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.
Mandy Jansen Van Doorn
East Meets West
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
|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...