Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sapphire Profile: Ceilidh

Sire: Aspro (TB)
Dam: Toy Ploy (TB)

Official Name: Another Toy (grey mare)

Born: January 1992

Barn Name: Ceilidh (Kay-Lay = Gaelic for "a party / gathering"), aka: The White Queen, Big Mama, Energizer Bunny, and Walking Accident

Career 1: "Race Horse"

*Ceilidh raced in her home state of Louisiana. She had an amazing 21 starts from May 1994 thru August 1995 (that's a LOT of racing for those not into the sport, most trainers don't race horses this hard and it took it's toll as her performance flagged) The fact that she didn't break down is a miracle and testament to her nature.

Winnings: 1 first, 4 seconds, 2 thirds
Total Earned: $10,641

Career 2: "Hunter"

Competed "Green" Horse divisions and "Adult Amateur" divisions

*Carolyn's leaving out a few details here in Ceilidh's story. She came to Carolyn's hunter barn a bit of a freak, leaving a trail of broken cross-ties in her wake. Clippers were a big no-no to Ceilidh as was touching her face, ears or looking at her cross-eyed. It took a lot of patience on the part of both owner and the barn manager at her first barn to get her over a lot of issues.

Career 3: "Eventing"

I bought Ceilidh in December of 1996. She was to be my A/O Hunter. As you can see above, we never quite made that goal. The judges thought we had too much "personality" to put it politely, and we thought it was just plan ol' boring! So, the big switch to Eventing.

After "clinic-ing" just once, we entered our first competition - The Event Derby at Flintridge, at the exciting level of "Intro Beginner Novice". She won the class handily on her dressage score of 33.5.

She never looked back. After 20 "starts" with placings no lower than 6th in 16 of those events, she climbed all the way to have 4 Preliminary's under her belt, there seemed no stopping her. She gave her all for her "mommy" and was the "catch-ride-queen / loaner" for our barn when other horses came up injured -- all this on an undiagnosed muscle disorder known as EPSM (equine polysaccharide storage myopothy).

However, Ceilidh had other plans. She decided that she was a cat. And being a cat, she had nine lives. Back in November of 2005, it looked like she used the last of them when she had a horrible accident of her own devising. Being creative, she pretty much chewed up her right hind and lost a good portion of her medial long collateral ligament. No one, including myself thought that she'd ever make it back. But you can't keep the energizer bunny down. *** hello! Aunt Marla told you all along she'd make it back just fine... more importantly Ceilidh knew and that's what really counts.

Proving everyone wrong, with her heart-of-gold and amazing work-ethic, she healed with the clear go ahead that we could compete again. But the lay-up and injury spawned new problems of their own. Just when you thought she was out for the count, she bounces back and is ready to go again.

It's been a rough four years, but things are looking up. She looking for fences and is eager to gallop. Here's to a sparkling 2009!

Hobbies: Near fatal accidents, Ruling/Running the barn, putting the "smack-down" on naughty horses.

** I hate to edit entries that Sapphirians are kind enough to send but I feel compelled, as Ceilidh's Aunt Marla, to add in a few details Carolyn humbly left out.

As a hunter, Ceilidh was a positive SPAZ at shows. I personally watched her drop about 100 pounds at a hunter show in Bakersfield by doing nothing but spinning in her stall all day. Granted, it was Bakersfield and there wasn't much else to do but still. It was only through Carolyn's patience and Michelle's ingenuity that they finally got her to become the calm, show professional that she is but beware, the inner spaz does show through from time to time.

Ceilidh's injuries are much more creative and numerous than Carolyn admits. She left out the gnome wound gained somewhere along the course in Shepherd Ranch that sliced along her hoof. She contentedly bled like a stuck pig all the way back to her stall from the finish line (which is when we knew for certain she was a "cutter") and was very disappointed not to be able to finish the event by doing the show jumping. ("What? It's just a lousy four inch long, two inch deep gash along my hoof, I can still jump!")

Somewhere after that came the poisonous spider bite, the first of the "this horse will never jump again" injuries. Carolyn faithfully stayed by her horse's side and kept walking her since the vet said that would be the best thing. No matter that the leg was gruesomely huge and most owners (myself included) wouldn't be able to handle it. But Carolyn did and with her intense, never-say-die care Ceilidh made a full recovery.

Oh yeah, and then there was the hock infection that Carolyn ended up driving from Burbank to Somis (long before Ceilidh lived in Moorpark) nearly every day as well as working a 40 hour plus week as a music editor. That's about a 50 minute drive for one way those not familiar with the area. All just to go up and cheer up her horse who wasn't allowed to leave her stall.

One other tiny detail Carolyn left out was the whole reaction to her lay-up. "New problems of their own" doesn't quite cover it. Someone (usually Carolyn) had to go about elbow deep in Ceilidh's thigh (yes, insert her gloved hand in between skin and muscle and if you don't think it was weird/gross you aren't imagining this correctly) and clear out the old bandaging material and re-insert new stuff. I'm not even sure what it was all for but I'm not sure I could have done it. The best part was hearing Michelle scream like a girl when a blood clot about the size and consistency of a hot water bottle came splurting out.

The point is, Ceilidh owes a huge part of her miraculous recoveries to Carolyn's undying devotion. Not every horse is the Engergizer Bunny and not every injury is easily overcome, but I have learned a lot about how much difference an owner's care and devotion can make from this stalwart combination.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

LA’s secret equestrian Shangri-La

Back in February, the Kool Kidz went to Hummingbird Nest Ranch. Tucked away in Simi Valley, an area best known for its Presidential library and steamy summer climate, Hummingbird Nest Ranch is a veritable paradise for both horse and rider.

Managed by my friend Angele Fogg, Hummingbird Nest Ranch boasts of a sand arena with state of the art footing, a derby grass field and a Grand Prix field with multiple size banks, 8’ and 12’ water jumps, table bank and double liver pools. It also has a grob. I have no idea what that means. If you do, please e-mail me and let me know. There are also miles of trails that link up to the sumptuous ranch setting.

But that’s just the beginning; the barns have individually heated stalls, fully equipped kitchens, spacious tack rooms and their own veterinary clinic. There’s even an air filtration system to rid the barns of pesky odors. Insider tip: I have it on good authority that even though their poo doesn't stink they still have flies so there you go.

At this time, the three barns have space available for boarders or a trainer looking to set up shop at a world-class equestrian location. (No, Michelle, you can't move there).

Private clinics with top of the line riders of all disciplines are offered at Hummingbird throughout the year. More recently, Hummingbird’s highly experienced staff has turned its attention to equine recovery and rehabilitation. They have a Eurociser, treadmill, Game Ready and Centurion at your equine therapist’s disposal to speed your horse’s recovery.

Hopefully there'll be another schooling in our future but in the meantime thanks to Angela for making everyone feel welcome!