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This story is written as a journalist report. It is a story that doesn't really go anywhere or do anything as typical fiction goes, but I hope it is a fun read. It is intended to be introductory to my world, so you can grasp good insight on what I consider a fluffy to be. Some of it is canon, some of it is not. I picture fluffies to be more realistic, no magic, and generally good natured (although still quite dumb). Feel free to read into paragraphs, as many of them are written for clues on fluffy fact and behavior. Enjoy!
Fluffy Kiting

Journalist Report by Rebecca Stilton

Since Hasbio’s creation of their bio toys, Fluffies have made their way into daily life of every first-world society. Whether they are a common house-hold pet, being used for stress therapy, or being kicked around the streets on one’s way to work, fluffies have forged their place in this world. They have even started being used for disease prevention through genetic research for farmers, as the fluffy genetic make-up closely relates to pony, cattle, and swine (amongst others).

As fluffies became more popular, people started finding new ways to use them. Naturally, they found their way into competition and sports betting. Fluffy Racing, aka Kiting, or the act of leading a fluffy to victory in a foot race by pulling spaghetti in front of them, is one competitive area that developed quickly. It even caught the attention of every level of society. People have gone Kiting to strike it rich, lose everything, or just be entertained by the competitive spirit. The sport grew in popularity to rival even the most expensive horse races.

Just like any other animal competition, an art of breeding emerged. Fluffy breeding for Kiting has become just as lucrative as dog or horse racing. But breeding a fluffy is tricky, as there are many things that must be done for a Kite (a fluffy specifically bred and trained for Kite Racing) to emerge. There are many things to consider when breeding; muscle structure, stamina, size, and even their will are just a small portion of what is tested for a competitive racer. Because of this, only a few specialists around the world have mastered the art of breeding for competitive racing.

Today, we will be going over some of those techniques and requirements to create a Kite. We will meet with professional Kiters (Kiter being the owner, racer, or trainer involved in racing a Kite), and even show the in's and out's of how a Kiting facility is run. Join me as I follow the process from start to finish to give a good idea on what it takes to raise a competitive breed.

Driving up to a beautiful farm just outside of Westwood, Virginia, before the sun has even peaked, I reach the gates where a dark-toned man waits for me. He is our guide, fluffy expert, and world-renowned fluffy breeder “Carlos Garcia.” Carlos has contributed to over 500 champion fluffies and founded the first, and arguably greatest, breeding school, “El ENF’o.” Here, some of the most successful breeders and agents were trained to raise or compete fluffies.

Pulling into the farm, Carlos shakes my hand with obvious pride and escorts me to the nearest building where he has set up a demonstration.

Carlos: “Just like any competitive species, it starts with a good mother and a good father. Here we see our selection, freshly delivered yesterday and were prepped for check-up this morning.”

Carlos has taken me to his delivery bay where he obtains bi-weekly deliveries of specially selected fluffies that show promise for good offspring. But just making it here doesn’t guarantee a successful Kite. Sometimes, he rejects entire loads and sends them off to recoup lost money.

Carlos: “We generally receive 200 males and 200 females every 2 weeks. They come from around the world. I have a special team of spotters that scout out our ‘talent’ and send the fluffies here for inspection.”

He explains to me, a spotter is very much like a talent scout for any pro league sport. They go to events and shelters, check other competitive sports, and occasionally even scout wild ferals for fluffies that meet all the requirements of good stock (ferals not as rare as one would think). If a fluffy has an owner, the spotter then tries to make a deal for the fluffy, often paying as much as $500 for good stock. Otherwise, spotters capture the wild fluffies or adopt from shelters and ship them here for a final inspection.

We enter a large room with half a dozen tables full of secured fluffies. Currently 5 (usually 6) workers gather around the tables to inspect each fluffy delivery. On the closest table next to us lays a dark red stallion with a black mane and a bright yellow stallion with an auburn mane. Each fluffy’s tail has already been docked and the red stallion looks very ragged and scarred. His muzzle is wrapped to prevent talking and biting, many parts of his fluff have been removed, and he has been corked to prevent fecal expulsions. The yellow fluffy, also muzzled, is sitting tall and proud as commanded by his owner, sitting just off to the side. Very unusual behavior for a fluffy who has just gone through a loss of fluff and tail. The yellow fluffy is here only for comparison.

Carlos: “This one here (pointing to the red stallion) is from a competition in Sothern Australia. He was raised from a foal and came with all his paperwork of pedigree. He was used in gladiator competitions and must have seen quite a bit of battle. You can see by the scar in his left breast where he must have received a weapon wound or even a horn attack from his opponent. Most fluffies will lay down and admit defeat, often meeting a gruesome death upon giving up, however, he has proven himself to have a strong will to survive.”

