Monday, October 27, 2008

All horses go to heaven, right?

It's friggin cold!!!! I'm freezing! Who ordered this weather anyway?
The gang all loves this. Doodle was at his best today, only he didn't try to dump Cowboy. I suspect that is because Cowboy is sick with a really bad cold. Doodle knows what's on his back. He won't endanger a rider.

The wind was whipping around the barn at 20+ mph, the temps were in the low 40's and by the time I left, I actually put blankets on everyone.

Ladybug is gearing towards a big race on Friday. Entries are tomorrow. It's a 6F Maiden Special Weight at Churchill Downs. I realized while talking to her owner yesterday that I fully expect her to kick serious ass and it never occurred to me that she might not win.

Now, that's a little bizarre, since usually when you are entering a horse, you might have a pretty good feeling that the horse will probably do well for you, but just to take it off the top like that..?

We're going in to Churchill for a last work- a nice little 3F "blowout" - get some air in her. I won't work them at the training center, the track is horrid.

As cold as it is right now, and tonight it's supposed to freeze, tomorrow morning is going to be absolutely miserable. Get up at 4:30 a.m., get her ready and loaded at 6:30 a.m., haul over to CD, all of this when it's REALLY cold. YUCK!!! Reminds me of racing last winter at Turfway Park.

Anyway, this afternoon, Ladybug went out for an easy 2.5 miles. While heading out of the barn up to the track, she stops. Rick was out there a few moments before just stopping on a horse to head back up to their barn. Big dark bay gelding who belongs to an old guy up the hill at the top barn. Nice old man, nice horse.

Lady wouldn't budge. She turned her neck and head and was looking up the track to the left, her ears playing back and forth, just staring.

Well, Rick was no longer on the horse. Someone was leading the horse, who could not really walk on his right rear leg. Rick had unsaddled him and was toting the tack up the hill, while the other guy was very slowly walking the horse out of the shute off the track.

I thought, oh shit. This isn't good. The way he won't walk on that leg, I hope he didn't break it.
Cowboy says, naw, he seemed to walk sort of still, it's probably not broken.

Lady turned around and continued up the path to the track. As an afterthought, I hollered at Cowboy: " 2-2 and 1- but real nice and easy, ok?" He gave me the thumbs up.

Lady is quite a pro. She knows exactly what she's supposed to be doing out there and relishes every bit of it. She knows she's not supposed to go fast, so she tucks her head in, grabs the bit, leans against it, ears back and I swear all that's missing is the eyes closed. She REALLY wants to go. Just take off and gogogogo. I won't let her. A little speed is ok out there but anything approaching a work speed is bad business on that surface.

She comes back and isn't even breathing. I'm mighty proud of her. I do believe she is set up perfectly for this race on Friday. We work tomorrow, she gets Wednesday off, she repeats Thursday what she did today and Friday she can blow by the competition like they're nothing.

Since it's too cold to bathe anyone, and neither of them are sweating, I just sponged the saddle area and chest a little, threw over a blankie and cooled them out grazing.

We have a vet that comes out to the training center every Monday. He's a track vet. He was making his rounds and I noticed he was at the upper barn when the hurt gelding was coming off the track already. Since I needed to get a health certificate from him for the haul tomorrow, I was hoping to catch him soon without having to outwait everyone else's turn, so that way I could feed and get out on the road before too late.

Another trainer in my barn, Lisa, needed a health certificate for her horse, as well, so she trekked up to the upper barn and offered to pick mine up, as well.

After all the other chores and blanketing everyone (an adventure in itself with 2 horses who had never had blanket on before), I fed, water off, raked the shedrow and was just done putting catfood out for Leo, my blond boyfriend (ok, so he really isn't a boyfriend but a big, huge, long haired apricot cat who adopted me about 2 months ago. He weighs a minimum 20 lbs, easily), I was just about to gather my assistant trainer (Doggins, a 7 year old Rottie who still has his tail) and the little pest (a 7 week old red Aussie puppy Anne, the trainer in back of me, had picked up out of a ditch by the side of the road) when Doc comes walking around the corner.

"Hey, you leaving already? Need anything else?"
I'm usually there until at least 6 p.m. but have been scooting things up a little with winter starting in.
"No, I'm good. Thank you!"

As I walk off, I remember to ask him about the gelding.

"Hey Doc, that gelding who broke down, is he ok?"

Doc looks sad and shakes his head. "No, he's dead. I had to put him down. He shattered his pastern."

A quick, silent prayer that this boy is in a better place now. A guilt-filled thought that, thank God it wasn't one of my horses. My heart goes out to the old guy. He really cared about this horse.

Another quick round through the barn, kissing all my babies goodnight.

Sleep tight.

Don't let the track bugs bite.

Be safe.

See you in the morning.

I love all of you.

3 comments:

Mrs Mom said...

rip big horse...

love that pic of loe! what a ham!!

kiss the crew from me girl

Jenn said...

How sad. That has to be the absolute worst part of working in the racing industry. The worst.

To answer your title: You betcha they do! Every last one of them, without question.

"God forbid that I should go to any Heaven in which there are no horses". ~R.B. Cunninghame Graham, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1917

"The horse is God's gift to mankind." ~Arabian Proverb

Holy Racehorse! said...

I was raised to believe that the horse was given to man as his allie- I can't imagine equating a horse to cattle or anything of the sort. There is a spirit only God could have placed.

It is the worst part of working in racing. It breaks my heart. Every time. You never "get used" to it.