Monday, February 28, 2011


So, there is this noble thought that circles around us amateurs, we do the things we do because we love our ponies.  And, that, we compete for the love of the sport and the ability to be with our friends and our horses.  There are so many threads on various Bulletin Boards that validate these thoughts and, yet, poo poo the idea of lovin' polyester.

So, here's another little secret...  IT IS, KIND OF, ABOUT THE RIBBONS!

I carry no false nobility.  I love my horse and caring for her and grooming and cleaning stalls and paying astronomical amounts of money to keep her healthy and fit enough to live a very good life.  She has 22 hours each day to rest and rejuvenate from her hour or so under saddle.   To be sure that her body is feeling good, she has a masseuse, a chiropractor and an acupuncturist administering frequent care.

Eventing is like a good game of golf.  I train and practice to get better and better.  I want to win, not to beat YOU but to validate the work that I've put in.  And, at the end of the day, I judge for myself...  Did I have a good ride?  Did my dressage get better?  Was my jumping clean and rhythmic?  And did we rock and roll in our XC run?  If I finished the day learning something, having fun, still loving my lil' diva and thinking that jumping rocks, then it was, in fact, a great day!  A ribbon is an added bonus!

Used with permission from
Working hard and wanting to win is not shameful. It has no less dignity than loving the sport, loving my horse and wanting to be the best horseman I can be.

I once won a ribbon (8th Place) for a day that involved a stiff, spooky dressage test, a perfectly wonderful stadium jumping course and a XC run that included 2 stops at a "scary" yellow bench (jump).  It did not make me happy to have that piece of brown polyester and I was not proud...  our (my) performance was shabby to say the least.  The ribbon did not change that ride.

Yet, the USEA just "reminded" us that we may have qualified for a Medal. I was immediately excited and checked. Yep, they were right, Sugar and I qualified for a Silver Medal at Novice. Still excited, I await my prize.

2010 was just that good!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Someone once called me a perfectionist and I laughed, maybe just a bit hysterically... "How could I be a perfectionist if I never get anything right?"

"Ahhh", this wise woman replied, "A true perfectionist is stuck at never finding anything perfect!  And, they often, and sometimes finally, stop trying..."  And, that was where I was "way back when"...  Doing very little of the things I loved 'cause I couldn't do them perfectly.

Stall cleaning is an art for me.  I meticulously remove manure and trampled hay... carefully, to minimize waste.  There is a fine mix of sawdust and shavings... just so... keeping the manure from clinging to her blankets or staining her neck.  I like a cleanly swept edge.   Perfect... and that feels good to me.

"Practice Doesn't Make Perfect, Perfect Practice Makes Perfect" often quoted by Jimmy Wofford, George Morris and I'm sure more than a few of the great athletes or artists.

I love to watch professionals ride my horse...  they make Sugar perfect - light, beautiful and free.  Maybe, just maybe, I have accepted mediocrity in my dressage.   And, that is where I was "way back when..."

Stephie Baer riding Fame and Frolic
"Dare to make mistakes" is another great quote.  The changes I need to make in my riding are subtle (well, except for my canter transitions)...  I must dare to be perfect by making mistakes and doing it again...  until the transition upward is a clear distinct move from behind and with give in her poll and a release in her back.

And, I must dare to be uncomfortable while accepting that being perfect is not the same as being a perfectionist.  If it doesn't feel good try again.   Keep trying...

And, in the end, gallop and laugh...

Monday, February 21, 2011


It lay before me,  miles of boarded pastures and paddocks free of manure set alongside a cross country course more appropriate for a show than a private property.  I was there to watch Capt Mark Phillips, Chef d' Equipe for the US Equestrian Team, conduct a training session for Eventing's High Performance Riders.  To watch and to learn, yet, I was captured by the beauty of the day, of the moment...

I looked around and there they were...  The two of them - tall, thin, each sitting solid and deeply in the saddle on a powerfully elegant horse.  They carried with them the lightness of youth as their silhouettes framed the farm beyond.   I gasped, out loud, for all who would hear, "Do you get up every morning and thank God for everything you have?  Do you know how lucky, really lucky you are to have all of this?

 For that brief moment, it was all about them...  Do they? Then,  WHOA...  DO I?

As a 50 year old Novice rider,  I am pretty sure that the Captain, is not going to invite me to Ocala next year for a lesson or two.  And, I'm kind of sure that Karen and David O'Connor are not going to have me "hop on" one of the greenies to tune them up.  And I am more than a little bit worried that one of the Big Name Trainers might have a comment or two about my middle-aged buttocks.
Yet, I am no less lucky than those two women riding on the most perfect day on that most perfect farm.  It really hit me, in that one second after judging them as spoiled and maybe not grateful, do I really get how lucky I am?  Do I thank God, really thank God, for all that I have even though in some "other-world", I do not have all that is perfect? 

If I didn't yesterday, I will right now!   And, I hope that I remember this moment when it snows yet again or when the barn inhabitants greet me less than enthusiastically, that I have a gifted life (even if my bottom is a bit... um, unfirm)!

Friday, February 11, 2011


I knew this rant was going to seep out one day...  It can be an awkward and maybe a risky "conversation" but, seeing the Pink Ribbon sometimes annoys me... and, sometimes, pisses me off.  Whew, there, I let the cat out of the bag...