At this point, Carlos explains that a strong will is important. Often sought out first, a will helps a fluffy push harder and want to be better than the rest. The expression ‘you have to want it’ definitely applies here. If a fluffy doesn’t want to be successful, it won’t be.

Carlos continues explaining about the physical demands each fluffy must meet:

Carlos: “Currently, only stallions are used in competition, however, I’ve found it important for both male and female fluffies to pass our tests equally. We will often keep good strong mares to breed our next generations, and colts that pass their tests will be sent for training and/or breeding. Any rejections will be sold off or processed in other ways.”

Carlos is referring to turning rejected fluffies into food for their kibble mix or sold to farms to turn qualifying fluffies into milk bags, test subjects, chemical processing (think similar to glue and horses), other animal feed, or a lucky few will be adopted by local families at a trained premium price. Unless chosen for adoption, the fluffies are shaved first so their fur can be sold separately before further processing.

Carlos: “In this business, any way to recoup losses are a must. It is an unfortunate thing sometimes, but this is the business, and it is expensive.”

Carlos moves onto the muscle structure of this fluffy. He rubs his hands over parts of the fluffy that have been waxed of hair from the previous night’s prep. They allow 24 hours of rest after prep to allow the fluffy to heal and settle down, as prep can be quite a stressful process. Carlos shows how the body fat on this fluffy is unusually low, and his muscles are well defined. This, of course, can be related back to the training it received to compete in battle.

However, muscle density isn’t everything. A specific structure is required to pass the test as many first generation fluffies weren’t cut out for competitions of any kind. They weren’t designed to be. As first gens mixed with 2nd and 3rd generation fluffies, muscle structure inheritance became another natural process of genetics.

Carlos: “We’ve studied the origins of our best fluffies and found most have a strong feral background before finding their way into human hands. You see, ferals have adapted to their surroundings, much like a pig will become significantly different if taken out of captivity. Feral fluffies can grow courser hair, a heightened sense of hearing and smell, hoof pads become thicker, and their metabolism becomes more robust.

If a domesticated fluffy goes feral, then the offspring of the first generation will often develop different muscle structures as long as they are raised in the wild for the first 3 weeks after birth, due to stress and use of being in the wild. This is also the result of mares selecting specific babies for feeding, giving only leftovers to the rest. Those that are fed well become stronger and more robust for the wild.

By the next generation of foals, they are full feral with a thicker muscle structure that handles physical stress much better. They are still the fragile creatures we know, but compared to domesticated breeds, ferals are a night-and-day comparison.”

Carlos runs his hands over the red fluffy's leg muscle and up to the spine to show more profound shoulder muscles. He compares them to the yellow domesticated fluffy secured immediately adjacent. First the shoulder muscles at the spine, then gesturing to the yellow fluffy’s head, as he explains further:

Carlos: “Unfortunately, ferals develop smaller brains than domesticated ones. We believe this is due to human stimulation and interaction with domestics. You can often see the results in smarty behavior. A domestic smarty will often think they are smart, but will eventually work with their owner to be happy in a sort of symbiotic relationship, as long as they are good and trained. But ferals will often think only of themselves even if you attempt to train one. Probably 60-70% of the time a feral smarty will selfishly make decisions, often leading themselves or their herd into bad situations. General interactions with them are negative and they are usually regarded as the worst kind of fluffy. Their ability to make a good plan or think past a single goal is almost never possible. All this considered, ferals are still proven to be a more reliable source unless compared to domesticated trained fluffies, which done properly can result in feral-like strength but domesticated intellect.”

Carlos moves on to the chest, where he pushes an apparently cold stethoscope against the bare skin of the red fluffy. He explains the heartbeat must be strong. There is no real science to this that he can explain, he simply says you have to train yourself to hear it.

Carlos: “A heartbeat can tell you many things about a fluffy. If he has a disease, infected by worms, heart murmurs, weakness, poor response to stress or attention, or even self-doubt. There is so much we can learn right here. It is difficult to say exactly what it is I look for when doing this test. It has taken me years to “hear” what it is I’m listening to. (He gestures with his hands as though reading my perplexed face) I’ll try to put it in words. I want to hear how hard it pumps. How fast. I need to make sure there are no stutters. No irregularities that could prevent oxygen from getting to the blood. Sometimes I have to startle them or settle them down to get what I need. It is a very important test. If there is any doubt, any at all, the fluffy is instantly rejected.”

Luckily, this red one has passed the first 2 tests. So we move onto the next step; the stamina test. This test also doubles as part of the “will” test as it determines if a fluffy wants to reach its given goal.

As Carlos explains, he weighs the fluffy and checks its BMI. He then takes the fluffy over to a treadmill where the fluffy is given a cup of specially formulated kibble. Once it is done eating, and 30 minutes pass to allow the food to enter the body, it is strapped to the treadmill to begin the test to see how long and how fast it can currently run.

