Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Christmas List....

As we reach the end of the year, many of us find ourselves in a reflective state of mind.  It is natural to look back at all that we have gained, all that we have lost, and where the path of life took us in the year gone by.  For me, the feeling of introspection is deepened by the fact that my birthday is a week before Christmas, and the older I get, the more I have to look back on.  I certainly have a lot to be thankful for; 2011 was a fantastic year for me, both personally and professionally.  I have never been happier or felt more at ease with myself, and yet, I see that, as always, there is still work to be done.  I still have places to improve and room to grow.

So today I wanted to create a wish list; a list of wants and needs, and issues that I intend to give my attention to.....
  1. I intend to dedicate more attention to my personal health; getting check-ups, exercising (beyond riding, I mean aerobic, break-a-sweat exercise), eating right and getting enough sleep.  I do a lot in a day, for my family, my animals, and my business. And it is easy to put off things that nurture me. A good friend reminded me recently, as she was sweetly badgering me to get a mammogram, that if I don't take care of myself, all those other areas will falter and/or break down.  I know that many horsewomen out there are like me; we take care of everything else in the world before we take care of ourselves. That can only go on for so long before we start to break down.  I am going to be more vigilant in preventing that. (And yes, I made the appt. for the mammogram!)
  2. I intend to write, write, and write some more!  I love falling down the rabbit hole, immersing myself in a subject, crafting words to do my bidding, and emerging on the other side of the creative process feeling like I understand the world and myself a bit more.  However, if life gets in my way, and I have stretches when I just don't have the time to do it, I vow not to hold guilty grudges against myself, or feel as though I have failed.  Life happens, and that's how it goes.  I like to see my life as a banquet; I take a little of this, a little of that, and try to give myself a balanced plate of everything I love.  Too much of any one thing, and you will get full on it, left to yearn for the other things you didn't get enough of, or didn't have room to try.  It's about balance, and leaving space for everything.
  3. I wish for my kids to enjoy fully this horsey/country life that we have created for them.  I wish for them to appreciate the animals, fresh air, open spaces, friendly neighbors and all the other simple happinesses that we are so blessed to have.  I wish for them to grow strong from their deep roots of a happy childhood.
  4. I wish for the horse industry, fellow equine professionals and all of us who just love horses to continue to recover economically from the recession.  I hope that people get feed they can afford, and that we have a mild winter, so as to not drive up costs. May our old horses get through winter, our mares hold on to those foals, and may the young ones stay sound.
  5. I wish for kindness and compassion.  Lots and lots of that, please!  Less abuse, violence, doping, cheating and stealing, and a lot more gentleness, respectfulness, hope, generosity, honesty and good, old-fashioned values.  That's not a lot to ask, is it?
Dear reader, thank you for spending time with me this year.  I pray that your holidays are filled with love, laughter and time spent with the people you love the most.  I wish you a Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Colt

Have you had a moment in your life when everything changed?

This past weekend, I migrated, along with the rest of the reining world, to Oklahoma City, to attend the NRHA Futurity.  Those who can't attend still turn their eyes toward reining's figurative capital city, and with webcasts capturing every moment of the action, reiners on all corners of the globe can keep up with what is happening.  They are watching to see their idols, the horses they all want to own, to see who is emerging in the sport, and what bloodlines are doing well, which might affect their breeding and buying decisions.  For trainers, owners and breeders, it is a week of making deals and networking, and of course, checking out all the beautiful horses for sale and at stud.

I was there specifically because a two year old stud colt that I bred was going to be in the Futurity Prospect Sale, and all indications were that he was going to make a really big impression on buyers who would be attending.  The horse's name is Commanders Lil Step (a name I chose :) and he is by Wimpys Little Step and out of my mare, Miss Bam Bam Command.  He is owned by my friend Vaughn Zimmerman, who purchased him from me as an embryo and who had been telling me that this was going to be a great horse since he was a foal.  When Vaughn and I talked about this horse, it has always been "The colt is doing great, the colt is this, the colt is that..." and when I got to Oklahoma City, I said to him, "Ok, I want to know what this horse's barn name is.  I can't just keep calling him the colt!"  Vaughn's reply, "Well, I don't know why not.  That's what everyone else is calling him!"  Indeed.  The Colt's reputation was preceding him with force.  Everywhere I went, people were talking about him.  Some of the very best trainers in the biz tried him and raved. Total strangers came up to me to say that he was the best two year old around.  He was making an impression all right.

