Time Flies! ROLEX 2012!!!!!


I have woken from my seeming hibernation to at least write a bit about Rolex 2012 since I am not actually there.  For starters, once again, CANTER Mid Atlantic will be presenting an award for top ex-racehorse in the competition.  This year we have OODLES of TBs in the mix – horses that raced and failed, horses who raced and did great with six figure earnings, and some that were bred to race but never did.

For the whole list, see this here blog entry by Allie over at the Chronicle site.

Most of the horses on that list are horses we’ve profiled here over the last several years, with a couple new names 🙂

One of the interesting things this year is that the focus on ex-racehorses and their accomplishments is crazy this time around.  Multiple groups and sites are watching and blogging about them, including the Retired Racehorse Training Project, headed up by MD horseman Steuart Pittman. There are also numerous OTTB events happening AT Rolex, headed up by the folks at New Vocations (check out “Thoroughbreds for All!” on their site). It’s like a renaissance, ex racehorses are EVERYWHERE THESE DAYS!  I’m going to be blunt – I think this is awesome, and the focus is well deserved!  But I’m sort of scratching my head too – we’ve been saying this stuff for years, and doing training blogs, pointing out the OTTBs in competition, researching our butts off to find what horses are representing us in high level competition, etc. So have various other groups dedicated to the cause.  But for some reason it’s only now REALLY getting huge.  I guess good things take time?  But certainly people can’t still be surprised by how awesome these horses are, right?

Apparently so. haha!

Anyway, as of now, looks like our award leader is the wonderful, beautiful, fantastic Courageous Comet, who is sitting in third place after dressage.  Of course… lots of horses still to come! Stay tuned!



Hooray For New Faces

So I managed to get out to Happy Horse Acres last weekend, right after the weird October snowstorm.  After visiting my horse, who is looking ridiculous and fuzzy (YAY for winter fuzz ears! My favorite!!!!)  and happy:

Gratuitous Grey Nose Picture

I love that grey nose.  Anyway, after lots of carrots and kisses (and some currying, which was not received quite as happily as the carrots were), I gave him a face rub and went out to see how the CANTER guys were doing with all the snow on the ground.

The first horse I met up with was Brew, a relatively new mare.  I didn’t get a pic of her this weekend, but here she is from when she first arrived:

Another GORGEOUS Redhead!

Brew was a pretty typical mare in that she went through a “don’t touch me!” phase.  I went out a few times and she made it clear she wanted nothing to do with me by walking away and staying out of reach.  Being large and ungainly, my usual “I WILL TAME YOU WITH MY LOVE” approach wasn’t as much fun so I just let her be.  This past weekend?  She’s done her 180 and was just the biggest love!  Gave her all kinds of scratchins and rubbins, and spent a good fifteen minutes just loving on her, which seemed to make her really happy.  She’s a sweetheart, and I think really nice, so it will be fun to see what she can do.

Another newer arrival, Slinky, was as sweet as ever too.  She’s my new “favorite” (well, sort of… of the girls, anyway!) and pretty impossible not to love.  When I saw her the first time I was pretty blinded and came away feeling like I’d just met one of the prettiest horses ever on the planet.  She is very special 🙂  I didn’t get new pics of her either but here’s a goofy pic of her face:

Not the best pic of the prettiest mare ever 🙂

 She is doing very, very well – fat as a tick and with a lovely, very dark winter coat coming in.  She had some time off from the track before coming to us so is having no trouble adjusting.  Can’t wait for some room to open up in NC for more mares, she’s going to be REALLY cool!

Also in the mare field was goofy, pretty Rainbow.  She’s a very nice, solid mare, big and beefy, nice conformation (who wants a Kris S?  I know lots of people like those!).  She was busy playing Disney Princess this weekend, I don’t know if you can see it in the pics, but these small groups of little grey birds were flocking to her and perching on her back and neck. 

Rainbow and her Feathered Friends

From there, I stopped to visit one of our big-blazed geldings, who is definitely one of the cuter horses I’ve ever hung out with.  In addition to the big white face, he’s got some other neat markings, like one leg that is roan from the knee down.  Not a sock, just white hairs mixed in.  It’s kind of odd looking, yet definitely adorable!  This boy was wondering what the heck happened to all the grass 🙂

Did YOU cover up all the grass?

After some serious canoodling time with blazeface mcgee, I met a horse who is sure to become a volunteer and fan favorite.  He’s just… one of those.  Remember Mikey?  (who doesn’t!)  This guy is another Mikey.  Except he’s read.  It’s sort of like Donnie Brasco, where there was Sonny Black and Sonny Red… The original Mikey was the brown one, but this is the red one.  Based solely on personality, I’m calling him Mikey Red until someone comes up with something better.

