Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year & Our Resolution for the Horses in 2011

Happy New Year! The words are always filled with hope that the following year will be easier, kinder and better for each of us. This is also the time when we reflect on our accomplishments, and disappointments, and how we can reach our personal goals or change something we would like so to improve ourselves.

The Second Race is no different. We have had accomplishments and road blocks along the way in 2010. We have learned much and have had to re-think some of our plans. We have targets that we missed and some we achieved ahead of schedule. Most importantly we realize that there are many things we can do better.

Our goals for 2011 are:

1. To be awarded our non profit status and to begin applying for grants with our newly appointed grant writer.

2. To create an Advisory Board to better serve The Second Race combining industry professionals with equine experts outside of racing.

3. Launching our Online Community

4. Obtaining stalls at a local race track to transition horses off the track safely and quickly into our foster program.

5. Working with other non profits to partner on several projects that have been discussed; bringing them to fruition

6. Better placement of horses; quicker turn around time--using advertising sites to place and adopt our horses.

7. Conduct three fundraisers in Southern California, and one in Northern California

8. Begin building a national data base that will serve as the 'for profit' foundation for The Second Race and will allow for 100's of horses to be placed each year.

9. Creating brand (marketing awareness) using media, newspapers, online communities, etc.

Our commitment to ex-race horses and those bred to race is strong. We have a foundation built that will propel us into the New Year with bigger, and better ways to serve. We need our network of supporters to help us, and we look forward to your efforts to help the horses with their "second race".

Best wishes to all in 2011 and good bye 2010!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ahhh Feels Like Home & Photographs in Black and White

On a beautiful sun filled Tuesday morning I made the pilgrimage back to my mecca, Santa Anita Racetrack and Clockers Corner to see the new dirt track installed during the summer and fall meets at other race tracks.

There was a distinct "buzz" and excitement in the air as horsemen gathered with owners and racing fans to see the new track. Gary Stevens, Jim Cassidy, Mel & Gary Stute among others were stationed throughout Clockers holding court and sharing their thoughts on the resurfaced track with each other. Jim Cassidy, trainer told me that there were about 350 horses on the grounds and most were jogging over the dirt, getting a feel for it with good reports. The mood was jovial, with everyone from the guard gate to the cafe saying hello and wishing each other well. There is a community at a race track that is unlike any other I have experienced and it was nice to be "home" again.

James Cassidy's Evening Jewel out for a morning look around.

I loved being back at my favorite track. There is nothing like the glorious foothills framing the horses as the work in the mornings. It's "my church" and it welcomed all of us in attendance, with a long exhale and a good to be home hug.

Speaking of morning works and the backside of a race track, there is a new coffee table book by photographer Juliet Harrison that is sure to be a hit with anyone on your gift giving list.
The book, Track Life, is a culmination of four years of trips to the track at Saratoga Springs, New York.

Juliet shared with us, "it is hard being a traditional B&W photographer in that setting. I spent the first two years trying to figure out what my vision, my imagery would be of the track. Standard track photography would not satisfy me. Taking distant photos of horses on the track during the race as they sped by did not work. Not in Black and White. Not having the flash of color to draw the viewer’s eye, made race photos in B&W basically boring". Ms. Harrison's inspiration came from what I too find inspiring and that is the life on the back side, the preparation of the race horse before and after their race. "These are the things that I found interesting to photograph. And they are what I have chosen to share. Track Life is my vision in film. And I see it as a thank you and homage to the experiences I have had there", says Juliet.

Ms. Harrison is generously donating a portion of the sale of her book to two organization's ours, The Second Race and LOPE, in Texas. We appreciate the beauty of the subject, the art of her images in black and white, and the support of ex-race horses.

To purchase a signed copy of Track Life, go to or purchase directly from Blurb (the book won't be signed). The link there is

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Holiday Letter to You

Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. (Job 39:19-22) and so begins the opening lines in the movie ‘Secretariat’.
I thought it so fitting that the opening voice over would speak to the beauty, the strength and the fearlessness of the horse, and my mind in the dark theatre went to the race horse. The race horse bred to succeed, to compete at the highest level, to go bravely forward and fulfill his or her destiny.

Of course not all horses bred to race even make it into training, let alone a race track in America. The odds are against a race horse that does make its first start to have much of a career beyond the national average of 4.1 starts for its entire career! Yes, its entire career and most race horses that do start, start at the age of two or three.
So from the hopes and dreams of a breeder, trainer, or owner come literally thousands of horses born each year to fulfill their purpose for being bred, to be a race horse.
Race horses are a thrill; they capture your imagination and take you on a ride that lasts less than two minutes. Nothing compares, in my mind to the athleticism of the horse.
It’s been our privilege this past year to help 53 horses safely move on to their next career, home or permanent retirement while working with owners, farms, lay up facilities or trainers across the United States.
In April of this year we were able to expand our services by providing a foster facility in Valley Center, CA that was donated to us by the ranch’s private owner. Without this generous donation we would not have 15 horses owned by The Second Race that are currently awaiting adoption (some are completing their rehab before being available). Our mission this year has been fulfilled in ways we couldn't have imagined when we began The Second Race in June 2009, our time frame has leaped ahead to accomplishing our goal to be a national network for retired race horses and those bred to race.
Our nonprofit status should be granted any day. We are working with several groups to support our mission including other non profits, equestrian trainers, lay up farms in and out of the state of California, and race tracks which are encouraging us to partner with them to provide a safe harbor for the horses from their tracks.

With our growth come expenses. We have secured a grant writer that will work diligently to secure major funding for us in the coming year. The Second Race will need to take advantage of every avenue to raise funds. We have several events planned including a Bowling Tournament in February, A Day at the Races in April (in southern California) and on Kentucky Derby Day (in northern California). We have a fun event planned for Del Mar and look forward to other opportunities to raise funds. Our expenses per horse are $ 300 a month, so sponsorships are encouraged of our horses starting at $ 150 per month details on how to help can be found on our website.
We have been blessed to receive many donations of hay, medical supplies, grooming equipment, fly masks, and halters for the horses. Volunteers have signed up and come down to our foster facility to work with our horses. We have equine massages, aromatherapy (lavender works wonders) and spa days for our retired race horses. The Second Race has had professional photographers take beautiful photos of our horses to assist with their adoption. The media has started to recognize us and we were interviewed for magazines, blogs and appeared on air during the fair meet in Fresno. We had the opportunity to provide commentary for a documentary being filmed on Kinsale King and we were a school project for a graduate student in visual arts. We encourage you to become involved with The Second Race or to visit our retired race horses. They enjoy the interaction and actually it helps to socialize them for their adoption.

The Second Race was fortunate to have generous donations of racing memorabilia, halters and horse shoes worn by famous race horses, saddle clothes and coolers. We had beautiful original artwork and photography gifted to us and more. Help is needed and gifts in kind are always accepted. We have silent auctions coming up with our events and if you are able to provide a vacation, jewelry, racing memorabilia, professional services or other costs underwritten to support The Second Race and our foster horses, it would be greatly appreciated.

The Second Race is happy to report some success stories this year. We were able to transition A to the Z, an earner of $ 800,000 on the track to Amy Hess, an equestrian trainer that took him to his first horse show. He placed first in two of his “baby green” categories. Horses like A to the Z, provide a forum for other Thoroughbreds to be considered in the show jumping world. We adopted out other horses that have begun dressage training, jumping and polo pony training as well. It’s so fun to receive the updates, photos and to hear the accomplishments of the retired race horses!
Not all horses can go on to a new career and we are blessed to have loving, permanent homes for horses like Go Flags Bro, that fractured his pelvis and needed a new home where he would never been ridden.

The Second Race, as a national network sent horses from California to Colorado, Ohio, Idaho, Illinois, Arizona, Florida and Texas. Without our ability to use social media to network, these horses would not have found homes so easily. We are committed to moving horses across the US to find them homes, and need to partner with van companies to reduce shipping costs. This is one of our objectives for 2011.

