Tonka's Pride and My Joy
Author's note: I was inspired from a dream I had about Big Red (Secretariat to those who aren't horse lovers but know the name.)
Steele's Jockey Test and Tonka's Birth"I watched as the other horses galloped by. I was urging him, urging Secretariat to go faster, I could feel his muscles moving, hear his heart pounding, the sound of him breathing, and the pounding of his hooves as they gracefully touched the grounds...."
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!...
"Ugh! It was just another dream." I woke up sweating from the dream I just had. Its been awhile since I last researched and watched Secretariat, the greatest racehorse that ever lived.
I got up from my bed and checked my phone. It was only 5:30 a.m. I had slept through the night. I walked by my poster of Secretariat, and said my good morning to the great red stallion. It was dawn out here on the Kentucky farmlands of Paris. I can smell the freshly cut grass and the hay my neighbor provided for his Thoroughbreds. I quickly put on a tank top, some wrangler jeans, and my black cowgirl boots on, then bolted out my bedroom door. I stopped by the kitchen to grab an apple and say farewell to my four month old German Shepherd, DeSoto, who lazily yawned in response.
I quietly grabbed my car keys and opened the front door to my Southern style home. As I headed to my car, my neighbor, Jacob stopped me.
"Morning Steele!" he said happily.
Jacob LaRoche is this 6 foot 5 inch tall, buff farm boy that was raised by the Thoroughbreds his father owned, rather than by his own father, Rafael LaRoche. Jacob was and still is a very handsome young man. With a nicely tanned skin, thick semi-long blue black hair, husky blue eyes, that reminded me of ice, and a very well toned body to match for a guy who is only 29.
"Morning Jake." I replied after swallowing the apple slice I had in my mouth. He grinned.
"Hey, so RoyalGalaxy's about to foal at any time now. Your welcome to come watch." he mentioned.
At the sound of my favorite mare's name and her unborn foal, I jumped at the chance to see the little guy or girl be born.
"Oh. My. Gosh! Jake that's awesome! Of course I will! You know how much this means to me!" I squealed with happiness. I instantly ran over to Jacob and hugged him.
"Hey! Not so tight Steele. I can't breathe." He said jokingly.
I punched him in the arm for that, seeing as I'm only a 5 foot 3 inch tall, tan, skinny farm girl, that was raised by an amazing woman, my mother Elisa. I can be described as having long straight blue black hair and golden honey eyes that remind people of a wolf.
After talking for a few more minutes, I bid Jacob good-bye and got into my sapphire blue Ford Ranger. I drove to Rochester Farms, where I worked, the birthplace of Alydar. Mrs. Tweedy greeted me in her usual manner. A welcoming hug and a nudge in the ribs with her elbow.
"Morning Mrs. Tweedy." Was all I could manage after the tiny blow to my ribs.
"Come now Steele, you've worked here long enough to call me Penny now." She said to me with that warming smile she always has.
"Steele, could you be a dear and saddle up Aamra and Giant's Causeway, in western saddles, for me please." Penny asked me.
"Yes. Of course Ms. Penny. Right away." I said as I walked towards Giant's stall.
Giant's Causeway is Secretariat's great-grandson, through Secretariats grandson Storm Cat and Secretariats daughter Terlingua. He was by far my favorite horse in the born, he looked almost identical to his great-grandfather. With the only difference being that Giant is a liver chestnut, with two white stockings on both his left foreleg and hind-leg, and a very interesting star, strip, and blaze marking on his face, whereas, Secretariat was a copper red chestnut, with three white stockings on his right foreleg and both his left and right hind leg, and a diamond shaped star with a very thin strip down the middle of his face. Giant sensed my presence and neighed a hello in my general direction. When I reached his stall he placed his big liver chestnut head into my chest.
After five years of working with Ms. Penny, I had always worked with Giant's Causeway ever since Ashford Farms sold him to Ms. Penny due to his extremely aggressive behavior. Ms. Penny always believed that a horse is only as aggressive as its rider and trainer. I still remember the first day Giant's Causeway arrived here as if it were yesterday. It was my second day working for Ms. Penny, I was out by the round pen, day dreaming about racing when a beautiful black Ford F450,with a horse trailer pulled up into the driveway. Armando Iglesias, Giants previous owner, opened the door to the horse trailer and that's when Giant came out of it like a wild bucking bronc. Giant was bucking, snorting, and lashing out at anyone who neared him with a lead rope. Giant bolted out of the crowd that surrounded him ran towards the round pen.
