Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Wait, that's your two year old?????? Mister Baby (Part Deux- that's Two in French)

A good friend of mine who owns the most amazing pizzeria in Lexington, mentioned to me on one of my "will you feed me I'm broke" visits that he was interested in getting a racehorse.
The Keeneland September Sale (that's the sale for yearlings) was going on and he had always been a sideline enthusiast, especially since many of his guests were coming through his restaurant during the sales. Most of these were fellow countrymen of his (and sort of, of mine), hailing from Turkey.
They'd fly in town, go to Keeneland, generally spend a shit ton of money, stash the horses they bought at Quarantine Farms (Horses leaving or entering the United States have to go through quarantine). As an aside, let me mention that I always wished I had a huge farm with one barn for enough away from the others to be able to offer quarantine services because you make mega-bux with quarantine, as in $35 per day on the average bottom end.

In any case, the few years I had been in the Bluegrass, I always wished that I could land some of those Turkish clients because they
1. have good money,
2. are good paying clients and
3. it's a narrow market with word of mouth predominating, ergo, more business down the road,
and 4. I speak the language.

Alas, as many Turkish friends as I have here in the Bluegrass, the majority of which are not into horses at all, the very small handful that are into the Thoroughbred business in any way whatsoever, are basically a group of greedy egotists that would never dream of sharing business contacts.
Over time, I suspect, too, that my being female does have some bearing on the way they have handled any requests for business. While I did not grow up surrounded by the kind of Turks that ever discriminated against women, there are plenty who still do, albeit not overtly, because, well, that just wouldn't be cool nor acceptable.

I digress.
Over a pizza and my friend mentioning about buying a horse, I informed him that buying a yearling would take at least a year before he would be able to race his new horse and throughout this conversation, I broke down the costs to him. I also mentioned that if he wanted to get a horse to race, I had a very nice two year old, who would be much better suited to the task and that I would love to get him going. I offered 2/3 of little dude for sale to my friend for cheap enough to drop my own jaw, just to make the offer sweeter. He said he had another friend who wanted to be a partner, so that in the end, the three of us would be equal partners in the horse, with me training him.

One thing I still haven't learned over the years is that my labor and my expertise is actually worth something. Who in their right mind offers to work for free? Have you ever stopped a cop or a librarian or a teacher to ask whether they would like to work without pay and they agreed?
Of course not!
But you see, us horse people, we tend to be incredibly stupid when it comes to getting a horse to the races. We get desperate. We're willing to bend over backwards, pay part of the expenses and settle for just 1/3 of the purse monies. It never occurs to us that the daily labor, never mind the gas money to get back and forth, should be considered in our most asinine of decisions. And when I say us horse people, in this case, I mean me.

To make a long story short, little dude went under contract (that much I have learned over the years) and off we went to the Thoroughbred Center to start his training to become a racehorse.

Now, let me preface this next part of the story by explaining a few things.
When a youngster (a two year old heading to the track to start training, we race track people call them babies) first ships to the track, there are many new, different, sometimes scary things going on.
There are horses everywhere, horses with people on top of them!
There are people everywhere, lots and lots of them. There is noise. There is activity. When a baby (or any horse of any age, for that matter) first gets to a new place to stable, such as a racetrack, you generally want to give it a day or two to adjust to its new environment. The way I deal with this is to stable the horse in its stall after shipping in and letting it partake in everyone else's routine for the rest of that day. Let him/her watch. The stall in many instances becomes the safety net. The next day, the new baby should probably take a nice stroll around the barn (cold walk- which means to walk instead of go to the track that day), and take a good peek around not only the barn area, but also walk to the track and graze a little around there, see what's happening on the track. Course you have to keep in mind the individual horse's personality and ability to handle stress.
Depending on how that day goes, baby can probably go under saddle the next day, or if needed, have another day of exploring.

