Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Sassy Grey is moving!

I told you all in a previous post that I had some new ideas in store…and here it is!  I’m moving to my own website!  Because all of a sudden what I have to say requires its own domain name! ;)  This will be my last official post on blogger.

Now you can find me here:

So why the new site?  It’s actually because I want to change the focus of my blog slightly and concentrate specifically on horses.  Previous posts have included a variety of topics, but I’m hoping to narrow down that focus (if I can!).  So here it is – all horses, all the time…with a special look at the wonderful world of OTTBs (off-the-track Thoroughbreds).

So bear with me – this site is definitely going to be a work in progress for quite some time.  I’ll probably be rearranging the lay-out / menu options / everything, over the next few months until I really find my niche.

Questions / comments / thoughts / anything – send them my way.  I want to hear from my readers!  (Unless you’re mean – then I don’t!).  And as always, please pass along this site to any horse enthusiasts you think might enjoy it!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge – The Finale!

Today I ventured up to Harrisburg, PA for the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge Finale.  It took place at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo, an expo that, surprisingly, I had never attended before.  But the lure of the Challenge and the idea of seeing my beloved Brazilian Wedding again enticed me to cross state lines for the day!

The Maryland Expo is always crowded, but I was totally overwhelmed by the turnout at PA.  We arrived around 11, browsed the vendors, hit Jim Wofford’s demonstration at noon, and then grabbed lunch.  It was about 1:30 by then, so my group thought we should make our way to the Equine Arena, where the Challenge would be held, find some seats and eat.

Well – that was impossible. 

We entered the arena with arms loaded with hot dogs, nachos, and sodas…to find standing room only.  So back out we went where we sat on a bench and downed our food in 10 minutes as we watched people just stream into the arena.  At that point, I started to panic, thinking there wouldn’t be enough room for me to see the Challenge.  I believe I said something like, “I’m going to throw some elbows if there’s not enough room in there for me.”  Because, yes, the Challenge meant that much to me.

So back inside we found some space standing along at the top rail.  The demonstration before the Challenge went over a little, so there weren’t too many people leaving.  At one point, a group of 4 or 5 people left their seats, and as I went to make my way over to them, someone pushed past me and said, “those are my seats – I’ve been waiting over an hour for this.”

I wanted to say – “good for you – I’ve been waiting for five weeks!

But I let it go because moments later I scored front row seats – yes!!  Then out came Steuart Pittman with the horses and their trainers.  I was beside myself with happiness/excitement/you name it!

Steuart gave a brief overview of the program while the horses and riders warmed up.  Then each trainer was hooked up to a mic and talked a little about what the last five weeks had been like with their chosen horse.

I was blown away by each and every horse!  First, Tiffany Catledge rode High Level, the horse she originally picked but had abscessed at the beginning of the Challenge.  She had only started riding him about two weeks ago…and here he was, cantering over jumps as relaxed as could be.  My favorite part was when Tiffany completely dropped her reins, spread her arms out wide, and High Level continued to canter around the arena, smooth and steady, and without a care in the world.

Tiffany and High Level.  (I want to apologize in advance for the point and shoot had a hard time adjusting to the lighting in the arena).

Next came Kerry Blackmer on Four X The Trouble, aka Tempyst.  At the Maryland Expo, Tempyst was a ball of nerves, very spooky, and incapable of going straight.  Now five weeks later, Tempyst was by far the most relaxed…moving (straightly) around the arena with a nonchalant, almost lazy air about him.  It’s almost like he knew how much I love lazy OTTBs, (like my Misty).  The best part was when Kerry walked Tempyst right up to us in the seats to let him say hi!!!  I could not get over what a puppy dog he was…and he certainly loved the attention!

Kerry and Tempyst.

After Kerry was my favorite, the grey mare, Brazilian Wedding.  Brazil’s trainer was Eric Dierks, who created the most amazing training videos to showcase Brazil’s progress and talent.  Brazil, with her adorable lower lip flapping, sauntered around the ring like, been there, done that.  Eric noted that Brazil was a horse who liked to have a job, liked to be challenged.  She popped over the crossrails like it was no big deal…but she totally shined when Eric raised the jumps and started cantering them.  She sailed over with perfect form, snapping her knees up, and pricking her ears, asking for more.

Brazilian Wedding with the winning trainer, Eric Dierks!

And finally we saw the big teddy bear, Solidify.  He had originally been chosen to be the alternate horse, but stepped up to the plate when High Level went lame.  Solidify – that horse is ALL try.  You could tell by just watching him go around under Tiffany’s tutelage that all he wanted to do was please her.  At first he struggled to pick up his left lead canter…but then rolled into it so beautifully, so clean and natural.  

The adorable Solidify.

