Bill Nack: cultural connection. Ruffian. Unfullfilled promise.
So why did Barbaro become such an inspirational figure? A saga that became known to everybody. A saga that inspired many people to appreciate their own circumstances more fully and reach out to help others -- both human and equine.
Barbaro was great, destined for greatness, or he ran one great race, depending on your assessment of his short-lived career [GREATNESS]. This we have established. And then he was struck down in his prime and in front of the nation on national TV through no fault of his own. We all witnessed it, and over and over again. It became a tragedy at a time when we were preparing for a coronation. And it left a huge sense of "what might have been?"
While Barbaro's prognosis appeared to be dire, against the odds, Barbaro fought back, and illustrated characteristics that we aspire for ourselves. It's human nature to want a hero, and in Barbaro we saw a hero. A hero who came along at a time of economic uncertainty, human failings, and global strife. An equine hero to a country that has deep rooted cultural ties to our horse.
We were also introduced to Barbaro's team, his owners, trainer, jockey and surgeon. A team of purity which had a singular goal, to save their beloved horse. And a team that had their own intriguing backstories. Sadly they were not ultimately successful and Barbaro passed, but his legacy has simply gone from strength to strength [GOODNESS].
The above is my best attempt to explain why Barbaro inspired such a strong following in the months following his Preakness accident, and long after his death. I will now explore the characteristics that many associate with Barbaro. It is important to recognize that it is not the reality of whether Barbaro possessed all these characteristics that is important. It is the perception of whether he did among those who were so enamored by him.
I will also explore his human team, and the human stories that made the saga all the more engaging.
[IN BOX ... anywhere in chapter, not necessarily at the beginning]
Fred Stone, Artist
After Barbaro's Preakness accident the artist Fred Stone determined to no longer paint horses. It was 4 - 5 months before he then painted Barbaro. It was Barbaro's will and fight to survive that inspired Mr. Stone to paint horses again (and the letters he received).
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Mike Jensen: "Barbaro's story was a great horse racing story. On a dime it turned into something else. Into not a horse racing story, but a horse story. A stress story. Something that literally everybody could identify with someway. To see this animal, through no fault of his own, fighting for his life, in front of national television. Whether they saw it live, or through replays, everybody saw that. And then to see the human side of it. To see all the people trying to save this animal, that struck a chord. Does it go a lot deeper than that? Yes it does go a lot deeper, if he had been a typical horse would people have attached themselves? No I think, a Derby winner, in this country, even though it is no longer a mainstream sport, a Derby winner stands for something. It stands for excellence, right up along the lines of Superbowl winners, Olympic champions. This horse had that label. I don't think that can be underestimated."
[End of Box]
Add: Nack, What might have been, unexplored potential.
Dean Richardson, during Summer 2007, offered his explanation as to why Barbaro captured everyones imagination: "Well I think everybody has pretty much said the same thing for a while now, it's hard not to come up with more or less the same conclusions, he was clearly one of those individuals who looked destined for absolute greatness. He really looked the part, he acted the part, he looked like he was going to be a really truly great horse. And he was cut down in his prime, so it becomes a genuine tragedy. It becomes that much more of a story when an individual, and you know we are equating a horse with a human in a lot of ways, but you know that's the way you have to look at these things, but the athlete is cut down in the prime of his career it becomes a bigger story. You can see a dozen situations like that. If Elvis Presley dies when he is 90, it is not the same story than if he dies in the middle of his career. Kurt Cobain, name anyone you want to name. People in their prime, athletes in their prime, animals in their prime, it just seems more compelling for obvious reasons. But on top of that, then you had a horse that, he's a horse, why, there are people out there that have a visceral affinity to a horse and don't even know why. Some are animal lovers in general. I mean I received scores of, how many hundreds of letters from people who were absolutely fascinated with the story and were quote unquote in love with Barbaro that did not know anything about horses. They owned cats, dogs, but there is something about the story and human affinity for the horse that elicited this kind of response. So I think the fact that he was a great athlete in his prime and struck down, and I think specifically that he was a horse, it got that level of attention. Then beyond that people started putting their own virtues on him. People can put their own virtues on a blank page. And Barbaro was a blank page. He was nothing but a paragon of virtue. He had done everything right, so why not give him every imaginable virtue. That's human nature."
So let's explore the characteristics Barbaro appeared to demonstrate. I have placed them in four broad groupings.
Star power, presence. Barbaro had star power. He illustrated this throughout his racing career. Even early on, after his first race, his connections knew he was more than special. Kathy Anderson called him next year's Kentucky Derby winner after only his first win. He mesmerized people both on the racetrack and while he was training. Kathee Rengert noted how she reacted when she first saw Barbaro at Delaware Park. It was the same reaction she experienced when she first saw Seattle Slew and Forego. It should be noted that the latter two horses were already famous when Kathee first saw them. Barbaro had not yet raced. Similarly John Asher noted he was in awe when he first saw Barbaro, and this was before he won the Kentucky Derby. John usually reserves such reactions for horses that have already established themselves, such as Zenyatta (then 2008 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner and undefeated) who had a brief stint at Churchill Downs in April 2009 and Rachel Alexandra who won the 2009 Oaks with so much ease many believe she would have won that year's Kentucky Derby if entered. The reactions of Jill Baffert and Rick Bozich when Barbaro entered the paddock for the Kentucky Derby also illustrate his star power.
Barbaro not only ran a great race in winning the Kentucky Derby, but he remained undefeated. He was only the sixth undefeated horse to win the Kentucky Derby. We love our undefeated sports teams. Barbaro was perfect.
And when Barbaro was stricken, he still illustrated a certain knowing. An understanding of what was occuring around him. People rallied around him and did their best to help their stricken star. Barbaro's star power even gathered momentum during his stay at New Bolton Center. This was illustrated by the visitors he was receiving, the gifts that were sent, and the good wishes he received from people across the country. Sabina Louise Pierce, Barbaro's photographer while he was at New Bolton Center, has photographed four US Presidents, numerous sports stars and celebrities. Aside from the Dalai Lama, Barbaro is the only subject with whom Sabina wanted to be photographed.
