Friday, October 31, 2008

What a day!

No, we didn't win the race. But we had a blast and Lady had a super first race experience!

She was great in the receiving barn all day. She settled down and relaxed well. It was an awful long wait for that last race. She was happy and excited going to the paddock, acted great all around.

In all the hustle, I was never able to see where she lay in the race. I kept asking, where is she?

She ran 9th. Not a great accomplishment BUT once I talked to the jockey, I was thrilled with her.

This is his report:

She got a bit nervous in the gate when one of the other horses was acting out. She broke a bit slow but really wanted to be involved. When field (moving very fast) started heading in towards the rail, she was in good contention UNTIL- sand hit her in the face. The kickback really made her shy away from the field ahead of her. I just watched the replay and you can see her head goes up and she back off. Well, this accomplished what she wished for- no more sand in her face but it also put her back far enough to be out of real contention.
But here is the good part. Once he got her settled, she really started coming on late.

I've been thinking this filly is a miler. Her owner was pretty convinced she is a short distance sprinter.
This is what Michael asked: She came on strong late, but the race was too short for her. Have you thought about trying her in, oh a mile race maybe?

I actually had to laugh because I initially wanted to put her in at Keeneland for a race on the Beard Course, which is all the way around the track from the shute and comes to roughly 7 furlongs and 183 yards. Lady's owner was worried that may be too much for her, so we waited for something shorter.

Well, I'm about to go dig around in the condition book for a 1 mile on the turf for fillies.

She came back great from the race, wasn't tired, breathing well, cooled out a good 15 minutes before the other horses in the receiving barn and dug right into her hay. She tried to be her usual impatient, wenchy self at bath time and actually tried to kick Jose (a friend of mine who I taught to gallop 2 summers ago and he comes and rides and helps out once in a while and he spent the day with us). She pranced all round the barn, wanted to play and once in her stall was acting like she wanted to go back to the track for more.

We beat 3 very nice horses by a really good margin (one of the favorites, actually) and I am mighty proud of my girl!

Wanted to post this before I get too tired. It's been a long, long day, we all had a wonderfully fun time (including the Ladybug) and we are ready to try again in a couple of weeks.

Her owner's brother video'd the race with his super nice, high tech camera and is going to send me a dvd of it. I can't wait. I will upload it and you guys can watch it. He had a much nicer angle and better zoom going than the tv cameras did, plus he focused on her, so it's a really nice video.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is he for real?

I know this is way off the subject, as far as all the excitement with Lady, but I had to share.

While at Churchill earlier this morning, I ran across this horse at the receiving barn and was completely taken aback by his color. I've seen photos of White Thoroughbreds before, but have never seen one in person.

Well, I, of course, took out my phone and asked permission to photograph this ham!

A 3 year old colt - 16.2 tall, well put together, by Pioneering out of a Hatchet Man mare. Apparently mama is a White TB, as well and has thrown 2 other White TB foals.

I looked at his race results and he didn't run well, which I was sorry to hear. This boy was so sweet and friendly and I was really rooting for him.

His name? Patchen Prince.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Competition

Friday is only a day away! Waaaaahhhh! I'm not ready! I need more time! *ruffling through hair*

Luckily, Lady is ready (this is where the huge emoticon with the big cheesy grin would go).

I need to share about our competition. The morning line odds have been published. We, along with another filly, are the longest shots. Little do they know we don't need to shoot...
Ok, ok, I'll stop. I'm giddy with excitement, can you tell?

Here is the line up:

Churchill Downs - October 31st, 2008 - Race 10
Estimated Local Post Time: 5:03 PM
Race Type: Maiden Special Weight
Breed: Thoroughbred
Age Restriction: Three Year Old and Upward
Sex: Fillies and Mares
Purse: $46,000
Distance: Six Furlongs
Surface: Dirt
Post Horse
Age Sex Weight
Dress in Dubai (KY)
Joe M. Johnson
Brian S. Dance
3 Filly 120
Michael T. Trivigno
B. S. Dance
Splash of Colour (KY)
Rene R. Douglas
Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith
3 Filly 120
Todd A. Pletcher
Iron County Farms, Inc.
Esther Got Even (KY)
Julien R. Leparoux
Tomisue Hilbert and John R. Menard
3 Filly 120
Nicholas P. Zito
Hilbert Thoroughbreds, Inc. &Menard Thoroughbreds, Inc.
Coy Cat (KY)
Kent J. Desormeaux
Jay Em Ess Stable (Mace and Samantha Siegel)
3 Filly 120
Paul J. McGee
Nick Cafarchia
Elusive Sparkle (KY)
Calvin H. Borel
James B. Tafel, LLC (James B. Tafel)
3 Filly 120
Carl A. Nafzger
James Tafel
Sapphiresndiamonds (KY)
Shaun Bridgmohan
Courtlandt Farms (Donald A. Adam)
3 Filly 120
Neil J. Howard
Kilroy Throughbred Partnership
Gold 'n Brush (KY)
Corey J. Lanerie
Purdedel, LLC (Mara and Edwin Edelberg)
3 Filly 120
Dale L. Romans
James A. Cater Family Trust A
Yes Im Woman (FL)
Robby Albarado
Gold Mark Farm, LLC (Theodore P. Bulmahn)
3 Filly 120
Dallas Stewart
Rick Sutherland
One Lady's Vice (KY)
Michael J. James
William Stull
3 Filly 110
Tres J. Delaforce
Claude Felts
Tithe (KY)
Miguel Mena
Claiborne Farm (Seth W. Hancock)
3 Filly 120
Albert M. Stall, Jr.
Claiborne Farm
Thendara's Passion (KY)
Jamie Theriot
Lisa and Tommy R. Mills
3 Filly 120
Tommy Ray Mills
Diane T. Webb & T & L Equine
Bozena (KY)
Tracy J. Hebert
Jody Guida
3 Filly 120
Jared Roberts
Anthony E. Guida
Haunted Hotel (KY)
Tracy J. Hebert
Donamire Farm (Don and Mira Ball)
4 Filly 122
Katherine G. Ball
Donamire Farm
Laca (KY)
Julien R. Leparoux
Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey
3 Filly 120
Michael J. Maker
Hokuyou Farm

Are you guys reading all those names? The trainers?
Pletcher, Romans, Zito, Nafzger- we're in a race with Carl Nafzger!!!!!
Mike Maker has an also eligible on the list. AE= Also Eligible. Those horses can draw into the race if some other horse scratches. If no one else scratches, the AEs will automatically be scratched from the line up.