Now is a good time to mention that all fluffies, as a part of preparation, are squeezed of feces and starved of food overnight. This is to give all the fluffies an equal ground. The food provides a control over the amount of energy they have for the test to give more accurate results.

Carlos: “You may know, an average feral can jog up to ¼ mile before becoming too exhausted and void of energy to continue running. This distance is much less with untrained domestics. I’ve found that ferals tend to be more apt to pass this test than even specially bred fluffies, as they spend their entire lives in a paranoid state, watching for danger. Their somewhat constant vigilance keeps them in a fitter condition than many trained fluffies. However, the body fat of a feral fluffy can be quite troublesome. Similar to cows, fluffies will eat constantly, stopping only when they are so full they become uncomfortable. This causes the body to build up a thick layer of body fat. This fat adds weight we don’t want in our Kites as it can slow them down. This test will see how it responds to its own body fat, some of which was burned over night during the starvation period.”

Carlos further explained he doesn't know if this fluffy will make it. Gladiator fluffies are bred for strength, and they are often fattened up to help build muscle and even give a protective layer in combat. This is both good and bad. But, this one had good response to our 24 hour starvation period, so we are giving him a try.

Carlos pushes a button and the disgruntled fluffy jolts to a walk. The treadmill slowly picks up speed until it reaches an average trotting speed of a fluffy, about 3 mph. Immediately you can see the frustration of the fluffy. He clearly didn’t want to be running right now. However, the straps prevent the fluffy from moving anywhere while keeping him in a planted position to keep his legs moving. The treadmill quickly speeds up to a steady 7 mph.

Carlos: “The average untrained running speed of a full grown male fluffy is about 8 mph at sprint. Fluffies really just aren’t fast creatures. However, after the breeding processes, and with proper training, the offspring should mature into a strong, well defined fluffy resulting in speeds as much as 12 mph.”

There are some exceptions to this, though. The only fluffies bred to compete are Earth Fluffies. This is because horns and wings add weight and air resistance that causes a fluffy to be slower. There is also an unpredictable size difference between Earth, Unicorn, and Pegasus Fluffies. This can give an unfair advantage or disadvantage to a competitor. Additionally, Earthies are the most robust. They beat other species of fluffy by nearly 40% on career length, back when there was no regulation, and suffer the least amount of racing injuries. Earth fluffies were chosen by default on these principals, and probably because they are the most abundant.

Another, and much rarer form of fluffy racing, takes place between Alicorns, known as Kates. Alicorns are a whole separate breed that is much larger and can have much lengthier wing spans. Untrained Alicorns have been known to fly short distances as their wings are large enough to support their weight. Alicorns are approximately 10 full inches taller than a full grown Earthie. Furthermore, untrained Alicorns can run distances up to ½ a mile before reaching exhaustion. Their legs are longer and can run at full sprint up to 15 mph without any real training. A trained Alicorn, however, can be much more exciting in a race, reaching speeds as much as 20 mph, as Carlos explains.

Carlos: “Alicorns go through a completely different process for preparation. Since breeding two Alicorns doesn’t much improve the odds of having an Alicorn foal, most Alicorns are recruited and trained from birth with high costs. Our scouts will find them and overnight them for immediate training. Anything older than 48 hours and the fluffy is instantly rejected. There is just too much time lost on development. Because of this, there are only 4 Alicorn races held each year, usually commemorating the turn of the seasons. They’ll generally run Alicorns all day with an hour in between each race. These events will usually last well into the night. Alicorns are fast, capable of running 20 mph. They’re eager to prove themselves to their owners, too. But as the night rolls on, exhaustion has long since set in, and bets become more about who will finish than who will finish first.”

There has also been a development that a victorious Alicorn will give good luck to those who have profited from the victory. Whether you believe this or not, Alicorn betting sees nearly the same amount of bets placed on traditional Kiting, even though it is done only 4 days out of the year. Unfortunately, there were no Alicorns being trained during my visit here.

Getting back to the stamina test, our red stallion has been trotting for nearly half an hour now. His time will soon be up. If he makes it, he will move onto the next stage of testing before he will be given an opportunity to mate.

Carlos: “At running pace, a fluffy should be able to last 5 – 10 minutes. We push our fluffies to 30 minutes to see if they can handle both the physical and mental strains of the test.”

The mental strain Carlos is referring to is simple. A bowl of spaghetti is placed in front of the stallion and promised to him in the event he completes the 30 minute task. It is difficult for a fluffy to comprehend time, so this is a daunting task for them. But, if a fluffy can push themselves past their breaking point, they pass. The spaghetti is given in small amounts (this is also to establish a trust and reinforcement of demands between our trainers and fluffies) and the stallion is taken to the final test.

