Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trickle Me Pink!

Loopy (right) saying "Hi" to another filly

Trickle Me Good, AKA Loopy, raced today at Churchill in the 5th race.

Loopy has been back for a couple of months now since her almost year-long lay up.
After I claimed her for her new owners, she turned out to have a stress fracture in her pelvis.

So, home she went.

Loopy has raced 3 times since her return with not a single clean trip.

The first race was supposed to be on the turf, going 5F. Course it rained out and the race was moved onto the main track. Coming out of the gate, our girl got body slammed real hard from both sides and almost went down. In a 5F race, there isn't much you can do to make up ground.
There went her chances.

Second time, she broke well, ran well for about 2F and sort of backed off and quit. Jockey said she went "flat".
On the way back to the barn, she was coughing an awful lot. Vet scoped her and it turns out we have the luck of the Non-Irish. A clump of mud found its way into her nostril and all the way down into her lungs. No wonder she quit. Poor girl.

Third and much anticipated race for her- a Non-winners of 3 lifetime, fillies 3 and up, Claiming 15k going 6.5F. Perfect set up for her. This is where she can win.
It thundered so hard with such rain, the backside of Churchill flooded in places. Power went out completely. We weren't sure there would be a race at all.
Slop again- and slop is putting it mildly.
She breaks well, is in contention, running 4th. Starts gaining and lies 3rd. All of a sudden, she starts backing up again. She settles down, comes back on and beats one horse, fair and square.

Erin, our jockey tells me she felt like she perhaps took a bad step and was discouraged.

On the way back to the barn, she's coughing again. Not quite as bad as the last race, but still bad enough. Her mouth is full of mud and sand, as are her eyes and face.
Simply put, the girl doesn't like mud in her face.

While I bathe her, I get some of that sandy mud in my eye. It burns like pepper.
I don't know what's in that track surface but I can only imagine what it must feel like to have both your eyes burning on fire when you're supposed to run in a race and still see what's in front of you. I would have backed up, too.

Today, we're the second longest shot on the board. This is what happens when a horse doesn't perform well in public view- the odds get longer and longer each time a race doesn't "go well".
A friend of mine is the groom for the longest shot.

A small aside here:
Yesterday, I was pulling Doodle's mane. When I finished, I went and got the clippers to clip his bridle path. As soon as I plugged them in and turned them on, Loopy's head comes shooting out of her stall. She's looking at me and nodding her head, then pawing and pawing. I think to myself, what a weirdo- she wants to be clipped, too!

Soooooo.... when I finish clipping Doodle's bridle path, I take a bucket, set it in front of Loopy's stall, climb on and sure enough- she lowers her head just enough so I can clip that bridle path. I didn't tie her, hold her or put a lead on her.
Between the way she acted when she first arrived from the farm and was body clipped and this, I am 100% convinced that she utterly enjoys being clipped.
Where other horses run off at the sound of clippers, Loopy nickers and neighs and demands, with both front feet, to be given the opportunity at having her own clipping experience.

Now tell me that's normal horse behavior!?

In any case, armed with her brand new bridle clip, which now really makes her look like a Trojan War Horse, since the rest of her mane still sticks up like a Mohawk, she goes off at (are ya sitting down?) 76-1 odds.

76-1!!!! Who are these handicappers? What kind of weirdos are in charge of picking the odds, morning line? Morning line odds on her were 20-1. My friend Milton's horse was 30-1.
By the time the horses are heading to the gate, the odds are slowly but surely increasing on both of our fillies. Milton's filly goes off at 92-1.

Since Loopy told me last night that she was going to beat the dickens out of all those other nags in her race, I fully expected her to perform well. I was honestly convinced that she would be able to win this race.

And boy, did she try!!!!! She broke well and went to the front. She set all the fractions and was still in front coming into the stretch. A group of 4 fillies were coming on and while Loopy started tiring and falling back a good bit, Erin asked her to find another gear- just a tiny notch up and she dug back in. She was passed coming to the wire in the last few yards and absolutely had run her heart out and emptied that gas tank. I thought she may have gotten 4th, but ended up 5th by a neck. Overall, she ran a super race and was only a total of 4 lengths from the winner.

She was mighty mighty proud of herself, as was I and Erin was so pleased with her.

The distance was probably a bit far for the pace she set but she ran one heckuva race and came out of it without a single cough, no dirt in her face.
The fact that the weather was blistering hot and inhumanly humid and she was still able to perform at such a rate- I can't begin to tell you guys how very very happy I am with this girl!

She cooled out well and here is another thing I haven't mentioned about her before: Loopy is a water horse. She LOVES playing with water. She loves water on her face. She tries to play with the hose every day at bath time.

So, while I had no help bathing her, I was able to take a photo of her putting her face right under the stream of water.

Her race information for those of you who would like to see the replay is:
Churchill Downs
June 27, 2009
Race 5
Horse/Post position 9 (Turquoise saddle towel and she is wearing red and black blinkers)

The race is available for viewing, free of charge at (you just have to create a free account, no strings attached) and then follow the video link across the top of the inner frame.

Once the replay is available on youtube, I will edit this post and embed the video itself below.

I hope you guys enjoy her exciting performance in this race as much as I did!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If the Shoe (doesn't) Fit

A couple of months ago, I finally broke down and decided to put shoes on Doodle.
He was going well barefoot, mind you, with a little problem here and there. After a year of hemming and hawing, I thought, ok, let's give this a try.

Doodle getting one of his foot rubs in the morning

You might ask why do this if the horse is going well.
Couple of reasons. Doodle's feet are high maintenance. He bruises easily around the toes. He tends to get heel sore if he's not completely balanced, which tends to happen after a few weeks of training following his trim.

On the fateful day of shoeing, Doodle acts like an ass. Mr. Laid-back and Happy is giving us a hard time. Well, let's get this over with so we can move on and get racing. Right?


The moment the shoes are on, the horse goes DEAD LAME.

A few days later, he seems better. There might be an adjustment period.

He never comes back out of it.

Change shoes. Pads. A slight improvement.
2 weeks later, again he is DEAD LAME.

In the meantime, I've moved to the Churchill Downs Training Center (also called Spectrum or Trackside). Cindirelli has retired. Spicey has ankle issues. They're going home. Piranha, who finally had a work, comes back not so good on that bow.
I've held that boy's tendons together for going on a year. He's not going to hold up to racing.
I call his owner and tell her she needs to bring him home.

Down to 2 horses in the barn. Doodle and Loopy.

While Loopy has raced a couple of times, she's been in over her head. Every time I enter her for a race, the race doesn't go. The track calls and asks if I want to if her into a different race. The girl needs to run, so I agree.
Her last race was right up her alley. In the slop, no less, but still. She lies in contention, moving up the rail when her head bobs up and she starts backing off. Come back on strong and beats one horse fair and square with tons of fuel left to burn. A mile race would have gotten her 3rd place. The 6 1/2 furlongs got her 5th place. Cools down in 10 minutes, coughing, her face covered in mud. Her mouth is full of dirt in spite of the Figure Eight.

Second time she backed off like this. Both in muddy or sloppy conditions. Both times she comes back coughing- scope reveals a ton of dirt down her windpipe.
The girl doesn't like getting mud in the face.