How about some of those owners?

Mr. & Mrs. John Magnier- those folks own Coolmore Stud. Ya'll know what that is, right?
Claiborne Farm, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey.

This reads like a who's-who of racing.

Cept for lil' ol' us there.

Underdogs. Underdog owner. Underdog trainer. Underdog horse. Underdog jockey.

Wooof wooof woooof!!!

I'd say this is a heavenly alignment of deserving participants waiting to be rewarded by the Universe for their faith, hard work and good humor.

If Lady wins this race, I'm not even gonna die, I'm just going straight to heaven. So will her owner and our little bug boy. Lady? Well, I think she'll just take it all in stride and act like she never expected anything less. The racing news headlines will be off the charts. A barefoot horse??? No way!

If she doesn't win, well, she'll run a good race anyway, I know that much. And she'll gain a huge load of experience. And then she'll go out and win her next one. Either way, we can't lose.

Are those crosses toes I'm seeing beyond the monitor? Are they? I better! Fingers, too!

Wooof wooof wooof, watch out big dawgs, cause here we come!

Since ya asked....

Ok, ok, so I can tell you guys how to watch this race for free.
But there is a hitch.
You have to absolutely hoot and holler for Lady as loud as you can. Or I'm not sharing the secret.

One of two ways:

If you have Dishnetwork Satellite TV- (Direct TV won't work)
Channel 404 HRTV- The Horse Racing Network
They will transmit every race at Churchill Downs.
Around 4:40 pm, tune in, there should be discussion of the race coming up.
It is the 10th race, last one on the card. She'll be wearing the turquoise #9 saddle towel.
I'm dying to hear what the handicappers are going to say about her. They might not talk about her much at all. Then they'll wish they had after she runs well.
The race goes off at 5:03 pm.

If you don't have Dishnetwork, I do know you guys have a broadband internet connection, here is what you do:

Go to:
Create an account. It's free and you can opt out of any mailings if you so wish.
Once you create your account, log in.
Click on the link along the top tabs titled "Video"

There will be a list of races along the right. Make sure you have the right race date and select Race 10. It'll play for you right there, online.
I'm not sure if they play live race videos, but this is a way to watch the race once it's over.

Remember, you are honorbound to root Lady on loudly and in the most obnoxious manner possible. Race fans are the ones who coined the phrase: "Go Baby, Go!!!!"

I'm going to be praying real hard and envisioning us in the winner's circle for the next 48 hours.

I'll put up another post in a little while about our competition. Yikes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We're playing with the BIG DAWGS now!!!!!!!


What a day!

Crack of dawn and all- and yes, I froze the rest of my rear off- Lady kicked some butt this morning.

Unfortunately, our jockey- a bug boy (a bug is an apprentice jockey who gets a 10 lbs. weight allowance. Because of this, they place a little asterisk, a bug, next to his name in the entries) didn't come to get on Lady. Apparently, he was dumped by a horse at 6:30 a.m. and his agent sent him home to get rest and recoup because he is riding tomorrow.

Soooooo.... you guys are gonna think I've lost my mind..... I ended up putting the drunk cologne guy on her. The way I figured, all I wanted was to blow her out. Lady is the kind of horse I could put a sack of potatoes on and you couldn't screw her up. She knows what she's doing and the rider is really more of a technicality.

I did, however, give him instructions. I also got really sneaky! When I was getting her ready and was about to pick her feet, I didn't want him to see she had no shoes, so I sent him off on an errand:
"Oh, hun, would you please do me a huge favor? Would you go find Tom for me? I don't know where he went off to, but I would really appreciate it!"

Off he went and I gave this evil mwahahahaha laugh out loud and picked out Lady's barenekkid feets.

Told the guy to warm her up nicely and gallop her out a bit after the work. No whip. I don't want a huge time on her. I've been giving her nice easy works and so far we have never asked her. Period. Most works she's been held. Some works more than I would ever have liked.

Lady is so ready to go she doesn't want to stand still for anything. Head nodding, pawing, more head nodding, ear pinning, head wigging back and forth, you get the idea.
So drunk cologne guy gets on and heads out.

The siren sounds as they approach the gap. Siren means a loose horse on the track. The longer the sound lasts, the more serious the mishap. This one lasted a good few seconds. Turned out to be a couple of horses ran into each other but no one was hurt.

None of this fazes Ladybug.

I run to catch up with Tom so we can head over to the clocker's stand.

Drunk cologne guy actually seems to be doing ok. He's got a choke hold on her- head is tucked big time, she's jogging sideways very slowly. I tell Tom he screws this one up, I'm jumping down there on the track and kicking his ass! Everyone laughs. I don't know why, I was dead serious.

He heads her out towards the turn. Starts off galloping. Lady's tail is swishing up and down back and forth- she's pissed and wants to run FAST. He tries to hold her enough to give her an easy work but half way between the quarter pole and the eight pole she starts running off.

Tom and I watch her tick off horses as she goes. I'm smiling because she has so so much speed and is absolutely amazing to watch. Tom is smiling because drunk cologne guy is basically screwing up, letting her run off and he knows I'm going to read him the riot act.

He did get a hold of her a few yards before the 3F mark.

