Whitehall, Montana —
Four months to the day after Gary Riddle’s near fatal train/pickup accident, the heart of “Team Riddle” — those of us who routinely attend field trials as a group — was back together for the first time this year at the Missouri Headwaters field trial in Whitehall, Montana. And what a reunion it was!
On January 19th, while training in Texas at Amelia Greene’s Bad Habit Gundogs, I received the following text message from my friend Kevin Martineau: “I just heard that Gary Riddle was struck by a train today and is in critical condition.” My heart sank. After nearly 20 years of rural EMS, I knew that there was little chance that Gary could survive. But survive he did! Even when both his neuro and thoracic surgeons also held out little hope during the first few hours and days.
To say that Gary is “a trooper” would surely be quite the understatement. He loves what he does and his clients are like family — some of the really good people in the field trial game. And his focus, right after his own family, was on getting back to his first love — training and handling Springer and Cocker Spaniels in field trials.
I think everyone at the trial, including those of us who know Gary best, were all amazed at how much stamina he has regained. He handled eight all-age dogs on Friday and six on Sunday placing 4th with my dog, Keeper, on Friday. That 4th place effort qualified Keeper for his fourth and final North American National Championship for 2023 — a tremendous accomplishment. And I had just brought him back to Gary the evening before from 5-1/2 months of training and trialing him in the south, mid-west, and mid-east! Gary and Keeper definitely “click”!
There are two more trials for Gary and his dogs before the long summer break — both in Alberta in June. I look forward to joining Gary at the Calgary Club trial and running Keeper in the Amateur between the two Opens that Gary will run. And then I can hardly wait for the fall when I know Gary will be feeling even better!
The video below shows Keeper’s entire 3rd series at Missouri Headwaters with Gary — a flyaway followed by a nice flush and retrieve.
Great article. So glad he made it and that you could write such a tribute.