Empowering Girls
Loving Horses
Sharing Life

Friday, June 27, 2014

Read!!! (Please.)

I saw a picture of a girl today, that I don't think was intended to be provocative...

Thanks to Makis Siderakis for this image.

Nestled in between columns of other pictures: Cozy home libraries, old European bookstores, quaint American ones. Books, books and more books. Comfy and inspiring places to read and reflect. Think.

As the United States approaches our favorite independence marking holiday, 4th of July, I'm keen to the idea that one luxury Americans enjoy on a daily basis is the ability to seek out, acquire and read content they personally deem appropriate, for whatever reason. Entertainment, education, enchanting escape.

I know...that's a lot of "e" words. How about exciting, energizing and enabling? Other equally impressive "e" words that apply to people when, while or after they finish reading a piece of any length work. Fiction or non-fiction. Because this is where books lead you. Unfamiliar, desirable and adventurous ideas float through the mind while reading and afterwords, while savoring, the memories of the story.

The girl in the above picture appears [to me] to be masking the fact that she's reading. She seems tucked into a stone wall, as if searching for a private physical space to read her book. In all fairness, she could be sitting on her family's balcony at their home, I have no idea. Still the idea that a person feels compelled to hide (in any capacity) her desire to read, embeds deep in my heart.

Books save people. From themselves, their daily life circumstances, things that have come to pass but not necessarily been emotionally or psychologically dealt with or accepted.

What is this young woman reading and why is she essentially reading it on a rock?

Sometimes I put off reading a book. I don't know why? I picked it up hoping that after finishing it, I'd be a smarter or more aware or sensitive or humane person. And then I let the book sit there on my stack and get buried beneath equally wonderful, inspiring, revealing stories or information.

I think this means I'm spoiled. Spoiled and take for granted one of the beautiful gifts bestowed upon me because I was fortunate to be born in a country that believes free speech is paramount to human sustenance. For all the gripe and trite comments forever publicly made by bloggers, online media, newspapers and some individuals just looking to vent whatever for whatever reason, regarding the dire status of daily life in the United States of America, I say, "settle down."

Truth be told, Americans are fortunate. Things we take for granted every day, like reading what we choose, are activities that children in foreign countries must burrow into stone walls, nooks and crannies of abandoned establishments and buildings to catch a mere glimpse of the same reality.

Don't believe me? Check out this book for yourself and see how lucky you are. Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi. 

And then after you finish that book, create a stack of books filled with other stories and accounts in any room in your home. It doesn't take much space. A corner, or hallway, cubby under the stairs, balcony or ventilated shed in the backyard. Read, read, read. For yourself and all the people existing in the world who weren't fortunate enough to be born into a society or culture that believes making reading materials available for public consumption, at the discretion of each individual reader, is a valued endeavor.

Who knows? Maybe you'll change your life without even intending to do it.

Here are 7 wonderful independent bookstores to buy your books at:

> Strand, Manhattan, NYC
> Book Spot, Austin--Round  Rock, TX
> Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds, WA
> Tattered Cover, Denver, CO
> Bookman's Corner, Chicago, IL
> Landmark Booksellers, Nashville--Franklin, TN
> Carpe Librum, Washington, DC

If you don't live locally, check them out online.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thyro-L, No Confusion Unless You Add Confusion!

Warning: the reality of the following post drives me completely crazy. What is wrong with people?
Here is an article offered up on The Paulick Report addressing the effects of Thyroxine on horses. Race horses for the purposes of this blog. Read Me! 

Information is supposed to be helpful, useful. It's supposed to enable people to make sounder decisions not hide behind activities that he knew he probably shouldn't have been engaging in, in the first place.

I'm talking to you, Bob Baffert. Don't give ALL of your racehorses any medications unless they actually need it. And in order to know if they actually need it, ASK YOUR VET. You know, the guy with the science degree who also specialized in equines. If you still don't know who he is, he's the guy with the needles.

And just for the record, I'm sitting in my office chair reticent and conflicted while contemplating writing this post. Why? Because I don't personally know Bob Baffert, haven't ever been granted access to a snippet of a view at his vet records. The going-ons in his barn on any given day. I don't know how he treats all of the horses under his care, nor who actually calls in the order to the vet when making medical or general care maintenance requests. In all fairness to him, maybe he delegates those calls and orders. I'm not saying that's wise, but maybe he does. He's a busy man.

Seeing as how someone needs to be held accountable though, when numerous horses die, and nobody seems willing to come forward and admit to what could've potentially done in those gorgeous four-legged entertainer athletes in the Baffert barn, people like me, random bloggers, are left to speculate. Why? Because people with real power seemingly choose to apply no actual consequences when a person is liked in his industry. Case in point, the California Racing Board declaring that they found nothing conclusive to blame Baffert with, regarding the abnormal death rate of horses in his barn.

Here's a suggestion California: KEEP LOOKING until you find answers.