Galloped her out to 6F- either that or couldn't pull her up until then. Kept at a canter another furlong and then turned her around and let her jog back a little.

I checked in with the clocker to get her time and was relieved it wasn't as "bad" as I thought it might have been:

Horse nameOne Lady's Vice
Activity typeWorkout
Activity date10-28-2008
TrackChurchill Downs
Distance3 Furlongs
Workout typeBreezing
Workout time0:36.80
Track conditionFast

She went in 36 and 4.

I head back to the receiving barn to meet her.

By the time I get there, Tom already caught her and is looking at me: "What'd she get?"
"36 and 4"
"No shit!? That's nice!"

I give him "the" look and reply loud enough for drunk cologne man to hear me:
"Yea, I really didn't want her going that fast."
Drunk cologne guy pops his head out of the stall and says:
"I swear, I NEVER asked her. She is really strong! Man, this filly can run. But I'm telling you, I NEVER asked her. Look what she did to my hands!"
And he holds out his hands, palm up. The skin is rubbed off where he held the reins.

I refrain from making a caustic comment relating to his being a sissy. Evil me.

While I walk Ladybug around, she cools out quickly, isn't breathing hard. Totally full of herself, of course. After walking for 10 minutes she decides she's had enough with walking and since I'm now on the phone with my left hand, calling the racing office to enter her for the race on Friday, she takes full advantage and drags me out of the barn to the wash rack area. I turn her back around into the barn, she turns us back around out of the barn. This tug goes on until I tell the entry clerk to hang on a second, please and use both hands to drag her back into the barn to walk. She doesn't like this at all.
Tom takes pity and jumps in to give her a few rounds so I can finish making the entry.

Since we're entered without shoes, I get to talk to the stewards to get approval. I never understood why I always have to get approved to run barefoot. It's not as if I'm declaring the use of equipment, or change of equipment, which is supposed to be why you have to get stewards' approval. I'm actually electing to NOT use a piece of equipment, which wasn't on my horse to begin with- in other words, I'm just leaving my horse "as is"- so why do I have to declare an equipment "change"? Silly, really.

Surprisingly, the entry clerk thinks I don't have to talk to the stewards. I make him transfer me anyway. I've always had to get approval a year ago, so I doubt this clerk knows what they are talking about.

Well, the steward I talk to asks what I need, I explain I just entered and running without shoes. He tells me pretty much he doesn't give a hoot. Is he for real? Is this the coolest steward on the face of the racing world???

There has been such controversy over shoes lately, toe grabs, no toe grabs, rins, no rims, injuries, etc. I'm told later that I could have entered her in high heels and they would have ok'ed me probably. Now there's a picture.

So after all the entering and giving info, we wait for Tattoo Charlie. That's not really his name but Lady needed her lip tattooed and today was the day.
Tattoo Charlie really likes Lady because she doesn't seem to think it's any sort of big deal at all. After he is done, she wipes her mouth on the stall wall. She then sticks her lip out, doing the "I smell you" gesture. Then she eats hay.

We head back to the training center after arguing with her about getting on the trailer (same routine as the out of the barn, into the barn thing, she starts walking on, then turns and goes left or right or in a circle. She doesn't do this coming to Churchill, she does it going home and I know like I know the back of my hand that she's really arguing with me:
"Nooooo, I like it HERE- I get to run fast HERE- matter of fact, let's go over to the big round track and do it again right NOW! Noooo, it's THIS way, not that way. Come on!!"

This afternoon, I find out we made it in. Huge company. Big names. We're the underdog. Underdog owner, underdog trainer, underdog horse. We drew post position 9, which gave me a weird shivery feeling of deja vu- somewhere I have seen that turquoise saddle towel on her. In a dream perhaps. The number just feels so right for her.

I have a feeling about this filly. Her owner believes she is his once in a lifetime horse. I tend to agree. We'll find out Friday in the last race at Churchill Downs.

Look out big dawgs, here we come! And we're gonna give you a huge run for your money!

Here is her entry:

Horse nameOne Lady's Vice
Activity typeEntry
Activity date10-31-2008
TrackChurchill Downs
Distance6 Furlongs
Race number10
Race typeMaiden Special Weight
Post position9
JockeyJames M J
Race entry

Monday, October 27, 2008

All horses go to heaven, right?

It's friggin cold!!!! I'm freezing! Who ordered this weather anyway?
The gang all loves this. Doodle was at his best today, only he didn't try to dump Cowboy. I suspect that is because Cowboy is sick with a really bad cold. Doodle knows what's on his back. He won't endanger a rider.

The wind was whipping around the barn at 20+ mph, the temps were in the low 40's and by the time I left, I actually put blankets on everyone.

Ladybug is gearing towards a big race on Friday. Entries are tomorrow. It's a 6F Maiden Special Weight at Churchill Downs. I realized while talking to her owner yesterday that I fully expect her to kick serious ass and it never occurred to me that she might not win.

Now, that's a little bizarre, since usually when you are entering a horse, you might have a pretty good feeling that the horse will probably do well for you, but just to take it off the top like that..?

We're going in to Churchill for a last work- a nice little 3F "blowout" - get some air in her. I won't work them at the training center, the track is horrid.

As cold as it is right now, and tonight it's supposed to freeze, tomorrow morning is going to be absolutely miserable. Get up at 4:30 a.m., get her ready and loaded at 6:30 a.m., haul over to CD, all of this when it's REALLY cold. YUCK!!! Reminds me of racing last winter at Turfway Park.

Anyway, this afternoon, Ladybug went out for an easy 2.5 miles. While heading out of the barn up to the track, she stops. Rick was out there a few moments before just stopping on a horse to head back up to their barn. Big dark bay gelding who belongs to an old guy up the hill at the top barn. Nice old man, nice horse.

Lady wouldn't budge. She turned her neck and head and was looking up the track to the left, her ears playing back and forth, just staring.

