Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cosequin Presents OTTB Showcase: Thoroughbred Proves Best Match

OTTBs (Off Track Thoroughbreds) can be re-trained to have new jobs and a second chance.  This story is a great example of that!  ~Declan

Cosequin presents OTTB Showcase: Thoroughbred Proves Best Match

Carlye and
Carlye and "Bling"

Most moms love to gush about their daughters, and most equestrians love to gush about their horses. Michelle Yanstick is a proud mom who can’t say enough about her daughter’s OTTB, a horse who completely changed the Yanstick family’s views on off-track Thoroughbreds in the hunter ring.

Carlye Yanstick was four-years-old when she started riding horses, and by age six she had her first pony. Riding was her passion and as she grew, she progressed from her pony to a small horse and eventually to a big, beautiful Warmblood that she showed in the hunter divisions.

“She’d been competing since she was five and was ready to show in the three-foot hunter division, but unfortunately her horse was unpredictable and landed both my daughter and her trainer in the hospital on separate occasions,” explained Michelle.

“We made the decision to sell him and find something new, and as a mom my first priority was safety.”

The Yansticks looked at a number of horses, mostly Warmbloods, who were capable of doing the three-foot division, but were just not finding the right match for her 16-year-old daughter, Carlye.

“We were in Pennsylvania looking at yet another such horse and saw an ad for a just-turned-four-year-old OTTB,” said Michelle. “Why we even went to look at him remains a mystery to both of us.

The horse was only walking, trotting, cantering and trail riding and had no show experience whatsoever…certainly not what we were looking for.”

Or, so they thought.

They contacted the owner, who was using the horse as a trail horse since a back injury was preventing her from doing more than light flatwork with him, and made an appointment to go out and see him.

“He was adorable and seemed so quiet, especially for a four-year-old,” said Michelle. “Carlye got on him and tried him at the walk, trot and canter, since that’s basically all he knew how to do.”

Michelle took a video of the pair and showed it to Carlye’s trainer to get her input.

“[Carlye’s trainer] thought he was cute, but couldn’t understand why a teenage girl would want to take on the project of training a baby Thoroughbred who clearly would be a long way away from jumping three-foot fences in the show ring,” said Michelle.

photo (10)

Her trainer, however, respected Carlye’s tenacity, and told her that if she was willing to put in the time and understood the challenges she was going to face training a young ex-racer, she’d help her through the process.

“Carlye said there was just something about Bling that made her want to own him, and I am a firm believer that our animals find us,” said Michelle. “We drove back to that farm in Pennsylvania the next day and brought Bling home.”

Bling had a long road ahead of him. He’d never even trotted over a ground pole, but he had a good attitude, and Carlye had faith in his abilities and potential.

Just a few months after she began working with him, Carlye decided to take him to his first show.

“I tried to discourage her – I felt it was still too soon in his training,” said Michelle. “She had faith in Bling and, as fate would have it, in his lesson the night before his first show he decided to understand what a lead change was!”

The next day, Michelle’s hope was that Bling would simply behave and keep her daughter safe as they navigated their courses. He did that and so much more, as in their first show together Carlye and Bling earned Grand Champion in the Baby Green division.

“Competitions are one thing, but the greatest joy we have in owning Bling is his fabulous personality and great mind,” said Michelle. “He is the youngest horse in the show barn where he is boarded and time and time again he proves he is more reliable than horses two and three times his age.”

Carlye and Bling have a blast together, riding around the farm bareback (sometimes double with her friends), trail riding, and even swimming in the lake.

“The bond Carlye shares with Bling is unlike any she’s had with any other horse,” said Michelle.

“My daughter’s dedication to him, our trainer’s knowledge, and Bling’s attitude all contributed to their success. As a mom, Bling is worth a million bucks because he takes such great care of my daughter.

“My impression of Thoroughbreds before we owned Bling, I’m ashamed to admit, was that they were all high-strung and unpredictable. Being in the hunter world, we were all far more impressed with Warmbloods. Bling has changed my mind for good. He is the friendliest, most trustworthy, calm-natured horse we have owned. I could not ask for a better partner for my daughter.”

My Little REAL Pony: Mum Plans Parties Where Children Make up Their Own Horses

This is a really creative idea! ~Declan

My Little REAL Pony: Mum plans parties where children make up their own  horses

  • By Liam Moffett  As posted on WalesOnline

Michelle Inch said pampering and dressing up dogs has become mainstream so she had decided to go for horses

Michelle Inch and her horse Roseleigh

Blinged up, she’s the mane attraction with her dazzling hot-pink hooves and shimmering ponytail.

Roseleigh, a six-year-old horse, loves nothing more than to be pampered and turned into a real life My Little Pony, according to her owner.