After the passing of this test, a fluffy is shaved completely and weighed in. They are required to meet a very precise BMI and weight in order to pass this final test. The fluff is sold and the fluffy should be about on empty with food. This will give a very close base weight reading. Unfortunately, our red entry didn’t pass the spaghetti test, so we have moved onto a light blue fluffy stallion with dark blue mane and tail, and another pink fluffy stallion with yellow mane and tail. Or rather, they would normally have those colors but have already been shaved.

Carlos: “These two were already weighed and measured before arriving here so we can make sure we aren’t getting anything too big or too small. There is a small margin where a successful competition fluffy falls in. If they pass that, we check their weight and BMI after the run but before spaghetti consumption. We are looking to see what kind of losses it experienced during the demanding run. Then we feed them the spaghetti and wait 30 minutes. Then we check them again to see its body’s natural behavior and response to foods. Our special spaghetti recipe is naturally fattening. So we look for a specific number of increased body mass. Too much weight gain means it will struggle to stay slim while still meeting the needs of muscle development. Too little weight gain means they are over exerting themselves so much, they won’t be able to keep up in training.”

The two fluffies looked genuinely exhausted. But they seemed to have passed the final test. This of course wasn’t a lucky find. During my initial meeting with Carlos, I watched him go through all 200 males before we found just these two potential gene pools. We also witnessed the passing of 2 mares. They passed the same tests with the addition of a fertility test to make sure they can breed. Once they are finished, they are placed in a single pen, un-corked, and given a specific diet. The food will contain any medicine orally available to rid the fluffy of any parasites or ailments it may have. If it can’t be done orally, a shot is given and “extra” food is given “as a reward” for good behavior, even though it was going to get the same amount of food anyway. Again, positive reinforcement to form trust between the trainer and the trainee.

Why is it necessary to create trust and dominance over the fluffies during this training period? There are many mental factors as to why this is important. First off, fluffies tend to be argumentative if they are forced to do something, even if they would otherwise want to do it. Smarty’s are often obtained and processed so it is important to prove to the fluffy that they don’t need to be combative in training with their trainers.

It is also important for Smarties to recognize they are not the ones who make the demands. By feeding, grooming, and spending specific amounts of time with each training fluffy, the school reinforces the competitive spirit and instills it into each fluffy bringing them to understand they are here to win. As a result, trainers are not their daddy’s, but human friends. A side effect to this can often lead to a mental break down later in the fluffy’s career if their racing owner doesn’t take the mother or father roll.

As Hasbio genetically designed fluffies to be needed, the lack of being needed will slowly eat away at their psyche. They will slowly realize they are not here to be loved and they won’t have any children of their own unless they are successful. A series of losses can lead to a complete loss in confidence and realization of a future without a family, which in turn becomes a downward spiral. This turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy as a fluffy with too many losses will be retired and rarely bred for offspring. Generally, a fluffy’s career will last about 50-60 races over 2 or 3 years. Most will retire by then, and the successful ones will be bred as competition stock. A successful fluffy will have a win loss ratio of 3:1. Rarely do we see anything above 4:1.

Medically, it is necessary for any fluffy to retire by the age of 4. Since the average life span of a competition fluffy is on average 7 years, by 4 years they could have already developed, and have been competing with athletic arthritis, arthritis developing mainly from the physical demands of the sport. In many cases, arthritis can get so bad, it can cause a fluffy to refuse to walk around anymore. In nearly all of these cases, the fluffy may be milked for semen stock upon a good career, and then put down.

However, recently a published article came out about a few competition stallions suffering this problem, and how they were given a four-leg amputation procedure, and then fitted to prosthetics to still allow the fluffy to be mobile. The fluffy found it much more satisfying than their old legs, and the doctors hope to give a second chance at a happier life to suffering retired fluffies. The cost for this is pretty steep and only available to Kiters who have the money and the desire to keep their fluffy happy, even if it no longer races.

An interesting note, a fluffy immediately loses the “Kite” title upon retirement and then becomes a “Cut.” According to Carlos, the term refers to cutting a string of a kite and letting it fall to the ground. A Cut can be retired for many reasons, but the title is the same for all. Cuts are generally resold or rented expensively as breeding stock if they have exceptional performance records.

Carlos: “I'm actually glad to see this happen. This industry can eat at you if you don't understand it as an art form. I'm basically responsible for killing thousands of fluffies each year. Knowing the industry is still evolving gives me hope that I may no longer have to cause harm to any rejected stock.”

