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Our Legacy
Author: Don Fraser

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My wife and I were partners in the race horse breeding business. I take care of the training of the horses we keep, we sell most of them. One year we decided to breed two mares from Hawaii, They were both well bred as was our stallion, one of the mares was a little better bred than the other. When we bred both of the mares, as luck will have it, only the best bred one got pregnant.

After about eleven months she had a chestnut filly, The poor filly was born with one of her rear feet sticking up. We consulted our vet. and he wisely told us what to do. I found a flat board about three inches wide, and about a foot long, I drilled a hole in one end as the vet. said, I took a strip of rawhide, and put the ends through the hole in the board, Then I tied a knot with the ends of the rawhide, I had a loop about eight inches in circumferunce. I put that loop around the fillies lower leg, while the board sat flat on the soul of her foot I pressed the board down until her foot was straight. I did that three times a day to that poor filly. It must have hurt terribly. But I only had to do it for a week, and then the foot was straight.

We sold that filly to a friend just before breeding season the next year, with the guarentee that the foot was fine.

The filly got hit by a car and was killed, before she ever reached the race track. Our friend thought it was because of the foot. He wanted his money back. Naturaly we refused. My friend has not talked to us ever since.

We bred the mare that was not bred as well, but she was much prettier. After about eleven months, She had the pretiest colt you ever saw, He was a dark bay, like the mare and the stud, he had a snip of white on his nose like his mother. We knew as soon as we saw him we were going to keep him. This colt was to be our legacy to the racing world.

The colt was in training to be a great race horse now. He was full of mischief, When I was done driving him with my reigns, I would turn him loose in our arena, he would tear down with his teeth, signs on the poles that said, no smoking. There were stalls at the end of the arena, with horses in them, He would kick the wall near them and run away bucking as if to say I got you.

That colt was the easiest colt I ever ground broke, he would go anywhere I asked him to. And when I put a rider on his back, He took to it like a duck takes to water. After he was broke, I asked for a stall at the race track, they would not give me one, they said, it was because he was not bred in that state. But I was welcome to haul him in twice a week and train him to use the starting gate, and for exercise. That is awfully hard on a two year old. But I had no choice.

The colt was never headed out of the starting gate, His speed on his workouts was always the fastest for that day. But still that had to be hard for him, He was loaded on an old truck and hauled forty miles to the race track, he did whatever training that was due for that day. He was put in a strange stall and rested and then loaded in the old truck and hauled back home, There he was put in his own stall and fed grain and hay. That is no life for a race horse, let alone a two year old. Nevertheless he was ready to enter a race.

For the two days after I entered him, we were on pins and needles. We could hardly sleep at night waiting for the race. Finally the day had come. We seldom gambled on the races. That day was no exception. Our breeding business was not doing well, the trips to the race track were taking it's toll on our budget, we simply did not have the money to gamble, even though we knew our colt would win.

Oh he looked so pretty in the saddling paddock. His dapples shined like the bright sun that day, we ould tell he was proud of himself. And in the po
st parade, The jockey had the pony girl let go of him, He was so well behaved. I wish I could take credit for that, but that was Dirty Shirt. He had never been a problem of any sort.

He went right in the starting gate, like he lived there, And when the gate was opened, Dirty Shirt went to the front and never looked back,. He won his first race. When the jockey met us in the winners circle he said, he was perfect, you sure know how to break a colt. All I could say was thanks, but my wife and I knew the whole story. Dirty Shirt damn near broke himself.

He had cut his rear leg in the race, I discovered in the test barn. He was going to have to keep from racing for a little while, for how long I wasn't sure. Two weeks went by, the cut looked like it had heeled, I entered him in another race, this one was an allowance race where all of the horses had won a race. I was sure he would do us proud. As always, we waited two days for the race. I still had to keep him at home. I loaded him on the old truck on race day. Then it happened.

On the way to the race track, a drunken driver ran into the back of the old truck, Dirty Shirt, when I checked him looked allright, He looked ok when I unloaded him and put him in the recieving stall. I saddled him and sent him out to the track to race. He finished fifth, the cut on his leg had opened up. I don't know if it had happened in the wreck, or during the race, maybe it hadn't fully healed, and there was just a flap over it. Nevertheless He showed he had the heart of a lion. Any other horse would have quit from he pain,. But not Dirty Shirt, He kept running as fast as he could under the circumstances.