It drives me to the brink of recognizable insanity that Bob Baffert continues to be given the benefit of the doubt regarding his decision to administer Thyro-L to ALL the horses in his barn.

Who does this?

Bob Baffert.

Even Richard Dutrow, Jr. tossed his multitude of violations up a bit. Did many different bad things over the course of his running amok as a trainer.

Everybody, please, stop giving Bob Baffert the benefit of the doubt. When a significant number of your horses are dying while in training or on the track racing, and you continue to administer the same medications to them, in spite of this dire condition, then you deserve to be questioned and investigated regarding your choices. Especially if you didn't do the prudent thing and consult your vet prior to instructing him to dole out medications and supplements.

I'm so tired of this...I love the horse racing industry. Everything about it. I love the colorful people who care for the horses as well as the various different personalities that comprise the fan base. The professional gamblers are like scientists in their own rite with all their handicapping variables and prowess. The stewards, whose responsibilities never seem to end. Most everybody in this industry fascinates me to no end. But when one person comes along who is clearly not doing right by the horses he's responsible for, knowingly not doing the right thing, then it becomes the responsibility of all those other people to rein that person in. Tell him why what he's doing isn't working and instruct him to stop. Apply consequences if he flinches at the idea of deserving accountability.

How is this so hard to understand? Parents teach this basic value to their children every day, all across America. You do something wrong, there are consequences. Action, reaction.
I've said it before, and here I go again...the horses are dependent upon the people in charge of them to treat them fairly and put their best interest first.
Get with it people who have the power to properly dole out appropriate fines, suspensions or whatever. The horses have been patient long enough. Enough have unnecessarily died.

Thryo-L HAS risks.

And any trainer or owner or vet who knowingly administers this medication, supplement, whatever you want to call it, to any horse that does not definitively need it, should be held accountable, especially if the horse exhibits a dire negative reaction.

Some insiders say that the horse racing industry is collapsing. Numbers are down for racetrack attendance and betting is on the down-slide. I'm not going to pretend to know all the ins and outs of all those details. I'd have to be a long-time expert with privy information to adequately assess all that jazz. But what I do know is that if you are saying that you are searching for a new fan base to grow your industry than what you need to do is take into account, the reality of today's potential gamblers, entertainment-seekers, horse lovers or average race track visitor. People today are savvy and read and like to feel good about what they are choosing to participate in and how they elect to spend their free time. If you want their money, you must approach them with regard, respect and appreciation for what they have to offer. In order to do this, you must show that the racehorses are treated well. Plain and simple.

The average spectator does not want to watch a bunch of injured or mistreated horses chase one another around the racetrack for two minutes of fun.

There's a way to properly, lovingly maintain, train, and race thoroughbred horses.
Do that.
Not just the UK. And not just the real American horsemen and women who already do that. Nobody knows about you. You people who genuinely love horses and race them. The average unknowing spectator only sees the bad and the ugly, like Bob Baffert not getting punished, and they think the entire industry is like that. No accountability even when deserved. If the industry is actually falling apart, that's why. Most humans love animals and don't enjoy watching them die for our entertainment.
TRY NOT to kill them, problem solved.

Apply appropriate consequences to people who deserve them.
Watch your fan base grow and the track grandstands fill.
A whole new generation of equine admirers will be chomping at the bit to hear the rumbling of hooves, first-hand, as those gorgeous, muscular horses storm past them at the rail.

Make it happen, people. Make it happen.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Triple Crown Mania--5 Questions with Assistant Trainer, Torrie Needham

Thanks, Torrie! Love your hair but that mane is pretty awesome!

Good Afternoon, Ms. Needham! Thanks for taking a few minutes to chat with me today and share your years of industry experience and knowledge with me and my readers. 

Hi Ms, Tiffany, thank you for inviting me to comment for your blog again.  Sure Miss you since you moved to Texas.

Since I'm too excited to avoid talking about it any longer, let's get right to it...The Big Kahuna race coming up this Saturday...the Belmont Stakes! Woo-Hoo!!!

1) Why is this year's race so exciting?

TN: This year going into the Belmont, California Chrome looks like the most promising winner of the Triple Crown since 1978 and Affirmed.  Though back in 2012, I'll Have Another looked like a sure bet but opted out of running in the Belmont due to injury.  California Chrome is training extremely well and I think he has the talent to win this year.

2) California Chrome's challenging field is sorted and vast. Good horses. Horses with heart, good blood lines and solid conformation. Who do you see as the biggest competition for Cali Chrome and why? 

TN: Tough call, I like two horses going in.  Commanding Curve ran a game 2nd to California Chrome and looks like the added distance would suit him. Commanding Curve also will go into the Belmont freshened up since he skipped the Preakness. Ride on Curlin is my other pic. Getting a not so good ride in the Derby finishing 7th and coming back into the Preakness with a new rider and finishing a strong 2nd.  Not really sure Ride On Curlin will like the added distance. He's a tough colt but looking at his conformation, he looks more like a sprinter to me, where as Commanding Curve is taller and leaner conformation wise, more of a distance type looking horse.  Of course size never matters in horse racing.

