February 1, 2013

Marquetry     1987-2013 

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. 




Filed under Uncategorized

24 responses to “February 1, 2013

  1. Fern Blair

    I have missed your stories of late and am so very sorry your first one in a long time is for Marquetry’s death. Thank you all at Old Friends for taking care of him, enjoying him and most of all loving him.

  2. Oh Val, I am just SO sorry… Haven’t stopped crying since I heard the news, and here I am away out on Cape Cod. That’s how special this Boy was. But then, you know that so well. I’m thinking of you all… ❤

  3. Anne

    How sad to hear abouut Marquetry’s passing. He was a beautiful boy and his love of people is a tribute to his trainer during his time as a racehorse and those that took care of him as a stallion. His past experiences were all positive. Then moving to Old Friends this love continued. He again found a home that was warm and loving. These accidents happen whether being outside in a paddock or in a stall. No place is truly safe when it comes to horses especially excitable ones.
    I remember a racehorse who was stabled near loud music and he became so scared, at one point, he put his head and one foot under the webbing. Thank goodness the night watchman was there to help Dixie become untangled. It could have become a tragedy.
    RIP handsome and loving boy. You are already missed by your fans and more importantly all those school children that have given you all those precious pats.

  4. SusanA

    Val, I’m so, so sorry and just very sad. I was there in November and am so glad I got to see Marquetry…he put on quite a show that day running around his paddock for all of us visitors. He was majestic and I will never forget him. Will you please pass on my condolences to Michael …I know that Marquetry was his very favorite. Thinking of all of you.

  5. Judy Stock


    We had spent time with Marq before, but after getting that hour with you and the horse last year in Paris, I knew that we were guests he allowed to enter his world. However, I have wondered if you ever told him it was the Secretariat Festival and not the Marquetry Festival……he certainly thought everyone was there for him and, in a way, they were! His demeanor and elegance, his stature and that look of eagles won him a whole new group of fans that day.

    We’re never ready to say “goodbye” and hope they will always be with us; sadly, that’s not the case in his body, but it sure as hell is for Marq’s spirit. He will always be in that front paddock — meeting, greeting and gracing Old Friends with his presence.

    My heart hurts for us all, and the tears are screwing up my keyboard so I’ll stop…………..except to ask “weren’t we lucky to have known him??”

    Judy and Leroy Stock

  6. colmel

    My heart is breaking for Michael, all of you wonderful Friends, and for those of us who knew and loved Marquetry. I know that Michael is taking this especially hard. Your tribute, as always, was lovely. I, too, first met Marquetry when he first went to stud. Those were heady times at Vinery. Black Tie Affair…Marquetry… Wonderful! Marquetry was always a favorite. His beauty was evident, but his spirit was special as was his kindness. I always thought it amusing that probably his best ever son, Artax, was as dark as Marq was brilliant. I never had the pleasure of meeting Artax. One wonders if he got his sire’s incredible presence and fabulous temperment. I can only hope. One more beautiful, copper, brilliant horse running the golden fields in Heaven. God bless you all.

  7. tbdancer

    I am sorry, too, about the loss of such an incredibly handsome and personable stallion. I loved the stories of his delight at visitors. The great ones always leave such a deep hole, but all the wonderful memories will help ease the pain of their loss. When I read the headline on Bloodhorse.com, I first thought of you, Val, knowing your connection to this lovely horse. You wrote a lovely tribute. Thank you.

  8. shannon

    so sorry for your loss…i know a horse like that and dread the day i endure ur pain. i will pray for your sorrow…try to find solice in that he is in a resting place that we are all going to see…

  9. Val-
    Last time I saw him was last Sept. Am so sorry to hear of his passing. I know it’s difficult for Michael and everyone. My thoughts are with Old Friends.

  10. Jen

    So very sorry for your loss. I loved this horse so much and haven’t stopped crying today. My condolences to Michael. I can’t imagine the pain he must be feeling. Marquie was just beyond special. He leaves a huge hole in our hearts that can’t be filled.

