Sunday, March 27, 2011

DOORS FOREVER OPENING AND CLOSING

I dated a guy once who, when it was time for the "TALK", awkwardly told me that all relationships end in two ways...  marriage and/or a breakup of some sorts.   And that it was too hard for him to continue ours because he didn't want the hurt.  (Truly, he wasn't finished the deep therapy he needed.) 

My response?  If you always live in the excitement of the beginning and the tragedy of the end, you never, ever feel the wonder of the middle.  For a life lived without pain, is a life without joy, without passion, without risk....  I want it all (with not too much pain, ok God?)

My bestest Eventing Buddy just found out that the ache her horse was feeling was real and career ending.  He is the kind of horse you dream about...  LOVES cross country - galloping and jumping in-stride.  He never took a bad step and when you watched him, you saw stars.  As I watched him go, I said to our trainer, "I wish Sugar would jump like that!"  Her reply, "We all wish our horses jumped like that!"

No words can heal the pain of such a loss... a death...  of a dream.  Time heals all wounds...  and hope is the elixir.  Maybe...  just maybe...  grabbing on to that teeny piece of hope that the vets gave her.  Maybe...  some horses have proved that major diagnostic tests can lie...  maybe this is the one.

Eoin's Mirth (Owen) 5/99 - 8/17/2004
I had such a loss.  He was my first love and the horse of my dreams - Owen ( 6 year old, 16.3H Irish Sport Horse).  I invested "all" the money I had and bought him on February 24, 2004.  He had a major stifle injury that rendered his hind end unstable...  That exhuberent personality I loved so much made him a danger to himself.  And on August 17, 2004, he was euthanized and buried on my friend's farm.  I thought, at that moment, I died with him...  my dreams dumped in that same grave.

I cried for a week.  When I stopped, I longed to groom and ride him.  I wanted to give him carrots.  The hunger came back as remembered the middle of our relationship (as brief as it was)...  And, I knew that I wanted more...  No, I wanted my dream back!

Sugar was the result of knowing what I wanted in a horse.  Owen gave me that gift.  The money?  Hmm, I love to event, I'm single with no "heirs"...  ahh, a 401K loan covered her purchase.  Heck, eventing is dangerous.  I may not even need a retirement...  (Mom, just kidding!...  well kindof)

I never dreamed that life could be this good!  I never thought I could survive that tragedy!  I never thought that I could get over that hurt and love again.  I am not alone.   Everyone has a story like this... maybe it isn't about your dream horse, but in each of us...  we have lost and found again. 

Truly, when one door closes, if you're willing to look...  Another is wide open.  Walk through it and believe again!



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"I WANT TO BE A BILLIONAIRE....

so, freakin' bad".  I do love that song...  even though its a bit self involved and well, greedy.

Used with photographer's
(yokinaphotos.com)  permission
I play the lottery and I plan to win big some day soon.  My father used to buy a ticket for the pleasure of playing "IF-I".  And the game goes like this...  "IF I win, here's what I would do...  IF I win, I will...."

It's a joyful game and for me, it reveals a little bit more about me that, well....  I like to still keep secret.  That is until the pot is up over $100 million and then I seem to tell anyone that will listen to me.  (Hmmm, maybe that's why people have been scurrying away and, no one seems to be answering their phones or calling me back...  hmmm!)

I jumped last night...  still not big but more course like.  Sugar was high, strong and wanted desperately to "lose-it" into a major spook-fest!  I was worried about the spooking but had my "Angry-Mare" energy lurking in and about my head.  It had the looks of a really bad date!

My trainer is a genius!  She gave us an exercise to help tame the beasts within.  Trot to the jump, go straight, canter a 10 meter circle, walk, pick up the trot and repeat, finish by putting it all together using the course.   We got better, riding got more instinctive and both of us came together at the end of the lesson.  It is truly a gift when to be surprised that the lesson ended instead of hoping/asking for it to be done!

