Of Beasts, Moonlight and Maine
Of all the blog posts I’ve set out to write, this one, about Evelyn Baig and Rella has taken me the longest to complete. Full confession—I am a procrastinator! But I swear—in this instance—my tendency to start a project, but not see it through to the end, is not a factor.
What is a factor is that Evelyn and Jeff Baig and their string of horses, just don’t stop! It was in 2014 that Evelyn and Jeff bought a horse that had been trained at the William George Agency for Children’s Services! That mare, GJR Miss Amadeus, was just the beginning. Soon to follow were Denise BF and GJR Obsidian! And then, in 2017, just when Evelyn thought she was all done acquiring horses, she discovered yet another at WGA, GJR Bella Cinderalla.
Rella started her training just like we do all our horses with tons of ground work including lunging and long lining!
A twelve-year old mare at the time, Rella had been raised her entire life on the WGA campus and had been a part of the WGA equine program in a variety of ways, from teaching horse training techniques (such as lunging and long lining) to being used as one of the lesson and recreational trail riding horses for the residents. At the point that Evelyn met her, Rella simply needed a more challenging job!
Rella had led a very sheltered life at WGA, so it was up to Evelyn and Jeff to introduce her to the big, wide world of endurance racing! And just like they did with Miss Dee, Dulce and Dart, they’ve done an amazing job developing Rella. She’s come on fast and is developing into a monster of an endurance horse! By November of 2017, Rella finished 3rd in the 100 mile Carolina ride. She started out 2018 by placing first in the Old Dominion 55 mile No Frills Ride in April.
In June, Evelyn and Rella took on one of the toughest rides in the nation, the Old Dominion 100. Held in June in Virgina, among endurance racers this ride is known as the Beast of the East because of its challenging heat and humidity.
Because Evelyn loves a challenge (or is a glutton for punishment) she made the decision to enter the Old Dominion 100 riding in the Cavalry Division, which means being a crew of one—no pit crew! Everything she needed for the 100 miles, Rella carried and everything that needed done for Rella, Evelyn took care of! Rella and Evelyn not only finished the “Beast of the East”, placing fifth overall, they won the Old Dominion Cavalry Division AND the Old Dominion Award.
The Old Dominion Award is a huge win because it’s basically a Best Conditioned award, but unlike the usual Best Conditioned award which is judged one hour after the ride and by one judge, the Old Dominion award is judged by all five vets the next day, at a time when many horses are much more likely to be showing signs of stiffness and soreness. Rella also earned the High Vet Score for the Old Dominion 100 which is another combined score of all five judges and based upon performance at the vet checks throughout the ride!
Next up, the Vermont 100 Moonlight in Vermont at the end of July, a ride that combines mounted competitors with runners—picture riding through the woods at night with foot traffic! Evelyn swears it’s fun—which may have something to do with good food and “margaritas at Margaritaville”! It was another 100 mile completion for Rella and Evelyn, with a 17th place finish, a placing reflecting the fact that Evelyn made the decision to hold Rella back to monitor a riding partner that wasn’t feeling so well! Another ride where Rella earned the High Vet Score for the ride. By this time, Evelyn became aware of the USA Northeast 100 Mile Challenge—a Triple Crown of Endurance, if you will! Taking on three 100 Mile rides with only five weeks in between, a schedule that goes contrary to the usual regimen for a 100 mile horse. Rella had just completed the first two of the three legs of this challenge!
With only five weeks to go, Evelyn set their sights on the final jewel of this particular “Triple Crown”, the Northeast 100 Mile Challenge in Bruckfield, Maine. Held at the end of August at Jack Farm, this ride is held entirely on the land owned by the Jack Farm owners! Says Evelyn “It’s filled with logging trails, river roads, bridges and up/down grade stretches. Don’t let this ride fool you, it’s a tough ride.” But at the end of this tough 100 miles, Evelyn was collecting yet another trophy for Rella, this time for her 1st first place finish (a tie with) at 100 miles AND again won the Vet High Score for the Ride!
What’s next for Evelyn and Jeff? There’s “Dart” (GJR Obsidian) to continue developing and last year Evelyn discovered that Mike had one more likely prospect for her, a mare named GRJ Salome, a mare that looks so much like Rella as to be a clone (they are distantly related). You probably guessed it — Salome has already started out a star in her limited distance rides this summer, so who knows what next year might bring!