Well, Rick was no longer on the horse. Someone was leading the horse, who could not really walk on his right rear leg. Rick had unsaddled him and was toting the tack up the hill, while the other guy was very slowly walking the horse out of the shute off the track.

I thought, oh shit. This isn't good. The way he won't walk on that leg, I hope he didn't break it.
Cowboy says, naw, he seemed to walk sort of still, it's probably not broken.

Lady turned around and continued up the path to the track. As an afterthought, I hollered at Cowboy: " 2-2 and 1- but real nice and easy, ok?" He gave me the thumbs up.

Lady is quite a pro. She knows exactly what she's supposed to be doing out there and relishes every bit of it. She knows she's not supposed to go fast, so she tucks her head in, grabs the bit, leans against it, ears back and I swear all that's missing is the eyes closed. She REALLY wants to go. Just take off and gogogogo. I won't let her. A little speed is ok out there but anything approaching a work speed is bad business on that surface.

She comes back and isn't even breathing. I'm mighty proud of her. I do believe she is set up perfectly for this race on Friday. We work tomorrow, she gets Wednesday off, she repeats Thursday what she did today and Friday she can blow by the competition like they're nothing.

Since it's too cold to bathe anyone, and neither of them are sweating, I just sponged the saddle area and chest a little, threw over a blankie and cooled them out grazing.

We have a vet that comes out to the training center every Monday. He's a track vet. He was making his rounds and I noticed he was at the upper barn when the hurt gelding was coming off the track already. Since I needed to get a health certificate from him for the haul tomorrow, I was hoping to catch him soon without having to outwait everyone else's turn, so that way I could feed and get out on the road before too late.

Another trainer in my barn, Lisa, needed a health certificate for her horse, as well, so she trekked up to the upper barn and offered to pick mine up, as well.

After all the other chores and blanketing everyone (an adventure in itself with 2 horses who had never had blanket on before), I fed, water off, raked the shedrow and was just done putting catfood out for Leo, my blond boyfriend (ok, so he really isn't a boyfriend but a big, huge, long haired apricot cat who adopted me about 2 months ago. He weighs a minimum 20 lbs, easily), I was just about to gather my assistant trainer (Doggins, a 7 year old Rottie who still has his tail) and the little pest (a 7 week old red Aussie puppy Anne, the trainer in back of me, had picked up out of a ditch by the side of the road) when Doc comes walking around the corner.

"Hey, you leaving already? Need anything else?"
I'm usually there until at least 6 p.m. but have been scooting things up a little with winter starting in.
"No, I'm good. Thank you!"

As I walk off, I remember to ask him about the gelding.

"Hey Doc, that gelding who broke down, is he ok?"

Doc looks sad and shakes his head. "No, he's dead. I had to put him down. He shattered his pastern."

A quick, silent prayer that this boy is in a better place now. A guilt-filled thought that, thank God it wasn't one of my horses. My heart goes out to the old guy. He really cared about this horse.

Another quick round through the barn, kissing all my babies goodnight.

Sleep tight.

Don't let the track bugs bite.

Be safe.

See you in the morning.

I love all of you.

Looking for the right home

I've mentioned a filly in a previous post, Darcy, aka "Loosy Goosy".
I repo'ed her for a friend from a "buyer".

I've brought this girl's weight back up, rebroke her under saddle, started training her. She's had about a month on the track- jogging 1.5 miles and baby galloping about a half mile just to learn her balance.

Darcy needs to find a new home. Although she probably has the speed it would take to be a nice racehorse, her mind has been so warped by the "buyer", she has too many issues to go on training without hitches.

Her owner can't afford to take her back and asked that I find a good home for her.

Unfortunately, a training center is not set up for the kind of attention this little girl needs.

Ideally, she would find a person who would be willing to let her unwind and trust again. Darcy gets herself worked up into little episodes - when something worries her, it eventually gets to where it overpowers her "thinking process". She has a meltdown. When this happens, the only thing that calms her down is to be able to get back in her stall. What's missing is her yelling: "Let me back in my house!!!"

This is the kind of filly that really needs to know and trust her handler.
She does anything I ask of her, so long as I am the only one around.

She grooms, picks up her feet, lets me touch her anywhere, she bathes, she walks, leads, knows verbal commands. She rides, WTC, she knows all her ground commands, moves off pressure wonderfully. I've practiced the Parelli Seven Games with her and she knows exactly what is asked of her. She longes.

She even trust Cowboy, who rides her to the track and is very kind and patient with girls like her.

Bring in a new person and she unravels. She won't pick up her feet for the farrier. She sees a rasp and becomes absolutely terrified.

I don't know what was done to her during her month plus with the "buyer" but I do know it wasn't good.

Darcy also has a problem with nasal discharge from her left nostril. We've treated it with antibiotics, which cleared the color but not the discharge. She's had her guttural pouches flushed twice, they are completely clean. She's been scoped twice- her lungs are clean, her throat is fine, her nasal passages are fine, there is no indication of cysts, growths, abscesses or anything else of the sort.
The two vets who have examined her both believe the discharge is a result of needing to be vaccinated- they call it the baby snots. She has had one shot so far and needs to continue going through being vaccinated so that this discharge may clear up.
If it doesn't, she would probably need xrays of her head to see if there is something more serious going on that is causing this discharge.
It isn't contagious to other horses, or humans.

This sweet filly needs to find her person.
She has beautiful gaits, lots of suspension, a nice forward mover.

