Thursday, December 27, 2012


Clean...  Fall Clean!
There is something warm and inviting about being in a barn while the snow falls heavily outside the door.  The wind blows hard and the plow scrapes by... you're safe and dry.  The world exists for no one but you and your lil' pinto pony...

Sugar is clean again!  Well, you could say I was obsessed and that might be true...  Or you might think that I am a bit anal retentive about the color of her coat and the gleaming contrast of the brown on white.  I guess you could say all of that... and some of it is true.  You see, I could not wait to get home from my Christmas vacation and groom - making her beautiful body radiate with good health.

Sugar is clean again!  It was heavenly to curry and brush... taking care that the most itchy spots were scratched well.  And her beautifully muscled body received a light massage... Tonight was a night to cozy up on the crossties and say, "I missed you."

The City Barn cared for her well.  Happily I can say that Sugar loves her other Person - the Red Headed Girl.  And that makes me happy too!

We're home!  Let the games begin!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


"Yeah, yeah, yeah...  so you're busy!  Work is wild and you're relapsing into your workaholism...  so what?  That's all you got for me?  Seriously...  suck it up and come on back..."
We have been hunting... awesome!

{{{Wow, I do have a harsh inner judge living precariously in the depths of an overactive mind...  phew!}}}

So, I've been thinking that this relapse was just about my workaholism and began to live the lie that once my busy season is over, I'll get back to my meandering.  I'll delve into my creative side and the world will be brighter again.  Yep, I do believe that was a lie.

I jumped yesterday and it was good.  IT WAS GOOD!

You see, my lack of writing wasn't about being busy (maybe just a little bit), nor was it about lack of adventures...   After being dumped three times in less than 24 hours just before being eliminated at my last event, I began to believe that I would never be able to do this again.  My lack of writing was about that little piece of me that was dying.

And, it wasn't the PTSD from a violent and painful collision with a tree.  No, it was the true lack of confidence that I could ever fix what got broken in the 2011 Eventing Season.  It was the demon that lurks in my brain that says, "This is way too hard!"  Or worse the demon that screams, "You should be better, you should be jumping bigger and gosh darn it, "everyone" else thinks so too."   {{{Note - one demon that doesn't exist is the one that used to say that I was ruining Sugar... HA!}}}

Did I mention I jumped yesterday and IT WAS GOOD!
And we've been happy!

Shhhh, don't tell my demons that the jumps were no more than 2" and contained not one gate, wall or green rolltop.  It was a course nonetheless.

Sugar was bossy with a tiny touch of a "hot-fit-spooky-mare-outside-on-a-windy-December-morning" attitude.  She wanted it, was going to take it and to hell with any of your aides.

And, I came to realize that I ride that Sugar with my hand "believing" that her bossy "I've got it" movement towards the jump is in front of my leg and thus, quit using my leg.  That ride does not get better.

"Ride her with your leg, kick her up into your hand and over the jump, half halt asking her to come back and if she chooses to say no... um.... MAKE HER!"

We finished with the rays of sun beaming down on us alluminating my heart... somewhere a harp played and angels laid red rose petals on the ground before us.  I was happier than I've been in a long time.

One Demon, (I shall call Ego) came forward when I said to my Eventing Trainer, "I'm sorry that I'm being such a wimp and I know I should be jumping bigger and I don't want you to think you're wasting your time teaching me but..... "

She stopped me and said, "Suzanne, until you have a rideable horse before, over and after the jump, we don't need to be jumping big... we ended well and she was much more rideable than when you started. Soon... but not a second before she's ready."

Hope and happiness abound!  It's gonna be a good winter!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Carpe Diem!

Everyone has a story of the person who really made a difference in their life...  that one statement, that challenge to succeed, the guide who took us forward and maybe that person who just was... was the exact image of what we wanted.  Yes, everyone has a story that means so much to us.

Perfect pic... smiling, talking and
My dad would have been 82 tomorrow (12/1). And, if lung cancer hadn't taken him seven years ago, I'm sure he would  be still young, gently teasing and mostly smiling.  He was the essence of a Sagittarius -optimistic, freedom-loving, good-humored, honest, direct as well as intellectual and philosophical - ultimately, the life of the party.

I still miss him but, I choose to celebrate our memories rather than wear a veil of sadness...  As a dad, he was not perfect but he was awesome!

My dad lived in the moment!  He was videotaped by my niece for grade school project just 10 months before he died.  She finished the interview with this question, "Grandpop, if you could change anything in your life, what would it be?"

Happily Hunting!
He gave her a sheepish grin and then sat back and said, "Nothing!"  Then he leaned forward intensely and added, "Well, I would have loved to have been an educated man but that might have meant that I would not have met your grandmother.  I have everything I need and its been a very good ride!  No, I wouldn't change a thing!"

I am a Master (old) Rider who has spent the last two months indulging in a bit of workaholism.  Yes, Sugar has been ridden, Da Boys walked, Adventures taken and Hunts hunted...  The only thing missed is that moment where I sit back in my chair and ponder a moment and truly feel the graciousness that is my life.  And, then, thank the universe for giving me...  a very good ride!

Thanks Pop, I think I will do just that!  Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Ah, work...  that wonderful, exciting place one goes to every weekday.  Sometimes, as I hurry out of the house, before the hound raises the voice of protest, I say loudly for all to hear, "I go to work every day, so you can live the life you've grown accustomed to...  I'll be back!"

Wistful for freedom!
Work is the place that offers sustenance to all under my roof - Sugar, the Convict and Mr Floppy.  It also provides some wages to a multitude of providers that keep my ship afloat - dog walkers, riding instructors, farrier, veterinarians of many specialties, house cleaners and I am sure, a few tack shops and feed stores.  I work selflessly so that others may live...

Sigh...  that nobility makes my workaholism so much better sounding, doesn't it?  You see, I do live!  For the last three weeks, my writing has been devoted to the needs of my clients. My blog has become a bit rusty and I do believe there was a bit of dust on the address bar.  I do live and for this moment, I write for me...  just sayin'!

