This video is also up at Youtube!
This a re-post of a piece I wrote many years ago about a special dog I rescued from the street on a cold November day. Slick passed away on August 9, 2016 after fighting a mast cell tumor for about two years. He was close to 15 years old. He had a long period of remission, but finally age and a possible return of the cancer forced me to say goodbye. I think about him every day, along with my two other dogs, Toro and Tico. Toro passed at 13 from a mast cell tumor on August 8, 2012 and Tico died of old age on December 23, 2017 at 16.
Posted on November 4, 2008 by insightanalytical
Let me take you back EXACTLY 6 years ago to November 4, 2002. It was the day before Election Day that year, an off-year, of course, from Presidential politics. The weather here in Southern New Mexico had been getting very cold at night for a few weeks. It was the time for everyone to start getting cozy as the sun set. It became a very special day….
Toro and Tico, both chihuahuas, were happily ruling the roost here. We had adopted Tico in February of 2002 as a companion for Toro, who had come with us from New Jersey to New Mexico a couple of years before. Everything was proceeding nicely, except for one thing.
I had had back surgery two years before in 2000 and had spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. It went smoothly, but recovery was slow. Two years later in October 2002, I was still in severe pain, drugged to the gills, hardly moving and depressed.
Over the summer my mother, who was doing the dog walking, started talking about a little black dog that was roaming the neighborhood. As I tried to walk down the block, I would run into neighbors who also reported on the little dog. One woman told me she thought he slept on a house porch on another street…that turned out to be untrue. Another woman told me he would drink from her bird bath. Yet another neighbor told me he was in his garage sitting on a stool cleaning his car wheels when the dog came into the garage. The man reached for him and fell off the stool…and the little dog ran off.
The reports kept coming. Finally, I called Animal Control, only to be told that they had been trying to catch the little guy for 8 months. Cages, traps…they couldn’t get him. Doing the math that October, I figured he had been “on the road” since February. That means he had been without a home through the cold spring, the extremely hot summer, and now was heading into another season of cold nights.
He was seen in the arroyo, near the highway and under cars. In fact, a man a block away told me he was sleeping some nights under his mothballed Corvette. New construction was starting next door to our house and I began seeing him resting underneath the construction trailer. Occasionally, I saw him with other strays, but he was usually alone.
One day as we were driving out of the development I saw a man sitting on an electrical box with a big dog biscuit in his hand. I stopped the car and asked him what was going on. He told me that he was trying to feed the little dog. Just then, at the corner, we saw him. He was licking the sidewalk. He ran off when I approached the spot…and I saw that he had been licking a smashed egg that had dried. Then, a few days later, my mother saw him in the middle of the main street out of the development in the morning during the rush hour…he appeared confused and cars had stopped but he managed to escape unharmed.
Something snapped right then. I knew I couldn’t let this little guy continue like this. It was getting bitterly cold at night as we headed into the last couple of weeks of October. My mother said he was limping. I was afraid a coyote would catch him if he were down in the arroyo. Something had to be done. He actually began trailing after my mother and our two clannish chis, who took an immediate dislike to him!
I noticed that he seemed to come down our street in the morning and the late afternoon. I got some food and water and put it down near our front wall that was next to the lot next to us where the new house was going up. That was in the morning. It was gone almost immediately.
I then moved the food and water bowls to the end of our driveway. And then a short way up the side of the driveway. He’d come again by around 4 P.M. every day. I got into the routine of getting up early and putting out the food in the morning at around 6 A.M. Sometimes he’d come down the street from the direction of the arroyo around that time and would eat. Other times he would come from the opposite direction, from the main road.
This went on for about a week. Then, I started opening the garage door and placing the food just outside the lip of the garage. Sometimes I’d leave a treat. One day I left tuna fish in the morning. He ate it, but when I left it in the afternoon, he skipped it. Not a tuna fan, apparently!
After a few days, I set up a folding chair. I put the food down outside the garage, but sat in the chair. He was tentative, but he was hungry, so he ate but he left immediately. Then, he got to the point where he ate but would take a treat and bury it across the street. Then he started sitting in the driveway in the sun for awhile. All this time I sat quietly and talked to him.
When he wanted more, he would stand by the dish. I calmly got up and went inside and brought out more food. He would dart away, but return and eat.
