Archive for the Equine Rescue Category

Happiest Horse Store on Planet Earth!

Posted in Art, Equine Rescue, SongPony with tags , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by martimu

The holidays are a’comin’ and if your heart is with horses you might want to know about some of the happiest horse stores you’re likely to encounter this season. It features the work of artist Marti McGinnis and all the proceeds raised go right back into funding EquineConnection.org – the global community for equine rescue and advocacy.

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Click here to visit the store.It’s at www.zazzle.com/studiomudio

Oh, you’d rather have an original painting? You can! Same deal – the proceeds benefit EquineConnection.org and these can be commissioned to be of YOUR favorite equines. Even famous ones (hello Rachel and Zenyatta fans!). Samples here.

Horseanalities - 11" x 14" x .75 - $65

Love is Joy - 6" x 12" x .75 - $50

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9 Lexington Area Insider Gems

Posted in Equine Rescue, Events, Kentucky, World Equestrian Games with tags , , , on September 24, 2010 by martimu

If you’re attending the World Equestrian Games in Lexington you’ll have access to a lot of information about some of the more commercially established places and sites to see. Those folks have the resources to place ads where you can easily see them. The places I’m about to tell you about are off the tourist path and known to the locals for being specifically wonderful in their area of expertise. So in no particular order:

  1. The Parkette Drive In
    1216 E New Circle Rd
    Lexington, KY 40505
    (859) 254-8723
    A traditionally styled old fashioned diner – and hey the food’s good too! It came close to being a has-been but was brought back to life a year ago by two brothers. If you’ve ever wanted to experience an authentic American drive in – this is your place.
  2. Cornerstone Pharmacy
    100 S Main St
    Versailles, KY 40383-1214
    (859) 873-3007
    Here’s another American classic – a luncheonette inside an old style drug store. Get an egg salad sandwich while you watch area horse farm managers come in and get their equine’s prescriptions filled.
  3. Addie’s Creekside Cafe
    5711 McCracken Pike

    Frankfort, KY, 40601
    In a little enclave called Millville this adorable little restaurant serves up some tasty + imaginative sandwiches you can enjoy with a beer on their comfortable porch. The drive here is about as gorgeous as you can get. You’ll go past some of the fanciest thoroughbred farms the region has to offer and through hill and dale in beautiful Kentucky style. Two mile up the road from the Woodford Reserve bourbon distillery (also worth a gander – but already well advertised).
  4. The Valleyview Ferry
    Ever wanted to experience an old fashioned boat ferry that crosses a river with one or two cars at a time? Of course you have – who wouldn’t? Now you can!
    Hours of Operation
    Monday-Friday 6:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
    Saturday 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
    Sunday 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
    It operate at no charge and connect southern Nicholasville to Richmond – and is a perfect side trip for anyone headed south back to Interstate 75 with a more adventurous spirit.
  5. Third Street Stuff
    Third Street Stuff
    257 N. Limestone
    Lexington, KY 40507
    (859) 255-5301
    Chock full of wacky and unusual trinkets you didn’t know you needed. They’ve also got a coffee shop. Absolutely adorable and unique!
  6. The Tack Rack
    1045 Georgetown Road , Suite A1
    Lexington, KY 40511 (Map)
    859-554-5198
    Got equine tack and apparel stuff to sell? Looking for a gently used something? Chances are they’ll have  it here. Some really great deals on some high quality stuff. It’s in a little strip mall that’s not much to look at next to Wise Choice tack. Another great local business. Dave, the owner just couldn’t bring himself to buy a booth at WEG ($$$)- but has awesome deals and an excellent selection for all you English riders.
  7. Seldom Scene Farm Llama Treks
    3605 Watts Ferry Rd.
    Frankfort, KY 40601
    (859)428-8883
    Have you ever been curious about hiking with beautiful friendly llamas on some of the more perfectly inspirational trails the bluegrass region has to offer? This is a wonderful way to see the land and meet some locals. Seldom Scene Farm specializes in alpacas and using their ultra wonderful fiber in knit and felted goods. Lindy Huber, your hostess is also horsey, knowledgeable on the flora and fauna and an excellent baker – so don’t be surprised if your trek includes a delectable offering or two.
  8. The Kentucky Equine Humane Center
    1713 Catnip Hill Rd
    Nicholasville, KY 40356-9769
    (859) 881-5849
    Hey! How about bringing home THE ultimate souvenir! The KyEHC has horses of all breeds and manner. Their adoption fee is reasonable and you will get a friend for life.
  9. Iota McHippus
    Maybe you’ll be in the right place at the right time to meet the world’s snarkiest miniature horse. He lives here in the bluegrass and maintains a Facebook presence (so you can at least friend him). He will be insinuating himself into public venues if the authorities let him that is. Otherwise just look for his comments on his fan page they’re sure to be rude. It’s his specialty!

