Thursday, December 29, 2011

Test posting/bug hunting

Just testing the system for termites, rogue hamsters or damage from Russian space junk. Will delete shortly -- or not.  If this doesn't work I'm going to try pouring Gin on the hard drive.

Resolutions for the New Year -- Same as Last Year.

First Five:

1.  I'll hear a trainer say, "You know, you could be right!"

2.  All halter-breaking will take place in-utero.

3.  I am going to check my rubber boots for slugs before I put them on.

4.  The stallion will learn some manners.  I'm sure I can hire somebody mean (or terminally ill), to deal with this one.

5.  The next time a horse knocks down a fence, I'm going to declare it environmental revisionist thinking and leave it that way.  I have no idea what that means and nobody else will either.

Second Five:

     Whoops!  I lied.  They're in the book....around page 300.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All....

And D...Everybody says you have gone somewhere special. 
 Well, you know -- you never really left.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An American Thoroughbred in Paris

Thoroughbred Times, October 16, 1999 copyright; A. Juell
The Horses in War Saga -- The How & Why of American Thoroughbreds in WW I:

Back in 1999 I wrote an article for Thoroughbred Times on the 1909 cessation of all horse racing in the United States.  The issues were complex, socially driven and centered on the incredible power that political cartels had garnered in the eastern United States, funded to a great extent by the enormous capital generated by gambling consortium's.  Technology, not too dissimilar from today's, played a significant role:  Western Union and AT&T, both owed their initial financial fortunes to the gambling factions, operating the wire services between race track and poolroom.

It was also an era of tremendous social strife, driven to a great extent on the heels of massive immigration from Europe -- in New York's case, the Irish is particular were seen as a social and economic threat to the old-guard Protestant power base.  Locked out of conventional channels of social stratification, the Irish, in particular, pursued the less desirable paths to upward mobility: gambling.  With this financial heft, they also became a political threat to the established power bases, that in turn adding fodder to the grist's of political reformers, those that promoted the evils of gambling as a social disease in need of eradication.  Needless to say, the motivation was merely a misdirection -- the real intent to dry up the money machine that was allowing the Irish to gain political power, particularly in New York.

Now, racing itself was not banned, though through various state and federal legislation, gambling on races, as currently conducted was.  The various laws were directed at the bookmakers and poolrooms who profited enormously by acting as middlemen.  This outside action was also detrimental to the tracks themselves, as like today, the gate was an integral part of the maintenance of the brick and mortar aspect of the game.  While individual contracts were negotiated with these 'makers' and cartels, the wire services were making it increasingly easier (and certainly more profitable), to simply usurp the information that was in effect, the intellectual property of the race track.  This very public skirmish between the gambling factions simply fueled an already politically charged dispute that had spilled onto the front pages of every newspaper in the country, and virtually guaranteed the election of numerous 'reformist' candidates.  With new legislation aimed directly at the gaming interests, horse racing without gambling, was doomed -- The Jockey Club voting to cease all activities in 1909.

The impact on racing was immediate and huge, particularly to those heavily invested in breeding stock, whose value plummeted following the Jockey Club's decision.  Some stock was moved to Canada and Mexico, but the purse structures couldn't support the number or value of these new additions.  Once it became apparent that the ban was going to be an extended affair, many breeders began moving stock to Europe.  However, they were met with a good deal of resistance from  European breeders, particularly the English, who felt (with good reason), that the influx of American horses was detrimental to their ability to fairly compete on their own ground.  It went so far as The English Jockey Club's refusal to recognize American Thoroughbreds into the English stud book.

Racing did resume in New York by 1913, but without gambling.  Hence, no real viability for the sport existed.  By about 1915, most state anti-gambling statutes had been overturned by higher courts, this in turn leading to adoption of the Paris-Mutuels system, which in effect, eliminated the bookmaker -- each bettor simply wagering against all other bettors.  This was deemed constitutional under existing federal law.  But for many Thoroughbreds it was too late.  Europe was falling headlong and inexorably toward war -- a war like no other before it.  It would be a clash of old and new tactics in a suddenly industrialized world and the ensuing carnage would finally mark the end of the cavalry -- and perhaps chivalry itself in the armed pursuit of a purely political agenda.

Many of the better bred Thoroughbreds survived the conflict, their blood credentials offering a degree of sanctuary from annihilation.  But not every Thoroughbred was considered 'priceless,' and in what seemed like an endless demand for 'war horses,' few, if any were spared from the awful task at hand.


Friday, December 23, 2011

The Other Thoroughbred Calumet Farm
An Obvious Bias or Two...

Or three perhaps.  Somewhere around Chapter 18, I decided to explore my own deep-seated case of equine bigotry.  Yes, it's true.  I own a bias or two and as we all know, recovery is a long and painful process with a demoralizing 92% rate of recidivism.  Like that last word?  So did I.  All I know for sure is that the forests and fields surrounding many of America's racetracks are the sanctuary of the hopelessly enamored -- those that know in their hearts and minds that nobody but God could have created something as perfect as a Thoroughbred...

...actually it was the British, but to be fair, it was during a period of England's history where quite a few folks might have confused English aristocracy with the Almighty anyway:

 "God didn't invent the Thoroughbred, the British did.  Okay, that was the painful part.  And it gets worse!  The British actually stole horse racing from the Arabs.  What's more, they also stole the horses, which was probably a little noted side-bar since the British were stealing entire continents anyway.  In order to make horse racing seem like a British idea, they had to invent a new horse.  Racing Arabian horses outside Buckingham Palace would seem...well, touristy?"

Now you'll have to buy the book to find out what the Boston Tea Party, a bunch of Chinese dope fiends and Lady Balfour had to do with it.

