Friday, November 25, 2011


When I was a kid, a horse crazy kid in a suburban non-horsey family, all I wanted to do on a holiday was to sneak out of the crowded house and ride.   Just me and a pony outside in the cold air cantering along a cornfield... alone, while families gathered warm and cozy in houses filled with the aroma of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  I  fantasized that I was a pioneer... over the fields we go...  laughing all the way (oops, that's another holiday).

So, yesterday was the Thanksgiving Hunt.  It was 28 degrees when I left my house and not a car on the road.  If you listened really carefully, you could hear the roasting pans sliding into hot ovens.  But I wasn't intent on the day's food.  I was going riding.  That pioneer kid shaking in anticipation...

Photo by ONBH Member, Rick Arsenault
There is something fantastic when you set out early in the morning to the Meet knowing that all over the US,  Hunts were gathering, decked out in their finest and eager to be a part of this amazing tradition.  So I wasn't alone but instead, a part of a community of eager holiday foxhunters living their own fantasy interpretation.   And it was a good one!

Generally, the field heads off at a good clip, each horse knowing which buttocks to follow.  There is order and flow.  It might have been the cold air or it might have been holiday happiness or perhaps the stirrup cup before we left...  all of us were on steeds breathing fire.  They wanted to run after our pack of tonguing hounds.  They would not be denied their gallop.

You can tell the real Hunt Horses from the rest.  They stand at the checks, ears rigid following the sound of the happy hounds.  Their stillness hides their readiness to dash off the moment the hounds are cast...  As I looked around,I noticed most of these intent ponies were mares... hmm a job?  A task?  You can hear the whispering... are you ready?  I've got it!  There they go!  Tally ho!

And, my little pony? Somehow a week's worth of Lyme treatment and a fabulous dressage lesson the night before gave her wings and attitude. She jumped everything as if she was running Rolex... careful, clean and really, really big!
Photo by Rick Arsenault

Sug was wearing studs to counter the slippery frost.  They gave her the ground... The first two pieces were brilliant...  she wanted more and after the last 4' leap over a Novice/BN log pile into a stunning pirouette and thus avoiding the member in the scarlet coat..  I banned her to the very last spot in the Hilltoppers where she had to walk, trot and canter like a normal horse... not her fantasy - a fiery breathing timber horse.

Photo by Donna Rassulo
Like a toddler sent to bed...  first we have anger (foot stomping, prancing and bouncing), then we have acceptance (true gaits) and finally relaxation (breathing).  I think she was kind of grateful that someone did for her what she could not do for herself. ( Hmmm, maybe I am a good parent.)

The Hunt ended on a beautiful estate in Concord with a Stirrup Cup.  Riders on one side of the fence and 50 or so guests on the other...  being served sherry, hot broth and grilled sausages on silver platters by wait staff in tuxedos.

The sun was shining.  The air warmed by its rays...  was it the broth?  the sherry?  Or was it the comradely of a group of pioneers out for a holiday ride?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Yup...  Thankful!
Earlier this week I attended a funeral for a man and a father who died way too young.   His best friend spoke... beautifully, if not eloquently, about this life which was that of a friend.  His words were channeled from a heart filled with love and chiseled with the pain of loss.  I could not forget them.

"God does not take away our loved ones.  He does not cause pain, disease or loss.  Only heaven is perfect.   Life on earth is to be lived, to find love and to be loved.  We are a collection of our memories...  the ones we choose to make..."

It's Thanksgiving and probably my most favorite holiday (outside of the singing of Christmas Carols).  It isn't about the food, the parades or the football.  For me, it really is about a day "dedicated" to being thankful and wrapped in family and traditions.  One holiday swept of political correctness and open to all religions and creeds.  It makes me smile.

I'll begin my Thanksgiving holiday with Sugar and I chasing the brown buttocks of a horse that is chasing the buttocks of another horse, chasing the elusive foxhound pack who is chasing after anise scent freshly dropped to make the chase real.  We will, at some point, raise a toast to our landowners, the "foxes", the hounds ...  thanking the world for our good fortune to participate.

The day will end, after the traditional meal with my Bestie Forevah and her family of boys.  I will be grateful for all that I have.  This I know to be true because it's with me now.

