Sunday, April 2, 2017

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT!

Phew!  Opening Day in Area 1 has come and gone yet the dreaming of a wildly successful season wafts through my brain and enters every ride. 

Yes! 20's here we come!
Every graceful upward canter transition, every smooth effortless trot to walk movement and every swinging, flowy free walk screams that this is the season to break into the 20's.  I dream of cross country schooling when I see the snow covered jumps in the farm across the way...  WE'VE GOT THIS YEAR!  This is the one! 

And then, perusing through posts past, I wonder...  Sugar and I were good, weren't we?  Ok, our record reflected my college career - we either aced it or flunked.  Then I think, wait... we had the training, great coaching, talent, desire, a good work ethic and the desire to do well.  And, dear god, we had GREAT lessons and performed relatively well in clinics....  What was missing?

Used with Permission
What was missing?  Ok, some were obvious - missing GRRRR, Honey Badger stick-to-itness in hybernation, the kick ass Cowgirl was replaced by a truck and a bull horn...  but, we still were ok with all that...  What was missing?  Hmmmmm....

Last year, Maisy was amazing with her Happy Young Professions (HYP).  She was green, game and seemed to love showing off without being a diva.  The HYP brought her along consistently and lovingly.  I did compete her at the end of the season  I was still myself with a missing GRRRR but it was fun and hard and fun...  What was the change?  What was the change?

OK, some of you are saying, "that this all so obvious!  Please, get with the picture, you have a new horse!"  Maisy is sooooo different and that she is what the change is!  JEEZ, do I have to give you a head smack?"  Sighing and shaking your head, you walk away...

A bit exuberant!
Well, what if I told you that I know what the problem was all those years coming home from a show with my head bowed and my bottomed muddied?  What if I told you that I know what made the difference last year and what will make the difference this year?  And, what if I shared this secret and your season takes off in a manner so successful that you will be giving yourself that head slap... huh?  Ready?

Hmm... better get a new one!
I blame the USEA.  Do you remember getting a sticker every year when you renewed your membership? 

Yeah, for the first 4 years competing Sugar, I had a USEA sticker on my car and my trailer.  Those years we were kicking butt and taking names.  Then, I got a new truck and trailer timed exactly when the USEA gave out magnets.  Magnets are nice but I have 7 of them on my refrigerator and none on car, truck or trailer.  Our results got sketchy.

Along comes Maisy, USEA sticker (bought at the Annual Meeting) on car, truck and trailer...  She rocks with HYP and I begin to rock on her and at shows...  Call me crazy but the luck is in the USEA Sticker.

Today, after another snow storm, mine looks like this...  I'm left pondering... is this good enough?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

ANGELS IN THE BARN

I believe in Angels!  I know, that when single women reach a certain age, who also have a few pets and then who also state that they believe in Angels, we sometimes set aside a label or two or perhaps we keep a tight white jacket nearby... you know, just in case.  Shhh...  there are Angels about and many of mine are found in barns. You see, I've seen them.

15 year old me
A Facebook friend posted a picture of teenage me showing, in hand, my first love Hank.  That picture sent a ripple of memories coursing through my body.  The kindness and generosity of her mother, Mrs W, saved my life.  She gave me my dream and fueled a lifetime of gratitude and a commitment to "pay it forward" to lost little girls with a deep hunger for horses. 

My parents had little money and thought that riding was an expensive sport.  They did everything to discourage me.  It wasn't done to be cruel but more to protect me from hurt and disappointment.   My passion and longing was so strong that I felt real pain and loss at my horseless self in our 4-H Club.

Pat Star Hank
I wish I could tell you that I handled my hunger well and maybe I mostly did.  Often I was consumed with envy and sadness that I had nothing and "everyone" else had "everything".  I'm not sure how or why it happened, Mrs W offered/allowed me to ride and show Hank.  She opened a world and gave me a gift so precious that throughout my adult life, I've tried to pay back.

When it comes to horses, everything I do and everything I try to do, Mrs W is the Angel attached to the memories that guided and showed me what kindness and humanity is all about. It is why I shared Sugar and now, Maisy with so many.  It's why I volunteer so much, donate money and time to organizations that help kids of all ages.

