Shaun versus a racy deer: the winner is ...

October 5, 2011

Kiwi thoroughbred Shaun is feeling fit as a fiddle in his specially made shoes, and has even pitted his speed against a deer.


Shaun chilling with his herd.
Shaun, who raced under the name Cusack, was rescued from kill pens in Washington thanks to the generosity of Horsetalk readers.

He is now enjoying life in Kansas under the care of Deb Johnson, who one day hopes Shaun will be up to a career in competitive trail riding.

He has been troubled by foot soreness, but Deb hopes the special shoes and supplements will rebuild his hoof strength.

"Shaunie is finally getting back into covering some serious ground," Deb reports.

"It was so sad to see him walking gingerly and no longer running. It's been a couple of weeks in the new shoes, and thanks to [farrier] Ely Avery, Shaun in on the run once again.

"Last night we were doing our good-night pasture walk. It usually begins with some hedge apple shopping at the hedge trees in the pasture behind the shelter, and then we mosey on out to the brom grass for a graze.

"We meander on around the perimeter of the property and end up by the next-door stallion, where I say good night and the border collie and I take the gravel road back home.

"Not last night.

"Last night, Shaun seemed a bit restless, and I could feel him pulling the herd along.

"The mares were in no hurry, as usual. Hawk had his head buried in hedge apples and didn't even notice that we had left for the brom grass.

"I had to call him, 'Haaaaaa awwwwwk!' before his head popped up, and he galloped full speed out to the herd.

"Everyone's head was down busily grazing, and it was silent except for high-pitched sounds of squeaking as horse lips pulled resistant stems from the ground.

"Up pops Shaun's head, ears forward, eyes alert.

"From out of the tree row, came one of the biggest does I've ever seen.

"I didn't know what Shaun would do, but I did not expect him to launch himself in her direction, full speed, to chase her down!

"The deer, Shaun and the border collie dissapeared around the corner of the tree row, all running as fast as their legs would carry them.

"Hawk runs up to me, eyes wide and I told him, GO! He did. More thundering feet. The girls reluctantly left their grass and began to mosey in the same direction.

"By the time I rounded the corner, Hawk and Shaun were standing at the other end of the pasture together, and the next door morgan horses were galloping, kicking up their heels and crow hopping all over their pasture.

"I hooted, and Shaun and Hawk raced back to me, tails like flags and feet flying!

"[It was] kind of like standing at the finish line of a racetrack, a little crazy.

"I hooted and hollered anyway, and they both slid to a stop, breathing hard.

"By this time the morgans were racing one another back and forth on the other side of the fence. Poor things, my border collie is faster.

"I walked down the alley to wait by the stallion, our good-night place. Hawk and Shaun waited for the mares to catch up and they stood there watching the morgans' attempt at speed.

"One more hoot and 'come on, let's go', and here comes the herd! Shaun was setting a land speed record, heading right for me. Hawk waited a few seconds and then he takes off looking like the road runner. Even Eclipse takes off at a slow canter, with Bit in a slow, 'no sense gettin' thar dead', mosey.

"Shaun stopped by the stallion, but when Hawk got to me, he raced around in a circle, kicking, crow hopping and snaky necking. By this time both mares were in a slow mosey. See? This is why I ride a mare, and play with racehorses.

"We all said good night and Bess and I headed down the gravel road for home.

"It was a perfect night. Almost dark, warm, the last bird songs filling the trees and my questions answered. Yes, racehorses sometimes like to run, especially if they get to chase something fast. I think these race tracks need to rethink how they motivate horses to go. Whips or give em something to catch? Hmmmmm."