Be back soon.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was not what I was hoping for. I woke up sick on Thursday morning and Friday morning and Saturday morning ... You get the idea. I didn't know my doctor ran a skeleton crew on Saturdays. I do now.
I am taking a short blogging break until I kick this thing to the curb. In the meantime, can someone sing me some Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty?
Be back soon.
By now, everyone across the country has heard about the devastation that last week's fires have caused here in California. The destruction to our cities, neighborhoods, farms, and vineyards is nearly unfathomable. While I feel a great deal of compassion for the folks outside of my city, it's easier for me to cope when I turn my attention to those in my own community.
Last week, I shared a post about the Jackson Stable Fire in Oildale. As of this weekend, that family has received an outpouring of public support for which they are extremely grateful. Unfortunately, the families affected by the Cottonwood fire haven't received as much support from the community.
Several of the affected families desperately need help. Their horses were being temporarily housed at the fairgrounds, but they have no hay, buckets, or other essentials. I heard that one man was still wearing the clothes that he had on during the fire. I don't know if there is an organized support system in place yet, but I suspect that a quick call (661-833-4900) to the Kern County Fairgrounds might yield some answers.
On Thursday, when I took Speedy to the vet to have his coronary band injury looked at (more about that tomorrow), I met the only horse (of more than twenty) who survived the Cottonwood Fire. He's a handsome gray stallion with a very friendly eye. Dr. Tolley was kind enough to share the story of what happened to him.
During the fire, which was fueled by high winds, the metal shade roof in the stallion's pen was knocked to the ground. Somehow, it sheltered him from the blaze that ultimately killed more than 20 other horses.
Even with something to block the flames, the stallion's muzzle was burned, but the rest of his body was kept safe. The barrier couldn't protect him against the smoke though. His lungs have severe damage from smoke inhalation, and as of Thursday afternoon, he was showing the early signs of pneumonia.
The family who owns this horse lost several others in the fire, including a mare in foal. I don't know what their financial situation is, but I know it's not solid enough to easily pay the quickly mounting vet bill. Given what I know of them, this bill is going to be very difficult for them to pay.
After I paid Speedy's bill, I slid my card back across the counter and asked if I might make a payment toward the stallion's expenses. The staff at BVH thanked me and made it clear that the stallion's owners would be grateful. Several others had already phoned in contributions earlier in the day.
As of Thursday, the total bill was hovering around $2,000, but given the developing pneumonia, it will likely get higher. If you feel like you'd like to help someone affected by California's recent wildfires, I think this family would really appreciate it.
Bakersfield Vet Hospital can be reached at 661-832-1150. Simply tell them you'd like to contribute to the bill of the stallion from the fire. They'll know which horse you mean.
Did anyone else catch this article on Horse and Hound this week? It was pretty interesting while also confirming what we all know about horses. They create bridges that connect people from all walks of life.
You can read a bit more about the Compton Cowboys here and then check out the Compton Junior Posse. None of us needs to be told how horses can change lives; we already tell that story. In fact, we get to see it happening every day in our own barns and back yards. That's just what horses do.
I am glad to see it happening somewhere so unlikely.
I have a ton of respect for my trainer, Chemaine Hurtado. She's an excellent trainer who helps her students feel successful, empowered, and ready to do it all again tomorrow. Under her leadership, Team Symphony is a fun group where everyone gets to shine and be a star.
Sometimes though, this rising tide lifts all boats mentality means that her accomplishments and talents as a trainer get overlooked. She's the first one to brag on someone across Facebook, but she never self-promotes or points out that it was her training that helped the rider get to that successful moment.
Every member of Team Symphony gives her the credit for their wins, but we're preaching to the choir. For a trainer to grow her business, it's important for her to toot her own horn a little so people who don't already know her, can well, get to know her!
A few weeks ago, I asked her if she'd let me help promote her a little bit since she really stinks at it. I think she was a little wary of what I intended, but I think we're both really proud of the result!
