Some of my fondest memories as a child were going with my father to the stables. I loved looking at the strong, majestic beasts. They seemed so tall and muscular, yet were so graceful. My father spent time with each horse, telling me stories about races they had won, their strengths, his plans for them. Then we would visit with the employees, each of which he knew by name. He talked to me the same way he would talk to the trainers and staff, as a respected member of the team. I was not an only child, and in some respects, I probably wasn’t even the favored child. But I was the only one who saw what my father saw out at the stables—the possibilities and potential, the connections and logistics.
I think those times were as memorable and cherished by my father as they were to me. He talked to me about my grandfather, who had an uncanny ability to match horses together to provide excellent offspring. My father would point out the parcel of land that had been the original plot his father owned, and how our lands grew bit by bit until they became the stables that we have today. We attended lectures at The National Stud together, taking copious notes and comparing theories on the way home each time.
My brothers and my sister have moved on, chosen other lives for themselves. I am the only one who stayed. As my father got older and his health declined, I stepped in to take more and more responsibility. I do not regret my decision, not for one moment. When my father passed away three years ago, he bequeathed the land and horses to me. It was not a surprise to anyone, least of all my siblings. They get a share of any money the horses earn but they are all successful in their own right and have never asked for more. Most holidays they all come here to celebrate, as I have the most room out here. It is nice having everyone under one roof, yes, but my favorite part is when the other adults pace around the house and grounds yelling into their phones about patients and business deals while I take my nieces and nephews to meet all the horses.
One in particular, my nine-year-old niece Amelia, seems to enjoy the visits the most. When I take her around to the stables, I am sure to talk to her the same way my father spoke to me. Like she is a partner. Perhaps one day, she truly will be. She talks about taking the National Stud diploma course when she turns 18, as long as I hire her upon graduation. I always smile and tell her I will. I know that I will never hold her to it, there is a lot that can happen in nine years, but I would never renege on my end of the bargain. One can dream, can’t they?