A mini-post today to link to some excellent work by other writers currently in better form than myself!
Exercise Rider Natalie Keller Reinert makes a stunning case for quitting the 9-5 routine with her most recent post, Feeling That Rush:
Her ears swung around, pricked, captured the sight of the horses rounding the bend ahead, and she latched onto the light eggbutt snaffle and dug down, with an intensity I’d never felt in a horse before. And if I was still questioning my calling, it was reassuring to feel that this filly, this blooded Thoroughbred, knew exactly why she existed, exactly why she was breathing and living and tasting this city’s dirty-salty-humid air. The wind whistled in my ears, literally growing louder and louder as she settled into faster and faster strides, and I thought that the wind could serve as my clock – this loud for a good gallop, this much louder for a swift, timed breeze.
Tom Keyser filed a cool report for the Times-Union regarding Bob Duncan teaching horses the ins and outs of the starting gate:
Instead of flicking a buggy whip at horses, they coax them into the gate one step at a time. Instead of kicking or yelling at horses, they say little, because horse communication is nonverbal, and use subtle hand gestures and body movements. Instead of blindfolding horses to disorient them and trick them into the gate, they employ extraordinary patience so horses learn to enter with confidence, not fear.
To the casual observer, this horse-human exchange, in which the human exerts leadership, is so subtle that it's hardly noticeable. Sometimes called natural horsemanship, it is based on how horses behave and communicate in a herd environment.
"Natural is a funny word to use, because there's nothing natural about the starting gate," Duncan says during a break. "But there is something very natural about horses and humans working together and adapting, which horses are able to do. If ever there was a symbiotic relationship on Earth, it's one between horses and humans."
It's not a new post, but it's one I really enjoyed - good friend Wendy Uzelac is a photographer, golf guru and proud "parent" of a pair of off-track thoroughbreds. Wendy's post No Lesson But Still A Great Ride demonstrates with words and photos the joy provided by thoroughbreds Ollie and Toby.
Then I got Ollie out for some work. He's a bit anxious in the beginning with his head up like a giraffe. Eventually he'll settle down and start to focus on the work. I didn't have the treeless saddle available so I had to use my old saddle and pad it up (3 pads!). It seemed to work fine but I can't wait for the new saddle to arrive.
(If you plan on adopting a horse, Wendy's site is a must read.)
Speaking of adopting a horse, Kim inglis - President of BC-based New Stride Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation - passed along a lovely little video feature by City-TV's Sport of Kings.
Tommy Wolski featured New Stride on the Sport of Kings for City TV
New Stride’s goals are to ensure that each and every noncompetitive and injured Thoroughbred racehorse gets a second chance and is placed into a caring adoptive home. Inglis has taken her role to heart by not only guiding the organization but taking on a horse of her own - an ex-racehorse by the name of Yoodaman. Read their story in a post entitled New Stride Looking For A Leg Up.
A blogger by the name of Listen Better works part-time as a clerk at Saratoga and has quite a few interesting stories of the folks who find their way to her windows. Her most recent post is entitled, Scenes from the racetrack:
"A lot of men were unabashedly forward. “If I was younger, I’d be on you like beans on rice,” one told me, leaning eagerly against my window. He was probably around sixty, with spiky silver hair and a big, white smile. “Oh boy, you know I would,” he continued. “But there’s not enough Viagra in the world!” One afternoon they pumped Dixieland jazz on the loudspeakers. It was heavy on the lazy, staccato trumpet, with a brisk walking bass, and it was infectious. Across the clubhouse, I watched two men in their early sixties, golf shirts tucked into pressed khakis, grin and link arms, skipping drunkenly across the cement. For a week or two, I was happy, too. The tips were pretty good and I was back on familiar ground."
Click on the link to read TROT Magazine's report on Riina Rekila who is definitely, More Than Just A Pretty Face.
Though Finnish trainer-driver Riina Rekila had racked up an impressive portfolio of wins since arriving in Canada less than four years ago, her name had yet to resonate across the North American harness racing scene. Until now.
It took just one remarkable upset in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold Final to turn all eyes to this blue-eyed blond. And when the helmet comes off, we discovered it's hard to look away.
That's Riina Rekila NOT Tila Tequila...
One final plug for the good folks at TROT as editor Darryl Kaplan sounds off on how racing coverage is too nice in his editorial Stop Being So Polite:
Is there any reason that we in horse racing believe that an infomercial catches more attention than an articulate and brutally honest analysis? Does anyone believe that by filling a broadcast with a vast array of superlatives praising everyone from the hot dog vendor to the sprinkler operator, we attract more bettors or keep the ones we have?
I’m not asking that we put Donald Trump on the air to berate every claiming horse on the track. What I am pleading for is that our broadcasters be allowed to take an honest shot at describing what happens at the races. We’re clearly capable of secretly pointing fingers and, when someone wins too many races whispering “cheater!” We should be able to speak into a microphone about the efforts exerted on track during the course of a race.
In the past, I have heard commentators relate stories of how horsepeople have complained when they are criticized, some refusing to cooperate and claiming the announcers are hurting their abilities to make a living. The last time I checked, every race has a winner and every horse has a driver and a trainer. The same purse money is distributed and the participants are professionals. Like any athlete, they are glorified and celebrated when they achieve greatness. And conversely must absorb the flak when they come up flat.
I'd like to thank Equidaily, Raceday360 and PaulickReport for pointing me in the direction of some of the above stories.
As always, you can keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into my Woodbine News page.
TripleDeadHeat will have the blinkers back on this week in an effort to focus attention on posting more stories from the Woodbine races and backstretch. Stay tuned.