WT Bezarif and Kassandra DiMaggio’s 2021 Tevis Ride
WT Bezarif’s story began May 2, 2009, when he was born the morning of the Kentucky Derby. He was born perfect in every way except for his left ear, which wanted to drop to the left. My vet diagnosed the cartilage at the base of his ear tore during birth. Since then, his ear has become his “signature” recognized by all. Because of his breeding and sweet disposition, I kept him a stallion.
The start of TEVIS began for us on Friday for the pre-ride vet-in. I carefully wove yellow ribbon into his forelock and tail so people would see us coming and going, but it turned out to be unnecessary, as Bezarif was a perfect gentleman. Our trot out was smooth as glass, and we were cleared to start.
It’s fair to say I had some gitters about the start of TEVIS, having qualified for Pen 1. This requires 60 horses to ride side by side, head to tail, in an area about 60’ in diameter. That’s a challenge for any rider, let alone a rider on a very fit, hormone charged stallion! However, Bezarif walked into Pen 1 quietly like it was just another day! The start of the race was equally uneventful as Bezarif went into a strong trot and followed my lead without argument. Once we reached Squaw Valley and the trail opened up, we picked our pace. Bezarif didn’t care when horses passed him, he didn’t talk, just focused on what he needed to do.
As we approached Cougar Rock I had planned to go around to be on the “safe side” but just as we were asked if we were going up or around, something came over me and I just went for it. This rock is no joke, and while it looks steep in the pictures and in person, it is even steeper when you are on it! As we got half way up we stopped and Bezarif carefully stepped up the massive rock most horses jump onto and picked his way to the top. I was giddy with excitement like I’ve never felt before!
When we reached Red Star vet check, I gave Bezarif a potassium/magnesium supplement as planned, which turned out to be a mistake as it upset his stomach, I later learned. As we neared Robinson I noticed he was slowing down, which was uncharacteristic of him. He pulsed down right away with the aid of my amazing crew, vetted in, but would not eat. This is where I really became concerned. Bezarif is so good at taking care of himself on a ride that I’ve always said if he didn’t want to eat then something was really wrong. I managed to keep him nibbling at little tufts of grass, but that was it. I opted to stay an extra 20 minutes there and walk out of Robinson for about an hour before trotting again. Once we got to Dusty Corners I reassessed our situation and was ready to pull if he didn’t start eating. After about 10 of the longest minutes of my ride life, he finally started to eat. We stayed for at least another 30 minutes before making our way to the next check. We were the 94th rider coming in to Last Chance vet check with cut off time looming. I knew in my heart we were going to finish this race as long as we stayed ahead of cut off.
Bezarif and I had our talk and knew what we needed to do to finish this thing!
Wasting no time, we did exactly what we set out to do and came into the finish in 20th place.
Bezarif gave me the most amazing ride I have ever experienced at Tevis (9thbuckle). Bezarif gave me his trust, heart and soul on this race. He is truly deserving of recognition for his outstanding achievement. Bezarif not only finished the most difficult endurance ride in the world, but he was the first stallion across the finish line and the “Highest Placing Purebred, Half-Arabian, or Anglo-Arabian, Crabbet-Related Horse!!”
I received numerous compliments on Bezarif’’s gentlemanly manners throughout the event from riders and veterinarian staff and volunteers. If there was a “best mannered stallion” award offered, he would have taken that home too. A true testament to Bezarif as a horse and to the time, love, and training poured into him since he was born.