A Few New Photos of the Mares and Foals

I still make plenty of mistakes with my camera. But I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m going to get in the end when I press the shutter. I know better how I want the camera set up for specific situations.

The other morning I got a couple of nice photos of the mares and foals just as the sun was coming up. I knew when I took them that I’d have to do a bit of editing to fix up the exposure. The first couple of photos below were taken before it was light. And they were handheld. So they were underexposed and very dark. But I took them in RAW format and was able to bring them up when I processed them.

Broodmares and Foals at Dawn
All three broodmares with their three foals, moving out into the pasture. That’s Bernice, Dora, and Loula. The foals are Ruby, Sammy, and Gabriella.

Ruby and Bernice at Dawn
Ruby is a very exhuberant filly. So it’s easy to get shots of her in motion. Her mama, Bernice is quite often in motion herself (though not in this photo), so Ruby takes after her. When there is this little light though, it’s very difficult to prevent motion blur (or blur from camera shake). So I was very happy that this one turned out as sharp as it did.

Ruby And Bernice
Ruby and Bernice again. The sun was above the horizon here, so I didn’t have to do much to fix the exposure.

Dora’s foal, Gabriella. The very perfect filly.

Gabriella and Dora
Gabriella, with Dora in the background.

Bernice and Ruby
Bernice and Ruby

Bernice’s filly, Ruby

Diva and Sammy
Sammy, introducing himself, rather rudely, to Diva. Diva is Dora’s foal from two years ago.

Dora and Gabriella
Dora and Gabriella


Dora’s Tummyache

Dora is one of the three broodmares at work. She was quite a good racehorse in her day, but she’s an even better mother. She has a very odd, Jekyll and Hyde personality. When she has a foal, she is calm, amiable, and gentle. She loves and trusts the humans to handle her foal, but keeps a watchful eye. She is really the perfect broodmare.

As a racehorse, and also when she does not have a foal at side… Dora is a nasty witch. She used to bite everyone within range when she was at the track. And I definitely would not put it past her to take a chunk of my arm even now whenever she doesn’t have a baby around to turn her into Adorable Dora. She certainly takes chunks out of the other mares if they don’t move out of her way fast enough. She was a tough, scrappy racehorse. Just like her personality.

I hear that, years ago, the boss would stay out very late once in a while. When he finally did turn up and was questioned about his whereabouts, his answer was always “choir practice”. So that’s where Dora’s racing name came from. Choir Practice.

Yesterday Dora ate her dinner at around 4, and was fine when the boss called Ana to check on everything. Two hours later, Ana called me. “Is it normal for the mares to lie down?” Well sure. “and get up and lie down again?” Whoops. Alarm bells now. “I’m on my way”. I ran out the door and called Linda as I went. “Find the boss”.

When I arrived, Dora was lying down in her stall. Gabriella, her foal, was pawing at her. “Get UP Mom! I am hungry!” Dora got up and let the foal nurse for a minute or two but was obviously uncomfortable and lay down again. Then up, then down several more times. Snapped at the foal, then bit the wall a few times. I grabbed my stethoscope and listened for gut sounds. She had lots, but they were not normal. Heart rate was within normal range but probably slightly elevated at 44. She looked very unhappy. I called Linda back. No sign of the boss. She told me to call the vet.

Our regular vet was not available, so I spoke to the on-call vet. Very nice guy. He was quite concerned even though it didn’t look like a bad colic. The first week after a mare foals is a very high risk time period. So he came right away. He listened to her gut sounds for a long time while Gabriella wedged herself between Dora and the vet so she could more thoroughly investigate him. (She’s a bold little thing!). He told us the gut sounds were actually hypermotile (too much activity). He also did a rectal exam on her and found that her manure was kind of hard and dry. So he gave her a shot of banamine and gave her some medication by naso-gastric tube (that’s when they slide a hose through the nose and down into their stomach to pump in liquid medication and/or mineral oil).

Shortly after that, Dora perked right back up and started eating her hay. I drove back down to check on her at 11 pm and she was her normal self again. Lo and behold, the boss had turned up in the meantime and was fast asleep with no idea about any of the goings-on. And since I couldn’t wake him up banging on the door, I just left him and his bad hearing to sleep. Not as though he could do anything at that point anyway. I suspect he’d left his cellphone (with its 17 messages) at the track (a regular occurrence). He was very surprised to hear the saga this morning though!

Dora is just fine today. Lots of normal manure in her stall. So all is well. Most colics do end up fine. But it’s always a relief when they end well.


Baby Zara… the Little Imp

Bernice’s foal is Zara. She’s a cute little bay filly with a star and very fine little stripe. The stripe is hard to see, but up close it’s awfully cute. Zara is, of course, very cute all over (she’s a baby horse – how could she be anything else?). But she’s kind of got her mama’s brain. Maybe not as bad as her mama (Bernice has a lock on crazy), but definitely a reactive baby.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Zara, trying to get her to trust people more. Lots of little visits and scratches (foals are very itchy little creatures and can usually be seduced once you get your hands on them). Today I went into the paddock with Zara and Bernice in the hopes of adjusting Zara’s halter. Zara thought I’d come to play tag or chase or something fun like that. So no halter adjusting got done. But I did get some pics with my phone… (Click the thumbnails to see larger pics)

Class and No Class

In racing, there are classy horses…

Yesterday Black Caviar won her 25th straight race in Australia. She did it easily, just galloping away from the competition. It’s a beautiful thing to watch her run.