I saw Giant running straight towards me. I couldn't move, I was frozen in fear, the fear of the fact that I thought I was going to get trampled by a 1,095lb horse. I heard my name being called along with "GET OUT OF THE WAY!" it was a mans voice, but I couldn't move. Then as soon as Giant neared me, he began to slow down 'til he reached me. His eyes leveled with mine, his stunning muddy brown eyes gazing into my golden honey colored eyes. I stretched out my right hand to pet him, instead he placed his nose in my hand and let me stroke his nose. From that point on me and Giant have been inseparable.
It's been five years since I started working here and to be quiet honest I enjoyed every minute of it. I already had Giant's Causeway tacked up in the usual western saddle I use, a gorgeous mahogany colored saddle with a black spider seat with a white Indian patterned pad, now it was Aamra's turn to be saddled. As I began to saddle the mare I began to wonder as to why Ms. Penny wanted both Aamra and Giant's Causeway tacked up in western saddles, rather than their usual English. …
I heard Giant snort loudly, he was getting impatient. I guess he knew what we were doing and couldn't wait any longer, he began to paw the ground as Ms. Penny tried her best to calm the stallion down. I finally managed to get Aamra's bit in, which isn't easy with this moody four year old blood bay mare. I lead Aamra out of the barn. Ms. Penny was waiting patiently, unlike Giant's Causeway, whom she stroked gently upon his nose. Giant's ear pricked up in my general direction when he heard the click clack of Aamra's hooves as they hit the concrete floor of the barn hallway. Ms. Penny looked at me when I finally reached her with the mare.
“Thank you. Uh, Steele dear, would you be so kind as to giving me a leg up on Aamra please?” Ms. Penny asked me.
“Yes, of course Ms. Penny.” I said after I hitched Aamra to the hitching post.
I got down on one knee and held out both of my hand, as Ms. Penny placed her left foot in my hands and grabbed hold of the saddle horn and seat. I pushed her up lightly as she pushed herself out of my hands and into the hot pink saddle Aamra was adorned with.
“Thank you Steele. Now, go get yourself on Giant's Causeway, he's getting very impatient.” She told me.
I did as I was told and got on my horse. Giant's Causeway was happy to feel my weight upon his back. It's been months since the last time I rode him and he was just as happy to see me back in the saddle rather than in a corner in his stall. Not to mention that I am just as happy to be riding him. Like I said Giant's Causeway and I bonded right off the bat ever since he arrived here at Rochester's and we really never spent more than eight hours apart from one another.
As I sat on Giant's back, I realized that it felt good to be sitting on top of horse. The urge to run and feel the wind in your face is too great. I felt wild and free just sitting on him. Ms. Penny was waiting by the trail entrance for Giant and I. I had Giant's Causeway trot over to the entrance and slide to a stop next to Aamra.
“How extraordinary!” Ms. Penny stated.
“You and Causeway really have come a long way since you both arrived here. Now lets get going Steele. The day is young and both of these horses are bursting with energy and are dying for a good race. … Er I mean run.” She quickly corrected herself before I caught on to what she said.
I laughed and Giant joined me in my tiny fit of laughter with his snorts and neighing. After a few minutes of laughter, we began the trail. Ms. Penny began to ask me questions about what has been going on with my social life.
“You know Ms. Penny, I never really thought as to why I stopped riding Giant, but thinking about it now he probably knew I was still depressed about the whole break up with Luis.” I said to Ms. Penny.
“You know, Steele, horses can sense these things and usually don't allow their riders to ride them due to the fact that a riders ability can be altered by an overwhelming emotion, so they comfort their riders in the riders time of need.” She said to me.
Thinking about it now Ms. Penny had a point. Giant knew how I was before I knew it.
“Thank you Ms. Penny.” Was what I managed to say.
