Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Adding to the Vocabulary...

I learned a new word today.   Here it is (hold on to your hats): Pferdewirtshaftsmeister!!

Beg Pardon?!?  Or, rather, Gesundheit!!  *Snort Giggle*

Seriously, I read this on the COTH forum and immediately fell in love with it.  Couldn't pronounce it, had NO CLUE what it meant, but by crikey, I LIKED IT!

The forum did not provide any definitions, so off I trundled to my favorite Online Translator.  Here's what it came up with: Horse landlord custody master.  I pretty much chopped this down to Horse Master.  Okeydokey, that's one I can understand. 

However, Horse Master is not half as much fun to say.  Try saying Pferdewirtshaftsmeister.  I double dog dare you.  If you're not fluent in German (as I'm not) you might sound like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets (as I did).

Today was what you could call a down and out crappy day.  It's better now, all because of Pferdewirtshaftsmeister. 

Go ahead and say it, and try not to smile.  I double dog dare you!

First Sleep Away Show Ever: The Week in Pictures

We got to HITS after dinner on Tuesday.  Cookie was already doing sleepies...

Day 1 - Sugar is a wee bit over-enthused in the warm-up

Sug is still a little "enthusiastic" and really wishes Mom would please just start jumping bigger fences!

Sophie and her buddy, Perzy, who wishes he could drive the golf cart.  Darn the lack of opposable thumbs!

Catching up with a good friend.....

Kiddo and the Po-Po get to show!

Happy Kiddo!  (Next Charles Owen model, maybe??)

The Pit Crew.  Cookie is wondering what's the fastest way back to the barn...

Sug is marginally happier.  The fences are getting bigger, but it's too darn hot to jump.

She thinks the heat would be more bearable if Soph would share her ice cream...

Hanging out by Jumper Ring 1

A respectable haul after Day 2 of Short Stirrup...

Tired Po-Po...

Elvis likes the view from MY side of the golf cart much better!

I don't know what Soph and Elvis are planning, but it can't be good...

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Sleep Away Show Ever: Final Day and Thanks, Peter Leone!

Wow, if you'd told me on Day One that I'd ever be ready to go home, I'd have laughed at you.  Be that as it may, Day Five of HITS-on-the-Hot-As-Hades-Hudson IV saw me ready to head south on I-87.  However, before I did there was that small matter of Short Stirrup Hunter classes we needed to attend to. 

Thankfully they Horse Show gods decided to move the classes up from early afternoon to just before 11.  In my naivete, I thought that meant I was gonna get out of Dodge early.  HAH!  Every pony east of the Mississippi was competing in that class and it lasted FOREVER.  The division pinned something like four hours after it started.  Really.  I've been known to exaggerate.  A LOT.  I'm not doing it now.

In any case, the hunter classes are not Cookie's strength, and since she is 15 now and coming back from a broken splint bone and time off, lead changes can be iffy at best.  She will, however, sometimes land on the right lead if her pilot gives the correct cue.  Sophie and her trainer had been working diligently for some time on cueing Cookie to land on the correct lead.  So, on the way to the show, I decided to share with the pony pilot some advice I'd first heard while auditing a Peter Leone clinic and then in his DVD Ride the Body.  It made sense to me, and seemed to work whenever I remembered to use it.

Peter advocates "blocking the shoulder," which I interpreted to mean keeping your inside leg up at the girth (in a sense by the shoulder) to suggest the inside bend, which seems (again, to me) to leave your outside leg back a tad  to cue for the correct lead.  So, in 9 and 1/2 year old language this translates into "make sure your inside leg is forward enough to tickle your pony's elbow and add that to what Annabel tells you about cueing her with your outside leg."

Things were working fairly well landing on the right lead, but the left hind is where the pony broke the splint bone, and landing left was still presenting a problem.  Just before Sophie's last trip I could see she and her trainer having an intense pow-wow, and sure enough, Soph trotted into the ring with her Ultra-Serious Game Face on.  She landed her right leads, and the moment of truth came as she headed across the diagonal towards a green vertical with yellow flowers. 

I could see Sophie set her pointy little jaw from my vantage point in the stands, and as Cookie left the ground it was clear that she'd just been given a very definite aid from her rider. That pony darn near leaped out of her skin going over that fence!  Yellow flower heads went flying, but danged if Cookie didn't land on her left lead.  Of course, she landed a bit peeved with her jockey, so the pair cruised down the last line with a bit more pace than was necessary, but so what?  Mission accomplished!