Charismatic, beautiful, breathtaking. Try to find someone who worked with Barbaro and was not wowed by his charisma. Like people, some horses are charismatic and some horses are not. Barbaro was always alert, always inquisitive and always aware of his own world. Barbaro was also a beautiful racehorse with a big beautiful eye. Barbara Livingston saw this during Derby week. According to Barbara Barbaro was flawless, like what you would expect from a horse in an English oil painting. Randy Moss noted ESPNs Director's reaction to seeing Barbaro for the first time when Barbaro got off the van after he arrived at Pimlico for the Preakness. And of course when Barbaro ran, he was absolutely breathtaking. Try watching the stretch run of his Kentucky Derby and not get a lump in your throat as Tom Durkin narrates. He was simply awesome.
Innocent, humble and heroic. Barbaro never asked for anything more than good care. He was brilliant, yet unlike brilliant human athletes, he never let that brilliance impact his character. There were even media articles written on how Barbaro compared to other modern-day athletes who held out for better contracts, got themselves in trouble with the law or gave up during competition.
More recently golfer Tiger Woods was embroiled in a very public personal scandal. He took a few months away from golf and upon his return at the Masters, Bill Payne, of Augusta National, made these remarks that illustrate the point: "It is simply not the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here,” Payne said. “It is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children."
As a horse Barbaro was never going to do any of these things. And even during his time at New Bolton Center he remained strong and stoic despite his condition. Essentially then Barbaro became a role model for how we should act. Be the best we can be, yet expect that is how we should be, rather than seek out more reward for better behavior. And if Barbaro could be like that, then surely we could do better and be better people.
Kathy Anderson: "Barbaro exemplified the hero. We all need heroes and he was an easy hero with whom to identify. He was also fighting the battle. Fighting the war. Now we are fighting the economy. At that time we were at war in Iraq and still recovering from 2001. We needed a hero, and I think he was the hero, because he did not give up. Barbaro fought the odds."
And Barbaro performed for our entertainment. Dean Richardson included this in a New Bolton Center update during week 4 of Barbaro's stay: "Why do heroic animals inspire such intense emotions? Partly, I think, because they perform their acts of heroism for us, and not of their own volition. While we may feel intense admiration and concern for human warriors and athletes who put themselves at risk of injury or death, our sympathy is always tempered by the belief that they were aware of the risks and were willing to face them. With animals we cannot shelter realistically behind this assumption."
Bill Finley adds: "Even moreso with animals than with people. Horses are so pure and innocent and they are not doing it for the money. They are performing because it is simply their natural instinct to run. Even the most hardened cynics had to appreciate that. His fight and his death made him a heroic figure. He became more famous and more popular than he would have been if he had won the Triple Crown, which is what we had all hoped for."
Dick Jerardi offers his explanation as to why Barbaro became so inspiring "People's general love of animals. People want to do something for animals that cannot help themselves. People adopted Barbaro as their horse, because it was so public it was almost like he was their horse."
Michelle Hyland "Barbaro touched so many people because he was a humble hero. He represented everything that every human aspires to be. His Derby performance was inspirational."
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Tough, courageous, warrior's spirit. Barbaro demonstrated, during his time at New Bolton Center, a toughness that could not have been demonstrated under any other circumstances. He faced significant adversity as he fought many battles and his treatments took turns for the better and for the worse. Each time he bounced back with a fight to live that was more than surprising. It essentially became an ongoing saga. Bill Nack: "It was like an epic poem. Beowulf-like, Oddyseus, a dramatic reenactment. Barbaro was down then up again, up and down, it was very emotional. He would have a bad night, then a better day. When you got the positive news, it was like good, now I can go to work."
Many people noted that ordinary horses, in his circumstances, would have given up on the fight for their life long before Barbaro gave up. Ordinary horses would have stopped eating and drinking and their organs would have failed. Barbaro's appetite was strong through to the very end. He really wanted to live. He did not want to give up despite the odds he was facing. He demonstrated courage to fight his battle much as a warrior who goes to war. And if Barbaro could fight for his life with the determination he demonstrated, this inspired others to do the same. Sandy McKee: "Barbaro was brilliant, as a racehorse and a patient. His performance during his injury was amazing. He was phenomenal from start to finish. He never gave up, he just kept on going. There are so many positives from that horse. He was just amazing. Sick people looked to Barbaro and somehow tried harder."
Barbaro's warrior spirit was also evident on Preakness day and acknowledged during his time at New Bolton Center. This was demonstrated by the visit he received from two American Soldiers who presented Barbaro with an American Flag. The rationale for their visit and the gift? Barbaro's struggles on Preakness day reminded them of a wounded soldier, who like Barbaro would keep fighting despite his injuries.
Edgar Prado, in the Fall of 2006, explained why he visited Barbaro during his time at New Bolton Center: "I like him very much. He gave me the biggest thrill of my life in the Derby. The courage he is currently displaying in his recovery just shows how special this horse is. A horse like this does not come around too often, I am honored to have been part of his story, he is very special."
In broad terms Barbaro inspired in two ways. He made people realize that their own situations were not so bad. If he could handle his condition with the grace and dignity in which he handled his situation, then we should surely feel better about our own situations. Kathy Anderson: "Why do people want to be better people because of Barbaro? I think they are better people because they identify with Barbaro, his heart. They also took a look at their own lives and said this is not that bad. I am a lucky person. I have my health. I have this, I have that. Barbaro made them feel more grateful. And when you are grateful you feel good about the person who gave you that gift. In this case this would be Barbaro." He also then inspired us to do good things for others. This often manifested in the welfare of other animals who themselves are helpless.
[IN BOX, can be anywhere ?] Vic Zast offers his explanation as to why Barbaro was truly inspirational: "The concept of loss is much more personal, understandable, relatable and compelling than the concept of gain. Even Shakespeare knew that. He became the world’s most famous playwright writing tragedies. Barbaro’s was the ultimate loss.
"Most examples of gain are about the triumph of imperfection. Barbaro's loss was the unraveling of perfection.
"He was a beautiful horse with a mysterious name, undefeated and triumphant in America's best known race. Barbaro's record was irrefutable. He was intelligent and trustworthy, dependable, effective. He was what the leaders of our country were not at the time. America revered was primed to revere him. Things were not going smoothly, nothing was going right, and along came Barbaro – this symbol of perfection.
"And within the context of Barbaro were these people and their charisma. They epitomized the qualities we expect from royalty. One of the owners was a Rockefellar, a true gentleman before it came time to prove it. His wife was a quiet, classy benefactor. Barbaro's trainer was a humble professional, an airplane crash survivor and hero, an Olympic flag carrier. Ultimately, after the tragedy occurred, a vet emerged that was as devoted to his patient in the same manner as you would want from your own heart surgeon. This was not a raggedy bunch of people in the game for the buck and cheap accolades. These were the kind of people you wanted to win the Triple Crown.
