Derringbay: 2 steps forward, 3 steps back

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.

9 Replies to “Derringbay: 2 steps forward, 3 steps back”

  1. Sorry Gina, but I have to laugh – what a hillarious story. (3.12am must be one of your latest/earliest entries) Whe the ribs heal up, you’ll be able to have a good old chuckle about it yourself! Well done on the second place though, he could win a race yet. All the best, Pippa 🙂

  2. OMG that i must admitt as well is really funny^^ I hope your ok, I’m so glad that Derring Bay has done so well, apart from the small (ok rather large) trailer incident….^^ hope you get better soon!!!!!

  3. Gina!!! Oh my…what will you do when you race him next time? Knowing you there will be a plan, but let the ribs heal first! Congrats on your recent successes! Does the champagne help to numb the rib pain?

  4. If you know Gina, you will also know her frustration with other people’s driving. If, therefore,I tell you that I was designated chauffeuse today during our trip round various Normandy horse-farms, (some 6+ hours in the car) you’ll know just what poor shape she was in after Derring Bay’s trailer meltdown! Think we’re going to have to lock her in the house to stop her riding tomorrow…………

  5. When I spoke to you yesterday, I didn’t realise what had happened.
    I know marathon runners have to go through the pain barrier during a race, perhaps with horses it’s the other way round.
    Seriously, take it easy and relax a bit. As the old song goes from one of your American natives; “the best is yet to come”

  6. Holy smoke, Gina, you are as tough as nails…, tougher!!! I can just picture all the action the other night. Broken ribs are no fun. Seriously, take it easy….

  7. Gina: I’m interested in what you plan to do with Derringbay when it comes to the future’s necessary trailering. Do you plan on trailer schooling (I’d love to hear the plan and results) or buy a “special” trailer for Derringbay? Has the horse ever exhibited this behavior before? Is this common? Get well…ribs are so painful!

  8. Denise – I won’t use a trailer with him any more. I’ll use one of the two-horse trucks that are very common here. They have a side-load ramp, and the horse just walks on and off. I rarely trailer because I don’t like them very much, and now I probably will avoid them completely. The only reason I did this time was because it was so much more expensive to take a truck. Turns out it was a false economy! I had not trailered him before because he rode to Longchamp in a big horse transport. And he loaded and rode like a pro. Just didn’t want to get off!

  9. I was just curious. I assumed that side-load, unload lorries (sp?) were the transport of choice for racers in the UK and Europe. I was just curious if at some point in your ownership you would decide to school the horse, particularly for use after the racing career.

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