We need to remember that our Zulus are involved in the raising of our horses in every facet of its activities. From the planning of the matings, to the covering of the mares and the foaling down of the foals, the development of trust, and the raising of the youngsters to the yearling stage, their sales prep or their education for the races, our people are at the coal face. As a result, the departure of our draft for the National Sales has always been an emotional time not only for them, but for all of us, as in many instances these horses are leaving for the last time.
Whilst the modern world has altered the trend to a degree, one old ritual that goes back the almost 30 years we’ve been at Summerhill involves the serenading of the horses as they depart from our loading ramps, hopefully on their way to racing glory. The women and children would gather near the float park, as the horses embarked onto a trailer for the first time in their lives.
In those days, they were not quite as habituated as they are today, and the movement of the floats under their feet made the horses distinctly uncomfortable, to the degree that it wasn’t unpredictable that a horse could flip onto his back in his tight compartment, inhibited as well by the claustrophobia.
As a result, the floats would travel at 5-10 kms an hour for the first two or three kilometers of the journey, and our staff would dance them down the main drag all the way to the junction with the Giants Castle road, singing and praising the horses as they went on their cosmos-lined way.
These were stirring moments in our time, and there remains a belief among our people that the Summerhill horse of today is what he is, because of the reverence in which he’s held by the farm's community.