Archive for the ‘Thoroughbred retirement’ Category

Life’s Intrusions- Part 1

Vince Speaks

It’s been a hard couple weeks for the three time Ky. Derby winner, The Big V. Pre-existing injury flare-ups and romance would certainly have brought a lesser horse to his knees. And the old axiom, “When Vince ain’t happy, no one’s happy”, still holds true.

Vince came to me complete with add-ons in the form of three screws in his ankle. His previous owner, who rescued him at CANTER- Ohio, said he had raced with them, but I’m somewhat suspicious of that since he was pulled up in his last race as a four year old. Anyway, filling in the blanks on my own, I suspect he was retired, then had surgery and was placed at CANTER. No matter, I was well aware of their existence when we partnered up.

About two weeks ago, I noticed a slight bit of “off-ness”, which I was able to pinpoint in the right front, the ankle with the old injury. He wasn’t dead lame, just not right. Thinking it might be an abscess waiting to break through, the vet took a look since he happened to be out there and promptly identified the ankle as the source of pain. By the way, it was my first face-to-face with the farm vet, and Ooh-la-la! Tall, thin, very handsome in a rugged kind of way, just my type, although Vince had the exact opposite take of him. I think he said something like, “Oh, s—! Here comes another guy carrying that same kind of smelly bag. Why, he better not come near me! Grrrr!!”, at which point Vince vaguely remembers a slight sting in his neck and awakening from a deep sleep to find his supposed partner, me, pulling his mane feverishly.

So the Vince-ster got a joint injection with a small amount of steroid and hyaluronic acid, and was put on a course of Adequan, all with my blessings. He’s my partner and I’m glad it’s something which is treatable, and the fact that my teen-age son is no longer attending private school, another epic tale on its own, makes it affordable.

On to romance! (I sure wish I had a few hearts with Cupid arrows to put in here.) Now Vince tells me he SWEARS that he did NOT hear the vet say this part- “You can turn him out later today, as long as he stays quiet for the next few days.” Spring was definitely in the air as well as in his step when I returned to the barn in a few hours to take off his small dressing and turn him out. Much to my surprise, he was already out although the bandage was still on.

I have to say here that there is nothing which warms my heart more than having my fine steed decide to show me the new games he’s learned from the evil, bad-influence Thunder Cloud, his new pasture buddy, a rabble-rouser if there ever was one! Actually, I think my heart got warmed from the steam coming from my ears as I tried to catch the “ailing” pony who was supposed to be “taking it easy”. Halt to gallop transitions, sliding stops, canter pirouettes- they were all in there as I spent about twenty minutes trying to get close enough to take off the dressing. For me, the crowning glory was when the Poor Pony tired and let me get about twenty feet from him, as he looked me in the eye and said, “Oh, it’s YOU!! Sorry!!!!! Thunder Cloud told me a gang of horse rustlers had come into the pasture to steal us and send us to Japan. He’s usually right about things like that.”

To be continued…

The Birds and Bees or Where DO Retired Racehorses go?

Of all the Thoroughbreds who head to the track, many are injured, found to be slow, or just plain unsuited to the life. The topic of TB rescue, rehabilitation,  and re-homing is now receiving much deserved publicity, making the general public aware of the plight of the unwanted, which often ends up in slaughterhouses. Off-track TB(OTTB) rescue and retraining farms thankfully fill a crucial gap here, including farms of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation(TRF), ReRun, Inc., New Vocations, and many, many more.

