Genetics-A Bruno story

Bruno is the summer, a little lighter than his winter black coat.

Bruno in the summer, a little lighter than his winter black coat.

Jump Start, Bruno's daddy.

Jump Start, Bruno’s daddy.

I decided this weekend to search for Bruno’s relatives.  I found his sire (daddy) Jump Start still actively producing successful off-spring in Pennsylvania.  Jump Start by AP Indy has many race winning progeny on the tracks now.  I was not so interested in Bruno’s half brothers or sisters as I was in what Jump Start looked like and the pictures did not disappoint me.

Jump Start is 15 and never had to do much work after five starts on the track, and a fracture that ended his career.  We can rule-out that he ever lived in a metal, open-front barn in rural Texas.  So, I can give him that he has had superb care to produce his stunning coat and he has been a great breeding stallion.

Jump Start parading past his throngs of visitors.

Jump Start parading past his throngs of visitors.

We have had a lot of people (okay, maybe 12!) come have their picture taken with Bruno.  I would be frightened and call the police if I saw this pack of people lined up outside Bruno’s paddock.  Once, our neighbors grandkids from Spain came over to give Bruno carrots.  Similar lives.

I tried in vain to find out how tall Jump Start is but I couldn’t locate that data.  Maybe one of you has more investigative skills than I can find out and can let us know.  But unless the man above is a former NBA player turned groom (most of whom tend to be a little small in structure) I think Jump Start is probably just over 16 hands.  He clearly does not have the size his son Bruno does at 17.2+ hands, but that happens in families, kids getting taller and stronger than their fathers.

Looking at the two top pictures, Jump Start blessed Bruno with his strong shoulder and nice hip.  I have never owned a horse whose coat glistens like Bruno, but it looks like Jump Start sent those genes to Bruno as well. I swear I should get an endorsement deal from Nu Image supplement that we use for Bruno’s hoof and coat because never has a product worked as well as did for Bruno!  I know that helps some, but this coat is shared by both horses.

Bruno showing off his gleaming winter coat this weekend.

Bruno showing off his gleaming winter coat this weekend.

Personality seems to be apparent in Jump Start and we know that Bruno is the biggest ham, always playing to the camera and wanting to just hang out with any people who come to visit.

Jump Start looking brillant and attractive for the camera.

Jump Start looking brilliant and attractive for the camera.

Bruno waiting for his littlest fan, Kendyll.

Bruno waiting for his littlest fan, Kendyll.

I looked up some of the horses that Jump Start has sired. He has been a busy guy.  At stud a little over ten years, he has hundreds of children!  Bruno’s Jockey Club name is Fiddler’s Pilgrim, related I am sure to the Fiddler’s Green Stable that owned him and his pilgrim-like markings (black outfit, white socks-come on, you can visualize Bruno as a pilgrim, just give him a musket to hold).

In naming his other brothers and sisters, there were several that retained part of the Jump Start name.  Progeny includes Jump Two, Jumped the Harbor, Jump and Go, Jump Back and Jump Aboard.  When Lauren finally enters the arena to show Bruno in Jumpers wouldn’t one of these names better suit him?  Next in the ring  is Jump This ridden by Lauren Davis from Wharton,Texas!  It would be great.  Or Jump Prize or Jump Quick?  Those would be so appropriate.  However, my favorite name of one of the Jump Start kids is…wait for it… Start Jumping.  I could have really used that name for Bruno.  In fact, if I had a couple of expletives in front of it like Golly Gee Start Jumping or perhaps, For God’s Sake Start Jumping, I could have invented a whole line of new names over the last several months.  Bruno might have been reluctant to jump but he is doing so now.  Still…I would have loved that name.

Jump Start easing around the pasture.

Jump Start easing around the pasture.

Bruno looking me in the eye.

Bruno looking me in the eye.

It is fun to compare the big guy with his prolific father.  It is ironic they both ran five races and ended with injuries.  I guess I am just lucky they never decided Bruno should be a hot-shot stud like his dad.  I am guessing he would have never ended up in my little barn then.

As always, thanks for riding along with us and may God bless you.

Website Off-Track Thoroughbreds Reports on Bruno-

Today this article was written about Bruno (called Pilgrim) on the Off Track Thoroughbred site.  I do not know if I have ever had a horse described as “Darkly dappled and startlingly beautiful, Pilgrim grew to an eye-popping 17.2 hands in perfectly sculpted height, and tips the scales at close to 1,500 pounds.”  Startling Beautiful-it is so true and yet nothing I thought would ever be said about a horse of mine.  Anyway, please read this account about my boy!

