Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vet Visit Tomorrow...

My vet is coming out tomorrow , thankfully only coming to give a flu booster.   While I'm psyched to see her, as she is a tremendously cool lady, the prospect of seeing her reminds me of how I got to know her, which was when my mare injured herself.

She was referred to me by my farrier when my mare didn't seem to be recovering from what had initially been diagnosed as foot soreness, then mild arthritis in her fetlock.  When she came in, she sat down with me and went over my mare's history, then looked at some radiographs I'd downloaded to my laptop.  Those seemed to give her a direction to go in, and a few diagnostics later (thank you, Great American Insurance!) we located the problem: Mild Arthritis of the Coffin Joints.  Long story short, we identified a course of treatment and rehab, and over the course of a few months things progressed to where I was able to ride her again. 

I rode her twice before going on a business trip.  I had no sooner left town that I got a call from a friend at the barn.  Sugar was dead lame again.  Sigh.  She was kept on stall rest until I got back,  and showed no improvement.  Called the vet again.  She came out to see the mare and did a great job of evaluating the horse whilst talking me off the ledge.  Nice job they do teaching psych in vet school!

More pretty pictures ensued.  Turns out my normally lazy, completely-lacking-in-self -motivation had been out in the field acting like her tail had caught fire, must've come down completely wrong, and wound up with a pretty impressive bone bruise on her P2.  More rest.  More therapy. IRAP, to be precise. 

Several months of hand walking followed, with horse levitating above ground like an equine Macy's balloon.  During these months I read everything I could about the injury, sent numerous emails to my vet, and bless her heart, she responded to all of them.  She educated and supported when necessary, and quite sternly advised me against too much time spent on forums when it was apparent I needed a little tough love.  She was also extremely nice to my son when he was there asking a zillion questions, and as you know, you always adore someone who is nice to your kid or your horse.

I think she went above and beyond the call of duty, which is why I will always happily bake her chocolate cake or stromboli, whichever she wants.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vermont's Kicking It Old School - Draft Horse Style

Fred the Belgian and Owner Claude Desmarais
Vermont has long been known as one of the WORST states to be in if you want Internet connectivity.  Cell phone coverage too, for that matter.  Not surprising, as some outlying areas of the state did not even have electricity until 1964.  Frankly, who needs it when you've got a state as beautiful as Vermont is?

Well, Governor Shumlin's "Connect Vermont" initiative aims to change their status as low man on the connectivity totem pole.  Vermont's rugged terrain proves challenging at times, but local telecom companies have used typical Vermont ingenuity to figure out a solution to their problem.  They employ draft horses to drag the fiber-optic cable they need to set up their networks.

Yep.  Old school technology to get the newfangled stuff up and running. Gotta love it.  Good ol' Fred here and his owner Claude Desmarais are laying cable up to 7 days a week, up to 4 seasons a year, rain or shine.  When you think about it, this low tech approach fits in with the Vermont eco-ethic as well, as clearly Fred does less damage to the environment than a team of bulldozers would.

Atta boy, Fred!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let's Hear it for the OTTBs!!

Saw this video of Silva Martin (eventer Boyd Martin's wife) on Eventing Nation.  She's doing a dressage freestyle on Sea Lord, an OTTB that was campaigned by eventers Boyd Martin and Philip Dutton, but was later turned over to Silva as a dressage prospect.

Check out Silva and "Big Bird" as they show off the Thoroughbred's natural athleticism.  I love the nods to racing, in their racing attire, the "Call to Post", and in the music chosen for the freestyle.  I heard the Staple Sister's "I'll Take You There" from the movie Secretariat, and Dan Fogelberg's "The Run for the Roses."  I actually choked up during the video when I heard the first notes play.  In fact, I can remember hearing when Fogelberg debuted it.  I was sitting in my parent's living room and watching ABC's 1980 pre-Kentucky Derby coverage,  absolutely bawling my eyes out.  I think my parents were ready to commit me.  That was the year Genuine Risk won the Derby, becoming the first filly since Regret to do so.  I'd be interested to know if any of you racing aficionados/Kentucky natives can pick out any other musical homages to the Throughbred or racing in their music.