My hunt for my own partner started, unknown to me, last October, when I had a week of vacation with no firm plans. My oldest friend operates Wind Hill, a first-class TB breeding farm in Shelbyville, and she had adopted two geldings, one from the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center(MMSC), and another also from a prison in FL, another branch of the TRF. Although I had regularly gone out to see the new foals, and visit, my contact with horses had been limited for the last ten years. So, I call her up and ask if I can just go fool around with the “guys”, LT and Phil. Of course!! Thus starts my journey-

My heart springs open so widely at being reconnected with horses, and the integral part they are in me, that I start my quest. Despite my feelings that I was pretty connected to the horse world, I was fairly ignorant of the opportunities offered for finding an OTTB. Not for long, though! Quickly finding the MMSC site, the video beauty of a chestnut doing dressage caught my eye. Little did I know then that this was the world renowned Invincible Vince, King of All the Racehorses! Site info said he was ten years old, talented at dressage, and had no interest in jumping. Me, either- perfect! I should probably tell you here that I am still unable, at my advancing age, to look at either horses or dogs without wanting to bring one home. I mean REALLY WANT to bring one home! Vince is $4000, and I think he’ll be quickly snapped up. SecondStride, an OTTB retraining farm in Louisville, where I live, has a nice three year old that I decide to look at first.

Second Stride, located at Moserwood Farm, strikes me as a lovely place. The horse I visit isn’t quite ready, though, but I ask about boarding. A stall is available. Vince is amazingly still available. An appointment is made, we meet and have a lovely lesson with the MMSC Director, Susanna Thomas, and a contract is signed. Tears stream down my face to such a degree that I fear they’ll question my sanity and revoke the contract, but they are tears of joy. When we left the farm and got rid of the horses ten years earlier, I honestly never thought I’d never have another horse, and resigned myself to it, in the way that life is life, and must be dealt with, no sense feeling sorry for myself about it. The biggest factor in my tears,though, is my mother, who died two years earlier. In the only fight of my marriage where I left and went to my mom’s house, she said words which are etched forever in my heart, “There’s not a thing wrong with your horses, honey! If you give them up now for him, it’ll just be something else next.” My mom is definitely right beside me in the MMSC office. From the other side, I can feel her, and know she is instrumental in putting Vince and me together. I know that for a fact.

Right here is probably a good place to stop, and just say, “Thank you, Mom. You made me who I am. You took me to riding lessons every Saturday for years, you supported my choices, and you loved my dogs and horses. My heart has a hole since you’ve been gone, but the time I spend with Vince slowly heals that. Thank you for putting us together. I love you.” And the Big V, of course!  🙂

Happy Mother’s Day!

Invincible Vince, winner of multiple Kentucky Derbies!

(in his own mind!)

Invincible Vince

Having personal experience with many kinds and sizes of backsides in this world, and you know what I mean, it is only fitting to explain that my reference to the backside is NOT referring to the massive industry which prepares Thoroughbreds to race: the trainers, exercise riders, hot walkers, and grooms.  Used here, it refers to what happens when their racing careers are done, with personal commentary from the most famous racehorse of all, (in his own mind!), Invincible Vince, the multiple Ky. Derby winner, and winner of millions! It’s usually here where I remind him that if he’s earned millions of anything,  he be lucky to have it in pennies. Now you understand the kind of guy with whom I’m  dealing!

Undoubtedly scratching your heads and trying to recall the name, I have a few words of advice for you. Don’t Bother! The facts are that the world-famous Invincible Vince is a ten year old gelding who came to me from the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, in Lexington, Ky, at the end of October. He immediately became a founding member of the good Ol’ Boys’ Liars Club, along with his new BFF, Fabian, a  Quarter Horse who thinks he’s a ladies’ man. He pretends to believe that Vince won the Ky. Derby two times, (or was it three?), and Vince pretends to believe that when the bored fillies line up at the fence as we ride by really are admiring Fabian’s great body. (Raised eyebrows and rolling eyes here!)

Now picture his human partner, me, a 50 something out-of-shape woman, who grew up riding, but always other people’s horses until, as a productive member of society, and some my even say as an adult,( but most won’t), moved to a small farm across the river from Louisville, and not only indulged herself in the joys of riding, but the thrill of a small quality Hanoverian breeding farm. That is until life changed and she found herself back in the city without the horses and the farm. Until October 2009, that is…

More to follow. That is, if you’re brave enough and easily entertained, and have an appreciation for the unusual sense of humor of the TBs!