Doodle in the meantime is full of energy and pissed about not training. I get a blacksmith to pull his shoes off. Send him to the track the next day. Different horse.
He's been going better and better each time I send him. In the meantime, Stephanie, my miracle hoof expert, has trimmed him back into balance. When she showed up, Doodle sighed and put his head on her chest.

We're back to barefoot with him and he feels like a million dollars.
The shoes set us back a good month or more, probably.
Prospects of making a race at Churchill with him have dwindled out completely at this point.
Ellis Park's meet is coming up but there are no races on the card for him there that I can see.
Maybe they'll write some extras.

Last year, I was pointing him to Kentucky Downs in September. It looks like that's where he's going to end up racing, after all.

There is a lesson to be learned here. One that I've learned a thousand times over from horses.
Follow your gut. Always follow your gut.

Because when you start listening to outside voices, or you think your inner voice may not be right, after all, well, that shoe might not fit.


Doodle in the cold water therapy spa enjoying his treatment

Monday, May 11, 2009

And She Lived Happily Ever After....

Cindirelli at Churchill Downs in the receiving barn awaiting her race

Once upon a time...
... there was a beautiful grey filly born in Florida. She was tall and gangly and there was great promise in her birth.
Her sire was a great horse named Capote. Her dam was a mare named Fundraising, whose sire was even more well known than Capote. His name was Black Tie Affair.
The meeting of these genes was no coincidence. The people who decided on creating this filly put great thought into her breeding.

The filly grew taller and bigger and went into race training. The man who bought her felt there was something not quite right with the way she was "going" and so, having a great many young horses in training, decided to cull her from his racing stock and put her into one of the great Thoroughbred Auctions in the country to sell as a broodmare prospect.

The sale was set up such that every horse was x-rayed and its health thus documented to prospective buyers. Even with whatever funny way of going the man saw, the filly's x-rays were completely clean.

She sold for very little money to another man, a man who would forever decide this filly's fate and soundness.

Two years after this auction, the filly had raced extensively but not well.
She broke her maiden in a $10,000 Claiming Race for maidens, after several tries at higher levels. This is not unusual and no one was probably the wiser....
Unless they were closely involved with the filly.

You see, she never got to train daily the way that other horses did. The new man, an old man set in old not so good race-track ways realized that something was not quite right with the way she was going. So instead of training her on the racetrack, he decided that she would swim twice a week.

While swimming is a great way to rehab a horse, it can't be used as a training tool exclusively. A horses' bones are only as dense as the exercise it is used to remodels them to be. Swimming does not strengthen bones. It helps muscles and soft tissue but not bones.

So, the grey filly swam twice a week and then would get to the track to either officially work or run in a race. She started having some problems.
Some serious problems.
After she won her maiden race, she really hurt herself. Between the months of June 2007 and May 2008, the grey filly broke her sesamoid bone in her right front leg.
During the same time frame, she also broke her knee in the same leg.

Yet she never had any time off from racing. Her record shows one race where she came in last by 105 lengths. Yet she raced again just two weeks later.
She was running for the cheapest tag there was- $4,000 claiming.
She didn't run very well anymore. The grey filly was broken.
And now she wasn't making money for the man anymore.

The man decided to take her home to his farm. He tossed her out into a great big pasture with 30 other horses. There was a pond in the pasture. The grass wasn't growing very well and there were lots of weeds. But the stupid man thought:

"That's ok, there is green stuff out there, they can eat that".

But they couldn't. Quickly, the grey filly lost weight.

A girl who trades and sells horses in the same neighborhood arranged to become the man's agent to sell his horses, who were becoming skinnier by the day. He wouldn't give them feed, hay, or water.
"They ain't making no money for me, so I ain't puttin' no money in them."

Across the country in a far away state was a nice lady who had lots of race horses. She was always looking out for new horses to add to her broodmare band. She always loved Capote.

The nice lady saw an ad on the internet for some horses for sale and that they were in trouble because the man who owned them couldn't take care of them anymore.
The grey filly was listed as one of the ones for sale. They wanted $4,500 for her.
There was a photo of the grey filly and she looked a bit skinny, but she was walking away from the camera so the viewer didn't really have a good angle to get a good look.
The nice lady called her trainer in Kentucky and said:
"Look, what do you think of this filly?"
The trainer didn't think much of the filly and told the owner that probably the filly had talent but probably she had bad training or maybe an injury.

But the agent girl told the nice lady that the filly had just raced two months before and was completely racing sound. She was just a little underweight, maybe 100-150 lbs.

The nice lady couldn't get the filly out of her head. She went back and forth with her trainer and some of her friends. Her friends all told her not to buy the filly.
But she just couldn't forget about the filly.

So she and her trainer went back and forth with the agent girl and negotiated her price down to $2,500.
They arranged for the filly to be moved to the agent girl's farm. She was going to await a transport to take her up to Kentucky.

When the trainer was able to find a van ride for the filly at a fair price, she called the agent girl and asked that the filly be readied to put on the van. The agent girl acted very upset that the filly was leaving so soon.
"What's the big hurry all of a sudden?" she asked.

Thinking nothing of it, the trainer arranged everything for the nice lady's new filly to arrive early one Saturday morning.

You have all read "A Cindirelli Story".
Above is the beginning of her fairy tale.

This is the ending.

The filly was feeling so much better since she had been with the trainer. The wanted to run. She wanted to run every day, all day. She could run really well when she was pretending she was in a race. Her crippled knee and ankle didn't hurt her when she was pretending she was racing.
She would look over at the track and her mind and thoughts would float far far away. She would stand and stare until the trainer would make her move on to another spot.
She was in good shape. She was fit. It was time for her to race and she knew it.

Her trainer and the nice lady decided the filly should run on the turf. After all, she was bred for the turf. They found her a race at the historic race track Churchill Downs. This was where she should have been all along. This was where she belonged, with all the other great horses and all the history of famous races. Her heart was bigger than any other horses' heart that ever saw a race track. She just wanted to run.

The day came for the filly's big race.
This race was a bigger race than any she had ever been in.
It was still a claiming race but it was a $50,000 claiming race. At Churchill Downs! On the turf.
Everyone thought that the trainer and the nice lady were crazy to put the filly in this race.

The day and night before the race, it rained and stormed so hard, that the last 3 races at Churchill Downs were canceled due to weather. The trainer wondered if the race would remain on the turf the next day.

Early that next morning the trainer found out that the race was off the turf. They would be running on the main track, the dirt.

The trainer worried that the filly wouldn't run well on the dirt. But the filly wanted to run.
So the trainer told the jockey that he should take good care of her. Don't let her do something she doesn't want to do. Just let her run and finish her race. Because the trainer and the nice lady both knew that no matter what happened, the filly had to finish her race or she would never have peace.

The jockey promised to take great care of the filly.
As the filly was prancing around the paddock, excitement and joy filled the air around her. She was the 50-1 morning line long shot. But everyone could see how great she was feeling. She had to be saddled on the walk because she wouldn't keep still in the paddock stall.
She was ready. She was going to show the world how much she loved racing. And people could tell. Her odds went down to 5-1.

