The barns for chuckwagon horses are similar to the locker rooms used by those who play human sports – full of handsome, husky and high-spirited athletes. Well, except for Oops.
Standing about 30 inches high, Oops is a toy miniature horse who travels with chuckwagon driver Troy Flad’s outfit. He may be little, but he’s an important part of the whole operation.
Several years ago, Troy’s son was at a horse auction with some friends and purchased Oops, on a whim, for $10.
The biggest, shiniest horse in the Flad operation is a wheeler named Friendly Nipper and he’s the boss of the barn. “If he wants to eat at a particular spot, the others move. They don’t want to fuss with him,” Flad explains. When Oops was turned out into the pasture in the fall, Friendly Nipper immediately took him under his wing. The two animals became so close that they shared a stall and slept together.
The next year, when racing began, Flad noticed that Friendly Nipper was off his game. A quick trip home to fetch Oops, though, restored the big horse’s morale and his performance came back up to par.
As a result, Oops now travels with the Flad outfit to every event. “It’s all about having these horses happy,” Flad says.
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