I spy… a cute red horse that looks like it has to be one of ours.  This, by the way, is the farthest I would get from Mikey Red until I escaped the field.

He has spied me! Should have run!

I didn’t run.  Instead, I stood there cooing, “oh you look like a fun new CANTER horse! You’re so CUUUUUTE!!!”  Which then led to a lot of this:

Helloooo, let me lick and nibble you!

And some of this:

mmmm phone! I love phone! Let me eat it!

And as I tried desperately to back up enough for a full face shot, a little more of this:

Well, it's a cute forehead anyway

This horse, apparently, was born for attention.  He hugs, he plays, he loves scratchins, and  without even a single treat involved he followed me all the way to the gate of the field (which was a heck of a hike, and none of the other horses came), and then stood there like he was insulted I wasn’t taking him somewhere.

This horse is going to be RIDICULOUS.  I love him.  I’m kind of glad he’s not in the same field as Truckee, that would be way too much!

In other news, we have another new arrival – this handsome little guy is a four year old who last raced only a week before, so he’s still looking a bit tucked up, and is a little confused by his new routine.  He also followed me all around, more out of, “hey! A person! I know what to do with those!” and because the other horses were being a little mean.  He’s a true sweetheart and a good snuggler too!

Awww, sweet new boy

That’s about it from the funny farm.  I won’t be out there again for many a week, as there is all sorts of crazy stuff going on the next few weekends.  Hopefully will have some more happy stories of alums from the track listings, and various other stuff!  🙂


Oogy, Yet Fascinating

I’ve seen commentary about this video posted on a few online horse forums, but this is the first link I’ve actually been able to get to work.  Before I post it, a disclaimer:  this is a kind of oogy video. There is blood, and guts, and a deceased racehorse involved. 

However… it is pretty darned fascinating and gives some great insight on how a racehorse “works” – and if you’re into veterinary nerding like me, you will be really into it (I was only sorry they didn’t get into the mechanics of the hind end so much, seeing as that’s the “engine” of the horse!).

One of the things they focus on are how the front legs absorb pressure, paying close attention to the soft tissue of the lower leg.  They also show what happens if there is a “ding” against those tendons while they are bearing the weight of a full gallop.  Another major component of this video is breathing and the equine airway – this part was fascinating to me, mostly because I never fully understood the mechanics of a horse who “flips his palate” until they demonstrated it (along with showing dynamic footage of a horse’s windpipe at a full gallop) with the actual body parts involved. 

If you are sensitive to blood, ooginess, or the idea of a necropsy/dissection, I will advise you not to click this.  But I had to post it here since some of the things it touches on are things we deal with on a regular basis – things like breathing problems, for example.  Plus it’s just plain fascinating.  The horse’s lungs, for example, are a masterpiece.  Just amazing!

Inside Nature’s Giants: Racehorse

My Favorite Girl – Being Amazing!

So the other day I was all frazzled and bummed out over inconsequential things when I got the awesomest email from Allie ever.  Pictures of my most favoritest redheaded filly of all time in her new home with her new owner Andrea.  I hope Andrea doesn’t mind me quoting her email here, but it must be done, because Cadence is the most WONDERFUL mare in the whole entire world, and everyone must know it!  Part of me wants to thump my chest and say “SEE?!?!? All you people who passed were crazy!” but then, if they hadn’t passed, this awesome, fantastic match wouldn’t have happened, and wouldn’t that be a shame?  Cadi is doing fantastically, and obviously is with the perfect person for her, which makes me smile so hard my face hurts.  So, here’s the brief yet fantastic update on the best mare ever to be foaled:

“Here are a few pics of Cadi. I took her to a local farm this weekend to tryout their xc course. Cadi was a ROCK STAR! I don’t mean to brag but she did better then the old veterans who are the been there done that type of horses. She jumped everything and she never once thought about refusing or hesitating at any of the fences, very brave for her experience level. We did have one racehorse flashback moment but it was cute and made it interesting… well just say she finally woke up a little and her competitive nature came out when the other OTTB was out in front of us galloping hehe silly mare.

Take care and thanks again for such a fabulous mare, I just cant say enough good things about her.”

And of course, what everybody loves… pictures!!!

tritty trot!

And even MORE happy!

OK, so I go for MONTHS without saying a thing, then post twice in two days.  My apologies!