As the jockey rode her out of the tunnel onto the race track, the trainer gave her last instructions to him:
"Safe and Sound!"
The jockey smiled, reached down and touched the trainer's hand and said:
"No worries!"
(With his British accent, it sounded very official and reassuring.)

They went to the gate. The filly was horse #4.
The gates opened. She didn't break too well.

She was running against some very expensive and classy fillies.
By the first quarter, the filly had gone to the front. She remained there through half the race. Then she started backing off and slowing down.
She didn't quit. She finished her race. She showed those other fillies and the rest of the world how much faster she was.

She ran 4th.

Everyone was very proud of the filly. The nice lady was overjoyed. The filly just ran in the toughest race of her life and came in 4th.
4th place actually pays a part of the purse to the horse- 5%.
The purse on the race was $41,000.

Later on that evening, the nice lady and the trainer agreed that it was time for the filly to retire. They both knew she had to run this last race or she would never find peace.
And so she did.

And in her own way, she won. She walked with her head held high, looking down at the rest of the much shorter than herself world and proudly strutted as if to say:
"YOU cannot tell me I cannot run."

The filly is now going to get bred and go to her new home with the nice lady out in California,

where she will live happily ever after.....

Just between us... no one has to know it was only a 4 horse field due to 3 scratches ;o)

Some Spice in the Mix

Spicey had a good first race.

Course the events of the morning leading up to the race weren't so good.

Little Miss Spice had to get her lip tattoo. I really don't like doing this on raceday but we didn't have much choice. I figured she would either act like it's no big deal or she would really hate it.

Well, she tried to kill the tattoo guy, me and Bull (hotwalker that helps me out sometimes during races). She wasn't having it. She threw me into the wall three times while I still had the lip tongs attached to her lip. We had to do one number at a time and keep telling her good girl, good girl. In the end, the last number didn't get to be stamped twice and the poor tattoo man looked at me and said: Good enough! I'm done!

Having her lip checked in the paddock for the race was quite fun again, ugh!

She was a good girl for everything else, her nonchalant self.

Below is the video of her race. She is post position 2- the second horse from the rail. Her saddle towel is white with a black number 2.

Dean (jockey) was very pleased with her. She ran 6th.
Here is his report:
(Insert British accent here, so it sounds that much more impressive)
"She is brilliant at the gate! Absolutely brilliant! Matter of fact, she was almost too relaxed. When the gate opened, she went to jump and then hesitated. She saw the other horses go and took off to go after them.
She didn't like the track conditions (which I knew she wouldn't, it was nothing but water and slop on that track) and had a time trying to find her footing.
Once she settled she started coming on pretty strong and I really thought she would run 3rd or 4th at least.
But when we came out of the turn, she hit a wall and got really really tired.
I didn't see a point in beating the shit out of her so I just let her gallop out.
One of the horses behind us was coming up to pass us at the wire but she stuck her little nose out and wouldn't get passed.

She'll do well next time!"

The track was very nasty that day. When I was watching the tractors trying to seal the track, all they were doing was moving around waves of water. It was horrible. Spicey likes a firm, more flat track. We didn't get what we ideally would have wanted that day.

But she came out of the race great, ate her feed with her usual shovel method (she opens her mouth wide, digs into the tub and chomps down. She doesn't eat feed with her lips the way other horses do).

She's full of herself and ready to try again next week if I can find a race for her.

It's always quite an accomplishment when first time starters have a good first race experience. The knowledge they gain is invaluable to help them next time out.

We were all very pleased with her.

The "wall" that Dean was referring to is quite common when you train at a smaller track and ship in to a large track. We have a 1/2 mile track at the training center. Churchill Downs is a 1 mile track. That stretch to the finish line coming out of that turn can absolutely kill a horse's air when it isn't used to it. Now that she's overcome that first race, she'll be much better able to make it through her next one.

The Spice Meister is officially a racehorse!

Spicey in the receiving barn waiting for her race

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Racing on Wednesday

Spicey got in! Here is our entry:

Churchill Downs - May 6th, 2009 - Race 4
Estimated Local Post Time: 2:21 PM
Race Type: Maiden Claiming
Breed: Thoroughbred
Age Restriction: Three Year Old and Upward
Sex: Fillies and Mares
Purse: $14,000
Distance: Six Furlongs
Surface: Dirt
Post Horse Name Age Sex Weight Jockey Name Claiming Price
1 Morning Magic (KY) 3 Filly 118 Julien R. Leparoux $15,000
2 Spice So Nice (KY) 3 Filly 118 Dean Mernagh $15,000
3 Emily D. (KY) 4 Filly 124 Larry J. Sterling, Jr. $15,000
4 Betty de Boop (NY) 3 Filly 118 Aldo Canchano $15,000
5 Five Star Sweetie (KY) 3 Filly 118 Corey J. Lanerie $15,000
6 Riviera Cafe (KY) 4 Filly 124 Jon Kenton Court $15,000
7 Silie (KY) 4 Filly 122 Miguel Mena $12,500
8 Yankee Player (KY) 3 Filly 118 Jamie Theriot $15,000
9 Eye of the Tigress (KY) 3 Filly 118 Jesus Lopez Castanon $15,000

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gate Madness

Moments out of sitcoms seem to happen regularly at our training center.

Spicey was going back today, for what I was hoping was going to be her gate approval card.

I arranged yesterday with yet another trainer to meet up there, our two horses both breaking from the gate. Bobby had a big grey colt who was going for his gate card. I wasn't worried about Spicey not doing well this time. If I've learned one thing about this little girl is that all it takes is one time to show her what to do and she gets it.

While I'm getting Spicey ready, she is being her usual impatient self while tacking up. She is always so enthusiastic about going to the track, it really makes me smile.

So by the time Cowboy arrives and tells me we have to wait a few minutes because the tractor is still cutting the track, I'm thinking, oh great- now I get to walk Miss Nutty around the shedrow when all she's interested in is going to the track and going fast fast fast!

Finally give Cowboy a leg up on her and jump in my truck to drive up there to the gate.

When I get there, Bobby wants to know how she is about getting in the gate. I shrugged and told him she's fine. Heck, nothing fazes her- she just walks right in there without being led by anyone, complete nonchalance surrounding her aura and attitude. It's as if she wants to say- Dude, I was born for this. I know what I'm doing.

Bobby's horse isn't quite as amenable to the whole thing and Bobby has to lead and urge him, while Rick, his rider and our "gate master" (the guy who is actually trained as a starter- one of those guys who load the horses into the gate at the track) is on the horse, having to kick him forward. The horse is decked out in blinkers, extra bridle stuff (a Figure Eight) and who knows what else.
Mind you, these two already warmed up a mile or better before we started loading them.

Since Spicey blows the turns at our track, we take the outside. Bobby's horse is supposed to go on and work a half mile. We weren't actually going to work today, because Spicey has been doing spurts of speed all week practicing this. On the off chance that she may not get approved for her card today, I wanted to be able to come back with her tomorrow and then do the official work, breaking from the gate and going 5/8.

So, once Bobby's horse, who is a nervous nellie at this point, is in the gate, Spicey walks in (without any help from me, just Cowboy asking her to go in).
I get behind the horses and close the gate doors.
Bobby wanted me to spring the gate open on the count of three.
He is now perched inside the gate, up on the wall next to his horse's neck.
Cowboy turns to me and says "You know, you should probably smack her on the ass when the gate opens just in case she didn't get it from yesterday."

