Sunday, January 10, 2010

Picture Time and an Explanation of Names

I'm the kind of person who just loves pictures. I'm very visual and I like seeing what someone is talking about. So naturally, I'm going to be posting plenty of pictures. Of course, assuming I can drag a friend or family member out to the barn with a camera...Now, I've only owned Bailey for four months, so my pictures of her are fairly limited. But never fear, more will be on the way shortly.

These two pictures, taken by a friend of mine, are from the first week that Bailey was on the farm. 

This was taken by my brother last week. Bailey hadn't been exercised in two weeks due to her need for a teeth float and consequent craziness under saddle. Apparently, she feels more out of control than she looks. Or we were having a calm moment. Or she's just really photogenic.

And on the left, we have the x-ray of Bailey's left hock. The bone spur is circled in red. On the right, there is a comparison photo. This is what a normal hock joint looks like. The bone spur looks small in comparison to the entire joint, but the vet said it was really quite large. And I can believe it, because if you think about it, any bone flaw or extra bone mass will cause problems, because it isn't supposed to be there and it supports a 1,000 pound animal.

And now for an explanation of names. Bailey Slew Bambi Crash is the "full name" of my mare because I didn't know what to name her when I got her. She came to me as Slew. Seattle Slew is her grandsire, and her registered name is Born Again Slew. So sure, Slew makes sense. Did it take an ounce of creativity to think up? Well, no. To me, it's just a boring, ugly name - and for such an exciting and beautiful mare, it just wasn't fitting.

First, I wanted to name her Crash. You see, on my way to see her for the first time, someone hit me from behind and my car was totaled. Of course, I didn't get to see her that day, but I had bigger things to worry about at the moment. No injuries occurred (besides the two totaled cars), so no worries there. It seemed more or less appropriate to have an interesting story behind such an unconventional name. And it was kind of funny, both in retrospect and at the time. There's nothing else to do in a situation like that except have some fun with it. My horsey friend (Denali's mom for those of you who know about Denali), who was accompanying me out to see "Slew", and I were having a great time joking about all of the hot firemen who were asking us about injuries, and feeling our whiplashed necks. In addition, Officer Bacon was the one asking us questions and filing the accident report. Talk about an awesome name for a police officer. So Crash seemed like a funny and original name. I quickly took it out of the running, however, when I remembered that horses have a tendency to live up to their names. Ever met a horse named Rebel? Yeah, my point exactly.

My other horsey friend (the one who took the first two pictures) and I were out there that sunny day staring at "Slew" and thinking about what described her. It went something like this: "She's brown...and has very long legs...and jumps really high...and is very reactive...sounds like a deer! How about Bambi?!" We kinda thought it could work. But we chewed it over, and casually brought it up with my trainer, and agreed that it was a ditsy and weird name. It just didn't fit.

One day, my trainer said something along the lines of, "She needs a cool name. One that's not too manly or too girly, but just a nice name. One that she looks like. Like Bailey." I thought it was a possibility, but spent the next week or so still trying to come up with something. Yet, Bailey grew on me, and my mare really looks like a Bailey. Just like many people really look like their names. So it finally stuck.

Hence, her full name is "Bailey Slew Bambi Crash." But I like keeping it simple, so she's just Bailey. And that's the way I like it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Proper Introduction Part II

Meet Bailey.

She was born on March 20th, 1998, somewhere in Oregon. Once she turned two, she started racing. A lot. Her papers show her changing ownership four times in 2000 alone, which makes me assume that she ran a number of claiming races. There isn't anything else written on her papers until February 1st, 2002, when Bailey won her first race, earning $1663. I don't know any more about her racing history, except that it appears she finally found her way off the track in 2003, when she came to Washington State. But what little I know about her history raises a question in my mind - one that I often ask about the racing industry. If she wasn't making very much money, why was she still racing? Bailey had 38 starts. She won a single race, and it was late in her career. Now, I understand that she has a lot of heart. But enough heart to justify racing 38 times? There is no amount of heart that makes 38 starts, with almost no success, necessary.

Moving on from my opposition to the racing industry...

I took Bailey home in the middle of August, 2009, on a one-week trial. And boy, she was fantastic. I knew that after looking at 13 other horses (and making one big mistake with a purchase, more about that later), I had finally found the one. And I was excited. Bailey behaved just wonderfully at the barn - riding in the outdoor arena with only minor spooking at the goats pastured adjacent to the arena, going calmly over jumps up to 2' (my main concern, because the trial rides weren't exactly calm over crossrails, and she's had no formal jump training, let alone an introduction to trot poles), and keeping her manners and brains about her consistently. Heck, I took her out back and hand walked her around the old 1/2 mile track we have, and she never took a step wrong. This was only her first week at the barn, too!

Her one-week trial lengthened into a two-week trial when she threw a shoe the day before her big vet exam, but I didn't mind. I met the farrier my trainer uses (who is positively wonderful. I always look forward to the day he comes and shoes, and I'm there every shoeing just to spend time with my new favorite farrier.) and we got a new set of shoes on Bailey. We also looked into her foot health and her need for some much higher quality farrier care than she was receiving, which was great information for me to know going into the vet check.

The fateful day finally arrived, and the vet came out (early). I didn't make it until the end of the appointment (I'm chronically late), where we had decided to take some x-rays to look at her left hock. She is a lovely mover and her flexion tests were satisfactory, but the motion in her left hind made the vet want some x-rays. The moment of truth and....she has a bone spur. A big one. (Now do you see why I'm so opposed to those 38 starts?) The vet was somewhat surprised, and I was fully crushed. We decided to tack her up and see how she moved under saddle, at which point the lump in my throat and the impending tears sort of held off. Here, we got some good news. The vet placed no limitations on her competition or ability to perform in the future, and just suggested treating her like I already had been. All I had to do was be aware that we'll have to keep an eye on it, and that I'm taking a risk.

With the green light from trainer, farrier, and vet, it was time to talk to the owner. And she was really a great woman, having spent the past five years with this mare and knowing she is a talented girl for a steal of a price. The bone spur had a positive spin on it, because it allowed my mom and I to take 1500 dollars off of her advertised price (we're taking a risk, and she'll require some extra maintenance), and agree on $3000 for a final purchase price. Best of all, we have a first right of refusal contract. If the bone spur takes a spin for the worst and Bailey can't handle competition, it will be okay. In addition, when I go off to college, I might not be able to take Bailey with me. Either way, she will be welcomed back by her previous owner, and that gives me peace of mind. September 2nd, 2009, Born Again Slew was finally under my ownership!