When I was young, I wasn’t a horse girl. You know what I mean, a lot of girls obsess about horses. They knew a palomino from a pinto. And a bridle from a stirrup. They collected plastic horse figurines. Some of them even wore cowboy hats. (Or at least had them in their rooms.)
But I never got that. A horse is an interesting animal. And I enjoyed riding them. But like Mr. Ed said, “a horse is a horse.” I was much more interested in books. And, obviously, not the Misty of Chincoteague novels.
That was the extent of my interest in horses. Until I was about thirty, and my son Matthew was born. As most of you know, Matthew is autistic. What you may not know is that he had serious sleep problems. He only slept three hours out of every 24. Which didn’t work well for him or us. Most of the rest of the night he cried. It was misery...until we found Black Beauty. Matt loved horses, and someone gave us a video of Black Beauty. Matt loved it. So we started putting it on every night for Matt to watch while we slept. He sat between us in our bed and watched. Twice a night he watched the entire video of Black Beauty. Of course, he woke us up every time BB got caught in the fire. Cal would say, “Matt, he’s going to be fine. They’re going to rescue him like they did the last 2,000 times.” (He also woke us up when BB pooped in the house—Matt didn’t want us to miss the funny parts.)
Interestingly, the movie has subliminal messages. No, that’s not the result of sleep-deprived hallucinations. In some of the town scenes, people will walk through the corners of the scenes carrying placards with instructions on them. It’s only a frame or two long, and if you’re not looking for it (or haven’t seen the movie 2,000 times) you’ll miss it.
But subliminal messages aside, Matt’s obsession with BB gave me an idea. I wondered if he might like the Triple Crown, especially the Kentucky Derby. All those thoroughbreds racing. So we watched it. Matt adored the backstory on each horse and usually cheered for the horse-who-overcame-the-most-obstacles. Ariel and I fell for the hat parade. And okay, I’ll admit it, I fell in love with the horses for the same reason I love baseball. It isn’t that the sport is so amazing to me. It’s watching the near perfection involved. I love watching Mariano Rivera or Tim Wakefield pitch. So I love watching the horses do what they were bred to so—run like wind. I also like the irony of watching the “it” horse have a snit and deciding it doesn’t really care to win this particular race.
The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday. We’ll be watching. I’m rooting for Uncle Mo, and Matt’s rooting for Dialed In. (Neither of us will root for a Bob Baffert horse.) So my horse love came late. And that’s okay. Especially since I’ll get to enjoy a mint julep with the race. Yum.