Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kylie gets body clipped

Since winter-coat growth is governed by daylight and not temperature, horses will still grow a thicker coat when the days get shorter even if it is one hundred degrees out. I tried explaining this to Kylie, but she grew a thick woolly coat anyway. Her coat grew so thick already she was ready for a snowstorm. This will be the first of several body clips this winter. Luckily Mazzy's coat is still short and slick. She must have listened to my lecture, but I am sure the fur is coming soon.

Reasons for clipping: People clip their horses' coats to make them more comfortable when in work as it helps to stop them from overheating. Horses dry off much quicker without a long coat to trap the sweat. It is way easier to keep a short coat clean. Their skin will stay cleaner and healthier. They won't take long to groom so you'll have more time in the saddle. They'll be happier working for you, especially on warmer days. Plus, a heavy coat looks unkempt. When I first moved to CA from the east coast I thought the whole clipping blanketing regimens of southern California was bizarre. I was amazed that the horses grew the same fluffy coat that horses in much colder climates get even though it does not get nearly as cold. Sixty is cold here. Also, horses get both sheets and blankets at night in the "winter" when it is cold. I guess they get acclimated to what is cold for the area?

Tips: have your clippers professionally sharpened before every body clip. Sharp clippers cut down on clipper tracks and help prevent the dreaded "corduroy horse." Another trick to a nice clip job is to give your horse a bath before and they spray with Show Sheen which makes the clippers glide through the hair. Dirt inside his coat will catch in the clipper teeth and cause the blades to drag and cut unevenly. Also, the dirt will dull the clippers more quickly, possibly requiring you to interrupt the job to sharpen your blades. Wet hair will also dull the blades as well as be close to impossible to clip.

Kylie is very well behaved and used to being body clipped. She stands perfectly patient, and probably likes the attention. She likes anything that makes her look prettier. I love the way a freshly clipped horse feels. Luckily grey horses coats don't turn funky colors after being clipped. Some chestnuts turn a horrible shade of orange. After she gets clipped her coat is so shiny and slick!

Stable Spotlight: Martha Stewart's Barn

Once called Sycamore Farms, Martha’s property was first settled in 1784 and is known locally, today, as Cantitoe Corners. (Cantitoe was the wife of an Indian chief named Katonah who lived in the region in the 1700s.) With rolling fields and swaying sycamore trees, the property is one of the finest in the region, adjacent to the home of fashion designer Ralph Lauren. It is located in Bedford, NY. People like Glenn Close, Chevy Chase, Tommy Mattola and Clive Davis have sprawling properties here, as do Meredith Vierra and Donald Trump.

The entrance to the stables in winter.

She has had four miles of carriage roadways built on the property and she imported 100-year-old white cedar paddock fencing from Canada to create grazing paddocks for her five Friesen horses, also from Canada, named Meindert, Martyn, Rinze, Rutger and Ramon.
Martha's stable manager, Betsy Perreten, rides past the chestnut trees with Martha's neice, Kristina (shown at left) and Kristina's good friend Tabitha.

The stable interiors were designed and built by a British company Louden.

Martha occasionally entertains in the stables, which are climate-controlled and equipped with state-of-the-art technology. While planning the stable's construction, Martha had envisioned it, with its extra-high ceilings and broad cruciform shape, as a place where she could entertain guests as well as keep her horses. In anticipation, she installed a kitchen right in the barn.
The kitchen in the stables.

Most pictures are from The Martha Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Stable Spotlight: Sequoyah Farm

Sequoyah Farms is the $5.1 million dollar headquarters of GK Performance Horses. Located in Andersonville, TN, they specialize in the Holsteiner Breed. Sequoyah Farms covers 140 gently sloping acres of pasture and woodland with a panoramic view of the Cumberland Mountains. No ordinary horses stay at Sequoyah Farms. They are top-of-the-line purebred sport horses, potential Olympians, and they're treated like royalty.

(Foyer - far door is entrance into the arena, wash stall on both sides)

The barn features 28 stalls including 6 stallion stalls, 4 foaling stalls, 2 wash stalls, collections room, lab, office and tack room.

