Friday, January 29, 2010

Double Life

If there's any way to lead a "double life", this is the way to do it. I'm spending my days writing and challenging people to baking contests at Blood-Horse, and my nights in the foaling barn at Lane's End. What could be better? (Perhaps also spending my days in the foaling barn? That time will come).

We were called out to the foaling barn twice on Tuesday night, once for a false alarm, and the second time to deliver a Bernardini filly out of the maiden Kingmambo mare Diverse. I was allowed to do a lot of the work, which was an excellent opportunity to learn the Lane's End way of doing things. Now I have foaling fever; I'm back in the mindset of wanting to be the first one there for every single one, but with 129 still to go, I have a feeling that might catch up with me!

I've decided to cancel my trip to Aiken for this weekend, on account of some bad weather that is supposed to be moving through the area. In other news from the Blood-Horse office, the highly acclaimed Choc-O-Ron cookies (courtesy of Blood-Horse online editor Ron Mitchell) have come under bold attack from Kelsey's unbranded chocolate chip cookies. This unexpected move has shaken up the editorial department as they challenge the two competitors to decide who has the better product (that or they just want the food). A verdict will be decided and reported on at a later date.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be so sensitive. Let me specify that the type of sensitivity I’m referring to is not defensiveness or cynicism. The type of sensitivity I am accused, and guilty of, having is the type of emotion that causes empathy to painful degrees, and the type of emotion that causes me to form strong attachments to those around me, both humans and animals. I am quick to fall in love with anything I feel an affinity towards, which causes me to be hurt more than I probably should be. I feel bonded to those I get along with and those I admire. I used to listen to what I was told; I thought my sensitivity was a poor character trait and I tried endlessly to make it go away, to be more tough.

Now I know that sensitivity is my greatest attribute.

Working with thoroughbreds, I am told constantly that I should not get attached to my animals. This is something I have never been able to comply with. I have lost more than a few of my precious angels, and the thoughts bring tears back to my eyes as I write this. While I fought with misery and grief over these losses, some of those around me were able to shrug it off as part of the job. I believe that when horses come down to assets as part of a business, that those business manager needs to run, and quickly. Between grief and nothing, I choose grief, because if there is grief, there was once love. And if I cannot have deep feelings for the animals in my care I will not enjoy my work, and therefore I will not be great at it. And crying is the easiest thing to do. If you can’t do that, then what can you do?

I recall being told once that I should think about myself and not do things because it pleases others. I have an undying need to please others. Let me be very clear: to please others, not to impress others. I love to make other people happy, and when I feel as if I’ve let someone I care about down, a part of me dies.

So for as long as I am privileged to be on this earth, I will love without fear, cry without shame, and do everything in my power to make those I love happy. Sensitivity is my number one trait: it is what makes me great at what I do. Try it on for size, you might like it.

Only in America

While the Kentucky skies have finally let loose with a more seasonal snowfall, Saturday was a beautiful day to be out with the horses. This week saw three new arrivals at Lane's End, all happy, healthy colts. I was lucky enough to attend the birth of an After Market colt on Friday night. I've found that this experience, and everything I have partaken in so far at Lane's End, have been excellent learning experiences, but have also reaffirmed everything I learned in Canada. I am more than confident that I'm smart enough and experienced enough to be here and make an active contribution, which is a wonderful feeling.

I woke up Sunday morning (my day off) to pouring rain, so I went for a visit to the Lane's End stallion barn to get a dose of sunshine from Wando, which would have been enough to keep me going all winter long. I cannot get enough of him, and still feel like a child every time I see him. It's such a wonderful feeling.

While I would have opted for better weather on my day off, I was forced to actually stay in and relax, which was probably a good thing in light of the busy week I just entered. I will be traveling to Aiken, South Carolina on Thursday to do some work on a story and of course to visit friend. I'm very much looking forward to this mini trip.

Week three of my internship just started. This adventure is passing much too quickly, but there are too many exciting things that still lie ahead to be sad about that.

