Over the weekend my good friend was here from Texas and as any good friend in California, you have to take your friends to the local attractions. Once perhaps, that was Disneyland or even the beach, but right now in Southern California the main attraction is Zenyatta.
Julie had some photos that she wanted to gift John Shirreffs with and so we made the trek to the barn. Coming around the corner I saw something different this time. Not that Zenyatta on any given day for the past couple months, doesn't have fans stopping by, but now there was a barricade of perhaps three or four sawhorses and piping "roping" off the area to view her while she grazes. What was different was the single file line of fans, cameras and treats in hand, waiting for their couple "up close" minutes with her. One by one the fans that had come to see her were given a minute to speak with her, touch her muzzle and feed her treats. Steve Willard, has become the "tour guide" and it strikes me that his job has become much like the park ranger discussing El Capitan in Yosemite. There is something about her that continues to take your breath away, much as the monuments that are God made, Zenyatta simply doesn't disappoint.
The visit with her was more magical for some reason because on this day there were several young girls and boys with her. She patiently inspected each child that came up to her and loving put her head down, welcoming their delight.
The young girl featured in the photo above seemed to be the most vocal and encouraged the other kids around her to come up and feed her. Someone had brought a peppermint to give her, well only some know that Zenyatta has a sweet tooth, and loves her candy. When she happily ate up the peppermint, she licked the hand of the child, and the little girl said to her friend "Now you have a legendary hand". I chuckled out loud and had the biggest smile on my face. Yes, she is legendary, and its of course the races, the tremendous finishes, the heart stopping beauty, but mostly its the grandness with which she accepts the adulation and respect.
She holds court, there isn't another word for it. She looks at you, in the eye, and says to you "I understand". Whether child or adult, she accepts each moment with you. She does know she is the queen, but to that little girl, well she is legendary....and no matter what the jaded writers and handicappers think, Zenyatta has charmed her way into many a heart unlike any horse I have ever known. And to that little girl, that brought a smile to my face, I hope you grow up to be legendary as well.
Photos by Cecilia Felix Photography and Zoe Metz.
To see other horses (not quite so legendary except to The Second Race) go to www.thesecondrace.com
- ▼ November (4)