Today was the day to start Tommy and Skid back under saddle, Skid after a month of vacation and Tommy after his knee surgery. Tyke, being already back in action one whole week, was the veteran of the group. To complicate matters, rain was dumping from the sky, punctuated by gale-force wind (which didn’t really start to pick up until after we had left the yard). Skid had changed very little during vacation; he kept nearly all his muscle tone and maybe grew a little. Tommy also looked as if he’d been regularly cantering, not sitting in his box doing nothing. This has always been the case with Tommy – you take his feed down, do nothing and he still walks out gleaming and ready to go.
“Il est trop beau,” Chantal, our stable owner, remarked. “He’s too good-looking.” Meaning we were likely in for a wild ride, because clearly the horse thinks he’s ready to run at Longchamp, not trudge through the mud at a walk on the round track. The upside is that this horse is probably the healthiest I’ve ever seen, and he has a pure racehorse mentality. He loves his work. The downside is that it’s always tough to start back, when he needs to keep calm walking and trotting and not re-injure himself. (Vetranquil or other forms of chemical help have no effect on him, and even seem to make him worse.)
So off we went, and Tommy gave us approximately 100 meters before he decided to let us know that he thought he was in charge, the other two horses should get out of his way and we should get on with it. My rider Thibault was able to handle the ensuing rodeo pretty well, and I told him to just take Tommy out front and not argue with him. We put Skid behind and Tyke in the middle. At which point Skid’s nose got a little out of joint, and he tried to remind everyone that he was the only one of the three that still had all his private parts, and perhaps HE should be out front. But Agathe was able to settle him reasonably well behind, where he decided to sulk by prancing rather than walking. This finally got on Tyke’s nerves, and he decided he was tired of bing the trainer’s pony and maybe he’d like to play, too. So he let loose a squeal and started to kick up his heels. Just then, the skies opened up. It had been raining steadily anyway, but this was like someone had turned on a vigorous shower tap. I’m sure all three horses thought we had done it on purpose; it was like throwing a glass of cold water on a misbehaving puppy. They all skulked down and started behaving – at least temporarily. So as miserable as the rain was, it served its purpose.
We’ll see if we can’t keep Tommy down to a dull roar tomorrow. It is forecast to keep raining…