Painting Spanish Riddle – a True Story on Me!

Long ago, I was an art student, and a racing fan, both.  Each year, we’d make an annual trek to Saratoga Race Course, in beautiful Saratoga Springs, NY and enjoy a few days of serious racing and the Midsummer Derby as it’s known, the Travers Stakes.  Back in 1973, the same year as Secretariat’s appearance there, another chestnut speedster of 3 yrs was also there.  Spanish Riddle.  So blindingly fast he set the track record, indeed, one that has only once been equaled and never bested.

His was a sad story, because as fast and wonderful as he was, he broke a foreleg in a workout right there.  His situation was dire, and his handlers who loved him so, decided to save his life, constructing a special boot to replace his leg, and he was retired to stud right then.

He stood first right on Rt. 9 just a bit past Hillsboro, VA at a lovely spread called the Virginia Stallion Station.  If there were other stallions there, I never knew.  But, I loved horse, loved Spanish Riddle, and loved painting, so one day I dared to ask, by phone, if I could come down with my camera and take a picture of him, intending to attempt to do a classic portrait of him.  One that would show him as equal to some of those on display at the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga, one of my favorite haunts.

By this time, I knew and understood from conversations I’d overheard, or directly participated in myself, that horsemen are notoriously critical of horse artists, and pick them apart freely.  They live with them, love them, handle them daily, and no artist could ever make a good enough painting of their loved fabulous champion.  I knew this.

I arrived with my camera and was greeted by Mr. Stanley Greene, the stud manager, who bragged about his charge, brought him out with pride, and had his groom hold him for a classic pose.  I had chosen a perfect time of day to capture light on his shining coat, and posed him with the sun over my shoulder, getting a few really good shots.  Where these pictures are now is anyone’s guess. Ugh.

They were nice, accommodating, and just a tad condescending, as I expected.  I wasn’t imaging their skepticism and doubt in my abilities.  After all, I was just a student at a community college.  All true.

I worked on the painting for about three weeks.  Using oils, I realized I had picked great light, and shadows were just right for a classical portrait similar to those found in the museum, or galleries in Middleburg, where I liked to lunch on occasion to look at horse art.

Using several transparent layers, I thought I got the colors just right, and as soon as it was dry enough, I though I’d go see if I’d done a good job or not.  Well, the best judges of that of course, would be his people, his tenders, the people who loved him.  So I called, and asked if Mr. Greene would like to see it.

“Of course, come on down and let us see it,” he replied, chuckling.  I’m sure he thought it would not be much.  They did love that horse!

Well, I went out one day in the afternoon, with the painting framed, and covered with a blanket.  I was greeted warmly, and invited into the barn office where Mr. Greene had his desk, a few chairs, some art prints hanging on the walls, well lighted, including Degas’ The Races, which is world famous.  It took up a very prominent place across from his desk.

I placed the covered painting on a chair, and he and his groom got ready to see my portrait of Spanish Riddle, 6 furlong track record holder at Saratoga Race Course, champion sprinter, so I removed the blanket.

The smiles disappeared from their faces in an instant. They just stood and stared at it.

“You gave him back his leg!”

Yes, I had.  They could think of nothing to say.  I asked if I’d done a good job, and what did they think of it.  They dissembled, hemmed and hawed, and said it was terrific!

I was so pleased by this reception, by their obvious appreciation, that I perhaps stupidly said, “If I were to leave it here, where would it hang?”

Mr. Greene immediately rounded his desk, and took down Degas’ The Races.  I said, “OK!  It’s yours.  Take good care of him!  He’s a super champion!”

And they were so happy!  I was so flattered!  How could I not be?  I left it there with his people in his barn and will never ever forget Spanish Riddle.

My one regret was I forgot to even take a picture of it!  Stupid, stupid.  No idea where it might be now, either.  Spanish Riddle after a few years foundered and had to be put down.  Virginia Stallion Station moved to the Middleburg area, and I lost touch immediately, my goal having been accomplished anyway.  I doubt Mr. Greene who was middle aged at the time is still managing a stud farm somewhere, unless it’s in heaven.  The painting is forever lost.

But the memory lives, in my heart, and so does beautiful Spanish Riddle and his people.


Impeachment is over, but not the rancor

I knew that the whole process was another attempt to weaken or cause problems for President Trump, and didn’t fool myself that an acquittal would end the division and rancor in the popular culture today. But it’s worse.

Every single democrat running for the presidency in 2020 advocates for a world most American’s would not recognize, or want. There’s no way we would be able to call ourselves “free” if they gain power again. This malignancy in the democrat party needs to be purged. Once Bernie is cut from the process, I’m expecting dangerous demonstrations in the streets by his supporters, and worse, a failure of the police to contain the mobs. The police have been targets of this sick leftist cult for almost a decade, and the boys in blue risk their lives going into mobs of Antifa and other communists who really want to tear us down.

All the lovely patriotic words flowing from the mouths of the House Managers of the Impeachment of DJT sounded so sweet, and so insincere. When one recognizes what these people want to do to our established republic, to tear it down and grab power, it’s hard to listen to them spout patriotic phrases calling on memory of our founding fathers.

Our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves at the existential threat to our individual liberties and freedoms. These are truly “the times that try mens souls…”

May God protect us, and have mercy!

Today Impeachment of DJT Begins

So, I suppose I’ll be busy watching the proceedings on TV.  Oh, the bane of my existence!  I hate TV!  It’s turned into a gutter viewer, and even shows I’d like to watch are filled with either smut or gay relationships as though 1-2% of the population is what they now call “normy.”  Normy is what I used to be, I guess.  Now I’m a bigot, gun rights nut, with white privilege, and a fat old woman all.  I guess those who call the shots, the paid media, and the college professors out to destroy the country will just have to get used to folks like me being here, because we were here first, and have ties to long ago pilgrims!  Who knew?

Not dead yet!  Trying to protect the nation from the totalitarians who want everything their way.  No God, no guns, no Constitution, no liberty, and no dissenting from their leftist views.

Well, I’m not dead yet!  And I’m not sure Virginia is either.