MYROLE RTM1- Featured GrASS on 25 Jan 2011, 330pm

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Dear Friends,

We here at GrASS need your help to help us gather the below mentioned items to help us raise funds for our shelter and other independent pet rescuers.

The items are:

Scrap Paper
Old Newspapers
Old Magazines
Unwanted uncooked/raw Acidic Fruits ( Oranges, pineapples, lime,lemons)
Unwanted uncooked/raw fruits
Unwanted uncooked/raw Vegetables
Brown Sugar
Rice Bran
Red Earth
Glass Jars/Plastic containers with lids
Cardboard boxes (any other cardboard materials)
Aluminium Cans
Expired Food Products

For more ways on how or what items you can donate to help please visit HERE

Monday, August 17, 2009

Article: On the right track

Sunday August 16, 2009


A quiet girl galloped into the gruelling world of horse racing with remarkable grit and results.

A HORSE galloping at top speed around the racetrack is not a force to be reckoned with. Professional horse riders who race – otherwise known as jockeys – have an ambulance follow them around the track in case of an emergency. It is the only job in the world where an ambulance trails you at work.

A rough tumble on the tracks can spell disaster – paralysis, bone fractures, trampling and concussion. The average jockey gets sidelined by injuries three times a year, and one in about a thousand incidents result in death.

Historically, professional horse racing was left to the men; a refined lady had no business dashing around the racetrack at neck-breaking speeds and they were barred from doing so. Imagine, then, the rude shock when Bill Smith, a successful Australian jockey who was famous for wearing his racing silks under his street clothes and refusing to change in front of the other jockeys, was discovered to be a woman after his death in 1975. He, or rather she, was 88 years old.

Linde Allendorf, who rode against Smith for 10 years, says: "We (the jockeys) all wanted to know if Bill Smith was a woman, as he spoke so softly. We were going to strip him one day in the jockeys' room, but a stripe (steward) called Walter Carbery walked in and told us to stop."

Kayla Stra belongs to a rare breed of female jockeys. Five hundred wins and seven years later, the Aussie has moved on to greener pastures in the United States. – Photos courtesy of Animal Planet

The ban on women racing professionally was lifted only about three decades ago. While it remains a profession that is still very much dominated by men, there are several notable female players in the industry.

Kayla Stra, from Australia, is one such woman. Having left school at the tender age of 13, she took to working at stables to earn some money before getting her first horse that she trained for picnic races (amateur thoroughbred horse racing meetings). At 17, she started racing. Now, seven years later, the young woman has racked up more than 500 wins in her home country and has recently moved to California to tap into the jockey colony there.

The 24-year-old horse whisperer from Adelaide, South Australia, is also one of nine riders featured on Animal Planet's Jockeys which premiered on Malaysian television last Monday. The 12-episode docu-drama series chronicles the lives and careers of jockeys, while revealing the exhilarating and highly competitive world of horse racing.

Certainly, it isn't easy for a woman to strut her stuff in a man's world but Stra takes it all in her stride. "When I first got involved with horses, I didn't really think of standing out as a female in the industry. I just enjoyed being with the horses, the competition of the sport and being able to ride for a living.

"But in this industry, we female jockeys have to face hurdles where people are a bit reluctant to give you a try. Often, they think you aren't strong enough. They have faith in the guys, because they have proven themselves (over the years), but the women have to show that they are good enough to compete against them. We have got to kind of rough it out and say, 'I'm strong enough to be here' and concentrate on what you want and not let being female hold you back," she tells the Malaysian press over the phone from California recently.

Stra discloses that she was a rather shy and quiet kid who felt more at home in the company of animals than people. She developed a kinship with horses from her childhood days, and has always considered them beautiful creatures. Her love of horses, combined with the thrill of racing, was what inspired her to eventually become a jockey.

"I love the speed and adrenaline rush I get at races, and that's really how it all came together. I was not a very good communicator with people when I was young, and I thought working with animals would be easier. What I didn't realise then was that there are owners and trainers involved as well!" she laughs.

As a member of one of the most dangerous professions in the world, Stra has broken a couple of bones in her feet, torn tendons in her ankle, and had a couple of concussions – but the intrepid lady shrugs it all off as part of the package. And she considers herself lucky that she has had only three or four falls throughout her career.

"It's a dangerous profession because there's only an inch between being too close to the horse in front of or beside you, and that might disorientate your horse and unseat you from the saddle. Horses may also flip over in the gates because they are a bit nervous ... I've hit my head on the back of the gate and had concussions. Once I was in crutches for a week because of a broken foot, but that's probably the worst accident I've had.

"Wearing helmets and protective vests has been made mandatory, so it has become safer, but you can still have a simple fall and be killed or paralysed – or you can have a really ugly fall and come out of it just fine. You never really know what's going to happen," she reveals.

Being a jockey is not all fun and games, and there's plenty that goes on behind the scenes. The horses they ride on every day may weigh some 550kg, but jockeys face extreme pressure to maintain unusually low and specific weights – a maximum of 52kg for everyday racing, and a luxurious 57kg for the Derby, including riding gear. Though no height limits are prescribed, jockeys are typically short because of the weight restrictions imposed.

Since there are no set rules when it comes to shedding those pounds, many resort to dangerous means and eating disorders are common. Purging (known colloquially as "flipping" in the horse racing industry) is frequent enough for most racetracks to have "heaving bowls" installed. It is also normal for jockeys to spend hours in a hot box, or sauna, to "sweat off" more weight. Combined with diuretics, constant dehydration in an effort to keep their weight down can result in heart failure, and liver and kidney problems. Food restrictions, meanwhile, can cause malnutrition and consequently, weaker bones.

"Jockeys shows what we have to go through physically and mentally. You get to see the issues and stories behind the actual race day. Most people just see the horses racing that day; they don't realise how much goes on behind the scenes and what happens leading up to the race. There are a lot of good stories about things that might mean a lot to someone, and as for me being female, it does show the struggle that I've had to get through just to stay in the racing game," Stra says.

The first in her family to race professionally, she admits that winning races will be the highlight of any jockey's day, but what also keeps her going is the support she gets from people.

"People who support me want to see me do well and not give up. I get a lot of fan mail and letters, and people come up to me and say, 'You're doing fine, Kayla. You're doing really good.' It's really heart-warming and inspiring to see them believe in me so much. It's good to know that people look up to me – and that's what keeps me going."

And riding high.

'Jockeys' airs on Animal Planet (Astro Channel 556) every Monday at 11pm.

This article was taken from: The Star Online: Entertainment: Tv & Radio: News & Features 16 August 2009

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