Jul. 17, 2016

Highlighting: Spider Murphy

Over the years I have purchased many horses off of the track to resell. Some I would put time on under saddle, some not. It would really depend on the horse and my schedule. I purchased Spider Murphy while I was pregnant with my daughter 9 years ago.  At the time I was sending my sale horses to Virginia to have Michelle Craig restart ans resell for me. When I bought Murphy I knew he would make a nice event horse as he seemed to have a good brain, fancy movement and he was very atheltic. Murphy took to his training and sold within 2 months. He spent two years on the east coast learning to jump and show in eventing. I was able to follow him and one day recieved an email that was very unexpected. Murpy was offered back to me because the owner felt she didn't partner well enough with him. I met her halfway and Murphy came back into my life. At that point I had no idea he would have such a huge impact on me.

I began riding right away. We had to figure each other out which is always a learning process. Murphy was my ticket back into the show ring. I hadn't has much luck finding a horse that I could build my confidence back up on. In fact since I'd never had a horse come to me with any type of training other than racing, it was exciting to thnhink of what our future might hold. We did a mini clinic at Stonegate Farm and found out we had a lot to learn together over fences. Murphy never ever said "no" to a jump. He was as game as they come. In fact, he felt he knew best where to take off, even if that meant a super long spot at a high rate of speed. I began to realize that this was probably the reason why he came back to me. Murphy would toss his head three strides out (only at the canter) even if you completely dropped his head. So I thought to myself....who needs to canter anyway? We were going to be showing at the Starter level and I knew with his stride that I would come in too fast if I canter cross country. So we trotted everything. In stadium was trotted most of the course except that I alet him canter any lines. Each show turned out to be all about beating or improving on my own dressage score. Murphy never refused a jump. We began to mesh and placed in the top 3 in every show we entered except one where I rode right past fence 4 in stadium....oops. 

We also had a great time riding in several hunter paces, trail rides and I gave pony rides to my daughter on him. Murphy proved to be one of the quietest, most trustworthy horses I have ever owned. Add to that being so kind it probably pained him to swat a fly, and he was such an easy keeper he only ate grass (24/7 turn out) and I had a hard time keeping weight OFF of him. I learned how to properly pull shoes off of him and also learned how to clinch shoes once my husband tacked them on. He was a patient teacher with so much personality he seemed part human. 

It was almost 3 weeks since I had time to ride Murphy. We had been really busy with racing but I made sure to meet him at the fence daily for treats and rubs. I truely think Murphy loved his life. He never laid his ears down. Ever. He got along with anyone you turned out with him. Murphy was one in a million. After we won our division at South Farm the dressage judge told me he was one of the nicest prospects she had ever seen. We scored a 27 on our test that day and got a 9 on our free walk. I was floating after that show. 

I remember the night before Hallowween 2009 I had to take my daughter to the ER for severe stomach pain. I got home around 5am and went to bed after getting home. The babysitter came a few hours later and I decided to head to the store quickly. I stopped by the barn on my way home and my husband had asked me to help him bring two racehorses in front turn out really quickly before I took the groceries home. As we walked outside I was looking up the hill in Murphy's pasture and only saw 3 of the 4 horses up there. I scanned the field did not see the fourth horse. Because it was so far up the hill it was hard to tell who was who up there so I didn't know who was missing. My husband noticed someone laying down not far from the barn towards the bottom of the hill. I walked further toward that pasture and saw that it was Murphy. As I got close my heart sunk, he was dead. I don't think I've ever freaked out any worse at any other time. I ran. Threw the gate open and ran. Sobbing over his body I couldn't understand why this special horse had to die at only 8 years old. I think everyone shed a tear or two that day. My heart felt like it had been ripped out that day. 

I guess he came into my life to show me that I could overcome my fears and have fun again. This "crazy" racehorse that refused to leave the starting gate more times that he won races broke down every misconception people have about exracehorses. Every single show we went to, he left a positive impression. Eventually I started riding in saddle pads with the TB patch on them because nobody would believe me when I told them he was an exracehorse. 

Murphy died from an aneurysm. He dropped where he stood and never felt a thing. I'm thankful for that. I kept some of his tail and had a belt made from it. I will cherish the memories I have of him forever.