Also, I saw the Statue of Liberty walking down Versailles Road today. Only in America.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Job Jumping

I learned today that I've been taken off night watch with some scheduling changes at Lane's End, but this may work out for the better. I may get to assist Farm Manager Mike Cline with booking mares, and also spending some time in the broodmare barns on Saturdays as well as be on call for foaling. With all of this on the table, I'll probably get as much experience as my young brain can handle!

Could I be loving The Blood-Horse any more? Well, maybe, with the new stories I have coming up. You'll have to wait until they come out to see, but I'm pretty excited about some features I now have on the table, and I'm enjoying doing some work for the website as well as the Eclipse Awards.

The weather warmed up here considerably today. I'd say it was like a typical late March/early April day in Canada. Just lovely.

Bouncing Baby Boy

Sales pavilion at Keeneland. Currently in the ring is an A.P. Indy mare with the colt she foaled in the sales barn less than 24 hours earlier!

Wee Bernie

Monday, January 11, 2010

Desk Work

Today I began my first ever desk job. That's right, out of the barn and into the office. What happened to Kelsey, you say? Don't run away screaming just yet. I should mention that the office is The Blood-Horse, Thoroughbred racing's most popular and respected magazine. It is crawling with racing enthusiasts, memorabilia and fact books. The only things missing are the hay, oats and horses.

The number of people I have met over the past week almost cannot be counted, and that ghost figure increase by at least 30 today. The day started off with an 8:30 a.m. editorial meeting, which I was fortunate to sit in on. After touring the areas of the building I left untouched last week, I sat down to familiarize myself with the Blood-Horse content management system. Throughout the day I was able to rewrite three press releases and see them posted to the website, which was rather exciting. Here they are:
Did I mention that I have my own cubicle, Blood-Horse e-mail address and phone extension? Who would have thought!

All Darley, All Over the World

After two long night shifts with little sleep in between, I dragged myself out of bed Sunday afternoon with the inspiration of a visit to the Darley open house. I was rewarded by seeing leading sires Street Cry, Elusive Quality, Medaglia D'Oro and Offlee Wild, and promising up- and-comers like Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Any Given Saturday. The two most captivating horses to me were Bernardini, probably one of the most outstanding animals (make that mammals to include humans) I have seen, and Holy Bull, for his flea bitten grey coat and beautiful silvery tail. He looked something of a mythical creature. With wonderful creatures like these gracing the Sheikh's land, it is plain to see why Thoroughbred fans are captivated by H.R.H's global dynasty.

Henny Hughes

Medaglia D'Oro

Any Given Saturday

Street Cry

Night Shift

With names like Mr. Prospector, Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, Dixieland Band and Seattle Slew stamped across the stall doors, walking the aisle of mare barn 6 (the foaling barn) at Lane’s End feels more like walking on egg shells than concrete. This weekend I worked two night shifts in the foaling barn, which translates into 28 hours with 28 regally bred mares and their unborn foals. Some of these mares include the half sisters to Fusaichi Pegasus and Mineshaft, a full sister to A.P. Indy, and numerous grade one winners and producers. And this is just the first lot to foal. I’ve learned quickly that things work quite differently on a large farm than a small farm. I will not have as much opportunity to develop bonds with the mares or their foals, but at the same time 130 plus foalings in a year leaves room for invaluable learning experiences. The next three months for me will have a focus on gaining experience foaling and sharpening my skills in that area.

*Note to “farm designer people”: if you’re going to have 3000 acres of land, at least make some of the barns look different, or put up inner-farm road signs so that one does not get brutally lost and have to call for help every time they wish to get to or from their barn.

Thank you and best regards,

Newbie with no sense of direction.

(Note: I managed to find the appropriate exit without getting brutally lost after my Saturday night shift. I was incredibly proud of myself.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Places to Go, Horses to Meet

Below is a list of places I would like to go during my time in Kentucky. I will check them off as I visit them:

-Churchill Downs
-Turfway Park
-Kentucky Horse Park
-Calumet Farm (is it still open to the public?)
-Claiborne Farm
-Gainesway Farm
-Three Chimneys Farm
-Ashford Stud
-Taylor Made
-Adena Springs

So it's a little ambitious, but such is my nature.