When Soph and I talked about it later she said Annabel had told her that they were going to get that lead no matter what, and she was to tell Cookie in no uncertain terms with her outside leg which lead to land on. She said to me, 'Mom, I did what Annabel told me and I added that shoulder tickle thing you told me about, and we did it so well we knocked all the flowers off!"

This is how she did:

Tiiiaaaaaarrrdd pony.  Those lead changes are HARD! Poor Cookie Monster.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First Sleep Away Show Ever: Reflections on Day 4

It's actually Sunday morning, the last day of the show, and I'm writing this while the kiddo is happily singing in the shower. The joy in her voice as she belts out whatever lyrics come to mind is the reason we did this whole away show thing. Ridiculously expensive as it it is, it's a chance for Mom and kiddo to live our passion for a little while, have some lengthy quality time with our horses, and with each other. No doubt we're gonna have our ups and downs as time goes by, Soph and I, but hopefully the good memories from this week will always be good groundwork for whatever difficult moments lie ahead.

Enough introspection, though. The day was a good one. Sug and I and our barn mates Tara and Rio moved back down to Level 1s. Tara and I both had better rounds than we did in our ill-fated Low Amateur excursions, so we both ended our HITS adventure on a positive note. I'm happy that Sug and I finished on a clear round, but more importantly, a thoughtful and well ridden round, not a rip-snorting , holy crap let's close our eyes and pray to our higher power that it all works out kind of round. My friend Libby and her boy Stratego had a successful trip in the Level 0s. So, the week ended well for the "ladies of a certain age."

Kiddo had a BLAST in the Short Stirrup division. My friends Janine and her mom Eunice came down to support Sophie; Eunie came with her big old camera in tow, so hopefully there will be some good pics to share. Soph had a great ride in the hack, but had an unlucky break in the canter -right in front of the judge, of course! Still, they placed 4th and the kiddo was over the moon!

They had 3 over fences rounds. All three were nice rounds with minor glitches; the pony is older and has a tough time getting her flying changes, so they get marked down for the occasional simple change. Cookie also gets a tad enthusiastic at time, bless her heart, and it's hard to equitate (keep your shoulders back) when you're trying to contain a very ambitious pony. In any case, Soph rode well and the pony tried hard, and when they were finished the kid was happy as a pig in mud and praising her pony to high heaven all the way from the ring back to the barn. She got a couple of funny looks from passers-by; you could tell they were wondering what major win the pony had just pulled off based on the excessive celebration/love being given her.

When the dust settled (after what seemed like a bazillion beribboned pony jocks galloped around their courses) Soph and Cookie managed to snag a 2nd and a 5th!! Lotta joy in Barn 11 last night, and then some celebrating at El Rancho with her trainer Annabel and barn mate and friend Dana.

Funny little side note. As you know, I get somewhat star struck over famous horse people and have been totally geeking out at HITS when I spot the likes of Peter Leone, Anne Kursinski, Todd Minikus, Neal Shapiro, and McLain (no last name necessary). Well, yesterday my pal Janine and I are sitting in the bar enjoying our pizzas and good conversation when this leathery brown arm reaches between us to grab a handful of potato chips. Well, hello, Mr. Chapot!! Nice to see you! We had a nice giggle with him. Just thought I'd share…

Friday, July 22, 2011

First Sleep Away Show Ever: Day 3 - Mixed Results

Holy apocalyptic heat wave Day 2.  Temps hit somewhere around 116 degrees, if the temperature sensor in the car was to believed. 

Just a thought:  If you're going to be doing a lot of summer horse showing, you might want to consider an investment in this shirt.  I saw a picture of French show jumper Penelope Le Prevost wearing it and had to hunt one down.  It fits, and is flattering, which can be tough to find if you're built like a brick shit house (thanks, Dad, for burning that phrase into my brain.)  Even more importantly, it's cool. 

I told my barn mate the shirt was unbelievable, and although she doubted me, she bought one.  Let me tell you, she was a heck of a lot cooler in her ECE than she was in her competition polo yesterday.  I have a couple of short sleeve performance show shirts because I melt like ice cream on a summer day, and this one outperforms all of them. Just saying...

Anyway, the good, the bad, and the ugly:

Kiddo did so well today. Fought off the heat all day, drank water every time I nagged at her to,  and held her own in the Schooling Pony Hunters.  Cookie found the striding tough to make, but she and the kiddo fought for the numbers and came away with an 8th in the their third class.  Am so proud of both of them -- hope to have pictures to post soon.

