Monday, February 28, 2011

Reindeer Games

Surprisingly, my idea of fun is not always Misty’s. 

My idea of fun - playing dress up with my gloves and hat.

Being dressed as a reindeer - not Misty’s idea of fun.  Can’t you just feel the disdain?  Is this horse expressive or what?

But trust me, she’s really enjoying herself here…really. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Kentucky Horse Park

 The slogan for The Kentucky Horse Park is, “The Place to Get Close to Horses.” And this is true, but it really should read, “The Place to Get Close to Horses…if You’re a Kid.”

The horse park is great – it’s like Disney World for the equine-obsessed like me. Absolutely everything around you is devoted to horses…and the employees of the park do allow you to get close to the horses and pet them…but every time I turned around, there was a kid in my way! I get that they’re excited to see the horses too, but back up off…these horses are mine.

After each show, the horses from the performance would come to the fence for the fans to greet. Of course, kids (and Lauries), would swarm around them. I was getting ready to start throwing some elbows when James tapped me on the shoulder and told me to wait my turn…and let the kids go first.

What does that even mean? What about me? I’m excited too!

Me on the right...totally getting ready to throw a fit.

Again and again after each show, I felt obligated to act like the adult I supposedly am and wait on the sidelines until the crowd of ankle-bitters had their fill. While I was practically dying inside with impatience and frustration, James was laughing hysterically at my plight and taking pictures to capture the moment. What support!

"Laurie, let the kids go first!"

Finally got my hands on a miniature!

Overall, the horse park is pretty great and James and I really enjoyed our visit. We toured a museum, saw demonstrations, and got to meet some more racing legends, including Maryland born and bred, Cigar.

Cigar was not impressed with his fans...

And while I joke (kind of) about kids being in my way, I do appreciate that the park makes these beautiful equines accessible to horse lovers, young and old. After all, I was a horse crazy little girl not that long ago…and I just never grew up.

I could totally do vaulting on a horse!  

Riding the mechanical horse!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three Chimneys Farm – Part II

We had the nicest tour guide at Three Chimneys – that is until he yelled at me.

I can’t remember his name, but he was super friendly and, of course, very knowledgeable about the racing industry and all of his Thoroughbred charges.  If only I could wake up everyday in paradise and work with these amazing animals!

The second barn we toured housed some of the older Thoroughbreds.  Though they were all up in age, they still looked pretty good.  As soon as we walked in, I recognized Dynaformer.  Although he was a better-than-average racehorse in his day, he is now best known as Barbaro’s dad.  Barbaro was the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner who subsequently broke down in the Preakness only to be euthanized about 9 months later.

A huge fan of Barbaro, I was SO excited to meet his dad!  I walked over to get a better look and he stuck his nose out towards more, anxious for some attention (or in hopes of treats).  Like a reflex, I reached out to pet his nose…only to be yelled at seconds later by the tour guide.  “Please do not pet the horses!”

Telling me not to pet a horse is like telling me not to breathe.  And maybe he yelled at me, but how many people can say that they got their hands on one of the most famous stallions out there!?  Totally worth it.

Below: me about to be caught in the act...notice the tour guide on the right (in green).

Regardless of my slap on the wrist, Three Chimneys was the highlight of my trip; if you’re ever in Lexington, touring this farm is a must!  (Just don’t pet the horses…or at least get caught while doing so)!

Below: here we are in the Breeding Shed...also known as the place 'where the magic happens.'  Oh, you know it!   

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No More Winter!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the summer. I’ll take the humidity, the bugs, and the scorching heat any day of the week over these frigid temperatures. I was so excited last weekend when the temperatures topped at 70! Now, sadly, we have a few inches of snow on the ground, and I hope it melts immediately.

But in honor of this snow day, I wanted to post some pictures of Misty playing in the snow during the blizzard of December 2009. Like her mom, Misty is a summer baby as well and enjoys the long, warm days when the grass is lush and green. But not even Misty can resist a good frolic in the snow!

This picture below was featured in the February 2010 edition of The Equiery.  James took these pictures - aren't they great?!

Misty wears a blanket during the winter.  I take it off quite frequently to brush her out, but it probably felt good to kick up her heels without it on.

Of course, Misty's sister, our German Shepherd, Izzie, loves the snow too, and she loves to catch the snowballs we throw!

While a snow covered world is beautiful, I'm ready for the warm weather.  Come on Spring!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Who is the Sassy Grey? Meet Misty.

Since my horse inspired me to start this blog, I figured it was time to introduce my readers to the diva that is Misty Mystique.

In 2008, I adopted Misty off the track as a four year old.  It was truly love at first sight for Misty was long, lean, leggy, and my favorite color, dappled grey.  She was personable and friendly and full of mischief.  I knew right then and there that I had to have this horse.

