Yesterday I went down to Woodbine to watch one of my kids race. Jasper. The big grey goofy guy. He is Monster’s older brother and just like that entire family, he’s got a ton of personality.
He had a tough go of it as a youngster. Broke his shoulder at 7 days old and was on stall rest until he was nearly a year old. So when he first starting going outside, he had to learn how to trot and canter. He had never had a chance to get that all figured out. He was underweight, with no muscle, and a huge, ungainly head. Gawky doesn’t begin to describe him.
He’s raced a few times already, but he’s coming back from a year and a half layoff (he had an injury, but it was not quite as bad as that – part of the layoff was just due to a shortage of available stalls and bad timing). That’s a long time to be away from racing, so you kind of expect them to need a race to get sharp again.
However, Jasper adores his job. He is very happy at the track – much happier than he is at home on the farm. He has a whole bunch of little routines, and he LOVES his routines. He knows everyone’s schedule and watches for his favorite people. Only Harri is allowed to groom him. No one else understands the rules. You must always do everything in the same order. Once something is in the routine – it must stay in the routine. He has to look out certain windows when he’s being walked in the barn. He has to go back in the barn as soon as you put the scraper down after his bath. Sooooo many rules Jasper has. And at 17+ hands, it’s kind of hard to argue with the big guy.
He came swanning into the paddock before the race with his ears up, cheerful as can be. He knew what he was there for and he was ready. Not stressed at all, just marching around. READY.
The pony that took him out on post parade was probably an average sized Quarter Horse. But he looked like a 13hh pony with Jasper towering over him. Jasper was good as gold going out. Ears up, looking for the starting gate. He loaded into the gate perfectly. And for a first race back… you couldn’t ask for a better race. He tried his heart out and was a very good second at the finish.