This morning I saw a Bluebird!  The barn inhabitants greeted me joyfully with a whinny and waited patiently to be fed!  Jonah brought his purple jolly ball over to play and wagged his tail.  Sugar came over and gave me her mostest and bestest...  sugary, gooey, "I love you!" look and I swooned. 

I have everything I need right here, right now...  I win the lottery every day...  yup, every single day!  It's just that good!

And, Friday, with a MegaMillions ticket clutched in my hand, I will be thinking...  If I win, I will....



Monday, March 21, 2011

TRA-LA-LA SATURDAYS... PRICELESS!

A workaholic's job is never done...  every moment planned and scripted...  to be more EFFICIENT, to get more things done...  chanting in your head...  "I need more time...  I need more time!"

Saturdays are truly God's gift...  Sometimes I hear folks talk of the strange phenomena called sleeping in and I wonder...  WHY WOULD YOU EVER WANT TO SLEEP IN!!!!  Life is to be lived!  There are things that need to be done!  There are worlds to explore, puppies to pet, horses to feed...  a day to be done!  Burnin' daylight!

Now, I don't love the alarm clock and I don't wake singing "Oh Happy Day!"  Yet, once my feet hit the ground, I feel the energy surge, "Let the day begin!"  (Honestly, there is something about just a little 24 oz Dunkin Donuts that aids that feeling... just a lil' bit!)
Used with photographer's permission - Flatlandsfoto.com

The Tra-la-la Saturday has a beginning, a shadow of a plan and no real ending.  I let the day take me and move to the beat of whatever I desire.  Let me emphasize...  WHATEVER I DESIRE...

Today's "plan" began like all weekends, feeding the horses and cleaning Sug's stall.  But why just clean a stall when you could fix the bulging stall mats, scrub the buckets, level the paddock and work on the cobwebs.  Oh, the trailer...  let's clean and reorganize the trailer and while you're at it, organize the storage boxes so that the show stuff is on top ready for the first show.

Then of course, you have The Ride...  and today's was amazing.  Balanced, soft, forward and, light.  Alone in an indoor filled with distraction - the same ones that have been there for weeks, the very same ones Sugar finds fresh and scary.  Yet, today she was mine.  Her mind was clear, her sound body light and agreeable.  I asked and she gave...  I let go and she got rounder and bigger.  It was a heady feeling!

Singing with the joy of living, I finished... still so much more to do!   It was a gentle tra-la-la through the day...  food shopping, a horse girl lunch trading riding stories, a joyful hound walk with the teenage pups, tack cleaning...  oh if there was only more time.

At the end of the day, Jonah was snoring on the couch...  exhausted.  It was a good day to be alive and well!  Sometimes, I think...  "more naps, that would be good too."  Maybe, next Saturday....

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ITTY BITTY STEPS TIL YOU RUN AGAIN

My very first event instructor once said to me as I spit out a tuft of grass and brushed the dirt from bottom,  "EVENTERS DON'T FALL OFF!"    Rut ro!  I had much to learn...  hang on for dear life!

Unfortunately, getting dumped is not a rarity in my training as an Eventer. Sugar, as talented and forgiving as she is, is known to be "quirky" as one "I-still-love-and-think-Sugar-is-sweet" dressage clinician recently labeled her.

She is an amazing athlete and yet, within all that talent, lies the personality of Mariah Carey. She can smile and coo one second and in the other, heave herself about in a fit of anger. Fortunately, I kind of like it and when I feel good, strong and balanced, find it funny. 

So, picture this...  I just finished my season and my last XC run was everything I dream about...  we were fast, sure-footed, jumping fearlessly and in stride.  That feeling is breathtaking...  we ruled the world.  Topping that, we finished the year foxhunting...  running and jumping effortlessly!  This Novice rider saw her future and it said Preliminary!  (Distant that is but possible.)