But my real bigotry showed up with the first importations of a European invention known as the Warmblood.  It was based on early American experiments with dogs -- notably what became known as the Irish Setter Syndrome, in that they wanted a sleek-looking, fashionable dog with the mental acuity of a potted plant.  These equine genetic anomalies began washing up on shore in the Americas in the late 1970's.  They were, for the most part, "a work in progress."  Whose work and the exact definition of 'progress' based on excessive optimism or whether the buyer's check had already cleared the bank or not.  Germany had the thing down to an exact science.  Every district had its own kind of horse:  Hanoverians, Westphalians...Volkswangoners.  The Dutch got into it as well, though they weren't much on details or just how much Thoroughbred in the recipe was really needed.  Evidently, not much.  However, the French horse breeders, they kept the ratio at about 2/3 TB as compared to the Dutch models which limped in at about 1/16 TB -- "the rest generic DNA scraped from the armpit of a three-toed sloth."  Ooh, did I really write that?  Well, it was 1979.

Of course the French were pretty realistic about the whole thing.  If the experiment went badly, well, the horse always had a second career:  fine cuisine.   Later in the same chapter, I look at how the Thoroughbred got tapped for a little product improvement in Quarter Horses.  And I've included a fascinating interview with Miss 1958 Chevrolet Hubcap on 'mayhem and magnetism in professional rodeo.  A must-read for those folks that cruise the masochistic dating sites.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Torn Faith -- First Thoroughbred, First Irony

[image: Lisa Collins/South Brooklyn Post]
A few of us are forced, at least in the beginning, to ride horses by people who suffer the notion that children were put on Earth simply to fill another roll of film.  At a young age, we are loaded into station wagons, driven to the outskirts of Seattle, Washington and placed on the back of Old Roan.  Here we sit, wailing in youthful protest while parents and grandparents take our picture.  We are positive that we will die, that the horse will eat our small bodies, or that somehow we will be forgotten and forced to spend the rest of our lives attached to the spinal column of a large, hairy animal.  Then, quite suddenly, we discover the true value of the horse -- its speed -- and we gallop away, far from the clicking shutters, far from the angry voices.  And for a brief, incredible moment, we are free!

My first cognitive memory was of the house catching on fire -- twice in one night.  Things didn't really improve after that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Another Reason to Ride Off to Mexico

6th-Grade Nuclear War Drills

Ah, the Cold War.  In the late 50's and early 60's, nuclear war was considered inevitable, winnable and at the most ludicrous outskirts of wishful thinking -- survivable.  We held nuclear war drills in school, learned not to look at the flash, where we were in relation to the 12-mile radius, why we shouldn't play in radioactive fall-out and why our neighbors were suddenly digging up their backyard.

Safeway sold 'home fall-out shelters'  out in their parking lots -- next to the patio furniture and barbecues.  I'm assuming the 'barbecue' was a pun, but I was a little young for logical argument.  Which in the case of all-out nuclear war was little more than one pun piled on top of many others.  Eventually, the joke would be on somebody, but nobody was quite sure whom.  You see, war, as it had been defined by a generation matured in the conflagration known as World War II, clearly defined a conflict by the outcome:  easily definable by lining up the winners and losers.  In a nuclear conflict, it quickly became apparent that this pennant race was not winnable -- probably not even survivable.  And so the great arms race grounded itself on the rocks of an acronym that only a cynic could love:  MAD.  Mutual Assured Destruction.

Well, we kept doing A-bomb drills at school just the same.  In fact, they were identical to earthquake drills, only we didn't rehearse getting in line to evacuate the building.  Didn't seem like we really had anywhere to go anyway.             

Friday, December 16, 2011

Paralytic Loading Disease

You can use your scariest coat! 
 Very often our equine charges are required to use public transportation.  Most horses can't get driver's licenses because of the vision test.  You know, when your eyes are located on the side of your head?  Well hell, they can't do the written exam either since they can't read English and are assumed to be color-blind anyway.  Then there are the difficult hand (hoof) signals, the seat won't go back far enough, hard to text wearing horseshoes and since horses are rather large, the windows steam-up constantly.  So they go by bus...or something similar.  Now, most horses tend to balk at walking into a dark, metal, noisy contraption that resembles a third-world gas chamber that's bound to exceed the posted speed limit.  So a little encouragement may be necessary to overcome this natural reluctance horses experience when they first hear those terrifying words:  "Honey, let's take the freeway."    


Or a buggy whip -- This handler won't be flossing anymore.

Get more guys! Guys love this shit.

Play hide & seek!  That way everybody's lost.

Teach the horse to sit. Real crowd-pleaser! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Research Re-invents the Roadapple-- Saves Racing

Marketing 101:  Selling Hot Coffee in Hell or Safe-Sex in Africa.  It is All About the Sale's Pitch!

[Note: Was freelancing some years back when a marketing guy got hold of me looking for a little 'ghost writing' help.  He asked what I knew about his gizmo -- whatever the hell it was.  I said, "I can write 1500 words about horse shit if you like."

He said, "Okay smart ass.  Fire away."  So I did.  No, I didn't get the job, but it was kinda fun anyway.]
[images: wikicommons]

Doktor Billy-Bob Einstein

DAVIS, CALIFORNIA:  March 30, 2006

—Research veterinarians at the University of California-Davis announced today a rather unusual discovery: A truly biodegradable plastic bag produced entirely from the Large Animal Hospital’s most prolific by-product – horse manure.

The team, composed of senior veterinary residents from the UC School of Veterinary Medicine and genetic engineers from Monsanto, and led by Dr. Billy-Bob Einstein (nephew of Albert), of Munich University weren’t seeking the world’s most environmentally friendly plastic bag.  As Dr. Einstein explained it: “Sometimes in research you look for da cure for cancer and discover a new bug killer. You never know where da research will take ya mister.”

