Thursday, December 29, 2011

TOP 10 OF 2011

Foot Falls Forward
There are a few things I love about the week between Christmas and New Years.  The very first is the quiet at work... no one wants or needs me.  I get to clean up a year's worth of clutter and the stacks of "need-to-read-these-articles-for-professional/personal-development" papers that never move from the growing pile. 

And then, the very close second is, my all time personal favorite - Watching/reading Top Lists (of any sort) of 2011, I can not get enough of them.  I can hear myself now...  "I did not know he died!"  "When did that movie come out!"  "They got divorced, who knew!"  Once I stayed up to watch VH1's Top Celebrity Moments and fell asleep at #5...  3 hours invested and I still don't know who made #1.

Writing this Blog entertains me...  So, in the Spirit of the Season, here is my top 10 of 2011:
  1. The Tree Incident  (Landmarks vs Obstacles) changed the course of my year
    • Surely, I will walk my Cross Country Courses just a little bit differently next year
  2. The Convict has competition for my love or as my Bestest Eventing Buddy mentioned - I did find a husband in 2011 (Just a Cheater at Heart...) and it's follow up (Really? Chandler Bing? Oh No!)
    • This hound steals my heart and brings dog walking back into my life.
  3. Church on Sundays has a different meanings for us horsegirls (And Then There Was Light)
    • More "thank-you-gods" come from these quiet moments
  4. Horse folks rock (Karma Karma Karma...)
    • Eventers in particular are kind, helpful and well balanced.  This Good Samaritan takes it a step further.
    • And, let me add, through this blog and Facebook, I've learned that this man is an amazing teacher - as a horseman, as a competitor and as a person who knows a good life.  If your kids are his students, you've won a jackpot of huge proportions.
  5. One day can change your life forever - Be safe and live your life to the fullest! (One Day One Moment...)
    • My sister is a nurse and just reminded me of the importance of NOT texting and driving...  these stories should be told over and over again...  'cause sometimes you forget for just that one moment.
  6. Who does not love Opening Day?  (Oh, Opening Day)
    • This is the day of outrageous possibilities and I get to insert one of my favorite Etta James songs!
  7. Sneaking out of the house on a holiday for that special ride (Time Out)
    • Living life like a child with the abilities of an adult... there is nothing like the Thanksgiving Hunt!
  8. Moving forward after the Tree incident (Hysteria Doth Not Become a Lady)
    • A most cathartic moment even after violating the Four Rules of Eventing
  9. I was a Contender (Phew, Moving Up is Hard to Do) and (Oh To Be Pretty)
    • Moving up to Training Level was a real possibility and the learning potential was amazing. 
    • Need to remember this as I climb up out of my confidence issues.
  10. Hope is always there if you look for it (Doors Forever Opening and Closing)
    • My Bestest Eventing Buddy is still rehabbing her most forever friend while shopping for a "prospect".
    • 2011 was an Eventing bust for us both...  But the door is wide open for 2012!!!  Let the games begin
Going off to start again!
Photo by Jeff Phaneuf
 Ahhh, this may be it for 2011...  Writing is a gift for me and I've enjoyed reading other folk's blogs.  Thanks for being a part of it...

May you find peace, may you find joy...  look for it and it will be there for you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Just talkin'
Photo by
One of my most prevalent beliefs, besides Santa, is that Attitude Defines Destiny (hmm ADD?).  Work has been crazy-busy and since I am yet to be a MegaMillions winner, I embrace work with gusto.  I've been rushing to and fro getting things done.  And I still take care of Sugar every day, walk the dogs, ride 5 times a week...  Gosh, I really can do it all on 5 hours of sleep a day.  Yup...  superwoman... amazing!

Shhhhh...  don't tell anyone, but being superwoman is exhausting.  And, it makes me a cranky girl...  um, really cranky. 

This morning began like all others - up at 5:30am, walk da boys, feed the horses and clean Sug's stalls and then head to work.  Well, my attitude wasn't quite perky and when Chandler knocked the grain over and Jonah rushed in for the kill gobbling up as much as possible, I... well...  shrieked like a shrew and startled the entire barn. 

And despite the nice before-we-get-to-the-barn-walk, Chandler was antsy and if I moved too far away, he whimpered and whined.  And if I was out of his sight, he barked.  Jonah, over compensating for Chandlers antics wanted to be in my space which is also the space for the pitch fork and manure.  It was an awful display of whining and whimpering and that was just me!

The "look" before the
It looked like it was going to be a tough day and this superwoman was unraveling.  So if I really do believe Attitude Defines Destiny, all I need to do to have a good day was to make it a good day.  Smiling seemed to be the logical first step...  every person, no matter what their attitude, would get a smile and a Happy Holiday wish.  That's right, every single person.

