This month the photos tell the story.
Just how honest and wonderful can an OTTB be? Amarillo alternated between my prelim horse and my children’s school pony, as the occasion required. Rapidan went from a teasing stallion to a 4-H show horse and then A-circuit jumper.
The honesty and graciousness that an OTTB can bestow upon the family – and so often, one special young girl – is truly evident in these pictures of Chris, who has spent his life with Aileen Bergen. For sixteen years, since he came off the track (at Saratoga, of all places) and narrowly avoided an end in the kill pen, “Christopher Robin” has been that most ideal friend.
How many of us have learned to ride on a retired racehorse? How many children fall in love with these horses, often the silliest noisiest beasts in the barn, the ones that will tear down their stall door for a chance at that bag of Doritos from the vending machine, or reduce a little girl to gales of laughter by earnestly licking every drop of Coke from her hand?
“Reschooling the Thoroughbred” has a line that makes me smile: “The whole idea in reschooling is to help the horse to forget completely about being a hero.” Maybe, though, that’s not completely accurate. We’re moving their goal posts, perhaps, but these horses continue to be heroes, changing lives and giving everything that they’ve got to make us better people. Is that their intention, the reason why they wake up each morning? Of course not. They’re horses. But they become our intention, don’t they, and they become our heroes, not for all the green and the glory, but for the love and the generosity and, I’ll say it again, the honesty that is all part and parcel of being a Thoroughbred.
These pictures remind me of how incredibly privileged we are, to live in a world populated by Thoroughbreds. And those of us who grew up with them – we are the lucky ones – and those of you that are just discovering them – welcome to our beautiful, beautiful world.