Monday, January 31, 2011

They're Good For My Soul

I love my horses...

mud and all.

I finally got to ride yesterday.  It was another gorgeous day - sunny and around 50 degrees.  Perfect to ride my wooley men.  I took the time to give them a good grooming, tacked them up and away we went. 

I rode Toby first.  He gave me a great ride.  Once his muscles were warmed up, he became round and forward.  Two things that he's not so great at doing!  We had some bending issues but overall he was fantastic!  He put a huge grin on my face. 

Then it was Ollie's turn.  I admit that his pea sized brain makes me a bit nervous when it comes to riding.  Especially since he's been nothing but a pasture powder puff for the past couple months.  I put on his new dressage bridle and rubber bit.   He looked very fancy in his tack.  He let me get on him without being overly fidgety at the mounting block.  But then when we went around the large arena, he just can't seem to relax.  Perhaps he senses my nerves?  Probably.  Then a lightbulb went off in my head.  There are two round pens at our new place.  I took Ollie down to the bigger of the two.  This was perfect.  We marched around in a circle in both directions for a little while.  I wasn't too caught up about his form.  I just wanted him to relax and for me to relax.   Which we did!  As soon as he relaxed we called it a day and I took him in, undressed him and took him for a short bite of grass.  

Both rides were short since both guys (and their owner) are fairly out of shape.  Having said that, I was impressed with Toby's conditioning.  He felt strong and didn't get winded.  Impressive for my 21 yr old! 

The weather is about to turn poor again but I'm so happy to have had my nice rides.  It was just good for my soul to spend hours with them.  It'll get me through the rest of winter. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Theme Was Mud

That was the photography challenge I gave Matt this morning.  We woke up to a glorious spring day and we were both itching to take photos.  Even though our day was warm and sunny,  nothing was green and we were surrounded by a sea of mud  So off we went to take mud photos.  We didn't know where but we knew we had to!

One order of business was to feed my horses.  We headed off in that general direction and I made Matt do a small detour to meet a neighbor:


I met this guy the other day when I drove past while he was having a party by himself.  He was running and bucking with his skinny little tail in the air.  I pulled over and he came charging to the fence.  I thought I was going to die!  But he stopped and took off in the other direction.  My dog was barking like a mad man.  The head of this big guy is the entire size of my 70lbs dog!  He's huge!  And cute!  Today when we stopped he was much more composed and gentlemanly...

Then we were off to the barn to see my guys.  Matt and I are members of EPNet.  They frequently have these photography "challenges" and one of them was a photo a day with different words as the theme.  One word they used was "whorl."   People came up with some great shots.  So that had me itching to get a shot of Ollie's wheat ear:


But alas, our personal challenge for the day was MUD because we have a lot of it in Kentucky:

See the mud monger in there?
Everyone was out at the barn enjoying the rare warm day. It was fun catching up and socializing with all of them. Here is our friend Hannah on her horse Arco,

And the barn mascots were looking on

Everyone should get along like these two...
Then we headed home.  On our drive we pass a thoroughbred breaking and training farm.  They have a dirt track and a few paddocks with young thoroughbreds.  As we drove past, we saw 2 ponies pulling a wagon with Mom and her two children in it around the dirt track.   It was so sweet that we had to stop - remember we had a "mud theme" going on today:

The kids are right at home with the young horses

As I wrote earlier, I pass this farm everyday to feed my horses.  And everyday I see this cute young and rare white thoroughbred. 

Her name is Packed Snow and she is by The White Fox who passed away recently.  She is his last foal and registered white.

After hanging out and chatting with the farm owners we called it a day.  I think we did pretty well for a muddy day with our cameras.  And where else but in central Kentucky would you get to see all the things we saw today.  I love it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Mid Winter Blues


It's almost February.  The weather is icky, my horses are shaggy looking, I'm not riding and I'm at a loss of blog post ideas.   I got the flu while in San Antonio and it's taken me a week to start to feel more normal.  I had to enlist Matt's help in feeding the horses because I was feeling so weak.  He comes away with a great photo opportunity and an interesting blog post for his blog for his efforts!

Yesterday, when I went out to feed, Toby showed up on time for his dinner but Ollie didn't come in.  He was hanging over the fence chatting with the yearlings in the field next to him.  I could only imagine what he was telling those youngsters about life.  It must have been very interesting because I had to walk out to get him.  Ollie wouldn't tell me what he said to them.  He's pretty good at keeping secrets.

I'm anxious for the weather to warm up, my horses to lose that extra hair so they look like pretty thoroughbreds again, to start riding again, to try Ollie in his new bridle and bit, and to see the new babies in the nearby fields like this little Invasor baby last April...


Right now all I've got are two super hairy horses - at least I think they're horses.  I've never seen them so hairy!  But it's been amazing to me to see how well that extra hair works for them in the weather.  Amazing protection!  But I digress.  And a guaranteed bright spot in my day is driving by my fave thoroughbred, Invasor, and seeing him in his paddock.  Yesterday when I drove past he was just getting up from a good roll in the mud.  He was acting rather sassy in the process.  I love being able to see him most every day...

Hopefully I'll have something of more substance to blog about.  In the meantime we're trying to survive the mid winter blues...

PS - I think Bernardini KNEW he was going to have a date with Zenyatta when I shot this photo.  I should have known...


