Flexible GES aka Bull

For at least five years I have watched and revered the great champion and stallion Flexible.  I dreamed and dreamed about a baby from this supreme stallion- what it could mean to my farm and to my daughter. Many sleepless nights were spent trying to decide the perfect bride for this wonderful stallion. We wanted to breed our horse Feather, an Irish sport horse to Irish horse Flexible but she was a maiden mare meaning she had never had a baby, and we were unsure what the results would be.

We even discussed the breeding of Feather and Flexible with Bennie Traurig, an Olympian, and his words to us were for let me know when the baby was born, that’s how excited he was about the potential mating of Flexible and Feather.

But in the end we chose to go with Silhouette, Betty Sue’s mother, an experienced broodmare with outstanding German jumping lines, a great mind and easy disposition. Our thoughts for breeding these two would be to offset the sometimes stubborn/opinionated Flexible with the gentle spirit of Silhouette.  And they couldn’t have been much  better of  a match in terms of size and development.

So last year at this time the breeding took place and almost one year to the day from the time that Silhouette was bred she gave birth to a beautiful buckskin baby colt on July 3.

But that’s where this fairytale story started to go wrong.  We all expected and then waited for this baby to get up and then start nursing but this baby never did. There are many reasons this happens none of them good.
For the next 48 hours everything possible was done for this baby to successfully get up and nurse. Stephanie, God bless her soul,  hand fed by bottle baby Bull (get it- short for  Flexible?) for 48 long hours never missing a feeding, never missing a moment where the baby might eat even if he refused.

________________________________________
My daughter spent a lot of her career and the time in neonatology with human babies and called this initial period as Bull eagerly ate to be the honeymoon period.  Then as sometimes human babies do, he “tanked”.

In the beginning baby Bull was bright and responsive and couldn’t wait for his next feeding. He ate hungerly and often but as time went on he became lethargic and quit eating. This was not a “dummy” foal.

In the meantime, we tried everything that we could to get Bull standing with legs that had been contracted too long in the womb with a great trained  Colorado State University Vet.  Even when he could stand he gave up trying to stand.  It was not meant to be.

Yesterday morning after 48 hours of life I agreed with the vet that it was time to let baby Bull go.   His life was not destined to be for whatever reason. Reasons we will never know. I’ve said it before but dreams die first.  My family, Stephanie and close friends are devastated by this loss.

I cannot thank Stephanie enough for all she did to take care of my baby during his two days of life. I doubt she slept at all. I also know she would do it all over again if she thought it would make a difference.

 Flexible GES July 3-July 5, 2017 

In love you were conceived.

And know in love you leave.

The summer of ’77

Waking up this morning, needing to get up and feed the dogs,  knowing the horses would need attention,  knowing my old body would be grinding in protest, I wanted to turn away and go back to sleep. And suddenly I wondered, what it must’ve been like 40 years ago, the summer before my college graduation when I might’ve awakened in Fort Collins, Colorado to a whole day ahead of me with no appointments at all. And no real obligations.

Don’t get me wrong, I was busy then I worked a couple of different jobs.   I went to school full-time. I had a cat.  And I don’t remember an overwhelming sense of freedom of waking up and having a whole day stretch ahead of me with nothing to fill up but time.  I probably made up things to fill the time as we did when we were young and didn’t know the value of time or its place.

Fort Collins, Colorado, in the summer,  was as close to ideal as one could ever imagine. Perfect weather.  Blue skies, dear friends and mountains beckoning.
I wish I could capture that feeling of not having to get up and do something in the morning and have my body willingly and not complainingly wanting to do it with me. Oh the many things I would do over again if I could.

I certainly would take this day that I had off away from work and away from school and I would’ve driven down to Denver and I would’ve visited with my parents and seen my sister, Betty.  I didn’t know then how little time I would have with any of them especially my sister.
I might’ve taken a long bike ride along the mountain ridge as I often did in those days enjoying the freedom, the isolation and the ability to go where I wanted to go by myself. I might’ve just spent the day cleaning my little apartment. I don’t know how I would’ve spent the day but I would give anything to have the day over again to spend, to have time to hope and I think about my dreams.

Many, many of my dreams have certainly come true. I have had a blessed life but there’s something about the innocence of those days in the green Fort Collins that I would give anything to have one more glimpse of.

As always, thanks for riding along.