One morning I didn’t see him around. Worried, I got myself down to the corner and called, “Sweet-ie”! Down the hill he came and he followed me home. This became a ritual over the next few days. One day, he didn’t return at 4 P.M. and I was worried that something had happened to him. Not only was he limping, but I could see that he had patches on his coat. He seemed tired and run down. I thought he was ready to get picked up.
By this time I had moved the food bowls into the garage a few feet away from where I sat. On Saturday, November 2, I moved the bowl right next to me. He ate without a problem. But the next day, he didn’t show up in the morning and I was panicked. Had I waited too long? Had he wanted me to pick him up but had given up on me because I hadn’t moved then? Was he hurt? Or worse?
On Monday, November 4, I set up the chair and the food and went down to the corner. I called “Sweet-tie” but he didn’t come! Upset, I turned to go home…and there he was , coming toward me down the sidewalk from the other direction!
I sat in the chair, and he came up right next to me. Before he took a bite, I quickly scooped him up and ran into the house! I had set up a baby gate so that he would stay in the kitchen. Toro and Tico, the clannish chihuahuas, were going nuts. The little black dog jumped over the gate and promptly deposited a gift under the piano bench. I put a halter on him and put him outside and he immediately went over the wall! I fished him up and knew I couldn’t take my eyes off him for a second!
Things settled down as I took him for a walk. He did fine. And then we came home and he went to sleep on the couch. That night and for several nights after, he howled at the back door. But during the day he slept like he hadn’t slept in a long while. He was under the covers, warm, well-fed and safe.
I scheduled a vet appointment to have his limp and skin checked out. In the meantime, I called the no-kill shelter, Safe Haven, but they had no room for him. A man in the neighborhood who had tried to catch him once and failed said he wanted him…but he went out to work every day. I couldn’t see the little guy thrown into a yard…he’d get away somehow. And I refused to bring him to the shelter because I figured he’d be adopted…but would wind up roaming again! He could jump any wall and walk it with ease!
I wasn’t really sure what he was, but the vet confirmed he was a fairly big miniature pinscher! His limp was going to be fine and we got started on clearing up his skin. The vet thought he was about a year old. Still not sure what to do with him at the “logical” level of thinking, I scheduled an appointment to get him fixed. Of course, by the time he went in for that a week or so later, my heart had made the decision. We were going to keep him! Toro and Tico weren’t too happy about it, either!
What to name him? We went through a couple of names until I looked at him and commented that since he had roamed everywhere around the development, he was really a “city slicker.” The name stuck–from then on he was SLICKER (Slick for short)!
Then came the problem of walking him! My mother couldn’t handle all three, so I took charge of Slicker. I started to walk, painfully, down the block with him. At the corner we started getting into some hilliness. Slick wanted to go there, so we’d go a short distance. Everyday I’d huff and puff a short way up that low grade hill. Gradually, the huffing and puffing disappeared and my weak leg and back started to get stronger. Soon, I could walk up that hill!!
As I started walking with Slick, my energy came back and I started doing more. Instead of sitting around in pain and depression, I as now getting out and about. My little MIRACLE DOG had restored my interest in life and had started healing me, physically and mentally!
Six years later, Slick and I are celebrating our anniversary together tomorrow, November 4th. No matter what happens on Election Day, we’ll be happy about being together! Toro and Tico have made an uneasy peace with “the intruder” and Slick has matured into the most loving, appreciative dog one could hope for!
Now, you won’t believe this, but a week or so ago I saw a little black and white dog with something draped around him/her in the street. I stopped the car, but he ran way down the road. A couple of days ago, a neighbor about a block away told me he had seen the little dog and what he was dragging along was a plastic bag with ties that had been caught on his neck! The little dog probably got tangled up while searching for food in the bag that was set out on garbage day. I’m keeping an eye out to see if he comes this way again…
So what have I done? Yesterday I put out a bowl of water and a bowl of food near the wall at the side of the driveway near the sidewalk. Maybe it’s time for another November miracle…in more ways than one!
Chasca went in for her pre-winter sleep physical on September 8, 2021. She got a full exam and is very healthy!
Heart, weight, lymph nodes, ears, eyes…all in tip top condition!
The vet, Dr. Cook, has tortoises so knows about them as well as desert box turtles like Chasca.
Right now, Chasca is digging around places as she gets ready to disappear until next April or most likely May/early June, 2022.