After a few minutes of silence we arrived at the meadow, and Giant was getting more and more excited. He pawed the ground fiercely as he edged himself closer to Aamra. I nudged him in the ribs with my heels to get him to walk forward again, but that didn’t work, he continued to paw the ground and snort like a wild mustang that has been trapped in a corner and can’t get out. He reared a little, pawing the air as he did so, and tilted his head towards the sky like a wild stallion challenging another stallion over herd possession. Aamra began to do the same thing but not as bad as Giant, either way it had me scared seeing as neither horses acted this way. Both horses came back down pawing the ground more fiercely than before. Ms. Penny made Aamra walk towards a big oak tree, the one that Giant and I love to sit under in silence and just think to ourselves, and called me over.
“Hehehe. Didn’t I tell you that these two were wanting a good run. So let’s give it to them.” Ms. Penny as she lined Aamra up with the Oak tree.
I did the same thing with Giant’s Causeway who kept flicking his tail like a puppy who was overly happy about seeing his master return home.
“Let’s do this!” I stated and with that both horses bolted forward. I squatted as closely as possible to Giant’s saddle, assuming a jockey style position. I can feel the wind whipping my hair all over the place, I felt Giant’s muscles move move underneath me as he ran ahead of Aamra. I was able to hear his heart pounding in the position I was in.
B-BOOM! B-BOOM! ... B-BOOM! B-BOOM! … B-BOOM! B-BOOM!
I looked to my left and saw that Aamra and Ms. Penny were passing by in a blur of dark brown, orange, yellow, white, and gold. It was early in the afternoon when we began our little race. Giant’s Causeway was in the lead by 3 lengths. I heard Giant’s breathing, it was nice and steady. Giant’s Causeway twisted his body to the left as he went around a spruce tree that I assumed was a turning marker, my body turning with his. He headed for the Oak tree, we sped by Aamra and Ms. Penny noticing how far back they were now. Giant’s Causeway decided to put himself into full gear and started to run at a faster than pace than what he was going at now. It was hard to believe that he was only going at a canter when we started this and is now going at his full potential. We passed by the little pond that was in the center of the meadow like a bullet being shot out of a .45 revolver. Judging by the distance we were in the lead by eight maybe 10 furlongs, in other words 1,760 yards to 2,200 yards.
Giant began to slow down as we reached the Oak tree, he gradually slid to a stop by the time he reached a trot and was closer to the tree. Aamra and Ms. Penny caught up in three minutes.
“S-S-Steele. I h-have never s-seen anything move that fast since Secretariat during the Belmont Stakes race!” Ms. Penny exclaimed.
“Thank you Ms. Penny.” I said grinning at her. Having her compliment me and Giant on our speed reminded me of how I felt when I was 18 and experienced my first full speed gallop bareback on a horse I used to ride at an old barn in Florida. Casanova De Sol, beautiful blood bay Paso Fino gelding.
“Have you ever considered about being a jockey? You’d be really good at it.” Ms. Penny noted.
“I actually have Ms. Penny. But I don’t think I’m ready for it just yet. I mean Giant’s Causeway is to old for racing…” Giant flicked his tail angrily at my thigh for that. “HEY! I’m serious Giant! And besides Ms. Penny where am I….” My voice trailed off when Jacob’s ring-tone, Cowboy Casanova, began to play from my back pocket.
“STEELE! Come quick RoyalGalaxy’s going into labor!” Jacob loudly stated into my ear.
“I’m on my way!” I hung up the phone and looked at Ms. Penny.
“I’m going to guess and say that you were going to state that ‘Where on Earth am I going to find a racehorse?’ and I am assuming that, that was Jacob LaRoche and his mare RoyalGalaxy is going into labor? Correct?” Ms. Penny asked me.
“Yes ma’am, that is indeed correct. Royals first foal means a lot to me and being their to see the foal be born is an honor and a privilege Ms. Penny.” I replied
“Well then we better get a move on. Now will you be taking Giant or your truck?” She asked, hoping I’d pick the right answer.
“Giant’s Causeway seeing as he is a lot faster than my truck and I’m already on him. And LaRoche Racing Farm isn’t that far from here. Giant and I know a short cut through the woods.” I replied with a smile.
“Good answer, now get going that foal isn’t going to wait for you forever!” She exclaimed after smacking Giant’s Causeway on the hindquarters. He reared and galloped, or what seemed like gallop and is actually a canter, off towards the spruce tree we turned at earlier and headed towards LaRoche Racing Farm.