Ok, so that isn't his real name.
But I'll get to that in time.
Three years ago, a good friend of mine had a colt. I met this colt and instantly liked him. Long legs. Laid back attitude. Nothing visibly special about him but he had something... something you couldn't put your finger on.
My friend was up in age and experienced some health problems. One day, he called me and said:
"You remember that colt you like? Well, he has an eye infection. Looks like an ulcer. I can't commit to treating him daily and so I thought, if you want to come pick him up and you treat his eye, then you can have him because I know you'll do right by him".
What he meant with doing right by him wasn't in reference to attending to the colt's medical needs, or at least not only in reference to those.
This colt was by an unknown stallion, out of a 14 year old mare who had never had a foal before.
The mare had been a very useful racehorse and after retiring went on to being a just as useful show horse. Her pedigree was made up of old blood that you just didn't find easily anymore at that time.
Doing right by him was to eventually make him a racehorse.
So I brought him home. Initially, he was very cooperative with having to have his eye treated, which turned out to be a lot more serious than thought. After a few days, he also became sick. He started dropping weight, in spite of being fed great quality hay and feed and being on the lushest grass in Bluegrass country.
The vet determined that antibiotics were in order. He was treated for Lawsonia.
This all was very long term, lasting around 3 months.
When the little dude was able to rejoin the other weanlings (a group of three fillies), he was everything but excitement. Everything he did was well thought out and taken in stride.
A few days after, he came up very lame in the front shoulder.
Now he had to go on stall rest. While the cause of the lameness was never determined exactly, he was xrayed to within an inch of his life and we knew nothing was broken. After a couple of months, he was able to rejoin the girl terrorist group out in the pasture.
I remember vividly the day he was turned out with them. These fillies were all very well bred by well known stallions. Bellamy Road, Sidney's Candy and Dream Ahead. If you're into horse racing at all, you know these names. Little dude, however, had no clue who those studly daddies were.
The girls took off running and led by Miss Junior Bellamy Road, made short order of their introductions. Little dude just stood there, wondering why they ran away and looked back at me at the pasture gate. I smiled and nodded:
"Go on! It's fine. Go play. You're ok!"
He turned back and his eyes followed the girls who were by now a good 50-60 yards away from him.
And in that instance, something clicked.
I don't know if he thought he would just go catch up to them to ask why they were running away, or if he even knew what he wanted from them. Maybe he just wanted to be a part of that group.
But as I watched, this easy little gallop he took off with over a few steps evolved into what can only be described as an elaborately floating, huge stride. At one point, I couldn't tell if he was actually touching the ground. He came upon the girls and passed them with such ease, I remember whispering, "Wow, he can fly..."
From that day, I made it a point to watch the gang run and play as many times as I could, daily. His movement was so very different and there was such an ease he incorporated into it. He never looked like he tried.
Little dude had another set back when it was time for vaccinations. He had a horrible reaction that made him sick for days with very high fevers and again, he had to be separated and treated for almost a month. We finally gave him an immune booster injection and he recovered.
As I was obviously in the Thoroughbred business, one of my goals was to sell horses to make money and pay the bills.
So little dude was put up for sale. While a few people came to inquire and looked, none were takers.
Little dude became a yearling. No longer having the weanling type more compact conformation, he became exceedingly gangly. Legs all over the place. Hip too tall, then wither too tall. He stopped putting an effort into play and activity. He became the bystander who watched. He was spookless and fearless and, well, bored.
At this point, I thought, well, maybe a buyer will come along and start doing something with him.
Time passed and little dude became a 2 year old. Shockingly enough, with his dam being 16 hands and solidly boned, his sire being well over 17 hands and more on the narrow end of the spectrum, I wondered why he wasn't getting taller. While other 2 year olds grew big and started looking the part of a race horse, little dude was, well, still little dude. Skinny, gangly. angular. Legs everywhere. Hardly a chest. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was worried.
Since several other lookers had showed up and decided he wasn't for them, little dude stayed parked in that pasture with other yearlings and weanlings coming and going. He was kind and smart. Never in a hurry. He kept the peace and didn't fight, knew when to walk away or stand his ground.
Inquiries started to sound more along the lines of: Is he broke?
Well, no he wasn't. After all, what was the point? I had all the ones I could afford at the Training Center. Not like I would be able to train him; financially, that was just not an option.
After a few more months, I had a conversation with a trainer friend who had seen him and actually liked him but his client wasn't interested. Not enough bigness in that breeding.
Thing that always bothered me was that no one would listen. I had had this colt from the time he was around 3 months old. I knew this boy. But my opinion just didn't count.
Thus it came about that little dude was broke to saddle. Quick learner. Still completely laid back. Not much excitement. Matter of fact, kinda boring. Did what he was supposed to. Seemed to enjoy it once under saddle and started finding his legs with a rider up. Alas, the interest in him dried up as the season wasn't right for buyers and out went little dude, back into that pasture.
His new found knowledge under saddle made him a bit more playful and forward. He engaged in playing with the other colts. And I kept watching.
I watched him be a little bossy but still kind. I watched him be a lot bossy, but still kind.
And as I watched, the wish to find someone who would partner with me or buy this boy and take him to the track grew more and more. I was watching the next evolution and didn't know it.
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