(Miss Jacqueline gives me “the eye” as soon as I arrive at the barn on Tuesday morning / Photo by Gene McLean)
(Just love her looks and glances. My girl.)
(Miss J enjoys her soapy bath after her morning work.)
The old-timers and the “hard boots” had a term they used early and often when they noticed that one of their horse pupils was feeling really good and acting even better.
Before the horse ever took a step out of the stall, the old-timers knew what was up. Before the horse could even make the track and jog off toward another day of work, the hard boots knew their horse better than the horse knew themselves. Even before nature could tip you off by allowing the dapples to pop out of the horse’s spring-time coat, the grisly veterans could tell — although few would tell you.
The casual barn goer would pose the question:
“How is (insert the horse’s name here) doing?”
The old-timer hard boot would spit a little sliver of tobacco juice on the ground, in-between the leather, zip-tie shoes, and grin.
In a manner of full-disclosure — which few hard boots ever gave and when they did, you took special attention and interest — they would simply say:
“Jumping out of their skin.”
That phrase, my friends, is music to the owner’s ears.
That sentence, my friends, is spring to a fan’s step.
That collection of five simple words, my friends, means who can wander to the betting window. With both fists armed and ready.
On Tuesday morning, our 3-year-old filly Miss Jacqueline — who has not raced since last November, when she won her debut outing at Churchill Downs — was jumping.
On this Tuesday, Miss J’s skin was no match for her bounce and energy.
On this Tuesday, Miss Jacqueline was “jumping out of her skin.”
Too bad we don’t have a Kentucky racetrack or any racing jurisdiction near-by that is allowing horses to do what they are born to do — run and race — right now. Too bad that we now have a horse really ready to do her best, and we have to do our best to stay patient and calm.
We are sitting on go. With nowhere to go.
But it is sure fun to see your horse when he/she is happy and feeling good. So fun to see he/she play and prance.
On Tuesday, Miss Jacqueline’s eye burned just a bit more clear and bright.
On Tuesday, Miss Jacqueline’s bounce onto the track was just a tad more energetic and full of both piss and vinegar.
On Tuesday, Miss Jacqueline forced her trainer — Stephen Lyster — to wander over and hold her steady while her groom gave her a bubble bath. Miss J was too much for the hot walker to hold.
On Tuesday, Miss Jacqueline took a break from her morning graze, to do her best circus act — where she would rear up, stand on her back legs, and let out a yelp. It was her time to tell the whole wide world who she is and how she feels.
On Tuesday, Miss Jacqueline was “jumping out of her skin.”
It may be a few more days before someone, somewhere decides we can all go back to racing in Kentucky. God only knows this process has been a whole lot more stressful than it should be. Doing it already at Oaklawn Park. Doing it now at Gulfstream Park. Doing it already at Tampa Bay Downs. Doing it, for God’s sake, in both Nebraska and Oklahoma.
But I know of one horse, in particular, and a couple of people who are ready to do it again in the one place that is known as the “Horse Capitol of the World.”
On this Tuesday, we are “jumping out of our skin,” too.
And, especially in these crazy days and times?
It is exactly why I own a racehorse.
Today, Miss Jacqueline made the world — and all its’ troubles — go right away. And, just for a few minutes, we could relish in the thought that the world may be jumping out of its’ skin in the near future — too.
(Here’s a link to Miss Jacqueline’s work this morning at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington)
(That’s my girl. Sweet thing.)