3) What are your favorite California Chrome moments or races, traits or personality quirks? 

TN: I watched California Chrome gallop at the Derby, he was so relaxed with his Exercise rider setting his hands quietly on his neck. He gallops with a nice long stride.  I galloped horses for years and watching him gallop brought back so many memories of what it felt like when a horse gallops the way California Chrome does.  I could feel every stride.

4) Each individual Grade 1 stakes race in the Triple Crown series is unique and important. What are the individualistic details you'd attribute to the Belmont Stakes, its track surface and distance? And what special, maybe unknown or unfamiliar realities, make this race worth watching and rooting for horses, regardless of the way the TC campaign unfolds in any given year? 

TN: 1 1/2 mile races are rare and very few horses can go that distance. not to mention going that far when campaigning for the Triple Crown.  No 3 year old horse campaigns this hard otherwise.

5) What would a successful Triple Crown contender do for the horse racing industry? 

TN: When a horse gets close to winning the Triple Crown,  people who normally haven't any interest in horse racing suddenly get on the band wagon.  The Triple Crown is such an attention getter world wide.  Everyone loves the competition of such an endeavor that rarely happens.  It wouldn't be horse racing if we had a Triple Crown winner every year.  A Triple Crown winner this year would bring a positive influence on the industry that's been plagued with controversy over the past few years.

Torrie Needham is also a talented track photographer. If you'd like to check out some of her photos or order a few prints, this is the link for you: BurninDaylightImages.

Now, if you're still sitting there reading this post, but have yet to place your bet on Cali Chrome for the big win in this Saturday's Belmont Stakes, I fully appreciate your attention, however, think you need to get moving. Priorities, priorities, priorities...enjoy watching the race. Personally, I can't wait to see Chrome tear up that race track and win the Triple Crown title he so rightly deserves.

Go get 'em, California Chrome! Love your gorgeous chestnut hair and fancy sweeping gait. Peppermints all around for the winner's barn.  

Monday, June 2, 2014

Save Yourself--Visit a Bookstore--Librarium, New York--Review

Help yourself. Visit an outstanding bookstore. Invest in the qualities that make you unique by picking a story with characters who leave you longing to explore the world and seek out new adventures. Nurture and nourish your inner voice.

Let your imagination and wildest curiosities aimlessly wander the aisles of a fabulous little used bookstore in East Chatham, New York. The Librarium. Love this place. It's easy to miss if you're not looking for it, seeing as how it's kinda out in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful, but still, honestly...middle of nowhere...nestled between the Hudson Valley and Berkshire mountains in upper NY state.

The large, lovely house is about an hour's drive north of Poughkeepsie and definitely worth the effort. Among the numerous and various treasures I found a gorgeous copy of Ivanhoe. Decorative printed cover, paper from another era and ink printed depictions of different story elements. Pretty, pretty, pretty. I can already feel myself slipping back in time, almost two hundred years, while reading it. I can't wait for the perfect rainy weekend to sit by my fireplace and absorb every word.

Two modern-day novels, one mystery and one literary fiction as well as an old Scottish verse novella also jumped out at me. Sci-fi, westerns, biography, cookbooks, sports, American history, historical world events and promises of things to come, that potentially have or have not passed, are all other subjects covered in this gem of a store. Many books on horses, African-American history, chess, golf and gardening also beckoned me. Alas, I only have so much room in my car.

One detail worth noting are the hours. A sign on the door literally reads, "Open most days 11-5pm by chance. (Whenever the 'Open' sign is on the porch just come right in!) Or by appointment...call (518) 392-5209." Look for the road signs, leading you to the old blue house. 

Librarium Bookstore, May 2014

Cash and credit are acceptable forms of payment. If you're searching for a hard-to-find or unique book but, unfortunately, don't find yourself in this breathtakingly beautiful part of the country, email them directly at: librarium@fairpoint.net. Also worth noting, books are crazy affordable. Love their prices.
126 Black Bridge Road II, East Chatham, NY 10260
(518) 392-5209

Don't wait for someone else to light your fire, seek out your own match and engage in a world that's right for you. Fiction feeds your imagination, non-fiction broadens understanding and perspective and historical tellings offer the chance to figure out how you fit into the world and where.

Librarium bookstore offers all these options in a fun, relaxing setting. You can even sit outside on their lovely, lush green, front lawn and enjoy lounging in the sun, in their Adirondack chairs, while you read your bounty.

Be kind to yourself. People often try their hardest to tell you how to think and act, but inside the pages of a book, you control your own interpretation of the world. Seize that opportunity. Become the individual you are meant to be. The world needs the authentic you.