Sunday, April 29, 2012


So, I came into the barn last night after XC schooling and as is customary in the City Barn, a barn peep asked how we did.  And like any eventer, I retold the tale of a windy day, and the ride on a bossy/pissy/make-me mare...  you know, every stinking detail.  And as any good barn peep, she listened, commented, nodded and ended by saying wryly, "I'm sure you'll be blogging about this one...."

Off to rule the world!
Photo by Jeff Phaneuff
Oh no, have I become that person who writes every detail of her life out for the world to read? {{{Not really, wink-wink-nudge-nudge, I do have some secrets!}}}

"What doesn't kill me, makes me strong!"

 I swear Sugar thinks I live a simple, easy... maybe even a gifted life.  And, I sometimes think that maybe she figures she was put on this earth to let my dreams run wild , to believe that all of the possibilities are endless and that fame and glory are right there in front of me.  Yet, in any given moment, she also sees it as her job to make me want it sooo bad that I will work HARD to achieve it...  'cause my lil' Pinto Pony can really wreak havoc on my expectations.

Running XC on Sug is an amazing experience...  kick her on and she is unflappable...  Get her revved up and forward and she attacks this phase as if she was running Rolex.  XC schooling?  Not so much...  I am absolutely certain that she sees no reason to leave her new found (and inseparable) friends.  Every effort is a spook, scoot and bouncy quick turns... around blades of grass.  And the bolting to be back to the group is really not a part of my pre-show training.

Sug makes me earn every fence.  I watch the others in my group... gallop away, do their courses, work on their problem areas and I yearn for that ease.  And, in all that yearning, I find that by watching and seeing their sense of fun and accomplishment, I learn, adapt and then marry my Inner Cowgirl with my Inner BAHB.

Photo used with permission
This XC school started out frustrating, hard and the "I" in QUIT felt insurmountable.  You know what?  The middle got good and then I wanted to stop while we were ahead.  I said to the folks around me, "I think I'm good for the day."  And, in support, they agreed.  My trainer did not.

It takes a good trainer to know when to hold them and when to fold them.  She gave me one more course with bigger jumps allowing me options to go lower, "if I wanted to".  And off we went... nailing everything until we came to the table...  Sug stopped...  not because she was naughty but we were going down hill, she was on her forehand and unbalanced (um, and I leaned).  And we had to do it again...  better than ever!  I felt so good that I added two more bigger jumps.

The final rider went and as we were about to walk back to the trailers, I brightly added, "I felt great!  I was gonna jump the Chevron!"  Then my Eventing Trainer said, "OK, do it then!"  What?  What?  Oh no, I'm done, you said we were done!"

So, not the Chevron...  but she gave me another slightly bigger course...  and, I went and did it!  EXACTLY what I needed to own the day!

I left the XC course feeling like a ROCK STAR!  And, Sugar was my most spectacular Princess!  Life is indeed good!

Friday, April 27, 2012


There is something completely magical about being alive in the moment.  Where colors are brilliant, the smell of the wild rose bushes light up your nose, every bird is singing for you and the horse under you is coiled... waiting for the ok to go... It's that place where you know that you were meant to run, losing yourself into the excitement of what is....
Photo by Rick Arsenault

Must be Hunting Season again!  And what a day it was... One of those perfect New England mornings - a crisp 42 degrees, a slight breeze and big cumulus clouds in a deep blue sky. 

Spring Cubbing brings out the colors...  not just the budding trees with their pinks, purples, peaches, yellow and greens but it is the time for the Field to bring out the "bling".  Shhhh, we love to bring out the tweeds and show off our fancy, dancy stock ties...  LOVE!

The first hunt of the season is filled with anticipatory excitement, a lil' bit o' nerves and a tad of confusion.  "How does this work again?"  Sugar stood at the cast feeling as dusty as the rest of us... "What do we do?"  Her confusion and ambivalence was brief.

Delaney Wildlife Management Area in Stow is an excellent place to watch the first cast.  The hounds hunt the allusive anise scent in a beautiful sweeping bowl originally dug out to contain a major flood.  And, today they were magnificent... giving tongue proclaiming their find.

