Thoroughbreds for the Rest of Us is a new blog series by Dale's partner in Gate to Great and in life, Dorothy Snowden. It will chronicle how Thoroughbreds are a part of the lives of "regular folks" rather than professional trainers, racing owners and breeder. People like Dorothy, who are adult amatuer riders who just want a horse to enjoy a smaller slice of the equestrian life, in the showring and out of it.
I can blame it all on Carry Back. He won the Kentucky Derby the year I was born. The slight brown colt carried the weight of modest breeding from the wrong side of the track to the finish line that first Saturday in May. But a decade passed before it mattered to me, as I naively reached over the board fence to pet the stallion, and quickly retreated in new-found respect.
It was a time when Thoroughbred farms were referred to as “nurseries”, Arcaro and Shoemaker were household names, and Big Red's Triple Crown was around the corner. The awe of Thoroughbreds stuck with me, as I learned to ride, watched the “big” classes jump, and clipped racing articles out of the Sunday paper.
I can blame on Carry Back the decision to delay entering college, to instead, work as a groom, much to my parent's dismay. I can thank him for putting me on a life-long path of involvement in the horse world, when so many discouraged such course.
To this day I am asked, “Why Thoroughbreds?”, often by those who would be offended by my asking the same question of their breed choice.
I suppose I could have just as easily ended up dabbling in Standardbreds, as I skipped more than a few classes to watch horses jog at the local raceway. I could have focused on any number of breeds, as I've never limited myself to just Thoroughbreds. But it was to the Thoroughbreds I kept circling back, rarely staying away for long.
It is a good question. One which I intend to pose to a number of friends acquired along the years of “fooling around” with Thoroughbreds. For some, the answer might be a special moment, event, or mount. Reflecting on the question is sure to evoke memories of the elation, challenges, and disappointments Thoroughbreds have presented to the rest of us. But I doubt any of them can blame Carry Back.
We answer your questions about retraining Thoroughbreds for off-track careers and share the stories of the horses on the ranch.
Gate to Great Geldings
A Division of Horse Creek Thoroughbreds
Newell, SD 57760