Justify – a Triple Crown Winner

My dear friend Dolly believed that Justify would win the Triple Crown with ease. All the so-called experts claimed that Justify would be too tired and because he drew the #1 post next to the rail, this great big stallion would be at a disadvantage. Well, Dolly proved them all wrong. Justify broke first and held the front position for the entire race, and even pulled ahead of the pack at the finish line. Dolly would be beside herself if she were still alive today to see this history in the making. A second Triple Crown winner in just 4 years, and only after a painful, 37-year drought!

Bob Baffert is an incredible trainer and the jockey, Mike Smith, is one of the oldest jockey’s, who at age 52, is still racing thoroughbreds. While horse racing has its dark side, the ones that make it to the top, live incredible lives and as a 3-year-old stallion, he will be retired soon to breed and enjoy some well-earned relaxation. Justify is a great big chestnut stallion with a bold white blaze down his face; Mike Smith says he has so much presence and is an old and wise soul. He stood so quietly in the starting gate that Mike thought he might not break and be interested in running a race competitively. Boy did this 3 year old prove everyone wrong.

Dolly, I wish you could have been here to celebrate your uncanny ability to pick winners. At least I captured a photograph of you with American Pharoah, your other Triple Crown choice. California Chrome almost made it winning 2 of the 3 races. Shared Belief was another favorite of yours but he died tragically and way too young, of colic. Your heart broke just a little when that happened. Thanks for all the good times we shared together talking about horses. You and Justify proved all the naysayers wrong!

Love,

Joan

Dolly and American Pharoah

Dolly had a passion for all things horses. She loved them and followed Thoroughbred horse racing and the Arabian Horse Show Circuit with such enthusiasm, that it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement alongside her. I met Dolly when I boarded my unbelievably charming, Arabian gelding named Champagnne Flight at Acacia Arabians. She couldn’t afford to have a horse of her own, but instead, always volunteered as a show hostess and did grooming and other such things; anything to be around these magnificent animals.

When I lived near her in Encinitas, California, we would sneak behind the scenes and check out the latest racing star at the Del Mar Race Track. Dolly knew how to act important and pretend that she belonged at the stables with the trainers and jockeys. She had an uncanny ability to pick out winners and knew most of the older jockeys by name that had been around for awhile. Dolly would say hello and shout out support and compliments to both horse and rider, while I would trot around behind her with a camera around my neck and snap photographs. I actually got blisters on my heels the first time I went there with her because she was so animated and thrilled to be at Del Mar, that we walked from one end of the racetrack to the other.

Dolly turned me on to the fairytale story of Zenyatta and how she loved the camera and her large, mare ears would point and follow the crowds of adoring fans as she posed attentively for her audience. She is a large, bay mare that could hold her own with the boys, and when she would head toward the racetrack, Zenyatta had a big, bold, extended foreleg walk that emanated royalty. When California Chrome raced, we were at the Del Mar track and she was screaming and yelling encouragement and I too got caught up in the moment! American Pharoah was another favorite of hers and she knew he would be a Triple Crown winner. She loved the Candy Ride lineage and tracked the fillies and colts that started to come of age. For Dolly, it was an obsession. Justify was her latest favorite star and she called him a “monster of a horse” and was so excited when he won the first two races of the Triple Crown series. Bob Baffert was one of her favorite trainers and the jockey, Mike Smith, said hi to her personally when we were at Del Mar. Justify will be a very tired horse for the last of the Triple Crown races coming up soon, but wouldn’t that be amazing if he were to win?

Rest In Peace Dolly, I shall follow Justify and the Belmont race and be thinking of you as the big chestnut colt thunders down the track. It was awesome watching him win the Preakness when he jumped over imaginary trucks in the driving rain and deep, wet mud. When he finished the race and came in first, he hardly had any mud on him. He is a talented and sweet-natured stallion. We texted back and forth during the race and were overjoyed when he won.

I will miss you every day but am at peace knowing that you aren’t suffering anymore. I just wish that you had reached out and shared your pain and concerns with me, but you were not one to complain about anything other than politics. I hope America can right itself again and when I asked you last week about voting, you said you had already sent in your absentee ballot. I Love you, Dolly! When the timing is right, we will let your friends know the place and the date and we will spread your ashes along the beach where the thoroughbred horses used to be exercised in the surf and the sand, and where the sun shines bright and the air is filled with salt and the faint scent of horses and leather and sweat. We will send you off in style Dolly and you will be surrounded by friends who remember your laugh and your smile and your love for all things horses.

