Monday, May 05, 2008

RIP Eight Belles

This past weekend saw the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. This is one third of the famed "Triple Crown" and very few fillies have run the race, it's a boy's club.

But a little filly named Eight Belles was going to give it a go. The reporters called her a "pro" and "unflappable". Some horses just have a workmanlike attitude. They know their job, they want to do their job, they want a purpose. You know when you ride these horses that they like their job. Some might disagree, they might say we force them to work. To those people I say that you've never seen two horses race each other by themselves. You've never seen a cutting horse cut plastic bag blowing in the wind, just because. You've never seen a horse nudge his handler to get into the ring or rub its head on its owner's arm and nudge for treats.

Eight Belles was one of those horses. You can see in her warm-ups that she's running free from pain. A horse in pain does not keep her ears forward and her eyes so alert.

She fell, breaking both ankles. Or perhaps breaking her ankles caused the fall. There is no way to know. But I've been on horses when they fall down. In fact, my first horse, a standardbred ex-racehorse had stopped racing due to an ankle injury. He was put down after I was riding him (years after his original injury) and he tripped, re-fracturing his ankle. And that was at a slow pace. I have no doubts that going as fast as Eight Belles was going, that she tripped and broke both ankles.

Think of it as you rollerblading, tripping and trying to brace yourself with both hands. It's so very sad.

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