Opinion

Celebrating the Life of the Genuine Risk

Posted on 1 min read 99 views
<i>original drawing by</i> <a href=

Original drawing by G.W. Hughey@2008 gwh/art

A feminist icon from 1980 passed away quietly a few weeks ago at the truly ripe old age of 31.

Genuine Risk caused a sensation when she beat the boys at the 1980 Kentucky Derby. She almost won The Preakness, except for a controversy with the winner Codex. And she finished, again, in the money in The Belmont.

Her history is detailed in a free download collection, offered by The Bloodhorse. (To find the download, click the above link, scroll down and look in the right hand column.)

She still holds the record as the only filly to have placed in the money in all three Triple Crown races.

However, she was unable to pass along those fast, fiery genes. A mating with her “dream date” 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat produced a still-born foal. She didn’t carry a foal to full term until she was 16. And she only foaled another one. Neither foal of hers ever raced.

But leave it to this pioneer to re-define success. She spent her retirement career as grand dame of Newstead Farm near Upperville, VA, and transitional baby-sitter. She calmed fillies fresh from the racetrack and readied them for the slower-paced life in the pastures.

She spent her long years of retirement there, except for various visits to stallions, in love and comfort with the owners Bert and Diana Firestone, who had followed her into the winner’s circle all those years before.

We should all have such comfortable golden years.

In the Pink with KP Equestrian and Tiny Dancer

Posted on 2 min read 82 views
Photo by doubtfulneddy/iStockphoto
Photo by doubtfulneddy/iStockphoto

Note: Photo not of merchandise from the KP Equestrian collection.

I’m either too provincial as a Yank or too old or too out-of-touch to have heard of Katie Price, aka “Jordan,” a British supermodel-merchandiser who excites headlines and gossip “across the pond.”

Price seems to be the UK’s version of a madcap mix of Cindy Crawford, Pamela Anderson and Martha Stewart.

And more pertinent to our purposes at The Horsey Set Net, she’s launched an equestrian-inspired clothing line for both horse and rider called KP Equestrian.

It’s a sportswear line that you could wear — and match with — your horse at the barn, if you were so inclined. And had a horse.

Currently, the dominant available color is hot pink. Or shocking pink across the pond.

Fashionistas will recognize the color as “Schiap,” inspired by designer Elsa Schiaparelli from the Nars cosmetics line.

But I also recognized the color and the motif from an episode of MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16.”

That episode’s belle of the birthday was Mary from Mississippi. Mary went all out with a Vegas-theme party for which she would dress as Barbie. But she didn’t want Barbie’s fabled pink Corvette. As an experienced show ring competitor, Mary wanted a Tennessee Walking Horse named Tiny Dancer, who had charmed her at her trainer’s barn.

As the finale for the show, pardon the spoiler, Tiny Dancer was led up to her party all decked out in a matching ensemble of hot pink blanket, leg wraps, halter and lead shank. Kind of like Barbie’s pink Corvette, but more fitting for Mary’s interests.

Except for the lack of a logo, Tiny Dancer’s attire reminds me a lot of KP Equestrian’s horse wear.

Equus Rides Again on Broadway

Posted on 2 min read 93 views
Photo by Carol Rosegg
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Equus stars Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths

It’s not “Harry Potter Meets My Little Pony,” by any stretch of the imagination.

Not only is there a highly-publicized nude scene, but Peter Shaffer’s play “Equus” is a dark, edgy drama.

If you have a vivid imagination and a tendency to be squeamish, you might not want to click on this link about the play.

And if you don’t think you can handle the synopsis but you’re still wondering what the play’s about, here’s a one-line summation.

“Equus” is about psychotherapy sessions with a mentally ill young man who has blinded six horses with a hoofpick.

So, not only is Harry Potter Naked, he plays a troubled character who’s done some shocking things.

So, why do I have tickets? Prurient interest, perhaps?

Honestly, I may have passed because of the fanfare and hysteria over the nudity. But preparing this article gave me an insight that I might get to see a something special.

No – not that something.

