Monday, May 30, 2011

Our trip to Kentucky, with pics!

My husband and I made another trip to Kentucky a couple weeks ago; the primary goal of the trip was to watch live racing at Churchill Downs on Preakness day (as well as the Preakness itself on the televisions there). We also wanted to spend some time in Lexington, visiting horse farms.

Leaving Limerick was tough after all she had been through, but I knew she would be watched by the many, many "aunties" she has at Gladstone Ridge.

We drove down on Thursday afternoon, after Lim's chiropractic appointment (which went very well and ultimately was a huge help). We arrived in Lexington at around 9pm and went to sleep not too long after.

On Friday morning, our first farm appointments of the day were very special--we were seeing some famous mares! The first farm was the home of the 2003 Juvenile Filly champion, Halfbridled. I was a huge fan of her as a racehorse, so the prospect of seeing this mare in the flesh was thrilling! She had a two-week-old Distorted Humor filly by her side.

See her Breeder's Cup J. Filly race here!

The next farm was home to one of the greatest mares of the 90s--the one and only Serena's Song. Halfbridled had been (unsurprisingly) indifferent to our presence, as broodmares can be, so I was sure Serena would be the same.

But I was wrong. When we arrived at the farm office, our guide pointed to a wooden box full of mints and told us to grab a bunch. We then drove over to the maiden/barren mare barn (Serena's Song has no foal for this year, although she has been bred to Medaglia d'Oro). And promptly, out she was led. She was far larger and far more beautiful than I well as far sweeter!

See Serena's Song and Flanders race in the Breeder's Cup J. Fillies here. Although Flanders had to be vanned off after winning, she enjoyed retirement as a broodmare until her death last year. Serena's Song went on to be one of the greatest mares of the 90s--and history.

Later at the same farm, we visited a couple mare and foal duos, including Serena's Joy, a daughter of Serena's Sister (literally the full sister of Serena's Song).

Later in the day, we stopped at Darley and Adena Springs. The highlight of Adena was visiting one of our favorite, recently-retired racehorses--Einstein. A durable, tough racer that could do it all, he was a thrill to watch and follow. It was so nice to see him in the flesh again. To sweeten the deal, we each got to pat him on the shoulder.

The highlight of Darley was the stallion barn in its entirety--I had requested to see Street Cry (sire of Zenyatta), Medaglia d'Oro (sire of Rachel Alexandra) and the great Holy Bull. But we did not expect to walk into the stallion barn to see the who's who of Thoroughbred studs eating their suppers! Including the stallions we were there to see, we also saw Bernardini, Hard Spun, Street Sense, Any Given Saturday, Quiet American, Quality Road, Street Boss and well, every single horse listed here. It was a truly surreal moment. In the midst of it all, the grooms led out the requested stallions for viewing.

Medaglia d'Oro

Street Cry
(still licking his supper from his lips)

A quick pic of Hard Spun

The great Holy Bull, see him win the Woodward here.

Grave of Affirmed, 1978 Triple Crown winner


Giacomo (2005 Kentucky Derby winner)

Another great horse--Ghostzapper, winner of
the 2004 Breeder's Cup Classic

The next day we went to Churchill Downs. We had seats in Millionaire's Row, which was fun! The view was great and so was the food.

Track favorite Ready's Rocket winning a claiming race

Then on Sunday it was time to go home, but first we went back to Lexington for a couple more quick stops. The first was to see champion racemare Fleet Indian with her Medaglia d'Oro filly. See her win the Personal Ensign here.

Finally, we went across the road to Old Friends.

Danthebluegrassman tells
pasture-mate "You can't have my carrots!"

Bull inthe Heather

New resident Afternoon Deelites

It was a wonderful and very fun trip, and as a strange bonus we got to see a tornado on our drive home. That was a first for me! We will be back for the 2011 Breeder's Cup at Churchill Downs!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lim is 20 tomorrow, and an excellent piece on her grandsire Damascus

Tomorrow is Limerick's 20th birthday! My husband and I plan to make something special for her to eat.

I've always been a fan of Limerick's pedigree--very old-fashioned and full of black type names of yesteryear like Damascus, Citation, The Axe II, Blenheim II, Sir Gallahad III, Blue Larkspur, Mumtaz Mahal, Man o' War, and more.

I can see these horses, particularly Damascus and his sire, Sword Dancer, in her.

I came across a wonderful blog post about Damascus, as well as some videos of historic races. I've long been an admirer of the blazing-fast Dr. Fager, as well, and I will always think it is so cool that Lim's grandsire and Dr. Fager were rivals!

And to cap off this post, in honor of Lim's birthday here are some photos from her direct paternal line--sire Hot Oil, his sire Damascus, his sire Sword Dancer, and Sword Dancer's paternal grandsire, Sun Again. That blaze really travels!

Hot Oil


Sword Dancer

Sun Again

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A tough week!