Forever Homes

Posted in Equine Issues, Equine Rescue, Events, Horse Park, Kentucky on April 22, 2010 by martimu

Once a year in Lexington, Kentucky for the past three Aprils an event has been pulled together on behalf of one of the more famous of all the residents ever to retire at the Kentucky Horse Park. The John Henry Memorial Adoption Fair is a celebration designed to bring together organizations who rehome horses of all breeds with candidates for a wonderful new friend.

John Henry was an amazing race horse with a personality as large as his winnings. Ok, he wasn’t necessarily the nicest horse in the barn – but his presence drew fans from all four corners of the globe. When he died some of the more visionary of the administrators at the Horse Park decided to lend his name to an event designed to benefit horses maybe a little less fortunate than the old equine codger. While his old bitey self is sorely missed – the adoption event that bears his name continues the gentler side of his enduring legacy.

Present this year were thoroughbred, standardbred and all-breed rescues from around the Bluegrass. Molly the Three Legged Pony even made an appearance on behalf of these rescues. It was a joyous day as many of the horses in this video connected with a loving human.

Sunny Perfect Day at Keeneland

Posted in Equine Issues, Equine Rescue, Horse Racing, Thoroughbreds with tags , , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by martimu


Keeneland thoroughbred race course in Lexington, Kentucky is among the world’s more beautiful places on a fresh, sunny spring day. The horses are spirited, sleek and fit, and the people are at their colorful best. While there can be said to be much to be worked on to ensure a better long term life for a thoroughbred race horse – on a perfect spring day doing what they were born to do these horses might be, for this moment, at a pinnacle of their lives — winners and non-winners alike. After all, everyone gets to go back to the barn for sweet hay and molasses oats.

Announcing a brand new all digital perfectly GREEN magazine devoted entirely to equine advocacy! EquineConnection highlights news throughout equine welfare and rescue – read about what’s right and what could use our attention to improve things for horses and other equine everywhere. Click on the image to view – it’s all free and full of fascinating information!

Is Michael Blowen Crazy?

Posted in Equine Issues, Equine Rescue, Kentucky, Places, Thoroughbreds, Videos with tags , , , , on January 19, 2010 by martimu

Michael Blowen is an optimist. Here’s how I can tell — he started up a sanctuary for some of the most difficult of all horses to house: thoroughbred stallions. Seasoned thoroughbred stallions, if you know what I mean.

Here’s a fun fact, when he got going on this Old Friends project of his, he wouldn’t have called himself a horseman. And horsemen were calling him crazy. But here’s the thing, those details didn’t figure into his plan to re-home these tricky dudes.

I guess he reckoned there was a need. It wasn’t being directly addressed compassionately by anyone else so, being an optimist he weighed his odds and must have decided he had just as good a chance as anyone else to make it work. Help, he knew he could hire. Resources too — because I think a personal mantra for Michael may well be “Why not?”.

