Saturday, February 23, 2013

I am the Sun

During the recent cold snap I worried about the animals living in our barn.  I gave the horses extra hay and even the sheep with their 4 inch wool coats got a larger ration of grain.  But I'm concerned a little more about my Thoroughbred mare; Ceci.  She’s going to be 24 years old this year and when the weather’s cold she doesn’t zip out into the field with her counterparts – the feisty pony or the stubborn Appaloosa.  On cold days, she walks slowly and reluctantly out of her paddock.  “It’s tough getting old,” I thought.

Ceci was 19 years old when she was dropped off at my trainer’s barn by an owner that no longer wanted to care for her or maybe couldn’t.   When I laid eyes on her she was nothing but skin and bones.  My trainer had a reputation for taking unwanted horses no matter the condition they were in.   She was one of the thinnest horses I had seen.  Yet, there was still a spark in her eyes.

"This horse could take you to your next level, she’s got all the buttons”, my trainer said.  I knew where she was going with this.  It was November and the last thing my trainer wanted was to feed a starved Thoroughbred thru the winter months.  Wryly, I eyed Ceci wondering if her rickety frame could even hold a rider.   My heart ached looking at her sad condition and even though her eyes were soft and kind, I flat out said, “no way.”    I’m not sure what changed my mind.  Maybe the desperation in my trainers voice when she called again to see if I was interested, or was it the unlikely chance that if I dusted her off and gave her some time and care she would be a real gem of a horse.  Either way, by December, Ceci was in my barn starting her journey back to health.

It troubled me I had no background on her.  I called the women that owned her to see if I could get some history.   She was reluctant to talk, but with a little prodding, she told me Ceci had an injury early in her life, was a brood mare 3 times, and then a school horse.  Unfortunately, the rest I have to imagine.  What kinds of shows did she compete in?  Did she win ribbons?  She must have been something to watch in her prime standing at 16 hands with her four white feet and flaxen mane and tail.  How many riders soared as she flew over jumps?

Most Thoroughbred’s have a tattoo on the inside of the upper lip.  It links the horse to their registration papers.  I checked to see if Ceci had this tattoo.  When I first curled her lip, I was looking for something small maybe an inch long, so I didn’t even see it.  When I looked again, I was shocked to see huge bold black ink letters blazon across her upper lip; S43159.

I searched for her number by logging into the Jockey Club website.  Anxiously, I typed each of the characters, and then hit the Enter key.  C’est Le Soleil meaning I am the Sun, Chestnut Mare born May 08, 1989 popped up.  “Oh my god,” I thought.  I know her real name.  The name is appropriate too.  She’s listed as Chestnut, but her coat looks almost golden like the sun, closer to a Palomino.  Her mother was Solar Royalty and her sire was, That’s a Nice.  She had 8 starts meaning she raced 8 times and then it was over.  Her racing days were done.  Was she injured or too slow on the track?

It took about two summers of weight gain and building muscle before she was back to her former elegant form.  I compare Ceci to high quality second hand clothes. You know the kind you can’t afford new.  Even though they have been previously owned, the fine fabric makes you feel good.  Ceci’s like that, she’s been owned a few times, but she’s bred from quality stock and riding her lifts my spirit and makes me feel extraordinary.

We have turned the corner on the worst of winter. Longer days and warmer weather will start to show in the same way Ceci’s elegance shows as she sheds her winter coat.  I look forward to watching her canter with her herd mates rocking back and forth enjoying the sunny days of Spring living up to her name -I Am The Sun.



disqus_ajOpRcOSkw said...

What a great story! Loved it

Maia_Giglio said...

Great story, Loved it!

Jim said...

Great Story!

Chris said...

You can see Ceci in action on YouTube...

Hilary said...

I really loved this.
I totally get why you kept her, and why you love her.
It's a beautiful thing.