A Toast to 2011 from The Mane Point

A Toast to 2011 from The Mane Point


Wisconsin’s Winter Is on the Way

Wisconsin’s Winter Is on the Way

Brr! The mercury is falling. Gloppy rain clouds are hovering, threatening to turn frosty soon. Old Man Winter is making his way to Wisconsin.

What will the 2010-2011 winter season look like for horseback riders in Wisconsin and neighboring areas?

Photo copyrighted by 
Linda Ann Nickerson - Nickers and Ink

La Nina beats El Nino, bringing a big chill with her.

The U.S. National Weather Service suggests that the coming winter will likely bring colder than usual temperatures in Wisconsin and the surrounding region this year.

The colder change is attributed to the change in climatic phenomena, which occurs every two to five years. At this time, El Nino is out, along with milder weather, and La Nina is in, accompanied by harsher conditions.

What will the weather shift mean for Wisconsin equestrians and other outdoorsmen?

The 2010-2011 winter is likely to be chillier than winters in recent years, perhaps bringing more snow, ice and sleet than usual.

The 2010 Farmer’s Almanac projects the first snowstorm to hit Wisconsin early, perhaps as soon as the first weeks of November.

As a result, Wisconsin equestrians will have to bundle up before saddling up in the coming months. Perhaps it’s time to unpack those winter horse blankets and prepare for the advent of Old Man Winter in the Badger State.
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10 Fascinating Facts from the 2010 Breeders’ Cup

10 Fascinating Facts from the 2010 Breeders’ Cup

A week ago, I was scaling the stairs (several times) at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, covering the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships for an online news source.

Now that the stories are filed and the suitcase is unpacked, I am pondering the trip and reviewing the photographs and the personal insights I gained by being on-site for the highlight of the year’s Thoroughbred racing season.

Here are 10 fascinating facts I found this year, during the Breeders’ Cup trip.

These uncanny secrets are listed in no particular order, just for fun.

  1. Don’t speed in Indiana. (Don’t ask.)
  2. Zenyatta, the queen, wears an 82” blanket. (My extremely buxom Warmblood broodmare wore the same size.) Zenyatta also requires a special saddle, I’m told.
  3. Zenyatta (below - left) will be a super mom. This marvelous mare, with her uncanny ability to skip into warp speed on the home stretch, actually adores children. I watched her nuzzle a special little girl in a wheelchair, who broke into a giant grin. What a moment.
  4. Astoundingly, after nearly 30 years’ experience in professional journalism, I discovered I can still be flustered by a source. And, nope, I’m not telling who it was, although he will probably be honored as Trainer of the Year.
  5. I still cry to see a two-year-old filly or colt put down at the track. Rough Sailing was aptly named. (Of course, losing my own mare five months ago left a raw nerve.)
  6. Uncle Mo has a ‘fro, and Life At Ten will race again.
  7. Even 5’3” can feel tall sometimes.
  8. Don’t buy a brand-new camera the night before going on-location for a major event. ‘Nuff said.
  9. The secret word, which may be uttered by reporters to remove furrows from famous trainers’ brows on race day, is “tomorrow.” (Just ask Bob Baffert or Steve Asmussen.)
  10. Perhaps just once, a Midwestern basketball coach can become a cowboy extraordinaire, a racing Hall of Famer and a sincerely nice guy.
Photos copyrighted by Linda Ann Nickerson - Nickers and Ink.

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Badger State Barnfolk: Watch Out for Bats!

Badger State Barnfolk: Watch Out for Bats!

Do you have bats in your belfry? How about in your barn?

In Wisconsin, bat experts are keeping count of the nocturnal creatures that may nest in agricultural structures. In fact, the Wisconsin Bat Program has asked equestrian facility managers and other rural property owners to be on the lookout for bats in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Bat Program is actually conducting a statewide bat inventory.  The study focuses on the locations and sizes of bat colonies, aiming at preventing the proliferation of white-nose disease (a fungal infection that is fatal among bats).

An online reporting form is available (from the Wisconsin Bat Program) for noting the presence of bats in a barn or another structure.

Stables, equestrian facilities, horse sheds and other rural shelters are popular bat domains.

Bats are nocturnal creatures, and they often seek sheltered spots for roosting. Stables, barns and farm buildings frequently may contain bats, particularly as outdoor temperatures drop during the colder months of the year.

In the Badger State, bats have also been frequently spotted in caves, churches, covered bridges, mines, schools and other facilities.

