Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Great Horse Race

The Horse Race
Copyright: Ken Harris 2006

The time: a winter morning in 1957. The place: the trail between the Arroyo Seco Stables in South Pasadena and the Rose Bowl.

Bobbi Williams kept Bonny Pico, a racing Thoroughbred, for her own pleasure. Bonny Pico had raced several times and won or placed on those occasions. But she was temperamental and often “blew her cool.” Very soon into her career she tangled herself up in the starting gate and damaged her legs. She was was still temperamental after her accident, just not so fast. She frequently “flew into alt,” to use an old, old phrase. If you weren’t careful with her, you would fly even “alter” before you hit the ground. Not many people besides Bobbi rode Bonny Pico: she required an experienced or firm hand, usually both.

We three, Joanne, Bobbi and myself, decided to ride to the Rose Bowl for breakfast. A recent rain had “gifted” us with a muddy trail. Bobbi wanted to ride Bonny Pico and give her an opportunity to run. It must be miserable to be a race horse in a rental-schooling stable. Always wanting to run, never getting to? It must be like an AA member working in a bar.

On this fine day Bobbi wanted to let Bonny Pico out a bit on the trail to the Rose Bowl. She volunteered to give us a half mile head start. Sheba, the little Arab mare, and I formed a second “racing team,” if you could call us that, and Legend, a 3/4-Arab, and Joanne formed a third. Sheba, while willing, couldn’t match Legend for speed. Soon Joanne and Legend immediately left Sheba and me behind with globs of mud on our faces.

We stood no chance of catching them, but we tried our best. A few minutes later I heard a buh-duh-BUMP buh-duh-BUMP coming up behind me. Bobbi and Bonny Pico passed Sheba and me like we were hobbled. And Bonny Pico wasn’t even running. She was galloping. Huge, yard-eating strides. And as she galloped by, she had this dreamy, ecstatic, “free at last” look in her eye.

Bobbi and Bonny Pico zoomed past us, coating us with lots more mud. Then they passed Joanne and Legend, giving them an adobe facial as well. When we finished our course, Bobbi and Bonny Pico were in fine fettle and Sheba, Legend, Joanne and I felt as good as mud lumps could.

I may never get to Heaven, but I know what it would feel like from the look in Bonny Pico's as she passed Sheba and me by like we were chained to a tree.

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