My big worry these days (exclusive of work)?  Sugar is, for the first time since she came up from Virginia, a furry beast.  Her coat is soft and thick, like a chinchilla.  Sometimes I want to brush my cheeks along her neck fully enjoying the sensation her fine coat.   And, then I step back, open my eyes and realize that I am in a City Barn. 

{{{{Hmmm...  she's single, a "master rider" (old) and has many pets...  should we, um...  be careful not to disturb her?   Well, she's not really "quiet" in that "We didn't know much about her, she always was a bit quiet" kindof way.   I  betcha she's just... eccentric.}}}}

Not old, just hairy...
Photo used with permission
Sugar has never had a winter clip.  She's always had a very thin coat just slightly hairier than her summer coat.  One friend chuckled...  "She is getting older."  Another, "Maybe you should have her checked for Cushing's?" 

And, then the gentle craziness of the overworked, tired owner kicks in... "Old?  Thirteen isn't really that old!  No way...  it's the move to the City Barn and the wind on the hill, right?  'Cause 13 isn't really that old, right?  Nah, she's still in her prime...  13 not old.  No, not old at all... right?" 

Sug will get her first haircut...  an Irish Clip.  And, I will hold off the search for a retirement home or another riding career for my aged and infirm horse. You see, Sugar has moved into her winter phase and any mare that can spook, spin and leap over 15 meters into the center of the ring hasn't quite reached a sedentary age.

And I will work on balancing work, life without sacrificing sleep...  I am still a very lucky girl!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


"I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me." Stuart Smalley

I'm chanting.  Hear me chanting!  Listen to the language of a doer, a completer and yes, a winner!  I am good enough!  I am smaht!  And, doggone it, da Boys and my own precious lil' "home-schooled-autistic-child-forever-suprised-to-find-herself-outside" do like me.  And that should be "good enough, special enough and gosh darn it, just what I need."

Our record has been a bit sketchy this season... well, I guess more than just a bit sketchy - four Horse Trials and just two completions.  Just batting 500 which, I am sure you will agree, is not really good, given the dangerous nature of a sport where one rides a 1500+ pound horse over hill and dale jumping (or not) solid obstacles in your way.
Hanging out at home!

Honesty makes me say that it is easy to write this post because I see myself reading it again next year and laughing and reminiscing about the time, way back when, when I was struggling to come back.  Because, I can only see the future as bright - when dreams come true...

And humbly, I took the advice of my Bestest Eventing Buddy and Dressage Trainer and decided that it would be best for Sugar and I to have our Eventing Trainer ride her at the Virginia Horse Trials.  And my Ego screams out, "But I can do it!  I know I can do it!  We had a great ride at GMHA and Course Brook was only  blip, a bad show but that was it. I can do it!"

Winning form... 2009
Stephie Baer riding
This is not the end of our pursuit but a change in our approach.  There are naysayers about and they whisper their doubts in my ear.  "Sugar doesn't want to event, she wants to run through the woods following a pack of hounds who are being followed by a pack of riders."  "You should sell her and get something easier!"   "Sugar just doesn't give you a break!  She should've jumped!"

So, my Eventing Trainer is tactful, confident and a beautifully accurate, rhythmic rider.  She will evaluate Sugar and hopefully come up with a plan to make this marriage work.  Sugar is not for sale.  Sugar is an event horse and,now its time, once again, to let my Eventing Trainer kick both of our butts forward.

You see, 2013 is right around the corner... and I am good enough!  Certainly special enough!  And gosh durn it, da boys luf me!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Let's just take a moment out and honor the history recorded in Facebook posts:

Photo used with permission
10/10/12 @ 8:59pm   - "Suzanne had a great ride tonight and is contemplating dressage... Uh HUH!
  • Dressage lesson was powerful, precise.  I had a loose, supple obedient horse with jump in her canter and loft in her trot.  A heady feeling of oneness and moments of true partnership.
10/11/12 @ 8:37pm - "Suzanne is really working on lowering her expectations for Course Brook Horse Trials this weekend... after two fabulous rides on her pinto pony...  She is out of control!
  • On my own, I continued to capture the feeling of suppleness, relaxation while maintaining the power of a beautiful horse.  I could see the win in our brilliant return to Novice (emphasis on brilliant).
10/12/12 @ 10:30am - "Suzanne thinks there is a better way to do a pre-show jumping lesson than being dumped twice... {{{Note to self - do not test a stronger bit the day before said show!}}}
Old bit
Photo by
  • So, since she was soo strong at GMHA AND I use a Pelham hunting with great results, we decided to try it out for Eventing. She was delightful on the flat and appeared to move into the bit when asked to move forward.  I blamed the first fall on perhaps me leaning on the approach although my trainer wasn't sure what happened.  We continued jumping small stuff at a trot and all seemed well.  
  • The second fall was at the first approach to a bigger oxer...  Sug raised up, coming off the ground and then collapsed in the center of the oxer and then leapt up again to clear the second rail.  I did not clear the first one.  Clearly overbitted!!!
  • We finished the lesson in her old bit feeling confident that she was over the trauma...
10/12/12 @ 9:21pm - "Suzanne has, for the first time EVAH, not bathed Ms Sugar for her show tomorrow. She has curried and brushed to cleanse but not to wet the pinto pony.  Hopefully, she will be grateful and carry on well tomorrow.
  • The atrocity of it all...  really?  You did not bathe a white horse?  Really?  Who cares that the temp was dropping and would be 28 overnight!  Is she not the "How-do-you-get-her-so-white" horse?  {{{Appalled}}}
10/13/12 @ 2:42pm - Suzanne must go back to basics and set her goal to complete AND stay on... Just sayin'!
Not white...

That was one long lead in to say that Eventing is truly a sport designed to keep a girl humble.  There are a million ways to win and as many, to lose.  If you don't love every single bit of it, then it would be best to find another sport or hobby... 

