Thursday, March 28, 2013

Charlie Hustle

“Charlie Hustle”                                                                                                                             
 by Tom Gumbrecht                    Originally published in Horse Directory..

Pete Rose, the original "Charlie Hustle"
DannyBoy takes over the title...
Pete Rose was, and is, of course, a legendary baseball player who spent most of his Major League career at first base for the Cincinnati Reds. He seemed to always give 150%, and his nickname, "Charlie Hustle", could only begin to suggest the immense dedication, intensity, motivation, pure skill, talent and athleticism that makes his name synonymous with all of those character traits. On the field, I can't think of a teammate you'd rather have.

Off the field, of course, was a different story. He seemed unable, perhaps unwilling, to stay out of trouble. From all outward appearances a brash, cocky, self-absorbed man, his questionable choices caused the World Series MVP and Gold Glove winner to be deemed permanently ineligible to participate in his sport. Off the field, he may have been a guy who would have been difficult to be friends with. The self-destructive type. But no matter how much shame he brought upon himself and his sport, I include myself in a sizable group, perhaps even a majority, that still reveres his name as the ultimate go-getter, and his talent and motivation as something to be awed.

Recently, I've been back riding my young eventing horse, DannyBoy, after the usual winter layoff due to frozen footing and other cold-weather obstacles. It takes me a few weeks to shake the cobwebs off of him at this time every year, to get his body and mind back on track to compete in the horse trials.

DannyBoy is a natural athlete. He has saved my hide in so many circumstances I've
Look where you're going, Danny, not always at the camera..
lost count. He gives and gives and gives until he just can't give anymore. In a word: exuberant. He loves to work, loves his job. I'm convinced he would walk through fire for me, for us, for the team...he is just so willing and giving that sometimes I get chills at the responsibility of managing such devotion. That is, in the arena...

Out of the arena, he's our little backyard farm's bad boy. He's into everything. Snatching blankets off the other horses backs, running around the paddock with the sweater you foolishly left on tack trunk streaming out of his teeth..until he tramples's all in a day's work. Removing a bungee-corded fire extinguisher from the wall and hurling it into the paddock, nipping at the jacket of an unsuspecting visitor...biting at the flank of a pasturemate...all just a sampling of his off-field persona. With, of course, the requisite "who, me?" look after he's been discovered. He's a bull in a china shop. A goofball. The vet calls him a "goon".


In show season, his little antics lessen as his mind is occupied with other things, and when he thinks up some mischief, he might be just tired enough so as to not carry it out. His wonderful demeanor under saddle more than makes up for his antics, which at once seem almost endearing.

In winter time, however, it seems like we get all the bad with none of the good. His youthful exuberance and his devilish ways of expressing it can grow tiring. Just when I think we can't take another day of it, one morning we hear the song of a single bird, then a few more, then the ring starts thawing, the blankets come off and we're back to doing the things that made me love him in the first place.

Well, he's not really Pete Rose. We're not the Cincinnati Reds, and this isn't the World Series. A better analogy perhaps would be of the little league star who gives his all for the team, and when not on the field drives his parents crazy with blowing up stuff, prank phone calls, schoolyard scrapes and detention.

Charlie Hustle. Everybody knows one. I've got one. An overgrown kid who's impossible to stay mad at.  Truth be told, I love him even when he is being a goon.
The deal: I put up with him, he makes me look good..

Perhaps more....

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