A Colt on the Roof?

That’s what the photo shows: yearling thoroughbred Must Win patiently standing on the roof of the barn.


Pat and Stephen Downey thought the photo was doctored at first, but their barn bore witness to his adventure, with multiple manure piles and a hole where the colt’s hoof punched through.

Stephen’ brother, Archie, snapped the photo, then coaxed the baby down. He’d never been handled, so Archie first tried to lure him down, but that failed. Then Archie got behind him and gently shooed him toward the rear edge. At last, Must Win finally took the dare and jumped down to the earthen ramp he’d used to climb up.

The earthen ramp

The earthen ramp

Behind the barn, the ground slopes up to within a couple of feet of the roof. Must Win, left alone in the New Brunswick pasture for the first time in his life, used the earthen ramp to leap atop the higher vantage point. His fellow pasture mates were on their way to the race track, and he was left behind.

From the Canadian CTV News article: “I think he was just bored,” [Stephen] Downey said. “He’s like a two or three-year-old kid and he was just looking for some excitement, and he got into trouble like a regular kid would do.”

Pat Downey expressed concern about the near miss with danger if Must Win had fallen through the roof, which was 12 feet off the ground. “I don’t think he would have recovered from it because we couldn’t have gotten him out.”

The Downeys have fenced off Must Win’s roof access.

I’ve never found a horse on the roof, but my Doberman, Hans, was on the barn roof when I arrived home decades ago. I was busy unloading horses after the show when I heard him bark but couldn’t see him anywhere. The night was dark and so was he. I finally grabbed a flashlight, and there he was, standing on the edge of the roof, a great big happy grin on his face.

Even though Hans loved jumping atop or over almost anything, I could not see how he could have leaped that high. I had to park my pickup close to the barn and then spend an hour coaxing him down. Finally he was safe, but the mystery remained until the next time my hay man pulled in to drop off a load. He backed up the the end of the barn and began tossing bales into the hay shed. Hans jumped up to greet him and then jumped to the top of the hay stacked on the truck. From there, it was a simple hop onto the roof. Part of the hay man’s job after that was to make sure Hans was on the ground before he drove away.


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