My love for the Grey came when I was only 10, a boy living in Berkeley, California. Our family was new to Berkeley, freshly moved from Alameda. In both cities there was no room for horses or riding, other than the trails in Tilden Park located high up in the Berkeley Hills. This was the early 60’s, I can’t quite remember the exact year as I am unsure due to the fact my mother was shuttling my sisters and I between Bermuda and California, but I do remember picking up a book in the school library about horses and from that moment my love was sealed.
Each day I studied that book as if to do so meant my life would magically open unto a world I had secretly longed. I memorized each breed, and the characteristics of those breeds such as the Morgan which was typically used by the police force because of its endurance and ability to be in noisy crowed areas. The Palomino for its beautiful golden color. One day, armed with all this horse knowledge, I set out on foot with no direction or goal and after a mile or two a strong odor suddenly began to fill the air around me. I had never tasted this aroma before and so could not associate its origin, but yet at that moment I could with absolute certainty, know it was the smell of straw soaked with the urine and dung of horses, I knew I had reached my unknown destination.
The smell was captured behind some very tall walls that separated the horses from the public, but I walked the perimeter until I came to a gate and a guard, “can I go in?” I asked most eagerly. I could feel the excitement boiling inside of me and all I got from the guard was laughter and a big fat “No, you must be 18 to be allowed in here and you have to have a permit.” I didn’t have time to wait till I was 18, so I walked away determined as ever to get inside this magical kingdom and so I walked further around the perimeter until I came to a section of chain linked fence. Just on the other side of that fence the smell got louder and through the space between the individual barns I could see the horses. I climbed that tall fence not thinking I was doing anything wrong, only that I had found a solution to a new problem. As I came over the top of the fence I slipped and fell, but thankfully there was a pile of straw to break the fall. The same straw that was taken from the horses stalls each day I soon discovered.
I met a man named Craig Laurance, the son of Ike Orr a famous trainer at one of the barns who filled me in on the things I wanted to know about the race horses, he even gave me a job as a groom cleaning the stalls and caring for the horses after school and weekends for $5 a day, a fortune to me because I was getting paid to do what I loved. I became part of the life there and in time wasn’t questioned at the gates. The racing circuit at Golden Gate Fields (GGF) only lasted a few months out of the year; June thru September if I remember well which played perfectly with my school summer vacation.
On my second year at the track there was a grey horse among the five horses I cared for named Saginaw Bay. For some strange reason I favored that horse above all the others. I would especially care for his stall, made sure he had his alfalfa, and ration of grain mash every evening. Saginaw Bay was scheduled to race this one day, and to my surprise he won. Everyone was so excited especially his owners who were from Seattle, who gave me $250, it was amazing. I loved horses, but not as much as I love Saginaw Bay.
How this episode of my life became reality through the reading of a book on horses amazes me today. Without knowing it you can bring things into your reality simply by visualizing and then feeling deep inside you the power and love you have for that particular thing. I had never smelled a horse, but that day while walking I was lead by the smell of something I was certain had to do with horses, but not in terms of horses because I didn’t know what the association of them and the smell was. I studied that book so much that I knew the horse breeds and even their anatomy, down to the frog at the bottom of the hoof. I knew a Tennessee Walker by its posture, I was so into horses that in order to complete my education I was lead into a reality with them. As with anything if you study it, visualize it, and thus focus all your attention on it, that thing will become part of your life thus your reality.