While an epic recovery effort begins today in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, and my fervent thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by that natural disaster, a very personal epic recovery effort is also underway right here in our own backyard, in a warm and comfy stall at the top equine veterinarian hospital in the northwest.
One of the world’s great ones needs your positive thoughts, wishes and prayers right now.
If you have read my blog before, you have probably already heard of Smart Chic Dot Com, or “Chic” as he is affectionately known. Annabelle has had the great honor of riding and showing Chic since early spring in both the local reining shows and the Gem State Stock Horse Association series held in Ontario, Oregon.
Through her association with Chic my little girl has progressed leaps and bounds in her riding ability, and has had the rare opportunity to learn to show a horse that can truly teach her what it is “supposed to feel like” – whether it is in a fast rundown to a long sliding stop, a spinning blur of a turnaround, or working a cow for the very first time at the feedlot cutting practice.
Through this all, Chic has taken care of my baby with a dedication rarely seen between horse and rider. My beautiful daughter has loved horses since she first rode Lucy with me at the age of three months, and with that love she has developed a completely fearless attitude toward the creatures. While that attitude makes her a game competitor and lets her progress quickly in her lessons, it also scares the heck out of me most of the time. From her six-year-old standpoint, she has no concept of the danger of running a horse full blast down the pen or digging the spurs in to make sure she turns the cow before it gets past her on the fence. Although I have been judicious in my choice of mounts for my precious first-born, she has managed to be bucked off or yard-darted more times than I can count, and it is only good fortune that has kept her from ever incurring serious injury.
Showing a horse adds a whole new element of both excitement and danger to a child’s riding career. In a normal circumstance, an adult (usually me) is right next to the kid and in a position to, if not negate, at least temper any potential bad event that might occur. In a horse show, it is only kid and horse, 45 pounds of exuberance and six-inch pink spurs riding hell-bent for leather on a 1,200 pound missile.
Chic has taken care of Annabelle every step of the way. Although he could easily take advantage of her inexperience and lack of strength, he patiently waits for her to be ready for he next gear before he steps it up. With her riding him, I have never had a moment’s pause sending her in that in-gate to careen around a 100,000 square foot area as fast as she can possibly make him go.
There are lots of horses that are good with kids, and Chic is certainly not the first to take care of his tiny charge in the show pen. What makes Chic unique, though, is that he is also an intrepid competitor in reined cow horse competition at the open rider level. Chic started his career in the National Reined Cow Horse Association by qualifying for the non-pro finals at the Reno Snaffle Bit Futurity, and went on to win over $26,000 in limited-age events with his breeder and first owner Annie Reynolds Jones.
My friend Kris bought Chic when he was a seven-year old to pursue her lifelong dream of competing on the national level in the reined cow horse events. Chic was her dream horse before he ever came into Annabelle’s life, and Kris has won so many honors riding this great boy that I bet even she has lost count.
Chic reached the pinnacle of NRCHA competition when he became the 2011 World Champion Ltd. Open Bridle Horse, beating out an impressive field of competitors and simultaneously ending the year with a 5th Place World finish in the 5K Non-Pro Ltd. class with Kris aboard. Chic showed in two preliminary runs and two finals over the course of the week-long championship show, not to mention numerous practices and warm up runs, and he gave his all on each and every time out. To date, he has amassed an impressive lifetime earnings total of over $50,000.
Chic’s heart is as big as the state of Texas, and it is that coupled with his huge amount of talent, drive and courage that makes him a true champion in ways that far outnumber his impressive resume.
He loves kids too.
Chic is in the hospital right now battling the aftermath of a rare joint infection that has potentially grave ramifications. He is approaching this challenge with the same equanimity he has shown every time I have ever seen him; calmly and without bitterness or bad temper, but Chic is hurting.
We have been to see Chic several times over the weeks of his hospitalization, and he is always sweet and seems happy to see his little girl. Annabelle took some stall decorations and cookies to Chic when he first went into the hospital, and it was great to see them spend a few minutes together.
We’ve been back since then to add more pictures and feed more cookies. Chic always seems delighted for the company. And the cookies.
An x-ray today discovered that Chic has a bone cyst which formed on the previously infected coffin joint, and this is causing him much pain right now. The doctors have a plan of attack to treat the cyst, and that plan will be implemented over the next couple of weeks. The success of those treatments will determine Chic’s future.
Chic was on the brink of potentially earning yet another World Championship title, this time at the AQHA World Show in Oklahoma City, where he was supposed to be heading with Kris next week. Now, we want nothing more than to just see Chic go home and hang out in the pasture with his girls, munching on grass, taking long naps, and doing absolutely nothing. Of all the horses on earth, he has earned that right.
So whether you pray, meditate, chant, or just think good thoughts, please send some positive energy Chic’s way. He deserves to go home.
Get well soon Chic.