Old Friends lost Marquetry, one of our most beloved stallions, today. It was unexpected and for me, among the most difficult losses in some time. Marquetry broke a leg, apparently getting a little too wound up in his stall during some especially windy winter weather. He was euthanized when it was apparent his injury was too profound to treat.
Marquetry was an excellent racehorse who hailed from lines of very good racehorses—Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo, Mr. Prospector, Raise a Native, and Northern Dancer. Marquetry himself won nearly three million dollars in four years of racing. Once retired, he sired Eclipse Award winners Artax and Squirtle Squirt. That is an amazing resume by any measure.
Even beyond his racing pedigree, Marquetry was a one–of-a-kind, unforgettable horse He was a tall, sort of lanky, bright chestnut horse with unusual and striking white markings that visitors never failed to comment on. While his markings alone made him stand out, it was his eyes that stayed with you. He had the brightest, most inquisitive gaze; it was the look of a little boy who found everything in the world wondrous and amazing. Even at age 26, he never lost that youthful light in his eye. It makes it even more difficult for me to think of that light being gone. Marquetry never acted or looked like a 26 year old horse. He always seemed, acted, and behaved younger than he was.
Along with that bright-eyed gaze, Marq was among the kindest horses I have ever known. He loved people—men, women, and especially children. Last fall I gave a tour to a school bus full of elementary kinds on fall break. As the bright yellow bus pulled up and off-loaded the kids, Marq threw up his head and came to the fence at a run, neighing the entire time. He hung his head over the fence, closed his eyes and let dozens of little hands reach through the boards and pat him to their hearts’ content. For the past two years I have had the privilege of accompanying Marquetry to the Secretariat Festival in Paris. Those days were just about perfect for Marq, who genuinely loved the steady stream of people stopping by to admire him. He won over many fans at that Festival.
But those are all public memories of Marquetry. There are also my memories. I actually met him the first time when he was still a breeding stallion, at a farm open house. I remember watching him watching all the people, thinking that he was really engaged in all the activity around him. When he came to Old Friends, I realized he did, in fact, love having people around him.
Late in 2011 Marquetry underwent emergency colic surgery and recovered in the small barn for a couple months. I used to go in to visit him—no treats due to the surgery, mind you—and those were the times I most enjoyed just hanging around him. At some point in the past, Marq had lost his front teeth and as a result, it wasn’t an issue to let him “chew” on my sleeve or even my hand. And he loved to chew on me, creating massive amounts of slobber in the process and making sure he shared it. He also loved to just hang out, my face against his, my arm draped over his neck. Sometimes I ran a brush over him, sometimes we talked, and sometimes we just stood silently. I treasure those memories the most, the times I felt like Marq and I were just friends, hanging out as friends do, no words necessary. The thought that he is gone is just beyond my comprehension.
I know there are others at Old Friends who will miss him just as much, and that was among Marquetry’s gifts. Everyone who met him loved him, whether they were a life-long horse person, or whether they had never even been close enough to touch a horse. Either way, Marquetry affected everyone who met him with his kindness and class. And there is no better epitaph than that.
Rest in Peace, Marquetry. You were one of the best, ever.