A minor miracle happened Sunday when Derringbay managed to finnish 2nd of 12 runners in a maiden race on the fibersand in Lyon. He ran really well; the winner was unbeatable (for us, anyway) and he ran far better than I expected. I was worried about his habit of hanging left on such a tight, right-handed track, but with a brush added to the left side of his bit, he handled it well. I put Nadege back in the saddle, and she rode a great race. All was well…except…I trailered him down with Theirry for company; Derringbay loaded with no trouble and took the trip like a seasoned traveler. Until it was time to unload. Turns out Derringbay is a one-way horse, and that way is forward. He doesn’t do back, and shoving him out of he trailer was akin to childbirth. I ended up shoving my backside into his chest, grabbing onto the side bars and pushing like I was having triplets. At one point, and I’m not making this up, I saw both of his front feet leave the ground, meaning the entire front half of a 500-kilo animal was perched on my backside. (Must be those Eastern-European plow-horse roots I have.) Anyway, out he finally came, we ran the race, loaded up for home and then wondered how we were going to extract him at midnight in Maisons-Laffitte. It turns out our concerns were well-founded. Three hours, three people, one vet, two IV shots of tranquilizer and several broken ribs (mine) later, we ended up letting him do what he wanted to do originally: jump through the front door, which is not exactly designed for this sort of thing. The first attempt to push him out the back way like I did at the track ended with him backing out half way, panicking, stumbling back into the trailer on his knees and then mashing me against the front bar because I wasn’t quite quick enough in avoiding the worst. Much, much profanity and struggling for breath later, we tried again (with Theirry doing the pushing), to no avail. We tried the nice way, with apples and food, and the not nice way, with brooms and whips, but the response was always the same: one step back and then a panicked jump forward. Chantal got in on the action. No better. We backed up the trailer to his box and slammed feed buckets around. Nope. We pulled, pushed and prodded, but it was hopeless. That’s when I called the vet. Tranq him just enough and we’ll push. We did. He didn’t. Finally, we padded the sides of the front door with styrofoam (god only knows where Chantal was able to lay her hands on exactly something that worked at 2:30 a.m.), put a heavy canvas rug on the horse and drove the trailer to the side of the sand track, so that if he made a crash landing there would be fewer pieces to pick up. Out he came, without a scratch. I drove myself over to the hospital.
“When did this happen,” they asked.
“About three hours ago.”
“Why didn’t you come in right away?”
“Had to extract the horse from the trailer first.”
They think I’m insane. They’re probably right.