We salute Morvich Handicap winner Geronimo

Today is the opening day of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita Park, and the running of the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap. Tranquility Farm salutes our retiree, the once and forever mighty Geronimo, who won the Morvich Handicap in 2005.

Morvich won the Kentucky Derby in 1922, and he was the first winner to have been bred in California. An ugly duckling of a colt, he was nearly overlooked by his breeder as not worth training. Here is a link to a very interesting article about Morvich, and why a race is still run in his honor today. It is fitting for Geronimo to have won it, as he also had to overcome great difficulty to come back from his racing injury to be the horse he is today. The Morvich Handicap is about horses with heart.


More Good Direction; Dressage Anyone?

How very useful when a photo confirms your suspicians. Sometimes this is not such good news, but in the case of Good Direction it always appeared to me that he was floating around without touching the ground. He is one of the lightest movers for a Thoroughbred of his size that I can recall. I have even made jokes about levitation and leading him around with a string.

Here is a photo of Good Direction not doing anything special. He is just cruising around his paddock without touching the ground, no big deal, he does it every day. I guess he is just really happy to have been rescued. If you missed reading the story of Good Direction you can find it in a previous post. If you are interested in an outstanding dressage prospect, come visit him at Tranquility Farm.


Everything you do is horse training.

I heard this all the time when I was kid. It was repeated daily, whenever I screwed up. So if I had to produce one kernel of great wisdom from the equine Zendo I attended as a child, it could be captured in this simple phrase.

And so on to today, when our great little class of 2009 decided to teach themselves about enjoying water. Not the puddle they love splashing in when we irrigate their paddock, but water from the evil hose. Today’s lesson began as a simple exercise in dust control; it has been really hot and the Santa Ana winds will arrive momentarily.
All of our paddocks need to be wet down daily and when the weanlings were put in tonight I was still in there with the hose, and luckily with my camera in my pocket.

First they clustered shyly behind me, no photo of that phase, but rest you can see. One by one they tested the cooling mist and I simply invited them into it instead of intentionally wetting them. The first to come in for a bath was "Hercules" the de facto leader of the group, with his little brother right behind.

The fillies needed a minute to think, but if this were truly fun no way were the colts having it all to themselves.

Because they learned at their own pace without any coersion they will happily come forward when they see a human with a hose in the future, not try to run away as so many horses do.A bath will forever be associated with fun and affection. Naturally I think Thoroughbreds are geniouses, but this way to socialize weanlings with water is probably helpful with any young horse.If you plan to adopt a hand-raised Thoroughbred for your next horse, see us first!



This weekend is the Ralph M. Hinds Invitational Handicap at Fairplex Park, and a fitting time to honor our retiree Denied, who ran a very close second in this race in 2003. The notations in the Daily Racing Form say "resisted" and "outfinished". Not at all suprising because this horse is a fighter.

Denied ran thirty five races with ten wins; he was eight times second; and seven times third. It is clear that he gave his best whenever asked, and he placed twice in Grade 2 events, running head to head with greats like Inesperado, Spring House, Storminaway,Reddatore, and Bluesthestandard. Denied was a very serious racehorse.

But his greatest fight came at the end of his racing career, when in two unformful starts out of his last five races he finished more than twenty lengths back. Something was clearly very wrong, but Denied fought back to come second by a head and then go on to win in his last two starts in 12,500 claiming races at Santa Anita. Denied, however, was in trouble, and shortly thereafter he shattered his sesmoids. Now he was in for the fight of his life, and suddenly, there was no one in his corner.

If ever there was a poster child for why racing must institute a uniform retirement system for the protection of the horses it is Denied. After thirty-five brilliant races he became one of the "unwanted horses" we hear so much about today. Thankfully, Tranquility Farm was able to come to his rescue, and after a long and difficult rehabilitation he is now sound enough to truly enjoy his retirement. Denied spends his days in a paddock where he happily watches the world go by, and his nights bedded in a warm and comfortable stall. As he so deserves, and was so nearly denied.


Adoptable horse Seeking Perfection

We have received some e mails from people who would like to have a better look at Seeking Perfection, the horse with the "can do" attitude. Seeking Perfection is 15.3 hands of pure muscle and energy just waiting for direction. He so willing and eager to please that he will be a delight to train for his second career. Seeking Perfection socializes well with other horses and he has great potential to be an all around fun horse for the family or a versatile rider.


