Wednesday, 9 March 2011


It was 8 months that I honoured another guy's ring but it was still hard to hear that Jenny had decided marry her interstate fiance.
Although I was in love with her, I couldn't help but think of Red---what now ?
Jenny wanted to take him with her but I couldn't talk my mate into selling him or giving him to a good home----after all, he was 9 years old and retired from the track.
I left him at Jenny's parents til the day after she left
I couldn't take him back to my mate, so I took him back to my trainers property---I was going to find him a good home, no matter what.

We were breaking-in two young horses that had been sent to us----our normal slow quiet process involved tying the youngsters alongside an older horse working in the cart and getting them used to the cart, the track and a horse right next to them.
Our biggest problem was that every horse we had in work, had some sort of problem and it would not be the greatest idea to lead a youngster from their shafts.---so I put old Red in the cart and took him out on the track to see how he behaved.
Compared to every other horse I had driven, he was a Rolls Royce--he answered ever call I made on him with voice or rein---I was in awe of this big red horse who had not been in a cart for nearly two years.
He was fantastic with the young horses--so patient with their buffeting and pushing but all of the time, proudly striding along.

I couldn't stop working him every day even after the youngsters were well and truly broken in----there was only one horse left to work so I was harnessing old Red for his outing when the stable foreman said he would like to drive him and I should take the other horse.
We jogged down to the track together and did our warm up two laps side by side---I moved into the lead and started to work the other horse into a full speed work out---I was expecting to pass old red as I lapped him but I looked over my shoulder and he was right on my back---I couldn't believe he was working at that pace especially without proper trotting shoes but I couldn't worry about him---I had the other horse to work--and as we turned into the back straight, I started to urge my horse along to finish his work in a sprint---but I could still hear him---I sprinted my horse to the finish and heard the old horse gallop under the pressure.

He excited me that much that I had trotting shoes put on him a couple of days later.

I went to see my mate to see if he would lease me the horse on a racing lease--he said no but told me that he actually belonged to his mother, so I could ask her.
I knew his mother well and she knew her son, so she said that she would be pleased if I never brought Red home again and offered to draw up the lease papers if I liked to pick them up in two days. Of course I was there to sign the papers but she then said something strange--"That will be $50.00 please"---now you don't normally pay for a lease other than a fee for registering it with the trotting authorities and an agreed percentage of any prize money won back to the owner---but I didn't mind and gave her the $50.00 and was on my way to the Authority Office-----
I didn't even check the papers, just signed them and handed them in. The office girl said "$50.00, that's cheap"---I laughed and said "well I've never paid for a lease before"---she said "lease, this is a sale---you now own him"---I looked at the registration certificate and admit there was a tear in my eye---he was mine.

I could have sent him to Jenny but he had been back with me for 4 months and I really loved that old horse----he turned 10 years old and I started to doubt what I was doing but my trainer encouraged me by saying "Don't tell him and he will never know--you have him looking and feeling like a 5 year old"---she was right, he was magnificent.
A friend of mine had raced a pacer which just couldn't win a race and had converted him back to a trotter--(trotters are born, pacers are made)--very few pacers know how to pace til you hobble then and teach them the gait. Any way, he was telling me how fast this horse was going and asked me to come and watch him work---I wasn't being cruel when I told him that his horse was not fast enough and that I could beat him with a 3/4 fit old red off their automatic handicap marks---the challenge was on---really I shouldn't have done it because Red had won 14 races and off automatic handicaps, he had to give the other horse 140 metres start---my trainer was not impressed but told me to go ahead--it would give me a real feel of where we were as far as race speed was concerned.
I had to travel old red 200 kilometres to the country track---I thought it was just my friend and I in a match race but there was 8 other horses there and it was a full race trial.
The Authority race steward asked me who was driving Red---I told him that I was only there for track work against a friend and was not prepared to let anyone there to drive him---he laughed and said "Neither would I--and as you are starting 140 behind the front and 110 behind the nearest horse, I'll let you drive him"--hey, I don't have a trotting driver's licence.----
The barrier strands went back---well at least theirs did---they didn't have one for a 140 handicap, so I had a guy to yell go.
Old Red fired into a trot and started chasing like a greyhound--I had to ease him not to break his heart in the first lap but we had passed two horse that had galloped out of the race----half way through the second lap we were up behind another horse that had obviously made a mistake in the run but was trotting pretty well---it gave me a chance to let the old bloke have a bit of a rest but it wasn't long before he was telling me he wanted to go, so we set off after them---with a lap to go we were on the tail of the field and probably only 40 metres from the leader---I wasn't going to push the old bloke to hard but I eased him out three wide and he started his trek around them--I eased as I got along side my friend and asked him how he was going--the look on his face was priceless and he hit his horse with his whip--the horse went into a gallop as he fell further back in the field----I had nothing to prove to anyone so I just let Red have his head--we were third turning for home but the leaders were too far ahead for me to think about--but not Red--it was like he changed gear as he set out after them---no, we didn't win, but we were only beaten by less than a metre
I could not be prouder of him and I think he was proud of himself----we stayed at my friends place for a few hours and Red had a big lunch and a good afternoon sleep before we headed home----my friend retired his horse.

