Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Old Friends along the Bourbon Trail

Ollie and I are really on to something good.  I had the nicest ride on him today.  He even offered up a nice forward and ROUND trot.  It was lovely!  My main mission is to build up his confidence so I didn't push and over do a good thing but I did gush on him.  He loves that!

Now I want to backtrack a bit and tell you about the Old Friends along the Bourbon Trail fundraiser from this past weekend.   Matt and I love Old Friends.  There isn't another person on the planet like Old Friend's founder Michael Blowen.  He's happiest when he's out in the paddocks taking care of the horses.  And there's no place like Old Friends!  So many great thoroughbreds!  And some are not even great from racing! 

The fundraiser was held in Louisville, KY at the historic Seelbach Hotel.  It's SO COOL inside!  People came from all over the U.S. for the fundraiser.   All the big distilleries were there and lots of cool things were being auctioned off in both a live and a silent auction. 
The greeters!
People making bids on the silent auction item.
A Secretariat and Barbaro print signed by Penny Chenery and Roy & Gretchen Jackson.

A very pretty horse hair vase made from the hair of Affirmed Success.
We had a wonderful dinner in the Oak Room of the hotel.  This room has amazing woodwork in it and the restaurant is one of only two 5 diamond restaurants in the city.  As you can imagine we had a very fine meal!

Then back to the room with the auction items where we went into a fun and lively auction of more items!

Many people bid on the live auction items!

The auctioneer was working the crowd!
In the end, money for a good charity was raised  and some people won themselves some great deals!  Personally, I would have liked to have gotten the 6 seat box seats for the Kentucky Derby which went for only $325!!!  CRAZY! 

During the evening, I had an enjoyable conversation with a board member of Old Friends, Carol Nyren.  She is the owner of a very good race horse named Dry Martini.  Matt and I first met Carol the other night when we thought we were taking photos of Sea Native.  Carol told us she retired Dry Martini two days earlier.  When I saw her at the fundraiser I asked her more about his retirement.  Dry Martini was retired sound after earning over $1 million.  His last big win was in the Suburban Handicap at Saratoga.  He's big time!  And he has a great owner in Carol.  Carol is an owner with a plan for her horses after their racing days.  I commend her for this!  Every one of her race horses contribute a percentage of their winnings towards their retirement.   Dry Martini has a good retirement fund...  But regardless of his retirement fund, Dry Martini is 8 yrs old and perfectly healthy!  He has alot of good years in him so Carol has let him go to a friend of mine to be retrained as a hunt horse or whatever!  He's going to my good friend Penny Woolley, wife of Tim Woolley whose website was the go to place for Barbaro information immediately after he broke down in the Preakness.  Penny and Tim will be excellent caretakers of this gray guy!  I had no idea Penny was getting Dry Martini!  Carol and I had a good laugh that I knew Penny.  Carol found Penny through Barclay Tagg's assistant trainer Robin Smullens.  Penny and Robin are very good friends.  Small world!  The best part is that Dry Martini will have a spot at Old Friends when his days of hacking the Fair Hill countryside are over. 

There was some great bourbon tasting - not my thing but many enjoyed it!  Matt and I had a great time photographing the event.  We were wiped out afterwards but did enjoy our stay at the Seelbach Hotel... 

Thanks Old Friends for having us!  We hope to see you again next year!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Latest Revelation

I think I've had a revelation in regards to working with Ollie.

Before I get to my revelation I need to tell you a basic assumption I have about him. He's a worrier. He relies on routine and being around other horses and people he trusts. His worrying puts him at high risk for stomach ulcers. When he has ulcers he's fidgety and uncomfortable.

I'm doing everything I know to combat his ulcers. I've purposely found a barn that is quiet, he has 24/7 turnout in a large pasture. I'm very lucky to have found a place like this! This has resulted in a much more calm and happier Ollie who seems to be ulcer free at the moment.

I'm his sole caretaker. That alone has done wonders for his trust in me. The added bonus is Toby. Toby has an ability to settle Ollie whenever he begins to get a little worried.

Bottom line is that Ollie's been very easy for me to work around.

Lately, I've wanted to have both my guys become more familiar with the rest of the property. I believe there's about 100 acres total. Since neither of my guys like to be out of sight of the other when they go into the "unknown" I thought it would be a good idea to have them both go for a hack. I tack both of them up and I get on Toby and pony Ollie. This has been great. Both of them act better than if they were alone. It's a great case for "two heads are better than one." You may wonder why I tack up Ollie. I do this because I want to go through the exercise. Ollie's stress level rises as soon as you begin to put equipment on him. I want him to learn that just because he has equipment on does not mean we're going to strain his brain from asking things of him. He loves the hacks! The property has lovely rolling hills, the unused pastures have their gates open and there are fun easy obstacles we can tackle such as an itty bitty creek that happens to be dry right now. Both Toby and Ollie are enjoying the walk/trot-abouts. And the bonus is that I'm getting two horses worked at once.

