The Miracle – A Reflection on the Origin of Sport (Millbrook, ON)

Sure, we can jump out of planes, crash through white water and tear up the court on a fast break, but do we ever slow down and think about how this all began? Where do these sports come from? Why do so many people dedicate their recreation time to putting a little white ball in hole, while so few people out there have experienced underwater hockey?

Once in a blue moon an opportunity presents itself which allows us to dig a little deeper, to find out where these sports began, and what makes them so magnetic. Such an opportunity recently asked me to stay late after work, where one of the race horses on our farm was very, very pregnant. Now I may not be real “book smart”, but I know that fairly often, when something is very, very pregnant, it’s because there’s a baby inside of it.

The peculiar thing about babies is that, much like wrongfully committed inmates in movies, they always find a way out (usually right after the plot dilates things get messy).

Having the expertise and the inside track to know that pregnancy often leads to birth, I took the initiative a few weeks ago to ask if I could name any foals that were born in the coming weeks. I was given the green light.

I immediately tore through my collection of Chili Pepper and John Frusciante lyrics, as well as all of the Mitch Hedberg quotes I could find. After narrowing the list down to a single page, I created a bracket – each name would go head-to-head against one another until only one was left standing and declared victorious!

Half-way through this process I found out that horse names are supposed to follow lineage (much like humans I suppose), and so any new foal’s name should try to incorporate some aspect of it’s parents’ or grandparents’ names. So out went my list and in came something that had to relate to “Mach 3” (the father) or “Hurricane Angel” (the mother). Angel is no name for a tyrant of a race horse, and make no mistake about it, this horse will rule the track with an iron fist. Hurricanes, while evil, have gotten a pretty bad wrap in recent years, so I focused my efforts on Mach – Mach in the Park, Machiavelli, Mach Stock and Barrel… and then, one day, driving home from a meeting it hit me: Mach Ness Monster.

Powerful, burly, and a competitor with a one-horse power engine that will tear away from all your Lamborghini’s and Maserati’s as soon as the gate goes up.

That was my vision for Mach Ness.

It turns out I may have to wait a couple of years. As we walked down to the barn at 5:30am, there was Hurricane Angel, as big as ever. Blood visibly coursing through the veins around her stomach as she sat up, then laid down, then sat back up. It was go time.

Most horses will avoid going into labour when humans are around, however, Hurricane Angel seems to prefer their company. This means it’s a rare occurrence to witness the birthing process. I realized just how rare when the vet showed up as we were preparing for the main event and asked if we could take some pictures on her camera – apparently even a horse veterinarian doesn’t get to see this very often.

What happened next was a little icky for a sheltered suburban boy such as myself, but it had me amazed nonetheless.

Delivering the Mach Ness Monster was an eye opener, but it was the minutes and hours afterwards that brought me the most sense of amazement. Within 30 minutes of climbing out of the womb, Mach Ness was standing under his own power. A day later he was running around the field, tip toeing through snow and leapfrogging piles of hay – take that human baby!

The near-blindness of newborn foals means that fences can sneak up on them as they adjust to their new found speed, which always makes for some antagonizing moments for their owners and anyone who doesn’t want to see them run into a fence. The world’s a big scary place, even for a monster – but you still have to get out there and run around.