Empowering Girls
Loving Horses
Sharing Life

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bao Bao Busted Out!

Bao Bao, (literal translation of her name: precious treasure) has grown to approximately eighteen pounds in the last five months. She's not only walking and climbing on the rocks in her indoor enclosure but she's also mimicking mama Mei's bamboo habits. Only difference between her and mama? Mama breaks that rascally, sturdy bamboo in half with her amazing thumbs and chews up stalk after stalk of the tasty green stuff until she's eaten all the food available to her in her exhibit. Whereas, baby Bao Bao's not yet eating solid foods. Her teeth are still in early development stages. Meaning...all little Bao Bao can do is lick the leafy parts of the bamboo stalk. Fortunately, she seems to like that just fine. That and playing with her toys.
Bao Bao's a fearless, fancy climber who doesn't let ridiculous things like being bopped off her rock by her mama, deter her from turning around and climbing right back up the side of it. She likes to play with her ball and snuggle up inside a ringed toy her human caretakers leave out for her. High activity times to watch her in action properly happen during daylight hours, however I enjoy watching her do her thing late at night before hitting my own pile of hay for sleep. Typically, clicking the arrow "on" on the Panda Cam around 1 am est, also works well to catch her in high-octane mode.
If you've been waiting to check out beautiful Bao Bao in person, now's the time to high-tail it on over to Smithsonian's National Zoo in D.C. Both baby and mama now have access to public viewing areas at periodical times. Early morning hours are believed to be best if you want to see the baby cub do more than sleep. Expect long lines at the zoo. Who doesn't love watching pandas?! Help the zoo out and do yourself a favor at the same time. Friends Of the National Zoo (click here for membership details) enjoy benefits such as private viewing times.
As for me, I can't wait to wave at Bao Bao in person this spring. I think it's fair to say, I'm way more excited than she is, about my upcoming trip. How bad is it that I can't stop concocting ways in my mind to bust her out for real, and sneak her home on the plane with me? How much bamboo does a baby panda eat in one day? I'd better get to doing research so I can have adequate supplies on hand when we arrive back at my...never mind... (Note to self: some things are better off left inside your head and not spoken out loud.)
Should you see Bao Bao before May, tell her I said, hello! and keep chewing...that tasty bamboo's got to give way to her teeth sooner or later.
Entertain yourself with PANDA CAM activities by clicking here: PANDAS RULE!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

North American Racing Academy's Got It Going On!

Retired jockey, Chris McCarron had a dream and a vision. It's exciting to see a dream find a home for its full fruition. Cooler yet, when your dream involves teaching hundreds of other hopeful individuals how to turn their passion for horses and commitment to competition into a fulfilling racing career.
Whether you long to be a jockey, exercise rider, trainer or some other horsemen position, Chris McCarron's school, the North American Racing Academy, NARA for short, is determined to help you make that happen.
NARA borrows barn, pasture and track space for hands-on lessons, practice and study and is located at the Thoroughbred Training Center and The Kentucky Horse Park, in Lexington, KY. It also shares classroom space with the Bluegrass Community and Technical College. The NARA program is unique in its ability to help students earn an AA degree or certificate in Equine Studies through BCTC at the end of their chosen course study.
Don't take just my word for it: This is a Great Boston Globe Article that Shows What I'm Talking About
NARA's accomplished jockeys have professionally competed in races all over the United States and around the world. As recent as November of 2013, the lovely and accomplished jockey, Natalie Turner, traveled to the UAE and competed in the Dubai World Apprentice Race in Abu Dhabi. Rock it out, Natalie! Way to represent.  
If you want to learn how to become a competitive, serious horseman or woman, check out NARA's website here: Make Your Jockey Dreams a Reality by Clicking Me!
Good luck! I hope to see you tearing up the track or in the backside, doing your thing and loving your life. Horses. Isn't that what every day should be about, all the time? If only I were 5'5" and weighed 110lbs. Of course, then you'd see me racing past you ON THE TRACK, because I'd study at NARA and become a top-notch jockey myself!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mucho Macho Man MANIA, Deservedly So!!!