Michelle Inch, 25, from Barry, now plans to run My Little Pony parties, where children can make up their own ponies, after harnessing her creativity to develop body art and paint for the animals.

She said: “As a child I loved dressing up My Little Pony toys in their glitzy outfits and brushing their sparkly manes.

“And decorating Roseleigh with coloured sprays, polishes and diamanté makes grooming her just as much fun. People have said they think it’s cruel to dye a horse’s mane and spray her with colours.

“But I only have to approach with my grooming brushes and ­Roseleigh is nuzzling up to me.

“She loves nothing more than being pampered.

“Applying the pink polish balm to her hooves feels as if I’m giving her a wonderful foot massage, not abusing her.”

Michelle, who has a daughter, Brooke, six, and is expecting a second baby with partner Sean Wilkin, 29, runs a dog grooming business.

She decided to start using her skills to give horses makeovers after rescuing Roseleigh and paying £100 for her.

She said: “Within six months I’d got her back to full health. By then she’d grown to adore being groomed.”

Michelle started with £5 pink polish ointment on her hooves. “The pink balm is like a foot cream so it helped get Roseleigh’s hooves back into a lovely condition,” she said.

“Then I decided to add pretty glitter to it.”

Michelle – who uses non-toxic chalks and dyes to colour her horse’s mane – has set up an online business, Equidivine, which sells horse pampering treatments. She says she has 7,000 customers.

Katya Mira, from the RSPCA, said: “It is important to remember that an animal is not a fashion accessory. The RSPCA has concerns about anything which might lead people to see them as replaceable ornaments, rather than living creatures in need of care and commitment.”

But Michelle said: “Pampering dogs, dressing them up and painting their claws has become mainstream. Why not horses?

“Some horse owners have been critical. They seem to think there is ­something undignified about ­glamming up a horse.

“But I don’t think it’s any different from putting a brightly coloured blanket over your horse or plaiting your horse’s mane for a dressage competition.”

How to Get a Horse on a Trailer

A Feel Good Sunday Post

This is a cool video.  How many of your horses load like these two?  It's always good to have your horses know how to load in case of an emergency.  You really should practice trailering them and who knows, someday you never know, you might be able to get your horses to load that well too!  Enjoy the video and be sure to put it on a large screen!!  ~Declan

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Ugly Truth About Horse Racing

Not everyone in horse racing is dishonest or cruel to the horses, but the ones who are, ruin it for everyone.  And the ones who see what is going on and say/do nothing are just as bad as the abusers themselves.

Please at least watch the investigation video [WARNING: Video contains foul language] - it shows the ugly truth behind horse racing.  With the big races coming up, people need to hear what really goes on behind the scenes of horse racing and get a dosage of truth.  
Unfortunately, from the people at the tracks to those in the comfort of their tv rooms, many will still turn a blind eye.  I really hope that when people learn the truth, it will make them want to make the changes necessary to put the focus on the horses and their well-being, not just on making or winning money.  I really hope that the people who watch horse racing and bet on horses don't know what really goes on because if they do, it makes them just as bad as the abusers themselves.  ~Declan

The Ugly Truth About Horse Racing

An exposé by PETA, published in The New York Times, shows a side of the sport that the industry has tried hard to shield from public view. 

Andrew Cohen March 24th, 2014, 3:31pm ET   As posted on The Atlantic

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Having a Donkey at Your Wedding Is a Thing Now

My Feel Good Sunday post! ~Declan

Having a Donkey at Your Wedding Is a Thing Now

  • By Maggie Lange            

The latest accessory for your wedding is a donkey.

According to the wedding-trend reporters at the Knot, donkeys at weddings are literal walking icebreakers, beasts that will lighten the burden of socializing. An Arizona company called Haul N Ass Productions has trained them to walk around, distributing beer from saddlebags. They also carry their own carrot snacks.

For entirely donkey-themed nuptials, there’s the Donkey Sanctuary in England, which was registered as a wedding venue in 2013. Couples marry in a decorated stable. Two of the participating donkeys are named Mopsy and Zippo.

Donkeys are especially popular in Tex-Mex-Southwestern-themed weddings. At this wedding, the donkey wore a floral straw hat and looked pissed off. At this wedding the donkey tried to eat the fancy floral arrangement, which, in his defense, looked like hay.

Participating burros can be small and adorable or quite large. Of course they can serve as transportation. Or perhaps, the donkey will just be a cool, chill party guest willing to stick his furry face in between the newly wedded.

Sometimes a couple getting married just happens onto an unemployed donkey in the background. Hugging a donkey in a wedding dress is funny! St. Johns destination offers semi-wild roaming donkeys in the background, for when you get bored of your guests.

