I’ve never met her, but I know him.
I don’t know if she likes vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Or if she prefers rap music over country. I have never asked her if her parents are married or divorced.
But I know that he hates flower pots. I know that it took two weeks to convince him to eat sweet feed. I know that his white legs get irritated by wet ragweed. I know that he spent the majority of his time in the back ring of Keeneland on his hind end.
And I know these things, because he was mine. Not on papers, not in money, nor in actual ownership. But in the metaphorical way that the staff of a breeding farm becomes the responsible parties of the horses that are in their care, “Spring” was mine.
I was hired as the yearling manager the year that he was going through the sales, and I’ll never forget my first day on the farm. I was driving around with their Sales Director and observing the ins and outs of the farm. We drove up to Barn 6, where the colts lived, and began watching as the staff lead the horses in from their paddocks. One by one, the bays passed me and I stared at each to detect any lameness, any swelling, any abnormalities or ailments. And each passed with a strong walk and a desire to get into their stalls where the feed was awaiting them.
And then came the last one. But I didn’t have to wait for him to get to me before being alerted to his presence. This stunning chestnut colt was walking on his hind end from the bottom paddock to the barn, while I heard profanities uttered from his handlers mouth. When his front feet finally did hit the ground, he just floated across the grass with ease.
I turned to Ben with wide eyes and a dropped jaw.
“What is THAT?”
He chuckled and told me that this was our Malibu Moon colt out of the Wild Rush mare Spring Rush. He explained that this was probably the sales topper of our consignment, and that the farm had pretty high hopes for him. And I nodded as he spoke, agreeing that this horse was cool. He was athletic. He was, quite simply, sexy.
And to me, he quickly became known as “Spring”.
But Spring was tough. Never in a malicious way, but he let you know that he was the Big Dog on campus. He spent quite a bit of time on his hind end. He would buck and fart on the walker. He spent the majority of his hand walking time with his groom’s arm in his teeth. The gates around him were always kept closed, as he consistently attempted to get a leg over a shank. He was exuberant for life. He was exuberant for everything.
And I fell in love. He became my favorite of the crop, and I took a few special moments out of every day to just sit in his stall and stare at him. There was nothing flawed in his body – he was beautifully put together, and I just prayed that he would make it.
Because that is how our world works. We breed the best to the best, raise them with loving care and the best veterinarians, farriers, and nutritionists that the world has to offer, and we pray. We pray they don’t colic, we pray they don’t get kicked, we pray they don’t run through a fence on the 4th of July, and we pray they don’t abscess a week before the sales.
Because if you can breed the best to the best, and can check the boxes off for their care, their safety, and possibly most importantly, their luck – you can get them to the yearling sales. And if everything has been done right, and the luck has held up, you can get them to be bought by a good guy.
And thats what happened for Spring. He was purchased for $160,000 in the 2010 Keeneland September sale by the de Meric team – a group of 2 year old trainers that I had always admired. I was devastated to be selling my favorite boy, but thrilled that he would be going to a good home. His superb care and development would continue, and he would have a shot. At good training. At a good career. But more importantly, at a good life.
The de Meric’s fell so in love with him, that they decided not to resell him at the 2 year old sales, and instead placed him in training for a race career. But that career just never unfolded. Spring was named Excess Liquidity and would run a total of 10 times – only hitting the board twice, with little earnings of $25,000. He never became the “big horse” that we had expected him to be.
So, that is where the story ends, right? Wrong.
Because two years ago, I was perusing the horse listings at New Vocations Horse Adoption Agency and saw him. In all of his gorgeous glory, there was Spring as a 4 year old. Magnificent. Beautiful. Still full of future possibilities.
I contacted everyone that I knew who was horse shopping. I told them that this horse was an ATHLETE. And although this athleticism might not have transferred over into a lucrative race career, that didn’t mean that his life was over. Someone that I knew needed to get him. So that I could consider to be a bystander into his life. To follow him. To make sure he was ok; that he was safe.
But that didn’t happen. He was gone. Within hours of his posting being listed, he was adopted. And I was petrified. I had followed this horses life up until this point, always having a connection to him. I had always known he was being cared for; that he was ok.
But that relationship ended here….or so I thought.
Because only a few weeks later, a message was sent to the Hinkle Farms Facebook page. From a girl named Lauren Sumner who said that she had adopted this horse Eddie, and that his papers said that he was bred by us. Did we by chance have foal photos? Did we care to watch his future unfold? And although I no longer worked on the farm, they were quick to send her name my way – knowing how much I adored this horse.
So for the past 2+ years, I have gotten to be a bystander to this endeavor. I do not know Lauren. I do not know if she likes dogs or cats. Or if she is a chicken or steak kind of girl. But I know that she loves “my horse” and that he is receiving the world’s best care.
In such a short period of time, they have already accomplished so much. From starter to training level, clinics taken and lessons learned. And through Facebook and Instagram, pictures, posts, and videos, I have gotten to watch it all unfold from afar.
I hope one day that I will be in her neck of the woods, or she in mine, and I will get to walk up to Spring, now known as Eddie, and wrap his neck in my arms. Whisper into his ear stories of the bruises he once inflicted, or tell his mom of the days where he would shadow box his own shadow. So full of potential, so full of possibilities. But more importantly, so full of life. A life that is still unfolding, and a life that I am so excited to witness.
So run on Eddie. But this time, don’t just run. Jump. Bounce. Prance. And keep doing you – you always have, and I know you always will.