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The Secretariat in You

  • The Secretariat in You

    On Saturday evening past, I watched one of my favorite movies, Secretariat, a 2010 film directed by Randall Wallace, now showing on Netflix.  I tend to reach for this film when not in the flow, when treading water--moving but not going anywhere, when preoccupied with a deep loss of my mojo.  While I have viewed this film many times before, each time is like the first and this day was no different. Why Secretariat?  For those who may not be familiar with the story of Secretariat, aka “Big Red,” he was an American thoroughbred racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown Winner (Derby, Preakness, Belmont), at the time, not won in twenty-five years.  

    Secretariat grew up to be a powerful horse, stood 16.2 hands, noted for exceptional balance with "nearly perfect conformation and stride.”  In addition, his chest was so large that he required a designer girth, while his hindquarters were large, powerful, and well-muscled. An Australian trainer described him as being “incredible, an absolutely perfect horse." Secretariat had actually been bred by Penny Chenery Tweedy who managed the stable after her father, Christopher Chenery, became ill in 1968.  While Secretariat possessed amazing physical form and stamina, few believed in him or his female owner’s ability to win.  But unbeknownst to many, both horse and owner/trainer were united by an unwavering belief/trust in each other, and the dream.

    Secretariat and Penny’s journey remind me of my own moments of disbelief, the difficulty in identifying just one - just one person who can see what is possible for me.  But then suddenly, during the moment of greatest despair, the "Secretariat" in me rises and I run my race like never before with an unstoppable and renewed demand for having my dream.

    Unfortunately, in the fall of 1989, Secretariat became afflicted with a painful hoof condition known as laminitis.  The nineteen-year-old Secretariat was euthanized and buried whole at Claiborne Farm, a departure from tradition as only a winning horse’s head, heart, and hooves are usually buried. Although Secretariat's heart was not weighed during the necropsy, the veterinarian – physician’s report indicated that "the heart was perfect,” with no problems, “just this huge engine."

    What can the story of Secretariat, once considered a “deformed,” “abnormal,” unlikely thoroughbred horse with an enormous heart tell us about life?  His journey reminds us of what we already know: that our hearts are born perfect, a huge engine with an unlimited capacity to love unconditionally. Secretariat’s life is demonstrative of the necessity in persevering while surrounded by few believers, as well as the need to realize and surrender to a “handler/trainer/mentor,” higher power.  In so doing, you develop the courage and power to run your race.  The “Secretariat” buried within us all is the will to win by taking long, consistent, purposeful strides without looking back, or to the side but straight ahead to claim your Triple Crown.  Thank you, Secretariat, for helping me/us run a better race today, and everyday!


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