By Hard Boot Willie (sometimes also known as Tom Akers)
We have a good idea why people try to win the Triple Crown. Most likely it’s for the money and the fame as that’s the way us humans are programmed. Now why do the horses try so hard to win it, that’s not as easy to figure.
There’re lots of theories and ideas about that. Some [horse people mostly] say it’s because they were bred and born to run, and because their hearts are so big. Others [most likely not racing fans] say it’s because those small folks on their backs with the whips will beat hell out of them if they don’t: A cynical viewpoint I’d say.
I guess we could get the answer straight from the horse’s mouth although Mister Ed and Francis are the only talking equines I’ve heard of and I don’t think they ran in the Triple Crown.
I did meet a lady one time over in Lexington, Kentucky that claimed she could talk to horses by mental telepathy and she would tell you what they had to say if you’d pay her a couple hundred bucks. She did dogs too for a lesser fee. I said I wished I’d brought my dog. She says no problem as it wasn’t necessary for the dog to be there in the flesh and that she could and would dial up my dog long distance if I came up with the twenty-five bucks, an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse.
After she tunes in my dog Poquita, a little Australian Shepherd-Border Collie cross, I tell her to ask the dog who she misses the most when we’re gone, me or my girl friend. Evidently a brief conversation ensues, then the lady tells me that Poquita says it was me hands down as it was a little hard to get attached to the girl friends since there was such a large turnover in that department and that I was her true love.
Meanwhile back at the races. “I suppose …” we could get one of the Horse Whispering bunch to check with the horses about running in the Triple Crown. They say that they communicate with body language, and I don’t doubt that a bit, but then we’d still be getting second hand information so maybe that wouldn’t be so good.
I’ll tell you what I think is that there’s probably no way to know exactly what these horses think, but I do believe my ownself the ones that are good enough to compete in the races like the Triple Crown “are” Bred and Born to Run and I think their hearts are so big that they love and crave it so much that they won’t quit no matter what or how tough it gets____________and sometimes, maybe too often, that’s when they get hurt.
The thing is they want it too much and the truth is that they are just too young to know better.
But we humans ought to know better. It’s really up to us. Maybe we should do something different. We made the rules, we can change them. Those horses are trying to tell us something, could be time to listen up.
Barbaro Eight Bells and many others speak to us from the other side now, their voices muffled forever, but in the still darkness of early morning before the racetrack opens if you listen closely you can hear the drumming of their feet on their last long run.
Epilogue: Tom Akers, former gallop boy, bush track rider, rodeo hand and professional polo player is in his 70th year, still going down the road trying to make a living as a horseman and writer.
And I tell you when I get back home a few days later Poquita comes bounding over to see me just wagging her little tail and she seemed so happy to see me that I was ashamed that I had doubted the horse and dog talking woman and it must be true she could have conversations with them.
One thing though is that Poquita always greeted me like that unless she was sick or had been hit by a car or kicked by one of the horses or something, so I guess I couldn’t be absolutely sure about the Lady talking with her. But I like to think she did.