Thursday, July 9, 2009

Picture Day

I spent some time Sunday taking pictures of some of the kids. Our neighbors dogs decided to run over and ruin the fun, so I didn't get as many pictures as I wanted.

First up is Princess Whim

Cha Cha after playing Frisbee notice the smile :)

ChaCha playing Frisbee she gets some air at times

Then there is Hurcules. He is Anthony's dog but might as well be mine and Becca's. He's a 6 month old Blue Tick coonhound. He's a good boy most of the time :) Becca is going to show him in some bench shows and try to get a championship on him. Both parents are champions so we will see what happens. He also loves to swim so we may do some dock diving with him. No agility for him, he is NOT graceful at all. But who knows with Becca. I'm sure she'll have him doing something to do with agility at some point.

learning how to stand on the bench

Here is Itsy Bitsy she is my 13 year old jack russell terrier. She's a grumpy old goat but I love her.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The animals that teach us

My best friend in highschool had always grown up with race horses. Her father was a trainer and her older sisters worked at the track. So after highschool my friend made her was to the track as well. I was invited to go visit her. So I went with her mother to Saratoga to see my friend "Patty" and see how she lived and what type of work she did. I ended up spending a week there with her and in the end the trainer she was working for offered me a job being that I had experience with horses. Working with racehorses was a whole lot different from what I was used to. Growing up we were always leary of Thoroughbreds stereo-typing them as being high strung and crazy.

I started my work as a hotwalker for Gary Contessa Racing Stable. He was and still is one of the top trainers in New York. I learned so much working for him. I am very much a visual learner and I learned by watching the grooms, trainer, assistant trainer, and handling horses for the vets and farriers. I loved my job. Of course you are never supposed to get attached to a race horse, because there are many things that can happen. I don't think I could ever not get attached to any animal. And there was one horse in particular who I learned so much from.

His name was Able Buck by Silver Buck. He was a 2 year old $56,000 purchase when I met him. A beautiful bright bay very stunning to look at. However he was known as a bad boy. He was a biter and his favorite trick was to rear up and slap the lead out of his handlers hands. I had a reputation for being able to handle the tough horses. So I got to be his hotwalker. I had special duties and was the only one allowed to hotwalk him. Him and I had an understanding. He got me and I got him. He was a naughty boy, but I could do anything with him. It was my job to lead him to the track every morning and lead him back and hot walk him. This required me being at the barn at 4:30 every morning because Buck had to go out while it was still dark and no other horses were on the track. If it was light out when he went to the track he would give his excercise rider quite the ride :) At one point or another Buck had bitten everyone who worked in our barn. Anyone who groomed him would make sure to tie his head tight to the wall to avoid his teeth. My relationship with Bucky taught me about love, respect, and trust. He never did anything to try to hurt me. He was my boy and he knew it. However I broke the cardinal rule of working at the track. I got attached to him. It often happens that owners and trainers have misunderstandings and horses get changed to different trainers. It happens all of the time on the racetrack. Well Buck's owner and the trainer had an argument and the owner decided to move his horses to another trainer. I will never forget the day I got the news that Buck was leaving. I was devastated. The time came for Buck to go to the new barn and before they came to get him my boss took his halter off and gave it to me as a momento. I still have it. I quit my job with Contessa that day. I couldn't bare to walk by the empty stall. I did visit Buck after he left and he was not the same horse. The fire was gone from his eyes and he was dull and lifeless. I felt like I had let him down. But I will never forget him. I have tried to find him and I believe he is standing stud out west somewhere. He taught me sooo much and he will always be very special to me.

Buck winning in Florida

Pics my friend took of Buck. He had to wear a lip chain otherwise he would rear and get loose. He never tried it with me but the trainer would not let us take the pictures unless we put the lip chain on him.

Another shot my friend took of Buck. His mane was curly from being braided for a race.

