Time for an Update

Yes, I am back in Canada and up to my armpits (so to speak) trying to empty out the house, finish up the renovations and put the house on the market.

I’ve been hauling bags of clothing and boxes of books to donation locations as well as hauling magazines and papers off to recycling. One day I calculated that I handled about 500 pounds of such things, which, because I had to load the containers, haul them to the truck and then unload them, meant I actually handled 1500 pounds. No wonder my doctor commented on the size of my biceps! And as I haul things out of the basement office, the legs are also starting to tone up.

If anyone wants a workout without paying gym fees, let me know as I wouldn’t mind some assistance!!!

My Day at Thermal

St. Patrick’s Day seemed like an appropriate day to say goodbye to an extremely successful Irish stallion, one I first took photos of before he was at the grand prix level, and say hello to the young Irish mare that may take his place in the grand prix ring. Yes, Rich Fellers is retiring Flexible, a 21-year-old phenom who beat the odds in so many ways. Thanks to Rich, Shelley and the grooms for letting me take pictures of the 8-year-old Irish mare and the 9-year-old Swedish mare Rich is bringing along. Fellers, who has mostly competed on male horses said, “I guess I’m a mare guy now.”

Like Fellers, Richard Spooner is also in a transition phase when it comes to horses. If what I saw of Quirado RC, a 8-year-old and thus just a baby at the grand prix level, is any indication, Spooner has the ride on a very nice grey horse. Speaking of grey horses, Spooner informs me that Robinson is still going strong at age 29, having outlived one goat, the infamous Nanny, and has a new stablemate, the diminutive Nanette. Thanks Richard, and thanks to your groom.

Ashley Bond also had me look at her string of horses and graciously allowed me to take photos. Since we last spoke, she has gotten married and had a baby. She said, “It’s great!” She also said with a laugh that her husband, a professional soccer player, “is better looking” than Beckham. Thanks Ashley, Steve and the groom.

In consideration of the heat, misters and fans are placed along the outward-facing stalls as well as near the end-gates of the competition rings. Great for cooling horses as well as journalist, but not good for cameras!

Although I started to fade by mid-afternoon in the 96-degree heat of the California desert and did not manage to get as many hunter photos as I would have liked, I must say that I was totally impressed with the pride that the grooms have in their charges and their efforts in making the horses look their best for the photos I did take. Good job, guys and gals, and thank you very much!

P.S.

For those ‘professionals’ who wander about the show grounds thinking that other people do not hear you making snide or nasty comments about others at the show, I want to remind you that even though you may not recognize the people within earshot, they may recognize you. They may even form an opinion about you and your level of professionalism based on how and how often you talk about others. And when they get asked to recommend a trainer, your name may not be mentioned in a favorable light…if at all.

 

 

 

Plans

If all goes well, I will be in Thermal covering the $1 million AIG Grand Prix on March 19th, 2017. Hopefully, I will also get a bit of time to cover the Hunter rings as well.

After that, I will check the long-range weather reports and start plotting my journey back to Canada. If I can line up some work along the way, I am seriously considering heading north through Oregon, Washington and the lower mainland of BC before returning to Alberta.

Contact me via email if you wish to meet up at the show or along the road home.

“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” W.C. Fields

Good to Know

I was recently contacted by a Grade 8 student. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened, but, prior student contact has largely been from university and/or college students.

She wrote: “I am writing to you because I love your articles on conformation, and have used multiple of them as sources for my horse conformation project in my eighth grade science class.”

She also asked why conformation – functional conformation, I assume – was so important at the upper levels of competition.

My response was: “As to high-performance, it is kind of like automobiles. An average car might get you from A to B, but, if you want to enter competitions, you might need more than an average car, and, by the time you want to enter a NASCAR race, you will need a car that is mechanically designed to operate efficiently and safely at that higher level. It’s just physics.”

Although the exchange was brief, I am extremely pleased that some young people are thinking of the horse in mechanical terms.That is good for horses and it is good to know!

I hope she gets an A+ for her science project.

Arizona Update

Yes, I am still in Arizona and parked out in the desert. Amazingly, there has been a lot of humidity in the desert so far this winter. Who knew?? At least the precipitation here does not require shoveling.

Although I have made a start on the next e-book (Elements for Athleticism and Soundness), I have spent more time renovating and painting in the trailer. I now have nightmares about green painter’s tape and peel-and-stick tile! I wish there had been time to paint and do the backsplash before I started inhabiting the place. That would have made things a bit easier, for sure.

There are some clinics in the planning stage – Canada and USA – and I will post detailed info as times, dates and locations are confirmed.

Meanwhile, I shall carry on renovating, writing and feeding the hummingbirds.

Arizona

Yes, I am settled on BLM land near Quartzite, Arizona. This picturesque piece of desert will be my base of operation for the foreseeable future, but I plan on venturing off to the Phoenix, Tuscon , Wickenburg and Yuma areas. If you live in one of those areas, let me know.

