Why I Cheered for Patch, the Horse With One Eye, at the Kentucky Derby

While the song may state “The sun shine’s bright in my Old Kentucky home,” the weather man predicted cloudy skies and the possibility of rain on Saturday, May 6, as the 143rd Kentucky Derby was run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. I must admit, I’ve never been to the Derby or paid much attention to it. The news describes the “Run for the Roses” as the greatest two minutes in sports history. While other people are focused on betting and buying the perfect hat to wear, the Derby caught my attention this year for a different reason.

While scrolling through the news, I saw an article about Patch, a horse with one eye. Patch is the fourth horse with one eye to run in the Derby. He was described as being the underdog, but quickly became a fan favorite.

While some might see a horse with one eye running in a race such as the Derby as “unimportant” or “useless,” for me it’s worth cheering for. Living with chronic illnesses, there have been times in life that I’ve been viewed as “the underdog.” Since being diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome in my right leg, several people have made comments to the effect that I should be thankful I’m not a horse because horses with bad legs are put down. I’ve never liked that comment. I may have a weak and painful leg and there are things in life that I can’t do because of it, but there are other things I can do.

Just because Patch had inflammation and had to have an eye removed, it didn’t stop the horse from running. Patch may be considered disabled because he is lacking one eye and can’t see the way other horses do, but just as the news pointed out, that disability hasn’t sidelined the horse. Just because Patch lost an eye, trainers didn’t give up on the horse. In the same way, I’m thankful that I’ve not let pain, inflammation, and weakness cause me to give up my dreams of walking again someday and I’m thankful that my doctors and physical therapist haven’t given up on me either.

We live in a world where the underdog is often overlooked. I cheered for Patch because as a chronic illness warrior, I’m inspired by a horse with one eye running in the Kentucky Derby. I’m sure Patch, the trainer, and the rider had to make changes as they adapted to Patch only having one eye, but they haven’t given up. In my eyes, it would be wonderful if a horse with one eye won the derby, but even though Patch didn’t win the race on Saturday, Patch is a winner in my eyes. Go Patch! Go chronic illness warriors!

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Photo courtesy of Patch-horse Facebook page

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