Sunday, January 16, 2022


So in a confessional blog, it's ok to admit that I am a member (or could be a member) of many 12 Step Programs.  Given my predilection for addictive behaviors (yeah horses, Facebook,etc) and substances (chocolate, ice cream among the many), I try to avoid anything new that could trigger binging.  

{{{OK, I did lose the Ted Lasso binging obsession and quite frankly really need an intervention.}}} 

So when Tik Tok became all the rage, I avoided it like the plague.  I already waste so many hours "managing" Facebook pages, including my own, that I did not entertain getting the app.  So, folks would send me one or two that they thought I'd be interested in...  And yes, I would watch it and maybe the one after that but always caught myself if I went to a third.

Then something called a Reel (Tik Toks) showed up on my Instagram/Facebook feed.  Here's another confession, I have been binge watching the horse ones...  Friesians galloping in the snow, barrel racing, young horses being broke, funny little bits from a dressage groom.  And, when the temperature hit a -5F, I couldn't stop...  folks - men and women -  with helmets, without helmets (had to stop judging them so harshly), jumping, galloping, loping...  just having fun.

Let me say that again...  Just.  Having.  Fun.

I don't belong to the Facebook group, Shiteventersunite.  There are too many falls, too many stops, too many problems that we are meant to laugh at.  We are meant to laugh at these moments and commiserate at our mutual problems.  For me, it triggers my already overactive anxiety issues and helps my demons show visions of what could come.

Give me the cowgirl, cowboy and backyard Tik Tokker...  show me your joy, show me the ease in which you gallop and laugh.  Run delightfully through the fresh snow never once worrying about the potential for ice.  And show me your high horse and how you let them burn it off with a good run.

And Shanti, cooped up and confined due to a polar freeze, enjoyed her rider today.  When she kicked up her heels NEEDING to move, this rider thanked those Tik Tokkers and allowed her to move as she needed to move. I had my metaphorical cowboy hat, a fleece lined bomber's jacket and jeans glued to our big ole western saddle riding out the energy...  The only thing not metaphorical was the smile on my face and the feeling of freedom in my heart.

One last thing...  OK, I work hard at not judging but damn, wear a helmet.  This shit is dangerous.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021


You know how you chit chat before a meeting begins?  "How was your Thanksgiving?" "Did you see the game?"  "Whatcha doing next weekend?"  Sometimes you're the listener and sometimes you're the teller and if you're on Zoom, maybe you're swiping through your emails nodding as if you're engaged.


"Thanksgiving was...  you know ok.  Not sure why we do any cooking, the meal takes hours to make and its over in 20 minutes."  "Yeah... waste of time."  Somewhere in the murmurings, I raised my head out of my emails..  

What?  Thanksgiving is never about the food.  Oh it seems like its all about the food but it's really about the memories surrounding the food and later, as life changes, the stories, thoughts and moments recalled as the food is prepared.

This year I cooked the full Thanksgiving feast.  It was just my niece, a neighbor and I.  So much trouble for 3 people, why bother?  It's never about the food.

As I stood over a cutting board, carefully chopping celery and then the onions, I remembered so many Thanksgiving evenings watching my dad carefully chop celery and then onions stopping every so often to ask my mom if she thought he'd cut enough.  If the answer was no, he'd look at us kids and say something funny about being in a Navy mess kitchen.

I remembered my mom sautéing the vegies in margarine as I sautéed the same in butter.  I was with him when we added the milk, S&P and parsley so deep was the feeling.  She added the mixture to the bread and mixed it just so and when it was perfect he took over and finished stuffing the bird.

It's never about the food.  It's about a memory so deep and so pleasant that I'm not sure the tears were from cutting an onion so carefully for a feast held later in the day.

Tomorrow is my dad's birthday and while physically he's been gone 16 years, his memories live in me.  And, he may have thought that the Thanksgiving meal was too much work, this year he was with me as I created my own memories.  I love you Pop!


Saturday, September 4, 2021


I know you've all heard it and I know you all have answered the question time and time again.  "Why are you taking lessons?  I thought you knew how to ride!"  Yup, it is a question asked year after year and sometimes right after said lesson.  

My confession today?  Yeah, I like lessons.  No, I mean I really like lessons.  I like them with big time trainers, gifted trainers and I like my trainer who train both the Lil' Redheaded Girl and I.  I guess I could really say that I love lessons.

Today I had a goal.  It was a simple one - loosen Shanti up and improve our Up and Down transitions.  I'm sure its a goal that everyone has had at one time or an other - nothing too crazy or unachievable like riding down the hill to the outdoor.  (Maybe I'll tell that story at some point.)  I wanted good and I wanted improvement.

Left alone, the second it gets hard my demons peek out just a little - no name calling but acting like a passive aggressive "friend" who might enthusiastically tell you before a first date or some special event "that they love that dress but is turquoise really a good color".  And adding, "I mean you can pull it off like no one else."

Maybe they mean to be encouraging but just don't know how to do it well.  Or maybe they are being guided by the great demon, Perfectionism.  Maybe they are pushing success like the sport crazy parent that sees the Olympics in mind*.  They just keep a nagging monotone hoping that it triggers success.

Well, it does trigger something and it often isn't very nice.  And, since the only thing one can control (and poorly at that) is oneself, Shanti gets the "GOOD GIRL's"  and I get the, "Am I ruining what is good?  Am I really helping or am I hurting her back?  God I suck at this!  Oh come on, just give it up...  I am doing everything I can...  I ride like crap."

My love of a good lesson (which is actually the lesson itself), is about someone who can guide me, talk over the demon Perfectionism and encourage goodness and development without the negative judgement.  And, it's not about praise (although that is nice), its really more like marriage counseling - balancing out what is real, acknowledging the development and helping guide us to be better together.

So I love a good lesson which is a lesson itself.   I continue to ride on my own whilst wanting help with the balance not of the body but of the head.  Shhh, I have goals and they be lofty ones...

Wednesday, June 30, 2021


 It's been said that I am unlucky, that things happen and happen often...  What is luck?   Well, winning the lottery would definitely be lucky (MA Lottery Division, the $10 check doesn't quite count) and some would say finding the perfect parking spot or making it through all the lights and getting to that appointment on time is very lucky.

The ultimate judge of who is lucky and who isn't is really and simply you. I've always felt that I was lucky and stepped up into the unknown if the Universe said, it's time, do it... sometimes a little nudging helps and once or twice I believe that the Universe kicked me into it.

But, this is post about love which is very lucky indeed.  

Once upon a time, way back when, the Bestest Eventing Buddy and I were planning our 2011 eventing season.  You know...  where you sit around in January and dream the big dreams of all that you and your ponies will do and all the fun you'll have.  At one point, I said that it was the year that I would find a mate and marry living happily ever afterwards.  We laughed the big laugh of hyenas... hmmm, was it that far fetched (oops, another post perhaps).

And then came OBNH Chandler Bing, a 4.5 month old foxhound puppy who in a great escape realized that leaving the barn was scarier than the climb down a 20 foot retaining wall to get back to his kennel.  A badly broken elbow, surgery and then, he was mine.  Chandler joined Jonah and became known as Da Boyz.

This is a post about love, that deep, bottomless pit of love.  That feeling that happens when everything comes together - that your foxhound wants to be closer to you than the lab who was bred to be your companion.  That warm feeling of home when you enter a room and his crooked tail wags and he leans his body into yours grateful for your return.

And, that feeling of completeness as you take your pony out for a ride and your two friends are trotting and cantering with you as we all explore the new morning as the sun rises.  Most of all that look he gives you in stillness, that look of confidence and adoration so secure was his knowledge that he was deeply loved in return.

Chandler was king from the moment of his birth to the final moments of life. He never doubted that he was loved, never wondered if he'd be fed and lived a very good life.  Our adventures together were epic and I am so lucky that he was in my life.

My wish for us all is that we get to experience the confidence of being loved, knowing that we will be cared for and that someone will always have our best interest in mind.

My dear friend sent me this poem by Mary Oliver, Blackwater Woods, American Primitive Collection 1983

"to live in this world

you must be able

to do three things

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go"

Chandler, you were my heart hound and per the Bestest Eventing Buddy, my husband.  I will miss you terribly 12/22/10 - 6/26/21


Friday, March 19, 2021


 Some would say that its just a gate. And others would see it only as an obstacle to be cleared. And for me, it did appear like maybe I have to  jump Dante's 9th Circle of Hell.

"Be kinder to yourself." "Know that you are not alone... most adults have to jump regularly in order to be able to jump at all."  "It's time to stop saying that you're mind is broken." 

Turning my first ever trip to Aiken into my own private adult boot camp is just what this brain and body needed to begin releasing the demons determined to hold my inner Honey Badger hostage. I am a long way from banishing them and kicking some eventing booty but today, I feel closer than I have in 3 years.

We jumped today, outside on a cool windy day.  

I approached the lesson like a prisoner cuffed and dragging chains...  maybe I should just quit.  This is tooo hard!  The demons raged on in my head... torturing me with all my "failings".  And the sad, sad part about raging demons and "failings" is that they cut deep through any self-help book one may have read, causes all the therapy and sports psychology completed to disappear until you're a quivering mass of anxiety.

If you are prone to anxiety, you know what this feels like.  If you're not, be incredibly grateful because, for you, this is the adrenalin that keeps you safe and kicks you on.  For me, anxiety manifests as physical weakness.

We jumped today, outside on a cool windy day with a new instructor.

Warning JT that I wasn't sure I could do this (with maybe a hint of panicking tears), that just being here was success, she calmly said that she would lay down a pole to do figure 8's over and that would be good enough.  {{{Hmmm, we can do that.}}}

A good instructor has an instinct, a connection with bodies and brain that is not always visible.  And the really good ones are fluid in their methods with a touch of mysticism in their teachings - they make things happen and the student evolves...  JT is all of that.

We jumped today, outside on a cool windy day with a new instructor, over a gate.

"Let's get that nice relaxed trot and add the cross rails as caveletties."  "Just keep asking her by giving and releasing, no effort, just go with it." "Good, that's right, Good."

"Now add the gate."

WTF!  The gate? I haven't jumped a vertical since January.  WTF!  THE GATE?  (Apparently she didn't know that Sugar had gate issues and thus, I have gate issues and that, even though I know that Shanti doesn't have gate issues, what if she does?)

I stopped and told her that I wasn't ready for the gate and that we could do it later, like maybe next week.  She calmly stated, "I really hoped you would have just done it instead of stopping. Now, you can do the gate and be finished."

OMG!  This woman gets me.  The incentive to stop far outweighs my anxiety or past issues.  Hell, I will jump Dantes' 9th Circle of Hell to be finished.

So, I jumped the gate!

And I actually think the lesson really started.  That gate turned into jumping the verticals, the crossrails and then the gate over and over again.  

We jumped a gate today and I am in heaven.  I can't wait to do it again!

Sunday, March 14, 2021


Sigh, when I don't want to write and I keep getting nudged to write, I know that there are words that need to be said and a confession to be made...  I'm 60 (no that is not the confession) and I feel like I'm on the precipice.  I could come back, like really come back or I could just be a "natural horsemanship expert" always getting ready to do something but never actually doing it. (Shhh, I'm actually not good at natural horsemanship.)

I wish I was regaling you with an awesome tale of a wild adventure... over hills at a gallop, whipping around a cross country course or captivating the world with our stunning jumping.

Well, I'm not.

