In which Fiddle did it! She's AERC High Mileage Standardbred!

Fiddle has come a long way from the grouchy "hellbitch" mare delivered to me
in December of 2006, and she was the ultimate representative of Team Sensible 
as a graceful (and powerful) Dragon on the trail in 2015. 

We got confirmation of her win this morning via email from the United States Trotting Association.

I admit:  I'm giddy.

2015Standardbred Endurance
Aarene Storms
Mandy Jansen Van Doorn
East Meets West
Patricia Clark
Pureform Bunny
Heather Wimer

I knew, going into it, that I couldn't accidentally win the Endurance Standardbred award.

There were too many good horses competing this year, including past winners Eli (East Meets West) and Bunny (Pureform Bunny), as well as some awesome new competitors.

I set out a "best possible circumstances" calendar in February.  The calendar listed every ride in the region that I might possibly attend, and the distance I hoped to ride in each event.  There was a lot of hope written onto that calendar.

Klickitat Trek Day 2, finish line
May 31 2015 photo by M. Bretherton

In some cases, we went further than expected.  The 75-miler at the Milwaukee Rail Trail Ride turned out to be an 80-miler, and the 50 at the Haunting Ride was a very long 55 miles.

Other rides, such as the Mount Spokane ride and the Jubilee Ranch ride, were cancelled because of our unbelievable forest fire season.

I kept in touch with other Standie riders, and compared notes.  It's not a huge field, so it's possible for us to "know" almost everybody, at least via Facebook and blogs.  We're all big advocates for Team Sensible, and we like to chat online about our beautiful brown horses.

Renegade Rendezvous Day 2,
July 4 2015 photo by M. Bretherton
SouthEast competitor Patricia Clark and I have corresponded for years, sending encouragement (and occasional condolences, as when Eli blew an abscess right before a big event) via Facebook, even though we've never met in real life. NorthWest rider Heather Wimer went shopping for a Standardbred after reading an article I wrote about the breed for Endurance News, and ended up with Pureform Bunny, a two-time winner of the High Mileage Standie award.   I also made the virtual acquaintance of Jen Moore, who competes with her "big sexy boy" Sidney Rain in the MidWest region.  I have high hopes for that pair in future seasons.

April Daze ride
April 25 2015 photo by M. Bretherton

A few horses and riders were more elusive, and I kept track of them via the AERC website, trying to predict what rides they might attend, and which distances they might enter, and then trying to figure out what rides I needed to enter--and finish--in order to maintain the lead.

Mostly, I just rode my horse.

My favorite ride photo ever.
July 4 2015 photo by Monica Bretherton

I gotta say that I absolutely couldn't have done this by myself.

Santa Jim pushed me out the door when my hip hurt and I felt wimpy.  "Your horse will take care of you, and you'll feel better if you ride," he'd say, and he was right.  Fiddle always took good care of me, and riding always helps.  (I got my right hip replaced 2 weeks after the season ended, however.  Pain is not fun!)

Monica offered plenty of encouragement, and took pictures at a lot of the rides, too.  She even got us onto the cover of Endurance News, after years of trying!

Patty and Duana are the best riding partners and crew ever.  Ever.  They rode with me on the trail and in the truck, and they made sure that I took my pain meds and drank my water and ate my sweet potatoes at the vet checks.

Gail Williams is the best ride manager (and crew) in the whole wide world.  If you suspect that she organized the Milwaukee Rail Trail ride on very short notice because another important ride in our region got cancelled and because I needed the miles, you would not be wrong. She also traveled to the Oregon rides with me to crew and generally be a wonderful person.  She's the best. Ever.

Dory coached me IRL and via email and Facebook:  "look at your elbows in that ride photo!  Fix those shoulders!  Now, that's better posture!" before, during and after the season.  She's the best ever, too.

Kelsie was persistent in seeking The Perfect Shoeing arrangement for the Dragon.  Doctor Fehr did chiropractic adjustments and email advisory sessions.

Sandy and Sierra and Sirie (and a few nameless strangers) trotted Fiddle for me at vet checks when my arthritic hip barely allowed me to walk and ride, and when "me running" was not happening.

The entire Pacific NW ride vet community encouraged me and advised me and encouraged me some more, all season long.

My mom clapped and cheered every time I called to tell her about another finish.

And the Standardbred folks (endurance and otherwise) around the country encouraged us too.

It's been fun.

And in 2016, we've signed up to ride a 100-miler...or two...


  1. That is so wonderful! Congratulations to you and Fiddle!

  2. So admirable, what a year! You rock!

    (about the sweet potato at vet checks--how do you take it? I'm newly addicted to sweet potato and want it everywhere always)

  3. Congrats to you and Fiddle and your awesome team of supporters/helpers, etc.! And big kudos to Santa Jim for just being awesome. :-) I hope you have a great 2016 with your big brown mare!

  4. You guys had an awsome year and you totally deserve it!!

  5. I couldn't be prouder of you both. I've seen Fiddle grow and develop from day one... you've both come a long way. Why just this year alone you've come 465 miles! Congratulations my pirate queen friend.

    1. Technically, she did 515 miles for the award--those two LD rides count, too!

  6. Congrats, what a great year! Here is to more fun and healthy miles in 2016!

  7. What a great team you are!! As a former denizen of Issaquah, now in North Carolina, I've had the pleasure of riding with Patricia and Eli. Would that you two meet on the trail some day, that would be a heck of a trot!

  8. Super accomplishment! You worked hard for it & you got it! Congratulations!

  9. Congratulations! I think that is so super you were able to earn this together. What a team!!

    bonita of A Riding Habit

  10. I am sooo proud of both of you! well done and congratulations!


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