Sunday, May 31, 2009
Did you know that the MTV Movie Awards has a "Best Kiss" category?
Can anyone guess which "couple" won it this year?
Kristin Stewart (Bella) and Robert Pattinson (Edward). They didn't mind hamming it up for the cameras a little for the acceptance speech either.... *plugging ears with my fingers at the mere memory of a few thousand teenage girls in the audience who lost their proverbial shit when this went down....*
(note: the video I first posted was taken down but I think this one is funny 'cause it is a home video of some girl watching and you can hear her little giggles and a few squeals too! Too cute!)
Which reminded me of another MTV "Best Kiss" acceptance that evoked a squeal or two from me! Dont you wish Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gossling would get back together and make every hopeless female-hopeless-romantics-dream-come-true/The Notebook-come-to-life all over again? Me too!
God I think I just might have squealed a few times again. I'm such a geek!
It would, eh? I'm a totally pathetic 26-year-old geek, you say? Oh well in that case can I just say that I have no interest in seeing New Moon and don't give a flying rats ass about Edward, Jacob or any of that Twilight teen flick crap!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
But I've got my own babies to protect. There's more than one Momma Bear around these parts.
Monday, May 25, 2009
And then used two 9 inch round chocolate cake's to make the wheels....But we felt the wheels were too large so we cut them down a little and then used the cast off outside rounds iced together to form the "hood".
We then lightly iced each piece separately and placed them on a board together to form the foundation of the buggy...
I then got started on a basket weave pattern for the icing that I had seen once on some cooking show....
Which I thought turned out surprisingly well!...
My sister then went to work on placing mini marshmallows (a great idea she came up with) on the "hood" ....
Mom also went to work on icing the wheels and did a fabulous job.... she also supervised and helped shape the cake and helped doll out the color pattern for the marshmallows. It was most certainly a group effort and made for a lot of really good laughs...
The bulk of the cake was then done... which left me to go to work on the little details in an obsessive sort of way that Mom and Sis couldn't help but laugh at. I cut little yellow marshmallows into thirds and filled the wheel wells. I added little pink marshmallows to finish the trim on the basket and the handle. By then people had started to arrive and I had to stop.
The result was pretty darn nice if we dont say so ourselves!
Dinner was excellent but I have to say that the company was even better!
Hope you all had a great weekend!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I am undecided. Sometimes I believe it is absolutely true. But then some really horrible things have happened to some really wonderful people. And some really wonderful things have happened to some really horrible people. I wont presume to understand how the universe works but I do know this... but I have received my first ever negative comment and I believe that I actually asked for it. Not technically...but "karmicaly"... (if that is word?)
I wrote an opinion piece called "A Mouthful about the AQHA" that contained a few derogatory and thoughtless statements and a negative overall tone which unfortunately only served to undermine the integrity of my position. Which is why I am not surprised that the post was what provoked the first comment I've ever received where the reader felt personally offended and the need to defend herself....which is why I can only be mildly offended that a reader would call my integrity in to question.
Also unfortunate is that the reader, Mrs. Orms, probably did not feel compelled to read my follow up post entitled "Where in the Hell is my Soapbox?" in which I backpedaled a little and apologized for the grandstanding position of my post. For that post I was rewarded with this comment by Jen098 (Thank you):
"The great thing about your blog is it challenges people to think about WHY they think something is great/not great. So even if opinions differ, I enjoy seeing where others are coming from and their experiences.It helps me understand my own positions on horses, riding..."
That makes me SO happy. I love that any of you choose to join me while I try to look just a little deeper at why we do what we do or tag along as I seek to become a horseman or just a better person, as I share my challenges and occasional triumph. I always try to do so in a positive way and as such you all have always responded with such thoughtful insight and opinions, even if they do differ from my own.
I never, ever...ever want anyone to read this blog and come away feeling worse for it. Unfortunately that is what happened with my AQHA post and is what provoked a Mrs. Orm's in to giving me a taste of my own medicine. That was a natural response...as was mine to hers- that was that just a minute after reading her comment, I jumped over to my blog and set out to refute and rebut a few of the statements Mrs. Orms made that I felt were untrue.
