Friday, December 8, 2006

The Shared Mystique

"Man is himself, like the universe he inhabits, like the demoniacal stirrings of the ooze from which he sprang, a tale of desolations. He walks in his mind from birth to death the long resounding shores of endless disillusionment. Finally, the commitment to life departs or turns to bitterness. But out of such desolation emerges the awesome freedom to choose--to choose beyond the narrowly circumscribed circle that delimits the animal being. In that widening ring of human choice, chaos and order renew their symbolic struggle in the role of titans. They contend for a destiny of a world.

Loren Eiseley, The Star Thrower

One constant found in the entire population of human participants that help make up the game of Thoroughbred racing is that each of us remembers our first encounter with the Thoroughbred distinctly. Something akin to a chemical reaction took place in that moment when we first were admitted to the court of the True Kings, whether it was in the paddock, at the farm or on the backstretch.

When Eiseley wrote The Star Thrower, he was recalling an episode where he met a man on the beach in the early morning hours in Costabel. The man was walking the beach in search of still live star fish and throwing them back into the sea.

Those of us who have found a life with Thoroughbreds are like Eiseley's protagonist, working against the tide and the scavengers, trying to preserve what little is left of what is right with the universe, one starfish at a time.

There has been a lot written in recent times about how the breed has been destroyed, whether through the proliferation of race day medication, short-sighted breeding practices or the pursuit of commercial profit. Yet shining examples of what makes the Thoroughbred the noblest creature in existence take the stage every day at racecourses around the world.

And every time we lead one to their paddock or to the edge of the track and we feel their muscles tense at the impending release, our spirits commingle and we are reminded what it was that drew us into their world from the outset.

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