But I was reading COTH today (again, I’m such an addict) and stumbled on another pretty happy ending for a track listed horse, though I don’t have a write up from her owner this time thought I would post something, since what I *DO* have is the mare’s original, and pretty awful, track photo.

A lot of people would overlook a gorgeous mare like this because frankly, it’s sort of hard to see anything in the photo (funny angle, backlit so you can’t see detail, horse in a sorta funny position).  A more practiced eye, though, pauses, and checks where all the important parts are.  And then that person might, say, check the horse’s breeding for names they like.  And then they might take a chance.

Would you?

Isabella G

Isabella G at the track

I might have, but it’s hard to say.  It’s hard to immediately see the nice, smooth, strong coupling and loin, nicely aligned hip, and well build shoulder on this lovely mare, as everything is either glarey or in shadow.  Again, our volunteers work really hard, but track pictures can be hard to get!  You have five or six minutes, not a single square foot of actual level ground (appearances are deceiving – but all the pavement on the backside is sloped for drainage), handlers that may or may not understand direction or how to stand up a horse, and then all the distractions of the track (which may mean the only way to get a horse standing still is to point her in a downhill direction so her butt is to the track, or something).

Anyway, I’ll stop blathering.  This pretty lady actually sold surprisingly quickly, late in the summer of 2010.  Her owner, in the DC area, is showing her in the hunters now, and posted this video today on the COTH message boards.  Hope she doesn’t mind me posting it here!

(link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ac_CbUzULl8 for those who can’t see the embedded one)

Looks like this mare is turning out to be quite nice! 

Coming tomorrow… yet ANOTHER bit of awesomeness, this time about our own dear Cadence, and how she is doing in her new home.

I’m BACK! And a Happy Story

So I was happily posting away on COTH the other day when someone was all, “dude. Need. Blog. Updates.”  And I was like, “blog? what blog? Oh… THAT blog… oops!”

Needless to say things have been a bit busy lately.  I’ve moved, my girth has expanded to an uncomfortable level, and I can’t walk like a normal person anymore.  My horse is living the life out at the layup farm with the CANTER horses, scarfing as much grass as he can through his devilish grazing muzzle.  I’ve had a trip home, a ridiculous number of doctor visits, and am really, really, missing riding.  Especially the first rides on goofy TBs, which are my favorite rides of all.

Seeing as I haven’t been doing a lot directly with the horses, it’s sort of hard to update the blog.  I will have some new horse pics and intros coming up, the recap of our annual visit to Maryland Million, and also my other favorite, success stories 🙂  First up is a nice Happy Ending Story about a horse purchased from our trainer listings.  Unbridled Gold went through a couple sets of hands before landing with his current owner, but she had first seen and noticed him on CANTER’s site, before finding him (and liking him) in real life. 

Unbridled Gold

The Track Picture

Here, in Jan’s own words, is the story of “Moose” and some pictures:

I found Unbridled Gold (aka Moose) first through CANTER Mid-Atlantic, when I was playing around with the idea of an OTTB. At the time, I just bookmarked his page, thinking he was cute and I liked his eye. A few weeks went by and I disregarded him since I’d seen some I thought would be a better fit.

Then, in May, I found a cute little OTTB, at that time called Mufasa, through an agent, who was selling him for a girl who’d found him but didn’t need him for anything, she just thought he was worth helping out. When I saw his registered name on his sale contract, I realized he was the same horse I’d seen on CANTER! Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

An early attempt at this jumping thing

When I purchased him, he was not very trusting and was scared to have anyone near his backend. He didn’t like to be caught, in the field or in a stall, and generally tried to avoid people. Fly spray and grooming scared him (which was kinda funny, because NOTHING else did… ambulances, dogs, car horns, firecrackers, nothing!), and he wouldn’t let anyone near his right side. I gave him a little down time, about a week, and during that time we worked on ground manners, longed a little, and just started getting him to trust again. In that short amount of time he went from a scaredy cat to a total lovebug!

Undersaddle he was extraordinarily willing right off the bat, which was one of the main reasons I purchased him. He doesn’t ride “crooked” for the most part like a lot of OTTBs do, and was very good about picking up the correct lead on the flat and over fences. He’s a careful, but brave and scopey, jumper and almost always finds his own distances and adjusts himself. We did (and still do) have to work on his speed, since he will occasionally get a little quick, but he doesn’t try to bolt off or race other horses if we’re in a group.