After the ponying, I untack Toby and put him in his stall. Then I get on Ollie for a short ride. He loves to walk/trot around the barn and the property. The minute we enter the sand arena I can feel his body tense up and stress level increase. I just ask him to walk around on a loose rein but the second I touch the reins he'll break into a trot and go sideways. When I leave the arena, I can pick up the reins and put leg on him and he's relaxed and listening to me!

So here's my revelation... Ollie is sour to the arena! I can work him out in a field and he listens to me but we go into an arena and his pea brain starts to work overtime trying to think of what I'm going to ask next. I've decided that I'm going to work him in the fields and try cooling him out in the arena. I need to change his attitude about the arena! We'll see how this works. I also need to keep things fun for him. A little work followed by a fun hack and eventually we'll ease into more work before we do a hack.  The hacks around the property are definitely right up his alley.  

Funny but I was always afraid that Ollie would be crazy outside of the controlled arena. Now I've discovered he's just the opposite. I bet he would enjoy going cross country or even hunts! Funny what you discover when you listen to your horse.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Is It Really Mid-February?

Sunny and 65!  Wow!  This Michigan girl keeps thinking it's April but it's only mid-February in Kentucky.

My horses seem much happier with the warmer weather too.  If anything they are too warm since they haven't even begun to lose their winter coats.  When I returned from our quick weekend getaway and checked on the boys I found the dreaded skin disease "Rain Rot" beginning on both of them!  Aaack! 

I confess - I had no idea how to treat it.  I've never had to deal with it!  Thankfully, my pony-clubber friend and guardian to my boys when I go away, educated me on how to treat it.  I was so disappointed that they both ended up with it.  I kept a diligent watch out for it.  Everyday while they ate their meals I would "fluff" up their coats to get air down to the skin with a hair brush.  They hated being fluffed but I kept at it.  Oh well.   I tried.   Now I'm all about treating it.  Just wish they would start shedding.  They have the thickest coats which isn't doing their skin any favors when it comes to treating the rain rot.

This warm weather has me anxious for all outdoor activities and seeing the race horses in Tampa gave me a case of Derby Fever.  I have no idea who I like yet but it'd be a bonus if Brethren got there and raced well!

My husband is into following the possible Derby horses.  He used to do an email report each week during the preps for the Derby and send it out to his buddies.  With some encouragement from his wife (that'd be me) and friends, he turned his email report into a blog.  If you want to follow along and catch some of the name horses before Derby Day (and hopefully catch the Derby Fever) then you can follow along on Matt's blog:  Turf and Dirt - On Horse Racing.  You're guaranteed good photos too!

Finally, my last plug for today will be for Old Friends and their "Old Friends Along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail."  It's a fun fundraiser at the MOST BEAUTIFUL HOTEL in Louisville, KY.  The historic Seelbach Hotel.  There is bourbon tasting in the most beautiful room along with a silent auction.  We went last year and found ourselves amongst many big name thoroughbred people.  I got a kick out of meeting Jean Cruguet.  He was Seattle Slew's jockey when he won the Triple Crown.  All I can say is that the $100 ticket is worth every penny and you'll be helping some great retired thoroughbreds along the way.

Michael Blowen and Wicked North are discussing all the cool people who will be attending the Bourbon Trail.

You know, Matt and I will be posting photos from the event.  :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Winter Get Away

Matt and I had enough of the snow, cold and otherwise dreary days of February.  We needed OUT!  The perfect excuse came along just in time.

A client of ours needed photos of his horses in training at a farm in Ocala, FL.  Neither of his horses have begun to race yet and are just learning the ropes.  We decided to head down on Sam F. Davis Stakes day at Tampa Bay Downs.    It was going to be a whirlwind trip of us packing in a ton of stuff into one day!!

Saturday morning began in Ocala at a very cool training farm called AbraCadabra. 

It was a cold Florida morning but otherwise beautiful.  Our subjects came out for their morning gallop around the training track.  They are both beautiful horses and one of them is showing quite a bit of early promise as a race horse.  Of course you never know until they race...

Volcat (After Market) with Frederico Mata on board.

Unnamed Seeking The Best filly.
The workers at AbraCadabra were exceptionally friendly and helpful to us.  I even found out that Frederico Mata, who was riding Volcat, was there.  He rode Ollie in Ollie's very first race and won!  He also rode Jaguar Hope many times!  Small world...