I spent the better part of a week digging through her Facebook pages, business and personal, and redesigned her web page and blog. It's easy to "self-promote" when you're doing it for someone else! I guess it's not really called self-promotion then, is it?
So with that, I am super proud to introduce Chemaine Hurtado's updated web site! You can find it at www.symphonydressage.com. I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think. It's not often that a student gets to have her trainer as a client!
There aren't many places on the planet right now that are hotter than California's Central Valley. I even Googled Bagdad's temperature, and it was only 109℉. This morning, at 5:00 a.m., it's already 82℉ with 44% humidity. It will be 100℉ before 11:00 a.m.
A few days ago, the predictions were even higher at 112℉. Both the highs and lows are supposed to break records set way back in 1938. While I love our local meteorologist (go, Miles!), he's not always right. I hope this is one of those times.
I was on by 7:00 a.m. yesterday morning, and Izzy was hotter than the weather. It took a full hour to get his brain connected to his body. When I realized that he was going to explode, I untacked him (after 15 minutes of walking), and threw him in the round pen where he worked off some of the excess energy.
I tacked him back up and was pleased at how politely he stood without even a halter. I worked him another 30 minutes simply asking for some obedience and submission. I got a smidgeon of both, but it wasn't enough to make me smile.
Today, I am braced for more jackassery, but for both our sakes, I hope he'll settle the heck down. I think wet saddle blankets are an excellent way to quiet down a horse (see above), but not when it means I have to worry about myself getting heat stroke.
Hello, summer, you suck.
While the Breeders' Cup changes venues each year, I think that it's at Santa Anita about the half of the time. That's good for us since Santa Anita is only about a two hour drive from Bakersfield. We went in 2014 and had a great time, so my husband made sure we had tickets for the 2016 event.
Before we even left for the races, I had contacted Jodi Perkins who writes the blog Racing to Ride. She had mentioned on Facebook that she and her significant other would be there all the way from Arizona. While Jodi doesn't post often, she does share her racing adventures on her Facebook page, and I am always deeply fascinated by her life. I was dying to meet her in person.
Of course, once we finally found one another, I was so star struck that I forgot to get photographic proof of the meet-up. Dude - she's tall, thin, and gorgeous. I had a girl crush right away. Not only is she simply lovely, but she's very nice and easy to chat with. I didn't want to keep her for too long, so we visited between races. I promised that if she and her SO ever bring a horse to race at Santa Anita, we'd be there to cheer her on.
I've been to Santa Anita a bunch of times and have written about it more than once. No matter how many times I visit, I am always in awe of the place. The track is set at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains which means that whether horses are going by or not, you always have an amazing view.
I don't go to a lot of tracks, so I can't say how they're set up, but Santa Anita does its best to give visitors an up close view of the horses and jockeys. At a normal weekend race, you can get right next to the horses in the paddocks and saddling areas, and fans are allowed right next to the fence. At the Breeders' Cup, it's a little harder to get around, so I didn't get any paddock shots this times, but we did get to watch all of the horses come through the tunnel.
When you stand at the rail, you realize just how fast those horses are moving. They flash by in a blaze of color that is simply beautiful.
This is Classic Empire (on the inside) winning his race with Julien Leparoux aboard in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (2 year old colts and geldings). I love that I was able to capture the moment just as the jockey was reaching down to pat his horse's neck.
The two-day attendance total of 118,484 was the highest in the 33-year history of the Breeders' Cup. We thought it was crowded in 2014, but this year's attendance was amazing!
On a normal weekend, we get super amazing box seats for about $40 total. For the Breeders' Cup, the same seats sell for thousands and thousands of dollars. The best we could do for this visit was Club Apron which is track level but right next to the tunnel where the horses come in and out and right in front of the finish line. We paid $165 bucks a ticket.
The highlight of the day was Race 12. You've probably already seen it on TV, but if not, here's the video.
We bet on California Chrome, of course, so it was disappointing that he lost. We saw him run in 2014 at the Breeders' Cup where he finished third. When the horses made the last turn and started down the home stretch, the roar from the crowd was deafening. I saw Chrome starting to flag, but I was certain the crowd's energy was going to push him that last little bit to victory, but no.