Letting horses be horses

One of the real joys of rehabbing Thoroughbreds off the racetrack is letting them be horses again. If you consider how they are isolated and put into stalls to be trained as yearlings it is no wonder some of them behave like visitors from another planet. Things that most horses always have like turnouts in green grass and the company of other horses are a rare treat to a horse coming from the confinement of the track. While our horses are waiting for adoption we let them have some fun. Mentally it great for them, but learning to play together is also serious education and prepares them to calmly ride in company or be turned out with other horses. Here are adoptable horses Don'tbeatattletale and Sea Kris.
Don'tbeatattletale shows off his moves!

And nothing beats the sheer joy of a run in the grass.


Seeking Perfection

The beautiful dark bay gelding matching strides and wits with the firey Karazi is named Seeking Perfection.He is a lightly raced four-year-old, and if he were a kid in school instead of a horse he would always be the boy with his hand up. He runs to the gate every time he sees someone with a halter and has an enormous desire to please. Seeking perfection is a stout 15.3 hands with tons of energy and confidence that would enjoy doing any activity you can think of. If you are looking for an all-around horse and best friend, come to the farm and meet Seeking Perfection. He will steal your heart.


Good Direction

Today is the Barretts Juvenile Stakes at Fairplex, and we have with us a horse who competed in this race just two short years ago. Good Direction is a beautiful Kentucky-bred gelding who sold in the May 2007 Barretts for $62,000 and then went on to run third and subsequently win a $100,000 maiden race at Del Mar later that summer. He seemed logical choice to run in the Barretts Juvenile, but it was not his day to shine. He ran a surprising eighth, and so began a four race slide that continued until May of 2008 when he was pulled up and walked off at Hollywood Park. It is hard to contemplate what Good Direction may have endured in the months between his dismal performance in the Barrett’s Juvenile in September of 2007 and May of 2008 when he was unable to finish his race, but even now you can see it in his eyes. Good Direction still asks for reassurance.

Good Direction was returned to the races in the fall and this time he appeared at Golden Gate Fields in the lower claiming ranks. His last start was November 8, 2008. On December 2nd he was discovered on a feedlot in Fallon, Nevada, just days away from shipping to Canada for

When we rescued Good Direction last December he did not look like the horse you see today. He was thin and miserable with a bowed tendon and a lacerated leg that miraculously did not cost him his life. Today I'm happy to report that Good Direction has recovered his health and soundness in our care, and that he is a strong, gorgeous mover ready to begin a second career. He is a happy horse today, but he has endured a lot in his short life; surely his best days are before him.


Remembering Vol Au Vent

Yesterday was the Bustles and Bows Stakes at Fairplex, carrying on a long tradition of debuting some of the best two-year-old fillies in Caliornia. A fitting day to honor the memory of Vol Au Vent, our late retiree who won the Bustles and Bows Stakes in 1974. Not a misprint. Vol Au Vent was a foal of 1972, and she was already twenty-five years old when I rescued her in the winter of 1997, shortly before the opening of Tranquility Farm.

It was two days before Christmas and in an incredibly wet and miserable el nino winter when I received a call that two “good old mares” were about to be loaded on a slaughter truck from a farm dispersal. The caller volunteered to bring the mares to me, and I accepted my unusual Christmas gift with with no questions asked. Horse rescue is not for everyone. One of these mares turned out to be Vol Au Vent, who was in terrible condition from neglect and the weather.

Vol Au Vent's benefactor stuffed her papers in my pocket before driving off into the stormy night, and as I unfolded them I was suprised to learn that she had won nine races, including the St. Frances Stakes, the Courtship Stakes, and La Merced Stakes at Santa Anita, all now faded into history.I had a real racehorse in the barn. I nursed Vol Au Vent all through that winter and the remarkable constitiuion that had enabled her to produce thirteen live foals after her brilliant racing career saw her improve almost daily. By spring she looked amazing for her age.

Vol Au Vent at Traquility Farm, age 30.

Vol Au Vent had a great retirement here at Tranquility Farm, and she lived to be thirty-three years old. She passed away peacefully in 2005, and she is buried by her good friends Fortunate Betty and Victorian Heiress, grand old mares in their own right...stories for another day.


