Lady Baba – a star is born!

Introducing Lady Baba – the sleeper star of Luck! 


When the sneak preview of the eagerly awaited HBO horse-racing drama Luck airs this sunday, (11th December) one of the stars of the series will be blissfully unaware of the hype and the hoopla. Lady Baba has now re-located to a sumptuous horse farm in Kentucky, although that’s not to say her glory days are over; she’s definitely living up to her namesake and is quite the little diva, and has everyone who visits her, or knows her at her barn, completely wrapped around her tiny little hoof!
Joan Ciampi, who is Technical Advisor for Luck, spoke to me about how Lady Baba got the part, that she was a “natural”, and how she began to steal scenes, and hearts, on the set in California.
Settling in nicely at her new home, despite the chilly temperatures that she’s not used to having come from Hollywood, Joan told me she thinks Lady Baba is probably about five years old, and that you judge a goat’s age by the length of their beard – really!  Also, I learnt that goats, like cows, have four stomachs and have no teeth on their upper gums, just the lower ones. 
 She also shared that despite no previous experience whatsoever, Joan loved training Lady Baba for all her crucial scenes; goats are food-motivated she learned, and Lady Baba was a quick learner, and of course, extremely talented! When filming was over, Joan couldn’t bear to leave her behind, “I called TexSutton, and I put Lady Baba in my rental car, and we drove off to the airport. Lady Baba had a stall on the plane with Awesome Gem, and all these other million dollar horses. She walked up the ramp onto the plane on her little leash and the guys couldn’t believe it! We landed in Louisville, and then we jumped on a Sallee van which dropped us off at Keeneland, and a friend of mine picked us up there.” 
Lady Baba travels very well in cars, although Joan does report some surprised reactions from passers-by, and she’s also very well-behaved indoors.
Photos used with kind permission of Joan Ciampi
 Lady Baba had her own private blessing from a priest after Joan got the day wrong recently, and the charm around her neck is a St Francis of Assisi that Joan brought her back from Italy! Joan freely admits that’s she’s crazy about Lady Baba, but I’d venture to say it’s mutual. 
Joan hasn’t ruled out letting Lady Baba pursue her acting career, perhaps making some appearances, but told me any money that she earned would be donated to a cause just as close to Joan’s heart – The Kentucky Equine Humane Center, and I asked her to tell me a little more about it.
“It’s almost like a pound for horses. It’s a little bit different from the other organisations because the Humane Center takes all breeds – ponies, minis, donkeys, quarter horses…it’s truly a pound of all equines.”
Conceived as an alternative for some of the thousands of unwanted horses that end up in bad  situations, the Kentucky Equine Humane Center can only take a limited number at any one time, but is active in moving them on, working with other organisations to find homes for them; in the last couple of years Joan estimates the Center has saved at least 700 horses. 
“We follow up every six months, they have vet checks, we know where they are, we brand them in case they end up in a bad place. Our whole idea is every horse has an owner, every owner has a responsibility – that’s it.”
The Kentucky Equine Humane Center were thrilled to recently be the recipients of the proceeds from the Gala at the Alltech National Horse Show, held for the first time this autumn at the Kentucky Horse Park, and Joan shared that Mrs Lyons is a great supporter of the Center.
A not-for-profit with a staff of two and a half (!), another unique thing about the Center is it’s surrender stall at each racetrack in Kentucky, where for whatever reason, no questions asked, a horse can be left once it’s papers are turned in to the racing office, and the Center will find a way to bring it home. 
“Sadly we can only take horses from Kentucky, we just can’t afford to open it up, they would drop from the skies and we don’t have the money to do it.  Just because of where we are in Lexington, Kentucky the majority of the horses we get are thoroughbreds, but we do get all sorts. It’s a good place, a happy place in the sense where they have a chance, they have a safe shelter. It’s not a retirement home, though – like the pound, they have to move.  We do euthanise, but we don’t make that decision, we work with the two large vet practices, Rood and Riddle, and Hagyards.  When the horses come in they’re assessed, the vets go over them and there’s a quality of life issue at stake, and a lot of them are compromised. If their situation is really chronic then we humanely euthanise them, and that’s up to the vets, and the horses never suffer, it’s done incredibly well.  Better that than them being out in a field, if they even make it out to a field and starve in these horrible winters, and particularly with the economy with the way it is, it’s a really precarious situation right now, a lot of these horses are just not going to make it, we do the right thing.”
I hope that Lady Baba is booked solid for many years if she’ll be funding the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, and I can’t imagine for a moment why she wouldn’t be! If you’d like to donate you can do so here. I’d like to thank Joan, and of course Lady Baba for their time, it was an absolute pleasure, and please don’t forget to tune in on Sunday night to watch Luck.  
Lady Baba will actually feature in the New Year’s episodes, but it still looks pretty good regardless.  Lady Baba does have a scene with two time Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman, and of course, that all important closing scene in the seaon finale with Nick Nolte!   Go Lady Baba, Go baby Go, and of course, Go Eventing! 
(Photo of Lady Baba with Dustin Hoffman used with kind permission of Joan Ciampi)
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