After I brought her home, I realized that I had been a fool and had followed my heart instead of my head.  Though I’ve ridden for my entire life, I had no experience with Thoroughbreds, let alone an ex-racer.  How on earth was I going to retrain her to be a regular riding horse?

Thankfully there are a million resources out there for retraining your OTTB (off-the-track-Thoroughbred), so I hit the books, studied hard, and put those practices to the test with Misty.  I was also lucky enough to have a few experienced friends who gladly lent a helping hand.

I was also fortunate enough to adopt the absolute laziest racehorse ever to walk the earth.  The reason Misty was given to me (for free) was because she was a terrible racehorse, never finishing better than fifth in 15 lifetime races.  That being said, Misty does not like to run (obviously)…she does not like to go any faster than a walk…and only then if it’s towards food of some sort.

But having a lazy Thoroughbred has worked out in my favor – never has she tried to take off with me and race around the fields…and she can stop on a dime.  Her favorite part of the ride is when I let her stand there and nose James’ pockets for treats.  But I’m not complaining for her retraining has been a breeze and we’ve had a ton of fun learning together. 

Stay tuned for more adventures of the one and only, Misty Mystique…

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oh Smarty Jones!

We toured two beautiful barns while at Three Chimneys – both cleaner and more spacious than my house.  These horses live in very large, lavish stalls with lots of fluffy bedding.  To say that I was completely jealous of their lives is an understatement. 

In the first barn, the tour guide instructed a groom to take some of the horses out of their stalls so we could get a better look at them, take pictures, and bask in their gloriousness.  The first horse that was brought out was Smarty Jones, 2004 Kentucky Derby winner, Preakness winner, and 2nd place Belmont finisher.  Smarty is so handsome…and he knows it.

While we were all gawking at his beautiful chestnut self, he got…ummm…a little excited.  Maybe he wanted to show off…maybe be thought he was headed to the breeding shed…whatever the case may be, Smarty is proud of himself and wanted to share his…package…with all of us!

I know I’m a horse person and this shouldn’t have been a big deal – but I found this absolutely hysterical and started giggling like a 5th grader!  My husband shot me that, ‘please be an adult about this,’ look…and I let it go…haha!  Oh Smarty!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Three Chimneys Farm – Part I

On the top of my list of things to do while in Lexington was to stalk famous retired racehorses.  If any of you out there love celebrities, visiting Three Chimneys Farm for me would be like creeping around Brad Pitt’s house for you.

In order to tour the farm, we had to make a reservation a few weeks ahead of time.  James and I arrived right on time and our tour group consisted of about 20 people.  Three Chimneys is a stallion farm.  Basically what this means is that owners of successful (male) racehorses pay Three Chimneys for not only room and board, essentially, but to coordinate breeding schedules.  If a racehorse had a successful career on the track, his breeding career is usually much more lucrative.

Three Chimneys, therefore, houses the retired horses and arranges for mares (female horses) to come to the farm and have a “date” with their chosen stallion (or stud).  The interesting thing is that these booty calls are quite pricey.  One of the stallions has a fee of $150,000 per cover (sexy time)…and he mates approximately 100 – 150 times per year.  You do the math.

Three Chimneys was the home of 1977 Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, and is the current home of Smarty Jones, Big Brown, and 2001 Horse of the Year, Point Given, among others. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Downtown with Big Lex

On the site, you can print out a picture of Lexington, the first great American racehorse.  They give you a list of historical/hot spots to visit, and if you take a picture of yourself at the hot spot holding Lexington (“Big Lex”), you can email all the pictures back to the Visitor’s Center and they’ll send you a prize.  It’s a way cool horsey scavenger hunt!

I had great intentions to visit all 10 sites, but failed.  I think I made it to about three. 

Anyway, armed with Big Lex, we made our way into downtown Lexington.  Downtown is hard to describe – they have two or three small high-rise buildings and an arena/civic center.  Some of the houses are beautiful Victorians with incredible architecture, and some are just, crap…and they’re mixed together like that side-by-side.  Transylvania University is located downtown and has a very pretty campus – though all I could think about were vampires and the Twilight series.  (I’m totally Team Jacob).

First we stopped at Thoroughbred Park, one of the hot spots.  There are a bunch of racehorse statutes throughout the park, and plaques commemorating important people of Lexington.  One was Elizabeth Arden – interesting!

I was getting ready to whip out my picture of Big Lex and to pose like a dork in front of the sign when a bum comes over and asks me for money!  Are you serious?!  I’m in Lexington, Kentucky – the Horse Capital of the World!  This is my Mecca!  Bums are not allowed in Mecca!  Bums are not allowed in my horse world!  What is this!? 

