We had nothing left to do but load the horse and drive back, except….Daybreak hates horse trailers has a history and a no I won’t load, game on his agenda. Here on this back road on the Mass. New Hampshire border I do not want to be part of a 3 hour loading event. Our trailer is new to us by just a week, not long enough to paint the black interior white. It is a gaping black hole I know our horse won’t have any inclination to step into. The farm owners, my brother and the police are having quite a time talking about the events of the night as I ponder getting this horse back into the trailer and back to the host farm. Tim indicates that his Cowboy Mounted Shooting pistols ( http://www.cowboymountedshooting.com/ ) are securely locked in the truck cab and the trailer is ready for a horse. I ask an officer to move a cruiser and use a spotlight mounted on the door to light up the interior of the trailer as Daybreak is not likely to step into the dark hole. He smiles and obliges happy to see us taking steps to move the horse out of the street. I am envisioning the long effort to get him on. Don’t think we haven’t tried all the training techniques, natural horsemanship skills and equipment on a given day all have worked or not worked because it is not a fear issue it’s a chess game and Daybreak is the equine equivalent of Bobby Fischer!
With the police lights still flashing their split second rotations and the night amazingly lit by them and all the headlights it is a rather festive aura over the street with the happy reunion of horse and rider. Daybreak knows when he has an audience, it is a valuable tool in his arsenal of make the owner look foolish any chance you get. Tim leads him to the trailer and he loads in a split second. I leap forward and close the butt bar to secure him and then the ramp and upper door we are set to go. My relief is huge as I climb into my truck cab with Cindy the owner of Bridge Meadow Brook Farm, our hosts. Tim and his uncle pull away with trailer and again as we drive I marvel at how far our crazy horse went to party. Cindy is graciously playing down her part in this adventure of lost sleep and worry. I am incredibly grateful to everyone and we talk a little about the night. It is here that she tells me the police clocked Daybreak on the radar gun down the yellow lines of the road at 42 miles per hour. He is a hot rod, cruising speed until the police come along side and then gunning his engine to sprint ahead hooves pounding pavement like a racing heart in the night. He came out to play his top game and found worthy opponents in those brightly lit cruisers. Cindy reported the awe with which they spoke of Daybreak and how in disbelief they heard his age and could not believe this was an old horse. Of course 25 in a Morgan Horse isn’t old, it is seasoned to perfection. It is experience to bank on and practiced flash and gamesmanship. Score one for the Morgan Horse and Zero for the Tyngsboro police. It was only by using cruisers to build a chute in the street and another to race him there that they effectively drove Daybreak up the road and into the field. They never would have been able to lay a hand on him, it wasn’t in his game plan. I am grateful Daybreak didn’t consider jumping the cruiser like the loose horse in the Disney classic “Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit” That movie horse and Daybreak would have been fast friends in more ways than one!
We roll up the long dirt road that leads back under the pines of Bridge Meadow Brook Farm. My brother parks the trailer and he and Tim go to unload Daybreak, NO! he stays in, we have had all the games we are going to play for one night. Remember Daybreak hates trailers, he shows his displeasure with this decision by having a 2 year old tantrum. He begins jumping up and down in the trailer rocking it and making it move. The emergency brake is set but I can just see it in my now vivid imagination the trailer and truck rolling back into the swamp and me getting wet feet, again. I open the front door, “knock it off!”, and settle down I croon to him and shine a flashlight on his face. We give him hay nets and water buckets and I tell him, ” Sorry old boy you are in for the night!” I send Tim to bed in the tent, you can’t ride safe with no sleep, go now it is 3 a.m. I send my brother as well, he needs to drive the truck safely home after the days competition. I lower the truck tailgate and wait for Daybreak to settle down so I too can garner a couple hours of well earned rest. If the flashlight beam drops from Daybreak’s face the jumping resumes, I can’t believe he is carrying on so. Get over it, a few hours in the parked trailer won’t kill you if a night racing the police hasn’t. Still the bouncing continues and so I get comfortable figuring a few minutes he will give it up, I’m delusional!
At 6 a.m. the tent zipper made the long whine of opening, I didn’t hear it. My brother stepped out into the gray of early morning and the cold nip of the frost that was settling. Mid October is sure to paint the pumpkins and anything else a laced coat of white in the night. What he sees makes him go back to the tent, retrieve his camera and take a picture. I am there on the truck tailgate flashlight in hand curled up asleep under frosty saddle pads. There is a point when you can sleep anywhere, I found it that night. There is not one thing to be said for sleeping on a corrugated metal tailgate that’s good! I had a foam pad under my head and saddle pads over me. They are wool and sort of warm although short on coverage. I am allergic to horses, the hair can’t be good but warmth was more important than a clear head. Daybreak is happily munching hay, he nods a greeting. Not long after we are all awake. Once Tim is functional we decide we have to see if Daybreak is lame, a run on tar at 42 mph would do that. No he is fine. down in the ring he is enjoying the rubber added surface and jigging and showing off. A story of police escapades and missed adventures is carried through the slowly waking camp. A couple hours later we are back at the field of competition at Bridge Meadow Brook Farm. More and more riders are hearing what went on in the night and come over to ask in disbelief. Soon the guns are shooting the balloons and the riders come and go from the field. It is Tim’s turn, I stand in the announcers booth watching him come into the field, jigging still. I announce,” Our next rider is Tim Stearns and his horse U.C. Jailbreak! The laughter ripples around the field. I assume that the tired pair will do the course in a slower than usual time and yesterdays gains would be history. A few seconds later they flash past the final rodeo timer and a new best time is posted for the pair. The whole day was like that, me announcing the rides of U.C. Jailbreak, the story floating about the field. Riders looking at the old horse through new eyes and evaluating, there is more there than meets the eye!
Dedication to the sport my son had fallen in love with and getting them to participate fully brought us to Bridge Meadow Brook Farm, Insanity helped me through the crazy night and still see that the day should go on, sleep or not.
Post Script: Daybreak is enjoying semi-retirement at home with a eye on the gate in case we forget to clip the second lock on it, could be a party tonight, your place or mine. This blog was written in response to his sires induction in the Ct. Morgan Horse Hall of Fame June 11, 2010.( http://www.ctmorgans.org/ ) At age 32 U.C.Ringmaster filled the ring at the Big E Fairgrounds ( http://www.thebige.com/ ) with the eternal energy and showmanship of a Morgan Horse. ( http://www.morganhorse.com/ )