I had to stop in the writing of this and check the calendar; I never know what date it is. But good morning! It’s Sunday, it’s 32 in Brooklyn, and here is what I have been reading as I sip my morning tea and put off the day’s work:
Sunday mornings are made for precisely this sort of weepy saga, the sort that makes you shake your head and wipe your eye and reflect upon every equine decision you have ever made, and possibly swear to every horse in your pasture that you will never, ever leave them and you will never, ever sell them or give them away or let someone else feed them for the weekend while you go and visit your mother. It’s the story of a dark bay or brown Thoroughbred mare named Burma, and a breeding contract gone bad, and years of separation. It’s absolutely one of the saddest, sweetest things you’ll ever read.
It also points out, over and over and over, that Burma was related to Man O’War! And, Seattle Slew! NO WAY! What a rare and unique jewel! Okay, possibly not the most appropriate setting for snark. I know “Man O’War” and “Seattle Slew” and “Secretariat” and “Barbaro” are all the horse names these poor news reporters have in their vocabulary, and they don’t know that all these horses are cousins by blood anyway, and it’s probably for the best if that doesn’t get mentioned. But I do think it’s just as interesting that Burma’s dam is out of a Buckpasser mare, and that doesn’t get mentioned once; I had to look her up on Pedigree Query. Oh, and there’s an interesting twist to the end of this story, even Burma is not who she seems, and she isn’t in Pedigree Query!
Never turn your back on a horse who isn’t listed in Pedigree Query! They could be anyone!
It’s never actually said what Burma’s owner did with her before she lost her, either. Oh, MSNBC. These things are important.
For six years, they were inseparable. Megan worked on pacing her new horse, calming her, grooming her, earning her trust. From the start it was clear that Burma would never be a good hunter or jumper: She didn’t have the calm, steady temperament to win in the show ring. And she was sickly — Megan endured whole nights in the barn, nursing her horse through bouts of colic, an intestinal disease that’s sometimes fatal. But Megan loved Burma’s adventurous streak, the fact that she was willing to try anything, loved their deepening bond.
I think that’s code for eventing.
The article is here: “Burma’s True Love.”
The Daily Racing Form has an outstanding little article by Jay Hovdey that sums up my feelings about old warriors at the track precisely:
“Old geldings — especially geldings who run for lower claiming prices — make a lot of people nervous.”
They do! I love successful older racehorses, because they are the true racehorses: sound and fast and happy with their job. Nothing makes me happier than to see a horse come back season after season. My husband and I actually lost count the other day trying to figure out how many times we’d seen Gio Ponti run (at least half a dozen, and at three different tracks in two states).
Hovdey mentions a few in the double-digits who are still competitive and then talks to trainer Steve Irlando at Turf Paradise, who has a certain older gentleman who is due for retirement. Irlando says: “I have a lot of horses given to me. Used to be folks would turn a horse out, but not anymore it seems.”
That’s a shame.
And then, of course, we have the big apple, the elephant in the room I’ve been avoiding because while the OTTB world was orbiting around Harrisburg, PA, I was out at Aqueduct watching the racehorses run. Hey, I don’t have a car. What can I say. Anyway, until I find a video from yesterday, Laurie over at The Sassy Grey has a write-up and pictures from the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge finale, and that arena is crazy.
One last thing, my novella, The Head and Not The Heart, got a beautiful review at Dappled Grey. In case you didn’t know, I write fiction about horsepeople, and Dappled Grey showcases the sort of beautiful life we could all have if we had millions of dollars and could decorate our Middleburg mansions with hunting prints and equestrian-motif brocade chairs for taking tea after the fox-hunt. It’s really all too luxurious for words. Anyway, Dappled Grey says: “If you’re looking for a new equestrian author to fall in love with, Dappled Grey has a tip for you! We’ve become overnight fans of Natalie Keller Reinert after reading her debut novel “The Head and Not The Heart.”
So, there’s that.
And before I sign off, if you have any guest posts you’d like to contribute to Retired Racehorse while I’m on holiday, get them to me in the next two days! Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edit: The Chronicle of the Horse just added their Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge write-up!