THE CLYDESDALES ARE COMING, THE CLYDESDALES ARE COMING!

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It’s nearly the Independence Day weekend (seriously, how did that happen?)!  What goes hand in hand with celebrating our Freedom, better than a parade, featuring the iconic, fire engine red Studabaker wagon, pulled by it’s team of Budweiser Clydesdales?

 

I’m often guilty of forgetting just how easy it is to find out where one of the three traveling hitches will be shown.  The best place to start is the official website:  http://www.budweiser.com/en/clydesdales/hitch-schedule.html (remember, you must be 21 to view this site).  Once you know a hitch will be in your area, remember, as their schedule permits, they often fill time with smaller events.  I’ve had good luck searching local news websites and social media with just the words “Budweiser Clydesdales.”

 

For example, I was just told a hitch will be in Newark, OH on Friday, July 14th for a parade honoring Active Duty and Military Veterans.  The event is sponsored by Matesich Distributing, also in Newark.  Through that post, I learned they’ll also be on Put-in-Bay island on Sunday, July 2nd!  http://www.millerferry.com/events/2017-07/  For this, they’ll actually have to travel by ferry, which would be quite a spectacle!

 

Please remember, on our holiday and every day, to thank our Veteran and Active Duty service men and women, First Responders, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighters, and the like.  They work hard every day to ensure the good life we have here, we owe it to them to not take our Freedom for granted!

 

 

Happy Fourth of July, and God Bless America!

CHEERS!

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Today, I am 40.  An age that seemed so far away, not so very long ago, yet here I am.  I’m not sure if where I am in life is where I expected to be, but it’s good all the same.  I’m happy, I’m healthy and I am loved.

 

In the spirit of celebrating, here’s to 40 more years of the wild ride of life, and a little piece I found shared on Facebook that also seems appropriate, here’s to the girls raised in horse barns:

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/girls-raised-horse-barn

 

Happy Birthday to me, and make a reason to celebrate you while you’re at it!  Cheers! xo

 

WHO’S YOUR DADDY?

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When the illustrious career ends, usually not long after it begins, the young boys of the Thoroughbred racing world often have a second career to “fall back” on, as a breeding stallion.  To most human men, that life seems pretty fantastic, put in a few years working at a job you’re created to do, then spend the rest of your days entertaining the ladies.  What’s not to love?  Well, given modern breeding technology, there’s even less “love” involved than one might think.

 

This reminds me of a phone call I got from a friend once, on her way home from a stud farm, with a child’s thermos containing “straws” of semen from the chosen sire, praying to not get pulled over and have to explain what she was transporting.  “Never breed to a stallion you can’t drive to in a pinch!”  Solid advice.

 

Decades ago the typical number of mares a stallion might cover per annum was in the range of 40 to 50; during the explosion in breeding numbers in the 80′ and 90’s this number escalated to 150 to 160 and in today’s realm of the breeding shed covering as many as 200 mares is not uncommon.  That’s just the ones he actually meets in person!  Imagine how many samples of him are being shipped all over the world, in the hopes of hitting the equine genetics lottery.

 

More impressive though than the number of opportunities to produce offspring, are the fees incurred for the honor of a chance at one of their babies.  To my knowledge, Thoroughbred stallions are the highest earning for their task, and the numbers are remarkable…

 

Tapit, Leading Sire in North America, 2014, 15 and 16  $300K

 

War Front, Northern Dancer offspring, 2006 winner of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap  $250K

 

American Pharoah, 2015 Triple Crown winner  Private Treaty only (so you know that’s a hefty price tag, if they don’t even advertise it!)

 

Curlin, 2007 Preakness winner  $150K

 

Storm Cat, Leading Sire in North America 1999 and 2000, Leading Broodmare Sire in North America 2012, 13 and 14 (unsure of the distinction there?)  in 2007 a record setting $500K

 

I guess Daddy really does bring home the bacon.  Wow.  Not that the stallion has an idea what kind of tax bracket he falls in to, or what kind of impact he’s making on the racing world.  To him, it’s just another day at the office.  Be sure to show your favorite “big daddy” some love this weekend, remember how hard he works too.  It isn’t easy carrying the future of a breed or industry on your broad shoulders, but they handle it well.

