Nov 30, 2010

Shameless Website Promotions - Stock up on Supplies!

Since it's the time of year to shop, I thought I would mention that right now HorseLoverz and are both offering really awesome sales.  I just spent a chunk of change at yesterday and got away like a bandit.  Examples:  I got some Cowboy Magic conditioner for $3.99, Vetrolin Shampoo for $5.49 and EZall Detangler for $13.95.  Cowboy Magic detangler is offered for a decent price, too, but I gotta admit it's not really my favorite product.  I know everyone swears by it, but it just seems to leave my hands really slippery and I'm not overly impressed with the way my mare's tail turns out.  I haven't tried the EZall yet, but I read on some forums that it was pretty great.  I mainly liked the fact that it wasn't petroleum-based.  So, I'll let you guys know how it is.

HorseLoverz is extending its Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales for a couple more days (I think) and with it you'll get 10% off and free shipping on all orders over $75.  So, if you're in the market for some supplies, now is the time to order them.  I love HorseLoverz because they have such a wide array of items.  Like it's not exclusively Western or English and I can buy an off-billet, some polos, some vet supplies and maybe a new and interesting brand of liniment I haven't seen before all at the same time.  So many times I have to shop at three different places to get the stuff I can get at HorseLoverz.  That really annoys me.  And the other cool thing about this place is the fact that they have many items in bulk quantities (not that I need this, but maybe you do!) as well as in tiny, trial (or travel) size quantities.  I just adore the small sample sizes.  I just bought a 2oz tube of Corona ointment and a 3oz bottle of Absorbine liniment for less than $7 total.  I love being able to stock up on these items that I want to have around, but don't have a lot of use for on a regular basis. 

Anyway, between these two sales I spent about half what I budgeted on supplies for the next few months, so do yourself a favor and check them out while they last.

Nov 18, 2010

My Vote for Horse of the Year - Goldikova

Watch her race from this year's Breeder's Cup and tell me she's not a force to be reckoned with.  This five-year old mare is based in France and has placed in the top three in 20 of her 21 career starts.  She may not have the name recognition over here as Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta, but the mare may be even more impressive.  She's won 8 of those above-mentioned races against the boys.  And she's won a record three Breeder's Cup Miles in a row. 

Most impressively, her handlers are not retiring her after this spectacular win.  She's staying in training as a 6-year old with an eye to winning the BC Mile for the fourth time next year.  If that's not class, I don't know what is.  She's already won the Cartier Horse of the Year Award, the European equivalent of our Eclipse awards.  There's no doubt in my mind that Goldikova should win the HOY award over here as well, but fat chance of that happening with the fans and critics tripping over themselves to throw the love in Zenyatta's direction.  I suppose we'll see soon enough.  

Nov 17, 2010

Equine Warfare and Hollywood - Robin Hood

I can't find any excerpts of the movie online, but I wanted to mention I recently watched the new Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe and I literally squee'd with delight at one of the early scenes.  They actually demonstrated how horses were used in wartime back in the day -- more precisely, there is a scene in which 3 or 4 horses rear up and bash down a castle (I think?) door.  I was giddy with excitement because I'm not sure I've ever seen such a thing in the movies before.  I mean, we always discuss how dressage was used in the art of warfare, but you never really see that depicted on-screen.  Has anyone noticed this scene or am I really just too horse-obsessed?  And are there more depictions of this sort of equine warfare that you can remember in other movies?  Couldn't come up with another. 

Anky at the WEG Games

I'm late to the game with this, but wanted to put up Anky's reining video from the WEG games.  She's definitely not terrible, but she certainly didn't belong on the world stage in the reining discipline.  Maybe I'm overly prone to being paranoid, but I find it highly suspicious that she qualified as the reserve on the Dutch reining team, and suddenly one of the horses had to pull out, so in steps Anky.  The fact is that she's okay at this sport -- I honestly think I like her reining style far better than her dressage style -- but she's not wowing anyone.  Her horse doesn't stand still and she's just too hands-y.  She'd do better to lengthen her reins a few inches and stop worrying about his head -- believe me, I should know! 

Anyway, call me a conspiracy theorist, but it certainly didn't do reining (and the entire WEG Games) any harm to have Anky riding, especially in a new sport that's promoting itself heavily as the Next Big Thing.  I'll bet it drew a lot more of the dressage enthusiasts, and it certainly gave the NRHA a boasting point.  I suppose it's a little of sour grapes for me -- if she rode dressage the equivalent of how she's riding in reining, she certainly wouldn't be on the world stage.  And that really bugs me.  I can't begrudge people wanting a cross-over star, but maybe she needs a little more time to finesse her skillz.  Frankly, I'd be a little embarassed to do what she's doing, even though admittedly she's put a lot of time and work into this and it shows.  So, I guess that's the thing I really ought to take away from this -- not to be embarassed of putting yourself out there, no matter what the criticism.  If I could get better at doing that, I'd be on my way to Rookie of the Year.

Nov 13, 2010

My First Purchase - Best Leather Halter Ever!