And then there are the not-so-classy horses….

Also yesterday, Spicer Cub, while leading easily in a claiming race at Pimlico, bolted to the outside. The jockey, Xavier Perez, got him back into the race, but the the horse bolted again. This time going so far out that he went around the outside of the starting gate (which was pulled to the outside of the track). Perez lost his stirrups and, in what I suspect must have been a case of total adrenaline overload (due to sheer terror), got after the horse with the whip and straightened him out again. Spicer Cub very nearly won despite all the zigging and zagging, but managed to maintain his spotless record of 0 wins in 8 starts. It was a remarkably athletic feat on the part of the jock. I’m guessing he may decline to ride the horse again though!

Photo Finish in the Marathon

It’s the end of the racing season at Woodbine. Just like last year, Handy Harold raced in the 1 7/8 mile allowance race, which is a very long way. He’s a big strong horse, with a great finishing kick, and he definitely likes the longer races.

Just like last year, my old friend Sammy ran in the same race. Sammy (aka Stolonboy) is a bright chestnut who is smart, cheerful, and full of the devil. A few years back, I worked for his trainers and was Sam’s designated daily sacrificial lamb hotwalker (he ate hotwalkers for breakfast, so it required someone who knew his quirks).

Harold is the great big chestnut, with the rider in brown silks with a yellow cap. Sam is a smaller chestnut, with a rider in green. Both horses ran like champs. Sam ran on the lead for most of it. Harold ran most of the race in mid-pack, just cruising, then geared up towards the end. They ran head to head through the stretch. There was a photo for the win. It was a great, great race.


Exclusive Affair

She was all class, all her life. A good, honest racehorse (21 Starts, 5 Wins, 1 Place, 4 Shows Career Earnings: $112,200, stakes placed at Woodbine), a firm but fair boss mare, and an exceptionally attentive mama.

None of her kids were ever quite as good on the track as she was. But they were all fine, big, handsome horses, and almost all of them have gone on to successful sport horse careers in dressage, jumping, and eventing.

I will miss her nonchalant drift to a halt in front of me after breakfast, graciously allowing me to scratch her neck while she gazed over her domain. Much too regal to ever lose her dignity over the attentions of a mere human.

She was quality.

Exclusive Affair 1994-2012

Exclusive and Flair

Exclusive and Flair

Exclusive and Flair

Exclusive and Flair

Exclusive and Flair

Ella and Veronica

Last year I placed a Standardbred filly in a riding home. Her name is Spanish Lady. She came back to me this fall, through no fault of her own. She’s been renamed Ella, and has had some trail miles and walk-trot lessons with kids put on her in the meantime. She’s quite pretty, and sound. She never raced. Her ground manners are a bit lacking though. She is so friendly that she’s pushy and prone to move into your space (even onto your foot if you’re not careful!). She is not the least bit sensitive, and it sometimes requires a considerable increase in volume to make her see whatever point you are trying to make. The flip side of that is that she seems to have no spook whatsoever in her soul. Flapping tarps, logs, jump standards, tires… nothing fazes her. She’s placid about trailer loading. Puts up with first aid treatment of cuts. Stands for bandaging or clipping, etc. So she’s quite a nice sort of horse, but still unlikely to find a home before the Spring. Which was a bit of a problem, given that I don’t have enough hay, we are in the midst of a hay shortage (it’s available, but very pricey!), and I can’t work until January. Especially since I also had Diego come back to me unexpectedly shortly before Ella.

Veronica and Ella... working on turns.

Veronica and Ella… working on turns.

I am listed on the OCTRA website as a mentor, so I sometimes get beginners to the sport contacting me. Veronica is one of those. She is really enthusiastic, and has volunteered at a couple of competitions already. She doesn’t have a horse of her own though. So I offered to lease Ella to her (just out of the goodness of my heart… well, that and enlightened self-interest LOL!!).

Veronica is interested primarily in Competitive Trail. Since heart rates are a major part of the scoring, it’s important that horses, particularly the non-Arabians, have good resting heart rates. Some horses have resting heart rates that are so high that even at rest they would incur penalties (anything above 44bpm). Arabs recover faster than other breeds, so if you can start with a low pulse you probably have a better chance of competing against them.

I pulled out my stethoscope. There was Ella on the cross-ties, pawing quite rudely, demanding treats. I rather expected something around the 44 mark. Ares runs around 40-44. King is usually about 36-38. Dressy has been as low as 28, but she skips beats, so it depends on when you start your count. I put the stethoscope on Ella, and listened for a moment. Well damn. Strong, slow, and steady as a metronome. Even excited, she was 30.

Veronica has only ridden Ella a couple of times so far. It’s dark by the time she’s done work during the week, so she can only ride on the weekends. But she’s coming several evenings during the week as well to brush her and work on her ground manners. And there has been some improvement already. Today, Veronica worked on getting Ella to lead quietly without dragging the human hither and yon, and to stand nicely for mounting. The footing in the round pen was frozen mud. So they could only walk, but Ella was very well behaved once Veronica was mounted. They walked circles, practiced halts and turns, and just had a nice relaxed session.

Veronica 008