In the midst of all the craziness in preparing my little grass roots group for its first public event, I had to pause. What on Earth am I doing? At moments (like now where I'm trying to come up with an interesting blog entry to keep up with a self-imposed schedule) I wonder why I'm pressuring myself in this manner. Then it all comes back to me...
It was the Fall of 1999 when I first met him. I reported to work at Camp Weona for a family weekend running trail rides. My boss pointed out a horse, new and not a part of the herd we'd had all summer. She told me she knew nothing about him, not even his name. I saddled up that little bay and it didn't take long to recognize that special gait, and his tattooed lip confirmed it, Standardbred. That little gelding hated the mud and so I started calling him Preppy.
Man, it was only a few short days, but I fell hard for him. His face was already grey, back slightly swayed with a big belly, but that didn't matter. He still loved to go! He felt the same way. I guess he must've known I was enamoured. He would nudge me playfully while tied between rides. I begged and pleaded with my dad, hard, to let me bring him home for the winter. It didn't work, and we had to part ways. I sat in the stall with him bawling before I went home. He munched his hay, perked his ears and would sniff my face reassuringly, but I was devastated. For the following summer, I made sure we requested Preppy as a part of our herd. He was too good of a beginner horse for me to use for myself, but at least he was there with me. And, yes, I made sure to get my way and took him home after the season ended that year.
My dad couldn't (and probably still cannot) fathom why I insisted on that little Standardbred. His family grew up breeding and showing Appaloosas We had a well-bred Appaloosa mare that I didn't really connect with that we ended up selling. Then, the camp received a well-bred Appendix QH as a donation, which we were offered for free. I wanted nothing to do with him. I tried to buy Preppy, but his owner wouldn't sell him. And, well, I graduated high school and moved on, losing track of my beloved gelding.
I never stopped thinking about him. He engrained a love for the breed that has brought about all of this "nonsense." So, here I am. Someone who only just went to their first live harness race in 2015. Someone who knows so little about the industry, but who loves the horses in it. At times I feel less than qualified to be taking on the task of promoting them. But I will let the passion continue to fuel the fire. It's for Preppy, and for Law, Major and Ben, that I will continue to fight to make Standardbreds sought-after for careers outside of the racing industry.