After getting our photos of the "kids at the farm" we headed down to Oldsmar, FL and Tampa Bay Downs!  I was excited about this part of the trip because Ollie's race trainer was there - Gerald Bennett.

First race and guess who had a winner!  I was floored!  It was all of Ollie's connections!  His breeder/owner and his trainer!  They won with their horse Arts and Leisure.
Arts and Leisure winning the first race at Tampa Bay Downs

Jerry Bennett and his wife Mary giving their jockey instructions prior to a race.
Ollie's breeder/owner, the Gilmore's, were not in Florida that day but I did get a chance to speak briefly with the Bennett's.  They had heard about Ollie (Hola C Bright) and me along with our odd connection to his namesake, the Sebrights.

They told me Ollie's barn name was "Chuckie" because he was crazy.  He climbed stall walls, broke Mary's finger (which is now permanently crooked) and was otherwise a terror at the track.   I told them that I felt he was a very fretful horse and worries all the time.   Mary totally agreed with my assessment and was happy to hear that he had a buddy in Toby.  Ollie needs a constant companion to settle him down and make him feel more secure.

I told them he was nothing like a "Chuckie" now.  He was friendly, sweet and a good "tryer",   albeit we have to go slowly and spell everything out in large letters and in crayon.   How could this sweet face be a "Chuckie?"

The Bennett's were happy to know Ollie is in a great place.   He's certainly not a horse for everyone because of his quirky personality.  Mary did mention they have another horse who is retiring from racing sound and needs a new career.  I don't know much about the horse but can find out if anyone is interested in knowing more.

Tampa was host to the Sam F. Davis Stakes later in the day along with 2 other stakes races on the turf.  The Sam F. Davis is considered a prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby which is a Kentucky Derby prep race.  Therefore, some Derby hopefuls came to show their stuff.   The favorite was Brethren who is a half brother (same dam) as last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver.

Brethren (Distorted Humor - Supercharger)

Brethren (Distorted Humor - Supercharger) with Ramon Dominguez up (another jockey who rode Ollie!)
He won the race so easily that it seemed to be like a paid workout for him!  I was shooting the turn and by the time he came around to me, he was already well in the lead.
Brethren in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs 2/12/2011

Brethren in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs 2/12/2011
It was fun to get to see a possible Kentucky Derby horse up close.  Especially at a fun track such as Tampa Bay Downs.  Matt and I loved that track!  It's super sweet  - not too big, not too small - and the people are friendly and helpful.  We recommend it to everyone!

The following morning, we went to the backside of the track to meet up with a trainer for a horse that my blogging friend Ted Grevelis and his syndicate owns - Tabby Lane.  

Tabby Lane owned by Grevelis Racing
She's a sweet mare and trained by a super nice guy - Bernell Rhone.  Bernell spent a bunch of time with us as we watched Tabby Lane walk on the hot walker.  He mentioned that she's owned by an enthusiastic group of people who love to come back and visit her in her stall with their kids in tow.  He gets a charge out of owners loving their horses except that he has to play the part of "carrot police" because they give her too many!  Sounds like my kind of group! 

Ironically, Bernell now trains an old horse friend/crush of mine - Independent George.  I had a horse crush on George while he was in training with Graham Motion.  George has a quirky personality and is a challenge to train.  He's like a small child all the time doing the exact opposite of what you are asking him to do.  Everything has to be George's idea too.  As you can imagine, he has a lot of "Go" in training and may "Whoa" in races.  He's aptly named (see video clip below) but I still adore him and his quirks! 

Independent George (Cozzene -Daylight Ridge) showing his inner self in the photo.

Independent George (Cozzene -Daylight Ridge)
And best of all is his name...

Glad he's with Bernell Rhone!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentines Weekend!

Technically speaking, this is Valentines Day Weekend...

We want to wish everyone a happy Valentines Day.  May every one of you get roses, hugs and kisses from your loved ones!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Have a Thing About Poo

I have good news!  Ollie's poops look almost like a normal horse's poop now!  I had him in one night because of the windy cold weather.  This gave me the opportunity to check out his you-know-what.  He had a couple actual road apples!  I am so pleased and happy!  On the downside, his poops still weigh more than normal due to water weight and they stink.  So I wish he was absorbing more into his system.  I look at those loose wet poops and think of the money on supplements I probably wasted because his body didn't absorb much of them.  But his digestive tract seems much improved from our earlier days and his tolerance to being brushed and touched all over is much better too.  So I deduct that we are on the upswing and perhaps his water absorption will continue to improve and so will the supplements!

