Country Side, the oldest living Secretariat stallion, died peacefully at Diamond J. Farms in Texas at the end of summer, leaving many good-brained, big-strided offspring to continue the famous line in Thoroughbreds and in Quarter Horses. And an owner/caretaker who says she never met a horse like her polite, funny stallion.
“Country Side wasn’t one of those stallions walking in on his hind legs. He was a gentleman to work with and he was such a lover” with the mares and fillies, says owner Joycelyn Kasmir. “We had a teaser stall next to his and when he’d first a mare, he’d do a bravado routine, acting all big and proud. But it tended to scare the young fillies, who would back way up and stand on the other side of their stall. When Country noticed they were scared, all of a sudden he’d change his tactics, as if to say, ‘I’m really a gentleman.’
“When they walked over to him, he’d reach his head over the stall wall and lick the fillies up and down their necks, he’d put cowlicks all over them and nicker softly to them.”
Country Side kept her smiling and filled with admiration from the day she purchased him in 1996 until his death on Aug. 26, 2014. He was 29.
Dam: Consant Nymph
Foal date: Feb. 4, 1985Kasmir and her husband purchased the stallion from a California farm the day after they married, then moved shortly to Texas.
As a child Kasmir had dreamed of Secretariat, the great red wonder, and of breeding her own Quarter Horse to him. So when she had the opportunity to buy the stocky, 15.2 Secretariat stallion, she leapt at the chance.
“Before we bought him, I told his owner I intended to breed him to Quarter Horses, and he almost didn’t sell him to me,” she says. “But I felt Secretariat’s lines should be shared, and was confident any breed could be improved by them.”
Country Side’s personality and intelligence never ceased to amaze her, and the crop of foals he produced, including Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints, and performance horses did not disappoint.
“I got letters from people telling me how great his babies were. Racehorse people told me his (offspring) would pony themselves to the gate as though they’d been racing for years, and Quarter Horse people told me their horses were small enough to get around the barrels, but that they had that Secretariat surge, and were surprisingly fast,” she says. “I’ve heard from so many Country Side owners that their horses had a calmness to them, a regal quality; they had so much sense they seemed human.”
Toward the end of his life Country Side had a harder time dealing with the Texas heat. Despite fans, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, supplements and an abundance of care, he went off his feed a few days before he died, and days before Kasmir planned to call the vet out to euthanize him, he went peacefully in his grassy paddock.
His body has been buried near the barn, and Kasmir plans to plant an oak tree above it as a mighty testament to the warrior pedigree of a legend. ♦