Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quincey: The Horse Who Broke Me

I was fifteen years old and taking lessons at a stable about twenty minutes away from my house. My trainer was a nice woman, but she had a really bad habit of giving the horse I rode in my lessons sugar every time he ignored me and went over to her. She laughed and said that she was his 'Sugar Momma.'

This, of course, created a huge problem for me. I was trying to get better at riding, but the horse was being trained to disobey me.

His name was Quincey. He was a big Quarter Horse gelding with great conformation. He had a history with abuse, which is why my trainer was so set on spoiling him.

I often had my lessons at night, as I live in southern Arizona and it can be too hot during the day to do any serious riding. For once my dad had come to watch me ride. He had never seen me ride and I was eager to show him what I could do.

I always loved riding under the arena lights. I liked to imagine that I was riding in a competition or under a spotlight. Quincey was so beautiful that he could have been a star. Despite our issues, I adored him. I wished he was my horse.

My trainer had put Quincey in side reins because he had a horrible habit of tossing his head back and smashing his rider in the nose. She said that it would teach him to carry himself correctly. I could tell though, that it was doing the opposite. He would lean on the side-reins, which would mess up his top line and make his gaits choppy and uncomfortable.

My dad was watching from the fence as I urged Quincey into a trot and started a figure eight. Quincey pulled at the bit impatiently, trying to turn his head to face my trainer. As always I corrected him. I took a firm hold of the reins and used my legs to keep him on track.

Before I knew it he was bucking underneath me. The side reins snapped under the force of his tantrum. He reared and plunged and twisted. I flew out of the saddle with such torque that I manage one and a half rotations before I hit the ground-- face first. The brim of my helmet crumpled. My nose was crushed by the impact.

I gasped for breath and rolled onto my side, only to see Quincey above me, driving his forefeet straight towards my head. His eyes were rolling and his ears were pinned back. There was nothing there to remind me of the horse I cherished.

My trainer had a lunge whip in her hands and it took her lashing him across the face to get him off of me. He nearly trampled me to death.

All told I had three cracked ribs, a broken nose, black eyes, and huge bruises around my knees. The arena dirt had skinned my face and hands. I looked like I had been in a fist fight.

I didn't give up riding. My dad certainly wasn't much of a fan of my riding now, of course.

The next time I went to the barn for my lesson Quincey was gone. They had sold him as dangerous.'

I still feel guilty. Quincey misbehaved because of what my trainer had been teaching him, not because he was a dangerous horse. Yes, he snapped. Yes, I know he honestly tried to kill me, but I still wish he had been given another chance.

Years later I found out they had sold him to slaughter.

So Quincey is the horse that broke me-- both physically and emotionally. Embarr, in Crash Course, is very much a tribute to a horse that could have been rehabilitated if anyone had been willing to put the time and effort into him.

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