"When you added them into the mix, Barbaro was so ideally cast as a hero. When he fell, he became the ultimate martyr. In his struggles, people found faith in themselves. As long as he stayed alive, people were given hope that they could carry on. His long defiance against passing on caused people to hope against hope."
[END OF BOX]
Mike Jensen on the impact of the team that surrounded Barbaro: "If Barbaro had been owned by a different group of people who said we want to save this horse but we will tell you how it works out, it would have been a different story. Most owners would not have said Dean Richardson can talk, we will issue statements. This obviously was done a different way off the bat. And I think from covering this sport just a bit, people get drawn in by the humans, and that became an important part of it. If they had been told just in general terms what was going on with this horse, I mean Dean Richardson was giving very detailed synopses of what was happening. I almost correlate it from when Smarty Jones became a sensation. Part of the reason for that, John Servis [Smarty Jones' trainer] was able to articulate what was going on with the horse and what was special about the horse. He articulated his own enthusiasm about the horse. I think that was important. We need to be led into these stories, into these sagas. For the people drawn into it, the people who cared, they could actually see Barbaro fighting. There was TV coverage of that. There was wall-to-wall coverage. Not cameras in his stall, but there were times basically the public was led in."
The three main support characters in the story of Barbaro were essential to the development of the story and the inspiration the story provided. They are Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, Barbaro's trainer Michael Matz and Barbaro's surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson. Not only did this team provide access to the Barbaro story without which a public following could not be galvanized, but they also demonstrated many qualities to which we aspire. Kathy Anderson also notes the importance of the purity of the team: "He had a very charasmatic cast about him, the Jacksons, Dean, Michael, he had a very strong cast that was good. None of them appeared to have any financial motivation and I think that's important. That's important because it purifies the process. It would have been far simpler to have just pulled the plug and taken the insurance money. It was heroic action on the part of the group, not just the surgery. It was an early decision, made in the barn at Pimlico."
I have also added a fourth member of the team who proved integral at the beginning of the saga and remained connected through his visits to see Barbaro at New Bolton Center, Edgar Prado. Edgar's anguish at the Preakness, as he pleaded with vets to try to save Barbaro, established a human connection to the story from the very beginning. Edgar illustrated, very visibly, that we do care.
As racehorse owners the Jacksons are a throw back to yesteryear when racing was truly the sport of kings. A time when you really had to have the economic resources to afford to participate in the sport. And because owners then had the economic wherewithall to compete in the sport, economic return was not the most important outcome of the competition. Competition itself, racing horses, was the goal. We now race in a time when economics is the sole driver of the majority of participants. If you have a good horse, race it a few times to establish its breeding value, then retire it to breed. A colt that wins the Kentucky Derby is tyipcally now retired at the end of its 3yo career in order to begin its more lucrative breeding career. The Jacksons had aspirations to run Barbaro as a 4yo, and not just in the US, but were considering the possibility of a shot at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France. Barbaro's career was only getting underway. The Jacksons are sportsmen, because they can be. But that has to be good for the sport of horseracing. And they truly love the sport of horse racing.
Roy Jackson, who is a "Rockefeller", comes from a fox hunting family. His father, Roy Senior, was a Master of Foxhounds who loved to hunt. While Roy did not pursue this passion, Gretchen is also someone who loves fox hunting. Both the Jacksons come from a deep tradition of horsemen and that tradition persists through their children and grandchildren.
While it appeared that the Jacksons were new to the sport of horse racing when they arrived on the scene with two unbeaten horses in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, that is far from the case. What is true is that they significantly increased their investment in recent years in the sport they love. They have actually raced horses for more than 30 years, mostly in the mid-atlantic region, on a much smaller scale. Barclay Tagg, who trained Showing Up for them for the 2006 Derby, trained for the Jacksons when they first started out as owners, but has not been their exclusive trainer over the years. They have had a number of other trainers. The Jacksons have learned many things about the industry over the years that now serves them well as owners on the national stage.
Because the Jacksons have the economic means to compete in the sport, economics was never a driver in terms of decisions made with respect to Barbaro. This is a refreshing counter to the "throw away society" in which we seem to now live, a society that is economically driven for personal convenience. Euthanizing Barbaro at the track would have been the easiest option at the time, but it was never considered. And during Barbaro's stay at New Bolton Center the principle considerations were whether Barbaro's pain could be managed, and if he could remain comfortable, and if there was a chance he could live a pain-free life. In fact the Jacksons took the most expensive course of action with Barbaro in terms of trying to save his life. Live or die Barbaro was covered by insurance, and the insurance company was not involved in decisions for the horse. The Jacksons were committed to doing the right thing by the horse who had provided them their most treasured moment in horse racing, it was the least they could do. But they have done the same for lessor known horses.
The Jacksons determined to do the right thing by their horse while listening to constant rumors pertaining to the reasons for their actions and the consequences thereof. They were accused of trying to benefit from Barbaro's breeding career as the reason for putting Barbaro through unneccessary pain. But they continued to do what they did without worrying about responding to rumors. Why fuel the fire, when they knew exactly why they were doing what they were doing? And they knew it was the right thing to do. Throughout Barbaro's time at New Bolton Center the Jacksons illustrated a certain dignity that is truly endearing to the public, as well as demonstrating a simple loyalty to their horse. Lael, the name of their farm and racing stable, is gaelic for loyalty.
The reality is, the Jacksons loved Barbaro, and love their horses. A simple statement, but not one all racehorse owners can state with honesty. Mrs. Jackson visited Barbaro almost everyday, and quite often twice a day, during his stay at New Bolton Center. These visits were as likely as good for Barbaro as they were for Mrs. Jackson.
The Jacksons also illustrated a certain grace in dealing with the public that is also less usual today. This manifested in many instances. It was a thank you note to a Fan of Barbaro who sent a letter wishing Barbaro well. It was a hand-written note of thanks to outrider Sharon Greenberg who was one of the first on the scene at Barbaro's accident at Pimlico, or it was a simple nod of thanks to Dr. Dan Dreyfuss after Barbaro was loaded onto the horse ambulance for his journey to New Bolton Center. They also realized, very early on, that while Barbaro was their horse, he really was not any longer. Barbaro had become larger than that and as such they allowed access to his condition in a manner that had not been done before. Allowing this access was essential for the development of the following that Barbaro nurtured and the group Fans of Barbaro. Allowing such access also thrust the Jacksons into the public eye along with their horse. And the Jacksons are very private, unassuming, people.