HOT MODELS

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If you’ve had horses in your life, then there’s a good chance you’ve also had horse toys and models.  Probably one of the best known in the industry being the Breyer model horses.  My home-made stable was full of trusty resin steeds, keeping me busy and creative until my time was eventually spent on living versions of the toys I’d loved for so long.

 

Chicago, IL was the home to the Breyer Molding Company in 1950 when they first introduced the #57 Western Horse, as a special order for the F. W.  Woolworth Company.  I never had one of these models, though they were re-introduced a few times I believe, but the mold is highly recognizable.  I do recall however, Dad having a copper version of this, though I’m not sure where he came across it.  Needless to say, it was one of my first forays into the model horse world, and he suffered greatly as a result, when there was only so much you could do with super glue…

 

 

Over the years, my herd grew to include a few famous faces, The Black Stallion model, which I believe also came with a copy of the Walter Farley book by the same name:

 

(He also suffered some traumatic leg injuries, “galloping” across miles of carpeted floor and the grass plains of our backyard.  I think I may have even broken an ear?  Thankfully I learned to use a gentler touch on the real ones!)

 

My Clydesdale Stallion was a hard worker in my stable.  When I first began collecting, all the fantastic accessories weren’t even in existence yet.  All my horses had to wear hand-made creations and items borrowed from Barbie or My Little Pony.  They weren’t always the best fit, but I made them work.

 

(This guy lost a rosette or two during his hard labor.)

 

In the mid-90’s Breyer introduced a series of four Quarter Horses that you could name and register.  Being a Quarter Horse owner and shower, I had to collect them all.

 

(Luckily these guys came along when I was older and more interested in the collectibility rather than using them for play, so they managed to survive unscathed.)

 

One of my favorites though, was my smaller scale Man O’ War model.  I bought him with “my own” money (given by mom and dad for the occasion) on our trip to the Kentucky Horse Park.  We drove down the night before and stayed at a hotel in Lexington.  For some reason, I distinctly remember this hotel as being sea green in color, everything was sea green.  My spending money made it as far as the gift shop at the hotel, where that model, and some other seemingly necessary items were purchased upon my being left unattended for what was probably not that long.

 

(He also survived my formative years unscathed.  I should also note that all models shown are not from my own collection, just searched and borrowed from the internet.)

 

One of the great things about The Kentucky Horse Park, is that not only is it the mecca for horse lovers in the US (or at least on the eastern side  and mid-west), but it promotes the love and enjoyment of both flesh and bone animals, as well as their resin counterparts.  Every summer, collectors gather to display their beloved Breyers, compete with them, admire and shop for new additions at the annual BreyerFest event.  http://www.breyerhorses.com/bf2017-tickets  This year’s festival is July 14th-16th, and features the theme Gateway to India.  A 3-day ticket includes entry to the festival and many special events and activities throughout, as well as the celebration model for the event, Nazruddin, a 2006 Marwari stallion, one of fewer than 15 Marwari horses in the United States. Owned by Francesca Kelly, Nazruddin typifies the exotic beauty and charisma of his home country.

 

 

The theme of this year’s festival is intended to educate visitors about the rich equine history of India.  Tent pegging is an ancient cavalry sport that originated in Asia and combines the skill and excitement of jousting and mounted archery. Modern Polo also originated in India and is still widely played all over the world.

 

If you live in Ohio, like me, you know Lexington is an easy drive south, and a fantastic place to spend a long weekend broadening your love for all things horse-related.  The weekend in July will be a great opportunity to enjoy living and model varieties.

 

I’m sad to say, my collection is gathering dust in my parents’ basement.  Some day when I have a proper writing office set up, I’ll clean them up and put them on display.

KNOW YOUR TARGET

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If you haven’t done so already, and given the particularly mild winter we had in Ohio, I’m betting you have, it’s time to get your horses up to date on their vaccines.  Once upon a time, when I was still in school and competing in Horse Bowl, the correct answer to, “what vaccinations should your horse get every year?” was; Tetanus, Influenza, Rinopneumonitis (Equine Herpes) and Encephalomyelitis (also mosquito-borne, causing a virus that inflames the brain and/or spinal cord), or to make it easier to remember, TIRE.  But, as they often do, times have changed.  The best course of action if you’re unsure is to consult your Veterinarian.  But, if you prefer to try to save a little money and are comfortable administering the vaccines yourself, you still need to know what to buy.

