For My Snowed-In Friends

For My Snowed-In Friends

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

All my posts aren’t about dogs, horses or travel (well, except for about 99.9% which are). I was thinking about all my friends in the mid-Atlantic, East coast, and deep south who are still struggling with the effects of this last super-storm.

Several years ago, I shared this blog with y’all when we were being inundated by a big snow. I thought some of you might feel the need for a nice, hot toddy. Here’s one I heartily endorse! (No this isn’t a political post!)

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We Can Get Some Serious Snow, too

So what does a Kentucky-bred, Florida-raised, FSU (Florida State University) alum, who now lives in Michigan do when the snow keeps falling and there’s a minimum of a foot of the fluffy stuff on the ground? Well, I try to figure out a new bourbon recipe (hot of course).

This is what I call …

Hot Bourbon Ball

Put the kettle on!

cocoa mug

Put the Cocoa into a Mug

Put dry hot chocolate (your favorite kind) into a mug

Devil's Cut

Add the Bourbon (I use Devi’s Cut)

Measure in 1.5 oz. Devil’s Cut bourbon (I prefer this bourbon for this recipe as it has an assertive flavor that doesn’t get hidden with the other ingredients.)
1 oz Dark Creme de Cocoa
1 oz Amaretto

stir

STIR!

Stir!
Stir all together to fully incorporate

cream

Heavy Cream

Add 1 oz Heavy Cream

stir2

Stir Again!

Stir

hot water

Add Hot Water

YUMMY!!!
Top with whipped cream (you could also add chocolate curls if you wished)

yummy

Voila!

Enjoy!

I’d remiss without warning that these may become habit-forming. Also, do not toddy and drive!

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

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Gulch: A True Champion

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

One of the problems with loving horses is that they are all mortal. Even the ones whose names will live on forever – like Secretariat and Man O’War – have gone to the great, green fields in Heaven. Another of the greats has just joined them.

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Gulch at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Home – Photo by Rick Capone

Gulch was a true champion. He was a tough competitor who raced against the best of his generation (which was one of the best group of horses in history). I was lucky enough to see his gritty win in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. That was the year he won the Eclipse Award (the highest award given to a horse) as Champion Sprinter. It was also his last year to race before going to stud at Lane’s End Farm (where he would stand his entire career). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

 

Gulch was foaled (born) April 16, 1984. He was the son of perennial, number one sire, Mr. Prospector. His dam (mother) was Jameela.

 

Mr. Prospector is well known for his amazing history for siring top class runners (i.e., Fusaichi Pegasus, Forty Niner, and Seeking the Gold, etc.). His continuing sire line (through sons such as Fappiano, Forty Niner, Kingmambo, Smart Strike, and, of course, Gulch) is one of the most enduring and successful in the history of thoroughbred breeding. His prowess at siring top-notch broodmares is also well documented by being the top broodmare sire for many years.

 

Jameela was, by far the best runner her female family had produced for generations, and was also the best runner her sire ever had. The hard-knocking mare competed for four years and compiled a race record of 58 starts, 27 wins, 15 seconds, and 6 thirds for a whopping earnings of $1,038,714. In today’s racing, $1-million in earnings is still an amazing achievement. Considering that Jameela ran from 1979 through 1982, her total earnings are even more compelling.

 

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Gulch at Old Friends – Photo by Rick Capone

Gulch ran from 1986 through 1988. While best known as a classy sprinter, Gulch actually came in second in the 1987 Belmont Stakes. The Belmont is 1-1/2 miles, run on a sandy surface, and is the longest distance of any of the Triple Crown races. Gulch competed successfully at distances from 5 furlongs (a furlong is 1/8 mile) to 12 furlongs. This is exceedingly rare in racing in this day and age. Most horses show an affinity for a certain distance and are run almost exclusively in that distance or very close. Gulch showed great promise right from the start when he won several of the top races for 2-year-olds in 1986 (including the Hopeful Stakes, the Futurity Stakes, and the Saratoga Special Stakes.)

