Remembering a Friend and Gentleman

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It’s Triple Crown time. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont have always been part of my year – even before I was in the thoroughbred business. I can remember, from the time I was a small child, picking my favorites then “riding” them home, whooping and hollering the entire way. Funny, I still do that. Some time down the road, I’ll scan my photos of me with the best racehorse to look through a bridle (in my humble opinion) and tell of my visits with Secretariat. That will probably have to wait until next year – the 40th anniversary of his amazing triple crown.

However this post is a tribute to a gentleman who taught me almost everything I know about thoroughbred horses and the thoroughbred industry – D. Mark Yother!

I loved Mark. He saw the horse-lover, breeder, owner in me that I wanted to be. It’s through his mentorship that I became twice president of Georgia TOBA (Thoroughbred Owners & Breeders Association). He helped us buy our very first mare (and, incidentally, NOT to buy the first one we came across). He allowed me to help him foal our very first thoroughbred homebred (foaled and raised at Mark’s Farm – M&A Acres – in Cherokee County, Georgia in 1989). As a matter of fact, he saved Untarnished’s life as she got stuck part of the way in the foaling process. He cut through the sack and gave her mouth to snout respiration. It saved her life. Later in Untarnished’s life, Mark’s wife, Adelaide, saved her life by getting a vet out to the farm when she colicked badly. She was only 6 weeks old. Believe it or not, Untarnished lived to race, win, and foal a beautiful, race-winning, and award-winning, conformation filly.

Sadly, Untarnished colicked again at age 5 while carrying another foal. She couldn’t be saved that time. There will be more on my own horses in a later blog, too.

Mark taught me so very much. We spent so many hours pouring over stallion directories and discussing bloodlines. I actually saw one of his all-time favorite thoroughbred stallions – Sunshine Forever – at Old Friends Equine Retirement Home inGeorgetown, Kentucky. I said hello just for Mark.

Sunshine Forever at Old Friends Equine Retirement

The pond at M&A (GIGANTIC Bluegill)

Although I now live in Michigan, my heart still goes back to M&A often. We fished on Mark’s pond, rode Rocko (one of Mark’s wonderful quarter horses) on the trails, and spent endless hours walking and rounding up horses in his pastures. I bathed so many horses and put them on the hot-walker… In other words,  a large part of my soul is still there.

Idyllic M&A

Mark passed away a few years ago, but I am so very pleased to know the farm lives on. It’ is now called UCF Stables, and it’s a boarding/training facility for horses and their people. Mark would have wanted that. I hope some day to go back for a visit. I’m older, much grayer, and much sadder, but a visit there would bring me a whole lot of joy – as well as more than a few tears for all that have gone home and for those long-ago days.

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5 thoughts on “Remembering a Friend and Gentleman

  1. Mark sounds like he was a wonderful person! And how great that you both got to share your love of horses and racing together!

    • He was a wonderful person! He had such an interesting life prior to retiring and spending his years with his horses and mentoring/fostering those who loved them as much as he did.

  2. Hi. I’m Mark’s granddaughter, and I grew up on M&A Acres. I also rode Rocko on the trails, and like you, my soul is still there on the farm. Luckily, I live close enough to visit every now and then – it’s still as beautiful as it used to be. Thanks for remembering how wonderful my grandfather was – I wholly agree and look forward to passing his stories on to my children. 🙂

    • Michelle, I’m honored that you read and liked my blog. Your grandad was a huge influence on my life. I’ll never forget him! I also remember one time when your brother(?) was playing out with us and the horses. For some reason, he decided that the dirt under the hot-walker was the perfect spot to play with his trucks. Thing was, there were horses ON the hot-walker. Big old Charley, who was only about 2 or 3 at the time, stopped dead in his tracks (and almost burned up the motor on the walker) rather than step on your brother. Mark went running (and he did run) up and grabbed the horses, I grabbed your brother, and all was well. Your poor grandpa was ashen, but there were no ill effects on anyone. I’ll bet he never played there again, though. ;>

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