The team was actually put together under a grant from the US Department of Agriculture as part of the Obama administrations package to re-stimulate questionable research at state-funded universities across America.  The project’s original goal was to seek a non-surgical solution to the second leading cause of death among racehorses – caecum impaction, or what is commonly known as ‘sand colic.’ The affliction had become increasingly common due to both the mechanization of hay and pellet production in the United States, as well as the adoption of synthetic racetrack surfaces, which unbeknownst to developers, turned out to be edible.  In the case of the former, mechanization causes a great deal of silica (dirt or sand) to accumulate in the feed during processing. This was further complicated by the composition of synthetic racing surfaces, which chemical analysis showed to be about an equal mixture of ground fish, pulverized hemp and shredded coconut. (See formula at right.) This combination was apparently very appetizing to racehorses, particularly 2 year-olds.

Theses are"Icky," according to Vets.

In mammals that ruminate, like the cow or goat, they are able to separate and expel this material in the normal course of digestion. The horse however, does not have that ability. Instead of multiple stomachs, as typified in both cattle and goats, the horse has a pre-stomach and the caecum, a very large and muscular organ that does the hard work in breaking down the heavy cellulose found in the stalks of hay, the outer shell of most grains and of course, throughout the fiber of the hemp plant. A combination of extreme pressure by the circular musculature of the caecum, in conjunction with a unique combination of bacterial flora allow the horse to turn this almost woody mass into a digestible carbohydrate. The rest is expelled as water, held together by the remaining undigestible cellulite matrix.

It is this matrix that caught the attention of Monsanto chemist Dr. Luigi Boyardee. The research team had noted the role that the matrix played in bonding with the silica, sand or tarry hemp oil in the caecum, and how it behaved very much like the reinforcing rebar used in concrete construction. Surgical removal of these masses (some weighing over 100lbs.), was the only option.  However, such surgery carried a 35% mortality rate and a potential for loss of service even if the horse survived the operation.  Researchers hoped to find a ‘biological solvent’ of sorts that would break down these masses either completely or to a more manageable size.

It was at this point that Dr. Boyardee (a chemist specializing in polymers and the inventor of canned Ravioli), noticed something rather remarkable: The cellulite matrix was almost identical to those found in most poly-carbonate plastics, such as those used to make the unpopular plastic shopping bag.  The only difference was that the cellulite matrix was extremely brittle, making it unsuitable for the extruding process necessary to stretch the material.  Not one to give up easily, Dr. Boyardee began experimenting with a number of substances, finally settling on gum arabac, a common starchy food additive used in most kinds of pasta sauce. When added to the matrix, the resulting material was capable of stretching five thousand times its length on a microscopic level.  What’s more, it appeared to have greater tensile strength than the poly-carbonate plastics in common use.

The Monsanto chemist produced some sample bags at the company headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska and shared his process with UC-Davis team members. As he explained: “This process is rather simple. You dehydrate and sterilize the manure samples, leaving only the remaining matrix. This is then combined with the stabilizing agent, in this case the gum arabac -- in a zero-gravity cintering oven.  I can not disclose the actual process, but the end result is a finished polymer of sorts. It is then fed through the extruding process and – presto! A plasti…,well, a bag anyway.”

Dr. Boyardee and Monsanto CEO enjoying some GMO tea and crackers.
This bag is a different animal though. The team pointed out that it will degrade in the environment in as little as five days, faster if exposed to urine or diesel fuel, being both UV-sensitive and by all accounts, edible.  Common microbes will find it as a convenient food source, leaving little more than some spent hydrogen ions in the environment – ions commonly known as air.

The team continues its work on the original goal of developing a biological solvent to aid the ongoing efforts to find a surgical alternative to caecum impaction in the horse, stating that they believe to be about six-months out from a breakthrough.  Right now they are focusing on the side-effects of a very promising substance previously used as an defoliant in southeast Asia.  As for the bag?  Team lead Billy-Bob Einstein states that both Monsanto and UC-Davis are transferring the patent rights to the newly formed US Department of the National Horseracing Czar in the hopes that proceeds from the process will help racing to overcome a hostile takeover by Austrian auto parts interests and alleviate the storage problems associated with the annual manure production of horses -- estimated to be about 5-billion tons annually. The President has promised to put the full weight of his office behind this project and has asked the Army Corp of Engineers to move quickly in nationalizing the country's supply of horse manure, most of which is controlled by the nations few surviving racetracks and Dressage barns.  The jovial Bavarian veterinarian did however come up with a name for his discovery. “Yaa, ya, we’re calling it da pferde hosen. The horse sock!  Ha, ha, see here, it holds six bottles of beer and a big sausage.  We'll get to cancer.  Soon, soon, I promise."   

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chapter 21: What Horse Breaking & Plumbing Don't Have in Common

"If it Ain't Broke...Well, What is it Then?"

"In the Thoroughbred world, the terminology gets turned around.  Something that is broke is actually ready to do something constructive, while those things that are unbroke are sent back to the factory for some warranty work.  Yearlings are an obvious example of such nationwide recalls.

Where the term broke actually came from is a subject of wide debate.  Originally it was thought that breaking a horse involved some sort of religious encounter in which the horse's natural wild spirit was traded in on a saddle, or some other object of equal worth.  Other authorities tend to think the term was invented by a drunken, dyslexic Australian...."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thoroughbreds Are Only Fed the Best Hay...Uh, That was a Subjective Kind of Statement.