Lastly and most importantly at the end of the year we want to thank the thousands of supporters we have. The donations received, the company partners that donate a portion of their sales to us, and to the racing fans that inquire about the horses, that care deeply what happens to them when they are no longer coming down the lane towards the finish line.
On behalf of our Board of Directors, our foster partnership and volunteers, thank you for a successful year and from the horses “a neigh and nicker” for your love and support. The Second Race cannot succeed without people like you! We wish you a prosperous and blessed 2011.
Sharla Sanders, Founder, The Second Race

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Conscious Decision to Do the Right Thing

"I am a great champion
when I ran, the ground shook
the sky opened
and mere mortals parted
... parted the way to victory
and I met my owner in the winners circle
where he put a blanket of flowers on my back" (from the movie, Dreamer)

How many of us have had the thrill of being in the Winners Circle? Whether your horse is the favorite or a 55-1 long shot, nothing matches the thrill of winning! Your horse, your time to celebrate! The excitement is the same for the millionaires and the syndicate that has 25 people buying into a $ 15,000 claimer, its the victory that we remember most.

But after the excitement, the back slaps and the high fives, the horse that brought the victory goes back to its barn and may or may not ever win again.

When that happens, what happens?

That choice is equally the responsibility of the owner and trainer. Both work in tandem to ready the horse for its race, and both should be responsible in ensuring that when the horse can no longer perform, that it finds a responsible, safe vehicle for retirement.

Becoming involved in horse racing is a choice for every person that participates in it, only the horse bred to race doesn't have a choice in the matter. That doesn't mean that they don't want to run, that's an argument for another day (and one that we won't debate--as we know that horses are bred for and love to run). The choice is made (based on his or her abilities) to become a race horse. If a human can make the decision to consciously breed the horse, break the horse, train the horse and race the horse. Then that same conscious decision should be made to provide a retirement for that horse after it can no longer race.

A race horse is a created, dependant animal for our pleasure and entertainment. Only education and the truth provided by the race track industry will ensure that owners (including new and prospective) and trainers employed by the owners understand their responsibility to their investment....when the finish line is no longer an option.

To learn the process of surrendering a horse to The Second Race or for our assistance in networking to help place a horse go to our website page

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.

The prose was listed on a Facebook friends page and I had to stop and pause. How succinctly and sweetly was the poem about giving thanks. We make a lot of the meal, the football and the travels that it takes for many to be with their family during this time.

Tomorrow most will be thinking of shopping for the holidays, the money that will be spent trying to find the perfect gift (with possibly much less money than in years past), and well the stress of managing it all. Forgetting completely, the day before where everyone says "Happy Thanksgiving" to each other.

But giving thanks, truly giving thanks is such an easy thing to do every single day. It's a habit that can be developed in a short time and with a loving, full heart of thanks, your life can change without you even knowing it.

I know this to be true with The Second Race. The beginning of our organization started with a true leap of faith, and with a vision to give thanks to the race horses that had entertained and gave so much to provide the enjoyment and relief from my stressful job every weekend.

I love going to the races and in 2003 at the Breeders Cup I decided that somehow, someway I would be part of horse racing. Fast forward to 2009 and I couldn't imagine that the way I would become involved would be to start a national network to transition race horses off the tracks across the U.S.!

I am thankful that God put the thought into my head years earlier, and then made a way for me to make this dream come to fruition. It meant that I lost my job for the second time in as many years, that I literally had nothing to stop me ( a divorce earlier in the year had been finalized), and that I realized that things were just things, and I was able to begin the funding of The Second Race, with my own collection of racing memorabilia.

I am thankful that so many people, complete strangers on Facebook and Twitter, caught the vision right along with me and encouraged me to proceed. I had a goal in mind that if I could garner at least 2500 Facebook friends, that I would launch our website and never look back. Which of course we did. We have an online community that will start on January 1, 2011 with much more in store for the new year.

I am thankful that the horsemen at the race track have been so encouraging, have allowed The Second Race the privilege to assist them to transition their horses to the next step along the path of their lives. Without them, The Second Race would not exist.

I am thankful that a friend, made the most amazing donation of a piece of their beautiful ranch "the peninsula" to house The Second Race foster horses, and that we have been able to leap ahead with our plans to safely provide a respite for the horses from the track.

I am thankful that we continue on, with the help of mentors that allow us to share our frustrations, joys and tears with us. Doing what we do is a labor of love, nothing more, no one is ever going to get rich helping ex-race horses. There are more monetary costs than can ever be recouped, but it is with thankfulness from a heart so full that we wish all a Happy Thanksgiving, not in part with our lips; but with a full heart.

To see the current ex-race horses awaiting sponsorship or adoption visit our website at

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Visit With Zenyatta and a Legendary Hand

Over the weekend my good friend was here from Texas and as any good friend in California, you have to take your friends to the local attractions. Once perhaps, that was Disneyland or even the beach, but right now in Southern California the main attraction is Zenyatta.

Julie had some photos that she wanted to gift John Shirreffs with and so we made the trek to the barn. Coming around the corner I saw something different this time. Not that Zenyatta on any given day for the past couple months, doesn't have fans stopping by, but now there was a barricade of perhaps three or four sawhorses and piping "roping" off the area to view her while she grazes. What was different was the single file line of fans, cameras and treats in hand, waiting for their couple "up close" minutes with her. One by one the fans that had come to see her were given a minute to speak with her, touch her muzzle and feed her treats. Steve Willard, has become the "tour guide" and it strikes me that his job has become much like the park ranger discussing El Capitan in Yosemite. There is something about her that continues to take your breath away, much as the monuments that are God made, Zenyatta simply doesn't disappoint.

The visit with her was more magical for some reason because on this day there were several young girls and boys with her. She patiently inspected each child that came up to her and loving put her head down, welcoming their delight.

The young girl featured in the photo above seemed to be the most vocal and encouraged the other kids around her to come up and feed her. Someone had brought a peppermint to give her, well only some know that Zenyatta has a sweet tooth, and loves her candy. When she happily ate up the peppermint, she licked the hand of the child, and the little girl said to her friend "Now you have a legendary hand". I chuckled out loud and had the biggest smile on my face. Yes, she is legendary, and its of course the races, the tremendous finishes, the heart stopping beauty, but mostly its the grandness with which she accepts the adulation and respect.

She holds court, there isn't another word for it. She looks at you, in the eye, and says to you "I understand". Whether child or adult, she accepts each moment with you. She does know she is the queen, but to that little girl, well she is legendary....and no matter what the jaded writers and handicappers think, Zenyatta has charmed her way into many a heart unlike any horse I have ever known. And to that little girl, that brought a smile to my face, I hope you grow up to be legendary as well.

Photos by Cecilia Felix Photography and Zoe Metz.
To see other horses (not quite so legendary except to The Second Race) go to

Friday, November 12, 2010

Never, Ever, Give up-- The Story of Sarah Says Go

Photo: Anne Buxton. After nine years, the halter was ready for her return, held together and fitting.

I have been remiss in my postings to this blog. It seems there just aren't enough hours in the day and yet one of the things that I do like to do is share a good story. So, as we saddle up and renew our postings, I thought the story of Sarah Says Go and Anne's love for a horse she hadn't seen (but never forgot about) in nine years time, was a fitting place to begin...(as told to me by Anne, in her own words)....

9 years ago I sold a mare that my husband bought as a yearling, and we raced successfully until she was 4. We sold her and eventually, of course, she ended up hitting the bottom at Suffolk Downs, making her final start in 2003. I always felt bad that I wasn't in a position to claim her back then, but I watched for her for a long time.

When she hadn't run for over a year, I made inquiries, but no one knew anything, or anything they would tell me. Every year I would check produce records, she was never listed as bred, or had any foals. I finally just figured she was dead, and hoped she at least didn't go to slaughter.

