Today was the Preakness. Congrats to everyone who bet on Oxbow and condolences to folks who voted on Orb. I didn’t watch the race and have never been anything but tangentially related to horseracing.
When I was at Vanderbilt, lots of my classmates used to go to the Kentucky Derby, since it was only a few hours away, but I never had the money to bet and I never was well-heeled enough to run in the horse crowd. They went more for the hats, the seersucker suits, and the Mint Juleps anyway.
The one time I went to the Saratoga Race Track, all I could think about were the words to Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” My horse did not naturally win.
When I was 10 or so, I went through that horsey stage that every girl goes through on some level. It usually happens right before we get interested in boys. I really wanted a horse, which was totally not ever in the realm of possibility of ever, ever happening in the slightest (I think I make my point). So instead, I read all the “Misty of Chincoteague” books, I put together a model of a horse (and learned that I was not good as working with model cement) and my mom took me to Dorton Arena to see The World Famous Lippizaner Stallions. Then I got a crush on a boy and left the horses behind.
Now, on the rare occasion that I go horseback riding, I don’t particularly enjoy it, much to my dismay. I really wish I did. Getting up on a horse is about as awkward as putting on a wet suit and I don’t do either with anything that approximates grace. Once I’m up there, I feel bad for the horse for having to carry me around and I feel bad for me that I can’t just practice my beauty pageant wave and enjoy the ride. Instead, I’m clinging to the reins with both hands as if I really could control Buttercup or whatever the horse is named. Instead, I’m happier brushing the horse and feeding it carrots and patting in between its beautiful eyes, with its four feet and my two feet both firmly on the ground.
Because of the Preakness, I was thinking about horse charities and what happens to all those horses that go out to pasture.
Heart of a Horse is a Southern California non-profit that rescues horses and finds them new homes. They have three horses up for adoption right now, including Secret, a 12-year old mare who is a cribber... I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like it’s a bad thing; Sadie, who is lame and really does need a pasture, and 10-year old Holly, who is a good trail horse.
According to the foundation, there are 7 million horses in America. Part of Heart of a Horse’s mission is to find homes for horses once their racing days are gone, instead of those horses who can’t be bred being led to slaughter.
There’s lots of good stuff up on their site, including their work with kids and horses, but I was very touched by a photo called “Hospital Visit.” It is of a very ill policeman, whose horse came to visit him in the hospital. I don’t know any details, but I know we all welcome a visit from a loved one when we’re sick.
May 18: Heart of a Horse
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139 down, 227 to go.