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Off Track Thoroughbred Blog

Just a quick post while I sit in the San Antonio airport...

Off-Track put up a nice story about Jaguar Hope and me.  You can read it here

And if you have an interesting connection with your OTTB you should consider sending the blog author your story!   It's fun to read about other people and their OTTB's. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cycle of Life In Kentucky

Ollie looking out his stall window on a winter day.
Toby and Ollie are making their way through their first Kentucky winter.  It's so much easier on them than a northern Michigan winter! But without an indoor arena, we are not doing much riding.  I see them everyday, feed them their little bit of grain and do a once over.  In a nutshell I'm telling you there's not much to talk about with them except that they are in good health, sassy, happy and very wooley. 

Being new to Kentucky, I continue to learn the cycle of life around here.  This time of year revolves around the breeding farms.  Soon we'll be seeing lots of babies out in the fields and the broodmares will be bred again to the stallions.  Also, Keeneland has their January Horses of all Ages sale going on.  The sales means there are many out of town visitors in the equine industry.  These are the perfect ingredients for the Stallion Open House season!  The farms in the area hosts open houses for anyone and everyone to see their prized stallions who stand at their farms.

Matt and I decided to go because we work for a few of the farms and it's nice to support them as well as talk to the people with whom we work (farm workers, advertising agencies, etc.).  We took our cameras along and headed out because you never know what kind of a grab shot you may get.

We went to Lanes End, Coolmore and Darley on Saturday. On Sunday we visited Vinery, Crestwood and Darley again (we got there very late on Saturday...). 

The farms are magnificent!


Darley at Jonabell Farm
A.P. Indy statue at Lanes End
And the horses are majestic...
Bernardini at Darley
Hard Spun (wish his left hind was up a little bit but this is only a "grab" shot) at Darley.
Henny Hughes at Darley.  He was really feeling his oats!
Medaglia d'Oro at Darley.  Sire of Rachel Alexandra.
Kipling at Crestwood.  Kipling is/was the sire of Kip Deville - a champion racehorse who was euthanized due to laminitis this past year.
Unbridled Energy at Crestwood Farm.
Lookin At Lucky at Coolmore.  I LOVE my shot of him at the Preakness.
 I tried hard to think outside the box with my photography and get shots I normally wouldn't get and ones that might show some of the horse's personality.  So these are shots I'd classify in the "showing their personalities" category...

Hard Spun at Darley - LOVE HIM!

Hard Spun at Darley

Offlee Wild At Darley

PioneerOf The Nile at Vinery

Unbridled Energy at Crestwood shaking his head and making a funny face.

Bernardini doing his best WC Field imitation saying "Come here my little chickadee!"
Curlin giving us his hairy eyeball just like he gave Rags To Riches in the Belmont
I can't wait for the babies to come.  There's one that I'm just crazy to go and see and I think I will be able to because the mare is at one of the farms we work.

lear's princess
Lear's Princess  who beat Rags to Riches in the Gazelle.
I just love her and so many others.  Sigh...  I still can't believe I'm down here in Kentucky!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Still A Weirdo...


Ollie's always been a curious sort of guy.

I was attempting to take a picture of Toby out in the field when Ollie decided to butt sniff me. I turned around from being goosed and got low to the ground to shoot his picture into the sun. The day was so beautiful and this shot came out so nicely! 

Matt gets a good laugh over our feeding routine.  I guess it's those simple things in life...  I lead Toby to his stall and Ollie follows behind and walks himself into his stall.  Toby being the leader must go first.  Ollie isn't quite so good on the way back out because we have to walk through a paddock with irresistable grass in it.  But eventually he goes back to his field with all his equine buddies.  Today, Matt wanted to video tape the routine.  He just thinks its such a crack up and that Ollie is "still a weirdo":

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Answer Is In the Ancestry

I've had so many blog post ideas.  So many that it's clogged my writing and I can't write on any one idea.

I thought about writing an end of year post but I'm not one to look back too much especially when I have so much to look forward to in my future.

On the flip side I thought about writing all my goals for 2011.  I have too many variables which are out of my control so while I have goals, they all depend on which direction some things (out of my control) go.  Too many "if...then" statements make for a very long, boring and drawn out blog post.

Therefore I settled on confessing my quirkiness in finding the key to Ollie's mind.  I've resorted to digging deep.  Very deep.  Now I am deep in an effort to learn more about his ancestors to better understand his quirky behaviors.  I'm thinking he takes after his grandsire on his dam's side.  Hall of Fame racer DAMASCUS!

Am I nuts to think Damascus and Ollie resemble one another...

Ollie (Hola C Bright) running around in an indoor arena
Damascus needed a pony friend to keep him cool on race days.  Duffy was his side kick. 
From what I've read, Duffy helped Damascus keep his cool prior to his races and they credit Duffy with Damascus' wins in the Preakness and Belmont.  Duffy was not utilized on Derby Day where Damascus was a stressed out nervous mess and ran third.  After Duffy came into the picture, Damascus became a cool calm winning machine.

Many great thoroughbreds have their own personal ponies.  Such as Curlin and Poncho (also spelled as Pancho).
Curlin led by his reliable stable pony Pancho in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.  
Why not the great thoroughbred Hola C Bright?!  The way I figure it, Ollie has his pony.  Toby!


With Toby by his side, Ollie is going to be able to conquer all he faces with confidence.  Bring it on baby!

Toby and Hola