Oct 30, 2007

Neat is My New Favorite Word

I think I have a migraine. My head hurts and I am on a sugar high, but I haven't had sugar. Yet. Oh, well, there's booze for that.

Anyway, check it. Here's a story about Lulu and Wilbur. Lulu is a Standardbred horse and Wilbur is a pig. They're just super good, neat friends. Awwww.....Listen to this: "If they are put together at night, the pig will sleep in the stable and the horse will stand over the top of it. If they are in fields next to each other, then they will touch noses through the fence. When we first separated them, the pig would squeal and grunt and make a lot of noise, but he's becoming more used to it now." That's too adorable.

I love pigs. They're just cute. And I have ridden one once. I have a picture. Someday I'll drag it up for you. In the meantime, you'll have to make do with this picture of Wilbur and Lulu eating together.

Ugggghhhh....blogger is being difficult. I'll post the picture tomorrow. For now, just imagine the cuteness that is a horse and pig eating together.

Big, Fabulous Equestrian Festival!! In Fabulous France!!

Also, this is cool....though not as cool as my previously mentioned event. But why don't we have awesome things like this in America? Okay, so it's a little gayish, but it's also pretty neat-o. It's a big equestrian 'festival' in Avignon, France. It's from Jan 16-20.

I think it's because, like in many things, Europeans actually treat riding as a legitimate artistic pursuit. They are respectful of choosing to be a full-time rider or trainer. Americans only respect greed and killing yourself for a corporation. Yuck! Can you tell I'm over working for the financial world?

Yeah, but seriously, this is way neat. Imagine a world in which my choice of profession is celebrated....

Clash of the Riding Titans

Hey, check it out!

On November 23th, 24th & 25th, there will be a classical riding exhibition in Paris. The 4 main classical riding schools will be demonstrating - Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Cadre Noir of Saumur, Royal Andalusian School of Jerez, and the Portugese School of Equestrian Art of Portugal. Holy crap! All four schools at the same time!! I don't think that has happened before. Dude that is seriously awesome. Buy tickets here, if you can. And frankly if you believe that riding is an art, you should totes go. And if you don't, you should also totes go...in order to see the light.

I am seriously debating going to this. Seriously.

My checkbook is also seriously debating with me against going to this.

Oct 29, 2007

Pony Round-up

- This is a month old now, but I've been holding onto it for a rainy day....it's a cute article about Thoroughbred names. And mostly about people's attempts to name their horses naughty or downright rude names and the Jockey Club's job to thwart them. But it's pretty funny how many have slipped under the radar (Blow Me or Pussy Galore, anyone?) and it's funny to revisit some famous names through non-horsey eyes, like Jail Bait or Barely Legal. My husband always tells me that horse names are just bizarre. His ideal horse name would be 'Chicken Amazing.' It would just go one step beyond the cute and absurd and just weird everyone out. I'm kind of on-board with it. But he also wanted our niece's name to be Shish Kabob. So, I'm just saying....

- On a totally different track, it depresses me to report that 13 draft horses (mostly yearlings) were killed in an utterly horrific accident in Illinois over the weekend. Apparently it was a violation for the tractor-trailer to be hauling the over 46 (!!!!) horses contained within it. They were stuffed into a double decker trailer designed for hauling poultry. It seems the driver disregarded the traffic signal and was hit by another vehicle at an intersection. The truck overturned and the animals were trapped in there for hours. I can't even begin to think how they rescued those animals. Or at least the ones that they could. $1000 says they were on their way to a slaughterhouse. And get this, it is unclear who owns the horses. Yeah, who wants to put money up on whether an owner ever owns up? Clearly some shady dealer or knacker has possession of these animals and I'm sure he's going to do everything in his power to avoid being caught. He deserves to be kicked in the head. By a horse. Repeatedly.

