We are looking forward to warm weather but as the summer season approaches, so do nasty flies and pests. Flies and bugs annoy humans and horses alike but EspanaSilk is here to help! EpsanaSilk’s All Natural Bug Spray is a chemical free solution to pesky summer insect problems. Safe to apply from face to tail, this product uses ingredients such as eucalyptus, marigold, rosemary, cedar wood, peppermint, citronella and pine extracts to repel insects from your horse (or you!) Not only is this product great for repelling bugs, but it also hydrates skin as well! We suggest using this product with EspanaSilk’s All Natural Protein Antiseptic Topical Spray and Conditioner to create a layer of eucalyptus to make it difficult for insects to bite your horse.
Is your horse dealing with skin issues after the wet February? Or is he a magnet for bugs in the summer? These two EspanaSilk products can help! EspanaSilk’s line of healing products give horses a soothing and calming remedy for itchy and dry skin, sunburned muzzles, bug bites, and clipper or minor skin irritations. We love pairing the All Natural Protein Antiseptic Topical Spray with the Antiseptic Healing conditioner to create a layering effect of healing on our horses’ skin. We also use the Antiseptic Healing Shampoo regularly for our Thoroughbreds with extra sensitive skin. These products feature wonderful ingredients like aloe vera gel, eucalyptus extract, and chamomile extract that stop the itch cycle on contact and promote healing and hair growth. Your horse is sure to love the pampering effect these EspanaSilk products provide!
Here at the MMSC, we love using all-natural EspanaSilk grooming products to keep our horses happy, healthy and chemical free! Join us for a special video series as we discuss each product from EspanaSilk and show you how to use it for your horse, your tack, and even yourself! New videos will be posted weekly on our Facebook, YouTube, and website.
In this first featurette, we highlight the Pro Natural Whitening and Brightening Shampoo. With ingredients like coconut cleansers, vegetable protein, aloe vera, and rosemary extract, this shampoo whitens white socks and brightens all coat colors without fading or drying out the coat. This product is perfect to get those early springtime mud stains out and get your horse ready for the upcoming show season!
Because of the conflict of dates we experienced last year, we moved Sips 'N Sadles to June this year. As always, it was lots of fun, a wonderful party, and we’re grateful for all our guests, our sponsors, our board, our volunteers, our staff, and our many friends who contributed as they could from where they could. We had exceptional music talents this year with Mark Wills and Templeton Thompson, mouth-watering foods from Red State Barbeque, home-made ice cream from Mad Scoops Ice Cream, excellent donated wines, and a special bourbon concoction, The American Pharoah, courtesy of Maker’s Mark. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so we will be brief and let you enjoy the party with your own eyes.
Cheery bye and we'll see you at Sips 'N Saddles next year!
|Rosie Napravnik with Dorothy Crowell aboard Dare Me|
|Country music star Mark Wills with Susanna|
|Susanna with Timothy Capps (left) of the University of Louisville |
and Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron (right)
|Templeton Thompson performed her new song |
in honor of American Pharoah
|The happy winners of American Pharoah's halter, with included |
autographs from jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Bob Baffert
Stay tuned for a behind-the-scenes look at Sips 'N Saddles in next week's blog, complete with a myriad of photos!
|Lauren and Dewey|
I was interested in getting a new horse, but not right away. I was a brand new attorney. Still, the prospect of looking for a new horse was exciting, so I picked up a brochure of the MMSC’s horses available for adoption. Each was unique in its own way but all shared the same Thoroughbred glow. One horse in particular caught my eye: A 17hh bay gelding named Wordsworth. I kept him in mind as we spoke with the MMSC Director, Susanna Thomas.
“I understand your disappointment," Susanna told me over the phone. "And I apologize, but I do want to honor the donor’s wishes. They love Flashy. He was a really good racehorse for them. Most importantly, light work and cool weather is by far the best thing for him. And to be truly Horse Centered, we have to keep his best interests at the heart of all we do. I hope you can understand my reasoning.
