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'!