Poor Limerick, it doesn't end for her, or me. On April 13, after our first ride (which was short but very sweet!) since December, after cooling Lim off I untacked her and led her back to her stall. All was well and I began making her dinner. She stood at her stall door, watching me.

And then she got a faraway look in her eye before going over to the middle of her stall. There, she laid down with a heavy sigh. I watched her, not really believing this was happening. After a moment, it was clear she wouldn't get up so I went into the stall and sat down by her head. I texted my husband to come over to the barn as soon as he could, and as I waited for him Limerick laid her head on my lap and stretched out her legs, breathing hard. Her eyes were big and rolling, and it was clear that she was in a lot of pain. A part of me hoped that Shannon wouldn't show up right then, because it would be tough for him to see that.

After a moment, she lifted her head and was back on her sternum, legs curled up beneath her like normal, her breathing not as intense. Shannon arrived not too long after and I asked him to call the vet. When that was done (and the vet was on his way), he asked me if I would like him to call my friend Mary. I said okay...I love Shannon and was very glad he was there, but having support in the form of another horse person would have been such a relief.

As we waited for the vet and Mary, I asked Limerick to get up and walk to the arena with me. She did, obediently. Once in the arena I expected her to walk quietly but instead she kept trying to lay down, so the walk was a lot more work than expected. Finally I decided to let her stand, just in case walking was more painful than being still. She would periodically cramp or spasm up in her hindquarters then nearly collapse. She was sweaty, hot, breathing hard, and miserable. I was very concerned because in the past, Lim was fairly stoic when she had colic.

Mary arrived, and then the vet. He did not note anything very out of the ordinary when he examined her rectally, which was a relief. So although her symptoms were not good, nothing required an immediate trip to the hospital. We took her back to her stall and the vet treated her with drugs and mineral oil and water. Within moments she was much more comfortable....and once I was sure she was OK for the night, we left.

She was fine over the following days.

Then at work on Monday the 18th, a fellow boarder at the barn texted me to say that Limerick was acting like she was uncomfortable. My heart sinking, I hurried over to the barn again. The symptoms were the same as the previous week, but not as bad.

Nevertheless, the vet was called since every case of colic is an emergency and needs immediate attention. He gave her drugs and tubed her with mineral oil and water, as is standard. As he did this, I suddenly felt terrible dread. Watching Lim's eyes, I could pick up a sense of quiet panic in them. What was happening? I told myself that tubing oil helps a horse, and never hurts them. Yet I could not help but think "This tubing is hurting her".

The vet finished and pulled the tube out of her nose...all seemed well. Then within ten seconds, Limerick started stumbling around the stall in an awkward circle. She would drop to her knees and nose, then jerk herself up, then again fall to her knees, and repeat, in a circle. I did my best to stay out of her way...then suddenly, she threw herself down onto her back and tensed up in the worst way--I did not even know a horse was capable of moving in the way that she did.

At that moment, I experienced a profound sense of loss, or the possibility of loss. The sadness and grief, however premature, consumed me and I broke into tears. This was the type of thing you heard about--the type of end that you heard about.

I can tell you with 110% certainty that seeing your baby thrash around helplessly, her beautiful face contoured terribly, is one of the worst things you can see in your lifetime. Throw in the fact that your baby happens to be a 1,000lb animal that can kill you with an errant hoof to the head, and therefore you need to just stand back and wait, made the experience that much worse.

But to my overwhelming relief, she was soon up and standing, exhausted and dazed. The vet told me that we have to get her to the hospital now. Here was a vet that has been around for decades and had likely seen it all telling me he didn't know what "that" was, and she had to go to Kendall Road equine hospital.

During the ride to the hospital, I texted friends and family, telling them to keep Limerick in their thoughts. Mary drove and I did my best to not sob like a baby next to her, but it was very difficult at times.

Long story short, the hospital diagnosed her with a left dorsal displacement (her colon became looped over her spleen and remained trapped there), which was successfully treated with drug therapy. Surgery had been the next step but we never touched that, relief was immeasurable!

The next issue was the grand mal seizure she had after being tubed back at the barn. Fortunately, the vets thought it was a freak, one-time occurrence, the result of a perfect storm of many elements coming together. More relief! Limerick stayed at the hospital for two nights and was released on Wednesday.

(oh yes, and my car died the day before, on Tuesday; when it rains, it pours!)

When Limerick isn't right, then it is a tremendous burden on me...and in this case, for a while there I had this awful, sinking feeling in my stomach that this was it...this was the end....I feel so lucky, fortunate, blessed, you name it, that she is okay now. Don't ever take what you love for granted! I never took Miss Lim for granted, but over the past week I have taken more time to sniff her neck, look into her soft, expressive eyes and tell her I love her.

Here are some photos of Miss Lim at the hospital:

The first night, right before I had to leave
(and believe me, I didn't want to).
The muzzle is to prevent her from eating.

These three are from the next day--she was much
better! Top to bottom--"Hi mom!", looking for hay,
taking a nap.