Saturday, October 29, 2011


As I sit here, cozy warm, two dogs snoring away, I'm not pondering the laundry that needs to be done.  No, not that, nor the dirty dishes sitting in the sink.  I'm not moaning about the Nor'easter bringing a foot of snow and wrecking havoc with Halloween plans.  No...  I'm here...  one hand holding a mug full of chai tea and the other busily writing... 
Halloween snow!

It's a good night.  There is no better feeling than being home after stealing a day...  You see, we could've canceled the hunt.  It was too cold and the weatherfolk warned us of how bad it was going to be and so many other things were being canceled, postponed....  why not us?

Magical!  That's what this was for me!  Oh, I'm not going to tell you that I now have to search for a loophole in Hunt Courtesies...  you see, I don't think a person should have to buy a bottle of wine IF that person's unscheduled dismount was due to the fall of the horse after a jump on a slippery 90 degree turn...  That is my work before the Master's Dinner... Just sayin'!

The world before a snowstorm is a cold quiet place.  The density of the air wraps around our bodies and our horses breath clouds before us.  The grass yellowed and peppered with snow... The woods were more tree than leaf.   The leaves remaining color the woods like stars in a moonless sky... beautiful and brilliant.

Framingham MA, like everywhere, is overgrown with housing, big malls, Route 9 and getting even more so each year. Who would have thought that we could be out running with the hounds chasing the ever elusive anise scent for over 2 hours. The territory includes fields, woods, multiple stream crossings and a menagerie of animals - dairy cows, donkeys, chickens galore. For one moment, I bow my head and honor the conservationists, the farmers and all the folks who have worked hard to keep this area open. Thank you all!

Fwiends...  gotta luf dem!
10/15/11 Hunt - more leaves.
Sugar stood at the first cast, shaking with anticipation waiting for the cue to run.   The Huntsman and the Whips came parading down the path from the Hound Truck.  The hounds besides them, whining and yipping, begging to be sent on the way.  The Field parted and, then...  it began.  The whining and yipping continued as the pack fanned through the field...  Then, a sharp cry and we were off like a shot!

It was a good day to hunt.  The hounds thoroughly enjoyed the work weaving in an out of the woods calling for back up.  It was fantastic to watch the Whips work bringing the excited pack off the hill and back to the check!  I wanted to lead a cheer...  but I have been told that, well, the Wave is frowned upon at the Check...  even if well-deserved.

Animals bring out the best in us.  We brave the elements...  no matter what.  We go out when others stay in.  For that, we get these gifts...  the jewels of life.  Outside in a quiet world with 25 of my "closest and dearest" hunting peeps.  Hmmm, now to find that loophole!

Monday, October 24, 2011


So, as confessionals really go...  I suck at math.  Oh, I am a bit handy when it comes to a calculator but without that powerful little tool...  {{{SIGH}}}. 

"If you look really carefully,
you can see a dog"

What I DO have is a knack for calculations when it involves adding 9 minutes to time for each smack of the snooze button.  That I can do AND I can even manage in a stage of semi-sleep to calculate two different intervals on two different alarms assuring that I make it somewhere on time.  It's a gift...  Yup, I won't be solving the economic issues of our day...  but I will know what time it is if I hit the snooze three times.
You would think that I am not a morning person...  or that I dread getting up and out of bed.  I say to you...  No way...  If I am in bed at 7am, I have officially slept in!  
A tired dog is a good dog!

Mornings... ahhh...  When folks are catching those last few moments of shut-eye, I'm out, with the boys in tow...  feeding the horses and enjoying the quiet before the rush.  It brings me peace.  It brings me joy. 

This morning was one of the good ones.  We had a bit of a cold snap in New England and I left the house in a fleece sweatshirt and a windbreaker... Freezing... who knew it was 34 degrees?  The boys and I both needed a good walk - done as the sunlight came over the hill.  Creatures were rustling in the woods...  I could hear them ...  maybe a racoon returning from a quick trashcan run or a squirrel for the Convict to hunt.  The Lil' G-Pirate was happy to sniff along our frosty path...  this, of course, is his first Fall.

It's all worth it!
The barn was warm and it felt soothing after the chill of our walk.  There are whinnies for attention and food.  I am still Staff in the eyes of the barn inhabitants... the King bangs if I am too slow, the Prince shakes his head in mild irritation if his hay is not at his feet to chase his breakfast down, the Donkey has a whole routine to show his displeasure at what he feels is my clumsy attempts to feed him first. And, the Princess... well, she can be most patient as the last horse fed... she is unwilling to let the help know that she is hungry. You see, a Princess doth not deem herself the equal to her stablemates.

