Well, here’s my story. My name is Ocotillo. I am a two-year old gelding. My birthday is April 15th. I only know that because Dorothy brought a big Birthday Cake to the barn for the humans and tons of carrots for the horses and we had a Birthday Party.
Drew Fulmer, my trainer, bought me at an auction in the Fall 2012. Then he took me to a ranch where they taught me how to be a riding horse — I think they call it breaking a horse. I was really shy at first and they had a hard time catching me. Then they put a saddle on me and away we went. I was a pretty fast learner, or at least I thought so. Drew brought Dorothy and her husband Bill to the ranch to see me. That day, they became partners and so now I have three owners.
Drew Fulmer finally took me to his barn at Turf Paradise where the real race horses live. I got to meet all the other horses in Drew’s barn. They’re called my stable mates. Drew started training me and I think I became easier to manage. I was growing up fast and I am very handsome. I know I’m handsome because I heard Dorothy say I was beautiful and she also told Drew that I have pretty eyes. I think Drew was more impressed with my physique because I was getting bigger by the day. Drew feeds me well, checks on me every day and keeps me very healthy.
Well, on April 19th, I had my first race. It was a Trial for 2-year olds. I remember Drew taking me to the Paddock and watching my every move. He followed behind me all the way to the track and Dorothy even teased him that he was like a mother hen. Drew just laughed and said, 2-year olds can act goofy and easily get hurt.
I made it to the starting gate. Drew taught me what to do and I thought this would be easy. After all, all the other horses in the race were as green as I was; they were all 2-year olds. I was ready to go!
My racing number was 2, so I broke to the inside. As it turned out I was the 4th out of the gate and other horses were running in front of me. There were a total of eight horses in this race. Before I knew what was happening, there was dirt flying in my face. The dirt was coming at me in clumps and it really hurt when they hit me. For humans, it would be like getting hit by a baseball. Ouch! This is something I hadn’t experienced before. So, of course I did my best to avoid the clumps of dirt flying at me.
Well, its impossible to run at any pace when your head to going in all directions. I thought I was being smart to avoid these clumps coming at me. The jockey, Nate Smith, being an experience jockey, realized what I was doing and checked me so I wouldn’t get hurt. I finished 7th in that race and I felt really bad. I was wondering if Drew was going to be angry with me. He had such high hopes for me in this race and I blew it.
Drew took me back to the barn and checked me out to make sure I was okay. I wondered if my other stable mates knew how poorly I did. I was sure that they knew, but they didn’t say anything to me. Maybe they were just being kind, or maybe they remembered what it was like to be the baby.
Well, after the grooms fed us and we were settle for the night, I just couldn’t stop worrying.
Then I remembered that Drew called Dress Blues, mama. So I called to her for her help. Dress Blues is one of the older female horses and I trust her advise.
I called to Dress Blues: “mama, mama”. Then I heard her respond to me: “Ocotillo are you calling me?” I said: “Yes, is it okay that I called you mama? I heard Drew call you that and you seemed to like it.” Dress Blues just laughed and said: “So what’s your problem?” My response was: “Well, I am worried about today’s race. Did you hear what happened to me? Do you think Drew is going to me angry with me?”
Before Dress Blues could answer, I heard Katie’s Dan (one of the oldest horses in the barn) speak up: “Son, don’t worry about the race. Drew will never be angry with you, but he will train you.”
Suddenly, I heard a loud roar of laughter from Grey Moon. I had to find out why he was laughing at me, so I said: “Grey Moon, why are you laughing at me?” Grey Moon responded: “I’m not laughing at you, I am laughing because I flipped in the Paddock and scared the crap out of Drew and he wasn’t angry with me. In fact, he spent more time with me after that incident. Don’t worry, he will help you.”
“Yes”, said Pursuxit, “Drew will help you. He is really good at making us better. As a matter of fact, there are times that I forget that he’s just human. He understands us so well that sometimes I think he’s part horse.”
Well, that only added to the conversation. I heard Berry Valid ( a young female horse) laugh a sweet girlish giggle. Berry Valid said: “You know Drew could be part horse. His birthday is in late November and that makes him a Sagittarian.”
“A what?” asked Grey Moon.
Berry Valid began to explain: ” Sagittarius is his birthday sign and the myth is that Sagittarius was a horse-human hybrid with the body of a man atop the four legs of a horse.”
Then Tonight at Eleven chimed in: “Well, he only has two legs so he surely can’t be part horse. What a ridiculous idea!”
There is so much laughter at the barn that night that I finally started to feel more at ease and glad that no one was making fun of me.
Well, before we could say anything else, we heard our “look-out” call to us. His name is Junior and he is a rooster. Yes, we have a rooster living at the barn with us and he can be very helpful. He heard one of the grooms coming to see what all the noise was about and Junior always warns us when its time to cool it.
The groom checked and saw that everyone was okay and returned to the office.
We were settling down for the night, but I still had one more question so I called to Dress Blues. I said: “Mama, do you really think Drew could be part horse like Berry Valid said?” Dress Blues just smiled at me and said: “Don’t listen to their non-sense. Drew is a human, but he has worked with horses for so long and is so good at it, that he really understands us. Just be sure to listen to what he teaches you and you will be a champion.”
Well, that’s how my first day racing ended, and I can hardly wait to race again so Drew will be proud of me.
P.S. My stable mates were right. Drew Fulmer has continued to work with me. He had me run behind horses in practice so I know what to expect. I think I am better prepared.