Best Hay?
"This hay snobbery was created by a bunch of defrocked scientists on the hay payroll who circulated a lot of rumors to the press.  Stuff about dead frogs, baled up slugs, recycled newsprint, etc..  The truth was that they were actually right, but like the White House, they needed to justify being wrong by dreaming up absurd research to prove they were right.  After your migraine subsides, this will somehow make sense, though in a very convoluted manner.  Just think back to that Iran-Contra thing and how Reagan wormed his way out of that mess.  Same principle involved

Now, racehorses naturally require the best possible feed available, being the the high-strung, fickle animals they're known to be.  Owners embraced this notion completely because they were also high-strung and fickle themselves.  So the PR folks invented all sorts of wild claims about nutritional value, digestibility, protein levels, Secretrariat's favorite brand -- nothing was out of bounds.  Even people started eating alfalfa for their own health, not realizing that a bale of hay is about 20% bugs, both living and dead.  And since hay sort of grows on the ground, where everything else on the planet eventually ends up, it also contains leftover pesticides, herbicides, dead rats, tractor exhaust, satellite parts, marijuana plants, snakes, gophers, diesel fuel, beer cans, cigarette butts and probably Jimmy Hoffa's wallet and car keys.  And those fields are a long way from the nearest outhouse."

Friday, December 9, 2011

So You Want to Write a Book, Huh?

 The new book is now up to 270 pages.  Now, if you ever want to write a book, you should really consider how much insanity might be required for the project.  The caveat though, is that there are no enforceable rules.  Well, maybe spelling...

I started out wanting to write a children's book.  Then I discovered that children are a tough audience.  I mean, they can see right through your bullshit.  They only become naive and dumb once they become adults.  That scared me off.  So, I figured 'young adult novel.'  Except by the second chapter I needed the 'F' word.  Twice actually.  Sometimes no other word works.  Fudge, phooey, gosh darn...they don't do it. So, change course.  Just make it a novel.  I also decided I wanted Fidel Castro in the cast.  No, I don't know why.  Writers are a little bent upstairs, so don't look for logic.  Hell, I don't even have a plot at this point. With Castro, that meant it would have to be a 'period piece.'  So I thought, "Hey, nobody has written a novel based on the Cuban Missile Crisis that had nothing to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis."  Hell, why not?  By chapter 5 though, I had too many characters.  It was so out-of-control that I had to put butcher-paper on all the walls of my office and make notes with different colored Sharpies.  So then I figured, I needed to kill off some people.  Parents seemed the likely choice since they were kind of weak characters anyway and probably wouldn't be missed.  So the two main characters would then be a 14-year old girl and an 8-year old boy.  Wanted to center the book around the boy, but after a mere 2800-words, the girl took over.  What a surprise!!  Also thought there should be some teen romance, so I hooked her up with the class weirdo.  I was a class weirdo myself once and I wanted to see the weirdo get the girl for a change. I'd kill the parents off in Canada.  No, I wasn't sure why.  Foreign intrigue maybe.  The story also needed some sexual tension and since the girl was too young, I invented an attractive blond teacher who wore frumpy dresses and librarian glasses, but had some real Lolita things going on in the background.  I gave her an illegitimate child fathered by her psychotic ex-fiance and just had the cops kill him later as he was just background material anyway.  Then I hired a lawyer to handle the parent's untimely death and thought it would be nice to hook him up with the Lolita woman.  Also, since it was the 60's, I needed to throw in some race and gender issues.  So I created some black characters in leather jackets and an aggressive female lawyer from New York.  Waiting to see how that works out.  Then, I had to get this whole mess to Kentucky since I needed to have a damn horse in the story!  Otherwise the title wouldn't make any sense and that's how this whole escapade got started in the first place.  I picked Paris, Kentucky because I was there once and thought it was this cool, old-fashioned kind of iconic Kentucky town.  Trouble was, about three chapters later I went on Google Street View and it was the wrong damn town.  Oh, too late to change that.  Then, I invented two horse farmers -- a couple -- about sixty-years old, unmarried, ex-bootleggers -- one that questioned God and the other that warred with God.  See, I wanted some Baptists in here because they are more interesting than Lutherans, so...Okay, all you budding authors.  Still want to write a novel?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Can Horses Go to Jail for Kicking an Owner?

An interesting question in an era that has witnessed a 5-fold increase in random horse/human violence. Some authorities attribute it to global warming, others impeach the violent content found on television today.  One researcher even found a connection between random, violent acts and the import of so-called Warmbloods from areas of Europe known to support factions with anarchist tendencies.  Then, there is the economic card -- horses being fed sub-standard oats imported from China and non-organic, generic carrots.
In Chapter 26, 'The Vice Squad,' of his marginally best-selling, overly self-centered and wordy book, the author expounds on his newest theory: "Horses are From Somewhere Else & So are Humans."  Through the use of pie-charts, colorful graphs and secretly recorded interviews with agents of the Humane Society, the author expounds on how horse violence has permeated the nation's conscience and forced many worried horse owners to buy cats.  The issue of criminality in the prosecution of what agents have identified as "socio-pathic hairballs," has gone all the way to America's top court in Washington DC, where just yesterday, the Court handed down its preliminary conclusions.  Here we offer the author's interpretation of that ruling.

"Currently, horses enjoy an immunity from prosecution based on a ruling by the Supreme Court (2-1 with six abstentions), that basically stated that whoever had the larger brain had 'primary responsibility for getting the hell out of the way.'  This point of jurisprudence was argued on that Biblical definition of horses as "dumb beasts," and apparently, since the Court was stacked with Reagan appointees, nobody wanted to cross-examine God.  As such, the Court decided, most punishment handed down would be limited to frowning, finger-pointing and/or banishment to another stable.  Repeat offenders would just move more often."

So there you have it. Looks like no jail time for these four-legged felons. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Horseshoer of Leisure -- Until I Tried to Get a Visa Card

In the banker's office one fine morning.  I was feeling smug.  Too smug.  Thought it was time to get one of those Gold Cards!