A report on her day getting ready to go to the vet is up on Youtube now:
I have also posted a short take on a “side trip” she took when we stopped at Best Buy before going home!
The Goddess was a big hit with her admirers…yes, she did observe the COVID measures being taken in the store.
I can’t believe it’s almost time to leave for the upcoming winter months and the next chilly spring…
Poke around the Secretariat Girl channel on Youtube to see Chasca’s life as she eats, wanders, and hides in her southern New Mexico yard!
Enjoy the garden and the Organ Mountains sometimes, too!
All winter I grew my greens and picked the “bunch of the day.” But it’s been touch and go the last few weeks while waiting for our full warm up…windy, raw, overcast…through it all, I nursed my seedling indoors, hardened them off outside and then started the work of getting them into pots and into the ground.
A few days ago we had a rain and I peeked under the new burrow I had constructed last spring for Chasca, my desert box turtle, and I saw part of the side of her shell glistening..I literally jumped for joy! She’s made it through another winter! Then, she was gone again, back buried under the soil. Turtles will sometimes appear after a rain or even during a warm February day, but Chasca wasn’t ready. Today, I can see her again at the back of her burrow with part of her shell visible! The nighttime temperatures will begin to rise and it won’t be so chilly in the mornings and today’s warmth in the 80’s will bring stability to my favorite reptile. Today is also the first day I saw a “big mama” lizard out, so Chasca will be officially out in the world soon! I can’t wait!
The Kentucky Derby is now in the record books and for once, Mine That Bird was mentioned, even to the extent that there were clips of his 2009 Derby win, his New Mexico people and the trailer they used to drive him to Kentucky. There were more stories about the horses and the history of the race instead of the endless stream of personalities and cast members of NBC shows who have usually cluttered up the broadcast in the past.
Winx, of course, came to mind when we were told that “turf runners never win going wide” after exactly that happened in one of the turf races on Kentucky Oaks day. REALLY? Winx ran wide nearly all the time and she won 33 straight times doing it that way on turf!
It’s already two years ago that she ran her last race on April 19, 2019. She lost her first foal, which was stillborn, in October 2020 and there’s been no news about future breeding plans. In March, the owner who named her passed away. Richard Treweeke died at age 90. As he told the story, “She’s out of Vegas Showgirl and if you have been to Vegas and watched the showgirls, they might flash some skin and the blokes will give them a wink. Try putting that in print!”
Happier Winx news was made when a statue was unveiled at Rosehill Gardens, her home track in early March of 2021. At 110% her actual size, it is situated so that it is the first thing visitors see when the enter the track.
While she was racing, she may not have been the most perfect looking thoroughbred. It’s like her front end is out of balance with her back end. Her backside slopes down. People who know more than I know said she has terrible feet.
She didn’t care. She raced until she was almost 8 years old. She ran. A lot. And she won. A lot.
The Preakness will be soon, Chasca will be roaming the yard any moment now, and we’ll be looking to see what Winx does next. It’s a good start to Spring 2021!!
On Saturday, July 13, I drove up to Ruidoso Downs to see Mine That Bird. The track appearance was to celebrate his Kentucky Derby victory 10 years ago! The previous evening Bird was inducted into the Ruidoso Racehorse Hall of Fame. Bird was making an appearance on behalf of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund to raise funds for this worthy cause. While Bird is a gelding and can’t produce offspring, he still is out there raising money for charities such as Wounded Warriors, the PDJF, cancer charities, etc.
I donated to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund again…this time I got poster but we also go our pictures taken with Bird! I could have gotten a cap but went for the poster since I don’t wear hats, but now I have to find a place for this poster…it is HUGE!!
Three years ago in May, I went up to Roswell to meet Bird at the Double Eagle Ranch. At that time, my friend and I celebrated Bird’s birthday with a card, carrots, and singing “Happy Birthday.” Dr. Blach, his co-owner and vet, gave us a tour of his office full of memorabilia including the blanket of roses that was draped on Bird’s whithers. At the track, I reconnected with Dr. Blach, and also met co-owner Mark Allen for the first time.
Bird looks INCREDIBLE, almost better than when I saw him 3 years ago in May. He is now 13 years old! He was so patient, standing for 1 1/2 hours to have pictures taken. I got some great ones as I hung around. I got to stroke his nose and look into his eyes and talk sweetly to him. I am in LOVE! Many people came very long distances, out of state to stay a few days just to meet him!
