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Rachel Alexandra & Zenyatta: From the Horses’ Mouths?

Not talking?

So, it’s official – Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta are both in foal.  It’s certainly good news, and I’m glad we’re being kept apprised of their progress through various means.  It’s a step forward – I can’t recall frequent updates on, say, Personal Ensign’s many successful pregnancies – so, from that perspective, it’s encouraging to see.  But – and I don’t think I’m being wildly overcritical about this – do Zenyatta’s updates need to be written in the first person?  Again, I’m glad the information is out there, and that people are excited – that’s fantastic.  I’d just like to see the information framed in a more adult fashion – and not just for the adults out there.

I did a quick survey of my more-than-slightly peculiar collection of books related to Famous Horse Pregnancies (yes, I just typed ‘Famous Horse Pregnancies’), and even those aimed at children presumed a little more awareness and intelligence on the part of said children.  Most notable in this regard was Marguerite Henry’s A Pictorial Life Story of Misty – children and adults were equally caught up in the drama of waiting (and waiting, and waiting – equine pregnancies are long affairs) for the famous pony’s first (real-life) foal to be born – there was even the requisite naming contest. But the updates were always from the humans involved – and, at least for me, I found that refreshing.  There is a tendency to treat pregnant women as if they’ve lost most of their grey matter or that they suddenly require as much advice and direction as a four-year-old (you may note the voice of experience in this); I’m not sure we need to push those bizarre stereotypes onto horses, nor do I think that young fans need the gimmick.

To reiterate, I’m very, very glad that fans are being kept in the loop (after all, Rachel Alexandra’sdiary‘ no longer exists), and I understand the impulse to try to anthropomorphize a process that will chiefly involve the mares in question following their normal routines for nearly a year without (hopefully) much to report for much of that time – there is much to be said for regular posts that remind people to come back and to stay involved.  But if one of the goals is to be educational (and perhaps it’s not in this case, although that would be one of mine), it would be lovely to see a more balanced approach.  If it were up to me, the first-person accounts would be kept in the land of fan fiction (or, more entertainingly, LOL Cats) – but for now, I’ll take the updates in whatever form they come.

5 comments to Rachel Alexandra & Zenyatta: From the Horses’ Mouths?

  • Vespone

    I find even stranger the stallions on twitter who write in the first person with comments about the mares they’ve serviced. It starts to enter the creepy realm.

  • Thank you! I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it a bit, well, annoying.

  • Mr. Ed

    I don’t see a Problem with the first person accounts.

  • Thank you! I’m very conflicted about the Zenyatta diary. Like you, I’m excited that people are interested and that we’re seeing owners who are willing to keep the fans of their horse informed now that she’s retired from racing.

    But the tone certainly leaves a bit to be desired. The “hooves crossed” and the romanticizing of the breeding just seems silly to me. I understand that resonates well with the fan base but I can’t imagine that it’s really beneficial to this great mare’s story in the end. It’s been quite awhile since I read Black Beauty, but that was written in first person and I certainly don’t remember it being so…well, childish. I think you can certainly do a first person account without making it sound like an little girls diary.

    I think what makes it okay–and what we’ll hopefully see more of–is if there’s an element of education involved in the diary. This is a tremendous opportunity to really educate and hopefully bring on new fans. I hope it doesn’t get lost.

  • d d

    I think the first person accounts are terribly misleading, especially for young and new fans. A much more realistic dialouge needs to occur or newcomers will feel mislead when they learn basic truths. A new dialouge can be age appropriate, insightful, and informative. Jane Smiley’s books for adults and young adults are a terrific example. Compared to what most think happens on a ‘date’, teaser stallions, twitches, hobbles, etc. don’t come to mind.

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