Before I purchased Moose, I was a skeptic about Thoroughbreds, and more-so about my ability to handle one. I’d heard countless horror stories about the breed, and being young, I’d been written off by several people as “crazy” and “rushing into it,” when I said what I was getting into. I can say now, though, that the great George Morris was certainly right when he said, “The best of any breed is the Thoroughbred horse, and the best of that breed is better than any other breed.”

The immense heart and willingness Moose possesses is astounding, and the bond I have with him is like nothing else. He has more love and try than any other horse I’ve ever ridden, and I count myself lucky–blessed, really–to have him.

When I purchased him, I thought the name Unbridled Gold was kind of silly–I mean, he’s bay, not anything close to gold!–but, from where I stand now looking back, I think it was almost a foretelling of what he is now. He truly is gold, and I absolutely love every minute with him.

Moose Now, showing that height shouldn’t be a problem!

Jan reports that Moose is (obviously) a fantastic jumper with lots of potential to go over some pretty large obstacles.  And, as of when we chatted last week, Moose is 2nd in the country in the New Event Horse standings despite only one show. 


Fundraiser Fun!

Two quickies for you all!

First: There is a fantastic ebay auction happening RIGHT NOW for a Haskell Invitational Saddle Cloth, to benefit Hey Byrn!  Bidding is currently at $98 and you know it goes to a good cause!  Only about 5 hours left so head over and bid away for a nice piece of racing memorabilia! 

Second:  We are in the late planning stages for a really cool new event starting this year, a motorcycle poker run on September 10.  The ride will be about 100 miles, and riders collect cards along the way and win prizes for the best poker hand when they arrive at the end.  Start is in Charles Town, WV, and ends up in beautiful Virginia.  More information and registration will be on our website soon!  Kind of thinking “Harleys for Horses” has a nice ring to it!  This event is being planned by one of our AMAZING Charles Town volunteers, Trina.  Thanks, Trina! Yay!

Hey Byrn

If anyone hasn’t read CANTER’s other blogs on the subject, please do, now:

The Difference Between 35 and 36 Starts (from Allie, via Chronicle of the Horse)

More Than Just a Listing Service (from Jess’s blog)

Hey Byrn is not our usual intake horse.  Frankly, we don’t have the funding to take many cases of very limited soundness like this, it’s just not a responsible use of funds when there are so many horses needing a place to go.  But every once in a while, we’re just called to – it has to be done, and we comfort ourselves by thinking that in the worst case scenario, we can make a horse comfortable and happy for a little while before considering euthanasia and an easy passing.

Like Jess, I’m not above schilling for money.  Hey Byrn’s stall rest (and our potential ability to provide the same care to future horses) is more expensive than the field board most of our horses get.  His care will take work and extra vet bills.  In the future, when we are called about other horses like this (be they well known or not), maybe some reserves will allow us to be in a position to help, rather than the far-more-common (and heartbreaking) place we’re usually in, of having to say no.  Click the button. Even $5 helps.  Funds can be sent to allie@canterusa.org:

If you prefer snail mail, donations can also be sent to:

CANTER Mid Atlantic

C/O D. Darsa
13709 Arctic Avenue
Rockville, MD  20853
We’ve talked about this issue before – joint injections on horses who have compromised or painful joints, solely for the purpose of racing them one or two more times (instead of rest or retirement), has GOT to stop.  I wish people who do these things would stop and really understand what they are doing.  Too many of them just pass on the horse and give it no further thought.  I wish it was a minor problem, but any time I go to the track I am likely to pass by and notice dozens (if not more) horses wearing bandages from their joint injections that day.  Horses in many jurisdictions can get these injections within 24 hours of racing – making many a lame/injured horse appear sound in the paddock when they show up to race.
Perhaps such things should be reported in the racing form.  Can you imagine how you’d bet if you found out half the horses in a given race had received joint injections the day before?

Why Yes, I Am Alive!

Really!  I think since I’ve last posted I’ve been in a bit of a funk, so haven’t written here much even though things are (as always) going on and life is pretty busy. 

Not having to worry about keeping a horse ridden/shod/fed means that I’ve been able to spend time doing things like… organizing donations!  Hooray! I have a whole room full of stuff (I wish I was kidding) that has been donated to us in years past, some of which we can use and needs to go to the appropriate people, and some of which we can’t (and needs to go on ebay).  I’m just about done putting everything in the appropriate piles, and should have an ebay list soon! 

