Monday, October 18, 2010

Just Say NO to Toe Grabs - NOT worth the risk at any length.....

Look at the magnificent motion of these thoroughbreds.

Anatomically, the horse doesn't pull from the front legs --
he pushes from behind.

A hoof strikes the ground with 5,000 pounds of pressure on a bone the size of your wrist.
Steve Wood, superintendent of Del Mar's dirt track.

So WHY, WHY. WHY are American trainers, farriers and horseshoe manufacturers continuing to damage our beautiful thoroughbreds by installing toe grabs into shoes and affixing them to the feet of horses?
UR Stable will not allow toe grabs on any of its racing stock. Empirical evidence exists proving increased risk and the damages caused by using toe grabs on racehorses. 

I have personally seen way too many injuries directly associated with the use of toe grabs. 

Here is a list of TOE GRAB facts that every horse owner, trainer, FARRIER, partner, caregiver and horseshoe manufacturer should be FULLY aware of ....

FATAL musculoskeletal injuries have a 1.8 higher chance of occurring with a low toe grab than with a Queen's Plate [no toe grab horseshoe], that nearly doubles to 3.5 with a regular toe grab.

There is a 6.5 greater chance of having a suspensory apparatus failure
with a low toe than there is with a Queen's Plate,
 and that more than doubles to 15.6 with a regular toe grab.

Cannon bone condylar fractures are seven times more likely to happen with a low toe grab than with a Queen's Plate and it nearly triples to 17.1 with a regular toe grab read more

EIGHT BELLES, who broke both front legs after finishing 2nd in the 2008 Kentucky Derby WAS WEARING TOE GRABS --
no one will admit to the size.

Photo: Grayson-Jockey Club

Chris McCarron, along with several other riders including Gary Stevens and Steve Cauthen, have testified that, "toe grabs are the single biggest reason why horses fall when they clip heels."

With all this evidence, I am surprised we haven't had a class-action lawsuit over the damages caused to horses wearing toes grabs. There is no warning on the side of the shoe box, and what choice does the horse have in the matter?

In my lifetime, I have watched horses win 1000s of races without toe grabs -- just look at all the shoes in the Hall of Fame --

The reality is, that toe grabs can do a lot more damage to a horse than myriad of other things that are policed around the racetrack.

For me, running any horse in toe grabs is simply not an option.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” —Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965); British Statesman, Prime Minister, Author, Nobel Prize Winner

The values we live by are worth more when we pass them on.

Enjoy every moment my friends -- we are all in this together.
And always remember, Every Horse Is A Blessing,  Susan.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Belmont puts Mott back on top in June -- That's Life in the world of thoroughbred racing

Bill Mott revealed the long and arduous process of winning his first Triple Crown race in a recent NYRA Live Chat, "The preparation that goes into a win starts six months or a year before the horse actually runs and wins. The preparation is a gradual. It takes a long time to get them up to the level of winning a race like the Belmont Stakes." Click here to read the full transcript on NYRA site.

While filming the first few seasons of Unbridled I galloped horses at Saratoga for Bill Mott. Of all the horsemen I have worked for he was by far the most particular about how his horse's were ridden -- the stride, the rhythm, the timing, the cadence. His perception from the ground as to what a rider feels atop a horse is exquisitely accurate. I learned more from Bill in the handful of tutorials he gave me on galloping than in many previous years going round-and-round the historic oval on Union Avenue. 

In my unbridledTV interview with Bill Mott he shared his goal to win Triple Crown races. For a deeper look inside the Mott Racing Stable and the guiding philosophy to this trainer's success -- click here to watch Bill Mott on YouTube.