Saving Kickin Stars

Rescuing horses from auction is chaotic to say the least. Prior to the Jockey Club releasing the database of tattoo numbers earlier this year it was often nearly impossible for rescuers to identify horses in the brief time allowed before they passed through the ring and into the slaughter pipeline. Sometimes a glimpse of a tattoo in a dark alleyway is all you have to try to pull together the pieces of a life soon to be terribly lost.

When Kickin Stars went through the ring last February there were way too many Thoroughbreds for the volunteers from Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue to cope with. They were there to take as many horses as possible, but it was a frantic scene, and many of the Thoroughbreds were held back until very late when they were snapped up by waiting killer buyers. The fix was in, and Kicking Stars was among the unlucky that were roughly loaded into stock trailers and driven off to a feedlot in the dead of night.

Kickin Stars had endured thirty-nine winless races at Los Alamitos, a racetrack infamous for breakdowns and brutality. Her tendon was on the verge and she was summarily dumped in a livestock auction. She probably couldn’t fathom what happened to her that night. Taken from the secure stall where she had lived for years she was suddenly thrown into the freezing mud in a pipe pen full of panicked horses. Somehow she got cast in the pipes, and was found there the next morning exhausted, with her hind legs battered and bleeding.

While SCTR rescuers worked the auction, Tranquility Farm worked simultaneously to find any known connections to the horses. Locating a breeder, former owner or rescue sponsor is their very last chance. And so the angels arrived for Kickin Stars. We discovered she was a full sister to a mare that belonged to friends and supporters of Tranquility Farm, and when asked without hesitation they sponsored her rescue and rehabilitation. Today she is doing wonderfully, healed and healthy, all thanks to Rob and Debbie Falb, who saved her life.

This very morning I received a call from the Humane Society of the US, requesting a statement to my Congressional Representative and Senators in support of HR 503 and SB 727, the bills to ban the export of American horses for slaughter. Apparently there is hope that once again these bills may be gaining some forward momentum in congress. If passed they will spare future horses from the ordeal Kickin Stars suffered, and from the terrible fate that awaited her. It isn’t easy to keep on writing letters and making calls while such cruelty to horses persists without abatement.But if you will speak out for them, now again is the time. Here is the link to the latest news on the anti-slaughter legislation,and a search function to reach your representatives. It’s up to us. HSUS End Horse Slaughter


Wild Express

Today marks the sixteenth anniversary of Wild Express's victory in the 1993 Las Ninas Stakes at Fairplex, which was her only stakes win in a thirty-race career. Wild Express was a solid racehorse however, a model of consistantly that ran monthly over her two and a half year career,finishing in the money ten times and earning $117,286. Not only did she perform consistantly, but as a claiming horse she also had to adapt to being in six different barns. A lot was asked of this young mare.

Wild Express at Tranquility Farm, Sept. 16, 2009.

Following her racing career Wild Express joined the broodmare band at Golden Eagle Farm and there produced seven foals, with four of them going on to become useful racehorses like their mother. Wild Express typifies the bread-and- butter horses that truly make racing possible. Sportwriters were never hovering to see her go to the track every morning, but she gave her best over thiry starts and then produced seven sons and daughters to follow in her footsteps. Congratulations, Wild Express. Job well done.


Musings on Naked Way.

Today was our weekly day with the farrier, and it is a long day bringing in horses from the pastures, trimming them, and also attending to other things like cutting manes, worming, and some vaccinating at the same time. Economy of motion. I’m tired by the end of a day with the shoer, but I wouldn’t trade jobs with him.

I enjoy holding the sleepy horses that appreciate attention from humans no matter what the reason. Horses like Naked Way. He is a huge white presence of near glacial proportions, luminous in the shadow of the shedrow. He has beautiful expressive eyes with deep golden highlights not seen too often in a Thoroughbred.

It takes two entire pages to print out Naked Way's race record. He was a claiming horse his whole life, beginning his career in his native Florida at two in 1993, and then embarking upon an oddesy that would take him coast-to-coast to many tracks that are now just fading memories. He ran at Tampa, Calder, Hialeah, Belmont, Grand Prairie, Remington, then to Golden Gate, Bay Meadows, Hollywood, Santa Anita, Pleasanton and back east again to Mountaineer Park. He passed through eight stables, and ended his incredible journey with ten wins and earnings of $150,334. Somehow his stout legs kept him going for six years through eighty grueling races.

