Thursday, April 30, 2009

Money, money, money

In my humble opinion, I'm a natural saver in almost all aspects. But when it comes to horses, spending money is par-for-course. At least I crave a "good deal" above all else.

Here are some of my most recent purchases:

* My favorite place in the whole-wide-world, Sclafani's Warehouse, had gotten in an assortment of equestrian gear from an out-of-business tack shop. I love that place. You never know what you'll find and they are willing to negotiate with regular shoppers. I also enjoyed chatting up the other rummaging riders. At deep discounts I bought an extra "Shed Flower", Avocado Mist, and a stall guard. It all came to under $25.

* I got an extra pair of white breeches at my local tack shop with a 25% off coupon. Since I was on the fence, it became a 30% discount. Not too bad. You never know if you'll get muddy at a show. Naturally it seems like every time I buy "one thing", they faithfully send me a new coupon. Those sneaky people!

* I got a pair of lightly-used Ariat dress boots on eBay for $75 plus shipping. They fit well and are not even broken in yet. Normally that pair is $350+ in stores.

* I visited the Everything Equine fair. It seemed a lot smaller this year. I cannot help but wonder if that is due to the economy. I resisted the typical trade-show wares. But as a perused, I found a booth with a box of VHS tapes for $1 each! As you can imagine, I took a copy of every tape they had. It will be fun to share them with other riders too.

And I made one very large purchase... But you will have to wait for another post! Can you guess what it is?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Huey's secret identity revealed!

Continuing the story from the previous post..

Last summer, when we'd only had Huey for a month, I remember standing with my mother watching him in the pasture. I said to my mother that he looked a lot like Mr. Prospector.

Mr. Prospector was an influential Thoroughbred sire. He had a tendency to pass on "bench knees" (offset). He also had a lumpishly muscled build, to my eye. Huey has both of these characteristics.

Huey was sold to us as an "Appendix Quarter Horse". Since I remembered hearing somewhere that Mr. P showed up in xQHs, the resemblance did not alarm me. Huey came with a lip tattoo, which we could read as "Something-1-(6 or 8)-5-2-1". (Want to know more about tattoo formats? Read more...) Huey's tattoo seemed too long for a QH. So we wondered if the first or last digit was a smudge. We did a few look ups but nothing matched.

Finally the Jockey Club recently began looking up tattoos for free. I re-examined Huey's lip with the assistance of a carrot. The first character looked rather like a faded D. So I sent the JC "D16521" along with photos of Huey. When they sent me a match I was shocked. After a very courteous JC registrar called me and spent time reassuring me, I realized I was convinced.

Huey is...

"Word by Word", a chestnut gelding born March 2, 2000 in Kentucky. His paternal great grandfather is Mr. Prospector. He is out of a mare with Prince John two times, a line reputed to have good temperaments and hunter quality movement.

I immediately emailed the breeder. But I was disappointed to hear that any information on Huey would be in storage and that they were not interested in searching. Undeterred, I looked up his race record. Then I bought a subscription to EquiBase and watched a video of Huey losing his last race. Ah yes, I have trouble motivating him to be forward too.

Huey raced 46 times and won 8 for a career total of $96,195 between 2003 and 2007. He raced almost exclusively at Mountaineer Track in West Virginia. My instructor checked with the trader who sold Huey to us. He remembered that the trader he'd bought Huey from said he'd come from Mountaineer but that guy had said he was a Appendix Quarter Horse. He assumed that was right and hadn't pursued it further (he buys and sells many horses a year). The date checked out as a month or two after Huey's final race. I've sent an email to the racing office to request win photos. Once I can get a photo and get in contact with a person from his past, I will have tied up all the loose ends.

So now we know who Huey is. I had wondered if we ever would. As I said to my mother, Huey doesn't mind. He doesn't know if he is a Quarter Horse or a Thoroughbred or a zebra. He just is who he is. But we promised him a carrot cupcake on March 2nd next year...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on some cat topics.

So when I began this series, I asked for your questions, opinions and thoughts. I'm going to include some in this post. Please do share more in comments!

Outdoor cats?
Grey Horse Matters said...

We always had cats when we were children, but haven't since my son was diagnosed with being very allergic to them. Cats are not a part of our 'inside' lives but I was thinking of getting a barn cat to live outside. I've never done this because I've always thought it was mean to make an animal live outside. We do have a heated tack room where the cat could live in the winter months but I'm still undecided. Any thoughts on outside cats.

This is such a thought provoking topic. When I was a child (20 years ago) my family was frankly "eccentric" because we had "indoor only" cats. Times have changed. Now keeping cats indoors is more popular with the folks I know. There are a lot of good reasons to keep your cats indoors. So we always keep our inside. We do take them outside on a leash.

That said, there are far too many cats who are stray. Is it better for a cat to be a "barn cat" than a stray? I think so. A barn cat will be neutered, go to a vet, get regular meals and a warm place to sleep.

My shelter is reluctant to adopt a surrendered house cat out as a barn cat. However, they do have a "Barn Buddies" program. They are former strays who won't adapt well to indoor life. They are adopted out at a reduced fee. You might find a shelter in your area with such a program. Good luck!

By the way, has your son tried the shots? I know next to nothing about them but they helped my uncle live with a house cat.

Kids and cats
Netherfieldmom said...

We also teach our kids that when the cat wants to get down (signaled by squirming, etc.), it is very important to put the cat down gently, not let it spring out of your arms to the ground. This teaches the cat to trust you. The more you try to restrain them when they want to get away, the less they will trust you in the future.

That's really good advice. We don't have kids yet ourselves. We had a dinner party at our house a month ago. A little boy came with his parents. Scout and Sprite had never seen a child before and ran away from him like he was a tornado. But Toodles seems accustomed to children. His mother showed him how to nicely pat the kitty. He picked her up, even though she is almost as big as him, and brought her into the middle of the party. He ended up sharing most of his dinner with her! Toodles says he is welcome back any time.

