A thousand words beyond the Hill

Andreas Fuhrmann

There’s not a lot of sleep in the foaling barns at Claiborne Horse farm in Paris. Every fifteen minutes from sunrise to sunrise the mares get checked.

“You can tell when they’re getting close,” night watchman James Sebastian said. “They walk around their stall and break out in a sweat.”

Having worked at the farm for about 30 years, Sebastian knows when a mare is ready to give birth.

As the Derby horses make their way around the final turn in front of the posh hats and drunken infielders this Saturday, life at Claiborne will go on as normal.

“They’re like people,” said Wes Purcell. “They each have their own personality.”

Purcell, whose father is a manager at the farm, was born on the farm. He lives in his own house situated near the stallions he works with. Breeding is the farm’s main business.

“Two thousand mares in a season come to the farm to breed,” he said.

As the sun is still close to the horizon, horse trucks from Claiborne and other farms pull up to the holding area near the breeding shed. Back in the stallion barn, each of the 13 stallions is bathed and has his halter polished, getting ready for his date.

Wes calls back the name of the next stallion. The farm’s top stallion, Danzig, whose veins and muscles tense with excitement, prances towards his awaiting mare. In the breeding shed, the pair keeps the cycle of champion thoroughbreds alive in Kentucky.

Andreas Fuhrmann is a senior photojournalism major from Bowling Green. He can be reached at [email protected]