You never forget the name of your first lesson horse – that horse who taught you what you need to know to work with every one that follows.
In this new series, participants throughout the Thoroughbred industry share the names and stories of the horses that have taught them the most about life, revealing the limitless ways that horses can impact the people around them. Some came early on in their careers and helped them set a course for the rest of their lives, while others brought valuable lessons to veterans of the business. Thanks to the Texas Thoroughbred Association for their sponsorship.
For the inaugural edition of “Lesson Horses,” Tommy Eastham of Legacy Bloodstock tells the tale of a Hall of Fame horse who taught him to never judge a book by its cover.
QUESTION: Which horse has taught you the most about life?
TOMMY EASTHAM OF LEGACY BLOODSTOCK: Ashado. I was prepping yearlings for Taylor Made at the time, and Joe Taylor was the owner. She was a horse that was a bigger-ribcaged horse. She was smooth-muscled like a lot of Saint Ballados, and she gave you an impression of being lazy. Her barn name was actually 'Whaley.' We would pony her in the morning and swim her in the afternoon, and we would never get her to tuck up.
Joe Taylor would bring in kids, and tell me, 'Hey, big fella. These young men here need to learn a skill. Why don't you teach them how to groom a horse?' The kids that Daddy Joe would bring around were between 12 and 16.
These kids had never been around a horse in any way whatsoever, and I've got 60 horses that I'm prepping. At first, it was like, 'Oh my gosh, I've gotta spend my day babysitting,' but I made Ashado the babysitter because I could tie her to the wall and these kids could run underneath her, hang from her tail, and swing all over her, and she never would turn a hair. She'd just sit there and lick and chew with her head down.
When she won the Schuylerville at two, I learned that just because they're not the most aggressive horse in the world, and they lay back and take care of themselves, that's a vital characteristic – just taking care of yourself.
She was smooth-muscled, back in the knee, and all these things conformationally that people said were wrong with her, and all she did was win like seven Grade 1s.
I just always remember thinking, 'This lazy mare, she's gonna be somebody's pet and never do anything.' Nope. She turned out to be a Hall of Famer.
2001, (Saint Ballado x Goulash, by Mari's Book)
Ashado was one of the dominant fillies of her generation, winning Grade 1 races at two, three and four. She earned more than $3.9 million winning 12 of 21 starts over the course of her career, and she earned two Eclipse Awards. In 2004, she was named champion 3-year-old filly on the strength of a campaign that featured wins in the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup Distaff. She secured champion older female honors a year later and sold as a broodmare prospect for a then-record $9 million.
Enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2014, Ashado resides at Godolphin's Gainsborough Farm in Versailles, Ky., where she recently had a filly by Frosted.
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