Sunday, March 1, 2015

One Shade of Gray to the Rescue

Trina Maus rode before she could walk. The Ottawa Citizen, her local newspaper, featured an 18-month-old Trina riding her pony Pansy on Page One. In subsequent years, Trina honed her skills with the help of Olympians Ian Millar, Jill Henselwood, and Hugh Graham. She earned many championships and titles until she placed her equestrian endeavors on hold to pursue a career in media in 1999, developing over time into a respected Canadian journalist.
In 2008,that special place in her heart reserved by horses long ago began to yearn. Ready to saddle up, Trina  began to search for a new partner. After a year of looking, Trina discovered Lasting Freedom, better known as Lou. He had recently joined the stable of owner/trainer Marvin Buffalo, for whom he had raced only two times. She recalled that, “he was noticeably lame, and the trainer intended to race him that weekend.” 

At 17-hands, Lou towered over competitors at Assiniboia Race Track. He placed 2nd in last start, the 27th of his career, which brought his lifetime earnings to $48,730. The steel gray was so prized as a two-year-old, that he made his maiden debut in a stakes race. Now a 5-year-old, his last two starts were in $5,000 claiming races. Trina knew she had to rescue Lou. “Against my better judgement, I agreed to pay the trainer a profit and purchased Lou -- I knew I had to buy him and get him off the track before he was permanently injured.”

Once liberated from the demands of racing and given time to recuperate, Lou blossomed. He thanked Trina with a big tri-color championship ribbon at their very first show together. “I have never sat on a horse with such a heart; all Lou wanted to do was please me.  He is a tough horse to ride because he is so big and powerful, but I trusted him -- I knew LOU would never do anything to hurt or scare me,” said Trina.

Lou’s proclivity for jumping evolved very quickly. He and Trina brought home a champion or reserve from every show in 2010.

But then it all came to a crashing end.

In April 2011, Trina’s left leg and ankle were crushed, and her right ankle fractured when a young horse she was riding tripped, flipped, and fell. Trina said,“it took 5 plates and almost 40 screws to fix the 100 breaks, my Doctors told me I would never be able to walk on my left leg or ride again.”

For the next two and a half months Trina made the best of life from a hospital bed complicated by a hospital-borne infection that severely threatened her recovery. She said after two months, her family quickly noticed she was becoming depressed and arranged for doctors to allow her out of the hospital for a day to go see Lou.

At the stable she called for Lou -- he came running to the gate calling back.  Trina didn’t know how Lou would react to seeing her in a wheelchair. She said he just ignored it.  “The barn owner led him into his stall and put up a stall guard so I could pat him,  Lou gently nuzzled my face and chest -- he was so quiet and gentle, and never once touched my legs." Trina said after seeing Lou, that’s when things started turning around.

Once out of the hospital, with the help of friends, Trina visited Lou every day, she said, “he stood quietly while I patted him from the wheelchair.” Eventually she started brushing Lou and when she graduated to crutches she would lead him. Trina remembers, “he would take baby steps, not an easy feat for a 17-hand horse. Lou knew I needed him -- every day he inspired me to do a little more, he became my physiotherapy, and my reason to get out of the house.” Trina’s high strung thoroughbred jumper had turned into the quietest horse.

Nearly a year post accident, Trina ached to ride. A cast, a fracture that would not heal, nor a prospective fifth surgery stood in the way of her desire.  Understanding that healing is more than just physical, her surgeon gave her the green light to get back in the saddle. He simply cautioned,  “do not use stirrups, and PROMISE to be careful!”

Lou hadn't been ridden in almost a year, but Trina knew he would be the one she would get on first. The coach at the barn advised otherwise, “Trina, Lou is a bit high strung in the field, use a school horse instead.” Trina’s gut countered, if any horse would understand I needed to be looked after, it would be Lou.

Trina believed in Lou, she trusted him, and listened to her instinct. “He never liked mounting blocks, yet he stood like a rock while I maneuvered my way into the saddle,” she said. When asked, Lou quietly went forward. Trina said, "he would walk for an hour and never put a foot wrong." With Trina’s leg signals locked inside a cast Lou quickly learned her voice commands instead.

Healing and progress ensued. She gives Lou all the credit, “without him I do not believe that I would have been able to pull through this ordeal.”

Miraculously, by April of 2012, Trina & Lou began to show again. In the same month Trina learned she was pregnant -- with triplets !!!

Despite a high risk pregnancy, Trina continued to ride. “I rode Lou at home, he stood patiently at the mounting block while I struggled onto him. We mostly walked, until I was just too big and tired to even tack him up." Once again, Trina’s gentle giant looked after her.

At five months pregnant, Trina recounts a terrifying incident, “I was brushing Lou on cross ties when the pony in front of us freaked out and started rearing and pulling back on the cross ties headed right for us. I knew Lou, being a horse, would also pull back. I had nowhere to go to escape the chaos.” Unable to get out of harm’s way, Trina quickly pulled the cross ties off Lou's halter  and turned her back to the pony. "It was just then," Trina said, "Lou stepped in front of me and shielded me from the panicked pony -- Lou saved me, and my unborn children, from what could have been an unspeakable disaster. That is when I truly realized the bond we share.”

On December 17, 2012, Trina’s healthy triplets were born, a boy and two girls, John-Peter, Ashton and Taylor.

Trina succinctly sums up her great love, saying, "Lou has been with me every step of the way, and he is so gentle with the little babies.  I still can't believe all this horse has done for me. Every day I count my blessings that I took a risk on a lame older race horse. He is the one who really saved me!”

Story submitted by Trina Maus | Written by Susan Kayne



1 comment:

  1. Friends, here is a totally delightful pictorial of Trina's triplets on pony-back ;) ... from our friends at