Then two weeks later, I am laying in a heap, shouting a naughty curse word over and over again, at the foot of my trainer and Eventing Buddy.  A violent spook, spin and a bolt (gently encouraged by my spur digging in her side to keep from falling off) did me in...  My ankle took the brunt of the fall...  not really broken but severely sprained.  That was December...  You know, an ankle sprain is often harder to heal that an out and out break...  {{{sigh}}}

Courtesy of Flatlandsfoto.com
This week I "jumped" for the first time and I was actually a bit scared...  Oh, not really about the jump...  but the damn potential spook and spin at the terrifying boxes in the corner after the jump.  Keep in mind, Sugar has dutifully protected me for two weeks from those boxes.  She developed a number of ways to keep me away from them.  Equally, I have "encouraged" her to allow us to pass them.

At the end of the lesson, I conquered my 2' vertical and my fear.  That itty bitty step took me that much closer to running again.  Sometimes, it's the little things that make a huge difference in life...

USEA MEMBER STORY # _____

Used with permission of the
photographer - Yokinaphotos.com
The USEA wants to know about me... (and every other member, I'm sure).  My tag line here and in Facebook is "I am an Amateur Owner.  I work a full-time job and manage to ride 5 days a week.  I make mistakes, pick myself off the ground, dust the dirt from my shoulders and I try again.  Life is good!" 

I was a true barn rat as a kid.  No one in my family (immediate or otherwise) had any interest in horses, not one bit.  My passion must have been inherited from my Irish ancestors, lost for just a couple of generations.  So, at 11, I hunted horses down, did almost whatever anyone asked me to do for the pleasure of riding their horse.  Looking back...  at some barns, I was slave labor but I did get to ride!

I went to watch the Essex Horse Trials sometime in the mid 80's.  Everything about it captivated me...  the roads and tracks, the vet box, the XC course, the sweaty, elated competitors and their amazing horses.  Now, that was a sport that I wanted to be involved in...  elegant dressage, wild and free XC and powerful show jumping.  So the dream began.

A million years later, at age 44, I just happened to return to riding and the barn was primarily an eventing barn.  Dreams do come true....

Eventing, for me, is my football.  I follow the Upper Levels like the most passionate football fan.  I am lucky to keep my horse at a barn where the owner does the same.  If we had the equivalent of baseball cards for the horse/rider pairs, I am sure that the two of us would collect and trade them. 

I also follow my friends...  those that compete here in Area 1 and my growing number of Eventing Buddies on Facebook.  We cheer for each other ...  Live Scoring rocks! 

Who am I?  My outerwear is a 50 year-old Insurance Consultant covering the heart of a 16 year old horse crazed girl.  (Luckily for me, I have the income of a 50 year old 'cause horses are not cheap.)  Giving back to this sport I love is important, I volunteer as often as I can and I make small donations to the Young Riders, USEA Foundation, Area 1 and to some Horse Trials.  In order for Eventing to continue, we must do what we can to support its future.

Used with permission
Connecticutphotos.com
My horse, Fame and Frolic (aka Sugar), is a 16.3H registered Oldenburg NA mare (by Hall of Fame/DWB out of Four Frolic/TB).  I bought her from the breeder at age 5.  She was born and trained to be an Event Horse.  As I learned this sport, she was competed by professionals through Prelim and with me, BN and Novice.  We do everything...  Foxhunting (first flight), Dressage, Hunter Paces and I have been known to take her on vacation with me.  For the last six years, we have made a perfectly imperfect team.

Dreams do come true...  This year, as our season begins, I have some...  Area 1 Novice Championships (Qualified), Area 1 Team Challenge, AECs (Qualified), move up to Training and, then who knows?  The possibilities are endless...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

OH OPENING DAY!!!!!

I crack myself up sometimes...  But you really have to listen to this song while reading ...  it so exemplifies how I feel about the first Event of the season...  Dat's right!  UNH Horse Trials, the first Event in Area 1 opens on Tuesday!  Woot!  Woot!