Or you can get a sanctioned donkey. Vanessa Rice, at Haul N Ass, reports:
The donkeys go in hotels, restaurants — they go everywhere. The first thing guests want to do is touch their ears so they have to be very tolerant and they genuinely love people. The main thing is that they are trained to stand still and they’re rewarded for their good behavior. At weddings, you’ve got people that have never met, and before you know it, they’re hanging with the donkey, meeting over the donkey and helping each other take photos.
Rentable donkeys ($250 per hour) can wear a Southwestern costume or beautiful white decorations to match your wedding dress. Haul N Ass reports that they also accessorize their burros with a discreet donkey diaper, since animals poop wherever. Enjoy your special day!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

PETA Video Prompts Investigation of Horse Trainers in New York and Kentucky

I just hope that the truth starts to come out about what race horses go through and how some are treated so poorly and even abused.  ~Declan


Steve Asmussen lifted the Woodlawn Vase after Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 Preakness Stakes win.CreditMatthew Stockman/Getty Images

The horse racing authorities in New York and Kentucky opened investigations on Thursday into allegations of mistreatment of thoroughbred racehorses by Steve Asmussen, the nation’s second-winningest horse trainer, and his assistant Scott Blasi.
The investigations were prompted after complaints and evidence of suspected violations, gathered in an undercover investigation, were provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to the New York State Gaming Commission and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
“The behavior depicted in the undercover video and supporting materials is disturbing and disgusting,” said Dr. Scott Palmer, New York’s equine medical director. “We are working to determine what happened and ensure that proper protocols are put in place to prevent such actions from taking place again.”
Dick Brown, spokesman for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said that the commission “takes allegations of cruelty to animals very seriously.”
The undercover inquiry was conducted by a PETA investigator who worked for Asmussen — who is on the ballot for the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and has a Kentucky Derby contender, Tapiture — for four months in the spring and summer of 2013 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
PETA filed 10 complaints with the state and federal authorities accusing Asmussen and Blasi of administering drugs to their horses for nontherapeutic purposes and of having a jockey use an electrical device to shock the horses into running faster. The investigator compiled a detailed report using a hidden camera to record video that showed widespread mistreatment of horses.
PETA also accused Asmussen of employing undocumented workers, requiring them to use false names on Internal Revenue Service forms and conspiring with Blasi to produce false identification documents, according to complaints filed with state and federal agencies.
The allegations come as horse racing continues to wrestle with a drug culture that its officials concede has badly damaged the sport. Congress has held multiple hearings and has proposed legislation that would create stricter rules and give the United States Anti-Doping Agency the authority to enforce them.
“We know from testimony given in front of my own subcommittee that the abuse of prescription and nonprescription drugs is rampant in horse racing right now,” said Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, who sponsored the Horse Racing Safety and Integrity Act. “This disturbing behind-the-scenes footage reinforces how bad things have gotten in the industry. I hope this builds even more support for needed reforms.”
Asmussen and Blasi have declined to comment through their lawyer. Through his agent, the jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr., has denied using an electrical device, an allegation that was prompted by a video recording of Blasi stating that Santana had done so.
The videos also capture some of thoroughbred racing’s most prominent figures discussing chicanery in a cavalier manner. There is a recording of a conversation about buzzers, the electrical devices Santana is accused of using, that the investigator had at dinner with the Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and the trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Stevens, 51, who has won nineTriple Crown races, talks about how he was given such a machine to race with as a young rider and how he managed to shock himself.
Lukas, who has won 14 Triple Crown races — the most for a trainer — said that in the beginning of his career as a quarter horse trainer, everyone at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico had a buzzer and that behind the gate, “it was just like a full-blown orchestra.”
The videos and the report showed how multiple drugs were given daily to Asmussen’s racehorses — whether they needed them or not — by grooms and employees so that they could pass veterinary inspections, make it to the racetrack or perhaps perform at a higher level.
Among the drugs was thyroxine, a hormone intended to address thyroid problems. It is a metabolic stimulant that promotes weight loss and the development of lean muscle mass and increases heart rate. It was recently added to a list of prohibited drugs by the international governing body for Olympic equestrian disciplines.
In a recent investigation into the sudden deaths of seven horses trained by Bob Baffert from 2011 to 2013, the California Horse Racing Board found that Baffert was giving thyroxine to all of his horses whether they had thyroid problems or not. Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer, said he stopped using the drug last March after the seventh horse died.
Dr. Jeff Blea, president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, said that all veterinary treatments and procedures should be based on an examination and a medical diagnosis.
“After viewing the video, I found numerous items to be disturbing and tasteless,” Blea said. “Everyone involved in the sport of horse racing has a fundamental responsibility to respect the horse and put the health and welfare of the horse first, in all aspects of care.”