Thursday, January 10, 2013

What could have been

There have been many times over the last couple of years when I've wondered what it would have been like if I'd gotten Calabar right off the track instead of a few years later. Would it have been better? Worse? Harder? Easier? Watching Katie with Forrest, I thought maybe it would have been less challenging to transition Calabar, less time for him to have decided he was retired before I started asking him to work again.

It only looks like jail, Dixie.
Getting to know Dixie is altering that perception just a little bit. Dixie is a racehorse in mind, body and spirit. She is a racehorse cooped up in a stall right now, but she is still a racehorse. Forrest was not a racehorse and his energy, while not damped in any way, is totally different.

Calabar was a racehorse, too. He knew what it was like to dig in and pass all the competition, what it was like to stand in the winner's circle basking in the glow of victory and have your picture taken. But after his last race, he had time off in a good-sized paddock--time to come down from the track and heal physically from his bowed tendon, time to move stiff muscles about and figure out his body in fresh air and open spaces.

Dixie still has the track energy inside--the electricity flowing under her skin--and is confined to a stall that doesn't really give her enough room to let any of it out. For all of that, she is good around humans. She feels your energy in a physical way--you don't have to touch her to move her away from you, just push air at her. In that, she is better than Calabar. He would push his big body into your space, shoulder you out of the way, where Dixie will usually bounce sideways away from you.

But that spark, that drive to move, the itch under her skin you can almost see? That is like my horse. It is what makes him do airs above the ground on cold winter evenings when it's been too muddy to romp in his paddock. It's what bursts out in him with bucks and farts and squeals and impressive leaps over the same obstacles he trips over when he's being lazy.

It is what makes him Calabar, what makes my breath catch in my throat just watching him fly.

I am supremely grateful I have (knock wood) not yet had to confine my big brown horse to a stall. Not sure either the stall or Calabar would survive the experience and am pretty sure neither would make it through unscathed.

I know Dixie will get there. She will heal from the hairline fracture and be able to frolic and buck and fart and squeal--I really can't wait to see it. We just have to get through the next month or so of stall rest where the itch under her soft brown coat must be truly unbearable some days.

Napping in the wide open muddy paddock is a good thing for ex-racehorses
We can do this, Dixie Girl. And Calabar will be waiting to show you the ropes when you're out of jail.


lmel said...

What an awesome description of the coiled energy in a Thoroughbred, retired from the track or not--love it!

Unknown said...

I LOVE the buck and fart. It is the best.

Marissa said...

Hi! I'm a new reader.

I'm currently leasing a mustang pony that is VERY similar in temperament to a thoroughbred, so I definitely know what you mean!