I am pleased to announce that the portable garden I planted on November 11th has sprouted. Home-grown salad in December! Gotta love it.

The view from my trailer, including my ‘welcome’ mat.

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California

Yippee! I made it to California.

Everything was rushed before departure, but I have arrived in sunny (and warm) California.  The first day of driving was a long one (20 hours), but the new bed in the trailer provided me with a fabulous 8-hour sleep. I arrived intact in Monrovia (in the greater LA area) Thursday evening despite a few ‘bumps’ along the way.

Overall, I made pretty good time until I crossed into CA, where the towing speed is only 55 mph.

I actually made it in time to catch the Breeders; Cup races on Friday and Saturday and catch up with a couple of friends/race fans from Virginia as well as fellow journalists. And I was fortunate enough to be able to take conformation photos of some champion horses on Sunday and Monday mornings in the stables.

After a day of securing a US cell phone as well as a mobile hotspot through a different carrier and a  day of rest, I am now tackling the real organization of the trailer and setting up the office space to suit my purposes.

As long as I do not overstay my welcome here, I will be based out of Monrovia for the next week or so. Therefore, anyone in the general area wanting me to assess horses, etc., should contact me fairly soon.

Arizona, is likely next on my agenda, with Nevada as another possibility. Hope to meet up with a few clients along the way.

Until next time…

 

PROGRESS

Destruction

The trailer has been stripped of the carpet and the lino. The knee-crusher and back-killer of a dinette is gone. The dead space behind the dinette has been opened up and the fresh-water holding tank has been removed and cleaned in preparation for its new, more convenient and space-saving location. The old couch has landed in the landfill and the resulting space is set to be converted to office space. The hallway’s bathroom sink is gone and the plumbing in that area is now ready to accept the washer/dryer combo. The flush toilet has been removed and the composting toilet is ready to be installed. New faucets, taps and a water-saving shower head are ready to be put into position.

Most of this destruction I did myself in less than a week, and my body is well aware of the various muscles used in weilding the pry bar, cutting carpet, cutting lino, pulling staples, pulling more staples, pulling even more staples, unscrewing hundreds of screws and hauling the two loads of unsalvageable stuff off to the dump.

Construction

Saturday starts the construction phase, which will prove whether all the mental processes, scheming, plotting, imagining and planning transfer into functionality. The lino in the hall, bathroom and bedroom goes down in the morning and the washer dryer unit will be installed in the afternoon. Monday the trailer goes in to get the new battery bank installed. Thursday the truck gets an oil change and a coolant flush so that it is ready for the trip too.

I’m thinking it will take at least two days to load and semi-organize the trailer for five months on the road.

Departure

Although the actual departure date has not been determined, I will likely be gone by the end of October. The first destination is Monrovia/Arcadia in the greater Los Angeles area, where my friend Jude from Equiarts has offered free parking for my visit. Nice lady…and a talented artist too. Check out her site: www.equiarts.com 

For those of you near I-15 (from Montana all the way to California) who wish yours truly to stop by should speak up quickly. I may be able to accommodate a quick visit or two on my way to the Golden State.

Next

After California, I will either go to Nevada or Arizona, where I will continue with the modifications to the trailer (painting, organizing, storing, reorganizing, more painting, etc.).

Other locations will depend on jobs – private client work, clinics, seminars and/or equine expos and fairs.

BTW, if you want to hear me speak at a horse fair or equine expo in your area, contact the organizers and let them know. It might be a bit late for some schedules, but there’s always the next season, since I hope to do the snowbird thing next winter as well.

Other Work

Wherever I land for a stretch of time, I will be working on the next two books and some online courses. I would love to hear what sort of online courses you would like to have access to. So far a photographer will be writing some courses, a horse player (betting) will be writing at least one and I will be doing some as well (conformation and possibly genetics/bloodlines).

Mother Nature

All in all, I think that Mother Nature gave the geese and ducks the right instincts. They flock off for the winter, and I am going to join them!

Wish me luck.

Ms Ad Venture

I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to do it other than I could. I write (articles, ads, website text, e-books, etc.), I build websites, I give clinics and I consult (in person and online). None of which requires me to be at home. In fact, much of it requires me to be away from home.

I have often written articles from hotel rooms. Las Vegas, Normandy, Paris, Aachen and Hong Kong come to mind. I also go away to write my e-books to avoid distractions. Have laptop will travel, right? So why stay at home through another Canadian winter? In fact, why have a stationary home at all?

As George Carlin posed it: Why was I working to provide housing for my stuff, and why was I continuing to acquire stuff to fill the house?

When you haven’t spent any time in your own living room for three years, except to do the housework and water the plants, why do you need a house with a living room?

I can write from almost anywhere and basically only need a connection to send and receive. If I am mobile, I can visit more clients at their farms, I can cover a wider variety of shows or competitions and I can add to my photo collection for clinics and e-books. Marvelous!

