By Ann Jamieson
Reprinted with permission from Ann Jamieson
When his long, but not particularly illustrious, racing career ended with a bowed tendon, Monday Morning was sent to the slaughterhouse. At least, that was the plan. Two trucks pulled up to the barn Monday was housed in. One was headed to the killers. The other one was taking some mares that had been purchased as broodmares to their new home.
Monday got on the truck with the mares.
When Monday got off the truck at the new place, the owner looked at him and thought, “Well, he’s awful pretty, but he’s not a mare.” With his nearly black coat and beautiful eye, Monday was stunning. The mares moved into their new home. So did Monday.
Monday’s bowed tendon made him dead lame. Luckily, because of his beauty and his sweetness, the woman decided to keep him. She rested him for a year to give the leg a chance to heal.
The time off worked. Monday came back sound and ready for a new career. When he started back in work, his owner discovered she had a horse with extraordinary talent. Although she realized she didn’t have the money to bring him along and unleash his potential, she knew exactly who to call. She had heard about Andrew Lustig, a young trainer who worked with hunters and ponies. Taking a rescued off-the-track racehorse (Conversation Piece), Andrew had shown him to Horse of the Year honors in the hunters. He was the man she wanted. With him, Monday would have a chance at greatness.
Monday’s first brush with death was merely the start of a series of occurrences which would prove Monday catlike in the number of lives he had.
He was shipped down to Jacksonville, Florida, from New York in 1993, the year and the exact time of The Perfect Storm (The Storm of the Century). The two-horse trailer carrying Monday, clipped and without a blanket, got stuck in a snowdrift on the highway. Fearing for his life, his owner took him off the trailer and they started walking, searching for a warm place for the night. After a mile or so she found a barn and walked up to the house, where she asked the farmer for help. He had horse blankets and a barn for Monday. For the second time, Monday cheated death.
The farmer’s name was Baxter; in honor of his hospitality, Monday’s owner gave him that name.
When Baxter arrived safely in Florida, Andrew instantly liked him and arranged for a client of his to purchase him. Andrew would train the horse for free, in exchange for fifty percent interest in him.
At their first show, when he and Andrew entered the schooling area, Baxter reverted to the only job he truly knew. He raced every horse in the area, flat out running away. Andrew never made it to the show ring.
At the second show, the same thing happened. Baxter ran away with Andrew in the schooling ring. By the third show, the owner was sick and tired of paying the bills on a horse who never showed. Andrew was told to enter the ring or he would lose the ride on Baxter.
He complied. Andrew was in for the shock of his life. Instead of running away with Andrew, Baxter was instantly perfect and seemed to know exactly what to do. He acted as if he had been showing his whole life. Andrew was shocked: he has never before or since had a similar experience with another horse.
Baxter won that class, and thereafter won every class in the Pre-Green division. His bravery and classic jumping style were indisputable.
“He is,” says Andrew, “the bravest horse I’ve ever ridden in my life.” Baxter finished the season as circuit champion in the Pre-Green Hunters in Ocala.
Then, as often happens in the horse industry, Andrew and the client parted company. Unfortunately, Andrew had no written contract with his client, so he had no proof that the horse was half his. Baxter left his barn, leaving Andrew heartbroken. Andrew had lost “the most incredible horse I’ve ever worked with.”
The new trainer moved the horse into the jumper divisions. Baxter looked like a lunatic, and in addition sported a bloody mouth from the cruel bit he wore. Once again, the horse had hit a bad spot, and things only got worse when his owner went broke and quit paying Baxter’s board.
The owner of the farm where Baxter lived knew nothing about horses. When he did not receive his board fees, he went to his lawyer for advice. The lawyer obviously didn’t know anything about horses either. He recommended that Baxter not be turned out in the field, or ridden. Since “possession is nine tenths of the law,” if the owner were to steal Baxter out of the field, the farm owner would never retrieve his board fees.
The end result was that Baxter ended up no longer in a horse barn, but in a chicken coop where the roof was so low he couldn’t even lift his head. Baxter lived like that for eight months.
Once again, the horse teetered on the edge of existence. His weight and condition had dropped until he was nothing but a skeleton coated in filthy skin, pockmarked with oozing sores. When Baxter was auctioned off on the court house steps, his life was spared yet again. Andrew was there to save him.
Monday’s full story is available in For the Love of the Horse, Volume III, along with dozens of other remarkable true stories. To order a copy, or any of the four volumes, email Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can sign up for a subscription to ahorseinyourinbox.com, where you can read Monday’s story along with over a hundred more, and a new one every week in your inbox.
*This story was originally published in the July 2022 issue of The Plaid Horse. Click here to read it now and subscribe for issues delivered straight to your door!