Well, the pulley string to open the gate is on the left of Bobby's horse. Spicey is loaded in the hole to the horse's right. My arms aren't long enough to reach over and smack any ass, let alone Spicey's, if I'm to be opening the gate!

So, after some hemming and hawing, I tell Cowboy to just do his Cowboy thing and Yeehaw at her real loud once the gate opens.

Rick is now laughing and tells Bobby "Damn, man, you can open the gate, get back there, so she can smack her horse's ass!"

Bobby leans back towards Rick:
" No, I can't! I'm trying to teach my horse something here."
"What the fuck are you talking about? The horse is in the gate, he knows how to break, I'll get him out, get back there and open the gate!"

"No, man, I'm telling you, I gotta teach my horse this thing I do. I gotta talk to him about it first!"

At this point, both Cowboy and Rick are looking at Bobby like he's lost his mind.

"I gotta let him know when I do this thing with my finger on his neck that the gate is about to spring open. This is important, man!"

I'm standing behind this charade laughing along because Bobby has this very intent and serious look about him like he is imparting a great Chinese Wisdom on his horse, who is actually so busy being nervous, he ain't paying a flick of attention to Bobby.

Bobby turns to me and says, "Ok, on the count of three, you open the gate."

Now let me back up a little bit here. When he first told me to open the gate, I had never done it before on this gate. Different gates open with varied strength on the pull string.
I asked him how hard to pull? He told me to pull it nice and firmly but that it isn't too too hard to open.
So at that point I'm thinking, great. It's probably a sunumabitch to open and I'll screw it up and the gates won't open.

So, when Bobby tells me to open the gate on the count of three, I reach up to put my hand on the string (which is actually wire with a loop at the end).

He then turns back to whisper in his horse's ear again. The poor thing at this point isn't just lathered up, but he is probably wondering why some bizarre ethereal mantra is being wormed into his brain via his left ear and why his rider and the other horse's rider are both laughing so hard, they are holding their sides at this point.

As I get my hand situated, Bobby says "Almost ready. I'm about to...."

He never got to finish the sentence. In my worry to make sure I would have my hand in the right position to comfortably be able to pull on the wire without hurting my already cut finger, I put my fingertip into the loop.
That's all it took.


The gates fly open!

Bobby is suspended on his perch still in the position of whispering those sweet nothings into his horse's ear. Spicey breaks like a world champion. The grey breaks about the same time.
They go flying down the track, all I can see is two beautifully muscled horses' rears barreling away from me- and my little girl passing the much bigger grey horse!


"Damn, girl! I hadn't counted yet!"

I feel bad because obviously this was not how we planned to do it and I honestly didn't expect the damned gates to fly open so easily- I had barely hooked my finger into the loop!

I apologize to Bobby severely, all the while trying to swallow the belly-whopping laugh that is threatening to spring up out of my throat.
I leave Bobby standing there, muttering something about wanting to teach the horse that a fingertip applying pressure to his neck means the gates are about to open up.


Teehee. I jump into my truck and run back down to my barn.

Spicey comes back like none of this was any work for her. She's breathing well but her muscles along her topline aren't even bunched up. Physically, she is so fit, that what she just did was sissy stuff for her.

Anne and Don are standing on the other side grinning at me.
"You know that little filly can fly, don't you?"

"Yup, she sure can."

Cowboy tells me that she would easily have outworked the other horse.

We got our gate approval card! Tomorrow we take it easy. Saturday Spicey works her last work before her first race, which I am hoping will go. Entries are tomorrow for next week.

She'll be a pissed off energizer tomorrow not being allowed to run like all hell broke loose.

All part of becoming a racehorse. This filly is so ready for a race, she's going to burst if she doesn't get to run soon.

As I walk Spicey around the barn after her bath, I overhear Cowboy telling Anne and Don:
"Hey, did you guys know that Tres can't count?"

The laughter is stilling filling my ears.

Spicey and Cowboy posing for the camera while warming up this winter

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We've Created A Monster!!!

I know I haven't posted in a while and you are probably all wondering what happened with Cindirelli's race. I don't want to get into that too much at this point (there is a post coming up soon and no, it's not bad news!) but wanted to let you guys know that Cindirelli is fine, and awaiting her next race entry.

In the meantime, I've wanted to post about a little star athlete in my barn for a while.
Her name is Spice So Nice. She goes by Spicey. Or the Spice Meister. Or any amount of other rhyme-y nicknames.
Spicey was right at 14 hands when she arrived here as a 2 year old.
After some problems with unfortunately pre-existing baby injuries, Spicey is working hard on getting to her first race as a 3 year old this year.

She's grown a good hand since I got her in my barn. She's a little bombshell who can do no wrong when it comes to training. She's a complete professional who has already made up her mind that she is a racehorse, end of story, period.

Spicey is working hard everyday on getting her gate card. She's totally used to the gate but she hasn't worked from it until today.
Since I wanted to have her break from the gate for a "work" a couple of times before we get our card, I hooked up with another trainer from up the hill today to break from the gate in company. The other horse would do an actual work, Spicey would only go about 100 yards at work speed and then continue on her regular routine after stopping and turning.

I wish to God I had a real video camera. I laughed all day about this.

So we meet up at the gate - since Spicey is great about going in etc, I said I would head down the shute to the stretch and see Cowboy when he gets down there with her- gave me a much better vantage point- sort of like the head on view in a race replay.

They load. She's a super-pro about this. Nothing fazes her.

Gates open.

Other horse jumps out galloping.

Spicey kind of stands for a second.

Sees the other horse running full tilt.

Gets REALLY pissed off and goes after it.

Her little legs were going 90 mph according to Cowboy.

She wasn't having this! How dare that horse think it can outrun her!

She went after this horse with a vengeance. Cowboy had such a hard time pulling her up, she was pissed big time!

The most amazing part of it was that she actually closed that distance between herself and that horse - my jaw dropped.

She's gone in company plenty of times, I knew she'd probably really like going together. And she's always made sure that she keeps up with all those bigger horses. I just had no idea how competitive she REALLY is.

After she came back from the track, while I'm walking her, everytime we turn the corner and walk on the side of the barn facing the track, she was jigging, looking- would see a horse out there and the look on her face was:
"Oh, lemme go, lemme go, there is that SOB from earlier, I can catch him, lemme go!!!!"

After she had her bath, cooled down, I thought I'd take her to the grass. Oops, mistake. The track is right there. She was nuts wanting to go back to the track everytime she saw a horse out on it!

When I finally put her up and was getting ready to catch my next horse, everytime a horse walked past her stall, she was shoving her muscular little chest against the screen and jumping around as if she was saying- come on, let's race, you and me, buster!

We've created a monster!

I'm still smiling. I wish every one of my horses was this enthusiastic!

In the meantime, I took Doodle to the gate and literally had to get behind him and PUSH with both hands for him to want to break from it!
But he barely fit into that gate, too, he's so wide....

Spicey enjoying one of her naps this winter

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Racin' Dirty!

Here is a surprise for my blog readers:

Cindirelli is racing tomorrow at Turfway Park.

