My husband is pathologically attached to my daughter's toy bunny that she sleeps with. Granted, Bunny has been her favorite toy since she was four years old and she used to carry him everywhere and would not go to sleep without him. Well, actually it was Bunny and Raggy she wouldn't go to sleep without (Raggy being an infant washcloth which held great significance). Raggy's have been around since she was an infant when she got very attached to a specific spit rag. But she has gone to sleep without Raggy as long as she had Bunny. Now if we misplace Bunny she will use a stand-in like Pal (a stuffed dog whose tail got chewed off by the pitbull) or Goldie (a stuffed Golden Retriever given to my daughter from my adopted teenager). What I find odd is that my husband gets so upset if Bunny is lost; possibly even more upset than my daughter. People are interesting. I will leave it at that.
I bring this up because we narrowly averted a tragedy of enormous proportions this morning. My mom, my daughter and I went to Emerald Downs first thing in the morning and I did not think to shut the door to the guest room at my parent's house. Bad mistake because my parent's puppy went in there, found Bunny and ripped his tail off, chewed open his butt and pulled all his stuffings out. Thankfully, my mom was well prepared with her past as an ER nurse and managed to find the dismembered tail and provide cotton balls to restuff Bunny and sewed him back together and he looked "better, faster, stronger" when she done.
Emerald Downs was fun. I bought the "experience item" from an auction to benefit Save a Forgotten Equine and we met one of the owners for breakfast and a tour of the back at the barns. The barns themselves were nice - the stalls were very roomy and very clean, the wash racks were very nice with hot/cold water and soft mats. The hay looked high quality and they feed a mix of alfalfa/timothy with more alfalfa. From what I gleaned from my many, many questions was that the racing industry had good owners and not-so-good owners whose motivation for money caused suffering for their horses. I'm trying to remember the good guy/bad guy analogy the owner we were with used but it was pre-coffee so I don't remember it. I could tell it was not a good lifestyle for Toad though. It's very much a "job" type environment without a lot of touchy-feeling time with the horses. Toad's too sensitive and needy and really craves that one-on-one frequent attention she gets as a pet. I think it was probably hard on her to live a lifestyle that didn't involve a "mama" snuggling her, feeding her treats and working on teaching her proper manners.
One interesting thing I did not know though, was that the majority of the horses that race at Emerald Down are up for sale all the time. You just have to file a claim on a horse and that horse is yours. I had been under the impression that the teenager who owned Toad before me had bought Toad from a family friend who didn't want her anymore because she lost three races. But what appears to be the real story is that the teenager went to the track with her dad looking for a barrel racing horse and they claimed Toad right off the track. So, her career was not actually over, it was just stopped suddenly by someone ignorant enough to think she was going to take a Thoroughbred off the track and make her a cow horse. Having owned a retired champion cow horse and owning Toad I once again must reiterate - WTF??? What I learned today is losing three out of four races is not that big of a deal and any ole loser can claim a horse. I bet Toad's breeder would've been disappointed to hear that she ended up wasting away 18 months of her life in a stall instead of continuing to do anything - if not racing at least being someone's pet like she is now. Anyway, it worked out well in the end I guess because now Toad is mine and she continues to progress well.
I was sad to find out in my investigation this evening that Toad's breeder/race owner died last month. I was hoping to look him up and follow some of his other horses. He was a prominent veterinarian in Seattle apparently and he was fairly old so hopefully he had lived a good life. But still it was disappointing to find out.
Speaking of Toad, she was a little kookoo-for-cocoa-puffs today. I put her in the cross-ties and was going to groom her for a bit in hopes that Trainer K. would come back soon because the bridle I'm using was in her locker. But Her Royal Toadness was in quite a snit and kept trying to nip at me. Heather stopped by to talk and hear about my trip to Emerald Downs (she used to work at the race track in Texas) and I had to stop mid-sentence every couple sentences to give Toad the stink-eye for pinning her ears and nipping at me. She finally stopped nipping but continued to pin her ears. When I took her out to the arena to free lunge she was bucking and squealing all over the place. After much running and kicking and bucking though she felt much better and we went for a walk outside and she did extremely well (for her). At no point did she spin or rear so that is good! At first we had to do a lot of stopping and having her back up again so she wasn't in front of me, but by the end on our way back in to the stable she actually got it together and walked very politely with me. Yay! It was the first time she'd really walked a little behind me with a nice relaxed walk when we were outside. She's gotten that down in the arena but hadn't until today accomplished it outside.
The other cool thing I learned about today is the archive of race videos from Emerald Downs and look what I found!!! The race Tuff Toad won!