Michael Matz was one of the Jackson's trainers, and there could not have been a better match for the development of Barbaro and the inspiration that Barbaro provided. Michael is a horseman's horseman. Michael's career began in the show jumping arena, and he went to the top of his sport. Michael was 6-times US National Champion. Michael won the World Cup in 1981 on Jet Run. Michael won four gold medals at the Pan American Games and represented USA in three Olympic Games winning a team silver medal at the Atlanta Games in 1996 on Rhum IV. When Michael retired from show jumping he was the leading money winning rider of the sport, with $1.7 million in earnings. In April 2006, one month prior to Barbaro's victory in the Kentucky Derby, Michael Matz was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.
And it was not just that Michael was a great show jumping rider, but he was great with his horses. His quiet style inspired a following among young riders. He was a hero to many young riders who grew up wanting to emulate his quiet way with his horses. An impeccable horseman Michael's horses are always well turned out.
Michael is a hero in another sense. Involved in a plane crash in 1989 where 111 were killed, Michael not only survived but helped rescue four young children. He was named "Person of the Week" by ABC News for his heroism. It was this act of heroism that inspired his team mates at the Atlanta Olympic Games to vote for Michael to carry the USA flag at the closing ceremonies. Media stories leading up to Barbaro's Kentucky Derby focused much attention on Michael Matz's airplane heroics, which helped make the developing Barbaro story more human and engaging. It drew people in. But Michael's actions after the plane crashed were not something extraordinary if you ask Michael. Michael would argue that anyone in the same circumstances would do what he did. But you never really know how you would react to such a situation until you are placed in such a situation. What we do know is how Michael reacted. Michael is humble, and it is that humble attitude that keeps Michael focused forward.
Michael's reactions, under stress, were also evident during the Barbaro saga. After winning the Derby and returning to Fair Hill, he held media briefings daily. While many of the questions were appropriate, some would certainly have stretched the patience of the most professional person. "How many hours does Barbaro sleep at night?" was one question that was to test that patience. Michael also displayed professionalism when he gave the media a briefing on the Saturday evening of the Preakness day, at New Bolton Center. After providing an update, he was asked to identify himself. After the briefing he mentioned to Dr. Barb Dallap that he was very tempted to say he was Dean Richardson.
Michael does not let his past life events and accomplishments define who he is, and thus limit his aspirations. Michael looks forward, not backwards. Michael is ambitious. Michael had achieved all that could be achieved in one equestrian sport, so he decided to move to another for a new set of challenges. Michael became a racehorse trainer and started training in 1996 and retired from show jumping in 2000 after he did not qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games on a horse he helped develop, Judgement. This switch was met with disdain from some of those from his prior profession. Nevertheless Michael made the switch and in less than seven years won the Kentucky Derby and also a Breeders' Cup race with Round Pond. There are other examples of Michael not looking back nor letting past events define him. After surviving the 1989 airplane crash he did want to be known as a crash survivor nor a hero, rather he focused forward on his very successful show jumping career. And after Barbaro broke down Michael showed no interest in discovering why he broke down. That knowledge, and consequential finger-pointing, would not help them fix Barbaro. It was now irrelevant. It happened, time to move forward.
Nor does Michael let conventional wisdom dictate how he does things. He is a horseman, and he lets his innate understanding of horses dictate how things should be done. Michael follows his own rules and remains true to himself. Michael determined not to race Barbaro in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, because he wanted a fresher horse leading up to the Triple Crown challenge. This is something that he had learned from his days as a show jumper. He then felt good about Barbaro having a five week gap between his final prep race and the Kentucky Derby despite the onslaught of criticism coming from racing media and traditionalists. Michael had developed a plan for Barbaro's Kentucky Derby trail early on with Peter Brette. The plan was unorthodox, but they never once waivered. And not only was the plan successful, but perhaps it enabled other trainers to begin to consider different options in terms of preparing their horses for the Kentucky Derby. Big Brown, two years after Barbaro won the Derby, also won the Kentucky Derby after a five week break.
Michael is a perfectionist. His philosophy is you work on the little things, get them right and big things will happen. You work hard on all the details and you make your own luck. Everything Michael does is with the goal of doing the best for the horse. And he does it with a level of intensity that is rarely matched. That was his style as a rider in the show jumping ring. And he carried this over to his training career. Michael's passion also spilled over as he visited Barbaro almost every day during his stay at New Bolton Center. Not to be intrusive with Barbaro's care at New Bolton Center, but to do his part. He knew the horse. Barbaro knew him. He cared and Barbaro was his horse. He had taken Barbaro to the pinnacle, he was now with Barbaro for the fight.
And plain and simple, Michael is a hard worker and absolutely passionate about what he does. He is one of the first in the barn every morning at 5 am. He is there seven days a week with no days off. Michael works in the barn until about 2 pm. From there he will go racing on racedays. Michael is singularly dedicated to his work and his horses.
Being a perfectionist and hard worker can sometimes be tricky for those who work for Michael. He sets high standards and expects those around him to also maintain and set high standards. His horses are out of their stalls, training, a little longer than is the norm in racing circles. Horse-centric, but frustrating for some racetrack employees who are more used to a more systematic approach to getting horses trained and back in their stalls. The outcome of all this is care for horses. Michael is first and foremost a horseman, a badge of honor shared by a few.
Dean Richardson was the third member of this critical team. Head surgeon for Barbaro and chief caretaker during his time at New Bolton Center. The choice to send Barbaro to Dean's care was obvious from the outset. Dean had prior relationships with both the Jacksons and Michael Matz, even dating back to Michael's show jumping days. Barbaro's breakdown occured in close proximity to New Bolton Center making access to Dean's care obvious. But even beyond those two variables, Dean is considered one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the world. It was a no-brainer for Michael's friend, Scott Palmer, to recommend Barbaro go immediately to Dean's care following the Preakness.
To be a good surgeon you have to have a certain self-belief. Some may consider this arrogance, but it's self-belief that you know you can help your patient no matter how novel the surgery required. And all surgeries present their own unique circumstances. Obviously Barbaro's surgery was particularly challenging and Dean and the team he led needed to be world class in order to provide Barbaro a chance of survival. You have to have a certain courage of your convictions that you are going to do the right things. Similar to the courage necessary for Michael Matz to make training decisions that at the time were novel (five week gap from the Florida Derby and only one race in thirteen weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby) which then opened up new thinking for trainers going forward. A surgeon needs to innovate in order for others to have access to those new innovations. Dean had the self-belief and the courage required to undertake the challenge of trying to save Barbaro.