Here is the entry:

Turfway Park - March 20th, 2009 - Race 1
Estimated Local Post Time: 5:30 PM
Race Type: Claiming
Breed: Thoroughbred
Age Restriction: Three Year Old and Upward
Sex: Fillies and Mares
Purse: $7,600
Distance: One Mile
Surface: All Weather Track
Post Horse
Age Sex Weight
Odds Claiming Price
Include the Lady (KY)
Alberto Pusac
Billy D. Allen, et al.
4 Filly 118
Billy D. Allen
Brereton C. Jones
5/2 $7,500
Runnin Dirty (FL)
Dean Mernagh
Shirley Ann Kimball
5 Mare 118
Tres J. Delaforce
Pennston Farms Inc.
15/1 $7,500
Drew'sgetleagle (KY)
Leandro R. Goncalves
DJC Stable (Rolanda Simpson)
4 Filly 118
Rolanda Simpson
John D. Murphy
3/1 $7,500
Lil Miss Blurr (KY)
Rodney A. Prescott
Mike Clark
6 Mare 118
Helmut S. Jackson
Equus Farm
10/1 $7,500
Chasing Liberty (IN)
Jose Luis Calo
Edward L. Roettinger
6 Mare 118
Danny D. Lang
Ron Dafler
7/2 $7,500
Hollywood Beauty (KY)
John McKee
Bernard G. Schaeffer
4 Filly 115
William R. Connelly
Benjamin W. Berger
2/1 $7,500

This is another one of those nerve wrecking moments for me- I won't get much sleep tonight, so I've already helped myself to plenty of Benadryl.

It's only a 6 horse field. This is a good thing. We drew the 2 hole, which is also a good thing because according to a little research the horse in the 1 hole never breaks well, giving our girl direct access to the rail. Cindirelli likes to go to the front - I know, I know, another one of those! But, we shall see how things go.
She is in great shape for a race. She's sound and ready.
She's actually so ready that since her last work on Monday, every time I tack her up to go to the track just to train, she gets so excited, she starts a-shaking and a-jumping, pressing against me, being impatient. Subsequently, on the track, she fights Cowboy all the way through her exercise with shaking her head, which he has a firm hold of, to try and get loose so she can run full tilt again (which she isn't supposed to).

I know once I hand her off to the pony heading to the gate, my usual mantra will probably pop back out of my mouth without my realizing it and it is my first and foremost concern, always:

"Safe and sound, safe and sound, safe and sound..."

If this girl still has the physical ability to race, she'll do very well.

We are, as usual, the long shot in the race.

Dean Mernagh - her jockey is a good jockey with riding experience in Hong Kong (or was it Japan?) and Dubai. He's been trying to get his foot in the door over here this year and I've been watching him. He listens to instructions and every time I have seen him on a horse, the horse performed better than expected.

Me? I'll be a nervous wreck, of course. Probably a good idea for me to take a 5th of vodka with me for calming purposes. No point in having her come in the winner's circle and the trainer is in the ambulance with a heart attack.

Race goes off at 5:30 pm EST, should be on either racing channel- HRTV or TVG.

Pray for us tonight- so our girl will have a safe and successful race.

May the racing gods be with us tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I meant to post this days ago. But I was pooped.
The last few days have been bone wearing. The weather improved a great deal, we actually had a near record high of 80 degrees yesterday. Today we are back to a high in the 40's and the low tonight is freezing.

There are 7 (yes, seven) horses in my barn at this point. Only 5 of them are "mine". The other two belong to a friend who was in a bind and decided to deposit them next to my horses so that I could help him out. Helping out.. well, don't get me started. Food for another post.

Of the five I have, 1.5 are mine. Doodle, of course, is my boy. The other 0.5 is actually not REALLY half mine but the arrangement I have with her owner is a 50/50 split.

Loopy (Trickle Me Good) was turned out for a long sabbatical due to a stress fracture in her pelvis, which I, unfortunately, claimed her with from another trainer. Oh joy.

So Loopy went home to her new mom and dad for a while. She led the life of leisure.
Loopy came back last Thursday.

When I claimed this filly, she was a total nut. A sort of dangerous total nut. My brother in law, who gallops for me when he is in KY, had helped me out that day I claimed her. Since she was such a nut, after we got her bathed, walked and put away, he closed the stall door, shook his head and while walking away, mumbled "Loopy".

It stuck. Loopy she was from that moment on.

It didn't take much for the Loopster to realize she didn't have to be a nut around us. It only took a couple of weeks before she completely changed her ways. Just today, when I went to get her from the swing stall, I forgot to bring the shank or even a leadrope with me. I was too lazy to want to walk all the way back to the tackroom, so I thought, what the hell- I can just grab her by the halter and we should be fine.
And she was. Just fine. No fuss, no fight. She's a good girl.

Since Loopy arrived looking like a Yeti (she had close to 3 inch long fur on certain parts, the rest was a good inch plus), the first time I bathed her after she started back to training, it took forever to bathe her. After the bath I noticed she was covered in lice from head to toe.

Course this sent the shudders up and
down my spine and first thing I did was to call Shawn the clipper guy.
We set an appointment for Loopy to get a new coiffure.

In the meantime, we endured laughing comments like:
"Oh, look over there- that is one lousy horse!" (All meant in good fun and bringing us lots of laughs around the barn.)

While I'm inserting the photos of her Yeti look, it's hard to tell from those just how long her fur really was.

And, it really was FUR.

This is not a coat.

Far from it.

I don't think I have ever seen a horse with fur like this, and I have seen some serious long winter growth.

She looked more like a Bakshir Curly than a Thoroughbred!

Shawn ended up not having to tie her for most of the clip-

one look at the clippers and a big sigh escaped from Loopy- "Oh thank GAWD, yes, pleeeeeeeez do your thing to me!!!"

Since the lice where also intricately woven into her mane and I really cannot even fathom trying to control that highly contagious population with another 4 horses I intimately handle every day, I told Shawn to roach her mane, as well. Course, this means, she is going to have to race with a neck strap- no mane- nothing to grab for the jockey if he needs to. Not a very big deal, but these things do happen.

So, the nekked Loopster, who now looks like a huge chunk of very milky chocolate with sprinkles of very dark chocolate across parts of her body, is feeling a whole lot better and no longer having to sweat like a stuck pig when she goes to the track. Matter of fact, she hasn't sweat, not ONCE, even in training since the body clip.

Bringing a horse back into racing shape is fairly easy, especially when you have a horse that has already run in the not too far away past. Jogging. Lots and lots of jogging to begin with.
We started this girl back with 1.5 miles and after the coat came off, she has been jogging 2 miles daily. Tomorrow, she's going to bump up to 2.5 miles.

I had the privilege to photograph the Canta-Loopy yesterday on her way to the track. The photos are in sequence. See for yourself what she thought of that.......

"Ooooh, the track... how exciting......"

"I think I better get rid off some ......."

"...of this stuff ....... ummmmpphhhh...."

" we go, just a little more....."

"Tadaaaahhh! Look at that! Just for you. Did you get all that on camera?"

Never mind that Loopy looks more like a Roman Warrior Steed with that roached mane and close body clip. Classy? Yes! Too classy for poop slinging? Never!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Transmission Problems!