And, when I see an Angel - the young trainer who puts her kids first, who networks so the poorer students have the same experience as the more afluent or the other Mrs W's in the world that ask for so little and give so much, I feel a need to tell them that they are making the world a better place. 

One of my favorite books is "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" by Mitch Albom.  It'sone of those odd books that grabs you by the heart and engages your mind.  It's about a man who believes he lived a failed life.  When he dies, he meets 5 people who, in some way, were changed because of him.  On his way to Heaven, they tell him their stories - some simple and always profound.  Read it 'cause it's a good one.

And when you're done, know that everything you do (and say) affects someone.  And if you're one of those Angels, know really know, that your touch goes deeply and profoundly. 

Sending love and thanks to the real Mrs W and all those who embody her spirit!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

PRESENCE

You'll hear the word presence tossed around at horse shows and events everywhere.  There will be a certain energy that surrounds the horse that just makes you turn your head as you pass or stop as you watch the test, the round or the simple move into the start box.
Sugar - Lucky Me

It may be beauty, a sense of power and grace, an ease and confidence or a way of going that reminds you of a prima ballerina or running back gliding through the defense to score a touchdown.  And, you may not be able to name what IT IS but you know it is something special, something wonderful and you know you're lucky to have witnessed it.

Presence - something extra ordinary, something that can not necessarily be named and yet, something that when you're in it or have it, you know it's a gift.  Sugar had presence and by all appearances, Maisy may also have the spark too.   A Maisy spark all her own...

Maisy - Lucky Me - Too!
This morning, I remembered a friend who died just under a year ago.  I did not remember her death from a rare cancer nor did I really spend much time remembering her wake where hundreds of people lined up to pay their respects and how I could not speak coherently for my tears filled my words.  No, those were flashes of thought.

Mostly, I remembered her laugh and how she lit up a room when she walked in and said hi.  I remembered her beautiful art even if it was contained in the boring world of insurance marketing.  She loved deeply and when her friends struggled, she worked on causes to improve their lives and those that suffered similarly. 

Her energy was boundless and her eagerness infectious.  You could be lifted by her childlike enthusiasm at approaching a problem and finding a solution.  And, as any person to belong to the human race, she had a primal response in those rare moments of anger or frustration.  Moments that worked themselves out but moments that made this angel real. 
Searching for presence

This is a soul presence not aided by physical beauty but by a deep soul connection to love and joy.  My friend had a presence that made a person richer for knowing her.  I do not mourn her loss as much I revel in the fact that I KNEW HER.  And, Facebook memories offer me moments where I can still feel her.  Lucky were we...

Presence... something special... something full.  What kind of presence will we leave when we're gone...  Yes, not sad but inspirational...  Thank you, my friend!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

CHRISTMAS STORIES

It only takes one word, one look, one encounter to make a difference.  How simple is that?  If change is all about me and I truly believe that, how simple life would be...

I've been traveling and suffering a true relapse into Workaholism.  Soon I tell myself, soon I'll be able to rest, take care of myself, play with Da Boyz and ride Her Greyness.  Soon...  And, as each day passes, soon does not feel any closer but I lie to myself...  Soon, maybe this weekend... soon

The affect of that longing and that "holding off on living", is an increasing feeling of grumpiness, a slight intolerance when "things don't go my way" and a distinct lack of patience with anyone not working as hard as I.  I struggle with keeping an upbeat positive demeanor and when I fail, I isolate because I do not want my "failings' to be recorded by others.

So, in my second business trip of the week, I entered the plane noticing the crying baby, the little boy running up and down the aisle, the person with three bags (rather than the two allowed), groaned at the woman who could not lift her own overstuffed bag into the bins above.  I kept catching my anger and impatience and took steps to change my attitude but it was weak and relatively unsuccessful.  You see, I was grumpy pants and maybe, god forbid... pouty.

