Some say the world will end with fire.

Others say with ice.

From what I've tasted of desire

I hold with those that favor fire.

But if I had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate,

To say that for destruction ice,

Is also great and would suffice.

Robert Frost


"Good things come to those who wait, but, only the things LEFT by those who hustle." - Unknown (at least by me)

"Life is wonderful, without it you are dead." - Hy "Pete" Peterson - Park City and Kenecott Miner

"Don't worry about those people in your past---there is a reason they are not in your present." - Unknown

"Life's tough - it's even tougher if you're stupid." - John Wayne

"The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary!" - Vince Lombardi

"If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re probably taking up too much space.” ~ Attributed to Jim Whittaker by Doug ‘Swani’ Swantner, Alaska Smokejumper and Air Attack Base Manager (Ret.)

About Me

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I am married and have seven children and twenty grandchildren. I retired January 1, 2010 after working 39+ years for the Forest Service...NEW CHAPTER IN MY LIFE HAS BEGUN!

Monday, May 11, 2009


I told you last blog that I would write about John Henrie - who is that you ask - well he was a steel driving man in the song but at the race track he was the winningest horse in history. Why you ask - because his owner gelded him (took away his manhood) when he was a yearling because he was so hard to handle and they didn't think they would ever be able to handle him and get him ready to run unless they did.

What that did for him was put him on the track for as long as he stayed sound. That means for as long as his legs and his body could stand the exertions of running in the races. In his case a very, very, very long time. The last time I saw him run he was running at Santa Anita in a handicap race with a fairly large purse (but nothing compared to todays purses - this was back in the late 80's). He was really something to watch come down the track at the end of the was like he started the race at the 1/4 quarter pole while all the rest started at the first of the race. He always made a valiant try at the end of the race. He didn't always win but he was always the horse to beat in any race he ran.

Now just a little about the horse - he was miserable to be around. He would bite you from the stall if you ever let your guard down. He'd kick you in the paddock if you didn't watch your step. He'd run over you on the way to the walker if you didn't put the chain across his nose when you took him from the stall. He'd knock you down with his shoulder as you hooked him on the walker if you weren't paying attention. All in all you had to always be paying attention or he'd get you. And when he got you it always hurt - always.

SOOOO...why did I like this horse? He was a great athlete. And I do mean a great one. After he was saddled in the paddock and was on his way to the track he had a ritual with which he put his game face on. If you haven't participated in sports putting on your game face is when you psych yourself up and do all the things that you have done your entire life to prepare yourself to win and convince others you are going to win whatever competition you are going to participate in. He had a ritual too. After the jockey was in the saddle he would start toward the track entrance and take a couple of steps and just freeze. He'd look around and watch what the crowd was doing and just see what was going on. The jockey never asked him to move because when they did that early in his life he would buck - like crazy - and only the good riders could stay aboard. After doing this for a few seconds he would take a few more steps and do the same thing all over again. He did that all the way to the gate (at least 5 stops) at the entrance to the track. There he stopped one last time and looked around and transformed from a horse they were having trouble getting to the track to a real race horse. And I do mean a real race horse!

When he took the first step onto the track he was fully alive and fully ready to put it to the competition. No matter how good they were he was ready. He would prance and dance in front of the grand stands on the way to the starting gates but as soon as he was past them he would settle down and pay lots of attention to what was going on inside the track fences. He was never a problem to load at the gates and he always broke cleanly and ran back in the crowd until it was time to win the race. Then he just ran away from the competition from the 1/4 pole to the wire. Every single time he made that try - and way more often that not he won the race.

I am pretty tickled that I got to spend some time with this horse and had a chance to see a really good horse run for a lot of years. The last time I saw him run he won and that was after he was fifteen years old. Why was he the winningest horse of all time. Mostly because he ran hard every single time - but probably more likely because he ran for more than fourteen years and he ran a lot of races every year he was at the track.

Would he have been allowed to run that long as a stallion? Would you have passed up the breed fees if he hadn't been cut? I doubt anyone would have let him run past his four year old year had he been left a stallion. So because of a slip up early in his life he became the winningest horse of all time.

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