Kentucky Derby 2017: Step Outside Yourself, Look to The Brooke USA and the Equines They Serve…
Ah, (American) Triple Crown season. The time of year when we Americans assume that the entire world focuses on our horse races, alone–to the exclusion of all other equids and equine endeavours.
I know, I know–it’s hard to believe, but NOT every eyeball on this orb will be focused on 700 Central Avenue in Louisville on The First Saturday in May, 2017. Many eyes and hearts will be striving in places like Afghanistan, to make the lives of working equids better, and healthier.
The Brooke USA is the Western Hemisphere administrators of The Brooke, a wonderful trust out of the UK. The history and good deeds of The Brooke are ‘way too long for me to spell out here, but I’ll tell you briefly that, for millions of humans on this planet…their work, their ability to put food on the table for their children…depends entirely on owning working equids (donkeys, horses, mules, etc.). These working equids live along with their owners, in profound poverty. Poverty like you cannot ever imagine, no matter how hard you try.
So, they ran out of the nachos last night, when you went to Cheddar’s? Boo-hoo. Wah. That’s a big problem. Really on-par with that of a man or woman who hasn’t eaten anything in, say, a week.
I’m not getting on your case–I’m getting on all our cases. For 99.9% of us who’ll watch the Kentucky Derby either live or via TV/simulcast/etc. — the thought of going to bed hungry is, well, a non-starter. Most of us are pretty well-fed. If we’re not, it’s because we’re on some ridiculous Cave Man Diet or other such thing.
So imagine that your primary goal for yourself and your family is to stay alive this week.
In order to do that, you have to earn money to buy food.
To earn that money–you need to make and take bricks to someone who’s building a house.
You need a horse or donkey to help you carry those bricks.
Your poor equid quickly becomes over-burdened, sick, thirsty.
Your poor, sweet equid started Life just as poor as you–but s/he depends on you for food and water.
NOW…enter, The Brooke. The Brooke provides veterinarians; medicines; water; food; education for you and your family–education about what your equid needs. How to keep her alive, healthy and feeling like a family member, rather than like a wheelbarrow. (You love her, you just don’ have he resources to take great care of her AND of your daughter, son and wife.)
The Brooke and The Brooke USA are necessary. I dare argue, they’re necessary for the world economy. The good hearts who run The Brooke USA are right there, right in Lexington, Kentucky.
You know you’re gonna be there, anyway: no doubt, you’ve planned your Kentucky Derby Week and/or Weekend to include Lexington–it’s just down the road from Louisville. In Lex, you’ll visit the Kentucky Horse Park. Yes, you will. (I see it right there, in your calendar. Yes, I am onmipresent, gazing over your shoulder.)
The Brooke USA’s offices are right there, on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park. Isn’t that convenient? 🙂
There’s nothing stopping you from giving them a call–telling them that you’re going to stop by, or just dropping in–and writing a check. Your contribution may be $5,000–or only five bucks. However much you can give–I urge you do give something.
You’ll be in Louisville and Lex, shopping perhaps for a spectacular hat for the Derby. Your new chapeau may set you back a few hundred bucks.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. The first time I went to the Derby, I took five hats with me on our drive to the Commonwealth. By the time we arrived in Lexington, I’d decided that I hated all of them. (The hats, not my companions!)
So the day before the Derby, I scoured Louisville, and found a $700 hat on sale for $140. And it was gorgeous. Simple and gorgeous.
I’m not a curmudgeon, who’s trying to take away your fun:
Believe me, I get you! Last year, into this year, was one long, rough road. It felt like the Plague of Locusts, very weird. (For one thing, every hat I owned had to be thrown out because of incompetency–they got exposed to chemicals that I cannot have anywhere near my head, because of that silly chest-sawed-in-half surgery last April. Long story about the loss, you don’t need to hear it all.) But trust me, I cried–I loved my hats, I miss my hats. So I’m not some jerk, mouthing off about you and your obsession with frivolous fashion. I’ve been wearing hats to the track since I was four years old. Since before you were born.)
I’m just reminding you, as a woman who adores hats at the track–to GO ahead, put your cash on the barrelhead for that fabulosa new Derby hat…admire your beautifulness in the mirror…feel as glorious as a Spring flower. Go to the Kentucky Derby. Drink Mint Juleps. Cry when they sing, “My Old Kentucky Home.” Scream ’til your lungs burst, when your horses comes roaring down the track.
Have the time of your Life, because for many people–the Kentucky Derby is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Wearing your Kentucky Derby Hat may be a one-time deal.
Celebrate, feel fully alive–be blessed, and enjoy!
Then…after all the hoopla...after the last red rose petal has wafted to the winner’s circle surface…and you’re safely ensconced in the Old Seelbach Bar…THEN…look at your radiant face, and see the truly beautiful woman or man who lives beneath that hat. See the kind, horse-loving soul beneath, the passion that drove you to make your pilgrimage to Kentucky.
See that extraordinary spirit whom I know lives beneath, and–if you can–match the amount that you spent on your Derby hat…and give it to The Brooke USA. (If you can’t match it–at least tithe it, give 10%.)
I’ll be glued to a wide-screen, HD TV for all the Kentucky Derby festivities, believe me.
You will be there in person, festooned in your Very-Derby-Best.
But please remember…that, 8,000 miles away, somewhere on this Earth, is a boy whose family needs their donkey to generate the money that will place food on their table on The First Saturday in May.
If you can know that there’s need like this in the world…and you ignore it, while sippling champagne…then I have to speculate that you’re not a Real Horse Person, at all. (Real Horse People have deep reserves of love for equids, and for the humans who populate every corner of our Horse World.)
Millionaires’ Row will be filled with poseurs for the Kentucky Derby…but I know that you’re not a poseur. You’re the Real Deal. <3
The Brooke USA:
Fantastic article, making the Derby and all horse lovers relevant to the world of working equids. We at The Equitarian Initiative (www.equitarianinitiative.org) have partnered with The Brooke to train vets, animal scientists, techs and students in the special needs of these animals and their families. Kudos. the work will go on!
Thank you so, so much, Dr. Merriam…thank you most of all for the beautiful work that you and everyone in the Equitarian Initiative do for the world’s equids. God bless you and all your colleagues for putting your passion into practice. <3