You see, the horse that I rode that day was full of power...  not that beautiful power of a floaty trot or a springy canter but the power of a ticking time bomb.  As you ride your warm up, you're spending time figuring out which wires you need to cut to stop the ticking while avoiding the ones that accelerate the destruction.  The test was done while the ticking continued yet never reaching the point of explosion.  The judge was a bit harsh - 52.5.

Just a second to talk about what a 52.5 should look like 'cause I have ridden that test more than once in our past.  It should've have looked like a spooking, spinning mare who flips her leads with ease and grace while protesting forward motion.  This 52.5 was nothing near that.

The hat trick came in Stadium Jumping.   I had a jumping horse underneath me in the warm up and I felt calm and confident (after the normal pre-show meltdown).  Yes, there were spooky things but, I had the encouragement of my big girl spurs.  I was gonna enjoy the ride but ride every stride.

Um, jump one and two felt awesome...  three had just a hint of hesitation but Sug went when asked.  Four was the first oxer in a combination...   I did not give her the best approach but certainly not a bad one for a horse with Ivy League training.  She went up and finished  in the middle of the oxer.  I almost came off but happily stayed on.  
Working hard...

After they repaired the fence, I went back with more leg and determination....  this time I did not stick the landing.  And thus ended my move back to Novice.

Was it the bad jump school?  Did Sugar lose her confidence?  Should I retire her from Eventing 'cause, as some say, maybe she just wants to be a hunt horse?  The last question is mine to answer...  And, today...  the answer is, "No...  not yet...  No...  not yet!"

The great thing is that I am back to being like every other Eventer.  I had a bad show...  it wasn't our day...  My confidence is still intact!  I still have my GRRRR!  The desire still runs thickly through my body...  It just wasn't our day...  that's it!  Now, let's get back in the game...  one last time!

And, I'll end on a Facebook moment:

"Riding is like flying...  anyday you can walk away was a good flight!"  Pingree Hill Farm

Uh Huh!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012


I met a Wise Woman this weekend...  God makes them and when we find them, it only takes a moment to realize how lucky you really are...
The Start...  Picture galloping this...

There is no greater adventure than leaving on a showcation with the Bestest Eventing Buddy, two fabulous steeds and Da Boys with a packed and loaded DWSB (Double Wide Short Bus).  We were going to Vermont at the peak of the Fall Foliage Season dressed like Barbie Dolls and riding like Cowgirls...  all Cross Country and no Dressage 

This post was supposed to be all about my winning ride at The New England Hunter Trials, hosted by Green Mountain Hounds.  My vision for the weekend was my "how-do-you-get-her-so-white-better-Hunt-Horse-than-Event-Horse" would dazzle the judges with her rhythm, bravery and jumping ability and we would take home all the glory for Old North Bridge Hounds.  Did I not donate blood by practicing opening and closing a gate all weekend long?
Wide open trails and Fall's beauty

{{{Note to the City Barn Folks - that blood curdling scream was just an incentive to open the gate wider to allow Sugar's ample body AND my legs to clear the gap AND the fence post.}}}

I think we, collectively, call this ego...  or, perhaps, in a kinder tone...  a dream!  'Could've been a contendah!

Beauty everywhere!
Green Mountain Hounds is a young Hunt Club, just 14 years old.  They took the challenge of hosting the New England Hunter Trials to heart...  "Build it and they will come".   The course was amazing...  beautiful galloping fields and lovely, safe and inviting natural obstacles (stone walls, coops, banks, brush jumps, post and rails).  Their hospitality was unprecedented even offering stabling and housing for those of us that came a distance.  If you were thinking, "Gee, that sounds nice, but...?"  Let me be the first to tell you, "These folks are absolutely fabulous...  Do it!"

As we walked in this amazing beauty, it became clear that the footing was deep after a week of rain.  After much teeth gnashing, debating, contemplating, deal making and a hastily made call to our MFH... the Bestest Eventing Buddy and I made the decision to scratch...  As one very eloquent person put it later, "It's always better to say "I wish I'd ridden than I wish I'd scratched", that's for sure!"

And our Wise Woman said, "Feeling bad about making a good decision is just EGO!"  And as I said to my son when he started riding, "Horses are not bicycles...  you just don't get on, ride and then stand them up in a garage...  you got to take care of them if you expect them to take care of you!"

I love this woman.  We ended a very long ride with the best dog walk ever and a home cooked meal of beef stew, fresh bread, sweet breads, and apple pie with ice cream!  Heaven is everywhere and this weekend we found it in Vermont!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Photo used with permission
It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway), that I'm single, currently unattached (unless Chandler counts) and I'm good with that...  just sayin'!  My mom would tell you that I don't have time to fit in a romance and that perhaps, (well she wouldn't say perhaps) I am too set in my ways to have a little sumthin' sumthin' on the side, if you know what I mean.  Yet, I am woman (here me roar) and a girl can have a dream or two...  if you know what I mean...  just sayin'!

I met a man today... an older man with a deep, throaty voice...  his accent was German and his eyes were a steely blue.  And, when he spoke, you were lured into a place of dreams and success as his words carried you forward...  Folks, I speak to you of Dressage... sexy, sexy dressage.

What, you say?  How can Dressage be sexy?  Do you need to spend more time outside?  Have you lost connection with reality?  Isn't Dressage about boring circles and precise movement?  Please, Suzanne, I encourage you to try or Eharmony and leave the indoor arenas alone!

All you horse girls out there know what I mean...  a man with an accent pushing you and your steed to a place that may be difficult to achieve...  each step, each movement his voice encourages you to go deeper, to accept contact, to push forward, increase the impulsion and the arena echos with the tempo of, "That's it... yes...  That's it, That's it, That's it...  good, good, good...  YES, THAT'S IT!