Little dude shipped into TTC (The Thoroughbred Center, which is a Training Facility owned by Keeneland), had a day of exploring/adjusting and the next day, got to shedrow.
Shedrowing a horse is when you let the horse be ridden inside the barn, around the shedrow.
Little dude seemed to think that piles of shavings and stacks of hay or straw may be suspect- wide berths should be cut around them. While chickens, cats and even a dog running around his legs, as well as the huge flocks of pigeons roosting in the barn, were completely acceptable and no cause for any spooking, wheelbarrows were a whole other story. And there are a lot of wheelbarrows in the large concrete barns at TTC that have stalls for around 100 horses.
We decided sticking around the barn for some "under saddle training" wasn't a bad idea for a few days.
Once little dude, who I took to calling Baby, or Mister Baby, adjusted to shedrowing without having his eyes bugging out of his head or jumping at wheelbarrows, it seemed like a good plan to send him to the lower training
track the next day.
More Shedrowing
Shedrowing in both directions

It's generally a great idea to find another horse to send a baby to the track with for the first few times. Seasoned racehorses make incredible hand-holders for babies. Alternatively, if you have a group of babies that ship to the track together, they can also go out in the group together for the first time.
You know, we're talking horses here. There's safety in numbers.
Our well laid plan of sending Mister Baby in company completely fell through. The company never showed. It started getting late. We really wanted to make the track before it closed, so I made the executive decision to send Mister Baby to the track by himself. Executive as in, I talked to his rider, who also thought it should be fine.

In order to get to the small track, which lies below the larger track, one has to travers a tunnel that cuts under the main track. It's sort of the same as when you go to the races and have tickets to the infield- you get there through a tunnel.
The tunnel tends to be a fairly scary thing for a baby. There are some babies who never like the tunnel. Others take a day or two to adjust going through it. Getting them into the tunnel the first time, is generally the biggest challenge.

We left the barn, hung a left downward, veering down from the upper track and kept on until we got to the tunnel. So far, Mister Baby was walking very easily, quite relaxed and busy looking around, looking everywhere except where he was going. This resulted in his stepping on my feet a couple of times. Being smacked for that didn't phase him. I don't think he even noticed, he was so busily craning his neck looking around at everything in sight.

Tunnel up ahead
When we arrived at the tunnel, he stopped. I grabbed his reins and started walking forward, the rider was urging him and Mister Baby wasn't moving. At all.
I've learned one thing about handling babies. Or horses, period. I don't engage in arguments with them.
In a track environment, a horse's best friend and confidant is usually his groom. Or, as in my case, since I don't have a groom but rather do all the work myself, that confidant would be me.
The single best and easiest way to get a horse to cooperate in any situation that's new and requires movement, is to pretend that, well, you don't actually want anything from the horse and you're not asking him to do anything at all. You go about your business and keep moving. If horsey doesn't want to be left behind....

I looked at Mister Baby, walked on and entered the tunnel. It echos in the tunnel. Every single sound is hugely amplified. I turned towards Mister Baby, who was still rooted in place outside of the tunnel:
"Mister Baby. Come on. Let's go."
Body language is obviously as important. By turning towards him and then turning back facing where I was going and just looking back and tilting my head towards the direction again, I let him know where I was going and that I wished for him to come along.
And so he did. The rest was uneventful.

We got out to the track, I asked my rider to jog him one round and then gallop him one round, just easy to let him get his bearings and get a chance to look around and see where he was and take in the sights and other horses.
When you jog a horse on the track, you generally jog it clockwise. Galloping is done counter-clockwise. On a really busy track this can make for a lot of movement everywhere.
The lower track that day wasn't crowded. There couldn't have been more than four, maybe five horses. Since Mister Baby wasn't a seasoned track goer yet, we decided to jog himself in the same direction as the gallop, that way, it was less for him to potentially get confused about.
And off he went.
The first couple of furlongs, he wasn't jogging quite straight, a bit over here, a bit over there but he eventually figured out to stay in one path by the time he came out of the first turn.
The gallop was about the same.
I was standing next to the pony shack, talking to Kelly, the Outrider and our conversation was, of course, about horses. Kelly knew this was a new baby and it was his first day on the track. We discussed the weather and how we hoped that snow would never come. Yeah, right.
This whole time, I was following Mister Baby's progress around the track, pleasantly surprised that he was not only doing so well but also doing it like he had been doing it for years.
As he came out of the turn galloping, he settled on his haunches and showed me his big, floaty stride that I always watched in the pasture when he was a weanling. His stride was HUGE. He was putting absolutely no effort into this gallop and was just enjoying himself the way an Englishman would enjoy his cup of afternoon tea- leisurely. I couldn't help but grin.
I pointed and said "Damn, that's nice!"
Kelly looked and agreed. "Yeah, that's a nice way of going."
My grin got bigger. "Yes it is. It sure is."
Silence. A second passed as we both watched Mister Baby progress down to the lower turn and enter it, circle around it and come out to our left down the stretch.
"Yep, that's really nice", I said.
"Sure is", Kelly said.
And then:
"Wait, that's your two year old?????"
I burst with joyous laughter.
"Yes!! That's my baby!!"
"Damn, girl, THAT is a nice baby!"