Oct 27, 2007

Tell me if you've heard this one before

This is a good one - there is a report on MSNBC that horse cloning may be horse racing's next horizon. So, is this just a thing right now? How to save horseracing? Because like most other things, greed has made horseracing be a bit absurd and cruel. I love racing - don't get me wrong. But as I have said before most racehorses (at least in this country) are bred for early speed at the expense of the health and stamina of the horse, and frankly the sport.

Anyway, this article is itself absurd. The main argument is that there is more money in breeding racehorses than racing them, which is why they get retired early to go to stud. And because of this breeders are selecting only animals for early speed. Which is totally retarded.... Yeah, there's a crapload of money in breeding, but the way I see it most of these horses are being retired early to stud because of injuries, injuries stemming from stupid breeding practices. Don't even try to tell me that a tremendous 3-year-old, horse of the year colt is going to be retired simply for the breeding money. Sure, if he's injured (which he probably will be), but plenty of sound horses are racing at 4 and can be retired then for the same amount of breeding. I think their arguments are inherently unsound. If this is the cloning proponents' arguments, they'd better come up with something better because this really makes no sense.

But the best thing is what comes later in the article and something I have harped on before. Just because you clone an amazing winner does not mean that that clone is the same horse. Each animal is raised and trained differently and reacts to external stimuli in his development totally differently - genetics only determines so much. And the article actually says this: I guess that they are cloning mules and racing them against each other. 2 identical clones finished 2nd and 7th in a field of eight horses. There was one other identical clone of the same animal that never decided to be a racing mule - he just was bad at it and was retired. So, this totally proves my rightness. Somehow cloning proponents are trying to tell us that cloning is the way of the future and will save the state of horseracing. But how exactly? By cloning Secretariat? And what if Secretariat's clone hates racing for some reason? Or isn't good at it? Genetics only goes so far! There is performance to be added to that as well. And frankly, I would never breed to a stallion (or mare) that had amazing bloodlines, but no performance record. Therein lies the rub - if I am in the minority, then maybe that's why the state of horseracing has gotten to where it is now. Maybe people put way too much weight on bloodlines at the expense of training and performance. And changing that mindset is the only thing that is going to fix the industry. Surely not cloning.

Fires in California

So, I've been really busy lately, but I've kept a close watch on horse things in the world. I just felt sick thinking about the terrible fires in California this week. Okay, yeah, it sucks to lose your house, but I felt even more worried about all the animals that had to go through this ordeal. What can I say? I love animals more than people.

Anyway, there are all sorts of great articles out there about horse people banding together and helping each other out to save as many horses as possible. They're being housed at racetracks, fairgrounds, etc.... It makes me happy to know that when it counts people are good people and willing to help out total strangers. I have a true lack of faith in humanity, but for when tragedies occur. Anyway, make a donation (if you can) to the USEF disaster relief fund. There are plenty of places to donate to, but I know that the displaced horses and horse-owners must have it pretty rough - there is feed and hay and temporary help all to be thought of for hundreds or even thousands of these horses and that's not such an easy or inexpensive task.

Oct 17, 2007

Randomness - Kittenwar!!

I know that all my posts should be in some way horse-related, but I just had to share this. If you are ever stressed or depressed in any small degree, you just have to go to this site. It is guaranteed to perk you up.

I have been so frustrated with the process of looking for a horse farm, that we've found the only thing that can totally get my mind on something else is kittenwar. It's completely awesome. Come on, tell me you can't look at that kitten's face without feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Pony Round-up

So, in news that has been accumulating for the past week and I have been storing for a rainy day....

- A 2-year-old filly, Locksweeper, shattered the Colonial Downs track record and world record for 2-year-old trotting fillies on a track greater than one mile. Why don't we hear about trotters and pacers in horsey news. I think it's pretty cool and just as risky and left-to-chance as other horse-racing. I think people just think that because it's trotting (or pacing) it's not as fast and not as exciting. Let me tell you that's a load of crap. Those little buggers can fly! It's crazy fast. Anyway, props to Locksweeper. She knocked a full second off the world record. That's pretty sweet.