 

As a three-year-old, Gulch continued his winning ways. There were wins in the Wood Memorial, the Metropolitan Handicap (against older horses) and the Bay Shore Stakes. There were other great finishes besides the aforementioned second in the Belmont. He ran against all ages in the Woodward and the Whitney (both top American races) and finished second.

 

At four, he had his final, great year at the track with wins in the Metropolitan Handicap (for the second year), the Potrero Grande Handicap, the Carter Handicap and his tough win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. In addition, he had several seconds and thirds in the top races in the country. His final race record was 32 starts: 13 wins, 8 seconds, and 4 thirds for total earnings of $3,015,521. Again, remember this was the 1980s when purses were much less than they are today. He was appropriately named Champion Sprinter of 1988.

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A Shiny, Clean Gulch at Old Friends – Photo by Rick Capone

In 1988, we were attending our first Breeders’ at Churchill Downs. Jim and I had recently gotten into the racing business by buying a part interest in a 2-year-old colt in Georgia. Georgia (sadly) does not have legal horse racing (an aside – some very bright lights in the thoroughbred industry are still working on rectifying that). The plan was to race this colt in Alabama and/or Florida. We also had intentions of purchasing our own broodmare to get into breeding our own racehorses. Part of that process took us to Kentucky for a sale and to go to the Breeders’ Cup races. My hero, Alysheba, was competing for the last time of his career in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; and the amazing, Personal Ensign was running in her final race in the Distaff. In my opinion, that year was the penultimate Breeders’ Cup.

 

 

I knew about Gulch. I had always loved his name considering his sire was Mr. Prospector. He had been trained by two great trainers in Leroy Jolley and D. Wayne Lukas. I loved his gritty determination and was anxious to see him get his due by winning the Sprint. An old favorite, Precisionist, was trying to win his second Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and one of my other favorites, Sunshine Forever was competing in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Now that I look back on that Breeders’ Cup, I’m struck that all of these favorites ended up at Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm in Georgetown, Kentucky.

 

My beautiful picture

Me with Alysheba – Lane’s End Farm – May 1989

The next time I saw Gulch was the following May at Lane’s End. Several top runners had been retired to stud at Lane’s End and I was anxious to meet them all. Notable among the group were Alysheba, Bet Twice (the horse who denied Alysheba’s Triple Crown) and Gulch. I knew that all of the stud fees would be far out of our reach. One never knows if lightning will strike, and our first mare (a half-sister to a very good horse who had run third in the Preakness Stakes) had foals that could become stakes winners. If that were the case, the scenario could change. Of course, chances were slim, but one thing for certain in the horse business – if you don’t dream, you don’t belong.

My beautiful picture

Gulch – Lane’s End Farm – May 1989 (Does this look like a Champion?)

 

I had to laugh when they brought Gulch in. Alysheba was shiny and acting much the king of the hill and enjoying all the attention. Gulch, on the other hand, looked for all the world like a sullen little boy who had been pulled away from play. Indeed, he was covered with mud, was completely disheveled, and stood grudgingly in front of us. This definitely did not look like a champion. If you’d have seen him in a group, you’d never have looked twice. But, sure enough, in front of us was the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse Award winning Sprint Champion. That was the moment I decided I really loved that horse. He became a “real” horse. He just wanted to play in the mud.

 

As a stallion, Gulch was a success. He sired Thunder Gulch who won the Kentucky Derby and who also went on to become a successful sire. Other good offspring include Court Vision, Great Navigator, and fellow Old Friends retiree, Wallenda. He sired more than 70 stakes winners during his long career.

 

Several times in following years we visited Lane’s End. Each time, I’d make certain to look for Gulch. We got to see famous half-brothers A.P. Indy and Summer Squall. Lane’s End has been home to some of the best stallions in the 20th and 21st century. Still, Gulch was a favorite and I never tired of seeing him.

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My favorite photo of Gulch – Old Friends – Photo by Rick Capone

 

When I heard that Gulch had been pensioned to Old Friends in 2009, I was ecstatic. It’s been over 20 years since we were in the horse business, and our visits to stud farms pretty much ended when we left the business. With Gulch going to Old Friends I was happy for several reasons. The first was that I knew he would continue to get the best of care. Second, other fans would get to meet this wonderful horse. The most selfish reason was that I would get to visit him again.

