Today was our weekly day with the farrier, and it is a long day bringing in horses from the pastures, trimming them, and also attending to other things like cutting manes, worming, and some vaccinating at the same time. Economy of motion. I’m tired by the end of a day with the shoer, but I wouldn’t trade jobs with him.
I enjoy holding the sleepy horses that appreciate attention from humans no matter what the reason. Horses like Naked Way. He is a huge white presence of near glacial proportions, luminous in the shadow of the shedrow. He has beautiful expressive eyes with deep golden highlights not seen too often in a Thoroughbred.
It takes two entire pages to print out Naked Way's race record. He was a claiming horse his whole life, beginning his career in his native Florida at two in 1993, and then embarking upon an oddesy that would take him coast-to-coast to many tracks that are now just fading memories. He ran at Tampa, Calder, Hialeah, Belmont, Grand Prairie, Remington, then to Golden Gate, Bay Meadows, Hollywood, Santa Anita, Pleasanton and back east again to Mountaineer Park. He passed through eight stables, and ended his incredible journey with ten wins and earnings of $150,334. Somehow his stout legs kept him going for six years through eighty grueling races.
But when I look at this great old horse what I see is a living historical artifact, not of racing in the late twentieth century, but a touchstone to the Thoroughbred ancestors we find at the end of the pedigree page. The place where the lines go blank, and the notations in the margins read "conjecture" and "also known as". You see there is a uniqueness that Naked Way has carried forward since the first "Thorough Breds" raced for English monarchs at the turn of the eighteenth century. Naked Way is a direct decendant through two lines to Alcock's Arabian. Also known as Pelham's White Barb, or possibly the same as Bloody Buttocks due to his rare chestnut spotting over his shoulder and hip.
Bedouin legend says that the color pattern known as the "bloody shoulder" was the mark of Allah given to honor horses who had carried their wounded riders safely home from battle, and that the war mares of the prophet Mohammad were decended from these. There are two versions of the Alcock Arabian's history; the first is that he was imported from Constantinople in 1704 and the second is that he was bred in England from early imports by King Charles II. Either way, it is known that he sired good runners and lived at least until 1726 according to his progeny records.
We know that the majority of grey Thoroughbreds today all carry this linage; not directly through tail-male or female descent, but rather through the mysterious "center" of the pedigree, where the markers for grey coloring skip from sire to dam. A trip through the pedigree page of Naked Way will take you to the place where our knowledge of who these horses really are is lost in the legends of time. It unfolds hundreds of years of history, their's and our's entwined. There are clues here to the source of his generous heart.