I love it when a past Beyond the Blinkers subject takes the time to email and give me an update on his or her off track Thoroughbred! Do you guys remember the story of Windy Jim as told by owner Jackie Cross in March 2011? (Click here to refresh your memory).
Well, Jackie emailed me a few weeks ago to give me an update on the 16-year-old Feel the Power gelding and it sounds like he couldn't be better!
Windy Jim was given to Cross by her childhood riding instructor, Pat, who had cared for the gelding after he retired from racing, but was experiencing some financial constraints.
Like many OTTBS, Windy Jim may not have had the best racing career--he failed to find the winner's circle in six starts and was retired after his 3-year-old season due to a bowed tendon--but he sure has found a winning new vocation with Jackie.
Jackie, who formerly boarded Windy Jim at a farm near her home in Bridgeport, W.V., has now acquired her own land keeps her gelding in a spacious pasture outside her back door.
"I love being able to look out my kitchen window and see him playing with his best buddies Chance and Bandit," Jackie said. "We have miles and miles of beautiful trails right behind our new barn. Windy loves to be on the trails and takes great pleasure in leaping (usually from a standstill) over the smallest ditches and logs. When he lands on the other side he usually takes off and lets out a playful buck. I've learned to prepare myself and hang on. It never fails, I still laugh after all these years when he bucks. My girlfriend has always said, 'Poor boy couldn't buck his way out of a paper bag, but he sure has fun trying!' "
Jackie further related that Windy is the "king" of his small herd and keeps Chance and Bandit in line.
"One of the things I've always loved about him is how kind and accepting he is of any new horse he happens to meet, which always seemed odd since he's an alpha type horse," said Jackie. "He was considered the resident babysitter at the old boarding facility. You could put any new horse in a paddock with him on day one and he would be their friend and protector until they gradually worked their way into the herd. Once they were accepted by the others, then he made sure they knew HE was the boss......it was funny to watch all the different sides of his personality. He's just so intelligent!"
Windy Jim (right) with his pasture mates
Windy Jim's favorite treat is still peppermints and Jackie swears he can hear a plastic wrapper from 100 yards away.
"Our other two (horses) are also very lovable and they like a lot of attention too," said Jackie. "But if I walk out into the pasture Windy comes up to me immediately and tells the other boys to back off. I think he's afraid they might get one of his peppermints!"
Windy Jim with another OTTB friend, Killing Frost, which Jackie recently re-homed
Windy's new favorite pastime is to tell Jackie where he wants to be scratched.
"I was in his stall one day and trying to clean around him," said Jackie. "He came up behind me, put his head on my behind, and gave a little shove. I turned around and asked him what he wanted and he picked up his right hind leg, shook it, and then stomped the floor.
"I had no idea what he was doing, so I turned around and went back to my cleaning. A couple seconds later I feel another shove, but this one was a little harder. I turned around and again asked what he wanted. I figured he was bored and just wanted to play so I started rubbing his head. He pulled away as if to tell me, 'no.'
"Then he shook his hind leg again and stomped it down. I went to his back leg and started to scratch him and immediately he started shaking his head up and down. He was so happy that I finally figured it out, but I didn't quite have the right spot yet. He then moved his body to position my hands exactly where he wanted them. Voila!!! I guess you could say Windy taught me a new trick. Now, on a pretty regular basis, he will nudge me first then put whatever part of his body is itching up against me and wait for me to scratch him. Some people might say he's a little spoiled."
Now it's your turn to tell me about your favorite OTTB's funniest or most endearing personality quirks. It could be an OTTB that you personally own, or just one that you've come into contact with. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen at random next week. The prize is a free New Vocations t-shirt of your choice. Good luck!
New Vocations shirts; the one on the right says "Raised to Race, Recycled to Ride"