 

The last visit I had to Old Friends was to celebrate a landmark birthday in 2013. We planned our whole trip around making certain that we would be able to be at Old Friends on my birthday. That’s all I wanted for my birthday – to be able to see all the horses that truly were “old friends” of mine.

Gulch

My last photo of Gulch. He’d been in the mud again (his left side was caked). A happy horse

 

When I saw Gulch, I had to laugh. Once again, he’d been in the mud. He was wearing a fly mask as the August weather and lots of rain had made for a bumper crop of biting flies. Gulch was still the same horse I’d come to know. He was friendly, but still I had to feel that he’d rather be back out rolling in the mud. So, somehow, it seems fitting that my final visit with Gulch was similar to the first.

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Rick Capone’s Wonderful Photo of Gulch at Old Friends – Fields of Green

 

Gulch was humanely euthanized on Sunday, January 17, 2016. The gallant, old man lived to the ripe old age of 32 (which is very rare in horses). Old Friends took the step to put him down because cancer was starting to overtake Gulch and he deserved to be pain free and go quietly to sleep.

 

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Gulch – The Look of Pure Joy (How I’d Want His Hereafter to Be) – Photo by Rick Capone

 

One more beloved champion is racing through the never-ending fields of green (and, in Gulch’s case I hope an always-sloppy, mud hole).

 

 

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

Quick Update on Guthrie T

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

Many of you have asked about some of the “Miracle Dogs” I’ve posted stories about. From the Miracle GSD Network’s Facebook page, I have the following great news:

“Another fabulous senior boy with another fabulous update! These are “progress reports” we NEVER get tired of sharing! GUTHRIE T, Miracle GSD #555 saved by the fab Thulani Program last July is doing great. His Mom, Jeannette shared the following with us: “He has opened up into the amazing dog he was meant to be. Now sleeping at my bedside. He wants to get on the bed but her royal highness has not allowed this. He wakes me up to go to the bathroom and runs back in the house as soon as he is finished. Next week is putting on leash and walks- we have a definite schedule starting at 0600. His best walk time is noon thankfully. As soon as I get him in the car we are going German shepherd boot camp!” The good life… YEAH for Guthrie T!”

Guthrie T 1

Guthrie in the Shelter (Before rescue by the Miracle GSD Network)

Guthrie T 5

Guthrie T Knows He’s Now Safe and Loved!

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Guthrie T Shortly After Rescue

Guthrie T

Guthrie T Today!

Everyone who reads my blog knows how I feel about adopting seniors. One look at the “before” and “after” photos here will see exactly why I’m such a proponent of adopting a rescue, and why seniors ROCK!

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

 

 

New Year – New Challenges

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

Those of you who have hung in with me over the years know that I usually try to interject some humor into my posts. This one is going to be just a little different. I want to talk, very seriously, about rescue.

Chief Guin Liesel

Chief (White), Guinevere (Black), and Liesel (Black & Tan)

As most of you know, we have been very involved with both canine and equine rescues over the past years. This post is all about dogs.

Blizzard Stairs

Blizzard, left tied to a tree without food or water when his “humans” skipped out on their rent.

All of our dogs (who I refer to as my “furkids”) have come through rescues. We didn’t start out to go that route (our initial plan was to buy a puppy). Rather than deal in negativity, I want to tell you that we’re so very glad, now, that we have adopted all our “kids” through rescues.

dogs4

Cheyenne, the one who started it all!

If you haven’t been with me for the long haul, let me tell you that a dear friend of mine was an officer with a rescue in Georgia when we lived there. She introduced the idea of adoption to me as a logical alternative to purchasing a puppy, as she knew that we both work and that we would, necessarily, be away from home for longer hours than was good for a puppy. She could not have been more correct. I’ve never once regretted adopting an adult (or mostly-adult) dog.

 

Let me tell you a few of the great benefits of adoption.