In the end, Eric was announced the winner of the first ever Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge!  While I was happy for the trainer of my beloved grey mare, I really do believe that each trainer deserved to win.  Each brought so much to the Challenge – brought SO much to the world of off-the-track Thoroughbreds.

I am so grateful that I was able to participate in this Challenge, even as just a spectator.  (And speaking of spectators…I was one of 3,000+ (my guess) today in PA!!!).

The sweet Tempyst again...but check out that crowd - standing room only up there!

I’m also totally bummed that this is over – how will I pass my time now?  I had my RRTP FB page stalking routine down pat!

I had the pleasure of speaking with Steuart after the Challenge and I, again, want to extend my sincere congratulations to him and everyone involved in this Project.  It was an absolute success, and I (and thousands of others) enjoyed every single minute of it. 

(Also – to the new owner of Brazil…call me.  I can’t take her now…but when I buy my farm (hopefully within the year), I’ll be ready!!  Keep in touch!).

Monday, February 20, 2012

I Wrap Hooves like a Champ

So Misty is recovering from a rather large abscess that burst with a vengeance out of her RH.  Well, after the vet dug it out, of course.

At first, I wasn’t sure Misty was actually abscessing as I’ve had her 3 ½ years and the only other time she’s abscessed was 6 weeks after I got her…and that was as a result of semi-throwing her racing shoes on her second day home and stepping on a nail.

I thought maybe she had twisted something on the frozen ground because, although her lower leg was swollen, she was still sound…and then she was just a little off…then a little more…then…you know?  I think she’s abscessing!  Enter diapers…and duct tape…and vetrap (pronounced like “vet wrap,” not “vet trap,” as I pronounced it as a stupid kid)…and Ichthammol…and hot water…and Epsom salts.

I wrapped Misty for a few days before I had the vet out, (but I was tired of watching her limp – figured the vet could speed up the process a little)…and since the hole was pretty big (about the size of a nickel and very deep), my vet suggested I keep it wrapped for another week so it would stay clean and could continue draining.

The foundation.

First, I have to give props to Misty – she’s the BEST patient ever!  She stood so perfectly still in her cross ties as I soaked her for 20 minutes and picked at/cleaned what must be an awfully painful little hole!  Then she continued to stand while I wrapped her hoof with a baby diaper.

Ichthammol - sticky, gooey, and dark brown...ick.

Second, I have to give props to myself…I’m a Master Wrapper.  After I’ve soaked her hoof in hot water and Epsom salts, I set it down on a clean towel and let it dry.  Then I smear the Ichthammol on her actual hoof and inside the diaper.  (Note – this is the ONLY time I ever want to see anything dark brown smeared inside a baby diaper – gag!).  Then I wrap her hoof in the diaper and use duct tape to secure the top.  Then around and around I go with the vetrap…then more duct tape…especially at the toe which is on the ground the most since the poor thing keeps it cocked up, almost dragging it.

Misty prefers vetrap in blue or pink.

How do you know if you’re a Master Wrapper?  Is the wrap still on in the morning?  Yes?!  Woo!
Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of my magnificent creation since I am the last person on earth who does not have a smart phone…so no camera.  So just use your imagination.  Give me a diaper and a horse hoof, and I will give you art!

The main ingredient.

So all this happened about a week ago…and Misty is still on the mend, but not completely ride-able yet…which makes perfect sense because the weather has been amazing and unseasonably fantastic for this time of year.  Figures.  But at least my girl is improving. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Sassy Grey!

This is a special day for three reasons!  First, and in no particular order, today is the 1st birthday of The Sassy Grey blog.  I began this blog a year ago to coincide with another birthday, that of THE Sassy Grey, Misty Mystique!  My Misty is 8 years old today; I can’t believe my Valentine’s baby is all grown up!

And finally, it’s Valentine’s Day – a great holiday devoted to love and chocolate.  What’s not to love?

Misty on her first day home - look at that sweet face!

But back to Misty…when she came off the track and into my life, she was a silly filly of 4.  Now she is a mature lady at 8 – all grown up, but still my baby doll.  I've owned her for 3 ½ years now – where has the time gone?  We have taught each other so much in what feels like so little time; I thank God every day that she’s a part of my life.

I look forward to celebrating many more birthdays, to growing together as horse and rider, and to having fun! 

I’m also excited for The Sassy Grey blog!  I have some great plans in store for it this year – stay tuned!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hopelessly devoted to ribbons – Part II

In one of my last posts, I encouraged my friend Kelsey to “hop to” and create her ribbon shadow box.  Well, she must have been inspired because look at what she produced over the weekend?  Isn’t it perfect?

And for those of you wondering, she did not cut the ribbons; she simply overlapped them or folded them back to make space.  Leaving the rosettes attached to the ribbons themselves provided some background / filler.

