A horse once valued at nearly a quarter million dollars, but who was priceless to his family, died this past August leaving an indelible imprint on the heart of his longtime owner.
“He was a one-of-a-kind horse,” says Greenville, S.C. equestrian Jane Patten Polk. “I swam him in the river. I galloped him on the beach. He was just a perfect little jumper who loved to gallop, and who made me the best steeplechase rider I could be.”
Barn name: Bomber
Dam: Orseno, by In Reality
Foal date: March 30,1998Polk speaks of a diminutive chestnut Thoroughbred named Bomb Site. The son of great racehorse Gulch, the classy racehorse sold for $225,000 as a yearling before retiring after 17 races and $116, 957 in earnings.
After acquiring Bomber through the Second Stride program, Polk was 12 when she began taking lessons on her beautiful Thoroughbred. The careful jumper was originally purchased for Polk’s father, but soon chose the young girl as his rider instead. “He was a better fit for me. He was small, and so careful and honest that I rode him in a snaffle,” she says. “He was easy to control in the saddle, and on the ground, we played. He’d chase me in the field.”
Bomber’s calling was chasing other horses in point-to-point races, however. “We really found our niche on the junior steeplechase circuit in Virginia,” Polk says, noting that after some basic riding lessons and a few clinics, the pair soon hit their stride.
In one of her favorite photos, Polk and Bomber prepare to take on the 2006 North American Point-to-Point Association Championship in Leesburg, Va. Dressed in her stock tie and grinning at the camera, she stands proudly beside her beautifully turned out chestnut. After the snapshot, Polk and Bomber won the race.
“My Dad was offered $30,000 for Bomber after one of our point-to-point races. He turned it down saying that there was no sum of money he would take in exchange for breaking my heart,” Polk says.
They had 12 happy, successful years together until Bomber died at the end of August from severe laminitis. The night before, she called her parents in tears. They drove seven hours to see her and Bomber together one last time.
“Losing Bomber was losing an enormous piece of my childhood. He was there through the many trials and challenges and changes a girl experiences between the ages of 12 and 24! He was my heart horse.”