My first foray into the Low Amateurs was not quite as good.  We decided to go for it as we'd schooled 3'3" a time or two at home and they'd been setting them soft at 3'.  Well, today's ring crew was not feeling quite as kindly as yesterday's, and they set the fences to the correct 3'3" height.   I was feeling a bit heat shock-y and almost bagged the class, but pulled my big girl pants on and gave it a go.  Sug and I had a heck of a warm-up, but problems at 2 different oxers in the class meant we were DNF for the class.  Sug basically said to me, "Look Mom, I can pretty much cover you 99% of the time, but it's hotter than heck and these are higher and wider than we normally do, and I need a little help from your end.  Either we do this the right way or I'm choosing life and making the executive decision to stay grounded."  I didn't hold up my end of the bargain and waffled on my decisions to the oxers in question, and she wisely chose life rather than risking us. 

So, lesson learned and back we go to Level One tomorrow. We'll hang there until we're more confirmed (rather, Mom is more confident) at the 3'3" fences.  God bless my big girl, though, she's so funny.  If you watch us while we're waiting to go, you can tell when I get tense or have a negative thought.  Not from anything I do (I think) but because Sug will turn her big ol' head around to look at me, as if to say, "Oh for the love of Pete, woman,  RELAX!  I GOT this! Just take a deep breath and stay in the middle and hang on, will you?"  This happens at least 5 or 6 times as we wait for our turn in the ring.  She's a pistol, my girl.  I'm so lucky she puts up with me.

Side notes:  Shared a few giggles with Neal Shapiro of Hay Fever Farm at the water cooler by Jumper Ring 2 today.  The man was one of my heroes when I was growing up.  I can remember him being so very kind to me when I met him as a star struck little girl, and I'm thrilled to say he's just as nice today as he was then.

That's one of the best parts of this whole experience -- seeing the riders I idolized as a kid, seeing the riders I've come to respect in recent years, and being able to really watch them in action.  Better than being back stage at a Stones concert, at least in my book.

First Sleep Away Show Ever - Day 2

Day two of the show was Thursday.  At least I think it was. The temperature hit 106 degrees at the show grounds and my brain is a little fried.  Luckily Libby, Tara and I showed in the early morning and Sophie was able to hack the pony before 9:30, when the temp was only a balmy 94.  Ugh.  I had sweat in places I didn't know COULD sweat.

Short recap:

Libby drove Stratego around her Level 0 round. Stratego had a moment or two where he thought he wanted tobe done with this whole jumping silliness, and Libby firmly reminded him who made the decisions in their relationship. Successful round, happy horse and happy horse owner!

Tara and Rio had a nice round in the Level 1s. They started out a little slower than they normally do (Tara is one rider who is not afraid of a little speed) and had a rail, but otherwise had a really nice course.

Sug was a bit of a noodge in the warm up; really heavy in the left rein and off the left leg. She wanted to just grab the bit in her teeth and barrel forward. I think part of that was my own nerves getting in the way and her reflecting my own stiffness. (Really? Nerves? How shocking!!!) Did a lot of shoulder in to supple her, some trot circle spirals, and counter canter. When we finally jumped a few warm up fences, there was no indication (to me, at least) that we'd have a good round.

Somehow we managed to pull it together and have a good round. I didn't choke up on her, managed to go with her and relax my elbows, and she didn't fight me or make any executive decisions that had us leaving the ground in Newark and landing in Chicago. We left the ring lying in third, and when I went back later in the day to check placings, we actually got a 5th!!! I choked up, I was so surprised and overwhelmed.

The afternoon was spent sweating, shopping, checking out the photographer's booth, and watching friends and barnmates compete. Congrats to Altea's own Annabel Benito on her first place finish with LeBron in the YJC 5 Year Old class. Dana and her Vulcano had a good trip and then Dana hopped on her new partner Jamieson had what was a super trip until that heartbreaking rail at the last fence in the jump off.

A post show dip in the pool and Jacuzzi was in order, then dinner at the Hurley's Mountain Inn. If you're ever in the Suagerties area, give it a try. You won't go away hungry, and the staff is extremely friendly, helpful, and goes out of their way to please. The food is super -- think Sunday dinner at Grandma's, and the Hurley's Mountain Ale is refreshing after a long day horse showing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day One at Our First Sleep Away Show = A Success!!

