Almost every day I let the horses out of their fenced in area and into the unfenced field. Every time I do, Lena is the last one out of the gate. She is a very independent girl and doesn’t seem to have any drive to be high in the herd.
The photo below shows the horses’ fenced area – everything visible on the same side of the road as the house – plus a lot up the hill behind the house, and to the left out of view. The area on the other side of the road is about 34 acres, of which probably 20 is open field. (Click to enlarge the photo.)
The white x’s mark the areas where I throw hay. If you look closely to the right of the right-most x, you can see the horses themselves. The x near the horses is where I normally feed. When it’s muddy I feed over to the right of where the horses are (out of view), or at one of the other areas – to avoid mud. Of course the photo is small, but it’s several hundred feet between each of the x’s. To get to the x on the left side of the house, the horses must go all the way up and behind and around the house – all the way to the small pond (yellow arrow). The x in the foreground is further away than it looks.
As I throw feed the horses are usually over on the right as that is where my travel trailer is – and they know I live there. So if I am at any other spot they can see me tossing hay. They have finally learned to go away from what they see, to get to where the hay is. Which is really pretty smart of them.
Today, however, I confused them totally. I put the hay in the unfenced field – and they watched me. Then I had a couple flakes that were a little moldy, so I pulled my feed wagon into the yard and threw the hay in some thorny weeds in the far left corner. At that point, the horses decided I had thrown hay at the x on the left side of the house and ran over there. I went to the gate (red triangle) and called them, but they ran further up to where the x is in the front left. I called them again and they stood at the left side of the house.
I called a few more times and then I heard the horses running – which means they were coming my way. I love it when the horses come galloping! I was surprised to see Lena well out in front of the others, running with true purpose. She flew out the gate over to the hay in the field.
Then came the cool part. Lena was so proud of herself! She reared and bucked and pranced around with her tail in the air for a couple minutes, not interested in the hay but excited at being the one to figure it out and lead the charge. Oh yeah, there’s a girl who understands winning!
For those who have read about Legacy (Gran Judgement). He too was happy to be low man in the herd, but he understood winning – and he liked to win. As a racehorse in the 80′s he earned just under half a million dollars. Lena seems cut from the same cloth.
In all honesty, I don’t know.
The weather has certainly not cooperated! Rain, rain, rain, rain, snow, rain. Every time it gets nice enough to dry out and I plan on working with someone, the very next day it will rain again. It’s raining at this very moment.
I have retired Chance. He was an experiment only, and now that he’s 10, there seems little point in running him. He did prove to me that barefoot is better. I have never seen a horse come back from a race so fresh – and I mean while he was walking back from his race. He wasn’t winded. He wasn’t exhausted. He wasn’t unhappy. He was happy to go to the post as well. And he was sharp enough, despite living out 24/7, to break out of the gate first. He ran no worse than he had been running, and in fact he ran better if you take into consideration the following:
Turfway fall meet vs Suffolk Downs
$7500 claiming race vs $5000 race
And not fit – the race was to be a workout.
I really do feel he improved and if the meet hadn’t closed, with a few more races would have been competitive. But it seems fate had other plans for Chance.
Zola on the other hand, I feel, has the chance to be a successful racehorse. She is unstarted and totally sound, physically and mentally. She is mature, tough, and smart.
Lena is in the same condition. Sweet Tea, who also may run this year, is probably sounder than she’s ever been in her life, and she was blazing fast on the track – with a chip in her ankle and fractured sesamoids. It would be great to see what she can do when she’s at her best.
Still, the weather and finances will dictate if they make it to the track or not. Only time will tell.
It was announced yesterday that the Breeders Cup Board has backed down from their stated position that as of 2013 all Breeders Cup races would be run without Lasix. Two-year old races will still be run without Lasix but all others will allow it.
This is very discouraging. If no one is willing to stand up for what they’ve said, how will things ever change?
If people say they will not run their horses in the Breeders Cup – there are plenty who will. As long as racing management is so stupid as to not understand owners and trainers WILL run their horses, nothing will ever change. If tracks would just stick together and do what’s right where else could people race?
Just as with jockeys, tracks hold power but are either too weak or stupid to use it.
Perhaps racing will just die – and would it be such a bad thing if it did.
At last. I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime, but a congress of scientists at Cambridge in the UK, have stated unequivocally that animals are also conscious beings. Not that many didn’t already know that from personal experience. But finally it is out there in mainstream science.
I quote from New Scientist:
The upshot of the meeting was the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, which was publicly proclaimed by three eminent neuroscientists, David Edelman of the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, California, Philip Low of Stanford University and Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology.
