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CLICK IMAGE to watch the “painting racehorse” on the Today Show!

You may have seen our previous post about Metro Meteor, the “painting racehorse,” and how his exploration of his artistic side is helping to fund New Vocations Racehorse Adoption (CLICK HERE TO READ FULL STORY).

Metro Meteor made his primetime television debut this morning as he was profiled on the Today Show (CLICK HERE TO WATCH).

Metro’s paintings have become a sensation, with a waiting list of fans. Selling for up to $500, the paintings have brought in $20,000 in the four months since Metro started producing them.

“He’s our most popular artist,” gallery owner Peggy Rock told the Today Show’s Jill Rappaport. “I just shipped one of the smaller paintings to Japan. We probably shipped to at least 20 or 30 different states. There is a real contemporary flair to them.’’

Half of the proceeds from the paintings go toward Metro’s medical bills, and the other 50 percent go to New Vocations—a wonderful program that offers retiring racehorses a safe-haven, rehabilitation, and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes. The New Vocations focus is on adoption versus retirement, believing that each horse deserves to have an individual home and purpose. Close to 4,000 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds have been placed in qualified homes through New Vocations’ efforts since its inception, including 429 ex-racehorses that were placed in 2011. These horses have come from 18 different states and have been adopted by families throughout the country.

BETHTRNew Vocations Program Director Anna Ford expanded the organization’s reach when she wrote BEYOND THE TRACK: RETRAINING THE THOROUGHBRED FROM RACEHORSE TO RIDING HORSE, alongside cowriter Amber Heintzberger. Their marvelous book provides the most thorough, clear, step-by-step system for successfully transitioning ex-racehorses to new careers, providing thousands of horses (and their lucky owners) the opportunity to enjoy each other in both recreation and sport. In addition, a portion of the proceeds of the sale of each book goes to support the New Vocations program.

“Metro Meteor has done more for retired racehorses than any ambassador,’’ Ron Krajewski, his owner and “artist’s assistant,” says. “He is spreading the message that you just don’t discard them when their racing careers are over. They can all do something.”

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New Vocations Racehorse Adoption has a new "champion"! Metro Meteor, the Painting Racehorse, will be on the TODAY SHOW April 4, 2013. Tune in and check it out!

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption has a new “champion”! Metro Meteor, the Painting Racehorse, will be on the TODAY SHOW April 9, 2013. Tune in and check it out!

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption was founded in 1992 to offer retiring racehorses a safe-haven, rehabilitation, and continued education through placement in experienced, caring homes.  The New Vocations focus is on adoption versus retirement, believing that each horse deserves to have an individual home and purpose. Close to 4,000 retired Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds have been placed in qualified homes through New Vocations’ efforts since its inception, including 429 ex-racehorses that were placed in 2011. These horses have come from 18 different states and have been adopted by families throughout the country.

New Vocations Program Director Anna Ford expanded the organization’s reach when she wrote BEYOND THE TRACK: RETRAINING THE THOROUGHBRED FROM RACEHORSE TO RIDING HORSE, alongside cowriter Amber Heintzberger. Their marvelous book provides the most thorough, clear, step-by-step system for successfully transitioning ex-racehorses to new careers, providing thousands of horses (and their lucky owners) the opportunity to enjoy each other in both recreation and sport. In addition, a portion of the proceeds of the sale of each book goes to support the New Vocations program.

Now New Vocations has a rising star in the art world on its side: Metro Meteor, a contemporary artist who, while you may not have heard of him yet, is about to break into the big time when he appears on the TODAY SHOW, April 9, 2013.

Although he has only recently been recognized for his artistic eye, there is already a waiting list for Metro Meteor’s abstract paintings…and 50% of the proceeds from all sales go directly to New Vocations! Why does this emerging artist choose to champion the cause of racehorse adoption? Well, because (of course) he started his life on the track (did I forget to mention he’s a HORSE?)

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Metro won his first race and placed in his first stakes race as a two-year-old. Running turf races out of Saratoga and Belmont, Metro won eight races and $300,000 in purse money. But he was prone to bone chips in his knees and underwent two surgeries during his racing career before his knee issues led him to only racing in low-level claiming races. Luckily, the manager of the racing partnership that owned him retired the horse and put out a call for a good home—and Ron and Wendy Krajewski took him, hoping for a trail horse.

