Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A look back to 1996

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

One gift I received was the translation of old VHS home videos to DVDs. On one of these was a recording of an early lesson with Limerick. The year was 1996, and the season was spring, which means I had only been with her for two months, max.

What a long way she and I have come since that lesson! I can truthfully say that I would not be the equestrian, not be the horse woman I am today without this little mare.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Limerick update

Things have slowed down, Limerick-wise. I ride when I can, but not as regularly as I would prefer! Lim was doing well until Monday--that night, she was covered in mud on her left side when I arrived at the barn. I was all set to ride, but as I groomed her I realized that something wasn't right. I couldn't put my finger on it until I began uncovering the mud on the left side of her butt.

Underneath the dry mud was a gigantic lump--a hematoma. Ouch--poor baby probably got kicked in turnout.

So I've been treating this hematoma for the past few days. I guess our riding schedule will remain irregular until the new year, but that's okay. That's what happens sometimes.

A little history about Native Dancer

I love horse racing history, and sometimes if an article particularly strikes me, I'll email it to myself to file away. This is one of those articles!

Past and Present at Sagamore Farm

Sagamore Farm was home to Maryland-bred Native Dancer. Winner of 21 races out of 22 starts, his only loss was by a closing head in the 1953 Kentucky Derby, which was commonly blamed on a poor ride by the jockey. He went on to win the Preakness and Belmont, and many thought he could have easily won the Triple Crown.

Native Dancer's 1953 Kentucky Derby loss

While considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time, Native Dancer left a more lasting impression in the breeding shed. Out of a Discovery ("The Iron Horse") mare* and by a Phalaris-line stallion, Native Dancer played a heavy hand in the shaping of the Thoroughbred breed in the latter 20th-century. His most important descendants were grandsons Northern Dancer (via daughter Natalma) who also traced to Phalaris in his sire line (via Nearco) and Mr. Prospector (via son Raise a Native) who was also buttressed on the other side by a Phalaris line, via damsire Nashua (Nearco). Needless to say, the Phalaris via Native Dancer x Phalaris via Nearco nick was/is quite potent!

The blood of both Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector, continues on through numerous top sires standing today.

*Bold Ruler, another top sire traced in male line to Phalaris via Neaco, and is out of a Discovery mare, making Discovery one of the most important broodmare sires of the 20th century. Bold Ruler offspring and direct descendants include 70s greats Secretariat, Ruffian, Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Perennial top sire Pulpit has passed away

I got a text from a friend this morning that there was a rumor Pulpit had a heart attack, and I replied that I hoped it was truly a rumor. Sadly, that wasn't the case. I know the stallion was a favorite, both personality and career-wise, with the Claiborne crew--they must be devastated.

I am thankful that we got to see him in October this year. He looked wonderful--his coat glowed with health, and he was proud and confident. He carefully took peppermints from the groom and posed regally for us all. His eyes reflected traces of the amber hue passed down by his legendary paternal grandsire, Seattle Slew. "He has those Slew eyes," I had told my husband at the time. Little did we know that he would be gone in less than two months.

Rest in peace, big guy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oh, mares!

Miss Lim has been acting mare-ish this week, including at today's farrier appointment (photo taken post-appointment).

I'm not sure why, given the time of the year, but if I had to guess, I suspect an ovary is bothering her. Either way, until her hormones settle, I won't pressure her to do anything under-saddle. I did ride her Wednesday, but it was a brief, relaxed ride.

Oh and of course, she will receive massages!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Breeder's Cup 2012

Limerick and her neon pink plaid sheet

Breeder's Cup 2012 has come and gone, and most races were not shockers...except possibly the Classic? The Classic was wide-open to start with, however, so I suppose any result was possible.

I was expecting (hoping) for Royal Delta to win the Distaff/Ladies Classic, and win she did. Uncharacteristically, she went straight to the lead and opened up the first quarter in a blazing :22-change. I'll admit I said some words that aren't fit for this blog then! I didn't feel better after seeing the half-mile time, and winced at the 3/4 mile time of 1:09-change. But then something happened, and I knew Royal Delta would win. At the top of the homestretch, her ears flicked up. After watching her run so much, I knew what that meant--she had gas in the tank, and she was going to win. She handily defied a challenge from undefeated champion My Miss Aurelia and won cleanly. What a race! What a mare!!

That race was the icing on the cake for me--the rest of the Breeder's Cup was simply a fun bonus. Groupie Doll's deserving win and Wise Dan's dominating performance were the best parts of the Saturday card. Another wonderful Breeder's Cup has come to an end, and yes--I'm a little sad we weren't there in person this year. Perhaps in 2014!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dressage queens for Halloween

I had a lesson scheduled for Halloween, so I thought why not dress Lim and I up? The catch was the costume had to be easy to ride in and quick to put on, since I am not able to get to the barn until 6pm at the earliest on work nights, and the lesson was at 7pm. Since I have an entire dressage show wardrobe in my closet, I decided I would wear that for the lesson. But what about Limerick?

