Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Teacher, teacher ... ooo, ooo, ooo .... Pick me!  Pick me!!!  Do you remember those days... way back when...  you wanted to be the smart one, the clever one...  the teacher's star?   Ooo, oooo, ooo...  pick me, I know that answer!  I know it! Me! ME! ME!  Oh, how I wanted to be that kid... 

Just sit up a little more, please?
Used with permission (
So, I am about to remove my Eventer garb and slowly, meticulously dress myself in the oh, so, chic dressage apparel.  For Sunday and Tuesday will be the days that I clinic with Niall Quirke - Grand Prix Dressage Champion, a trainer who works for the Equestrian Federation of Ireland, who has trained many Dressage, Eventing and Showjumping riders to the upper levels and is also the dressage and showjumping flatwork coach for the Irish Army School.  Another benefit to a the City Barn.

And here lies the "problem"...  um, uh...  well, Sugar and I have.... um, uh, well...  been just a lil' bit pre-occupied with jumping and, well... um... can someone remind me what a 20m circle looks like?  And, well... um, what is the difference between a working trot and a medium trot?  And, the cantering lengthening...  what about that?  OMG!  I have forgotten everything in my quest to find the GRRRR...

Sug looking good...
And, as the day draws closer, I worry...  about what I'll wear, whether I'll look like a Dressage Rider, if Sugar will be clean enough...  and, then I know, for certain...  that I am normal!  OK, as normal as the Double Wide Short Bus can be on any given day. 

"They" say Niall Quirke is a gifted clinician...  And, if I remember correctly, going to an expert is all about learning and finding things that can be tweaked for a better performance, a better feeling horse and a better equipped rider. 

I think I'll leave the impressing to someone else... 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


One year I just gave up making New Year's resolutions... you know, the kind where you're going to lose weight, exercise everyday, balance your check book and keep a clean and tidy house.  They never really worked and well, you never felt good when you left them in the dust.  

Instead of resolutions, I made attitude adjustments.   The best (which I still need a reminder from time to time) was the commitment to be a kinder and gentler human being.  Making the change from being an authoritarian to a mentor (and not one of those "mentors" that is really a bossy control freak) wasn't easy.  It was, actually, the gift of all gifts because as I learned to be kind and gentle to others I had to do the same to me.  And folks, that is not an easy task... no it is not!

I haven't felt whole in a while.  I believe that my confidence was still fragile after the infamous tree incident and shattered when Sugar and I fell while foxhunting.  Pushing myself to "get back' did more damage than any of the falls.  Everyone - trainers, friends and fellow riders - have been supportive in my quest to restore my GRRRR.  The only person pushing me...  is me and it hasn't been working.  A kinder and gentler response to my fear and anxiety has to come from within. 

In the spirit of confession, it is true that sometimes you need something else...  like a trainer, not for dressage or jumping, but one for your mind.  Yup, some trainer/psyschologist that specializes in PTSD.  I am not ready to quit, well not eventing, but I would love to quit all the anxiety/panic attacks and get back to the place where nerves equal just harmless annoying verbal diarrhea.

Sunday was the very first jumping lesson that seemed normal since the "Lost Season of 2011". Normal really is an overstated term... You see, I did not have a panic attack, I did not have an emotional break down and I did not cry. I began the lesson with a sense of eagerness which turned into fun. The jumps were just 2'3". Without the worry of height, I could focus on all those pieces that when put together nicely, allow for rythm and flow with power and grace.

Used with permission

The Instructor at the City Barn is kind and patient.  Bless her heart, she's honored the Eventer I was and offers the reinforcement I need now to help me continue in my quest.  And who knew how therapeutic it would be to be in a class of talented beginners... their struggles and successes boister my confidence.  I am grateful for this connection.

And the trainer fixing my head/heart is working one issue at a time...  and I can see faintly that rythmic gallop and cross country run that makes all of this worth it...  worth every tear, every penny...  it's all good!

