"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." - Winston Churchill
Truer words were never spoken. Like I said, last post, I’m a Jewish Redneck. Y’all know I love cars. Well I love horses. I rarely ride but I can tell you that I am most happy when I’m on a horse.
Okay I lied. I am most happy watching my son ride a horse. I see the same love in his eyes. I have a few friends who are pretty serious horsemen and women and I completely understand why. Horses are smart, powerful, and confident. Some mistake their confidence for arrogance; it’s just not the case.
At one point in my early teens I considered becoming a jockey until my frame broadened far too much to become one unless I planned to also become anorexic or bulimic (not uncommon in the world of jockeys). After that I thought maybe of becoming an exercise boy but the hours required would have taken too much time. I did manage to spend a great deal of time at both tracks watching the horses train when my dad took a year off from teaching to selling each weekend at the Belmont or Aqueduct Race Tracks in New York during the flea-market era.
I’ve been blessed to have ridden horses in Israel (as well as camels), Iceland (the most amazing of all horses) and the Republic of Texas. If I ever finally move to Texas I will make horseback riding a regular activity.
So what got me from 600 horsepower on the NASCAR track in my last posting to one horsepower in Iceland?
I just finished watching Secretariat on a flight-to where? Las Vegas of course--I wonder if I am an official resident yet? (There's another story there.)
Anyway, watching how they portray that amazing thoroughbred truly brought tears to my eyes (yeah I’m a softy). I guess it’s my father’s fault, no wait credit.
My late father, as his poker buddies would attest to, was a very successful gambler. It probably had to do with his upbringing in the hardened streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn. Other notable residents include boxers Mike Tyson, and Buster Douglass. Let’s just say it’s never been an easy neighborhood, even when it was mostly Eastern European Jewish Immigrants.
Anyway, back to the horses…my dad loved going to the racetrack-not so much for the gambling-although that held his interest during the typical 30 minutes between races-but for the horses. I didn’t realize how much he adored those amazing creatures, and in fact, all of nature. I remember watching the great horses on our Color TV-Seattle Slew, Alydar, Affirmed, Temperance Hill (who won my dad a large sum for the Belmont Stakes in 1980), the greatest filly ever, Ruffian, and the greatest horse ever, Secretariat.
This is one Hollywood story that comes close to the truth. My dad knew Belmont better than any track and his memory of horses went back to the 1930’s. As he said, there were some great horses but none was even close to Secretariat. The 31 length win at the Belmont Stakes in 1973 which also earned him the Triple-Crown may have been the biggest drubbing in sports since, well, any Harlem Globetrotter’s win over the Washington Generals. I really can’t draw another sports comparison.
Dad and I used to watch the 30 minute wrap-up of the 9-10 races at the NY Tracks almost every night, each of us picking out who we thought would win, picking exactas, quninellas, trifectas, boxing triples and daily doubles. Occasionally he’d take me to the track to watch. Those days were special.
I also have to give my mom credit for sending to the Bar-H Day Camp (now condominiums in Oceanside, New York) where horseback riding was a regular activity. Then there was Mr. Sears 6th Grade trip to Rocking Horse Ranch in Upstate New York, where, prior to leaving, my then best friend David and I got into a knife fight I started and lost. I still have the scar, although like the memories of youth, it has faded over time. I guess that’s another story…
Anyway, if anyone has a horse that needs exercising just let me know. I’ll be glad to take him or her out full-speed.
Y’all come back now, y’hear?