Fast forward to last Thursday, when I was messing around punching names into the pedigree query. I almost didn't put her name in, it was too depressing, but I finally did. Imagine my shock when the pedigree came up, and at the top of the page it said, "Rescued from Camelot killer pen 6/30/2010" I about had a heart attack. I immediately got on Facebook went to the Camelot page, and looked for the album from that week, which, of course, wasn't there.

After posting as my status, and on several people's pages, for help finding her, a woman named Sabrina came up with the Flicker photos from that week. I went through 60+ pictures and found her. No name listed, it didn't even say she was tattooed, and the age listed was off by 5 years, but I knew it was her. I asked Sabrina, "now what?, Who has a list of buyers?". She looked awhile, and then said she had read something very bad, my heart sunk. She posted a link to a girl's page, with this status update from the DAY BEFORE!

"It is with a heavy heart that my vet, barn manager and myself have decided to humanely euthanize Annie, hip # 479, who I pulled from the 6/30/2010 kill pen. I have done everything possible to save her but her blood work came back with very poor results. Please know that she was loved and viewed as a member of my family."

I almost fell over, I looked for 9 years, only to find her the DAY AFTER she was put down? I couldn't believe it. I sent Andra a message saying I was almost positive that she had my old filly, Sarah Says Go, but I wasn't sure. She messaged me back, yes it is her, please call me. With a broken heart I called her, and she told me that she WASN'T dead yet, she was scheduled for euthanasia the next day. We talked for awhile, I asked what her problem was, and could she ship?. The long and the short of it is that Sarah was just too over the top nuts for the hunter barn she had found herself in and I guess Sarah was pretty abused after we sold her, making her even more difficult.

Sarah is coming home tomorrow I am beside myself. In addition to finding her the day before she was going to be put down, and Andra calling her Annie, Andra lives in my hometown of Charlottesville, VA too!. A completely bizarre set of circumstances, to say the least. I can't wait to have Sarah back, she'll never leave us again :)

Postscript to the story....

Sarah is happily munching on hay and savoring her good fortune. The Second Race was happy to help with a portion of the shipping costs to bring Sarah home where she belongs.

And as all fairy tales say..."they lived happily ever after"....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance to Cover Retired Race Horses


Continuing Education Sessions Targeted to Trainers, Veterinarians, Racing Officials, Aftercare Professionals, Farriers and Racetrack Medical Directors

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced the agenda for the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance Professional Education Seminar to be held Tuesday, October 19 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky. The Seminar, sponsored by Keeneland and Pfizer Animal Health, will feature expert speakers from across the country who will discuss health and safety topics targeted specifically to trainers, aftercare organizations, track medical directors, racing officials, farriers and veterinarians. Attendance at the seminar will help satisfy continuing education requirements for racetracks as mandated by the Alliance’s Code of Standards.

One portion of the Seminar will focus on continuing education for trainers. Topics to be covered will include exercise protocol for the young horse; managing post-exercise body temperature, musculoskeletal injuries; nutrition; knowing when to retire a racehorse; importance of voluntary injury reporting; dealing with the media; the importance of pre-race examinations; and working with stewards. Speakers will include: Dr. Reid McLellan, Executive Director, Groom Elite Program; Randal Raub, Director of Horse Business Development, Purina Mills, LLC; Anna Ford, New Vocations; Dr. Jeffery Berk, Ocala Equine Hospital; Dr. Mary Scollay, Equine Medical Director, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; Stan Bowker, Chairman, Racing Officials Accreditation Program; Dr. Bryce Peckham, Chief Veterinarian, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; and Eric Wing, Senior Director of Media Relations, NTRA.

Another segment will center on the role of racetrack medical directors. This portion of the Seminar will be led by Dr. Barry Schumer of Keeneland.

D.G. Van Clief, Jr., the former President and CEO of Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., and the NTRA, will lead a session on Thoroughbred aftercare. Topics to be covered include: rehabilitation of horses off the racetrack; infectious disease management; nutrition for mistreated and geriatric horses; veterinary care for the geriatric horse; the Unwanted Horse Coalition; fund raising; marketing the retired racehorse; and best business practices. Speakers will include Dr. Tom Daugherty, DVM; Randal Raub of Purina Mills, LLC; Dr. Rob Holland, Pfizer Animal Health; Ericka Caslin, Unwanted Horse Coalition; Tom Cordova, Cordova Marketing Group; Lynn Reardon, LOPE; Jane Gilbert, ReRun; Anna Ford of New Vocations; Joe Hoffman, Esq., Kelley Drye & Warren LLP; Laura D’Angelo, Esq., Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs; Eric Wing, Senior Director of Media Relations, NTRA; and John Della Volpe, SocialSphere Strategies.

Cathy O’Meara, Coordinator for the Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP), will lead a session from ROAP that will include four sections: InCompass RTO lists, what they are and how to share them; Paddock Judge—the duties and responsibilities of checking horse equipment to maintain safety; Clerk of Scales—a presentation on the duties and responsibilities of checking jockey equipment to maintain safety by Tim Kelly, ROAP Accredited Steward and NYRA Clerk of Scales; and Starter—a presentation on safety concerns at the gate and the duties and responsibilities of the starter by Bob Duncan, Consultant and retired NYRA starter.

Mitch Taylor of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School will preside over a segment on hoof care and the foot. Taylor will discuss the physiology of the hoof, while Dr. James Orsini, Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, will provide an update on laminitis research and Dr. Mick Peterson of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory will present on track surfaces and hoof dynamics.

Finally, Dr. Mary Scollay, the Equine Medical Director for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission will lead a session for veterinarians. Dr. Scollay and Dr. Scot Waterman, Executive Director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) will discuss medication testing protocols; and Scollay will address the issue of environmental contamination.

For additional information about the NTRA Professional Education seminar, including how to register, contact Casey Hamilton at (859) 422-2627. Discounted hotel rooms for Seminar attendees are being held at the Crowne Plaza in Lexington.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What You Should Consider When Rescuing a Horse from an Auction Lot

The Second Race from time to time assists with the purchase of auction/feed lot horses. These are horses that could be destined for slaughter to Canada or Mexico for European plates if they are not purchased. Our mission is to work directly with owner, trainers, and breeders at the race tracks, but with constant pleas and pictures that are hard to resist, we have assisted in the rescue of 12 horses to date via our designated 'Quarter Pole Fund'. Our latest assistance was to "Dan" a grey gelding orchestrated by Kara V. in New York. To learn more about this particular program go to
Photo by Patti Walker

Here is a post we received and thought it was worth sharing from Helping Hearts Equine Rescue, that monitors an auction lot on the East Coast.

Bringing Home a "Direct from the Feed Lot" Horseby Helping Hearts Equine Rescue on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 6:20am

Please, be aware that horse ownership is not something to be taken lightly. Especially taking on the responsibility of a direct-from-the-pen-rescue-horse. We strongly recommend quarantine, as these horses have been exposed to a number of pathogens during a stressful time. Liken it to sending a child to school for the first time. They ALL get sick from other children's germs. Illness and vet bills is a fact of life when purchasing a Feed Lot horse. Horsekeeping expenses vary from region to region, but all experienced horsepersons will tell you that the purchase price is the cheapest part of horse purchase/ownership. With a direct-rescue, expect those up-front expenses to be higher than the norm.

I always get a little mental- twitch when I see a post offering to take in a horse if the bail, etc. are raised for it. I'm hoping that the person is aware of the EXPENSE and COMMITMENT of taking in a horse, and can afford it, especially with a directly-rescued horse. Sadly, lately, a few situations hve come to light of horses that need rescuing from their rescuers. When this sort of thing happens, terribly-- the horses suffer and the whole rescue-effort is looked upon with suspicion--accusations and mis-trust quickly follow behind that.

