemed very much up in the air.

When the eight of us were waiting with our horses outside the awards ceremony for the announcement, I was trying not to imagine what I’d do and feel if they called Far’s name. And then they did. The rest was a blur. Kevin was there. My parents and crew were crying in the crowd. A dozen or more cameras were clicking away. And I couldn’t quit grinning.

Far won the Haggin. So stinkin’ cool.”

Auli Farwa is owned by Kevin Myers

Auli Farwa’s owner, Kevin Myers, has three horses in training for endurance. Farrabba (Stoner), winner of the 2012 Haggin Cup with rider Rusty Toth; Auli Farwa (FV Aul Fancy Free x Winchester Silkie by Farlane’s Pride+/); and French Fry (Supasize), owned in partnership with Garrett Ford.

Far has 62 starts and 62 completions over 9 years of competition including 13 100 mile races and competes in Easyboot Glue-Ons.

Myers lives and trains in Durango, Colorado, and said, “The trails and elevation training in Durango turns these horses into trail monsters.“

The Win

72 year old rider Potato Richardson, on SMR Filouette, crossed the finish line in Auburn at 10:05 pm Saturday, winning the Tevis Cup. This was Richardson’s 22nd completion for the race starting in 1975. He has now won the race three times, (2015, 1998 and 2002).

Overall, 45% of starters in the 2015 ride completed the course. Ninety horses finished within 24 hours, while 110 were pulled or eliminated from the event. There were 201 original entries from 12 countries including 8 Juniors.

Top Ten Finish

1 Richardson, Potato 13 Finish Line – IN 10:05PM

2 HALL, GWEN 4 Finish Line – IN 10:35PM

3 Blakeley, Barrak (JR) 7 Finish Line – IN 10:51PM

4 FORD, LISA 56 Finish Line – IN 10:51PM

5 Smith, Jenni 5 Finish Line – IN 10:59PM

6 TEBBS, DAWN 54 Finish Line – IN 11:13PM

7 FORD, GARRETT 16 Finish Line – IN 11:15PM

8 Graham Fisher, Lindsay 109 Finish Line – IN 11:24PM

9 Hayes, Suzanne 116 Finish Line – IN 11:24PM

10 Broaddus, Katherine 72 Finish Line – IN 11:25PM

Last in was Stacy Motschenbacher at 04:59 AM

~ end