Her pedigree is very different:

SEA DAR (USA) dkb/br. F, 2005 DP = 3-3-8-0-0 (14) DI = 2.50 CD = 0.64

b. 1996
blk/br. 1981
b. 1970
br. 1958 [C]

TURN-TO (IRE) b. 1951 [BI]
b. 1962
TOM FOOL (USA) b. 1949 [IC]
BEBOP (FR) b. 1957
ch. 1971
dkb/br. 1963
ch. 1942 [B]
HIGH VOLTAGE (USA) gr. 1952 *
ch. 1961
JET PILOT (USA) ch. 1944
MISS BUSHER (USA) ch. 1949
dkb/br. 1985
b. 1979
b. 1968 [BI]
TOM ROLFE (USA) b. 1962 [CP]
WAVY NAVY (USA) b. 1954
b. 1968
CYANE (USA) b. 1959
dkb/br. 1973
br. 1962
BOLD RULER (USA) br. 1954 [BI]
CASCADE (GB) dkb/br. 1951
gr. 1961
ch. 1942 [B]
KITTEN (USA) gr. 1956
b. 1996
b. 1987
blk/br. 1969 [BC]
br. 1958 [C]

TURN-TO (IRE) b. 1951 [BI]
b. 1953
ALMAHMOUD (USA) ch. 1947 *
b. 1970
b. 1954
OWEN TUDOR (GB) br. 1938
ch. 1960
NATO (GB) ch. 1953
ch. 1990
ch. 1984
ch. 1975 [C]
RAISE A NATIVE (USA) ch. 1961 [B]
SWEET TOOTH (USA) b. 1965 *
dkb/br. 1976
RIVERMAN (USA) br. 1969 [IC]
FIRST BLOOM (GB) b. 1969
b. 1957 [I]
INDIAN HEMP (GB) ch. 1949
b. 1961
MBALE (GB) ch. 1945

She is an outcross, obviously- with her closest inbreeding to Hail to Reason several generations back.
She's a little long in her pasterns, which is not causing her any problems with soundness, has great feet (she is barefoot) and probably would have been better off had she been built a little less straight in her front, being a little bit back at the knees. Again, this has not been any problem for her soundness wise.

Her papers are in order and whoever would like to take this girl home must absolutely provide references and keep in touch with me about her progress.

She is free to the right person. If you or anyone you know is seriously interested in taking her on as a project, please contact me via email.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Is he feeling good, or what!??

Today was one of those brisk, windy and sunny days. Doodle had a day off yesterday- as did everyone else, because we got "rained out". I know, I know, rained out is for sissies. But it wasn't my fault. Cowboy, my exercise rider called me super early to tell me that the track is shit, totally washed out and under water in places. No one is training and he's heading home.

Fine. I'll have another cup of coffee before I get all bundled up and head to work. Some mornings work out great that way, don't they?

Well, the rains stopped. Good thing, too. It's been getting way too chilly too fast these last few days. Just when you get used to the 90 degree weather with the 90% humidity, guzzling gallons of water, someone decides summer is over and here comes fall. Only fall seems to be jumping right into winter here. I guess I'm still spoiled from the years of living down south. I'd rather bake any day than freeze my buns off.

So this morning, I was expecting a load of shavings. But since I could no longer store them in an empty stall, I had to find a different place to dump them. Which required my buying a huge tarp. Which put me behind schedule by 10 minutes. Which I knew would happen, therefore I called my Shavings people and left a voicemail early to let them know.

When I arrive at the barn, I see MY shavings being dumped at the OTHER side of the barn by ANOTHER trainer's shedrow. Grrrrrrrrrrr there goes the slow mo, easy mood.

"Oh I'll come back in a coupla hours with another load" the man tells me.
In the meantime, Rick, the other trainer is grinning at me:
"I didn't mean to steal your load of shavings..."
"The hell you didn't! What were you thinking?"

He laughs and promises to make up for it. As if he has anything I might want or need.

I get to working on Doodle's stall, still grumbling over how this is going to put me behind a couple of hours and how I really wanted to make it home by 5:30 pm to see the Breeder's Cup Turf and Classic when Cowboy sticks his head around the corner and says:
"You're next! Get Doodle ready! I'll be right back!" and out of the shedrow he rides on Anne's frisky little gelding (this little horse has run two seconds in MSW races back to back and Anne thought the first time he was in way over his head. The boy went off at 86-1 and came in second! I was a shouting fool, watching him on tv)

I yell back- "Nooooo- take another one first. I need more time so that I don't have to run myself ragged not having everything ready by the time you get back with Doodle."

While Cowboy's out there, the Russian rolls in.

Ha! I'm saved. Cowboy will have to go do some other bizarre shit for the guy probably, so I have more than enough time to finish the stall, get the bath water ready (no, I don't do the fence tying, hosing and drip drying thing, sorry).

Cowboy gets back, gets on Doodle.
There are days when Doodle is walking out of the shedrow and slowly up to the track, alert, looking around, ready to do his exercise routine. There are days when Doodle is supposed to walk out of the shedrow to the track and just stops- looking left and right across the drive, putting off going out there, but still in a happy mood, at which point I usually literally get behind him and push with both hands and all my weight (I tell you, this has elicited some real laughs on part of other trainers).
Then there are days when Doodle is so happy that he can't wait to get out there.

Today was one of those days.

Going up the path to the track, a horse was coming down the stretch and Doodle rears up and bucks, spins and wheels and whinnies his loud, very hoarse stallion whinny and wants to take off.
Cowboy is arguing with him and gets him back in hand.
He goes out there and once he starts jogging, he's collected, pushing forward and arguing with Cowboy to let him have his head.
This usually means- Dude, I want to run, just get off or let me run with you on top.

But today's routine isn't calling for all out running. Jog a mile and a half, gallop a mile. Let him have fun but make sure he uses his whole body.

See, Doodle is one of these epically lazy horses. Whatever least amount of effort he will get away with, is what he will put forth. To see him put something like real energy and enthusiam into going, is a very joyful moment.

After the jogging part is over, they come into the near turn. Doodle all of a sudden grabs the bit out of Cowboy's hands and goes to take off like he's coming out of a starting gate. Holy mackerell, when that doesn't work out to his plans, he tries to wheel on him and dump him.
Not! Cowboy gets him back in hand.