This is going to be short as it's been a loooooooonnnnnggggg day and I'm waiting for the Ambien to kick in.

Well, the kiddo and I made it to HITS Saugerties in one piece and with no speeding tickets!  First order of business was to go check on the girls.  They were happy to see us, seemed to approve of the new digs.  Not Stratego, though.. My friend Libby's horse looked like he definitely disapproved of the change in venue and wanted to speak to his union representative right away.  After we reassured him, was time to head to El Ranchero for grub and then hit the rack for an early night. 

Easier said than done when your bunk mate is a frenetic 9 year old that is an unapologetic slob, hogs the bed, snores like an asthmatic yak and has a mule kick that keeps you pinned to the edge of the bed all night. Oh, and she talks in her sleep.  Last night I could swear she was reciting Henry V's St. Crispin's Day speech.

Course walk this morning at O'Dark Hundred.  Marched around course echoing Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks.  Huh? Of course I remember the strides in the lines. -- 7 to the six to the 2 to the LOOK!  There's Anne Kursinski!!  What?  Of course I'm paying attention.  Why would you say that?

Got our golf cat after the course walk.  Loved the folks at Dever, hooked up right and tight and did not mind at all that we were newbies.  Of course he didn't mind teaching us the right way to do things, he said, as he didn't want to have to fish us out of the pond like he had to do for other poor soul yesterday.

Todd Minikus, who was waiting nearby, got an earful of our interaction and started laughing.  I told him, "Hey Todd, it's my first time driving one of these suckers, you don't know what'all's gonna happen here.  He saw the truth of this and backed himself off to a safer venue where he could watch the fall out.  Not only is that man the nicest guy on the circuit, he's got one heck of a sense of humor, too.  Sorry about those toes, Todd!

Not to worry, we got the hang of that baby and we off doing our best Danica Patrick impersonations in no time.  Sophie only fell off the back twice.  The kiddo learns fast!

The less said about schooling, the better. The marines have a term for it, and the first seven letters of that 11 letter word are C-L-U-S-T-E-R.  We lined up outside out in gate, watched a few round, and then it was Tara's turn.  Tara was having a pretty good,although slow, go until the fourth fence, when she had a GPS issue.  She seemed determined to get their money's worth for the class and ring crew about had to drag her outta there.  Then it was Your's Truly's.  Annabel made me recite my lines, asked for my jump off, and sent me off. 

Wasn't a bad course. Bit behind the leg at first, but by fence 4 we got our rhythm and were making a pretty good go of things until Sug decided to goo off the reservation and make an executive decision over an oxer leading to the final combination.  She went all "Air Mare" on me, which had me hanging on for dear life in the safety seat.  We landed all cattywumpus, reins on the buckle, leaving a pile of matchsticks in our wake.  She took off like a scalded cat at the combination, and we took it like a runaway hunter, all loopy reins and me clinging like a burr to her neck.  Was pretty special.

We basically wandered around for a bit, watching Annabel ride her horse, then over to see our friend Janine ride in the Level 5s over in the GP ring.  Also caught BJ Ehrhart's and Peter Leone's rounds. Just an aside - anyone else think some of those flower arrangements were last used at a funeral??

Annabel and Tara rode in the Level 1s, and both had good rounds.  By that point everyone was pretty pasted from the heat, so of course we made the kiddo take a lesson on the pony (this was after the child fell asleep in the rocking chair in the pizza bar).   Turned out to to be the best thing for her.  Bored and heat = not good.  Working hard with one's pony and heat?  No worries.  Jumped gymnastics and what looked like a 2'3" oxer with no problems.

Came home, hit the pool, hit the hotel restaurant, got back to the room and am now feeling the effects of that Ambien, so nighty-night, y'all.  More tomorrow!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Kiddo Rides in Her First Clinic...

Eric Horgan
Last weekend my daughter and I had the opportunity to clinic with Eric Horgan, a member of the Irish 3-day eventing team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics (15th place Individual finish), 2 time winner of the Punchestown International Three Day Event, and 1990 World Equestrian Games team member (just to name a few of his credentials).

I knew I was going to ride, as I've enjoyed his clinics before and do well with his style of teaching.  He has a way of breaking things down so you wonder why you ever complicated matters in the first place.  Plus, it seemed like a great idea to get some extra coaching in before my daughter and I head off to our first sleep away show.  What I wasn't sure about was if it was appropriate for my 9 and a 1/2 year old to ride in the clinic.