     Loan Oifficer:  Strumming through a pamphlet entitled: Adjusted Salary Expectations in Isolated Trades.  "Farmer, framer, ferry boat captain,'re not a furrier?  Hmm.  Furniture finisher, fraud investigator...well, no farrier.  Just what is a farrier?"

{A lot of conversation omitted here as a cheap commercial teasing device.  My publisher swears by this tactic.}

   As I left his office, I pocketed the booklet on Adjusted Salary Expectations in Isolated Trades.  It was published by the American Banking Information Clearinghouse in Elgin, Illinois.  The loan officer was right, farriers weren't listed.  But if I had applied as a magician, a road-reflector technician, an ice-cream man, or a greeting card author, I would have been issued a card.  There was even a card with a $500 limit for 'people currently incarcerated by the United States government.'  But no farriers.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Eldorado" by Edgar Allan Poe, via John Wayne & James Caan

Always had a thing for the poetry of a Quest.

We know this from the John Wayne movie, El Dorado.
But, did we know hence it came?
Edgar Allan Poe, 1848

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old,
This knight so bold-
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow-
"Shadow," said he.
"Where can it be-
This land of Eldorado?"

"Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride boldy ride,"
The shade replied-
"If you seek for Eldorado!"

How Racing Works: The Stewards

Typical Race, Typical Track

Inside the racing office was a cantankerous troll, who I learned had got his job through nihilism, nepotism, cronyism, blackmailism, obscene forms of patronage and the ability to not only collect a lot of dirt on the racing commissioners, but actually remember who's dirt was whose.  This was the Racing Secretary.  Trainers spent many hours of their mornings groveling at the troll's feet in order to get a number, which allows a horse to enter a race it can't possibly win.  It is a system based on cheap gratuities, mostly gifts of coffee and jelly donuts, and the abilty to shamelesslly lose at golf or poker almost continuously.  The office is also home to the Stewards, the guys (yeah, it is kind of sexist), who try to enforce the rules of racing.  Mostly they confiscate batteries, conduct field sobriety tests on horses, oversee urine testing (horses can pee about a gallon, so that's a lot of overseeing), and admonish jockeys about road rage, illegal amphetamines and citizenship issues.  They also make sure nobody has watered the bourbon in the Turf Club, parked in their private parking space or kidnapped a trainer's pharmacist in order get him to throw a race.  Most Stewards are retired racetrack types, who got the job because their tab at the backstretch kichen was out of control.  Racing people take care of their own.

                                                    However, the Stewards Notice that Something is Amiss!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Horse Show: Always Bring Beer...Vodka, Gin.

I guess you could say that we are still in the dating women with a horse category.  The woman invites you to go to a horse show.  You're thinking it is probably like going to Wimbledon where an overdressed waiter never lets your drink get to half-staff.  You're also thinking that sex might be involved.  Of course, you thought that too when you went on that romantic oil-changing expedition.  And you thought that...

However...The first job was to reset Brownie's shoes.  The second job was to unload the truck.  This was a two-day show, which meant unloading and loading basically took place in the same twenty-four hour period.  Added together, this amounted to relocating about six-hundred pounds of 'stuff.'  Among the collection was a tack trunk the size of a coffin, tack room curtains made of lead macrame, saddle racks (plural), potted plants, rugs, brooms, brushes, hay, grain, buckets, bridles, tent stakes and a refrigerator.

"This must be for the beer?" I quipped.

"It's for Brownie's medication.  He has arthritis."

"You're going to make this poor arthritic horse jump over fences?  Boy, we both better get some beer."

"It's illegal."

"Beer is illegal!?"

"Not for you, for Brownie.  They test for drugs.  All this medicine is organic.  This is aloe vera, this is biotin, and this stuff is Yucca.  It really helps."

I read the price tag on the Yucca.  $84.50 an ounce.  Heroin was cheaper.'

Later, the question about sex as a possible reward for hours of manual labor was clarified: Jesse slept in the cab of the truck and I slept with two bales of hay and a sweaty horse blanket.  Talk about romantic.  I smelled like the inside of a gym sock.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

ISBN #978-145750-492-1

Should have "Open for Business" at this site by next week.

Allows direct ordering here!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Romeo & Juliet? Hopefully with a Different Ending

"A first date shouldn't be one of those instances where your life feels like it is being sucked out the front of your shoes.  Sure it's a little tense at first, what with your whole life seemingly at stake, but it's just a date.  Two people, sacred shitless, eating something messy like spaghetti in a public place -- with other people watching.  Other people that instinctively know it's your first date because you're eating too much garlic bread.  And the waiter -- he smiles a lot for  somebody on minimum wage.  Don't forget the valet.  He parked two vehicles.  One with a dog and another one that smelled funny and had a cat inside.  And you're sitting face to face.  Distance.  No chance for accidental body contact.  It's just a date!  Besides, I read somewhere that you can't get dumped on a first date.  Abandoned in a parking lot, but not dumped."

  Part II
3rd Date Protocols:

"Good thing she never found the toilet seat up.  Co-mingling toilets only happens after seven, maybe eight dates.  For now, it was off-limits.  I was in toilet etiquette training anyway.  Little Post-Its that read, "Flush -- Lid!" plastered on the mirror along with horse snot from you know who.  Funny, but she could probably accept a horse in the bathroom, but not the lid thing.  Or was I projecting?  You know, I'll do this because she'll be anticipating the opposite in hopes of me noticing her anticipation and thereby adjusting my behavior because I noticed her discomfort in what I was thinking about doing, but didn't.  There.  Makes perfect sense."