I raced Red vary sparingly over two seasons, with plenty of spells in between---he started eleven times for me--he won 4 races and was placed at the other 7---he won at his last start and was 12 years old.
I had every intention of giving him a home for life but he got bored very quickly and he could jump and I mean jump big fences.
I got back from a two week holiday to a problem---my trainer said that he went missing out of his paddock one day---they could't find him but he was back in the paddock at night---and it kept on happening---they had not caught him going but had caught him comming home.
I let him out in his paddock and hid back near the stables--he watched and once he thought he was clear, he jumped the front fence a headed down the road---I followed in my car and saw him jump into a paddock----there he was with a mare and her foal--and he was babysitting the foal---I went up to the house and was pleased that I knew the owner---he laughed and had no problem with Red being there but was worried like me, that he was comming down the road.
For his own safety, I had to lock him up in a big yard.

A lovely old volunteer lady at work asked if I knew where she could get a cheap horse for her grand daughters---they lived on a rural farm and had one horse between the two of them.
I was hesitant but told her that they should come and meet Red and me the next time they were in town---she arranged it for that weekend---they were really nice polite kids--the oldest was 15---she loved Red from the minute she met him and he followed her like a dog---she took him for a ride and even let her little sister have a turn.
I said that the next weekend I would come to their property to check it out and that they should seriously think about having a horse that big.
Their place was perfect and the stable, yard and paddock that they had ready was wonderful---and yes, both girls wanted a big red horse----their other horse, a medium sized Arab gelding was in very good condition, well fed, well groomed and happy---I invited the girls down for the next day with Red---they loved him and helped out with the other horses---they were happy to get into all of the dirty work.
When their parents arrived, I told them that I couldn't sell Red to them--there was sad faces everywhere---but I told them that I would deliver him the next weekend and they could keep him for as long as they wanted him---but I would check on him from time to time--and if anything went wrong with him, he was still mine and had to come home to me---.
I did check on him fairly regularly for 5 years and decide that they loved him as much as I did---it was funny that he was still my boy whenever I arrived---he would call out to me.
The last time I visited I said that they should remember that he was still my responsibility, and they shouldn't hesitate to contact me when anything happened--he was 18 and even though in good condition, time wasn't on his side.

Well it was actually---there it was in the paper in the horses for sale section---an obituary---To my darling Red Heart 35 years old. I will love you forever. Thank you for being in my life. Michelle.
I could still shed a tear for him.

Oh, and Jenny---well her marriage lasted about 9 years---but I was married by then---she married again and I got divorced---she was diagnosed with MS and she and her husband moved to a warmer climate---she has always kept in touch---
Her husband cannot understand that her MS doesn't allow her to do a lot of things, but she tries---she is a fighter---oh, and so is he---it looks like their marriage is over.
She may be back soon

Oh, and thank you Red Heart for letting me be part of your life---I will never have a more courageous horse.


Dutch Sugar Babe said...

A sweet ending for a one-of-a-kind horse. He lived a good life. Hope Jenny has found some peace and tranquility in her life.

Clyde said...


He was one of a kind--he gave me more respect for horses--he gave me a passion to try to help other horses.
Never sure about Jenny, but I have a feeling that she might be here soon

Ponita in Real Life said...

A fantastic life for a horse that no one thought would amount to anything! How happy that must have made you!

And here's hoping Jenny is there soon... and that all will be well.

Clyde said...


I think his origonal owners knew he had plenty of ability, but they weren't prepared to let him do it his way.
Everything about him was a joy in my life.
It's all up to Jenny

Anonymous said...

you are in the wrong profession you could make a living as an author. I will tell the story of young quinn soon TonyB

Clyde said...

Tony B

Thank you---if I was to tell the whole story, it could be a short tale of its own---even how we found that he couldn't wear trotting hind boots and after trying everything found that he was comfortable wearing a single polo boot----people used to say "Hey, you've lost a boot" and we always replied "No, we found one"
I look forward to your Young Quinn story

Jules said...

This would be a great Disney movie!!

I have a swelling with pride feeling, I love Red too, and I never knew him.. but feel I do.

I have an ex pacer, Jack, 7 year old gelding, was left in a paddock to rot away after he only won one race.... now he is finally getting his condition back he has turned from the most mellow moochy horse to this fired up full of attitude wee beast. Even tried to front foot my neighbour the other day, and she is an extremely experienced horse woman..... he is a forever though, no way I'll give up on this boy after all the work I've put in to get him back some spirit.

Clyde said...


It is wonderful to see them get their spirit back.
I will never understand anyone who will not do their best for any animal in their care
I bet your boy knows he has a good life---thank you

Jimmy said...

It took me a while to claw back some of the quality blogs I once perused, but it was worth it.

Nice touch.

Clyde said...


Good to see you are back--I hope life is good for you.
Once you read those quality blogs, come on back, I'll still be here


What a heartwarming story, especially that you'd not sell him to keep your rights to protect him if needed[huge kiss for that, Clyde] and for the girl who adored him throughout his long life enough to place an obit for him.

It's lovely to know in this day and age where animals are subjected to such cruelty, that people like you and that girl exist for our four legged friends.

Clyde said...


I never think that they belong to me--they just belong with me----I just have to work out who is in charge of who and who is running who's life

Ms Scarlet said...

I missed this last installment. Have now read it through and have tears on my cheeks.

Clyde said...

Miss Scarlet

He often made me cry--but we did our best for each other