Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Old Kentucky"

My follower, Diane, "Old Kentucky" has been a friend for many years. Though she thoroughly marvels over the beautiful artwork she's found here, the fact that she had confidence enough to be my first blog follower shows that she's a very courageous and confident gal! Like me, she's also an animal lover, and is "mom" to little 11 year young Rat Terrier, Girly, seen here.

The other love of Diane's life is her husband - a person who takes the love of animals to a higher level than most. John has worked with animals all his life. As a young man, he worked at Greyhound tracks, and then as a jockey and trainer of race horses in his native England. He continues to enjoy a full, rewarding, and very noteworthy and highly respected position in the horse racing industry, working fultime at the age of 88, and with absolutely no plans to retire!

John is Paddock Supervisor at the Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California, (of "Sea Biscuit"fame). He's supervised the paddock of every Breeder's Cup held in the fall since the 1980's except one, when he was out with a broken leg, having been injured at Hollywood Park in a Friday night racing mishap.

Diane says that her husband, (who has not only known many famous jockeys, but also had a pleasant encounter with Queen Elizebeth and her sister, Princess Margaret, while working in England), was an exercise boy for a famous stakes horse back in the 1950's, "Colonel Mac". He's seen nearly all the great racehorses who have raced in Southern California the past 60 years. His favorite horse was "SWAPS", from the 1950s, whom he says was "a super horse".

One of the reasons John thrives in his career is the fact that he has a natural talent for communicating with all animals - he's a top class expert with horses and dogs! Diane says that "as a right-brained, intuitive man", John can look at horse's eyes and other body language, and read it. It's a gift, like being an artist or a musician."

She goes on to say "John has often known when horses weren't right. Some have been very seriously ill or injured. This used to happen when he was galloping horses in Epsom, England. He once told a trainer, "this colt doesn't seem right today". He knew something was wrong as soon as he got on him. The trainer told John to take him out anyway, that he was okay. John did, [and] the horse dropped dead of a heart attack 5 minuets later. He was only 3 years old!"

While, like my Greyhounds, the race horse industry has enjoyed its share of disrepute. Much involves the treatment of these majestic animals after their career has waned. Diane and John want to share that while on the track, racing horses are treated very well:

"Racing animals are given the very best of care, veterinary, feeding and exercise in 99% of all cases. To treat these valiant animals otherwise is to assure being a loser or worse."

The silver lining to John's non-verbal rapport with animals is that he has the ability to pick winning racers. In addition to owning race horses, he's won some big races, including big stakes races at Del Mar. Diane says that John consistently picks winning horses based almost solely on their physicality in the paddock. He watches the big national dog shows every year and picks around 80% of the winning dogs from the start!

The talent and intuitive communication with animals is not only a gift enjoyed by John. Diane says that she also enjoys handicapping, looking at beautiful horses in the paddock, reading their body language, and that this intuition often results in picking a winner!

Now, as much as I love animals, I would be rendered penniless if I put money on their ability to win a race - I have no such knack or luck...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice write up, Pat.
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    Best wishes to all,