Simple, huh?  I don't know what it did for them but for me, the stress left, time became irrelevant and things got done.   Oddly enough, things that needed to happen...  like a favor to benefit a negligent client, happened.  A solution to a big problem worked itself into the day and I got a huge referral from one client to a potential new one.  Gifts... all of them!

Tonight I will find the time to ride, finish my laundry, pack the dogs and I for the trip home and set Sugar up for my peeps to take care of her while I'm away.  I am filled with a calmness that has been missing for days (maybe weeks) as I rush to "finalize everything" before I head home to NJ.  That smile fills my heart and energizes my body (caffeine helps too).

I did not win the MegaMillions jackpot last night. I bought a ticket and I made plans, elaborate plans, to manage it. And yet, my numbers randomly chosen by a machine were not selected randomly by another machine. Maybe, just maybe... I was meant to win the even bigger jackpot this Friday.

It's time...  really time...  to let go...  enjoy... 


Sunday, December 18, 2011


Good Sales Managers are hard to find and when you do, they are worth a fortune.  It is a unique gift to be able to encourage someone struggling, forward and still kick their butts in gear to get them going.  The fine line between picking someone up and keeping them just a little hungry.  When do you hug and when do you kick? The gift is knowing what works and when...
One week before

Honesty continues to rear its ugly head... and, by now, you may be bored with hearing about...  "my mojo is reluctant to come forward,  my inner cowgirl is working at Walmart and my GRRRRRRR is a squeaky tiny guttural sound".  And, this weekend, it is apparent that getting over 2011 is gonna take some time.

So when Sugar came into the weekend Jumping Intensive spooky and quirky, I rustled up the strongest Grrrr I had.  And as we came around the spooky corner to the (maybe 2'6") oxer, I wilted, did not kick on and she spun.  I spanked her for quitting.

And when we went to do it again, she showed reluctance.  This time I kicked.  She jumped huge and anticipating a "correction" she bolted.  I was angry and "corrected" more fiercely and expressed my dissatisfaction with a string of truly ...  um...  salty (inappropriate)...  words.  You know, the kind you hear in gangsta rap songs, action films and well, maybe construction sites...  not nice language for a "lady".

Smiling with Eventing Peeps
It was an awful night of jumping and though we finished on a good note, I was rattled.  And, embarrassed and feeling like a failure... I wanted to cry and cry and cry!  What happened to me?  I was a "Contender" and Sugar and I were a team.  And, I had to jump again tomorrow...  I went to bed working hard to be better, to correct the dark cloud and to find the joy of jumping again..

As we warmed up this morning, Sugar spooked at another oxer placed along the indoor wall.  I sputtered and kicked her on...  Her spooking got worse as she "looked" at the other jumps.   It felt insurmountable.  I felt like I was heading for a repeat performance. And I did not feel capable of dealing...

Then my Eventing Trainer suggested that I pat her and encourage her with a few "Good Girls".   Each pat on her shoulder released tension.  I could feel her soften with the words, "Good Girl Sug, Good Girl".  And, the spooking stopped.  My own little version of a Christmas miracle.  This ride, this morning on this day, Sugar needed to be loved through her issues.  It may not work next week, but it was lovely today.
We will get there!
Used with permission

And after releasing said tears and saying all the words that came with them, my Event Trainer shared her story and the tears shed on her path to return.  Time and the desire to do it will make it better.  And, when I do my first Training, it will mean so much more...  I just hope Sugar won't be too old by then. 

And, today I was loved through my issues.  Good Trainers are hard to find and when you do, they are worth a fortune. 

It's gonna be ok... it's gonna be ok...

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Photo by
Way back when...  GRRR!
My winter prescription is to jump twice a week.  Now, I wasn't told that jumping twice a week should be a complex 3' Jumper course.  I was told to put on the jumping saddle and jump anything, at any height until the thought of jumping becomes ho hum... unexciting.

For some reason...  I don't wanna... 

What happened to attitude defines destiny? What happened to seeing success and then allowing it to happen? If I continue to play it "safe" now, how small will my world be as safe gets bigger?  Or worse, I can remember those days of starting... tomorrow.  Never quite getting going but always preparing to get started.  That string of thoughts is scarier than any tree out there!

