Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mea Culpa

O.K. I've been remiss about blogging. It's been such a busy bunch of weeks that I didn't realize it had been 5 weeks since Ace's feet had been trimmed until I wrote a check to my farrier today. No wonder his left fore was so out of balance when the vet looked at him on Thursday. Bad Mommy.

I'll be moving Ace to my trainer's place this week. She had an opening at the location a few blocks away where she does most of her teaching. There's an 8 stall barn plus several pipe corrals. Ace is getting the newest pipe corral and we've made him a house at one end of the 12 x 24. He'll have a 12 x 12 partical enclosure (walls on 3 sides) to stay out of the wind and wet, and it will help keep his shavings from blowing away. He'll be able to watch everything, but there will be no territory wars over fences. Last week, he wound up was a very squishy swelling in his back right leg above the fetlock which I am sure was acquired kicking at the tyrannosaurus rex who recently moved in next to him.

There will also be plenty of little horse-loving girls to fuss over him while I'm not around. And he loves to be fussed over, around, and about.

I've been trying to find a tack shed. The one I have at the current barn is a plastic Suncast which is approximately 7 x 3 feet and 7 feet high on the exterior. It's just a bit too narrow, but I had no idea how expensive they were until I started shopping. I think I've found the one I'm going to buy. It's not perfect, but it will work. I'll just have to be better about stacking things and not forget that I've also got a Suncast bench seat for additional storage.

Tomorrow is Ace's birthday. He will be 12. He was just over a year old when I first saw him and it was three years later that I decided to buy him and bring him out to Los Angeles from New Mexico. I am so glad I did.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Jockeys at Santa Anita Race Track

When I was taking classes in the horse program with Ron Weschler at Pierce College we got a yearly class trip to Santa Anita race track and a tour of the private areas where horses are trained and housed. One of Ron's best friends (and team mates on the rodeo team) from his own days as a student at Pierce is a top trainer there, which is how we came to have the privilege.

We would meet at 6:30 a.m. at Clockers' Corner, which meant being in a car no later than about 5:30 on a Saturday morning in the spring in order to get to the race track, park, and hike to the entrance. Frequently, there would still be fog hugging the ground, and watching the horses materialize out of it as they took to the track was almost magical.

One time, I turned around and realized that Gary Stephens was standing just a few feet away. Another time, Bob Bafford came over to talk to our group. The photograph above was made in 2005, soon after I got my digital SLR. When I find the original, which is in color, I'll replace it. I never stayed for the actual races, but I really enjoyed watching the horses practice. Santa Anita is a beautiful park and the San Gabriel mountains are its natural backdrop.

I bring this all up because Animal Planet just ran a series called Jockeys which was shot during the Oak Tree session at Santa Anita last fall. I think it just finished running, but I'll bet it goes into repeats. A friend mentioned it to me and I managed to catch a few back-to-back episodes last Sunday and then I saw what appear to be the final episodes on Friday night. As far as reality shows go, it was really good. Of course, it has horses, which most of them lack. I don't know if there will be another season, but there should be.

There were about six jockeys that they spent most of their time on: two women and four men. But other jockeys, like the afore mentioned Mr. Stephens, and trainers like Mr. Bafford make appearances. So did Cigar, who failed to win a $3 million purse at the stakes. I did shout a lot while watching it--it is hard to watch things like horses rearing in the gate sending a jockey flying to the dirt--but the relationships were interesting and the number of different horses a jockey rides in a career is staggering. I do recommend it.

My friend Neil Gaiman, about whom I wrote recently, will be the guest on The Colbert Report tonight. Stephen Colbert is a comic book and science fiction geek, so I'm sure it will be a good show. I became a fan of Colbert's the night I saw him speaking Elvish to Conan O'Brien and realized he is nothing like the character he plays on The Colbert Report.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Horses in Our History

There's a fascinating article in today's Los Angeles Times about the domestication of horses, which indicates it goes back at least 1000 years longer than previously thought. Could be that Jean Auel had it right all along. (Ignoring it's soft-porn moments when a man arrives on the scene, it's got a wonderful relationship between woman and horse.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Surprise on the Farm

They found a cow corpse in what was once a compost toilet container of some sort on campus. It was used many years ago to turn cow poop into a liquid fertilizer which the campus was permitted to use on the fields it grew. Since the dairy was ignominiously disappeared (and yes, that's exactly what I meant to type) years ago, and people forget about these things, a construction crew stumbled upon it today.

The cow, surprisingly, had not totally turned to bone. It was somewhat preserved until brought out into the air. I understand the smell is pretty bad as it is now on its way to putrification. The professor who was in charge of the dairy was prompted to remember that the cow fell in the container (I know there's another word to use, but I can't remember it right now) and there may also be a few dead calves disposed of in the same general vicinity. Yuck.

My immediate thought was they should get the cow bones cleaned up and have it reassembled for the Ag department collection of skeletons, but I doubt they will want the stench around any longer than necessary. Ah, the circle of life.