That was the end of the season for that track. I took him to a track that was known to have a better class of horses, again all of the riders that exercized him fell in love with him. He had the fastest workouts of the day, everytime I had him timed. I entered him in another allowance race, when he was in the saddling paddock he sweated profusly, He was sweating bad in the post parade and when they put him in the gate. I knew there was something wrong with him. but it was to late to do anything about it. He finished last that day. Imediatly after the race, I had a drug test done on him, It had come back positive. Dirty Shirt had been drugged Along with five other horses that afternoon, there was a five thousand dollar reward put out by the track for the guilty party to be named, no one ever collected the money, but one person was suspected but never proven to be the culprit.

We had lost the horse ranch and sold all of our horses. I was trying to find a job. My sisters husband had died and she needed some help running the car dealership she inherited, we went to another state to help her. Dirty Shirt was to come later in a horse van. He was to be delivered to a county fairgronds twentyfive miles from were we were going to move to. When we got to our destination, we phoned the women in charge of the stalls at the fair. We asked her to let us know as soon as Dirty Shirt arrived, we told her the name of the horse hauling company and everything we could. There was no reason for any slipups.

We phoned every day for a week, she said your horse did not get here yet. Finally we went the twenty five miles to the fairgrounds, The guard at the gate told us that our horse had arrived five days ago and that a trainer had been cleaning his stall and feeding him every day. Where is our horse? my wife asked, I don't know but the trainer is in the tack room in barn five. we went to barn five and knocked on the tack room door, A grandfather type of a man opened the door, but before he could say anything, my wife asked him where our horse was. Oh you mean that good lookin bay colt that the van unloaded last week? Yes where is he please, she asked. Right next door to me he said.

My wife and I went one stall over and found Dirty Shirt. He winnied when he saw us, we were so happy to see him, I asked the old timer, How much do we owe you for taking
care of him? Nothing it has been a pleasure taking care of such a beautiful animal, I just wish he were mine.

We let Dirty Shirt rest a little. we only had him galloped lightly,. although he was no trouble, we decided to have him gelded. We sent him to the best horse breeding ranch we could find. The sire of the only horse that ever beat Secratariet stood at stud there.

After he was there a week, the farm had their vet. cut him. That vet. did a horrible job, and to make matters worse the ranch put sawdust down in his stall. I think you can imagine what would happen with an open wound laying in sawdust? Dirty Shirt got an infection. And the ranch manager did not know what to do about it. When my wife and I saw it, we demanded he give the colt mass injections of antibiotics. After two months on the ranch with injections. we hauled him back to the fairgrounds, we gave him a lot of the B vitamins Hoping that would help. Then about a month went by. and then I started to train him once more, after about two weeks of galloping as much as two miles, I told the girl that loved him, to work him three eighths of a mile. Her face lit up as she said at last I can let this baby go. Again it was the fastest work of the day. After about two more weeks of training, I entered him in a race at another track, forty miles away. I rented a horse trailer and borrowed my brother-in-laws pickup and hauled him to that track.

The race was going to happen the day after we got there. I could not find anyone to get on the colt before the track closed, so I did the next best thing. I led him around the the track with the bridle and excersize saddle on, and then I stood him in the saddling paddock for ten minutes, at least I had done something for the colt to familurize him.

The next day was the day of the race. At this track, you had to bring your horse to the recieving barn two races before your race, I guess that was to make sure that no one drugged your horse, like they did at the other track.

Again Dirty Shirt started sweating, as I was saddling him in the paddock, he was drenching wet when he reached the starting gate, he was sweating bad he ran to the front when the gate opened, but he fell to last comming down the stretch, he finished last, When the jockey brought him back to me, The jockey had blood all over his blouse, Dirty Shirt Had bled out of his nose.

We had no choice but to sell our legacy. Myself and my wife cried when we saw our beloved Dirty Shirt go, but we were broke, we needed the money bad,I wasn't making any money at my sisters dealership, there were feed bills and medicine, and vet. bills to pay. By the time we payed all of them we had, little money left.

The man that bought him brought him to a little fair that was going two hundred miles away, I had told him that the colt had bled, but his friend told him he had a secret cure for that. He ran him in a mile and a sixteenth race. I was told that Dirty Shirt was in front for the first five furlongs, then he faded to last, he must have bled again,

Dirty Shirt was claimed that day. by a guy that knew nothing about training horses all he wanted was to make a fast buck. He took the colt to another fair, there he ran him cheap, naturaly he won it was only five furlongs, I was told that it was the fastest five fulongs run that year.

The bad trainer loaded the colt on an old rickety trailer and headed for Montana to make some more easy money, but before he got there the floor fell out of the trailer and Dirty Shirts front feet were ground down to the bone by the pavement of the road.

I heard that his feet grew back in time, and he won two races in Montana. But I never heard no more about our legacy.

It is obvious that I can not use the real name of the colt, but this is a true story.

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