I think we're going to go back in January for my birthday when the track re-opens for the 2017 season. Tickets will be cheap, the crowd a whole lot thinner, and the weather is usually better there than at home. Pasadena has fewer rainy days than even we have.
If you've never been to the races, you should find a track in your area and go. It's a lot of fun, and really, it's a pretty cheap day - especially if you cash in a ticket or two.
It seems like my horses do this all the time. Hey! Are you still up there? Sorry, forgot about you for a minute.
This an old picture of Speedy from way back in 2009. When I first got him, that round dot on his muzzle quickly became known as his reset button. Speedy won't behave, hit the reset button! When he checks out, which isn't very often these days, I know I always have at least that trick up my sleeve.
I mentioned a week or so ago that I've been too busy to reply to comments or do much else besides go to work and squeeze in a ride now and then. It's not much of a reveal, so don't get too excited, but we just bought a new house. My horses moved a few months back, and now it's our turn.
We're leaving our very modest home of the past 11 years for something far grander and rather fancy. It's been a long process, and I still don't have a key in my hand, but that should happen in just a few hours.
Yep. That is a lake, although my husband calls it a pond. Since you can't boat or swim in it, he's probably right. You can fish from the shore though, and it's teeming with ducks and other birds. Our backyard opens right onto the lake with a gate so that we can walk the dogs and drive the ducks crazy. Or the dogs crazy. We're not sure who is going to win that one.
We actually placed an offer on a different house but after more than a week of hearing nothing from the seller, we moved on to this house. They weren't particularly quick to respond either. My husband finally groused that it was crazy that we had nearly half a million dollars to spend and nobody wanted our money!
So what have I been doing this past month? Well first, we sold our current home in six days. While that sounds fabulous, it put a ton of pressure on us to find something really fast. And it couldn't be just anything; it had to be something we loved. Once we found the house, we spent weeks dealing with inspections and repairs on both houses.
Over the weekend, we had to issue an ultimatum to the sellers when it seemed as though they'd changed their minds about selling. We were in full panic mode as everything was packed and the mover was hired. Ultimately, the sellers signed the last needed piece of paper and the move became a go.
In a few hours, after I sign one last piece of paper, I am heading out to see Speedy and Izzy. While there, I am definitely hitting Speedy's reset button in hopes that it works for me, too. So for now, I am checking in, but I need to check out for a bit. We won't have internet for a few days, but I hope to be back early next week.
Wish us luck, and I'll see you all in a few days!
As a last ditch effort to squeeze out a little more summer vacation, my husband took me (and the dogs) over to the beach on Friday. Whenever we take the dogs with us, we always do a Google search for dog-friendly venues. For this trip, we planned to visit a few past favorites while checking out a new place.
The dog beach in Avila is amazing. It's huge and protected from traffic, which gives the dogs plenty of room to run as fast and far as they want. Of course, tossing 150 pounds of wet, stinky dog into the backseat of the truck does diminish a bit of the previous enjoyment.
Our next stop was lunch on the pier in Avila. We chose Mersea's because they claimed to be very dog-friendly. When we saw other dogs sitting politely under the tables, we knew we had a winner. The waitress even brought out a bowl of water for the dogs. We had brought our own of course, but we love dog-friendly businesses.
Once the dogs were good and wore out, we headed over to the Riding Warehouse in San Luis Obispo, or as it's known locally - SLO.
My plan had been to pick up a Union Hill Dressage Pad. Riding Warehouse just started carrying them for $17.95, and if I was already going to be there, why not, right? Except they weren't in stock.
I wasn't too disappointed though as I already have two of them and was just picking up an extra one to keep in reserve.
I had made a list of other things that I was hoping to pick up, so I set about searching for those. Of course my little pile grew the longer I shopped.
I spotted these beautiful breast collars and almost wished that I was still competing in endurance. The western model is pictured below, but it comes in an endurance model too.
