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 www.dexterpix.com
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 www.dexterpix.com
"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!}}}