Then I had my poster signed (Mark actually did include my name and started to sing GLORIA, that old song spelling it out!)
Dr. B was wearing his Derby ring so I was able to take a picture of that close-up. Nice chunk of gold, there!
Dr. B also did a little Q and A ….I found out that Bird eats rolled oats 2x a day and alfalfa for roughage. He is no longer going out for trail rides; he is just hanging out with a small pony for company. He said that most of the events in the movie “50 to 1” were actually true…the problem with getting the license, the pre-race party…hanging in the tap room because they were basically ignored…He did talk about how jockey Calvin Borel really hit that rail (I have recently seen a photo showing the paint dust flying off!) and he said that while Calvin spotted the hole, it is true that Bird, who is VERY SMART, picked up on it and knew exactly what to do!
Between races 5 and 6, Bird and Mark Allen paraded to the cheers of the big crowd.
Then, he exited the track to go home to Roswell, about 2 hours away….
As I was waiting to meet Bird again, I had a nice chat with a trainer who looked exactly like a cowboy…grizzled face, black hat, with a slow drawl. He was there to run his 8-year-old mare named No Mires a La Luna ( Translation: Do Not Look at the Moon) who came in second in race 2) and he said he considers his horses to be his babies. When they are born, he immediately hugs them close and from then on, they have little fear. He said after they retire, they become cattle horses….they are quarter horses, built for that sort of thing!
The first races were quarter horse trial races (440 yards) which were then followed by thoroughbred races of 5 or 5.5 furlongs …..a great combination for a fun day!
Here at Ruidoso Downs, our lead ponies definitely do not look like what you see at Churchill Downs or Ascot!
But we do have glorious scenery and delightful weather, about 20 degrees cooler than where I live 3,000 feet lower in the desert…
It’s a 226 mile round trip up to Ruidoso from my house, but it’s a gorgeous ride up from the desert floor up into the cool mountains. Can’t wait to go up again!
WINX by NM-GRL
She walked on the sand and gazed out at the sea
She faced infinity before her, felt the waves at her feet
She arrived at the course time after time
With the sea in her heart, she skimmed the ground
The waves of sound from the stands filled her soul
A sea of emotions carried her on
…She gazed at infinity, she brought us along….
Thank you, Winx
In 1973, the times were dark. Then came along a horse named Secretariat, who lifted the nation’s spirits.
George Plimpton commented at the time: “He was the only honest thing in the country at the time, this huge magnificent animal that wasn’t tied up in scandal and money.”
As others said: “Secretariat restored our faith in humanity.”
We have just witnessed the last race of Winx, the Australian super mare. The statistics are easy to find, but she also has given us light during difficult times.
It is fitting that the 2018 Vox Populi Award, which was created by Secretariat’s owner, the late Penny Chenery, was awarded to Winx. This award “annually recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the general public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing. Winx was the top choice among U.S. voters as well as international fans representing a record 60 countries.”
She never raced here, but she touched the hearts of legions of fans who stayed up late many Friday nights to see her race on all those Saturday afternoons in Australia.
She retired sound, strong, and at her peak …You could say that she also had “TWICE THE HEART….”
Born September 14, 2011; Retired at 7 + sound; NO MEDICATIONS
Final Race: April 13, 2019 at Royal Randwick, Sydney, Australia
Youtube: Winx Farewell Race – 2019 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Weekend King Racing… Full Race Coverage/Telecast from Channel 7 pre-and post-race
We were lucky down here in my neck of the woods in southern New Mexico. I don’t have a tripod but I have a porch with a convenient post that I could lean on. It was cold…like dry heat, there is dry cold and when you’re at 4600+ feet above sea level, that cold is biting even though it may be in the high 40’s.
I caught the start, the peak, and the move out from totality..Top right is entry, bottom right is exit…Enjoy!
