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Grandfather passing tradition of racing onto grandson

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Posted at 10:40 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 23:40:18-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Williamson County grandfather and horse racer is passing the tradition down to his 10-year-old grandson.

Mark McMillian started racing when he was just 16 years old. His family watched the Iroquois Steeplechase when he was growing up and eventually he became the first generation to participate in racing. His son followed in his footsteps, and now Mark's grandson, Jackson, is learning how to care for horses and ponies in preparation to eventually race.

"We're trying to keep a tradition going. Especially to get children involved but also little boys. A lot of the equestrian sports are little girls, predominantly," said McMillian.

Jackson said he loves riding and taking care of three ponies on the family's ranch near Franklin. Wednesday, Jackson showed off his half Welsh pony, half quarter horse, named Chip.

"This is Chip and he is 14.2 hands," said Jackson. "He is a very good hunting pony and he'll jump about anything."

McMillian said it's important for him to show Jackson a life involving horses. He says he worries about children who spend too much time inside or in front of screens. He tries to get kids to interact with the ponies when he can.

McMillian has three horses racing at Steeplechase. Court Ruler, Perfecto Tapatino and Tom Garrow are all racing for his family.

He said he'll be watching from the stands with Jackson.

"There's nothing like this. As far as the Iroquois Steeplechase, the main thing is keeping it alive. It's only missed two years. One year was World War II and the pandemic. So, it's gone on every year for 80 some odd years," said McMillian.