Thursday, December 30, 2010

One Year Zeusland

While a year ago was a very sad time in one respect, it was a time of joy and wonder, too.


Exactly one year ago today, Zeus entered into our lives. Rather, he sauntered off a trailer amidst a cloud of steam in the dark, and became in an instant, a permanent member of our family.

Susan Salk from Off Track Thoroughbreds wrote our story beautifully, which can be read here. It was just the beginning of our journey together...and so much has happened in a year.

I will never forget how Zeus saved Topaz from her chasm of grief and confusion over losing Midnight. The instant he walked into the barn, she settled. This photo was the morning after he arrived - their first official greeting without the bars of the stall grill between them.

Since Zeus was born, raised and mostly raced in Florida, snow was a novelty to him. He loved it though, and although baffled about his freedom after being stalled at the track, he quickly got into the routine of life here at TMF. In this photo, he's "racing fit" and looks so much younger to me - like he hadn't grown into his body yet.
Two months after he arrived, I decided to try a ride on him. And so with Matt nearby with the camera in one hand and the phone to dial 911 in the other, I hopped aboard to see what I had. And I noticed I could see plain as day into the barn gutters as we walked past - it was then that I realized just how tall he was! It looks like I'm wearing a lot of padding, as my friend Atena said.

Through the spring and summer, we schooled, we practiced and honed our skills in our own ring at home. Hot, cold, wet or dry weather, we got to know every nuance about each other - the good and the bad.
And with that, we entered our very first show together, in September. And he was a star. After about 90 minutes of screaming, pacing, and generally aggravating all of the show participants and officials (sorry guys, but you've gotta start somewhere!). The crowd scattered and hid when we got there - but after they all saw him rise to the occasion and perform like a pro, they were standing in line to meet him and even take photos with him. I think they would have asked for autographs if it were possible!

A short month after that, we entered our first Hunter Pace. To be honest, Zeus had only been ridden off our property about 5 times, and even then, it was just to the end of the road and back - not a grueling 10 mile pace through all sorts of terrain.
Again, he proved to me that we were meant to be a team, and he was absolutely perfect. He didn't put a foot wrong, didn't spook, and I think, had the time of his life too! When a horse enjoys their job as much as you do riding them, there is no better feeling.

Throughout 2010, we had lots of highs, but definitely some lows as well. And like the best intentioned team, we were clearly in sync with each other so much that....well, you'll see.
Early in April, Zeus had a meltdown as I was mounting up and he bolted, catapulting me into a fencepost, after running my side along about 30 feet of fencing. I still have a scar where the fence pummeled me, but even better, I had several broken and cracked ribs to show for it! Including a rib that was broken in one place and cracked in another, so if I even sneezed the wrong way, I'd have a punctured kidney. Awesome!
It should be noted that Matt was not nearby with 911 on speed dial - he was in the house, taking a nap when this occurred. (Tee hee!)
Ok, I wasn't laughing then. But, broken ribs and all, I got right back up on Zeus and made him perform, and then practically melted off him in a puddle of pain.

Not to be outdone, Zeus decided it would be fun to get kicked (we think) by Siggy in July during some roughhousing, and not only lacerated his hind leg down to the muscle, but also had a chip of bone taken out of his leg.
After 5 vet visits to administer IV fluids, clean, staple the wound and essentially keep him alive and not hurt himself further, we had some more Xrays to show for that! You can actually see the chip below in July, and then another later Xray from October, showing how well the leg has healed up. Thank goodness for youth! I think there's a reason I named him Resilient.
(Xray courtesy of Dunbarton Equine)All in all, it's been an eventful first year as a team, to say the least. But I am so, so proud of my boy. I can't believe how he's surprised me - in good ways. And I can't wait to see what the next year brings for us.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Wow, 2010 was a big year for you and Zeus for sure! Congratulations on all that hard work. It sure is paying off. He is a jewel!