So, I sold my car, bought a ¾ ton and a fifth wheel travel trailer (mobile office with living quarters) and will be taking this show on the road. I haven’t sold the house yet because it isn’t exactly the best time of year to do that, and I am undecided about renting it for the winter. Either way, I will be leaving the north in a month or so for warmer climes.

And strange as it may sound, I am finding the process of downsizing quite liberating. I thought I would have trouble parting with many of my acquisitions, but, no. Bags of clothing, shoes, accessories and linens have already found their way to charities. Some of the bigger pieces will be advertised for sale starting next week. Anyone need bookcases, desks, tables, chairs, living room furniture, plants?

I have one friend who has spoken for all the novels, and his Jeep will be over tonnage on his trip home. One client is taking nearly all the Thoroughbred studbooks I have amassed over the decades. Another is getting a couple of the older ones.

Which leads me to you, my dear readers…

I will still have numerous educational/reference books of the equine variety to sell. Breeding and history books from several warmblood studbooks (Hanoverian studbooks, many of the European registries, Selle Francais, Irish Sport Horse, etc.) and produce records from the Selle Francais and Anglo-Arab registries. I have vet books, conformation books, training books and even some VCR tapes (oldies, but classics). There are enough of them to fill several boxes since they fill several bookcases here. I hope to sell them all as one unit. I have no desire to sell them singly or a few at a time. And I do not relish the thought of shipping them either. I might, and I say MIGHT, be willing to deliver them if the location is on my immediate route, but weight is going to be a factor. It will also be a factor for commercial shipping and related costs for the buyer(s). Maybe a few of you could form a co-operative and buy the lot and divvy them up or sell them in a fund raiser? Maybe start a library for your horse club?

However, I do not have a list of titles at this time, but will post it when done.

And then I have a collection of caps (baseball-type) from World Cup Finals, Olympics, Breeders’ Cups, Rolex, Spruce Meadows, Pan Ams, horse expos, seminars and so on. I will sell them as a package too…I hope.

Anyone interested in any of it? If so, please contact me.

Oh, and if you want me to come to your area for horsey things or a visit, let me know and my travels may just take me to your neighborhood.

Yours truly,

Ms Ad Venture

(formerly, and sometimes still, known as Judy)

THE CLONES ARE NOT COMING

The clones are not coming; they’re already here!

I recently did a bit of research about clones and was amazed at what I found.

Yes, I knew that some famous horses had been cloned, but had not given a lot of thought to the subject.

I knew of mares and stallions that had been cloned for breeding purposes. I also knew that there were uncastrated clones of geldings, but had not really considered the ramifications.

The clones I was aware of were from jumpers, eventers and barrel racers. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the leading discipline for clones is polo! Are you surprised too? Without exaggeration, it is possible that a polo match will soon occur where all of the horses (at least on one team) will be clones. They may or may not be clones of the same original, but they could all be clones nonetheless.

Leading the charge (excuse the pun) in the cloning of polo ponies is a lab in Argentina with a branch in the USA.

Mostly Identical

When you think of a clone do you assume that it is a 100% identical copy of the original? That was, and likely still is, the common belief.

Did you know that clones can have different markings than the original and even different markings from clone to clone of the same original? True. Such are the characteristics of markings.

Did you know that there is a portion of mitochondrial DNA in the stripped egg (oocyte) that they use to house the DNA of the original before artificially convincing the egg that it is fertilized? That means that the mare that donates the egg, whether she carries the embryo or not, adds her mitochondrial DNA to the mix. It is unclear to me what the full significance of that is at this point, but it is interesting that I found claims that clones are 98%, not 100%, identical to the originals.

I wonder what the percentage will be as testing improves over time.

Your Thoughts

How do you feel about clones? Do you think that they are too expensive to create to be commonplace? Do you recall how expensive and rare computers or cell phones used to be?

Will you be thrilled to compete against the clone of a former champion? What about competing against five or ten or twenty clones of one or more champions?

Should there be a limit on the number of clones per individual? Who should set such limits?

Do you think clones should have to prove themselves as competitors or should they be able to trade on the record of the original?

Would you breed to a clone or use one as a broodmare?

Would you want to know if the horse you own or are considering buying is the offspring of a clone? Can current testing methods tell the difference?

How do you think registries should handle the issue of clones and the offspring of clones? There have already been court cases over the issue of registering clones and their offspring.

What about the clones of clones? Does anyone know what will happen ‘generation’ after ‘generation’ of cloning? Will using the same oocyte donors or different oocyte donors matter?

Do you believe that safeguards should be in place before clones become even more commonplace? What do you think such safeguards should be?

This is, of course, an oversimplification, but it may spark some research on the part of a few of you. The questions posed in this post are not hypothetical; they are real and they are timely.

Personally, I think that you can fool or manipulate Mother Nature for a while, but that she seems to have a way of re-establishing her superiority in the long run. I’m just not sure how she will do that when it comes to clones and cloning.