It was September 1956, and a new school year was starting. Harry took Snowman and the other horses that he used in lessons to Knox School. Now he knew that the big grey could jump fences. He could jump very high fences. He could jump high fences even in a very small field with no space to run. He could jump like a champion. If he could jump high fences, he could jump over obstacles in a jumping competition. Harry wanted to teach Snowman to jump with a rider.
First he prepared some small jumps for the big horse. He cantered Snowman in the direction of the little obstacles. But Snowman did not jump. He hit the obstacle with his legs. He made the bar fall. Harry was patient. He tried again. And again. Snowman made the bar fall again. And again.
“What’s the matter, ‘Teddy Bear?’” Harry asked. He often called the big grey horse Teddy Bear, because of his gentle personality. He didn’t understand how this horse could jump four-foot fences out of a very small field. He had jumped with a big heavy tire attached to his leg. Why couldn’t he jump in the arena? Why couldn’t he jump with a rider? It was a mystery.
Every day Harry continued trying to teach Snowman to jump over small obstacles. Snowman continued making the poles fall. Harry was patient. He knew this horse could jump if he wanted to.
Harry was also training another gelding, Sinjon, a beautiful thoroughbred. He had been a racehorse. He was beautiful to look at but he was difficult to ride. Harry took Sinjon to shows and he won prizes with Sinjon, but the thoroughbred was not Harry’s horse. He didn’t belong to Harry. He belonged to a girl at the school. But his student could not ride Sinjon. The young horse was too difficult. Harry was teaching the horse to jump like a champion and he was teaching the horse’s owner to ride like a champion. Harry was a good teacher.
One day Harry set up the obstacles for Sinjon. He set up high obstacles. Sinjon could jump high. He rode the thoroughbred into the arena and cantered towards the first obstacle. It was four feet high. Sinjon was listening to Harry. The handsome horse jumped. He jumped high. He carried Harry around the arena and together they jumped over all the obstacles. Harry was happy. It was a good lesson. He took Sinjon back to his box. He brushed him and gave him food and fresh water. “Good boy,” he said. “You did a good job.”
Then Harry took Snowman out of his box. He put his old saddle on the big grey gelding and rode him into the arena. One of the gardeners was watching. The man laughed at Harry.
“Are you going to jump those big obstacles on that plow horse?” he said.
Harry frowned. He had planned to change the bars. He had intended to put them down for Snowman. He didn’t expect the big grey to jump the same obstacles as Sinjon. But he didn’t want people to call Snowman a plow horse. He had been a plow horse once, but now he was a lesson horse, a horse for riding, a very good horse for girls who wanted to learn to ride.
He remembered that Snowman had jumped four-foot fences with a tire tied to his leg. Harry didn’t get off to change the bars. He didn’t put the bars down. He asked Snowman to canter and rode at the first jump.
The big grey responded. He seemed to wake up. He cantered towards the jump, picked up his feet … and flew into the sky. Harry and Snowman were in the air, flying high over the four-foot jump.
“Ha!” exclaimed Harry. “You can do it! You can jump! Boy, can you jump!” He shook his head. He laughed. “Now I understand! You don’t like little jumps. You like big jumps!”
So Harry had a new student, a new horse to train. Teddy Bear was not the most beautiful horse in the barn, but he was calm and friendly and obedient. He liked to work, he liked to practice and he loved to fly over big jumps.
Harry was training other horses for jumping competitions. There was Sinjon, who could beat everyone on a good day. But he often had bad days and he was difficult to ride. Wayward Wind was a chestnut mare, a beautiful little horse, but she did not have as much potential as Sinjon. Night Arrest was a young filly. She was talented but difficult, hard to ride. They were not Harry’s horses. They belonged to some of his students at Knox School. Harry trained them and during the summer he rode them in shows and competitions. Sometimes he won ribbons and sometimes he won prize money. It was his job. Harry was a professional rider. He was not rich, but he was doing what he loved to do. Every day he worked with the horses, fed them, cared for them and rode them.
Sinjon’s owner was Mr. Dineen. His daughter went to Knox School. In the summer of 1957 he came to see Harry.
“Sinjon looks good,” he said.
“Yes,“ Harry agreed. “He’s calmer and he eats better. He has put on weight and muscle. He weighs more and he’s stronger. He has won several prizes. I want to take him to the National Horse Show, in Madison Square Gardens.”
“That’s a big show,” said Mr. Dineen. “It will be on television. Is Sinjon good enough?”
“I think so,” said Harry. “I think he has potential. If you want to invest some money, I think he can win something.”
Pole – barreau rond
Thoroughbred – de pure race
Belong – apartenir
Frown – faire la grimace, froncer les sourcils
Chestnut – alezan
Weight – poids
Weigh – peser