All stalls feature Promat flooring, Nelson automatic watering systems & feeders in a completely temperature controlled environment.

stallion wing overlooking from second story balcony.

Indoor Arena: 22,832 S.F.

Their current star is Utopia, a 12-year-old mare with an impressive record in International Grand Prix Show Jumping. She carries a seven-figure price tag.
Peter Leone on Sequoyah Farms Utopia - photo by Reflections Photography Inc.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Takami and Mazzy

Last night we went out to celebrate Chad's birthday. We went to a very cool restaurant in downtown LA called Takami, which has to be one of LA's most attractive and unique venues. Located on the corner of Flower Street and Wilshire Boulevard, it is 21 floors above LA's financial district with amazing views of the city and beyond. We sat outside on the patio, which was perfect. I loved the rooftop atmosphere. Our server was from Maine and was so friendly, he definitely added to the enjoyment of the evening. He recommended a bottle of Kikusui sake, which I think is a common sake since I recognized the pretty blue bottle it came in. I am surely not a sake connoisseur, I actually cannot make any distinction between different cold sakes, but it was very light and refreshing.You can see the rooftop bar at "The Standard" in the background of the photo.

We had “Takami Edamame,” soybeans sautéed in garlic butter and soy sauce. These were very tasty.

Poki Martini, Spicy Tuna Poki with Finely Chopped Mild Red Onions Fresh Wasabi, garnished with Thinly Sliced Lemons & Cucumber on a seaweed salad. Somewhat bland, not spicy at all. I would say this wasn't anything spectacular.

Oysters on the Half Shell, Fresh Seasonal Oysters served on Ice. Big and juicy. Tasted great. Came with three sauces, which were fun to try, but I have to say horseradish, lemon, and cocktail sauce is still my favorite with oysters.

Soft Shell Crab, Fried Soft Shell Crab with Sweet & Spicy Soy Dressing. Spectacular!

Sashimi plate. Fresh and delicious with a nice assortment.

There were so many other things we wanted to try, so we will have to go back again! The manager, Andrew, came by to check on us, and he was also an east coaster from Annapolis and super friendly. Chad and him exchanged favorite hangouts there.

Afterwards we decided to venture out into the city of LA, which I don't think we've ever done, and checked out the Golden Gopher. On the outside it looks plain jane but then you walk in and you're like "wow, it's cool in here". The music is good, dark atmosphere, old school video game tables (Ms. Pacman, Centipede and Asteroids), urban cocktail lounge vibe. We recognized the bartender from a bar he used to work at in Pasadena. He made us good drinks. They have a photobooth in the bar, and yes, we used it. It also has a unique liquor "to go” counter on the way out, thanks to its still valid 1905 liquor license, issued when Teddy Roosevelt was Commander-in-Chief.

I had a great lesson on Mazzy this morning. She is really coming along. This week she got back shoes on for the first time and that seemed to help support her hind end. Her trot is relaxed and fluid, and her canter is feeling much more solid and controllable. We are working on getting her to step up underneath herself more instead of the strung out, legs going in every direction feeling. It is hard work for her due to her young age, undeveloped muscles and huge size (almost 17 hands at age three), but she is trying really hard to do what is asked of her. We are also working on getting her to travel straight without loosing her haunch to the outside. She is really fun to ride. I am so excited with all the progress she has made and grateful to have such a great trainer. It is such a fantastic feeling to get on her the day after a schooling session and feel a big difference. Makes you really appreciate the professionals!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate Goodness - Baxter and Murphy

Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Labradors [are] lousy watchdogs. They usually bark when there is a stranger about, but it is an expression of unmitigated joy at the chance to meet somebody new, not a warning. ~Norman Strung

