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[RC] THE END. TEVIS 2006 - Steph Teeter

From Merri Melde
Endurance Net correspondent
Photographer extraordinaire... 



            What happened to Bill Maiche indeed! Next year maybe there should be the Good Ol? Guy or Gal Award given out at Sunday?s awards. I suggested to Bill that he was the hero of the ride. He brushed that comment off with, ?Well, I don?t know about that?? in his slow drawl. I asked for details but he brushed those off, too, so I got the gist of his adventures from his friend and crew Toni.

Bill and Holy Smoke were trottin? down the Tevis trail having a good time Saturday morning, just another horse and rider of about 200 others when, somewhere between Mile 1 and Robinson Flat, Bill and Smoke became sainted knights in shining armor. One lady rider was having big trouble getting an easy boot on her horse, what with all the other hundred or so horses going by, so Bill stopped to help her with that. Later on, Bill came upon an injured rider ? the rumored injured junior who broke her thumb. Bill stopped to help her with that situation, which took a fair amount time. During this time, Bill ended up taking over sponsorship of this junior ? of course she wanted to continue riding - and another one, a job he was pleased to do. With all the time those events consumed ? and you don?t want to dawdle on the Tevis trail ? that was why Bill rode into Robinson with 3 minutes to spare till the cutoff time. With that close timing, Bill and his two juniors didn?t make it by the cut-off time to Michigan Bluff, so they were pulled.

I asked Bill if he had fun anyway. ?Well, yea, I did. But if I had everything to do over again, I would have done the same thing. Those juniors ? they?re important to the sport. They?re the ones going to be riding 10 years from now.?

Bill was eager to have me meet Holy Smoke. ?You want to see him?? He led me to the stall where Holy Smoke, a little plain dark bay arab with the lower half of his face smeared with a good breakfast, stuck his head over to the door to greet Bill. Bill?s hands are damaged by the accident he had back in 1982, and as he fumbled with the halter, Smoke stopped everything else he was doing, including chewing, to lower his head into the halter, and he held it there until Bill got it buckled.

Bill foaled out Holy Smoke 26 years ago ? you can see the great fondness they have for each other. Bill doesn?t really live anywhere ? he and his horse are pretty much vagabonds, living on the trails together. Did I mention that he and Smoke, back in the older days, were champions ? at reining, cutting, western pleasure, and Smoke is sure enjoying himself now at endurance. Maybe one day they?ll top this sport too?

Eighty-seven riders finished Tevis, out of 196 starters ? only a HOW MANY percent finish rate.

Nick and Don finished right about 4 AM, and Nick just could not express how much he worships his horse. ?You know how when you go fishing, you usually throw back the fish? Well this one?s a keeper.?

Don Bowen?s horse, ?Flying Willy? ? the one who fell off the Tevis trail 4 years ago, completed his first Tevis with riding horse buddy Whyatt ? Whyatt?s 4th completion.

Steve Workman finished with about 10 minutes to spare, though he wasn?t worried about making the finish. ?We had it timed right. There were a few hard spots ? like that last bit coming up out of that canyon from the river, it was dark. We didn?t have any moonlight down there. It was tough, but we had a good ride.?

Barbara White was pulled at Michigan Bluff. What a bummer, but I bet she is already getting butterflies thinking about next year?s attempt at Tevis buckle #28.

Seiichi Hasumi now has only 6 more buckles to go ? he completed his fourth Tevis in as many tries. He still had that big smile on his face at the awards.

Tom and Frank (who was maybe Wayne Newton?s horse) ? first time Tevis starters and finishers! I don?t know about Tom for sure, but his horse Frank has a growing fan club. When I took pictures of Frank trotting out at the Foresthill vet check, one woman crowded the ropes, leaning over, following Frank?s movements, like a swooning fan following a movie star ? only this movie star has 4 legs. ?Can you get me a picture of that horse?? ?Oh, you know Frank? Isn?t he an awesome horse?? I said. Her eyes grew big and she nodded, ?Yeah ? I?m crewing for him. My friend and I told Tom we?d crew for him if he came here, because we really like his horse.?

Well, Frank did his usual great job, and Tom was very happy to go along for the ride on him. Tom confirmed it was a tough ride. ?I think I?m giving him the rest of the season off. He deserves it.? I think that will disappoint many of his fans, but we hope to see Frank on the trail again soon.

I?d guess at least half of the human Tevis finishers each year get a little tear in their eye, or a catch in their throat, when they realize what they and their horses have accomplished. It is a pretty big deal to partner up with a horse that is willing to keep on going, over lots of rocks, up mountains and down canyons and back up canyons, and get you from Robie Park to Auburn, 100 miles away. Of the other half who pretend it?s no big deal, I guarantee you they?ll get a little more animated when they?re talking about this year when this happened on this horse, and that year when that happened on that horse. Get the old Tevis hands going, and I bet you can squeeze out a tear or two.

One special Tevis finisher today, Karlon Oliver, had a strong motive to finish, and I believe left a tear in the eyes of many in the audience. Karlon rode this year?s Tevis to raise money and awareness for Muscular Distrophy, a disease that her son has. ?We should all be grateful that we are able to come here and ride these horses, because some people can?t??

One more thing needs mentioning, and that?s the fine job that everyone does putting on the Tevis ride. A staggering 750 volunteers help with the ride ? that?s bigger than the town I live in in the summers.

The date is already set for next year?s Tevis Cup: July 28. ?See you in Auburn!?