Tuesday, June 9, 2009
For the love of a horse and the Habs....
This little tale starts off on the first Saturday in May 2006; it is the annual running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown races. It was a nice spring day in Montreal, I happened to see the race advertised on morning television and decided to tune in. That was the beginning of my eight month love affair with Barbaro, one that would end on a very sad morning for me on January 29th, 2007. This is a little background from Squidoo.
In 2006, a head-strong and muscular Thoroughbred colt, named Barbaro, would enter the Kentucky Derby undefeated and become one of only six undefeated horses to survive the Derby unbeaten. Winning by the largest margin in 60 years, he raced to the finish on his own will to win, needing no extra urging from his jockey. Barbaro had the promise to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
But his career came to a tragic end two weeks later at the Preakness Stakes. Barbaro survived a life-threatening injury and walked again, but a painful condition called "laminitis" would distress his good legs until he had none to stand on. On Monday morning, January 29, Barbaro's life ended peacefully at New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, where he had survived his devastating injury for several months and had many promising days.
By now you’re probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with the Habs? All in due time. I was so taken with Barbaro and his fight for life I followed his progress every day for eight months via the veterinary website where he was being cared for. It became as routine as brushing my teeth. I ordered a blue plastic bracelet with his name on it, wore it every day and I had a habit of rubbing it somehow thinking it would help him. I can’t explain why I felt this way about a horse I never met, some things just are. I remember the last medical update, reading between the lines I knew it wasn’t good. I lit a candle for him and said a little prayer. The next morning the update was late and I knew the inevitable had happened. I took off the bracelet later that day and knowing there were to be no more updates I really felt lost. I was reading my daily copy of the Gazette at lunchtime and saw the website Habsinsideout.com advertised in the sports section. I checked it out, it was a startup blog and figured why not, I was a Habs fan; this would give me something to read on the Internet, I needed to replace my daily habit. I eventually joined and when Habsinsideout.com expanded the site I decided Barbaro would be my avatar, after all he had brought me to the blogging world. I figured he would be an inspiration to les boys for the 2007/2008 season and he didn’t disappoint. My game night ritual was having my computer set up with Barbaro as the screen saver and lighting a candle. After we went out in the second round against the Flyers, I realized that Barbaro hadn’t finished the second leg of the Triple Crown. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, right?
I decided for the Centennial season I needed a horse that was a finisher, so I used Secretariat as my avatar. The 2008/2009 season didn’t get off to a good start, but I kept thinking things would turn around, how could they not with Big Red as my avatar? I think I know what happened, the Habs offended Secretariat. If the brilliant racehorse could talk, I’m pretty sure he would have said this, “For the love of all that is good and holy, if anyone is going to use me as a hockey mascot can they at least have the decency to be a Red Wings fan.”
So for this season, I’m sticking with the horse avatar and screen saver but I’m going with super filly Rachel Alexandra who won the Preakness in May. There’s two main differences, she’s female and she’s still living.
Go Habs, hooves crossed.
R.I.P. Barbaro, thanks for that final ride, you brought me back to something I used to love but had long forgotten, writing.