Last Thursday morning the track was closed for maintenance, so there were no workouts. I saw Dan Hendricks (of Brother Derek fame) in the paddock with 2 others, but they seemed to be in a serious conversation that I didn’t want to interrupt. I walked around to trackside and watched the tractors harrow, then got back to the paddock, hoping the trainer was done with the conversation. By the time I got back around, the trainer was gone and so were the horses who’d been schooling.
As I wandered thinking about ways to salvage my morning, I saw a lady sitting under a tree with a clay sculpture. I walked up and overheard her telling the security guard that she did several sculptures for Breyer!
I mentioned Breyerfest and she said she was doing ComicCon instead this year. Turns out, the sculptor in Del Mar’s paddock was none other than Sue Sifton, a favorite among Breyer collectors for her renditions of Cigar, Smarty Jones and the new Rachel Alexandra model!
We chatted a little bit and she took me back to the barns to meet “her” trainer, Paddy Gallagher. Seems that Sue has been around the Del Mar barns studying the horses of several SoCal trainers, passed from one to the next as the older guys retired. Gallagher was busy despite there was no training on the main track, but he took a few minutes out to meet me and to discuss the condition of the surface.
After meeting Gallagher, I took Sue to see the new PEB mural in the clubhouse. She loved it! As we parted ways, she offered to show me around the horse country in San Diego. Tuesday, I took her up on it.
I had the pleasure of meeting Steffen Peters, Olympic dressage medalist and his horse Ravel, whom Sue had a clay sculpture of that she took so the rider could critique its likeness. Ravel is a handsome warmblood stallion, dark bay with a Harry Potter-esque lightning bolt on his forehead. In a few months he will ship to Lexington for the WEG!
Next she took me to Newmarket, a spiffy hunter/jumper stable owned by CeCe Durante-Bloum, daughter of Del Mar legend Jimmy Durante (in fact, the street address of the track is Jimmy Durante Boulevard). Most of the stalls were empty because the Del Mar horse show was on, but despite that there were still some very pretty ponies to see!
After playing fetch with a curious, overactive buckskin Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, we left Newmarket for yet another barn, this one a place I could afford on my horse budget. There were ancient school horses, chunky stock horses and some thoroughbreds in corrals at this barn. We stopped to do some pretty pony gazing: buckskin QH with golden tones and dark dapples on his shoulders; a big, big warmblood in bay tobiano pinto that looked like someone had dripped paint on his bay coat; and a true medicine hat paint in black with blue eyes. There were unusual black markings around his eyes that made him appear to have been decorated by tween girls with cosmetics. In the Breyer world, this would literally be called “eyeliner” but I doubt real horse folks are familiar with that term!
Swung by the horse show grounds and the polo fields, then took a drive to Santee for DTS Tack, a cool shop with a fine selection of new Breyers as well as vintage and special run consignments! It was really cool hearing the sculpting artist talk about the Breyer world behind the scenes, too. I saw a few very limited Breyers for the first time but they were far out of my price range!
We went back to the show grounds and wandered the barns, then went over to Mary’s Tack and Feed, *the* place in San Diego for horse equipment. They also had a great Breyer selection and I couldn’t help but pick up a Rachel Alexandra Breyer (though it is scandalous to do so in Zenyatta territory, the Breyer Z hasn’t been released yet. I may pick up the Z at Churchill just to make it fair, hehe).
Sue is an awesome sculptor and knowledgeable horsewoman. It was a treat to spend the day with her!