The gears in a car aren't all that different from the gears in a racehorse.
You've got the lower gears, which are naturally slower. Then you've got the higher gears which, hopefully smoothly, accelerate speeds all the way through overdrive and double overdrive.

Cindirelli had her first official work yesterday (March 5, 2009).

Horse nameRunnin Dirty
Activity typeWorkout
Activity date03-05-2009
TrackGlenwood Training Center
Distance3 Furlongs
Workout typeBreezing
Workout time0:38.60
Track conditionFast

With a fused ankle and plenty of opposite hoof support via wedge and raised shoes, I've attempted to help make her movements smoother and easier.

Did it work? I certainly hoped so. While her prior, at the time, untended, injuries have obvious forever effects that will always be visible, the thought and hope was that they would nonetheless not be a hindrance to her talents.

The Amazing Filly went out to the track for the first time since her arrival and rehab, to be allowed to go fast. Her own personal stretch of Autobahn awaited.

Armed with my stopwatch, I walked up to the track, frantically yelling at cowboy to tell me where we were starting off from and stopping. My heart was pounding with a ferocity I hadn't experienced since the first time I took a horse to the paddock for a race. In the back of my conscious mind, little voices were chanting not in tandem with what should have been a focus on only positive thinking. The ever present worry to keep my charges safe, in some instances, from themselves was overpowering in a way I didn't think was coherently possible at this point.

Don was out on the track harrowing the inside lanes. Being one of Cindirelli's biggest fans, this wonderful old gent has consistently been a witness to her progresses and triumphs.
The training center was pretty much deserted at this point, save for a handful of people in my close circle I consider everyday friends.

I walked up to the gap where Don had pulled the tractor, my throat dry and parched, my blood pressure surely going through the roof. While I looked up to the tractor's cab with Don seated inside, he simply smiled down on me and winked- a small but reassuring gesture, that still failed to calm the storm within my being.

My hands were shaking in the 60 degree late afternoon as I watched my "problem child" warm up with a jog and then a half mile gallop. She's not perfect. She has an awful way of going in certain instances.

Memories of Cowboy's comments over the last months coming back with her from the track and thundering on about the cripple she is, the arguments in contention never ending between us until I methodically proved to him my knowledge about her soundness, or lack thereof, was solid and correct, rushed through me.
The ugly, nagging voice of doubt that every human, no matter how positive, has within them reared its head and a terrifying thought that this work may make her or quite literally, break her, resulted in my near dizziness with fear for her safety.

No, it's not normal for most trainers to feel this way. But then, I'm not most trainers. If, God forbid, one of my horses were to ever break down on the track, I would undoubtedly be the fool human running through rails and masses of people to get to my charge- praying at a high pitched scream "God please let her be ok, please let her be ok".
The heart break involved with going through such a tragedy isn't something I ever want to have to confront or endure.

Cindirelli gallops her warm-up, obviously not liking staying on her right lead, she keeps switching back to the left. An anomaly, truly, considering that the way she feels on the left lead is hard and rough- it is, after all, her "funky" leg. One would think that it should be easier for her to be on her left lead. For reasons unknown and not to be understood through scientific reasoning, she insist on doing things her way- in this case, choosing to lead with the very limb that had been so very traumatized in several places in her past.

As she approaches the quarter pole, Cowboy asks her for speed.
Watching this process is quite entertaining- she perks up and immediately throws her ears back and forth. The expression is one of unsureness- are you asking I go faster? Really? Is this a trick?
For all this time, she was never asked for speed such as this to constitute a work. Far from it, she has tried on numerous occasions to run off and fly, all to no avail and much to her chagrine.

This is different. Really? Speed? He asks again.

The girl takes off like a bat out of hell. Her rear lowers and her front stretches- it's the proverbial greyhound hunching its back, reaching under itself to propel itself forward to catch the rail rabbit. It takes only a second for her to accelerate and once she is in stride- on the far side of the track, with the rail and infield obstructing my view to watch for gait fluidity, I think to myself- did I start the watch?? A quick glance confirms that, indeed, my finger hit that button and the clock is running.

Coming up on the far turn, Don and I both look like tennis spectators, our heads following her progress in unison and coming through that turn, I realize I am chanting breathlessly, my mouth dry and voice raspy, over and over and over, a steady and desperate mantra I hope shoots straight up to the heavenly gardens of the Man in Charge: "Safe and sound, safe and sound, safe and sound, safe and sound...."

The most amazingly smooth galloping horse is tearing around the turn now coming into the stretch - her fluidity of movement unrivalled by the majority of horses that frequent our training surface daily.

Who is this horse???? Is it possible? How can this be? There is not a single wrong step, not a single out of tune move, she glides over the deep ground as her body reminds of an aerodynamically designed missile, shooting forward ever faster and smoother. If there is a perfect synch to her existence, this moment is it. Gone are the worrisome unwieldy movements that intersperse her daily gallops and jogs, THIS is a different horse. THIS is a Goddess in her element. THIS is what she was meant to do and the Higher Powers saw fit to leave her with just this very talent, unimpeded, uninterrupted, fully intact and completely functional in a perfect string of fluidity and grace, THIS, her birthright.

I realize my mouth is open and I am still chanting, a croak now caused by the drying air into my lungs. I hit the stopwatch at 3F and glance down- 39 and change- a rock solid performace for our surface that has bullets at 38.

She gallops out to 5 furlongs, jogs down, turns around and jogs back with the same grace and fluidity evidenced in her work, her ears pricked, her head high and proud and even from this distance, I can see the utter happiness in her expression.

I look up at Don in the tractor's cab and his grin goes from ear to ear, the smile completely encompassing his face and the look in his eyes rivaling mine with pride and utter joy at having witnessed this amazing moment that lasted for less than 40 seconds, yet seemed to justify a lifetime.

"Oh, Honey, she looked amazing! She looked so good!" And he winks at me.

I run back to the barn to get ready her bath buckets and finish up her stall. I'm giddy with excitement and utterly stunned at what just transpired.

Moments later, I hear Cowboy riding back into the barn, quiet and not a song on lips (unheard of!). I blabber something incoherent, wanting to hear his response, his opinion, the final verdict from the guy I trust enough to put on my horses since I can no longer do the job myself.

"Holy Shit, girl. THIS is the BEST friggin horse in your barn!"

Is it Christmas? Was this my birthday? Am I going to awaken and this was just a dream?

Cindirelli is mighty proud of herself and as it turns out, now quite full of herself, as I walk her around the shedrow to cool her down. She drinks not a single drop of water. She is jumping around happily at the end of the shank, coming past horses in their stalls and showing off to each and every one. We come back around to Piranha, her stall neighbor, his head is out and he is nickering at her encouragingly. My horses are all watching and nickering at her when we pass by. They KNOW. They are proud. They are tickled and happy. This is their homegirl and she just experienced a personal triumph.
Doodle and Spicey are both wide eyed and nodding their heads at her. Nickering softly.
I suspect it translates into something like: You go gurl!

The Amazing Cindirelli did it again. She blew me away, once again, surprising me and showing me to trust her, always always trust her because she knows what she is capable of.

The reassurance when these occasions arise is utterly simple and hard core in its statement:
Trust me! Stop worrying! Hear what I'm saying- I am my own best judge.