"But, why don’t you come to Kentucky anyway?” she suggested. "Enjoy the time with your husband? See if any other horse else appeals to you? After all, finding the right horse can take time. Why not start the process now? Just for fun. There is no need to get serious about anything."
“I am not sure....” I said. “I really had my mind set on Flashy.”
“I can appreciate that,” she replied. “But truth is, it has to be a heart not just a mind thing. Why don’t you sleep on it, and let me know in the morning if you want to come by?"
|It was evident on their first ride that Truth and Lauren had a connection.|
Winter was long and at times brutal yet Truth and I managed to fine tune some basic dressage, do a little gymnastic schooling here and there and ride out in the country as we could. I was trilled with his intelligence and willingness to please.
|Colin, Truth Is, and Lauren|
But it is not just the shows that inspire me and bring me pleasure. Truth has taught me so much about myself in our short time together, the most important lesson of which has been follow your heart, rather than what you perceive is logical. I recently made the difficult decision to leave my job at an international law firm for a position that more closely aligns with my interests and allows me to spend more time with Truth. Thanks to the MMSC, I have found, I firmly believe, the horse of a lifetime! I want to spend as much time with him as possible. If the first few months have been any indication, Truth has so much more to give. I am truly fortunate to own a horse with such a big heart—and I am not just talking about the one on his forehead!
|American Pharoah winning the Kentucky Derby|
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“Holy Moses,” he replied. “He’s by Holy Bull out of an Affirmed mare named So Right.”
“That’s the BEST NAME!!” I told him. I meant it too. A good, strong name that made me smile.
When Mr. Tom unhooked the stall guard and I stepped inside, Holy Moses was facing the wall. The first thing that impressed me was his thick and lustrous tail. You rarely see a natural one like that. It was attached to a lovely blood bay rump.
|Legado has taught me to be mannerly around a horse.|
|Moses was in amazing condition the day that I first saw him at the track|
|By the end of our first meeting at the track,|
Moses’ eye got soft and kind.
But I get busy and harried. I worry daily about the MMSC’s bottom line. I see every invoice and strive to cut costs while maintaining the highest standards in all that we do with and for our horses. When a horse gets adopted, I feel an enormous pressure to get it shipped out so it stops incurring costs. Besides I have horses waiting to come in. I have people waiting for new horses. Grant donors want to see how many horses you have moved through your program in a year. Board members do too. (Or at least, I want the board members to be happy!) The voices in my head surge like a mighty chorus drowning out the inner small, still one despite my best intentions. This week was the perfect example. Thankfully, a horse and young girl came to my inner voice’s rescue, saving me from a disturbing deviation.
So she tried two others, Double Minded (“Dublin”) and Pain Giver (“Rondo"). Dublin (left) was the perfect transition for a young person going from a pony to a horse, kind and reliable, but limited in scope.
“Can you get on your horse and see what’s going on?” I asked.
I asked if they could return the next weekend. That was out of the cards.
“I have to bring other horses in and begin reschooling them. I am behind schedule! I need the two horses out of here next week.” They understood.
So that night on my way home I called the trainer.
|Phase one, dressage|
|Phase two, cross country|
|Phase three, stadium jumping|
They asked questions. They dropped money in our donation bowl. Many, many former adopters (I have been at the MMSC for eight years and have placed close to 300 horses in that time!) stopped by to show off pictures of their MMSC horses, to relay tales of their exploits, to give hugs and thanks for pairing them up with their best friend. It’s amazing. And humbling. There is nothing so satisfying as being of service to something bigger than oneself.
|Rosie Napravnik talking about her RRP Makeover mount, Dare Me|
|Dorothy Crowell talking about possible choice of Carry Forward|
|Cathy Wieschhoff working with a possible Makeover selection|
Meteor Shot, or “Shooter,” like Bordeaux Bandit, is ten years old. He’s a Louisiana bred horse with 24 starts, 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 4 thirds and a total earnings of $27,615. I first became aware of him in 2011, when his owner contacted the MMSC and asked if we would accept him into our program.