Three years ago I recounted how I managed to be aboard the New Horizons mission to Pluto…Well, a billion miles further out, this incredible mission has just completed the flyby of Ultima Thule in the Kuiper Belt…
I’m now more than 4 billion miles away, a billion past Pluto. The discoverer of Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh lived here, co-founded the Unitarian Church in town, and some of his ashes are on that spacecraft. I cheered along this morning when they received the signals confirming the checklist of all the instruments and we found out that all are working fine, just like I cheered when they first got the “call in” and then during the flyby just at the start of the new year at about 12:30 AM ET, January 1, 2019. It will take 20 months to download all the data and the clearest pictures from the closest distance/the actual flyby will be coming in February, the same month I was born. It’s SO FAR and it takes so long for that signal to come back to Earth. Another briefing will be tomorrow (2-3 pm ET, January 2) and some first pictures from the approach will be shown and these will confirm the shape of this little world.
Watch on Youtube at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory channel and NASA TV. (NASA was off the air when New Horizons first called in due to the government shutdown but was streaming today’s “checklist” confirmation coverage, so hopefully it will streaming again tomorrow).
Below is a re-post about the original Pluto mission’s first success.
I’m Aboard the New Horizons Mission’s Final Approach to PLUTO Happening NOW!!
Originally published on January 19, 2015 at sister site…
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/New Horizons website — scroll down to sign up for their email newsletter for the latest updates, including tracking the craft’s location in the solar system.
NASA New Horizons Mission website — latest news, Tweets, pictures and other information!
I’ve always been fascinated by space. I cherish books which I’ve had since childhood. Published around 1957, these well-worn treasures are always in view in my office bookcase. So, winding up living in Southern New Mexico near the White Sands Missile Range has been a happy coincidence since it’s a hotbed of all things astronomy and space! Post-World War II, Werner Von Braun was brought here to test rockets for the U.S. Army and captured V-2 rockets carried hundreds of payloads.
NASA’s White Sands Space Harbor (WSSH), was the primary training area for space shuttle pilots flying practice approaches and landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft and served as a backup landing site (Shuttle Columbia landed here on March 30, 1982). And I was able to witness the final flyover of the space shuttle Endeavour on its way it’s final home in California on September 20, 2012. NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which has supported many missions, is a few miles from my home. I watched as Endeavour circled over White Sands and the NASA facilities on Route 70 in a final goodbye, swung back over the assisted-living facility where my mother was at the time and then flew right over me as I stood on the dam and then turned toward the west. I had tears in my eyes as I simply loved the space shuttle era! And this haunting video of the flyover brings tears to my eyes now! I met Alan Hale, of Hale-Bopp Comet fame at the local co-op one day and had lunch with him on his next visit to Las Cruces from his home in Cloudcroft. Who could have imagined that when I viewed the comet back in 1997 in New Jersey I would someday chatting with one of the discoverers! I also built a 4.5″ Dobsonian reflector telescope telescope one summer at a class sponsored by the Astronomical Society…and later had my scope signed by John Dobson himself when he visited the club! And, the Spaceport which is waiting for Richard Branson’s commercial edge of space flights to become operable, is just a short distance away.
But even more important now is the fact that Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto, lived and passed away here…and some of his ashes are aboard the New Horizons spacecraft! See Clyde Tombaugh: Astronomer Who Discovered Pluto, from Space.com.
Tombaugh was a founder of the local Unitarian Church and he is memorialized in a stunning stained glass window in the Tombaugh Gallery, which houses a variety art exhibitions.
It was quite by accident (or was it synchronicity?) that I’ve reconnected with this Pluto mission. I’ve been clearing out a lot of old stuff lately…clothes, files, and all sorts of stray papers. Recently, I rediscovered a lost printout that I promptly restored to a prominent place in my office.
This single piece of paper reads:
NEW HORIZONS MISSION
Shedding Light on Frontier Worlds
On August 30, 2005
Thank you for joining the first mission to the last planet! A compact
disc bearing your name will be included on the New Horizons spacecraft,
set for the first voyage to a new class of planets on the solar system’s
Come with us as we complete the reconnaissance of the solar system and unlock
the secrets of Pluto, its moon, Charon, and the Kuiper Belt.
Certificate No. 277229
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. On December 6, 2014, NASA posted this update on the mission entitled “On Pluto’s Doorstep, NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Awakens for Encounter.” (http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons/on-plutos-doorstep-new-horizons-spacecraft-awakens-for-encounter/#.VLWz3HuW6oN)
After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles —the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation today for its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system.
Operators at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., confirmed at 9:53 p.m. (EST) that New Horizons, operating on pre-programmed computer commands, had switched from hibernation to “active” mode. Moving at light speed, the radio signal from New Horizons – currently more than 2.9 billion miles from Earth, and just over 162 million miles from Pluto – needed four hours and 26 minutes to reach NASA’s Deep Space Network station in Canberra, Australia.