I think it turned out beautifully – nice job, Kels!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pixie, the original Sassy Grey

I’m devoting this post to the best cat in the world, my Pixie cat.  Pixie has been my girl since the summer before my senior year of high school.  And even though she’s still mine, she lives with my mom, who couldn’t let her go after I got married and moved out.

It was a hot summer day in 1999 when my mom, sister, and I ventured into the PetSmart off of Route 40.  As usual, we stopped by the cat adoption center to look at all the cute kitties in their crates.  This day, a volunteer was cleaning the cages, letting each cat out one at a time to walk around.  I looked through the glass and sitting on a climbing tree and staring back at me was Pix, a half-grown, beautiful grey tabby.

Pixie getting her poker face on.

I knocked on the window and Pix saw me and started rubbing around the glass on the inside.  Immediately I knew I must meet that cat.

The volunteer came over; I pointed to Pix, and asked if I could see her.  The three of us came inside and before we knew it, Pix had weaseled her way into our hearts.  As we held her, she purred like crazy and gave us kitty hugs by wrapping her arms around our necks, and kissed our cheeks.  She was an excellent sales-kitty – we were hooked.

The adoption center had named her Cori, but that name sounded too human.  I was almost settled on Dixie when Pixie popped into my head – what a perfect name for such a sweetheart.

She's ALL IN!

Pix has always been the family favorite.  She’s our “Love Kitten,” our “Meow Meow,” and our “Schnookums.”  She’s more dog than cat, a very talkative cat who will sit and listen to you as you talk about your day, and then offer her thoughts.

However, she’s not always her Love Kitten self.  Like any true sassy grey, she can be quite the diva.  If you pet her the wrong way, she’ll smack you.  When we would go on vacation (and my grandmom would watch her), she’d run to greet us when we returned…then ignore us for a few hours as if to punish us for leaving her.

Regardless of her attitude, she’s been nothing but an absolute joy to own.  She even had a Lassie moment.  One night, years ago, my mom was getting ready for bed when Pix came bounding into her room and jumped on her chest.  Then she jumped off, stood there looking at my mom, and “yelled” at her.  Then she tore off out of the room.  My mom followed her thinking she wanted a bedtime snack or something like that.  Pix flew down the steps and raced into my sister’s room where my mom had left a space heater running.  It had just begun to smoke.  My mom quickly turned it off and thanked Pix, who must have known something was wrong!  Good Pixie!

Now, 13 years later, Pix is still doing well, still her diva self.  She is the Queen of the House; we let her do whatever she wants.  If my mom complains that she’s walking on the kitchen counters, we just reply, “but she’s Pixie cat!”  After all, the best cat in the world can do anything she pleases. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hopelessly devoted to ribbons

I have ribbons on the brain for a few reasons.  First, with this warm weather (Best. Winter. Ever.), I’m already looking ahead to spring.  And after spring comes the best of all seasons, my glorious summer.

And summer means horse shows!  I can’t wait to get back in the saddle on a regular basis and start pointing Misty towards some shows. 

Misty's like, where am I?

Oh sh*t, a horse show.

I’m also thinking of ribbons because I finally posted some pictures on Facebook of the show I was in last November.  It was Misty’s second of the year (third total) and it was her first dressage schooling show.  Please see the pictures below – she’s a sassy grey star!

My photographer husband comes in handy!

Saluting the judge before my test.


Like most riders, I love displaying my ribbons around the house.  When I first brought home these blues, I hung them on my hutch, then they moved to my mantle, and then finally to my home office.  As I was hanging them up with my other ribbons (a variety of 1st through 6th places), I started wondering about the colors of the 7th through 10th place ribbons.  In your average sized, local horse show, ribbons are given out up to 6th place, but in larger shows and events, the ribbons go to 10th.

So I Googled and found this:

1st – blue
2nd – red
3rd – yellow
4th – white
5th – pink
6th – green
7th – purple
8th – brown
9th – grey (must get this one sometime!)
10th – light blue

Believe it or not, when I was in high school, I liked to shoot for the 6th place ribbon because it was green and matched the d├ęcor of my room at the time.  Yes, that’s right.

yeah girl!!

But as I was doing my research, I found out that in Canada and Britain, the 1st place ribbon is actually red and the 2nd place ribbon is blue!  Can you imagine ‘going for the red’ instead of ‘going for the blue?’  What an odd concept to us blue-obsessed Americans! 

Now I just need to bring home some Canadians or Brits – with all the red ribbons I have, they’d think I’m a superstar!

The traditional 1st through 6th.

Some people are creative and put their ribbons and numbers in shadow boxes...I'm looking at you, Kelsey!  Let's hop to!