Elaine and Secretariat

Makayla DeWind, Guest Writer

As I stepped out of my car onto the dusty gravel road of Meadow Farm, I gazed upon the herd of horses grazing contently in the pasture. How lucky I am to be here. Although I loved my job as Secretariat’s groomer, difficulties definitely existed. I had just turned 18, so I just begun my job as Secretariat’s groom. We had already developed a special bond between the two us, somehow, I knew it would last forever.

When I reached the big red barn, I secured my hand over the latch and gently used my strength to glide it backwards, allowing the slightest ray of sunlight to shine through. I peeked through the open aisle way and captured a glimpse of the beautiful chestnut stallion; he snorted with pride. He knows he’s special. I made my way to the feed room to snatch some hay for the three-year-old horse. Secretariat immediately nibbled the stringy dried grass and neighed in content. I made my way to the tack room where I began packing Secretariat’s belongings for his next big race.


The moment of truth: Secretariat presented himself at Wood Memorial Stakes where I knew he wouldn’t disappoint. Many individual gamblers had bet a high price on Secretariat because they knew he had a great chance at winning. I began tacking up the breathtaking thoroughbred. I could feel the anticipation sky rocketing through his veins. The time had come to put the bridle over his ears and the crusty bit in his mouth. I slid my hand over his twitching ears and when he received the bit, Secretariat bolted backward with a loud jolt. “What’s the matter, big boy? It’s just your bridle.” To my surprise, Secretariat sprung up on his hind legs and neighed ferociously. What went wrong? When he placed his front hooves on the ground, I searched his mouth to find the source of his irritation. Oh no, he has an abscess in his mouth. I immediately sprinted to find Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner. As I ran through the vast crowds, my heart was beating extremely fast. “Mrs. Chenery!” I couldn’t hear a response. Then I felt her touch my shoulder.

“What is it Elaine?”

“Secretariat has an abscess on the top of his mouth and won’t let me put his bridle on! He’s in serious discomfort, and I don’t think he will be able to race today!”

“Are you sure, Elaine?”

“Yes, Mrs. Chenery. Positive!”

“I trust you most, Elaine. Go untack him and walk him back to his stall.”

Without hesitation, I turned back around and ran as fast as I could back to Secretariat. How could this possibly happen? I uncinched the young stallion’s girth and slid off his saddle pad. “Come on boy. Let’s take you home.” I walked Secretariat onto the trailer and jumped into the truck. Just then, I felt my radio vibrate and when I picked up the message, I was not surprised to see that it was Mrs. Chenery. “Hello Mrs. Chenery? It’s Elaine. What can I do for you?”

“Elaine, everyone is accusing you of causing Secretariat’s abscess in his mouth. Mr. Turk found burs in his hay at the barn and you are the only one who attends his needs. Unless you can heal Secretariat by his next race in two weeks, the rest of the team wants to replace you.”

“But Mrs. Chenery, there’s no way in this world that I could have done something so terrible! I love my best friend, Secretariat!”

“I know Elaine,  and I trust you with all my heart. But I need the rest of my team to gain trust in you again. Do your best to heal him by the Kentucky Derby. I believe he has a chance Elaine, I really do.”

“Yes, ma’am. I will not let you down.”

With that I ended the phone call and took in a deep breath. What did she mean by “he has a chance.” As I drove up to Meadow Farm, I knew I had to heal Secretariat. I wanted him to get better so he could race in two weeks, and I didn’t want to leave my passion with working with this amazing animal. I unloaded Secretariat out of the trailer and walked him to his stall. Then I went to the bales of hay and searched them myself. Sure enough, burs of all sizes were hidden between the flakes of hay. Who would do such a thing? It didn’t matter now. I immediately went to work.


The day before the Kentucky Derby, two weeks had passed. Secretariat’s abscess had dwindled to a smaller size, making it almost practically invisible. I rejoiced when I woke up the

next morning to find that it had disappeared and Secretariat had returned to his normal self. I went to the anticipated stallion and began brushing him off. “Today’s the day boy.

You could make history. Show them your true colors. No matter what, you will always make me proud.” I threw the brush on the floor. “Let’s do this!”


Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, claiming the first Triple Crown win in 25 years. Because of his win, Secretariat saved me my job and became the most famous racehorse in history. I kept my job at Meadow Farm until Mrs. Chenery passed away in 2017. A tourist attraction, Meadow Farm holds the annual National Horse Festival. Of all the thoroughbred born here, Secretariat remains most famous of all. I will never forget just how extraordinary he raced. He showed fear at nothing, and I will always know him as my best friend.




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