Buck on the outside and in the lead by a nose in the King's Bishop Stake Race at Saratoga. He won this race :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Teacup Nationals 2008

On Oct 10-12 we spent the weekend in Westminster VT at the Teacup Nationals. This was only our second Teacup event that we have attended. Becca and Salsa started competing in agility in March of 2007 and there are not many Teacup trials held in our area. We had a great weekend. Becca and Salsa competed in the 8 inch division, which just so happened to be the most competetive class of the weekend. There were 70 dogs total in the 8 inch classes. You earn points for your placings in the classes throughout the weekend and then the top 10 dogs move onto the final round which is a standard course and a game. Becca and Salsa went into Sunday with 0 points and were feeling pretty certain that they would not make it to the final round. However after their showing on Sunday they ended up in 6th place in the point standings and had made it to the finals. Becca and Salsa won the game in the final round and were 5th place in the standard round because of a table fault, Salsa fell off of the table because she was too close to the edge when she sat :) When they awarded the ribbons it was very exciting as they went from 10th place to 1st place. As they kept going and Becca and Salsa had not been called yet it got more and more exciting. They ended up finishing 2nd place overall :) Quite an accomplishment for a junior handler. She was the only junior handler to make it to the finals :)

Salsa also won the tunnel challenge and had the fastest time of all the dogs from all of the heights. They won the high point dog award from Massachusetts, and the top junior handler award. It was a great time and I am hoping that the Teacup Nationals will be in our area again in 2009.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snowflake ????-10/22/02

Snowy and little Becca

Snowy & Becca's first horseshow

Snowy & Becca

Snowy & little Amy the dogs are Babe(kelpie) in the foreground and Bobbi(aussie/lab) in the background

Snowy & I visiting the neighbors

Snowflake came to us as a young pony. She was given to us by a good friend of my father. They had purchased a 16 hand Quarter Horse stallion, and Snowflake came with him as his companion. My father agreed to take her and was assured that she was not pregnant. After all how could a 10 hand pony be bred by a 16 hand stallion. Well 11 months later out came a stud colt. We named him Mocoso it means "brat" in some other language. He was a beautiful paint he grew to be 14.2 hands but he had a "pony" attitude. He was sold to a friend of ours as a barrell horse. I don't remember him, because I was either too little or not born yet :)

Snowflake stayed with us as our family pony. She belonged to my brother for a while, she was loaned out to friends of ours for sometime while I was getting old enough to learn to really ride. Once I was old enough she came back to us. I rode her throughout all of my childhood until I got too big for her. I even rode her while I was too big, but I had another horse so we loaned "Snowy" out again to another family for their children. They also rode her and learned from her throughout their childhood. Once Becca was born and the time came to put her on her first pony, we brought "Snowy" back home. Becca spent her childhood learning from Snowy and riding and loving her. Becca even competed in her first horseshow with Snowy winning a blue ribbon in leadline trail class. I was leading her but Becca was responsible for stearing Snowy through the course which consisted of backing through a set of barrels, stopping at a barrel and picking up treats from one bucket and moving them to the next barrel all I did was hold the lead incase something happened.

One day Snowy came in from the pasture and she wouldn't eat her grain. So my father came to the house to get me so I could look her over. She kept swallowing so I figured she had "choke". It was a sunday afternoon, and we called the vet. When she got there she tubed Snowy and had trouble getting the tube down her throat. There was alot of blood coming from the tube. The blood was not normal. The vet assumed that she had a tumor in her throat that had possibly broken loose causing the choke. We could take her to Tufts for surgery if we wanted, but with her age chances of survival were slim. We decided that Snowy had earned her right to a peaceful death so as hard as it was we made the decision to euthanize her.

In figuring how old Snowy was we figured she was around 42 years old at the time of her death. There are 10 years between me and my brother and she had belonged to us both in our childhood. She was truly a once in a lifetime pony. She passed through 3 generations in my family as well as taught many other neighborhood kids how to ride.