Thursday, April 29, 2010

I Found Her - Part II, or Why I Love This Woman

When I received the message on my phone that my five year search had finally come to an end, the butterflies that had occupied my stomach suddenly morphed into grasshoppers. Her message stated that I could call her anytime that day IF I wanted to. Driving through the valley I literally laughed out loud, letting the grasshoppers out for some much needed exercise.

I had 20 minutes left in my commute to run through the plethora of questions that I had accumulated over the years, to prepare myself for this conversation. But nothing could have prepared me for what followed.

This blog was born from the idea that horse people share a connection - a weirdness if you will - not understood by those who do not have horses in their lives. The next two hours of my life would prove this more than the combined experiences of my prior 30 some odd years. How else do you explain how two people who have never met, who are separated by hundreds of miles and several decades, who share nothing more than a past and present relationship with one horse, could spend so much time on the phone and somehow understand each other so completely?

Reason #1 Why I Love This Woman: She knows horses, hers in particular
Within moments of getting her on the phone, I knew I had a real horse person on the line. Ms. S had that breathless, exhausting way of speaking that is so typical of anyone who has spent anytime on the backstretch. After exchanging the briefest of pleasantries, she got right down to business.

"So, who is it that you have?"

When I told her Read My Legs, she let out a mini-shriek. "Oh my God! I've been wondering what happened to him!" She then went into full on info mode, telling me all about his sire, dam, siblings, and all their track records: number of races run/won, money earned, years they ran and where. Her recall is impressive - keep in mind Legs was foaled 21 years ago this month.

Reason #2 WILTW: She is a good owner
Ms. S went on to tell me that in 40 years of breeding, she has brought into this world almost 300 foals; out of those, she has lost track of only 5 (4 now). The rest she knows about completely, from where they ran their last race to when they passed on, and every new career in between. Every foal she has ever sold has had a buy back clause, and she has made good on that on numerous occasions.

Reason #3 WILTW: She breeds and trains for quality and longevity
I knew from Legs' Jockey Club records that he was nearly 3 before he ran his first race and I had always wondered why that was, since most trainers would have had him running at 18 months. Ms. S informed me that the believes in waiting, as well as breeding for soundness over speed, and the logic behind "intermittent training"; that is, she doesn't run the youngsters hard, merely allows them to get used to the track and learn their job. Few of her horses ever won a race before the age of 5, but a great many of them had long track careers. With very few exceptions, those that left the track early remained rideable well into their twenties, some even into their thirties. And she has never, ever had one break down on the track - a fact you can tell she is immensely (and rightfully) proud of.

Reason #4 WILTW: It's all about the horses' best interests
Ms. S sold off her last stallion a few years ago when the economy started to really put a damper on, well everything. People just were not investing in horses anymore. She is no longer actively breeding for this reason. Furthermore, right now she has all she can take care of - 5 at the track, and 22 at the farm. Most of these are retired broodmares, whom she will care of forever. After all, they gave her a lot over the years. A few are "babies" that came back home to live after their track years were over, and she will see them through for the same reason. Although technically retired at the age of 70, Ms. S still works to insure that the horses are well fed and cared for. That's dedication.

Basically, she was everything I had hoped to find. Somehow I just knew a horse like Legs' was no fluke - that someone had truly put a lot of thought into him and prepared him to lead the fullest life possible. Everything she told me about her life with horses mirrored my own beliefs. In an alternate world - had I become a TB breeder - she is exactly the type I would have wanted to be.

We talked about many other things, and through her I learned a LOT about Legs. But once again I have rambled on, and most of us really should get back to work now ;o)

Coming up - "What She Told Me"


  1. Oh, how the world could use a whole load of trainers/breeders like her. It would be a better place for everyone.

  2. It is a remarkable feeling to have finally found someone either in your horses past, or their current owner now. I helped a friend of mine in TX, track down a horse she had known from before, that was reportedly somewhere nearby me.

    Turns out some 2 years, a million and one emails later, phone calls, text messages and all sorts of quirks- the horse is now in another state altogether, but still around and living down the street from another neighbor who owns his full sister! His current owner loves him, they are still in contact and if anything should ever happen- he will be returning to Texas to her and the breeder.

    Mrs S. sounds like a class act all the way! The horse industry needs a lot more like her around.

  3. This is a great story. I love TB owners like this one who are willing to take/buy back horses they bred after their racing careers are over. What a wonderful woman.