Citation...Count Fleet...Princequillo...Nasrullah...Nearco...Riva Ridge...Man-O-War
To have a horse with any one of these kings of racing bloodlines is an honor and a privilege. Our Last Laugh, or as she was affectionately called, "Giggles", had every one of them in her pedigree. Their DNA lived in her.
Giggle's birth was such a happy time for me. I had bought her mother, Folly, several years before from a "slaughter guy." One of those guys who makes his living buying broke-down racers and selling them for meat. Folly was a bit different, in that she boarded at his little run-down farm as broodmare potential. Funny thing about broodmares. You have to feed them and take care of them, just like a "using" horse. After two years of pasture board and no foal, the owners told Mr. Bill to get rid of her. However, Bill kind of liked her, he'd seen her for the last two years, so rather than just haul her to the packing plant, he called a horse woman he knew and asked her to see if she could find someone to buy her. She did, I heard about it through the grapevine and after a couple of visits, I brought a skinny, lame, rain rot bald TB mare home for the whopping sum of $300.00. I did not even know she was a roan until her coat grew back.
Judy, the owner of Giggle's sire, Comedian, had a similar story. She had a thriving dairy farm and also several horses. Her kids rode and showed and she was trying to get a breeding farm started. She did not, however, have a stellar stallion. One day she was at the Farm Road intersection and she saw an acquaintance's truck and stock trailer parked at the local hot dog stand and drive thru. Knowing that this particular man made his living hauling horses to the DeKalb Illinois horse meat packing plant and being a nosy horse lover, she drove over the the parking lot and peered in the trailer. Imagine her shock to see a gorgeous, racing fit, TB stallion standing all alone in the cross ties. She waited for the fellow and asked about the horse. Judy was told the horse had "blown a pastern" whatever that meant. Well, he was standing on it, so it wasn't too "blown." Judy struck a deal for this horse then and there in the parking lot and had the man drive him to her farm. She did not even know if it was a breedable stallion at that point, he was just too beautiful of an animal to die such an ignoble death.
After a year or so, when the first foals were being born at Judys, she decided she needed to trace his lip tattoo and see about papers. She had purchased two TB mares and both were in foal.
She was stunned at what she learned. Comedian had won $130,000 racing. His legal owners had been told he had broken his leg and had been destroyed. They were very happy to learn he was alive and healthy, that Judy had him and he had been saved from the meat packing guy. Not so thrilled they didn't drive a hard bargain for his papers...they cost a great deal more than the horse did! I think their trainer had some serious explaining to do! (Oh. And he was completely sound after two months of rest.)
So, here you have it - two lovely animals who, if fate had not stepped in, would never have survived to create Giggles.
I read a feature story about Comedian in the local paper when we were living in St. Charles IL. I had been thinking of breeding Folly ever since I wrote the Jockey Club and got a copy of her race record and her pedigree. Judy and I liked each other at once, a deal was struck, and Folly had her "date".
She settled the first time, rather rare in a 17 year old mare...
Folly had Giggles at 10:35 on April 2, 1998. I had hoped it would be April 1st, since her mother's name was Folly, her sire Comedian, and if it was a filly it would be Our Last Laugh, nicknamed Giggles. But April Fools Day came and went and it was the night of the second when Folly went into labor. I was in the barn feeding my wildlife when her water broke and I knew the birth was imminent. I flew up to the house and got Steve (to record), called my stand-by neighbors for the imprinting and dashed down to the barn again. Everyone took their places and Giggles was born in front of 10 people and the video camera. Folly was a WONDERFUL, cooperative mare.
Giggles passed out of Folly's body and into my arms and heart. She never left my heart even though I really did not ever make use of her. She suffered a fracture in her knee, one of the metacarpal bones as a two year old. Prince did it. He was new to us and shod and I am sure she was pestering him to death and he kicked her one. It put off her training for nearly a year. Once her break healed I turned her out at a friends for six months just to grow and mature some more. It seemed every time we started using Giggles, training her, taking a lesson, really anything, she would get hurt. Every single time. So, she never developed into a very practical saddle horse. She was just my girl.
After Prince died and Marcia left for College, I sold her lease horse for his legal owners, sent Lori's lease horse back to his owner and sent Giggles to live as a pasture mate with a friend's horse. His second horse had died and Dolly was all alone. Since Dolly was once ours and Giggles had grown up with her, there was no problem introducing them and Giggles lived happily up there as estate "yard art".
I saw her all the time of course, I took her feed, tended to her feet, medical needs, and everything else she needed. She lived there for four years always healthy and happy until that fateful day in July.
There were horses in the large pasture behind Giggles and the horses were separated by a barbed wire fence. The fence was long and tight, and in good repair. It was densely overgrown with yaupon and other bushes and there was only one little section the horses on both sides could interact with each other - about two fence posts worth. As I understand it, the woman who owned the two horses behind got tired of her horses having little wire nicks from leaning over the fence nipping or scratching, whatever they do. So, she had her yard guys prop two gate panels along her side of the fence and wire them into place, creating a buffer for her horses to lean on. They wouldn't nick their chests with the barbs. It also created a death trap for the horses on the other side - barbed wire on their side of the posts, gate panel on the other and a five inch space to trap a foreleg.
She had this done on Thursday afternoon and Giggles got hung in it Friday. She struggled so hard to free herself she ended up over the gate panels and in the neighbor's pasture. One gate panel was down, the barbed wire loose. The woman had her yard guys fix everything but they could not count to three and left Giggles in their pasture, where she was chased and harassed by the other two horses all afternoon. I had to take the rewired gate panel and all five strands of wire down to get her back on the correct side.
It was obvious she was badly hurt. I did what I could for her that night but by now it is pitch dark and there was no way to load her. The next morning a vet friend and I went over and loaded her up and brought her home. I treated her for six weeks, she saw a vet five more times but it was no use. The injury was too catastrophic. She had fractured her pastern, torn her suspensory ligament and ruptured her tendon sheath. That last one is what ultimately did her in. The fluid drained into her foot, setting up an infection in her foot bones, sesamoids, that was non-recoverable. I brought her home from that sixth and last vet visit and after a few days of watching her, knowing what I knew, I let her go.
But I will never forget her. She was my first and only foal and for twelve years she was my girl. We had the best six weeks, even though she was hurt. She let me do any and everything I needed. We walked around the yard and she grazed. Her coat got lovely with a bath every day and her favorite feed. I fed her Omalene. Why not? I didn't care if it made her "hot", I wasn't going to ride her.
But, soon, far too soon, I could tell she was not herself and her leg hurt. The Bute couldn't control it any longer.
I had to give her a last act of love. I let her go to the Bridge when she was still proud and beautiful, and could walk on over. I know Folly, Gemmi, Prince and Phantom were there to greet her - her first herd.
Challenge all your grandfathers to a race, my Giggles.