BY ANDREA POWELL
Claire Godwin, DVM, of Laytonsville, Maryland, just broke another record with her 27-year-old horse, PL Mercury. The 14-hand Arabian Gelding broke his own record to remain the oldest horse to complete the 100 Mile Tevis Cup, one of the toughest endurance courses in the world. This is an amazing accomplishment for any horse, but for a senior horse it is inspiring.
Many people think that once a horse passes the age of 20, their careers are fading. However, Mercury, goes by Merc, is just one of the seniors defying that. He continues to improve and beat his time from years before. The Tevis Cup is held annually in California. The 100 mile race is testing and many do not complete it. This year 149 horses started with only 64 completing.
The pair completed the race in 17 hours, 18 minutes, which is four hours and 19 minutes shorter than their 2017 time. They finished in 13th place. Godwin is so impressed by Merc and never imagined when she purchased him all those years ago that he would be an endurance horse.
She tells The Horse, “He doesn’t have perfect conformation; no horse does. But he does have a short back, really good bone, and size 1 feet. He is relaxed and not a real dependent horse, although he does really like his pasturemate, Ahmose.”
Originally, Godwin went to purchase Merc as a well-mannered horse for her kids. However, he possessed the stamina and speed to compete. With his level mind and sweet demeanor, many people have ridden Merc that are just getting into endurance racing. All the previous years, other riders rode Merc in the Tevis, but this year Godwin rode him for the record.
Merc stays in impeccable shape by resting. That may sound weird, but Godwin says you do not need to ride everyday. For two to three months in the winter Merc is turned out 24/7 just to be a horse. When it is time to train again, she will pony him with another horse to track some miles in the mountains. This saves his aging back from the added weight.