The bum asks me if I have any cash I could spare.  I wanted to shout, “Am I still in Baltimore?  No I don’t have any cash!  Get away from me!”  Instead, being from Baltimore and having experienced my fair share of bum encounters, I say, “Sorry, I don’t carry cash.”  And this is true…that’s what debit cards are for.

Euphoric horse high – gone!

We get back in the car and I have absolutely no desire to continue with the Big Lex scavenger hunt and risk more bum sightings.  My sweet husband can see I’m about to lose it, so we head out of scary, bum-infected downtown and west into Versailles – true horse country!

Now this is a little more like it!  Each farm is comprised of hundreds of acres.  All of the pastures are perfectly manicured, the fences are beautifully painted and maintained – the barns – wow!  I could easily live in one of them as a human and have absolutely no qualms about my lifestyle.

Now that I have seen what a horse farm should look like, all Maryland farms have been tainted.  I can still recognize beautiful property when I see it, but I’ll always think about those idyllic Kentucky horse havens.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Journey to the Bluegrass State

Last summer James and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary (July 4th)!  And where does a couple who has promised to stay together until death do they part go to celebrate five years of wedded bliss?  Lexington, Kentucky – of course!  Well, maybe that’s where a horse crazy girl and her super loving and patient husband go.

Kentucky was just as wonderful as I hoped it would be (minus a slightly rough beginning which I’ll go into later), and even James surprised himself with how much fun he had!  Since I have a lot to say about this trip (shocking), I’ll break this section into several entries.

We left on a Monday morning around 9:30.  James had wanted to be on the road no later than 8:00 or 8:30, but after we dropped Izzie (our German Shepherd) off at my parents, I just had to stop and say goodbye to Misty one last time.

By the time we got onto the beltway, James had just about stopped gritting his teeth (I call him “Bill” when he does that for his dad is a notorious teeth-gritter, especially when we have to wait at a restaurant) and I was happily singing along to Jason Aldean.  The drive out to Kentucky was smooth sailing (for the most part).  Two jackass kids on motorcycles were flying down 70 and doing wheelies.  While part of me wanted to give them a thumbs up because they were kind of bad-ass, the other part of me wanted to go all Kay Yeager (my mother) on them and tell them to slow down, be careful, and think of what their mothers would say if they could see them now!  Besides, I told James – one of them is going to wipe out (they were directly in front of us) and then we’re going to hit him and the death of an idiot kid is totally going to ruin my trip!  (Because, really, it’s all about me).

We made our way out of Maryland and into West Virginia, an absolutely beautiful state.  The mountains are gorgeous and around every bend is another breathtaking show put on by Mother Nature.

Then, like the smarty-pants that he is, James changes our cds until Alabama’s “Mountain Music” blares from the speakers.  (I’m just jealous I didn’t think to do it first!).  “Oh play me some mountain music, like grandma and grandpa used to play.  Then I’ll float on down the river to a Cajun hideaway.” 

As soon as we enter into Kentucky, I sit back, relax, and wait for the horses.  I have to say that I was a little disappointed; I think I half-expected for horses to be lined up on the side of the highway, waving to me, officially welcoming me into their land of bluegrass, bourbon, and Thoroughbred racing.

Instead, we were headed west into Kentucky for well more than AN HOUR before I saw one horse!!!  We passed large fenced in pastures and farms on both sides of the road…and saw nothing but empty fields…or cows.  We were about 20 miles outside of Lexington before we finally saw one lone horse out in a field.  I was fuming – and they call this the Horse Capital of the World!? 

We stayed at the Griffin Gate Marriott in Lexington, a beautiful hotel with a Starbucks and a pool…but without a continental breakfast and free wifi (according to James, major priorities!).  Regardless, the hotel was perfect and a big thank you goes out to our friend John who hooked us up with a discount! 

Stay tuned for more of my Lexington, Kentucky adventures!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Welcome to my blog!  I’ve been wanting to start one for some time – but just never got around to it (read: was too lazy).  Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to get this up and moving!  So, today, on the birthday of my blog, (and my Misty - she's a Valentine's Day baby), I’ll start out by addressing the name, The Sassy Grey.  I wanted a name that would truly define who I am, and, as most of you know, I have an extreme addiction to horses, with a particular affinity for those grey in color.  When I think of horses, of course, I think of my mare, Misty, who is sweet, yet feisty and sassy – truly my equine-counterpart.  So who is the Sassy Grey?  Misty…and me.  I’m sure there are other names that would have worked as well, like Baltimore Book Worm or Crazy Cat Lady or White Marsh Whiner, but horses are who I am and what I know best, so The Sassy Grey wins. 

That being said, though this blog will be mainly devoted to my love for large, expensive, hay-burning animals, everything is fair game in the Sassy Grey world.  Please stop in regularly to check out life through the sassy eyes of a grey horse lover.