—————————-
I have some amazing horses for sale top of the crop, if anyone is looking please be in touch.

Genetics

One very pregnant Silhouette!

With the birth of our next baby horse weeks away, I have spent a lot of time reflecting upon the genetics involving the father and mother.  Of course, I hope that I have chosen the right combination to produce an outstanding jumper that also has a trainable mind and hungry heart.  (Try finding those terms defined in a breeder’s literature about their stallion.)

Genetics mix differently with each baby.  Are all your children the same?  Mine are surely not.  Even horses with full siblings may not look, act or move like their brother or sister.

My kids are separated out by age.   Amber, my oldest is six years older than her sister, Ally, and 12 years older than her sister, Lauren.  They all have distinct personalities and likes and dislikes.   In some ways, Amber and Lauren look more alike and have similar likes and dislikes than their sister Ally.  Genetics, it is all weird.

I am watching my baby Sims continue to grow almost before my eyes.  At this point, there is little doubt that he will be close to 17 hands or so tall.  But, will he be adjustable down the lines and easy to train?   Will he have the heart to take on the really big fences without fear or hesitation?  And no matter what his genetics say, a lot of this depends on how he is introduced to work and training.  His trainer is almost as important as genetic make up.  Will I be able to give Sims and Betty Sue the access to the training to adequately augment their own abilities?  That is a hard one.  For all of us breeding that home grown “want-to-be champions”, we can get the genetics right (or pretty right) and derail ourselves with the training.

My daughter, Amber, has been in Kansas City this week.  The kids have come face to face with new cousins. Have they found kids just like themselves or totally unique individuals without similarities? When I learn of a new relative from my mom’s big family whom I have never met before I search their face for ways it looks like mine.  Do you all do that?

Genetics is spellbinding to me.  The key to so much and yet the mystery of so much as well.  If any of it were easy, the next Derby horse would be better than the last and we would still not be telling tales of Secretariat and Man ‘O War.  Or even about the heart of the $80 Champion, Snowman.  I actually love that science and mystery abound still, distinct from one another. Every kid, every horse can be a champion- there is always a chance.  When we try to breed the perfect horse, we know we will get less but we continue to hope for the best.

I can’t wait for this baby to be born, boy or girl, win or lose, mixing these strong Flexible Irish lines with the trainable, beautiful mover Silhouette German/Holsteiner lines, is a dream come true for me.

Thanks as always, for riding along.

Comfort in the night

0000brownie

I have asked myself many times, what is my earliest memory?   You have to be careful because sometimes it is not the memory itself but a picture which becomes familiar and we think we remember something we do not.  I am not sure what my earliest memory is, I have some from age three and four but I clearly remember getting the dog above (or one that looked a lot like him) for my fourth birthday.

I celebrated my fourth birthday in a hotel outside Chicago.  We were waiting for our house to be built and lived for awhile in the Park Ridge Inn.  Things were overwhelming then as we had just moved seven times in one year (and across the country like from Denver to Washington D.C. and Pittsburg to Chicago).  I grabbed onto this dog whom I quickly and intuitively named Brownie (I was sharp like that) and I did not let go of him until he was but a shell of a dog casing.

When all the world was crazy, Brownie was one thing that was the same.  He slept under the crux of my arm each night.  I cradled him in my arms.

One time in third grade when his ears were worn away to nothing, I decided to cut all the remaining hair off and glue yarn on instead.  Really stupid idea.  The old ears were velvety smooth, the new ears rough with glue and not at all satisfying to the Cindy that needed comfort.

I left Brownie behind somewhere between college and moving all over the US.  Since that time I have not had anything to keep me company on such a regular basis as that old stuffed dog. While clearly I have had lots of pets, none of them fit that spot between my arm and my side until now.

In the fall, I came home with two Siamese mix cats, Izzy and George.  Izzy, I say, is my soul mate as she always seems to know when I am sad or could use a friend.  Izzy, like Brownie before her, fits and sleeps in that space near my heart keeping me safe and content.

I don’t know what made me think of Brownie after all these years but maybe it was just having Izzy’s warm presence in these quiet, post-surgical days as I have spent some extra time in bed getting stronger.

I wish I could take a picture at night so you could see how perfect we fit one another but you will have to be content with the day version picture.  Oh, Izzy, how lucky I am to have found you. 