My Sistah Friend has a tradition in her family.  She asks each dinner guest to say one thing that they are thankful for...  I will miss that moment greatly but, my answer will be...  That I am living in a world that is good, filled with good things and that I am lucky to be alive surrounded by wealth that can not be banked.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Be good to yourself, your family and make your memories count!!!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Not Christmas...  the Area 1
Annual Meeting
It's that time of the year again... no, not just the "Holidays" but the time of year where every organization wants YOU to attend their Annual Meeting.  And, there are all sorts of ways they might entice you...  raffles, door prizes ...  maybe even quirky entertainment.  Every volunteer organization needs members to be active and enthused in order to thrive...  so if quirky gets you there...  quirky it is!  ;)

YOUR local Eventing Association - USEA Area 1 - is just like all the others...  but BETTER!   So here it comes....  That's right!


When:           Sunday, January 15, 2012  -  Noon - 4pm (Organizers meet from 10am-Noon)
Where:          Clarion Hotel and Conference Center - 1080 Riverdale Street, West Springfield, MA 01089  413-781-8750
How much:    $20 if you register before 12/31/11 and $25 at the door.

Now, I can't promise quirky and, truthfully, I think Eventers need more substance than gimics and tricks to entice.  We're more than that... so..  The Agenda is chock full of the things that make Area 1 work, let's see..

Don't be caught snoozin'...  it can
be a blast!
Well first off we have a buffet lunch (food works for most of us) and the Area 1 Awards Presentation (who does not like to collect ribbons?).  Then we get news and headlines from the various Committees (Area Chair, Adult Riders, Young Riders, etc) helping make 2012 a smashing success!  Of course, let's not forget our esteemed Guest Speaker, Peter Gray.

From his website (, Peter Gray is a noted trainer, rider and popular clinician in Eventing, Dressage and Equitation world-wide. As a competitor Peter has competed at most international events in Europe and North America including three Olympic Games, World Championships and is a Pan Am individual bronze medalist. Besides his notoriety in the event world, Peter also competes on the winter circuit in hunter and jumpers and is long listed with the Canadian National Dressage team for 2010.  His all-round experience as a competitor has seated him on many committees including the F.E.I. 3 day Event Committee, EC High Performance, Safety, Selection, Coaching committees, USEA Professional Rider Council and ICP, and is co-founder of Equiventures - organizers of horse trials at the Florida Horse Park. Peter is the current Young Rider 3 Day Event coach for Ontario.

So we have food, prizes and substance...  what more could you want at the USEA Area 1 Annual Meeting?  (Drink is, of course, subject to the limitations of our diverse environment - non-alcoholic, of course.)...  Shopping...  yes!  And folks...  that means one absolutely fabulous Silent Auction! 

Fame & Frolic winning 2009 Groton House Farm's
Preliminary Training Division, Stephie Baer, rider
(last time Sugar completed GHF despite 2 winning
entries from the Silent Auction)
We're competitors, right?  And we compete in a dangerous sport, right?  Some may say it's a bit extreme...  Picture yourself at a Silent Auction with 100 of your fellow eventers...  and you're swirling around the table of items...  wanting that Entry to Groton House Farm or maybe, its a GMHA event or even two tickets to the Bruins.  You want it and so does 6 others stalking the table...   You can taste victory and waiting until 3 to claim it heightens the thrill...   YES!  The Silent Auction rocks... 

Although, I've been warned by many of my friends and family that I can not bid on the Groton House Entry, I still may put up some stiff competition.  And for those of you who read my blog...  you know why...  but, I just can't help but to think that three's a charm!

Come on... register!  Make a commitment to get involved...  Eventing is a great place to meet fabulous horse folk.  And, we can't event without the USEA and our own Area 1!  Or, just do it for the fabulous prizes and the esteemed Peter Gray...  Like the famous tag line...  JUST DO IT!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Once upon a time, long, long ago...  there was this horse who acted like a total cow in the dressage ring, who {{{gasp}}} dropped a rail in stadium and had a run-of-the-mill cross country excursion.  Oh, she was a pretty thing but...  well, she was a bit of a diva. 

Used with permission (
Lyme, they chanted...  she has Lyme!  It must be Lyme!  Surely you will have her tested for Lyme!  A beautiful talented horse like that...  must be Lyme!

