Monday, May 3, 2010

Homeschool, The Kentucky Derby, & Horses

By J. Anne Huss

Did you watch the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday? First Saturday in May - I never miss it. This year seemed especially lucky for the Derby winners - Super Saver makes Calvin Borel the Run for the Roses winner for a third time in four years. A new record and Super Saver's trainer, Todd Pletcher, won his first derby after only trying for 24 years. To top it off, there was a contest this year where one lucky winner would get to spend the day at the track and then place a $100,000 bet on the horse of his choice. Glen Fullerton picked Super Saver to win and took home almost a million dollars. What a lucky day. Calvin says this horse can take the Triple Crown...I can't wait to see the Preakness and Belmont.

So what does all this have to do with homeschool? Well, I started thinking how horse crazy I was as a kid. I had it bad. I always had it bad - but I got it worse when I started to read The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. Suddenly I was the only 10 year old who subscribed to the now defunct Turf Magazine. I devoured The Black Stallion books - they were filled not only with lots of horsey things, but adventure at every turn. That Black had more fun than a horse should. I still have my original copy of every single book. I went on to earn my undergraduate in Equine Science, but by that time I was obsessed with the Jumpers. I can't get enough of the Jumpers. Or the Eventers for that matter. But thoroughbred horse racing is still my old passion and every time I see the Triple Crown races I am transported back to my horse-crazy youth and my obsession with The Black Stallion books. I kept them on a special shelf in my room WELL into my teens. I polished that shelf so much their spines would reflect off the wood in the sunlight, I was proud to own such a spectacular set of words, and I took very good care of them.

To some, horse racing is about betting and money, but to "horse-people" (you know who you are) it is about horses. The Black Stallion books are also about history as much as horses. All set in the 1940's and 50's, you cannot help but immerse yourself into days gone by. There are 20 books in the series, with most written between 1941 and 1959, but a few oddballs linger on into the 60's, 70's and 80's, so it is the perfect series for middle graders who can't get enough books to read about a favorite character. There are also movies that go well with the first two books - both with stunning locations, costumes, and of course horses!

If your kids are horse crazy and they're doing the Simple Schooling Science of Horses unit study - then why not add a few horsey classics to their summer reading list? They'll love you for it and who knows - maybe 30 years from now they'll be watching the 166th running of the Kentucky Derby thinking about how they got so darn horse-crazy!


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