Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Video and more video

I have been getting lots of emails from people interested in my documentary "Inside the Backside" which is about the community of people living on the backside of Portland Meadows. I think after Eight Belles death, people are googling and seeking information about horse racing and they stumble onto my trailer. I spent most of my weekend mornings in Fall of 2007 and Spring of 2008 getting to know the folks at Portland Meadows. I think the people I worked with have interesting stories to tell, so I look forward to getting down to editing. I have been busy "ingesting" all my video and as of today, it is ALL in there. Yeah!! That is the hard part, the tedious part because everything goes in to the computer in real time, so it takes forever. Now I can get busy logging and working on a script. My goal is to have it done by September. Dream big right? I have a bunch of Breyer horses lined up on the wall behind me cheering me on.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

McIver State Park

Maddy has been adjusting so well to the trails around our boarding facility that we decided to trailer out to McIver State Park on Sunday. She was awesome. I went with two friends from the barn. Shanna was riding little Sterling, the pony and Carrie was riding Cougar, the buckskin I almost bought:-) We did the whole loop and had an amazing time. Lots of trailers there, but we only encountered a couple groups. There is a fenced arena and hitching posts and a place to hose down afterwards. It really is a great set up for horses. I am just so excited to finally be where I want to be with my horse, traveling and trail riding.

Friday, May 16, 2008

We cantered!! I haven't cantered my horse since the day I went to see her for the first time. I have been putting it off partly from fear, partly from worry about re-injuring her healed fracture. I put the Boa boots on her for extra protection and hit the trails with two friends. We cantered all over the place. It was exhilarating. Of course after we got back to the barn, I was worried that we over did it. Then I started wondering if I would show up to the barn the next day and have a lame horse. I have never worried so much about a horse in my life. There is this constant dread that something else is going to happen to set us back. I know I just need to relax and just enjoy our time together. We can tackle whatever obstacles come our way, but it is easier said than done. She is fine. There almost seems to be a new level of trust between us. It has been a really exciting week for us.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Parelli in Redmond

The Parelli USA tour was in Redmond, Oregon this weekend. I headed out and spent the weekend there. I have never been to a Parelli event and was really looking forward to finally seeing them. I turned to their program when I first got Maddy. I was leaving the barn in tears and looking for strategies to deal with her fear issues. After a couple months, we passed our Level One and the day I received her certificate and red savvy string in the mail, I saw her "hop" on the lunge line. Long story short, she fractured her coffin bone and spent almost 8 months on stall rest. In February, we started our work again and really hoping to pass Level Two this year.

The event itself was like a big commercial for joining the Savvy Club and buying the Level sets. I think the tour is geared towards getting people to say "I want to do that" instead of actually teaching us "how" to do that. It was lots of "playing" with horses and not so much instruction, but I enjoyed it. It was entertainment at it's best. It was nice to see the horses I have watched on the Savvy Club DVDs for the past two years in person. I got to see my favorite, Vanna, a right brain extrovert like Maddy. Also present were Allure, Casper, Remmer, Lucky Seven, and a new Atwood Quarter horse named Vision. Allure is the Trakener Linda bought in France and is the horse responsible for her discovery of the 4 Horsenalities. She says he is her biggest challenge and he looked it by watching him in the arena.

I enjoyed watching Pat work with a demo horse on the first day. He just did his thing to music and the horse made huge changes. He also roped a mechanical steer with his son Caiden. I think the highlight was watching this group teenage of girls from the San Juan Islands just play with their horses. Amazing stuff. Linda saw a video on YouTube of them and paid to get there here to perform. Pat worked with them a little bit and at the end lunged all six of their horses at one time. It looked like a living merry-go-round.

See this big green Parelli ball....I won one today during one of the drawings! Linda is hiding from Remmer...it is that huge. Maddy is going to love playing with that big thing. I know people think Parelli is cult-like, but I didn't drink the cool-aid. Their program just works for Maddy and me. I enjoy being a part of the Savvy Club and we train at our own pace. I feel I am learning so much about reading horses and learning how to be creative with our time together. Above all, the relationship I have with Maddy is very important to me and I want to do all I can to make sure I am worthy partner for my beautiful mare.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Elephant in the Room

I have a love hate relationship with horse racing. As I sat and watched Big Brown and Eight Belles come down the stretch, I couldn't help but start to cry. To me the thunder of hooves and the sound of breathing as they round the last turn incites goosebumps. I am overcome with emotion and this sense of pride that I know and love these animals. They blaze down that homestretch, glorious athletes. I almost hold my breath as they cross the finish line. This is how I feel watching every race, the Kentucky Derby is no different for me than watching a $500 claimer at Portland Meadows. I grew up on racetracks as most of my readers know, so I have seen the good and the bad. On Saturday, I was cheering for 8 Belles. I wanted her to show up the boys. As I watched her come down the stretch, I knew Big Brown had it, but I was so proud of her. That is when the tears of joy started, minutes later they were tears of sadness. We all know what happened. This sport needs to change. We have horses running too young, we have trainers pumping any and every kind of drug into these horses, we have a broken test barn policy, we have minimal fines for huge infractions, we have sanctioned starvation of jockeys, we have inhumane gate practices, we have no mandatory vet checks before racing, we have uninsured jockeys who refuse medical treatment because that can't afford it, and the list goes on. The sport could be good again. I really believe that. I know for many, they don't agree that horses "like" to race. I believe that they do. A horse knows when it wins on the track and a horse knows when it has been beat. You can see it. They know they are athletes. The Racing Commission needs to make it a drug free sport. Currently test barn results come back after a week and if there is a positive test...trainers pay a wimpy fine that doesn't effect the mutuals for the outcome of the race. It needs to be a HUGE fine and possible racing license revocation. If a horse can't pass a vet check, it doesn't run. If a horse breaks down on the track...HUGE fines for the trainer and owner who put it in the race. If the commission tackles the drug problem and changes maidens to at least 3 years, ideally 4 instead of almost 2, we would see major progress. This week I read an article equating horse racing to dog fighting. I understand the analogy. The savageness comes from human greed and suffering for our entertainment. For horses, death is not assured but the possibility these race horses end up on a table in Europe is quite high. This can be a good sport, but right now it is as ugly as dog fighting. Please write the racing commission, email, complain, have dialogue. Make your voices heard. I am tired of staying silent.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Rest in peace Eight Belles. You were a beautiful horse and deserved much better than two broken legs and death in front of a crowd of thousands waving betting slips. Amazing athlete with a big heart.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kentucky Derby Cheater

No doubt if we watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend, we will see trainer Steve Asmussen mugging for the cameras. I hate this guy. He is a trainer with a long track record of drugging horses, once convicted of giving a dose of some drug 750 times the legal limit. He was suspended for 6 months in 2006 for using Mepicicaine which numbs the pain in horses too sore to even walk. He trained "Curlin" and he wins more than any other trainer at the tracks. I wish for once the media would ask some tough questions to racing stewards and track officials and get this guy banned from horse racing instead of treating him like some kind of a hero. He has two horses running in this Kentucky Derby...Pyro and Z Fortune. If you read this article, I think it is evident the horses are lame or injured and he still plans to run them, probably heavily drugged. This guy makes me sick. Of course he is not the only trainer with a history of drugging horses. There are plenty of cheaters among the pack. Hopefully Pyro and Z Fortune don't break down on Saturday and if they do, maybe the public will quit turning a blind eye to these trainers who clearly cheat and neglect horses under their care.