Friday, February 17, 2012


I've been thinking alot about writing something fun and witty about the City Barn...  perhaps my love of notes posted on the white board or the integration of new barn mates (human not horse) or even the shred of hope that my GRRRRRR is coming back.  Yeah, that's really the kind of writing I want to do... 

Quiet Beauty
Truth is...  I can not shake the image of the what happened in that Hyperbolic Chamber in Ocala FL last week -  one young woman and the horse being treated died in a horrific explosion.  There was one survivor, lucky because she ran to dial 911 and made it just that little bit far enough away that the blast did not kill her. 

God bless the families of those two girls... one for their loss and the other for the enduring the physical and emotional pain of survival.  And I will pray for a recovery that is quick and complete...  sending her the jingles that we horse peeps hold so sacred... 

I've been following the Bulletin Boards - COTH primarily - and I've been shocked at some of the comments.  Oh, for the most part everyone feels awful about what happened and have expressed sympathy for the loss of lives.   What was most unexpected?  Well, let me list a couple of comments that floored me:
  • "It's used for treating everything from infection to founder to giving racehorses a little extra edge. I've seen it work a minor miracle for a horse with a bone infection."
  • "For the folks who keep talking about taking the shoes off, it just is not practical in many cases. These are not all horses that are there with major issues - many of them get this treatment therapeutically while they are still in training so they need shoes on."
  • "One thing I thought of in regards to sedation-since many times the horses getting this therapy are actively competing, they may hesitate to involve sedation for drug testing purposes since that kind of drug a lot of times does stay in their system long after it has worn off."
  • "I personally don't think there is anything wrong with getting a competitive advantage such as this. Way different than tapping and blocking and such. The vet I used said it was most effective 4-5 days out from the race as sometimes it makes them feel a little worn out the next day."
  • "Life isn't fair. As long as it isn't detrimental to the horse I see no problem with it. Horses aren't for the poor."
For the record?  These posts are out of context and do not necessarily reflect the attitudes of the greater group/thread, but it did leave me thinking... well overthinking again.

There must be a point when we just say no.  Animal care has to have some level of reasonableness.  More than one poster on this thread talked about the financial drive that facilities have to use specialized (and potentially dangerous) devices for more and more off label uses.  True research towards determining accurate outcomes is not financially viable if you can treat conditions prior to the release of proof that such treatment works.  It's about money.

I bet that if someone tracked the incidences of colic surgery, you would find that the increase in surgical procedures is directly proportional with the rise in Major Medical insurance policies.  And I do wonder, is all that colic surgery necessary?  Or are we convinced that without it our horse will die an agonized death?  And because of that fear, it becomes impossible to wait.  It's about money.

Used with permission
Care for our animals should treat illness and injury.  And that care should be reasonable and appropriate for the age, activity level and health of the animal.  It also should be proven safe, effective with a proven outcome (yes, we have that in human care, we should have that in animal care).  And, most importantly, it should be medically necessary.

Right this minute, I have two beautiful, sometimes naughty and almost always lovable dogs snoring nearby.  Somewhere, just three miles away, Sugar is eating hay in the big City Barn.  I thank God for their health and hope that I do what is right by them, even if it means saying no.

Hug your family...  all of them... now!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Not a pony but a puppy
Still a baby...

So despite wanting to be a (and spending way too much time fantasizing about) being a millionaire, sadly I am not, nor was I ever a child of wealth and privilege.  I was, in fact, a poor barn rat.  Yup, dats where I learnt all my skilz as a horse girl... scurrying around barns doing hard labor... uh, chores... for a few minutes on the back of a fat pony.  And, it was all worth it!

The cool thing about the move to the big city barn is the lesson program.  Ok, you say...  isn't the place crowded?  Aren't there kids all over the place?  Isn't awkward to be moving around the newbies, the timid and/or the clueless? 

