Archive for October, 2013

jackson the horse and me, a love story: the end

Things I will miss about Jackson the horse as he enters his well-deserved retirement, a non-exhaustive list:

That he likes to shake his head when I take the headcollar off, and if I let him do that, he will stand quietly while I put his bridle on.

That he likes to stand for a moment when coming out of the shed row to let his eyes adjust to the sunlight.

The way he showed me how to sit in the saddle.

The way he talked to me through the reins.

The way he would reach forward with his outside hind to step forward in a perfect canter depart.

The way he would swagger when he’d jumped a perfect round, swinging his back and showing off. “I’m a good horse!”

The way he grew another four inches at the show, so proud and happy to be there.

The way he would turn around and put his nose on my boot when he needed reassurance.

The way he would neigh crossly if I stopped to pat Zelda the barn cat before paying attention to him.

The way he would press his nose into my back when I gave him cuddles, cuddling me back.

so far from home

Going through security in Auckland International for the, what, twentysomethingth time this year? I thought, plaintively: I want to go home. But I could not work out what I meant by the word home.

Sydney is very much itself: glary and humid with a gusty breeze; the loud billboards and cheap furniture importers all along O’Riordon Street, and beyond them glimpses of tree-lined streets with nineteenth-century terraces; the lorikeets screaming; the coffee delectable.

Mum has responded well to her treatment and is eating better. Sarah has been a brilliant caregiver. But they are both sick to death of being so far from home. On Friday we will all pack up and go back to Barraba.

my year of letting go, part the umpteenth

First let me say that Mum is in Sydney responding well to treatment and feeling much better, and that I will see her on Wednesday.

Still, though. One of the other great narrative arcs of 2013 is Jackson The Horse And Me: A Love Story. When I rode him on Sunday he was okay on the flat but so clearly uncomfortable over fences that we put him over a crossrail and let it go at that. Today when I turned up to ride, he was in his stall. Toni said he has a contusion injury on his suspensory ligament.

“They let us know when it’s time,” she said. “If he was in full work and this happened, you’d say, oh well. But he pretty much only works with you, so if he’s banging himself up under so little work…”

“I know,” I said, and I do: this whole past year I have been acutely aware that he’s a none-too-sound nineteen-year-old Thoroughbred. They’re going to see how he looks after a week of stall rest and hand walking, but he’s not going to be around forever.

Worse, much worse, is this news out of Ariad Pharmaceuticals. Beth, who is the reason I am at McIntosh Stables and whose horse Austin is the best horse who ever lived, was on the first human trial of Iclusig. The drug is keeping her alive. God forbid that the FDA withdraw it.

“The last four years have been a gift,” she said this morning. Damn straight. Every minute, every second of it.

I rode Olive, a dead ringer for the horse of my dreams. She is amazing.

“You have natural feel,” said my instructor, Avi, and I laughed my head off.

“Does it still count as natural if I’ve been working on it for years and years and years?”