As a newspaperman (film critic for the Boston Globe) Michael and his wife Diane (also a gifted writer) were happy to exit their eastern urban life when an attractive retirement package floated their way. They hopped aboard and with a personal appreciation for just how unretired the recently retired can feel jumped — head first — into this dream to help these horses.

They moved to Kentucky. Horse country, Kentucky. Through his connections from within flat racing’s inner sanctum — did I forget to tell you Michael, the office-bound newsguy, developed a taste for the ponies? Yes, apparently sticking his neck out with periodic opinions on perceived public property (movies and the like) within notoriously crazy newspaper deadlines wasn’t a big enough rush for him. Well, he did. And like all good players be bought-in lock stock and two smoking barrels, eventually owning and running some of his own. I told you, optimist.

Unlike so many in the game, though, Michael started to really love his horses. Not just when they pranced into the winner’s circle — but even when they were gobbling up pricey hay and grain in their stalls he was footing the bills on under the stewardship of trainers and grooms his money helped support. Then he began wondering what their futures were like.

It’s usually somewhere around now in these love affairs that delusion gives way to reason. The sharp outlines of what is overwrite the glowing expansiveness of what could be. When he began making inquiries into where these horses went after they were played out on the track the answers started to weigh on him. When he learned that 1986 Kentucky Derby winner and 1987 Breeder’s Cup Classic winner Ferdinand ended up butchered in a slaughter house for meat, like so many other spent equine athletes – something inside him snapped.

Call it his sanity.

Then again, say it was just the sound of his cussidness hopping into the director’s chair. Go ahead, tell him he’s:

  • nuts
  • unqualified
  • underfunded
  • ignorant
  • doomed

and anything else that bubbles up from the depth of the naysaying pessimist. Because to a guy like Michael Blowen negativity apparently has a positive effect.

He and Diane started Old Friends in 2003 on a dream. Eight years and many life-in-the-balance, future jeopardizing, white knuckle financing moments later here they are:

Dream Chase Farm, Georgetown, Kentucky

On the gently rolling acres, where wooden fences partition the space into paddocks that each hold exactly one full functioning gorgeous old and even not so old thoroughbred stud. Some of thoroughbred racing’s fastest, famous and above all luckiest. The staff at Old Friends (volunteer “ambassadors” mostly) and Michael himself conduct tours of the farm 7 days a week. They host visiting dignitaries, horse crazy girls, some of the steeds’ former jockeys and the rest of us.

The place, the horses and their people garner national and international attention. Best of all owners who once shunned the effort are stepping up to help.

How come? Because Michael Blowen is starkers. Insane. He’s a retiree who’s off his rocker. I told you. He’s an optimist.

Old Friends, Inc.
1841 Paynes Depot Rd.
Georgetown, KY  40324
Phone: 502-863-1775
www.oldfriendsequine.org

Wild Horse Wednesday – Lexington, KY

Posted in Equine Issues, Equine Rescue, Horses Elsewhere, Kentucky with tags , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by martimu

Lexington, Kentucky is the “Horse Capital of the World”. So what better place to hold a protest against the man made plight of wild horses? Today all throughout the county, horse lovers and others joined voices and told the world what they think about the current mismanagement of America’s wild horses by the government body charged with their stewardship, the Bureau of Land Management.

These are passionate people. It’s cold out there – all over – and yet they came. Out they came with their home made signs and a willingness to speak out about the rough, careless and downright inhumane treatment currently being perpetrated on thousands of mustang horses being herded together into great groups in tight quarters where the natural instincts of these creatures, who usually gather in much smaller numbers, kick in. Fights break out between stallions and other males, between mares and other females. They bite and kick and injuries are common. Sometimes deadly.

There are plentiful resources about what’s happening. I invite you to click on some of the links here and follow their well traveled trails of information. www.horsefund.org, www.thecloudfoundation.org, www.equineconnection.org

In the meantime have a look at our demonstration here in Lexington today. It was twenty degrees with a light snow falling. Lexington isn’t a big city. If our same group was in New York this gathering would have been MASSIVE. Instead it was intense dedicated and we even had some laughs.

