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September 15, 2020

Category: Mongol Derby

Keep on keepin’ on

 

Lucy Taylor ~ “It was Day 3, we had rolled into horse station seven the night before and we were shattered. Jimbo and I had made it through a hurricane of biblical winds and joined up with Paul Richards on our last leg of the day. We were sore… really sore, so we decided to walk the last leg. I don’t think I have laughed harder than I did during that leg. Paul was recounting stories, Jimbo was trying to control his blue-eyed steed, and I was trying to keep up on my paint horse. We waddled into camp just before dark, exhausted but in good sprints. Before we did anything else, we scoped out the horses for the next day and I chose mine within seconds. An averaged sized appaloosa with blue eyes… I was sold. The herder was adamant it was a great choice but Jimbo had his doubts.

The next morning we headed out for day four of the race, me proudly sitting astride my perfect spotty horse while Paul (who had officially become our Derby dad) and Jimbo laughed at how my pink jacket clashed with my multi-coloured steed. We were off to a good start when suddenly Spot (yes that is what I affectionately dubbed him) started lagging behind. After half an hour of this we made the decision for Jimbo and Paul to head on without me, Jimbo had a penalty and was going to have to wait it out a couple of stations ahead which gave me time to coax Spot on at a slower pace. So there I was, alone for the first time in the race, watching my teammate slowly disappear over the horizon. “I’ve got this” was all I kept saying in my head. It turns out I didn’t have this: as soon as Jimbo was out of sight, Spot reared up and we went over backwards. Luckily I’d jumped to the side when I felt him going over, and I held onto my long rein for dear life in case he got up and bolted. He didn’t, but he didn’t seem right either. I called for backup and help arrived in the form of medic Andrei, event manager Erik, and vet Caroline. Caroline assessed Spot and gave him some fluids to be on the safe side. Erik offered to drive me to the next station so I could continue my race and meet up with Jimbo, but since horses always come first, I opted to stay with Spot. I stood with his head on my shoulder while we boosted him with fluids. He eventually perked up and Caroline cleared Spot and said she would return him to his owner.  I said my goodbyes and then jumped in Erik’s van and took off.

When we reached the next horse station, to my astonishment there was a stocky, chocolate brown horse waiting for me. It was getting very close to the end of the day and I didn’t have much time to try to catch up with Jimbo. Vet Cozy told me to go now and go fast, so I took off. My steed (who I named Wombat) was one of the finest and fastest horses I rode in the entire race and he galloped the entire 40kms, not even wanting to slow down. We walked the last 300m into the station where Wombat came in with a heart rate of 34.

After Wombat was turned out, I waltzed over to the officials to try and get information about Jimbo. One of the event managers told me with a straight face he wasn’t there. My heart dropped. How on earth was I going to do the rest of the race by myself? Hell, I barely made it through the last two legs. I was battling through the emotions, trying not to cry. Chad the cameraman, recording my reaction, asked if I was okay with Jimbo leaving. “It’s a bit of a dog act wouldn’t you say?” said Chad. I calmly said “No, it’s fine” even though it wasn’t. I was trying so hard not to cry when suddenly out of nowhere, out bounced Jimbo. He had the biggest smile and said “Of course I wouldn’t go on without you!” Well, what do you think I did? I punched him, that’s what. This master plan had been concocted while I had traipsed across the steppe by myself and I was not happy. And yes, it was all caught on camera. After forgiving Jimbo and the entire crew, we had a hearty dinner and an amazing sleep.

The next day, it was time to get moving so we went out to pick our horses. Once again it was love at first sight: the cutest little palomino was staring straight at me. That was it – I was sold. The herder offered to get on this little pumpkin for me. I thought “Great! This is brilliant!” The herder mounted the horse no problem, but when I went to get on – BOOM! It was like a fireworks display, and I was gone, flipped over the front. Then the horse spun around and stepped on my arm. I literally saw stars. Everyone was rushing over, either trying not to laugh at or acting genuinely worried. Jimbo just looked down right pissed off. He obviously couldn’t believe I had the audacity to get bucked off. Anyway, dreamy Andrei from The Intrepid Medics checked me over and discovered that my poor tricep was obliterated. It was already swollen, hanging down like tuck shop lady arm, and had the beginning of a bruise. He told me I should retire. I looked him dead in the eye and told him my family probably wouldn’t take me back me if I dropped out, so we had to do something. We strapped it, Andrei gave me some painkillers, and I was set. Jimbo wasn’t, however. Attempting to show me that this palomino devil was fine to ride, he had gotten on it. I heard laughing and turned around just in time to see Jimbo flying through the air. It was settled: I needed a new steed. A brown stallion was chosen and he nursed me through the hardest leg of the race. I was in pain and riding with my bad arm stuck up underneath my pack to stop it bouncing around, but this guy didn’t put a foot wrong. It was a tough day, but we got three legs done and I carried a bruise that up until that day was the biggest in Derby history.”