(Continue reading below)



As I write that first check and sign my name to the entry ...  I can not express how excited I am.... oh, so joyous and free!!!  Soon I will be out of the indoor, running and jumping.  I fully expect my lil' Spring Hussy to have some serious and expressive hijinx in the dressage warm-up!

Opening Day...  this will be the year of all years!  I will have the best dressage tests and we will jump in stride, we will move up to training, we will go to the AECs and of course we will do a Training 3-day!   {{{{And there is much rejoicing!!!  The crowd rises in unison, the roar is deafening!}}}}

Yet, as that envelope drops and the mailbox clangs shut...  I wonder...  Am I ready?  Can I do it?  Maybe I should wait until King Oak,  maybe even start in June?  Hold on...  I haven't seen the ground for over 4 months...  what if we aren't ready?  What if I can't jump again?  What if I completely humiliate myself in front of everyone?  WHAT WAS I THINKING?

And like any other good overachieving, perfectionist and workaholic,  I promise the universe to eat better, to exercise more, to do 100 sit ups a day, to work without stirrups, to do anything not to humiliate myself at that very first and very exciting first event of the season...

Then...  I'll keep on singing...  OH HAPPY DAY!  We're doing it again!  OH OPENING DAY! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

PUPPY PERIL AND PLAY

Truly there is nothing more heart warming than babies...  foals, puppies and kittens...  God they are cute!  I could watch them play for hours with each new encounter providing me the most delightful gift.  Personally, to watch them experience snow for the first time enamored me...  tip toeing, then the big run into a long slide and the confused look until it becomes a game.  So precious and so much fun!
Love them to death... that is until their second trip to the vet. 

The first trip was easy... one crate and 10 six week old foxhound pups in a big old Suburban.  Two of us lifted the crate and carried it into the vet's office...  They were confused and compliant...  poor little things.  Two hours of time = weighed, vacinated, healthy and happy pups.  And, at the end of the day, two handlers sipping a bit of Dunkin' and havin' a bit o' puppy love.  It was a good day.

Cut to last night ...  8 eleven week old foxhound pups heading to the vet's for their last shots...  LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

First...  how do you get them there?  Barricade the Suburban?  No, they can climb and jump...  Use the Honda?  Uh, no...  visualize minor chaos and distruction.  You see, these were not the compliant babies that we took the first time.  These pups are pre-teen FOXHOUNDS...  rough and ready to roll. 

It was a circus of immense proportions.  This little gang of hooligans can squirm and escape like Hoodini in his prime.  The final push...  four pups, one crate, two adults, and one torn jacket...  it was like a carnival game...  push one in and three came out.  Finally, using my head (and not really my brains) and left shoulder as a barrier to the bulging pup pack, we threw the last one in, shut the door and off we went.

Opening the door, upon arrival, was sadly comical...  the bold, bulging, barking pup pack that left with us arrived sadly subdued, wet with purged puppy food waiting patiently for their release.  Three hours after beginning this party and one happier trip home, we returned with eight happy, newly vacinated, healthy pups.

Foxhounds run, foxhounds pack, foxhounds hunt...  To end on a happy note, we invited the pre-teens to reconnect to their rough and ready roots...  to run and play in the indoor...  maybe hunting for one of Jonah's chipmunks or two.

Their handlers?  We were just trying to reconnect to the sanity of the day just before that trip...  Babies are so precious but oh so much work! 

Handle all of them with care and laugh like a hyena...  makes it all better!


video

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JUST TELL ME, PLEASE!!!

Sug's a mare...  typical in the manner of an alpha mare...  she wants me when she wants me.  Her greeting is inversely proportional to the amount of hay she has...  a delightful whinny?  No hay and she is alerting the world that her STAFF has arrived.

