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    May and The Year of the Horse

    May is upon us and finally we can say goodbye to those dreary winter months and hello to Spring/Summer time. I’m sure that for most of us this is truly a wonderful time of the year. I know I greatly prefer Spring/Summer over the winter months. I especially have always been fond of the month of May for several reasons but this year is even more significant than usual.

    What makes this May so special you might ask? Well, we’ve just finished having the running of the roses race at the Kentucky Derby this past weekend and that always brings a lot of excitement to the state with people gathering from all over the world for the fastest race ever, a mere 2 minutes of excitement that can dash the hopes of some and renew the hopes of others.

    Of course, in the case of this year’s winner, there were no winning Kentucky thoroughbreds in the mix. Instead, an up-and-coming horse named California Chrome took the spotlight away from so many others that were used to this type of claim to fame. I suppose the old saying as, “there is a first time for everything,” would certainly hold true to this year’s race. I’m sure that there were a lot of Kentucky faithful that had no clue that a horse that only cost its owners about $8,000.00 would take home the most coveted horse racing prize in history.

    Of course, there are other reasons why this May is special too. For the first time ever, I will be participating in a library Book Talk that also deals with the horse racing industry. The book that I just finished reading is a long one and it’s entitled: “Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty,” by Ann Hagedorn Auerbach. This is definitely a book where that if you have a deadline to read it, then you want to get started plenty early, especially if you are a slow reader like I am. The total count is nearly 396 pages and that includes the Afterword that has been added since the original writing of the story back in the early 90’s.

    Basically, the book sets the tone by starting out telling us about one particular horse named Alydar that is the prime stud for the Calumet Farms operation, and how he ends up in a terrible accident and how the rest of the story goes back in time to show us how the whole farm got its start so many years ago. The story is truly remarkable and goes into great detail telling the reader all about the breeding of horses, the history behind Calumet Farms, the wheeling and dealing that goes on behind closed doors, and ultimately the downfall of the entire operation.

    If you decide to read this tome, please be prepared to take notes as there are a lot of different people introduced throughout the book as well as a lot of facts and stats about the horse industry. For someone like me, who knows nearly nothing about it, this was a little hard to follow at times. However, in the end I must say that it was a very good book even if it seemed to get more than a little tedious at times with the overwhelming barrage of information.

    If you like horses though and are a fast reader, then you will probably love this book. I know I have a much greater appreciation now for what it takes to breed and prepare a horse for greatness in the state of Kentucky. I can also tell you that our state has a lot more going on for it than I think many of us give it credit for, not only in the horse industry, but in so many other areas as well. We should most definitely be proud of the horse heritage here in Kentucky as it is known as some of the best in the world.

    Finally, the main reason that I even brought up horses for this article is that this just so happens to be the Year of the Horse, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar. I thought it was very interesting that this thought would cross my mind as I enter the month of May with the Kentucky Derby and my book talk on my mind.

    According to the website Travel China Guide, 2014 is the Year of the Horse and this basically runs from January 31, 2014 thru to February 18, 2015. “People born in the year of the horse have ingenious communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career.” (

    Here are some other interesting factoids about the year of the horse as well:

    • Lucky colors: brown, yellow, purple and avoid the colors: blue, white, golden
    • Lucky numbers: 2, 3, 7 and avoid: 1, 6, 5.
    • Lucky flowers: cally lily, jasmine and marigold
    • Zodiac sign compatibility: Best match: tiger, sheep, dog and Avoid: rat, ox, rabbit

    So, as you can see horses are a big deal this year, not only in racing but in the Chinese zodiac as well. Here is one more thing that you might not have known as well, the Daviess County Public Library has quite a few books on horses in our Adult Non-Fiction collection that can be checked out at any time. The Dewey decimal call number for this area is: 636.1 if you are interested in reading more about this amazing animal.

    Just remember, the next time you pass by a lovely, picturesque piece of farm land and you gaze across the golden meadows, that this is the Year of the Horse.

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