"Good, let him relax, let his neck out...  good job!"
Used with permission

Phew, I do enjoy auditing a good clinic... yes indeed!  And with that, I'll leave this post with just a few tips from the master - Conrad Schumacher and some of my observations:

  • I don't ride enough, ask for enough and tend to accept so little as good enough.
  • Even a Prix St George rider has things to work on:
    • Don't pull on the reins during a reinback
    • Left seat bone has to work as well as the right seat bone.
    • Sit up and ask
  • The horse's back must work first... all the whips in the world won't matter if the back isn't working
  • A long neck allows the back to build up muscle - short neck constrains the back
  • "Keep the neck under control."
  • Riders without helmets are distracting no matter how lovely the horse.
  • Don't keep trotting with a bad neck, go back and fix it at the walk and then return.
  • After a day off, be slow to get the engine revving again.
  • "You must not be perfect but must be truly good."
Poor Sugar, she just hates when I watch upper level dressage... the next week or so may mean she'll be wicked busy...  Just sayin'!

Friday, September 28, 2012


Looking forward at a dead run!
There are a million of ideas, thoughts and rants running through this Overthinker's mind and guess what?  None of them seem to come together coherently enough to be a post.  Could it be that I've run dry?  Have I, almost coming to my second year of writing, become.... boring?  {{{Kind of arrogant of me to think I'm not, huh?}}}

This is the time of the year that Eventing winds down, Fox Hunting gears up and work gets extremely busy and, I live in a world where I want it all!  Maybe all this overthinking is a result of overdoing which becomes the root of being overtired and then, all those thoughts that caused the overthinking stay bottled up and ready to pop...  {{{My brain hurts...}}}

A wise woman once told me that  "one should never enter his or her own mind, unescorted."  So, I bring to you just a few of the thoughts that swirl about:


"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known."   Garrison Keillor 

So, I ask myself, why am I pondering luck? 

Who wanted 2 dogs?  Lucky me!

A professional horseman fractures his skull while wearing the top of the line helmet.  Currently they are stable and 100% functional and although they will not be able to ride for 8 weeks, they are expected to recover fully.Yes, the accident was unfortunate but the consequences could have been severe and irreversible.  Isn't he lucky that he was wearing a helmet and will recover 100% after giving their body a chance to heal?  


The Mighty Mare Posse
The Mighty Mares - There are these girls (high school?), who ride these horses and they call themselves, "The Mighty Mares!"  Someone started them out well... their parents, their trainer and/or perhaps just a natural sense of goodness.  They are a team embracing their mareishness in a way that says, "We rock!"  Polite, energetic and full of laughs...   one can not help but to say, "I wanna be one of them.  I really, really do!"

Stablemates - There is something special that happens when you stable at a weekend Horse Trial.  There is an instant comraderly that happens and more often than not a friendship emerges in the stories we tell.  And, there is one who rides a diva mare who, last week, gave me the most kick a** advice after completing her cross country run... She told me her tale:
  • I would not quit.  I would not stop.  I was going to attack that course and my "diva" was going to do it with me.  When she said, "I'm not sure."  I whispered in her ear, "Yes you can!"  When she said, "I will not!"  I said, "Yes, you will because today we will not quit.  Today we will come home and you will be there with me!"
We're good!

Um, what is that exactly?  Are you saying that I can't just throw more time and more effort at things?  Or, god forbid, are you saying that balance means making choices based on prioritizing life's events?


She is not for sale...  I think Stella's got her groove back!  Just sayin!

Monday, September 17, 2012


And God said, "Let there be light: and there was light." 
GMHA- back field coming home... neither of my jumps

I so want to keep this as simple as possible but, then...  why have a blog?  So, we completed GMHA, did not fall off anywhere on or off the course AND for the first time since we hit the tree at Groton House Farm Horse Trials, Sugar and I had fire in our bellies!

 Watching Sugar in her stall, Friday night, did not give me confidence that this was going to be a good go for us.  In just a mere 3 hours, she managed to develop a deeply fulfilling and all important relationship with a young gelding.  This Cougar could not get enough of her young cabana boy.  She frantically called out her desire as we cruelly separated them in adjoining stalls.  And, as she playfully danced her dance of a love lost, I watched the thousands of dollars in maintenance care and depo shots disappear as she leaped, reared and kicked out her unrequited desire.

Photo used by permission
Dressage was nice... steady and obedient... just one tiny spook.  Just a reminder to all my eventing friends...  immediately after completing one show, find out what dressage test you're doing at the next show.  'Cause, I was "surprised" that I had been doing Test A for months and Test B shows up for this show.  Ooops, sorry for that late transition and excuse me if our circles were cut a teensy weensy bit short.  Ended up 3rd with a 33.8.

Stadium Jumping  was decent.  GMHA, bless their hearts had heard of Sugar's dislike of the lattice, gate, roll top or any jump with stuff and plugged up every piece of the feared material with lovely soft flowers selected for their soothing colors.  We were forward, fast and clean with nary a spook or a discussion on the merits of leaping over colorful poles or boxes.  Double clear - still in 3rd place.

Ahhh, to be a Beginner Novice rider again...  XC was scheduled just minutes before the lights went off and the crowds went home...  3:56.  Wow, that is alot of time to carefully do your course walk for the third time, prepare for the ride home, read three novels, discover the key to world harmony AND to fine tune those nerves to a new level.
Town Hill Farms 9/12
Photo used with permission

Ah yes, the Course Walk with the Event Trainer... When I compete without a coach, I walk the course with the Bestest Eventing Buddy and we invoke our inner Event Trainer - hearing her words and phrases as they relate to our horses.  Well, sometimes, they get a little garbled in self translations because as we walked, I told her what I thought and she tweaked it.  And, sometimes, it was a downright...  "OHHHHH, that makes more sense!" 

And the all time favorite -  "No matter what! Do not take Sugar for granted!  Ride her every step of the way!"

