Onward: Barbaro (2003-2006)


Gump Worsley, one of the last goal tenders to play without a mask, was a Hall of Famer who won four Stanley Cups as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Instead of beating any man in the house, Bernie (Schoolboy) Friedkin, a former boxer who once used his big brothers’s I.D. to get into a boxing gym, could have said, “I can draw any man in the house.” And he did, 16 times, more times than he lost to an opponent.

Gump and Bernie died over the weekend and their deaths were dutifully chronicled in the New York Times today. But when Barbaro was euthanized this morning after a long battle to recover from an injury suffered at The Preakness last summer, it was breaking news that will undoubtedly be heralded on the Gray Lady’s front page on Tuesday morning.

Why did Barbaro touch us so? Why did a horse – a horse – cause to many to toss and turn, fret and now mourn?

Maybe it’s because they cannot speak to us. They cannot share their egos, insecurities or weaknesses with us. When they’re stubborn and irritable, we simply let them be. When they’re downright nasty, we don’t hold a grudge.

We marvel at their performances, embrace their fawning owners and send them gently into their twilight while awaiting their descendants to run again. When they hurt we hurt more. And when they die, especially the champions, our hearts sink as if we’d lost a loved one.

I get it, but I don’t. RIP, Barbaro. you, too, Gump and Bernie.


4 thoughts on “Onward: Barbaro (2003-2006)

  1. wyclefdoug says:

    I’m just throwing this out there, but maybe it’s because the horse’s are doing something they might not really want to do. I mean, he got hurt doing something that didn’t really benefit him at all, it only benefited his human owners. If it weren’t for the humans, he probably wouldn’t have died. And maybe that’s why people are upset about it. Just a guess.

  2. Ashley Cecil says:

    If you’re interested, I thought you might like to use my painting about this story for your post (www.ashleycecil.com).

    So sad (esp for someone living in the Bluegrass, like me).

  3. Juan says:

    The last week has been a really deadly one in Iraq for US troops…but the death of Barbaro captures the attention of American public?

    I get it, but don”t get it. I get the emotion, not the degree of it.

  4. […] Original post by Roy S. Johnson […]

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