Blog .:. February 2008 4 Entries

Too funny not to post

27 February 2008 Comments

I am trying to catch up, I swear, but this is too funny not to post. I’ll have to catch up later.

In case you were wondering, someone posted “How to Identify Horse Breeds at the Kentucky Derby” on EHow. The relevant (i.e, amusing) text:

Step 1:

Buy a copy of the “International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds” by Bonnie L. Hendricks at Amazon.com (see Resources below). Use this book as a resource for identifying horse breeds.

Not coincidentally, I’m sure, the link to Amazon.com was a referrer link. So someone was clearly hoping to make some money off this.

Step 2:

Measure a Kentucky Derby horse from hoof to withers as a way to identify a thoroughbred. A full-grown thoroughbred that can qualify for the Kentucky Derby ranges from 58 to 64 inches tall, with the shoulder blades as the high point.

There is so, so much that could be said…

Step 3:

Separate horse breeds eligible for the Kentucky Derby by looking at markings and spots above the hooves. A series of white spots along all four legs instead of a solid white leg indicates an attempt to play around with genetics to create a unique coat.

Say it with me, now: pinfiring.

Step 4:

Look at the hair on top of a horse’s head as you try to identify breeds at the Kentucky Derby. A cowlick or a lack of fine hairs between the ears can narrow the potential bloodlines of a thoroughbred when added to other characteristics.

I almost want to go out and research and see if it’s true that certain bloodlines are predisposed to cowlicks. That would be awesome.

Step 5:

Stare at the face of a Kentucky Derby horse to see facial patterns that can separate breeds. A thoroughbred that has been sired by a registered stallion will not have a bald face, which is a white face set against the natural coat color.

It’s not enough to glance casually, you understand. Stare. Stare!

Step 6:

Watch the personality of a horse at practice before the Kentucky Derby to identify proper breeds. The breeds allowed in the Kentucky Derby are considered hot, which indicates a willingness to compete and exercise to the point of over-enthusiasm.

Because, you know, anyone NOT allowed in the Kentucky Derby would still be out practicing with all them other horses right before. So if you see one of them impostors, make sure you report it, ok?

Step 7:

Pet horses competing in qualifying events for the Kentucky Derby to evaluate muscle tone. The strict breeding and training of thoroughbreds over the last 2 centuries has given most racehorses well-defined hindquarters and necks.

I just bet the owners are going to let you pet their horses. Go on, try it. I’ll be the one back here laughing at you.

Step 8:

Glance over the entire body of a competitive thoroughbred to look at the purity of the coat color. Thoroughbreds with clean bloodlines will have pure gray, brown or black coats, without changes in hues from hindquarters to withers.

’Cuz all gray horses are uniformly gray. And there’s no such thing as a bay thoroughbred. Or, apparently, a chestnut. Or a horse with dapples. Throw them horses with dapples right out of the race! Impostors!

Tagged:

Finding Funding

20 February 2008 Comments

I received an email today from a lady whose stepdaughter has been invited to a national championship, but we all know (or can imagine, anyway) the costs involved at that level of competition. Aside from the show & related fees, there’s also travel fees and so forth. Her question is how to raise money to pay for this.

First off, congrats to the stepdaughter for doing so well. 

I would personally start out by looking for sponsors. No… I would personally start out by doing a lot of planning.

Check all the applicable rule books. Can juniors even have sponsors? Are there limitations on sponsor branding? Can displays be set up in the stabling area? Logos on shirts and saddle pads? Keep in mind the rules for championship and national competitions are sometimes different than the rules for regular competition. Make sure you’ve researched everything!

Assuming sponsors are allowed by the rules—I’d spend some time working out exactly how much money is needed and how that money breaks down. Sponsors want to know their money will go to good use.

Then think about how you can thank the sponsors—what sort of display can do you do at the show? What can you do at home (example: a thank you in the local paper, or a feature article for a local horse journal about going to nationals, with a thank you to the sponsors included). Maybe get photos taken at nationals and present them to the sponsors afterward in a nice frame. And so on. Make sure the sponsors know you are grateful (and that you will get their name out there).

Don’t discount goods in place of cash. The local feedstore might not want to donate cash, but they might be willing to donate hay or bedding. Your local gas station might contribute a gas card if you’re trailering. If you find someone willing to donate a trailer, send me their name and address.

Will all this work? A similar approach worked for me with college scholarships. Have a plan. Be organized. Know what you really need (this is not the same thing as what you want). There are probably websites out there on how to find sponsors as well, and they probably have sample letters that can be sent out. Google finding sponsorship in general, not just sponsorship related to riding—there are a lot of sports with people looking for sponsors, so you may find useful information in unlikely places.