LOVE the extended trot bits, and how about that extended canter to halt at the end?

Also, if you want to have yourself a good sniffle, here's the video that originally appeared on ABC in 1980.  Dan Fogelberg premiering "Run for the Roses."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Showing With the Kiddo...

The Kiddo and the Po-Po
There's something, searching for a word here....special about riding with one's child.  It's wonderful and insane and tragi-comic all rolled up into one.  It's even more special when you share the whole horse showing experience with them.

The other weekend my daughter and I had a horse show.   She's 9, and I'm trying to get her to take care of things on her own a bit more, so the night before the show I told her to get out her show bag and make sure she had all her stuff together and ready for the next morning.  I then gave her a check-list so she knew what "all her stuff" entailed.  When I checked on her a little while later she told me she'd gotten everything in order and had organized it on her bed.  A quick peek assured me that yup, looked like we were good to go.  Off  kiddo went to bed, dreaming of successful rounds and blue ribbons. 

Didja catch it?  Mistake number one?  In case you missed it, the mistake was the "quick peek" part.  You'll see why in a moment.

The crack of dawn came earlier than usual for Mom.  Not so for the child.  She was up earlier than the neighbor's chickens, banging around in her room as she dressed for the day.  The kid is incapable of silence in any form.  Silver lining here is that I did not need my alarm clock.  I was awake, and husband was not awakened and thus irritated by alarm clock going off at ungodly hour.  WINNING!!!

All seemed to be going according to plan.  Kid was busy shoveling in breakfast while I loaded truck and waited for the coffee machine to heat up.  Just as I was taking that first life affirming sip, she oh-so-casually informs me that I need to fix her jodphurs.  The black strap at the bottom had broken.  Apparently at the last show.  Which.was.weeks.ago.

HUH??  FYI -- I'm dumb as a box of rocks until the first jolt of caffeine hits me.  I think I just swiveled my head and looked at her, slack jawed, because she repeated herself.  Veeeeerrrrrry slowly.  By this time her words are sinking in.  This happened a month ago??  Why am I finding out now, when we need to leave in 5 minutes and the show is 45 minutes away??!!??  My pulse, like the pitch of my voice, was escalating.  Quickly I grabbed my sewing kit and triaged that puppy back together and off we went, only 10 minutes behind schedule.  Only poked myself with the needle once.  Only cussed the one time, too.

Done for the Day. Tired Po-Po.
The jodphur incident left me with no time to fix my second cup of coffee.  I blame my lack of patience with her newly stained jodphurs on the lack of caffeine.  She got them dirty within 5 seconds of arriving at the show grounds.  Seriously, how on earth could sitting on the muddy ground seem to be a good idea??  Even her 7 year old barn buddy knew that the rule is you have to stay clean until you show.  What would George Morris say?!?

The kid was unconcerned.  The stain was on her tush, and to her way of thinking no one would see it.  "Duh," says the7 year old sidekick, "What about when you two-point????"   Thankfully a towel and some water helped the situation somewhat, although I swear you can see the stain in some of the pictures. The footing was muddy, so I'm hoping  the judge thought it was just splash back.

Heading Off to the Ring....
The rest of the morning progressed without a hitch.  The kiddo rode well, got some nice ribbons, but more importantly, was gracious and good to her pony even when she did not place as high as she'd wanted to.  She rewarded herself with a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich (gotta love show food when you are young and have a nuclear metabolism) and hung out with her pal and her pony while I showed.  She says she meant to come and watch my classes, but was having so much fun that she knew I would not want her to stop what she was doing. 

Think she played me a bit on that one??  Heck yeah, she did.  I'm fine with it.  I missed a couple of distances and really don't need to hear about it from her!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Funny Horse Video of the Day

It's not like this will become a regular feature or anything, I just was at a loss as to what to call it.  Saw this on the COTH (Chronicle of the Horse) Forum and it had me wetting my pants!  This little gelding is a hoot!