As the day moved on, Carlos escorted me to the breeding cages. Stallions and mares have been prepped for their sexual encounter and ready for our witnessing of the birds and the bees. The 2 mares and stallion we witnessed earlier won’t be in this breeding batch. This is because each fluffy is sent for two weeks of physical and mental training prior to being bred. This sets their body up to hopefully pass on stronger traits to the foals. They'll just have to wait for the next event.

Carlos: “We have here 30 stallions and 30 mares that have passed our training this month. We have several other facilities that ship in the approved stock, but this facility is responsible for insemination. This is actually a larger than usual breeding batch. Our typical session is around 20. We’ve had a good quarter this year and hope to get some good extra foals from this. (He gestures down the line hinting at me to take a look at the amount of work it takes to receive the next fact he gives.) Out of this batch of thirty, we are expecting to get 2, maybe 3 foals that can move onto our training sessions.”

I was shocked. We did all that prep work, processed all those fluffies, had all these fluffies already prepped for training from a prior sum of deliveries, and all we are going to get out of this are 2-3 foals ready to be called Kites? Why?

Carlos: “You see, the entire litter will be put through a series of tests that help us determine a champion racer. The rest will be sold off to pet stores or other places to make up some money. We’ve actually started working on plans for creating an adoption center for these rejected foals. They may not be suitable for the race track, but we have the resources to train them to be obedient young pets and sell them as premium trained fluffies. We think this will be a successful business model and help the business recoup losses, potentially lowering the cost of Kites as a whole.”

Just how much is the cost of a racing fluffy you ask? Nearly $20,000 each. And that is just to start. That doesn’t include whatever expenses you have at home to keep the fluffy in shape, necessary nourishment, exercise, continued training in between races, travel expenses, etc. A single race year can tack up to nearly $80,000 in costs if you start fresh with a brand new Kite. But not to worry. If you are good at it, successful, and have a real winner, you can pocket nearly $300,000 in a single year. Kind of makes you want to quit your day job, doesn’t it?

Carlos nudges me with a grin as a button is pressed to release the wall that separated the mares and the stallions. The mares didn’t seem to like this as the process is very streamlined for business. They have been bound and gagged with a muzzle that prevented excessive noise. Their murmurs and grunts were all they could muster, which was completely ignored by everyone, including the stallions. Their would-be beautiful tails were cut and their rear ends corked.

Carlos: *pointing to the cork in the closest mare* “You know, those weren’t put there to prevent ‘mishaps.’ We now put them there because we had a problem getting stallions to put it in the right hole.”

And he seemed to be right. A couple stallions would mount up and then dismount, quickly sniffing and glancing at the corked area. They seemed to be displeased that their preferred hole was occupied. Or maybe they simply missed and couldn’t figure it out. Some stallions took encouragement as orders were given to hurry up. They grudgingly mounted back up and got to “work.”

Within 10 minutes, they all finished. Some finishing 2 or 3 times it would seem. By the time it was over, many mares seem to have enjoyed the process once it was started. Others felt it was against their wants and cried to themselves in shame. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for those mares. A part of me felt this was a terrible experience.

Within 24 hours they would all be confirmed for pregnancy.

Carlos: “Fluffies have over a 95% success rate for impregnation as long as they aren’t inbred. It is rare to find a fluffy that is unable to bare offspring. If your domestic mare ever mates when you don’t want her to, you are practically guaranteed to have to deal with it.”

From here, the stallions are moved to their cages. Each stallion is bred a total of 3 times over about 1.5 months. From there, the stallions are sold off and a new batch of stallions are ready to take over. This is to prevent a saturation of up-and-coming foals racing, and potentially breeding, with siblings. All of this is highly documented, though. The chances you would accidentally breed your winner with a sister would be highly unlikely.

This batch has reached its last days of use, so we got to see them loaded in a van to the nearest no-kill shelter where they will be put up for adoption as “trained domesticated breeding stock.” Many of them expressed feelings of upset as they were denied their family and sent on their way. A brutal business, but business none-the-less.

As for the mares, we followed them to a back room where they sat in small cages to incubate their little ones. A few television screens would play a looped feed of how to be a good mother and take care of themselves. They seemed to manipulate the mares mentally, preparing them for their family to be and promising the world to them, even though the foals would be taken before they even got to see them.

Carlos: “We don’t treat these fluffies very well and I regret this. But the mares get a much more upsetting deal than the stallions. After training and conditioning is complete, they have their babies and serve their purpose, and that’s it. This prevents mental contamination as a result of mother-child bonding. We had a .3% success rate when we originally allowed mothers to raise their young for a short period. Now, after the first, and only litter with us, they are shipped off, usually to be milk bags, breeding stock, or even food for human consumption pending on local orders. Whatever pays the bills. It is an extra cost to keep them for anything more and we don’t even use them for mother’s milk, as we use our own formula to keep a healthy but lean development.”

