You've got the lower gears, which are naturally slower. Then you've got the higher gears which, hopefully smoothly, accelerate speeds all the way through overdrive and double overdrive.
Cindirelli had her first official work yesterday (March 5, 2009).
|Horse name||Runnin Dirty|
|Track||Glenwood Training Center|
With a fused ankle and plenty of opposite hoof support via wedge and raised shoes, I've attempted to help make her movements smoother and easier.
Did it work? I certainly hoped so. While her prior, at the time, untended, injuries have obvious forever effects that will always be visible, the thought and hope was that they would nonetheless not be a hindrance to her talents.
The Amazing Filly went out to the track for the first time since her arrival and rehab, to be allowed to go fast. Her own personal stretch of Autobahn awaited.
Armed with my stopwatch, I walked up to the track, frantically yelling at cowboy to tell me where we were starting off from and stopping. My heart was pounding with a ferocity I hadn't experienced since the first time I took a horse to the paddock for a race. In the back of my conscious mind, little voices were chanting not in tandem with what should have been a focus on only positive thinking. The ever present worry to keep my charges safe, in some instances, from themselves was overpowering in a way I didn't think was coherently possible at this point.
Don was out on the track harrowing the inside lanes. Being one of Cindirelli's biggest fans, this wonderful old gent has consistently been a witness to her progresses and triumphs.
The training center was pretty much deserted at this point, save for a handful of people in my close circle I consider everyday friends.
I walked up to the gap where Don had pulled the tractor, my throat dry and parched, my blood pressure surely going through the roof. While I looked up to the tractor's cab with Don seated inside, he simply smiled down on me and winked- a small but reassuring gesture, that still failed to calm the storm within my being.
My hands were shaking in the 60 degree late afternoon as I watched my "problem child" warm up with a jog and then a half mile gallop. She's not perfect. She has an awful way of going in certain instances.
Memories of Cowboy's comments over the last months coming back with her from the track and thundering on about the cripple she is, the arguments in contention never ending between us until I methodically proved to him my knowledge about her soundness, or lack thereof, was solid and correct, rushed through me.
The ugly, nagging voice of doubt that every human, no matter how positive, has within them reared its head and a terrifying thought that this work may make her or quite literally, break her, resulted in my near dizziness with fear for her safety.
No, it's not normal for most trainers to feel this way. But then, I'm not most trainers. If, God forbid, one of my horses were to ever break down on the track, I would undoubtedly be the fool human running through rails and masses of people to get to my charge- praying at a high pitched scream "God please let her be ok, please let her be ok".
The heart break involved with going through such a tragedy isn't something I ever want to have to confront or endure.
Cindirelli gallops her warm-up, obviously not liking staying on her right lead, she keeps switching back to the left. An anomaly, truly, considering that the way she feels on the left lead is hard and rough- it is, after all, her "funky" leg. One would think that it should be easier for her to be on her left lead. For reasons unknown and not to be understood through scientific reasoning, she insist on doing things her way- in this case, choosing to lead with the very limb that had been so very traumatized in several places in her past.
As she approaches the quarter pole, Cowboy asks her for speed.
Watching this process is quite entertaining- she perks up and immediately throws her ears back and forth. The expression is one of unsureness- are you asking I go faster? Really? Is this a trick?
For all this time, she was never asked for speed such as this to constitute a work. Far from it, she has tried on numerous occasions to run off and fly, all to no avail and much to her chagrine.
This is different. Really? Speed? He asks again.
The girl takes off like a bat out of hell. Her rear lowers and her front stretches- it's the proverbial greyhound hunching its back, reaching under itself to propel itself forward to catch the rail rabbit. It takes only a second for her to accelerate and once she is in stride- on the far side of the track, with the rail and infield obstructing my view to watch for gait fluidity, I think to myself- did I start the watch?? A quick glance confirms that, indeed, my finger hit that button and the clock is running.
Coming up on the far turn, Don and I both look like tennis spectators, our heads following her progress in unison and coming through that turn, I realize I am chanting breathlessly, my mouth dry and voice raspy, over and over and over, a steady and desperate mantra I hope shoots straight up to the heavenly gardens of the Man in Charge: "Safe and sound, safe and sound, safe and sound, safe and sound...."
The most amazingly smooth galloping horse is tearing around the turn now coming into the stretch - her fluidity of movement unrivalled by the majority of horses that frequent our training surface daily.
Who is this horse???? Is it possible? How can this be? There is not a single wrong step, not a single out of tune move, she glides over the deep ground as her body reminds of an aerodynamically designed missile, shooting forward ever faster and smoother. If there is a perfect synch to her existence, this moment is it. Gone are the worrisome unwieldy movements that intersperse her daily gallops and jogs, THIS is a different horse. THIS is a Goddess in her element. THIS is what she was meant to do and the Higher Powers saw fit to leave her with just this very talent, unimpeded, uninterrupted, fully intact and completely functional in a perfect string of fluidity and grace, THIS, her birthright.
I realize my mouth is open and I am still chanting, a croak now caused by the drying air into my lungs. I hit the stopwatch at 3F and glance down- 39 and change- a rock solid performace for our surface that has bullets at 38.
She gallops out to 5 furlongs, jogs down, turns around and jogs back with the same grace and fluidity evidenced in her work, her ears pricked, her head high and proud and even from this distance, I can see the utter happiness in her expression.
I look up at Don in the tractor's cab and his grin goes from ear to ear, the smile completely encompassing his face and the look in his eyes rivaling mine with pride and utter joy at having witnessed this amazing moment that lasted for less than 40 seconds, yet seemed to justify a lifetime.
"Oh, Honey, she looked amazing! She looked so good!" And he winks at me.
I run back to the barn to get ready her bath buckets and finish up her stall. I'm giddy with excitement and utterly stunned at what just transpired.
Moments later, I hear Cowboy riding back into the barn, quiet and not a song on lips (unheard of!). I blabber something incoherent, wanting to hear his response, his opinion, the final verdict from the guy I trust enough to put on my horses since I can no longer do the job myself.
"Holy Shit, girl. THIS is the BEST friggin horse in your barn!"
Is it Christmas? Was this my birthday? Am I going to awaken and this was just a dream?
Cindirelli is mighty proud of herself and as it turns out, now quite full of herself, as I walk her around the shedrow to cool her down. She drinks not a single drop of water. She is jumping around happily at the end of the shank, coming past horses in their stalls and showing off to each and every one. We come back around to Piranha, her stall neighbor, his head is out and he is nickering at her encouragingly. My horses are all watching and nickering at her when we pass by. They KNOW. They are proud. They are tickled and happy. This is their homegirl and she just experienced a personal triumph.
Doodle and Spicey are both wide eyed and nodding their heads at her. Nickering softly.
I suspect it translates into something like: You go gurl!
The Amazing Cindirelli did it again. She blew me away, once again, surprising me and showing me to trust her, always always trust her because she knows what she is capable of.
The reassurance when these occasions arise is utterly simple and hard core in its statement:
Trust me! Stop worrying! Hear what I'm saying- I am my own best judge.
As I get her through her bath, it dawns on me:
Cindirelli has transmission problems. Her lower gears are grindy here and there and will never again be like new. But those higher gears and overdrives, by God, they work like they are factory warrantied.
Who would have thought that racehorses can be so much like cars?