12/12/09 Southwest: Cowboy Care

  • December 09, 2009
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Tom and Sandy McKenna believe in the “cowboy way” when it comes to raising good horses at their 1,200-acre McKenna Thoroughbreds near Taiban in the
eastern part of New Mexico.

“It’s wide, open fields and a hands-on approach with everyone on the ranch doing their part,” Tom McKenna said. “Everyone picks up a shovel.” McKenna, 74, who grew up near El Paso, Texas, got an early start in racing. “My grandfather, a corporate judge in El Paso, had both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and at 12, I started riding in lap-and-tap races for him,” he said. “The races were out in the boondocks. They went out and cleared off an area of land for them.”

In a lap-and-tap race, horses are ridden slowly to the starting line, and if they are closely lapped when they arrive there, they are “tapped off” by the starter. Once they are tapped off, the race is on. The McKennas honor the memory of the judge by campaigning their runners in the name Judge Lanier Racing.

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