Mister Baby came off the track very pleased with himself. He wasn't tired or sweaty. He wanted to do more but when you're first starting with a baby, well, less is more.
He had his bath. I hotwalked him and we negotiated a cease fire with the wheelbarrows in the barn. Sort of.

"Yep." I thought. "I was right. He's got that something."
 He's got that been-there-done-that attitude and at that moment, I felt like Mister Baby, well, he must be the reincarnation of an old seasoned racehorse.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Meet Mister Baby. Yes, you heard that right, Mister Baby

Ok, so that isn't his real name.
But I'll get to that in time.

Three years ago, a good friend of mine had a colt. I met this colt and instantly liked him. Long legs. Laid back attitude. Nothing visibly special about him but he had something... something you couldn't put your finger on.
My friend was up in age and experienced some health problems. One day, he called me and said:
"You remember that colt you like? Well, he has an eye infection. Looks like an ulcer. I can't commit to treating him daily and so I thought, if you want to come pick him up and you treat his eye, then you can have him because I know you'll do right by him".

What he meant with doing right by him wasn't in reference to attending to the colt's medical needs, or at least not only in reference to those.
This colt was by an unknown stallion, out of a 14 year old mare who had never had a foal before.
The mare had been a very useful racehorse and after retiring went on to being a just as useful show horse. Her pedigree was made up of old blood that you just didn't find easily anymore at that time.
Doing right by him was to eventually make him a racehorse.

So I brought him home. Initially, he was very cooperative with having to have his eye treated, which turned out to be a lot more serious than thought. After a few days, he also became sick. He started dropping weight, in spite of being fed great quality hay and feed and being on the lushest grass in Bluegrass country.
The vet determined that antibiotics were in order. He was treated for Lawsonia.
This all was very long term, lasting around 3 months.
When the little dude was able to rejoin the other weanlings (a group of three fillies), he was everything but excitement. Everything he did was well thought out and taken in stride.
A few days after, he came up very lame in the front shoulder.
Now he had to go on stall rest. While the cause of the lameness was never determined exactly, he was xrayed to within an inch of his life and we knew nothing was broken. After a couple of months, he was able to rejoin the girl terrorist group out in the pasture.

I remember vividly the day he was turned out with them. These fillies were all very well bred by well known stallions. Bellamy Road, Sidney's Candy and Dream Ahead. If you're into horse racing at all, you know these names. Little dude, however, had no clue who those studly daddies were.
The girls took off running and led by Miss Junior Bellamy Road, made short order of their introductions. Little dude just stood there, wondering why they ran away and looked back at me at the pasture gate. I smiled and nodded:
"Go on! It's fine. Go play. You're ok!"
He turned back and his eyes followed the girls who were by now a good 50-60 yards away from him.
And in that instance, something clicked.
I don't know if he thought he would just go catch up to them to ask why they were running away, or if he even knew what he wanted from them. Maybe he just wanted to be a part of that group.
But as I watched, this easy little gallop he took off with over a few steps evolved into what can only be described as an elaborately floating, huge stride. At one point, I couldn't tell if he was actually touching the ground. He came upon the girls and passed them with such ease, I remember whispering, "Wow, he can fly..."

From that day, I made it a point to watch the gang run and play as many times as I could, daily. His movement was so very different and there was such an ease he incorporated into it. He never looked like he tried.

Little dude had another set back when it was time for vaccinations. He had a horrible reaction that made him sick for days with very high fevers and again, he had to be separated and treated for almost a month. We finally gave him an immune booster injection and he recovered.

As I was obviously in the Thoroughbred business, one of my goals was to sell horses to make money and pay the bills.
So little dude was put up for sale. While a few people came to inquire and looked, none were takers.

Little dude became a yearling. No longer having the weanling type more compact conformation, he became exceedingly gangly. Legs all over the place. Hip too tall, then wither too tall. He stopped putting an effort into play and activity. He became the bystander who watched. He was spookless and fearless and, well, bored.
At this point, I thought, well, maybe a buyer will come along and start doing something with him.

Time passed and little dude became a 2 year old. Shockingly enough, with his dam being 16 hands and solidly boned, his sire being well over 17 hands and more on the narrow end of the spectrum, I wondered why he wasn't getting taller. While other 2 year olds grew big and started looking the part of a race horse, little dude was, well, still little dude. Skinny, gangly. angular. Legs everywhere. Hardly a chest. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was worried.

