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What’s in a Name?

The new owner of Spring Meadow Farm gave some thought to changing its name upon taking over 11 years ago, but a word of advice from an in-law put an immediate kabosh to that notion. “She told me that you never change the name of a boat,” Mary Jo Cody said.”If you do, it might sink.”

So the planned change didn’t take place and today the name seems to fit better than ever, with the perennial gardens of morning glories, marigolds and clematis that add a wealth of color to the grounds.

There is a even a vegetable garden, all the work of the farm manager John Nordgren.

The thoroughbred Mike Lowrey arrived into those surroundings as a three-year-old, four years ago. Unlike the farm, however, Mike Lowrey did get a new name. The former racehorse from the barn of Mac Robertson, Canterbury Park’s six-time champion trainer, now competes as a hunter under the name Regarding Henri.

A change of occupations, racehorse to hunter, and a change of movie names, too. The change in occupations has produced a change of results, too. As a racehorse he had one win from 12 starts. He is a completely different horse in hunting competition.

Henri was lame in the right hind leg when he arrived. His owners retired him from racing, unwilling to push him in that condition. “I was going to turn him out for six months or so and find a good place for him,” Cody said.

Instead, Henri wound up at the University of Minnesota for surgery after a bout of colic. “That was $5,000 later,” Cody said, “so I decided that he had to earn his keep.”

Henri spent more than a year at pasture, just being a horse. His lameness was soon no longer an issue. “He started getting sound behind when Steve Kane, who does the farrier work for us, started doing his feet. Steve’s probably the best corrective farrier in the business,” Cody said.

Now seven, Henri started his hunter career as a five-year-old. “He started in the baby greens, winning nearly everything in sight. “‘ He stepped up to three-foot jumps this year, the height at which he’ll likely continue, and was a champion his first time out. “He moves reasonably well and he’s a pretty horse, so he might not have to jump any higher,” said Cody.”He could move up to three-feet-six but I wouldn’t want to use him up.”

Henri has a very athletic manner of jumping and he moves gracefully at most gaits. “He has a pretty canter, but not a great trot,” Cody added “His knees need to be just a little flatter; he raises them a little too much.”

The judges seem to like Henri’s looks, 16 hands, brown with a white blaze and generally well formed. “He’s very pretty standing still,” Cody added.”And judging the hunters is absolutely subjective, like figure skating.”

Spring Meadow Farm became Henri’s new home as the result of a call from the state veterinarian at the track, Dr. Lynn Hovda, who keeps her jumpers at the farm. There is an additional connection. Hovda’s daughter, Tyne, also trains under the farm’s resident trainer Heather Parish.

Cody had only one question for Dr. Hovda that proved unnecessary once she got a complete look at Henri and his condition upon arrival. “I don’t like fast horses,” Cody said. Henri wasn’t in any condition to demonstrate whatever speed he possessed, not with an ailing hind quarter.

The horse’s previous career in athletics might have something to do with the bravura he displayed almost immediately after regaining his health. Once recovered from the colic surgery, he began demonstrating some of that self-possession. “He stood in the middle of the ring with Heather teaching lessons after the surgery. He does not lack confidence,” Cody said.

The surgery might have had a related benefit for Henri. “It bought him some time,” Cody said. “I think honestly it gave him the time to get that right hind sound.” Thus, he was nearly five by the time Cody put him to work as a hunter, and he has taken to his second profession with real interest.

Had Spring Meadow Farm not become his new home, the former Mike Lowrey might have wound up someplace else. “Somebody would have taken him,” Cody is certain. “If not, he probably would have gone to Dr. Bowman’s place (in North Dakota).”

Fate had other things in store for the horse once called Mike Lowrey, who was really a Regarding Henri down deep.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.