The most amazing thing is his improved attitude.  He's always been a good guy but you could tell he wasn't always comfortable.  Now he's looking comfortable and much more relaxed.  This is key!

Ollie has a bit of a pot belly going on with his constant grazing but I'm not going to worry too much about that.  I'll get him back to work and hopefully that will help with our "big gut" issue.  It'll be good for me too because I'm getting back my big gut.  Ugh!  Can't wait for warmer weather for both of us.

On a side note, you know I'm obsessing about poop when I feel the need to take a picture at the store of something like this...
Paper made from you guessed it - horse poop! 

Sometimes I believe I need to get a better perspective on life.  :)

Here's to good poops!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's All Complete Ka Ka

Or is it spelled "Ca Ca?"

Yep I'm talking poop here.   I am an expert poop watcher since my boy Ollie seems to have poop issues.   However, I haven't been able to see his poops in a little while because he's turned out 24/7.  This bothers me a little bit because I like to monitor how he's doing.  Especially since I have him on GrandDigest and I want to see some improvement. 

So the other day when Matt and I were taking pretty horse pictures like this one...


I saw Ollie off in the field doing his thing.  Off I went with my camera so I could document it:

What do you guys think of it?  It's an improvement of sorts.  But this is about the best his poops have looked in the past too.  Some form, still lots of water in it so they weigh a ton and they are not quite road apples.   I'm hoping for road apples.  Maybe this is as good as he gets?  Should I be concerned?

I just don't know.  His eating regime should be optimum for good poo.  He gets lots of hay, especially on cold days, he can graze in the field all day and night if he wants and I give him 1 qt of Kalm 'n EZ from Kalmbach each day along with a little Cocosoya oil.   Grazing in the field this time of year I suppose is good just to keep something in his tummy to keep the ph levels down.  I wonder what will happen when Spring rolls around and we have lovely green grass.

Other things I've noticed is that he's not so sensitive to being brushed in the flank region.  He's not so sensitive to being brushed anywhere right now!  I can touch him anywhere without him sending me any warnings of "watch it lady!"  Even girthing up isn't so bad anymore.   Best of all is that there are no more green colored poop remnants around his lovely gray hind end.  So that's all good. 

I suppose we are on the right track.  I'm just wondering if I'll ever see anything better than this.

In the meantime, my two guys love living in their huge Kentucky pasture:


Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm So Stylish

Evidently someone thinks I have style.   I can safely tell you that I do not know style - at least when it comes to my own clothing. 

Here is what I get to do as a stylish blogger:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

So here are seven things about me
  1. I never seem to get tired of watching "Cash Cab."
  2. I currently work for the United States Golf Association and am considered an expert in the Rules of Golf.  
  3. Seinfeld is classic entertainment.
  4. I can't stand clothes shopping.
  5. I like to listen to "adult alternative" music (KT Tunstall, Tristan Prettyman, Joss Stone, to name a few)
  6. I played field hockey and also crewed (rowing) while in college
  7. I have a really big smile - oh you probably saw that by now  :)
Now here are some very stylish bloggers in my book.

  1. Herringswell Stables blog - this is race horse trainer Graham Motion's blog.  It's great for an inside look at their operation and some gorgeous photos from Fair Hill, MD!
  2. Boulderneigh - I love to read about Michelle's sheep and learn about wool.  Who knew!  
  3. Triple Dead Heat - my good friend Keith McCalmont's blog about racing at Woodbine (Toronto)
  4. The Brays of Our Lives - Fenway Bartholomule cracks me up most every day.  
  5. Frankie Lovato Jr - it's cool to have a jockey blogging!
  6. Miles On Miles - gotta keep up with my Michigan peeps who have OTTB's!
  7. A Horse Named Monk - Monk is an endurance horse who competed at WEG.  I enjoy following their training and adventures in endurance riding - which I know little about!
  8. Dressage Training Journal - my Canadian friend Carol and her horse Rogo.  I enjoy reading about her adventures in dressage.
  9. It's Quarters For Me - Shannon and her quarter horses. Shannon is big into learning about her horses hooves.  I like that!
  10. Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog - this is by far the most informative blog on hoofcare.  Fran is very knowledgeable as well as connected to people in the hoofcare world.  And I mean WORLD!
I believe I was suppose to put up 15 blogs but 10 seems like a good start for me!  I actually like to check out the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance to get most of my blogging racing news as well as RaceDay 360.  Those two sites have a ton of bloggers and a wealth of information!  To make it easy for me to read all my favorites websites and blogs I use Google Reader.

Thanks again for thinking I'm stylish!  It's a nice feel good!!