Sunday, July 28, 2013


Have you ever had one of those days where you wonder...  What are the Eventing Gods trying to tell me?   What do these signs mean?  Getting ready for Stoneleigh Burnham Horse Trials was WAY TOO HARD and I must scratch!
Not me riding but a recent pic
used with permission

Well that was my Friday... knee deep in work on my day off but playing it cool... As long as this project is done by 3 I'll have 3 hours before my pre-show jumping lesson to clean tack and prepare the horse trailer...  I was cool and collected 'cause I was planning on an easy prep.

And then it began to unravel... truck tire had a big construction spike embedded deeply in the tread.  It was 5 o'clock on a Friday, where would I get a replacement?  And will I have time to do a pre-show jump school (the first I've had in two weeks) with my Dressage Trainer (former eventer)?  And when will I have time to clean tack, whiten the very muddy, manure stained horse, braid, pack the trailer and not be exhausted?

Should I scratch or go?  What is the message here?  I AM NOT READY! 

Then Sug's Twenty Something Friend responded to my frantic text by reminding me to search out the truth in the story!  OK, if they can get the truck on the road and I can get a jumping lesson in, then I'll go even if her tack is filthy.  Then Sug's Red Headed Friend texted me to say that she would help me get ready to even out her caffeine buzz. 
Friends helped make it happen

And so...  GAME ON!

I wish I could tell you that all the work I've done made this show a piece of cake and that I rode like a pure pro - confident and powerful with just the nervousness of a competitor.  Yeah... that is not my story.  My story is of the demons that showed up, threatened to swallow any ounce of grrrrr I had and wanted to make the day their own. 

One of the key lessons was remembering to breathe... big, full yoga breaths every time anxiety released the demons and I calmed.  Focus on one thing, keep it simple and then move to the next.  Find the truth in the story and delete everything that isn't useful!

Dressage was the most relaxed test we've ever had.  She was obedient, agreeable and had only one hint of a spook.  I focused on those yoga breaths and imagined breathing through the tension.  It was not a brilliant test  but it made me happy - 32.9.

The warm up for Stadium Jumping was not spectacular...  I wondered, is Sugar sound?  Is she ok?  I feel awkward in the saddle?  Is something wrong?  God bless my Eventing Trainer!  We crashed through an oxer... obliterated the jump.  I wanted to focus on the that that we never did that before and of course something was wrong.  She said, calmly focused, "now do that again, this time less frantic and let her feel open and free (use the jump strap/keep hands low)."

As I waited my turn, she said to me, "Have fun!  You know, Sugar really is fun to jump!  Enjoy that with her!  Stay focused, jump one jump at a time and tell her to jump for you... and breathe!"  And, I tapped her as we approached the dreaded gate (jump 1) and breathed in rhythm to her stride.  (Note, I was not having a heart or asthma attack, I was breathing... just breathing!)   It was a very nice round.

Ahhhh...  cross country...  Did I mention that the last time I went Cross Country was in September 2012.   We left the box, Sugar breathing fire...  jumping every jump and spooking at everything else!  At one galloping lane I felt like we were skiing - swish, swish from side to side - leaping over the shadows into the dark woods. 

Used with permission
For the first time in almost a year, I felt free!  And I felt like Sugar and I were a team again!  I kept my hands low and used my body to "slow" her (although my body hurts in places that may make that statement a lie, just sayin!).

The very last jump almost did me in.  You see, she lost her right front shoe before fence 7 and began jumping hard to the left... (she generally fades to the right)...  When we got to the last fence, it appeared that she was going to spook and spin (story), I began to jump for her (oops)...  she hesitated and then jumped...  I righted myself (thanks Saddletite) and we galloped through the finish line.

My Lil' Pinto Pony saved me!  And I did not quit on her!  We ended up in third place!  You know, that ribbon is nice. I will not lie but completing with a smile on my face and loving my horse was worth more than any piece of polyester ever...  EVER!

