Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Final resting places...for Barbaro and for me

Today is the one-year anniversary of Barbaro’s death, and my heart aches as I think about the roller-coaster ride that he, his owners, his vet, and his fans went through from the time of his injury until the time he was euthanized. Anyone who has ever had a horse in their life has experienced these gut-wrenching emotions; if they haven’t, it’s just a matter of time.

I followed Barbaro’s health journey with almost the same intensity as if he were one of my own horses, rallying when he had a good day and fearing the worst when he did not. When Barbaro developed laminitis in both front feet and the decision was made to put him down, I wrapped my arms around Lyle’s neck and cried into his mane, thanking god and anybody else who would listen that Lyle’s laminitis had a better outcome. Lyle, meanwhile, tried to bite my jacket. Where’s the love?

The world learned today that Barbaro’s ashes will be interred at Churchill Downs, the site of his greatest triumph. I can think of no better place. And when it’s time for me to leave this earth, bring my ashes here to the 7MSN. Cast some of them to the wind to mix with the dirt, the trees, and the memories of my hard work and happiest times. This ranch is the closest thing I’ve got to a great triumph, and I can think of no better place. (Note to whomever ends up opening the box: the prevailing winds are from the southwest–please don’t screw it up. And hum a few bars of “Happy Trails” while you’re at it. And if Lyle is nearby, don’t let him breathe the ashes – he’ll start coughing.) And please bury the rest of my ashes near the top of cemetery hill, to filter down to the remains of Dusty, Annie, Waylon and whomever else might be resting there then. Amen.

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