  11. Vivien

    What a beautiful tribute to an amazing friend. Thank you, Val. He was one of a kind. Hugs, Viv

  12. Barbara Sunblade

    I’ve visited twice while on trips to Kentucky and I remember Marquetry as being one of the sweetest, most handsome stallions. My best buddy left me when he was 26 and I’ll never, ever get over the loss but I have wonderful memories of him as I know you and Michael do of Marquetry He could not have ended his career at a better place than Old Friends where he gave and received so much love. I know we’ll see our babies again.The following quote by Stanley Harrison gives me great solace:
    “Somewhere…somewhere in time’s own space, There must be some sweet pastured place, Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow, Some Paradise where horses go. For by the love that guides my pen, I know great horses live again.”
    Love and hugs to all at Old Friends, two legged and four legged…Barbara

  13. Teri H

    When giving tours it never ceased to amaze me how much visitors were in awe of Marquetry’s beauty. But the truly magical thing about Marquetry was the fact that they fell in love with his heart. Just standing in his presence
    somehow let everyone know that all was right with the world. He was the perfect elixir for us humans – Old Friends medicine man.

  14. Vivien

    What a truly lovely analogy, Teri.

  15. Dawn Deems

    This loss is hitting me especially hard. I was a huge fan of Marquetry during his racing days. He was so exciting to watch and so versatile. It was a special thrill for me to meet him in 2011 at Old Friends. I remember he was one of the first on our tour. I was completely star-struck. Besides his striking beauty, he was such a kind soul. My hands shook as I petted him and fed him carrots. He seemed to love the tours, especially the children. I will remember that day forever… the day I met Marquetry. Rest in Peace, sweet boy.

  16. Ida Lee

    I am so sorry that you lost Marquetry. What a beautiful and sweet boy he was! My heart aches for you all at Old Friends…I too have lost many beloved animals and do understand that there are one or two who were “special” to me and losing them was devastating. Marquetry was one special boy who was admired and loved by many and I’m sure he felt it…When you especially feel his loss, think about what a wonderful life you gave him at Old Friends. All horses should be so lucky as to finish their time in this world at Old Friends.

  17. Diana Stuart

    I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person, but your tribute made me feel I was right there beside him, sharing slobber and quiet love. He was a favorite of mine and I will miss knowing he is with us. I grieve for you and for Michael. Deepest condolences.

  18. Carole Strong

    What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful horse. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, but most impressive was when he visited Keeneland with Michael – and I saw his spirit soar in front of many race fans. Most, likely didn’t know who he was or what he accomplished – but when he pranced in the paddock area – with Michael doing an interview – it was apparent what a Bright Star he was. I have 100’s of pictures of circle after circle in front of me, I couldn’t stop shooting. Each time he passed, I got a hop, a little kick, a jig or some sassy look back when the handler wasn’t giggling as he held the lead! I will happily share my pics as I know your heart is saddened by the loss – but bolstered by the joy he shared with you. See you soon – Carole

  19. sharon peck

    Marquetry’s loss must be so profound for those of you at Old Friends. Please receive my sincerest condolences. Rest in peace, Marquetry.

  20. Linda Gartland

    My heart goes out to everyone at Old Friends and especially Michael and Val on the loss of dear Marquetry. He was royalty with a humble heart and kind disposition and he was truly loved. They don’t make them like him any more for he was one in a million–one of the very greats. He will be greatly missed and always loved. His last years were spent with the greatest people.

    • Jen

      My heart still aches for Marquetry. I still can’t believe that he’s gone.

    • Barbara Sunblade

      I am so sorry for everyone at Old Friends. While you provide such love and care to all of the horses that are lucky enough to finish their retirement there, the hardest part is having to say goodbye. My thought are with you…

  21. Barbara Macpherson

    Hi, we live in Australia and have a son of Marquetry. I often think of Marquetry when spending time with him. I think our boy not only got Marquetry’s looks but a little of his personality. I feel very proud to know we have progeny of such a great and wonderful horse.

    • oldfriendsblog

      You’re so fortunate to have a little of Marquetry with you. We miss him very much. I’m glad his son is with you and is appreciated and loved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s