But when I look at this great old horse what I see is a living historical artifact, not of racing in the late twentieth century, but a touchstone to the Thoroughbred ancestors we find at the end of the pedigree page. The place where the lines go blank, and the notations in the margins read "conjecture" and "also known as". You see there is a uniqueness that Naked Way has carried forward since the first "Thorough Breds" raced for English monarchs at the turn of the eighteenth century. Naked Way is a direct decendant through two lines to Alcock's Arabian. Also known as Pelham's White Barb, or possibly the same as Bloody Buttocks due to his rare chestnut spotting over his shoulder and hip.

Bedouin legend says that the color pattern known as the "bloody shoulder" was the mark of Allah given to honor horses who had carried their wounded riders safely home from battle, and that the war mares of the prophet Mohammad were decended from these. There are two versions of the Alcock Arabian's history; the first is that he was imported from Constantinople in 1704 and the second is that he was bred in England from early imports by King Charles II. Either way, it is known that he sired good runners and lived at least until 1726 according to his progeny records.

We know that the majority of grey Thoroughbreds today all carry this linage; not directly through tail-male or female descent, but rather through the mysterious "center" of the pedigree, where the markers for grey coloring skip from sire to dam. A trip through the pedigree page of Naked Way will take you to the place where our knowledge of who these horses really are is lost in the legends of time. It unfolds hundreds of years of history, their's and our's entwined. There are clues here to the source of his generous heart.


Our rehab goes high-tech.

Suddenly it feels like fall here in the mountains with cool and cloudy skies, and evening comes way too soon on a farm with more than one hundred horses to check on before the sun goes down. Today was entirely taken up with veterinary work, dealing with the real problems of our horses.

Fire Lookout had his second set of x- rays on the sesamoid bone he fractured last December, and as great as he looks and feels, he needs another check in a few months to be sure that it is completely healed. The great news is that there is marked improvement from his initial injury, and that it is healing cleanly. He is such a happy horse I had high hopes that he would be ready for a little more exercise, but he is still in rehab for a while. We have had many other horses go on to be riding horses with this type of injury, so we hope he will be ready in the spring.
One of the veterinarians that we work with, Pacific Crest Equine, has just purchased an amazing new digital x- ray machine, and for the first time here at the farm we can have state-of-the-art imaging done without hauling miles to a clinic. This is so wonderful! As we discussed Fire Lookout’s prognosis we could zoom in on every minute feature of his bone and rotate the image to see every possible view. Even though I had hoped to see a complete recovery, this was enchanting, like looking at the surface of the moon.

After the wonderful high- tech fun our regular farm veterinarian, Dr. Steve Bond, who is my “baby man”, came to check on one of the weanlings that came down with a fever and a cold. She had been started on antibiotics, but I wanted her lungs checked and thankfully she is doing fine. A sick baby is always very high stress so I have been hovering over the weanlings like a mother chicken for the last two days, praying this is something that will be mild and not real contagious. As we checked the filly all the others crowded around and tried to give Dr. Bond hugs. He said these kids are “Too dang friendly!” Mission accomplished.


Adoptable horses shine.

We had a very busy weekend at Tranquility Farm, and three of our horses had serious adoption interviews on Sunday. Sea Kris, had a great workout in the round-pen and very much impressed with his quick response to voice commands and his willingness to work in an obedient manner. We are taking care of so many horses here that we don’t have a budget for training staff, and it is really gratifying that the horses remember their lessons and work so honestly when we show them.

Bonanza Two also had his day in the limelight and he was so beautiful cantering lightly around and paying close attention to everything he was asked to do. His talent must be natural, because he was turned out for two years before returning to us for adoption. I always wonder as I start new horses if they incredibly smart and remember former training from long ago or if they are actually capable of learning my commands almost instantly.It is a riddle I may never solve, but either way, Bonanza worked beautifully and seemed to really enjoy himself.


After being very impressed with the work of both our hunter candidates our visitors absolutely fell in love with two year old Capricho! His sweet disposition and penchant for giving people hugs and following them around like a huge dog just bowled them over. So now they must decide, and it is a very tough choice. If you plan to visit Tranquility Farm to adopt a horse expect a surfeit of riches!


Moonlit Moment update

Moonlit Moment had a great adoption interview yesterday. After many months idle, he cheerfully went to work like he was ridden yesterday. He was very mannerly on the lunge and when mounted he relaxed immediately into a wonderful long swinging walk. I could swear that horse was was smiling!