It wasn’t long, even with only light work, before Metro’s veterinary prognosis indicated he needed to be retired completely from work. Ron’s bond with the horse inspired him to find other ways they could spend time together, including groundwork and…painting! Ron is a painter by trade, and using clicker training concepts, he taught Metro to target and “swipe” a canvas with a brush. Ron chooses the colors, but the layering, texture, and form is all Metro.

On a whim Ron offered a few of Metro’s pieces for sale through a local gallery, and they were a hit. He decided to continue marketing Metro’s work with half of the proceeds going toward paying his ex-racehorses expenses and veterinary bills, and the other half donated to help fund New Vocations and their mission to find other “Metros” new careers…and unexpected ways to share time and space with humans.

When Ron contacted New Vocations to explain what he wanted to do, Executive Director Dot Morgan was amazed and excited. “It was an interesting email that became downright inspiring!” she says. “Ron described his adopted Thoroughbred Metro Meteor, how he’d taught him to paint, and that he wanted to commit part of the proceeds to New Vocations. But then he went on to say that six paintings had sold the first week and he was sending 50% of those sales to New Vocations! In addition, an article about Metro’s mission had appeared in the Gettysburg Times and just been picked up by the Associated Press!

“He included a link to a video of Metro painting in his stable studio,” Dot continues. “I watched the video and was astounded! This was potentially one of the greatest awareness building stories I’d ever seen. It was obvious that Metro’s ability to help horses beyond the track would far exceed his numerous accolades at the track. Here was the high profile spokesman that racehorses needed, and it was one of their own!”

You can watch Metro and Ron painting here:

And don’t forget to tune in and watch Metro Meteor’s story on the TODAY SHOW, April 9, 2013.

BETHTRBEYOND THE TRACK, a book that was called “breakthrough racehorse literature” by Liz Harris of Thoroughbred Charities of America, is available from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

Amber Heintzberger, cowriter of BEYOND THE TRACK, has a new book coming out—again featuring off-the-track Thoroughbreds! You can preorder MODERN EVENTING WITH PHILLIP DUTTON by CLICKING HERE.

And, our new Brookmeade Young Riders fiction series follows the adventures of Sarah Wagner and her off-the-track racehorse Crown Prince. You can order the first two books in the series Practical Horseman called appealing “not only to young beginner riders but also to older and more seasoned horse lovers” by CLICKING HERE.

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Trafalgar Square Books caught up with Linda Snow McLoon, author of an all-new fiction series for young horse lovers: THE BROOKMEADE YOUNG RIDERS SERIES. Crown Prince and its follow-up, Crown Prince Challenged, star an off-the-track Thoroughbred named Crown Prince and a group of young riders who are best friends, jealous rivals, and aspiring competitors at Brookmeade Farm. We asked Linda about the source of her inspiration, her own experience with ex-racehorses, and to share some of the books she loved to read as a little girl.

CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED are available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

TSB: Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for Crown Prince and Crown Prince Challenged?

LSM: As a girl, I wanted a horse more than anything, and this led me to write the story of a girl who struggled to have a horse of her own. When I sat down at the keyboard, the Crown Prince Ouija took over, leading me to the adventures of Sarah Wagner and Crown Prince.

TSB: Have you always written fiction geared toward young adults? What precipitated this foray into writing for this age group?

LSM: I choose to write stories for all those young adults who dearly love horses.

TSB: Did you have a “Crown Prince” in your life? Can you tell us about the first horse that captured your heart?

LSM: There’s always something special about one’s first horse, and for me, that was a gray Saddlebred named Clipper that I took care of and rode when he wasn’t being used in a summer camp riding program. I’ll always remember the night I went for a moonlight ride without telling my parents and ended up with a posse out searching for me.

Linda Snow McLoon and the OTTB Gamekeeper.

TSB: Crown Prince is an off-the-track Thoroughbred—have you worked with OTTBs and if so, how did you come to make retired racehorses part of your horse life?

LSM: I’ve always loved the athleticism and sensitivity of Thoroughbred horses, and over the years, I became foster mom for many OTTBs that were beginning a new career as sport horses after racing. It always gave me a great deal of pleasure to help them make the transition.

TSB: What is it that you think readers will most identify with in terms of Sarah’s life and experiences with Crown Prince and the Young Riders?

LSM: Readers will immediately sense the deep bond between Sarah and Crown Prince. Any reader who has longed for a horse of her own will understand Sarah’s love for Crown Prince and cheer as she fights to make him her own.

