Sep 28, 2010

Rachel Alexandra is Retired

I suppose this gives me the opportunity to run this baby photo of Rachel Alexandra yet again; it offsets how sad this news makes me, though I'll be the last to argue that the mare should keep going.  I've been meaning to post something on her lackluster year of defeats, but I gotta be just didn't feel good to meditate on Rachel's burnout.  She's not the same horse she was, but that doesn't take away in the tiniest bit the fact that during her peak last year, she was one of the most brilliant horses I will ever have the pleasure of witnessing.  She deserves to go down in history for her triumphs.

But her heart wasn't in it this year.  Rachel had lost the drive, the lustre.  It wasn't that she was a bad horse; it was just that she was suddenly so average.  Even lesser company would outrun her.  So as much as I hate the decision to retire her, I certainly can't blame her entourage for doing it.  It's hard to keep running a champion that doesn't seem to carry the same magic, who appears to be struggling.  It's probably not the fairest thing to do, but some of the greats have hit bottom and kept going.  Some even staged comebacks.  I'd love to see Rachel get the opportunity for a comeback, but I have to face reality and admit that it's not the wisest thing to do financially.  She's a valuable horse, one that shouldn't be risked just for the sake of history.  She proved her worth and I suppose it's time for me to let her go prove her value as a broodmare. 

Jess Jackson said it more eloquently, "'As you know, despite top training and a patient campaign, Rachel Alexandra did not return to her 2009 form.  I believe it's time to retire our champion and reward her with a less stressful life. We are delighted she will retire healthy and happy to our beautiful farm in Kentucky."  

Here's to you, Rachel.  Thanks for restoring my faith and giddy excitement in horse racing.

Reining Newbies - Penalties & The Dreaded Zero

Okay, so I've walked you through how judges are looking to score a reining pattern and why I think their scoring system is so well-designed.  Now what's up with all those 0's you're seeing?

That's another aspect that I sort of love about the scoring system.  Besides the addition or subtraction of points for each movement, depending on its quality (great/correct/not-so-great), there are also point deductions for deviations within the pattern. 

Reining Newbies -- How Scoring Works

Since the first part of the individuals are going on right now in Reining (and streaming live and FREE on USEFnetwork), I thought it might be a good opportunity to give a concise overview of how the sport is judged.

In a nutshell, in a high-level event like this there are three judges, all scoring independently of one another.  The thought being that the scores from three independent judges will combine and the average will even out the potentiality of one judge scoring a movement a little higher or a little lower than the others.  All three scores are added together and taken as the final, which is why you're seeing 200+ point scores.

Sep 27, 2010

Reining Live Feeds

Hey, while you have to pay for live-streaming any of the popular WEG events, reining is being offered FREE on the USEF network site.  And if you missed the weekend's events, including Team USA's phenomenal rides, they're also replaying the entire coverage.  I'm going through it now religiously.

There's something to be said for getting involved with a sport that is still working on its mainstream popularity.

Team USA Wins Reining Gold

Team USA won the reining gold medal very handily yesterday, making that three consecutive WEG championship titles.  Belgium -- color me surprised, I had no idea they were so highly-ranked, but I am also newish to the reining world -- took home the silver, in what is the country's first WEG reining medal.  And Italy took home the bronze for the third straight year.

RC Fancy Step is proving to be quite the superstar, much like his daddy before him (Wimpys Little Step) and his half-sister, Wimpys Little Chic.  I admit to be being a bit biased toward him, as someone is giving me the opportunity to buy another of his half-sisters....and it's giving me definite pause. 

Sep 15, 2010

Like Adult Swim. Only in French.

Okay, I rented this movie off of Netflix the other night and I instantly fell in love with it.  With only 10 minutes into it, my husband and my mother both turned to me and asked, "Are you sure you didn't write the screenplay to this movie when you were 10 and the Belgians just got ahold of it?"  Seriously, if you love crazy, non-sensical fast-action cartoons in the vein of South Park and nearly all of the Adult Swim selections, you will LOVE this.  Trust me on this. 

And if you're a horse-crazy girl on top of that,'ll just be in heaven.  One of the main characters is a horse, aptly named 'Horse.'  If you were anything like me when you were a young, horse-obsessed girl, you spend hours playing with your model horses, making them talk and run around in a particularly frenetic way.  This little movie perfectly captures that 8 year old's need to 'show' a character talking by shaking it rather violently to and fro.  And from there, it just runs wild.  It's even better if you speak French, but my husband doesn't know a word of the language and still thought it was spectacularly hilarious.  What a pleasant little gem of a movie!

Sep 8, 2010

The Many Iterations of William Shatner -

The Many Iterations of William Shatner -

Somehow I missed this profile of William Shatner in the NY Times over the weekend. I love how horses and his equestrian activities are featured so prominently. He's just one of those celebrities that I really believe loves his horses and works hard at riding. Not like other celebrities I have met/read about.

Who doesn't love this man?!