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  Field Notes From
Kentucky Horse Country

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Kentucky Horse Country On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

Shane DuBow

Kentucky Horse Country On Assignment

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From Photographer

Melissa Farlow

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Melissa Farlow


Kentucky Horse Country

Field Notes From Author
Shane DuBow
Best Worst Quirkiest
    I spent more than half of my seven weeks in Kentucky with the McLean family, who own a Thoroughbred stud farm. It's a serious big business that they're in, and the pressure of it could probably make a lot of people pretty dry and stiff, but the McLeans are just the opposite. They run Crestwood Farm with a real warmth, composure, and good humor. And somehow they manage to maintain that humor, even when they have to deal with things like eastern tent caterpillars, these pests linked to a disease that causes horses to miscarry. It's an exasperating situation and extremely bad for business, but Pope McLean, Sr., who runs the farm with his son, didn't let himself get too down about it. Instead he just commented that maybe they could beat the caterpillars by sending them off to "Fear Factor," a reality-based game show where the contestants often have to eat gross stuff.
    I can't count the number of wry asides and jokes I shared with the McLeans as they taught me about the world of horse breeding. But I can tell you that they gave me a major dose of southern hospitality that was much appreciated.

    Unlike most humans, horses can give birth in as little as 15 to 30 minutes. Unfortunately for me, it happens almost exclusively at night, which means I didn't get a whole lot of sleep. I spent a lot of time sitting in some barn waiting for a foal that never came or else jumping out of my hotel bed and tearing off in my car only to find that I missed the whole thing.

    I was walking around the jockey's locker room, looking for this guy I wanted to interview, when I finally found him dropping weight in the sauna with two other jockeys. I told him I would wait until he got out, but somehow he and his buddies convinced me—in my full suit and tie—that I should step in and talk to them. So there I was, fully dressed, jotting down quotes in my notepad with three naked jockeys sitting around me. After about ten minutes I'd drenched my clothes in sweat and it suddenly became clear that they just wanted to see if I'd come in with them. After this realization, they told me I might want to leave before I passed out.

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