Born to run

This story touched me today. I’m not sure why it should; I don’t know anything about racehorses, other than enjoying the ones I see boarded and pastured locally. There’s two racetracks nearby to my home, but I’ve never been to see a race and don’t gamble anyway.

For a few years when I was first married I used to like to ride my bike across the river and past the stables where the racehorses are kept. In the very early mornings sometimes I would see them out being walked and the sounds and smells of the stables marked the half-way point of my ride.

I hadn’t been following Barbaro’s recovery, but was reminded of him this morning when I heard a somewhat-hopeful-sounding piece on NPR on my way into work. By lunch time I had heard that he was put down. It came as a shock considering what I’d heard just a few hours before.

From the reading I’ve done this afternoon it seems as if Barbaro had quite a fan club out there. I have to wonder why so many people can hang their hearts on an injured horse. Racehorses are injured all the time. It seems almost destined to happen when you consider the way they’re bred to have such delicate long legs beneath an oversized frame. And trained and raced so hard when so young and still growing. It seems like such folly that we should be surpised when one’s injured doing what they’re born to do; to run for the sake of our entertainment.

I think his owners are to be commended for giving him the chance to recover against impossible odds and I’m glad that his vet had the compassion and the courage to put him down before his condition got any worse.

A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open. ~Gerald Raferty

17 thoughts on “Born to run”

  1. I too was touched by Barbaro’s story. Unlike you, I have been following his progress. I am not a horse rider, and I rarely go to horse races, but something in Barbaro’s spirit was magnificent. Obviously, he inspired many. And with his death, the death of a grand animal with a great heart, we all feel a little less powerful in this vast universe.

  2. Laura, what a nice tribute to a champion. As we sat down for dinner tonight, the world news told the story of Barbaro. We drops our forks and moved closer to the Tv. That was hard to hear. His burial place will be announced later.

  3. When I heard the news, I was more relieved than saddened. He gave it his best, but it was time for him to rest.
    They can’t all be like Seabiscuit, can they? That horse was almost supernatural.

  4. I was so sorry to hear that after all that effort, he was unable to pull through. Barbaro sounded like a wonderful animal with a great will to live, in spite of the odds.

  5. It was poignantly sad to hear the news, after all he’d been through. I am glad as well that he’s not suffering any longer.

  6. I was touched too and it was the first I’d heard of it. I felt much the same as you — glad he’d been given a chance and glad that they made the choice to avoid anymore suffering!

  7. As a kid I was paid $5 to walk horses after they raced to cool them down. It’s real easy to get attached to them.

  8. “He gave it his best, but it was time for him to rest.”

    Yes. I’ve been watching this story with a half-cynical eye. The main reason to restore the horse to a walking state was not for the benefit of the horse, but in hopes of putting him to stud to create the next generation of potential stars.

    The racing world does not allow any kind of artificial insemination. The stallion has to be fit enough to ‘stand to stud’ and cover the mare. That’s pretty much all his weight on those two frail back ankles – one with enough pins in it to build a car…

    I’ve been happy to see normal, interested horse photos of him during his long hospitalzation. It did look like he was still enjoying his life.

    But I’ve been waiting to see how the story would end. This was one possibility.

    Veterinary equine medicine has learned a great deal from the enormous amount of money spent on Barbaro. That is what I am going to remember. It was indeed a good run for a great horse.

    Rest in peace.

  9. I felt the same way. I’m not a big race horse fan but I had watched him in his first big win and then at Belmont. What a heart break. I think it’s true that these horses truly love to race and run- to see them full out-well, it’s breathtaking. And Barbaro was the cream of the crop. Very sad.

  10. That’s a tender, sweet post, Laurie. I was distressed, too, by this news story. I so agree with your assessment of the owners and the vet doing the right thing.

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