The Good Ones
I had an English writing professor once tell me, “write what you know.”
It was in a Creative Nonfiction class, and he was telling us that our personal stories were the greatest. We knew our own memories the best. And because of that, we could explain the scenery and the emotion because we could still feel it.
There was no better person to tell your story than you.
And I admit, I don’t know a lot.
I’m horrible at geography. Literally couldn’t tell you if a country was in the Middle East of Africa. I am pretty bad at history. Sure, I can remember big ideas about a war, but I could never remember the specific dates of battles or the commanders names.
So I stick to writing about what I do know.
Grief, and the rolling emotions following losing someone.
Equestrianism, and my love for running and jumping big solid fences.
And the thoroughbred breeding industry.
So I write a lot about my own experiences. Most because the two farms that I worked on were amazing, but also because they let me. But it worked out, because Chesapeake and Hinkle Farms did things the right way, the slow way.
Neither were foal mills, and both were in this game for the love of the horse. Neither were in for a get rich scheme, and yet both were financially savvy. And neither knew what they were getting into, but both hired me.
And both of them allow me to tell their stories now, many years later.
They are just two of the many who get overlooked when the headlines come out damning our sport. Two of the thousands who are too boring, too conventional, too contradictory to the headlines to mention.
Because these men and their families are not rare. I have also gotten to be treated as family on the farms my boyfriend has managed-from the illustrious Mt. Brilliant, to Bode’s Alastar, to the newly blossoming Don Alberto (think Unique Bella).
And I have witnessed horses be raised as pets when their race careers are halted. I have watched owners spend $5,000 without hesitation to claim a homebred home. And I have seen the look of pride in their eyes when one of theirs unloads from the trailer at the end of a good career.
Some of these stories I have told, but I usually leave the names of the owners out simply because they didn’t sign up for me. Chesapeake and Hinkle did–and I have their permission. But just because I don’t always mention the owners name, doesn’t mean that the stories of the good guys and their good deeds aren’t endless.
And I know that I always write of the staff of these farms, because in my mind they are the true heroes of this sport of kings. The ones who are there at 6 am and mucking til 12 hours later. The ones who set an alarm for every 2 hours to get a finicky foal to stand and nurse. The ones who earn 1/200th of the worth of a single horse in their care, but treat them as if the millions are in their own account.
But the owners deserve so much credit as well. These men and women who don’t hesitate when the staff makes the call to go to the clinic with a foal who might not be worth the amount on the bill. The men and women who track every homebred and offer retirement homes without question. The men and women who pull foals, drive the trailer, show the yearling, and mix the feed when the farm is in a pinch or short staffed.
You don’t hear about these owners, or their staff, because they aren’t contraversial or click bait. No one is starved, no one is abused, no one drugged or neglected.
Their horses aren’t brought into this world and raced based on greed, they’re brought in and race based on love. For the horse, for the legacy, for the industry.
It might not earn me a Pulitzer or an Eclipse, and I might not make millions off of this blog, but those are the stories I will keep telling. Of the good guys. The ones I know. The ones who get looked over when we’re damning the few bad. I hope you enjoy.