He loaded as calmly and quietly as he had the day before. No excitement and no anxiety. He was given a treat and a small hay net, at 11am we set off to Toronto. He traveled beautifully, despite the journey taking an extra half an hour due to the intense rain and loud thunderstorms along the 401. The visibility was terrible and at one point we had hail. Solo never moved, we didn’t hear a thing and when we stopped to check him, he was quiet and calm, eating his hay, not a drop of sweat under his blankets.
When we arrived at the Horse Palace, there was a queue of trailers and horse boxes waiting to unload. We were in the queue for about forty minutes. Finally, it was our turn and we were waved on into the pandemonium that was the unloading area. In addition to the several other trailers and horseboxes disgorging animals and equipment onto the curb, there were large stacks of previously unloaded equipment, yet to be shipped to the stalls. Pairs of 18hh Clydesdales, tied together and led from one side by a groom clomped past wearing bright red sheets and matching hoods. Above our heads the Gardiner Expressway roared incessantly by. Selena and I got out, viewed the scene, gulped a bit and decided not just to put on his brand new shiny headcollar, bought especially for this moment, but to add his bridle underneath and to unload holding both the reins and the leadshank.
He unloaded, looked, squawked, looked again and decided that closely following Selena was probably the safest course of action. He walked quietly through the chaos all the way to his stall without a stop. He faltered a little at the entrance to his stall, looked carefully within and then positively hopped inside to safety. From that moment on, he never looked or spooked at a single thing inside or outside, he was wonderful. We took him for a couple of strolls around the stabling and the incessant activity, his eyes grew gigantic and his head swiveled from side to side with a few huffs and puffs here and there, but he never once moved off his straight path beside his handler, or tried to stop.
We had to wash his tail after the trip and took him to the washracks. We waited in line in amongst teams of Belgians….ENORMOUS Belgians. The washrack is made up of three standing stalls on each side so that the horse’s butts are to the aisle way. When the horse at the back came out, they were all so big, that the shoulders of the horse squeezing down the aisle, would actually touch the tails and butts of the other horses…eek! The noise of the gigantic feet positively reverberated on the concrete with big hollow clomps, it was unbelievably noisy. Solo went straight in when we asked him to (we waited for an outside stall, we were not up for walking through the butt ends) and stood there like an old hand to have his tail washed and rinsed in the land of the giants. When we put him to bed and left him, there were teams of six Clydesdales walking by his stall and the four in hand carriage team straight across from him were getting ready to be hitched right outside his stall….this was the education I was hoping for.
He ate his hay and drank his water from the moment he got there. By the time we gave him his grain an hour or so later, there was no excitement great enough to make him raise his head out his bucket for so much as a glance.