I read this morning that stallion Dixieland Band was euthanized at the age of thirty.
This isn’t strictly CANTER related, but it made me a little sad, as some of my favorite lower-level racehorses, including some in our program are related to him. Dixieland Band was not the very best racehorse in the world, but a good solid one, winning 8 times in 24 starts (graded stakes and some handicaps at 4) and earning just over $400,000. The relatives of Dixieland Band that I know personally have shared a couple traits that I just love – things the average buyer perhaps doesn’t appreciate, but things that make my world go round and my heart sing.
While I don’t think this is true of ALL his descendants, the favorites that I know and love share things like…. big ears. Or extra-long, kind of homely faces. Or a general sort of honest aura that just makes me indescribably happy.
The first such horse to worm his way into my heart is named Tyros Beach. He was a yearling when my horse was a two year old, and they were boarded together. I called him “Jughead” because he just had such an enormous head. As a yearling he was taller than 16.2, with a head that looked like it belonged on a Clydesdale. That made my little heart pitter-pat like crazy. I don’t know why, perhaps I secretly have a thing for mules, but there was something about that enormous face that just made me super happy. Jughead is still plodding around at the races – currently he’s getting a layoff at a trainer’s farm near Charles Town but I expect to see him back there eventually…. hoping he gets over the hind end wonkiness I saw the last time he ran, anyway. Now that he is an adult he is giant – well over 17 hands, and I’m not sure he ever grew into his head, though he looks much more handsome now than he used to. He’s actually a great-grandson of Dixieland Band so I’m not sure how much of the influence is his, but I’ve met enough others that I assume that’s where it’s rooted.
One of those others is our very own “Leo.” From here on out, I’m probably going to refer to him as Omen – it’s part of his racing name and now that I know him better, it just seems like a better fit 🙂 (actually, in real life I abbreviate it to “Om”, like the meditative chant. heh). When I very first met Leo, the thing I liked best was his head and ears. His head is certainly not huge, but he has a certain floppiness to his ears which I appreciate. His face and overall demeanor is just so pleasant and honest that he’s become my go-to horse for when I’m having a bad day. The goofy antics of Mikey, Bid, and Truckee always bring a smile, but sometimes you just need to be around a horse that gives good hugs. That’s this horse.
He is such a kind horse, and will be so amazing when he grows up. By the book he’s four years old, but his birthday isn’t until June. I know he doesn’t have the best conformation, but he’s got such a great brain and personality, I think he will outperform his looks for the person who falls in love with him. It’s been so great to watch him transform – when he arrived he was sore in foot, body, and I think the mind as well. He has really blossomed since coming to us, and I can’t imagine anyone meeting him and not liking him.
Sorry about that… I sort of morphed my Dixieland Band appreciation post into a sales pitch for my favorite CANTER horse. Can’t help it!