Since several other lookers had showed up and decided he wasn't for them, little dude stayed parked in that pasture with other yearlings and weanlings coming and going. He was kind and smart. Never in a hurry. He kept the peace and didn't fight, knew when to walk away or stand his ground.
Inquiries started to sound more along the lines of: Is he broke?

Well, no he wasn't. After all, what was the point? I had all the ones I could afford at the Training Center. Not like I would be able to train him; financially, that was just not an option.

After a few more months, I had a conversation with a trainer friend who had seen him and actually liked him but his client wasn't interested. Not enough bigness in that breeding.
Thing that always bothered me was that no one would listen. I had had this colt from the time he was around 3 months old. I knew this boy. But my opinion just didn't count.

Thus it came about that little dude was broke to saddle. Quick learner. Still completely laid back. Not much excitement. Matter of fact, kinda boring. Did what he was supposed to. Seemed to enjoy it once under saddle and started finding his legs with a rider up. Alas, the interest in him dried up as the season wasn't right for buyers and out went little dude, back into that pasture.

His new found knowledge under saddle made him a bit more playful and forward. He engaged in playing with the other colts. And I kept watching.

I watched him be a little bossy but still kind. I watched him be a lot bossy, but still kind.
And as I watched, the wish to find someone who would partner with me or buy this boy and take him to the track grew more and more. I was watching the next evolution and didn't know it.

Little Dude on top


The Journey of a Thousand Dreams (and Mistakes)

I started this blog originally as a way of sharing the day to day events in my small training operation.
Over time, as life evolves along with everything else in it, I got away from blogging.

Time tends to crystallize things for us. Time tends to chisel our goals more sharply, or turns them around altogether.

My journey has been fairly concentrated within the Thoroughbred world. While I have left the track and racing on a few occasions and taken on jobs both in and out of the horse world, mainly to make ends meet and finance this horse affliction I was born with, one thing has been constant:
My love for horses and racing.

Over the last few years, after leaving Churchill Downs, taking a detour via Pennsylvania for a job that turned out to be nothing it was promised but that also gave me the privilege to make some new and life-long friends, including my friend Beth Ann Parise, who turned out to be the forever perfect home for my first winning horse as a trainer, Kite Falcon (whom his amazing owners, Ted and Donna Miller and myself followed after he was claimed away from us and subsequently returned a couple of years later), I have experienced many new, many old and many unusual events. I have also met some of the most incredible people I ever could have.

Wherever you go, there you are. As anyone else, I have problems in my life. I have learned over the years that those are generally rooted within myself and my way of handling certain situations, as well as the fact that we, as humans, tend to be more comfortable with situations we are more familiar with, whether or not those are bad for us.

A move over to the Kentucky Bluegrass Region, turned out to be a great success for the first couple of years after I got here. I leased a farm and boarded mares for clients who were sending them to be bred to some of the biggest, most successful Thoroughbred Stallions and farms in the world.
But as with any business, not all things work out. Two winters ago, in the midst of operating fairly large scale with over 27 boarded client mares, all but one of those clients stopped paying their monthly bills on time.
On top of that, I made the huge unintelligent mistake of taking in a "friend" and her spouse who had no place to go. It was all supposed to work out wonderfully with my friend working off her own board as the barn help I so desperately needed.

Fast forward 6 months and I lose the farm I was leasing, my "friend" and her spouse take over.
I can't and won't begin to mention the agonizing months of lies and deceit I experienced at the hand and mouth of someone I thought I had known for over 20 years.

I walked away. My remaining horses were stashed over 4 different locations because I was unable to find an ideal location.

There I was, having to start all over. Because I trusted the wrong person and stepped up to help her.

There are lessons in every experience in life. I'm constantly learning, every day.

One of the greater lessons I have learned, is this:
You can't blame everything that goes wrong on just the people that precipitate the drama.
Somewhere inside, we all make a choice to take a certain path or make a certain decision.
Everything that happens to us, in the end, was something we chose for ourselves.

Reevaluating once again what to do with my long term goals took a lot of soul searching.
The racetrack has always been the one place where I experienced the most happiness and success.
I was able to always make ends meet, even when I wasn't necessarily winning races but it was a labor of love that most certainly paid the bills.

The breeding industry requires money. Few of us small time breeders ever hit the big time.
It's all a dream.