Moonie is a definitely chubby and out of shape from his vacation, but he was super happy to be doing something and to have attention. Just from his sheer size he is not a horse for a total beginner, but he is so mannerly on the lunge that he should do fine for therapy riding or lessons.


Southern Wish

Today the feature race at Fairplex is the Phil D.Shepherd Stakes,and although it is not the most prestigious race ever won by our retiree Southern Wish,it is worth mentioning that he won this race in 1993. Southern Wish turned twenty this year, so we are getting into some history to discuss his race record. Pomona was obviously to his liking because he also ran third in the Pomona Invitational Handicap that year and returned to win it in 1994. Southern Wish was a formidable competitor on the California scene in the early 1990’s, racing 25 times with ten wins against great horses like Alphabet Soup, Prospectforfour, Savino, Lit De Justice and Luthier Fever.He went on to win the Gr.2 Citation Handicap in 1994 and ended his career on a high by winning the Bart Handicap in 1996. He retired with earnings of $513,215.

At the end of Southern Wish’s racing career in 1996 there were really not many viable options for retiring Thoroughbreds in California who did not have owners interested in their support. Tranquility Farm did not yet exist, but a fledgling trainer named Kristen Mulhall put in a call to let it be known that an ex-racehorse was in trouble having been given to a party who did not wish to keep him, and that horse turned out to be Southern Wish.

That call was his lifeline and later that year Southern Wish moved with about sixty other retired Thoroughreds to what would become Tranquility Farm. And so he has been here from day one to greet and mentor the hundreds of other horses who have passed through since that time. Here is a horse that has never had a cross word to say to anyone, human or equine, and he is equally beloved by both species.

Southern Wish has been sponsored in his retirement at Tranquility Farm by Jay Hovdey and Julie Krone. Julie says “He won the Gr. 2 Citation Handicap, and that’s good enough for me.” Ditto.


Since some of our new adoptable horses won't get posted on the Adoptions page for a while,here is another photo of the ever so handsome Bonanza Two. Bo is being such a good boy here while he waits for his forever home. He is a big, quiet guy who likes everyone and gets along great with the other horses. Bo will do very in an arena based program where he can begin to train for dressage or lower hunters. Come up and meet Bo and our other prospects, we have so many beautiful horses waiting for homes!


The weanling's mothers need new homes.

Now that weaning is over some of our mothers will soon be offered for adoption. All of these mares were rescued from a feedlot in Arizona in 2008, and if by chance you do not know their story simply go to the first entry of the Tranquility Farm Today blog and you will find a link there.

One of the mares who just grabbed my heart was Marged’s Delred. She really deserves a nicer name, and I like to call her Margie. She was just six-years-old and carrying her first foal when we rescued her, and she seemed one of the most crestfallen from her experience. She was very lame from walking on the baking rocks in the feedlot, and she clung for dear life to the side of her friend, a mare who seemed to have great fortitude throughout their ordeal. Because I couldn’t bear to separate these two after they had been through so much together, I brought them both to Tranquility Farm.

The most wonderful surprise was seeing Margie blossom from a scared little waif into a secure and loving mother. Margie was one of the best first- time mothers I have ever had the pleasure to care for. She was patient with her foal from the instant that he was born, and her colt also has the sweetest nature imaginable.
Photo by Anthony Andrews.

Margie is perfectly sound and ready to begin retraining for show or pleasure. She was a winner on the racetrack she should spring back into shape quickly to be ready once again for an athletic second career. Watch our adoption listings soon for an update and more photos of our beautiful Margie.



Today five horses will compete in the Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at the closing of the Del Mar meet. May they all come home safely, and may the best horse win, as did Tranquility Farm’s retiree Areyoutalkintome in both 2005 and 2006. As significant as this seems, it is just a brief highlight in the career of a horse that ran 52 times with 10 wins including the Cal Cup Sprint; the Gr. 3 El Conejo Handicap in 2005 and 2007, and the Los Angeles Times Handicap. Areyoutalkintome also ran in the Breeder's Cup,and ultimately retired with career earnings of $985,416.

Areyoutalkintome retires to Tranquility Farm in April 2008.

Wow! Only $14,584 short of a million dollars! Without a doubt, Areyoutalkintome is an amazing horse. Not only did he survive 52 races but he did it with his health and dignity intact. Surely one reason that he had such great success as a racehorse is that he has implicit trust in human beings. He can be counted upon in every situation to act with kindness and generosity. This may explain why he was willing to lay his life on the line so many times to achieve the victories desired by his human partners.