We left the start box as one, no nerves - just two bossy alpha mares going to work.  She had a tiny discussion at the blue house, a bigger question at the yellow house and, then like it had been for years, she was on fire!  She kept telling me to stop nagging her, she knows everything and the faster she ran, the sooner she could be near her lover.  Those things in her way....  "just let me at them, I gotta date in 4.06 minutes".  And, I mostly let her have her way as long as she acknowledged, "rider on board" when I gave her a tug or two.

So the "toughest" jump on the course was 8A (brush jump) and 8B (small coop) on a bending line back to the barn but away from the beautiful galloping hill in front of us.  On the course walk, we had a lovely chat about the rules and what I should do if she jumped big, I lost my stirrups, etc.  The plan - go up to the left and then come down to the coop... do not cross your line. 
Town Hill Farm
photo used with permission
  • "But, ET? Could I not try to turn my handy, athletic mare in the air and make the "sharp" turn? 
  • "Yes, you could if she was completely under you and you executed a plan.", said ET.
So let me remind everyone that just a mere four months ago and for most of the summer, I had no confidence... nada, nothing...  just making it ... barely as an eventer.

So, we come to 8A and I ask my lil' pinto pony to sit on her buttocks and come up under me as we come to the Brush Jump.  She gathered and I gave her just a little nudge with my spur and, um...  she exploded upward, hit the ground and galloped towards the hill in front of us...  And, as I made the motions to turn to the coop, I watched us pass it by.

{GOD this is a long one...  sorry}

Town Hill Farm
photo used with permission
Here's where a being a jump judge can be a little bit problematic.  I stopped Sugar and very carefully turned her so as to not cross our line, trotted the horse length's opening I thought I had to not cross my line and trotted the "normally scary" coop and galloped on.  That little bit of trying to beat the system probably cost me the time faults.

Photo used with permission
Leaping over the final house jump and crossing that finish line was the best fun ever.  I don't care about those 20 points...  We were awesome TOGETHER!  And, yes, I worry my Eventing Trainer some times when I get "cocky" and try more advanced techniques 'cause I think we can rather than just getting the job done.  It's a blast and I can not stop smiling!

Maybe it was the exhaustion from two nights of unresolved lust, maybe it was the reawakening of thousands of dollars in training, maybe it was the place or maybe, just maybe... we're both back... whole again!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Sometimes you see something that really matters...  It could be a life moment where you think, "Wow, I could be like that!"   It might be the life changer that makes you a better person and achieve what was meant to be.   Most of the time I see Upper Level Eventers almost fall and miraculously, determinedly, recover gracefully and I think, "MUST DO MORE SIT UPS!!!!"

Yesterday, after a fun Hunter Pace with the NBG and the Donkey, I hurried to put away Sugar, my tack and clean the trailer (notice I did not say clean my tack).  It was going to be a rush event, I had more things to do and places to go before sunset.  The urgency of completion and accomplishments owned my serenity.  Must get things done!

Nothin' bettah than a girl with her hoss!
('nother pinto pony, not Sug)

There on the hill, sitting comfortably in a chair with horse grazing nearby was the image of cool relaxation with just a hint of horse bonding.  It said...  "Come here... take a load off your mind...  enjoy the beauty of the day, the coolness of early fall and sit a spell... watch magic and dreams unfold at the City Barn... rest and be still..."

Life for the "workaholic" is always on the go.  And, stuff left undone just stimulates the lust for more time...  I went home determined to finish what was still to be done.  That image haunted me.  You see, Sugar was turned out in her paddock still a bit dirty from the Hunter Pace, Da Boys were growled at for their misbehavior earlier on and I was grumpy, tired and as dirty as Ms Sugar, but there was much more to be done.

That image haunted me...  What if?  What if I went home, showered, took a nap and made a nice dinner for myself?  Would the undone find it's way to harass me?  What if...  zzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

And Sugar was greeted at 8:30 that evening with Da Boys in tow.  She received a spa grooming, her evening treats and a good bit of cheer.  The tack is still dirty, the dishes undone and maybe the first section of the First Piece will not be clear cutted in time for the first hunt.  But, I ended my day smiling and cuddling with Da Boys...

Sometimes, you have to take the message...  "Rest and be still!"

Monday, September 3, 2012


UNH Dressage 2012 - Photo used with permission
For the dressage enthusiast, this title says it all...  there was brilliance in movement, a suppleness that is liquid gold, a test with Rolex accuracy and the beauty of elegance and power.  It is a score that most dream about and few achieve.     And, you ask?  Did you achieve such a score?  Was there something about your day at Town Hill Horse Trials that radiated brilliance, beauty, elegance, and power?

Why yes we did have all of that but not necessarily exactly where you would expect to see it.  Yet, if I recall, the bar was set at low... COMPLETE!  Eventing Rule # 1 - Leave together and come back together!   No matter what, I was to cross that finish line...  And, I did!  I DID!

Our Dressage was nice - certainly not 85.77 quality but a 32 - one of our best!  Sugar was still my perky lil' pinto pony in the warm up with a few airs-above-the-ground as the Training Level XC course lay before her and excited her lil' engine.  She was obedient, supple but overall "needed more energy".  Personally, I have seen "more energy" and was happy with obedient and well, present.

For the next hour, I pondered thoroughly all the whys I put myself through this agony as I waited for the jumping phases.  I would share a few but really couldn't come up one reason.  So I flipped/flopped between quitting all together to how I could cleverly phrase withdrawing again without feeling humiliated.  Thank god, my Bestest Evening Buddy was taming the wild youngun' out on the Novice track or she might have had to put me out of my misery.

Wheatogue Stables - an Equi-Spa of immense proportions
There is nothing worse than that long walk to Stadium Jumping... alone, filled with nerves, the pressure to be perfect and the unrelenting fear of failure and embarrassment.  I so wanted a coach, a groom or any familiar face to remind me that this is fun and that I have the ability to do it!