Would love to see other funny videos - share 'em if you got 'em!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Show Woes: Dealing With Fear

Air Mare!
(Note the Shoe By Her Schnozz)
Been doing a bit of a straw poll with my athletic friends and with my riding friends.  The question I've asked them to consider is, "What is your biggest challenge with respect to your sport?"  Lack of time, lack of talent, and lack of money are common answers, but by far the most common is fear.

Okeydokey, this sounds promising!  Let's dissect that a bit, shall we?  Fear of what, exactly?  Again, there are a myriad of responses.  Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of success. (Really??? Fear of success?  Shakes head with complete deficiency of comprehension. Sorry, don't mean to be rude, but that's one I can't wrap my head around.)

The issue for me is fear.  Not fear of going of course, or fear of making a fool out of myself.   I'm quite comfortable with making a fool out of myself.  Making mistakes and laughing at one's self is all good, in my book. My fear is of hurting my mare or myself.  Think "CATASTROPHIC EVENT WITH HORRENDOUS CONSEQUENCES."  As you can imagine, this has been a slight  impediment in my pursuit of riding success, and seems to be a bugaboo for a number of other riders as well.

What does a modern gal do when faced with a problem and a need for a solution?  She Googles!  One of the best sessions in the 2011 George H. Morris HorseMastership Training Sessions was presented by Jane Savoie.  Jane, in addition to her wonderful  Cross Training Your Horse series, wrote a couple of books on strategies to overcome doubt, insecurity, and fear.  With this in mind, I Googled them, and bought both. 

That Winning Feeling! and It's Not Just About the Ribbons are nightstand staples now.  Fast forward to last week's show preparation.  Following Jane's advice, I visualized my successful rounds, making "mind's eye movies" of riding to the perfect distances, well ridden lines, and successfully negotiated triples.   I tried to pay more attention to my language.  Jane says that the subconscious does not recognize the word not.  Thus, saying, "I will not fall off" becomes " I will fall off" to your goal oriented subconscious. 

I've seen this one in action -- fell off  twice at the last show right before my mare was injured and out of commission for almost a year.  Spent over a year thinking about it before I was able to show my newly fit and healthy mare again.  All I could think of was that I was resolved not to fall off again.  I don't need to tell you how this one ends.  It happened.  Twice. 

Fast forward to this past weekend's show.  I'm visualizing clean courses like a madwoman.  Breathing deeply.  Walking around looking like a whackadoo and jabbering to myself like a loon, "I AM a competent rider.  I AM calm and relaxed in competition.  I MAKE good decisions. I LOVE triple combinations, yes I do!"  All was going well until a freak accident occurred. A horse fell on top of its rider and the action stopped while the EMS arrived and offered care. 

I'm embarrassed to say that while I was concerned for the rider and the horse, I did my best not to get involved in the frantic discussions going on around us.  I needed to keep my daughter focused (she was showing at that moment) and myself from falling apart.  Several times over the hours of waiting for my division I felt myself wanting to back out.

I didn't, and was feeling a little bit proud of myself.  Warm up went well, and we went in for our first round.  Things weren't perfect, but we were getting it done until we came to the triple.  Sugar jumped a bit big into the first element, took a monster stride to the second, an oxer which apparently impressed the heck out of her.  She took an ENORMOUS leap, and somehow caught a front shoe with her hind foot and pulled it off.  The shoe went winging past our heads (you could hear the whistling as it went by) and THWACK! It landed right in front of the next element.  Not wanting to risk her, we pulled up, and my first thought was, "Hello, what other sign from God do you need to tell you this is a BAD IDEA??"

See the Shoe?
(Hint: Slightly to the Left of My Head)
Luckily, the farrier saw it happen and came out of the show office.  He pointed out his truck, and the shoe was back on and my trainer had me back on board and warming up for Class #2 before I could voice any second thoughts (she knows me pretty well and knows that giving me time to think is rarely a good thing.)  Class #2 had some rocky moments and a stop, but we got through it, with one humorous moment as I approached the triple and could be heard saying "You CAN bloody do this!"  By Class #3 we were on enough of a roll that we managed to come back with a second place.