I was so excited to see him for the first time and put my hands on him. The Colt is a gorgeous dark sorrel - his coat actually looks maroon - with four white socks and a star, strip and snip. He is pretty-headed and smooth bodied like his momma, but you can see Wimpy's power coming out everywhere.  He is incredibly well-developed for a two year old, and all the credit belongs to Bobby Avila Jr. for the amazing job he did preparing him. Which brings me to another facet of The Colt's appeal - a mastery over the maneuvers that Bobby has imparted on him.  His stops are incredible. His turns are incredible.  His lead changes are incredible. And he is a beautiful mover with a quiet, trainable mind.  He is a great example of what Bobby can do with a horse, and I would be proud to have him throw a leg over any of my babies.

The night before the sale, after coming back to the show grounds after dinner, my friends and I decided to go see The Colt before heading to bed, to 'wish him luck.'  Silly, I know, but that's me - - I love my animals unabashedly, and while I didn't own him, Vaughn always has referred to him as "ours," so I guess I kind of wanted to say good bye too.  After all, I knew that in the morning, he probably wouldn't be Vaughn's anymore, so therefore, he wouldn't really be mine either.  So I went to his stall to say goodnight and goodbye.  I am so glad I did.

The Colt's stall was on the far side of the sale barn, on a quiet aisle facing the far wall; a quiet corner with very little traffic where he could rest.  It was about 10 o'clock at night, so there was no one around as we made our way to see him.  As my friends and I stood there, cooing to The Colt and admiring him through the bars of the stall, I realized that two people were now standing behind us, watching us watching The Colt.  It turned out to be Javier Mendez and Thiago Boechat, who work with Lorenzo Vargas, owner of Xtra Quarter Horses and Wimpy himself.  As we made introductions, I explained my relationship to The Colt, and I was graciously ushered over to Lorenzo to be introduced.  While the interaction was brief, he seemed to be a very friendly man, and the people around him also were warm and friendly.  They immediately asked if I wanted to meet Wimpy, as he was at the showgrounds that evening for a party at the Xtra Quarter Horses' stalls.  Well, heck yeah, I wanted to meet him!!

To meet a legend is a very special thing.  Wimpys Little Step is twelve years old now, and looks to be the picture of health and vigor.  And he was so sweet!  He is personable and gentle, and I think just really wants to be scratched on his sweet spot near his withers.  Everyone around him was so gracious - thank you to the Xtra staff for sharing him with us. 

The next morning, we arrived to join the crowd amassing in the sale arena before the Futurity Prospect Sale.  The sale arena at the State Fair Arena is a relatively small area, and during the sale, it gets just packed with people - every trainer and owner of merit is there, faces you most often see in the industry magazines.  People are speaking different languages, some are doing some last minute promoting, some are trying to arrive at their reserve price and everyone is people watching.  The atmosphere is electric.  So much money is at stake, and everyone is angling to play the game.  I was very nervous - how could you not be? - so it was probably a fortuitous twist of fate that The Colt was hip #3 and so early in the sale.  Better to get in there and get it over with!

When it was The Colt's turn, we stepped inside to watch the bidding.  The auctioneer's voice called out bigger and bigger numbers - I honestly felt faint! When it was over, The Colt was sold for $200,000 to Lorenzo Vargas, Wimpy's owner and the kind man that I had met the night before.  As I stood in the arena with Vaughn, his son Justin, Lorenzo and the Xtra team for a picture, it honestly felt surreal.  A colt I bred was the High Seller at the Prospect Sale!  It was the moment that everything changed.  I wanted to cry, I wanted to jump up and shout.  For my mare, this was a game-changer.  That is what this is all about for me; having the rest of the world recognize what I have known for a long time: that my mare Bam Bam is really special.  And any worry I might of had about The Colt changing hands was erased by having serendipitously met Lorenzo and his fine staff the night before.  The Colt is in excellent hands.

What happens now?  Well, The Colt is on his way toward a stellar career and I ask everyone to say a little prayer for his continued good health and soundness.  Anything can happen in the next year, but I have a feeling that The Colt is going to be a contender next year.

As for Bam Bam, she has a hot date with a gorgeous palomino stud....