The Bowl
(Photo by Rick Arsenault)
Hunting brings out the inner Cowgirl in all of us.  There are times when I get frustrated and even a bit angry at my lil' Pinto Pony.  In the Field, her body is filled with an amazing blend of power and grace.  There is no fear, there is no hesitation, there is no doubt...  And, we are one!  There are some moments when I am completely lost in all things Sugar... woozy from the power and grace.  Fearless as one!

Oh yeah, I was telling about the hunt.  It was a wonderful blend of good galloping, some jumping and quite a bit of excellent hound work.  At one point through the wooded second piece, the hounds ran parallel to the field, snaking through the woods and swamp... tonguing for all to hear!  Gorgeous view...

Tending her every need
Photo by Rick Arsenault
The tailgate was quite fantastic.   Folks brought home made cookies, sandwiches, salad, dips and chips, cheeses, fruit and, of course, what hunt would be complete without adult beverages.  Although I do believe I overheard someone wondering where the bloody Mary mix was. Hmmm... drunk with power?

So, a message for my hunt peeps... OK, as Territory Co-Chair, walking and clearing paths... um, does not have the same view as one might have... well, on top of a 16.3+ hand horse.  Um, we'll be fixing that for the next hunt!  Sorry...

Monday, April 23, 2012


2012 - First Show Pic
Photo by
Carol Burkahart

I guess the mythology around that song is about lost love and, by tying a yellow ribbon around the oak tree, you hope that your love will be able to find his/her way home...  Kind of like my posts but with words, huh? 

Yesterday, at AKF's Combined Test, I cut the yellow ribbon off of my oak tree and placed a red ribbon on the door of Sugar's stall.  And as my trainer said there is just one more test left to determine the soundness of my mind and the full-time return of my GRRRRR!

The short version:
  • Angry Mare Hijinxs in the Warm-Up.  I send my apologies out to all those Beginner Novice riders out there for the hop, spin and prop antics of the lovely, white, fully braided, big horse. 
  • And more apologies to the dressage judge for the two big spooks at her judges box.  Although, rustling paper and the click of a pen can be pretty scary for a "horse that will be better with more experience".  Oh, and the jig in the free-walk... well, a girl's gotta get going...  Eights are nice to offset the fours. 
  • Starting the season with a 36 is better than some other years... at least she was rideable.
  • And, jumping was spectacular.  My Lil' Pinto Pony was a pure pro...  She jumped and then looked eagerly to the next jump...  hungry for more...  makes me soo happy.
Now, I had ego issues when Eventing Trainer suggested dropping back to Beginner Novice to "get a good one in".  Internally I stomped my feet and held my breath...  "Wasn't I once a Contender?"  But even with my own version of a hissy fit, I knew she was right.  Better to want more at the end of the day then wishing differently. Right?!

Used with permission
Oh yeah!  RIGHT!  As I got Sugar ready for Stadium Jumping, the thoughts were running wildly in my head...  "No, you can't do this! It's too hard!  I'll start in June, July...sometime this summer... what's the rush!  I'll do dressage shows and hunt!  I CAN'T do this again!" 

All the coping skills came back to me as my Bestest Eventing Buddy helped me get her ready... "I can manage this!  Sit Up and Kick!  I can manage this!"

The warm-up was mediocre... burped over the oxer until my Eventing Trainer kicked my brain in gear:


So simple...  And, we both powered to the jumps...  AND, it was awesome!  I believe that, if you asked Sugar, she would agree...AWESOME!!!! 

I found my love again...  and although the red ribbon was nice...  my smile is priceless!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I love a good bath...  my body submerged deeply in a jacuzzi tub, bubbles swirling lightly.  The delicate, woody scent of ginger wafts up and around my resting head.  Candle light dancing above my body and the sound of quiet spa music takes my worries away...  Ahhh, I do love a good bath.

Sugar, on the other hand...  DOES NOT!

Today is Opening Day for the 2012 Bathing Season...  where one attempts to "get the white horse soooo white"!  And, folks...  if I had a quarter for every time someone asks me that question, my bank account would not ring with the emptiness of the upcoming show season.