Dean is also very passionate about what he does. Very similar, again, to Michael Matz in this regard, Dean would be almost consumed by the Barbaro experience during the eight months Barbaro spent at New Bolton Center. The passion was driven from two corners. Dean loves horses and loved Barbaro, so he obviously wanted more than anything for Barbaro to live. The passion is also driven by intellect. Dean has a remarkable intellect, and Barbaro as a case study presented challenges that would push that intellect to its limits. With all the resources at his disposal, could Dean lead a team to save a horse he came to love?
Dean is a teacher. He has won numerous teaching awards at the University of Pennsylvania. And as a teacher, Dean believes everything is a teachable moment. He can be tough on his students, and there is no doubt some do fear him especially early in their tenure. But Dean expects the best from everyone around him, and that will only make those who study with him better. Fear most usually evolves into respect and often friendship.
Dean is also a horseman, not of the same calibre of Michael Matz, but a horseman nonetheless. In fact it was Dean's passion for horses that nearly led him down a similar path as Michael Matz. But then he pursued a career path to become an orthopedic surgeon for large animals, principally horses. Dean loves horses and bonds with them. That love for the horse was clearly illustrated throughout the eight months Barbaro was in Dean's care. Was Dean devastated during the period in July when Barbaro first contracted Laminitis ? Sure. Was Dean devastated when the realization set in that Barbaro had given up and it was time to euthanize him ? Absolutely. Dean loves horses and had gotten attached to a patient that had charisma in bucket loads. But Dean has become attached to other horses so this was not a unique situation. Not all surgeons are horsemen, but being a horseman makes you a better caregiver. That's Dean. And Barbaro had become his friend, they were in this fight together.
Dean started out at school as a Theater Major at Dartmouth College. While he may not have completed this path, Dean is definitely charismatic in front of an audience. Dean was the interface to the public during Barbaro's stay at New Bolton Center and as such helped engage his audience with his confidence and easily understandable rhetoric. Dean always was able to balance a level of frankness regarding Barbaro's condition with a level of compassion.
While Edgar was neither core to the team that developed Barbaro, or the team that attempted to save Barbaro, he was a smaller part of both. Edgar was also the initial face to the situation on Preakness day. Many attribute Edgar's quick actions on Preakness day as heroic in terms of how he quickly was able to ease Barbaro when it was clear to him Barbaro was in trouble. Edgar then held Barbaro while others came to their aid. Clearly Edgar was distraught by the sudden change in circumstances and his anguish was displayed, via media, for all to see. Edgar put a human face to the tragic situation and began the notion that we really do care. Edgar gave the Barbaro story an immediate human angle.
Edgar was the face of triumph after winning the Kentucky Derby, and tragedy, after pulling up in the Preakness. Edgar and Barbaro's relationship developed from moments of their greatest success together to that of a catastrophic event. Those swings of highs and lows bonded a relationship that would play out over the course of the months at New Bolton Center as Edgar Prado made four scheduled and unscheduled visits to see his horse.
Was Edgar always bonded with Barbaro, as some would suggest, throughout their relationship? Facts do not necessarily support this. He only rode Barbaro on five occasions. And up until a few weeks before the Kentucky Derby Edgar had not committed to riding Barbaro for the big race. Edgar had other horses to test. His goal was to be on the best horse to give him the best chance to win the Kentucky Derby. He, and his agent at the time Bob Frieze, only determined that horse was Barbaro after the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland. Some of this "posturing" may have been related to Frieze's strained relationship with Michael Matz, a result of their decision to switch off the Matz-trained Kickin Kris in the Arlington Million in 2004. Kickin Kris won the race on the disqualification of Powerscourt.
Did Edgar bond with Barbaro at all, or was this a myth developed by the media and supported by those who wanted to see the bond? Personally I believe they did become bonded. Perhaps at the Kentucky Derby when Barbaro provided Edgar his most prized moment in our sport. And Barbaro did it so easily Edgar will have realized he was truly on a champion. And then two weeks later their dreams were in shatters as his champion was now in a new fight for his life. Edgar provided the support Barbaro needed to begin that fight, and supported Barbaro throughout his eight month struggle. He visited Barbaro at New Bolton Center on four occasions. The first occasion was somewhat choreographed with a media presser. The three subsequent visits were not. I remember on one occasion seeing Michael Matz the morning after one of Edgar's visits. Michael did not even know he had visited the day before. When it was announced Barbaro first contracted Laminitis Edgar came down to see him. Edgar visited Barbaro on a dark day for racing in New York and he visited Barbaro on a race day. For whatever reasons, Edgar cared about Barbaro and cared deeply.
Edgar's own personal story is one of striving and grief. He grew up poor in Peru, the youngest of eleven children. He began his riding career in Peru, but left to move to America in 1986. Prado won a number of riding titles and really established himself on the Maryland circuit before breaking into the big time. Edgar eclipsed 5,000 wins in 2004, the 19th jockey to do so. He won the Belmont Stakes twice, upsetting two Triple Crown efforts, Smarty Jones in 2004 and War Emblem in 2002. Edgar won his first Breeders' Cup races aboard Folklore and Silver Train in 2005. In 2006 he won a Breeders' Cup race aboard Round Pond for Michael Matz. Prado's journey to success was punctuated by the loss of his mother to breast cancer, earlier in 2006. Prado had been trying to get his mother to the United States for treatment, sadly permission for this to happen was only granted the day she passed. Prado dedicated his Derby win aboard Barbaro to his mother.
A third critical element that explains why Barbaro inspired was clearly the public's knowledge of the ongoing saga. Traditional media provided much attention to the story, especially at three specific points.
The Preakness tragedy became a national news event, broadcast on mainstream media and over the internet. Barbaro's following days in New Bolton Center were closely watched. On Saturday night the Bloodhorse's web-site crashed due to heavy traffic. On Sunday night timwoolleyracing.com did the same. As Barbaro's condition stabalized mainstream media's attention began to wane.
But when Barbaro's left hind foot contracted laminitis in July media's attention reemerged. And then finally when Barbaro was euthanized he again gained the attention of a national media audience. As far as mainstream media was concerned, the Barbaro story had crossed out of the niche audience of horse racing fans into a much broader audience of animal lovers.