A clean stall...  done just so...  tired hounds... I'm off to work...  paying for these early morning pleasures.  What a perfect way to start a day... 

Life is, indeed, good!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Sometimes in a effort to keep going, to get things done, to achieve goals and to make it all adventurous and productive...  you miss the beauty of keeping it simple.  That moment of pleasure is gone as you move on to the next "best" thing!
Da Boys...  napping!

Today was a tired day coming from a long, busy and exhausting week.  We had a spectacular Hunt yesterday - very physical and fun.  Barn chores and dog walking are a given.  Sug needed a ride to limber up from the day before.  I was tired and sore...  "A nap, a nap...  TAKE A NAP!"   I did not want to saddle up and work...  I just wanted a NAP!

You see, had I filled my day with all things "necessary", I would have missed the simple gift of a trail ride with the New Barn Girl, the Donkey (Declan) and our "mixed" pack o' hounds.  I would have missed it for a myriad of reasons...  Dishes needed to be done.  Sugar could have a day off.  I'm tired and sore.  The dogs need walking.  I have to do laundry/food shop/insert house elf task here.  All of the chores seemed critical.

It is a simple pleasure when two horse girls ride out shortly before a setting sun with hounds bounding about.  The woods were dark, the trails along the pond shiny with shimmering sun and our pack of three running about in the tall grass.  Actually, Jonah is hunting chipmunks.  Carli is hunting Jonah.  And, Chandler...  well, he's our stirrup hound...  he stayed right at our tail while his "team" bandied about.

Exhausted and Napping
My smile grew as Sugar relaxed her back and swung her hips as she gained her Cross Country walk...  maybe the urge for home and her dinner helped just a bit...  The romantic in me wants to believe that she enjoyed the Autumn air and being out with her stablemate.   Maybe it was more about me, slowing down and enjoying the moment as if it were all it needed to be.

Our pooches...  what a treat!  Two 9 month old hound teenagers and our anchor Lab sometimes leading the way, sometime following...  mostly chasing something of utmost importance...  the chipmunk's squeak, Declan's tail, a blowing leaf...  intense and immediate joy!  Another gift.

At one point, we lost our hunters...  I know Jonah, he was probably dunking his body in the stream.   Turning to look back at the New Barn Girl and whistling for the wanderers, I thought... this moment doesn't get better than this.

Winter Wee Folk
NBG had a red sweatshirt, riding a chestnut pony...  the sun behind her illuminated the field below us...  Carli bounding above the grass, her tail flagging her happiness as she ran to her person...  The Convict in his Lab way, charged happily behind her... Sheer pleasure...  all of us ...  in that simple moment.

It was a gift!  I'm glad I was present to receive it.  I'm glad, that for just a moment, I slowed down and enjoyed it.


Me "sucking" up to the Huntsman
on a "colorful" day
Photo used with permission

I believe that your attitude sets your destiny...  Believe it and it comes true.  Think about all the folks you know who tell you how hard life is, how so many things happen to them, how everything sucks...  It's true...  not because of reality, its because that's their view, their take on life.  They miss the hundreds of gifts - big and small, that happen often.  So when I hear the wives tale that bad things happen in threes, I groan and then laugh...  HA!

Um... uh...  so...  I proved, yet again, in front of 30 or more of my "closest" hunting buddies, at a Joint Hunt, that Bumbles do, in fact, bounce.  And, that would make it #3 for this year (Groton House Farm - the big one, during a jumping lesson and now, hunting).  I could go on...

It was a spectacular day - a New England Fall at its absolutely best - chilled air, just warmed by the brilliant sun,  reds, oranges and yellows deepening and  a crisp wind helping our frisky horses be that much more exuberant.   And it was a Joint Meet...  more folks to enjoy the hidden jewels in and about Concord MA.  It was gonna be a good day!  

The first piece was fantastic...  fast, hounds screaming as they hit the scent and chased the elusive anise drippings.  The jumps came quickly and mostly downhill.  I was filled with the power of Sugar's jump and drunk with her speed.  BRING IT ON!  We were on fire!!!

Yet, I started this hunt with just a little worry.  It wasn't much...  and I brushed it away.  And, it jiggled around in my brain... hmm, what if I fall today?  Again, I brushed it off.  If I believe it will happen, it will.

The second piece was a nice galloping piece...  the uncut hay field was thick.  (If you want your dressage horse to have more jump in her canter, gallop across an uncut hay field after three days of rain.)  I felt tight, secure and still drunk on all things Sugar.  
Photo by D Rassulo

The big brush jump was sticky but the landing was light and forward... on to the coop.  The field was a little stuck, so I half-halted about 6 strides out...  then as Sug was about to jump...  she had a slight hesitation.  I "helped" her by leaning forward just so...  she spun out and I left a sandy imprint at the front of the jump...  The Bumble bounced up...  her body fine, her ego in disarray.