A wise woman once told me that there is goodness and surprise everywhere if you look for it.  Angels and gifts come in all kinds of places.  These two, for me, were stabled with us in the most luxurious barn the night before and parked right next to the warm up ring.  Last night it was, "Is that Sugar?"   "Yes", I said.  "I read your Blog" was her reply.  Today, it was "Have fun!  You'll do fine!  Remember, you were ready for the move-up to Training!  This is easy for you both!"  

{{{{Special note to you both...  THANKS!  I needed that more than you can know!}}}} 

Sugar, in the jumping phases, seemed to be a bit shocked at finding herself in a maze of colorful poles, flowers and boxes as I guided her back to trailer parking.  It was as if it were her first time out.  We had a rail in SJ over a course of encouragement with a tad of "I think you can" struggle.  I believe we were fifth at this point.

Back of the Water Complex
First Course Walk needed a map
Town Hill's Cross Country course is a combination of busy-ness and long gallops.  The jumps are beautiful with some but not garish decoration.  The footing was perfect and the day gorgeous.  Sugar was filled with OTTB excitement.

I chose to embody the inner Calder...  an intensity in achieving the goal, the quietness of body, sheer grit and determination... reins in one hand and a dangling but prepared stick in the other... no anger just guts.  I would complete.

XC was not Sugar's best... She appeared "surprised" that anyone would think to put small houses, hay bales and other such obstacles in a well mowed path through hay fields... And at each such obstacle I had to firmly ask her to greet them with a happy little jumping effort.... What joy!

Now, when you have 14 obstacles to clear and two of them were... um...  not immediately jumped...  the percentage of completion is actually a GREAT dressage score - 85.77%.  You see, at two jumps... the dreaded hay bales and the second house jump which was similar to the first house jump, the same to the third house jump and surprisingly similar to the house jump we warmed up over 3 times in the warm up ring, I was a bit slow on my encouragement.

Despite two ginormous spooks, I never stopped riding.  We crossed over the finish line immediately after a spook at the last Training fence.  I completed and could not have been happier.  Not our best performance by far but the best in over a year.  We did finish above two horses named Elimination, one named Retired and another cutely called Withdraw.   

So the bar is raised again. Next event, I want to complete and make it back to the trailers without falling off.  {{{SIGH}}}

Would prefer that my butt be in the
saddle as you watch the white buttocks
galloping away
Here's a Public Service Announcement...

Always wear your helmet and no matter how cool you look riding your pinto pony on the buckle... A big spook, dropped hips and a scoot will put all that coolness to bed as you find yourself toppling over her "how-do-you-get-her-white" buttocks landing HARD on your left hip and hitting your well helmeted head on the ground!

Sugar looked brilliant as I watched her ample white bottom gallop away.  Her capturers could not stop telling me how beautiful she looked as she galloped towards them mane and tail flying in the wind as my reins and stirrups flapped freely beside her - the brown enhancing the "how-do-you-get-her-so-white" body...

Like I said... an 85.77 is guaranteed to give you brilliance, beauty, elegance and power.  Next time I will be on her...  just sayin'!

Still happy and grateful!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Just once, only once...  I kind of hope that when I jokingly tell my family that I'm going on a date, no one seems surprised.  It should be the kind of announcement that is taken in stride, greeted with a yawn or perhaps, a mere nod of the head as the conversation continues on.  That would be nice...  
Not surprised, at all!

Instead, heads snap to attention, bodies lean forward and I can hear the sharp intake of breath...  {{{Here it comes!}}}  YOU'VE GOT A DATE!!!  Their eagerness and desperation does not match mine... at all.  But, alas this blog is not about THAT!

At the City Barn, horse girls will yap.  And, as the weekend approaches, the talk turns to who is doing what, and where... I say to my Barn Peeps...  This weekend we're going to Town Hill Horse Trials...  just Beginner Novice.  You know, we're just going to get out there and do it.  My only goal is to complete.

"Complete?", said Newbie, "Complete?  Shouldn't your only goal be to come home safely?  Completing is an aggressive goal!"

{{{{Really?  Thanks for the vote of confidence}}}}  Remember, I did come home safely from UNH in May...  that counts, right?   {{{SIGH}}}

"That's a good goal!  You go girlfriend!" said Bestie CB Buddy, "Completing would be a big accomplishment and I know you can do it!  Ribbons are over rated, you should be happy to complete!"

{{{{Ah, come on...  really?  Can't you just say, I know you can do it and win too...  SIGH}}}}

And my Bestest Eventing Buddy, "Right, no pressure...  Git er done!  And then worry about a ribbon..."

{{{Ok, not really a vote of confidence but no surprise...}}}

Back when I was feeling the grrrrr!
It is my goal.  And as odd as it sounds (and in the true sense of confession), no one knows us at Town Hill.  It shouldn't matter if they do but in some ways, I feel no pressure to perform.  I can just be and hopefully that will be one kick-a** competitor with a horse on fire, eager to jump and carry me across the finish line.  

I want this one...  And, without the desperation of the dateless, I need this one!  And, I can feel it in my heart, I will have this one...  Let the cowgirl roar! 

And maybe, just maybe the next time I leave the start box, it will be to win...  just sayin'!  Maybe, huh?

Friday, August 24, 2012


6:30am Orchard Hill Equestrian Center...  All for me!
Handwalking a horse confined to stall rest can be a rewarding experience.  Your Beauty is thrilled for the attention and is immediately grateful for the release into the open world.  She nickers enthusiastically as you enter the barn and your loving pooches dance by your side.

It's 6:00 am, the air is cool and you can feel the Fall creeping in... the sun has barely risen above the hill and the dew lies thick and glistening on the ragweed flowers.  Life can not get better than this...  A cool family walk out on the cross country course of your favorite City Barn....   Ahhh.... the perfect family moment... captured completely and totally in my imagination.

My dad was an awesome guy.  If you ever asked me to summarize his persona, I would tell you he was a Yellow Lab...  Happy, exhuberant, thrilled when people came over - the more the merrier and a very hard worker.  He believed in dreams and in the ultimate perfect story.   He taught me well!