I was surprised that the mares were used only once. What was the reasoning for this?

Carlos: “We, and most breeders, have found the act of breeding mares regularly without affection or guarantee they will see their babies increases the chances of stillborn birth, as well as diminished litter size. Depression greatly affects the success rate of a healthy litter, too. Many babies will be born underweight in high stress situations. That is why in feral herds, you will often find the “best” mothers mating with the smarty, or herd leader, generally have the largest, healthiest foals. Originally, it was suspected to be food related as the best fluffies ate first. But early research showed fluffies can live off of less than what they actually consume, and depression and personal value were the leading cause for stillborn, deformities, and even miscarriages. It is amazing how much power the mind has over the body, and fluffies are no exception.”

The orgy marked the end of my first documented visit. As these mares await their litter, I will head over to a previous batch of mares, due sometime next week.

1 week has passed as I waited for a previous batch of inseminated mares have their babies. As I returned, I was escorted to the birthing room where all the mares are strapped into a containment and delivery system. It is somewhat traditional as a couple of towels lay at the bottom of a small bucket, which is sitting just under the end of each mare. From there, 6 workers go through and monitor and assist as needed as the situation progresses. The mares all cry from the discomfort, partly from the straps, partly from their “biggest poopies.” They push, cry, push some more, cry some more, until finally, they give birth.

A total of 114 foals are born. And just as quickly as they came, they went. Rushed off into another room to be cleaned and immediately begin their training. As for the mares, they are given 15 minutes of rest before the workers come back in and unbuckle them. They will be carried off to their previous cages and will stay there until the delivery truck shows up for them. The trucks work for either a shelter, milking company, special order deliveries, whichever deal is made first. I had to skip this part as I followed the foals out of the room. And, I have to admit, it was hard to hear the anguished cries of the mothers calling for their babies. But as Carlos put it, “It’s business.”

Continuing with the foals, they start training immediately. Before they’re even fed, they are placed on a somewhat cold table and left there alone. In the distance, a speaker calls to the fluffies with a recorded fluffy call telling them all to “Come to mummuh. Babbehs get miwkies.” The recording doesn’t seem to mention anything about love, hugs, or play. No songs, no other words of encouragement, just milk. Using food as encouragement seems to be an underlying theme.

Carlos: “That’s because we don’t want to instill any sense of self entitlement or self appreciation through anything but external sources from our food rewards and trainers. Bad behavior produces stubborn, ill-behaved foals. They are here for us to profit on. They are here to learn their training, succeed where most fail, and turn a business. Although we don’t spell it out for them, they understand it on a subconscious level, especially once the trainers begin their routine.”

We watched as a few pushed their way blindly to the noise of the electronic mother. What Carlos is looking for, are those that make it much further.

Carlos: “This plays on the will and desire to achieve a goal. Generally, a foal must have its first meal within 2 hours or growth and mental development can be severely stunted. Within approximately 6-8 hours, starvation will set in. It can then take anywhere from 12-35 hours to die of starvation. As tiny as they are, they have a small amount of body fat that is burned quite quickly. While they are burning this energy, they are pushing themselves to their limits to achieve their goal, which in this case, their mother and food. What we want to see is how many can make it past their breaking point. How many will travel the 10 foot table to reach the fake ball of fluff and fake teats at the end. Those will be the strongest, most determined foals, and those will be our foundation to which we lay our training school upon.”

The foals continue to chirp and peep and struggle towards the speaker. Within the first 5 feet, ~80 of them have already stopped. Those that stop must be wondering why the mother won’t help them. Perhaps they feel abandoned? Do they feel sad about a possible rejection? Are they bad babies? Can they think this much at this age? Maybe they are just exhausted, reaching their limits and mentally unable to push through. At first, I thought this was a horrible thing to subject a newborn creature to, but after witnessing it, I can see why it is necessary.

Their chirps are noticeably different from when they were first put on the table. What was at first a comforting cooing turned into a chorus of panic and fear. Little fecal trails run behind a few of them as they press forward or stop where they could no longer continue.

Another 3 feet later and only 7 are still pushing forward. And in just one more foot, only 4 remain determined. Perhaps they notice the speaker is getting louder as they get closer? Maybe their hunger overrides their sense of failure or rejection? Maybe they can smell the warm milk solution waiting for them? Who knows. But according to Carlos, this is a winning formula right here.

It takes about 25 minutes from start to finish. But we have our winners. All 4 previously mentioned make it to their marks and before their 30 minutes were up. The four are allowed to feed while the others are shoved into a collective basket and placed on a heating table where several additional fake teats exist. Milk for those foals are provided by occasional milk bags that didn't pass the previous tests.