I'd seen Eric coach kids before and had liked the rapport he built with them, but could not remember how old they'd been, and wondered if my daughter was too young to really absorb all the learning that can be had in a clinic.  Let's face it, these experiences are expensive, they can be arduous, and if she wasn't ready mentally or physically, nobody was going to come away happy.

Obviously the child in question should be somewhat mature, and a willing and attentive learner.  While her father and I may lament that she's got the attention span of a fruit fly at home, there are two places she's fiercely intent and focused; on the soccer pitch and on horseback.  So, I contacted the clinic organizer, 3-day event rider Kristin Schmolze of Everbreeze Farm to get her take on the participants age levels, level of experience, and to get a sense if she thought someone jumping 2' on a medium pony would be a good fit.  Kristin asked good questions about Sophie's level of experience, work ethic, and based on my answers, felt Sophie would have a beneficial learning experience and not detract from other's learning.

I also checked in with my trainer, riding friends who knew Sophie, and of course, checked in with the COTH forum members to see what the general consensus might be.  The verdict?  Kiddo was going to the clinic!

Although the first day was hot as heck, then rainy, and our ride times were 4 hours apart,  we had a blast!  Sophie kept herself occupied by taking care of her pony, watching some of the sessions, helping me with my horse, and reading.  By the time it was time for her to ride, the heavens had opened up and it was pouring.  When she got to the ring she and the pony were soaked through. 

Eric took a few minutes to get to know the riders and asked questions about what they'd been working on with their ponies, what they hoped to accomplish in the clinic, and for a bit of information about the ponies and any health or training issues they had.  He and Sophie immediately started an easy banter, with Eric teasing her about some of her bad habits and challenging her to do better. 

One of the things I've always liked about riding with Eric is that he "got" you as a rider almost immediately, and understood your mentality and your horses instantly.  I wasn't surprised that he did the same with Sophie.  His humorous ribbing relaxed her and fired up her competitive juices, and she did her best to do what he asked without any of the nerves that can impede your progress when you're riding to impress someone.  They worked on transitions, understanding rhythm, and some equitation, and the end result was a pony showing very respectable gaits and transitions, and a very stoked kiddo.

Day Two was our jumping day.  Again, the emphasis was on rhythm, and the riders and ponies started out cantering poles on the ground.  When they graduated to small fences, it was clear both ponies were a little over-enthusiastic and rushing their fences, so Eric had the girls canter to a fence, come to the walk immediately afterward, pick up the canter and go to the next fence, come back to the walk, and so on.  This proved successful, so then it was time to apply the learning to a full course. 

Unfortunately, the other rider had a fall and although she bravely got back on, she was unable to finish the session as she was too sore.  Eric, realizing Sophie was a bit shaken by the other girl's experience, kept her focused and confident by asking her to repeat the exercises she'd been successful at, then slowly building on them, all the while keeping up a running banter with her.  Pretty soon she was happily negotiating a course, and she even jumped her very first skinny ever!  Considering Mom had had her issues with the skinny earlier in the day, Eric told Sophie she had "bragging rights."  Trust me, the kid used them!

I'm so glad Sophie was able to take advantage of this experience.  Not only did she ride well, learn a lot, and gain confidence, but more importantly, she took great care of her pony and showed a maturity she hasn't before. The Kristin and the crew at Everbreeze Farm (Vanessa, you rock!!) couldn't have been more helpful or supportive, and we're hoping they have Eric back in the fall so we can sign up for more good times.

Here are a few of the ESPN highlights from the kiddo's first clinic...

End of an Era...

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum retires
the great Shutterfly at CHIO Aachen.
Photo courtesy of Jenny Abrahamsson.
On Sunday, July 17th, 2011 arguably one of the greatest eras in international show jumping was brought to an end with the retirement of the incomparable Shutterfly.  Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum decided to retire her 18 year old super-gelding after he won the 1.55 meter Warsteiner Prize at the CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival while he was on top, rather than chance a lesser ending by competing in the Grand Prix with her elder statesman.

Meredith and her husband Markus decided that there was no better way to retire "Petey" than in the grandeur of the Aachen venue, often called the equestrian Mecca, where so many of his greatest moments took place.  The official ceremony took place right before the jump off of the Grand Prix, and from all accounts, there was not a dry eye in the house.