But the humans he so trusted failed him. In spite of his years of effort and hard won victories, nothing was ever put in place to provide for Areyoutalkintome when he could no longer race. As incredible as it seems, after winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in purses and breeder’s awards, he was plucked from a low level claiming race in 2008 and depends upon the mercies of charity to provide for him in his time of need. So ended his illustrious career.

Tranquility Farm was there when Areyoutalkintome needed us. It has been our particular pleasure to make sure that this gallant horse never for one moment doubts that he is held in the highest esteem even though we are not the humans that have benefited so richly from his remarkable achievements. He came to us with his head held high and fire in his eyes, and we hope he will always stay that way.


I Love Silver

Last Sunday Del Mar featured the $300,000 Gr.2 Pat O’brien Handicap, and this week seems a good opportunity to honor our own retiree I Love Silver, who ran a close third to Disturbingthepeace the 2002 running.

I Love Silver raced a total of 20 times with 4 wins including the Skywalker Handicap in 2002, and he earned $437,142. He finished second and third to Point Given in the Gr. 2 San Felipe and the Gr.1 Santa Anita Derby. Never running against anything but the best of his day,I Love Silver's race record consistantly describes his efforts as game and willing.

This great old warrior has mellowed with his years in the pasture, but he still loves to stretch his legs in the summer grass and show the world what he was born to do. Here is I Love Silver running free in the sunshine.


Dog Days at Tranquility Farm

This weekend we are taking advantage of a great opportunity to better socialize our horses with large dogs. This is especially good for the weanlings who think all dogs are small and white, but lots of our horses off the racetrack have also not had the opportunity to meet many other animals.To broaden our horse's horizons we have a mini goat who roams the farm, guinea hens, chickens, and in the past we had sheep who were escape artists so all the horses got a chance to see them bounding by. But meeting a safe big dog nose-to-nose is an invaluable experience for the weanlings because we want them to grow up with exposure to things horses normally see in the "real world".Our volunteer for "dog school" is Blake, a 10 month-old Golden Lab.
Adoptable two-year-old Capricho absolutely loved Blake. He had the sweetest expression the whole time and he wanted to push him with his nose and even tried to lick him! As always, horses are full of suprises.


New adoptable horse Bonanza Two

We have a beautiful 16.2 hand dapple-grey gelding who needs a home. Bonanza Two aka Bo is seven and he has been off the track for more than two years. His previous adopter did not find the time to train or ride him. Bo has had a marvelous vacation but it is time now to find him a working home. He would be beautiful for dressage or low hunters, he has good gaits and a soft mouth. Come up and see Bo and our other great prospects for adoption!


Fly to the Wire

Today is the running of the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar, and it is an appropriate day to honor our retiree Fly to the Wire, who placed second in the El Cajon in 2005. Fly to the Wire ran a total of 28 races, with a remarkable record of 11-9-2. Only six times in his career did he fail to earn a significant share of the purse, or enrich his backers. In addition to the El Cajon Stakes he also placed in the Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park, which is a Gr. 2 event.

Fly to the Wire is probably best rmembered for a series of five races that he ran at the very end of his career in the spring of 2006. He won them all; five in a row, and by some miracle he did not get claimed from his trainer Bob Hess. Sadly, in his attempt to win his sixth straight race at Del Mar he suffered a serious tendon injury, and it ended his career.

Fly to the Wire has been with us now for three years, and he is an absolute mountain of a horse with boundless good nature. He loves people, but if you plan to visit him in the pasture, best to wear sensible shoes. Nothing makes Fly to the Wire happier than greeting unsuspecting humans with an friendly push of his gigantic head. All in good fun, just be prepared.
Fly to the Wire at Tranquility Farm in June 2009, photo by Anthony Andrews.


New Lukas video

If you missed the videos of the amazing rescued Thoroughbred Lukas who has become a one horse wonder, here is a new video with a sample of his extrodinary training and intelligence.Lukas was found starving and neglected soon after he bowed a tendon on the racetrack. He was a "mercy buy" and Karen Murdock, his current owner and trainer, purchased him from the woman who rescued him.

It seems Lukas is on his way to becoming a poster child for "unwanted" horses. Karen reports he has a feature article in the August edition of RIDING magazine ,and that offers are pouring in to have him appear for various causes.

Here is the latest from the wonder horse Lukas


Cherry Chassie, a random act of kindness.