But then I realized just how very sad that was. Because I did not feel compelled to quickly reply with a thank you to Jen098 when she left that nice comment for me. Or anyone else that has done the same. She complimented my blog and I didnt even say thank you! How rude! (I used to be one of those annoying kids that would say "How rude" just like Michelle Tanner (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen) nearly trademarked in the 80s/90s family sitcom Full House. And yes, that was my attempt at comic relief.)
So often our natural defensive response to negative provocation is so much stronger than our positive. Blogs like Fugly Horse of the Day being evidence of such. So screw that. I'm not going to perpetuate the cycle. Because I am responsible. I started it. I am wrong. (damn, that soap box was much easier)
So to Mrs. Olms I have this to say: I am sorry that I offended you. I am sorry if I made you angry and/or if your day was in any way blighted by this blog. I acknowledge that some of my statements were unfounded. I hope that if you read this you will hear the sincerity of my apology. I also hope that you will maybe consider that my thoughts on the flow of negativity are true and that in the future you will maybe, or better yet all of us will maybe, when challenged by an offensive and or inaccurate post find a way to challenge the writer to qualify themselves in such a fashion that it may result in something constructive, rather than further barrage of negativity.
I would also like to further say that:
I made some very pointed statements about the AQHA without properly backing them with facts, if they so existed.
The point I was trying to make was that I don't think that most people realize that, (as I never really stopped to consider it myself) AQHA is a business. I believe, from experience with friends and family that a lot of people believe that breed organizations work on a NON-PROFIT basis and would be surprised to learn that AQHA is profitable and not only that but that they have such a rich asset base.
I wanted to speculated how the business objectives of the AQHA or any profitable breed organization could compromise the directive (that most people would assume would be their primary one) of preserving the integrity of the breed. I also wonder how it would effect their promotion (or lack thereof) of ethical or responsible of breeding (with respect to population and quality.)
As to her statement about Halter horses competing in roping and other events, I would stand corrected. I should not have made such an statement. My experience with Halter horses, while limited, lead me to believe that while a certain percentage of Halter horses may go on to have a future in another sport, that is not the case for the majority.
Blogging provides "the writer" with a forum for personal expression and can be at times mindless or uncorroborated but never intends to maliciously provide misinformation. My intent is to think. And write. And use my noggin a little, at times unsuccessfully so that it doesnt shrivel up till I am only capable of regurgitating a select few questions like, "Honey, what do want for breakfast/lunch/dinner?" ..."Hawk out of the garbage/bed/garden!" "Kitty off the counter/bed/garbage!" "No, I do not want that credit card/viagra/or to participate in that survay!"
Friday, May 22, 2009
Well... whatever that expression is....
Bitty, she's hanging around too.... looking fabulous as usual....
In this picture she is looking out the window at the bunch of flowers I had picked from the garden earlier in the day. I am pretty sure she was thinking, "My goodness! What in the hell was Mom thinking? That has got to be the ugliest bouquet I have ever seen....in my entire life! In any ones life... ever... the ugliest bouquet of ALL time... that is what that is!"
I'm afraid she may be right.
Did I mention that I just LOVE my animals? Beacause I do.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
But this morning I fell of my soapbox. Who put that thing out anyways?
As I read back through yesterdays post I could help by cringe. While I stand corrected on a few matters, I also stand behind the vast majority of the issues and concerns I expressed about the AQHA as a breed organization.... but what I didn't like was the sentiment that rang through out that post. I hate when I get caught sounding like a bitchy, negative, catty, nagging *bleeeh!* woman!
Sorry 'bout that.
I think we've all expressed a time or two a certain level of exasperation with the equine sport as a whole. It seems that wherever horses and people mix, problems will inherently arise, sprung out of the competitive nature of us as human beings and our, sometimes, ruthless pursuit of entertainment and/or ego gratification.