Please note that we do our best to post accurate info on each horse, but each horse spends less than 2 minutes being run thru the sale-ring, often the actual time is even less than that. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of info about the horses temperament, soundness or training, as our notes are based on what is announced about each horse and our observations in a very short window of time--we are looking at dozens of horses every week in a very short period of time. The majority of these horses are WONDERFUL, and just need a bit of time to settle in. A few though, will need some work, may have been mis-represented by their sellers in regard to training and temperment. And sadly too, there have been a few cases of horses being much more "up" when they arrived at their new homes than they were in the ring. (sadly, some sellers "medicate" horses they offer for sale--If I think a horse at the sale may have been tranquilized, I mention it, I don't want anyone getting hurt). A question to ask yourself: Are you competent/confident to work thru these issues; or have the resources to work with a professional to assist in teaching your horse to be a solid citizen for you. Just because he's a low-priced rescue doesn't mean he's not worth the cost of professional assistance or training. (Sadly, I've heard that. "He was only $300, I'm not paying a trainer to work with him! It's not worth it!" -- makes me want to smack them)

Be realistic and be patient. I receive contact several times a week from Camelot-Feed-Lot-Purchasers whose horsers 'aren't working out'. I've helped network and rehome a good number of them. I've taken in a few who wound up being fine, the problem never materializing here. In a couple of recent situations where I was networking the horse, I later got calls back saying "never mind", that the issue resolved. The horse settled in, and became (1) less dominant in the pasture, (2), stopped banging at feeding time; (3) ground manners improved, etc. Horses are very social animals, they need structure, they need to know/understand where they stand in the social hierarchy. In the cases of social hierarchy/aggression in turnout----they've often had to protect themselves thru a series of pens and trailers packed wtih strange horses jockeying for position; In the case of bad-manners/aggression at feeding time, starved horses need to realize that they will be fed--every day--every time -- when that happens, they often become less anxious at feeding time and stop banging, screaming, kicking, lunging at the stall door, etc. But it takes time, sometimes weeks or months.

If you are unsure about purchasing an 'unknown quantity" from the sale list, please do consider adopting a horse that's been pulled by a rescue. Rescues get them in, QT them, vet them, evaluate them for training and temperament, often put training into them and the adoption contracts give you a safety net, should the horse NOT work out. Adopting from a rescue allows the rescue the resources to save another and repeat the process. YES, the adoption fee is more than the pull fee, but it is LESS than what YOU would spend to get a horse out of the Pen and up to that point.

This post is not meant to discourage the purchase of a Feed Lot horse, but is meant to make sure our prospective rescuers go into their labor-of-love with their eyes open.

Thank You.

Lisa (HHER)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Zenyatta Going for 18 & What She Means to Girls....

photo used by permission.
As the eve of the Clement Hirsch race at Del Mar approaches and the excitement builds for win number 18 for Zenyatta. We wanted to re-run our post regarding Zenyatta and the lessons that can be learned for young girls from Zenyatta. Original post November 2009.

Zenyatta crossed the finish line on Saturday in the Breeders Cup Classic to a roar of emotion shared by all in attendance. Whether it was tears of joy, amazement or knowing you were witnessing history in the making, all around me and throughout the stands, the win was felt in unison.
As the blush of the win wore off on late Sunday afternoon, I remembered something that I had read previously about Zenyatta. As a yearling, she was purchased for $ 60,000 the bloodstock agent who purchased her said he felt he had possibly made a mistake and was bidding on the wrong horse as he couldn't believe she had slipped through the cracks and he had been able to successfully purchase her at the low price.
The reason why she was only $ 60,000? She had a skin disease that made her less attractive or desirable even though she had "vetted" out well. On the surface she was passed over for other yearlings, who looked better. This got me to thinking about young girls who are passed over every day and have labels put upon them at a young age. These labels can hamper their development for the rest of their lives. So many young ladies today are diamonds in the rough, and I wish society embraced them as girls in transition, not airbrushed creations in magazines.
Now of course, Zenyatta didn't buy into any labels or even know she was dismissed for something superficial, nor did she know that she was bigger than the rest of the yearlings in the sales barn. Zenyatta didn't know that her bones were bigger, and that she would need time to grow into herself to bloom into the stunning mare she would become. But her handlers did. Zenyatta was able to start her first race at the age of three instead of the current trend of two. She was given the time to grow into herself. Patience was given to allow her to become the filly she should be to compete at the highest level. Not rushing her to become a precocious sparkler, but a full blown fourth of July fireworks display.
Girls need the same thing, the time to grow, be nurtured by those around them that care for their well being and to not be forced or rushed into being something that someone else wants them to be. Girls need to accept their bodies and its bounty (and its limitations) without pressure. A beautiful swan can just be under the ugly duckling exterior, love and time will expose both.
Zenyatta is a winner, nothing can take that away. Girls are winners too, my hope is in watching Zenyatta crossing the finish line, that the same girls with their "Zenyatta Rocks" posters last Saturday looked in the mirror that night and said "I rock too".

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Facing Foreclosure or a Forced Move--- Don't Leave Your Horse Behind

Cashasgoodasmoney was not left behind, but adopted out by The Second Race, and is used as a model only for this article.

Times are tough for most. This is not a news story, all or most of us have had to scale back, cut back and down size. For some, it's been even harder than making some adjustments in finances or spending, and they have lost their homes. If you or someone you know is facing a similar fate and a forced moved, please do right by all your animals/pets and make a provision for them; including your horses.

When you brought home your horse, you made a commitment to keep him or her with you, through thick or thin. And your horse in return has made that same commitment to you. Your horse has loved you through the ups and downs of life.

So if you have to move or vacate your home or farm your horse (and other animals in residence) will not survive if abandoned or set loose.

How do you help yourself and your horse(s) through this difficult time? Make a Plan. If you are in trouble and facing foreclosure, start as early as possible to look for a new place to live where you can keep your horse. Not all areas are zoned for equines, so you may have to spend some time finding a place. It's better to make sound decisions in difficult times, if you allow some pre-planning and not emotional decisions with respect to your animals.

Find a Horse friendly place in your town or surrounding area by checking at your boarding stable, feed store, friends and associates, local phone book, or on line. Google is your friend. Speak up, let those you trust know of your situation. People in general want to help. Now more than ever, I believe there are people who understand your situation and we collectively have a better sense of community. Pride will not help you when you are forced on your last day to move and you haven't made any provisions for your horse friend.

If you can't take your horse with you, find them a safe place to stay on a temporary basis. When choosing a temporary place to house your horse, consider asking your veterinarian or farrier for references. They travel throughout your city, county and may know someone that can help. Ask your local boarding facilities if they will set a payment plan with you for boarding costs, while you relocate. Its easier to find a place to keep your male horse if he is not intact, so consider castrating him as soon as possible. There are low cost gelding services/vouchers in many states that can help with the cost. Look for breed specific associations to help you. The Second Race, will help too. Consider contacting us at to network on your behalf to adopt out your off the track ex-race horse, or those bred to race.

The networking of Facebook and other social media has exploded in the past year, and there may be a Facebook group that can help. Always check references, do your research and don't just hand over your horse to anyone without knowing to the best of your ability who that person is. Especially if you haven't met them previously and only know them online. For smaller animals there is a group of real estate agents that have formed an online resource with lists of rescues that will take in your pet; perhaps those that deal with farms, ranches have a similar list. Contact your local real estate representatives.

A word of caution in advertising your horse for "Free" on Craigslist. Kill buyers and those that broker horses to auction lots, comb through free listings. Don't hand over your horse to the first person that shows up with a trailer. Investigate who the person is. If they are legitimate, they will understand. Don't be surprised if you advertise your horse is free, that concerned strangers will contact you to offer you another resort to place your horse. There are just as many people watching the Craigslist offerings, to protect your horse.