It doesn’t take a stampede of friends for this horse to take the world by storm. MUCHO MACHO MAN! I love this guy. And not just because his fabulous stride and big heart won him and jockey Gary Stevens, trainer Kathy Ritvo and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, the Breeders’ Cup Classic at the 2013 Breeders’ Cup.
Mucho Macho Man, a gorgeous, delicious, caramel-candy colored six-year old, stud among even other stallions, hails from Florida and certainly deserves serious consideration as the 2013 Eclipse Award’s “Horse of The Year.” Yes, he had fierce competition at the Breeders’ Cup Classic wire, but if you keep your eye on his nose at the line, there’s no doubt he kicked his courage into overdrive to get the job done.
Watch the race and amazing finish here: Go, Mucho, Go!
Gary Stevens definitely deserves accolades, as well, for riding Mucho across the finish with an adventurous spirit, robust heart and gentle hand. But as any true horse lover will attest, it was Mucho who made that win happen. He didn’t cave under last-minute pressure from strong contender Will Take Charge. He didn’t relent his focus or soften his assertive winner-take-all attitude when pressed to push for more in the final stretch. That’s a long race, one and a quarter miles. I know I would totally epic fail if asked to move at 35mph for ANY reason or distance.
January 2014, Mucho enjoyed public accolades while receiving the 2013 “Secretariat Vox Populi” award. He’s a horse with heart and courage as substantial as his seventeen hands. Purse earnings. Over five million to date.
Lesser horses might be content to run the race of his life in a single Breeders’ Cup series and then take it easy. Not the fabulous Mucho Macho Man! He and superhero trainer Kathy Ritvo, who herself, has battled significant health issues (we’re talking heart transplant surgery size problems) also ran and came in a close second in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic race. Gulfstream Park, in Florida, will honor Kathy during pre-Eclipse Award events on Thursday, January 16, 2014.
Get tickets for that fun event here: Eclipse Awards Ladies Day
If I could go, I would. Hello! You had me at mani-pedi Gulfstream Park.
Mucho Macho Man is a horse that keeps on giving. He’s beautiful to look at, exciting to watch run (AND WIN!) and fun to dream about being fortunate enough to care for in his twilight years.
Step to the side, ladies, that line starts behind me!
If you’ve been living in a dark cave, or for some other heinous reason, have been cruelly deprived of knowing the joy that is MUCHO MACHO MAN tearing up racetracks across the country, fear not, it has been officially announced that he is competing in 2014. First stop, the Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park on January 18th.
Go get ‘em, Mucho!
[and applicable humans] 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Horse Winter Wellness

I LOVE WINTER! Cozy sweaters, roaring fireplaces, snuggling up with a warm-blooded friend: furry pooch, cuddly guy, and affectionate horse, all equal and welcome in my house and my arms! Roasting marshmallows over my outdoor fire pit, inviting friends, family and neighbors over to burrow beneath blankets under the stars and full moon are also two of my favorite winter pass times.
I sit on my balcony, watching the branches vibrate, the leaves rustle, and try to guess which bird from my morning feeder is hopping about in the treetops. To say, I was skilled enough to identify birds by sight would be a big, fat lie. I wish! So I name them, according to color and try to hone in on their chirps. My own little version of musical chairs and American Idol all rolled into one. Which color bird is in which tree singing which chirpy tune? Go…
Thankfully, identifying your horses’ needs in the cold winter weather is much easier. Paying attention to your equine friend’s signals and instincts will help you figure out how to gauge who likes to play in the snow, who prefers a blanket to cozying up under his own natural, long winter coat and who prefers to be inside his stall altogether, taking in all the action from the safety of his own warm barn.
In the cold days ahead until that first flowering bud sprouts this upcoming spring, just keep in mind, that your horse is as individual and unique as any human friend who’s company you may enjoy. He has particular tastes, wants and dislikes that all inform his preferences. Keep vigilant watch and he’ll tell you what he needs and when he needs it.  
Some useful items to keep on hand while you figure out exactly what your equine friend prefers are:
-         Stable sheets
-         Lots of warm water
-         Loads of fresh hay, straw or wood chips for him to snuggle up in when in his stall
-         Heated feed buckets will keep his grain warm and tasty
-         For particularly freezing temps, blankets will help insulate his body heat as long as his coat isn’t turning wet from sweat beneath it 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Good Challenge, Bad Challenge

