Wednesday, January 14, 2009

River City Storm is one lucky horse

There are a host of famous quotes that work on a variation of “Success is 10% hard work and skill, and 90% luck.”

It this is true, then River City Storm, the second most winning horse in the history of Cal Expo harness racing, had his good hold right to the end of his career. And beyond.

One week before his retirement bash at Cal Expo’s $100,000 California Sires Stakes night, “Stormy” ran—and won—his last race in Massachusetts. Lucky horse.

Then, with the help of a consortium of admirers, Stormy was then brought back to his home turf in Sacramento. December 20, the glowering skies parted long enough for a night of racing under the stars and Stormy’s official retirement. Lucky horse.

Stephen Chambers, who once leased Stormy, was part of a consortium that banded together to bring Stormy back to his home turf of Sacramento.

Stormy, age 15, then packed up his cooler and Baker blanket and came to our farm, where he has settled easily into his new life as a saddle horse. He has also acquired an unexpected role, that of ambassador for his breed.

On Saturday, I decided to take Stormy out for his fifth ride under saddle. We rode to Cronan Ranch, the 1800-acre open space area brodering the crystalline waters of the American River. Along with dozens of horseback riders, the trails had drawn many families with small children.

Stormy at Cronan Ranch showing his personality.

Every time I came along a family of hikers, the children would all excitedly cry, “Look at that horse! Look at that horse!”

So I would stop and ask, “Would you like to pet him?”

Superstar that he is (and accustomed to much adulation), Stormy stood quietly while small hands moved over his shoulders and tickled his muzzle. Furry as a teddy bear, Stormy’s soft, full coat elicited squeals of delight.

Everyone was very impressed to hear that Stormy was “a famous harness racer” who had made a lot of money in his career.

“He’s so quiet,” commented one young mother. “I thought race horses were all kind of…crazy.”

“Not Standardbreds,” I answered, going on to explain how Standardbreds have calm minds, common sense, sturdy bodies, and great hearts.

As we rode away, I heard, “Ooo, look at his tail. He’s so beautiful.”

“And sweet,” came another comment.

Since Storm came to live with us, many people have said that he was lucky to find us. After all, who would want a 15-year-old horse with 12 years of racing on those legs?

Stormy scores another piece of luck!

Yet, the more I come to know his intelligent, noble, willing personality, the more I have the pleasure of storming down a trail with that magnificent trot, the more I think, "Let's just see who got lucky here."

Is this what they call a "win-win" situation?

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