Quemacho HI Continues to Show the Beauty in Life Despite Cancer
Ingred Lin’s Lusitano stallion Quemacho HI helped his owner find pleasure in life during the years she battled cancer. And now, four year’s after Lin’s death, Quemacho is again showing the beauty in life with another partner who has experienced cancer.
Quemacho, along with Lin’s other Lusitano stallion, Queba, both now 18 and owned by Lin’s son Adam Pollak of White Fences Equestrian Center in Loxahatchee, Florda, have been under the care and training of rider Bettina Drummond for the past two years.
Quemacho HI Continues to Show the Beauty in Life Despite Cancer
By Lynndee Kemmet
Washington, Conn. – Ingred Lin’s Lusitano stallion Quemacho HI helped his owner find pleasure in life during the years she battled cancer. And now, four year’s after Lin’s death, Quemacho is again showing the beauty in life with another partner who has experienced cancer.
Quemacho, along with Lin’s other Lusitano stallion, Queba, both now 18 and owned by Lin’s son Adam Pollak of White Fences Equestrian Center in Loxahatchee, Florda, have been under the care and training of rider Bettina Drummond for the past two years. This summer, Drummond herself was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. She had surgery at New Milford Hospital in Connecticut to remove the tumor in mid-August and a week of radiation treatment soon after. Within two weeks of surgery, she was back in the saddle on Quemacho (Embaixador II x Estria) certain that the connection and trust they had developed was such that he would watch out for her just as he had for Lin.
“I had passed on Ba a year before Ingred bought him because I knew he was not the horse for me and I wasn’t his person,” Drummond said. She knew Lin was his person when she saw Lin and Queba together. “Ingred had asked me to look at her with him as an eye on the ground when she was showing St. Georges and it was so lovely to see him with his person. I later rode him a few times when he got too strong through the bit and she was too ill to supple him but I was always aware that he clove to her energy and she to his.”
Drummond views her care of Queba as “proxy for his downed rider.” But with Quemacho she has long felt a greater affinity. Drummond knew the stallion well because she often traveled to Florida to work with Lin and the stallions and Lin often made trips to Drummond’s barn in Connecticut to ride her Lusitano stallions. “She came to get the feel of them so she could try and replicate it at home with Ba and Macho,” Drummond said.
After years of witnessing the joy Lin found in riding Quemacho while battling cancer, Drummond felt it herself full force when, one week after completing her radiation treatment, she rode the stallion during an artistic exhibition at the beautiful Hollister House Gardens in Washington, Conn. The duo performed an impromptu freestyle to live music of French horns, oboes, a bassoon and bagpipes.
“There were horn players placed at different ends of the garden, a bassoon and two oboes somewhere else under a tree, a bagpiper followed by Bettina on a white stallion appeared from yet another place, the clouds were passing by and a gentle wind was going through the leaves of the oaks and the dahlias were perked up, watching and being watched,” said Gerald Incandela, who organized the event for his friend, George Schoellkopf, owner of Hollister House. The gardens, modeled after those of great English estates, are open to the public from May through September.
“It was not classical dressage with live music in a garden. It was an ‘elevating conversation’ between horse, rider, musicians and nature, all bringing the best out of each other, inspiring each other, wanting to be better for the other,” said Incandela, who has known Drummond for years and co-owned Lusitano horses with her. “They were meeting for the first time (literally) and it became a ‘jamming’ session for the gods. Like the expression about separating the man from the boys, art got separated from craft. Ah, to look for that mysterious and inexplicable life one can bring to a craft…”
“It was rather like someone saying, ‘Hey, there is an artists’ gig down the street, do you want to join?’ and I said, ‘Sure, why not?’” said Drummond of the invitation from Incandela to join the event and merge horse and rider with live music. She admits there were moments of pain through the ride but would never have passed on the opportunity.
“I want riders who go through this to know that you can’t let yourself be defined by cells in your body but by who you are in your expression of life,” she said. “The ride just flowed and the horse felt joyful. He just went for it and listened to me beautifully. He was just angelic.”
It was a first for the musicians, most of whom knew nothing about horses. Musician Barbara Hill said after the performance that they were “in awe” of how Drummond and Quemacho interpreted their music. Riding, she said, “is a beautiful art.”
There was no rehearsal before the event. It was only because some of the musicians played their music to her over the phone that Drummond had some idea of what to expect when she and Quemacho arrived. “There was no practice time and no sense of the terrain. It was truly impromptu,” she said. But the blending of these artists – musicians and rider – merged effortlessly. “When you work with fellow craftsmen who master their instruments, art creates itself and horses always tune into that feel when given the chance,” Drummond said. “Being around people who are creative allows you to be creative and these were all people with an amazing sense of aesthetics.”
Having now completed her cancer treatment and declared cancer free, Drummond is focused on her recovery. Much of that recovery involves a more balanced lifestyle – a change from burning the candle at both ends – and rebuilding her immune system through nutrition, Chinese herbs and a steady supply of nutritional supplements from her sponsor Mushroom Matrix. Continuing on with her career as a trainer, rider and breeder of Lusitano horses is a key part of Drummond’s recovery plan. She has built her treatment program in such a way to ensure minimal impact on her riding career – a decision she was more certain was the right one after the pleasure she gained riding Quemacho in exhibition so soon after surgery.
Drummond viewed the exhibition with Quemacho as a celebration of Lin’s life and a reminder to all who witnessed it of just how much beauty there is in life, even during life’s most challenging times. It seemed fitting that Quemacho, who helped Lin find those moments of beauty despite battling cancer, played the central role in Drummond’s first outing since cancer treatment. In the final moments of the exhibition, as the music faded, Drummond and Quemacho turned to the audience, executed a flawless levade and then disappeared into the gardens behind them as quietly as they had arrived.