May 26, 1974 - May 5,
Shirley and Catiche
Catiche was the first
foal born at Centaur. She was born
the morning of our first horse show ever. The judge said we should call her "Raindrop" because
there was a fine gentle rain early that morning. But we called her Contesse Catiche instead - Contesse
because her sire was Count Lively, a descendant of the famous Triple Crown
winner Count Fleet, and Catiche after a character in War and Peace (I was
reading that book). She was a
feisty foal. I remember handling
her in the Line classes at the Ottawa Winter fair. She wasn't yet weaned and they told us just as we were
entering the ring that the dams couldn't accompany their foals. Well, she just about took my arm off
rearing and generally bouncing all over.
I still don't know how the judge could see her as she was rearing in his
face most of the time. (She placed
Then, when it
came time to back her all I remember is bouncing off walls. She would take off in one direction and
I would stop her into the wall, only to bounce into a different direction. Then the vet decided she needed her
stifles strengthened, so road work was recommended (this is a long-time before the Frank Kenny highway). So, off I would go down the road, only
to have Catiche return home without me.
This happened so regularly that Genevieve (who was about 2 years old
then), one day asked me as I walked back into the yard, this time on Catiche,
"Mummy not fall off today?".
Then we hit
the show ring. What a star she
was. Catiche had this ginormous
extended trot in her, and exceptionally well-balanced canter. She hit her stride in the Medium ring É
a total show-off. She had her
quirks. To get the best out of
her, I had to warm-up in the collected canter, doing lots of canter-walk-canter
transitions. I could not bring her
to the show grounds ahead of time, because her best ride was the first
one. This is when she showed off
the best. My coach at that time
did not know this about her, and was quite discouraged with me when I refused
to go practice at the show site prior the Canadian Championships (in Toronto). Then when we were warming-up before our
ride, Catiche just wasn't going well at all. BUT, when we did our first trot around the dressage ring,
she grew into an enormous horse and just floated. People would come to me afterwards to see her in her stall,
and when I would point her out, they would say, no no the big Hanoverian you
were riding. They were always
shocked to find out that the Big horse was really this little 15.2 hand part Thoroughbred,
part unknown mare.
about competing with Catiche was that a whole crew of grooms was needed for
her. She would wear out one person
after another. I also stationed my
helpers at the gates of the warm-up rings in case I would fall off. She often exhibited airs above the
ground in her first year of showing.
(I never did fall off at a show, but I always had spare show clothes with
me just in case!)
As a school
horse, Catiche was interesting, and frustrating. She was such a sensitive horse to ride, that she never
caught on to this school horse thing.
To her, having a green rider on her back was information overload, and
she would get quick and strong.
She also had a
bad reputation as being mean. But
she was far from it. She would
pretend very well, but the minute another horse threatened her back, she would
dissolve into a puddle. She was
ever handled her, I'm sure has a story of being dragged by her. It was a common sight to see someone
"waterskiing" on the end of a lead rope behind Catiche. Catiche would form strong attachments
to different horses, her strongest was to her own mother Bathsheba whom she
missed horribly after Sheba passed on.
friend Sophie will miss her. A big
part of Centaur is gone.
Twenty-nine years is long time to have a horse. By
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