Some of Shutterfly's many highlights:
3 FEI Rolex World Cup Championships
Individual and Team Bronze medals at the 2006 World Equestrian Games
Individual Gold/Team Silver at 2007 European Championships
Team Gold medal at the 2005 Europeans
Silver Medal at the 2004 World Cup Finals
And, of course, numerous grands prixs and nations cup wins.

One of their great moments - Winning the World Cup in 2009

A Less Memorable Moment. 
Even the Best Have Moments of Miscommunication.

I'm sure many of us share the same sentiment.  It will be nice to see the rising stars of the sport, but we'll miss this great old campaigner tremendously.  Thank you, Shutterfly, it's been a privilege watching you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Beating the Heat - Equine Style

Saw this video over on Barnmice this morning.  It sent me into fits of giggles.  Seriously.  Just cracks me up.  Every. Time. I. Watch. It.  

The horse enjoying himself in the sprinkler is 24 years old. The learning point this video makes (um, yeah, I DO find deeper meaning in a video of a horse playing in a sprinkler) is that age can be an empowering thing. 

When we age, many of us tend to start thinking, "Forget it.  I'm gonna do what makes me feel good, no matter what other folks think."  This is the one good thing about getting older.  There isn't anything else. 

Good ol' 24 here was hot, and he did something about it, where a younger horse may have been scared to try something new, or just too worried that his barn buddies would think he was being a dork.

No, I did not put any Baileys in my coffee this morning.  I really am this odd.  Whatever.  Watch the video.  I dare you not to chuckle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Today's Horse Hero (Or...Holy Crap! Can You Believe This Story?)

Saw this come across my laptop and had to read the headline several times over before it sunk in:
"Blind 'Superman' Saves Colorado Teenager After Fall From Horse"

Uhhh, come again??  I needed to know more about this.  Seems a teen aged Colorado ranch hand was thrown from her horse and as a result fractured her skull and bruising her brain.  She was unable to walk, and lay where she fell, screaming for help.

Enter Superman.  In this tale, Superman is not Clark Kent, but rather the owner of the ranch the accident occurred on, Keith Day.  Mr. Day has been legally blind since birth.  He can distinguish between dark and light, and some vague large shapes (think of a very blurry, vaguely horse or truck shaped object).  Somehow, he was able to follow the sound of her screams to reach her.  He was able to check her for noticeable breaks, and then somehow managed to carry her hundreds of yards, at one point crossing over a barbed wire fence, to where emergency personnel could reach her.

Pretty jaw-dropping stuff, huh?  Talk about having a guardian angel.

(Not to put a damper on a heartwarming story, but it does kinda makes a good argument that one should always wear a helmet. Just saying.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

They Race Arabians??? Really?

TM Fred Texas and Dixies Valentine Battle It Out
That was my reaction October 10, 2010.  My friend and I were in Lexington for the World Equestrian Games, and were having dinner at the restaurant next to our hotel. We'd spent a lovely day at the opening day of Keeneland, with one of my clients and his charming wife showing us around the track.  We'd then spent the remainder of the day at the WEG.  For two horse enthusiasts, it was pretty much an ideal day.

We were sitting at the bar (I guess you could say our cups were literally running over!) and noticed a diminutive man just around the corner of the bar to our left.  We struck up a conversation, and as it often does in Kentucky, the talk turned to horses.  We told him how we'd spent our day, and he said if we were heading back to Keeneland the next day, we should look him up, as he'd be riding the "Zenyatta of Arabian Racing," a horse called Sand Witchh, in the Grade I, President of the United Arab Emirates Cup. 

We couldn't help ourselves -- we goggled.  Really, we thought he was yanking our chain. Sure enough, we Googled away, and Jockey Billy Hollick, the guy we were chatting with, was scheduled to ride Sand Witchh the next day.  Even wackier?? Calvin Borel, rider of Derby winners Street Sense, Mine That Bird, and Super Saver,  was also scheduled to ride in the race.

Sadly, a horse named Grilla beat Sand Witchh that day, but fast forward almost a year and Arabian racing is back in the Bluegrass state, now at the fabled Churchill Downs.

This was the action on June 18th, 2011, when Arabian racing came to Churchill Downs for the $50,000 President of United Arab Emirates Cup.

Check it out. Be prepared to FF to 26.46 minutes to actually see the race.,hlMmtqMjqUlLrAB7cYM4CiNbXXTKDbyh