Friday, 4 March 2011


I had been working with a little stallion for over 12 months.
He had been sent to my trainer as a last resort after he had nearly torn his hoof off after rearing up and getting his hoof caught between two cyclone gates.
All veterinary advice had been to put him down but his owner wanted to give him every chance to live----so he arrived at the property unannounced followed by a pleading phone call.
Even if the cheques had stopped coming, I think we would have worked on him---he was a lovely horse with so much guts and seemed to have an understanding of his predicament---he helped us help him.
After nearly 12 months of glued on rubber hoofs, hand made leather hoof boots with rubber souls (thanks to my father's leather work skills) myriads of old witch's potions and a very inventive farrier, we had a very cheeky boy on our hands----and his three times a week swimming exercise had him feeling very well.

I pulled up next to the barn with my car and horse float---I had just been to the pool with the little bloke for his big swim----there was a car up next to the house that I hadn't seen before--it had interstate registration plates---
As I got out of the car, a girl walked up to me and said "I'm glad you're back--we were about to leave--let's see him"
Having never seen her before, I just looked and asked her who she might be and what was she talking about-----
Turned out that her father was the owner of the little stallion and she introduced herself as Jenny.
As I let the tailgate of the float down she said "Watch out--he rushes off---you cant stop him"---
I just chuckled as I swung the back bar across, put my had on his rump and said "Steady son---off you come"---and he backed off slowly, stood on the tailgate and roared like the very fit naughty boy that he was.
He pulled away as she grabbed for his lead rope, snorted and reared up over the top of her----she yelled and ducked as I yelled "Aye, that's enough"---he shook his head, snorted and walked up to me---I turned to she that Jenny was OK----she was standing there smiling---her father was with her---she said "He is a different horse--happy, fit but different"

Jenny kept coming out to the property and even came to the races with us
She had a love for horses and wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty.
It wasn't til we went out to dinner one night that I found out that she was actually engaged to a guy interstate but had come back when her parents moved home to work out if she really wanted to marry him.

It had been about 4 months and we were playing the friends game---she still wasn't sure and I wasn't pushing---but she really wanted a horse to ride---wanted to keep it in a paddock next to her parents house in the hills---but she didn't want to buy a horse and then move away.
I went to see my mate, who had horses everywhere-----he always broke his horses to saddle before breaking them to harness---I asked if he had anything, maybe retired or out spelling that he would let Jenny have for a while.
He laughed and said that my timing was perfect "Here, take that big red bastard--he's good under saddle and he's kicking the place down"

I couldn't help myself---he probably wasn't suitable, but I took him---I knew that if I didn't, he wasn't long for this world.
I worked on him every day keeping him hidden from Jenny's eyes---I didn't want to disappoint her but more, I knew that I would find a home for him sometime.
Away from my mate, treated with kindness and fed like a king, he became a pleasure to be with---he had time every day in a paddock with my broodmare, he had an hour tied up and groomed, he followed as I led him on our daily walk and was happy to be led behind the cart of horses that we were working.
He had an awful reputation for tearing and destroying rugs but if he was going to be paddocked in the hills, he would need the warmth of a rug or two.
I had bought an old industrial sewing machine and a lot of canvas pieces at a property sale and had been repairing all of our old stable rugs---I found a couple of rugs that would fit him---sewed webbing belts with Velcro tabs from front to back and got my dad to make a leather bib with light chain work across the front
It was almost like a straight jacket when I put it on him and strapped him in--the bib went across the front and strapped back to the rug---and I stabled him for the night.
I watched his contortionist act while we fed all of the other horses but he gave up and headed for his manger as soon as his feed was poured in----I left him alone for about an hour and went back to give him an armful of hay to keep him occupied.
I couldn't be there in the morning--had to work---but I got a call to tell me that he still had his rug on----he wore it like that for a week, even out in his yard til I changed it---I took off the webbing straps so he could get to the sides of the rug--he left it alone---so I took off the bib and got the same result.

I had long since lost my balance for riding---don't know what it was, but I was not comfortable in the saddle any more. I went to bring big red out of his day paddock to stable him for the night---I don't know why, but we were just walking along the fence line and I walked up a strainer post and slipped onto his back---there was no flinch, no nothing---he just kept walking to the gate.
He surprised me as he backed away from the gate as I undid the chain---let the gate swing clear and walked through heading for the stable---
No sooner had my old trainer yelled "what the hell are you doing" than I was on my arse on the ground with old red looking me in the face---
It was my fault--no bridle, no saddle, no balance and the stable dogs chased chickens out through the door---red only ducked, but I didn't--I was just far too impressed with myself to think---not something you should do around horses.

He was ready---I was confident in him
I knew Jenny would be there in the next 30 minutes---I borrowed a riding saddle and bridle from my trainers daughter----I had to let every strap out to almost full length---he was a big boy.
I brushed him out to look his best, saddled him up and had him tied to the rail when Jenny arrived.
I was harnessing a horse to work when she came over to the rail--we talked for a while---she kept looking at big red and finally she said "He's a nice boy. Who does he belong to ?"
"Oh, him, he's yours"
It didn't sink in at first but then it was all smiles---OK, and kisses---she raced back to her car and grabbed her riding helmet.
She looked to me for a leg up, but I told her that if she was going to take him home, she had better work out her mounting for herself---there was a scowl, a chuckle, a yes well and she scrambled onto his back, adjusted her irons and away they went.
I've never been sure of who enjoyed themselves more but they were both fairly tired when I saw them about 3 hours later.

Thus started a love affair---oh, and I was there too


Anonymous said...

poetic Tonyb

Clyde said...

Tony B

I guess I'll have to finish the story sometime soon

Anonymous said...

you better I could tell you about the time as a kid I rode the sulky behind young quinn.

Dutch donut girl said...

I love your horse stories.
Keep them coming :)

Clyde said...


I would like to hear about that---I went to the Interdominion championships at Alexandra Park to see Youn Quinn race---a great series---was going to Christchurch this year but it has been shifted

Clyde said...


I loved my life with horses--
Oh, and I love having you back--just wish you would allow comments

Scarlet Blue said...

I want more horse posts too. Actually I want to see the film of this!

Clyde said...

Miss Scarlet

I have to tell you the end of this one first
Well, to tell you the truth, it hasn't ended yet

phishez said...

Aw Clyde, you know how to make me smile.


Clyde said...


Yes, I know, but don't tell everyone

Danielle said...

What an awesome story! How long did she have him? How long did she stick around?

Clyde said...


Well I guess that is all part three of the story---I should write that this week---maybe

Jules said...

Maybe it's because my heart is a bit raw at the moment but this was lovely to read and my eyes were quite teary..... never even knew you worked with horses Clyde.

Clyde said...


I never counted it as work--it was pleasure.
Hey, I owned a horse in my trainers stable and just couldn't stop going there before work, after work and every weekend and holiday