A.P. Indy scion raring to go after 5 months in stall

By on August 26, 2013

Majestic as they come, Pilgrim stoically endured five months in the stall

Majestic as they come, Pilgrim stoically endured five months in the stall

In the visage of Fiddler’s Pilgrim is a horse that positively reeks of racing nobility.

Darkly dappled and startlingly beautiful, Pilgrim grew to an eye-popping 17.2 hands in perfectly sculpted height, and tips the scales at close to 1,500 pounds. And with two racing kings in the family—A.P. Indy and Hansel—everybody expected, no, they knew that someday, he too would be a stakes horse.

But as so often happens in life, and in racing, fate turned on a dime. And Pilgrim was no stakes horse. In four starts, he managed to turn in a second-place finish at Aqueduct before he was retired, while a mysteriously recurring hoof abscess hobbled his future career for another year.

Retired first to a major hunter/jumper barn in Houston, Texas, Pilgrim was pointed toward a new career as a Jumper when persistent abscesses and lameness dogged him, and he was eventually moved to a different barn and trainer, until at last, that didn’t work out either.

That’s when longtime Texas horseman Cynthia Davis was offered Pilgrim for free, and in November 2012 she leapt at the chance to obtain such a high-quality animal.

Fiddler’s Pilgrim

Barn name: Bruno

Sire: Jump Start

Dam: I’s Pretty Fast

Foal date: April 22, 2007

“My youngest daughter, who’s 20, rides and competes hunter/jumpers, and every horse in our barn has come from the racetrack, and is either a Quarter Horse or a Thoroughbred,” Davis says. “We try to buy the horse we think we can fix, and we’ve had some good success getting to US zone finals with them, where she competes against hundred-thousand-dollar horses.”

As a large stall was constructed to accommodate the very large gentleman, and Davis more than once said to herself, “Beware the free horse,” she and her veterinarian Lynn Criner got to work studying Pilgrim’s recurring hoof problems.

“She went through all his old X-rays in 2012 and compared them, and it became clear to her that his coffin bone was deteriorating,” Davis says. “Nobody else had looked beyond the abscess, but she’s a great diagnostician, and is the real hero of this story.”

Although Pilgrim’s demeanor didn’t hint at the excessive pain typically associated with a coffin bone infection, the pair contacted veterinarians at Texas A&M last December and scheduled a consultation that resulted in surgery.

“I think it was a little confusing before the surgery because he was walking with a Grade 1 lameness out of a possible Grade 5. But once he went for the surgery, surgeons found the bone was very clearly infected,” she says.

During a painstaking procedure on Dec. 19, the infection was cut out of the coffin bone and the edges shaped to encourage healthy regrowth, and approximately one quarter of his hoof was also removed.

Fiddler's Pilgrim romps like a dream horse after a long road back from cannon bone infection

Fiddler’s Pilgrim romps like a dream horse after a long road back from coffin bone infection

Following surgery, Pilgrim stayed at the hospital for nine days, receiving IV infusions of antibiotics directly into the hoof.

After he returned to his newly built stall, the big animal was confined for five months, while undergoing a series of hoof treatments, all while doing his best to remain entertained by the myriad toys and other distractions Davis arranged for him.

“I got him three salt licks and tied them onto a lead rope, and he would push those around all day, like he was working with an Abacus. We went through Jolly balls and buckets. It got to the point that he was throwing buckets full of water, and everyday, there was a new challenge,” Davis says.

There were funny moments to be sure, as Pilgrim became deeply involved in watching the “Cow Station,” her term for the daily activities of the bovine across the way. But the most rewarding came when they unscrewed a special plate covering his affected hoof and saw it had begun to heal.

There were days when Davis couldn’t imagine what she’d gotten into. And with $10,000 in veterinary bills, she often repeated her joke about “free” horses. Then there were others that were a confounding mix of trouble tinged with humor.

“We had to temporarily house him at the local vet one day, and they had him in a soft-bottom stall. When employees left to go to lunch, he was peering over the top of his stall door, and when they returned, he was peering up from a four-foot hole in the ground!

“Not only did he manage to dig a four-foot hole in that time, but he hit the water line and ruptured it. I think that was the day he had watched a rerun of Hogan’s Heroes.”