Part III
You Must Know the Hierarchy:

[The story's heroine was horsey, subsequently, certain rules exist.]  "This allows a man the most ingracious of faux pas (that's plural in case you were wondering), if it involves a horse.  Somehow, in the broken logic of Jesse's (the heroine's) mind, her mother could be offended as long as the offense first travleled through Jesse's horse.  I could not offend either one directly without the horse, and further, I could not offend the horse unless it had first offended Jesse, but not her mother.  Fathers were out of the loop completely and I was never able to clarify third-party offenses aimed at groups in general or somebody else's horse.  However, I could be offended equally by all, including Jesse's horse, and retalliation was considered the worst sort of response, bringing me full circle as far as offenses went.  It was a little like doing the seating arrangements at the UN.  "Hey Kofi, let's put Syria next to Israel -- see if they swap recipes or something."  Hell, the rules were so complicated I had to write them on my arm."


Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

But, As Luck Happens in Marginal Fairy Tales


h my Gosh!  Rudy's sick!"  she wailed.  Glancing around the stall, she finally found the source of Fast Rudy's distress.  Lying in his feed tub was a half-eaten fruitcake.  And was it ever hard!

Fast Rudy -- Vignettes From a Marginal Fairy Tale

Our hero has a race in mind!

The race meet was scheduled to close on December 24th, a mere five days away.  The final race of the card, The Last Gasp Handicap, run at 22 furlongs, looked to be the spot that Rudy had always needed.  With a purse of five golden rings, three French hens and some other bird in a pear tree, a victory would save Mrs. Jack from the poorhouse.  Eat the birds, hock the rings.  Real simple......

Fast Rudy -- Vignettes From a Marginal Fairy Tale

nce upon a time, in a faraway land, a young lad named Young Jack was sent on an important family matter.  Wearily trudging through the countryside, Jack hoped to trade his last bag of magic beans for a $5000 claimer.  Jack's mother, who trained some runners at a local track, was having a terrible season.  In fact, she was down to her last horse, a sad looking gelding named Fast Rudy, who had never been able to get in a race because of a red spot on his butt.  It really wouldn't have mattered in most cases, except that it had been overlooked on his registration papers, a discrepancy that the evil Sheriff of Nothinghappening, happened to notice, who coincidentally moonlighted as a racetrack identifier, duly appointed by the Governor to rob the poor and stop those 20-1 shots from walking away with a race................

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jobs in a Tough Economy: Mare Watchers

Mare Watchers:

Need to be extremely attentive to boring details, semi-conscious during working hours and should know basic First-Aid, self-defibrillation and a rudimentary knowledge of bowel surgery and/or self-hypnosis. Marginal derangement, amphetamine addiction or chronically narcoleptic individuals encouraged to apply.  No previous experience desirable.     

Hobbies/Activities Encouraged:

                        Ability to appreciate the migratory habits of dead spiders.
                        Experimental Microwaving Projects. 
                        Playing strip-poker with the barn cat.. and losing on purpose. 
                        Practicing chopsticks with warm Jell-O.

Strongly Encouraged: An Ability to Converse with Local Crisis Clinics:

"Hello, Crisis Clinic, Hello?"

"Pepperoni and olives.  Uh, did I pick up my dry cleaning?"


"Heeerre's Johnny!"

"This is the Crisis Clinic.  How much French roast have you had?"

"Oops.  Can't talk now, my shoe's untied!"

"Do you want us to send an ambulance?"

"Sure, can they bring along the pizza?"

"Ever considered de-caf?"

"Wasn't he the president of Israel?"

"We're trying to help."

"And I appreciate that in a pizza parlor!"

Openings Begin January 1st at Breeding Farms Throughout Your Area


Monday, November 21, 2011

The Generational Continuum: War

[I never gave up on Don Quixote, though I often gave up on myself. The children of warriors are no less of a casualty in the conflicts of man.]
Over the decades, I have met a great many special kids -- special perhaps by a curious default --these children of the storms as I know them. That sad kind of trustless distinction that far too many of them carry for the remainder of their lives. You find them a lot in the company of animals and very often around the wonderful world that keeps and cherishes horses. These children are broken, damaged -- often unknowingly -- flotsam it seems, barely afloat in a foul sea by the sheer will of life itself, or perhaps the honest generosity of some creature. An animal deemed unworthy of God's grace; soulless by divine circumscription, a beast of burden, a toiler for the great canons of righteous warfare, and yet, denied that simple holy distinction by the sheer weight of humanity's ceaseless need of a selective and ultimate symbol for the validation of a uniquely human disease: self-predation.
In 1989, I wrote an essay for The Chronicle of the Horse, entitled "Horses: An Investment in Youth." I had come to recognize these children, for one is only granted acknowledgement in such a secretive society through the forced abandonment of all others. A code that lives in the eyes of the victims, as if blood alone can cleanse an open wound. We all know each other by our scars, the invisible marks of penance for the crime of existence -- or convenience. Or that in a world of incomprehensible giants, a denial of simple mercy. For in those moments of hatred and confusion, love must flee for the safety found at the ragged outskirts of our imagination. With the door bolted shut behind us.
We never cease to be somebody's child. Even in death, we are remembered as once being born. A matrix of miracles really in a world where violence and apathy dictate the lyrics of a long and oddly persistent hymn. A requiem perhaps. Taps. Pipes echoing through barren branches of an old forest. A flag neatly folded, heads bowed at half-staff -- the cold earth beckoning. And one war is never enough.
I've spent the better part of five decades wandering backwards through the wreckage of a half-dozen or more wars -- each with a participant that carried my name, my blood, ultimately my future, locked in the primal puzzle of a shared DNA. And what also seemed like a shared responsibility to enforce the dictate of a purely political manifest -- rightly or wrongly, on this tumultuous and perhaps chronically reckless planet. And children continue to fight these wars, for it seems that the 'sins of the fathers' are never enough to satisfy the insatiable greed contained in a stubborn point of view; so powerful in a single moment, so dwarfed by the continuity of all the moments.
We cannot live in a world of faith and war. Some dichotomy exists, forcing the spirit to serve two separate masters, as if the pastor and the politician can only possess the same truth on different days of an identical week. We say, Thou shalt not kill...but we kill just the same. Because we are right, because we are justified, is what we do. And we look into our children's eyes, we tell them it is wrong, it is a horror, it is against God...but please child, take up this gun one more time.
Generational. The dance of the damned it would seem, for war makes prisoners of the betterment we're truly capable of achieving in this world. An inheritance that lingers in the minds and hearts of all we touch, all we make and all that follow. Somehow, sometime, we need to break the bonds of our relentless ambition and leave one single generation at peace. It just might catch on.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cute Dogs Sell Books!

