I once knew a bowlegged Australian horse trainer named Barlow who bought Thoroughbreds off the racetrack, schooled them as hunter-jumpers and sold them to rich equestrians in Carmel Valley. One day Barlow invited me and my friend T to ride a few of his new horses who were fresh from the track. On our way up into the hills we took a shortcut through the old Carmel Valley airport.
When we trotted onto the airstrip, my horse took one look at the battered ribbon of dirt in front of us and began to prance. I saw what he saw: a racetrack. He'd spent his entire young life running at top speed down flat, open stretches; it was all he knew. I decided to give him one last run for the roses. I hunkered low over his withers and let him have his head, and we galloped madly down the homestretch toward the finish line.