So, a highly regarded Eventing trainer (former Bruce Davidson groom/rider) laughed and gave me the next set of "threes".  "You had a great canter going in and you both looked great...  Bruce had this to say:
  • First mistake - a good horse will jump (The half-halt in a Pelham caused her to curl, I needed to bring her head up.)
  • Second mistake - a good horse should jump (Lost impulsion and did not help her with my leg.)
  • Third mistake - you're going to eat dirt (I leaned instead of staying in the middle of her.)
Humble pie served warm can be delicious.  I sobered up quickly and learned well.  Sugar is an amazing horse...  no matter what the discipline.  She is not a machine and needs a partner.  We look good, we jump well, we are a pretty decent team...  I fall, I get up and I go on.  I really wish it wasn't in front of most of the Field at a Joint Meet.   

Ok, I would love it just a little bit if Sugar would look at bit concerned when I fall and maybe hover around a bit.  That would be nice.  Instead, she runs off and I'm sure if she could talk, she would be screaming...  "Her fault, not mine... yup, it was her..."  God I love that MARE!

Oh, and another set of threes...  Blue Ribbon at our Hunter Pace, Blue Ribbon at the Myopia Novice Horse Trials...   ooooo, can't wait for that third Blue Ribbon...  Rut ro!
Waiting for the Cast (Photo by D Russillo)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Carter's first dip in the stream
De-kenneling the TX "pups"
So have you ever finished a vacation grateful to go back to work and rest?  Oh, that doesn't mean that I'm actually napping at work...  it means that I am not running hither, tither and yond while out and about.  It means that I am sitting at a desk, using a computer, thinking...  and then doing the things I thought about or going out to clients asking them to think about the stuff I thought about. 

This is the Staycation I've planned on having for months.  It was to be the time to organize closets, put my winter stuff away and bring out summer clothes to fill the empy spots.  Wait, I was supposed to do that in April and then during my layup this summer and again over Labor Day weekend.  {{{sigh}}}  I might as well pack summer up and and fill up winter.  Or I could live in the great world of things left undone... 

And then there were the Hounds - Carter and Chloe, Chandler's brother and sister - retired from the pack before their first run.   This winter litter was the result of Cloudy's longing and her amazing ability to run, jump and climb ...  anything for love (or perhaps, the lustful yearning of a young girl choosing her man Justice and laughing at all attempts to deny her?).  It wasn't planned and although Cloudy is a nice hound and Justice a spectacular man, our territory requires a different direction in breeding.

Carter and Chloe at the Cargo Bay
So Chandler's brother and sister took the 10am Continental Flight to Texas to live in the beautiful home (5 acres in an equestrian community) with my brother and sister-in-law.  Here they will be loved and spoiled.  Here they will change someone's world like Chandler did mine...  bringing hound love and goofiness.  I am thrilled to have spent my Staycation preparing them for their new life.

So, work will be a relief.  If I wait long enough, it will be summer again and my dresser drawers will have proper seasonal clothes...  no one will ever know!  ;)  Hmmm... maybe that's why I'm single...

Sunday, October 9, 2011


The List just kept getting bigger
I am that person who fills out comment cards, completes satisfaction surveys and submits evaluation forms.  I value my opinion that highly...  Oh, no...  what I really mean is that I think people/organizations who want feed back should get them...  {{{phew... that was more politically correct...}}}

So, for the most part, if you were to collect all of my Event Evaluations...  you will find pretty clear, concise comments and suggestions. 

And, for the most part, I judge my overall satisfaction (after scoring) on the placement of the Port-o-Potties.  You see, I am a...  um...  well... middle-aged (yes, I am) female and if you consider that AND the fact that...  um...  I get ...  um...  nervous...  you will truly understand the importance of such placement and its correlation to satisfaction.

I generally don't nit pick because I "truly understand" the challenges of putting together a horse trial and the fact that we need more Events and not less.  Eventing Rule #5 perhaps?  Don't piss off the Organizer?
More cowbell...
we need more cowbell!

Yes... before Friday...  I TRULY UNDERSTOOD the challenges of putting together a Horse Trial!  Of course I did, I went to the Area 1 Annual Meetings every year.  I volunteered at Events...  jump judging, parking, ring steward...  whatever they needed I made myself available.  I could see the intensity, the folks moving about and making things work... these people were intense.  I UNDERSTOOD.

Uh... not even a clue and I couldn't even fathom how much work these folks put in to give us our day's pleasure.  Not even close...

