A Bigger Picture

This week was all about the BIGGER PICTURE. We need weeks like that because life is daily. We get up. Clean up. Put our pants on one leg at a time, and hit the “To do” list. We lose sight of the forest for the trees.  

To help us out, God has given us or we have created holidays—yearly check points— temporal and spiritual oases (yes, that is the plural of oasis) where, if we are smart, we pull up short, take stock, stock up, and regroup before heading back out to take the heat in a world full of mirages. 

This week, if you are Jewish, your check point was Passover; Christian, Holy Week; Buddhist, I hear it’s a festival called Songkran, and I am not sure about Muslims, Confusians, or Daoists, that’s out of my league. Deists and pagans, I suppose, celebrated spring. Really, all of us should be doing that because it’s been a nationwide long winter. This week, at last, spring has sprung in Kentucky. The grass done greened up considerable I once heard a Kentucky horse farmer say. What he meant was that one day, you walk out of your door and the fields which for months have been the color of overcooked peas are suddenly so emerald green your eyes smart. It’s like Dorothy emerging from her drab monochrome Kansas world into the technicolor land of Oz. Dazzling. It happens every year. It's part of the bigger picture phenomenon.

So this week, the grass done greened up considerable. Buds are appearing on trees. Daffodils are blooming and the temperatures soared into the sixties. Life is returning to earth. At the MMSC, after our second week of “normalcy” we are hitting our stride.

Tuesday began, as usual with staff meeting. We reviewed the events of the past week:

 1. The Family Fun Day was so successful we decided to hold a summer series of them. 2. The newly seeded grass began to sprout in the front paddocks. 3. Four new adoption applications came in. What kind of horses were people looking for?  

We discussed the plans for the ensuing days: 1. Horse training goals and objectives; vet/farrier/chiro appointments; scheduled adopters arrivals; possible horses for our program for me to go look at; short term plans, CRUST fundraiser on Thursday, Sunrise Trackside demo on Saturday; long term plans (Rolex three weeks ahead), fundraising, problem solving, etc. There is never a dearth of subjects. Each one of us made “to do” lists, of course.

In the barn, Lilly was busy with the spa treatments for the new horses: dentist, farrier, chiropractors, acupuncturists, Thera-plating, Revitaveting, as well as treating the day to day dings that horses come up with that needed to be cold hosed, poulticed, packed, soaked, or scrubbed. She and I had reviewed all the training plans for the week. It was Lillys job to enact them. We added a new rider to our team, Sam, who used to own Rondo, one of our horses available for adoption. Although it was heart wrenching to her to give him away, she doesn’t have time in her life for a horse and so she generously ascertained that it would be better for him to have a person and a job. To help assuage her worries and sadness, I told her she could help Rondo pick his person.

Horses got ridden on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday and Friday it monsooned. The barn aisle flooded as it is wont to do in heavy rains. Water seeped under the foundation of the office and ponded in the bathroom. The arena and and the round pen were almost unusable, but use them we did, because we are behind schedule with our training and our adoptions. We moved slowly (mostly walked and some trot) and got drenched. Two new horses arrived on campus: Appealing Alex (“Alex”) and Simple Touch (“Esther”). Double Minded (“Dublin”) who has been in foster care in Florida, finally made it back home.

Catherine and Lori were drowning in applications, baby books, event planning, social media, and the flood of paperwork both incoming and outgoing in preparation for fundraisers big and large, horse shows for our horses, Rolex, our Nuno Santos clinic, and Sips ’N Saddles, this year on June 19. And I tried to keep our ship afloat and ever moving ahead, problem solving and initiating, steering and rectifying as well as slogging through my own deluge of stuff—like how to raise a half a million dollars this year. It’s because of all this that one easily loses sight of the bigger picture.

But then our beloved family Jack Russell, Brooks, 15, began to dim like a dwindling candle. He slept between my husband and me on his last night and on his last day he never left our arms. We buried him in monogrammed family linens. We cried a lot, but we also savored the warm memories of many years. It was a personal bigger picture moment. As it was for so many people around the globe. Jews remembered their Exodus from Egypt and how the angel of death passed over their homes sparing the lives of  their sons. Christians relived Jesus’s triumphant entry to Jerusalem, his final supper, his death, burial and resurrection, and sought perspective through this story in the dailiness of their own lives.

I am profoundly grateful for all bigger picture reminders. They are messages to each of us to choose the positive, not the negative, to see the good, not the bad. To recognize that we tread the Earth for but an instant. That we need to walk our talk. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. To live our happy life not at some point in the future, but TODAY! Sure, the world is a mess. We are wrecking our climate. We are squandering our resources. There is destruction and atrocity everywhere. For a little local and less apocalyptic perspective we were swamped figuratively with work and problems all week. Come Thursday when the heavens opened and dumped six inches of rain on us, we were inundated literally. The Horse Park entrance was flooded, roads everywhere in Lexington were closed. Taking care of horses was sheer wet, cold misery. It would have been easy to dive into a cesspool of complaints. 