This drove the decision for ESPN to focus much attention on the story at the three aforementioned periods. They would also then cover any Barbaro updates when they broadcast other horse racing events. For example, when ESPN was covering the 2006 Arlington Million, Jeannine Edwards interviewed the Jacksons who were in attendance to watch Showing Up run in the Secretariat Stakes on the undercard. During that interview it was revealed that Barbaro had been outside to graze for the first time during the previous week.
The Associated Press (AP) also made a deliberate decision that this story was important. Rich Rosenblatt: "This story touched so many people outside of horse racing. It was an untapped source of interest that most were unaware of. We sensed that immediately. We were on the story from the outset, based on that. Barbaro was on national TV, an undefeated Derby winner, we decided to go 24/7 on this story and see how it developed. As it became a long story it still remained a daily saga. Upenn got it. There were stories all over the world based on this event. In todays media world we have not seen anything like this. It was not like Ruffian. People wanted to know how Barbaro was doing, and we covered it as thoroughly as anyone in the world." Dan Gelston was their main reporter for the Barbaro story and published more than 50 stories in the eight months Barbaro was at New Bolton Center. When they were not publishing stories on Barbaro's progress, they released daily "charts" on his well being.
And local media, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun and Wilmington News Journal also reported on this story in a fashion that was not typical of a regular horse racing story.
Jeannine Edwards had this to say about people's reaction to seeing her during her travels: "Everywhere I travelled for work, in the airport or at sporting events, people outside the sport of horse racing, with no connection to it whatsoever, would come up to me and ask about Barbaro. No one ever asked "Why are they putting the horse through that?" It was always genuine empathy and great interest in the horse's condition. I got this from basketball & football players, coaches, other media members, regular John Does on planes.... They'd see me and ask 'How's that horse doing?' There seemed to be an unprecendented amount of interest in his plight.... it was incredible how many people were touched by his story."
Of course there were significant lulls in the story throughout Barbaro's eight months at New Bolton Center. But that is where internet media helped keep the story current and top of mind for those who cared about how Barbaro was faring on a daily basis. New Bolton Center would offer daily updates via the internet, which sometimes switched to weekly updates. Other sites, including timwoolleyracing.com, would offer a place for a community to form that discussed everything about Barbaro's condition and the pursuit of his legacy.
Mike Jensen: "You kept people in [referring to timwoolleyracing.com and our more-than-daily-updates on Barbaro's condition]. It was another crucial element. There was a day-to-day gathering place. There was a gathering place and people fed off each other. Twofold. They were getting realtime updates from the principals and they were able to form a community. Outside of the community the community was sort of laughed at and mocked. It became a source of derision, within the community there were real sentiments, over the top, sure sometimes, absolutely. People were validated. Some people felt that way, some people thought that way. Some went to greater extremes."
The social media that supported the Barbaro story allowed that story to remain current through Barbaro's time at New Bolton Center, and allowed the story to persist once Barbaro had passed. As one of the social media sites, timwoolleyracing.com learned some Barbaro news that was not yet public information. Rather than release the news, we worked with mainstream media to make sure the news was released appropriately. This occured during the aforementioned release of the news that Barbaro had been out grazing for the first time. We worked with Jeannine Edwards so the news would become public in a timely fashion. We did the same with Mike Jensen and the Philadelphia Inquirer during the final weekend of Barbaro's life. Our goal was not to break news, but rather help the public stay informed.
Dean Richardson and the New Bolton Center team received awards for how they worked with media in order to provide access to the Barbaro story. And the entire Barbaro team received a special Eclipse Award. The story itself was highlighted as one of the top horse racing and sports stories of 2006 in a variety of media. Steve Haskin considered it horse racing's story of the decade.
Ultimately, everybody knew Barbaro's story.
Was it wrong to follow a horse most followers did not know directly?
There was some criticism leveled at the notion that Barbaro was simply a horse and as such there were more important things to worry about at the time than the status of a horse that most followers had not met. The argument goes something like this; there are people starving in this world, surely it is more important to focus energies on finding solutions to these bigger problems than to worry about the condition of a horse. And all the money spent on trying to save the horse could surely be used more appropriately.
The reality is that while there obviously are more meaningful issues we need to address as human beings, focusing energy on hoping a horse heals does not take away from other important efforts. Compassion is not an either / or situation. One can have compassion for a horse while also being concerned about broader issues. And it is quite likely that those that did have compassion for Barbaro are the ones that care more about other issues. And of course it turned out that Barbaro provided inspiration for many good things to occur as a result of his struggle at New Bolton Center. Those who followed him were inspired to do work in his name for other causes. He was a true catalyst for compassion and change.
Cultural ties to the horse
The horse is God’s gift to mankind. – Arab proverb
Barbaro is far from the first horse to prove inspirational and to illustrate human's strong bond with the horse. Barbaro is certainly the most contemporary example, and possibly the most powerful example as a result of social media tools that have enabled us to form a much stronger bond.
Since the beginning of time, man has had a unique connection with the horse. Humans have long been enamored with the beauty, grace, and courage of this gallant creature. The horse also represents a sense of freedom, and the fact that horses allow men to “tame” them only adds to their unique appeal. In ancient Rome and Greece, horses were lauded for their heroics in war; some, such as Alexander the Great’s Bucephalus, earned a special place in history. Later, horses such as Robert E. Lee’s Traveller and General Custer’s Comanche became well-known for their heroic partnerships with man. Not surprisingly, horses were praised in various works of art, literature, and poetry. This reverence began with early cave drawings and continues into the present time. Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, written in 1877, remains one of the best-selling books of all time, with more than 50 million copies sold. Other equine-themed books, such as The Black Stallion and Seabiscuit, inspired Academy-Award nominated films. Even Shakespeare recognized the glory of the horse when he penned the famous line from Richard III: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”
Equines played a crucial role in the shaping of human history. As early colonies were developed, horses were utilized to haul plows and other heavy machinery through the fields, and to transport crops. With its natural power, a single horse maintained the strength of 50 men, thus originating the term “horsepower.” Horses also pulled covered wagons to bring settlers to new frontiers, and saved many a person by carrying emergency personnel and equipment when needed. In 1860, with the establishment of the Pony Express in the U.S., mail was delivered 10 times faster than it had been in previous years; this allowed people to better communicate via the written word, prior to the creation of the telegraph.