Then I looked higher up the wall and saw that it comes in a rope halter too. Best friend has been searching for a red rope halter, so I gave her a quick call and asked if I could buy this halter for her. Who says no to that? She didn't!
Of course, I picked up a few things for myself as well ...
I've been watching this Ariat shirt for a while, but at $35, I couldn't commit. Even when it went on sale, I wasn't ready to pay sale price for a white t-shirt. At $15, I couldn't say no. And actually, I really like it!
My endurance roots will be showing through here, but I ride in the Nunn Finer Rubber Spur Straps. I've only had one pair wear out, and at under $10 a pair, that's a pretty good deal. I have two sets of spurs, one for each horse, so I like to keep an extra set of spur straps for when my current set wear out. I am sure it will be a while.
I am also on a tall sock kick, so I grabbed this pair of Noble Outfitters Printed Peddies for the clearance price of $6.88. I should have grabbed a few extra pair to save as Christmas gifts, but of course I didn't think of that at the time.
Since my husband and the dogs were sitting outside in the shade waiting for me, I kept my visit short. Besides, we had one more stop to make.
We discovered Saucelito Canyon Winery on a previous trip. They love dogs there and are well-prepared. There's a large orchard behind the tasting room so we let the dogs run around and potty before we chose our table on the lawn.
The outside lawn is set up for wine-tasting with plenty of room for the dogs. Both dogs were given treats and shown a water bowl that is kept filled and waiting. Both times we've visited, most of the other patrons have come over to chat and visit our dogs while we sipped our wine. We've found that people are so much friendlier when we have the dogs with us.
My summer vacation might be over, but I think we gave it a pretty good send off.
Even though it seems directed at kids, I perused the description in hopes that the advanced course would allow 45-year old women to participate. Why is it that there are no camps for adults? I would go in a heart beat.
I am sharing this camp because it is fairly local, and the facility is simply gorgeous. The schooling show that Izzy and I did last month was held here. Even though it was only a schooling show, Marily ran it as professionally as any USDF show can be run, maybe even better. I am certain that her camp will be run just as well. I know the image is hard to read, but here's the gist of it.
Greetings from Sequoia Hills Stables ~
For more information, contact Marily at 559-564-2038.
If you're not local, you probably want to skip this post, but if you live in the greater Bakersfield area, this is for you. Bakersfield Vet Hospital (large animal) is hosting their annual Client Seminar on May 4, 2016. Reservations are required. If you're new to BVH, or if you simply haven't had time in years past, I strongly urge you to attend this year.
This year's seminar will focus on Physical and Chemical Restraint of Equines (I am certain that stipulation was made as the doctors have no doubt wanted to restrain their human clients at one time or another. Am I right, vet friends?) as well as Equine Dermatology (oh, goodie because there are a couple of skin things that I want to discuss: that funk on the front of both my geldings legs and those weird almost scratches-like growths on Izzy's lower legs). I probably don't have to point out that I've already reserved my spot.
While I was at the vet hospital on Saturday, Dr. Tolley and I talked about the topics that he and Dr. Gonzalez were going to cover. Every time I am in there I give him suggestions for topics. I am not sure he ever listens, but I enjoy picking his brain to see what he comes up with. Just yesterday he talked about swaddling foals to lower the progesterone levels in "dumb" foals who don't know how to nurse. When I got home, I googled the topic and came up wth this article which happens to be about the vet to whom Dr. Tolley was referring.
The reason Dr. Tolley even shared the concept with me is because they have a dummy foal at the hospital right now that they have "squeezed" several times. He hasn't responded in quite the dramatic way that was hoped for, but he should okay. I hope he makes it as he was really cute.
BVH's client seminars are always entertaining and informative. Zoetis, an animal pharmaceutical company, and BVH have teamed up to provide a complimentary buffet dinner at Hodel's followed by a series of lectures. Give BVH a call at 661-832-1150 to reserve a spot for this year's event.
And if you see me at a nearby table, please come over and say hi.