TCA Essay Runner-up: Benediction

Erin Mckenna Flannery was the runner-up in the Thoroughbred Charities of America's inaugural Youth Essay Contest, which was open to writers 18 years or younger who have been volunteers, supporters, or benefited from the services of an organization that received a grant from TCA in 2013. Contestants were asked to submit an essay between 300-600 words describing how a TCA grantee charity affected their lives. The winning essay by Leo Bangura was posted earlier on The Racing Hub blog on

By Erin Mckenna Flannery
Clayton, N.C.

  At the beginning of the 2013 summer, my dreams were finally coming true. I spent the last six years doing everything possible to try and find a way to ride. It took a lot for me to keep going when my parents said it wasn't possible, but I was determined. I found myself a trainer and within 3 months was on my way to leasing a horse. Then suddenly, my Dad wanted to help me buy one.

   I was paying for everything; but I wanted my parents help and support in finding the right horse. We spent about a month searching after I made the decision to buy before Dad actually found the Thoroughbred Placement Resources (TPR) website. He wanted me to look at Kim Kim, a pretty grey Thoroughbred who was being advertised at Leighton Farms. We had no idea at the time who Kimberly Clark was, or that this was her organization. But my Dad was in Maryland for work, and so he made the trip over to her barn to see the horse. Sadly, Kim Kim had just been adopted. But there were other horses, and my Dad wanted me to meet Mrs. Clark. So he flew me up to meet him there the next day, and we went out to the barn. The plan was for me to get some experience, not to buy anyone or even think of buying, and just to make some contacts and learn some more about the process of buying.

    Kim was incredible. She talked to me about every aspect of buying/ adopting a horse. She explained a bit more about the process of getting a horse ready to be adopted after leaving the track. She answered every question I had. The two horses she has picked out for me to "experience," were a beautiful 16.3h chestnut, and an incredible 16h black bay. The chestnut was named Styx. And the bay was named Blackie...and I fell absolutely in love with him.

    However, he was $1,000 out of our price range, and she wasn't planning to sell him. So we jumped the plane back down to N.C., and went home. But I kept in touch with Kim. She sent me weekly updates, as well as new videos and pictures. I told her to keep me updated about his availability. So my family and I slowly fell in love with him via the Internet, and I finally decided he was the one. I called her and told her I would make a down payment to hold him until she was willing to sell, but I didn't want anyone else to have him. Kim agreed to let him go after the 22 of September, and so the wait began. It was a long, long, LONG month. But there was a lot to do. I had to get tack and pick out his new name (I wanted him to have a name that meant something,) and get him a ride. The name I had picked out, Benediction, which means Blessing in French, is already in use by The Jockey Club. So he's being called Bene for now.

    On September 30, 2013, Bene arrived. I still can't believe he's mine, or that anyone could just give him away. I believe with all my heart Bene was meant for me, and I was meant for him. And we would never have found each other if it wasn't for Kim and TPR. I can't imagine where Bene could be if they hadn't saved him. This organization made my dreams come true, and gave an incredible horse a second chance.

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