Her words.

As I get her through her bath, it dawns on me:

Transmission problems.

Cindirelli has transmission problems. Her lower gears are grindy here and there and will never again be like new. But those higher gears and overdrives, by God, they work like they are factory warrantied.

Who would have thought that racehorses can be so much like cars?

Runnin Dirty- early Fall 2008

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hold it, Buster! You are under Arrest!

Chilly day today. Chief Inspector Doodle of the Special Hay and Undercover Feed Task Force was very happy.... and busy!

Suspect (Trainer) Anne was cleaning out her van- she distributes the "Bargain Mart" magazine, those penny saver type publications.
She apparently also distributes pretty much everything else out of the back of that van- illegal substances, all, that had to be investigated carefully.

It was determined that Inspector Doodle did not need a search warrant as the vehicle was left open and unattended for more than an hour. Plain view exception and all.

Upon further investigation, it was determined by Inspector Doodle, that there was sufficient evidence present to take into custody-
first by careful examination through odor detection with special odor detection devices built right into his special police investigator horse nostrils.

Then the evidence was taken into temporary custody in the special Doodle sized jowls- notice the extra big cheeks he had built especially for the job.

It was later determined that there were illegal substances present, including but not limited to:

Alfalfa hay residue

Timothy hay


Sweet Feed crumbs and several handfuls of this illegal substance hidden beneath what appeared to be empty bags of it.

When the investigation had to be cut short due to the perpetrator's vehicle hurriedly driving off the premises, Inspector Doodle vowed to continue his investigation tomorrow upon the most likely return of the suspect with the incriminating vehicle.

In the meantime, if you should see a green, beat-up looking mini van with a distinctly loud engine, please refrain from approaching the driver. She may look harmless, but she is cunning and dangerous. She has an arsenal of devices to lure unsuspecting horses into the back of the van and convince them to do her bidding, which would most likely involve running at very high speeds in order to win large purse monies.

If you spot the suspect or the vehicle, please call 1-800-Doodle-THIS! right away.

Do not, under any circumstances attempt to apprehend the suspect on your own!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Enough to Make a Grown Man Cry......

Friday the 13th. What month is this again? February I suppose.

My days run together. So much so that I generally yell at my daughter Friday nights to get her butt in bed because she better not be tardy to school in the morning. She steadfastly ignores me, which gets my goat, of course. By the time I stalk into her room to really yell at her, she simply turns to me and states: Mom! It's frickin Friday!

Oh. Ooops.

This day I will never forget.


While Cindirelli was coming along nicely as far as weight gain, we had some rather bizarre soundness issues to deal with. Soundness in the sense that they were gait related, but not actual lameness issues.

It all started with taking the girl to the track back when, in order to jog. She lost her mind completely. She got so worked up with excitement, it took three people to give a leg up to the rider, a lip chain, another shank and an average of 20 minutes to get her legged up, out to the track and then off the shank.
Then, we would all line up along the rail to watch the circus performance. Cindirelli could do everything from bucking, to trying to run off, getting rid off the rider, side passing at ALL gaits, and believe it or not, galloping backwards. Yup, you read that right.

She had never been trained on the track. She only ever saw the track when it was either time for an official work, or a race. To her, going up to the track meant excitement! Racing! Running as fast as you can!
Now imagine getting that out of her.

To begin with, she was major ouchy on her LF hoof. Her ankle on the RF is fused and set. This means it is less flexible in how the fetlock can move below when weight is put on that leg.
Now, couple these two things and what you are looking at is a horse who, while jogging, looks like a pacer.
In harness racing, when horses are pacing to warm up, they sort of tilt side to side.
Well, that's what Cindirelli would do.
She never had any swelling or heat in any of her joints or tendons, so she isn't straining to do the work or in pain.

Another problem she has had that's just been such a major mystery is the fact that when you are watching her out there, you could literally draw a line through her middle, cutting her in half, separating the two parts and realize that the front of this horse does not move the same way the back end does. She was like two separate entities put together, both doing their own thing.
While it felt like she was perhaps cross-firing, in reality she wasn't. She just wasn't moving in tandem.

99% of the time, she was holding her head way up there, sometimes cocked sideways, most times fighting the bit to the point that you'd wonder if she knew there was anything else going on around her AT ALL.

There were so many separate weird things going on with her that couldn't be explained by previous injuries (apart from the fused ankle and the broken down LF hoof). Some days, Cowboy would come back and tell me:
"She's a cripple! She can't move right! I can't put my finger on it exactly but it's got to be that [rf] leg."

I was convinced that wasn't the case. All I ever saw with that front end issue was the hoof. We argued countless times. We had screaming matches about this.

"It's her friggin broken knee and ankle, it's gotta be!"

"No, I am telling you, it's her opposite hoof!"

"Bullshit, you can't tell me that hoof is causing all that, she's a cripple!"

"Don't you dare ever say that in front of her again where she can hear you! And it's not her knee or her ankle, it's her hoof!"

He's threatened to not take her to the track. I've threatened to fire him and put someone else on my horses.

When Stephanie made some rather radical changes to Cindirelli's LF hoof, I was really looking forward to seeing the results the next day at the track.
Cowboy almost had an aneurysm when I told him she is going to the track on that particularly nasty day- sloppy surface and uneven.

"You don't want to take HER out there today."

"Oh, yes I do, I REALLY want to take her out there today. I REALLY REALLY want to take her out there today. And if you don't want to, I'll find someone else who will."

So off to the track she went.

Amazingly enough, all Cowboy could say when he came back with her was:
"I'll be damned. Guess you were right. Musta been the hoof."

I'm always right about the hooves. Period. I don't know why people don't realize that. Tsk.

So we progressed into regular training. Although the hoof issues had improved, a problem now was that she was extremely uneven in the front. Her RF hoof is upright and clubby. Her LF hoof was underslung, long in the toe and pretty much broken down to the point that it was a good half inch shorter in height than the RF. Uneven.

The only way to fix that without waiting another 6 months to a year to restore that hoof, was to put shoes on her.

Now I have a blacksmith who comes out to the training center, who is very good at what he does. I have never seen him cause a problem on a horse by doing a bad shoeing job.
I called him up and explained what I thought she needed- padding or an elevated wedge shoe on the LF, a regular one of the RF.

It took us almost 2 hours to get that shoeing job right on her but he did it. I have to say I was very impressed with the fact that he actually made a point of trimming and measuring both feet before he ever attempted to put anything on her shoe-wise.

So Cindirelli now has brand-new shoes and it has made another big difference in her movement.

But that rear end still had a mind of its own. Her head was still up on the 14th floor, cocking sideways, jerking at the bit, mouth wide open, teeth bared.

I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago who is a trainer down in the southwest and who gets nothing but EPM horses, treats them, restores them back to health and wins races with them. According to Lynn, EPM is not just the regular weird stuff. She is convinced, and has evidence in her own barn, of horses that have bizarre things wrong with them, that nothing else seems to explain just all by itself. Separately, those symptoms could be explained away by different ailments. Not altogether.

Seeing how I was not convinced that EPM was actually a factor and I certainly was not going to talk dear owner into spending upwards of $800 on a drug like Marquis, that may or may not show us results, I went on the internet and starting looking for alternative treatments for EPM.

