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A Racehorse Herbal


     I was bred and dropped in Missouri.  My maternal lineage of horse and medical men may have ingrained a natural interest in equine performance and medicine or, perhaps, it was just dumb luck.  I remember looking through my great-great-grandfather's medical text up in a dark, hot attic as a wee tyke.  That musty old book was an 1854 copy of the U.S. Dispensatory..  It contained strange names.  Names like burdock, belladonna, poke root, lobelia, pinkroot, cinchona, stramonium leaves.  Names which sounded nothing like modern medicine.  Yet, I sensed power in that large leather covered book. Thirty years later--one afternoon, I picked up by pure chance a vintage Herbal in an Omaha thrift shop after finishing my morning training chores at Aksarben.  Those same names were there.  I was intrigued.  My quest for herbal Veterinary knowledge wetted. I was astounded to discover a new source for medicinal compounds right under my nose, waiting for experimentation.  Around that time, modern Veterinary Medicine seemed of limited help to me.  Some of my horses were experiencing epistaxis (bleeding); and the best the profession could offer was lasix.  Studying the traditional roots of all modern medicines couldn't hurt.  I was hooked.

      I first straddled a horse at age 6. I trained and exhibited American Saddlebreds throughout my adolescence. I concentrated on a Veterinary curriculum in college, receiving a degree in the Animal Sciences from the University of Missouri, College of Agriculture, Columbia in 1973.  Upon graduation,  I worked under two racing Hall of Famers: Joe O'Brien and Del Cameron.  I later took over the Tic Wilcutts stable, racing on the Delaware/Pennsylvania/Maryland circuits.  I spent the next 15 years training and racing Standardbred harness horses along the Eastern Coast--wintering at the Pinehurst, North Carolina training colony between campaigns.

     In 1989, I made a jump over  to Thoroughbreds which allowed me to move back home to the Midwest,  racing in Chicago, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas.  Another reason for this change was my disgust with the seeming unimportance,  the Standardbred racing industry treats its trainers. Most of the recognition in that sport goes to harness horse drivers at the expense of the conditioners.  I was ready for a change.  Thoroughbreds seemed like an interesting transition where  I could take some of my harness training skills accenting stamina and soundness and, maybe, obtain an advantage.  I took out my trainer's license in the Fall of 1991 and campaigned a small stable of runners in the Midwest.  I galloped, groomed, shod, and trained some homebreds for Hestenhill Farms, plus a few for myself.   I was overall happy with my racing results and even more elated with the soundness of my young horses. For example, I never experienced one case of bucked shins from my youngsters.  One of my better efforts was training a cheap claimer, purchased for $900,  to two track records at a mile & half and two miles in 1992-93.  During the year of 1994, after racing a string at Aksarben, I shipped to the Woodlands Race Course where I was put in a wheelchair in a freak galloping accident that August.  I am now retired to the family farm with time to devote to the study and thought of Veterinary Herbalogy. 

Eadweard Muybridge's 1887 motion study photographs of the gallop using the Thoroughbred, Annie G. with her jockey.       Speed at approximately 1:47 for one mile.

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