Racing in the Blood: Joe and Dandy

Most adopters come to the MMSC seeking a horse that can be an ambassador for the breed in a new equestrian discipline at any level from Pony Club to to the Olympics. Occasionally, however, we get a few like Joe Buscher. Joe wasn’t looking for a competition horse. He liked what he had heard about our program. It tickled him that we were in Lexington, the Thoroughbred Horse Capital of the World. And he was impressed that we had Secretariat in our name, one of the greatest racehorses in the twentieth century. Joe came to us because he had racing in his blood.

Busher, 1945 Horse of the Year
Born into a family who had deep roots in Thoroughbred industry, Joe’s grandfather, Joseph Henry Buscher,was a widely respected trainer in Louisiana who lived with his wife Josephine two short blocks from the Fair Grounds Race Track in New Orleans. When his grandfather dropped dead on the backstretch from a heart attack in the early 1940s, the track’s owner at the time, Colonel E.R. Bradley named a yearling filly, Busher, in his honor. Busher was Champion two year old filly of 1944; and Champion three year old filly, Champion Handicap Mare, and Horse of the Year in 1945. She was elected to the US Racing Hall of Fame in 1964 and is ranked fortieth in The Blood Horse’s Top 100 Race Horses of the 20th Century.

Joe’s maternal step grandfather Alva Troutt was a trainer, as were Alva’s two brothers, Noble and Clyde. Joe’s grandmother, Edith, was a cook at the track kitchen. Joe’s father worked for a time in the mail room at the Fair Grounds, and his uncles, Bob and Vern, worked as grooms and exercise boys for Marion Van Berg and Warren Wright. Joe’s childhood memories include hearing the mid-stretch call of the races from his grandparents’ porch; climbing the patrol tour with his Grandpa Troutt to watch the races; visiting his grandmother in the track kitchen; meeting jockeys and trainers;
and hanging out in the stables. He read the racing results in the paper every day. He watched every race he could on television. His mother, who worked at a book store, often brought him The Blood Horse and the Daily Racing Form to read.

Despite the deep family involvement in racing, however, none of his relatives was keen to see young Joe follow in their footsteps. “They all did everything they could do to keep me away from a career at the track,” says Joe.

The first in his family to finish high school and to attend college, Joe studied accounting at Southeastern Louisiana University and graduated in 1970. He worked as a CPA in New Orleans, was chief financial officer for three Louisiana hospitals, and then was general manager for New Orleans
City Park.

But racing was still in his blood. So throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he had racehorses that ran mostly in Louisiana at the Fair Grounds, Jefferson Downs, Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs. He won a few and lost a lot. Eventually, when he couldn’t take the heart break and the expenses any more, he got out of the business. He and his wife moved to Tennessee leaving Thoroughbreds and the racetrack behind.

They bought 45 acres and named it Buscher Ranch. They built a barn, and put up fencing. They got some pleasure horses, none of them Thoroughbreds. Until one day, when Joe heard about the need for loving forever homes for off track Thoroughbreds. This got his blood racing again. He came to the MMSC shortly thereafter, looking for a Thoroughbred to care for and love.

Dandy's first ride at the MMSC
One of the requirements we have at the MMSC is for the future adopter to come to the MMSC to try the horse/s of interest to see if the fit is right. It may seem like a silly practice. But the horse should have its say in the matter. Besides, it makes good fiscal sense, for if the horse doesn’t get along with the adopter, it will be returned to the MMSC, guaranteed. Another reason for this practice is that quite often, when potential adopters come, they end up going home with a completely different horse than the one that originally piqued their interest on line. It’s a karma thing.

Joe came to the MMSC besotted with Studio Time, a gray gelding we had had on campus for awhile. But I told him that before he stepped in the barn, he might want to start with baby books to get some background on the horses that we had available that might suit him.

“Will you look at this!!!” he exclaimed as he studied Dandy’s Noble’s book. “Storm Cat! Blushing Groom! Raise A Native! Roberto! Bold Ruler! Nijinsky II! Majestic Prince! This mare is ROYALLY bred!”

Dandy's Noble at 1 week old
Indeed, Dandy’s Noble was royally bred. She was a lovely mover, had a huge hind end, and was sensible and kind to boot, all qualities that would have made her a nice event horse. But Joe wasn’t looking for that. He wanted a horse that he and his daughter could practice their Natural Horsemanship with and to trail ride English or Western. They looked at several MMSC horses and rode a few, even Studio Time. But it was Dandy, with her smarts, good looks, and willingness to please that won them over. She seemed happy with them too.

Recently I checked in with Joe to see how Dandy and he were faring in this wretched weather we have all been battling. Dandy is doing better than Joe. She gets brought in at night to a clean stall and is turned out every morning, is fed twice a day, gets blanketed, pampered and tons of love. Joe, on the other hand, is weary of breaking ice, mucking stalls, having numb fingers, cold toes, and aching older joints.

He doesn’t have to do this. With eight other pleasure horses, he certainly didn’t have to take on another horse, and a Thoroughbred to boot!

So, why?

Joe and Dandy
“I love the heart, determination, athleticism, and competitiveness of the Thoroughbred. This mare ran at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga, not Delta Downs, Evangeline, and the Fair Grounds! She won her second race in New York and led every step of the way against other top horses. She has Majestic Prince, the 1969 Derby winner, and one of my most favorite horses, Secretariat, and Native Dancer in her blood lines! She’s a horse I could only dream of having. I believe God created the Thoroughbred to be one of his most noble and elegant beings. I feel honored to walk in my barn and see this wonderful Thoroughbred every day.”

Ah yes! Joe has racing in his blood!

Cheery bye,