I stood next to Leigh 💕and Duck at their stable. Leigh had ravished about 10 rescue remedy droplets🦋 (you know, the chewy things you suck on to relieve nerves) and wanted about 10 more.
🌱With a deep breath, he walked over to the cutting pen with a stadium of on lookers 💃🏾spectating the 7 horses before him. I could feel his energy from the other side of the stadium. 🧚🏼♀️I had to stop eating the rescue remedy drops myself… 🤭the warning on the back *may cause mild laxative effects* was a slight deterrent. 👀They called Leighs name and introduced Duck as ‘🗣Leigh Cragg riding Play Rey Duck, by DuckRey out of Dalman Cheering For Roy’. 🤙🏽What was missing from this introduction however was, for me, so much. 👣
As so many of you are well aware, in July 2018 🙏as Leigh set up our brand new mechanical cow Duck was in the yard next to him. 🦄All of a sudden, he threw himself to the ground, biting at his flanks and groaning. 🥀He had colic. And badly. We raced him to our local vets (50 minutes away) 🏎who immediately sent us to a specialist vet 1.5 hours away. It was a tentative drive up the mountains at night 🌜with Duck trying to throw himself down in the float the whole way. 🔥
Once we got there, if he had any chance of surviving 🌓he needed immediate and serious colic surgery. Within minutes he was put on a crane and lifted upside down to have his stomach cut open and pulled out. 🚧
They found nothing. 🙅🏽♂️And when he was stitched up, he took 4 times longer to come out of anaesthetic than normal. And then… 🧠presented with the same abdominal pain. The vets subtly prepared us to say our goodbyes, giving him limited time ⏰until it was cruel to make him sustain the pain any longer.
But in Ducks true fighting spirit, Leighs favourite thing of all about him kicked in. 💡His try. And as the hours went on, his pain miraculously disappeared. ⏳And a week later, as he was given the Ok by the surgeon- he bowed to the staff that tried to save his life, as he returned home. 🏡
Months in a stall no bigger than he could turn, 📅then walk saw him go insane. And then once his rehab period was finally over- Leigh began to bring him lightly back into work. 🔓Leighs goal with Duck was to be able fo compete him at the 2019 cutting futurity 💜but now, it has shifted to being able to ride him at all.
As Duck got back to peak fitness ⛹🏽♂️it was time to begin working him on some cattle- 🐮 perhaps the futurity wasn’t too much a pipe dream after all? 🎬But… he went lame. And with a intensive visit from the chiropractor, he was put on more rest. 💤 As that period ended Leigh brought him back into work, where he went lame AGAIN. 🤦🏼♀️
As the futurity came closer and closer, ⏱it became further and further away from them both. 🕯But Leigh couldn’t be happier that he still has his best mate around. 🎊
As Duck came good again from the lameness, there was little time left to prepare 📅for the biggest 3 year old cow horse event in Australia 🇦🇺 but he was determined not to give up if he could help it.
Hours upon hours, Leigh and Duck spent getting their fitness up, 🏋🏼♀️🤸🏾♂️🤾🏾♀️working the mechanical cow and refining. And then FOUR days ago, 🥂Duck worked a live cow for the first time. 4 freaking days ago! 🍏To put some perspective into this- mostly everyone else would have had 6-12 months of cattle exposure and work under their girth’s…. 🥕 So Duck and Leigh really were flying by the seat of their pains! ✈️
And today.. Duck entered the pen for his turn. 🤞🏽
As Leigh waded through the nerves, amazingly 🙏guided by Joe Maher from JOMA Equine, 🕺🏾the entire way, Duck again reminded him what he’s all about. 🐝
He has try in spades this stallion, and he showed Leigh 🍀 why, in many ways, it was so important that he never ever gave up.
By Alexandria Cragg