It was my idea to tie
 cornstalks in a bow
(just sayin')
Course Brook Horse Trials Second Annual Horse Trials completed yesterday.  I volunteered the day before...  and I am still wowed at how little I knew and how much I assumed.  And, the Organizers are three woman - Nici, Laura and Erika - eventers...  not farm owners, not rich benefactors, just riders who board and work at this beautiful farm who saw the possibility and made it happen.  (I wanted to title this...  The Little Engine that Could.)  These folks are us... volunteers but the grand poopahs of volunteering.

Me?  I rode in the gator.  I helped decorate and put the final touches on the jumps after the TD and Pres of the Ground Jury made recommendations.  And if you got lost going from parking to the dressage rings or stadium, blame me!  I helped with the signage.  And seriously, if you walked XC two or three times and still needed two arrows pointing to the start, well...  survival of the fittest if you know what I mean.

I guess the three things that came out of the ride in that gator (other than indulging in my love for all things golf-cart-like) were:
  • Answer to nagging question # 1 - Is the Event a money maker?  No.  The first year they had to upgrade rings, footing and enhance all the jumping phases.  They are hoping that they make just a little this second year.
  • Nagging question #2 (after watching the team run themselves ragged on just this day before) - Do you get paid?  NO! 
  • And this last statement uttered from my lips is the most important -- "Next year...  I'll be part of your team of Organizers from the very start."  {{{What was I thinking?}}}
You know...  I don't know where they placed the Port-o-Potties...  I guess the trailer and a box of tissues will just have to be OK...  {{{Horse girls are feral, you know!}}}
Our masterful decorating... 
Lauren's pumpkin placement
and my randomness! 
Gotta excel at something!

Note - Janet was the Volunteer coordinator and she was spot on perfect in making sure you showed up. And, a huge shout-out to my girl Elyse for driving her Prelim-riding-self two hours east to jump judge...  that's commitment!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


So I kind of need to circle back to Judy Rossi's Four Rules of Eventing:
  1. Leave together and come back together
  2. Don't scare the spectators
  3. No crying in Eventing (unless it's with sheer joy in the moment)
  4. Nobody cares on Monday

You see, this "season" I've kind of violated all the rules...  except #4 'cause I don't care if "Nobody cares on Monday", I tell them any way.  I just can't help myself.

So... um... this is kind of... well... embarrassing.  You see... um...  I... uh... um...  violated #3 big time by having ... uh...  a tad bit of hysteria...  just a little and thus,  (#2) scared the starters at Myopia Hunt Club's Novice Hunter Trials on Sunday.
Full Hunting Attire
Photo used with permission

I fox hunted on Saturday and had an amazing time running, jumping through wooded territory chasing the screaming hounds.  I felt good.  I felt secure in my seat and deep in my heels.  I felt comfortable over mixed and sometime challenging terrain.  I felt like a million bucks.  But I ran the "course" following a herd of horses and a pack of hounds.

The Hunter Trials were different since this was my first XC run after my fall.  It would be just Sugar and I, running through fields and woods navigating natural cross country fences.  The last of the firsts... 

It rained buckets the night before and we had hard drizzle at 5am.  The beautiful footing on my course walk the day before was deep, sticky...  not bad but held Sug's big feet just enough to bother her.  So, sans coach, I warmed up alone.  I could get Sug forward but she had no fire in her belly...  I began to lose the little mojo I brought with me.  And, while sometimes anger helps, today I couldn't muster anything but a half hearted grrrrr.

I continued to warm-up until I was the last to start...  The volunteers happily greeted me and my "pretty-how-do-you-get-her-so-white" horse.   "Start whenever you want to go."  "I'm not ready yet, she's being a bit sticky."  "Oh? She looks so good."  "I'm just coming back from a bad fall and am a little nervous."  "Oh?  What happened?  Did you get hurt?  Take whatever time you need." 

And, then...  I cried... tears and buckets...  every confessional fear...  (well, she did ask).  Her advice was simple...  "Go!  Have fun!  It doesn't count for anything and if you want to gap... go ahead!  Enjoy yourself...  no one cares (Rule #4)...  just do it and you'll never have to start over again."

And, I did..  And, actually I am a good competitor... by starting, I will finish.  Each jump led me to the next jump.  Every log, every coop, every stone wall, log pile...  just got better...

Crossing the finish was cathartic.  I am whole again.  I am alive... 

NBG is very shy
Special Notes:
  • Thanks to the New Barn Girl (NBG).  She showed up and gently pushed my back pedaling buttocks forward.  I can not be more grateful.
  • Thanks to Team Chester for showing up and taking the pony to his second place ribbon.
  • Thanks to the Volunteers for not excusing me for excessive waterworks.
  • Thanks to Sugar for making me work for our first place finish.  If it was easy, I'm not sure I would believe that I'm ok.