She can be a dressage queen, too! I already ride her in a dressage saddle and bridle, so all I had to do was get her show-clean and prettied up. With a tiara.

Thanks to Rita for the photos!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More equine cuteness

I'm on a roll with the cute Limerick photos this week.

This is one of my favorite faces that she makes. This is how she looks at me while I'm getting her dinner together--she always makes me smile then!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Limerick is in the Paulick Report

Miss Lim is in the Paulick Report! I am so excited to see this--it is wonderful to share the mare I hold so close to my heart with the racing world.

I almost hadn't realized how far I've come with Lim in my 16.5 years with her until reading this.

On another note, I ordered several books from the Blood Horse the other day and they arrived today. One such book is the Thoroughbred Legends series on Damascus, and to my pleasant surprise I found a photo of his dam, Kerala, in the book's photo gallery. As some of you know, I'm on a long quest to obtain photos of all of Limerick's family members, and Kerala's photo was a key piece that I was missing.

I plan to ride Lim tonight, so that rounds out a wonderful day involving her!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Limerick performing her trick

I'm not sure if I posted a photo of this before--if I say "bow"and point at her right or left leg, she bows with that leg. She can then swap legs if I say "other leg". Of course, she always gets treats after!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Friday was a sick day, so....

...once I felt better, I went over to the barn to visit my husband and Limerick. I arrived at about 3pm, and he was nearly done with work so I followed him around and chatted with him. It was fun and interesting to see him at work! I got a photo of him feeding the pasture horses--in the background you can see the same stormy weather that brought on my migraine that morning.

Limerick is doing well--I had issues with migraines/headaches all week so I took off from riding for the week. I was supposed to have a lesson on Wednesday but didn't feel up to riding with my headache-of-the-day and the nasty winds blowing in (which I knew would mean a spooky Lim), so I asked Christine if we could do some ground work and free-jumping instead. I'd like to jump Lim eventually but haven't done so while she has been barefoot, so I wanted to see how she jumped while I wasn't on her back. She did great--in fact, she over-jumped the 2' fence by two feet at some points. Oy! Well, at least she was comfortable!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup and farm visits

My husband and I visited Kentucky again last Thursday, and of course, our Nikon came with us. I think I'm really, finally, starting to get the hang of this camera after 1.5 years with it...I think! Below I've posted a few of my favorite shots (edited down from over 650!)

Our first stop was Summer Wind Farm, and it was one of the highlights of the entire trip--we spent nearly 2.5 hours there (!!) and oh my, it is paradise. I mainly wanted to meet a few of the mares--namely Leave Me Alone (my husband and I run a Facebook page for one her daughters, Smart and Single), Love Me Only (the pedigree on this mare is phenomenal, and she's a bay with a blaze--I'm a sucker for those!), and Indyan Giving, Fleet Indian's daughter by perennial top sire, AP Indy.) Thanks again to Liz for the wonderful tour--I won't forget it.

Sunset at Summer Wind

The mares can't resist carrots!

Ballado's Halo (L, full sister to champion Ashado) and Genuine Devotion

Leave Me Alone--this gal was a sweetheart

Indyan Giving--also a sweetheart, and as towering as her champion mother

Royally-bred Love Me Only--half-sister to Giant's Causeway, by Sadler's Wells

Also a sweetheart--I enjoyed every moment with her

I loved the tall bay colt (Malibu Moon x People's Princess)--he was content to be scratched on the head all day long. The chestnut is a Curlin x Rahy Dolly colt, and the third is I believe a Malibu Moon x Pampered Princess colt

More weanlings! Smart and Single's full brother on the far left, and Love Me Only's Sea the Stars colt on the far right

Sea the Stars x Love Me Only--you can't find a better pedigree than this!

Skipingo, full brother to Skip Away

Summer Wind was also home to many other critters...including this otter

Sneakers and Harley--longtime best friends (the cat sleeps with the pig on a regular basis, in all weather)

Another Summer Wind cat

The next day, Friday, we began the day with a tour at Claiborne Farm. This one was to be very special. But first, the stallions.

Blame--winner of the 2010 Breeder's Cup Classic

My husband and Blame


I love these two photos--the groom clearly has a wonderful bond with the stallion

Secretariat's grave. We were told to feel free to take a rose from the wreath--of course I had to take one

Marchmont Cemetery lays a drive of roughly a half mile from the main stallion cemetery at Claiborne. The final resting spot of many of the farm's historic blue hen mares, as well as more stallions, Marchmont is notoriously difficult to get into. However, there was one reason I wished to visit this cemetery. It was a wish I had for so long that I once dreamt about it!

