(Taking selfies with Diamond Solitaire on Tuesday proved to be both a challenge and a blast. Ever since she was just a pup (a couple of days old), we have found a way to play and bond. On Tuesday, we got a chance for a reunion at trainer Stephen Lyster’s barn at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington. She made my day.)
On the very day that Diamond Solitaire’s momma passed away, after a swift and horrific battle with colic, both Lori Hebel-Osborne and I made it our life’s mission to ensure that our filly had everything she needed.
We got her a nurse mare to give her milk and a mother’s touch. “Geri” was truly amazing in raising her adopted daughter. She not only led her to water (and milk), she was able to teach her to drink, too.
We got her a perfect nurse facility facility at Deerfield Farm in Oldham County, where Diamond could and would recover from a broken leg that she sustained when traveling to the clinic with her stricken mother. A stray kick nearly ended her dreams of becoming a horse; much less a racehorse.
We got her the perfect nurse, too. Lori never missed a single day. She would head to the little stall and make sure that both “New Mom” and baby were recovering, according to plan. She would wrap the leg with tender care. She would lay down in the stall and take a nap with her Thoroughbred “sisters.”
When it was time to graduate to a round pen just a few feet away, it was Lori that made the introduction.
When it was time to move to the big field adjacent to the round pen, it was Lori that made the tour with a steady hand on the shank.
When it was time to let her run, for the first time, it was Lori that took the first few strides, too. Just like a mom teaching the child to ride a bike for the very first time. So many anxieties. Not knowing when or where to turn loose. Not knowing how to let nature take over.
We got her the perfect name, too. Diamond Solitaire came from Diamond Seeker — literally and figuratively. And, since she was left to her own devices at the tender age of a week, she was the epitome of a Solitaire.
Most of all, though, we got Baby Diamond what she needed the most. We got her — and gave her — plenty of love and attention. Both. After all, we had a lot of making up to do.
I have never forgotten those formative days and years. Some of the best days I’ver ever had with a horse.
Thank God, neither has Diamond Solitaire — our Stakes-placed filly who is now embarking on her 3YO season with trainer Stephen Lyster.
On Tuesday, I drove up to Lexington to check in and on Diamond Solitaire — who was sent back to the racetrack just a couple of week ago and just prior to the sour weather that hit the Commonwealth.
On Tuesday, I went to see my “baby.” Have to admit. I needed to see her about as much as she needed and wanted to see me, as things turned out.
On Tuesday, I went to see my most favorite horse of all time.
And, she didn’t disappoint. Not one bit.
As soon as I walked up, Diamond snuggled my neck, and, as she always does, she used her nose to dislodge and displace my baseball hat. As soon as the hat was out of the way, she began to chew on the long locks that I now have on my head.
She chewed and lightly tugged. She smelled and flipped my hair like a well-schooled barber. When I turned my back, she would nudge me to get my attention, and, politely, request that I turn back around and turn all of my attention to her. If I ignored the first hint, she would move closer and the “nose nudges” were a little more pronounced. She flopped her head on one shoulder and then would flip her head over mine and flop her head down on my other shoulder.
It was a game we used to play when she was small. It is a game that we still play today.
It is a game that we both love and enjoy.
It makes me laugh out loud, to be honest.
It makes Diamond smile a little; nibble a little more; and love right out loud.
On Tuesday, Diamond Solitaire got a chance to stretch her legs a bit on the racetrack, too. She breezed an easy 1/4-mile down the lane. She legged it out and looked just like the filly that left the track just a few months ago. She had a blast and never took a deep breath.
It won’t be long before our Indiana-bred is ready for the opening of Indy Grand, one of the best kept secrets in all of racing and one of the best Thoroughbred venues in the entire free world.
She will be back to doing what she likes to do best — racing.
She will be back to doing what she loves to do most — making us happy; making us smile; making us love her even more. Giving back. Giving all.
I have never known a horse that wants to give as much as Diamond does. I have never known a horse that wants to please as much as Diamond does. Most of all, I have never — ever — known a horse that wants to love back as much as Diamond does.
On Tuesday, she made my day. Truth is, I really wanted to see her. Makes me feel better when I do.
Truth is, Diamond proved that she wanted to see me, too. And, that made my day even more.
(Diamond’s groom, Bruelio, takes no short cuts when it comes to tending to our prized filly. He makes sure she looks like a champ.)
(Diamond was the picture of health and pretty as a picture on Tuesday)
(It was Diamond’s day on the racetrack, too. Time for a little sun time. Time for a little work time. Time for a little play time.)
(Diamond is always up for a close-up, too.)