Looking happy in her "bath robe"
And, if you had the patience to listen to the answer, you might just agree with my mom and see me, not as an accomplished groom, but an anal retentive spinster...  a cat lady in the making.  So, in an effort to preserve my image (the fantasy that I keep in my head), I will spare you the details and leave you with few things...  regular grooming, a curry comb, hard brush, soapy water, a sponge, Rio Grande Hi Ho Silver Shampoo...  and, well... time.  You see, unlike a grey horse...  Sugar has pink skin... {{{{SIGH}}}}

And, if Sugar were able to type our her own blog...  Her post this evening would be titled "Don't hate me because I am Beautiful!"  And yet, her post might express a yearning to be like every other bay or chestnut horse... clean without being scrubbed and shiny without excessive product...

It's late, Sug's clean and braided.  The dogs have been thoroughly walked and their snores serenade me.  I'm sore, exhausted and whiney... wondering if all of this work is worth it.

Then I remember...  Luxury Problems!  Thank god that this is my worry tonight!  All is truly well...  lucky lucky me!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Used with permission
"Hey you!  Yeah, you!  That's right...  I'm talkin to you!  Stop looking at your watch and quit checking the clock...  There is MORE than enough time..."

Shhhh...  listen carefully...  that's right...  The clock is ticking and time is slipping away...  I feel a slight desperation as I look at the calendar sitting on my desk and count the weeks left before the Eventing season here in Area 1 starts...

Some days the fretting is about getting packed, finding the groove again and wondering if I can get my white horse white enough.  And, on other days it's about whether or not my brain is fixed enough to run Novice in just three weeks.  And sometimes, when my work life is just a little bit hard or a tinge stressful...  I can hear the dust gathering in my empty bank account...
Used with permission

Today, flipping through a magazine I saw this quote:  "When I am anxious it is because I am living in the future. When I am depressed it is because I am living in the past."      (Author Unknown)

Shoot!  Caught again...  if I truly look at what I have right this moment, I know that we're ok.  I'm feeling good about my Grrrr which is really about adopting my Inner BAHB...  Sugar has been spectacular... despite one little relapse into crazy-lustful-angry-mare-gone-wild spring Sugar.

And....  Shhhhh...  I entered Beginner Novice the Apple Knoll Horse Trials Combined Test on April 22nd.  It's a test run for King Oak Farm where I'm planning on being a Novice Rider again.  As my trainer wisely told my frail ego... better to come out saying, "I should've done Novice" than wish anything else!

Uh, did I say....  so excited!!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Mr Floppy looking woeful
In December, it started with tears of desperation and embarrassment...  what became of what we were?  Have we lost everything?  When will it be what it once was?  Then you take a million steps back, swallow whatever pride you have left and beg your ego to be part of the solution instead of the stick used to cause pain.

Two stride Novice height
There is voice in your head, so close to the surface just SCREAMING at you to QUIT!  Nothing is worth this anxiety, fear and self-imposed humiliation.  You can hear the whisper...  "You like dressage... and it feels good when the power is collected and the body springs forward...  yeah, you like dressage...  why don't you forget about this thing called eventing and just do dressage?"

And you stick with it because somewhere in your screaming head you know that there is nothing like eventing... the freedom and thrill of a great cross country run.  So, you find the right help while the Snowbirds enjoy the sunshiny warmth and the pleasures of Florida.
Boxes.. to the barrels

The Professional Friend who works on your PTSD  brings you closer to peace.  The City Barn Instructor and her sturdy, students just jumping school ponies, through spooks, missed striding and all sorts of mayhem, as if the courses were a part of the World Equestrian Games.  They scream for more jumps, more height and their enthusiasm builds into yours.

Dreaded barrels
Jumpin on Dunkin'
Today at my Jumping Intensive...  the barrels loomed in front of us and for one moment, I could hear the screaming and it wasn't my inner B A Honeybadger.  Then, the sweet advice filtered through... getting clearer and clearer...  "Power into that jump as if you mean it!" "Power!  Power! Power!"  And my lil' Pinto Pony, dropped her energy into her hind end and we were lifted up... and over as if the very earth carried us fluidly and strongly.

And for those of you who may not know...  Barrels are not a Sugar favorite and subsequently not my own. Yet today, the barrels are a symbol of the beauty of perseverance... cause today, I can truly say...  We're gonna be ok!!!  Really, truly OK!  And that has me smiling!  Broadly smiling!

Happy Easter!  Happy Spring!  Let the rejoicing continue!