The Tale of Two Sisters, Part I
This month’s grueling Tevis Cup endurance horse race is more than just an athletic challenge for Montana City resident, Bobbie Pomroy. By riding in the 100-mile competitive trail ride, she will fulfill a promise she made four years ago to her dying sister and closest friend, Wanda Miller.
Miller, 55, formerly of Fairfield, was training her horse, Hopper, for the Tevis Cup when she was diagnosed with cancer. The last week of her life, hospice caretakers gave the sisters, who grew up in Dillon, a book to write down their special memories. Miller became distraught as she talked about her horse and her dream of racing in the Tevis Cup.
“I’m going to cry when I talk about this,” Pomroy said. “But that was the one thing she wanted to do in her lifetime. And she knew she wasn’t going to get to do it.”
So she said she made her sister a promise.
“I’ll get your horse to the Tevis Cup. Don’t worry.”
Her promise lightened the mood for a moment and made her sister laugh. “She reminded me of what a horrible rider I was,” Pomroy said. “She thought it was funny. I didn’t know anything about horses. She was always the rider and I was always the runner.”
A LEG UP
Pomroy, 58, is no stranger to endurance sports. She and her husband, Jim Pomroy, have competed in ultra-marathons all over the country. In 1989, they founded one of Montana’s main ultra-marathons, the Elkhorn Mountain Endurance Run.
Miller was often Pomroy’s support crew during her ultra-marathons, including the 100-mile Western States Endurance Run.
“In 1984 when I was running my first Western States 100, my sister and family crewed for me,” Pomroy explained. “That’s where Wanda learned about the Tevis Cup. The horse race covers the exact same trail we run on. The Tevis became her dream.”
After that, Miller started riding her quarter horses in endurance events. She could complete the rides but was unable to compete. Arabian horses dominate in the sport. She and her husband, Bill Miller, eventually bought a gray yearling Arab from a horse farm in Hamilton. At the time, they were managing a ranch near Emigrant. They brought the mare home and began training her. This horse was to be her ticket to the Tevis Cup.
“Wanda named her Hopper for a reason,” Pomroy said. “She would do these incredible jumps and unpredictable leaps to the side and about dump you. You could hardly ride her at 4 years old.”
Miller completed one 50-mile endurance ride on Hopper before she was diagnosed in the summer of 2000 with adenocarcinoma, a lung cancer that can occur in nonsmokers. She died five months later at their home in Fairfield.
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