TSB: What was your favorite horse book as a little girl? As a teenager?

LSM: From the time I began reading horse books, I was a huge fan of Walter Farley and his Black Stallion books. I also enjoyed Marguerite Henry’s books with their wonderful illustrations by Wesley Dennis, especially King of the Wind and Album of Horses.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

LSM: It would be a Thoroughbred, and I never tire of reading books by the master, Walter Farley. When I was in high school, I and a friend visited him at his family’s beach house in Venice, Florida. He was a gracious host.

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

LSM: Plenty of carrots – just in case!

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

LSM: Being close to a horse and watching his eyes soften and wrinkle in the corners as I stroke and talk softly to him.

Linda competing Bayberry cross-country.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

LSM: My parents were visiting friends who had horses. My sister and I got to sit on them as they were led around a riding ring.

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

LSM: A horse I was riding bucked when it was stung by a bee. I remember someone saying that I looked very graceful as I floated to earth.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

LSM: Like the Brookmeade Young Riders Series characters Sarah and Kayla, the ability to talk to each other about anything and everything.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

LSM: I love horses that have a quality I’ll call “class,” which gives them high intelligence along with an easy-going disposition. Crown Prince is well-endowed with class!

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback or with a horse that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

LSM: To gallop down a hard-packed beach close to the white-capped surf with gulls swooping down – as Sarah does with Crown Prince in the second book in the series.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

LSM: Sitting around the table with family and good friends, regardless of what’s on the menu.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

LSM: To ride horseback in a place with a significant historical connection, such as when I rode down England’s Wenlock Edge. Legend has it that a Royalist officer in the English Civil War, when pursued by Cromwell’s army, galloped his horse down the Wenlock Edge and lived to tell about it.

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

LSM: Abraham Lincoln

TSB: What is your motto?

LSM: Moderation in all things.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER CROWN PRINCE AND CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED NOW

And check out cover artist Jennifer Brandon’s equestrian and canine paintings and portraits!

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Winston Churchill said, “There’s nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse.”

Fact of the matter is, this could count for double in the world of preteens and teenagers. There’s nothing quite like horse-craziness to instill good work ethic, good sportsmanship, and a healthy body and mind…caring for, riding, and competing horses requires tired muscles, lots of time outdoors, and a willingness to be instructed, learn from mistakes, and put the well-being of another creature first.

There is no expiration date on such valuable lessons. Skills learned in the barn and on the back of a horse are as important today as they were fifty years ago.

That is why we at Trafalgar Square Books are so excited about the new BROOKMEADE YOUNG RIDERS SERIES by Linda Snow McLoon. There’s a timelessness to the stories that speaks to all that young riders dream of, plus beautiful and challenging horses to ride, boys to like, coaches to impress, and jealous enemies to rise above.

“I really enjoyed the characters, the story line, and the writing, and more than anything else, the horsemanship that is woven into Crown Prince and Crown Prince Challenged,” says Susan Harris, Centered Riding Senior Instructor, international clinician, and author of the US Pony Club Manuals of Horsemanship; Horse Gaits, Balance and Movement; Anatomy in Motion DVDs; and Grooming to Win. “I found the characters (especially Sarah Wagner), the horses, and the problems they face, believable and interesting, and the setting (a good boarding and teaching barn) authentic in today’s horse world, right down to the Jack Russell terriers. The reader will learn a lot about horses, good riding and horsemanship through these novels, but it’s part of the story, not a ‘lesson.’ I enjoyed the first book so much that I went right on to the second, and now I’m hoping the author is working on the next one! I highly recommend these books!”

Are you ready to meet the cast of characters in the BROOKMEADE YOUNG RIDERS SERIES? We’ll let the author, Linda Snow McLoon, introduce you:

Brookmeade Farm riders are proud to have former Olympic rider, Jack O’Brien, head up the farm’s lesson program, and his students recognize that even though he makes them work hard, his instruction produces amazing results. The people who ride in his most advanced class, the Young Riders class, include:

Sarah Wagner is a slim girl with dark hair and long-lashed dark eyes who, in her lessons at Brookmeade Farm, has shown she’s a strong natural rider. Being somewhat shy and lacking in self-confidence, Sarah often depends on her best friend, Kayla Romano, to speak up for her. Sarah’s family can’t provide her with a horse of her own, but she can still dream. While her classmates all have their own horses, Sarah rides school horses in her lessons.