What do you do with an older racehorse? A horse that is not unsound, but like any middle-aged athlete has accumulated over time pesky aches and weak spots that need attention? An animal which, like career service men and women, has spent its life on the move in a demanding job with ever changing vistas and company? Those horses are much harder to place than the young ones that may have raced a few times if ever at all; the ones that are too slow or too sweet to make the break, from the starting gate literally, or in the competitive field of racing, figuratively. As I tell visitors to the MMSC, not every horse is destined to be a racehorse. Some don’t hold up physically or mentally. Some don’t have the brains or the stomach for it. But you have those special horses that get the game, that cotton to it, and that commit to trying. Bordeaux Bandit is one of those.
|Susan and Mark of Indianapolis with Jazz Fest|
When all is said and done and the horses are loaded up and heading back (thank you Brookledge!), to the MMSC, I always arrange a tour of the Keeneland complex to reward the MMSC interns and volunteers. This year Walt Robertson, Vice President of Sales at Keeneland, led us for an hour and a half from the administrative offices to the sales pavilion, from Millionaire row, to the press box, explaining all, answering questions. Last but not least, he took us up a steep set of stairs onto the roof to the announcer’s tower where we met Kurt Becker who has called races at Keeneland for nineteen years. There was so much we wanted to know from Kurt: How does he keep all the horses straight? Does he memorize their names? Or the colors and shapes on their silks? How does he tell them apart when they are muddy? Did he get nervous? Had he ever “miscalled” a race?
Kurt graciously endured the barrage and invited us to stay in the tower while he called a race. But suddenly the first strains of the national anthem lilted through the track loudspeaker. We fell silent and stood tall. Some of the interns clasped their hands. Many gazed out the window taking in the bird’s eye view of the track with its emerald green infield, its name spelled out in trimmed boxwoods and beyond, the famous horse farms demarcated with black and white fences, the barns with cupolas and the white-pillared mansions.
|The view of Keeneland from the Announcer's Booth|
I looked around the room, studying each person’s face. Suddenly I espied a different panoramic vista: One where the uniqueness and singular beauty of each individual lept out at me. Where the sight of the Kentucky and American flags fluttering from flag poles on the track below and the sound of our national anthem sung in four part harmony accompanied by fiddles saturated my senses with state and national pride. One where my mind hovered momentarily to ponder the mystery and marvel of the jets in the sky ascending and descending at the nearby Bluegrass airport bringing and taking people who knows where, to do who knows what. Each one important. Each one with a purpose. Each one part of a bigger grace-filled picture.
And then the anthem was over and that view receded. Visions like that don’t last long. That’s a good thing because their majesty rams you into park. You wouldn’t get much done or travel too far if you always focused on the forest and not the trees. Pictures like that, are like the photos on our walls, our tables or chest of drawers-when they catch our eye, we become blissfully aware-for an instant- of the magnitude and the preciousness of life.
Why so many highlit words this week? Because I am taking a broad spectrum approach to the Word of the Day in celebration of the “Bigger Picture" week!
Beachview Two was slightly lame, too. We had him re-x-rayed. Even though he had surgery last year to have chips removed, the cartilage atrophy is too significant. He is not going to hold up for the kinds of jobs our adopters want. I am heart broken. I had so much hope for this bright little otter-minded horse. (Is there anyone out there who would like a pasture BFF and an occasional trail horse to lightly ride? )
Street Art was the first adoptee of 2015 and left with his new family, Anne and Harry Weber from Missouri. Anne is a professional jumper trainer and has entered Artie in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover to be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in October. Harry is a sculptor. Ever keen to extract a “pound of flesh” wherever I can find it, I asked Harry if he would consider sculpting a statue of Bucephalus, Alexander the Great’s black stallion, to place in our Bucephalus Training Library (and maybe to make replicas to sell for the benefit of the MMSC??). He said he would get right to the drawing board!
I looked at a bunch of horses this week, always in search of ones that might work for our program. Catherine picked up our 2015 order of polos and T-shirts (check out our online store). Melissa took Shooter to a show at the Kentucky Horse Park this weekend. The environment was much more overwhelming to him than the last one. It was outdoors, with multiple surrounding rings, lots of horses, and lots of commotion. Shooter got frazzled but made it through his two dressage tests as dutifully as could be expected of a frazzled horse. We were all very proud of our little meteor. Thank you, Melissa!