The declaration concludes that “non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”
Wow. Of course what we do with this information remains to be seen.
For those who want to read more, here are a couple links.
Happy New Year to everyone.
I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been quiet for quite a while. Part of the reason was that I was writing a book about my experiences with horses over the years, and the truly amazing things they’ve done. It bothers me how little credit horses get for being intelligent when in fact, they are very intelligent, cooperative, and aware. I learned to ride, appropriately it now seems, on a 5 year old son of Summer Tan. Not only a stallion, but a stud, and a rough horse at the track. Not only did he let me ride him – a young green girl – he showed me how smart horses are, and how they read our minds. Having seen that so early I have never seen horses as dumb animals.
The other reason for my silence has been a lot of soul searching and conflicting emotions. I love horse racing. I love horses. I love horses to be able to show their talents – whatever they may be. Yet on some level I am against racing. And therein was my problem. So I gave up the idea of racing at all. But that didn’t solve the problem, because I still want to race. So I have given up the idea of racing Chance and am going to focus on Zola. That made me feel a lot better so it appears I am currently conflict free!
On another note, I got a call the other day from a TB trainer about trimming. What a pleasant shock! Apparently he’s picked up a horse with very bad feet, and even though he is a farrier, he was doing internet research! Another pleasant shock. We talked for quite a while and he really seemed to understand what I was saying. I emailed him a couple photos to show what I was talking about, along with a pdf version of my trimming book, because I would like nothing better than good trimming to find the racetrack. Well he called me this morning to ask more questions. Yee haw! And – and this is big – he has been watching horses’ feet as they walk around and he’s noticing them. He has come to the conclusion that the ones without the longer toes, etc. appear to be better movers.
What a way to start the new year!
Yes, it’s been quiet here at the Racehorse Experiment.
I confess that money comes first when you have 11 horses to support. I have been busy building my trimming business, and also finishing another book. This one is not on hoof trimming, but is about my life with horses and all the amazing things horses have done over the years – and all they’ve taught me. Finished it yesterday! Now it just needs another review before the galley print and the (hopefully) final review.
Now that the book is out of the way, it’s back to the horses. There will be no racing this year – again. Which is very disappointing, but it does seem the Universe itself is working against me there. Chance was so close to racing in July, only weeks away. Then it was too much time off, and too stiff competition at Churchill.
Time this winter will be spent on getting Zola galloping. Since she won’t have to go fast it should be possible to ride a good part of the winter. It will also be a good time to start Lena under saddle. As for Chance, once hunting season is over, we will be hitting the trails. There are some good big hills down the power lines which will be good for building up his wind and the muscles in his hindquarters.
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!
I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately – much of it caused by reading posts on the Paulick Report. The greed and lack of concern for horses’ welfare, the number of people whining about how racetracks basically owe them a living, the use of the phrase “racehorses are different” when anyone raises drug or health issues, basically the use of horses as objects, assets, “products”, has sickened me. Part of me would be quite happy if racing was to die.
Yet part of me still wants to see Zola race, and Lena, and hopefully a foal from Tiz Life (Beauty).
Compounding the issue is the fact that I have to haul all the way to Churchill Downs to work any of the horses on the track. It’s over 60 miles away, so there is significant fuel cost, along with the exercise rider’s fee. Not to mention coggins tests, health certificates, license fee ($150). All of this is not really expensive, but in my situation, it’s hard to find “extra” money. So that has been a factor.
Losing over a month of training really set my plans back and was very discouraging. Winter is coming – and I really don’t like winter.
I downloaded the stall application from Churchill – not because I’m applying for stalls, just to see what requirements are for being on the grounds. However, I did read that stalls will not be given to horses who have started for $5,000 unless they have since started for more money. So basically, the level of competition at Churchill will be stiff.
And most importantly, it just seemed like the Universe was telling me to put this dream aside. And for a while I bought it. However, I’ve learned that when I make a truly correct decision – from the authentic small voice – then it’s over. But it’s not over, racing is always in the back of my mind, and frequently in the forefront. Clearly the issue is not settled – which means my interpretation of events is not correct.
Deeper soul searching has revealed the truth. I am suffering from fear. Fear of failure. So simple. And what is fear of failure – it’s the ego’s fear. So my ego is clearly involved in whispering in my, ear so to speak, ”Don’t take the risk of being embarrassed if you’re not successful.” Insidious. And effective. Plus it just seems so daunting – hauling to the track.
So, the result of all this thinking? I’m just going to continue to do what there is to do. Ride, haul, etc. and see what happens.
