Pinhook Diary: PJ and a coronavirus detour

by | Jun 4, 2020 | Breaking, Features, Regionwide, Top Stories

PJ and Chelsea Lowman

PJ and Chelsea. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Lowman.

Pinhooking thoroughbreds is a journey filled with uncertainty.

You know that jumping in, but who could prepare for the world to go haywire? The global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has turned life for everyone upside down, and that includes those of us in the pinhooking world.

As the coronavirus began to spread it brought with it a lot of change. In an attempt to help put an end to the spread, non-essential businesses in both Maryland (my state), and Pennsylvania (where my horse is boarded) have been temporarily closed to the public.

With Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf deeming it mandatory that all non-essential businesses shut their doors, I had a feeling that my pinhooking venture would be affected yet still found myself shocked by it all. When I saw the email from Kim Lind, who owns Mount Pleasant Farm where my colt boards, stating that they would have to shut their doors to the public, things quickly sunk in and I had to act fast. The email stated that as of March 21st their farm would be closed to the public until further notice. It wasn’t a decision that the farm wanted to make, but they had no choice.

I wasted no time going to The Mill to pick up extra food for PJ so I could drop it off before Mount Pleasant Farm had to close to the public. The farm normally supplies the food for the horses, but with a hungry, growing young colt on my hands, I found it easier for my situation if I provided the feed. Currently PJ is on a Nutrena feed called Safechoice Perform. It is a pelleted feed that is 14% protein, and it gets supplemented with flax oil. He also has access to pasture and all the hay he wants.

It was the feed that I switched my first horse, Writtenbythestars, to when she was having difficulty holding weight. It worked so well for her that I made sure PJ was on it from the start when I purchased him. So far, he has been doing perfect on it.

I loaded up on PJ’s feed and an extra gallon of flax oil and was ready to go. Both of my parents came with me to the farm to drop PJ off his feed and tell him goodbye until who knows when. It was a strange feeling standing by PJ and thinking that I wouldn’t have the freedom to see him for a while.

It was crazy to think how quickly life as we knew it had changed, and all of the uncertainty that came with it. But as I stood there watching PJ as he lazily rolled in the mud, content as ever, I knew that I could rest easy knowing that I would be leaving him in very capable hands. I knew that he would continue to get the best care possible on this farm, and I knew that Kim would keep me updated on his progress.

I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to see PJ in person for a while, but it was an issue that was out of my hands. The world was in a mess, but PJ didn’t know that. He was as happy as could be in the sunny field with other horses, and I was able to leave him in peace knowing that he would be okay. 

Since the coronavirus spreads so rapidly, several horse sales have been canceled or rescheduled in the hopes that things would be safer by the time the new dates for the events roll around. My plan has been for PJ to go through the sales ring in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling Sale this October in Timonium, MD. The sale isn’t until October, and all I can do is hope that life will be back to normal by then.

I had planned this whole pinhooking journey through with PJ well before I even bought him, and in the blink of an eye something has popped up that no one could have even predicted was coming. All the planning in the world couldn’t have prepared me for this obstacle, but all I can do is hope and pray that things will work out in time for the sale.

While I have a lot of faith that life will be back to normal by the time the fall sale comes around, I know that the reality is that there is no way to know for sure right now. A fear in the back of my mind is that if it does get pushed back, I will have to sell PJ the following year as a 2-year-old. This is something I really don’t want to happen, as the expenses will really start to build at that point. Not to mention, I have never dealt with prepping or selling a 2-year-old, so it would be all-new territory for me to have to navigate.

But since it’s something that I have no control over, I know I can’t stress over it too much. While it’s a possibility I must keep in mind, I’m not going to let myself worry just yet. Worrying won’t solve anything, so for now my best option is to keep an open mind, continue saving my money, and take it one day at a time.

Another thing that is present in my mind is that live racing in the Mid-Atlantic region (and in most places) has been suspended until further notice. Peace and Justice, the sire of PJ, is set to have his first runners hit the track this year. If they do well like I expect, it would bode extremely well for PJ, adding potential value to him by the time the sale comes around. So each time a track reopens — or announces its plans to do so — it’s a plus for mee and for PJ.

There is still a lot of time between now and October, and I like to believe that between now and then life will go back to normal, races will be run, and the sales will go on. Only time will tell, but for now I will choose to be grateful that my loved ones and I still have our health, and I will look forward to the day when I can see PJ again. My journey with him has taken a sudden and unexpected turn, but I guess that’s just part of our story.

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About The Author

Chelsea Lowman

A native of Carroll County, MD, Chelsea is an avid racing fan and a recent college graduate with an AA in Marketing. She has a racing blog called "Down to the Wire" and can be found on Twitter @Down2TheWire.

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