Guest Blog: Mixed Blessings

Today’s guest post is from Barb – oh, wait – what’s that? Sorry. It’s actually from Vince – and he has a lot to say…

Very sincere thanks for the opportunity to fill in for Retired Racehorse. Well, maybe we should say that at least we’ll be a space holder for her while she moves back to Yankee Land.

You all know me, the Most Famous Racehorse of All Time, winner of multiple Kentucky Derbies, three Belmonts,  two Triple Crowns, and currently in training for Saratoga, if my partner, as she calls herself, doesn’t decide we “need” some dressage training or a nice trail ride, or- God forbid- some time in the jump field. My name is Invincible Vince and my illustrious racing career ended at the age of four, when I decided there was no more space to display all my trophies, and that I better let a few of the others have a chance at it. I had “the big Operation” after my career at the track was over, and although those vets said there would never be a descendant of mine, I know they lied. Just ask my girlfriends across the lane- they’ll tell you! Why they’ve even named the trail that I alone made by my fence Romeo Road, just for me.

Oh, and did I mention I was a big liar? Thought I better mention it now before she does…

Her name is Barb, and she found me in October at the Secretariat Center, in Lexington, where I had been for a year after being donated due to financial reasons. Oh, and the fact that my first owner after the track wanted me for an event horse but I decided I didn’t like jumping. How this gal, my partner, found me, I’ll never know! I told them to strictly screen their applicants to my specifications, but she somehow snuck in, as did the guy from the circus, with whom I backed all the way around the arena, unasked. I really liked him and thought he’d think that was a neat trick, but I wound up with Barb somehow. At first glance, she seemed barely OK, a little older than the kids who’d been riding me, and I gave her a good ride, knowing if she took me home, I’d have it made.
Well, she did. I relaxed back into being the King of Everything, and that’s when Barb found Natalie, a mixed blessing in my book!

First it was about join-up. Now, I had no need of join-up, because things were exactly how I wanted them, and I WAS the Leader. I held out for days on end, and she just kept it up. Finally, I just came over to her so I could quit the endless free lunging. I was tired, but still the Real Boss. Then I’d take her for a ride, but pretend to spook when she seemed distracted. To her credit, damn it, she stayed on, and even began to accuse me of just being a cranky old fart- Can you imagine!! The nerve of her! But she was one of very few people who ever saw into my soul this way, and she began to realize that my antics came from my sense of humor, and not because I was evil- not anymore, anyway. That’s when she began to call us “partners”, and I admit I have practiced at least saying it, and I might even believe it now, but don’t tell her, please. I still like to mix it up!

So she kept reading that blog, whatever a blog is, and then, due to Natalie, we began to get to do one of my two favorite things. We began to gallop through the fields and along a long stretch of the rail. (She says it isn’t really a race track rail, just meters of electric tape, at about the height of a real racetrack rail, but I’ve known what it really was from the day it was put up, and that’s why my eye gets a gleam in it, and I prance just like in the post parade, right before we gallop.) She hadn’t ridden in ten years before she got me, and she never seems scared around me anymore, but all of a sudden, we were riding out, and she shortened up the reins, bridging them, she called it, and off we went. She did keep saying, “Loose reins”, in her mind the whole time and I could hear her as I always listen to what she thinks now, and she let out a big “Whoopie”, scaring the golfers a quarter of a mile away, but we both had a blast. One day I heard her thinking about the Emergency Whoa as we galloped, so I kindly gave her an opportunity to use it. I HATE it that that maneuver works!! Galloping is our favorite way to blow off steam.

My other love is dressage. Barb and I weren’t able to work on it during the first few months of our getting together, since we had to work on all the other stuff that Natalie helped us with, but we are in training with a great coach now. I know quite a few movements from First and Second Levels, and am allowing Barb to find those buttons very gradually. She has plenty of empty space for ribbons and trophies.

I have to tell you something in strictest confidence before we leave. Shortly after she got me, while I was still King, I heard her wonder in her mind if she’d possibly bitten off more than she could chew, that maybe she wouldn’t be able to get through to me. I was scared for the first time in my life- really scared. Then she met you and our real story started and we really did become partners.
So thank you, Natalie. We’ve found each other, and, as many people have commented, it’s a rare match and a truly Good Thing! Well, back out to my pasture. I sure wish my TB girlfriends would get moved back across from me. Now there are some Arab gals over there, and I can’t understand a thing they say!



Filed under Dressage, Success Stories, Training Theory

7 responses to “Guest Blog: Mixed Blessings

  1. Impressive John R

    Vince you ARE the man ( even tho a lot of humans think that I think that I AM the man…) and I have had the blessing to meet Barb, your new owner and frankly ….. with her.. you got it all. You are matched for spunk and fearless trail rides… smooth and well matched in the dressage arena. If there is a “hill” Barb will meet it head on just like you Vince. SO I say congratulations to BOTH of you… Surely this was destiny.. soulmates.As for me and my new owner, Cheryl… well wouldn’t exactly call her fearless but she seems to love me as much as I love mints and I LOVE mints.. oh yeah.. and her.No really I do. Anyhow Vince.. “Here’s to us and Secretariats Center in Lexington… our alma mater. Keep your fly mask on and your lips to the ground! “

    • Barb

      Hey, John, long time no see! thanks for the comments. We are a couple of great guys, aren’t we? And the girls- I guess they’ll do…”

  2. Vince, you so crazy:) Great guest post!

  3. blob

    Great to hear the story of Vince and Barb. And always good to know I’m not the only loony one doing dressage on a OTTBs!

    • Barb

      Vince evidently put his foot down , so to speak, about jumping with his previous owner, and came labelled with a big “DOES NOT LIKE JUMPING” banner on his info. Fine w/me- I never did it well enough when I was younger to pick it up now. Waiting for a year for a home, with no one willing to ride him at first hooked in Susanna, the Director at MMSC, and she put quite a lot of dressage training on him, which had been my discipline 10 years before. He really does love it, and we just work in the arena 2 or 3 days a week so it doesn’t get stale. I’m having a blast. Thanks for the nice comments, Blob. (I wish I knew a different name for you!)

  4. Lucky says “I have a real track to gallop on, so neener.” 😉

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