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The Biden Administration provides an infinite number of enticing blog subjects. Still, in the interest of readership harmony, I’ll write about the misfortunes of a horse named “Star Serenade.” If an owner doesn’t have a chosen name for a colt, a combination of the parent’s name can be used. In this case, Star Serenade comes from the stallion “Dark Star,” and I never knew the mare’s full name, but it was something “Serenade.”

From 1971 to 1977, my father’s job with Ford had us living in Mexico City. He was a vain man who enjoyed trophy possessions like expensive cars or prize-winning show dogs. He wasn’t above bribing his children with gifts to get the desired behavior. An example was buying my older sister a horse to get her away from drugs and boys. The plan backfired. The result was a pregnant fifteen-year-old speed addict, plus the ownership of an ornery thousand-pound-eating machine that bit, kicked, and shit all over. I’ve never met a meaner animal. My sister got her horse and learned to ride.

My teenage desires were never so ambitious. Since arriving in Mexico City, my greatest desire has been to return to the States. One sport offered to sixth-graders at the American School Foundation was their form of pee-wee football. It was a league of sixth through eighth grades coached by high-school players during their off-season. I wanted to play. My father was strictly against wasting time on games versus school work. When I pointed out the hypocrisy of my sister riding a horse every day, he became furious.

My father’s solution was obvious. I could be bribed away from football with a horse. I argued against such a purchase to no avail.
In the mid-1970s, my parents purchased a fifteen-hand tall, chocolate-colored thoroughbred named “Star Serenade” without me ever seeing the horse or knowing how to ride. I had never been on a horse and had no desire to ride.

My father had been sold on this particular horse on the lie that it was sired by the 1953 Kentucky Derby winner “Dark Star.” If one does the math, they’ll realize the stupidity of this purchase. Before the internet’s easy research methods to verify the Derby claims, this was before the internet. The math still made the sire at least twenty years old, maybe older. The most obvious problem was putting a non-rider on a racehorse.

If one goes on the internet, they can watch Dark Star win the 1953 Kentucky Derby at 25-1 odds.

One of my parents was smart enough to ask why the horse wasn’t racing. The answer was another clue that the purchase was a mistake. When the bells rang and the gates opened, this horse refused to leave the gate and run. That didn’t stop them from training the horse to race. My parents made a few more mistakes when making this purchase. The purpose of the horse was for me to jump it over obstacles. Jumping obstacles is a dangerous sport since horses often refuse. When they refuse, even the best riders go flying. Before buying it, my parents didn’t see anyone ride or jump this horse. They didn’t know it didn’t jump. The more significant problem was the horse’s habit of falling back on its race training after refusing an obstacle. It liked to run when excited. My parents didn’t know any of this since they didn’t see the horse jump before buying it.

This horse purchase wasn’t about common sense. It was about ego and vanity. My father would have another trophy to brag about at the office. He was right about one thing. He was correct that I would love the horse if he bought it.

He was wrong about everything else. I was only five feet tall, weighing maybe one-hundred-fifty pounds. I didn’t have the strength or weight to make a horse respect me as a rider; I was merely another jockey on a racehorse. Even the club riding instructor wouldn’t allow me in the riding arena on this horse I renamed “Lancero.” I learned to ride on the club nags too old to move anymore. My father hired a trainer to work Lancero until he was safe to ride. I still wasted every afternoon “riding” nags and learning about Lancero’s care rather than doing school work. The hypocrisy never occurred to my parents since I maintained my grades.

The inevitable happened. I was finally able to ride Lancero in multiple-horse classes. I even rode him in the open country, where he was excitable. I was terrified. You fall off in the open, and you’re hurt; your horse is gone. Lancero never lost his in-bred love of racing. He often refused to jump an obstacle and then took me on a wild race around the arena. There is no greater fear than being on the back of a thousand-pound animal you can’t control while it races around an arena.

Lancero’s end was predictable. I had no sway in his fate. Lancero’s will to run was just too great. The poor misunderstood animal was not allowed to do what was in its heart and blood: race. My father lost patience and interest. He paid the trainer to keep trying, but Lancero would never jump. I continued to ride him a few times a week more out of love.

Lancero eventually developed a muscle-deteriorating disease in his hindquarters and had to be put down. I still lament his life and passing. Call me a spoiled ass for not appreciating the gift of a horse. I eventually did learn to appreciate the love Lancero and I shared. My father was right about that. I appreciate that gift.