Adventures on Horseback: There’s something about Thoroughbreds

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wow! Another Triple Crown! Wire to wire!

I’m one of those lucky few who remember seeing Secretariat run — not in person, but on TV. Of course, I watched the Slew and Affirmed run by way of CBS as well.

They were all amazing. That’s five in my lifetime. That’s either significant or I’m giving away my age.

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I grew up reading the Black Stallion books and dreaming of riding racehorses. I remember how they compared Secretariat with Man ‘O War.

I read Walter Farley’s book about Man ‘O War. In my young girl’s eyes, there was no horse like him — even with Secretariat’s great race record.

The first time I actually rode a retired racehorse was when I was around 12 years old. My folks bought an old retired racehorse that had run until he was 11 years old.

I can’t tell you how many hours I spent racing him against all the other horses at the barn, and dreaming I was Willie Shoemaker, or maybe even Alec Ramsey. They didn’t let girls be jockeys back then.

I had read about the speed of a Thoroughbred bringing tears to your eyes. There are a lucky few who have dared to test and see if that is really true. Those of us who prefer Thoroughbreds know they are special.

Yes, I know their shoulders and hips are set differently, making them physically built for speed. If someone has never galloped a Thoroughbred, it’s hard to describe the feeling of power and pure freedom. I think those sayings about horses lending us wings were written about the Thoroughbred.

Yet, while I rattle on about Thoroughbreds, I do not wish to belittle the contributions made by other breeds and types of horses. I’ve always said, “A good horse is a good horse — whether he’s pulling a plow or wining the Triple Crown.”

In my heart, I honestly believe that is true. I never worked much with draft horses until I started driving a few years ago. I drove a wonderful Percheron that stole my heart. I miss him to this day. He was sweet and sensitive, elegant and proud, and he loved to work.

Do I get to pretend that I’m an elitist in the horse world if I admire all breeds simply because they are horses? Is it OK to admire and appreciate all of them, and still prefer to ride Thoroughbreds? Will there come a day when I’m old enough and broken up enough that I need a quieter, smaller horse?

I hope not. I prefer not an afterlife where I cannot feel the wind bring tears to my eyes . . .