Dolly and American Paroah

Monterey Fairgrounds RV Park

Yesterday afternoon we left beautiful Santa Cruz Upper Harbor for Monterey, California. We are parked at the county fairgrounds and are facing a golf course with horse stables behind us. Military jets are flying low overhead in the sky, and information and are frighteningly loud. The whole area shakes and the RV rumbles. Campers have raced to the tops of their RV’s to film the procession with their iPads and iPhones. My daughter watched while inside the RV as a fighter jet roared passed us. She could see the silver underside of the jet as it flashed by incredibly close. The RV shook and rattled as Callie crouched down low in fear and alarm and she looked at me with eyes wide open!

Warning- I am about to rant and rage against President Trump. If any of my readers are offended by anti- Trump rhetoric, I would suggest you not continue reading. I try not to interject my political views very often, but in this case, and with war drums beating, I feel no choice but to vent.

What a show of force and power to watch the fighter jets coming and going! It is really something to witness the incredible speed of these pilots that have gone through rigorous training and are now showing off their skills by flying overhead. And the fighter jets are extraordinarily sleek and streamlined and look so powerful and dangerous. But with Trump thumping his chest and ranting about “Rocket Man” and Kim Jong Un returning insults that Trump is a demented old man, how did we get to this place? The thought of another nuclear bomb going off, or another WWIII starting up, fills me with dread and foreboding.

I am of the opinion that the Russian investigation is heating up and that Trump would like nothing more than to confuse and distract the attention away from HIM and on to other things. Like the NFL players just as an example that is kneeling during the anthem. Our first amendment rights protect exactly that! The right to protest peacefully about something that you believe is wrong. Racism is prevalent in this country and the backlash after President Obama held office for 8 years has been ripe with the hate and anger that has festered during his 2 terms. I am appalled and disgusted, to say the least with the people that voted Trump into the Whitehouse and with Trump himself. He is a sick egomaniac bent on doing as much damage as possible to Obama’s legacy. Or worse, he is intent on starting another war, even though he himself had been excused from serving at least 4 times due to heel spurs.

So I have mixed emotions about being parked next to a military fly zone. I am in awe of the sinister beauty of these airplanes but sickened to think that humanity has evolved this far, only to have two such sick and obnoxious leaders as Trump and Kim Jong Un in power at the same time. They should be locked up together and forced to duel it out on their own. Why drag the rest of us into their petty show of mean-spirited and cruel force of wills? I feel like Trump is tying his horse to a fence. You never want to tie your horse up to an unstable barrier. If a horse spooks, it will destroy the fence and possibly injure itself and have to be put down.

Callie, on the other hand, is enjoying herself and hanging out on the dash. She was able to walk around the oak trees and horse stables and to pretend that she was a barn cat for a bit. Having shown horses in the past, it is wonderful to be in the vicinity of jockey quarters, show rings and stables. I can almost hear the whinny of my deceased, beautiful, chestnut, Arabian- Champagnne Flight, as he searched for me and I for him at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Time is flying by so fast. Here I am with a grown-up daughter who use to show this horse as an 8-year-old and a husband who is now retired, and we are now traveling around the country in our 24ft RV. It almost makes you feel old and wise. I wish I had an answer for the United States/ North Korea dilemma though. Now that would make me feel wise indeed!

A Farrier Named Rochelle

You do not find many women farriers in life and my sister Gayle has met a good one. Rochelle use to be a lab tech drawing blood in a hospital in Long Beach, California and switched careers mid life. She is a talented horse shoer with loads of patience and a gentle but firm touch.  The horses respond well to her and she does a fabulous job and has been doing Gayle’s horses for close to 15 or more years. It can be very dangerous work and her injuries are numerous. A horse can react in a split second, rearing up and coming down on a human foot, pulling back on the lead line and snapping a finger off and of course landing a swift kick when you least expect it! I am very impressed with Rochelle and thought I would post this short story about her in my blog about Callie. Callie is not the only animal in my life, but she doesn’t know about the others. Katy Kittie, River, Murphy, Bella and Sargent live with my sister Gayle. Gayle and I are very close and it is always a pleasure to visit with her and go horseback riding and play with her awesome dogs and one cat…. Callie doesn’t like to see me pack up the suitcase, and will never know of my whereabouts; she must suspect something is going on but is too happy to see my return and doesn’t ask too many questions. May it stay that way…

