Last night, I volunteered to do night check at the barn, as I had time to kill before picking the BF up from soccer (sometimes I try to be a good girlfriend and arrive early to watch some of the action, but I feel about amateur soccer the way a non-rider feels about watching Training Level dressage tests: OVER IT.) I thought I’d give you a tour of the some of the horses that remain at home while the A-team is on the road at the horse shows. It’s a pretty illustrious gang, all in their late teens: between them, they have jumped a LOT of big fences! Think of the stories they could tell…
First, Larry, the king of the barn, my trainer’s most recent Grand Prix horse, who was packing a junior around the 1m10s this spring before injury caught up with him. Larry is the coolest horse: he has a number of GP victories under his belt; for an upper-level jumper, he’s pretty straightforward to ride; and he’s also extremely mischievous. (He once escaped his stall while I was throwing him hay at night check. How does a 16.3-hand horse escape out of a gap the width of two flakes of hay?!) Larry has been to the Canadian Championships, the International Ring at Spruce Meadows, and a Nations Cup in Argentina, where he earned my trainer her first Team Canada red coat. Now he mostly causes trouble for whoever is assigned to flat him.
Then there’s Cash, my trainer’s first Grand Prix horse! I had the privilege to ride Cash a bit in university; he is the most responsive horse I’ve ever sat on. I felt like I could jump the moon on him. He is a terror out in the field (most of the time, he shares a pasture with Schmoodle, who he alternates between loving on and bullying) but a total gentleman under tack. He has also shown his share of young riders the ropes in the 1m15-and-under divisions, but is now permanently retired.
Eddie – another ex-GP horse who was imported from Italy where he did the 1m50. I also rode Eddie quite a bit back in 2009 – man, he was really tricky. My trainers’ assistant showed him in the 1m20 one year; they would literally either win or get stopped out. I think Eddie had a bit of tough life before coming to us, and he still has a couple of screws loose. Eddie also lives in Schmoodle’s field and ALWAYS wants to come in and be ridden. In fact, one day a beginner student on the university equestrian team that’s based at our barn mistook Eddie for one of the school horses, brought him in and started getting him ready. Luckily they caught her mistake before she got on – she would have been in for the ride of her life!
Pete was imported by Eric Lamaze and was meant to be a Young Riders/1m40 horse. Alas, his owner quickly discovered that he hates horse shows and is another one of those win-the-class-or-fall-off-at-the-first-fence types. Pete will jump around at the top of the standards at home but refuses to play at the shows – even our in-barn Nations Cup was too stressful for him. He is an awesome teacher at home, though – I rode him a lot before Schmoodle was in the picture. He’s super fine-tuned on the flat and has the best hind end over fences I’ve ever felt (I can barely stick his jump – it’s like a bouncy ball.) He packs the university team kids around all day, though if you’re not careful you’ll end up ass over teakettle as he shows off his white belly spot – he packs a bit of a buck. He’s been ouchy all summer so we’re not sure if he’s also headed for retirement.
“And me,” says Schmoodle. “I am fabulous.”
We’ve had two great rides since our unscheduled dismount. I used my favourite bending and balance switchbacks four-jump exercise last night – he was basically perfect in one direction and only needed two repetitions the other way. I’ll take that as an apology.