Make Me King is a nine year old off the track thoroughbred that came into my life six years ago in 2008.
“King” is a 16.1 hand grey, who was bred at Highland Meadow Farm in Pennsylvania. His sire is Fair Skies and dam, lawful Beat. From all accounts that I could find, he had an uneventful racing career, with over thirty starts and winning one claiming race. To me, King is a once in a lifetime horse, that beyond all expectations, has made a huge difference in my life.
I rode western while growing up in California, but, like many kids, quit as a teenager. Fast forwarding many years later, I started riding again at 51 in the Northern Virginia area while living and working in Washington DC. I bought my first horse, Charlie, in 2007. Later that year, I entered my first hunter show with Charlie. To make a long story short, I was dumped on my head and got a helicopter ride to the hospital in Fairfax. I hate helicopters. I suffered a concussion and was released that night, with every intention to be back in the saddle the next weekend. I did get back in the saddle, but was terrified. Charlie sensed my fear and took advantage of me, which only scared me more. I was afraid to go beyond a walk and hunched over the saddle in a fetal position.
Being determined, I had plans to forge ahead which included looking for a new “quiet” horse (of course keeping Charlie). I found Make Me King on Dream Horse. He was steel grey with a white face and kind eyes. I gravitated to him immediately. He was listed as a very quiet horse and was in Dendrin, VA. He had come from a racing barn in Delaware and had been decompressing in Dendrin, VA. I told my instructor Heather, who owns the barn where I board. She said; “Are you out of your mind?”; He is a four year old TB off the track. Not knowing what I was talking about and trying to base my opinion on logic, I finally convinced Heather to take the three hour drive to Dendrin from Sperryville, VA. She was not enthused, to say the least. King quickly won my heart, Heather’s, not so much. I took a picture of him, thinking I may never see him again. In the picture, Heather was standing next to him, looking away as if she refused to connect with him. This picture remains a source of laughter for us today.
On the way home, Heather did everything to talk me out of it, but I had a strategic plan. I presented a business option. If he would not be suitable for me to ride in a few months, she could work with him and we would sell him. I knew this would never happen, although, I will admit, I was a little nervous. To add more incentive for her to give me her blessing, I told her I was paying a lot less than the asking price, but in reality paid close to asking price. I drove down to Dendrin to pick him up in early May 2008. I had him vetted. He was a terror when trying to get him on the trailer and I thought all the way home, I hope Heather is not right.
King settled in at Heather’s Turkey Hill Stables very quickly. She was riding him within a week and within two weeks I was able to ride him. I slowly gained my confidence back working with King. He and I were green, but he was always a gentleman. I learned to jump on him and became a much better rider over the last four years. I show King at local hunter shows in VA. He won the “Back from the Track Hack” at the Warrenton Horse Show in 2010 and is always in the ribbons. King can do anything and is always admired. On occasion, for a brief moment in time, flashes back to race horse mode, but he always comes back in a stride or two. We have put bouncing beginners on him and he is still a mellow fellow.
He just seems to know.
King has a happy life in Sperryville and has meant the world to me. He crossed paths with me at a crucial time directly impacting my decision to keep riding, while indirectly, resulting in many wonderful friends and experiences. I believe that the confidence I gained through my experience with King, has helped me overcome other personal challenges. Maybe I would have lessened my fears by finding another horse or some other way, but I like to believe that from the look in his eye in the Dream Horse photo, I knew he was meant to be a special part of my life. As for Heather, she adores King and readily admits, ”He is the best”.
I am thankful that the previous people in his life had the good intentions for ensuring safe places for him to be so that he could make his way to a forever home and become the wonderful horse that he is. I am still in touch with the woman I bought him from today. I still have Charlie and love him very much.