Phillip Dutton was pleased. “Actually I’m ecstatic,” he said when relaying his account of Icabad Crane’s maiden voyage to a horse show last weekend in Aiken, S.C.
“He got off the trailer and was shaking at first, but once I was on board he remembered everything and was a pleasure to ride,” Dutton said. “He was certainly aware that he was somewhere off-campus, but he was a true gentleman. I was really impressed.”
And Dutton was aware that, regardless of the horse’s eagerness to please, flashbacks to his days on the racetrack were a very real possibility. This venture to a local hunter/jumper show was another training exercise; a dress rehearsal to introduce the gelding to the sights, sounds and distractions he’ll encounter as he phases into the competitive environment.
Dutton took six horses to the show, with Icabad Crane the rookie of the group. “He had to stand on the trailer for a good part of the day and then come off it and be ridden. A lot of it is just going through this process. It was a good experience for him to understand that he can get on the trailer and not go to the races.”
Dutton reported that Icabad Crane is progressing ahead of schedule, and the current plan is for one or two more training excursions to local shows before entering him in a small competition near Aiken at the end of March. The horse will then head back to West Grove, Pa. ahead of Dutton, who has another competition on his calendar as he makes his way home. From that point on, Dutton has plenty of options in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia for the son of Jump Start.
“I was really pleased with his maturity and his understanding of what was going on as I was riding him. He took my lead rather than worrying about his surroundings. I have faith in him now that when we actually go to a competition that all of the training is going to hold up.”