The Disposable Horse

Posted in Equine Issues, Equine Rescue, Thoroughbreds with tags , on December 7, 2009 by martimu

In the high stakes game of “the sport of kings” gambling takes place at every level of the process. From finding the right nick between a mare and a sire’s bloodline, to lobbying on behalf of a Horse of the Year choice, odds for success are weighed and acted upon. The betting in horse racing is not limited to the windows at the tracks nor the online bookie experience.

One of the best ways to increase your chances of producing a stakes winner is to have as many entries as possible to leverage the odds in your favor. One of the best ways to do that is to create as many trainable foals as possible and point them towards the starting gate. While the triple crown races get the lion’s share of whatever press is available for horse racing the fact is most people involved in the sport make their money in the less visible races where their horses plug away at coming in ahead of the herd week after week month after month.

They start them early in order to not have to wait any longer than they have to to start realizing a profit from each ‘hay burner’. They begin training them young and running them hard before their bones have matured, before their joints have ‘closed’. Inevitably they set these horses up for mechanical failure from the first day they take to the track. Ultimately many race horses become semi to totally crippled, suffering from bone, joint and irreversible traumatic tissue damage at a young age. This sets them up to be almost worthless on the open market. That’s the physical. On the mental side of things not whole lot of compassion goes into mentally preparing individuals for the rigors of racing life. From being thrust onto a trailer (many for the first time in their lives) to be rushed into a stall during a sale surrounded by hundreds of similarly scared yearlings screaming and smearing runny poo all over their stall walls too – to being ‘started’ at the ripe young age of two (more like one and a half for most of them) their fragile sense of selves is slammed up against the harsh rigors of human expectation with nary a thought for how the horse is processing all of non-horse communication. Often they are an emotional mess when they are finally released from this system.

Phew. Not pretty. Now to be sure – there are EXCEPTIONS to this process. Not all owners and trainers are monstrous in their expectations (there is one sparkling soul who is a good friend of mine who is a most notable exception) – but pretty much all of them do get the horses started at that tender age of ‘two’. So in some ways this gentle abuse is system wide and creates broken in body and mind individuals who are unfit to race any more, and most having not enjoyed a whole lot of success are probably equally unfit to be bred anyway. Thus every year the United States churns out 70,000 new foals for whom this will be their fate. Say 10% of them become winners – that leaves 63,000 misspent ‘also-rans’. Emotionally fried, physically done in – these equine treasures, the containers of dashed dreams of their former human caretakers are now thrust upon the open market and left to fend for themselves as they vie for the attention of whatever monied young girl lucky enough to have the resources available for her owning her very own horse. Now the race is for their very lives, to be bought and shepherded against the able-bodied backyard bred quarter horses, half breeds, no-breeds and well bred others (Saddlebreds, Standardbreds, to name but two).

So what are we to do? Who is to blame? How many horses can equine rescuers absorb into their system? How many horses can we tolerate going to slaughter? Oh, you didn’t know about that? Yes, the horses that can’t be gainfully employed, the ones not lucky enough to live out the rest of their some-odd thirty years in one way or another (as ‘lawn ornaments’, show prospects or trail buddies) are sold at a per pound price at livestock auctions held in every continent and sold for their meat. And maybe that’s acceptable to most people, but the manner in which they are transported to their final comeuppance is not kind, it is not humane, and it is often worse than terrible. It is abuse to the nth degree and has caused those familiar with this process to blanch at associating with the concept of being of the same species as the humans who carry this process out.

So is it overbreeding that makes so many horses disposable? Is slaughter an acceptable option? Is it more acceptable if it is conducted humanely? Why aren’t more people angry about this? Why are rescuers so overburdened? Why aren’t rescuers demanding more accountability from those who are flooding the market with these broken horses? Where do we start fixing this? How do we encourage better stewardship for these gentle souls who have carried humankind towards higher levels of accomplishment? Don’t we owe them a better deal?

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