Finally, on May 29, 2013, Pilgrim was allowed outside for small-paddock turnout. In his zeal to be free to be outside and buck, he accidentally hit the back of the barn roof with his hooves— he was fine.

In the rural Texas town where she lives, Pilgrim has become a bit of a celebrity and people come by to take their pictures with the giant horse.

Pilgrim scoffs at the idea of lifting his back legs any sooner—he'll wait for a bigger jump first

Pilgrim scoffs at the idea of lifting his back legs any sooner—he’ll wait for a bigger jump first

Davis hopes that some day Pilgrim will gain an even bigger following as a sport horse worthy of pictures in the winner’s circle.

Under saddle this summer, he has proved an eager and scopey jumper, easily clearing a three-foot jump by an additional two-feet, without getting his back legs off the ground until the last second.

Though he has been a little hot at times, he has calmly and bravely taken all the new challenges in stride, from his extensive surgery, to new disciplines, like trail riding and jumping.

In the coming weeks, Pilgrim is scheduled to begin taking lessons with a trainer, to begin the process of becoming a sport horse. Davis can’t wait to see what he’s got!

“In our world, there are a lot of people competing on $100,000 horses, and we’ve always been on the OTTBs and rescues,” she says. “When we saw Pilgrim, he was just so amazing, so big and brave” that we knew he could compete against any horse.

So while he may not have had the stuff of his grandsires on the track, in the sport horse arena, Davis expects to see the razzle-dazzle of racing royalty come to the fore.


editorial comments-we have owned many other horses than race horses, but almost all have been rescues of one kind or another.  Also, while Lauren has surely competed against $100,000 horses, there are many, many fine horses who were not in that price range but certainly of that caliber.

As always, thanks for riding along.  A special day for the exechorseluver!

Bruno Advice-A Bruno Story


From the artist Amber Brooks comes a symbol of the loves of my life-animal anyway-with the Poodle and the thoroughbred.

From the artist Amber Brooks comes a symbol of the loves of my life-animal anyway-with the Poodle and the thoroughbred.

I just received the above watercolor drawing today. I LOVE it. It seems to sum up what is near and dear to my heart. What a talent this Georgia lady is. She owns poodles and horse like I.

From a conversation on my office about how siblings have the same genetics yet turn out so uniquely, so can be true in the thoroughbred world. Thoroughbreds are (usually) thoughtfully bred to produce the best assets a breeder can give them through choice of sire, dam and the rest of the relatives as well. I have blogged before about Bruno (registered name-Fiddler’s Pilgrim) being well-bred with AP Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and others. I just had never spent too much time looking at his dam’s side of the family.

Today I glanced at the pedigree once again. I realized while his grand-sire on one side was AP Indy (pictures in blog further back) I had not noticed that his maternal grand-sire was Hansel. Hansel was a top horse as well-most would say greater than AP. Winning two legs of the Triple Crown (the Preakness and Belmont) and many other big stake races.

Bruno's great grandsire, Hansel.

Bruno’s great grandsire, Hansel.

It was a little difficult to come to grips with such a prestigous horse with so many famous relatives, rolling in the mud at my little place in Wharton. Talk about a long way from New York. The fun of the OTTBs is their great heritage and lineage.

I texted my friend and sometimes farrier, Sean, who grew up in the thoroughbred world, his grandmother one of the first female managers of a large track in the US. He has also spent time as a jockey. He rode AP Indy. I texted him about Hansel. He replied that having Hansel and AP Indy as your grandfathers is pretty much Thoroughbred royalty. I gave him a little update about how Bruno was doing, that we were starting training and even had done a few jumps

I love dry humor. I received Sean’s text back. He told me Bruno was bred to run, that he was a great horse. I certainly agreed with him. He had ridden the great AP Indy and gave Lauren some tips previously. Then he made me laugh out loud with his final comment. ” I would suggest one thing when you get that horse back in shape and ready for the jumper ring, GO SLOW!! That is one horse that was born for speed and Lauren better never let Bruno take off with her. GO SLOW!”

Absolutely made my day. It is kind of like in the Disney movie, Secretariat, when jockey Ronnie has clearly won the Belmont race and his trainer yells, “Ronnie, don’t fall off”.

I can just see me in the stands watching Bruno and Lauren attack a big jumper course and me yelling., ‘Remember, go slow!”