The subjectivity of what differentiates use from abuse in any of our interactions with horses is so vast and incomprehensible and adverse to our desires that I believe we often shy away from looking to hard for clarification in the murky waters of horsemanship. We could through away the debate between use and abuse and ask ourselves if or why we should be allowed to "use" horses at all! What is fair to ask of a horse? Is any kind of riding cruel? Some say it is. Is any form of striking your horse wrong? Some say it is. What about breeding? Is it our right to manipulate nature with selective breeding? Is it right to breed a genetically unsound animal? Is moral to breed a horse for profit? We could spend a month of Sundays discussing it. Or we could say, "We do our best to be fair and treat our horses well."
But, some argue, we LOVE our horses. We do amazing things for our horses. We RESCUE horses.
We kiss them and feed them and house them and keep them safe and shod and happy.
Why do we do that?
The reality is, no matter how I'd like to claim otherwise, that the majority of us keep horses because of the use and enjoyment we take from interacting with them. Only a very small percentage of people keep horses that they can not use in some way.
I am not one of those people. I would not pay to keep a young, permanently lame and unusable horse for the rest of his life. I'd find it gut wrenching, to say the least, to let go of a horse I loved but I would. And have. I am a pragmatist and as such, boarding at $400 a month, $4800 a year, $48,000 over 10 years...is not realistic. I'd rather donate $50,000 to Alzheimer's Research... or Parkinson's, Or ASL, or Leukemia, or one of the other diseases that has touched my life. Or maybe to the AQHA FUND. Or maybe I'd just go on a vacation. I'm no saint. But I'd keep an older horse that I felt had "paid his dues". Because I'd owe him for the use he granted me.
I'll admit that I keep horses NOT because THEY LOVE interacting with me. Not because they love the hay I feed them or the way I spend an hour grooming their hide until it gleams... not because I use "natural horsemanship" and avoid causing them pain or discomfort. I USE horses. And I take care of them so that I can continue to use them. Everything else is window dressing.
And I am not alone.
Most people VALUE their horses based on the USE they derive from them.
But I LOVE horses. Even Halter bred Quarter Horses. *sheepish grin* What? They are impressive looking! (get it...Impressive. I crack myself up)
So who am I kidding by demanding that the AQHA or any breed organization have a mandate for "the betterment of the horse". In truth, everything we do is for the betterment of our use of the horse. What I have watched go on in the reining warm-up pens is sickening. I've seen youtube video of some dressage trainers doing horrendous things. I have watched ignorant beginner horsemen abuse their BYB "nag" just as often as I've seen the professionals abuse their $40,000 stars. No discipline or category of rider is immune to scrutiny. Nor am I.
I really do try to keep this blog positive minded. I do go on rants every now and then but usually I try to spike them with a little humor or imagination to make sure that, while I get a chance to express my thoughts and opinions, I offer a positive side to the equation. I am the kind of person who has to consciously work day by day to look at the cup half full...(rather than half empty). My Mom is full of cliches she likes to throw at me when I turn pessimistic, "Oh Chelsi!" She'd say with a breath of exasperation, "Just 'cause there is a cloud in the sky doesn't mean it going to rain!" And even my DB, every so often, has to take me by the shoulders, give me a little shake and say, "LOOK! The sky is not falling!" And I will look up at him with tears in my eyes and say, "Oh, but it is! It is!"
I can be a trifle dramatic at times.
(Note: To anyone who knows me personally, STOP rolling your eyes! )
Anyways, the AQHA is not evil. At least not as far as I know. They have positives. They have negatives. Hanoverians are called dumbloods because sometimes, despite all the fancy dancy selective breeding, they can be a little...dumb. We are imperfect as horsemen. We all misuse our horses.... All of us, through ignorance or indifference, we do. And our horses suffer for our mistakes. But I like to think that most of us try. We try to be better. To do better. We try to give back and make our horses happy. And for the most part, they forgive us our sins. We try. But they try harder.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
To provide an example of a breed registry who take the qualification of their breeding stock to an extreme I focused on the Hanoverian as the subject of todays post, specifically because of government involvement of State owned studs.
Lets get started, shall we? You didn't have any plans this week did you? 'Cause this is going to take a while. I could keep this really short with something like...
But for all you information junkies like me... lets get a little more in depth....
