Back to summer

Great Brook

The leaves are just starting to turn. It seems very early this year.

After the crisp cool days we’ve been having, today was nearly 80 degrees and humid. The horses are starting to get fuzzy and the heat was oppressive.

Today Freedom and I went with our friends Carol and Willow to ride at a nearby State Park. How lucky are we to live 30 minutes away from a park with riding trails and cross country jumps? Willow hasn’t had much experience trailering but Freedom is her best friend, so she traveled fine. The only area she needs to work on is backing off. She couldn’t see any reason to do that! She’s small enough that she can practically turn around in the straight stall.

We rode about 8 miles and had some nice gallops.

Great Brook Farm

We didn’t ride every trail in the park but we made a good effort! This is a very equestrian friendly park and the threat of thunderstorms kept the dog walkers at bay.

Freedom was actually tired. Hard to believe it but hunting yesterday must have sapped his energy and the heat and humidity did the rest. He still wanted to go (we’ve ridden there quite a bit and he knows where he is “supposed” to canter) but he was also willing to walk on a long rein.

Although it is completely unlike me, I will also admit that I was pretty tired by the end of the ride. My lower back was aching and I was ready to get off! Sure sign that I’m getting older. A few years ago, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all.

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Freedom hunts today

Freedom before the cast

This is the calm before the storm. He is always completely relaxed and focused while we wait for the field to gather. He stays calm right until the hounds are cast . . . and then he takes off like a rocket.

Today was Freedom’s turn to hunt. I took him out and galloped him a couple of times this week in preparation and figured he was as ready as he was going to be.  I love the territory we hunted today. It’s not a long hunt, but it’s very pretty, ending along a small pond that frames the hounds and the field perfectly.

Zelda got to hunt, too. my friend Suzanne’s horse is off and I thought she’d enjoy taking Zelda out. It was too nice a day to not

Suzanne on Sugar

Zelda got to hunt today too — with my friend Suzanne. Many of you readers may know her from her blog — Confessions of an AA Event Rider & Convicted Overthinker. Her horse, Sugar, was off today.

be out hunting and I’m pleased to say that Zelda was a very good girl! Of course, that has a lot to do with the fact that Suzanne is such a nice rider.

Freedom was good too. Sure he had his Tigger moments but he was ratable and well behaved. It’s kind of fun to ride a horse that is so up hill in the way he moves. We jumped a few small fences but I think I need to take him out and let him jump on his own a few times before he will settled down and jump calmly in company.

Estabrook Road hounds

The Green line represents the drag that was laid for the hounds and the other colors track the routes of the individual hounds.

The hounds were wearing new tracking collars today. It’s very cool because you can now see where the scent was laid (in green) and how the hounds hunted. Other than a few side trips to explore some special scents, they did a good job of staying on track.

Here are the hounds, staff and field coming back from the hunt.

A little pre-hunt excitement

It was a beautiful, cool morning — perfect for hunting. Zelda was obviously feeling a bit excited about the prospect of hunting, so I turned her out to get her sillies out. She really enjoys running around in her field and her friend, Curly, got into it too. You’d never guess that Curly is 22, would you?

Thanks to Suzanne who had her camera with her and was able to take these great photos. I’m sure she was glad to see Zelda get her bucks out as she was the one riding her in the hunt.


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Fresh hay

fresh mown hay

They are haying the fields in our town. With any luck, this is the hay that will be going into my loft soon. The smell of the freshly mown hay is delicious as you ride by. I’m surprised Freedom didn’t want to stop for a snack. You miss all those delightful scents when you’re in a car.

Central Park Grand Prix will be shown live on NBC

Watch the Central Park Horse Show Grand Prix on NBC Sports

If you couldn’t cop tickets to Thursday night’s Central Park Grand Prix (at a cost of $275 per ticket) not to worry. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the event live, most likely giving you an even better view than the pricey seats would afford.

This broadcast will mark the first time an equestrian sport has been shown live in a primetime slot on a major sports network, and by watching you can help show the television industry how much we all want to see horses on TV.

Riders in the $210,000 Central Park Grand Prix include some of the U.S.’s best, including Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, Laura Kraut, Jessica Springsteen, Georgina Bloomberg, Charlie Jayne and others.

Count me in! I’ll be cheering from my armchair for sure.


Suffolk Downs to close

suffolk-birdseye-500x320After 79 years of operation, Suffolk Downs, the last thoroughbred racetrack in Massachusetts, will close. The track had tied its future to a successful bid by Mohegan Sun to bring gambling (and a resort) to the Revere property; that was derailed when the state gaming commission decided today to give the gaming license to   Wynn Resorts.

Between 2007 and 2013 Suffolk Downs spent $3.275 million on lobbyists to support casino legislation — a bet that the track and its employees have now lost.

suffolk downs

Suffolk Downs no longer draws the same kinds of crowds. When it opened. The first year it was open, the track drew 15,000 people per day. Daily attendance was about 10,000 per day until the mid-70s, but dwindled after that.

Suffolk Downs was built in just 62 days — transforming 200 acres of mud flats in East Boston and Revere into one of the finest race tracks in the country. When it opened, the grandstand seated 16,000 making it the largest in the country; the clubhouse accommodated 5,000 and was reported to be the largest in the world.

The biggest race at Suffolk Downs has always been the MassCap (Massachusetts Handicap) drawing big time race horses such as Seabiscuit, Whirlaway and Cigar, but the average race was for much lower stakes and the horses running had usually stepped down from the larger, more prestigious tracks. Of course my own horse, Freedom on the Wind, ended his career at Suffolk Downs, so there were still some good ones left!
The track was closed for racing after the 1989 season but reopened again in 1991. This time, it seems like there will be no reprieve. It is the end of an era. With Atlantic City in dire straights, do we really need another casino? Maybe Suffolk Downs was no longer in its prime, but to have it replaced by a building full of one-armed bandits adds insult to injury.
Watch Seabiscuit win the 1937 MassCap.