We landed in Detroit late.   It was snowing and 15F degrees.  I waited in the cold for 20 minutes before the hotel shuttle arrived.  I was starving and in no mood for niceties so I sat in the front seat and said nothing after thanking the driver for taking my bag.  The other passenger, a businessman, remained silent.

Our driver smiled at us, turned the radio up slightly and off we went in the dark, snowy night.  The van was silent, except for the radio tunes.  I watched the industrial complexes as we passed by and then, found myself singing (silently) Jingle Bell Rock and I smiled.  I wasn't on a sleigh and she wasn't Santa but the beautiful lights of the chemical plants, the snow falling and the Christmas carols  felt so homey and warm.

I broke the silence.  "Do you like Christmas carols or do you have to listen to them?"

"Oh are they bothering you!  I'll turn them off! I am so sorry!"

I love carols!  I was curious if she loved them or was required to play them for the season.  She told me that she loved Christmas.  She loves the lights, the color and begins to play carols on December 1.  When she is alone in the van, she sings "loud and clear for all to hear." She told me her story of car trips with her family and how singing brings her closer to all those memories.

Car Caroling is something close to my heart.  My mom and I love to sing along as we drive around South Jersey searching for Christmas.  And, I could feel my dad in that van as I remembered our Christmas car drives visiting my brothers and sisters way back when.  We shared stories and laughed.

Then, this voice from behind me, asks to be heard.  We had forgotten the tall businessman in the back seat.  He said to us both, "Can I tell you a secret?"  {OF COURSE!}  "I love Car Caroling and on the day after Thanksgiving, I'm listening to them and singing "loud and clear for all to hear!"  

LOVE!
She does not know it or may never remember that I said it to her.  That evening in Detroit, this van driver whom I never got a name, changed my dismal, grumpy self, into a human being full of love and gratitude.  And she united three strangers... Truly a beautiful soul and I am a so grateful for that encounter.

When you think your actions or words have no meaning or that your energy has no affect on others...  think about the beautiful souls who have touched your life and look for them.  Angels are everywhere in all forms.

I believe I hear a bell ringing... one is getting their wings right now!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

WISHING FOR THE WRONG THING

May our dreams come true!
Are you the wishing type?  Do you ever find yourself on the eve of the big lottery wishing for all the things you could do with the big win?  Or how about leaving for work just a tad bit late and wishin that the traffic gods are in your favor?  Sometimes I find myself wishin that Da Boyz will have dinner waiting for me... 

Maisy and I completed our very first Horse Trial together this Sunday.  Ok, it was a schooling show and I entered Advanced Elementary (2'3") but it was the first time in 2 years for me.  That is a big deal... a very big deal!

There may be a day in the future where I tell you that I greeted the day with lightness of heart and eagerness of mind and body.  But, it wasn't this day.  My morning's coping skill was tearfully asking the Barn Owner why I was doing this and what was the point of putting myself through such agony.  Yet, I still kept moving forward with the many tasks needed to just show up.

Hey, can I tell you something?  Maisy is not Sugar.  Wow!  Our dressage warmup was... boring.  Well, it was workman-like and flowing but without the airs-above-ground Grand Prix movements performed by a displeased Mariah Carey wannabee. 

When I finished my test, the Happy Young Professional asked me what it felt like to focus on straightness, the quality of the gaits and the accuracy of the test rather than containing or managing explosions.  WOW!

Shhhh, don't tell anyone...

As I walked cross country, I missed Sugar.  I wanted to be riding her over this course and not Maisy.  You see, despite all of our missteps, I knew what was under me.  Whatever version of Sugar that showed up, I knew I could handle it.  Maisy?  I was going into the great unknown.
The HYP riding Maisy's version of the Head of the Lake

"Dear god (not a prayer), it was only 2'3"!  Get over yourself!"

My pre-show pep talk was all about telling my Horse Peeps (and anyone who'd listen to me) that the worse thing that was going to happen was that I would be mad that I trotted everything.  I know that Maisy can trot a 4' wall.

I could feel the enthusiasm drain from my body as the anxiety flowed in.  Rescue Remedy and EFT (tapping) did not seem to be helping.  Anxiety, for me, feels like body weakness and the more anxious I am, the more physically weak I feel.