So her trusty servant, shook her head in disbelief and wondered, do these people even know her?  Did they not know that this talented beauty was, in fact, a mare?  Could it be just an off day?  Why must it be Lyme? 

Then, an idea came to the lowly servant...  Test the Princess/Diva.  If it is not Lyme, maybe her fans would understand that this pretty little thing, is, in fact...  Mariah Carey in disguise.  And if is Lyme...  than the world would be brighter because the diagnosis and treatment would fix all that was challenging and I would be left with a gentle, agreeable...  superstar!

The test, way back in 2007, was negative.  And, negative again in 2009.  Sugar was...  yes, let me say it out loud...  kind of MAREISH!  The negative test was proof that I had to work on us, on myself to improve and not rely on any other excuse.  It was comforting...  well, kind of.

Well, today's test came back positive...  six times what is considered normal using the most reliable testing available.  So, her slight discomfort, slight-not-quite-right, that tightness in her back and hips, that slight reluctance to get going... that dissatisfaction with the grooming ritual and spa services really did spell LYME!

Used with permission
There was no grand pronouncement...  just a hint and a prompt from our trainer...  just not quite right.  Maybe, just maybe, the treatment will make us superstahs...  a girl's gotta have a dream, huh?

Strangely enough, after picking off more ticks (off da boys, Sug and me) than one can imagine, in this season called Autumn,  I am tired, cranky, with body aches and tightness...  I called my vet...  oops doctor...  maybe it's Lyme.  (Most likely I need to go to bed earlier, stretch more often and work on my attitude.)

Monday, November 7, 2011


Yup... dat's her... I luf her!
Shhhhhh...  today's my sister's birthday!  And, I'm not sure she's gonna love this but, it is my blog and I'll write it if I want too...   Happy Birthday My Absolute Favorite Sistah!  This one is for you and all the Sistah Friends out there!

This could be one of those mushy Facebook posts where I beg you to copy it on your profile for one hour if you have a sister that you love.  It could be but ... um, I hate those things and will not do it even if you beg me.  Sorry... 

Or I could tell you of all the lovely sweet things my sister and I did as kids dressed in pink skirts with bright polka dots and black patent leather shoes.  And let's not forget those sun shiny days holding hands and skipping through rose petals on our way to a glistening pond.  But I'd be lying. 

The real story could be about the battle for identity...  The adorable red head with big blue eyes...  cute as a button and her big older sister... dark where she was light, awkward where she was gifted, plain where she was beautiful.  And me consumed with all things equine... every inch of our bedroom covered in horses.   My beloved Sistah Friend, in an effort to have a place in our room,  once stood before me, her blue eyes daring me to come closer as she clutched my favorite horse statue...  And when I accepted that dare, she calmly and defiantly smashed it to the ground.
Beauty is as beauty does...

Poor me...  Hmmmm, you know, I don't think I was so... um...  innocent.  If you ever meet, ask her about the PeeWee Herman situation.  I'm sure, after that story, you will really appreciate how deeply our bond has grown.

Her kids think we're a bit bizarre... as we giggle for the umpteenth time through Elf. And when she jumps up out of her seat to declare, "I KNOW HIM!".  I laugh like a hyena every time. And I mean, every time!

She can't pack a college apartment to save her life, yet, she forgives me for the level of intensity in which I express my impatience. Her capacity to love, to engage, to care is a gift to all that know her... her patients, her friends and her family. You see, the capacity to give love expands infinitely your ability to receive love... and for her, the glass is not just half-full, it's overflowing.

I believe that God smiled down on me that day she was born.  As the first girl in a house full of boys (4 before and two after me) she was to be my bestest Sistah Friend.  It ultimately never really mattered how awful we could be to each other, we were a united front when it came to the Boys.  And although it took 20 some odd years to get there, those moments of angry youth can never ever replace the joy of having someone so wonderful in your life today.

She is a Fall and I am a Winter
A Halloween snowstorm... priceless!
Maya Angelou once said:

I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.

That IS a quote I could post on my profile page.  Sistah Friends can be found everywhere.  You breathe life into them and their breath keeps you alive too!  Secrets, adventures, love, laughter and yes, even tears bring us together. 

Biology...  ahhh...  don't hold your Sistah Friends to this.  Open up your heart and embrace your Sistah Friends... all of them!  They help us LIVE a good life!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


So there is this saying that I love to quote and it goes like this:  "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again AND expecting different results!"  Folks, I must confess...  I am insane! 