Congratulations to WinStar and all of the Drosselmeyer connections.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Foals, New Silks & A New Day at the Races for UR Stable

As a hands-on horse owner and manager, my time has been fully occupied this year in the stable yard, especially assisting mares with the delivery of their new foals. We were blessed with a perfect season; 15 foals due--now, 15 live, healthy mares and babies. In retrospect, I should have been blogging on those sleepless nights. I received many emails this winter and spring with the heading, “Where are you?!?!?”. So to recap this exciting time, the foaling barn opened with a double header on February 2nd and came to close with the same on April 30th. Interestingly, both mares in each case are the very best of friends--a great example of how horses’ emotions are strongly connected to their physiological state. Altogether, the 2010 crop consists of 9 spectacular fillies and 6 outstanding colts; sired by Wild Desert (12), Big Brown (1), Aragorn (IRE) (1), and Suave (1), respectively. Each baby has a distinct personality, incredible racing conformation, and a bright NY-Bred future!

On Saturday, May 8th, jockey Rosemary Homeister debuted UR new silks at beautiful Belmont Park. We were blessed with pristine weather and several of UR partners on location. The collective energy was really thrilling, and seeing our horse go off the favorite had us on the edges of our seats.

Desenfrenado came into the 4th race well shod, fit, and focused. He warmed-up well, and stood like a seasoned performer when the horse next to him bolted from the starting gate before the race. Rosemary gave our boy an excellent ride and most importantly, kept him out of trouble, despite a few hard bumps from the eventual winner. We finished 3rd in the mile and 1/16th race, and galloped out on top. Had the distance been a little longer we knew he would have taken the purse -- next time! To learn more about why Rosemary is our favorite rider, visit her at

Earlier in the day, we enjoyed a winning connection when Bridge To Nowhere crossed the wire ahead of the rest in the first race. He is out of our beloved mare, Motel Malibu, who had a huge, solid filly by Wild Desert in February at Unbridled Stable.

Belmont Park is a jewel on the NY Racing Circuit -- do yourself a favor and make a trip to the track established in 1905 -- or win a trip! We spent most of Saturday on the ground level patio overlooking the paddock, studying the physiques of thoroughbreds and watching handlers and the myriad of last minute preparations in an effort to finish first. To the observant fan, this is a great place of education, given the living, side-by-side comparisons. To watch the races, monitors and seats are everywhere, and the same goes for wagering windows. An added bonus to the handicapper or owner looking to make a claim, or simply follow a horse into its next race, horses visibly exit the same way as they enter.

Unfortunately, as I write, the cold weather has returned! Brrrrrrr…. Stay warm my friends. Till next time, Susan.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

and SNOW it goes...SNOW JOB....36 inches and counting!

Our little hamlet is getting snowed on again. We've had about 4 feet of snow and intermittent electric power. The horses think they are back at a show barn with daily exercise taking place in the indoor arena. We have had 6 beautiful foals so far and 10 to go, thank goodness we are on hiatus this week with all the crazy weather.

And of course, as breeding season begins we've had a flurry of owners and agents trekking through the storm to evaluate our handsome stallion Wild Desert. Friends, why didn't you come when the roads were clear!

To all my partners in Florida....enjoy! What a time it is in Westerlo -- perhaps I should rename this post, the real cost of breeding NY-Breds (LOL)!

From the rooftop ~ Susan.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Timeless Miracle of Life

Here at UR Stable in Greenville, we've had a flurry of activity over the past few weeks--2010 started with several new arrivals into the broodmare barn, the relocation of stallion WILD DESERT to our stable yard, construction of new shed-rows, and preparing the foaling barn with heat lamps, towels, cameras, and extra straw. All of these considerations, married with the day-to-day demands of running a business and caring for horses, made the short January days seem endless in an already cold New York winter.

Yet this season, despite its desolation, brings with it the anticipation of new life and beautiful new faces to accompany us on our journey towards Spring.

Even after many years of delivering babies, each one holds such unique promise. The sight of a new baby standing for the first time both warms the soul and gives meaning to the work we trudge through in the ice and snow. To witness the miracle of birth, to watch a life enter this world in total wonderment and see firsthand the god-given instincts inherent in mare and foal is amazing. It refreshes our gratitude by reminding us of our most basic and still astounding privileges--to breathe and be sustained by the universe surrounding us.