In the meantime, Anne and I are watching and commenting on how well the Doodlebug is moving out. He is feeling good and it's obvious to any onlooker.

As the galloping gets underway more calmly, I figure, well, let me make sure I have everything ready. I step around the corner back to my shedrow and bath area.

When I come back, Cowboy is on his way back off the track with Doodle. As they approach, I can tell Cowboy is talking but I can't tell what he is saying. He comes across the drive and looks at me- Doodle looks extremely self-satisfied, Cowboy is red in the face:
"You know what? He is a common asshole!"

Anne and I both start laughing.

"No, seriously, did you see all that shit he tried to pull out there? He is an asshole! He thought he had one of these kids you teach to gallop on his back! Asshole!"

And as he enters the barn to give him a turn:

"A COMMON asshole!"

Well. What do you say to that? I'm trying not to smile. I go in and catch Doodle, put his halter on and whisper to him how well he did, how proud I am of him. Cowboy can't hear this. Good thing, too.

But Doodle hears it. He always hears me. While I bathe him by myself (he just stands there for me not being tied), I continue praising my boy and while I dry his face off with the sponge, I give him a big kiss on the side of his muzzle, grab his huge head in my arms as he rubs it against me and tell him:
Gosh, I just loooooooove you, you bestest bestest racehorse in the whole world, you!

Funny how the harried mood I started the morning off with completely changed simply by my horse showing me the wonderful mood he was in.

Rest of the day went just peachy.

Thank you, Doodle.

Pity the fools who actually pay humans for therapy sessions....

The Russian

The Russian

This man showed up about a month ago with 3 (or maybe it was 4) horses. Their coats all caked in dirt, right out of the pasture apparently. He rolled in with a big rig, hauling a stock trailer. Yup, you read right, a real Big Rig. Like the ones truckers drive?
Well, he comes in on weekends, sticks his 3 horses in the three stalls he's been renting. Then he gets Cowboy to take them out there and work them.
When I say work, I mean "official" work. A timed event. From the gate, too.

These horses we jokingly call the Russian Quarterhorses. They all have diarrhea- they walk around the shedrow and invariably leave a trail of the nastiest diarrhea poop right smack in MY shedrow. They're ungroomed. No shoes, no trim, just out of the pasture into the trailer, over to the training center. Apparently the diarrhea is a direct result of a full bucket of whole corn given to each horse as soon as they are put in their stalls. I'm absolutely amazed that these guys don't friggin keel over dead or colicking as soon as they come back from the track.

After they run around the track like persued by a swarm of killer bees (and surprisingly they do actually have quite a bit of stamina and speed although they don't look it), Cowboy comes back to the barn, hands the horse over to the Russian who does the most bizarre thing.
Well, let me back up. Since he's been sending them in pairs, Rick (another rider and actually a starter- one of the guys that works the starting gates at the racetrack) usually gets on one of the others and so there are two horses coming back together.

The Russian ties both horses to the fence across the driveway from the barn. He then gets the hose and group hoses them off. Then they stay tied to the fence until they sort of drip dry. After which, he unties both of them at the same time and walks ahead of them to the stalls. These horses just follow him like little puppy dogs and go into their stalls.

I'm usually not the type of person to judge others. We've speculated that this man must be doing something to train these horses back at home, wherever that is. Perhaps he chases them around the pasture with a 4 wheeler. Or he might actually get someone to gallop them regularly. He says he's on the road with his rig all week. Who knows. Or maybe he's a horse whisperer and has them trained so well, that hey! they train themselves while he is gone on the road!?

Bizarre, to be sure. But they seem happy with him. They obviously trust him.
Go figure...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just sick!

I just read a report sent by a friend who frequents the Sugarcreek Livestock auction in Ohio.
It made me sick to my stomach.

No matter how many times I see horses sent to slaughter auctions, each and every time, it makes me sick all over.

What is so wrong with mankind that they have to use everything and then discard it? Ever think humans are more like parasites than mammals? It's true. We use up everything around us. We suck what we need right out of it and then we move on to our next target. Parasites.
In the process we generally don't clean up after ourselves, either.
So, to be sure, not only do we use, abuse and suck dry every living thing around us, we make absolutely sure that we take a huge dump in the environment to top it off.

How proud are we to be called human.

What a joke!

So I'm thinking there is something I can do about some of these parasitic individuals who call themselves trainers. They give those of us who care for our charges a bad name. They should not be allowed to train horses, let alone be near horses.
I think the whole world should know who they are, by name.
Every one of these greedy, pathetic excuses for human beings should be exposed for all the world to see just what kind of "human" they really are.

Day after day, every single day, I go muck stalls, feed horses, make sure they are healthy, have everything they need, clean buckets, tubs.... how many times have I thought I could sure use a day off.
But I don't get a day off. Because I've made a commitment. When I decided to spend my life training horses, I committed myself to these awesome creatures 100%.
Seven days a week, 365 days a year, I work. If I'm going to make a living off racing these horses, then I'm going to make damned sure that they have everything they need, are taken care of to the very best of my abilites, heck of anyone's abilities.
No ifs, ands or buts about it.

They are the only reason I can provide a roof over my child's head. They are the only reason my bills are paid. They are the only reason there is food on our table. I think I owe them, not just something, but everything.

So how is it that there are trainers out there who race horses, who then don't do well (and let me tell you, they probably don't run well because their trainers have no clue what they are doing) and when they don't do well enough times, they get sent off on a trailer to the kill auction.
What is it these people actually think when they do this? Do any of them have a conscience?

What kind of lack of intelligence and integrity does it take for a person to do such a thing? Was it simply something lacking in their upbringing? Did they just have terrible parents who neglected to teach them the simplest of things about life?
Or are they just mentally challenged and their minds can't grasp simple concepts such as life, respect, care, gratefulness?