This song came on the radio as I drove the last few miles towards the Horse Trial... listen to the lyrics!  So many helped get me there...  and words can not express my gratitude!  Thanks!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Eventing rule # 4 -" Nobody cares on Monday!" 
Two of us sit together in an air conditioned kitchen with stories to tell... My friend and coworker just returned from a four star retreat in Cabo San Lucas.  She and her husband enjoyed freshly prepared meals on their veranda overlooking the Gulf of California.  She rested, caught up with her reading list and enjoyed evening swims after healing massages.  She looked lightly tanned, well groomed, rested and ready for the weeks ahead. 
Water jumps are wonderful!
She turned to me and asked, "What are you doing for vacations this year?"  My skin is darkened not with a sunkissed glow but from an angry sun and the body is slow, it's movement a gift from the coffee gods and Advil.  Ahhh, the Showcation!  How does one explain to a Earthling the beauty and allure of a Showcation? 
Do I grab her interest as I tell her about the Motel 8 just a mile off of  Interstate 89, or would she be captured by the essence of the Days Inn nestled next to Thai take-out.    You know, maybe she would be impressed by the "Motel" off of the Taconic Parkway where we could hear the Deliverance theme song twanging in our head as the night clerk puffed her cigarette behind the No Smoking sign and croaked, "Cash only. Oh, you want two beds and not the king?" {{{Cough, Cough... haaaaaccccckkkkk}}} 
Water jumps contain Walrus!
The FOOD!  That's it!  I can tell her about the Food!  Each summer I become an expert on the well prepared (or is that well done?) burger (or insert meat here).  Some of you in Area 1 are getting dreamy right now as you think about those burgers ... some served with cheese, some with peppers and onions and some without cheese. 

Oh, I know occasionally we get surprised with a fancy dancy bit of vegetables or a wrap...  no Resort will ever be able to capture that flavor after finishing a XC run! 

No one but a horse girl (and most likely an Eventer) will ever understand the beauty and fun of a Showcation.  I just got back from the University of New Hampshire's Summer Horse Trials.  It was as hot as a summer vacation in Cancun.   Stabling was quiet since folks truck in for the one-day show.  We greet old friends and make new ones...  Someone always has something you need and you always have something to share...  Friends, comrades in just a few short hours... we are one!
The beauty abounds!

The early evening cross country course walk was beautiful in all its show finery and glistening in the setting sun.  This is the night where dreams are possibilities and the future is ours.  And the dogs roamed free and splashed in the coolness of the water jump.
And on the day of the Horse Trial, I am with 200 of my closest friends as we live the life of Eventers... graceful dressage, accurate Stadium Jumping and brave XC.  We all know why we can not let go of the thrill even when sometimes it disappoints - we are never alone!
Ok, I do want to go to Cabo San Lucas and have a beautifully built pool boy gently stroking a fan over my body to keep me feeling refreshed.   Yeah, I want that but if I have to choose, give me a Showcation any day!  
Showcation pics are good too!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


It's all First World Problems...  Everytime I feel like beating my chest and screaming...  "Oh, woe is me!", I remember...  these are luxury problems.   That's all!  Rich girl issues...

I just wish they could talk.  Wouldn't that be awesome if our horses could just tell us what is going on and then, make some intelligent decisions based on how they feel?  Wouldn't that just be fabulous?  It is the uncertainty that makes me whine and sigh...

Sugar is NQR... NOT QUITE RIGHT...  She feels like two separate horses...  the one in front - normal but, the one behind...  awful.  I wanted to say that she won't move laterally, but that isn't quite it.  She can't move laterally.  Yesterday she felt like she would fall over and today, she tried and hopped.  She tried... 

So, we scratched UNH Summer Horse Trials.   I was ready but Sugar was unable...

My Dressage Trainer said something that broke my heart...  just a little.  "Sugar is so stoic that, I think she probably functions more often than not in some level of pain and when she presents like this, it is her only way of saying...  STOP!  It really hurts!"

Then she added, "Maybe, one of the reasons she spooks is because she hurts."

She paused.  I looked at her and then we both said, "Nah!"