And you gotta have dreams. So, I follow mine along, as best as I can. In the end, I have no one else to blame or hold responsible than myself.
And it all works out. It is what it is. Life goes on. It's an incredible journey, an adventure that takes us places that we may never have imagined.

If you're just stumbling across my blog for the first time, welcome! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for taking the time in reading and getting to know this blog.

I have a few posts planned over the next few days that will hopefully introduce you to my small operation and perhaps help you feel that you are somehow involved. If I can share something new about horse racing with any of you or instill some enthusiasm for horse racing in you, then I feel I have accomplished a great part of what's important in this world- understanding for each other and our differences and, surprisingly, commonalities.

This reminds me of one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, Pretty Woman:

Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thoroughbred Industry in Upswing?

The yearling sale at Keeneland takes place every September and lasts for around two weeks.
Used to be that a trainer could go to the sale during the last few sessions and pick up a couple of yearlings for free. Those that got no bids in the sale owned by breeders who hoped to get them to the races and couldn't afford the training fees, generally could be had by some simple good introductions and provisions of a reference or two.

September 2012, a new trend started and it appears that it is carrying on:
Not a single yearling RNA'd without a bid. Every yearling in the catalog was bid on.
Unheard of!

This year, the September yearling sale resulted in the same outcome:
Not one yearling went without a bid. The prices were solid, the auctioneer starting bids at $3000.
No free yearlings this year, either.

The yearling sale is in stark contrast to the other sales. Breeding stock sales result in plenty of no bids.

The consensus among economists is that financially, the industry is suffering and going downhill.

I beg to disagree. It looks to me like the industry is in an upswing, at least as far as racing stock is concerned. The first three days or so are filled with the big money crowd. Horses go at prices that still stagger the average earning citizen's mind. Once Book 3 of the sale is over, the crowds have thinned out and the affluent bidders are largely gone, in come the pinhookers, the everyday small guys who take their yearly pilgrimage up to Lexington, KY from Ocala, FL and hope to pick up a well bred yearling to take back down south with them and break under saddle for the 2 year old in training sale.
It's a relatively short term investment with a chance to hit a pretty big jackpot.
Pick up a yearling for $10,000 in September. Get it ready under saddle for the April 2 year old sale and get a chance at selling it for around $100,000 if not more so long as the steed exhibits some speed.
Not bad odds, really. Infinitely better than winning the lottery.

While the overall numbers of yearlings offered have declined in recent years, simply due to breeders no longer breeding as many mares as before, undoubtedly due to the fact that finances are tight and the economy is bad, the number of buyers for yearlings hasn't wavered much. The result is visible today.

While not getting any free yearlings at the sale is a disappointment to some, the overall effect on the Thoroughbred industry is positive. While markets outside Kentucky are still softer, the prices here have been up and holding steady.

A relief for those of us who make a living in the industry and plan on continuing to do so.

Here is a link to the overall results: http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/80801/sales-remain-strong-into-keeneland-session-11

Let's hope this bodes well for the future of our industry. It's time something holds strong in this economy.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Michael Power: The Price of Burning Bridges

The Thoroughbred industry is a small world indeed. Anyone involved within its' proverbial four walls will tell you that it's hard to keep secrets.
Anyone who conducts their business in this world will also tell you that deeds, good or bad, will hardly go unpunished, as it were.

Kentucky, May 7, 2013

Police arrive at a Thoroughbred farm to arrest the owner/manager after he completely loses his composure at the local utility company's arrival to turn off his power.
Instead of paying his bill in a timely manner, or simply even making payment arrangements beforehand to avoid this inconvenience, he demands from the Utility Company employee that he immediately put the power back on. When this demand is refused, he physically removes the employee from the official company vehicle, turns off the vehicle, breaks the key off within the ignition and proceeds to run away into the nether regions of his own property.
Did he think this would go unpunished?
What prevented him simply from waiting until the Utility Company employee left and simply turning the power back on (apart from this act being unlawful, obviously)?

Enter now the local police, who not only are looking for him, but have procured a search warrant for the premises. A bit of obvious overkill in retaliation of such a stupid act of idiocy. After hours of searching for the man himself unsuccessfully, a young lady who arrived at the scene in order to take one of the mares on a shed run to Spendthrift Farm for breeding, spots the owner stealthily slinking around one of the back pastures while checking to see that the 40 or so horses on the property had enough water and were fed.

Apprehended in the end, he resists arrest and is carted off to the local hospital, to not only have his shoulder looked at, but his psyche evaluated.