I finally received my gorgeous, new, custom halter from this Kentucky leather craftsman.  I was worried about ordering it from this place because there were so few reviews of it online, but can I tell you how amazing and wonderful it is?!  For $43 I got a custom-made, exquisite piece of craftsmanship with triple stitching everywhere, thick 1" strap construction, and solid, beautiful brass hardware.  The leather is even softer than I expected - it's like your favorite pair of jeans, just the perfect ratio of suppleness and resiliency.  And can I brag about the fact that in the $43 price tag is included a $5 brass cheek nameplate that's REALLY well-engraved.  My mare looks like a million bucks and I'm thrilled.  On the Chronicle of the Horse forums, they recommended Quillin's and Walsh, but I saved a ton of money going with this supplier and I really couldn't be happier.  Plus $5 ships any order anywhere in the US and you really can't beat that.  I also ordered a lovely royal blue, Walsh nylon halter for everyday use for Gracie with a lovely brass nameplate and the whole order shipped for less than $60.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about this place.  And they'll repair any broken hardware or leather at any time -- how can you resist this place?! 

Nov 11, 2010

A New Adventure

I've been mainly horseless for the past three years of writing this blog, which is honestly one of the reasons I started it: to have an outlet for my horse-y needs.  But as of Monday, November 15th I will be the proud new owner of a 6 year old, palomino reining mare that I call Gracie.  Her daddy is this handsome fella:

That's right!  I've got a Wimpys Little Step mare who is pretty damn talented, if I do say so myself.  For long-time readers of the blog, you should know that I'm a recovering dressage rider and instructor.  :)  No, seriously, though....I just was over dressage and what it takes to actually get to the top (and then when you see horses like Totilas at the very upper echelon, it really makes you question the tenets of your sport).  So, I decided if I was going to start at the very beginning again and learn something new, it had to be something so foreign to me that my ego wouldn't get in the way of learning.  AND it had to appeal to my controlling, type-A character.  So reining it was and now that I've been doing this thing for a year, I think I'm really getting the hang of it.  Gracie is just a lovely surprise that kind of fell into my lap.

But now that I own her, I've created two goals for us next year.  Firstly, I aim for my trainer to campaign her and win a world title on her next year.  If I hope to ever own her long enough to breed her, I want her to have a solid show record.  She already has $7k+ in earnings -- we'll hopefully add a title and bunch more money to the pot.  Secondly, I hope to be Top Ten Rookie.  My secret goal is to get Rookie of the Year title, but I'm trying to be realistic and I think scoring in the Top Ten at Oklahoma is doable.  I think. 

So now that I've announced it to the world, I hope to document our journey from buying the early supplies to my wins and defeats at the shows.  Look for it to start tomorrow!  And I hope everyone will enjoy the ride along with me.

Nov 10, 2010

Zenyatta Retires After First Lost of Career

So, there's a lot of chatter on the various boards and news sites about Zenyatta's second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic.  The majority of people all appear to take the position that the mare proved herself worthy in the end.  That it was a stroke of bad luck, that she just made her move a bit too late and had she been afforded a few extra seconds, she'd have won handily.  And you know what?  I'm not going to argue that point.  It's quite possibly true.  She's clearly an ultra-talented horse, a horse deserving of most of the accolades thrown her way.  She may well have won had the finish line been but a few strides farther.  But I find it really hard to believe that people are using this near-miss as some sort of proof of her worth.  Yes, she is a great mare.  She has had a far longer career than most racehorses and until a few days ago she'd never lost a race.  On paper those are amazing facts for any horse until you consider that all of the 19 races prior to this most recent Breeders' Cup Classic took place solely in California and that she was only pitted against males once at the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic.  Of course she won that day and that should have been the start of a brilliant 2010 campaign.  Yet her owners and trainers wasted the year running her against the usual female suspects back in California.  I couldn't possibly conceive of a more poorly-concocted season. 

Let me take a moment to clarify -- I don't begrudge the mare her fans, her legacy, her talent even.  If it seems that way, it's only because I am greatly frustrated by her entourage.  They had the opportunity to put Zenyatta to the test, to toughen her up and provide her with some real challenges.  Every year we bemoan the lack of great racehorses, and when one comes along we coddle her.  I don't know of another way to say this, but that Zenyatta is an extraordinary horse, but one that we never truly saw the best of. 

There was no reason that Zenyatta had to admit defeat Saturday.  Had she been more accustomed to dirt tracks (the dirt spraying in her face) and the challenges of running against colts, she would at least have had a fighting chance.  Instead they babied her and rested on their laurels, announcing her retirement even before the Classic was run.  So, no, I don't see her second-place finish as proof of her worth.  I see it as proof that she was mis-managed and never really reached the apex of her talent.  And why is she being retired?!  Just to prevent losing face after the premature retirement announcement.  Because the mare clearly isn't done running yet.

Without making this a Zenyatta v. Rachel Alexandra stand-off, I just want to point out that Rachel's handlers managed her impeccably.  They pushed her to the brink, even when she started to falter.  Sure, she could have entered the 2009 Breeder's Cup Classic.  That would have been the icing on the cake, but she really didn't have any more to prove.  Zenyatta, on the other hand, was just as (perhaps more) talented, but was pushed only ever once or twice in her career, before retiring with a nearly blemish-free record.  What's the point?  Sure, no one likes a loser, but time will dull the losses and history books will keep the memory alive of great horses.  What I'll remember is the arrogance of Zenyatta's owners and trainer and that will always (unfortunately) leave a bitter taste in my mouth when I recall this first and final loss.