Hawk became interested in jumping very quickly. His form in front is still a part of his training, but his willingness was there from the start. I cannot remember a single thing that he would not go over. Logs, jumps, gates inflatable alligator pool toys—nothing bothers him.
This was not a huge surprise to me after his old trainer, James Toner, came to visit him at the farm. Apparently, straightness was not a big deal while on the track, and Hawk was known to jump the orange cones sectioning off certain parts of the training tracks. Whether they were in his way or not, Hawk was going through and over!
It’s these kinds of funny facts that make working with certain trainers and owners so much more pleasurable when retraining the racehorse. I certainly hope this kind of relationship can develop with more and more people. I know from experience just how many trainers, exercise riders, grooms and owners enjoy following what these horses go on to do.
On June 15 we took Hawk to his first horse show. We entered him in the Green Hunter Division, which was a part of a local hunter circuit called C.C.H.S.A. (Chester County Horse Show Association) held throughout Pennsylvania. Almost all of his first show was a positive experience; we even placed 5th in the over-fences class, but the under-saddle class left a little more to be desired, should anyone have thought to pass us on the long sides. (Another funny story from Hawk’s racing career was his ability to “go through” his competitors like a bowling ball taking down all the pins. Luckily for me, group lessons are held at the Covert Farm; Hawk and I soon became regular participants, so that he could get used to more than one horse at a time!)
In July, we participated in another C.C.H.S.A. hunter division; Hawk’s owners were able to attend. Here we showed Hawk back on his favorite surface, turf. Again he did great, although he is still learning to put all the beautiful pieces together as a show horse. This fall, Hawk will be out on paper chases around Chester County, he will attempt his first fox hunt, and he will also try his luck at a local jumper show. For a horse that has been at The Covert Farm for all of 10 months, he has truly developed into a gentle giant and will tag along behind you while being led around with a cotton rope.
Hawk’s story isn’t over, but his road to retraining is now all about exposure, miles and repetition, while keeping him happy and excited about just being a horse!
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