- Gunner the reining horse has managed to achieve million-dollar-sire status, which basically means that his progeny have managed to win a total of million dollars in earnings collectively. That's awesome. He's so freaking adorable, first of all. See:

How cute is that face? And he's achieved something pretty awesome, especially considering that he truly only has 145 foals with NRHA competition licenses. He's some stud. But let's not forget the unmentioned baby mamas that (I'm sure) had a big hand in all this, too. The horse world is so patriarchal at times.

- And this is just weird. So clearly it's right up BunnyRider's alley. Australia, in the wake of all the problems with equine influenza and the toll it is taking on the horse-racing industry, is turning to camel-racing. Apparently people feel so strongly about getting out to the tracks to watch something race that Sydney is hosting camel races. I think that's hilarious. I mean, I love racing, but I'm not so intensely addicted that I need to watch things race. But, that being said, I would go out expressly to watch camel-racing. Who wouldn't? You totes have to check out some of these pictures:

Never Fear, BunnyRider is still here!!

Hey there!!

BunnyRider is trying to buy a farm. Buying a farm is awesome, but very frustrating and time-consuming. So, it's not that I was completely devastated by the death of John Henry and couldn't go on....but rather that I am bogged down in budgets, business plans, and the like. It's not the most fun, I should add. But the prospect of being in charge of my own training barn keeps me going.

Oct 11, 2007

More Racing Woes

While I'm on the subject of racing and of other sad things....I know I am late in mentioning this, but this past weekend at Keeneland was a pretty horrible weekend for racing, as far as I'm concerned. It hasn't been terribly widely reported, but one horse flipped over in the paddock area and suffered severe enough head trauma that he had to be put down.

Teuflesberg fractured his ankle in the early part of a race - he luckily has been undergoing surgery and has a good prognosis. As long as he remains calm....(good luck with that)

And two races later Gold Train took a bad step which caused a severe fracture to the right foreleg and had to be put down.

Let me remind you that this is a track that installed Polytrack footing in order to slow the horses down to reduce injuries. Yes, you did read that correctly. I was recently griping about how asinine that is, when clearly the source of the problems are the fragile, too-wild animals that we are breeding and putting into training. Sure, amazing levels of speed are spectacular. But the horse body is fragile and continuing to breed animals that broke down early on in their careers does not compute. Sure, it could be just bad luck, but it could also be that the animal was overly fragile to begin with. Why perpetuate those genes? I just don't get it. This is the outcome, folks. Horses that are basically too fast for their own good. Their bodies don't seem to be able to sustain that speed. Is it really necessary to keep sacrificing these animals for our own pleasure before we realize we must stand up and make a change in the industry? I'm not saying I know best and that I know what needs to be done, but we cannot keep doing nothing....2 horses dead in one day is not okay, as far as I'm concerned.

In Memoriam - John Henry

So, maybe I just knew it was near time for the inevitable and I just had to get my fix of him before the end, but loyal readers know that my passion for John Henry was beyond logic. As reported here, he hadn't been doing very well in the past few weeks and he had to be put down early this week. He was a true underdog that made history and that, more than anything else, can definitely explain a lot of my love for him. Here was a little gelding that no one wanted, sold at a yearling sale for $1,100. He was small and mean with no pedigree to speak of and frankly, he wasn't much of a racehorse for a good portion of his early life. In this loving portrayal, Bill Finley puts it best: "But what nobody knew back then was that there was something innately extraordinary about this animal, who had a burning desire to succeed. It was as if he one day decided that he wasn't going to settle for being mediocre anymore. From that point on, he tapped into an inner strength that allowed his desire to overcome any shortcomings he might have had."

And okay, it might be a little sentimental and hokey, but it best describes why I am so enamoured of the horse. I have a soft spot for those underdog stories, especially where the hero never compromises. And as anyone who met John Henry knows, he never compromised his nasty behavior. I love that about him. It's like he haboured an inner rage against people for dismissing him all those years ago and he could never forgive and forget. That rage is what drove him and made him great. It feeds into my belief that you don't have to be nice to succeed, sometimes the greatest of them all is the one who uses his anger as a motivation.