Snow Day

I would just like to say that despite the blame I received today, the snowfall in Kentucky is not my fault! While I found humour in everyone stocking their shelves yesterday, I must admit a fair amount of snow fell today. Despite this, I spent the majority of the day out exploring.

This morning I toured The Blood-Horse with Editorial Director Eric Mitchell, who is also my supervisor for my internship. I enjoyed checking out the building. I got to meet many of the writers, editors and researchers, as well as the video production guys. Everyone was super nice, and I look forward to working with them. I will even have my own little cubicle!

After my Blood-Horse tour I dropped in on the Lane's End foaling barn again, just to try and sort out the ropes before my first shift tomorrow night. It will be a long one, 4 p.m. - 6 a.m., but I'll have many beautifully bred mares to occupy that time. I'm still a little intimidated about starting at a new place with a new routine after being at Schonberg for four years, but at least my first shifts here look like they will be quiet.

I finally stopped by the stallion complex for a little quality time with my number one man, Wando. His friendly greetings and slobbery kisses made me feel like I'm all the way back home, which was a nice feeling during a time when I'm still largely unfamiliar with everything. Although he wore a blanket, he appears to be very fluffy and pudgy, which is a good look for him. His daddy, Langfuhr, wouldn't give me a moment's glance, but Curlin, War Pass, Mineshaft, City Zip, and Aragorn in particular were also very friendly.

Plans for tonight include going into downtown Versailles to check out the inside of my future house, which renos seem to be delayed on again. Below are a few pictures to describe the day (why did I write all of the above, then?)

A.P. Indy snacking

Curlin sporting the look of champions (or more particularly, two Horse of the Year crowns).

Editorial Intern!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Road

Driving into Versailles, Kentucky is like driving into my own personal paradise. Although I must admit, my perceptions could have been skewed by the 10 hours I spent in the car yesterday. I departed Brantford, Ontario, Canada shortly before 7 am on Tuesday. After ducking into the nearest Timmies to grab my final double-double for the next few months, I trekked on towards Windsor. With the help of many radio stations and even more windshield washer fluid, I arrived at the border shortly before 11. This was the most eventful part of my trip, as the immigration office was apparently designed to act more like an interrogation room. I got through smoothly, but not before seeing others get rudely interrogated, and one especially angry customs officer violently crumple a man’s papers and throw them on the floor. Boy, was I glad I didn’t end up in her line!

After being released from the immigration office, the final five hours of my journey were clear sailing. This part of the trip consisted of many miles, one bathroom break, and the consumption of half a delicious chicken sandwich, courtesy of Mom.

I arrived at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, at 4:45 p.m. I was shown to my temporary apartment, as my “permanent” home for the next three months is undergoing some minor repairs (I should be there next week). With my long trip finally catching up to me, I crawled into bed at 7:30 p.m.

Today consisted of some serious grocery shopping, a tour of the farm, and a drive-by (glance) of the Blood-Horse. I will be starting at Lane’s End working two night shifts this week (Friday and Saturday nights), and continuing on Saturday nights thereafter. The farm tour was great, although with each road we turned down and with each barn we visited, I only became more lost. According to more than a few of the staff members, this is normal for newbies. I’m very excited to get to know the mares a little better. Lane’s End is pulsing with regal bloodlines. One of the mares I handled today was Tranquility Lake, dam of After Market and Jalil.

After going for a driving adventure through downtown Versailles and over to the Blood-Horse offices, I finally settled down to dinner and blogging. Tomorrow promises to be just as busy: a visit to Blood-Horse in the morning, and another visit to Lane’s End in the afternoon. This time I hope to stop by the stallion complex.

The past two days have been long and taxing, with small bouts of homesickness aided by beautiful scenery and even more beautiful horses. I can’t wait to see what the next three months will hold.

For photos, click here