I ran across a post a woman had put up on a message board where she, through her own research, had come up with a mixture of herbs that seemed to have worked absolute wonders on her gelding who had been diagnosed with EPM and who now was completely recovered.

I went to the website of the company who sells the herbs. Prices weren't outrageous but I was operating within a budget- my own: The deal I made with her owner was that I would like to try some herbs. If they do not work, I will not bill her for them.
If they do work, I'll add them on a later bill.

To begin with, the list of herbs this woman had made her concoction out of was lengthy. The price would have been around $200. Not happening.

Since this wonderful website had all the herbs listed with their own data sheets - pretty impressively put together, along with research citations- I went on a quest to find the one herb on that list that I thought would give me the fastest and surest results, if in fact, Cindirelli had EPM.

Right before the bad temperature drop and snow hit us, I put her on a wean-on dose of the herb, in her nightly feed. After investigating the fragrant new aroma, she went right to work and ate it all up.
When the weather hit us, I had Cindi up to a regular dose of the herb nightly. We were stuck without any kind of training for 3 days. On the 4th day, I was able to shedrow the horses (ride them at a jog in the shedrow).

It was immediately apparent that there was a change in Cindirelli's jog. It had improved.
Not only that, but she was calmer. She wouldn't just try to run out of her stall like it was a starting gate when you went to take her out. She wouldn't just go completely kooky in the shedrow at a hand walk where not even a lip chain made it possible to hold her.

She jogged like.... a normal horse. She was happy, alert, in a good mood but not nutty. Her brain seemed to be functioning in a more focused, intended kind of manner.

After 2 days of this, she popped up with that huge haematoma. In order to be on ANY other drugs and for those drugs to be able to metabolize in the liver and then go to work, she had to be off the herb. This particular herb (by the name of Fedegoso) is also a potent detox agent.

Off the herb, on the antibiotic.

A week passed. She deteriorated. Her behavior declined a bit but not completely back to the fruitcake she so regularly was before. Her jog declined, not by very much but more importantly, her rear end was still doing it's weird cross-firing but not cross-firing.

At this point, having seen that there was an obvious effect from the herb, I reported back to Lynn my findings and the quick timeframe in which they showed up.
That night, I went online and ordered another 2 herbs, one a very potent anti-protozoal, anti-parasitic, anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-microbial.

The haematoma was still there but I felt given time it would absorb anyhow, whether she was on antiobiotics or not. I took her off the antibiotics and put her on all three herbs.

This was 2 days ago.

Two days ago, the horse I sent to the track still had two separate parts to it- two distinct entities front and rear. Her head, even with an elevator bit was up in the sky, her neck wasn't cocked funny any longer but she was fighting the bit every step of the way, trying to still run off, doing her version of cross-firing.

Yesterday, my friend Gilberto got on her because Cowboy had to pick up his daughter.
I gave Gilberto a brief recap of her history as it pertained to her training. Told him that I also thought that she may dislike certain things the way Cowboy does them. I told him how Cowboy told me just a few weeks ago that if I entered her for a race, the way she was going, her rider would scratch her from the gates or the post parade.

Gave him a leg up. No elevator bit, just a regular snaffle, which I had used on her in the past, along with a million other bits I've tried.

Cindirelli went out to the track calmly. She jogged in a relaxed manner, with just the right amount of "go".

Gilberto has very quiet hands. He's a very quiet rider. He can just sit up there on a horse and make what he does look so unbelievably effortless.
He went to gallop her and although there was just a tiny bit of complaining, she went rather well. Better than before.

When he came back with her, he told me that he didn't think she was all that bad and that whatever it was that was going on "back there"- she seems to sort of work out of.

Don, who maintains our track and has his horses next to mine, came back over to the shedrow and said he saw her out there and she looked better than she had ever looked out there.
I agreed but thought, well, am I firing Cowboy off this horse?

Some riders get along with certain horses, others don't. Cowboy is tall and long-legged. While he is an excellent exercise rider with a ton of experience, he sits very far back in the saddle and some horses have problems with this.

When I left the barn last night, I wasn't sure what I was going to do about the rider situation today.

Turns out, nothing was the best decision I could have made.

Cindirelli was in a super mood today. For the first time, she ate every little bit of hay I gave her last night and this morning. There was no feed left in her tub (some mornings, she would leave a handful, others a little more).

I tossed her a jolly ball when she was in the swing stall while I cleaned hers. She went to town with it. The ball came flying out of the stall on several occasions. She had a soccer match in there.

Got her ready for the track and while tied to the wall, she kicked the stall door repeatedly, HARD, trying to make a point that she had no patience for this and wanted to go to the track.

Legged Cowboy up on her, with just the same snaffle.

She jigged on her way up out of the barn to the track. She calmly walked onto the track. She started jogging so nicely, my jaw dropped and hit the grass I was standing on.
I had told Cowboy to sort of let her do her thing. If she wanted her head more, give it to her. If she wanted to gallop faster, let her. Just don't two minute lick her or get her to a work speed.

What happened out there next hit me with such force, right in the gut, I had tears in my eyes.

This girl galloped with her head and neck collected. She never once fought the bit. She went for a mile and a half and never once tried to run away. She went out there and the horse I sent out of the barn was exchanged for an entirely different horse.
My mouth was literally open from the time she started until she came back.

When Cowboy rode her back into the barn and saw me, he turned very serious.
"Come on, it's not that bad, is it?"

I was crying. I couldn't help it. I was so touched by what I had just witnessed out there.
This wonderful, wonderful filly was back to being herself.

"She damned sure would not have gotten scratched today", was all he said as he took her tack away.

Before he left, while I was walking Ms. Calmness herself around the shedrow, he stuck his head around the corner:

"She's not even doing that funny cross-firing but not cross-firing thing.
Whatever you are giving her, it's working miracles."

And gone he was.

Cindirelli and I had a good talk about how proud I was of her and what an amazing girl she is. Each time I looked over at her and she would rub against me, or take a tiny corner of my shirt in her mouth to tug on, or put her head on my shoulder, bump me here or there, I just wanted to cry.

Someone asked me a week or so ago in one of those 30-questions-about-you emails when the last time was I cried.
Hell, I couldn't honestly remember. A few months ago watching a movie, probably. Honestly, not sure. I just don't generally cry. Period.
I'm much too busy working, enjoying my life, having good days than to get myself worked up in anything to such an extent that I will cry about it.

Apparently, there are still things that can make me cry at the drop of a hat.

Like this filly and the road she took coming here, her journey to recovery and the difference in the horse she was even just a few weeks ago, with the complete..... I don't know what to call it!.... change she has gone through just in the last few days and is going to continue going through.

Her real name is Runnin Dirty.

Her daddy is Capote.

Her dam is Fundraising by Black Tie Affair (IRE).

She stands right at 17 hands.

She weighs around 1100 lbs.

She has no patience.

She has rotten habits.

She misbehaves more often than she behaves.

She'll walk right over you to get to where she wants to go.

And she brought me to my knees today just by showing me the trust she placed in me, the faith I had in her in return, my misgivings of listening to conventional vets (save one) and the road we took together so far- all those things, they were meant, and somehow, she knew it.


Enough to make a grown (wo)man cry.