Nahhhhh, I find their energy amazing.  There is nothing like a group of young girls, together, in a jumping lesson.  It is an atmosphere filled with daring, a business-like intensity with dashes of giggles and an eagerness to go again and again.  They don't overthink the quality of their canter, or the accuracy of the bending line and if the pony pops over a jump, they move on to the next, barely noticing the stride in between.  It is a pureness of thought that leads to an action free of a past that has yet to come.

And tonight it was four boys, barely 8 years old and a sister...  This was their beginning on the backs of five fat ponies.  I saw faces gleeming with eagerness to do more and furrowed brows that belied the seriousness of this new adventure.  It was ... um.... beautiful.  I wonder which will of the five will stay and which will move on to hockey, football or some other (cheaper) sport.  But for that moment, maybe I was watching the start of some superstar.
Master Rider - I'l take it!

I did not start my riding career on a lesson horse in a big fancy indoor...  No, I did not.  Watching these kids make me smile... what a great way to enter a world second to none.  And, I am sure that some of those kids will grow up as a barn rat just like me...  Maybe it's the little sister who marched up to me and very politely asked to feed Sugar a carrot and then offered her one ever so carefully...

Oh, I would not give up the advantages of a Master rider (awesome competitor parties rule) yet I long for just a little bit of that innocence and a mind that just does...  it would be a whole lotta fun!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Ah... to be born a Princess
It had to happen sometime...  One day you're on top of the world dictating to your staff on what they will or will not do for you.  Those regal moments, lying on a clean bed, eating tasty treats and delectable delights while everyone scurries around you as they attend to your every need which, of course, is your rightful place.   Being a Princess is easy 'cause you were born to be pampered...  And, it's the way the world should be, right?

Then one day, quite unexpectedly, the rules change.  The staff said enough...  the job is too big and I must take leave of this servitude.  Today, of all days, is the day that you, Miss Sugar, become a horse like all other horses.  (OK, very expensive and pampered ones... but horses none-the-less.)  And that day was the day that her devoted staff turned her care over from rough board to full care opulent board.

Workaholism Destroys My Social Life was one of those posts where I hinted at a tiny lil' issue in my life.  One of my other lil' issues is my inability to do anything half way.  So when work is tough, time consuming and a brain drain, I don't change anything in my life...  I just add additional tasks to the huge pile of other tasks that I do to make my life whole.  The only thing that suffers...  is me.

So as the snowbirds moved South and the Indoor-less searched for the sublet, I pondered a change.  And, when the final sublet poked up out of the vast pile of tasks, I said yes.  And off we went... just one mile away from our country barn to the big city barn, from 4 horses and three riders in a beautiful private indoor to 41+ horses, countless riders, a lesson program and great facilities for just two months.  A vacation for me.

Letting go of every aspect of her care is extremely hard.  Sug and I are both accustomed to precise and personalized care, deep bedding and amenities that only a rough boarder can provide.  She is mine and I know what I like and I make sure it happens.

Outside in February

Poor Sug, she hates turnout (yes, she really does) and here she is out from 8am to 3 in a nice big paddock in a place where she can see everything.  Every car, every person that walks the property in her range of vision is a potential staff worker... "Hey you.... yes you, can you not see that it's time for me to come in... The sun is too bright/dark!  The wind is too brisk/quiet.  The air too warm/cold.  Take me in please!  Take me in now!"

And, no one responds...  Poor Sug!  Oh they make sure she isn't hurting herself or being a loon but so far, they haven't fallen for her "damsel in distress" act.  And, when no one is watching (well, where she can see them), she is just like any other horse... out in a paddock soaking up the atmosphere and moving around.

This break is nice...  I can focus on this work project, keep up with my riding, walk the dogs and get this...  take care of myself like I take care of my horse.  Today, my house is clean, the dogs are happy, my tack looks new and Sugar?  Well instead of devoting precious time to anal-retentive stall cleaning, barn maintenance, she is immaculate if not just a little bit tired. 

I'll retire back to the country in April, but today, I'm loving the city...