Part One – The Origins Story
Dandy Longlegs, aka Dandy, is a 2006 chestnut gelding bred by Clayton Mielke in Minnesota. He is by Tahkodha Hills, winner of the G3 What a Pleasure Stakes, and out of a Chief’s Reward mare, Shamrock Dancer. As a four year old Dandy ran 9 times, mostly at Canterbury Park, but was never better than fourth. I bought him in the fall of 2011 but have known him much longer than that.
The first time I met Dandy, it was 6:00 am, dark, and cold. It was early March and I had agreed to help JD and ES drive two racehorses from Minnesota to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. One of those was JD’s own, Sol Fire who we called Pyro, and the other was an almost 17 hand four-year-old named Dandy Longlegs. While we had woken up in a good mood and were ready to start out road trip, we didn’t stay that way for long.
It started with both horses refusing to go into the Brenderup horse trailer.
Two hours later we gave up. We switched the jeep for the truck and the Brenderup for JD’s three horse slant. Then it started to rain. It had already been a pretty warm spring in Minnesota and the fields at JD’s place were already wet. The rain only made it worse. While hooking up the trailer we made foot deep ruts and got the truck stuck beyond hope. Almost. With the help of JD’s dad, family friend, and some moldy hay that we hadn’t gotten around to throwing out we managed to get unstuck.
After that, Pyro and Dandy thankfully walked right into the trailer and we were off without further incident and only a few hours late.
The first day of our journey was uneventful after we got rolling. We were planning on a stop in Godfry, IL where ES’s parents lived and where we could unload the horses for the night. We drove through miles and miles of fog and nothing else in Iowa. I took third shift and drove a horse trailer for the first time (and consequently was almost run off the road by an elderly couple in their gold Cadillac). But we made good time and all three of us were grateful for a hot shower that night.
So when did I fall in love with Dandy? Well, that was the second morning when we went to pick up the two racehorses and load them back in the trailer for the final leg. They had stayed overnight at a hobby farm in one very very large stall (almost a small paddock to be honest). The owner of the farm had offered us the use of her round pen for one of the horses but since they had gotten along in the trailer so well, and the stall really was huge, we figured they could spend the night together. That morning, ES, JD and I were surprised to find that Pyro, who was all of 15 hands as a four-year-old, had backed 17 hh Dandy into the corner where he had, presumably, spent the night. The look he gave us was just too cute. He was just screaming for me to save him. Yet he still didn’t want to let Pyro out of his sight. It was that moment when I knew I wanted him.
I never gave serious thought to the idea that I’d be able to own Dandy because he had great owners who had a farm large enough to keep a retired gelding. Still, every time I was on the backside at Canterbury that summer I made sure to say hi and give him a peppermint.
Then came the summer of 2011. I searched the shed row at Canterbury Park but didn’t find Dandy Longlegs. We were told that he was lost somewhere; that he had been dropped off at a farm to lay-up for the winter and now no one knew where he was. I was heartbroken. As the race meet went on, the story just got weirder. Dandy had been found but no one had been paying board. There was a lien on him that was probably more than he was worth. To this day, I still don’t know the full story.
Everything changed on November 14th, 2011. I was in Las Vegas, visiting my college roommate and best friend. She was at work so I was just searching for the end of the internet when JD sent me a link. It ended up being Dandy. For sale.
Eric didn’t need much convincing.
Two days later, on the 16th, we had wired the money and Dandy was ours. So many things could have happened differently. JD might not have sent me the link, Eric and I might not have been ready to buy a horse, someone else might have got to him first! But somehow, things worked out. Almost like it was meant to be.
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