If you can't find a temporary home, contact rescue groups. There are literally thousands of rescue/sanctuaries throughout the United States. Again Google is your friend. When searching, look for rescue organizations where you can surrender ownership of your horse (and other animals) which do not euthanize adoptable animals. This will provide you with peace of mind, during a difficult time. Some organizations will house your horse for a short time (perhaps 60 days) before the group takes ownership of your animal, allowing you an opportunity to be reunited with your equine friend. If you do not reclaim your pet in the prescribed time, you horse may be up for adoption and you forfeit the ability to re-home him. Always ask about your options when contacting a rescue. Visit the temporary home in advance of your placement. Go a couple times, perhaps unannounced to see if there is consistency in the care of the animals already on the property. Make sure the person is not hoarding animals. Go with your instincts, again much easier to do when you have some time to prepare.

If there is no other recourse you may have to consider putting your beloved horse down. This is a decision that is fraught with emotion and can only be decided by you the pet's owner. However, the decision to lovingly let your animal pass as opposed to starving or being abandoned to an unknown fate, honors the commitment you made and the unconditional love the pet has shown you. There are low cost euthanasia clinics throughout the United States and it may take some hunting around to find an option. The Unwanted Horse Coalition is a proponent of this choice and may have some resources available to explore.

Ultimately, your pet and horse depend on you. You may not have chosen your fate, lost your job on purpose, or knew that our country would go through the worse recession in history when you brought your pet into your life, but he or she is here now and going through whatever you are.

Making the best decisions for you and your horse will help to ensure that your friend is safe. By following these simple suggestions, you and your family will have a better future.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Patience and Payten-- A Top Bunk Ex-Racehorse

The Second Race applauds those that adopt our equine athletes when their racing careers are over. In our ongoing series of stories, here is one submitted by Amanda Smith regarding her off the track Thoroughbred, Pay Attention.

After almost a year of waiting, it was March 12 2009. It was a frigid Thursday night in Central Pennsylvania, yet I convinced two of my co-workers to make the short trip to Penn National with me. I was going to get a race horse.

Pay Attention (Take Me Out – That’s Ravishing, by Big Spruce) was racing for the first time after an 11-month layoff. Payten (Pay Attention’s barn name) was claimed for the twelfth time in his last start in April 2008. He was claimed for $5k that past spring, but, despite earning over $500,000 in his career, he was running this race for a $4k tag, Pennsylvania’s lowest claiming rank. Despite a record of 71-12-8-11, he was running with the lowest of Pennsylvania’s low. He had paid his dues to the racing world and I was going to retire him.

I found Payten on Alex Brown’s “Top Bunk List” – a list of thoroughbreds that had earned over $500k but were running for claiming tags of $5k or less. When I first noticed the Top Bunk List in 2008, my interest in OTTBs had already been piqued by the forums on Brown’s web site, So many thoroughbreds needed new jobs when they reached the end of their racing careers, and so many people of all skill levels and walks-of-life seemed to be rehoming them.

I was the typical horse-crazy young girl. My heart has belonged to horses for as long as I remember. What, though, would I do with an OTTB? I certainly didn’t have the riding ability or horse knowledge to properly retrain a horse off the track. I was determined, though, to make a difference in the life of one race horse. To my advantage and good fortune, I rode and boarded at a barn with an extremely OTTB-knowledgeable trainer, and at my boarding facility there were a handful of dedicated and experienced riders that would be willing to help me in my OTTB endeavor. Armed with these resources, I set out on my journey.

I went to Penn National on March 12 2009 with the intentions of speaking to Payten’s trainer. I had written a letter stating my intentions of retiring the horse and I put it in a bag filled with apples, carrots, and various horse cookies and muffins. I was new to racing, though, and I wasn’t sure who the trainer actually was, so I ended up giving the bag to the groom. He didn’t speak much English, and I’m pretty sure the package never made it to the trainer. Payten finished a dismal 10th of 12 horses that night.

I was a little luckier on March 28. Payten had drawn post position one for that race, and the first stall in the paddock area just happened to be right next to the viewing area. I worked up enough courage to ask one of the gentlemen if he was the trainer. He said yes, and I gave him another “care package” full of treats and a letter, and I explained to him I wanted to retire his horse. I think I took him by surprise, but he thanked me and took my package and letter. Payten finished 4th that night.

My big break came on April 25. The trainer’s son recognized me as I watched the horses enter the paddock, and he introduced me to the horse’s assistant trainer. She was very excited that someone was interested in giving one of her horses a good retirement home. I again gave her a letter that contained my contact information. After the race, she said I’d probably be receiving a call soon. I was ecstatic, to say the least!

May 22 was my 31st birthday. My boyfriend and I went to the track to watch the races, even though Payten wasn’t running. I was stationed in my usual spot next to the paddock when my phone rang – it was the assistant trainer. I could come get Pay Attention as soon as I was ready. I literally began yelling, “Pay Attention is mine!” in the middle of a crowd of people. I called everyone I knew and yelled over the phone, “I got him!” It was the best birthday present ever.

I picked up Payten at the trainer’s farm near Penn National on May 30 2009 and took him to a local farm that was much more low-key that Stonewood. Payten stayed there a month until a stall opened up at my barn, then he moved to his permanent home on July 1. His progress has certainly been a proverbial roller coaster. At first, he was a sleek, fit, muscular, high-energy athlete that galloped around his paddock with his tail in the air and head held high. After a few months of “coming down” from track life, his condition deteriorated. He lost at least 100 pounds, his feet were sore, his neck and back were out of alignment. He developed what we think were lower GI ulcers. His hair fell out in patches, he got rain rot and ringworm. It was one thing after another and, even though my trainer warned me what could happen, I was devastated for so many months. This was not the life I wanted for this warrior!

Patience and perseverance paid off. Payten slowly gained weight with a high-quality diet tailored to his needs by my trainer. The Animal Sports Therapist worked with him over a few months using a variety of treatments. The vet scoped him and x-rayed his obviously-large front ankles. We treated Payten for ulcers and have him on some good supplements to help support his GI and joint health. His winter coat shed out, and his summer coat came in smooth and gleaming. Regular farrier visits have helped his strengthen his feet and correct his hoof angles. Now, Payten is the picture of health and happiness, exactly what I wanted for him when I retired him.

After spending hours upon hours sitting with Payten in his stall, hanging out with him in his paddock, grooming him, hand-grazing him, and working him from the ground, I rode him for the first time one year after I brought him home. I didn’t have a saddle that fit him yet, so I hopped on him bareback, and he was an angel. I’ve ridden him multiple times since then, and it’s strengthened the bond we have. I think Payten finally realizes he has his own human now, and I think it makes him one very happy horse.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"High Jinx"-- Bucked His Way into His Owners Heart

The Second Race enjoys receiving stories from owners of their ex-race horses. Our story today is written by Shannon and her ex-race horse Sting of Glory renamed "High Jinx".

