(Diamond Solitaire is ready for Christmas / Photo Submitted by Deerfield Farm)

From Day 1, our yearling filly — who has become known now as Diamond Solitaire — has been a bit on the spoiled side. She has always been a tad pampered. Really and truly? From the get-go, she has been used to hands-on rubbing and loving. Lots of special loving.

But, then again, why not.

After her rather rude and difficult introduction to the world, if there ever was a little filly that deserved to be cuddled, snuggled, catered to, and overly-loved — it truly was and is Diamond Solitaire.

And, then again, if there ever was a co-breeder and co-owner that deserves to cuddle, snuggle, cater to, and overly love one of their very own — it is the partnership of husband and wife David and Lori Hebel-Osborne.

Simply put?

This is the perfect marriage of horse and (wo)man.

(Diamond Solitaire, as a yearling)

The perfect relationship.

And, maybe, just maybe, the perfect time.

You see, the story of Diamond Solitaire — which truly has yet to be fully written — is compelling and complicated. Her story is already both heart-breaking and heart-warming. And, her story is the very stuff that gives you both tears of sorrow and drops of joy all at the same time.

It all began in the late Spring and early Summer of 2018 when Diamond Solitaire was born into what turned out to be an interesting foal share relationship between the Osborne’s Deerfield Farm and me.

And, it didn’t take long before all of us had the struggle of a lifetime rolled into one little life of Thoroughbred flesh and bone.

About a month after her birth, Diamond Solitaire’s mom — Diamond Seeker — contracted a severe bout of colic. After a night of fits and struggles, the mom and baby were loaded onto the van and transported to a nearby clinic.

Once they reached the doctors, it was too late to save mom. With baby looking on, mom was finally relieved of her pain and strain. Diamond Seeker was euthanized.

And, within seconds and with a cold world looking on, a baby was now on her own. Totally. On her own.

Her mom’s comforting side was replaced by a single bucket of cold milk.

Her mom’s nuzzling nose was replaced by a rub or two from a veterinarian assistant.

Her mom’s instinctive love was replaced by a cold stall that the little, month-old filly could barely see out of and see into what must have been a frightening future.

To make matters even worse, we all soon noticed that Diamond Solitaire was limping terribly on her right leg. The doctors took an x-ray. It was easy to read. It was hard to swallow. The little filly’s leg had a fracture. It must have happened when her mother was agonizing and thrashing, and must have accidentally kicked her baby.

A shattered heart. A fractured leg. What more could a little orphan girl take? How much more could the cold world give? Something had to give, right?

Yet, it was the giving that has helped make Diamond Solitaire a true “gift.”

She is now a story worthy of Christmas telling. A story made for the children to gather round and listen to at this special time of year. A story meant to be told and re-told with magic in both the words and the spirit.

Truly, if there ever was one, Diamond Solitaire has turned into a Christmas Miracle for one and all.

You see, here is how the story goes:

(Diamond Seeker, the mom / Photo by Gene McLean)

On the way to the clinic to check on the baby filly, I was able to reach a life-saver by the name of Bill Roseberry. He had a “nurse mare” stationed at Coolmore America and Ashford Stud in Versailles, KY. And, the mare did not have a baby that needed her there.

Within an hour, Geri — the most magnificent nurse mare — was on her way to the clinic. She was on her way to save a filly that desperately needed her. Desperately.

Geri was dropped off. Hobbles were put on her back feet. She was tied to the wall. “Miracle Worker Bill” said he would leave her tied up for the night. He said that he hoped that the filly would take to the mare. He said that he would pray that the mare would take to the filly. He said it was tough when the foal was already a month old. He said that we could only hope that it worked. That “they” worked.

So, Lori Osborne and I took up shop in the stall with the newly-introduced duo. We sat in the straw. And, we watched.

But after an hour or so, the two “strangers” had not interacted much. Had not touched. At all. So, Lori and I decided it was time for a change of heart and soul. We untied the mare. We removed the hobbles. We led Geri to the baby. We led the baby to Geri.

One nickered. The other smelled. Within minutes they were linked up. The bucket of milk was no longer needed. A new mom was on the scene. A mother’s love and milk were both ready, and Geri was both willing and able.

The gift of life.

