Rarely has one creature labored for another as a horse for a human. From the Crusades to World War I, battles were fought and won on the backs of horses. Frontiers were explored, homes built and communities created from the labor of horses at the will, and for the benefit, of humans.
So, too, does the modern day Standardbred labor for their humans. In the heat of summer, through freezing rain, around and around they go. They do our bidding.
Today is the latest installment in our occasional series of snapshots from the lives of the horses who have performed exceptional service to their humans. They are our War Horses.
Freehold, NJ --- traveled many miles during his five-year racing career. In addition to 95 North American race miles, 40 of them winning ones, amassed nearly $1.2 million in a career that spanned the ocean to Europe as well.
Competing from age 2 in 1986, to age 7 in 1991, his best year was 1988, when he took his career mark of 1:54.3, won a Maple Leaf Trotting Classic elimination, the Su Mac Lad Final, and was second in the Breeders Crown for then-owner Wayne Lynch and trainer Art Wirsching.
had the unfortunate timing of being born the same year as , when every trotter moved back a place. But races are contested on the track -- not on paper -- and slew the mighty dragon that was in a leg of the Statue of Liberty Trot at The Meadowlands in 1988.
From a globe-trotter to a homebody,left the track in 1991 for a stallion career. Tom Winebrener, proprietor of Fox Den Farm, with his wife Linda, can pinpoint the day ended his nomadic life and made a home forever at Fox Den.
"He was here before we had computers, but let me see," Winebrener says. "It was November 14, 1991."
has now spent nearly 21 years at Fox Den in Union Bridge, Md., with 266 foals who have collectively won $8.1 million. His highest money-earning progeny is the trotting mare Go Get Blanche with $347,101 and a mark of 1:56.1 and who is still racing. His last foals were born in 2008, but he still has a part time job at the farm as a teaser, which involves essentially flirting with mares to assess their readiness for reproduction.
"He is amazing," says Winebrenner. "We have a stall plaque -- we call him Teaser Extraordinaire. When we retired him, we figured he had a life estate at Fox Den, so this is where he lives.
"He's got his little band of mares and he's just a class act. Always been that way," says Winebrener of the horse that helped get him his full service boarding and reproductive services farm started. "We were getting the farm up and going here and looking for a stallion with some prominence. He had earnings and records of what we felt we needed at the time. We are a little more aligned for breeding for a niche market in Maryland."
These days the Winebreners and staff keephappy with some mares, some green grass and a habit that dates to his racing days -- some cake -- chocolate cupcakes from the TastyKake Company.
"We just make his life interesting every day," says Winebrener. "We bring him in his stall and turn him out; sometimes next to mares.
"He's a personality, he's a character. He has some gray in the face and his back has dropped a little bit, but he's still a very attractive horse. He's a farm favorite, not a problem in the world. He loves attention. We turn him out in the stud paddock and his stall has a walk out to a small paddock area, so he's not bored. He can walk in and out. On cold days we close the door and open it again first thing. He's so special to us."
Editor's Note: Do you know of a notable horse now in their sunset years? We'd like to hear about horses at least 20 years old who either made 200 or more career starts or earned $500,000 or more in purses. Tell Ellen Harvey about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications