Friday, April 29, 2011


Show prep begins right now (really, right after I post this). I took off today and all the timing belongs to me. And, I am so happy and free 'cause the pressure is all mine!

I started Eventing in 2005 right after buying Sugar. My trainer, at the time, competed her while I was dealing with the treatment of breast cancer. The excitement of being an owner (and groom) and watching your horse compete was amazing and absolutely exhausting. (Chemo may have had a little to do with that.)

Running with a Professional is awesome... it really is. It was a non-stop whirlwind of daily activity. Our days began at 6 and ended well after 9. Travel day was the worst - often getting to the grounds at 10pm and finishing the night in a hotel at midnight. Eating was random... food and drink grabbed when you could and off to do another task.

I learned so much about the management of an Eventing operation. So much that I've become that person on the show grounds who has everything you need to borrow. I'm grateful for that!

As an Amateur with a full-time stressful job, I like to do show-cations. My fellow Eventers provide the daily entertainment with the stories they tell. Dressage, Stadium Jumping and XC are the main activities keeping me busy. I love the time away from my life patting my pony and snuggling with my very own convict.

Now, I plan to get to the barns at 3, get a prime parking spot, leisurely unpack, set up my stall and then... hack my horse, walk my courses once and then tuck her in for the night.

Maybe I'll get to watch a bit of Rolex, enjoy a hot shower and a healthy dinner.

Special note: If I post that I am late, exhausted, stressed and at the barns until 10... don't shake your head and say, "I told you so..." ;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I am but a very small fish in the grand scheme of Eventing. I know and accept my place. Dreaming for me is mostly about goal setting and harboring a secret desire to be THERE. The fun thing is I really don't know what THERE is for me... yet. (Hmmm, more on that some other time.)

Really, why doesn't the United States Equestrian Federation check with me to find out what my show (and work) schedule is before releasing the Rolex Three Day Event dates. (For you non horse folk... it is the Superbowl of American Eventing).

Right now, the Wednesday before the opening of Area 1's (and my own) Eventing Season, my focus is torn between what is happening at Rolex and building up my annual horse show nerves. It is driving me batty! I keep flipping to to get the latest scoop... Really, doesn't the USEF know I have a show?

And, there will be live coverage everyday on Live coverage that I will not be able to watch LIVE because I work and I have a show. It's killing me... Hundreds of thousands of my closest eventing buddies will be watching it live, texting each other great tidbits, chatting online about that movement, that jump, that horse...

{{{{SIGH}}}}... Hmmm, wait... just wait a minute... Seriously, I have a show! Last year, Sugar was still suffering the consequences of a trailering incident and could not be trailered safely. And we missed most of the summer season after she fractured her splint bone. I entered and scratched so many shows that I truly felt that I was a major contributor to the USEA for all the $25 fees I paid to do so.

Sugar and I are competing this weekend. Yes, the same weekend that all the major horses and riders are competing at Rolex in Kentucky. How great is that...

Maybe, I'll catch it all on DVD... maybe!

Monday, April 25, 2011


Ok... this is kind of a secret... I am cheating on Jonah. Poor thing, I think he suspects something but, well, as a laborador retriever he can barely keep focus when there is food to be found or chipmunks to hunt... I'm sure he doesn't notice my Chandler yearning...

OMG! I luf me a Chandler Bing... He should be a convict for the many alias' he's had... Ms Piggy (first born with a crooked tail who never, ever took his mouth off mom's teat), Mr Piggy (when we discovered that we wrote the sex down incorrectly), Peter (at first vet's visit) and now Chandler (achieving the C litter name as a proper registered American Crossbred Foxhound).

He's bulky boy and a lab in a foxhound suit. Eager to please, happy to eat, concerned where you are... this boy, Chandler has wooed my heart. I walked him this morning after barn chores and before the "real" job. When the cheap retractable leash snapped, he turned to be sure it was ok to move on.

He snuffles and snorts when you hold him... like the little piggy he once was. And, at the end of the walk, he cocks his head listening at the door... waiting for your return. I luf me a Chandler Bing!

Foxhounds are working dogs that thrive in a pack. Chandler earned the kennel C name and one day, soon, he'll leave Fox Brook Farm with Cedric, Connor, Carter, Chloe and Carly. Gone away to the kennel to learn the joys of foxhunting (drag only).

I'll miss him dearly. And, when I see him run with the pack, hunting, on some fall day... my heart will sing... I luf me a Chandler Bing!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Work, work, work...  it's Easter morning, the barn peeps are fed, watered and as happy as they can be when their staff disturbs them at 6am.  Sug's body is bare to the world...  the morning sun glistening off of her pinto spots and bits of alfalfa escape her eager teeth.  It is a good morning at Fox Brook Farm and promises to be a glorious day!

 How I whined Thursday and Friday...  100% chance of rain - not mist, sprinkles or showers - pelting rain.  Saturday's Foxhunt was going to be canceled and so was my last chance to run and jump.  I needed to yank my inner cowgirl back out of her winter's hibernation or I wouldn't be ready for UNH Spring Horse Trials next weekend.  The pre-show anxieties were ready to roll!

Photo used by permission
Never doubt the heartiness of a die hard foxhunter.  Canceled, Smanceled...  we went out anyway, picking up markers for the new piece we were to hunt that day.  And, what was supposed to be a washout (and for me the beginnings of a pity party) ended up an amazingly fun faux fox hunt - sans hounds, huntsman - and my cross country school.   It rained, we laughed, we jumped, we cheered each other on and in the end...  we were the rock stars of our day!

Although, it must be noted... that as budding Fieldmasters...  uh...  we... uh... got lost!  Yet the laughter found us..

I have family to spoil today.  I'm sitting listening to a robin and on the hour, the church bells ring...  Seriously?  Life is what you make of it!  I choose to make mine good!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Before new shoeing
Sometimes I wonder about what kind of mother I would have been...  I mean, if you've read even some of these posts, you may have already answered that question...  pushy, neurotic, overprotective and, maybe...  just maybe a bit too reactive.   And, show stress can really make me cranky and impatient...  hmmm, I wonder....

No feet, no horse...  I've been worrying for a long time about Sug's feet...  Do they hurt?  Why does she stand that way?  Will the wedges she needs to give her heels, destroy what is healthy and good for the long term?  Is that thrush?  White line?  Why does she stand that way?  Do her feet hurt?  Hey, horse, tell me something, please?

Well, the farrier changed her shoeing this week.  My friend asked me, "Why would you do that at the beginning of the season?  When she isn't lame?"   Because, something is not quite right. 

My lil' Diva will have a Angry Mare fit if you move the boxes in the indoor and she will be inconsolable if one of the horses shifts in their paddock.  Yet, she can take pain like nothing I've ever seen.  Maybe, if I don't take care of her now, she won't know enough to tell me that it hurts until it is too late.

If Sugar shopped for her
own shoes

We all know that it's nervewracking to change...  hairdressers, doctors, dentists... our farriers are just like that.  What if its all wrong?  What if its a horrible mistake?

Yet, Sugar stood there in his shop...  square on all fours, licking and chewing on the cross ties as he worked on her feet.  Her comfort was evident.  When we came home, she stepped out of the trailer and her foot falls were light and free. 

I do wonder...  if I was a mother, would I have been a good one?  Well, maybe, just maybe, that's why God gave me a horse, a dog and lots of nieces and nephews. 

And I'm good with that!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


My family thinks I'm a heathen...  living alone up in the great North...  single, never married and just one step away from that "cat lady".  There is this beautiful Catholic Church right across the street from my house. Each Sunday I plan my escape to avoid the parishioners rushing to and from church.  I am not one of them... 

I was alone this morning... just me, the moderately disdainful, yet eager to be fed barn inhabitants and the Convict (aka Jonah).  Barn chores are rythmic and rewarding...  I feel peace when the stalls are cleaned, the water buckets are scrubbed and the floor is swept clean.  Each task is serenaded by the munching of hay, the occasional banging of a bucket and it brings me closer to heaven.

Today, after a rainy, windy night... it was warm, wet and the sun was sparkling through the clouds... I thanked God that I was awake and outside on this amazing morning. My world is my church and I am grateful to be a part of it!

So, I practice being a good friend, a good person and giving back for what I have so generously been given...  Maybe I am a heathen ...  maybe I am...  and, really...  that's ok!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


If you post pics on Facebook or shove a photo album in my hands, it is your lucky day.  I'm probably that one random person out there that WILL comb through each photo...  loving the moment captured.  Galloping, jumping, grabbing a quick kiss on the nose...  Here's a secret for you...  the photos can be of your family, the last vacation you took.  And, I'll even oooo and ahhhh over that picture of a colorful rock in your back yard. It doesn't matter, I love them all...  Me, me, me... let me see them now! 

I'm waiting for the pictures of our show to be posted.  And, filled with the hope that there will be that one picture where I look good!    (There I go again, confessing...)  I don't think of myself as vain.   I might even tell you, if you ask, that I love to look at them to "learn" more about the quirks of my ride.  Truth is...  I want to look great on my pretty white horse!

Courtesy of
My body is not perfect.  And, I seem to be gifted when it comes to the "awkward" pose or the concentrating frown. Once I decided to wear my glasses to see if it would stop the squinty pout.   The result was actually a study in hilarity!  Instead of wide open, curious eyes, I had a pig's snout...  curled up and thrust forward to catch the bouncing spectacles.  I kind of wished I bought just one.

This is one of my favorite "blooper"shots. It tells a story everytime I see it.  The determination and fierceness is palatable.  You see, it was taken in the "Season of Embarrassment".  The same season that Sugar's evil twin Saccarhine showed up more often than not.

2008 - We had gotten eliminated at the Spring Trial in Stadium just before Cross Country.  Sugar spooked, propped and spun...  I plopped off at the last fence in front of the judge.

That Fall , and at this, the third jump, she began to spook...  Still a bit of a Weenie Re-Rider and determined to not humilate myself in front of my first trainer, my old barn mates, Sug's trainer and my instructor, I found my GRRRRRRR and continued sans spook.  It was captured, forever, in this picture!

My Barn Owner has hundreds of great pics tucked in and around rows of colorful ribbons.  An eventing career displayed for all to see.  What I like best is her amazing smile... her photos singing "isn't Eventing the best"!!!!  Priceless...

Maybe, these pics will say the same for me! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011


We all have preconcieved ideas of what should be...  And, sometimes having Expectations fixed in stone leave us empty when we fall short.  Yet, if I don't expect to exceed, if I don't show to win, what drives me to show up?  And, what if I expect is really used to prevent the awful...  where does that take me? 

Used with photographer's permission
Ah shucks...  really... Sugar was a good girl today...  I did not bring home the polyester...  I did not have a dressage score below 35 and due to a severe brain fart, we had a rail in Stadium.  Oh, did I mention that  Sugar was a good girl today!  AND I HAD A GREAT TIME RIDING HER!  

Oh the stories I could tell about expecting to WOW a dressage judge and then barely being able to contain my Angry Mare.  Even today's test had the beginnings of a doozy.  Entering down centerline my 12 year old WELL TRAINED dressage/event horse had a moment of terror at the approaching Judge's Box.

As we fish-tailed down towards it, she delicately lifted her front end into a left-hand spin.  I encouraged her "gently" to move forward into the left turn.  The 5's turned into 6's which finished as 8's.   Ah, a 37.  Having been at the end of a 54 more than once....  37 is delightful.

It was the jumping today.  My little spookmaster quirky girl was a rock star.

When I got to the barn at 4:30am this morning, Sugar was delightfully covered in manure from her neck down to her front feet.  That additional bath caused me to miss the "official" course walk.  I walked my course, sans Eventing Buddy and Coach.  And I went over it in my head and I watched others ride it.  I was as ready as I was gonna get.

Uh, tell me, how does one relatively experienced rider, get lost on a course with 9 jumping efforts?  Well, when I excel, I rise to the heap...  I got lost 3 times.  And each correction I made, no matter how blonde, was greeted with ...  "OH, OK...  jump!"   The one rail truly was my fault...  no horse could have jumped clean from that approach. 

So, I do expect to win!  And, I sometimes plan to not fail rather than plan to win!  The greatest feeling ever, is that moment...  that one moment when you know, that despite all that you might do wrong, you have a partner that will make it right. 

Sugar rocked my world today!  Priceless.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I would love to make this little post a tutorial on how to perfect the grooming of a white horse.  That would make me happy and, really, make you think I am just a little bit nutty.  The kind of nutty that lives in a glass house constantly and meticulously spraying and wiping down the walls with window cleaner  chanting, "Wax on.  Wax off" over and over again.  I think I'll save that for another time.

Sugar and I are entered in a schooling two phase.  A prep for our first recognized show at the end of this month.  It was so easy to enter, post closing date.  Just a quick call and there we are...  starting the season on April 10th. 


And, here we go...  My show anxiety comes in two forms (maybe three).   This is the big one.  You see,  I have a white horse.  It's April! It's not fair to bathe her when the temps have yet to rise above 60.  I hate to see her shivering.  I hate to see her pink skin look blue.  And, why are my times so god awful early?  Doesn't the show secretary know that I have a white horse?
Example of my grooming, not riding

Getting to the barn the morning of a show is particularly nerve-wracking?  Did she lay her beautiful head on a soft warm pile of fresh manure?  Is it going to be a brief wipe kind of morning or one with a rushed, cursing, wet and whiney owner?   I hate the bathing ritual!  Hate it!  Hate it! 

Mostly, I hate it when it isn't perfect.  When the gleem of her coat has just a tinge of yellow from that one hardy stain I gave up trying to rub out...  (I am that bad!)


Maybe, I won't bathe her.  It's just a schooling show.  And, really, do I need to braid her?  Nah, no one else will.  It's just a schooling show.  No one will care...  yeah, no one will care...  It's just a schooling show.

Somewhere, deep in my core, I shiver.  Uh, no way.  So, Saturday night, I will be there, cursing and whining as I get my horse so white.  It won't be perfect.  I won't do that to her but she will look good.  And, if I'm walking her around the show grounds and you ask, "How do you get her so white?"  Walk away...  I may just tell you!  ;)

Oh, if my Eventing Buddy reads this, she could tell you the many ways my show stress translates into verbal diarrhea.

Monday, April 4, 2011


There is this episode on CSI where the forensic team enters a home, the scene is dark (as they all are) cats are meowing all over the house, and there lies the body.  It's an old woman, decomposed and partially eaten by her now feral pets.   She's been alone... dead for days ... brought down by undiagnosed hypertension. 

Sugar lives the life of a true princess.  Her staff of one (me) attends to her every need.  Her stall is cleaned to perfection using only the finest of materials - 100% pine pellets blended carefully with fluffy shavings.  I want to be sure that her bed is soft and absorbent.  The hay has been analyzed for its nutrient content to assure that she recieves the right blend of protein and sugar. 

I seek out the best providers of care to keep her body sound, fit and strong.  Her regime involves weekly longlining (equine yoga), monthly massage, frequent acupuncture and chiropractic care.  I adhere to a schedule for routine vet and farrier care.   Her shoes are replaced every 6 weeks at $295 per visit.  Sugar wants for nothing!

Today I saw my doctor to check on a itty bitty problem...  just a teeny one... yup.  And really, it could've waited.  Really, it could've waited but I saw the doctor anyway.  It was a great idea until the doctor asked me questions...  like, when was the last time you had a mammogram, when was the last time you saw your oncologist and the questions went on...

I had no excuse, but managed to squeak out, "I take care of my horse well!?   She saw the vet just last week."  {{{{Noooo!  Really?  Really!!}}}} 

This doctor was kind... "It's been two years since your last mammogram...  It's time for you to take care of yourself as well as you take care of your horse.  THE TIME IS NOW!"

Right now, I'm not a cat owner and I live with just one dog.  If I continue to ignore my health and avoid doctors at all costs, it might just be me...  gathering strays to keep me company until one day, alone...  the CSI team pulls up to the house...

One day, I plan to treat myself as well as I treat my animals...  may that day be today...

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I love basketball.  My shot is deadly 15 feet from the perimeter of the lane.  In my 30's and 40's I could muscle my way around and go head to head with quite a few men.  (Ok, older men, hobbled a bit with age and decadent living, but men nonetheless.)

When I watch the pros, I marvel at the beauty of their bodies, the ease and grace of their game and I revel in the excitement of moment.  Sometimes I think, wouldn't it have been nice to have the talent and the dedication to be at the very top of the game... 

For the most part, we live in harmony with our professional athletes, understand that they make money and perform at a higher level than we do on our backyard court or local gym.  I've even accepted that no one will ever asked me to play for the Celtics.

As an Eventer, I am an Amateur Low Level Rider -- Novice and lovin' it.  My life goal is to do a Training 3 Day and I dream of making it to Prelim.  I am proud of what I do even when I'm scraping the dirt off my buttocks and cursing my spooky horse.  It may not be George Morris perfect but it is as "Eventer Excellent" as I can be.

I cringe when I see a post on COTH or some other Horsey Bulletin Board or blog that slams the Professional/Upper Level Rider for pursuing their personal greatness and making a living while doing it.  I bare no animosity towards the them and actually LOVE to watch them ride.

Mark Weissbecker/Decordova
2003 Over-the-Walls
Can't we all get along?  I belong to a professional organization in my field that works on my behalf to assure that I continue to earn the bucks that keeps Sugar and Jonah fed and housed.  Shouldn't Phillip Dutton, Karen O'Connor, Boyd Martin, Buck Davidson or (insert name here of your favorite rider) belong to an association that will help meet their needs? 

Good for them, I say.  I hope they get more sponsorship and that they can make a decent living.  And, I hope that if they are hurt, the association is there to help them live on.  My job offers many of those benefits and so should theirs...  

We all have an opportunity to be the best we can be and to celebrate whatever that is for us.  I choose to work hard, very hard to be the best of the average.  I stand up and celebrate high level mediocrity...  and, still dream...  of Rolex.