While the advent of the automobile and electric machinery resulted in less work for the horse, equine sports, particularly racing, became popular with folks of varied social classes. In the 1920s, horse racing ranked second to baseball as America’s favorite pastime. It was the Golden Age of Sports, in which prosperity reigned and outstanding athletes became bona fide heroes. In baseball, the hero of the era was George Herman “Babe” Ruth; in horse racing, it was Man o’ War. The great chestnut, known fittingly as “Big Red,” shattered the record books and rewrote history with a series of outstanding victories. While he never raced in Kentucky, the valiant colt handily won the Preakness and the Belmont and is still regarded by many as the greatest racehorse of all time. Man o’ War subsequently enjoyed a successful career at stud, siring, among others, 1937 Triple Crown champion War Admiral. (He also was the grandsire, through Hard Tack, of another much-loved champion, Seabiscuit.) After retiring from racing, Man o’ War’s fan base remained huge; it is estimated that two million people visited him at Faraway Farm in Kentucky. In fact, Man o’ War was so revered that an elaborate funeral service was held when he passed away in 1947 at the age of 30. Thousands viewed his body as it lay in state, and his funeral was broadcast via radio. An archived version of the radio broadcast is still available on the internet. Man o’ War became the subject of various bestselling books, and his legend continues to this day.
While Man o’ War was making a name for himself in America, another great chestnut, Phar Lap, took Australia by storm. Born in 1926, Phar Lap gave Australians a sense of hope as the Great Depression began to take hold. Like the equine heroes before him, Phar Lap represented strength and courage in the face of adversity. His sudden death from colic in 1932 devastated millions, as he had become a cultural icon in both Australia and in his birthplace of New Zealand. Cards and letters of condolence poured in from all areas of the world. Phar Lap would later become the subject of a song, several books, and a film. His body was preserved and has been displayed at the Melbourne Museum, which still celebrates his birthday to this day; a life sized bronze statue of Phar Lap in full gallop may be viewed at Timaru racecourse, New Zealand.
Another of history’s most popular equine heroes was a plucky bay colt by the name of Seabiscuit. An unlikely hero – being small and knock-kneed, with questionable conformation - Seabiscuit entered the scene at the height of the Depression, when Americans were feeling down and defeated. Folks were able to identify with the feeling of being an underdog, and pinned their hopes for victory on him. When Seabiscuit defeated Triple Crown champion War Admiral in a match race in 1938, Americans felt that they too could overcome adversity. Seabiscuit became a hero for the common man. His story would reach greater heights several decades after his death, when author Laura Hillenbrand penned the best seller, Seabiscuit: An American Legend. The book later became an award-winning film.
While several horses made history in 1940s, 50s, and 60s, the great Secretariat eclipsed them all in 1973. The early 1970s was a time of unrest, as political tensions mounted and the U.S. was faced with various crises such as the Vietnam War and the Nixon Watergate scandal. Secretariat, a magnificent chestnut colt, became a horse for the ages as he won the Kentucky Derby in a track record that has stood the test of time, and won the Belmont by 31 lengths to become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Nicknamed “Big Red” (a moniker shared by both Man o’ War and Phar Lap), Secretariat bought the nation back to its feet, introducing a whole new generation to the meaning of greatness in sport. He became a true celebrity, with his appearances booked by the famed William Morris Agency (whose past clients included Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe). In a single week, Secretariat’s photo appeared on the cover of Time, Sports Illustrated, and Newsweek. As his owner, Penny Chenery, once stated, "This red horse with blue and white blinkers and silks seemed to epitomize an American hero.”
The 1970s would also witness the brilliance of Ruffian, a stunningly beautiful filly whose life was cut short by tragedy. Tall, strong, and undefeated, Ruffian became a symbol of courage for anyone who dared to challenge adversity. She became a hero to women who admired her strength in taking on the male establishment. Ruffian’s heroic spirit became even more evident when she continued running on three legs after sustaining what would ultimately become a fatal injury. It was a match race against the reigning Derby champion, Foolish Pleasure, a colt – and Ruffian’s great heart was not about to give up. As she underwent surgery to repair the injury, fans prayed for the great filly to survive. The nation mourned when she was euthanized later that night. Like the various equine heroes before her, Ruffian was a warrior whose heart would not give out. To this day, she remains a symbol of hope to those who face tremendous challenges.
Equine heroes are aplenty in the UK, the birth of modern day horseracing. But it is not the flat horse that is as revered as the steeplechase horse that campaigns over several years. Red Rum developed a large fan base while winning three Grand Nationals and coming second in his two other attempts, from 1973 - 1977. He would develop a second career upon retirement, as a celebrity attending events and opening ceremonies. More recently Dersert Orchid created a huge following by winning four King George Steeplechases from 1986 to 1990. But it was his win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989, on a course he detested and in heavy ground that he detested, that illustrated shear courage. Upon retirement Desert Orchid made a number of charitable appearances and people from all over the UK would attend. Both these examples illustrate that racehorses, in the UK, are bonafide sports stars. Sefton, an army horse who survived an IRA bombing in London in 1982, raised more than $1m to construct a new surgical wing at Royal Veterinary College, the Sefton Surgical Wing. Sefton returned to duty upon his recovery, and when he died at age 30 he was considered a national hero.
By the time Barbaro was born in 2003, America was at a crossroads. The nation was reeling from the devastating impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the threat of another assault loomed large. Troops were fighting what appeared to be unending wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Natural disasters and school shootings made the news, and the economy began to fail. Employment rates plummeted. The wholesome sports stars of yesteryear had been replaced by those who routinely and guiltlessly broke the rules. Even baseball had become tainted, as its stars ingested performance-enhancing steroids and used bats made of illegal materials. The message was clear: America was desperately in need of a hero.
Barbaro became that hero. Like Man o’ War, Phar Lap, and Secretariat before him, Barbaro showed tremendous speed and power on the track. He had the swagger of an athlete, the bravery of a warrior in battle, and the stunning good looks of a movie star. Like Seabiscuit, Barbaro arrived at a time in which fans of all ages were in need of inspiration. He brought interest back to the “sport of kings,” which had been in decline in recent years. And like the beautiful and talented Ruffian, he represented great promise unfulfilled - and the bravery to continue fighting in the face of severe injury. It was a perfect combination of all of these things that made Barbaro a cultural icon.