But taking stock of the bigger picture, it had really been a blessed week. I had gotten leads on some promising new horses. We had a large monetary donation that dropped down upon us like manna from heaven. Loukas, a horse with a wonderful story which I will relate in a forthcoming blog, found his person. Saturday was Sunrise Trackside at the Keeneland Race Course, an event that is always a privilege and fun to do. It involves taking a horse to meet the early morning crowds to tell them about second careers for Thoroughbreds. All the interns help. They hand out brochures and greet visitors, answering questions about the MMSC. Jazz Fest (the Duchess of Cornwall’s favorite!) was a superstar with children (right) and grownups alike. We are from Indianapolis and drove down here to escape March Madness, Susan and her husband, Mark, told us. We like horses, so we thought we would come here this morning.  We have never thought about what happens to Thoroughbreds after racing and we have loved learning about what you do! Thank you for coming! Comments like that and smiles of delight from children show our interns how much what they and the MMSC does, matter.
Susan and Mark of Indianapolis with Jazz Fest

When all is said and done and the horses are loaded up and heading back (thank you Brookledge!), to the MMSC, I always arrange a tour of the Keeneland complex to reward the MMSC interns and volunteers. This year Walt Robertson, Vice President of Sales at Keeneland, led us for an hour and a half from the administrative offices to the sales pavilion, from Millionaire row, to the press box, explaining all, answering questions. Last but not least, he took us up a steep set of stairs onto the roof to the announcer’s tower where we met Kurt Becker who has called races at Keeneland for nineteen years. There was so much we wanted to know from Kurt: How does he keep all the horses straight? Does he memorize  their names? Or the colors and shapes on their silks? How does he tell them apart when they are muddy? Did he get nervous? Had he ever “miscalled” a race?  

Kurt graciously endured the barrage and invited us to stay in the tower while he called a race. But suddenly the first strains of the national anthem lilted through the track loudspeaker. We fell silent and stood tall. Some of the interns clasped their hands. Many gazed out the window taking in the birds eye view of the track with its emerald green infield, its name spelled out in trimmed boxwoods and beyond, the famous horse farms demarcated with black and white fences, the barns with cupolas and the white-pillared mansions.

The view of Keeneland from the Announcer's Booth

I looked around the room, studying each persons face. Suddenly I espied a different panoramic vista: One where the uniqueness and singular beauty of each individual lept out at me. Where the sight of the Kentucky and  American flags fluttering from flag poles on the track below and the sound of our national anthem sung in four part harmony accompanied by fiddles saturated my senses with state and national pride. One where my mind hovered momentarily to ponder the mystery and marvel of the jets in the sky ascending and descending at the nearby Bluegrass airport bringing and taking people who knows where, to do who knows what. Each one important. Each one with a purpose. Each one part of a bigger grace-filled picture. 

And then the anthem was over and that view recededVisions like that dont last long.  Thats a good thing because their majesty rams you into park. You wouldn’t get much done  or travel too far if you always focused on the forest and not the trees. Pictures like that, are like the photos on our walls, our tables or chest of drawers-when they catch our eye, we become blissfully aware-for an instant- of the magnitude and the preciousness of life.

 Cheery bye,
Susanna













Why so many highlit words this week? Because I am taking a broad spectrum approach to the Word of the Day in celebration of the “Bigger Picture" week!

The Blog Word of the Day:

 Help us reach our goal of 112,000 total blog visitors this year! Join our Word of the Day contest and you could be entered in a grand prize drawing to win a $500 horse credit at the MMSC or a Breyer model of Secretariat signed by Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte! Simply read the blog every Sunday and find the highlighted Word of the Day. Then write a sentence using the word and submit it to mmsc04@gmail.com for a chance to be entered to win! Please read the full contest details below before submitting an entry.
  • Blogs will be posted on Sundays. A chosen word will be highlighted within each blog post.
  • Sentences using the highlighted word must be emailed to mmsc04@gmail.com with the subject line “Word of the Day Contest”.
  • Entries may be submitted each week following a blog post from the posted time through Thursday at 5:00 pm.
  • Winners will be posted on the MMSC Facebook page each Friday following a blog post.
  • Entries must include the highlighted word of the day. The word of the day may be used in other parts of speech other than the one used in the blog, i.e. the highlighted word in the blog may be "malleability" but entrants may use the more common form "malleable" in their sentences.
  • Entries must also include the entrant’s full name (first and last) and email address.
  • Entrants may submit more than one sentence for consideration.
  • Sentences will be judged based on correct use of the word of the day, grammar and sentence structure, and creativity. 
  • Sentences will be judged by the MMSC staff, including MMSC Director Susanna Thomas, MMSC Barn and Media Manager Catherine Flowers, and MMSC Office Manager Lori Tobin.
  • Winners of each word of the day contest throughout the year will be entered in a grand prize drawing to win their choice of either a $500 horse credit toward an MMSC horse available for adoption or a Breyer model of Secretariat signed by Ron Turcotte. To use the $500 horse credit, the winner must become an approved adopter with the MMSC and follow all adoption policies and procedures.
  • The grand prize drawing will be held at the end of the year after Christmas and prior to New Year’s Eve.
  • Disclaimer: This contest does not have a connection with Blogspot or Facebook in any way and is not sponsored, supported, or organized by Blogspot or Facebook. The recipient of the information provided by you is not Blogspot or Facebook but the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center.