You never forget the name of your first lesson horse – that horse who taught you what you need to know to work with everyone who follows.
In this series, Thoroughbred industry participants share the names and stories of the horses that have taught them the most about life, revealing the limitless ways horses can impact the people around them. Some came early in their careers and helped chart the course for the rest of their lives, while others provided valuable lessons for veterans of the business.
Question: Which horse taught you the most about life?
Steve Asmussen: “Coming from a racing family, we talk about horses all the time. The first racehorse I was allowed to ride, my dad put me on the farm, was a mare called Marsaquilla. I always remember that, especially with my kids starting to ride horses, you think back to when you were at that point.
“She was just an older mare who had extremely limited success, but she was my first racehorse that I galloped with, and I will always remember how important that was to me.
“She was a perfect introduction to that. I obviously grew up on ponies, then on horses, and I showed pedigree horses, but the first racehorse I ever rode was Marsaquilla, and she took good care of me.
“I was probably 10 or 12 years old. Growing up, things were very different back then, but she would have taken care of a baby. I was extremely well guarded by the animals.
(1975, m., Walk x All the Flowers, by Colonel Mack)
Marsaquilla spent four seasons racing in the Southwest and Nebraska, competing against both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.
She won on her debut as a juvenile at Sunland Park, and her only start where she finished worse than second in eight starts this season was a stakes race at Ak-Sar-Ben.
After making just two starts as a 3-year-old, Marsaquilla came back at age four to have her busiest season, racing 16 times and beginning to jump between thoroughbred competition and mixed competition. In fact, she did her best job against the Quarter Horses that season, earning a pair of 870-yard wins at Ruidoso Downs. She retired the following year with five wins in 28 starts for earnings of $19,726.
Marsaquilla started as a broodmare in 1981, and her seven racing foals became winners. Highlights included stake winners Draquilla and Sweetfella.