My sweet Mazzy

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Creative Arts Emmy Awards

After the memorial service Saturday, we went to LA Live for lunch (entertainment complex under construction in downtown Los Angeles, California. Adjacent to the Staples Center). It just happened that the guests for the Creative Arts Emmys awards were walking down the red carpet right in front of the restaurant to get into the Nokia Theater. Nicknamed the Shmemmies, these Emmy awards are presented in recognition of technical and other similar achievements in American television programming and are commonly awarded to behind-the-scenes personnel such as art directors, costume designers, cinematographers, casting directors, and sound editors. The event is annually held one week prior to the Primetime Emmy Awards. I've actually never heard of it before, but it was fun to see all the hundreds of paparazzi and extravagant dresses. We didn't see anyone super-duper exciting but we did see Ernest Borgnine (He’s 92!), Betty White, Lisa Edelstein from ‘House’ (have never seen the show so didn't mean anything to me), Sharon Osbourne (Chad got his picture taken with her, but my camera died - figures - so another firefighter is supposed to email it to us), Donald Faison (Scrubs, don't watch this show either), Kathryn Morris (Cold Case)

Callie Thorne ('Rescue Me')

Katey Sagal from Married with Childred

I don't know who these two guys were, but I loved thier outfits.

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer! And he brought 'Junior' a pit bull with him.

Junior with a ball in his mouth.

A fine example of the interesting outfits. I was actually taking a picture of the guy behind her. He is Thatcher, Meredith's father on Grey's Anatomy (Jeff Perry).

Yes that is a real dog, and it is wearing sunglasses!

Thousands honor two fallen firefighters in memorial service at Dodger Stadium

memorial service at Dodger's Stadium on Saturday for the two firefighters killed in a wildfire high in the Angeles National Forest. A group of the Pasadena guys met for breakfast first so we could caravan down together.

When we got to the stadium hundreds of firetrucks passed under two enormous American flags hanging from ladders and encircled the stadium two to three deep. The strong firefighting brotherhood was evident at every turn. Just to watch the outpouring of all the firefighters from around the nation, was unbelievably touching. It shows what a strong family they are and how they really do come out and make sure that their brothers are remembered.

On a sun splashed morning, the fire service gathered to say good bye to the two of its finest … men who were, by any measure of the word, heroes.

Capt. Tedmund "Ted" Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County, and Firefighter Spc. Arnaldo "Arnie" Quinones, 34, of Palmdale, died Aug. 30 when their truck plunged 800 feet into a ravine.
Officials believe Hall and Quinones ordered dozens of people to seek shelter while they fought through flames to search for an escape route from their remote mountain camp. It is believed the truck might have been overrun by flames from the wildfire.

"There are still acts that go above and beyond duty," Vice President Joe Biden told the audience at the memorial. "Two men tell others to hunker down and race out to find a way out -- it is above and beyond the call of duty. That's real courage."

Handing over the reins of Dodger Stadium to the Fire Department -- for free, incidentally -- made for some unusual touches.

Firefighters hauled in bundles of 50-foot sections of hose, which were fashioned into bunting and hung from the loge level. They also devised their own version of the military's "missing man" flyover formation, sending eight helicopters thundering over the stadium, at least two of which were fresh from water drops in the hills. One of the helicopters spun sharply away from the others.

The section of the scoreboard where umpires' uniform numbers are typically displayed during games was used instead to display the number "16." Hall had worked for eight years and Quinones for four years at Camp 16, a remote prison where they helped supervise inmates trained in wilderness protection.

More than 50 inmates were among those Hall and Quinones helped protect in the moments before the firefighters were killed -- and some of them were in the stands Saturday, clad in their orange prison jumpsuits.

LA Co. FFs Local 1014 Pres. Dave Gillotte, talking of fallen brothers' commitment to helping inmate crews they led: "Ted and Arnie didn't just teach the men of Camp 16 to fight fires. They taught them to be better humans."

Among those in attendance were several firefighters who raced through flames in an attempt to rescue Hall and Quinones, the heat on the hillside so intense it burned the soles of their boots. Some county firefighters we spoke with said that they were able to attend the service only because firefighters from other agencies, including the city of Los Angeles and Orange County, volunteered to staff their stations Saturday morning.

To demonstrate their mourning, most drivers used black electrical tape to slash through the call numbers painted on the sides of trucks: No. 33, from Lancaster; No. 164, from Huntington Park; No. 421, from Compton. Although a crowd estimate was not available, the county had received confirmations from 15,000 firefighters, including crews from New York City, Canada, and Worcester, Mass. Each firefighter had a black ribbon around their badge.