The ribbon is nice.  However, the real victory, for me, is the way the skills learned from Jane's presentation and her books helped me manage a situation that would have left me fetal not long ago. 

Got my Big Girl Pants on now!  Next challenge? Clean rounds!

Just a Horse? The Marines Don't Think So...

Sgt. Reckless on the  Job
It just chaps me when people use the phrase, "It's just a horse."  So, as an animal it has no value?  Brings nothing to the table, so to speak?  I think anyone who has ever known a horse, or any animal, would say that most of them are worth much more than any number of professional athletes, politicians, or other so-called important humans currently wasting space and oxygen.

Sgt. Reckless was a Mongolian mare purchased for $250 off a Korean racetrack by US Marines.  Her owner needed money to buy his sister an artificial leg, and the marines needed someone to carry ammunition to them in battle. 

During the Battle of Outpost Vegas in 1953, the 14.1hh mare made as many as 51 trips a day to carry ammunition to the soldiers, most of them BY HERSELF! She carried over 386 pounds of ammo over 35 miles of Korean rice paddies and mountains while enemy fire crashed around her at 500 rounds per minute.  She not only saved marines in need of ammunition, at one point she shielded 4 Marines as they crossed the battlefield.

Reckless was as known for her personality as for her heroics.  She demanded respect from her handlers, was known to ransack tents in search of treats, and had a voracious appetite.  Reckless had a penchant for scrambled eggs, cake, and Hershey bars, and loved drinking Coca Cola and beer with her troops.

Reckless was retired to Camp Pendleton.  She's held the ranks of Corporal and Sergeant, and has been honored with two Purple Hearts, a Good Conduct medal, a Presidential Unit Citation with star, to name a few of her honors. 

Just a horse???  I don't think so.

Semper Fi, Reckless.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Dad...

Sug Loooooves Grandpa
I'm not normally a fan of what I call "Hallmark Holidays."   My position on Mother's Day, Father's Day, or anniversaries is that you should treat these special people in your life well all the time.  In my opinion, and remember what they say about opinions, you should not need someone else to tell you to set aside a day to make breakfast or dinner for someone, or acknowledge them in a special way.
That being said, this post is for my dad.  Frank's the kind of guy who would give the shirt off his back to a complete stranger.  He's the kind of person, though not religious,  who lives by all of the important tenets common to many religions.  He's the first to help someone in need, but the last person to ask for help.  He's also funny as hell.

My dad worked a lot when I was young; he had his own business for many years.  He did not make it to all my weekday soccer/basketball/softball games and swimming meets, but made darn sure he was there on the weekends.  I can still remember him running the timer at swim meets, cheering me on all the while he was supposed to be timing someone in his lane.  Though I wasn't thrilled at his use of his pet name for me when he'd yell, "Go, Buffalo Butt!" I was thrilled to have the support.

When I started with horses it was tough for him, as I'm sure he wanted me to be able to do more than we were financially able.  Ever since I was a little girl, he'd stop the car if we passed a field with a horse in it so I could pet it.  He stopped saying, "I have to go see a man about a horse, " when he needed to go to the bathroom, as when I was young I would take this literally, and would wait hours to hear when I was getting this horse he was talking about!

He's always been an animal person, and to him the horses were just big ol' dogs.  He'd come to the barn and love on them, and would walk blithely into the stalls of horses that tolerated no one and have them eating out of his hand in minutes.  He held my horses at horse shows, feeding them little treats of liverwurst sandwiches and beer when no one was looking.  He'd bring his hibachi and make the best hamburgers ever -- everyone loved parking their trailer next to ours.  One time when our trailer broke down he and my trainer walked several miles to find a payphone to call a tow.  They came back with a 12-pack and a brand new Nikon (story for another time).  Once when we were loading the horses and one accidentally stepped in a hornet's nest, scattering a million angry insects, he held on to the lead rope, calming the horse and making sure the horse got safely on the trailer, even though he must have wanted to drop the rope and run away to avoid the stings.