Autumn creeps in...
And one of his dreams was having the perfect, family moment - the Family Tradition.  God, how he tried to orchestrate the Norman Rockwell Christmas.  Remember that family sitting around the table, fresh faces and smiling, the turkey beautifully cooked and everyone was full of family bliss?  That was his dream...

Well, we were eight, rambunctious kids with parents who worked odd uncoordinated hours assuring that that one of them was home with us at all times.  So, shift work killed the "traditions".  For how could you wake up every Christmas to a wonderfully cooked breakfast when schedules would change and a parent went missing?  What actually became a tradition was the lack of tradition and the attempts to make magic happen

My morning's "Perfect Family Moment" was as messy as our "traditional" Christmas...  Da Boy's ran wild and Mr Floppy refused to come when called and Sugar was most ungrateful as she displayed amazing athleticism in her attempts to return to the barn.  The cover of my serenity was blown as I spoke harshly to the dancing white horse, yelled at the matching hound and expressed a bit of salty language towards the Convict thus preventing his attempt to eat a boarder's coveted treats.
My Pop

Then it occured to me... that  one of my Pop's gifts is my own search for Norman Rockwell... that perfect moment, the dream come true...  rainbows and unicorns...

The perfect moment is often unexpected but the search for that moment really does bring rainbows and unicorns...  And, this morning in all it's glorious beauty and messiness really was that perfect...  It brought the memory of my dad back to me and that is good. 

Ironically, the last Christmas we had together was the Norman Rockwell Christmas of his dreams... All of us kids and his grandchildren stopped by Christmas Eve and laughed and loved like no other orchestrated moment.   God is good...

Monday, August 20, 2012


Yada, yada, yada...  I've heard it all by now and don't know if I can continue to listen...  So, you hit a tree, got hurt, spent a bunch of months in pain, then got better, then horse fell on you while hunting, then you got really freaked out in kind of a PTSD way, then you sought help from some experts, went way back to cross rails, then got a bit better, then even more better... so much better that you competed and was winning til your pony spooked at a crappy little jump and you fell off, then you scratched your next event 'cause you knew you couldn't get it done and then everyone and their mother told you to sell your horse and get something easier... until you couldn't take it any more.
Beauty is everywhere (even if that's a stain on her neck)

Hey, that's my story and I believe that's my judgemental/impatient brain that's yada, yada, yada-ing itself.  Wait, isn't the story interesting anymore?  What?  You mean we're over it?  Are you saying we're normal again?

Well?  Let's just say I'm back to being totally and completely Abby Normal.  Truth be told, I was never a Take-no-prisoners and Let-me-at-um kind of Eventer.  I am the...  I-love-this-sport-and-when-I-leave-the-start-box-something-kicks-in-and-I-breathe-fire kind of Eventer.

I'm entered at Town Hill Horse Trials on Sept 2... just Beginner Novice.  My ego has healed and although my dreams/goals haven't changed, my trainer(s) finally made sense... "Drop the calendar and just ride!" 

Da Boys!
I have but one goal for Town Hill and that is to complete.  Four years ago, with Dressage Buddy in tow, I competed there without a trainer.  Sugar was spooking and spinning at scary stuff with me and winning with Eventing Trainer.  I didn't care... It was an adventure and I was game.  We ended that weekend with two stops on XC - one a spook and the other rider error.  We completed and that was enough.  

Completing will be enough and if I really want to spice it up...  I will have fun!  Just sayin'

There is much to be grateful for...  A galloping romp with the Pink Pony and her person, two amazing and fulfilling dressage lessons with the fabulous Niall Quirk (who thinks Sugar is pretty special in the unique talented way) and one incredible jumping lesson with the Eventing Trainer.  It was a week of friends - new and old...  even met one of the best horse bloggers out there...  

I may have judged others in my Lucky Lucky You! post, but for the record...  I consider myself most fortunate that I can enjoy all these wonders even if the path was painful sometimes.  I guess, the pleasures are just that much more intense because of it...  I am grateful for it all!     

I may not be particularly brave... but I do like to think of myself as "special", if you know what I mean...


Monday, August 13, 2012


Rocking and Rolling SBS 2010
Photo by
Just say no!  Simple as that!  Drugs are for the weak...  for the sick...  and, in my family... you had to be really sick...  like, diagnostic tests proving that your chills, aches and pains were worthy of the ever so costly prescription drugs - kind of sick.  In a family of 8 kids, everything was a competition even who could endure the most pain or discomfort before succumbing to medication.

One day as I was hacking, coughing and sneezing, a wise woman tapped me on my shoulder and asked, "WHAT PART OF BEING MISERABLE DO YOU LIKE?"  After I wiped my nose, cleared my throat and caught my breath, I realized she was right!  What was holding me back from relief?  Was it some odd sense that I was stronger than those that knew the benefits of Advil Cold and Sinus medication?  And, I gave in...  My coworkers were most grateful...

Sugar has been on Depo for 7 weeks now and there is much rejoicing!  She is still my diva mare who, for example,  when disturbed by bugs will wreak havoc on her body as she tears up the paddock footing.  She still spooks at the same log she's walked by 100 times.  What's changed is the level of hysterical behavior surrounding the disturbance.  She seems "normal", no longer escalating from exuberance to chaos in 45 seconds.   And, that feels strangely odd...

And, her NON-hissy-fit-I-can't-take-it-anymore behavior is soothing, dare I say "Confidence Building"?  There is something about a horse that can walk into a familiar place (or a strange place) and just go to work that makes me say...  "Let's do this thing!"

Photo by
"But Suzanne," you say, "If this Depo is so amazing, why didn't you do this way back when?"  Ahhh, we tried Regumate back in 2009 and it was a radical failure.  Instead of quieting her marishness, it threw her into full blown agitation...  You could not remove a horse from the barn without her going into a rather amazing display of loneliness, desire and absolute abandonment.  The vet said that it is a rare side affect of Regumate in that it enhances a mare's mothering instinct...  Well, that was an expensive experiment gone awry!