These bat species may be found in Wisconsin:

  • Big brown bat (eptesicus fuscu)
  • Eastern pipistrelle (perimyotis subflavus)
  • Eastern red bat (lasiurus borealis)
  • Evening bar (nycticeius humeralis)
  • Hoary bat (lasiurus cinereus)
  • Indiana bat (myotis sodalist)
  • Little brown myotis (myotis lucifugus)
  • Northern long-eared myotis (myotis septentrionalis)
  • Silver-haired bat (lasionycteris noctivagans)

Although bats may be beneficial in rural ecosystems, as they consume enormous quantities of bothersome insects, bats may also transmit infections (such as rabies).

What should you do, if you find bats in your barn?

Equestrians, stable staff members and others who find bats on their properties are advised to contact the Wisconsin Bat Program (or the Department of Natural Resources) for removal of the creatures.

Sick or dead bats may still be dangerous. Anyone suffering from a bat bite or scratch will need to contact the local health department to report the incident, to have the bat examined for rabies and other infections and to seek medical treatment.

For more information, please contact the Wisconsin Bat Program by phone (608-266-5216) or by e-mail:

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Horse-Lover Holiday Gifts: Equine Recipe Book to Benefit Hippotherapy Center

Horse-Lover Holiday Gifts: Equine Recipe Book to Benefit Hippotherapy Center

Need a creative and useful holiday gift for your favorite horse lover? How about a horsey cookbook?

The Oregon Horse Association (of Oregon, Wisconsin) is offering an Equine Recipe Book for $10 per copy. Equine Recipe Book contents include instructions for:

  • Bran mashes and feeds
  • Campfire favorites (human food)
  • Equipment, leather and pasture care
  • Horse cookies, muffins and treats
  • Miscellaneous health and wellness
  • Shampoos, conditioners and show sheens
  • Skin conditions, liniments and poultices

Here’s the best news: 10 percent of the proceeds from the Oregon Horse Association Equine Recipe Book sales will go to the Three Gaits Therapeutic Horsemanship Center, in Stoughton, Wisconsin.

For more information, please contact Carrie Waters-Schmidt, of the Oregon Horse Association by e-mail:

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10 Things I Learned (or confirmed) at the 2010 Breeders' Cup

10 Things I Learned (or confirmed) at the 2010 Breeders' Cup

Having just returned from the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, held at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, I am unpacking my bags and considering the experience.

The two-day championships presented dichotomies of delight and disappointment, exhilaration and exhaustion, highs and lows, and much more.

Facing a birthday this week, I realize that I am not too old to learn something new every day.

Photo (at right) with 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic entry 
Musket Man 
(2010 Illinois Derby winner)
Photo copyrighted by Nickers and Ink

Here are the top ten things I learned, while attending the 2010 Breeders’ Cup.

  1. Pluck, 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, actually snores audibly.

  1. Goldikova, three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner (2008, 2009, and 2010) is untouchable – in quarantine and on the track

  1. Lookin’ At Lucky may actually prefer fingers to carrots.

  1. Jockey Calvin Borel will risk anything to save a friend from danger.

  1. Zenyatta jockey Mike Smith has a tender heart, and her trainer, John Shirreffs is the real deal.

  1. Retired Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero, Jr., is a class act.

  1. Trainer Todd Pletcher loves flowers; he collected three garlands at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup.
  1. Country music star Toby Keith loves Thoroughbreds, but not as much as Quarter Horses.

  1. Hall of Famer Earlie Fires rode my Thoroughbred once in a race.

  1. The city of Louisville, Kentucky, apparently has a (perhaps unwritten) beauty quotient for law enforcement officers.
Photo (at left) with retired Hall of fame jockey Angel Cordero, Jr.
Photo by D. Zeit - used by permission

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Did you miss Zenyatta on 60 Minutes?

Did you miss Zenyatta on 60 Minutes?

Profiled in W Magazine and Oprah’s O Magazine, Thoroughbred horse racing superstar is an A-list celebrity, particularly with the 2010 Breeders’ Cup coming up this weekend.

CBS’ 60 Minutes profiled Zenyatta on Halloween night (October 31st). For those who may have missed the broadcast (by trick or treating, attending Halloween parties or handing out candy), the segment appears below.

Here’s the video:


Want to read more about Zenyatta, the Thoroughbred Supermare?

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Sesame Street's Grover on Horseback?

Sesame Street's Grover on Horseback?

OK, maybe and maybe not.



Remember the Old Spice after-shave ads, which began airing on television during the 2010 Super Bowl football game and the Winter Olympic Games?

These ads featured a male model (Isaiah Mustafa) in the shower, on a yacht and even on a horse. (CTRL-click here to view the original Old Spice after shave advertisement in a new internet window.)

(CTRL-click here to read "Who's the Old Spice Hottie on the Horse?" in a new internet window.) 

Sesame Street's Grover has done it again, parodying popular culture. Who do you like better, the Old Spice model or the PBS TV Muppet?

Would you rather smell like a man ... or like a cuddly blue monster Muppet?

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