The horses have not been idle all this time. I’ve ridden Chance a few times – there is no urgency since I now plan on waiting until Turfway opens. No point in overmatching him because Churchill is closer. I have decided not to do too much more galloping and to focus on using the hill and trails to get him fit. He can get fit for speed at Churchill.
I’ve worked with Lena, lungeing her with the saddle on. And I’ve got Zola back to the point where I think I can ride her next time. I have been lunging her with tack and she has been full of energy – and bucks!! In fact, one day once she started cantering she couldn’t even control herself, she just took off running. I let go of the lunge line and boy she just flew. Of course she scared herself with her outburst and was glad to come back when I called her.
On a more upbeat note, my book is selling. And more copies this month already than all of last month. Unfortunately payment from Amazon comes at the end of month following the month of sale. Waiting has been hard.
I am working on another book – about my journey with horses. Would be great if I could write for a living! Racing would be so much more fun if I truly didn’t care about the monetary aspect or outcome.
Life is good – but never simple it seems.
I subscribe to the Paulick Report. Yesterday it was reported – shockingly – that the EU (European Union) has now refused to accept any horse meat coming from North America. The slaughterhouses have virtually closed and are not accepting horses shipped from the U.S. for slaughter. The reason? Too many drugs. Named specifically were Phenylbutazone, a carcinogen, and Clenbuterol, a steroid. Evidently drug testing procedures in the EU have improved significantly and they are not willing to risk the health hazard. I find it hard to believe they didn’t realize the horses had drugs in them before – but at least they do now.
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, this will have on the racing industry’s position on drugs. It will certainly have an effect on unwanted horses. Where will they all go? When U.S. slaughterhouses closed there was a jump in unwanted horses, but the bulk of them were then just shipped to Mexico or Canada. With those options now unavailable the results could be catastrophic for horses.
I changed the horses’ schedule again a few days ago. Only because Huey has a near pathological desire to avoid bot flies and no one was going out to eat! One morning I woke up at 4:30 and thought, why not turn the horses loose now?
I threw on a pair of pants and my boots and walked over to the gate. Of course the horses were up on the hill, so I called “Huey!”. After a moment I could hear them coming. When they got near the bottom of the hill they started galloping. It was pitch black so this is all sound, I can’t see them til they get close. It’s quite an experience to stand in the dark and hear horses thundering toward you. Kind of eerie, but in a good way.
The next day when I woke up it was 3:30, but I decided to stick with my new idea and went out and opened the gate and called the horses. The third day the same thing. This morning it was 4:06 when I woke up – and the horses were outside my window waiting.
I want to say that I jump right back in bed after the horses are out. I am not that much of a morning person.
I was going through the photos I took of Lena yesterday, and below is a good shot of how nice and straight all her legs are. Thanks to the flies, her tail is out of the way and you can see how nicely muscled her butt is.
I tweaked my back Friday. Doing nothing. I had gotten hay the day before and was fine. Was fine Friday morning, until I got up to put my breakfast plate in the sink. Then ow! Nothing serious, but it was enough so that I wasn’t going to ride. It’s something that happens periodically, most often after getting hay, and usually it goes away in an hour or so. Not the case. Saturday it was better but not completely. And since riding Chance would aggravate it, I decided to pass on riding again.
I was going to lunge Zola but decided to work with Lena. I want to get her started under saddle while the weather is nice, so decided to teach her to lunge. Then will come lungeing with the saddle. She was good. I don’t spend a lot of time actually lungeing. It’s not about exercise, it’s about learning, and horses learn very quickly. She went in both directions and seemed to get the idea enough for one day. Her whoa was very good! We probably spent 10 – 15 minutes max.
Today I rode Chance, just at the trot, as I build up my stamina again. After that I decided to saddle Lena. She is just so good! I walked up with the saddle. She wanted to see and sniff it, so I let her. Then I just put it on her like I do Chance – no special delicate care. The stirrups clanked. The saddle is an all purpose English saddle and weighs at least 15 pounds. I girthed it up as I do with Chance. She couldn’t have cared less. I snapped the stirrup leathers. She just stood quietly.
At that point I went and got my phone to take some photos. I took a few with her tied to the trailer, but they never come out good for some reason. I wanted to lead her with the saddle. Often a horse won’t react to the saddle until they start moving. I led her into the backyard, with the intention of rewarding her by letting her graze. She was fine, acting like she’d been saddled many times before.
In order to get my phone, I dropped the rope and left her to graze. She was completely relaxed and I used the opportunity to get a good picture for a change – with her head down of course.
It’s pretty clear that she’s unconcerned with the saddle!