I received a call today from a woman looking for papers for a mare that Tranquility Farm rescued in 2007 named Cherry Chassie. How we came to own Cherry is a tale in itself. A friend who was running at Santa Anita at that time saw someone leading a filly through the stable area, offering her for sale for $50.00. At first our friend thought the man was joking, but realizing the terrible implication for the horse, he immediately paid the money and found her a stall. And so Tranquility Farm became Cherry Chassie’s new owner, papers and all. Cherry had no pedigree, a sweet face, and a hot bow.

Giveaway mares just seem to fall like rain at the racetrack. Usually they are too immature to train in the first place, and many simply have no ability or inclination to run. Mares are homebodies, and lots of them never do take to the track. Cherry seemed exactly this type of mare; she was very quiet, even a little shy. But she was a gentle soul that seemed to be enormously relieved to once again live at a farm where she could relate to what was going on around her.

Unlike our old-fashioned ideas in Thoroughbred breeding, a great many Warmbloods, Quarterhorses and Arabs today are born to surrogate mothers by embryo transfer. Young Thoroughbred mares are sought after to carry these foals because they are of a good size and usually make excellent mothers. With Cherry’s doubtful prognosis for adoption as a riding horse, this seemed a perfect option, and she was soon sent off to a very nice farm in Santa Ynez for this purpose.

Two years later she is carrying her second foal, and this time it is for a 23-year-old mare who has never had a foal, and whose owner is so fond of her that she is willing to pay for the expensive surrogate breeding process so that she can raise her only offspring for her next lifetime horse. She called today to request permanent ownership because she has fallen in love with Cherry.

All of us know that our love of racehorses means that we will sometimes endure the terrible randomness of their loss. And then a horse like Cherry is plucked from doom and sent to a forever home just because she happened to be walking down the right shedrow at the exact moment that her life was offered for $50.00. If there is a balance here, I don’t know. Rescuing horses allows you no perspective, because the next one is always right in front of you.

I never took a photo of Cherry in the brief time that she was with us, but here in her honor is a photo from our garden. Call it the butterfly of random happiness.


Weaning update

The class of 2009 is pretty outstanding. Not only are they big, good-looking babies, but they are sensible and very keen to be good little citizens. They are at this point pretty much ignoring their mothers so the "security blanket" of having them in the next paddock will end soon. What they seem the most interested in right now is absolutely mobbing me or any of the farm staff for attention. This includes some mouthy behavior, so a bit of gentle discipline is now needed to keep them from being overly exhuberant. It is fascinating to see them grow in confidence and develop their own herding behavior.

On a big farm with lots of foals the colts and fillies would be seperated at weaning. Alas, we are a little farm, really cramped for space, so this cannot happen for a while. This makes for a very interesting dynamic because the fillies immediately figure out that they are in charge of the colts. Don't ask me how this happens but it is the same every year. The two bay colts are both by the same sire,Mongol Warrior,and other than size they are nearly identical. They have formed a defensive pact to fend off the fillies,headed by the larger of the two out of Now My Precious,whose baby name is "Hercules".

This little redhead on a mission is the last foal in California sired by Seattle Bound,and she is practicing her newly acquired skill of bossing the colts out of their feeder. And far above any petty squabbles is the exquisite dark bay filly that has double Caro bloodlines. Blessed with class and good sense from birth, she simply floats above the fray.


Moonlit Moment

Moonlit Moment arrived back at Tranquility Farm yesterday after five years of wonderful life with an adopter who adored him. He walked into the barn like he had just been here yesterday. Still, it was a sad event because it represented such a loss to an owner who had loved him so much. I asked Moonlit Moment's adopter to write me about his expereinces over the past years so that I could best find him another home, and I'll let her speak for him.
"Moon has been a wonderful friend, companion and soulmate. Our relationship is about love trust and gentleness. He does not need a lot of training gear... he lunges on hand movements and sound. We like to ride best with a bareback pad and halter just playing in the meadow outside the property or jumping small jumps and over haystacks.I bet he would enjoy dressage, that was going to be our next thing because his mind could be put to use along with his great beauty."

So if you are looking for a kind and trustworthy horse to join your family please consider coming up to Tranquility Farm to meet Moonlit Moment. It is hard to send a horse who has had such a wonderful relationship with his family out into the pasture to retire. Moonlit Moment has many wonderful years ahead and love to give.