Today, for the first time ever, after traveling 16.5 hours and barely caring for our bodily functions, the Cowgirl and I landed in Aiken. with our horses.  One day we're locked in an indoor, whining about 18 degree (Fahrenheit) weather and the next day it's sunny, 76 and Shanti and I are heading to the outdoor "fully prepared" for our first lesson. 

And maybe all you young things aren't phased by anything and approach things like the Cowgirl...  "let's git ur done".  Ten years of off and on writing, I can still tell you that for me, that is not the case.  And it bothers me.

Landing in what feels like summer and being outside for the first time since November was mind blowing.  Oh, let's add a new instructor and the anxiety will just wash away.

Well, it did not.

I felt assaulted by all the stimuli - horses moving about in the pastures, a dog or two playfully checking us out, a stallion calling to all the mares on the farm, her pasture mate and traveling companion calling for her.  

I was the Lil' Country Bumpkin riding an upbeat, tense horse.  She was as unfocused as I was and while I did all the "things" to bring the focus back to me.  My brain ticked off - "Is she galloping way down there?"  "Why did the horses decide to gallop around their paddocks?"  "Is that a pony in the woods?" "Is she really going to cut the grass?"  "I wish her buddy would stop calling for her."

Finally, after breathing deeply, I could let go of all the awful things that would not happen.  Anxiety has its own life cycle and breathing deeply seemed to settle it long enough to let go of its hold on me.

It was a beautiful lesson under the guidance of a skilled and kind instructor. The best thing was finally slowing the brain down to actually feel like I can ride and that Shanti and I are ok.

Coming to Aiken, getting outside was a very good decision.  Now to just put the self flagellation away and live in the gratitude of how lucky I am and maybe, just maybe, this is exactly what I need to find myself again.

Maybe it is...

Sunday, February 7, 2021


So, I can start this confessional by telling you all the things that I am grateful for just so you don't think poorly of me. And trust me, I do know how fortunate, how priviledged and how deeply lucky I am. I have a job that I can do from home. I've been healthy and none of my close friends or family members have died from COVID. And, I have an amazing amatuer-friendy and fancy pony to call my own. (See, still trying to have a judgement-free zone.)

Yet, living alone in a Global Pandemic is hard no matter how many gifts I have, no matter how many gratitude lists I write or how closely I hug the hounds. I read a great article recently about how working from home, self-isolation, and the lack of human contact is wearing us down, increasing anxiety and depression and, sitting for hours in our kitchen chairs (meant for a 30-40 minute meal) is wreaking havoc on our bodies and souls.  

I didn't ride last week. And, work and a snow storm kept me away from the barn. You see, there were many important meetings, and a new project that had to be finished and well, you know, work allows me to have all the great things that keep me happy. Right? Shanti will be fine and I'll get back in the groove when "all of this" is behind me. Right? 

Depression and anxiety are funny things. Sometimes you are in it, can feel it and resist the pull to bring you deeper into it. And there are those times when its like fog rolling in on a warm winter morning. The snow looks the same and the wispy vagueness in the lines are barely noticable so you just keep moving into it. If you're lucky, when turning a corner and the fog envelopes you, you stop and work your way back to the sunlight.

Sometimes you just have to get there to be successful.  Sometimes when you're there, you just have to brush her to be successful and sometimes you just need to throw your saddle on and plan on just walking around the indoor to be successful.  And, then you notice that she's a little stiff, a little spooky and your mamma instincts kick in until the ride has balance, Shanti has flow and your face has a smile.  Wow, that was quite nice.
Shanti and the HYP, her BFF

Knowing that fog swirls around filling low spots, you reach for a hand that reaches out to guide you further into the sunlight...  you say YES to the lesson.  And for the second day, with the guidance of the Happy Young Professional (and Shanti's BFF), you allow balance, flow to lift the fog filling the indoor with smiles and pats of "good girl' cheating depression of another day rooted in routine.

It is almost always about doing the next right thing and incorporating those things you love to rob depression of its pleasures...