With a little help and a lot of luck, we were granted permission to visit Marchmont. And so, after the standard Claiborne tour, the groom drove us to the hallowed cemetery in his private vehicle.  When we arrived, Marchmont lay before me in quiet splendor.

At last--Damascus, Limerick's grandsire

Easy Goer and Damascus

State, File, Dearly Precious, Mocassin and the great Personal Ensign (in rear)

Two stallions I once saw, Devil's  Bag and Danzig

Later that afternoon, we visited with Capt. Candyman Can, a gelding that both my husband and I followed. He had fallen off the radar earlier in the year, and by chance my husband found out where he was located. We asked if we could visit, and they said yes.

Capt. enjoyed the attention, and was a bit of a ham

He is scheduled to return to training next month

Coolmore/Ashford Stud was our next stop, and the last of the day. We were aware of the bad reputation Ashford has regarding customer service, so we went on the tour with no expectations. None of the stallions were taken out of the stalls except for Fusaichi Pegasus, and even then he was out so briefly that I could not get a good photo of him in his entirety. Ah, well. The nicest employees there were two barn cats that I met on the tour--I made friends with both of them.

Dunkirk at Ashford Stud

FuPeg's glorious dappled butt

One highlight was seeing Storm Bird's old stall

Storm Bird as I saw him in 1995. I love the groom's cautious pat on the nose (Storm Bird didn't exactly have a cuddly-stallion reputation)

Speaking of old stalls, let's skip back to Claiborne for a second, and see Mr. Prospector's stall

Mr. Prospector as I saw him in 1994. "Mr. P" is one of my absolute favorite stallions of all time. Like Northern Dancer, he has created a lasting legacy that will continue for decades to come

We ended the day on a pontoon on Stoner Creek--it couldn't have been a better ending.

View of Claiborne from Stoner Creek

The next day, Saturday, was begun with a very, very special appointment. One of my top five favorite racehorses of the past decade (and certainly in the top five or ten that I've ever seen run 'live') retired in August. Shortly before our trip, I emailed her farm to see if we could visit her. To my great surprise, the farm owner himself got back to me and said that while they don't normally do private visits, they would make an exception this time. Oh-my-gosh! As it turned out, we were her first visitors.

By gone-too-soon stallion El Prado out of the Silver Hawk mare Memories of Silver (now well her way to becoming a blue hen mare with two stakes winners to her name, the other being La Cloche, by Ghostzapper), the beautiful Winter Memories was a favorite of mine before her 2011 Garden City (g.1) win at Belmont Park, but that win--and how she captured it!--absolutely stole my heart.

After that win, in my mind's eye, angels would sing every time I saw her on television, and the atmosphere surrounding every track she stepped on and every race she entered took on a lyrical quality. Plagued by traffic problems, she didn't get the win in every race, but she always gave it her best. I was extremely saddened when she retired, but am very much looking forward to seeing her babies run.

My husband giving her a pat

Winter Memories and I--a priceless moment!

On the way to see Winter Memories, I spotted this historic cemetery. Of course, I had to stop and get photos on the way back. This one is my favorite--can you find the barn cat? He was very friendly and insisted that it would make a great photo if he posed on Black Toney's statue. I have to concur!

Graves of Black Toney, Ribot and Roberto

Next we visited our final farm of the weekend--Lane's End. Thanks to a friend, we had the chance to have a private tour with the stallions. Topping my list was AP Indy. I had seen him at the open house last year, but it was difficult to get good photographs of his characteristic face and Seattle Slew eyes with people everywhere.

By Seattle Slew, out of the Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise, AP Indy is a perennial sire

My husband had reminded me before our stop at Lane's End that another favorite newly-retired racehorse of mine, The Factor, was at the farm. I knew he had been going there, but didn't realize he was already there.

The Factor

Another recent retiree, 2012 Belmont winner Union Rags

English Channel

Curlin snoozing

His sire, Smart Strike, also snoozed did Quality Road

At the end of the tour, the groom asked us if we wanted to see the cemetery. Did I ever! Many great horses, and mares, are laid to rest here.

Weekend Surprise, dam of AP Indy

Important Mr. Prospector son Fappiano, and Sovereign Dancer

Sire of Union Rags, Dixie Union, and his sire, Dixieland Band

At last, we went to Keeneland for the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup card.

Three two-year-old fillies in an early race

Tannery (IRE) feeling her oats before the QE II

Dayatthespa, eventual winner of the QE II

Dayatthespa wiring the field in the QE II