Tevis 2010 is different from 2009.
Honestly, I'm not sure whether the differences will add up to a completion (I hope so!), but the fact remains that 2010 IS different from 2009 (after all if you try and fail, then something should change).
Fact 1 - Farley has a 100 mile completion under her belt (or girth....).
Fact 2 - We will have almost a year of dressage together. I'm a better rider, she moves better. Her hindquarters development is significantly different and she's a power house up hills even though....
Fact 3 - .....we did less trail conditioning this year. But I think I'll be Ok because....
Fact 4 - ...we did more rides and the rides were stronger. American River in April, and 3 days at Wild West instead of 2. AND she was just much stronger at all those rides than last year.
Fact 5 - No lameness problems this year (or last year). Some scares and me being silly, but she's stayed sound.
Fact 6 - Her hocks feel a WHOLE lot better.
Fact 7 - Her saddle fits better (started getting a "b" for her back last year at Tevis after the canyons, but could have also partially been due to sore hocks, as they also saw a stiff LH).
Fact 8 - My crew is mostly returning this year, so I think they deserve the title "experienced".
Fact 9 - She's barefoot this year
Fact 10 - She's been ridden more frequently this year leading up to Tevis, but the riding has been easier. Last year we prerode the last 2/3 of the trail, including some long, back to back days (was 3 weeks before the ride but still....). No significant work (prerode the finish and then doing my regular dressage and canal hacks) this year since Wild West so I KNOW she's well rested. I did the same sort of 6-8 weeks "off" for both the 20MT 100 and Wild west 3 day ride and it worked fabulously. I think Farley's best performances at rides are coming by maintaining her endurance base (which was built over the last 2 years) and then riding regularly (4-5x week) with very few "strenuous" work outs, combined with endurance rides every 6-8 weeks.
Fact 11 - I will be riding with front leg boots this year - the lack of these is one reason I pulled last year.
Fact 12 - Farley and I practiced riding in a group this year and I am MUCH more confident and don't have any stress when doing so now. It really was my mental hang up - not Farley's, but I'm much more confident that everything will go well, even if I get stuck in the middle of a big group for a while.
Fact 13 - Farley and I have been practicing the "stand" command faithfully for 2-3 months now, and I no longer envision certain death if I have to stand on a single track for a while, waiting for some diaster in front of me to get cleared away.
Do 13 changes = a 2010 completion. Let's hope so.
Before the 2009 ride I gave myself an 80% chance of completion. Looking back, I would have put it lower - probably ~60%.
I'm feeling pretty confident this year - let's call it ~80%.
I've heard it said that you shouldn't start Tevis unless you are 100% confident you can cross that finish line. Let me clarify why I'm at 80%.
I have a hard time lying to myself. I'm NEVER 100% confident that I will finish ANY ride because of getting pulled with Minx so often. I have a healthy appreciation and respect for the endurance distance and I do NOT fool myself into thinking that ANY ride will be a walk in the park. Doing endurance on a non-arab or a horse not perfectly suited to endurance will give you a whole 'nother perspective on how "hard" endurance can be.
That being said, Farley and I have never looked better, my equipment has never been so dialed in, I KNOW that Farley is a 100 mile horse (it remains to be seen whether I'm a 100 mile rider becuase of my idiocy at 20 MT!), and I've seen the trail - I KNOW that it's doable for both of us. In reality, Farley has been pulled just once - 2009 Tevis. We have 630 endurance miles together (I have an additional 150 on Minx) and an additional 165 LD miles together. Farley is GOOD at this. Maybe this is our year and maybe it isn't, but what ever happens, I'm confident that Farley and I will work as a team and get eachother safely through it.