Area 1 just released the 2012 Eventing Schedule and I'm at it again.  I am sitting here on my lunch hour, not eating my healthy-prepared-especially-for-me lunch and not returning the call from a colleague answering my question on a obscure "grandfathered" clause in a client's insurance contract.  No, I'm planning my 2012 Eventing Season. 

Let the Cowgirl Ride!
Used with permission

Really?  Hmmm...  let's review our 2010 season...  Oh, that's right, Sugar fractured her splint bone and we spent our summer complaining about having to wrap her legs and honoring the anxiety I have with that very necessary procedure.  Oh...  ok, that wasn't a good season. 

How about 2011?  Ahhh...  that's right, my Bestest Eventing Buddy's horse had an injury that wiped out her season and me?  Well, we're all just a bit tired of hearing about the "Tree Issue".  So, 2011 didn't really happen.

Yet, here I am ...  giddy with excitement and filled with all the world's possibilities...  Pumped full of coffee and a highlighter in one hand and a calendar clutched in another...  I dream.

Really folks, let me warn you now...  2012 is going to be amazing!  Everything that can happen, has happened in 2011.  The Eventing gods are smiling ...  and, I'm going to take that and run!

Eventing Nation's tag line is "Red on Right, White on Left, Insanity in the Middle"!

I love Foxhunting (all XC and no dressage) but by the level of my Insanity, I truly belong in the world of Eventing.  Now back to that schedule!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


So I never became a parent.  Now, if you're my mom reading this, you'd be mumbling words like "spinster" or phrases like "too busy" or "too stuck in your own ways".  Really, it wasn't that I planned on being childless, it's just the way life happened.

Sugar sweet and contented
I do wonder sometimes... what kind of parent would I be?  Am I the cheerful, fun type mom who is all crafty and loves to bake sweet wholesome snacks?  Could I be the one that all the neighbor's kids secretly wish they had as their mother?  Hmmm...  I wonder.

These past few days have been filled with more than a few...  just lil' bits of...  um...  mistakes.  Not big ones but just more than a body, well Sugar's body, should endure.  As her mother, well...  I'll let you be the judge.  And, if you think you need to rescue her from my incompetence...  sigh...  I know the universe was correct.

Have you ever unloaded your self-loading horse from a trailer and realized that they were still tied?  Has the breakaway snapped and scared both of you?  Then after hastily checking to see that there is no damage to horse and trailer, you look around to see who witnessed your brain fart and then, breathe a sigh of relief knowing your secret is safe.  I'm sure if it hasn't happened to you...  you know someone with a trailer who it has.

Poor Sug!  She's lived a full week of such minor but potentially bad situations and I believe, once the power is back on in the barn, has lived so I can tell about it. 

It starts with the missing half-halt at the hunt on Saturday which caused a wipe-out...  scary but with both of us safe and sound.  Then we have the Back on Track sheet which caused her to overheat (should have used my Draper Equine) in the trailer.  And, let's not forget a speeding truck on a narrow road overshooting a turn and pushing us into a tree with the trailer (destroying a tire and rim).  Oh, poor Sugar...  when returning to the barn, I put a light stable sheet with the belief that I would be returning that night.  The Halloween storm kept me away and the temps dropped below 30 degrees.
Yes, it's Halloween 2011
iPhone photo

 So the storm knocked out power to the barn and I did barn chores by flashlight...  the shadows danced across the aisle way....  TERRIFYING my ever vigilant mare.  It took way too much time to figure this out... causing her to shake in fear until I soothed her soul.  Poor thing!

And if I am Sug's "mom", did I mention that I am a working single mother?  And do you know what's really hard?  The freak snowstorm killed the lights in the barn for the last three days.  Feeding begins at 6:30 am, I use my car headlights and a now-stable-non-shadow-throwing battery powered lamp to clean her stall.  When I return at night, the barn is pitch black, things that are not horse related are moving about.   I can't even make sure she's ok.

What if your week was filled with these little tidbits? Would your kids survive? Will they be telling their therapists at 40 of their deep childhood neglect?  Or would you be surrounded by your grandkids laughing lightly at the things that we can not control?

Hmmmmm.... maybe it's Lyme...