Carlos: “Here are the rejected foals. They will be sent to shelters, adoption agencies, or sold on our website to anyone who wants good breeding stock foals. We generally sell most. Those that don’t sell get put into our grinder with any of the mares and stallions that don’t get purchased, either. Wanna see it? I’m not an abuser by any standards but you have to admit the site to be spectacularly horrible to watch.”

“Um,” I was hesitant to say the least. But, sure, why not. We only live once, right? We make our way to the batch of fluffies that weren’t picked up by any orders of recent. 18 adult fluffies in all. Most stallions weren’t sold off because of their “beat-up” appearance or unappealing colors. The mares proved to have lactation problems, or were being retired from milkbagging, or simply didn't make an order like the stallions. And only 4 foals in the batch.

Carlos: “These foals are about a week or two old and failed some portion of the training. It is sad, but these foals don't even get a chance for adoption because they were failed just after the list was compiled for orders. It is too expensive to care for them over the next week, so we simply drop them in here.”

They are all shoved into a 6x6’ metal box with 2’ high walls. Many of them hit hard on the metal flooring and complain about the impact. Many of them are crying. It is really a coldhearted task to take on. One of them seemed to know what was about to happen as she goes around in circles screaming she doesn’t want to die, or rather “Forever Sleepies” as she put it. Kind of made my stomach churn to see a life panic like that. Do you think mice do that when you place them in with a pet snake?

Even worse was the heartbreaking reunion we witnessed. 2 of the foals seem to have the same sent as one of the poorly lactating mothers, and they reunite joyously, hugging. And one of the stallions was apparently the father of the litter. I couldn't tell if this was horribly sad or a sliver of happiness in their short lives just before the end. The foals coo and chirp, completely forgetting most language they learned over their training period. The mare and stallion talk about how they love each other and how “mother has miwkies,” even though she was one of the rejected ones for not producing. The stallion just seems happy to be with his family. They find a corner and take a moment to relax while the others are all complaining about their pains of being dropped or wanting out.

Then suddenly, a loud whirring sound. All fluffies panic. Anyone with food in their system shoots it out immediately. The mother reunited with her foals has but 2 seconds to say, “It ok babbehs, mummuh he-“ And the floor slides right out from beneath them like a table cloth with expensive crystal wear. Their leathery feet slide right over the metal as it disappears revealing a gaping grinder. They all land simultaneously, hitting the thick metal rotating bars. It is almost hard to hear the brief moment of screeching, produced for just a fraction of a second. Within just 1 second the entire batch has vanished. From floor drop to ground meat, it happens in a blink of an eye.

Carlos: “Have you tried our farm raised burgers? We have a chef that prepares some of the best burgers around using this very meat right here.”

I wasn't stoked on the idea. Not because I saw the process of how the meat was made, but because I don't eat anything with hormones and antibiotics in it. But... I didn’t want to be disrespectful. He lead me to a small open floor plan with a wall-less kitchen where a single chef turned out order after order for a local lunch crowd. We sat down at one of the tables and discussed the next leg of my journey over burgers, fries, and an incredible garden salad grown right here on the farm.

After lunch, we moved into a large open field where we watched the foals during Kite training. Now that the foals have their eyes open, training comes at them none-stop until they are purchased by a racing team. It takes just 4 weeks to reach full Kite material. Since a fluffy reaches adult hood after 3 weeks old, whatever training they endure will be ingrained into their bodies until they reach their full size after 2 months.

Carlos: “The first step after they open their eyes is to confirm a single trainer method. Although we don’t encourage the father/mother mentality, we do make sure the foals report to one trainer during their stay here. This encourages respect, and focuses their minds for any lesson that is learned.”

From here, the training is quite simple. They put them through a sort of boot camp where the foals wear weighted clothing and have to run and climb a various set of obstacles. Nothing too steep, and padding lines the area around every obstacle to prevent injury. But every step they take is a step towards progress.

The foals are all given a precise haircut, which apparently is competition standard. It is interesting to see the grooming technique. It isn't a style based on attraction, rather than encouragement of speed, while still allowing the fluffy to keep its necessary fluff. That being said, there is still a design to it that encourages beauty, while maintaining performance. The tails and manes are shorter, but not removed. Excess fluff is trimmed giving an overall sleek appearance to the otherwise cotton ball-looking standard. And the hooves are kept clean and trimmed all the way up to their knee joints.

The course will change depending on the age of the foal, and progress into training. Additional training consists of mannerisms, the ability to follow direction, basic level math and reading skills, and an advanced language skill, which may be in alternate languages pending on pre-orders from other countries. Carlos handles orders from 9 different countries currently, and has trainers on stand-by when needed.