"We are blind to the fact that we are all from different agencies," said U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Anthony Powers. "We're all here for the same reason -- to support the families and because we all lost somebody."

The deaths of Hall and Quinones are considered homicides because the cause of the Station fire -- the largest in modern Los Angeles County history, at 250 square miles -- has been attributed to arson. The fire is expected to be fully contained by Tuesday, though it was still burning Saturday above Sierra Madre and Monrovia, "just over the hills behind me," as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put it as he spoke at the memorial. Evidence found along the Angeles Crest Highway north of La Canada Flintridge included incendiary material of a type officials have not identified. A total of $150,000 in reward money has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for starting the blaze.

Speaking at a dais over home plate, flanked by shocks of flowers and stands holding the firefighters' helmets and boots, county Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman quoted from the Bruce Springsteen song "You're Missing," which is associated with the Sept. 11 tragedy: "Shirts in the closet, shoes in the hall; Mama's in the kitchen, baby and all. . . . . But you're missing."

"Our brothers," Freeman said, "are missing."

Biden gave a 13-minute speech in which he veered from his prepared remarks, speaking in deeply personal terms about the loss of his wife and daughter in a 1972 car accident.

"There is very little we can do today that is going to provide genuine solace," Biden told the families. Eventually, he promised them, the memory of Hall and Quinones "will bring a smile to your face rather than a tear to your eye."

"I assure you that day will come," he said. "I guarantee it."

Biden spoke of the overuse of the term ‘hero’ and how firefighters did not believe that they readily fit the definition. Biden said, "There's a saying that all men are created equal but then a few become firefighters."

“We all say things like, ‘We never forget.’ These guys mean it,” he said, gesturing to the firefighters in the crowd. “They will never forget -- any time, any problem, under any circumstances, you will have a family bigger than your own to go to.” “Men like Ted and Arnie have few equals. We take comfort in recognizing they have taken a place with the immortals, and the [county] of Los Angeles has two more watching over them.”

Hall and Quinones were remembered as heroes, but also as very different men -- the former a trusty veteran who served as a mentor to younger firefighters; the latter a force of nature with a rock star's charisma. Hall was married and the father of two grown sons. Quinones' wife is expecting to deliver their first child any day now.

Most moving were the tributes by those closest to the two men, who themselves worked together supervising inmate fire crews at LA County’s Camp 16 in the Angeles National Forest. Captain Joseph Santero, who entered the fire service with Hall more than two decades ago, said his friend’s commitment made you want to do your job better. Ted Hall was considered the old veteran, sometimes gruff but always a professional. Santero in remembering Hall said, "Actually, lots of times, Ted wasn't a nice guy. Ted could give a verbal straightening out better than just about anybody. When you worked with Ted you wanted to do your job better because he was so good at his.” “Ted lost his life saving the lives of almost 70 firemen … I can’t think of anything more noble and courageous than that,” said Santero. “I have worked with the best and the bravest firefighters for 26 years. I can stand here in front of all of you and say without a doubt, that Captain Ted Hall was the bravest most heroic man I have ever known.”

Firefighter Spc. Rob Morales, a fellow firefighter and friend to both men, remembered Quinones fondly. "It wasn't uncommon for him to come up behind you and give you a big old hug. And then he'd hold it way past the point of comfort” As the audience laughed, Morales continued, "He'd give you that big smile and say, 'I'm Puerto Rican. That's what we do!'"

Morales was also on the mountain when they died. He saw Quinones hop in Hall's truck to get a better look at the approaching flames while the others sought shelter in Camp 16's dining hall.

"I witnessed something that most men would never dream of," Morales said, speaking about Quinones. " “I witnessed my friend deliver on every promise that he had ever made. He was brave. He was strong. He was noble. He upheld the promise that he would have my back."

Morales noted that Quinones had a tattoo that read: First in, last out.

"He was the first one in," Morales said. "And he was the last out."

The emotional ceremony lasted a little over two hours. Hall and Quinones received the sendoff befitting honored heroes with a sounding of the last alarm, then a fire captain playing taps on a trumpet in centerfield and the Pipes and Drums of California Professional Firefighters playing “Amazing Grace.”
Honor guards from more than two dozen departments from California and the nation participated.

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