370 Pages & An Automatic Upgrade

The author during a period of 'critical self-examinination,' combined with a completely useless attempt at lowering his cholesterol.
However, once you publish a book, you receive an upgrade from merely a lowly writer to a debt-ridden author. You suddenly find an irresistable urge to smoke a pipe, wear Cardigan sweaters and only use words with five syllables or more. People mob you in the produce section at Safeway, force you to autograph body parts and Google finally decides that you are moderately interesting.
Andy Warhol was right. Fifteen-minutes is about all you get.

News on the Book

ISBN #978-145750-492-1
Currently available through or any retail book outlet. to be up shortly. 360 pages, some completely useless illustrations -- $18.95, paperback. Alfalfa flavored and semi-edible in a desperate moment.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Useful Horse Communication Advice:


EARS FORWARD: Signals the approach of food, sex or a predator. (Humans fall under the last heading.)

ONE FORWARD, ONE BACK: Sometimes it is a case of watching you and the road. If they turn both ears around then you have gone from a curiosity to an annoyance. Relocation is imminent.

EARS SIDEWAYS: Actually it is a genetic anomaly or the ears are broken. Otherwise, it doesn't mean a damn thing.

EARS FLAT BACK: Unabashedly pissed off. Good time to walk away quietly.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Benito Gets a Nod...sort of.

So What's Benito Mussolini Got To Do With It?
First off, the guy looked pretty good on a horse. Much better than I do, which is why I'm not including a picture of myself. Notice the heels down, the leg position, spine straight, head under the body. Horse is actually awake.
You see, I studied Mussolini in conjunction with my senior thesis at the old alma mater...University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. As the preface in the book explains, somewhat lamely, this was after my illustrious career as manager of the also-rans. In the process of researching fascism -- the Italian model, I discovered:
"I did learn one thing from Mussolini's mixed-up political non-system: that being the notion that I was probably a fascist farm manager. I mean, think about it. I was a quasi-dictator, I controlled the labor force (a cat and a backhoe operator and I seemed to have my hands all over the 'supply and demand' sector: hay, oats, manure and diesel fuel. Plus, my subjects were either too naturally rambunctious to form a quorum, or bound to the sacred oath of the Herd Lodge, which basically meant that in either case, it would take years for any of them to pick a leader. And if they did, well, as soon as the election was over, I'd just sell the winner."
Ronald Reagan also made the book as well. Not quite as pretty on a horse.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Yes, There is a Dog Story in the Book!

Two Different Views of the Little Assassin
Chapter 20 is all about Emily, a sweet little JRT that kills things. The picture on the left is how Emily views herself. Kind, considerate...sleeps in the bed. You know. The picture on the right was posted on YouTube by a hamster shortly before the video feed went blank. We would like to think that it was just a dead battery or something...but.
"Emily bludgeoned her way through life as if each encounter was to be her last -- a tormented poet really, seeing peace as a lousy alternative to war and anarchy. She dreamed of grabbing little hamsters by the head and shaking them to death, burying their broken bodies under the house. If she were human, her ghastly crimes would have ended in the gas chamber, a pellet of cyanide for the bad little dog."
Well, we know that's not going to happen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chapter 2: Horseshoeing School or...Denial Part IV

Somehow I imagined that horseshoeing went something like this. Hang around with nice looking women, eat a little watermelon, do most of the work with one hand and a slightly insincere smile. Or is it a lecherous grin? They kind of look similar.

However, truth and reality often change places, mostly because one is always more painful than the other. What I got was...

"[On the first] Friday of the class, we started working on the frozen legs. We wrapped the bloody parts in burlap and tied a string to one end. The other end was tied to a post so we could hold the leg between our legs, which sort of imitated real life conditions. Those of us with money had a heavy leather apron, those without, bloody jeans."

[We did get some real horses to work on eventually. Maggots had eaten most of the dead legs anyway.] "There were three horses and all were caked with mud or manure or both. Two immediately pissed on our dirt floor, turning in into a kind of foamy mud with little steam vents next to each submerged leg. This made it a little hard to determine [the instructor's] interpretation of proper balance -- or maybe in this case, flotation."
It took another five years for things to improve much.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our Staff at Red Planet Publishing

This photo was taken during our 'Fundamentalist Period.' Shortly thereafter, we heard about Islam's no alcohol rule. Well, to be honest, that was a toughie at the time. We flipped a coin and became Lutherans.
That lasted about a week. On further examination it appeared that Lutherans were allowed to dabble in the spirits, but as a general rule they were too normal, awkward at parties and most of them seemed to live in Minnesota.
Next we tried Catholicism. The red wine was a nice touch, though both of us experienced difficulty with the part about when you kneel and when you stand. Both of us have pretty bad knees (horseshoeing does that to a person) so we would just drink more wine. After a bit, we just decided to lie down in the pew and hope for divine intervention, or the room to quit spinning. We weren't excommunicated -- more like a situation where the priest rejects your application because it is so much easier than listening to your confession -- which is just about as long as my book and not nearly as funny. Well, there was that part about the three tattooed women at the car wash...
Did I say the book was fiction? Good. Wouldn't want any misunderstandings here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chapter 10 Explores the Ramifications of Genetic Engineering with Thoroughbreds