I love to watch great drama. Plus, I live a short train ride from New York.

Reviews about the London production have noted that Radcliffe has the acting chops to deliver such a demanding role. The supporting cast in New York also includes stage and screen veteran Kate Mulgrew.

I figure that, if I don’t need at least a glass of pinot noir after the play to soothe my rattled nerves, then I haven’t gotten my money’s worth. I’ll let you know what I think after I see it.

Because great drama is supposed to engage the emotions. Serious drama and fiction have spelunked into the depths of human emotion and behavior for eons.

Playwright Peter Shaffer has said that the play, first produced in 1973, was inspired by a real incident. Scholars have noted deep mythological, psychological and sociological references woven into the play.

My tickets are for late October. And, no, I won’t be taking binoculars for a better view from my seat up in the mezzanine.

No HD TV for the Travers?

Posted on 2 min read 71 views

© Cheryl Quigley | Dreamstime.com

Full disclosure time – my husband works for ESPN. And so did I, a long time ago.

I left the company for personal reasons, before it started broadcasting hardly any equestrian sports. Was I a big dummy? Or crazy like a fox? Who’s to say, except for St. Peter in the (I hope) distant future.

So, I also hope that my revelation of my connections doesn’t take any power away from this next statement — I really enjoy ESPN’s racing coverage.

I like seeing the horses, of course. And I like watching the feature stories, so that I can get a “big picture” perspective on a race. I even like the commercials from the horse farms and the companies offering products to them.

All of the commentators are knowledgeable and fun to watch, especially Jerry Bailey who brings experience and energy to his analysis.

But I have a minor quibble. (No, I’m not in a snit because we didn’t get to catch a glimpse of Funny Cide. 😉 ) The title gives you a hint — why wasn’t the Travers Stakes aired in high definition TV?

Now that we have a big screen TV, I’m spoiled beyond belief. If I’m watching an HD channel, I don’t want to see those “screen fillers,” the adapter bars flanking the image on a show that’s been shot in “standard definition” TV. Especially when I’m watching a live show from a company that I know has live HD capabilities.

Let alone on an important race, like the Travers Stakes. It’s right up there in importance with the Triple Crown and the Breeders Cup races. Plus, Saratoga in the summer is plenty picturesque. Just as much as Del Mar was on Sunday for the live racing coverage from there. Which, I may add, was in HDTV.

Geez, guys. Come on. I want my HDTV.

The Newbie’s Guide to Watching Dressage

Posted on 2 min read 121 views
John Rich/iStockphoto
John Rich/iStockphoto

When you finally know what to look for, watching dressage really is more exciting than watching paint dry.

After all, the casual viewer easily figures out jumping and cross country. In those faster-paced sports, the horse and rider must run an obstacle course faster than anyone else and not touch, let alone knock down, any of the jumps.

But the much quieter sport of dressage looks harder to figure out. At first glance, all we see is a horse and rider team moving across or down an arena. The two don’t seem to be doing anything exciting. And the rider seems to be sitting still, not doing much of anything.

So, how does the horse know what to do? And how do we tell who’s winning?

Making the performance look effortless is the point of dressage. Bottom line? The goal is perfect form between horse and rider.

Dressage is judged subjectively, like gymnastics or figure skating. The horse must show flexibility while moving through its gaits with grace and rhythm. The horse must also demonstrate confidence and trust in the rider through its response to cues that should be imperceptible to observers.

Probably the most accessible dressage event for newbies is the musical freestyle, in which the horse and rider can appear to be dancing to the music.

Most of the work happens before the show in the years of training and conditioning. All of the movements are natural to the horse and done willingly upon request from and under the control of the rider. The horse must feel confident and protected by the rider, whereas the rider needs to anticipate the horse’s reactions to what’s liable to be a new environment for the horse.

The result is a horse that prances, skips, glides and travels sideways, all prompted by the silent cues from the rider.

In some ways, the dance you see in the arena isn’t the only dance that’s there. A lot of dressage involves the dance between minds.

P.S. – Thanks, Marti.