But anyway, we've lost a track legend. A horse who kept running until he couldn't run anymore, at age 10. He was a horse you just couldn't stop and just kept getting better and better. I dare people to name me 5 other horses who were/are at the top of their game at 9. He is a inspiration and a role model for the sport of racing. Like the resonating lines from that Pixar movie, Rataouille: Not everyone can be a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."

Oct 8, 2007

Equus - Blonde Redhead

A Band You Should Know - Blonde Redhead

Today is a little different for this column....I'm introducing you all to a band that I love instead of a horse that I love - Blonde Redhead. Why, you ask? And what does this have to do with horses? Well, the lead singer, Kazu Makino, is an avid rider. In fact, she is a Level 3/4 jumper as well as doing some dressage. I think that's more awesome than just about anything. Not only do I love, love her music, but she's completely super-cool for being obsessed with horses. I mean, what's cooler than an ultra-hip chick that also loves to ride? Ummmmmm, NOTHING.

Anyway, I got to go to Randall's Island on Saturday to see some super bands, including Les Savy Fav, Blonde Redhead, LCD Soundsytem, and Arcade Fire. All amazing bands, but the highlight for me was really Blonde Redhead. And they truly were phenomenal. She's quite possibly the coolest front-woman I've ever seen. And believe me, I've seen loads of bands. Kazu is pretty rockin'. And, oh yeah, there was a giant horse sculpture-thing on stage. If I were a singer, I would also have a giant horse-sculpture thing behind me. Actually I would like a giant horse-sculpture to just follow me around as I go about my day. Typing at my desk, buying lunch, taking the subway....where would this not be cool, really?

But I digress...

So, I totally got into the weird, loud after-party later that night and being the loser-y fan that I am, I walked up to Kazu and totally introduced myself. And she's super sweet. We had a long conversation about horses and riding and all that and it turns out we know a few people in common. Anyway, I only bring this up because I love their music and probably few in the horse community know about this band. And if it takes more than what I've written to go check them out...well, she often puts a bit of horse imagery into her song lyrics. I mean, what's not to like?

I'll just put this out there, but I believe it's totally irrelevant. There is a lot of press about how she was badly injured from a fall off a horse several years ago. And of course, people definitely discuss how that entered into her songs, etc.... Well, whatever....I don't really care about that so much. They write great songs and there is definitely horse imagery in the songs, but beyond that I don't see a lot of point in digging more. Your art is not always a complete reflection of your personal life. But basically I bring this up because it seems to be a big thing that she fell off and got badly hurt, etc...but no one talks about the fact that she's a really accomplished rider. Hell, I fell off badly many times in my life and I'd hate for people to only remember that about me. I'd rather that people make it secondary to the rest of things I've accomplished in my life. Anyway, that's my little rant....take it or leave it. But I'll definitely put a link up to their video. You'll adore it!!

Oct 4, 2007

Pony Round-up

This kid totally freaks me out. I also started riding at a very young age and I would totally put my 3-year-old niece on a horse in a second, but something about this picture freaks me out. It think it's the fact that he's jumping. And that he doesn't look totally in control. And that his heels are up. He's clearly an awesome rider, but that pony is also probably a saint in pony's clothing.

7 Haikus in Honor of the Quagga

When I was seven
I wrote a quagga haiku
It won a contest

For those who don’t know
The quagga is now extinct:
A type of zebra

Its color differed;
Stripes over the head and neck,
Solid brown behind

People hunted it,
Killing this subspecies off.
For no good reason

It might seem silly
To recreate the Quagga
But Reinhold Rau is

To breed the zebras
Whose color and look most match
Those sad, stuffed remnants

They are not quagga
No, not true recreations
But a worthy goal…