I am the first to admit that I fall in love at the drop of a hat. For as long as I can remember I have loved horses. I also love speed. My first pony was a half blind old Shetland/ welsh palomino that would run away with me on a regular and thrilling basis. My next pony was a half Arabian, my very own “Black Stallion” come to life. Both paled before the greatness of my first real horse.
My first memory of Jinx was of him flying by me, rider-less at a horse show. He had enough of his current owner and had unceremoniously dumped him at the base of a jump and flew out of there. He ran back to his stall, ran in and went out to the attached run and hid behind the barrier. As I caught him and brought him back to his owner I swear he was laughing.
A few months later I now boarded at the same barn. I was grooming my Arabian cross when I heard the unmistakable sound of a horse cast. We located the problem, Jinx. He had rolled over and gotten one leg stuck under the water and the other was stuck out the door. I carefully liberated both legs, and helped pull him over so he could get up. After he stood up he sniffed my hair, and seemed quite embarrassed that humans had seen him in such a precarious position. Once again I was struck by his amazing presence, I had never seen that or felt that before, but it was like standing next to a high voltage power line, you could just feel the vibrations. It was not long after that episode that my coach told me it was time for me to move on from my little Arabian and find a true horse that could teach me all about upper level three day eventing.
I tried many horses before I was shown Jinx. My family was nervous. He had a terrible reputation, he regularly bucked his owner off, and he was older. My first ride was something else. The vibrations from the ground were nothing compared to what you got when you looked through those black ears.
Not only did he teach me about eventing, he taught me more. Jinx taught me love, loyalty, courage, honor, and life. He carried me through my first long format three day events, jumped advanced level cross-country jumps, and yes, bucked me off on a regular basis. He saved me from a terrible fall at a qualifying event. To this day I don’t know how he stayed on his feet. The courage and heart of a TB was in full effect that day. He had “happy” bucks and “don’t screw up again” bucks. He was far from the elderly school horse, but he taught me to ride correctly, and to care for a horse. On one occasion, he bucked me off so hard that I ruptured my spleen.
When I was finally able to ride again I was terrified. Not of riding, just of him. I swear he was devastated when I would do anything but ride him. I was riding another horse in the barn (a quarter horse sale horse) while I tried to make up my mind about what to do with him. The sale horse was a very difficult ride. You had to work for every little thing. One night after a particularly difficult training session I remember having a dream that I swear was sent by Jinx. I remember the sensation of how smooth he was to ride, how effortless the jumps were, and the feeling of power under me. I also got the sense of peace, the calm assurance that he was very, very sorry for hurting me and he would never, ever do that again. The next day I found the courage to get back on my beloved Jinx again. One year later we were headed to the North American Young Rider’s Eventing Championships in Bromont Canada. Yes, he kept his promise, he never bucked that hard with me ever again.

I am thrilled that Jinx had his final moment of glory in Canada. His return to Canada has a special place forever in my heart. He was a Canadian bred thoroughbred out of Northern Dancer’s 1974 foal crop. He raced under the name Sting of Glory, a powerful name for a powerful horse. He only raced 12 times, winning twice, crashing the gate once (injuring an assistant starter), and the story goes that in his final start he bucked off the jockey at the start of the race and then jumped into the grandstand. The track officials had enough, he was barred from racing.
The vet who bought him sponsored the Canadian Three Day Olympic team. A young rider named David Wilding Davis got the ride and took Jinx to Young Riders. Jinx most likely would have gone on the accompany David to the Pan Am games, and possibly the Olympics, but he was purchased by an American and brought to Arizona. No doubt Jinx loved Canada, and the symmetry of returning to Canada at the accumulation of his career was beautiful. His sheer joy at being on Canadian soil was evident in every movement. When I walked out of the tack room wearing a shadbelly and top hat you could see in his eyes his joy at being back in the “big time”. The event that year was held on the site of the 1976 Olympics. The setting contributed to the most beautiful and emotional show of my life. He gave me everything that weekend. I thank him every day for the experience of a lifetime.
There will never be another Jinx. His physical form may be gone, but I hear his hoof beats, feel his breath, and feel him with me every day. His love carries me on and inspires me. He is my guardian angel and companion. When I am afraid, stressed or unsure I can still feel the whispers, “its okay, just grab mane and kick on, I am still here, I will carry you”.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Time Spent with a Noble Friend-- The Story of Louie

In our ongoing series of stories submitted by our The Second Race friends; we are presenting another story of retired race horse, Alpha Assembly aka Louie.

Alpha Assembly aka Louie “Louis H”
Foaled March 18, 1992 by Noble Assembly out of Alpha t Beata
Jan 98-I had an ex racer named Quiet Explosion aka Expo, I had just recently sold him to a lesson barn and was in the market for a new prospect to train and sell to a show home. And there was Louie registered name Alpha Assembly. Dark Bay, white star, white left fore and white right hind and roany left hind leg! 6 yrs old, about 15.3 Hh kind of skinny but more racing fit. Had run 3 races as 3 yr old. Even had Calvin Borel as his jockey in his first race but in ’98 that didn’t mean a lot to me! I was told be ready to post when you get on him…and sure enough he took off trotting as soon as I swung that right leg over. My trainer had me school him for awhile. Typical race horse, showed promise though. And just for the heck of it I decided to pop him over a small wall…he jumped it like he had done it all his life! So I bought the small bay pony. Little did I know that horse would steal my heart!
We worked and worked, got to where he wouldn’t trot off when you mounted. He was so smart and advanced very quickly. We did well at our fist hunter shows but he just didn’t seem to like it. One day we were having a lesson and were schooling over a 2’6” vertical with stride placement poles on either side. 9ft away from the jump. Louie decided to take the whole thing as one jump. My trainer told me if he does that again we are making him a jumper. Well he jumped the whole thing once more. We have never looked back.

Louie and I took the jumper circuit by storm. Quickly moving up from puddle jumpers up to high child and junior a/o jumpers and higher. He loved his job and proved it by jumping the jumps out in his pasture when he was turned out. Nothing was ever too high, too wide, or too scary. He jumped everything. If I asked he jumped it. I believe he would have tried to jump the moon, if I had asked him too. Louie was my show horse thru high school and after. I was no longer looking to sell this wonderful horse. We could do everything! Whether it was jumping, cutting or just trail riding. In 2001 I decided to move to New York and took Louie with me. I spent 6 months as a working student for Peter Leone and got to school Louie for the grand prix ring. My little Texas bred retired race horse was out jumping many warmbloods! He excelled there, but Texas kept calling me and him home.
Not too long after we returned to Texas I got married and jumping kind of became a thing of the past. I still rode Louie everyday but now he was used as a ranch horse. He could cut with some of the best cutters out there! But he wasn’t as happy as what he was when he was jumping. He wanted to jump more than once every other week! So in the winter of 2003 I decided to sell my boy but with many stipulations to who could buy him! In April of 2004, Michele Moore, a young promising rider from OK came to look at him. I sold him for much less than what he was worth! BUT she promised to always keep in touch, that he would never be sold and that when he retired he would come home to me to live out his retirement. I became Michele’s trainer and Louie and I took Michele to the grand prix ring by that fall. They were very successful. A year later he came up lame, and Michele and I made the decision to retire him. He returned to Texas in the fall of 2006 and has had a wonderful retirement. While he was living at the Frye Ranch he got to be turned out with numerous pasture mates and had the run of 130 acres. But that proved to be a down fall. He needed to be on a smaller place where he didn’t feel the need to try and keep up with the herd, and discipline the youngsters. So I decided to take him to my parent’s place where the 2 of us grew up. When he returned to their house he ran right back in his stall that had been his for 5 years, even though he hadn’t been there in 2 1/2 yrs. He was sound again! He ran and kicked up his hills like a young horse again. He was home! He has had nearly 3 yrs there! We are back together, Michele tells me “He loves you so” I don’t regret selling him; he gave me my best friend, Michele. Louie has changed my life so very very much. I owe that horse my life.

As I’m writing this I have had to make the most dreaded decision a horse owner can make. I have made the decision to put my best friend of 12 yrs down. He is hurting, he can no longer run or play. My grandson of secretariat will soon go to be with God. My heart is already breaking but I know it’s the best thing I can do for him. He has had a forever home and has been spoiled these past few years. He is the love of my life. And I have found another OTTB named Missn Suesann “Susie” She reminds me a lot of Louie. Bay, white star about 15.3Hh….I hope to be in for another wonderful ride!
It’s been over 12 years since I looked at that star and diagonal whites and what a ride it’s been!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Racing Heart

Yesterday, on The Second Race Facebook page, I posted the question "Who is Your Favorite Race Horse of All Time, and Why?". The answers where as expected, John Henry, Seabiscuit, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Ruffian. There were many that felt Zenyatta was their favorite of all time. The mare has garnered a well deserved following, evidenced by the responses and love she inspires for racing. Eight Belles was chosen for her fighting spirit and untimely death following her incredible Kentucky Derby run in 2008.

What was enjoyable to read were how many of the race horses helped people through tough times in their lives. Whether famous or not, many commented on overcoming the death of a loved one, a divorce or how an emotional period of life was alleviated due to the spirit of competition and the joy of watching an equine athlete compete on the grand stage.