As an outsider, on wonders who would so overreact to such a simple, unfortunate financial crisis.
The name Michael Power rings a bell somewhere but I can't quite place it in recent memory.

Kentucky, May 8, 2013

Last night's occurrence tingles in the back of my mind and the name just won't fade. I do distantly remember a Michael Power involved in the Thoroughbred industry but not locally in Kentucky.
Lo and behold, memory did serve right.
Michael Power of California is now sitting in holding, awaiting arraignment in a local Scott County, Kentucky, Court.

What's the big deal you ask?
For one, the involvement of 40 head Thoroughbreds who are now without a proper caretaker and the fact that thus far, this breeding season, Mr. Power has had plenty of bad luck with red bag deliveries and fescue toxicity in his mares. These horses cannot be left unattended to birth for themselves.

Enter a friend of Mr. Power, who shall remained unnamed, who is willing to help the situation. The mares that are due to foal within the next few days or so are moved to a different location in order to prevent the worst during foaling.

So who do you ask is Michael Power?

Ah, but here then is the back story.









A quick read through these news links leaves more questions than answers:
Is Michael Power a shady character? Is he simply insane?
His own mother apparently won't help and support him in any way.

The question that remains:
How is it possible that a such obviously knowledgeable breeder with such a solid background in the industry can have such a melt down?

Mr. Power currently owns a half sister to the incredibly successful Wise Dan, winner of three Eclipse awards. The mare was in foal to Uncle Mo but aborted, probably due to the fescue issues found in his other mares at Mr. Power's Kentucky farm.

What Mr. Power needs is an accomplished attorney to get him out of the kettle of boiling water he landed himself in.

In the meantime, one has to wonder how he could have done things differently, or whether he gave any thought to the consequences of his actions?

He left a wake of bad taste in the mouth of California.
Apparently old habits are hard to break: Alienating the authorities in Kentucky is not the smartest way to establish oneself as a credible business man.

What will happen to Mr. Power's mares remains unclear at this point, as well.
In an ideal justice system, the charges against him would not leave him confined to the local barracks for long. But this is the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where nothing makes much sense when it comes to the serving of justice. The system has a mind of its own that has very little to do with rights, at least as far as the outdated and highly inconvenient document named the Constitution of the United States goes.

In this state, you are who you know.
It appears Mr. Power just does not know the right kind of people to help him out of this newest mess he's gotten himself into.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


So I haven't blogged in ages. Life happens to all of us. Plus working outside of horses to pay the bills for the horses. Well, you all know how that goes...

Sold without Pedigree.

Where do I even begin?

A year ago, I paid $20 for a gelding to get him out of the killpen at a local sale. He was so very sick, I didn't have the heart to leave the poor boy in there to suffer through who knows how many more days/weeks of not being fed, not being medicated. 
His head was as big and swollen as an elephant's. His legs were so stocked up they looked like tree trunks. He couldn't lift his head much. I don't know how he was breathing. There was snot running from his nose in rivulets. He stood in a pen that was about 10x60 with 6 other horses, all underweight, all off the track Thoroughbreds.
I called my friend who initially had asked me to stop at the sale and gave her the tattoo numbers I could read under those 7 lips.

These horses had all been shipped in by one individual named L. Browning, a known kill buyer who used to regularly pick up loads at Riverdowns. 
According to racing authorities there, this man is and at the time, was, banned from the backside of River.

Somehow, he still picked up a nice load of horses, who weren't running worth-a-crap from bottom rung trainers who don't feed their horses, so they can't run worth-a-crap, anyhow. Speculation goes that one of this man's sons actually picked up the load.
And he paid cash money for them.

Included in that load and ending up right in front of me, was a pathetically thin, horribly sick gelding named Out Bid (NY).

I thought I would take this boy to my barn, call the vet out and have him euthanized. I just couldn't stand by and watch him suffer. As sick as he was, the killer probably wouldn't want him (which he didn't, hence my $20 take-home-price). Not only that, this particular buyer actually HELPED me get the horse.
Since the Browning man who brought the load of horses down, dumped them into the pen and then took off and left, and no one bid on this horse, he probably would have been put out back into one of the pens and left there.
Perhaps a kind soul might have shot him, perhaps they might have given him a bit of hay and water before ending his misery.
Or he may have been left out back until those tree trunks finally gave out and he could no longer hang on. 

Since the barn I leased was the next property over from the sale, I took ole Buddy (this is what I called him because I didn't know his name) out of the sale yard by leadrope and simply walked him the 100 or so yards over to my barn. In the dark. It was around midnight.