Down a Country Road

Callie loves nothing better than to go on a car ride and hang her head out the window. As long as you don’t drive too fast, she is able to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the great outdoors and derives so much pleasure from it. You can watch her surprise and delight in a world way beyond her daily scope and it is fun for Michael and me too. I always put her harness on because there have been times when she is hanging out so far that she could easily fall out if I wasn’t holding on to her. Her ears get in the way of enjoying fast speeds because they are shaped like small satellite dishes and all the wind funnels right down into them. This causes Callie to shake her head a lot if we go too fast, so we try to take her out to country roads where we can keep the speed down to 25 miles an hour. One day while driving to the coast, we spotted a herd of young cattle that expressed an interest in meeting Callie. As soon as we slowed down and parked the car, they ambled over to investigate this new little creature they had probably never seen before. They showed no interest in Michael or me, but locked eyes with Callie and Callie with them and you could see that there was chemistry between them. Cattle and especially milking cows and horses are well known for buddying up to barn cats and cats seem to love them in return. There are many stories of friendships between the two. Callie would have marched right over to them and touched noses if we had let her, and in retrospect, I wish we had let her. The cattle were living the good life, at least for now, and taking pleasure in being out in a huge pasture and eating grass to their hearts content. This is how bovines should be raised, with lots of grass, space and sunshine. I rarely eat meat anymore because I am trying to do my part in combating climate change and the thought of eating one of these beautiful creatures, is unsettling. Cattle place a huge burden on the environment with the methane gas they expell, but to see this herd enjoying the moment and the beautiful day unfolding was a pleasure to behold. It was a good day for a drive in the country, and even a better day for Callie to meet moo!

The Palm Springs Art Museum

There is nothing quite like celebrating my 61st birthday for five days in a row. I had my sister, Gayle, visit for three days before my birthday, my husband, Michael, spoiled me on my birthday and yesterday we drove to Palm Springs to check out the Wild West Art Exhibition at the Palm Springs Art Museum.  This museum was founded in 1938, and is a regional art, natural science and performing arts institution. The current show is western art, and cowboys, indians and desert scenes are the dominant subject matter. Artists like N.C. Wyeth and Remington showcased the event. I happen to really appreciate desert landscape painting and hope to one day dabble in plein-air landscapes of Anza Borrego in the near future. It would be something I could do when I start a road trip with MIchael and Callie and the RV we are saving up for. Lara, my daughter, joined us for the day and I was very impressed with the exhibit and museum in general. It has fabulous, easy on the eyes lighting and the wood floors are kind on the feet and joints for us senior and soon to be senior citizens. The 3rd floor has a funny elderly couple that sit at the top of the stairs looking drearily out over an exhibit of modern art, and when you reach the top floor yourself, you walk right past them slightly out of breath. You are careful not to disturb them and so veer to the left and it isn’t until you round the corner and walk past them the second time, that you realize that they are part of the exhibit. I have been fooled twice now. The Palm Springs Art Museum has something for everyone. I loved the whimsical stacked plates, interactive blown glass sculptures and all the displays in general. It is a clean and well lit museum and just big enough to make you feel like you are getting your money’s worth without becoming exhausted. We missed the outdoor sculpture exhibit because we had arrived late in the day and the museum closes at 5. I will have to come back another time to check it out. It is well located in downtown Palm Springs at 101 N Museum Drive.

Bella, Sargent, Gayle, River and Murphy

I mentioned in my previous blog that my sister, Gayle and I have a shared love of horses. We were given a horse, actually, a Welch/Quarter horse- pony that we shared with my other sister, Janet, when we were children. His name was Little Geronimo and he was a kind and hard working pony. I must have been around 12, Gayle, 11 and Janet, 10… We had Regina Marie Anne, her foal, Buffy Saint Marie, and the list goes on. When I raised my daughter Lara and we had to choose a sport she could compete in… soccer did not make the list. We decided on an equestrian sport with Arabian horses. Champagne Flight became the love of my life and a wonderful trail horse when he made it clear he didn’t like being on the show circuit. My husband Michael has been vey supportive about my need to have a horse in my life. Gayle and I have continued with this passion and to this day we are still riding together as 60 year old women. When are you too old to ride? I hope to ride until I die. Gayle boards Bella for me and I try to ride several times a month. It is a 2 hour drive, one way for me, so the desire to ride is still a passion for me! Gayle also has 2 fabulous dogs, River and Murphy and we have so much fun together. Bella was a rescue horse, and quite bitter and angry when we first adopted her. Now she is a jewel to ride and even knickers when I come to visit her. So Gayle rides her Morgan/Quarter horse Sargent and I ride Bella. River, the white shepherd and Murphy, the collie joyously tag along. It is a great way to spend a couple of hours together, and if horses could talk, what would they have to say about it all?  Gayle and I talk nonstop and Bella’s ears twitch back and forth the whole time. Because they are senior horses, we take care not to move any faster than a walk. I believe we are keeping them young and I KNOW they are doing the same for us.

Mi Hija… my Peruvian Pasofino… RIP