He'd hang out with me in the barn to keep me company when I was getting ready for shows, and on show days would fetch crops, saddle pads, water buckets without a complaint.  Now he does the same when my daughter shows.  He stops by the barn we board at occasionally, and never forgets to bring carrots. 

He's been a great example to me, as a person and as a parent.  He's been a great father, and a great grandfather to my kids.  And I'm sure he's very happy now that I'm paying for my own horsey pursuits, and he can watch happily without worrying what it's costing him.

Thanks, Dad!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

True Prospect Update: PRO Sponsored Ebay Auction for Relief Efforts

Been hiding in NOLA ( New Orleans, LA) the past couple of days so am a little late on this, but in case you missed it...

The Professional Riders Association (PRO) sponsored Boyd Martin True Prospect Online Auction started Monday (06/13) at 8:00am.  Check out this link to see what's available. Some of the offerings include:

• 1-Week Vacation in Cape Cod

• Training/Lesson packages with Kate Chadderton, Kyle Carter, Ruthie Harbison, Joe Meyer, Buck Davidson and more!

• A day’s Fox Hunting with Mr. Stewart's Cheshire Hounds

• Charles Owen Helmet of choice

• Dubarry Boots

• SmartPak Bridles

• Five Star Tack Halter

• Entries to Galway Downs International Event CCI*** or Woodside International Horse Trials CIC***

• Wise Equestrian Saddle, Breastplate or Bridle

As PRO has partnered with SCES (Southern California Equestrian Sports Foundation) a 501(c)(3), it means your purchase will be tax deductible.  All funds from the auction will directly benefit those impacted by the tragic fire at True Prospect Farm.

I wish you successful bidding!

Tall, Dark, and Handsome...

New Orleans' Finest
(None of These is Hunter. Sadly, Was Too Busy to Get a Pic.)
Met the most gorgeous guy, quite frankly the man of my dreams, on a recent business trip to New Orleans. He was just standing in the middle of Bourbon Street, calmly surveying the scene. Tall, muscular, and with kind brown eyes. I had to walk up and introduce myself.

His name was Hunter, and he responded to my initial attention with interest, and within seconds his lips were nuzzling my hand while I stroked his shoulders.  After only a few minutes in his company I was pretty much trying to figure out how I could get him home with me.

What? You didn't realize he was a horse?? Really?? Wow.  Was really hoping you thought better of me than that.  Sigh...

Anyway, I call my new equine love the man of my dreams as he is a Percheron-Thoroughbred, a cross I've loved since I was a teenager and rode my dressage trainer's Thercheron mare, Benchmark. Riding Benchie was sort of like trying to straddle a mobile wine keg. That horse had the best brain there ever was, and completely demolished my anti-mare prejudice. I've wanted a Therchie ever since, and have loved every example of the breed I've met.

Hunter is a new Orleans police horse, and sees all kinds of shenanigans during the course of his duty, as you can imagine.  Sometimes things can get a bit dicey for him.  While I was chatting with his police officer partner, I was casually rubbing his right shoulder (clarification: I was rubbing Hunter's shoulder, not his partner's) and Hunter started blinking his eyes and chewing.  Recognizing these signs as release of muscle tension, I started probing for other areas of tension in the shoulder and tricep area, and soon Hunter was yawning up a storm and leaning into me as if it were my job to hold him up (more signs of tension release).

Hunter's partner (never did get the man's name, tells you my priorities!!) was fascinated by the reactions I elicited from his horse, and asked me what I was doing.  I explained I had a friend who was an equine massage therapist, and that she'd showed me some basic techniques to help work through tension in my mare between massages.  While we chatted I probed a little on Hunters neck on both sides, a little in both hindquarters (biceps femoris and tensor fascia latae) but kept coming back to his right should as he seemed to really want that.

