Have you ever met anyone you idolized and you sort of lose consciousness and don’t know what you are saying or doing? Well, I had that moment.
Vic Stauffer, John Shireffs and Steve Willard were nice enough to arrange a meeting with the great Zenyatta while we were in California for the BCS National Championship Game.
Before I knew what hit me, I was ushered in front of a black horse with snow white blaze and the kindest eye. She looked at me as if to say “You there, what have you brought for me?” The only thing I had was peppermints and I had to be reminded I had those as I stood in total awe. I think my head was spinning.
Here she is in all her glory with her plaid coat on like a little school girl. Just as beautiful as I had imagined and just as sweet. Mr. Willard brought her head down to me so I could scratch her nose and her forelock. Then I felt I should talk to her so I told her just exactly what every other temporarily insane person would tell a horse. “When Alabama played LSU I chose to watch you instead.” Now that’s big for an Alabama fan, but I don’t think Zenyatta was particularly impressed, but she was polite enough to look intrigued by it.
After petting her beautiful face I asked if she wanted a peppermint. I couldn’t get the paper off. Finally somebody got it off and I fed her a Bob’s Old Fashioned Peppermint ball, you know the kind you buy at the Cracker Barrel. She took that from me and I heard her crunch it so I felt like I had been approved.
I fed her another one and she was getting into it now. Looking in my hands for more. She even licked my hand.
Zenyatta gives me a lick.
It was time to move on so as not to upset the routine. Zenyatta was going to jog this morning. Life is Sweet lives next door so we moved down one stall. Zenyatta was pretty emphatic about what she thought of that. Pressing herself against her stall restraint and pawing the ground with her right front as if to say “Get back here and bring those mints with you!”
We took a photo of Life is Sweet in the back of her stall. We were thinking that was all we were going to get from her. After all it was after nine and everyone knows from John Shireffs' video that she is not a morning glory.
If you haven’t seen this video you need to
Life is Sweet sleeping and sleeping and sleeping.
Life is Sweet fooled us. When the flash went off, the Breeders’ Cup champion rushed to the front of the stall and stuck her head out as far as she could to see just who these strangers were. Another great highlight of my trip.
Life is Sweet
A short while later Zenyatta went for her jog and my husband and I were on the rail with Mr. Willard to watch. We all shared an appreciation for her bountiful backside as she passed by us.
I asked Steve Willard if he thought she would run again, but he didn’t think so. I asked wouldn’t she miss all the people and the hoopla that follows her. He said she loves horses just as much as she loves people.
When I asked him about the poses she strikes he told me the story of Zenyatta watching a possum walk along the top of a wall for a half hour without moving.
This girl knows how to enjoy life no matter where she finds herself. She knows exactly how to turn it on for the big events and how to have a Zen 'possum moment', the great power of small things.
When you tell your non-horseracing fans about meeting Zenyatta they don’t show the right amount of appreciation that I want them to. This isn’t just another pretty face. In fact, it reminds me of an I Love Lucy episode. Fred Mertz replies snarkily when told that Ava Gardner is human just like you and me, “She may be human but she’s NOT like you and me.”
Zenyatta isn’t either.