I challenge you to be DIFFERENT in 2014! Think for yourself and act on those thoughts. Behave according to the beliefs you decide for yourself are right-minded, kind, loving, uplifting and confidence-inducing. Ignore common policy and rituals touted as top-notch in pop culture.
Dig deep down into your mental and emotional core and test the limitations, boundaries, strengths and weaknesses which comprise you. Is what you find, who you want to be? Case in point:
Every day of 2013 was a nuclear-warhead launch test for me. Meaning...I pretended I held the security launch codes for every significant, potentially life-altering or profoundly impacting event, circumstance or situation important to me, personally. If I alone held access to the "launch codes" (secret solutions to all impervious, petulant, frivolous desires), then obviously, I alone could also, find and apply appropriate solutions to those nasty, irritating, bothersome issues.
I proved this to myself by first addressing my phone habits. How much did I use it? For what? Why? How did I feel at the end of the day after spending so much time with my phone? Answer? Not good. Wasteful. Like I was giving away too much control of how I spent my time, to other people. To things that weren't innately important to me. Like I was having longer, more involved or engaged conversations with the technology that's supposed to be supporting me. Supposed to be making my life easier. Streamline it. Improve it. Organize it. Not suck it up into its vortex and spit out some resemblance of it that I hardly recognize.
I set out on a mission to curb those dastardly phone habits. Whereas, before, my habits included email, surfing the net, GPS, Google keyword searching everything (just because I could, not because I actually cared about the discovered information), texting and obviously talking person to person, I downsized to strictly texting (very efficient) and occasional chatting. (Necessary to maintain personal relationships. People don't like it when you ignore them. Makes them feel zero amount special.) I did, consequently, end up emailing off of my laptop much more. I also, stopped answering the phone every time it rang or beeped. I let things go to VM and addressed the messages within a fair amount of time, as needed or wanted. But I wasn't owned by my phone and the outside world (world outside my head). I wasn't dominated by the demands other people tried to convince me were mine to manage when they were really theirs.
Don't get me wrong...I love my friends and family and think they are important and want them to know that I truly value them. But at some point, a girl has to ask herself, at what cost? How many sacrifices in the name of other people, are enough? Answer: Not to the extent of me losing my ability to decide how my life unfurls.
Allowing outside influences or forces to dictate how you spend your time, exert your energy and focus your attention, rather than you dictating these important daily interactions puts you in the passenger seat of your own vehicle. Clearly, you should always be the driver on the road to meet your own destiny. Don't short-change yourself. Be brave. Be bold. Be Diana Nyad brave-bold.
In the off-chance that your inside thoughts are now demanding you sling or hurl a "Technology-hater," label my way, I challenge you to first try and pare down some time-sucking circumstances in your own life. Watch the stress slide off your back and then, if you still feel compelled, call me, "crazy."
Technology should simplify and organize. A matter of convenience. Not overwhelm and completely alter your direction or path.
Take control of your year, one day at a time. Think for yourself. Act on the thoughts you personally determine sound fair and uplifting. Listen to other people and outside influences less and your own common sense, heart and intellectual clarifications more. Spend 2014 trying new things. Cultivating and nurturing new habits. If one year from now, you don't feel like you've made progress, return to your original way of doing stuff. The only down-side to trying a new way of living, is learning that you've realized a better way. A realization that never would've come, had you not stepped out of your original comfort zone in search of something different. Something original. Something fresh and unique as you, at your core.