Turns out that a week prior to our meeting, Hunter had a little altercation with a truck.  Neither party was seriously injured, but clearly there were still some ouchie spots in Hunter's right shoulder, the primary impact site.  The police officer was floored at how I was able to identify Hunter's soreness and alleviate some of it, and got off Hunter so I could show him a little of what I did.  Hunter was clearly loving life and very appreciative of our efforts, and I'd bet quite a few donuts that his rider will be using the techniques he learned to keep Hunter happy and healthy. 

Was a very rewarding experience.  Not just because of my new found friends, but because one of my clients was with me and could not believe what he was watching.  His comment to me afterwards was, "You see weird stuff on Bourbon Street but I never expected to watch a woman loving up a horse like that."  The poor guy darn near choked when he realized how his words sounded, and I was almost fetal I was laughing so hard.  Am happy to report his embarrassment meant I did not have to pay for another drink that night!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Little Ones and Horses...

My Big Girl and her Little Girl
There's a saying that goes something along the lines of  "All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl." 

There's not doubt that a good number of little girls, much more so than little boys, seem to go through a horsey phase.  One could also say that some of us never come out of that phase.  However, as the mother of a son who worships the ground my mare walks on, sometimes I think that particular quote a bit biased, and think word "child" should replace the words "little girl."

It's amazing how these animals take care of their humans, and particularly their smaller humans.  Think of HJ Hampton, the top eventer of Run Henny Run fame, who, according to his animal communicator, considers his primary job looking after his rider's young son.

Grooming Her Girl
I swear my mare considers my children her foals.  She will spend minutes on end licking them from stem to stern, looking at me as if to say, "I can't believe you let them out in public like this."  She'll ripsnort around a course of fences with me, throwing in the odd buck when she's particularly pleased with herself, and on the same day trot placidly around a course of crossrails with my son, adjusting herself to ensure she's under him if his balance wavers.

A Quiet Hug

It's not only my mare.  Many of the horses in our barn seem to have a special affinity for the younger ones.  My friend's gelding adores me, mostly because  I am his personal "itch scratcher." However, if my son or daughter comes near, he'll abandon me in a heartbeat to rest his great big head in their arms, or stand like a statue while they hug his legs. 

Perhaps horses just respond to the innocence within children.  Maybe their lack of baggage or agenda and the relative openness in which they approach the horse is the reason.  I certainly have no idea why it is, I just know it's one of those everyday miracles we're sometimes privileged to witness.

I do realize that most of the pictures I'm attaching here are of my daughter.  I'm going to throw my son firmly under the bus here and say that's because the little booger hates having his picture taken.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sugar and Cookie Go On a Nature Walk...

Pony Takes Point
(Apologies for the blurriness; Sug was a bit antzy.)
This past weekend I decided we'd had enough of ring work, so Sophie and I took the girls out on a little trail ride.  I've always felt that too much time in the ring is like that classic line from The Shining, " All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." 

About a gazillion years ago I had a wonderful dressage trainer who rarely worked in the ring.  We were lucky enough to have access to all sorts of fields and trails, and I learned that  it completely possible to get a horse to do a leg yield or shoulder in no matter were you were.  In fact, it seemed to better prepare them to listen to the rider no matter what the circumstances were, and it certainly made for happier, fresher horses. 
So, off we go on a beautiful Sunday morning.  The pony decided it was her job to take point, and immediately set off in her little pony power walk, with Sug ambling along good naturedly a few lengths behind.  We'd no sooner set foot in the little wooded area when a trio of crazed chipmunks sped in front of us in a lively game of chase.  For such small creatures, they make a surprising amount of noise. They careened around us for a few minutes while our bemused mounts stood and stared, and then as quickly as they came they were gone.

The next portion of our ride took us into a field, where we were greeted by a red fox.  It was almost as if he had been waiting for us. Cookie looked back at me as if to ask if we were going to give chase, and the fox, clearly no dope, decided he was better off removing himself from the situation.

Are You Following Me?
 On the way back we galloped through the field. As we approached the far end we noticed a deer standing at attention and watching us intently.  Rather than risk a spook and involuntary dismount, we thought it prudent to bring the girls back to a walk and at this pace were able to get within 10 feet of the deer.  Cervidae and equidae stared placidly at each other for few minutes, and then the deer decided to end the staring contest and move off into the forest.  The girls, apparently not done with their new friend, followed.  The doe stopped, turned, and the staring contest recommenced.  We must have stood there, blathering like fools to this poor animal, for about 5 minutes before she trotted off.

