Like most children, my fascination with horses began when I rode my rocking horse.
At five my father purchased two Welsh ponies and a little black cart for my birthday. It was a sacrificial gift because my father never rode horses. When I was 12, he purchased my first horse, a pinto Indian pony no more than 12 hands high. As soon as the screen door slammed back on its hinges each afternoon after school, my pony raced towards me in anticipation of our explores over field, woods, and bluffs. With bridle secured, I quickly jumped on her back. As soon as my feet left the ground, she ran like the wind and sailed over hedges like a well released frisbee in midair. For years, she and I were inseparable, until one day, while visiting my aunt and uncle in Sedalia for the State Fair, I saw a beautiful horse. All I said is that it was beautiful. Next thing I know, my father had it delivered to our home. It was a thoroughbred racing horse that had been put out to pasture after it broke its leg. The family had loved that horse so much, they had the leg repaired but that horse was never really right in the head after the accident, so I still rode my pony most of the time.
Once I had children, there were stick horses that we raced around the house while hooting and hollering and shooting off our pop guns. When the children were old enough to ride, I purchased two more horses for them so we could ride together. I named them Shilo and Cheyenne. Dakota, Son of Thunder, Chante, Pretty Girl, and Little Girl followed. I will never forget the sound of their hooves pounding the ground when they ran to meet us.
When the Trumpet Sounds: A Divine Inspiration for Secretariat
As a child, my father took me to the sidelines at the starting gate of the Cahokia Mounds racetrack to watch the horses break out of the gate with a force of speed that was breathtaking. I will never forget their intense eagerness to run the race, their strength, their power, their determination, and the deafening sound from the pounding of their hooves as they ran as fast as they could. Nearly fifty years later in 2010 while watching Secretariat become the Triple Crown champion, I wept as I remembered my father and I watching the horses pawing the ground in anticipation and then rejoicing in their strength as they broke out of the gate for the race of their life.
If you have not seen Secretariat, I would highly encourage you watch the real-life story of a women’s fight to keep her family’s Meadow Farm from being sold to pay for taxes after her father’s death. She believes in a stallion named Secretariat and poured everything she had into training that horse.
Not much to look at, rather wild and a bit clumsy at birth, under the loving eye of Penny Chenery and the careful training of Lucien Laurin, Secretariat flourished and proved to the world what faith, hope, and love can accomplish. His Triple Crown performances made racing history-a record that still stands today.
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Secretariat’s owner and the producer of Secretariat agreed to begin and end the movie with this moving verse that best explains all horses. Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrible. He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; and he does not turn back from the sword. The quiver rattles against him, the flashing spear and javelin. With shaking and rage he races over the ground, and he does not stand still at the voice of the trumpet. As often as the trumpet sounds he says, ‘Aha!’ and he scents the battle from afar, and the thunder of the captains and the war cry. Job 39:19-25
As Secretariat came down the home stretch at break neck speed, I realized that what drove him, drives each of us-that invisible Hand that pushes us ever onward towards the finish line.
Secretariat’s 1973 performance in the third Triple Crown race at Belmont Stakes, where he bested his closest competitor by a mind-blowing 31 lengths, is widely considered one of the most stunning horse races of all time. His times in all three Triple crown races remain the fastest in history.
Interestingly, an autopsy of Secretariat revealed that his heart was a third larger and twice the weight of the average horse which explained why he was able to set such a stunning world record. But then our journey through life is all about heart-hope, faith, and endurance.
Behind every legend lies an impossible dream. Witness the spectacular journey of an incredible horse named Secretariat and the moving story of his unlikely owner, a housewife who risked everything to make him a champion.
Like Secretariat, my father taught me to give life everything I had and to run the race with endurance. It is what parents do for their children.