“This is a watershed event that signals the end of New Horizons crossing of a vast ocean of space to the very frontier of our solar system, and the beginning of the mission’s primary objective: the exploration of Pluto and its many moons in 2015,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colo.
With a seven-instrument science payload that includes advanced imaging infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, a compact multicolored camera, a high-resolution telescopic camera, two powerful particle spectrometers and a space-dust detector, New Horizons will begin observing the Pluto system on Jan. 15.
New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto will occur on July 14, but plenty of highlights are expected before then, including, by mid-May, views of the Pluto system better than what the mighty Hubble Space Telescope can provide of the dwarf planet and its moons.
“New Horizons is on a journey to a new class of planets we’ve never seen, in a place we’ve never been before,” says New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver, of APL. “For decades we thought Pluto was this odd little body on the planetary outskirts; now we know it’s really a gateway to an entire region of new worlds in the Kuiper Belt, and New Horizons is going to provide the first close-up look at them.”
January 15th! With very little fanfare, New Horizons is going places where no spacecraft has gone before! It is happening right now!
In a January 5th article in Time Magazine entitled “ Hello Pluto! NASA’s Visit to the Mystery World Begins,” Alan Stern who has led the project writes:
It’s not exactly top secret, but it is too little known: this month, a small, robot spacecraft—built, launched and guided by a team of over 2,500 Americans—will begin the exploration of far-away Pluto and its five known moons. Lasting from January through July, this epic journey is very much the Everest of planetary exploration.
New Horizons already set records when it was launched in 2006 by becoming the fastest spacecraft to leave the Earth—reaching the orbit of the moon in just nine hours, about 10 times more quickly than the Apollo spacecraft did. Now, after traveling for nine straight years at an average speed of 39,000 m.p.h. (59,000 km/h)—equivalent to L.A. to New York in four minutes—it is at last approaching its historic rendezvous. No spacecraft has ever ventured farther—3 billion miles (4.8 billion km)—to reach its primary target.
At its closest approach, New Horizons will pass Pluto at a distance of just 6,000 miles (9,700 km). It will send back images at resolutions so high that if it were flying over New York City at the same altitude, it could count wharves on the Hudson River and ponds in Central Park. It will also take measurements of Pluto’s composition and atmosphere, study its moons, and more.
In 2003, the National Academy of Sciences ranked visiting the Pluto system at the very top of NASA’s exploration priorities. Why? Because in the 1990s, planetary astronomers discovered a vast structure in our solar system, a previously unknown disk of comets and small planets out beyond Neptune, called the Kuiper Belt. Pluto was the first of many small planets discovered out there, and it is still both the brightest and the largest one known.
The Kuiper Belt is the largest mapped structure in our planetary system, three times as big as all the territory from the sun out to Neptune’s orbit. The comets and small planets that make it up are valuable because they represent the astronomical equivalent of an archeological dig, reaching back to the era of planet formation, 4.6 billion years ago.
Nothing like the exploration that New Horizons is about to undertake has happened in a generation, and nothing like it is planned or even contemplated to happen again. It is likely the last time in our lifetimes that a new planet will be explored. This is more than scientifically important—though it certainly is that. It’s also a reminder of what American technology, culture and daring, on its game, can do.
So… my name and certificate number on a disc that is on a small craft…and the most amazing space mission to date!
To the edge of our solar system…and beyond!
A year has gone by since my first post about “my horse pilgrimage.” (Scroll down for Part I…). It wasn’t supposed to be that way, but a series of “hoof” issues kept me from focusing on doing it! Well, a year later….
So, now it is a little over 2 years ago since I’ve completed my pilgrimage, but the memories remain fresh and inspiring!
December, 2015. It was very dreary and my mood was just as depleted. My mother was in hospice and there were clearer signals as to when she would pass on. My days were full of errands, visits and keeping up a cheery demeanor for her. At night, I would be exhausted, physically and emotionally, and it was hard to settle down and get to bed.
For some reason I will never know…one night/morning at about 2 A.M., just before Christmas, I went to Youtube and typed in the search box …”Secretariat.” To this day, I do not know why.