Six years ago, I had  routine mammogram which ended up not at all routine.  Within minutes, my life changed...  I had breast cancer - early detection/small/Stage 1/hormone positive/HER2 negative/not-in-lymph-nodes.  If you have to have cancer...  opt for breast cancer and line up to have the above characteristics.  Think work, hard-not-fun-work, not death 'cause breast cancer is one of the most curable cancers of them all (5th - 86% survival rate).

But, this isn't about the personal work involved in cancer treatment, but about the media and about the marketing of breast cancer and the tactics used to scare us into thinking that Cancer defines us and, without huge donations, we will die from it.  (I warned you ... a rant!)

Awkward, right?  

Ok, if you walk, ride, drive, sing, dance or DO anything for any cause, be it breast cancer, any cancer, ALS, multiple sclerosis, hospice, etc, and you ask me, I will donate.  I love YOUR commitment to your cause.  What I won't do, is donate, personally, to breast cancer research.  All of my personal donations go to the American Cancer Society (or similar non-specific cancer research) to be distributed to cancer research.

Think about it...  think about the marketing.  If you can pick half the population (women) and convince them that by donating to breast cancer research, they will live.  Then WOW, you have a pocket full of money.  Don't get me wrong...  breast cancer is curable because of all the work that's been done.  I am grateful for that...  really grateful...

I just can't help but to think,  what about the "orphan" cancers - pancreatic, lung, colon, brain, bone...  do they lose because breast cancer research is so well funded?  These are not pretty cancers and, the "survivors" don't survive long enough to tell their story.  Funny, my dad died of lung cancer...  I would be rich if I charged everyone a $1 for every time they asked me if he smoked...  Lung cancer is not a glamorous cancer.

Cancer does not define me... I am not a survivor for I was never near death.  I had a disease.  I went through some awful treatment (chemo and radiation)... Hmm, maybe I would say I survived chemo and radiation without the label of survivor.   If I get it again...  that would suck and I would go through the process again (pissing and moaning, just a lil' bit).  I just don't buy into the fear...

If you or a family member ever gets the diagnosis  - breast cancer...  remember, it is one of the most curable cancers of them all!!!!!  Lead their care with hope, not fear!

Special note - this website really saved my mind during treatment (

Monday, February 7, 2011


I think sometimes writing is best served fresh...  moments after a thought or experience...  so real, you can taste and feel it.  It's winter here in New England and we have a 4' snow base...  eventing is 4 months away.  Memories of the outdoors must keep me going...  sigh!!!

I learned to love the gallop last year.  Don't get me wrong, I really thought the pace (350mpm) we set going Novice was galloping.  It was exhilerating...  I loved it.  It was enough or so I thought.  And, then they let me run free...

Foxhunting* immediately wowed me.  At my first hunt, the Fieldmaster gave me (this former weenie adult rider) the best advice ever.  She said that riding in the field was about trust - trusting that my horse knew where her feet were, trusting that she would take care of both of us...  And, if I had that trust, we would have the ride of a lifetime.

My first thought was, "uh, no way...  I have to watch everything and keep her safe from holes, roots, scattered debris, everything."  My second was, "What was I thinking?!"

And then the hounds were cast and we were off and running.  It was apparent from the very first stride, that I had to let go and just be... 

This first hunt was profound... by letting go, we became a team and it was amazing.  And each hunt after that I wanted more...  more jumps and more speed...

That is until I got it...  November 13, 2010.  I celebrated my 50th birthday at the All New England Joint Hunt at Myopia Hunt Club.  Me and 150 of my "closest" hunting friends and their horses for an all out running and jumping fest.

Sugar had fire in her belly and a poor bit choice in her mouth.  My girl had wings and an attitude that screamed "I'VE GOT IT!"  Letting go took on a whole new meaning.... that is until we were flat out galloping down hill with me pulling so hard to slow her down that I forgot to look up.  And when I did, we were locked on two big huge round bales directly in her path.  OMG!  I safely and kindly pulled her off...  And, after 2 hours riding first flight AND having the gallop of a lifetime, I retired to the Hilltoppers...  Sugar felt grateful.

So, the Thanksgiving Hunt was our last heehaw...  now I watch that snow base and I dream... Let me run free....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I love this song.  The words carry me to a place filled with his memory...

If I could steal
One final glance
One final step
One final dance with him
I'd play a song that would never ever end
Cause I'd love love love to dance with my father again

I'll never forget that day.  As a daddy's girl, my heart broke...  I never thought I could smile or laugh again...  Then the sun rose, all of us together and I realized, he raised us right...  just like him.  Filled with Life, filled with the joy of laughter and we reached for each other to love and comfort.

No one owned my dad, he was so much a part of the universe...  each of us, in his eyes, was special and not in the short version.  He was hungry to connect with us, to hear about our day and about our latest adventure.  Not one of us... neither brothers or nor sister claimed him...  his spirit was that big. 

If you've ever read the book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom, you know what I mean when I say that a moment with my dad, touched you.  I would watch how he interacted with kids...  how he commanded their respect and how, when earned, he gave it to them back.  They grew tall in his presence and giggled at his teasing. 

I wonder sometimes who he met in heaven...  what story in his life was the most important to others.  And, that always leads back to me...  living a life filled with hope, laughter and joy and moving gently to the next adventure no matter how small is his legacy I choose to call my own....

Thanks Pop!
(James C Adams 12/1/30 - 2/3/05)