As always, thanks for riding along!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reality show?

On just another afternoon at the house, here in Southeast Texas, I was inside resting after another shortened day at work as I am recovering from surgery. 

Suddenly, I heard a horrible thumping noise directly outside my bedroom windows. I knew it was the air-conditioners. We have two units located directly in my backyard behind my room.

I rushed outside already dreading what I would find and hoping it was not a broken air conditioner unit. Replacing anything of that magnitude is not in my budget right now. As I came around the corner I heard a horrible hissing noise like the whole unit was shutting down.

I went back to the house and yelled for Lauren to see if she could come and look at the unit with me to see if there was anything that we could do. As I waited for her to come down I saw what had caused the unit to stop working. I was a little excited to show Lauren as I knew it would scare the crap out of her.
I could see what was at least a 5 foot water moccasin snake completely wrapped around the center of the fan blades in the air conditioner unit. Lauren, of course,  had my desired screaming affect when she first saw the snake dangling from the fan blades. But then reality set in on how we were going to try to fix this.

We looked originally to see if there was someway we could take the top off the unit and get to where the snake was tangled in the hardware of the fan.

We decided we had to get something long enough to reach in through the metal bars of the top of the air-conditioner unit and be able to untwist the snake from his roosting spot inside the air conditioner.

The only thing Lauren and I could find to untwist the snake with were some long kebab skewers that sat in our kitchen drawer. First being smart enough to turn off the electricity we went out to try to undo the snake from the gears. And what we thought was a very delicate procedure where we would take the snake and both of us would hold it and twist it around the center of the blade until we got it around to the other side where we would untwist the body of the snake from his tail. 
It appeared that he was twisted three times,  in and out, up-and-down, as he made his way around the inside of the air conditioner.  In a process that took us about 45 minutes, with Lauren screaming every time she put the skewer through the dead snake, we finally got the snake undone and he dropped to the bottom of the air conditioning unit.  

We went back in the house, push the power back on and waited to see if the air conditioning unit would come to life. It did. I huge sigh of relief came from both Lauren and myself as we thank God for a good luck.

I went back to my spot on my bed happily hearing the air conditioner running outside my window. I actually got a little bit of rest before the TV alerted me to an immediate tornado warning in Richmond, our hometown.

Then Lauren, the five dogs, five cats and I hung out in the interior hallway for the duration of this very frightening tornado that touched down very close to our home. We were all safe,  thank God again. 
I’m telling you, we need a reality show.

Thanks for riding along.

The WHOA Watch

Back in 1999, recently divorced, recently starting over in the horse business and with two horse crazy kids, I purchased what was a “nice” watch for then (okay, not super nice but nice by my standards).  It was called the WHOA watch and was sold at a saddle shop.24918

Certainly, that was enough to get my attention but it also came with a leather band, a stainless steel face, and was quite water proof.  Exactly, what I needed for my new life with horses, water hoses and water buckets.  I would not have to take it off every time I wanted to clean a bucket or bathe a horse.

It also had a little light up dial feature.  Perfect for me in the middle of the night when I wanted to know what time it was.

Well, I loved the WHOA watch, cleverly saying whoa instead of stop in a little stop sign in the center of the watch.  It was to be a saving grace for me as well.

I was working a thoroughbred for some friends and without much warning or notice got bucked off over the arena fence, landing indelicately in the stands.  I was hurt bad enough for an ambulance to come and me to spend several days in the hospital. But my WHOA watch had saved me from a bad injury as well.

As I had bounded over the fence, my wrist had caught on the wire fence, cutting deeply into the soft flesh.  It bled,  a lot.  In the ambulance, they wanted to throw away my watch which was covered in blood.  I insisted on keeping it.  It would be awhile until I examined my clothing and belongings from that day.

When I did, and I cleaned up the WHOA watch, I found the stainless steel face had a deep pit cut into the stainless and across the glass.  Had the wire cut through my wrist at the same depth and strength I would have had quite an issue with bleeding. As it was the WHOA watch let me get by with just a few stitches instead.

All this time, I casually looked for another WHOA watch.  I never could find one, but kept a search active on eBay.  Well, look at what I got (and for an amazing price-okay it is 20 years old -I call that a vintage find!). I am thrilled to have my watch back and hope I don’t need it’s super powers ever again.

000023 (2)

Thanks for riding along!