As we walked, Mr. Last Leg perked up a little.
By the time I got him settled in straw bedding, with fresh water and a huge pile of clean, green, hay, he was happily munching away and nickering at me every time I walked past.

He seemed to have improved by morning. After a bath, he sure looked a whole lot better. When the vet came out, the diagnosis was "perhaps not strangles" but if he is improving by just eating, let's treat him and see.
What turned out to be perhaps not strangles was the worst case of bastard strangles along with Equine Purpura Hemorrhagica.
Ever heard of that?
Me neither.

Throughout the days and weeks to follow, while he did improve, he still cropped up with problems. After 6 months, he seemed to be good enough to be pasture kept (a friend of mine took him in, as I vacated the leased property because a great deal of problems cropped up from a certain Deb Jones from California making calls to killbuyers who were present at that particular sale and berated them, etc. Since these "gents" were all under the impression that I was the one causing the trouble and making the calls, I was told that they would arrange for animal control to impound my horses, they then would buy them from animal control and divy them up among each other to sell to slaughter and thus be reimbursed for their "troubles". I got the hell out of dodge.)

Being out in pasture, Buddy took a step back and re-erupted with strangles, yet again. 
Needless to say, it was touch and go with him for a long time but he is now completely healthy, gaining the weight back he had lost once again and completely sound.

Back up a little to the days after his arrival. After speaking with the racing officials at River, I was told that the trainers there knew better than to send horses to the killers and would no longer be welcome on the backside if they got caught doing so.

I spoke to Buddy's trainer. Mike York. I won't reiterate what people think about Mike York. If you're from Kentucky or around Southern Ohio, make some calls. Ask people. Form your own opinion.

York swore to me he had no idea how the horse ended up at this sale (uh hu...) and that he would get me his papers. He thought his wife had them. 
I called him again a few weeks later and was again told that he would locate those papers for me and send them to me. (uh hu...)
You bite your tongue and just act sweet and friendly. Give people enough rope and they will hang themselves every single time.

It's been a year. The racing office told York to surrender those papers to me. He was given the benefit of the doubt. (uh hu...)

Today, I logged onto the JC Registry to check on a horse's registration status.
I don't know what made me look up Out Bid. 
There in plain old English, listed among the Registration Activity, it states:

SOLD w/o Pedigree.

You cannot imagine the anger I felt. I called the JC. The young lady there looked up the actual paperwork.
The signatures on the "sold without pedigree" paperwork are the following:
Seller: Mike York
Buyer: Larry Browning.

This registration revocation is, according to JC Rules, irreversible.

I didn't actually need the papers. I would never have raced this boy again.
Not the point. It's the principle.

Give people enough rope, they WILL hang themselves. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
The truth ALWAYS comes to light.

I can't imagine how Mike York thought he was going to get away with 
"Oh my God, I can't believe he ended up at a slaughter sale!" I sold him to a nice man who was going to use him as a kids horse!"

I might be inclined to believe that, if it weren't common and public knowledge that Mike York and Larry Browning have dealt with one another for years.

Out Bid (NY) is ready for something other than being a pasture puff. He is available for adoption. 
He is sound, rideable, kind, smart. He needs the same in a person. Well, except for the rideable part, I suppose.

Contact me if you're looking for that type of horse. He's a bit plain in looks but has lots of bone and is 16.1 or taller.

Sold without Pedigree? Really? 
Tell that to the horse. 
He looks just like his sire. 

Take Me Out

Friday, July 15, 2011

Feet. Errrrrr.... Hooves, I mean

Thought I'd put these thoughts on paper again. Kentucky has been one wet state this year.
It's affecting hooves. I'm seeing abscesses, most friends I have are having trouble right now.

I've got a horse I picked up out of the killpen at a slaughter sale years ago. He was there because of his feet. Since I've spent years restoring bad hooves, taking him home was not a real big deal to me, although a ton of work.

He had chronic coffin joint infections and laminitis. There was only a small degree of rotation in one of his hooves. Treating this boy compared to some I've treated in the past was a cake-walk.

Over the years, when you're dealing with laminitis and founder, what you'll find out is that you can literally restore the majority of horses back to soundness IF you're willing to take the time and do the work. And it's a lot of work.

And there are a lot of products out there that are supposed to help hoof health.
Let me put it this way: Been there, done that, have the T-Shirt.
The results are, at best, lacking. Hoof supplements are great for horses who already have healthy hooves, or just general hoof problems (by that I mean problems other than laminitis or chronic infections).