Kayla Romano has a chestnut Quarter Horse, Fanfare, whose red coat closely matches Kayla’s own hair color. Kayla isn’t hopeful she can attract a boyfriend until she sheds a few pounds, which she thinks would also improve her riding. Kayla and her mare trailer to Brookmeade for weekly lessons in the advanced Young Riders class and compete at local horse shows.

Paige Romano is a knock-out, with deep violet eyes, a clear complexion, and gorgeous blond hair. Her ever-present sense of humor makes her popular both at school and at Brookmeade Farm, where she rides her dappled gray Thoroughbred, Quarry, in the Young Riders class. Being competitive in nature, Paige is determined to train Quarry to be a successful event horse.

Tim Dixon, who dates Paige and also rides in the Young Riders class, found his horse, Rhodes Scholar, in Canada. Tim is a good-looking guy, tall, with intelligent brown eyes, and any number of girls at the farm and at school would like to trade places with Paige. Tim works hard to prepare his bay gelding to compete at events and horse shows.

Rounding out the Young Riders class is Rita Snyder, the girl who has everything. That includes her splendid black Dutch Warmblood, Chancellor, and a number of other horses that reside on her wealthy father’s estate. With long dark hair and intense green eyes, Rita is an excellent rider who brings out Chancellor’s best in both dressage and jumping – and Rita doesn’t let anyone forget it! She expects her horse to outshine all others, and she feels threatened when there’s a chance he won’t be clearly superior.

Get ready to follow along with the Young Riders as they experience all kinds of adventures in CROWN PRINCE and CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED, now available for preorder at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

And be sure to check out author Linda Snow McLoon’s website http://www.lindasnowmcloon.com.

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER CROWN PRINCE

CLICK HERE TO PREORDER CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED

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Barry Irwin's vocal criticism of trends in US racehorse training reminds us of what we need to do to ease a transition to a drug-free life when Thoroughbreds retire.

It was with keen interest I scanned the piece in the New York Times yesterday on Team Valor International chief Barry Irwin’s blunt criticism of US Thoroughbred trainers. “At the heart of Irwin’s broad swipe at trainers,” writes Joe Drape, “was the use of medication — drugs given to keep horses running, to make them run faster, to make them run through pain or infirmity.”

Legislation has only just been introduced to limit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of flat racing, and the United States is admittedly behind the times when it comes to control of these substances. “Major players in the industry have acknowledged that medication rules in the United States are out of step with Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, where horse racing thrives,” says Draper, “and that it is time for a significant overhaul.”

The issue first came to my attention when I worked on our TSB book for transitioning and retraining “retired” Thoroughbreds—BEYOND THE TRACK by Anna Morgan Ford (Program Director for New Vocations Racehorse Adoption) with equine journalist and photographer Amber Heintzberger. In the chapter on common lameness and health issues seen in OTTBs, Ford and Heintzberger included a section on the aftereffects of anabolic steroids, as they can remain in a horse’s system for months even after administration has ceased, and negative side effects can last a year or even longer. It is of the utmost importance that those adopting retired racehorses or providing foster homes prior to finding them permanent living situations be aware of this issue and manage the OTTB carefully until enough time has passed for the horse to no longer feel the steroids’ effects.

According to Ford, there are several things you can do to ease an ex-racehorse’s transition to a life “off” steroids:

1  Quickly, but strategically, incorporate regular turnout in the horse’s life (a mild sedative may be necessary for the first few sessions), and if possible, introduce a confident, friendly same-sex turnout companion that remains the same for several months.

2  Handle any horse coming off steroids as you would a stallion—be extremely conscious of basic safety measures when grooming, handling, and working around him/her in the stall, and use a chain over the nose when leading.

3  Be sure to adjust the horse’s diet so he/she is consuming enough calories to gain weight as he/she loses the extra muscling associated with steroid use.

4  Above all, be patient and give the horse lots of time to withdraw from the drugs gently.

BEYOND THE TRACK, the book Liz Harris—former Executive Director of Thoroughbred Charities of America and current Vice President and Executive Director of Churchill Downs Incorporated—called “breakthrough racehorse literature” and “the ultimate in training manuals for anyone thinking about adopting an ex-racehorse,” is available at the TSB bookstore, where shipping in the United States is always FREE.

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