I don't know what kind of idiot it takes to be that kind of person. I can't imagine ever being that kind of person.

I do know one thing to be true: Every one of them is going to a place no one wants to go.

So I've decided to compile a list of names of trainers who are known to have sent their horses to the killers. This list will be publicly available on a website for anyone to see if they so wish.

So next time a prospective owner might think of googling the name of a trainer they are considering to train their horse, they might actually get the truth about some of these despicable individuals.

RIP Don't Jinx It - 2004 chestnut gelding by Chullo (ARG) out of Notanother Natalie
RIP Sagres - 2005 colt by Patton out of Tami Be Good

Neither could be saved from the Sugarcreek Auction this last Friday. Both were taken by the kill buyer for slaughter.

My heart just hurts thinking of these poor souls, who only ever expected the very best from their humans.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Everyone is an expert

Thought I would throw this up here since it's been an ongoing problem for me, training-wise.
The training center here only has a 1/2 mile track. The surface leaves much to be desired.
You can walk out there and be calf deep by the rail, step 2-3 feet over and the track is fast. It's uneven as can be.
My string is all barefoot. I have a wonderfully talented filly "Ladybug" who was sent to me this summer as a 3 year old. She had been in training last year, was doing great and then had an accident and hurt her shoulder. So she was off and rehabbing for a year. The owner had seen a story in Bloodhorse Magazine about a win I had with another "problem" horse (at odds of 66-1, which is food for another post another day) and tracked my number down through the racing office.
He says he's got this filly they would like to give another try and asks me about my training methods. Which I tell him. So then we talk about trivial stuff such as dayrate (sarcasm intended) and he tells me that he'll call me back and let me know if he is going to bring her to me.

I didn't hold my breath. As a trainer, people tell ya all the time- "Oh, I'm sending you a horse". If I held my breath every time someone tells me that, I'd be blue in the face. Permanently.
I went about my business and at around 5 pm in the afternoon, I got another call from this gentleman.
"I'm going to bring her to you."
"Great, when did you have in mind?"
"Well, I'll be there tonight- late, but tonight."

Wow! Holy Moly, talk about scrambling to get another stall ready!

In any case, Ladybug has been here since and is doing great. One of the things I was told about her was that she had a lot of foot issues and problems last year. My response of "don't worry, you brought her to the right trainer" didn't elicit much confidence at the time.

The next day, I checked out her feet. Other than flare all around her toes and quarters, I couldn't find anything wrong with them. I whipped out my rasp and got rid off the flare.
Lady has rock solid hooves, I've never even seen her take an ouchy step on gravel or asphalt, even at a jog.

So now here I have this extremely well bred filly in my barn, who has a ton of speed and talent and after conditioning for 2-3 months is ready for her first official work.

Did I mention the terrible track surface at our training center? I wasn't about to work her there. So off we went to Churchill Downs.

When you ship in to train, unless you bring a rider with you, you may or may not have good luck finding one to get on your horse. I happened to be the only ship-in trainer that day and eventually, after having been stood up by a jockey's agent who has a bug boy on his client list, asked the security guard at the gate to page any available freelance rider to come to the receiving barn.

About 10 minutes later, this guy shows up. He looks clean, smells sober and talks like civilized person, so tell him about my filly, what it is I am looking for with her and some of her habits, etc.
He follows instructions well, takes her out there and gives her a nice, solid 3F work from the gate.

When he comes back, he tells me "Wow, I've been on some nice horses, and this one here, this is a RACEHORSE!"

This of course is music to my ears- hearing from someone else something that you already knew about your horse as a trainer, is absolutely one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment you can experience.
Throughout the conversation, he asks whether I will have some shoes on her next time I bring her back.

If you guys don't already know this, the backside of the racetrack is one of the places where you will constantly hear: "Horses can't run without shoes. They have no traction. Their feet can't stand up to the pounding. Their hooves will wear away from the sandy surface."
Believe me, I have heard them all.

I come from a background of having restored founder for a few years before getting my trainer's license. I trim my own horses. I probably know more about feet than any 20 people put together on the backside of any racetrack.

When I hear stuff like that, I just walk away. There is no point in having a discussion with someone about something they obviously have no clue about. Years ago I used to waste my breath and get into these "but it's better for them to be barefoot" conversations, not anymore.
I don't have the time to educate every ignoramus out there. The internet is a wonderful thing.
Look it up, read up on it, then come talk to me.

So, back to the story at hand, I basically told the guy that I probably would not have shoes on her next time, either. No problem, he says, he'd love to get on her again.

So the following week, we ship in for a 4F work. We're also supposed to get Lady's gate card.
So first, the guy isn't answering his phone in the morning when I call to make sure he'll meet us there. Then when he does show up, he's late. Tom, the gentleman who hauls us in for training, takes one look at him and rolls his eyes, then tells me, the guy is a chicken and he's not going to do what you ask him to. Oh, and that he looks like he had a rough night.

Great. Well, let's give him the benefit of the doubt.
Lady's owner is there for this work. We're all really looking forward to this second work.
She goes out there, breaks well from the gate and works.
Not the way I expected. Not the way even Tom expected. We sort of looked at each other and both went- hmm, that didn't look like her running style.

Well, of course it didn't. He was holding her. Wouldn't let her have her run. Never once gave her her head all the way. Pulls her up after the work instead of letting her gallop out like I asked and comes back to the barn.

"Um, she got a little tired, so I pulled her up. She seemed like she ran out of breath."

Excuse me? Out of breath? This filly trains 3.5 miles everyday except for Sundays, and you're telling me a half a mile and she ran out of breath?

Ok, benefit of the doubt and all, but the nagging little thought kept rearing itself in my head: He's afraid because she has no shoes on. I say nothing and we part company.
I think to myself, well, maybe she had a bad day, which after that work and not being able to run the way she really wanted to, she actually did. The poor girl was downright depressed.