For me, War Emblem was the first race horse that captured completely my attention. It was 2002 and I was watching the Kentucky Derby on television at a local watering hole. I had watched the Triple Crown races for years on television, attended the races occasionally at Santa Anita, and would go to Los Alamitos a few times a year to catch the action at night. I have loved horses my entire life. My earliest memory was at three years of age, and knowing that horses would be with me in my heart forever. But for racing I was just a casual fan. I knew the famous names, but didn't follow racing. I wish I had.

War Emblem was a picture in the post parade, a sleek black Ferrari he gave me a chill, and I knew beyond a doubt he was going to win the race. The pre-race pageantry, his trainer Bob Baffert and his owner the Prince added to the charm of War Emblem. The gates opened, and the rest was history. Victor rode the colt to victory. I screamed the loudest and was hooked.

In 2003 and 2004 I watched everything that Smarty Jones did. The gorgeous chestnut with the crazy forelock, had tons of charisma. He quickly became a fan favorite from children to old timers. His heart couldn't be measured and for the first time I was caught up in the Triple Crown Fever.

Smarty seemed to be the first horse that I would see win the Triple Crown since becoming an avid racing fan two years prior. His loss to Birdstone was the singularly saddest moment for me in sports history. I am still not over it, and insult to injury was added when Ghostzapper won Horse of the Year. Smarty sadly, had been robbed again.

Those two race horses changed my viewing of racing and others after them caught my "racing heart". Brother Derek, Congaree, Rags to Riches, Afleet Alex, Curlin, and then of course Lava Man.

Lava Man, was the working man's horse. Relating to him was easy. He had the heart of a lion, a real warrior who outran his expectations and pedigree. It would take hours to explain the emotion he evokes in me to this day.

Lastly, and most importantly the horse that changed the trajectory of my life and shaped by purpose was Ferdinand. As I said I wasn't a racing fan when he ran. I did know the storied past of Ferdinand, but what was the life changer for me, was the death of our beloved Kentucky Derby winner in Japan. His reported slaughter was shocking to me. I didn't know about "racing's dirty secret", as it was later dubbed in the press. Because of Ferdinand, I went on to learn so much about what happens to some race horses when their careers are over. I learned about horses going to European markets to be food, and I learned that there weren't many places for geldings in particular to go to, when they were no longer competitive.

The Second Race was born from the beauty of War Emblem, Smarty Jones, and Lava Man but too, from the death Ferdinand. My life has changed dramatically because of each of them. The Second Race, in a small part hopes to pay tribute to each racing hero by changing the lives of many race horses in the years to come.

I can see no other way to pay back what they give to us.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

From the Race Track to Eventing-- Paddington's Story

From time to time, The Second Race, features stories told in the words of the owners of ex-race horses whom they have adopted or taken in for a new career. Here is the latest installment by Ashley Sager and her horse, Paddington.

I purchased Acrobatic Champ (aka Paddington or Paddy) from a small farm in NJ in April 2006. He had been off the track for about 2 weeks and I had this crazy idea that it would be fun to learn how to jump (I had been riding for 15 years but had always done Saddle Seat and never jumped) and so I thought I'd buy an off-the-track thoroughbred (I probably should have thought that through a bit more but it all worked out in the end).

When I first went to look at Paddy I thought he was about as ugly as a horse can be - he was about 100-200 pounds under weight, very gangly, all legs and had a skinny little neck. As they tacked him up I literally was trying to decide whether or not I even wanted to see him under saddle! But once I saw him move and rode him, I did a complete 180 - he was AMAZING. I couldn't sleep that night (that's how you know it's the right horse) so the next day I called and bought him.

After my purchase, I instantly fell in love with Paddy - he is the sweetest, most gentle, most well-mannered horse I have ever met. When I first bought him he had no idea what treats were, he reluctantly took a carrot from me about a week after purchase and it was a year before he'd try an apple, 2 years before eating horse treats and he still won't eat peppermints! But back to his story, over our first year we slowly learned how to jump together, he jumped like a gazelle and I am sure I didn't look much better but we figured it out.

Somewhere along the road, someone mentioned that they thought Paddy would be good at eventing, I thought "sounds fun" and we started eventing! We went to our first starter horse trials in 2007 and I was instantly hooked. I decided to take a year off from my day job and be a working student for Megan Moore at Team CEO Eventing in Kentucky, probably the best decision I ever made - it was an absolute blast! Paddy couldn't get enough of cross country and neither could I, we moved up the levels quickly and today we compete at the prelim level with hopes of doing our first one-star this fall.

Our current instructor, Babette Lenna, even thinks he could go Advanced one day, wouldn't that be something? He is the first horse I ever took to a horse trial, he is the first horse I ever rode Beginner Novice, Novice, Training and Prelim - I really hope he is the first horse I take Intermediate and Advanced (knock on wood). I am SURE he can do it, he is incredible talented, the only question is whether I can!

Paddy just turned 8 on April 15, 2010 (sorry, we don't follow the typical January 1st birthday - he's too special to have a generic birthday). He is 16.2hh, bay with some chrome and a star, he is still mostly legs but a lot less gangly then when I bought him 4 years ago, he has the cutest face (everyone says so) and is a yellow-lab in a horse costume, he'd sleep in my bed if I'd let him. His name is Paddington because he really does have the personality of Paddington Bear!


Friday, July 2, 2010

Horses and Fireworks--- Some Precautions to Take

With the country celebrating the Fourth of July this weekend, horse owners around the country are being urged to take precautions to ensure their animals (including horses) remain safe.

Reports of horses being badly injured, or even killed, after being terrified by the loud sudden noises and flashing lights associated with fireworks, are common.

Cases in recent years include a horse having to be destroyed after breaking a leg following a fireworks event, horses suffering from severe colic following a local fireworks party and a mare who had to be put down after a she broke through a fence and severed severe injuries. These may seem like extreme cases but they are worth considering when celebrating near your horses.

If you plan on having an event with fireworks, please consider notifying local horse owners in your area as a good citizen so they may keep their animals safe.

Tony Tyler, director of UK operations at the ILPH, says: "Most people look forward to bonfire night but for horse owners it can be a worrying time. Many horses and ponies can become stressed and upset by both the sight and sound of fireworks going off and if they are out in their fields it could have tragic consequences."

The ILPH advises horse owners to:

1. Make sure they are aware of firework parties in their area

2. Stable their horses and ponies if there are going to be fireworks nearby

3. Give them plenty of hay to keep them occupied

4. Check on them during the evening to make sure they are okay

5. Leave a radio on to camouflage the noise

6. Check their housing area in the morning for any stray fireworks

7. Have sand and water available in case of fire

Fireworks this time of year are always festive and fun and a wonderful tradition. Using common sense will make the day even more enjoyable for all involved.

In California fires are always a concern, here is a re-post of a blog post from last year that I wanted to re-run.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Loading Up Trusting Hearts

(Photo of Delta Storm, 2009 Breeders Cup Sprint, by John Chun)

This morning while assisting the groom in loading Delta Storm into a small two horse trailer, it occurred to me how trusting these athletes are. They are certainly used to trailering from one racetrack to another, and you hope that they will load easily. Of course, most times they are in large vans with several other horses, not a small trailer that must look oddly like a starting gate space.

This was the third horse in as many days that we have loaded onto a small trailer for their new adventure in life. And it got me to thinking how incredibly trusting race horses are. They go from person to person, not a question as to what will happen next, just assuming someone will take care of them at 4 a.m. or 4 p.m.. I felt wistful and a bit melancholy about the horses that load up not really knowing where they are going to next, but assuming at the end of the ride, someone is there to care for them. It's really all they know.

And I thought too of the tremendous responsibility The Second Race and hundreds of other groups and individuals place upon themselves to protect the horses after their racing days are over. To be sure its a daunting task day in and day out, but as I pinched Delta Storm's leg so he would bend it and I could place it on the step up trailer and help him steady himself as he walked on the trailer, it all seemed worth the trust his heart was putting in me at that moment.