"It's All in the Name"
'Boo Boo' was a mistake. Just possibly the ugliest yearling ever to qualify for a summer sale, she was purchased because Doc was staring at the wrong catalog page....
.....After winning a few minor races, she entered the farm's broodmare ranks and abruptly founded a new line of odd-faced foals. I named one 'Insect Eyes,' another 'Llama Lips'....
You can figure out the rest.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Book is Based in the Outback of Seattle

Chapter 6 -- Mud

So we all know what that means:

'Sure, Seattle gets its fair share of 'rain' jokes, normally perpetrated by California weatherpersons who don't have anything to talk about anyway. They sit for hours staring at the Doppler radar looking for one cloud with some sort of potential. Most of the year, a chipmunk with an alcohol problem could do the weather. "Geez, itttsss goin' to be sunny...where the hell did my tail go?"'

'Rain and horses also created another, well situation: I was stuck with approximately 482,586,000 tons of mud. Most of the world's supply. Felt like Saudi Arabia on a cocky day.'

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Look of Eagles

The important question here is why anyone would compare a race horse to a bald-headed scavenger that hangs around with buzzards and hyenas. And is too lazy to catch any food that isn't already dead.

Actually, I don't know. But I also can't figure out why people work in submarines.

"I'm not sure what Man O' War what was thinking when the shutter snapped -- how naive -- I know perfectly well what he was thinking about. The breeding shed was only fifty-feet down the road."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More on the Table of Contents

4. A Horse Named Tubby

5. The Look of Eagles
6. Mud
Chapter 4 seems like a combination of "The Man from Snowy..." & a "Godfather" sequel of some kind. The only thing you need to know is that the horse learned how to read The New York Times through the bathroom window.
Oh. The title isn't a fat-horse slur. Tubby was height/weight proportional for a young unemployed horse.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kid Shows Interest in Veterinary Medicine

I did know that when it came to mice violating the cornmeal law, mother preferred to dish out death with a glue trap. Which meant that the only possible escape was to leave a leg behind. I got pretty good at mouse orthopedics. A couple actually healed up enough to be released, only to show up missing two legs.

Mom moved on to neck snappers. I had to close my clinic.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Book is Full of Questionable Human Activity!

Chapter 22 is called 'Paralytic Loading Disease and Other Afflictions.' This chapter focuses on how you find really dumb volunteers to risk their lives trying to get a horse on the wrong bus. The horse really should be pointing the other way. Or not.
In a later chapter I'll explain how to import banned farm chemicals from Central America and how you dispose of a manure pile without the fire department finding out.

There's a kid growing up with obvious problems!

-The counselor told me that my mother was probably deflecting some leftover hostility involving two divorces, three car accidents and the appearance of my step-brother. At least that's what the counselor thought. I figured she was working on her doctorate or something since I had no idea what she was talking about. I still nodded politely at the end of every sentence. I wanted to avoid the next step, which involved a piece of lumber and the Vice-principal. Nodding politely didn't work in his office.

-I had to suddenly switch to Marlboros. Used to be Lucky Strikes. Stole them from the 'It' that kept catching the house on fire...
...I didn't smoke because of peer pressure. That was because I was the peer pressure. Funny how you can go from social outcast to idol with the addition of one bad habit.

Nancy Arbuckle's Hair?

"Good. Very observant. Actually, she did have a small fire in her hair. Seemed the eighth-grade class at Morgan Junior High set her head on fire up on Hiway 99...I got thirty pages of paperwork, workmen's comp have to take over her route."


Probably explains why she wouldn't let go of the fire extinguisher.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Table of Contents

1. Torn Faith

2. Under the Spreading...Tarpaulin

3. Nancy Arbuckle's Hair

Maybe I should explain what happened to Ms. Arbuckle's hair. Seems she drove a school bus. Eighth-graders as I recall.

"It's like this," he began. "You know Nancy Arbuckle?"

"Yeah. Well sort of, I mean not really. Her hair looks funny, like it caught on fire or something." I was fishing.

More on this mystery later.

[image: Ron &]Font size

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coming in April 2011!

About the Book:

Mares, Foals & Ferraris is a hilarious and convoluted tale of one man's quest to quit driving a school bus and become some sort of farmer. Like most quests, this one went a little siderways. Instead of turnips, he got racehorses. But underneath this story is another: a child trying to understand a violent world, a young adult trapped between a reluctant acceptance of what is and that wonderous free flight born of the what if. And finally, the insatiable curiosity of an old writer -- born in the bright dawn of Camelot, yet destined to wander the endless catacombs that shelter the what was.

Two puzzling questions the book will finally answer: Why children run away to live with animals? And on the more capricious side of life's mysteries, why people breed racehorses when they could just as easily own a Ferrari? Maybe two.

About the Author: A. Allan Juell has been writing about horses and the...well, those folks that tend to hang around with large, hairy mammals for roughly thirty years. His work appeared in periodicals such as The Washington Thoroughbred, EQUUS, The Chronicle of the Horse, Western Horseman, Thoroughbred Times, Anvil Magazine and many others. He picked up a few obscure literary awards along the way, as well as copious amounts of 'enlightened' criticism.

He spent twenty-five years as a farrier and farm manager and about fifteen years as an intinerant journalist, wandering most of the world's habitable continents and questionable bars. He holds a degree in history (international affairs) and sometimes attempts to further confuse the world's problems at He lives in North America...sometimes.

Fiction, available through the normal outlets in April 2011. Excerts here and at around February.