01/30/07 — New kind of hero: Racehorse’s story is one of courage and love

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New kind of hero: Racehorse’s story is one of courage and love

Discussing the loss this week of thoroughbred racer Barbaro is hardly the same as some of the human losses that have been recorded over the past few months and years.

From heroes in Iraq to treasured members of the community here at home, there have been a lot of special people to whom we have had to say goodbye.

So why has the story of this Kentucky Derby winner who suffered such a devastating injury in the Preakness last May captured so many hearts?

And why were so many unable to talk about having to help the colt end his battle to recover from the leg injury that would have killed another horse?

The answer can be found in owner Gretchen Jackson’s statements to the press Monday after veterinarians determined that the colt was no longer happy and thriving, but suffering.

“Grief is the price we all pay for love,” she said, tears in her own eyes.

And what love so many have shown for this horse.

It is hard to watch the footage from the race that placed the once seemingly unbeatable colt into a sling. And many a heart was stirred as we all watched the veterinarians at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center battle to try to give the colt a chance.

Good news for him was a boost for all of us who could not bear to think about losing such a champion — and for those who have ever loved an animal.

But there is more of a lesson to be learned from Barbaro and the courage of those who refused to give up on him.

The colt’s courageous battle was a sign of hope for many people who were waging fights of their own against unbeatable odds. It was a chance for all of us to remember that sometimes faith, love and determination can work miracles.

It was also a chance for us to see that sometimes, money does not matter when you care enough. It would have been much cheaper to put down the colt rather than fight to bring him back. That’s what happens when you have your priorities in the right place.

And Monday, we got a chance to see what unselfishness truly is. As hard as it was, those who loved the colt let him go — even though it broke their hearts to do so.

Barbaro might have been only a horse, but his story can teach all of us a lesson about courage, determination and love. That is a legacy that is much more lasting than any wreath of flowers in a winner’s circle.

Published in Editorials on January 30, 2007 11:19 AM