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