I watched as one trainer was talking to a foal in Chinese. The foal must have been very confused at first. It has long been speculated that foals will start learning language as early as the first week of growth while still being inside their mother. The mother song has been proven to increase vocabulary, and is thought to be sung not just for the mother’s enjoyment, bonding and stress relief, but to help educate the babies, too. Since the foal only learned English initially, Chinese was a bit more difficult but still achievable at its early age.

With every correct answer, achieved goal, or even competitive outburst, a small nutritious treat was given to reward them. This was simply to encourage that mind set or action.

Carlos: “Basic dog training has proven to be most effective here. Reward good behavior, punish bad behavior. Lead by example. Always keep a specific tone for each command.”

We watched for about 30 minutes. The process was very precise and demanding. But there was still more to see. The last part of Carlos's business is the auction and sales process. He held off on last week's auction just for me so I could witness the event. Carlos directs me to a group of 5 week olds (normally 4 week olds) putting on a show for a group of bidders sitting under an awning. Some have binoculars, some are sipping wine, it is a very rich scene. But the crowd isn't huge and the mingling is very topic related.

What they are watching is the demonstration of the trained Kites. However, there aren’t just 3 or 4 here, there are 25. The Kites are brought here from other breeding and training facilities to be sold off. Most Kites are already pre-ordered and ready for pick up once the demonstration is finished and the racing team is introduced to the Kiter. A handful of Kites that don’t get pre-purchased move onto a bidding platform, assuming there are any Kites remaining.

Carlos: “Every month we hold a single auction after pre-orders are met. We don’t always have extra Kites to sell, but when we do, we allow bidders to come in with a chance to buy a Kite for a bit cheaper, sometimes, much more than a regularly priced Kite. Usually we are backed up on orders, though. Most auctioned Kites are a result of cancelled orders, or no-shows upon pick up dates. We don't generally hold Kites, and any order that goes unclaimed is pushed off onto the next generation coming through, or dropped completely.”

Watching the demonstration is a lot like watching a dog show. They are groomed very precisely and have to walk a specific way, trained to do so to help with the “show.” They have a much greater bounce in their step, but the distinctive fluffy waddle is still there.

Then comes the speed test. Each Kite is set on a treadmill to run 10 mph in a short burst to prove it can do it. With continued training, the Kite will grow and strengthen to reach that 12 mph mark. Sometimes more.

This is then followed by a greeting session. The racing team, usually consisting of one or two individuals, will get a hands-on feel of the Kite and introduce themselves. The Kite will be placed in a specially designed cage to keep it safe during the ride to its new home.

As for the auction I experienced, only two Kites were available. And both went for well over the $20,000 price tag. That’s the price a team pays to have what they want right there and then instead of placing their pre-order and waiting the 8+ months for the whole process.

Carlos: “The most I’ve seen a single Kite go for was $148,000. It was a very special Kite. At just 4 weeks old it was running a consistent 13.4 mph and had an unusually large nasal passage. I still remember the heartbeat from that young’un. That one went onto an incredible 6:1 winning ratio, and had an amazing 74 victories before being retired.”

Once the auction was finished, and all the foals went to their new homes, Carlos closed the gates to his ranch and waved me good-bye. I watched Carlos grow smaller in my rear-view and was amazed to see the sun set perfectly over his large ranch. Looking forward, I couldn’t help but wonder about that success story. Carlos told me the breeding number given to that Kite was “2501” and the team that bought him gave residence near the Belmont Park horse track in New York. There, he would run most of his victories. But that’s a story for another time.

Comments

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Anonymous1: meh, i really believe you should introduce your own cannon as you post tales, and not the way you tried to do right now. As it leads nowhere, the read becomes stale and boring, and as i'm not seeing the fluffys interacting or growing as characters, even if it's just to die, i can't really grasp the idea you're trying to convey.

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MrBoo: To be honest, I gave up reading a third of the way in. There was nothing to hold my attention. Sorry, but that's how I feel.

I am curious, does the naming of fluffy racing "kiting" have a basis in any real animal racing? It just seemed that kites, kates and cuts was borrowed.

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FluffyPuncher: Interesting read. What are you planning next?

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RandomMexican: gave up reading just like a trip to see rocks
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ProctorBanway: Wonderful!
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Ants_and_Rocks: Similar to others I was interested but gave up part the way through, try breaking it into pieces.
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Anonymous2: @Anonymous: Cannon? *boom" there a cannon.

So why are folded Pegasus wing producing drag?
Last I heard, they would of been the best runner due to running around trying to fly, and they are smaller too.
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Anonymous3: @MrBoo: Same here. I quit halfway through. There was no story. If you're going to write "journalism" like this, you should at least have a minimum of experience writing features. Good journalists can hold a reader's attention.
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Anonymous4: I read through it all but I kinda of wish I didn't.

Also for a new canon there sure was a lot of old canon garbage. Alicorn wanking, smarties and people actually eating fluffies.