I walked into the barn this morning and Sugar was particularly needy... Her normally "neat" stall was a bit of a mess... bare patches and piled shavings seemed to indicate a restless night.  She left hay, was she colicy?  She didn't seem to stand square... is her back sore?  Something wrong with her right foot?  Why is she staring at me? Why isn't she eating her hay?  What does she want?  
I never had kids.  I didn't plan it that way...  it just came to be.  Sometimes I wonder if I would have been one of those mothers that bubble-wrapped the kids, drove them to school everyday to prevent their kidnapping, worried, fretted and protected them so much that the other kids teased them mercilessly.  I wonder.  And, then I think...  I made a better Aunt than a Mom...  (more on that some other day).

My Eventing Buddy's (and full-time rider in eventing's Double Wide Short Bus) horse has an ache, a real one!  All those questions and more churn in her head...  mine too.  'Cause we Eventing Buddies rally and feel every fall, every ache, every dream and every pain.  WE want to run, play and have fun! 

Area 1's season is opening soon, the opportunities are endless and our dreams run wild.  The ache is probably just that... an ache.  And I'm sending wishes to that effect...  an ache, that's all!

And, I'm sure Sugar is fine...  I just wish that she could tell me.  Tell me what you want, tell me what you know, tell me if an ache is just an ache!  JUST TELL ME, PLEASE!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

GLUTTONY ... THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING

Jonah (aka the Convict), you see, was born to retrieve.  Serious and determined, he brings things to me - toys, balls, gloves, shoes and his most important prize - socks.  For him, the smellier the better!  A Lab needs a job to be happy and, Jonah lives in a joyous world.

A Vet once told me to wrap his pills carefully in salami, or bury it in a piece of cheddar cheese and, if that doesn't work, hide it in a tablespoon of peanut butter.  I looked at him incredulously,  "Really?  Hide it?  Really?"  Then I laughed, turned to Jonah and flipped the pill in the air ...  CAUGHT, SWALLOWED! 

We horse girls got together last night...  and you know how that goes....  good food, wine, big laughs and tales about our rides, our divas, men and a dive into ... uh, girl talk (and that is where I stop lest this becomes an R rated writing).

The Convict violated his parole that evening.  Left alone and wandering about, he relapsed into his food thievery.  His buffet included Natural Dog Food, Puppy Food and the latest high protein Cat Food.  I even think he helped our host clean the litter box.  

Heroically, the next morning,  he forced himself to eat his breakfast...  then lay bloated and panting...  content with his deeds.  For me, I was just thrilled that I wasn't dealing with a vet bill.  That is until... well, a gentle hissing sound released from his bottom.   

For 24 hours, the air freshener of the day was "Summer Skunk" ...  not to be found in a Yankee Candle collection.  It is the gift that keeps giving!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ONE DAY, ONE MOMENT AND...

I stopped texting and driving recently.  I had all the excuses and all the right intentions -" I only texted when I was at a stop light", "I'll just respond 'K"", "Just a quickie", "No one is in front of me, I can drive and text as long as its quick"...  and so many more.  The longer I had the phone the better and quicker I got... almost reaching the Grand Prix level for texters.

Then one day, purusing Facebook, someone posted this link:

 

All of the stories are about that one day, that one moment that changed their lives forever.  For some, it was just about being an expert driver, knowing the limits of what they could do and doing it, just this once.  It hit me hard.  I could be that person confirming a business lunch and, in one moment, changing lives in a manner that left me chilled.  I shivered and swore off texting and driving.

Courtney King-Dye  is marking (http://www.courtneykingdressage.com/) today as the anniversary of her riding accident where a young horse slipped and fell throwing her to the ground.  In that moment, helmetless, her life changed for ever. 

My heart breaks for her... she writes about hope, about dreams and recently, her sadness.  Only God knows to what extent she can return to her previous greatness.  And for her, that one moment and her struggles may serve to help many.  It helped change the rules in eventing dressage and is making waves in other disciplines.

I would love for the helmetless to watch this video



 
To really see her struggle, to read her Facebook posts and her Blog...  I hope you can understand that on any given day, one moment can change your life forever.   Make your changes count and count well...