The Book

Fierce Rivalries & Enduring Friendships will be published on May 12, 2016

Iroquois Book Cover
Fierce Rivalries & Enduring Friendships
charts the rise of of Middle Tennessee’s rite of spring from its humble roots in pasture racing to its present-day place as a world-class steeplechasing event.

Interviews with key figures throughout the race’s history come to life alongside photos and memorabilia gathered from family photo albums and newspaper archives.

Harrowing tales of spills and thrills can be found throughout the pages, as well as narratives on local steeplechasing icons who dedicated themselves to ensuring the future of this premier annual event.


Author’s Biography

K McWhirter author's bio photo

Long before Kathleen McWhirter began honing her craft as a writer and historian, the Mississippi-native could be found plodding around her grandparent’s farm on Bob, her first pony.* Growing up in a family of equestrians spanning across generations, McWhirter’s skills as a horsewoman were grown through riding camps and competitions throughout the South.Attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, McWhirter developed an abiding love for both history and her adopted hometown. After undertaking an M.A. in Modern History, McWhirter graduated from the University of York in York, England with the highest possible honors. While abroad, the author and historian studied under leading scholars, travelled extensively for research, and was actively involved in local history initiatives.

She returned to Nashville after three years overseas and dedicated herself to sharing the history of the city she first fell in love with in 2006. McWhirter worked closely with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Music Industry Coalition on efforts related to preserving Music Row; she was also chosen as the lead historian and writer for a project highlighting the city’s history during periods of military conflict. 



*The author would like it to be known that Bob only managed to unseat the young rider once, though unfortunately it was caught on camera.


On Temperance


Five months ago today, I boarded a plane bound for America. It wasn’t unlike the one I had stepped onto over three years prior, except that one was crossing the Atlantic in the opposite direction (with a sojourn in Iceland, but that’s a story for another day). So let’s go back.

At the ripe age of 23 I was certain I had wrung all the life out of Nashville, the city I had called home for the past six years. Those four years of college had been great, but two short stints in the real world had left me disenchanted and served as all the confirmation I needed that it was time for a new adventure. As a typical Millennial, my understanding of patience was thin at best.

So I left. I packed my bags (and a subpar bicycle unworthy of that $100 oversized baggage fee) and moved to England. One year into my residency, I was asked in a job interview how I saw the next five years of my life panning out. I answered with conviction and confidence: I’m building a new life in England, of course. I was in it for the long haul.

Sitting here two years later typing away in the back yard of my Nashville home, you can appreciate the ever-so-slight sense of irony. As I process my three years spent in England and start to unpack those experiences, I find myself at a fork in the road. I could sit here and tell you the well-worn story of leaving, only to find out everything I was looking for was here all along.

But that’s boring, overdone and also not true in my case.

As it turns out, the thing I needed to find was temperance. Tempering the whims of youth is a dangerous business, for all too often we, the generation of all or nothing, struggle to find the middle ground.

I’ve always been known as being somewhat fearless. I relish the challenge of accomplishing something I really shouldn’t. For reasons unknown, this has usually worked in my favor (save for that time I decided to be a middle-school girls’ lacrosse referee having never played – or even seen – a game before. Did I mention I also had bronchitis and slept in my car through the entire orientation?)

The move to England felt logical; it was the next step in my great adventure and, as in the tale my father often recounts of the day my parents dropped me off at my freshman dorm, I never looked back. While the specifics of my time overseas are for another story, by now you’ve probably realized all did not go to plan.

Coming home to America, I struggled to find a clear sense of purpose for the first time in my life. I was battered, tired and experiencing a new and very foreign emotion: fear.

One week after moving back to Nashville, I wrote with more conviction than I felt:

At the start of 2015, I find myself newly single, living in America after three years abroad, relocating to a familiar yet foreign city, starting a business and entering my late twenties. For this reason, I will be patient with myself. Tonight I had a bottle of wine. Tonight I had two dinners. Tonight I painted a corner of my room for no other reason than I wanted to set up my bookcase and color coordinate the books lining its shelves, and this unpainted wall was pissing me off. Through all of this, I choose to embrace my surroundings. I choose to say I am moving forward, even if that means eating refrigerated pasta at 2am while organizing my books by ROY-G-BIV. I choose to say that though I am fearful, I will carry on.

Three months into relocating to the city where this story began, I am far from understanding the implications of these clips strung together in the lines above. I am far from having a neatly packaged story to tell about the last three years of my life. The lessons emerging, however, are quiet and small understandings of humility, patience and temperance. As I rebuild a life in Nashville, how can I be courageous yet not impulsive? What does it look like to carry on in spite of (and hell, to spite) fear? What does it mean to find myself starting anew in the same city I left three years prior?

Time will tell.

dear life,
why do you have to complicate things so much?
you make everything so difficult

sometimes i feel so out of place
and other times i know i’m in the perfect spot.
sometimes i feel like i’m making headway
and other times i’m certain i’ve slipped further behind than ever before.
sometimes i feel i can do anything i set my mind to
and other times i wonder if i can even leave my room in the morning.
sometimes i feel like pressing on
and other times i decide the best thing to do is give up.

love carries the broken…

oh, beautiful selfishness.

“quite honestly, i’m not so keen that a stranger
should use my things, but one must be prepared
to make some sacrifices for a good cause, so i
shall make my little offering with a good will.
‘if we can save someone, then everything else
is of secondary importance,’ says daddy, and
he’s absolutely right.” – Anne Frank

yes, please.

world spins madly on…

Oh, when the day is blue
I’ll sit here wondering about you
And how the pollen fell all around your face
In strange yellow patterns, but

I wasn’t prepared for this, I,
I wasn’t prepared for this, I,

When the day is blue
I’ll sit here wondering about you…

life is strange these days. giving everything you still have in you after managing four hours of sleep a night, if any. it’s a thursday night and you think you’re running through fields, careless like a little girl.
really the storm is just blowing in.
in this constant whirlwind of growing, changing, and becoming, sometimes a hurricane comes through and tears up everything.
things change in life when you least expect them.
these past days have taken everything in me to try to stay strong and push through.
last night i broke. broke so terribly.
trying to keep my heart and mind in tact but then realizing they are already broken.
i thought i was holding them together, but really just holding pieces.
but now, where to go with these pieces….

is this what you call freedom? or is this what you call pain?

hmmm… why is it that this entire semester has felt like finals week?

socrates…we’ve been spending a lot of time together lately….

hiking on the appalachian trail for spring break… pretty much really super excited.

loving people, loving the city, loving new experiences…not loving homework, stress, silly boys…

growing all the same.