Toodles is let loose!

This is the final chapter of bringing home Toodles, our new cat. Part 1 and Part 2.

Days 7-10, Toodles gets more space:

After we let Sprite and Scout into the den with Toodles, we decided Toodles could start coming out to meet them. This is a big step because, in Scout and Sprite's minds, Toodles was invading their territory.

We have a door on the stairway which separates our first floor from our second. So we shut it to keep Toodles downstairs. Then we brought Scout and Sprite down with us for the evening. We played with toys and ate more treats. We continued to try to keep the "old cats" from getting too close to the "new cat". Toodles found and used Scout's litter pan. Scout, ever the "boss" kitty, ran in and bit her tail as she exited. Then Scout did some digging and used the pan too. Scout was making it clear that it is her litter pan. Fortunately we had purchased a third pan for Toodles, so that each cat could have her own. I consider 1 pan per cat a minimum, or even 1 extra. We also scoop 2x a day. This helps avoid soiling outside the box.

That night we brought Scout and Sprite back up to bed. We left Toodles downstairs, to roam around on her own. We kept everything like that for a few days.

Day 12, Toodles is let loose!:

We opened the door to the upstairs. Toodles was excited to explore the rest of the house. Scout and Sprite followed her around. After a few hours, the pecking order became apparent. Scout had already established that she was the boss. But she seemed to accept Toodles. By the end of the day they were sitting on the sofa together. However Toodles and Sprite were both jockeying for second place. Mostly they did not come to blows, however there were a few hisses and swats. We were quick to distract them with toys.

For a few days, we kept putting Toodles alone downstairs at night. Finally it looked like Sprite was settling for third place. We decided Toodles could officially join the household permanently!

A few months later: Scout and Toodles have become fairly good friends. They often share a sofa and last night they cooperatively "hunted" a bat that was stuck in the chimney. Meanwhile Sprite and Toodles have learned to grudgingly accept each other, but still occasionally argue. This was a surprise to us. We'd expected when we got a third cat that Scout would have been cranky and that Sprite would have gotten along best. But our cats' personalities are complex and they defied our expectations for them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What the Huey? ...again

Between the 1,000 things that have been keeping me too busy, I also observed that the Jockey Club is offering free tattoo research. Huey was sold to us as a 2001 "off-track Appendix Quarter Horse". His tattoo is mostly legible except the first digit is faded. As you may know QH and TBs have a different tattoo format. Since it was free, on a lark, I sent his tattoo to the JC. I decided the first digit looked like a "D". That would make him a 2000 model. I also sent the JC photos of Huey. I expected to get nothing back.

Imagine my surprise when they sent me back a positive match. I sent the JC a reply email. I'm sure they sensed my panic by my gratuitous use of exclamation points and capital letters. A gentleman called my cellphone. He said we should walk through the photos together. He went through every marking on Huey one by one. He had the same stripe and star, no white on the feet, mane darker than the tail. This is the part when I totally lost it... (paraphrasing as best as I can here)

Gentleman: "I don't see a photo of the left side of his face. Does he have a small patch of white hairs on his left cheek?"

Me: "A what? Oh my God. Oh my God. I've got to sit down. Yes, he does. I thought it was just an old injury."

Gentleman: "No Ma'am, he was born with it. It's on his registration."

Me: "$**%$## Oh my God. ($***$*#. Huey is a Thoroughbred?!"

Gentleman: "I'm very sure that is him. It's a 100% match. Everything is the same."

I called my mother. She acted like I'd just told her her Ford is really a Toyota. I looked up Huey's "past performances" on EquineLine. His final race corroborated with when I'd been told he'd come off the track. They had a video on EquiBase. So I bought a subscription. The video was extremely grainy. I watched a race through to the finish. All the horses ran by in a clump. But then, 10 seconds later, a sooty chestnut chugged past the finish line. I watched it over 100 times. I clipped through it frame by frame. I paused on frames. I could see the sooty knees, the star-stripe, the mane was darker than the tail. It had to be Huey...

Coming soon, I will reveal the secret identity of Huey, the Thoroughbred. Click to continue...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jockey Club to offer free tattoo lookups

For legible tattoos, an owner can use a free tattoo lookup feature available from The Jockey Club's Web site and the Registry homepage.

For illegible or partial tattoos, customer service representatives from the Registry will provide free research of a Thoroughbred's identity using the information contained in The Jockey Club's database, including color, markings, and photographs.


I'm so thrilled to read this. It is wonderful news for owners of retired Thoroughbreds. It is very responsible of the JC to offer this service for free, particularly given the weak economy and the many horses being abandoned or sold. Now if only the AQHA would do the same for retired quarter horse racers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Aaaack - juggling show season!

Show season officially started for me last weekend with a kickoff visit to the Mount Holyoke Schooling Show on Easter weekend.

I was supposed to visit the inlaws with my husband. But my instructor was making her Grand Prix debut at the show. Most everyone had plans. So I was (willingly) conscripted to be marketer, videographer, caterer, and groom - which left little time for blogging.

I took Friday off of work. I printed out advertising flyers and pamphlets. I packed chicken salad sandwiches (recipe), iced tea, and snacks. I bought a new video camera. I also rode Armani and went trailer shopping with my mother. Then Saturday morning I rode Armani early. Armani stared at my instructor's trailer as I was grooming him. I lead him loosely toward the arena. Armani turned and took a few steps toward the open trailer ramp. "That's not for you." I told him. He was unusually compliant and gave an extra effort as we rode. Then I guiltily took off for the show without him.

Full show report once I get the pics off my camera....