Everyone has a passion, and mine is unquestionably horses.To me, it is so rewarding to take part in this process, and with my participation comes the awesome responsibility of ensuring a healthy life for this animal. At UR Stable, horses are part of our extended family! Here are two of the newest members, both born on February 2nd:
What a difference a day makes!
24 hours later Appro's little girl looks more
like her big daddy WILD DESERT!
Appro (Stuka) affectionately kisses her new little girl
by Wild Desert born at 12:30AM on Feb. 2nd.

24 hours later at play ready to rock and roll!

Wild Desert - You be Nice (Jade Hunter) filly
born at 3:45 AM on February 2, 2010

Remember ... Every horse is a Blessing, Susan.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

NY-Breds & VLTs --- a very good thing!

Aqueduct Entertainment Group’s (AEG) VLT strategy could make NY-Breds the most sought after state-breds in the country... the plan is good for New York breeders, good for horsemen, good for owners and good for racing....

AEG is projecting that NY Racing will receive $67 Million in 2010 and within a few years these payments will exceed $100 million per annum. By then, on an annual basis, NY Thoroughbred Breeders will receiving nearly $10 million and Racing Purses will be receiving nearly $50 million in Racing Support Payments.

Total Racing Support Payments between 2010 and 2023 areprojected to be over $1.5 billion.

To get UR share of NY purses with a Wild Girl call 1.877.WINS.BIG

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Empire Strikes Back -- NY Stallion Show a Success

What is now Empire Stud has long been one of my favorite equine properties in upstate New York. Located in Hudson, the picturesque farm is set atop a hill that shows off its bluegrass-style barns and elegant paddock design.

I remember visiting the farm as little girl, and it made an indelible impression on me -- the big stalls, high ceilings, miles of fencing, and the long tree-lined drive leading up to the stables were remarkable; it set a standard in my mind, which I have appreciatively held onto as a professional.

On this past Saturday, January 16th, Empire Stud held an Open House to show off their 2010 roster of stallions, and give an opportunity for clients and associates to mingle. It was a bright, beautiful day as the lauded horses paraded by, each one standing for observation and photos. The atmosphere overall was fun and relaxed, including a projector screen running video clips of the in-house studs’ memorable wins, tasteful catering, and plenty of available staff for conversation and questions.

The occasion displayed a successful break with the past; over the previous 25 years, many different outfits have tried their hand at NY breeding on the property, but none could get a foothold--even with the support of the state’s lucrative incentive program. Year after year, driving past the farm at the intersection of routes 9H and 23, the name on the entranceway would rotate like a billboard on the Northway.

Since Jamie LaMonica took over the estate, the facility has consistently been improved and a solid management team is in place, led by farm manager Bertrand deBrevedent.

I began doing business with Empire in 2007, when we sent UR mare Austin Runner to the farm to deliver her Catienus baby, now known as Desenfrenado. We then bred back to Midas Eyes, whose fiery temperament was in play for the crowds yesterday, when during his walk outside he reared onto his back feet with impatience. Truly her sire’s daughter, our girl Goldie is a mischievous, blazing Chestnut filly, who seemed ready to race the moment she was born.

A man with a vision, LaMonica has now stocked the farm with both proven sires and hot young prospects, a mix that certainly drew a large turnout for this week’s event. The vibrant spirit among NY Breeders suggested optimism for the future, and an eagerness to take advantage of the pro-business climate in racing; the imminent VLT program, high purses, and small foal crop are all excellent reasons to get involved in NY thoroughbred ownership at this time.

Unbridled Racing is proud to recommend Empire Stud, and wishes them a victorious 2010.

Frost Giant ~ Regally bred G1 Winner by Giant's Causeway

Posse ~ Champion Sire of Eclipse contender Kodiak Kowboy (G1)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unbridled Expansion

UR Stable is fast out of the gate in 2010 prompting the construction of a dozen new stalls to house our young NY-Bred horses by Wild Desert, Ten Most Wanted, Hook and Ladder, Mustanfar and Midas Eyes. For those of you trying to reach me, I suggest the cell number this weekend! The pictures tell the story along with a few of my favorite quotes -- I hope you too will draw inspiration from them...