 

 

In the US, given the increasing number of viral plague carrying mosquitoes, the West Nile Virus vaccine has quickly become a basic staple of the spring vaccine routine.  If you live in a particularly “buggy” area, an additional booster may be required in the fall as well.

 

Rabies isn’t one we usually think of for horses, but for dogs.  Although it’s fairly uncommon for horses, it can be fatal.  Potomac Horse Fever and Strangles are often requested, based on age and exposure.

 

Your core vaccines may also have special combinations designed for effectiveness, based on where your horse lives and what they’re commonly exposed to.  The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) produced a chart to offer some guidelines.  vaccination-chart

 

In general, though annual or bi-annual Vet farm calls can be costly, especially if you have multiple horses, it’s still valuable health insurance.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, do the research for treatment on any number of equine viruses and you’ll see what I mean.

 

 

 

KEEPING IT FRESH

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As an All-Around Novice Amateur competitor on the Ohio Quarter Horse circuit, pattern classes were our bread and butter.  The challenge however, was keeping a bright pattern horse, from trying to complete the class without you.  My boy, was smart to a fault, and felt he knew the patterns better than I did, and didn’t need my guidance to perform them.  The smart ones can be exhausting, but I’ll take them over a not-so-smart one any day!

 

 

The trick that I figured out, was to not let on that we were doing pattern work at all.  We did run through the entire pattern a few times to begin with (at shows), but as soon as we had a couple soild runs under our cinch, we stopped.  From there on, I would let him believe we were just casually riding around… and we would happen to do different series of transitions… in no particular order.  By the time you pull all the pieces back together, maybe a run through just before you enter then pen, it will feel crisp and fluid, without the race to the end and the “did you see me?  I did it before you even asked!” response.

 

 

Ideally, you need your horse to be sharp and focused, but not to the point of edgy or anticipating.  By breaking the pattern down into smaller pieces, and mixing in casual riding between, it keeps them guessing what you’ll ask for next.  This works just as well at home and during practice.

 

 

Another challenge we encountered was a pattern calling for an element that we’d not done previously.  Or, in some cases, I’d taught Buddy specifically to not do something the way they’d asked for.  If your horse is comfortable with you in charge, and willing to listen, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

 

 

We were at a show in Findlay, prepping for an Equitation class, when we first saw a forehand turn.  Every riding turn we’d made up until that day had been on the haunches, and every time up until then Buddy had tried to turn on his forehand, I’d corrected him.  The mold was set.  I think Dad was a bit more worried than I was, but we had some time, so I rode Buddy off to a quiet area and tried to un-teach years of correction.

 

 

I began with asking him to sort of walk into and out of the turn.  Just a few steps at a time, with only encouragement, to try to unwire the “no, bad” he had in his mind.  When he would take those steps without fear, I tried to build on them, adding more, trying to clean the movement up.  He was cautiously willing.  When we reached a point where I felt we’d gotten the basics of it, but weren’t progressing, I called in the help of a trainer friend who knew Buddy.

 

She asked to watch what we’d accomplished so far, I showed her, and she started to laugh.  “You need to see his face!  He’s thinking SO HARD right now!”  That was Buddy, he’d have never been a good poker player, he was far too expressive.  She had me hop down and climbed on him herself to see what she could do.  I watched his face, and again, the brow deeply furrowed in concentration.  Oh how I miss his face.  She managed to help us assemble a workable version of the turn to get through the class, and we survived it without a hitch.

 

 

The point here being, don’t go straight to panic mode when you see something different on the pattern sheet.  It might take you a few minutes, but throwing something new into your standard mix of gait changes, stops and turns can actually be a good thing for you and your horse.

 

We get bored, horses get bored, and our natural inclination is to rush and get through whatever we’re bored by.  Mixing things up will keep both your minds engaged and better focused, resulting in better patterns and more ribbons!