Meet the September Horses of the Month
Lightning & Thunder
Lightning (and Thunder) were the Mini Mascots for 10 years for the Junior Jockey Club at Calder Race Course, a Thoroughbred track in South Florida (2000-2010).
Tammy, who nominated the duo, met Lightning and Thunder when they were 6 months old when she was in search of the perfect duo for a track outreach program in Miami to introduce kids to horses in an urban setting. Lightning was less than 18 inches tall at the time and bullied by the other fillies.
Tammy shares, "I first met her cornered in a pasture. Dent Ranch said it took 100 years to breed a tiny mini Paint-colored filly with two ocean blue eyes, even when part of her face is brown. I met Thunder at the farm entrance, as he was friendly and would rather watch people than eat or play with the other young colts. I introduced Lightning to several 'boys' to find a good match, but all nipped her or stole her food. Thunder was the only one to gently nudge food to her and let her eat first. A nondescript bay with stifle concerns, I was told Thunder would not be a good mascot as it would be hard for him to stand long periods of time without affecting his stifles.
"Both were perfect for each other though, and the kids loved Thunder's wild mane and feisty attitude and Lightning's silky mane and unfussy attitude. Keeping Thunder fit helped him make his appearances with 'Lili" at Miami Heat games, Marlins baseball, the children's museum, community Easter Egg hunts, Halloween, fundraisers, countless schools, cultural festivals, the children's hospital, their annual horse birthday party, and, of course, the March of the Minis at the track on special event days in front of crowds of up to 10,000 where they were unflappable. There were moments were Thunder grabbed a hot dog or stole popcorn at the movies while dressed as Seabiscuit and when Lightning met the USC mascot horse and made the cover of LA Times. At special events they met rare breeds, police horses and even a zebra brother of Racing Stripes. They taught horse safety classes for kids ages 5 and up and the program grew to more than 500 kids thanks to the mascot appearances and cute newsletters written from Lightning's perspective. The track held a contest to name the horses when they arrived to be mascots and out of more than 500 entries, four youth came up with the combo Thunder & Lightning thanks to the summer rains. Their career accomplishments include leading a large Parade of Breeds annually on the racetrack, being part of reading programs for underserved kids, and marching in the annual Miami Pet Walk with thousands of dogs. They retired and moved to Ocala, Fla in 2012 and have spent a life of leisure watching elementary kids go to school from their fence line and, at times, participating in Farm City Week. They also follow the accomplishments of Junior Jockey Club kids, some are even successful horse trainers now."