For the first time since the horses came back on campus, we put in a steady week of training. Horses got ridden by our riders Molly and Carolyn. Others were bombproofed or lunged. Some were put in the Hitchcock pen. We treated bumps, scrapes, and rain rot. We did alternative therapies. Interns applied a lot of daily elbow grease currying out dead hair from shaggy coats. We switched horses to new paddocks to rest the ones downtrodden in the first three weeks.
|Visitors learned about Thoroughbreds' tattoos.|
|Jay Z enjoyed meeting all the kids.|
|Everyone who wanted got to paint a racing plate.|
|Parents and children joined in our obstacle course races.|
|Bordeaux our off track warrior (he’s 10 and raced until last year) |
showed off his softer“feminine side to the children.
I am talking about the daily demands at the MMSC that pushed us to the wall this week.
A full court press, for those who don’t follow basketball, is a highly coordinated aggressive in-your-face-snort fire-defensive team tactic exercised the entire length of the court to block the ball or to steal it from the opponent.
|Susanna and Catherine with Dare Me aka "Darren"|
|Bombproofing Street Art aka "Artie"|
Tired or flustered or needing to stop to think for a moment, I remember times when for whatever reason I just stood still while torrents of people surged past me in every direction. I could feel blasts of air from their busy bodies buffeting me on either side as they roared by. Looking upwards at the ceiling celestially marked with glittering stars and Zodiac signs always transported me to another realm, one of peace and perspective. Before moving forward, I remember looking look down at individual faces wondering what each person was rushing to and from and musing whether in their harried motions they were missing out on the big, beautiful picture of life.
And then, suddenly she was there, along with Kentucky’s first lady, Jane Beshear, and the wife of the ambassador of England. The Duchess greeted the British chief executive officer of the Brooke, Petra Ingram, and then Cindy. She bent down and met the two donkeys, Rowdy and Renegade, that were present to represent the Brooke’s work around the world, and then it was our turn.
|Street Art meets the Duchess, photo by Michael Clevenger, The Courier-Journal|
|Beachview Two meets the Duchess, photo by Michael Clevenger, The Courier-Journal|
|Dare Me and MMSC Rider Gina Moore meet the Duchess, photo by Michael Clevenger, The Courier-Journal|
|Jazz Fest meets the Duchess, photo by Churchill Downs|
|Send Me An Angel 09 (left) and Zippy Shannon 12|
|Equine dentist Victor Torres working on Rondo, being held by MMSC intern Nicole|
|MMSC Rider Molly bombproofing Beachview Two|
|Dare Me aka "Darren"|
What a stellar way to end our second week!
|Colonel Harlan aka "Harlan"|
Jazz Fest is my Hummer. Stocky. Built. Think varsity wrestler. A meat and potatoes kind of guy. Uncomplicated. Hearty. Satisfying. To me he’s a field or a show hunter. He’s tall, dark, and handsome too. Those are added benefits.
|Dare Me aka "Darren"|
|Beachview Two aka "Beachview"|
|Pain Giver aka "Rondo"|
Saturday “Archangel Dave”, our stalwart volunteer of many years came and plowed a route to the spreader, hitched it to the tractor and dumped the manure. Office and barn interns came. The sun shone. The snow began to melt.
When I turned Rondo out, he showered me with a front, face, and mouthful
of mud. Clearly I am not destined to be his forever person!
Let the stories begin!
But no. Siberian air blasts brought record snows in Kentucky (and elsewhere!) and mind boggling low temperatures. I’ve been been fretting daily about the “clandestine pipe” in the ceiling above my office which burst at the first thaw. After it was fixed last year, we swaddled it in insulation and so far, it seems toasty. But still, I have been worried. And it ain’t over.
|Nicole, Taylor, Maggie, and Sharon are the MMSC spring 2015 interns|
|The Romans built over 250,000 miles of roads|
throughout their empire
|Shylock wants his pound|