Hanoverians are solid in color (registry exludes dilution genes) and a preference for minimal white or at the very least even markings (two hind socks but never just one) is given.
They are usually between 15.3-17.2HH (but most commonly in the 16.2HH range).
The predominant breed found in Olympic Dressage events, also common in Grand Prix and Olympic level Show Jumping and Eventing.
History of the Breed:
The Havoverian is named for the state of Hanover in Germany (now Lower Saxony) in which it originated and where the Hanoverian Verbrand registry exists today.
At its beginning Hanoverian simply meant a horse from "The kingdom of Hanover" or more specifically the state run stud farm at Celle (created in 1735) that created a book registry of the regionally located broodmares (known for their ability in heavy work and as war horses.) The royalty of the time, in England and Germany, took part in the process of keeping meticulous records and selectively breeding these mares on English Thoroughbred stallions with the intent to create a good all purpose driving and riding animal also capable of farm work.
As with many other breeds, the Hanoverian had to adapt to find a suitable use for what the people required at the time- first as a farm horse, then as a carriage horse, as an army horse during WWI and WWII and finally, by the late 1940's, as a sport horse. The incorporation of Trakahner, Holsteiners, Cleveland Bays, Neapolitan, Prussian, Andalusian and Mecklenburg and more thoroughbred blood was added to further define the elegance of a riding and sport (jumping, dressage and eventing) horse.
It wasn't until 1888 that the official Hanoverian Stud Book would be created and not until 1922 that The Society of Hanoverian Warmblood Breeders would take shape after the 54 regional breeding clubs, largely still in existence, combined to form the registry and control the some 19,000 broodmares and 450 approved stallions that exist today. Their intent is to produce:
"... a rideable, noble, big framed and correct warmblood horse, which, on the basis of its natural abilities, its temperament and character is suitable as a performance horse as well as a pleasure horse."
The registration process of Hanoverians today continue to be rigorously selective and one practically needs a masters degree to figure out the intricate layers of the registration process. This is the extreme sport version of a breed registry. Germans take their shit seriously :)
(Elvis VA with Nadine Capellmann)
The most important aspect of which is IMHO, their selection process for mares and stallions to be included in their stud book. Just because a horse is born from a Hanoverian sire and dam does not automatically mean that that horse, once mature, will be eligible to produce recognized Hanoverian foals. ALL mares and stallions, whether of pure Hanoverian blood or not, must pass an examination process in order to be sanctioned by the registry to produce Hanoverian foals.
All Hanoverian foals born to approved parents are branded on the left hind with this logo:
(Salinero with Anky van Grunsven)
Some have "GB" for Germany, or "US" for USA or "CD" for Canadian, "NZ" for New Zealand etc. recognizing which registry they were born under.
I copied and pasted, edited and reworded (for the sake of getting in under my 12,000 word limit) the information offered on the German Verbrand website in order to give a brief and simplified (yes, I swear this is the shortened version) of some of their registration processes just to give you a basic idea of how involved it is....
Evaluation Process for Mares:
A simple test for Hanoverian born fillies includes test of conformation, free jumping, trot and overall structure.
Marks from 0 (=not performed) to 10 (=excellent) are given. The final certificate contains an overall final score as well as subscores which result from the individual scores for the basic gaits, rideability and jumping talent.
To be made eligible to produce Hanoverian foals:
They must receive a:
Minimum total score of 7 with no subscore below 5 and a trot score of 7.
They can be upgraded into the main stud book with a performance record in dressage, show jumping or eventing or a good mare performance test result.
A trot score below 7 can be compensated through such a good performance record.
Of course they need approved papers.
In order for Warmblood mares of another breed to be eligible to produce Hanoverian foals they must meet the following criteria:-four generations of approved populations:
-both, sire and dam must be entered into the studbook of a breed society whose breeding programme is approved.
-Grading requirements: studbook inspection with a minimum total score of 7 and no subscore below 5.
Non-Hanoverian mares with less than 50% Hanoverian blood need to be bred to a Hanoverian stallion or a stallion with at least 50% Hanoverian blood."
