Horsin’ Around

Freshman gives first-person account of spending spring break in Horse Country
Punt looks off in the distance as the sun rises.
Punt looks off in the distance as the sun rises.
Eliza Copes
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  • Gail Lane and the author smile for a pic next to Secretariat and Run Happy’s stall.

  • The vet; Zach Logan, right; JB Orem, far left; and a ranch hand, middle; sooth Flip ‘Em Bye as she is having a lavage culture of her uterus.

  • Scent of Golds’ colt is mighty curious as the photographer steps into the stall.

  • The misty morning backdrops this mare and foal as they both eat.

  • Punt and Flip ‘Em Bye join the photographer at the fence as the sun rises.

  • Finished nightly medicines for the mares and foals; these medicines have a vast amount of uses.

  • Completed morning medicines for the mares who foaled helps with progesterone.

  • An employee at Hopewell Bakery exchange checks out Gail Lane.

  • This collection of spoons has been used for various cooking techniques throughout the years.

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In my dreams, I see dark, vibrant, green grass with a tint of blue reflecting. It’s a cool, crisp morning, and the scent of farmland brushes past my face.

The sun is just rising to show all the streaming rays that brighten the fields. Out the corner of my eye, I see a majestic animal running through the beams. It approaches and blows warm breath on my hand as I reach to run my fingers through its mane.

Galloping over the hill, the rest of the horses join the first at the fence. It seems like something from my imagination, but this is Kentucky, The Blue Grass and Horse Capital State.

And it is very real.

Over Spring break, I was able to enjoy this beautiful state with some very special people–Beau and Gail Lane.

They own Woodline, Beau Lane Blood Stock Farm in Paris, KY and breed and raise thoroughbred horses. I worked for them for the week this spring.

The Lanes are incredibly caring people who love God and love others. I spent a week with them and had a time learning about veterinary medicine, working hands-on with the horses, and learning the inner workings of the equine business.

Each day was an adventure.

We embarked on our journey March 2–Saturday morning–at 7 a.m.. My mom, Lynn Copes, and I made the journey together, and we finally arrived in Kentucky by 2 p.m. The rest of the day was spent settling in, getting oriented. My mom would leave early the next day, about the same time I began my adventure.

Sunday: I wake up to the smell of coffee, and the sounds of bacon popping and laughter in the kitchen. After eating for a brief moment, I rush to the barn to meet the vet. He enters the barn with his kit and gets started on a mare. The procedure called palps is basically an ultrasound on the horse’s uterus to see how far along in heat she is or when she is going to be ready to breed.

Next, I enter the feed room and JB Orem (the Lane’s daughter) shows me what to do with the medicines. The dosages are all different, so understanding them is critical. I get a handle on that, and then we head to the next barn to check “Educated Guess”. She is one of the mares pregnant with twins. This is a tough decision to make but one that needs to be made.

“We’re going to have to pinch one so that the other can live,” Zach says.

Zach describes to use that when pinching this involves flattening on of the twin eggs until it pops.

“When you see the egg become less round, that’s how you know it will no longer grow,” Zach says.

Today instead of doing the procedure, JB wants to wait until Tuesday.

Later that afternoon, I end the day at the house resting and washing up for the next day.

Monday: I wake up to the sunrise and head to Windstar. This farm in particular was cool because we had a mare being bread with Two Phil’s today. He is one of the  younger stallions, but was a stout, and lean horse. The breeding shed has arches and pathways that are enormous, and the pathways are lined with cobblestone. The area is crafted with such diligence.

After it is all over, we ride back to the barn. As soon as I get to the house, Beau Lane motions to me.

“Hop in I’m am going to give you a tour,” he says.

So we ride around Paris, KY to look at the rest of the famous farms. Each is unique in its own way and has a color brand for all the land they own. Different colored fences mean where the beginning of a property is and where the next ends. He takes me to see the rising colts and fillies for the upcoming sell. They are all curious and each has a special spark about them and their personality. The horses one by one come up and check us out. They are so inquisitive.

Tuesday: I wake up and ride to the barn. The vet is going to  pinch the Mare’s (“Educated Guess”)  twin, so that the baby and mama are healthy.  This gives the other twin a chance to live healthy and not have any complications. Zach starts the procedure with removing any blockages, then ran the prob up to the twins in the Uterius. Next he carefully examines each to decide which twin looks healthier. He then chooses the one twin and gently applies pressure.

We see the egg go from a round, circular object, to a more flat looking specimen. Zach then carefully gives the mare a medicine to help with infection and relieve some fluid. Following, I go to the barn and help with the mares and foals with cleaning the stalls and fixing water buckets. Each water bucket weighs about 40 lbs. This is definitely a hard work out.

I fix the meds for the most part, independently today. This responsibility is my favorite by far. Gail Lane and I go into town and run some errands. I am shown the history of Secretariat. The monument/statue they made is enormous, looming over us with such glory.  They had a dedication ceremony last year that was touching to many members of the community.

Wednesday: Today, Gail Lane and I get to tour Claiborne Farms, where over the years, they housed some of the most famous racing horses that raced in history. The famous Secretariat and Run Happy were paddocked in those barns and bred many mares there that then earn a lot of money and status for the horse and farm. We start the tour, going through each yellow and black barn. Each barn has a purpose, some are used for breeding, washing the stallions, or even just housing.

Learning about all this expands my knowledge about how much work it takes to produce quality horses and the amount of time that it takes to make something great. Gail and I finish up on the tour at Claiborne and head home.

We get home, and I run out the door to wash horses to put up for the evening. This is another favorite part of my job. The mares all have different personalities and such a sense of humor.

Thursday: At 6 a.m. I go to the barn with JB to do several palps and a lavage culture on “Flip ‘Em Bye’s” uterus. This is to understand why she has become dirty and not going into heat as easy as the rest. I complete the meds by myself today. Gail and I visit a place called Hopewell Bake Exchange.

Andrea Pompei is a stellar baker that has a exquisite selection and brand of breads. Each item is baked with such knowledge, and the smell of bread and sweetness hit me as soon as I open the door. We head home so that I can pack for the trip home tomorrow.

Friday: I’m on my way back home to Virginia, loving the time that I had with the Lane and Orem families in Kentucky.

Looking back, I enjoyed my time learning and growing. I am so very appreciative of the time that I got to spend soaking up all the knowledge. This was an experience filled with the moments of lessons and growth.

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