Lucky for me, these prescriptions become rules and like the "good girl" I am, I abide by rules set to guide me.  Here it was Thursday and I only popped over tiny jumps on Sunday...  I was running out of days.  So despite the "I don't wanna", there I was, saddling up... jumping tack, bell boots...   wondering what happened to the cocky "I'm-moving-up-to-Training-rider"?  Will she ever return?
Go Sug Go!
Photo by

It was a very good lesson.  Sugar was fresh and forward... like we've been working on.  The theme was to Let Go!  Find her body's freedom and when she releases into my hands channel her energy upward...  More cowbell, more loft, more horse underneath me...  That energy is like a drug... the strength and power fills my body and connects to my brain... Priceless!

And then we jumped...  not big... the goal was perfection.  It was like making something in a crock pot...  looks like a mess of stuff in the beginning but cooking slowly and consistently... something wonderful comes together. 

Oh we had the spooks and the attempts to spook and spin at the corners...  But together, we made something...  not big but really good.  And I left with a smile and hope for more.

This weekend, we head out to my Event Trainer's place for a jumping intensive.  One of my rules for the weekend is to work on my nerves by using the same techniques I use at shows.  I want to leave this sesson feeling like a rock star!

Hey Sugar, you with me on this one?   {Anyone?  Anyone?}

Wish us luck! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Dear (insert Friend or Family Member Name here),

It's that time of the year... yes, this is the annual Christmas Letter where I dazzle you with all of our accomplishments.  It is the medium in which I tell you that my family has reached the pinnacle of success, found a cure for orphan cancers, developed a World Trade Plan that will allow third world countries to develop green technologies and feed millions of formerly starving residents.  Yes, this is the time. 

Let me begin...  first the kids...  my, my, my they have grown this year and their talents are overwhelming...  I wish you could see all that they do...

Our own Convict has been especially busy.  He began the year on a very serious quest to improve his muscling and to.... well bulk up.  As a Labrador Retriever, Jonah was quite intent on finding and consuming all loose bits of food, which included an evening of binge eating puppy food and filling the night air with the most effervescent odor.   And we can all be grateful for his many successful attempts at cleaning out our trailers of anything edible, including a 10 lb box of dog treats.   No one was more diligent than he....

And then there was Chandler Bing, the lil' G Pirate...  I can only humbly say that this youngun' is destined to be a superstar.  Now, he will need time to develop some talents, like getting into the car and hopping up into bed...  but with his amazing gift for snuggling, does it really matter?  Could we not lump him into the "special" bucket that seems to be overflowing with my kids?

Sugar would be sure to tell you that this was a great year!  If only her rider could hang on better, than the ankle would have held up and we both would have galloped past instead of depositing said rider into the tree.  Sugar enjoyed her summer off which allowed her to be so much more exuberant Hunting.
Photo by

And then there was me...  you see, I am like all my animals...  talented in that "special" kind of way...  Kind of really, really good and yet...  um....  let's just call it developing...  like in working on it...  if you know what I mean...

2011 was an odd year and despite some set backs, it was a good one!  You see, I started the year out with a Convict and a Diva and then added a Lil' G Pirate which only added a richness I could not have imagined. 

But, ya know...  it really wasn't year about animals, about fabulous prizes, about awesome eventing, spectacular hunting...  not really.   It was the year of friends and family that helped when I was down, that gave me courage when I was filled with fear and loved me when I needed it most.  And, it was a year of random acts of kindness...  you all know who you are... Good Samaritan, New Barn Girl, Citified Country Girl, Devil Child, Blonde Girl with Perfect T--s, Chief Operating Officer...  this list goes on (It Takes a Village).

The 2012 Christmas Letter is going to be sooooo different...  Prepare to be dazzled by real accomplishment, total joy and an amazing list of stuff...  Yup..  a girl's gotta have goals!!!!  Let the games begin!

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Owen, the First
Fairy tales are amazing... on the surface there is a magical setting, a damsel in distress, a knight that saves the day and they all live happily ever after.  Simple story lines with dreams that always come true.  Have you ever, really, really read the actual Grimm's Fairy tales... not the Disney version - the original Cinderella or Rapunzel?  Um, they are wicked scary, grim...  great outcomes from much work and turmoil.

So begins my Fairy tale... 

Dear Santa...  I want a pony!  Dear God... help me find a way to have a horse!  Hi Barn Owner, I will do work in exchange for riding!  Dear Santa...  all I want for Christmas is a horse!  Simple, simple, simple...  all I want for Christmas is a horse.

You see, all you Harry Potter fans will get it when I tell you that horses to my parents were like magic to the Dursleys.  And being one of eight kids in a poor family, it was never really going to happen.  I could beg, plead to all of the Saints (including St Nick) and God himself, it was never going to be.  So, it was my dream, my lifelong goal...  Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a horse...
Fame & Frolic,
Stephie Baer, rider

This week Sugar (aka Fame and Frolic) and I celebrate our 7 year anniversary.  And what a ride its been...  She was not the first.  Owen was the first...  a big, young, blood bay Irish Sport Horse.   I bought him in February 2004 and had to euthanize him that August.  It was a short amazing love story.  He showed me what it was I really loved and I was strong enough to let him go with dignity and grace.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done and for a long time, I thought the tears would never stop.

