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!
4 months ago