The second major thing I would do is check with the local horse organizations and see if they have any sort of scholarship fund for this purpose. They might, and you won’t know if you don’t ask.

And the third major thing I would do is encourage the stepdaughter to do all the odd jobs she can do, whenever she can get them (assuming she’s old enough). Babysit, mow lawns, walk pets, wash cars, anything and everything. All the money she earns goes into the Nationals fund. Sure, it’s not fun and it’s not glamorous, but an extra $100 a week x four weeks a month x four months is $1600. And at the rates babysitters charge (in my area, at least), $100 a week isn’t an unreasonable goal.

Anyone else have ideas?

Tagged: Horse Shows, Horses, Money Issues

What I love about horses

10 February 2008 Comments

My mom insisted my brothers and I take some sort of music lessons. Good for the brain, I think. Less good: my actual talent. Let’s just say at the end of the one piano recital I went to, a kind old lady walked up to me, patted me on the head, and said, “Well, dear. I have to say, I’ve never heard Bach’s Minuet in G played quite like that before.”

This was a whole lot better than what I deserved, which was “What song were you playing again, in what key, and at what tempo?”

I’m sure I learned something from playing piano, if only that I shouldn’t play piano.

But horses—horses. I’m sure we’ve all seen this sort of scene before:

A beginner rider’s horse gets away from her and gallops around the arena, throwing in some bucks for fun. The horse is caught and a more experienced rider gets on and schools her, just to make sure the horse will behave for the beginner.

The beginner, with her instructor’s encouragement, finally mounts the horse, although you can tell she’d rather not. The mare obviously looks like a fire-breathing dragon to her at this point.

You can also tell, once she’s on the mare, that she’s as tense as an overstretched rubber band and she is going to fall off soon if she doesn’t start breathing.

But the horse is an old schoolie who knows her job, has had her fun, and is just ambling along, with periodic looks at the instructor as if to say “This rider clearly doesn’t want to ride, so can’t we just go back to the barn now?”

And then you watch the instructor asking the rider to stop sitting there and start riding—do this exercise, do that exercise, turn here, turn there, leg yield, extend the walk, collect it, halt. You slowly see the color coming back in the rider’s face as she realizes she can do this, she’s done all this before, on this horse, and they’re going to be ok. As she relaxes, the horse listens better, and you see the rider register that, too.

The rider gets off with a grin on her face, because she rode that fire-breathing dragon and she lived to tell the tale. And not just that she sat there and survived—she took charge and they did stuff.

It’s very cool to watch, Having been the rider in that situation a time or two, it feels really good when it’s all over, too.

And it’s something I don’t think I ever would have experienced if I’d kept up with piano.

Tagged: Horses

Oh rubber hose, how do I hate thee?

6 February 2008 Comments

I am beginning to suspect that hoses, like horses, can sense fear.

In my case, I’ve never met a hose I couldn’t tangle. Someone else puts it neatly away. I pull it out in one long, straight, even line and use it. I go to reel it back up and spend twenty minutes flipping it around and cursing its twisted, tangled nature.

Take that innate ability and imagine how much fun I have putting the hose away when it’s ten below outside, probably around ten above in the indoor, and my gloves are wet from watering said indoor.

Oh, hose. I think I love you almost as much as I love winter.

Besides managing to turn a perfectly normal hose into a nest of knots, other brilliant accomplishments from last week:

  • Smoking up the house because I didn’t notice the flue was closed on the fireplace until it was too late. Because obviously my roommate and I really wanted to have to open the doors and windows in sub-zero temperatures.
  • Not starting my car in the morning, even though I was working from home. You would think, when I looked at my roommate’s truck and realized it must have not started for her, that it would have occurred to me that it was pretty darn cold outside and I might want to run my engine for a while and avoid having the same problem later in the day. But no. I didn’t. And my car very nearly didn’t start at lunch as a result. D’oh. (On the other hand: it did start. I love my car.)

Incidentally, I think this cold snap is my fault. We’d had some sub-zero temps in January, then it jumped up to 40 (40!), then down to the teens, and I confidently announced we were through the worst of the winter.

Snort.

Helloooooo February. I forgot about you & your cold snaps. But I remember now. Oh, man, do I remember now.

You want to know the worst part? The very worst? I went out for lunch today and thought, gee, it’s really warmed up. It sure had. All the way to five degrees.

It worries me that I think five degrees is “warmed up.”

The only good news is that we’re gaining daylight like crazy and it’s finally light past 5:30, because I’m driving home from work and it’s light out. Oh, sunshine. How I’ve missed you.

Now do us all a favor and go fetch some heat.

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