When I walked into Sugar's barn 7 years ago...  it was love at first sight.  (OK, the half blue eye was disturbing until my trainer kicked me and told me to get over it!)  I sat in the saddle and I knew she was mine... "She fits perfectly!"  And I think Sug chose me too.  She was an absolute angel in our test rides.

I'll never forget the night she came to the barn.  It was late on December 10th - cold and snowing - There she stood at the top of the ramp, her white coat brilliant in the lamp light.  She shivered... was it the chill, fear of the steep decline?  Then, with soft encouragement she walked down the ramp and into the barn.  I stood with her, stroking her neck as she calmed down and leaned into my touch.  I was in love...  my dream come true...

Our very first show 7/2005
Sometimes when I look at her record and then at our record, those little niggling insecurities roll in... maybe, if she had a better rider, a young rider... maybe she would be the superstar she was bred to be. Sug is quite a horse.  Our fairy tale has had it's moments of a true Grimm's fable - humiliating falls, cancer, my breaks, her break, trailering terrors, dressage warmup antics, winter heehaws, spring rideability issues and so many joys - hunting, brilliant cross country runs, parades, beach rides.   (Hmmm, the only thing missing is the knight.)

You know, I work hard and I do love a good ribbon...  I will not deny that!  My dreams are fulfilled every moment I take and thank God for this gift called Sugar. 

And, yeah...  we are a married couple and yes, sometimes I want her to take out the trash now and she wants to watch TV...  our marital issues are small and with good counselors, we always work it out and get better and better.

Happy Anniversary Sugar!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength.
-- August Wilson, American Writer
"It was a dark and stormy night..."

Demons... Dementor-like Demons... sucking the energy, ignoring your attempts to, at least, hold them at bay...  Those are thoughts that creep into your mind...  the ones that you push away and move forward only to find that their whispering is taking on new persistency... not necessarily louder but the tone stronger and more steady.  

There are those of you who Just Do It! You approach the jumping phases with childlike energy... excitement over the coming thrills, fearless and cocky... you can not WAIT until dressage is over so you can get to the fun stuff. Maybe you approach dressage the same way or maybe the Dementors swirl just before you come down centerline.

It's been a long year of ups and downs...  some of the downs ...  um, HURT and some were just darn embarrassing.  I entered 2011 with oodles of GRRRR and Mojo and was schooling and planning my move up to Training.  What I lost mostly with some of those downs... was my attitude, my "Git-ur-done"! 
Heading out wit da Home Girls!
Looking Grrr-Like!

Now, to be honest those of you know me, particularly those friends I ask to help out/groom/babysit/kick-my whiny-butt out at Horse Trials know that I was like this before the "Season that Never Really Happened".  The only difference now, is that there is an "I in quit" even though there is alot of energy going forward,

"Not ready!" "You'll be dumped in an embarrassing lump!" "You've lost your mojo!" "You can't handle her!" "What if she spooks and spins?" "What if I can't get her to jump?" "You can't afford to get hurt again!" "What if Eventing Trainer thinks you're a has-been before ever getting started?" "You're fat, ugly and nobody will ever love you! (oops, old demon banished in 1992)"

These were the Demons I brought to my Jumping Intensive this weekend.  Hunting is kind of easy...  you gallop, jumps come up and you really don't have alot of choice...  stay in the middle of her, active leg and Sug jumps through my body...  a total rush of energy.  I don't think - I do and for the most part it is fabulous.  This weekend, I had to earn the right to make it happen... to have the same feeling in the most unnatural of settings - an indoor.

This is real Grrrr... 2012 Preview
Used with permission
My very first step was to admit that I was anxious and that although I know we can do bigger and more complex courses, the most important thing was for me to leave hungry for more.  It was humbling and slightly embarrassing to be in a place where the Demons owned my head. 

And do you know what?  Maybe my patronus is humility because Sugar and I were good together.  Our turns were more balanced,  her canter had more impulsion, my timing got better and when I hiked my stirrups up back to Eventing length, my leg more secure and effective.  It was awesome!  And, after lesson two...  I believe we were both smiling!

It'll come back!  I may never be cocky and fearless but maybe, just maybe, I will be one of those eventers that can't wait to get dressage over so they can jump!  (Trust me, I LOVE the jumping phases but...  um... after I enter the ring or leave the starting box - never before.)