The first thing I came upon was a video of the 1973 Belmont, a grainy video with music (from Secetariat–the movie) posted by wyocalboy:
I watched it. I watched it again. And again. And, suddenly I was crying.* Was it over the time that had disappeared, or was it because the magnificent power of that horse?
Over the following nights, I watched this video every night, multiple times each night. And I began to realize that it renewed my spirit. I began to talking to myself in terms of being carried forward by “my inner Secretariat.” Secretariat came to embody endurance, strength, and the spiritual. Secretariat became The Source.
My mother passed in early February 2016 a few days after my birthday. She passed at 4:18 P.M. and the wind passing through the pine trees outside of her window must have been her spirit. My father died at 4:18 P.M. I was born at 4:18 P.M.
My mother was only a couple of months older than Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, who would pass in September 2017. Shortly after my mother died, a “new” video of the 1973 Belmont appeared on Youtube. The NYRA (New York Racing Association) had FINALLY released a full-color version of the race! It was a like a new day was dawning!!
After finishing up a lot of estate work and catching my breath, I decided to return to the East Coast for the first time in 16 years. I was on the road for about a month and it was an epic trip!
I went up to Saratoga, New York just after the close of the season and enjoyed the National Horse Museum and a kind guard allowed me to take some pictures of the track from inside the gates. I trekked down to Monmouth Racetrack and was treated to a tour of the entire facility by a staff member. What a beautiful place!
Then, came the biggest part of the trip…
I braved the traffic down I-95 to Doswell, Virginia the day after the State Fair of Virginia closed. It was rather bittersweet to see The Meadows turned into a carnival site. Through the disarray, I toured the grounds with Leanne Ladin, the author of
Secretariat’s Meadow….she had even kept the life-size banner of Big Red up for me…and, he WAS big (for reference, I am 5’5” tall). The day I was there at his birthplace was actually the day when Secretariat passed, October 4. That realization literally gave me the chills.
“Twice the Heart”…
A few days later I was at Secretariat’s grave at Claiborne Farm, weeping unabashedly. As the group left, I lingered and the guide patiently listened to my story about my mom and what Secretariat meant to me. He took a rose from the bouquet lying on the gravestone and gave it to me…and I got it safely home. And I also shed a tear for Riva Ridge, who deserves credit for saving The Meadows, a fact that most people forget.
After the Claiborne tour, I dashed down the Paris Pike to Gainesway Farm. I had made an appointment to visit privately because I could not make it to their tour in time from Claiborne. Of course, I saw Tapit…but my actual goal was to see the now unheralded Birdstone, who won the 2004 Belmont, robbing Smarty Jones of that year’s Triple Crown. Birdstone…the sire of Mine That Bird! (another story about him coming!)
Of course, I visited many other places around Lexington, Kentucky: Keeneland Racetrack, Old Friends Equine for retired horses, WinStar Farm, Kenny McPeek’s Magdalena Farm, and The Kentucky Horse Park. The Kentucky Horse Park has a special place there which I will muse on in the future. Pictured below is Tinners Way at Old Friends, the last colt from Secretariat’s final crop…Sadly, he passed away in July 2017. I was so lucky to meet him as he enjoyed what would be his last fall.
And then came the two and a half day trip home. And, along the way I stopped in Ruidoso, New Mexico, home of Ruidoso Downs and the All-American Futurity, the “richest race for 2-year-olds in North America, regardless of breed.” (!!)
I toured the fascinating Hubbard Museum of the West (formerly the Museum of the Horse) which is next door to the track. And right outside, there is one of the largest sculpture installations of horses in the world, consisting of eight horses, one and a half life-size, representing seven horse breeds — the Standardbred, Morgan, Arabian, Paint (mare and foal), Appaloosa, Quarter Horse, and Thoroughbred — as they gallop over the landscape.
Free Spirits at Noisy Water by Dave McGary
One year after I was on the road visiting the places where Secretariat and Riva Ridge lived, ran, and are laid to rest, Penny Chenery passed away on September 16, 2017.
I am fortunate that Penny was still signing pictures and other memorabilia at the time I started collecting and which I cherish today. My house has become a shrine to Secretariat, Penny, Riva, Tinners Way, and my beloved Mine that Bird, who, yes, has a bit of Secretariat in his blood.
And, now, happily, I have horses in my blood again…
*That grainy video with the evocative soundtrack still makes me cry.