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Max Jumping Essay1Alice Jernigan photoWhen I first met “Max”, he was in a small 10’ x 10’, dark stall at the racetrack. He was 17.2 hands tall, big boned, had large feet, perfectly proportioned with lots of chrome. He was not like most of the other fine boned, skinny thoroughbreds one normally sees at the track.

At first, I thought he was an old horse as he was particularly calm and unaffected by things going on around him. He behaved like a veteran. When I found out he was only three, I set my sights on him, but never dreamed he would come available at such an early age; I’d have to wait a long time for this one.


Max was magnificent. I visited him regularly, combing through the prospects looking for my next horse. After meeting Max, all the other horses paled in comparison. One day, late in the race season and in early August, I made my rounds calling the local race trainers looking for my next prospect. When Max’s trainer told me Max had raced his last race the night before and was for sale, I immediately hooked up my trailer and headed for the track.

After passing the vet check, my dream horse was mine.

Because of his notably calm, unaffected behavior, I decided to take him roading only one week after his last race. Being early August, I thought it a perfect time to get him used to the hounds, terrain, the horn, and other horses and to start his new career.

Since then, Max has been a foxhunter’s dream. He is in his fifth season and is still only eight years of age. He has hunted with numerous hunts around the Midwest, travelled across the US for hunt weeks on the east coast, and is always the horse people notice first, as he is stately, mannerly, very large, and magnificent. He looks like a horse straight out of Sir Arthur Munning’s, or one of Stubbs' royal paintings.

Max’s manners are impeccable. He is perfectly happy to munch hay while being tied to a trailer. He’s great at opening gates, despite his large size, and always stands calmly for remounting. From time to time while hunting, horses in the field get loose from their riders leaving them unmounted and stranded, many miles from home. Max is always called to gallop to their rescue. Faster than a speeding bullet, he can outrun any runaway, capture the wayward beast, and then quietly will return the mount to his or her grateful rider.

As a whipper-in’s horse, he fearlessly scales the cliffsides of our hilly terrain making sure stray hounds stay in line. As a field hunter, he is perfectly mannered, keeping his place behind masters, and never aspires to outrun the horses around him. He can be a ladies hunter or will harken to the requests of a gentleman thruster. When leading the field, he is a bold jumper and does not mind going where no horse or hound would venture. Yet always is willing to do as he is asked.

Max, my thoroughbred, is a foxhunter of a lifetime, a dream come true.

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