This weekend is my one-month anniversary with Tiz a Knight, my 7 year-old gelding who is the son of the legendary Breeder’s Cup Classic-winning stallion Tiznow (more on the impressive family tree in another post. With every ride, I find more reasons to love this horse.
Why I’m Loving This Horse
Last week it was the fact that when a motorcycle came screaming down the road right next to the arena while we were cantering a 20 meter circle, he just kept going. No muss, no fuss. No quickening of pace, no spook.
The first time I rode him at home, it was night. I rode Knight at night. One arena light flickered on and off. This was of no concern to him. And the two little rabbits that scampered around looking for stray hay were in plain view a few feet outside of the arena. He seemed oblivious to the furry creatures.
Today’s excitement was a small brush fire a few miles away from the barn. I wasn’t aware of the fire until I mounted. While settling into the saddle I noticed a plume of thick smoke in the east. Sirens of firetrucks chorused. I called out to M, the other rider in the ring, asking if she knew what was going on. We speculated it must have been bigger than a house fire because the sirens would not let up.
Knight and I walked a few laps, while I watched M and her mare lope over some tiny Xs. As we began to trot, a helicopter coursed through the sky. It was close and loud. My heart started to pound. Knight kept trotting as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening. I expected him to get tense or shake his head. Nothing.
We continued, making figures of eight, trotted over a small pole (Knight thought he should really canter it). We did more circles in both directions. The helicopter hovered around the smoky area. “It has a camera attached to it. I think that’s the TV news helicopter,” M said as she left the arena.
Gulp! I was alone with the unpredictable helicopter whose flight path was too close. Knight did not seem phased so we kept moving.
About two minutes later, the helicopter flew directly over us, right over the middle of the riding arena! I swear it was a mere 200 feet above us! I noticed all the horses I could see in their pipe corrals pacing or walking nervous circles and shaking their heads. They were upset, I was spooked.
And what did my green, ex-racehorse do?
Not a thing.
So why did I hop off and end my ride?
Because the helicopter was scaring me!
I didn’t know if it would come back and all the hovering and noise was very unpleasant. My purpose in riding is to have fun, not be traumatized by low-flying aircraft. I rationalized that tomorrow was another day and it was actually very hot out.
Walking back to my hitching post (how Western cliche is that?), all I could think was what a good boy Knight was and how my previous horse would have become unglued and how I couldn’t wait to tell my mom and sister.
While I was unbridling Knight, the helicopter came back and I shot this very rough video to prove this is not a tall tale.
And so that, my friends, is just one reason why you should entertain getting an ex-racehorse for your next horse. They are quite sensible and brave. If only I could be more like Knight. . .
What’s the most intense spook you’ve ever lived through? Or was there ever a time when your horse surprised you and was brave when you anticipated a spook?
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