The Race Horse
Angus was a shrewd and hardworking trader. He had risked his meagre capital on a few half-opportunities and with a mix of good luck and great bartering skills, he was doing well within a few years.
In 10 years of trading, Angus had expanded from a one-man show out of a 100-sq feet rented shop to a proprietorship employing 30 people in a two-storeyed building owned by him.
Another spot of good fortune saw him purchase a farm with a few acres of grazing land in the countryside. The farm owner was getting old with no heir and the farm operation needed fresh ideas and money. Angus figured it was the perfect new challenge for his restless spirit: he bought the farm at a bargain.
After a few trips to the countryside, Angus realized he had to try new things to make money from the farm. There was produce but it was labour intensive and seasonal. He didn’t know much about farming, so he decided to let it run for the time being. But the farm had a few carts which were used to carry produce to the local markets, but they were idle most of the time.
The farm also had a few mules, some sheep and goats, and when he looked at the grazing land, he suddenly realized he needed a horse.
By the end of the month, Angus found himself not just a horse but StarGazer, a racing horse. StarGazer was the best in the county and lady luck had smiled once again, because the owner of StarGazer – a businessman with a love for the races – moved overseas lock, stock, and barrel and let StarGazer go for a good price.
StarGazer was bred for the race track. He was a little under two years old. He grazed and rested and played and ran for the joy of it, and ran seriously to win during training. Of course, now there was no trainer, but StarGazer could really run.
Meanwhile, Angus was very excited. Now the farm had potential. He had set up a small dairy unit selling cow and goat milk to the locals. He was planning to add a few carts to the fleet, and he was going to prepare StarGazer for the races next year. Meanwhile, there was a lot of work around the farm that could be done better with the help of StarGazer. For starters, StarGazer took one-fifth of the time to take the carts for delivering produce.
By the end of the month, the dairy business was up because StarGazer was running 5 carts three times a day. Angus figured it was good exercise and kept the horse in good nick. The mules meanwhile were plodding along at their usual pace of a cart a day, munching as much hay.
StarGazer loved the grass, but was usually too tired evenings when he got to graze. Early mornings were a good time but he had to start his errands so there was never time.
By the end of the quarter, StarGazer had missed two local races – he was too busy running carts and didn’t have enough time to train.
The dairy and produce business was going really well because of the faster deliveries. The mules were by now fat, but they did their cart every day, after a lot of whipping.
Then StarGazer hurt his ankle. It took a month of constant care, but he was back on the route though with a lighter load – 3 carts 2 times a day. By the end of the quarter, he was running full steam again.
At the end of the first year, after harvest time, the farm showed a slim profit of nine percent for the first time in 5 years. Angus was happy – but he was waiting for the afternoon. It was StarGazer’s first local race. This was what he was bred for and Angus was excited. The winning purse was equal to a 12 percent annual profit – one win would fetch more than a year’s toil on the farm.
StarGazer ran and ran well. But without a cart, he didn’t seem to have a purpose and after a while he stopped to graze. He was way ahead of the field at the time.
Angus couldn’t understand why the horse wouldn’t run. But he couldn’t complain – the farm business was up because of StarGazer.
After three years, and two more races, Angus was livid. StarGazer just wouldn’t race.
“This is what you are supposed to do. You are a race horse!”
StarGazer looked at Angus, and waited for him to finish his tirade. Then he walked to his array of carts – he had to start out on the first of his seven deliveries for the day. He look at Angus, who sighed.
StarGazer was now a big horse, lean, a bit on the gaunt side, but with great stamina and speed. He had his occasional injuries and a trick ankle on his left-side from that first fall.
He was the best cart-horse there ever lived.