Life, Death and Horse Racing




I’ve always loved horses. I’m pretty sure most young girls dream of horses in their future at some point, in their princess years. Horses are associated with princes after all, and happily ever after tales. The stuff that dreams are made of, right?


My mom worked at a number of race tracks in the mid-seventies, while I was growing up, as a data processor. I believe this meant that at the end of the night her job was to enter into the computers all of the  information from the evening’s race earnings. It meant sometimes traveling, and a trip to Kentucky for her. It also led me, her young impressionable daughter imagining herself to be jockey material. Because, duh. It made sense to my ten year old mind. So everyone bought me the horse models and nurtured this little horse love seed. It was a reality check when I visited the track and it was pointed out that I was already taller than the jockeys. I moved on, but kept my horse books, models and Kentucky mementos from mom, for a few more years.

I’m no horse expert. I never did end up being surrounded by horses, like one of my school friends who rode regularly and had a number of Morgan Horses on her property. Close enough to be seen through her bedroom window… which is really a dream come true if you’re eight or ten…or eighteen.  Heck, I’m 51 and still the twinkling is within me…it hasn’t really died.

There is just something about horses that is magical. Majestic. Beauty and strength in a perfectly packaged combination of sinew and softness. Maybe it makes us blind to reality…I don’t know.  Maybe it’s why I still, intermittently watch the horse races around this time of year.

So today, I thought I would catch up on all the horse stories surrounding the Preakness Stakes 2016, and the Kentucky Derby which I had missed. Before I could catch up or even get to my Television set,  I was alerted via social media that two horses had died within the first four races of this highly publicized event.  My heart came up into my throat…and the memory of all of the horror stories I remembered hearing buzzing about not quite loud or clear enough to comprehend completely, for young eavesdropping ears.

At first I felt outrage. Then sadness, then anger…then sympathy for all those involved. I was flooded with thoughts about life, death, injustice, greed and awareness of the ever plodding pressure by the powers that be that “the show must go on”. Because surely in the sport of horse racing there is some semblance of all of the reality of life. It played out on the field today in a million tiny  vignettes. Joy, excitement, expectation, disappointment, pain, suffering, life and death all took place at the Preakness race today. Not all sports can claim such a broad spectrum. It sheds a whole new light on the cliché, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”.

It’s so easy to sit on the outside of an arena and think you have all the neat answers. But I haven’t met many people in my lifetime who have all the answers at all. Not by a long shot. There’s little comfort in the fact that life goes on when one is in the midst of losing a loved one, whether man or beast.

As a matter of fact, I’ll say that the cruelty of life is… that it goes on.

As evidenced so well in the horse-race event itself. With a number of races scheduled throughout the day, and 120, 000 capacity at this premier track in Baltimore,  Maryland it ‘s impossible for all people to know what is going on, obviously.

At first my outrage was the fact that there was no pause. In reality, I am sure there were pauses, I was not watching the event when these tragedies happen. I actually tuned in after. What transpired there can be found out in detail with a Google search. It’s history.

But what’s not history is your own reckoning and wrestling with the realities…good, bad and ugly, of this life. Because although the cruelty of life here seems hard to take and the fact that life goes on after unexpected losses is cruel…it  also holds true that the cruelty of life is short in comparison to eternity.

Perspective always pulls me back to the better truth and away from the bitter truth.

You might say, the hope of something beyond the cruelty and ugliness of this life is the possibility of a better life, where cruelty, injustice, greed, corruption, don’t walk side by side with beauty, goodness, grace and truth. Those nasty realities will be no more, in the life that is possible on the other side of eternity. I guess that’s why this all got me so worked up initially…and then, I like everyone else, went on with the watching, the cheering and the living. I prayed for no more tragedies at the day’s events. But my life went on. But, I know if I did not have the hope and favor of an Eternal God who loves me, and has reconciled Himself to me…my weeping over all I witnessed today – even in my limited capacity- would be endless. Because death and superficiality seem to have won in cavalier fashion. It’s too insidious to consider. And yes, I know about the bits and pieces of world news and much of the suffering around the world…but, again- none of us knows all that is going on at any given moment.

There is only One who does. It’s because of Him I am not overwhelmed by all I do see in the news, in  social media, in reality…in my own life now.

He is also the only one who has any answer or plan…in reality, is Himself The Answer and The Plan.

He cares for you, and me and the magnificent beasts He himself has created. He will restore all to perfection and beauty in His time. And horses have a place in that plan. This I know. This I believe.

For some reason, He has not seen it that I should be a jockey in this lifetime. But, I may still ride with Him someday.

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  king of kings and lord of lords.    

                             ~ Revelation 19:11-16 (emphasis added)


I have linked one of my favorite songs by Margaret Becker called Horses. Give it a listen:


 Horses by Margaret Becker (click HERE if you want to hear song on You Tube)

photo credit: horse face via photopin (license)

Scripture reference: Bible Gateway 

Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

6 thoughts on “Life, Death and Horse Racing

  1. You put into words so eloquently what I felt 6 years ago when my brother crossed over and mom was so sick. Knowing that the spirit goes Home, to where we came from, that Jesus prepared for us, kept me going through the (lack of a better word) the suckiness of lifes difficulties. Beautifully written Dawn!


  2. Dawn: I always think of John Donne’s poem, “No Man Is An Island” I love it. I speaks of the interconnectedness of all humans and, I believe God’s creatures,
    poet John Donne #39 on top 500 poets Poet’s PagePoemsQuotesCommentsStatsE-BooksBiographyShare on FacebookShare on Twitter
    Poems by John Donne : 113 / 190 « prev. poem next poem »

    No Man Is An Island – Poem by John Donne

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    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself,
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
    Or of thine own were:
    Any man’s death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.
    John Donne


  3. I was captivated by horses very young too, and rode at a riding stable for many years. He cares for us and horses have a place in his plan too. That is a powerful closing Scripture from Revelations.


  4. Thanks for this wonderful piece. I never had horses as a youngster, but got my first one when I was about 25. After I got married and we had a daughter, she too was an enthusiast, and so I made sure she could pursue the dream, at least for awhile. We did Western, dressage, drill team, and 4H for over 10 years. Those were the best years and memories of any! I still love horses, but with pen and brush. Here’s some of my work if you’d like to check it out: They’re still miraculous and mystical, and I think they speak to what the human spirit wants most – true freedom – which can come only, as you pointed out, through that One true God Who has reconciled us to Himself. That’s what I want to capture in my abstracts of horses. Hey, you may have inspired my next blog! Thanks for linking yours on Facebook.

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