Studbook Section of Stallions:The first step for potential stallions occurs just before weaning, at roughly six month of age. Foals which display outstanding qualities will be reared by the state stallion or private breeders.
At the age of two these stallions will be brought before a commission of the Verband, which makes a pre-selection for the main licensing. At this stage selection will be very rigorous and out of the 700 or so two year olds brought forward, only about a hundred will be chosen to go on the main stallion Koerung or licensing at two and a half years of age.
The remainder will, eventually, be gelded and sold as riding horses.
Of those selected they must then go through the "Procedure of Licensing":
The annual Stallion Licensing and Stallion Sales is held at the Breed Society headquarters in Verden, over a three day period. When they arrive the young stallions first go to a veterinary inspection to be sure they are free of:
-hereditary deceases-defects of genitalia (e.g. cryptochidism, small or unilateral testes)
-abnormalities of teeth
-heaves, cribbing, moon blindness, roaring, glanders, mental disorder
-operations or treatments to correct any defects or deficiencies
They are then marked for conformation, presence and masculinity as well as for correctness of paces together with a supple, ground covering stride. A total score of "seven" is required for a stallion to pass. On the second day the young stallions are tested in the free-jumping.Of the hundred or so colts sent for Licensing, only about half will pass the judges scrutiny. Colts which fail the Licensing are not allowed to stand as stallions. Even so, being very high quality animals, most "failed" colts will have, when gelded, an important future as riding and competition horses.
For the successful, "licensed", stallions the selection process is not yet over. They are only licensed on condition that they pass by the age of four a 70-day-test: a stallion performance test at a specially created testing centre like Adelheidsdorf, just outside Celle. The test itself is, in fact a form of "two day event" where the stallions are examined in dressage, show jumping and cross country performance as well as having their galloping paces carefully measured.
(Lauries Crusador 2006 Stallion of the Year)
(Stukkato 2007 Stallion of the Year)
A Hanoverian stallion successfully completes his performance test, if he receives a score of 90,
The stallions which fulfills the requirements are always published in the December – issue of the magazine "Der Hannoveraner". Only foals of these stallions are eligible to be registered.
Another important aspect of the process are the auctions:
The Verden auctions started in 1949. As of 1972, the today's Niedersachsenhalle has been the venue of all sales events.
Twice a year a selection commission goes on a tour through the whole breeding area and selects the best horses at places which have been stipulated in advance. 700 to 800 horses are regularly shown for each riding horse auction. For the Elite Foal Auction there are frequently no less than 500 foals presented for selection.
I didnt spend much time reading about the auction process but wanted to at least note that they are an important part in buying and accessing the German bred horses.
Registered Hanoverian horses in the US are controlled by The American Hanoverian Society, who work closely with the German Verbrand. Their basic description of their rules for registrations are:
Mare inspections take place at age three or older. German and American inspectors evaluate mares for type, conformation and gaits. The Mare Performance Test (MPT) scores a mare’s rideability, gaits and jumping talent. Eligible high-scoring Main Studbook mares that pass this performance test to become Elite Mare Candidates (EMC). Once they have completed the final requirement of producing an AHS-registered foal within three years they are awarded the prestigious title of Elite Mare (EM).
All stallion candidates must be presented for physical inspection. If scores on conformation, movement and jumping ability are sufficient, a temporary breeding license is granted. Stallions must then either complete the 70-Day (formerly 100-day) Stallion Test which evaluates their gaits, trainability and athletic ability in dressage, show jumping and cross country, or they must meet specified performance requirements. Breeding eligibility is verified annually.
Only foals from AHS inspected and approved parents may be register with the AHS. Foals with only one approved parent can receive a Certificate of Pedigree.
That is only a very simplified explanation of their registration and breeding eligiability process. Is it extreme? Yes! Is it a perfect system? No. But it works because....
The govering organization puts the proformance of the Hanaverian above the genetic labeling of the breed. They facilitate, through regulation, the development of a valuable and specialized horse with an inherent ability in Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing.
It is very possible that I have made more than one mistake in this post with respect to the breed or the registration process. It is also possible that I have missed something of importance or mischaracterized some aspect of it. It was very difficult to break down the amount of information out there into manageable pieces so if there is anything here you feel is incorrect or that you feel needs clarification, please do let me know.
