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Purim’s Dancer Set To Race; Interview with Mary Midkiff

Purim’s Dancer is set to race in the Las Cienegas Stakes on Saturday April 13, 2013. The $100,000 G.III Las Cienegas Stakes is for fillies and mares four-years-old and up and is run on 6 ½ furlongs. Purim’s Dancer will break from post position #1 with jockey Tyler Baze on the mount. Post time for the 8th race at Santa Anita Park is at 4:07 PM PDT.

The most exciting aspect of Purim’s Dancer career is learning how far this filly has come despite weakness and depression. Lady and The Track sat down with trainer/therapist Mary Midkiff to learn more about Purim’s Dancer and what it took to achieve success with this “quiet and sweet” filly. Mary Midkiff’s well-known holistic healing techniques and big heart are evident reasons for Purim’s Dancer’s accomplishments!

Mary Midkiff trained Purim's Dancer with a holistic and loving approach complete with organic feed.

Mary Midkiff trained Purim’s Dancer with a holistic and loving approach complete with organic feed. Rider Eric Orantes was said to be “amazing” while training Purim’s Dancer.

About Mary Midkiff:
Trixie: Please tell us how you began your career with horse.
Mary Midkiff: Would you believe I was born to be a horse? The first line of my book “She Flies Without Wings: How Horses Touch a Woman’s Soul” is “At six I was a horse.” I’ve had horses in my blood for a lifetime, am passionate about them and when I’m with them I feel at home. I always knew I had to create a career in some way around the horse whether directly or indirectly.

Trixie: What is your favorite daily routine with the horses?
Mary Midkiff: I love bonding and grooming. The first thing I always do is put my aromatherapy oil blend around their nostrils and massage their muzzle. This is a way to immediately bond with a horse and they relax and enjoy their time with you. Then I love cleaning them up, talking to them and having them sparkle when I am done. I feel good and they do too.

Trixie: What is the most challenging part of you job?
Mary Midkiff: Keeping enough horses going to make a living at it. There is an ebb and flow that comes with training and rehabilitation. When horses reach a certain point in their healing or training they move on to the next step which usually means going home or into full show or race training away from me. Then I have to replace the ones that leave and find more horses which can take time. The ideal would be to have enough of your own horses to make this go even when outside horses are not available.

Trixie: Can you tell us what your website is all about?
Mary Midkiff: It is about approaching the horse from the female perspective. There was, in 1991 when I first started W&H, a void of information, techniques and resources specific to the female equestrian athlete. In all other sports there are female specific equipment, training techniques and guidance to make sure she maximizes her effort. Whether it be saddle fit, biomechanics of the female athlete, exercises or focus on our communication with horses without words, women and girls are predominant in horses in the U.S. and need information that will work for them. Today over 85% of all horse participants in the non-racing horse world are girls and women. It’s even higher when you look at the percentage of girls involved. In racing, there are many females that work as grooms and exercise riders, owners and breeders but only a few who are full time trainers, jockeys or decision makers in the board rooms. Overall there is about 33% female participation in racing. But it is changing and growing with time and generations.

Trixie: What advice would you give a beginner at the track?
Mary Midkiff: Go to the track and use your senses first. Look around, what do you see, hear? Smell? Soak it up and get a feel for the racing community and their routines. Do not be overwhelmed by the “language” of horse racing. Over time you will learn and become comfortable, just like learning a foreign language, with the lingo, the data and past performance lines, how the horses are trained, the beauty of the horse as an athlete and excitement of seeing a horse run at top speed! Wow! It is fun and entertaining. Let it come to you in any way you like and remember there is no stupid question. Ask away…that’s how you learn.

About Purim’s Dancer:
Trixie: How would you describe the personality traits of Purim’s Dancer?
Mary Midkiff: Quiet, thoughtful, unflappable and sensible.  Purim’s Dancer is a quiet and sweet filly.  I’m sure she would appreciate your support in rooting for her this weekend and in races to come. I call her “Zip”. So GO ZIP!!!

Purim's DancerTrixie: Purim’s Dancer is expected to race again on April 13th. She has placed first in her last two career starts. Do you think she’ll win again this weekend?
Mary Midkiff: She has shown she is up to the task of a grade 3 race and her trainer says she can really run. Whether she is up to defeating the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Mizdirection we don’t know. If she is competitive I will be really happy. If she wins I will be over the moon!!!

Trixie: Can you tell us a little bit about the owners of Purim’s Dancer?
Mary Midkiff: Purim’s Dancer is a very lucky horse. She is owned by Corey Johnsen, Doug Donnelly, Lenny Kohn and Gene McLean. Corey is the managing partner and a good friend. He advised that they send her to me to bring her along with plenty of time and the care she needed to become a healthy strong athlete. They have monitored her throughout her training to make sure she is happy and sound and moving forward with the right people that will give her encouragement and a positive environment. I have nothing to say to them other than Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Trixie: Where is Purim’s Dancer stabled?
Mary Midkiff: She is stabled with Tom Proctor at Betfair Hollywood Park in Los Angeles. And it looks like she will be staying there as she is doing so well at the California tracks.

Trixie: What is your fondest memory of training Purim’s Dancer when she was younger?
Mary Midkiff: Her courage was evident early on. Even though she was uncomfortable and uncoordinated behind I would take her on long walks around the fields up and down hills to strengthen her back end muscles. Sometimes she would get excited and rear up and fall over. I would talk to her about it and she would shake it off and walk on with me. She did not let these signs of weakness dissuade her. Once we got her going under saddle and jogging on the track she became even more confident and signs of an outstanding athlete began to show. Her coat blossomed with dapples and she began to prance. I knew she was on her way.

Trixie: Please tell us about the struggles you endured with Purim’s Dancer and how you addressed them holistically?
Mary Midkiff: When she first came to me there was no spirit, her life force (her Chi) was undetectable. When I see a horse with a strong life force I know they will make it in life. I always talk to my horses a lot and they listen and get it. Don’t be fooled they do understand you! So my coaching pep talks began. I combine my spirit support with cleansing the intestinal tract and giving her high quality organic and/or clean feed. I also gave her a loaf of bread sized deep-mined mineral salt rock, organic win treats, Epsom and iodized salt, and vitamin and mineral supplements. She was easy to handle because she was so weak and depressed. I do lots of energy work with my horses using dowsing rods, laser lights, magnets, and my hands to balance the energy throughout their bodies. I also used a holistic chiropractor and kinesiologist with her to align her body and muscle use. The real struggles once she was healthy was getting her to use herself as an athlete. She knows how but I had to convince her to go beyond protecting herself and trust she would be okay.

Lady and The Track would like to wish Trainer Thomas Proctor, owners Corey Johnsen, Doug Donnelly, Lenny Kohn and Gene McLean, jockey Tyler Baze, the talented Mary Midkiff, and the beautiful Purim’s Dancer the best of luck in the Las Cienegas Stakes on Saturday April 13, 2013 at Santa Anita Park. Good Luck! Safe Run!

To learn more about Mary Midkiff, please visit You’ll find book, saddles for women, and more information on holistic care for horses!

Purim's Dancer will break from post position #1 in the Las Cienegas Stakes on Saturday April 13, 2013 at Santa Anita Park.

Purim’s Dancer will break from PP#1 in the Las Cienegas Stakes on Saturday April 13, 2013 at Santa Anita Park.

Lady and The Track would like to thank Mary Midkiff in taking the time to make this loving interview possible. ~Trixie