We go home, spirits dulled a bit by not having our expectations fullfilled but that's racing, you move on to another day and try again.

A couple of days later, I ship in with two others of my string, both barefoot, for their first works.
Again, the guy is late. Matter of fact, he is so late that I end up putting someone else on the first horse. Unfortunately, this filly (The Spicemeister) is one of those very stubborn babies who will only do something if she thinks it was HER idea. Apparently this guy, who had tried to cover up his late night with a bottle by overuse of cologne, somehow couldn't figure out the instructions he was given. Matter of fact, both Tom and I kept looking around the track from the clocker's tower to see where she was and never saw her. Neither did the clocker. No official time.
Getting back to the barn, we see he is already back with her. She isn't breathing like she even jogged. "I just couldn't get her to go".

Gee, thanks a bunch.

Then the rider from the last two works shows up and gets on the gelding. This boy we know can run. He's one of those ADHD personalities who won't walk straight to save his life, head turning this way and that, looking at this and that, looking anywhere but where he is going. But when it comes to running, you better watch out. He LOVES to compete. He absolutely does not like another horse passing him.
So the guy gets on him, I say nothing about the fact that he has no shoes on.
He goes out there and starts warming him up. I'm in the clocker's tower talking to the clocker.
He passes the 1/8 pole. No increase in speed.
Ok, maybe he wants to REALLY warm him up, right?
He proceeds to gallop past us for the second time, at which point now the clocker is leaning out of the window yelling: "Ok, right here- let him go! Switch his leads! Hell, do SOMETHING!!!"

Amazing. No work, no time. The guy comes back and tells me some story about well, he couldn't find his feet. He really needs shoes on. It's a really deep track out there.
I'm gritting my teeth, trying to refrain from making a caustic comment.
He goes on his way. Good riddence, I say. No point in arguing, I just won't use the guy again.

Tom is laughing. "I told you he is a chicken s@#%".
Yea yea, coulda shoulda woulda. Hindsight is 20/20.

What gets me about everyone one of these riders is that they will all say the same thing- can't find traction, can't run hard, etc etc. Thing about that is that 99.9% of them have NEVER, not once, EVER galloped a horse barefoot at a racetrack. They simply repeat what they have heard. Clueless.

So, yes, everyone is an expert at the backside.

The Stars

Thought I would introduce some of my athletes.
First there is Doodle. Doodle is the most amazing racehorse in the world.
Well, he is to me.
The Doodle has been with me for going on 4 years. I picked him up out of the kill pen at a slaughter sale. His feet were broken down pretty bad.
Come to find out, he had actually raced with much promise, run in Allowance and even a Stakes race. I knew none of this when I took him home. The poor boy was having a tough time with those feet.
I went to work restoring his feet. Tracked down his medical history. He had had laminitis and a coffin joint infection, all while he was racing. Small wonder he didn't win any of those big races.

Over the last couple of years I thought I could bring him back to racing. But something always came up and the way I figured, if he wanted to train and race, he'd let me know.
Well, he's been in training since January. Barefoot. He is bred for the turf yet was never run on the turf. If this boy makes it to the races, they'll be turf races.

Then there is Darcy. I repo'ed her for a friend from a guy who bought her at the training center where I am stabled. She was a mental wreck. She had had 90 days training before arriving here but the guy who bought her stuck her in a stall for over a month and didn't do anything with her. By the time I picked her up and brought her to my barn, the poor thing was shaking with fear and anxiety. She's come a long way since, and has actually been going to the track for almost 2 weeks. Once in a while, Darcy is too comfy in her stall and no amount of coaxing and nudging will get her out of "bed".

We'll see how she progresses. I've talked to a friend of mine about maybe taking her on for a few months to see if she can fine-tune her training a little. Loosy-Goosy (that's her nickname) tends to be a bit on the nervous side. She likes to know the person who is messing about with her, whether that's a rider or a groom or whoever. If she doesn't know you, you're not touching her. She also won't behave well for just anyone. This is definitely one horse who absolutely knows if someone likes her or not.

There are another 4 horses in my barn that I will write about over the weekend.

In the meantime, if anyone is reading this blog and has ideas or input about what they would like to hear about, please give me a shout! I'm new to this blogging thing and as far as I'm concerned, one can never get enough advice.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Day in the Life....

... of a Thoroughbred trainer!
I know you all are just dying to read the day-to-day happenings of a racing stable. The excitement is to die for. My charges are all wonderful, talented, well behaved athletes.

All kidding aside, I operate a small string of Thoroughbred racers. I'm pretty much a one woman operation, so there is never a lack of work with six charges in the barn.

I love my job. Getting to live your dream is quite a wonderful feeling. There is nothing like being your own boss and running things in exactly the way you see fit.
Before I hung my own shingle, I worked for some very reputable trainers. And as well as the horses were treated, I still thought about the things that I would do differently. So I finally decided I'd had enough and went out on my own.

Right off the bat, I'm not your typical Thoroughbred trainer. I do many things very differently, from everyday care to training to how my guys are treated. I believe in kindness and patience. I believe that each horse is an individual and needs to be treated as such. My guys are spoiled, yes, but they are also well behaved (for the most part), don't get man-handled and expect kindness from the people around them.

I also keep them barefoot (no shoes). I'm a firm believer that barefoot is better. Now, I have had horses with shoes on, in the past. I've run with shoes in the past. And I won't say that I'll never do it again. It all depends on the horse. Right now, all horses in my barn are barefoot. So long as it's working for them, they will stay that way.

For now, this is all the excitement I can drum up for a post. I'll make an effort and post again tomorrow and start putting up some posts that describe what we do every day.

Hey, who knows, there might be some who are interested in how I run my barn and operation?
I figure I'll just get started and let this blog take on a life of its own.