Help me stay present!

Did I mention that Maisy is not Sugar?  I have never ridden a horse who just jumps whatever is in front of her without spooking either at something around the course, near the jump or over the jump.  She is enthusiastic and sometimes charges the stadium course... but...  Wait!  She jumps!  Everything!
So proud of this! 

I lost my grrrrr after SJ and did trot most of the XC course...  And, I do think... I wished I cantered more!

BUT,  I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. FOR. 2017!!!!!  That kind of wishing... is the good kind of wishing.

Rest in Peace my beloved Sugar, loving you for all you were will never change.  Now it's Maisy's turn!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

So, this little confessional could simply start out as an apology to the blogging gods for falling flat on all the stories left untold.  Yet to do so would assume that what I write is something someone would miss.  And really, a little humility goes a long way... 

And, I'm not really sure that going on about my confidence issues or the little PTSD moments that find a way to surface or acknowledging the demons that still live in my brain are even remotely interesting anymore.  You see, even I grew tired of their presence... 

So, no apology..  just a picture...

Used with permission - Spotted Vision Photography
This is the moment, our first competition together, that I realized that I was riding Maisy...  really riding Maisy and not the ghost of my beloved Wild Thing (may she rest in peace).

I was galloping cross country on a horse who sees the world as a curious place.  Her body held eager anticipation of fun and of the joy of jumping da jumps. 

There was no fear, nor were her ears on high alert for danger.  She was happy to be outside on a beautiful day and looking for the jumps. 

I started the course with tense anticipation, worried about whether I could balance her or if she would jump me out of the tack in a green moment and I wondered what I would do if she stopped.  I worried out of habit.  For ten years, I had to have my honey badger grrrrr going on to convince Sug that cross country schooling was fun and that the zombie apocalypse would not happen over a jump.

That smile says it all.  The door has opened wide and I can't wait to gallop through!

Used with permission - www.connecticutphoto.com
So, our start for recognized events will be next year.  The Happy Young Professional has done an amazing job teaching Her Greyness the eventing ropes.  She still has some serious green moments that need some aging.  Like jumping off a Novice bank like its the Head of the Lake.

I believe there will be a schooling horse trial in October on my radar...  Yeah, I think that would be good!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

ATTENDING THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY INDOOR

The barn was quiet this early Sunday morning... a beautiful, cool, dry, bugless early summer New England morning.  The barn girls were busy and almost silently going through the morning chores with their ear buds tightly replacing the songs of the morning with the sounds of an iPhone playlist.  {{{Or, maybe, just maybe they were avoiding my overenthusiastic early riser good cheer... hmmm}}}

Where was everyone?  Why sleep when the very weather screamed for one to get up, get out and play?  Rainy or hot and humid days call for longer bedtimes or house elf activities.  The gloriousness of the morning can not be wasted behind four walls.  It must be savored with all the beauty of a barn, the power and grace of one's pony partner...

Wait!  Isn't it Sunday?  If I recall, some people refresh their spirit in a House of God.  Perhaps, my barn peeps were somewhere quietly or joyously celebrating the morning... um... at Church.

Hmmm, I just completed my first year in Seminary and am now an Initiate for ordination as an Interfaith Minister.  {{{Don't ask me what I'm going to do with it.  I still don't know.}}}  And yet, here I am grooming Ms Maisy and preparing for some dressage butt kicking (mine not her).  What does that say about me?  Do I confess this lapse (among many) to my fellow seminarians?

Do you know that feeling when you open the door of the indoor and the footing is newly groomed and watered?  Our steps will be the very first and everything we do will mark the start of a new day with all its new possibilities. In honor of the moment and the glory of the day, I tune the radio and allow Gospel music to guide our way and set our pace.

Our kick off song:



Maisy and I had a wonderful ride being lifted lighter in gaits and in song.  It was a perfect way to celebrate the goodness in life and be grateful, truly grateful for the good in life. 


God can be found any where as long as you look for him.  So, for me, God is at the barn and makes days like this even holier!  TYG!