Keeping up with the listings has been quite a thing lately – two farms are having reduction/dispersal sales, and while one is largely taken care of (most sold quickly), the second has a large number of broodmares and young unregistered stock.  If you’re looking for a good deal (especially if you don’t care about papers!) head over to the Charles Town section of our listing pages – there are bunches of horses available for $600 and under.  🙂

Of course, I still have about eight horses to add, and have to make some serious time this week to call trainers for updates.  We have well over 100 horses listed from Charles Town right now, so I’m sure there are some! Well, I’m hoping, at least.  With so many horses on there, if you are looking, make sure to check pages 2 and 3 of that section – the large number of horses recently added has pushed a lot of others onto those other pages, and there’s plenty of good horses there that I know are still available!

In other news, trying to get organized for our fundraising teams to get rolling as well – if you’re waiting for an email or further info on that, please sit tight! I’m getting to it, really! *grin*

I’ve even managed to make a few trips out to Happy Horse Acres to visit everybody, spending some quality time with Rainbow, who learned how to lunge despite being utterly distracted because she couldn’t see her favorite buddy from the ring, and with The Dude, who is slowly but surely making some progress, and is about the sweetest horse ever.  He’s also showing a lot more curiousity about stuff now – trying to investigate the whole farm and check everything out when I bring him out.  At some point this week, I might have those pictures up and everything (though don’t count on it, we have a hugely busy week ahead!)

I’m still missing a certain redhead mare quite a bit.  It feels strange to come up the driveway and not see her in the field, or walk out to hear her nicker at me.  All for the best, I know.  And it seems like she’s doing quite nicely – today Allie posted a video on youtube of her and Hurry schooling XC:

(link if you need it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYPpNPLg0VQ – hoping I got that URL right!)

I miss her so much. :/

But back on track, with other news… This Sunday, Southwind Farm in Damascus is hosting its first ever Combined Test, and we are expecting a decent turnout.  Somehow, CANTER got put in charge of the food (they know we have a lot of good cooks on board, I guess!), so that means that later this week will be spent getting supplies and griddles and everything all in order, and hopefully we’ll be able to pump out a few tasty breakfast sandwiches 🙂  Even if you’re not riding, feel free to stop by, we love to chat! Unfortunately, we will not have horses available to show/tell about, but I will have some listings with me for folks to look through, and maybe some of the “ebay pile” stuff for sale 🙂


Last Rides

Yesterday morning I got Cadence from her field, gave her an early breakfast, and about an hour and a half of hand grazing before bundling her onto the trailer for her trip to North Carolina.  I am still feeling a little sorry for myself, and anxious about her being so far away,  even though I know she’s in the most amazing hands possible.

The Most Beautiful Girl In The World

Yes, I see those ribs, they have been a constant source of frustration, and another reason we decided on a change of venue.  But all in all, she has slicked out, matured, and put on tons of muscle.  I can’t wait to see her in another few weeks with riding from Suzanney and some more weight on.  But damn, driving into the farm and not seeing her there is a little bit of a kick in the gut!

I promise to stop whining about this, but not until tomorrow 🙂

Prior to her leaving, we had some great last rides.  Saturday we worked largely on lateral work and transitions within the trot (trot normal! trot reeeeally slooooow! big trot!) which was surprisingly hard work.  But working in the indoor and using the mirrors, it’s very educational to work on that stuff and watch different muscle groups engage.  She still puts on a bit of an act about contact and lateral work… I caaaan’t!  It’s haaaaard!  That makes me laugh a little bit, especially because I know she can do it.   And of course, when I giggle, say, “come on, you know how to do this, nerd,” and sat up a bit, suddenly everything got easier. 

Sunday we didn’t really work very hard – I let her stretch out, and roll forward at a very nice forward trot and canter (even enjoying something that almost felt like a hand gallop, though the rhythm of her feet on the ground never changed.. man I love that about her!).  Then we jumped a little jump (three trot poles to a vertical).  She was perfectly willing, eager, and forward, and for about the first time I had no sense of rightward drift on the approach or landing (though perhaps, just perhaps, I was sitting straight? haha).

I’m going to miss riding her a ton – she’s just one of those horses that feels like a perfect fit.  Those of you down in NC – GO CHECK HER OUT! she is the best possible horse in the whole world, you won’t regret it. 🙂

In other news, I am going to be keeping busy by refocusing on things like fundraising and such – YAY!  I will also be visiting the funny farm to give updates on that 🙂  So there’s lots to do still, even without a riding project.

I have posted to our volunteer list that we are looking for volunteers to join and run fundraising teams – each team responsible for a fundraising effort or event, that they are totally in control of.  If you have ANY interest in that at all, or applicable skills, please email cmafundraising@gmail.com