How confident do I feel?  Um, I am actually craving competition...  a horse trial ... an event!  I am looking for opportunities to jump.  And, when the Bestest Eventing Buddy said, during our Jump School Play Date, that I must jump the boxes.  I did,  with barely a whine....  And, we laughed liked hyenas at my inability to breath, ride and count strides...

Take that!  Drug resistant no more!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Chatting with "other" women..
Shhhh...  if you see Boyd Martin out and about, please tell him that uh, those girls at Millbrook Horse Trials are harmless.  I mean they ARE kind of enthusiastic, a bit boisterous and somewhat tenacious but safe in that ...  "we love you and think you're a hunky horse guy and well, you did just fly back from the Olympic Games and well, you're accent is absolutely fabulous but would never LOVE you too much in the Fatal Attraction/Misery... kind of way". 

Maybe it was the story of the fire and Neville's rescue at True Prospect Farm.  Or perhaps it was watching the 2012 Olympics just a few days before or maybe it was his blue eyes, wicked grin and fabulous accent.  This was their first trip to an Advanced Horse Trial and the last remaining one in Area 1 and they were on a quest. 

Ok, for those of you living in Area 2 and/or winter down in Area 3...  you're saying to yourself...  "What's the big deal?  Heck, I routinely (and by accident) cut off Olympians past and present in the warm up all the time.  So?  You saw Boyd Martin, took some pics with Philip Dutton and the Davidson's - Bruce and Bucky... whatevah!

Oh my!  Size does matter!

You see, us Noreasters, we don't get many celebrities riding our way.  We do have our local stars - Denny Emerson, Mark Weisbecker, Bobby Costello to name a few and I'm sure there are many of our folks whose stories haven't been told in a long time.  Way back when, we actually grew these stars and even pony clubbed with a few. 

Area 1 has one remaining Advanced Horse Trial...  Millbrook Horse Trials built it and gosh darn it...  THEY CAME.   What really amazed me is not only did we see the stars but the soon-to-be-stars came with them.  Shucks, we may have even seen the birth of some 2020 Olympian that weekend.

Ok, my two foxhunting peeps hunted Boyd with abandon. For the sake of anonomity, I won't post any of the 114 pictures we collected... Boyd talking, riding, turning around, laughing, riding, jumping, walking chatting etc...  nor will I be able to post the many great pics of PDutty smiling, of Bucky's bright whites or of Bruce scurring away from the odd papparazzi we became.  I will tell you that as we moved about the course, it always seemed to be in his direct line of sight...  hmmm who was stalking whom?  

Chandler cleaning the jump of pooh
The best Boyd moment was at the finish of his last ride.  We were sitting at Fence 17 and my peeps went to the fence to catch him jumping the last fence 100 yards away.  He finished with a settling gallop directly in front of them...  looked up and gave a big laugh, a wave and a quick hello.  {{{Seriously, I think he locked his door that night with ever lock possible.) 

My trainer asked me if I wanted to get a picture with him...  "Nah...  I'm going to wait until I'm next year when we're both waiting for the victory gallop...  then I'll turn to him and get him to sign my blue ribbon."  {{{just sayin a girl's gotta have a dream!}}}

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Maybe it's the Olympics... maybe it's reveling in the achievements of others...  or, maybe, just maybe, it's my own pent-up-need-to-get-out-there-again urge to compete...  I am filled with inspiration and desire to be the Best!
The Family Stroll in the XC course
at the City Barn

Ok, so I'm moving up from my C-game to maybe being at, say...  my B-game... so to be the Best, I might not select Eventing at my venue just yet.  Sug's a spooky girl, so that leaves out a bunch of things...  And, really the idea of riding the trails for more than 2 hours makes me shudder so Endurance Riding is out... Foxhunting season is six weeks away... hmmmm....

I can and will be the BEST NEUROTIC BOARDER  (BNB) at the City Barn!  There are three barns full of Boarders and competition is going to be fierce!   I know I can win this...  And, if you too have the thirst for this title, here are some tips to really sharpen up your game:


  1. When writing a note to the Barn Staff, be sure to use a light colored (grey or yellow) permanent marker.  The paper should be anything small so that the ink from the marker bleeds and the words are blotted and thick.  This level of detail in the materials selected will guarantee that the note will be carefully scrutinized as they struggle to read it.
  2. Be sure to write your note in every place you think the Barn Staff might pause to wipe the sweat from their eyes assuring that it will be read.
  3. Never assume that the Barn Staff will be able to read your note while pausing.  Use other communication media at YOUR disposal, such as but not limited to, texting, calling, facebooking and tweeting.  (And my personal... blogging).
  4. Remember, if you don't succeed once - try, try and try again.
More detail please!


  • Right, details!  You can not give enough detail.  The Barn Staff absolutely love to have every little thing written out.  So why ask for them give her her meds when you can tell them to give her her meds exactly 12 hours apart after carefully shaking the bottle 27 times and using the second dosing syringe on the left, just inside the pocket in the third locker to the right.
  • And, while some requests may seem extraordinary, the Barn Staff revels in creativity and change.  
  • I can not stress, that you can not communicate enough so, call and text those details to them also.
  • Interrupt the Barn Staff repeatedly.  They love the attention.
  • Bring your dogs really early in the morning...  Barking at 6am is really just an extra wake up call and you know... no one wants to oversleep their alarm.  Or, leave them in your horse's stall while you ride...  a little noise early in the evening just helps everyone appreciate the quiet later.
  • Being neurotic isn't easy, so practice often.  
Dream on...
They say achievement comes to those that want it, that work hard for it and to those that never take their eye off the game.    And, until Sugar and I complete Town Hill Horse Trials, the gauntlet has been thrown...  Are you game?

Let's do that thing!