Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mintano - The Racing Days

When I got Melody, she was off the track for almost 8 months, her last race being January 3rd, 2003.

Her racing career was nothing to write home about, in 13 starts she never broke her maiden. The best result she managed was 3rd.

Her racing name was Mintano, a grey/roan filly by Rubiano out of Mintullah by the Minstrel. She had a pretty pedigree, the starts just didn't align for her.

Her dam, Mintullah was a two time winner who placed in the Foxy J. G. Stakes at Philadelphia Park in 1987. She was retired to be a broodmare in 1988. She had a total of 13 foals. I'm not sure if she is still alive, as of this year she would be 27 years old. There is no death report filed on her but that isn't always an exact science though. Of her 13 foals she had one superstar in Nature Healer who would be a million dollar earner over in Japan. An interesting fact also is that her first foal Plymouth Gentleman was turned over to steeplechasing after a flat race career that included three wins.

Melody debuted April 13th, 2002 in a $12,500 Maiden Claimer at Philadelphia Park. She finished 7th of 9 with the comment of 'outrun and failed to threaten. In her next start, this time for $7,500 she finished 4th/7 with the comment of 'failed to menace'. In this start she was claimed by JON Stable who seriously bumped her up in class putting her in a Maiden Special next out. She was once again 'no threat' and the trend continued. They tried her on the turf to no avail. She did manage a few fourth place finishes and was once third. After trying her once as a four-year-old she was retired to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and you know the result of that.

Melody and I after about a week together.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Meet Melody

Every year of my life that I could remember I wanted my own horse. My first ride on one occured when I was six but even before that all I'd ever thought was about horses. My earliest memories are of my breyer horse Clyde. Clyde was the first of many well loved fake equines in my young life.

By the age of 12 I was taking regular lessons. I had found a lesson barn that soon became my home away from home. I worked my little butt off to pay for lessons and extra rides on a pony named Toby. The laziest pony in the world, to this day I believe he is the reason why I love forward horses. Years later I ended up working with the ultimate in forward horses, racehorses!

Toby and I showed together for two years and though he was lazy, Toby was awesome. I have a whole wall in my room slung with ribbons from those days. I loved that little pony and the naughty things he did to me, namely dumping me in a creek in November when we went for a bareback trail ride. Thinking of Toby also brings to mind the day we were at a horse show for 6 hours before it was time to warm up and he REFUSED to go over the green monster otherwise known as the 2' tall roll-top.

After Toby was an even naughtier pony named Hope, or as I affectionately called her, Hopey Opey. Hope was an arab cross, she was just under horse size at 14.3hh. Unlike Toby she was a very forward mover. She was a little brat, she never bucked, she never reared or spooked, she was a stopper. For a year I showed her and we did very well but it was a struggle with her. I did hunter classes with Toby, Hope had no hope (ha, pun!) of ever being a hunter so we ended up doing equitation together. The problem with equitation being that most times show fences could not be schooled before showing. This was a problem with Hope seeing as she insisted on pretty much refusing every fence once before going over. I don't know how we did as well as we did with that being her mode of operation! Hope and I tore down many fences together...there was the white lattice fence that my butt broke, and the black fence that she tore down when she had second thoughts midway over the fence. One thing was for certain though I learned not to anticipate fences!

After a year of showing Hope, I was fifteen years old and at that point I was desperate for a horse. A couple of my friends had gotten their own horses by this time and I was having serious horse envy! So, in January of 2003 my parents finally relented and told me if I raised $1,000 they would buy me a horse. I can still remember how I was incadescent with joy the day they finally gave in to my disease. I told my trainer the news and she was ready to go whenever I had raised the money and was ready to look.

By about May I had the money saved up and my trainer and I started the search for my horse. I remember pouring over the internet and reading the Horse n Tack classifieds along with the Equine Marketeer. We were searching for something young, green (I know, green you say? What were we thinking?!) and cheap.

By the end of August we had five horses line up that we wanted to look at. One was at a nearby farm that my trainer and some of her clients had purchased from before. Three other horses were in South Jersey. All three were ex-racehorses with 60 days of retraining and were ready to go on to new careers. The last horse was in western Pennsylvania.

In the end, we wound up looking at just two of the horses, one was a no and the other was my heart horse. We were supposed to go look at the mare located at the nearby farm but the owners had a very sick horse that they were dealing with and had no time for showing us their sale horse.

Our first trip was out to western Pennsylvania where we met Portia, an ex-driving horse who had competed successfully at Devon that was now being turned into a riding horse. She was a very nice mare, honest and quiet, though she was a bit to quiet for my tastes. Still we were considering her until we found out that the horse was 18 years old. Hindsight is 20/20, make sure you know horses age BEFORE driving 2 hours to see them.

Our next and final trip was down to south Jersey, about 10 minutes from Six Flags to be exact. By the time we were able to get down there, all but one of the horses had been adopted which left Melody, an obsenely pretty four year old grey filly. I promised myself I would be sucked in by a pretty face but seriously who could resist this face?

She was very friendly and snuffled me when I went up to say "hi". Her owner tacked her up and led her out of the barn and we saw that one of her shoes was very loose. We ended up taking her back to the barn and pulled both of her shoes off. Back outside we went and her owner got on to show us what she looked like with a rider. She was very cute and quiet and I climbed aboard to see for myself what she was like. It was instant love, she was quiet but forward and very brave. We did a little bit of walk, trot, canter and went over a few cross-rails. Melody did everything right, she was obviously green but seemed a solid and steady citizen for a girl's first horse. I got off with stars in my eyes and my trainer didn't even need to ask if I liked her.

While I cooled Melody out my trainer called my parents and got permision to write a deposit check. We handed over the check and filled out an adoption application for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation who had ownership of her.

A week later I got t0 the barn via the schoolbus. As I walked into the barn everyone was looking at me expectantly and as we went down the aisle I saw banners on one of the empty stalls and whose head was hanging out?

It was official! I had my own horse, and Melody had a home.