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The Epic Epicness that is Kauto Star

Yesterday on Retired Racehorse I shared a blog post about Kauto Star, the eleven year old National Hunt horse who took back his Betfair Chase championship for a fourth time.

Then last night I found an insane photograph of Kauto Star in mid-flight and shared it on Twitter. I got about twenty new followers and I’m looking forward to learning a lot more about English racing from this little beaut!:

Kauto Star in the Gold Cup. I'm looking for the photo credit.

Okay, first, did you know that Thoroughbreds actually take flight? Why would anyone jump anything else? I ask you?! 

Secondly, I was up at one o’clock this morning watching this amazing video of Kauto Star’s Betfair Chase. Watch how comfortably he gallops and takes these fences.  It is simply a beautiful thing. I’m not clever enough to figure out the embed, so follow this link to Sporting Life.


Note: the original version that went out to subscribers said this was his Gold Cup win. It wasn’t. I’m just figuring out all these different races! 



Filed under Media Coverage, Outside Sites, Racing

Hyper-local Horse

There’s a great new world that’s been opened up by the Interwebs, and that’s the world of hyper-local news. It works everywhere, whether it’s rural or urban, as long as there is a person interested and invested enough in their community to maintain a tight connection to any sort of of social media that might mention their neighborhood.

Or, I suppose, talk to someone in person, which I hear still happens from time to time.

Upper West Side is about to go hyper-local, because her name attracted the attention of a reporter/blog editor who writes for a site entirely dedicated to Manhattan’s Upper West Side. I say “about to” because she hasn’t raced yet – but with the number of works that little miss Yukon has been posting in the past few days, the time is nigh.

Upper West Side (our li'l Yukon) and her timed breezes at Calder

The reporter must have had a bot that searched out the term “Upper West Side” in Twitter, because within a minute of posting something about Upper West Side’s appearance on the work tab at Calder, I got a message asking about a horse named for her famous neighborhood.

And yes, Yukon was named for the Upper West Side. Before we had a farm and a double-wide on a prairie/swamp in Central Florida, we had a very nice studio in a brownstone on the Upper West Side. W. 69th and Central Park West, if you must know. So it was fun to explain that to the reporter (who assumed that because she had changed ownership, she’d have a new owner), as well as that her pasture-mate, Royal, had been named for our new neighborhood, Sunset Park.*

So we’ll watch and see. My guess is, she’s going to run in the next week – her works are pretty close together. Ontherightwicket was the two-year-old champion filly in Maryland. Will her daughter put in a bid for the honors in Florida?

If she does, I bet she makes the hyper-local news.

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Filed under Media Coverage, Outside Sites, Racing

No Perfect Horses

I’m not a fan of those posts that begin “Sorry it’s been so long since I posted -” but this will have to start that way, or you’ll all want to know where I’ve been.

The fact is, I’m spending all of my writing time on my fiction, and no time at all is being spared for blogging, and very little of it for the things that usually keep me in a horsey frame of mind: Twitter, Facebook, etc. I’m not riding at the moment, and my mornings begin considerably later, around seven thirty instead of four thirty, which is luxurious, to say the least. Instead of rushing out the door for the subway in the pre-dawn hours, I’m taking the boy to school and then spending a few hours in a cafe around the block, nursing some of the richest, blackest organic fair trade coffee a girl could hope for, while hunched over my Mac.

Last night, before falling asleep pathetically early, I did get to “listen in” on a series of tweets called “Horsechat.” If you don’t use Twitter – what are you waiting for? – then it’s hard to explain, but basically if you follow up all your remarks with #horsechat, then during the prescribed hour, you can use Twitter as your own horsey chat room. It’s sponsored by Horse Family Magazine, and it can give you a lot of different perspectives all at once – always useful in the often-isolating horse world.

What I found interesting last night was the apparent consensus on pre-purchase exams. We’ve talked about this before. I’m still as against pass/fail pre-purchase exams as I have ever been. And here’s what I have to say to novices, should you stumble upon this blog before you buy your first horse, the horse of your dreams, the horse you knew you wanted when you were five years old –

There’s no perfect horse.

There’s no perfect horse.

There’s no perfect horse.

Think of it like this: ever had a toddler? They ram into things, right? They fall down, they hit their heads, they get bruises that they never seem to feel, they do all sorts of things that make it seem like they’re out to kill themselves. Then think of a horse with that mentality, and you have a four hundred pound weanling, crashing around his field with the self-destruct instinct of a nuclear missile, or the six hundred pound yearling, slamming their growing bones and tender joints into walls, through fences, up and down pastures…

And that’s just the best-case scenario. That’s just a coddled, unbroken youngster.

Most horses have still more history than that. Especially, one hopes, if you’re a novice owner, just getting your first horse. In this case, I sincerely hope you’re buying a veteran, ten years of age or more, and you know what? He’s lived. He’s done hard work. He has arthritis. A few bone spurs. Maybe even a chip floating around in his knee or ankle that you don’t know about, and may never find out about.

A vet check tells you these things, and how to maintain them. Here are this horse’s set of problems. Here is how you will keep him going. Here is what he can’t do. Here is what he can.

Final Call had the greatest vet check of all time. The vet told the prospective buyer that vet checks were nonsensical, trotted the horse, squeezed the horse all over, and finally took a pair of hoof tongs and found a tender spot on his sole. Final Call flinched. “Fail,” the vet said. He failed the exam in the simplest pass/fail sense – he wasn’t 100% sound. The lucky thing is, no horse is. No person is. Nothing is. “This horse can do anything you want him to do,” the vet told the buyer, and she bought him.

Sound is relative. What do you want the horse for? What maintenance are you willing to put into him? And can you accept that there is no perfect horse?


Filed under Selling Horses