It was a great morning.  Nice bonding time with the kiddo (boy, do I hope she remembers this when she's an hormonally imbalanced, angst ridden teenager that hates my guts) and the horses.  Both mares were obviously happy as stoats, moving with long, relaxed necks, swinging walks and letting loose with the occasional gusty sigh. 

I'm now ready to get back into the ring.  What do you to do re-charge your or your horse's batteries?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Becky Holder Remembers Her Friend Call Me Ollie...

Becky Holder and Call Me Ollie
Becky Holder is a horseperson I enjoy following.  I've never met the woman, but everything I've seen on the numerous DVD's I own, the event coverage available online and in numerous print publications points to a truly classy individual. 

I saw this article from the online version of The PILOT, a Southern Pines North Carolina newspaper, and thought it was worth sharing.  Clearly it hurts to think of the lives sadly lost in the recent True Prospect Farm fire, and the "what might have beens."  However, maybe it will help to heal if one thinks about the meaning these horse's lives had, and what they gave to their human partners.

I love this Becky's fond recollections of her one-time mount, and how it shows how much these beautiful creatures really give of themselves for us.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Still Can't Believe It...

It's been 3 days since the tragic fire that took 6 horse's lives at the barn Boyd Martin rented at Phillip Dutton's True Prospect Farm.  Despite the passage of a brief bit of time, it doesn't seem any more comprehensible that something like this could happen. 

My heart goes out to Boyd, his wife Silva, and everyone else touched by this senseless tragedy.  The horror that these people experienced and now have to work through is unimaginable.  I can't even wrap my mind around what it would be like to lose my horse, much less experience a loss of this magnitude.  There has to be a special place in heaven for Lillian, Ryan, Caitlin, Boyd and Phillip and all those that helped try to rescue the horses, and I know there are 6 new angels that are taking care of the people who took care of them.

One can't help but be moved by the efforts of the equestrian community to help those affected by the fire.  There are so many ways to help and the following list is just a fraction of them.  I know we'll all do whatever we are capable of doing.

Eventing icon Denny Emerson is donating 50% of the proceeds from his book How Good Riders Get Good .  Really wish I hadn't already purchased this -- looks like now I'm going to have to purchase a few as Christmas gifts.

New Jersey eventer Doug Payne has announced that 50% of all sales of his collaborative video with Jimmy Wofford, The Rider's Eye, during the month of June will be donated to the TPF recovery fund.  Again, wish this was not already in my DVD library.  Trying to think of a few friends who might enjoy a copy...

Trafalgar Square Books will donate 15% of all online sales at in the week ahead to the relief fund.

ECOGOLD, one of Boyd's sponsors, put up six special edition saddle pads for sale, in memory of each of the lost horses.  Those sold out quickly, however, ECOGOLD has offered an unlimited amount of Secure Cross Country Saddle Pads for sale and will donate 50% of the sales to Boyd.

Koper Equine, maker of colorful rein snaps, is donating 50% of all June sales.

During the month of June, Five Star Tack will be donating 10% of their profits to support the relief effort.

Photographer AK Dragoo tweeted that 20% of all photo purchases will be going toward fire relief.

A fire relief fund has been set up through SCES, a non-profit based in California that supports equestrians.

You can also donate to each of the riders (Lillian Heard, Caitlin Silliman and Boyd Martin) on their pages at the American Horse Trials Foundation.

Additionally, a fire relief donation is accessible from Phillip Dutton's site.

The surviving horses are all in various stages of recovery.  The following video was posted on YouTube and featured on the website Eventing Nation as a tribute to the 6 lost horses: Call Me Ollie, Charla, Phantom Pursuit, Ariel, Cagney Herself, and Summer Breeze.  If you can watch it without bawling your eyes out, your a much stronger person than I am.