Monday, July 19, 2010

"High Jinx"-- Bucked His Way into His Owners Heart

The Second Race enjoys receiving stories from owners of their ex-race horses. Our story today is written by Shannon and her ex-race horse Sting of Glory renamed "High Jinx".

I am the first to admit that I fall in love at the drop of a hat. For as long as I can remember I have loved horses. I also love speed. My first pony was a half blind old Shetland/ welsh palomino that would run away with me on a regular and thrilling basis. My next pony was a half Arabian, my very own “Black Stallion” come to life. Both paled before the greatness of my first real horse.
My first memory of Jinx was of him flying by me, rider-less at a horse show. He had enough of his current owner and had unceremoniously dumped him at the base of a jump and flew out of there. He ran back to his stall, ran in and went out to the attached run and hid behind the barrier. As I caught him and brought him back to his owner I swear he was laughing.
A few months later I now boarded at the same barn. I was grooming my Arabian cross when I heard the unmistakable sound of a horse cast. We located the problem, Jinx. He had rolled over and gotten one leg stuck under the water and the other was stuck out the door. I carefully liberated both legs, and helped pull him over so he could get up. After he stood up he sniffed my hair, and seemed quite embarrassed that humans had seen him in such a precarious position. Once again I was struck by his amazing presence, I had never seen that or felt that before, but it was like standing next to a high voltage power line, you could just feel the vibrations. It was not long after that episode that my coach told me it was time for me to move on from my little Arabian and find a true horse that could teach me all about upper level three day eventing.
I tried many horses before I was shown Jinx. My family was nervous. He had a terrible reputation, he regularly bucked his owner off, and he was older. My first ride was something else. The vibrations from the ground were nothing compared to what you got when you looked through those black ears.
Not only did he teach me about eventing, he taught me more. Jinx taught me love, loyalty, courage, honor, and life. He carried me through my first long format three day events, jumped advanced level cross-country jumps, and yes, bucked me off on a regular basis. He saved me from a terrible fall at a qualifying event. To this day I don’t know how he stayed on his feet. The courage and heart of a TB was in full effect that day. He had “happy” bucks and “don’t screw up again” bucks. He was far from the elderly school horse, but he taught me to ride correctly, and to care for a horse. On one occasion, he bucked me off so hard that I ruptured my spleen.
When I was finally able to ride again I was terrified. Not of riding, just of him. I swear he was devastated when I would do anything but ride him. I was riding another horse in the barn (a quarter horse sale horse) while I tried to make up my mind about what to do with him. The sale horse was a very difficult ride. You had to work for every little thing. One night after a particularly difficult training session I remember having a dream that I swear was sent by Jinx. I remember the sensation of how smooth he was to ride, how effortless the jumps were, and the feeling of power under me. I also got the sense of peace, the calm assurance that he was very, very sorry for hurting me and he would never, ever do that again. The next day I found the courage to get back on my beloved Jinx again. One year later we were headed to the North American Young Rider’s Eventing Championships in Bromont Canada. Yes, he kept his promise, he never bucked that hard with me ever again.

I am thrilled that Jinx had his final moment of glory in Canada. His return to Canada has a special place forever in my heart. He was a Canadian bred thoroughbred out of Northern Dancer’s 1974 foal crop. He raced under the name Sting of Glory, a powerful name for a powerful horse. He only raced 12 times, winning twice, crashing the gate once (injuring an assistant starter), and the story goes that in his final start he bucked off the jockey at the start of the race and then jumped into the grandstand. The track officials had enough, he was barred from racing.
The vet who bought him sponsored the Canadian Three Day Olympic team. A young rider named David Wilding Davis got the ride and took Jinx to Young Riders. Jinx most likely would have gone on the accompany David to the Pan Am games, and possibly the Olympics, but he was purchased by an American and brought to Arizona. No doubt Jinx loved Canada, and the symmetry of returning to Canada at the accumulation of his career was beautiful. His sheer joy at being on Canadian soil was evident in every movement. When I walked out of the tack room wearing a shadbelly and top hat you could see in his eyes his joy at being back in the “big time”. The event that year was held on the site of the 1976 Olympics. The setting contributed to the most beautiful and emotional show of my life. He gave me everything that weekend. I thank him every day for the experience of a lifetime.
There will never be another Jinx. His physical form may be gone, but I hear his hoof beats, feel his breath, and feel him with me every day. His love carries me on and inspires me. He is my guardian angel and companion. When I am afraid, stressed or unsure I can still feel the whispers, “its okay, just grab mane and kick on, I am still here, I will carry you”.

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