I watched as he was claimed, and claimed again. At the
farm, we reached out to every trainer and owner that we
could, first asking, and then demanding his retirement. The
respect that he deserved as an elite horse was ignored, and he
kept running in cheap claimers. But he kept placing, and the
calls, messages, and emails fell on deaf ears.
That is, until September 2014. We finally got the call that we had been
begging for: Marilyn’s Guy was ours. At the age of 8, he had run 42 times, and
accumulated earnings of $450,000. He was shipped back to Chesapeake Farm.
Body-sore and stiff, with hooves that crumbled and a brain that didn’t seem
quite right, we decided to let him just be a horse.
Occasionally, I would go visit him in his field. With a peppermint and a pat,
I would stare at him and become saddened by the fact that his long career had
done damage to his body that I didn’t know how to fix. I acknowledged that I
might never get to ride him, and resigned myself to a relationship on the ground.
Ready for More
But then, after 18 months of rest, the farm manager thought the big horse
wanted more. His hooves had grown out, he had put on 200 pounds, and he was
He asked me if I knew of anyone who would want to attempt to transition
him into a sport horse. Financially strapped and full up on horses, I knew I
but I told him that I might have the
Jeff Larson, the owner of the barn
where I board my horses, had been
casually looking for a new project
horse for some time. But at 6 feet
tall, Jeff knew finding an appropriately sized mount was essential.
When I approached him about this
gentle giant, he was quick to take the
chance. I offered to assist him with
the horse’s training, negotiating it as a
win/win for the both of us. He would
get his new horse, and I would get to
fulfill what I thought of as a long-lost
Marilyn’s Guy, now known as
Kennedy, was brought to Kurnikris
Farm in February of 2016, and
quickly became the farm favorite.
From cross-country jumping and
long hacks to up-down lessons and
dressage schools, he has checked all
of the boxes. He is pasture pals with
another graded stakes winner, Called
Home at Last
It has turned into the happy ending
we all dream of. Every day I get to
drive to the barn and call his name.
I know that he will pick up his head
and whinny, meander towards me
with his ears pricked and eyes bright.
He will gently tower over my body
as he asks for attention. Seven years
later it might feel like a lifetime, but
it is truly just the beginning.
I can’t wait to be a character in
his life, and watch the rest of his
story unfold. Kennedy might win
100 ribbons, or he may never enter
a show, but that will be fine with
me. Because what’s most important
is that he’s sound, he’s safe, and he’s
CARLEIGH FEDORKA is a doctoral candidate
studying equine reproduction. She resides
in Paris, Ky., with her horses Frank, Mak
YOUR HORSE LIFE
Carleigh’s vet, Dr.
takes Kennedy out
for a spin.