I hope he and the others this week will be happy in their new lives.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Jockey Club Enhances Tattoo Database

The Jockey Club announced last week that it would expand the free services that it provides by adding the sales history of each Thoroughbred registered with them. Providing the additional information should help groups and individuals who attempt to retire or re home horses by providing a tool to aid them in knowing where the horse has been. This is of particular importance, when a horse is found at auction, or purchased years later off the track, and listed on Craig's List for instance.

The sales information is still being added. The Jockey Club reports that their free tattoo identification service has been accessed more than 200,000 times since its inception in April of last year.

The Kentucky Racing Commission has started a pilot program which allows for online monitoring of horse ownership, regardless of the number of owner changes. Kentucky hopes that other states will join the program. Again, making it easier for all to know the history of a horse.

Race horses are tattooed in different forms. Whether Quarter Horse, Arabian, Standardbred or Thoroughbred.

Below is a chart showing the year of birth associated with the letter in the lip tattoo for Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses. If there are two letters in a Standarbred's tattoo, it is the first one that tells the year of birth.

A = 1971
B = 1972
C = 1973
D = 1974
E = 1975
F = 1976
G = 1977
H = 1978
I = 1979
J = 1980
K = 1981
L = 1982
M = 1983
N = 1984
O = 1985
P = 1986
Q = 1987
R = 1988
S = 1989
T = 1990
U = 1991
V = 1992
W = 1993
X = 1994
Y = 1995
Z = 1996
A = 1997
B = 1998
C = 1999
D = 2000
E = 2001
F = 2002
G = 2003
H = 2004
I = 2005
J = 2006
K = 2007
L = 2008

P = 1971
Q = 1972
R = 1973
S = 1974
T = 1975
U = 1976
V = 1977
W = 1978
X = 1979
Y = 1980
Z = 1981
A = 1982
B = 1983
C = 1984
D = 1985
E = 1986
F = 1987
G = 1988
H = 1989
J = 1990
K = 1991
L = 1992
M = 1993
N = 1994
P = 1995
R = 1996
S = 1997
T = 1998
V = 1999
W = 2000
X = 2001
Z = 2002
A = 2003
B = 2004
C = 2005
D = 2006
E = 2007
F = 2008

The Second Race applauds the actions of The Jockey Club. Transparency is the key to helping the horses while on the track, and most certainly off.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Perfect Storm

A "perfect storm" is an expression that describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically, such was the experience I witnessed at the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) meeting earlier today.

In one corner you had Frank Stronach, the owner of Santa Anita Racetrack and Golden Gate Fields (among many other business interests inside and outside of horse racing) and the other an incredulous Racing Board trying to put a finger in the dike of California Racing. Those in attendance waited hours to hear what Mr. Stronach would say with respect to his plans for Santa Anita, the Oak Tree meet (whether or not it would be held at the aforementioned race track as it has for the past 41 years), and what was his long term business plan. It was as I say "the Perfect storm".

But back to my note, while listening to endless bickering, and the at times non-sensible approach to problems voiced by Mr. Stronach, I wrote on my note pad "Someone Needs to Be a Hero". What I didn't know is 45 minutes later a hero would in fact turn the tide of the meeting. The hero you ask? Mr. Mace Siegel.

Mr. Siegel's voice commands attention. His gravel, deep voice swept through the room and people listened, including Frank Stronach. Somehow with the delivery of reason, Mr. Siegel was able to have the Board "hear" miraculously what none of us did, that somehow he knew that Mr. Stronach could be reasonable. And so after listening to both sides, mediated by Mace Siegel, Frank Stronach recanted his statement and with the approval of the Oak Tree Board, which was in attendance, the race meet would be reinstated for one year (this race meet only). It was in a word, extraordinary.

I don't begin to know all the answers, in fact I have many more questions than answers. I also do not have the history and background in racing that many of the distinguished members in the audience had, however I do know a sinking ship when I see one, and I know a life jacket and an anchor when I see one too. We need both in California.

We need many heroes to save horse racing in California, my hope is that this will be the first step.

Speaking of Storms.....after the CHRB meeting concluded, I went to the backside to see Delta Storm.

Delta Storm is a nine year old gelding, that last year ran fourth in the Breeders Cup Sprint and found himself last week in Stockton entered to run for $ 3,200. His story too was a perfect storm for those that want to find one more reason to not like horse racing. The Second Race, with his former trainer and owner, worked to secure his retirement to CERF (California Equine Retirement Foundation).

Which brings me to what concerns me the most about the future of horse racing in my State and that is the horses. What is to happen to all of them? Where are they to go? How can we support them when or if the industry pulls up stakes and either leaves the business entirely, or abandons racing locally for more profitable jurisdictions? There are literally thousands of horses that need to be accounted for in our actions.

The Second Race hopes that while many more arguments and meetings will transpire in the coming months, we take a moment and think of the responsible retirement of the horses. Without the horses, there isn't racing. And that is a fact that can't be argued inside, or outside of California.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

True Cowboy Magazine Initiates a Rescue Fund for Horses

With the release of the June issue of trueCOWBOYmagazine (an online publication), came a personal message from editor Cate Crismani that caught my attention, the announcement that they are starting an Emergency Horse Rescue Fund. The fund will be monetized by subscription fees to the magazine. The goal of the Emergency Horse Rescue Fund is "saving a horse(s) from feedlots and certain cruel slaughter", said Ms. Crismani.

"Here at trueCOWBOYmagazine we are concerned with the welfare of all horses, mustangs, thoroughbreds and all breeds" The fund would offer assistance to groups who seek help to rescue directly from the feedlots.

You can help trueCowboymagazine's mission by subscribing online at or you can receive using your Iphone as well.

The Second Race applauds the efforts of Cate Crismani, and as she always signs off.....Besos!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Illinois Retired Race Horses Receiving a Helping Hand

photo by John Chun

by Mike Campbell, Jim Miller & David Zenner | June 07, 2010 (From Press Release--Arlington Park Website)

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman's Association (ITHA), Arlington Park and Hawthorne Race Course have agreed to cooperate in a program to provide for the care of retired Thoroughbred race horses. The program, which will be operated under the auspices of the ITHA and administered by a designated committee of ITHA board members, began with the start of the Arlington Park meet on April 29.

The long term well being of every Thoroughbred race horse is of paramount importance to everyone involved in the sport of Thoroughbred racing," said ITHA president Mike Campbell. "This program goes a long way to help ensure that every horse that regularly races in Chicago has the opportunity to live out its post-racing years under the best possible circumstances."

"What happens to the racehorse at the conclusion of its racing career should be of concern to all industry participants," said Arlington Park president Roy Arnold. "I am pleased that all the stakeholders in Chicago Thoroughbred racing have stepped up to take part in this important program which gives retired racehorses a chance at a second career."

"I am pleased to see the horsemen and tracks come together regarding horse retirement," added Hawthorne assistant general manager Jim Miller. "Without these magnificent animals, we wouldn't have the great history behind this sport that we do. Now we are able to provide opportunities for these athletes once they leave the racetrack and that is a very gratifying feeling."

The program will be funded by the ITHA as well as both of Chicagoland's Thoroughbred race courses. The ITHA has designated that 0.3% of purses earned at both Arlington and Hawthorne be directed to the fund.

Arlington Park will contribute $25,000 as its 2010 contribution to the program and Hawthorne Race Course will contribute $12,500 for its upcoming fall meet and $12,500 per race meet in 2011.

The ITHA committee will determine the processes under which the program will operate including the determination of eligible horses, selection of retirement facilities and the amount of funding to be provided to each facility while each racetrack will be responsible for the administration and disbursement of the funds collected.

The Second Race applauds any and all efforts on behalf of the retired race horses and will look forward to learning more about the acceptance criteria for race horses in the state of Illinois.

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