Skye's Story

By Caroline A. Richardson
Locust Grove Equine Services
Perth, ON, Canada

“Skye” as he was called as a yearling and two-year old came into my life when I was working as an exercise rider for Windfields Farm Ltd in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. I was just starting into my new job when I was put into a set where one of the other exercise riders had the ride on Skye. Mike told me that Skye had put him off for three days when he backed him, and soon after that they gelded him, he was much too aggressive. I did like the horse, finding him quite flashy. Of course, since I was an eventer at heart, anytime I saw a nice horse, I would muse on his talent for jumping or dressage, much to my bosses chagrin.

Much to my surprise, Skye came home from the track after a short while with bucked shins. He was blistered and then, when sound, brought back into the training. Mike was no longer with us, so the ride went to another experienced rider. The two didn’t get along at all, and he was given to me, by this time a little more experienced and able to handle the harder horses. Well, it was like we were meant to be together! From day one, he behaved like he never had for anyone else, and we had no problems training at all. Even though he would sometimes grab the bit and take off, a sharp “HEY!” from me would bring him right back. I always looked forward to the daily set where he was my ride.

I fell in love with the horse, and I spent a lot of time bonding with him. Everyone coined him as “my horse”, and I was always left with his bandaging and grooming. My boss and supervisor didn’t like him much, and always seemed to point out that he probably wouldn’t race all that well, but I didn’t care. His personality made up for it. I taught him to hold the end of a broom in his teeth and “sweep”, and when he was especially covered in shavings, I would “sweep” him off. He loved little fruit shaped sugar candies and pears, and I always shared my coffee break food with him. I told him that someday maybe we would be together again, and made a pact with him (although I’m not sure he understood) that someday I would find him and give him a home.

Well, one day I came into the barn to start the day after my scheduled day off, and Skye wasn’t there. I was told by one of my co-workers that he had been taken off to the track the day before. I was very sad, but this happened quite a bit, and I soon found another “protégé” and moved on.

I couldn’t forget him though. I would think about him more and more as the time went on. So, I kept track of his races and workouts, and long after I lost my job at Windfields, I tried to keep updated on him. Soon I could no longer find him in the results or workouts on the Woodbine site, so I contacted the Jockey Club wondering where he was.They sent me back a quick email saying where he was, who his new owners were and the address for the new owner. I was overjoyed! I immediately penned a letter off to Gail Proteau (his new owner) to enquire about him, and to let her know that when he was done racing, he had a home with me.

Gail and I wrote back and forth a few times, and one day I got the most wonderful surprise! A big cardboard reinforced envelope came, and in it a beautiful win picture from Skye’s first win for Gail! I was so happy! Incidentally, the horse that came second in the race was also a favorite of mine, named Golden Classic, whom I had ridden at the start of my short lived career at Windfields. Gail also sent me a video of that race, and I still have both.

Well, last year (September 2000), I got a call from Gail enquiring as to whether I was still interested in purchasing Skye, whom she affectionately called “Jake”. Of course! So off dad and I went to Dunville, Ontario to look at a horse I hadn’t seen since 1998, and had no idea if he was still even sound to ride! It was a 7-hour drive one way, and dad and I went there and back the same day.

When we got to Dunville, and pulled into Gail’s drive, I almost started crying. Right there in the front paddock was Skye! He was quite excited and trying to tease the mares (He was on Thyro) and when he trotted up and down the fence, all my dad could say was “Oh MY!” (That meant dad liked him) When he came over to the fence to see us, he was just as I remembered. We got a very basic vet check done that day and bought him right on the spot. Thankfully I knew much of the horses health history, and with some experience buying horses, I knew he was a good buy after our inspection of him. Dad brought him home the next week, and when I got home that evening from college, there he was in my barn. It was a day I will never forget. That face with his funny blaze that had been so much a part of my dreams was right there in front of me. Of course, I reverted back to calling him Skye. He responded to it immediately.

We have had Skye since October of 2000, and I began riding him in April of 2001 (I gave him the winter completely off). So far, with two months of training into him, he is doing very well, and most people who watch him go remark on what a clean, nice horse we got for what we paid. My dad loves him, and always remarks on what a fun personality he has.

Skye will eventually get sold on to a career in the hunter/jumper ring, as that is what I do for a living, but I know that I was able to give him a new start, and that is what is important to me. He is 6 years old now, and hopefully will show in his first show this August, depending on how he is going. Next year, he will be up for sale, and for what I am told, he may a fetch a very good price. It will be sad to part with him again, but hopefully someone local will buy him and I will be able to visit!

Next up will be locating another horse I used to ride at Windfields, and hopefully we will be as lucky!

Triple Run - 15.3 hh Chestnut gelding by Leave Seattle/Miss Sky McGrew by Naked Sky

Skye and Caroline at the starting gate alongside Wise Control.

Skye at Gail's house in 1998.