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step....

This is kind of work that makes the gym seem easy.
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.” Joel A. Barker

My husband and best friend Andrew.

“The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential...the needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individuals persons.” Max De Pree (1924-); Author, Former Ceo Of Herman Miller, Inc.

“Integrity is what we say, what we do, and what we say we do.” Don Galer

Motel Malibu and Appro listen to the contruction.

“In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. When you go through your day expressing kindness and courtesy to all you meet, you leave behind a feeling of warmth and good cheer, and you help alleviate the burdens everyone is struggling with.” Brian Tracy (1944-); Motivational Author

Tired from a long day's work, covered in dirt and just plain cold --, my daughter Rachel, the photographer, cheered me up with a mural on the wall.

“If you're trying to achieve, there will be road blocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
Michael Jordan (1963-); Retired Professional Basketball Player, Businessman

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Real Cost of Boarding Horses in 2010

As the new year beckons us to consider all aspects of our lives, the issue of finances comes up for many people, and horse-owners are no exception. For those of you who board your horses, do you really know exactly what you are paying for? Not every stable offers a breakdown of the expenses covered by your monthly check, and while day-to-day necessities are typically priced the same regionally, board costs from stable to stable certainly are not -- nor should they be.

To better understand what your money goes to, first consider the most obvious costs: grain, hay, bedding, and labor. The average price of a 50-pound bag of quality grain is $15, and an average size horse, around 1200 pounds, eats between 12 to 24lbs per day, depending on activity level. Horses in training and pregnant, lactating mares consume the most grain. The typical price of a bale of hay is $5, a horse will eat between 1/2 to 3/4 of a bale in 24 hours. Shavings average approximately $6 per bag, and a horse will require 5 bags per week for maintaining a clean stall. An increased bedding cost will be incurred for mares and foals, who need to bedded on both straw and shavings. While they need the comfort and cushion of a shavings-base, the direct inhalation of shaving dust is a serious, potentially fatal risk for babies while lying down. Given that consideration, straw needs to cover the area of the stall over the shavings, protecting foals from dust. A mare and foal will go through 4 bags of shavings and 2 bales of straw per week; straw is generally priced at $5 per bale. The cost of labor, which can be estimated at $10 per hour for an experienced, knowledgeable farmhand, will vary according to how much time is spent care-taking for the horses, the barn, and the land, but for proper supervision of all elements, at least 8 hours per day can be expected. Other, more hidden costs are often related to the facility itself, and to as-needed aspects of equine care. For the barn, items such as camera systems ($500+), stall guards ($50 each), feed tubs ($30 each), water buckets ($10) each, and other necessities such as fans, heat lamps, tools and hardware, etc, can go unnoticed by the boarder, but certainly not to the property owner! The same goes for the miscellaneous use of medications, topical treatments, tack items, halters and blankets, etc. Tractors to seed, mow and maintain the pastures, repairs to the facility and fencing, snow plowing, as well as manure management and removal all require supplies and labor, and all of these can be also considered safety costs for your horse. The cost of electricity and heating, even used conservatively, has a significant impact, in addition. Yet, even beyond those sometimes forgotten expenses, one of the largest unseen costs is for insurance--a liability policy for care, custody, and control of horses can be quoted over $6-7,000 per year.

With those figures in mind, you will generally find that for a single horse, you are vastly underpaying the expense of boarding! This is only more true when you factor in the priceless expertise of a good caretaker, whose value is considerable. The cost of experience is ultimately the cost of prevention from illness, injury, or other trauma. So while the daily expenses stay the same, analyze what are you truly paying for with labor--a famous name, an attitude, or a facility that truly cares for your horse? If you are not already confident in and happy with your situation, reviewing these costs and factors can empower you to make a better choice.

If you have a moment please share your comments, thoughts and experiences boarding horses ~ I'd greatly value your feedback. With thanks ~ Susan.