Just trying to edit it down to 12,000 words or less :)
In the mean time....
Can I just say....
That a girl!!!!!
Rachel Alexandra ran against the big boys today....
And won. Handily.
Now THAT is mare power!!
Hope you all had a great weekend.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Maybe it is their long ears or big brown eyes... or maybe it is the lumbering roll of their walk or maybe that they can be a little slower minded than other breeds but either way, "Dumblood" is an affectionate, if not slightly inflammatory nick name for various warmblood breeds.
I will admit that I've used this term once or twice before!
But while I generally feel entitled to hold any prejudice I see fit, I usually try to due so based on an educated opinion. Which I am sorely lacking in this instance.
What in God's green earth am I talking about?
I havent a clue! That was my pathetic attempt at introducing the fact that I am going to bore you all .... *the silence echos* or the one or two of you who read this.... with yet another breed post.
I've discovered that my knowledge of the various Warmblood breeds is seriously lacking and so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone by researching and writing a post about them... . But before I got very far at all I realized that before discussing warmblood breeds we really must explore the difference between open stud books (which the average warmblood breed association holds) and the more common closed book registry's like the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) , The Jockey Club, Arabian Horse Association, Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC), American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA) etc..
Actually, we dont really need to do anything of the sort but if I am going to write a long, rambling and boring post anyways, so I mind as well.
Where where we?
Ah yes! Closed Book vs. Open Book. You know I just realized that people have a little registry of sexual partners too! Its called a Little Black Book!
A stud book is quite simply the registry, or records, controlled by a breed association that keep track of pedigrees, births and breedings and issue registration certificates. They also control which horses qualify to be registered within their breed association based on one, some, or all of the following: conformation, movement, pedigree, performance record, and offspring record.
A closed stud book like the AQHA only allows foals to be registered if both parents are registered stock from within their association. Some exceptions apply in a few "closed" books (AQHA allows Thoroughbred registered stock in their Appendix registery, Appaloosa allows AQHA blood etc.) but no "grade" (unregistered horses) are allowed and only very limited outside influence from other registered breeds.
At one point in time AQHA had an open stud book as their objective was to develop a breed. They "closed" the stud book when they determined that they had reached their objective and wished to preserve the breed qualities of that horse by not allowing influence from outside breeds.
Whereas many Warmblood breed association books are considered "open", meaning that they accept a number of specific breeds in to their registry and a few even accept"grade" stock so long as the breeding mare or stallion passes an inspection by the registry. The reason for this is because their objective is to breed a horse best suited for a specific discipline (usually eventing, dressage and show jumping.) and so they do not choose to exclude a superior horse, with the movement, conformation or ability they are looking for merely for lack of the appropriate sire and dam.
Some breed registry's even require their own registered stock to be rated and approved by the registry in order for any of their offspring to qualify for registration. This ensures that all of their registered stock have the physical qualities they are looking for within the breed.
So, now that we have that down, maybe you'd like to consider the pluses and minuses of closed book vs open book registries.
Or perhaps you'd rather not.
Either way this weekend stay tuned for a breed post on Warmbloods.
*cue suspenseful music*
And then next week....
*Count Dracula voice*
My rant about the AQHA...closed book registries and the future (or lack thereof) of the QHs breed!
I'll go now.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
"Carl Hagenbeck Trained Animal Show. 1905 courier, one of the most artistic ever designed. Pfening Collection. Cover, Bandwagon, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Jan-Feb), 1963. "
"Pawnee Bill's Wild West program, probably 1905. Cover, Bandwagon, Vol. 5, No. 6 (Dec), 1961."
Of course, being the google junkie I am, I no sooner finished the book and I was busy looking up the photos and history of real life traveling circus shows like the Ringly Brothers, and Barnum and Bailey, or even the great Wild West shows. In the process I stumbled across some amazing pictures I thought I'd share as well as some beautiful hand drawn posters. The author must of found them equally as entrancing because she included many historical photos in the pages of her work. Aren't they fabulous?