On the day Hal V. Hall was born in Auburn, California, his mother's maternity nurse drafted an announcement for the first meeting to organize an arduous Western States One Hundred Miles in One Day Endurance Ride - today, known as the Tevis Cup.
Years later, Hall became a Tevis legend himself. He's thrice won the prestigious Lloyd Tevis Cup (1974, 1977, and 1990), and the equally coveted James Ben Ali Haggin Cup, given for the best conditioned horse among the first 10 Tevis finishers (1972, 1978, and 2002). Since his first Tevis as a 14-year-old, he's rarely missed a year, racking up 25 finishes in 31 starts, and achieving the most top-10 finishes in the event's history.
In more than 36 years of endurance competition and 10,000 career miles, the talented horseman has become an expert on conditioning horses for trail challenges. He's also a saddle designer, and has penned The Western States Trail Guide, which details for riders the 100 miles of trail over the Sierra Nevada Mountains between Squaw Valley and Auburn, California. Hall is also a founder of the American Endurance Ride Conference; both he and his favorite mount, El Karbaj, are in its Hall of Fame.
In addition, Hall was a member of the United States Equestrian Team Selection Committee that chose the gold-medal-winning squad for the 1996 Federation Equestre Internationale World Endurance Championship. He's competed internationally himself.
We caught up with Hall V. Hall just after his return from the 2005 FEI North American 100 Mile Endurance Championship, where his team earned the silver medal. Read on to learn more about this top endurance competitor, trail-riding enthusiast, and consummate horseman.
MyHorse: How did you become involved with horses?
Hall: My parents were city slickers from San Francisco; they moved the family to the outskirts of Auburn when my dad opened a pharmacy there. When Tevis Cup competitors would ride by our home, my parents would let me stay up all night to watch. In those days, the ride finished at the end of our street, and riders would walk their horses into town for the victory lap. It looked like a big adventure to me.
When I was older, I'd offer to hold horses for the veterinary exam at the finish line. The riders always looked weary, but there was a twinkle in their eyes that said, "I've accomplished something." It intrigued me.
MyHorse: When was your very first trail ride?
Hall: I was 11 when I started riding friends' horses on the local trails. Eventually, I got my first horse: an Appaloosa gelding named Sinbad. I rode with kids my age, and a friend's older sister gave me riding lessons. Sinbad wasn't the most athletic individual and wasn't suited for the Tevis, but my buddies and I would ride into the woods a couple of miles and race back, our own mini-version of the Tevis Cup.
Later, a woman who lived across the street invited me to ride with her and her friends, and they became a huge influence. Her name was Drucilla Barner; she was the first woman to win the Tevis Cup and the first woman to complete Tevis 10 times.