Laminitis CAN be fixed. Not through the use of bizarre shoes that constrict blood-flow to the hoof even more. It's a painful, long, tedious process and it can take years, but it can be done. It all depends on what you want the horse to be able to do, long-term.

Make a long story short, I meant to address a big market out there concerning hooves:

There is only ONE supplement that is worth the money I've paid for and I've used it outside of its' intended purpose, as well:

Power Horse Trace Minerals.

The boy I got from the killpen took a year or so to be sound at all gaits, and by that I mean racing gaits: Walk, Trot, Canter, Gallop. For 2 years or more, he kept abscessing and going dead-lame. I tried everything under the sun, or so I thought to avail him whatever help I could find on the market,
Biotin is crap. General hoof-supplements are crap. I needed something that would finally put a stop on the ongoing problems this horse was having with abscesses, which were due to DEAD tissue in his hooves, not gravel.
An abscess is a good bit different than a gravel.
When live tissue dies and is still present in the hoof, the fact that the hoof has blood circulation in it, will keep renewing the live tissue through blood-supply and oxygenation.
This can take years.

The coffin bone (the bone inside the hoof which sort of resembles a triangle that sits ground-parallel) is the only bone in a mammal that has its own blood supply. This means that when this bone is cut into or injured, it can actually bleed.
The lamina in the hoof are what keep the coffin bone "floating" in position. This feather-like, small contraption interlock with each other and provide sort of a cushion structure directly inside the hoof walls.
When laminitis occurs, there is an inflammation of the lamina.
Since the hoof has blood supply circulating through it, which is obviously provided by the horses' total blood supply, there can be different reasons why this happens.
The main reason is probably elevated bacterial levels from fermentation of feed in the intestines.
When fermentation of feed occurs (i. e. from feeding corn, since corn is barely disgested in the stomach; corn basically gets digested in the cecum - past the stomach- where it is broken down through fermentation. Feed to much corn and you're really helping put your horse at risk for laminitis). Too much fermentation, which creates bacteria in order to take place and those bacteria float on through the bloodstream to eventually reach the hooves.

Voila! Laminitis.

Limiting blood supply to the hooves is a dumb idea. Oxygen regenerates cells and helps them heal. Hence putting bar shoes or other medieval contraptions on your horses' feet, in the long run, isn't going to HEAL the problem.

If your horse is in the acute stages of laminitis, there are things you can do to stop it from progressing.

1. Stand him in ice or a cold stream of water. Cooling off those hooves will keep the inflammation from progressing and, in many cases, it will stop the episode.

2. Keep him moving. BL Solution in lieu of bute can be a great help without irritating the stomach.

3. If you keep your horse turned out in a dry lot (grass is not a good idea if you know you're dealing with grass-related founder), make sure that you keep his hay and water apart at a good distance. You need to force your horse to have to move.
Movement increases blood supply. Blood supply generates higher levels of oxygen. You follow the logic here.

4. If he's laminitic because of exposure to any sort of toxic weed, get some activated charcoal (any pharmacy will have this). You may have to syringe it into him. Watch out, this stuff will stain!

5. Get your horse some Power Horse Trace Minerals. The stuff is patented for the treatment of laminitis and is a potent detox agent.

I keep my runners on Power Horse. It's simply chelated trace minerals that come from an ancient seabed rock in South America. Every mineral you can imagine is in there.
Nothing will help your horses' hooves like this stuff.
Additionally, it helps plug nutritional deficiencies and gets rid of overages. If your horse likes to eat dirt, there is something lacking in his diet. Power Horse will fix that.

I've known people who have used it to help with Cushings.

And coming back to the reason I wrote this post:

When I put my boy on Power Horse, he blew 6 abscesses out of one hoof and 7 out of the other within a one month period. The poor thing couldn't stand straight throughout. I still soaked and packed and turned him out.

Since then, he's had an odd abscess here and there over the years but nothing serious like the dead matter that was shed out of his hoof when I put him on Power Horse that first time.
He grew a brand-new hoof in a 4 month period.
His feet used to be shelly, his hoof walls thin.
No more. He's got the thickest hoofwall I've seen on a horse and his feet are so rock-hard that it's tough to trim them.

So, do your horse a favor. If he has hoof problems, put him on Power Horse Trace Minerals and put an end to his (and your) problems.

This soap box address is now officially concluded.