(Diamond Solitaire and Gene McLean / Photo by Leigh Ann Thacker)

After returning to Deerfield Farm, little Diamond Solitaire was restricted to her stall for the next two months. Her only visitors were Geri, her new mom, and Lori, her Earthly mom.

Geri was there throughout the day and night. Always by the baby’s side. Always.

Lori was there regularly throughout both day and night, too. Always coming to check on the duo. Always bringing treats of peppermint and love. She gave both of them freely and often. And, she spent hours nurturing and nursing.

The gift of love.

It was not long before the fracture was fully healed. Diamond Solitaire and Geri got to frequent a round pen just to the outside of the barn stall. A few months later, they graduated to the paddock and fields just to the hill beside them.

They both ran as if they had never run before. And, one of them had not.

They both loved the grass and the air as if they were right at home. And, they were.

They both grew to love and learn. Each other.

The gift of instinct.

Late in 2018, it was time for Geri to go home and get ready for another job; another baby; another adoption.

It was also time for Diamond Solitaire to join in all the other “reindeer games” with her horse buddies. She adjusted well. She grew strong. She matured and developed.

In a couple of weeks, Diamond Solitaire will go to “school” at the training center just down the road from her home at Deerfield Farm. Not too far away, mind you. Not too far from Lori and David Osborne. But far enough so that she can begin to learn a whole new set of rules and skills.

Diamond Solitaire will learn how to carry a saddle. She will learn how to cradle a rider. She will learn how to become a racehorse. She will learn what it takes to harness all of her energy and use it properly and naturally. She will learn to become a racehorse.

The gift of God

Over the last few weeks, a group of great friends have joined in and bought in. Bought into the story. Bought into a syndicate that will own and race Diamond Solitaire. Soon, the new Thoroughbred owners will travel down from Indianapolis to visit and see their new family member. Soon, the circle — never broken — will be even more complete.

There’s Tim and Carla Moman. There’s Ron & Lisa Smith. There’s Brad Rateike and Lawren Mills. There’s Mark and Jamie Deno, and, undoubtedly, the better half of this entry is Jamie. There’s Kevin and Melissa Dicke. There’s Marc and Tammy Wilson. There’s Dave Brown.

There’s so much excitement. And, joy in their voices and faces. There’s so much anticipation.

And, then there is that name.

(Diamond Solitaire about ready to head off to school)

It was Lori Osborne that chose the name:

Diamond Solitaire.

Diamond is obviously after the yearling’s mom — Diamond Seeker.

Solitaire is obviously after the fact that the baby was on her own and all alone.

Diamond Solitaire.

It’s Christmas time.  A story built on the fact that a single star shown bright into the night and led the Wisemen to see that the baby was, indeed, born.

A Diamond Solitaire.

It’s Christmas time. No better time to give the love of your life the perfect gem stone.

A Diamond Solitaire.

It’s Christmas time. No better time to give a story of defeat and victory; a story of sadness and jubilation; a story of stress and strain, and, yet, the ability to sustain, survive and become special. No better time to give a story of Christmas love and miracles all rolled into one Thoroughbred.

A Diamond Solitaire.

It’s Christmas time. A time for absolute redemption. And, a time for faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is, obviously, love. Three things that my great friends, the Osbornes, have in abundance. You see, in many ways, it has been a difficult year for my great friends. One day this fall, they had two horses transported to the clinic within minutes of each other. The attending physicians simply handed the telephone between them to give the Osborne’s updates on their horses. And, both I and my lovely wife, were sitting next to the Osbornes when they received bad news about one.

It was right then and there that I, too, dropped my head. And, I begged for relief of their pain that was obvious in their eyes and faces. I begged for grace to their aching hearts and souls. And, I begged for strength that would allow the both of them to continue to believe. To believe in the future. To believe that tough times do not last; that tough people do. To believe in better times to come. To believe that good times are within reach.

I begged for a miracle horse may give my friends a miracle finish.

Right now, our little filly may be a “Diamond in the Rough.” Truly.

But one of these days, she may just be what we have already witnessed, too.

A Diamond Solitaire.

It just may become the perfect setting. For the perfect ending.

Only time will tell.

But I believe.

I believe in Santa.

I believe in God’s love.

I believe in Lori and David Osborne.

And, I believe in Diamond Solitaire.

I believe.

And, that’s why I own a racehorse.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.