Horse racing columnist and author Vic Zast stated, “In the past 55 years, which is about the same length of time that I have been following horse racing, only three events come to mind which were of a transcendent nature – in other words, events that moved people who were outside of our sport. Only two of those three events included horses racing during this period. The other was Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit book and the Oscar-nominated movie that followed about a horse that captivated the public’s attention in the 1930s. The two events that involved horses racing during the period were the triumph of Secretariat in the mid 1970s and the tragedy of Barbaro at the beginning of this century.
Other great events may seem monumental to people in our sport, like the rivalry between Affirmed and Alydar, the string of victories by Cigar, the deaths of Ruffian and Eight Belles. But they weren’t transcendental in effect when compared to Secretariat and Barbaro. Secretariat and Barbaro were events that moved the needle; they caused a stir. They enabled people to tap into a phenomenon.”
Dorothy Ours, author of Man o’ War: A Legend Like Lightning, explains: “A three-year-old racehorse is like a college athlete, blooming in front of us. The very best ones not only show they can make it in open company -- until something proves otherwise, they let us enjoy the idea of unlimited potential.
Ever since his brilliant three-year-old season in 1920, Man o’ War has represented that highest standard. He retired from racing with the impression of something still untapped. Fifty-three years later, Secretariat reached the same heights and left the track with a similar aura of still unknown possibilities. We are still waiting for their heir.
In the brief time given him, Barbaro could not prove whether he belonged with Man o’ War and Secretariat on the racetrack. But until that awful moment at Pimlico, he had taken the right steps toward that highest threshold. Like Secretariat, he excelled on both turf and dirt. Like Man o’ War (who suffered one controversial defeat), he remained unbeaten through steeper and steeper challenges. Like both, he relished a classic distance and exalted in his own ability. This quality burst forth in his Derby stretch run, with Barbaro rocketing away from the pack at his rider’s signal, then increasing his margin under no urging but his own energy.
Like Man o’ War, like Secretariat, Barbaro left racing before he reached his prime. Like them, he opened hearts and imaginations wide. Although he never can reach the standard set by both “Big Reds” at the track, his great spirit found an answering spirit: good will and generosity.”
[end of Box]
FOB Julie Bridge: "The stories of Seabiscuit and Barbaro hit a core myth of humanity, the Hero's Journey - every religion that exists today has this myth in some form or another. To context how this myth plays out in both horses you can look at the times they lived in - Seabiscuit raised a broken nation off it's knees, ...became the horse of the common man - made possible by the collective team of Howard, Pollard, Smith and Seabiscuit himself. I believe Barbaro struck a different chord in us, because we had to see (via TV) the horrific nature of his injury, the footage of him trying to move away from that pain, triggers that in all of us. Barbaro showed us that something so powerful could be so vulnerable and the Jacksons showed us that racing may not be dispensable after all. Barbaro became the wounded king (fracture was on the right, side of the masculine), and perhaps, Dr. Richardson became Parsifal, looking for a way (the Holy Grail) to heal the wounded king.
Finally, I think the larger theme here is what horses teach humans every day, because they solely exist in the present moment - we saw that in Barbaro's relationship to his injury, taking everything in stride, but being pretty real about when he wasn't feeling well..... We could take a lesson from that."
notes: horses brought the country together
What and How?
Back in 1969, anthropologist and poet Loren Eiseley wrote an essay called the Star Thrower. As part of this essay, Eiseley told a tale that illustrated how even the smallest acts of kindness can make a difference in the world. The story began with an older man walking along the beach where thousands of starfish had been washed upon the shore. His attention was quickly drawn to a figure that appeared to be dancing upon the sand. Upon closer inspection, he realized that the figure was in fact a child. He was not dancing, as it had initially appeared, but rather was gently picking up the starfish and throwing them, one by one, back into the ocean. The man was puzzled by the child’s actions and asked what he was doing. The boy replied that he was trying to save the starfish. When the cynical old man replied that the boy could not clearly save all of the starfish, the boy picked one up, tossed it softly into the sea, and smiled, “It will make a difference to this one!”
Eiseley’s story has appeared in several incarnations since its original publication. It has been used by motivational speakers and translated into several languages. Sometimes the child is a boy, sometimes a girl, but the message remains the same. Acts of kindness, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, can have a greater impact on the world. The impact that Barbaro had on people mirrors Eiseley’s message. In fact, a significant part of the Barbaro story is the work done in his name by those who followed his condition and were inspired by his courage. Mrs. Jackson recalled, “After his surgery, at New Bolton, when things started arriving, from all parts of the US and around the world, we realized he had touched a lot of peoples' hearts. People were standing on the overpasses of I-95 when he was in transit from Pimlico, and then they followed up with notes and gifts at New Bolton. It was amazing. The unidentified donor who began the Barbaro Fund in Barbaro's honor started a momentum all of its own. The momentum has continued, it is just amazing how wide reaching it has become. We are honored.”
Typically, when a crisis occurs, people react quickly and work together to help out; however, once the crisis is over, attention on it begins to fade. People move on with their lives, and new events generate media attention. Yet Barbaro’s situation was far from typical. The courage he displayed during his eight-month struggle had inspired and unified people from all walks of life. They ranged in age from young children to great-grandparents and lived in all areas of the world. Some were lifelong horsemen, while others had never even seen a horse up close. Their one common feature was that each had been touched by Barbaro’s courage and grace, and were committed to do whatever they could to contribute to a larger cause – horse welfare. If they could not help Barbaro, they could help another horse in his memory.
ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards noted, "Barbaro's coverage was inspiring and those who supported the story were also inspiring. Regular people, contributing $50 here, $100 there all in Barbaro's name. Generosity feeds upon itself and it was truly amazing. The devotion they showed was what made the whole story so remarkable." Like the child who made a difference by saving the starfish that had washed up on the shore, small contributions by so many people have made a major difference in the equine world. The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is also applicable. While one person cannot be expected to tackle the larger issue of horse welfare, many people working together can make a difference. In saving a horse, for example, many people work together. One person notes that the horse is in need; another person agrees to save the horse from slaughter; yet another provides transportation; and others contribute to the horse’s expenses. Like the starfish, the rescue of even a single horse makes a difference for that horse, and thus contributes to the larger issue of horse welfare. While the community cannot accomplish everything, it can accomplish everything for individual horses and related causes.
Kathy Anderson summed it up: "Greatness was the beginning, the Goodness is what is going to go on forever. The legacy of that is tremendous. They can impact the outcome. With Haiti you cannot make a difference. With this you can make a difference. It will have a name on it. It will be Real Lace. It will be so and so. But it will be a horse you can identify. That's big."