 

  1. Rescue dogs are almost always past the “puppy” stage. “Puppy stage?” you ask. Yes, this is one of the first reasons we decided against buying a puppy. Puppies need to be raised very carefully. They need lots more constant attention than many feel able to give. Puppies need to be taught where they need to do their “business” and they need constant supervision and socialization to help them achieve their potential.

 

  1. Rescue dogs have (most often) lived with foster families who have learned the talents (and foibles) of each dog. They have learned how well housebroken (or not) a dog is. They’ve learned how each foster gets along with other dogs, often with children of differing ages, and frequently with cats. When you adopt from a rescue, you know – for the most part – who you are bringing into your family.

 

  1. Rescue dogs are already spayed/neutered. These are not inexpensive operations. For the girls, it’s a bit harder; but, for them all, it’s surgery. The rescues have already taken care of the medical bills associated with making sure your new “kid” won’t be having “kids” of his/her own. What this world does NOT need are more unplanned pups!

 

  1. Rescue dogs already are current on inoculations, heartworm preventative, etc. Two of our dogs had been heartworm positive prior to reaching rescue. The rescue went to all the expense and spent all the time required (extensive hands-on care to make sure the dog doesn’t become too active while on the remedy) to cure them before they allowed them to be adopted.

 

  1. Rescue dogs are (again, for the most part) already microchipped. If you wonder whether or not this is a necessity, please go back and read my posts about Nitro – or read “Nitro’s Journey Home” page on Facebook. Microchipping can be the difference between losing your beloved dog forever and having him/her returned to you.
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Nitro saying, “Why, YES, it IS Snow! I think I’m going HOME!”

  1. Rescue dogs often have had at least rudimentary training. Once again, because they’ve been in a foster situation or spending lots of quality time with those involved with the rescue, most rescue dogs have, at least, some knowledge of how to act on leash. Many know other commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” (“Stay” and “come” are extremely important for them to know whether they know it before or you teach them after they join your family.) Many have learned other fun tricks, as well.
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Our Boy, Bear, The Graduate from Obedience Class

  1. Rescue dogs have known rejection. They appreciate when they are brought into a loving home. They show their love (sometimes it might take a while to earn their trust, but they will learn) in more ways than you can ever imagine. A dog’s love – once earned – is unconditional. They will give every fiber of their beings to their family. There are so many stories about how dogs have saved their humans’ lives or protected them from harm. Think of the German Shepherd Dog in Alaska who got the attention of the State Trooper and forced him to follow him to his family’s burning home. Then there are also stories of rescued dogs alerting their families to carbon monoxide, fires, a child having a seizure, and so on.
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Our Much-loved Miracle (#307) Dog, Dolly! (Read her story in an earlier post)

  1. Rescuing a dog actually rescues three. The dog you bring into your family is one. The one who comes out of a possible high-kill shelter into the rescue is number two; and the dog that gets picked up off the dangerous streets is the third.
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Our beloved Sydney with Dad. This was the day we brought her home!

I want to add that adopting senior dogs is one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done. We have adopted two senior females over the years. By senior, I mean over age 7 (in the case of German Shepherd Dogs – our breed of choice). Both girls had originally had loving homes, but human circumstances had changed their lives. One was caught up in a divisive divorce and, consequently, neglected by the one party she had to stay with. The other’s humans had developed health issues which negated their ability to properly care for their dogs.

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Our current senior, Cinder! (You can read her story in an earlier post!)

If you’ve read my recent stories about the Miracle GSD Network and, especially, The Thulani Program, you’ve seen what wonderful older dogs are out there. Granted, adopting a senior is not for everyone. It naturally follows that these dogs will not be with you for a very long time, but the time that you give them will often be the best of their lives. Giving care and love to an older dog comes back 100-fold.

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Guthrie in the Shelter (Before rescue by the Miracle GSD Network)

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Guthrie T’s a Happy, HEALTHY boy  with the Thulani Program Now!

Let me finish this post with the one truism that encompasses everything I’ve talked about. I’ve said it, easily, 100 times. When it comes right down to it, I didn’t rescue my dogs – my dogs rescued me. They can do the same for you. You’ll see what I mean.

 

 

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Leave a Reply” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

 

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!