It’s Been a While….Lilly’s Progress

We are still waiting on Lilly. There has been a bit of a delay in breeding her, which is to be expected entering into the unknown with a maiden mare. Once the spring weather decided to arrive for good, the vet cultured Lilly’s reproductive organs and found out she had some not-so-friendly bacteria growing, which would be bad for the stallion and any future foal. Lilly was put on 10 days of antibiotics and continued to hang out with Jack, the donkey. The bacteria has cleared up, but Lilly’s coat is not looking so shiny, so we suspect little worms may have invaded while we have been waiting. So another round of antibiotics. I think she may be a bit depressed. You see, while she has been waiting around trying to figure out why she is not all dressed up for the spring show season, her friends at the barn have been introducing her to these new critters: Grey foal When the foals are turned out Lilly gets herself quite worked up wondering what this new farm is all about! But being a mare, maybe she is saddened by the fact that she doesn’t have a new baby by her side. So now we still wait, as the vet tells us there is a follicle ready to be released any day now. When that little egg decides to detach, Lilly will be sent asap to visit her selected beau, Rock Slide. As a side bar, let me tell you a little about the farm where Lilly is staying. It took me quite a while to find someone who was willing to take a one-person novice into their barn. I knew I wanted to have Lilly’s foal born in Virginia in order to support the Virginia racing establishment. Many of the large breeding and racing stables are family run, have been around for ages, and breed and raise their own horses. In other words, they don’t take in outsiders. This was all new to me. If I was searching for a show barn to board by horse, I would call around and visit with the owners and trainers and find the right fit. In my new world, there are no such options. At least that I could find easily. I turned to the Virginia Thoroughbred Association (VTA) for a recommendation. Luckily, they connected me with Robin Richards, the owner of Goshen Farm in Boyce, Virginia. I called Robin and she was open to me coming to visit her farm and discuss what I had in mind. What a fascinating woman. Robin is the President and Chairperson of the Board of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. This association operates on behalf of thoroughbred race horse owners, trainers and backstretch personnel throughout the United States and Canada, with the following missions: 1. Providing a representative voice for all thoroughbred horsemen on matters integral to the advancement of thoroughbred racing in the United States, Canada and at the State level. 2. Encouraging the highest standards of horsemanship to continuously improve the care, health and safety of the horse. 3. Facilitating guidelines to ensure the safety of the jockeys, trainers, grooms, exercise riders, hot walkers, farriers, veterinarians and all others who regularly come in contact with the race horse. 4. Supporting the development, adoption, implementation and enforcement of nationwide uniform rules which promote safety and integrity in racing. 5. Disseminating information on critical issues facing our industry to HBPA Affiliates and to the general public as appropriate. 6. Supporting and promoting programs and entities which provide general benevolence and other beneficial programs for Affiliates and members. 7. Assisting in the development of programs at affiliated tracks providing for the aftercare of our horses when their racing careers are over. 8. Promoting the sport of thoroughbred horse racing. I wasn’t aware that such an organization existed just three months ago! While not working to further the betterment of horse racing, Robin breeds and races her own Thoroughbreds. A lifelong horsewoman, Robin grew up foxhunting and showing horses before turning her talents to the thoroughbred industry. Since 1990, she has held trainer’s licenses in six states, owner’s licenses in 12 states and has run horses at over 20 tracks. In addition to her extensive background as an owner and trainer, Robin has enjoyed success as a breeder. She lists several stakes winners among her credits as owner/breeder, including the $900,000 plus sprinter Punch Line who twice earned the title of Virginia Horse of the Year. Punch%20Line What I do know is that she is my encyclopedia of all things horses and racing. On several occasions, we have leaned on the pasture fence and debated my novice way of thinking against her expert knowledge. Goshen Farm, her 130-acre farm, was named when the house was built, probably about 1810-20. Before that, there was a wooden house which burned. Robin believes the name Goshen is a reference to the Old Testament. It means, “The Promised Land”. She moved to the farm from Loudoun County in 1997. Before that, she raised horses at several farms beginning in 1980. Her biggest herd numbered in the 30s prior to the economy downturn in 2008. The most broodmares she bred was about 6, but mostly she breeds just 3 or 4 each year. Robin won the TOBA Breeder of the Year for Virginia in 1997 when she bred three stakes winners. Robin got into racing and breeding because she had grown up showing and hunting. She became fascinated with pedigrees and the cyclical nature of farm life. She notes it has been a fun if demanding challenge. I look forward to many more conversations and debates with Robin and appreciate her open mindedness in taking in this novice with a pipe dream!

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