Taking a few moments to ponder everything - the vet exam on Monday, the cost, the money to treat all sorts of catastropic problems, the end of our career together, the poor house...  I thought back to what I learned from my Stressless Riding Intensive:
  • These thoughts are just stories... what is real is that Sugar is NQR and I scratched UNH.  That's it...  nothing more, nothing less...
But I can still SIGH... can't I?  {{{{SIGH}}}}

Monday, July 8, 2013


There is so much to say and too many stories to tell...  I lose the thought as I rush from thing to thing and throw myself into work.  Just another day in the life of an Amatuer Master (old) Rider.  One can not complain about work for it gives life ($) and allows my family to rest comfortably all day, eating and drinking well, with all work provides.
Tiny jumps, great position

Sugar has completed two events with her young 20-Something Friend.  It's been a great pleasure to watch the two of them compete - Sugar with all of her beauty, power and grace and her 20-Something Friend as beautiful a rider as the mare, solid in her seat and hands, and lightening fast with the whip to catch an errant spook. 

It was confirmed again, that Ms Sug is not an easy ride.  After leaving the dressage arena at Groton House Farm, I asked our Friend whether she still loved her.  She replied, "Well, I will always love her, but right now, I don't like her."   That was a great improvement over my Event Trainer's comment after the last time she competed her ("Sometimes, I hate your horse.")

She may not be an easy ride but she is a talented, athletic and OBEDIENT mare.
Used with permission
  •  Learnin' lesson 1 - As the two of them galloped along... Stay focused and if she seems spooky, tell her that she must jump and reassure her that nothing scary or bad will happen to her. 
  • Learnin' lesson 2 - Sometimes that discussion is with a touch of the spur or a tap of the whip.  She really does try hard to please.  It's just that she can't help herself.
  • Learnin' lesson 3 - Darn, those jumps look tiny
  • Learnin' lesson 4 - Sometimes a tree is just a tree.
This week I compete her at UNH Horse Trials.  I take all of the lessons learned this past month - my intensive Stressless Riding Clinic, watching Sug's 20-Something Friend ride her well and a little something-something that I have yet to share (not drugs, silly).

Riding the spook
Still working too much and I hope I can find the balance to tell more stories...  but I am strangely excited about it all...  Let the games begin one more time!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Yay me!  It appears that my blog has been nominated by fellow bloggers for the Liebster Blog Award.  "What is the Liebster Blog Award?" you say.

The Liebster Blog Award is a way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued. Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  • Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  • List 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  • Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or fewer followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  • Go to each blogger's page and let them know you have nominated them. 
So here goes:

11 Random Facts About Me
  1. I am a Scorpio.  Basically no matter how hard I try to be light and funny..  I tend to be dark and intense... 
  2. I love filling out questionnaires and surveys...  I think its the completer in me. 
  3. After getting involved with Pandora beads, I decided never to buy jewelry that you collect pieces over time...  You see, I'm a completer and now have two very full Pandora bracelets.
  4. I had breast cancer 8 years ago and am now considered cured.
  5. I am against the whole Pink concept for breast cancer and the fund raising tactics used.
  6. I am addicted to coffee and proud of it
  7. Advil remains my drug of choice.
  8. My foxhound Chandler is the love of my life (sorry Jonah, you are a very close second)
  9. I spend a lot of time "buying" my current barn and making up grades so the plans are in place for the big lottery win!
  10. I have 7 siblings - 6 brothers and 1 sister.  I can hold my own in an argument.
  11.  I am passionate about horses and would love to do the "horse thing" full time and of course,

The Questions Asked of Me:
  1. Get up early to ride, or stay up late? - Both.  Although my work schedule makes me a night person.
  2. What do you do for a living?  I'm an Insurance Consultant in Employee Benefits industry.  I do have a BS in Ag Science from Cook College/Rutgers University.
  3. What do you wish you did for a living?   Managing my own Equestrian Center with a healthy lesson program and amenities like yoga to help us be better riders and humans.
  4. If you could try any type of riding what would it be?  Nothing. I'm happy Eventing... it gives me three things to work at and a bunch of ways to get eliminated
  5. What is one thing about your horse you wish you could change?  I wish she were less spooky, less Mariah Carey...  
  6. If you could change your horse's name to anything (registered or barn) what would it be?  Her registered name is Fame and Frolic and her barn name is Sugar.  Never thought about her registered name and LOVE her barn name.  
  7. Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram?  Facebook.  Don't know Tumblr, and really don't know much about Instagram either.
  8. Ebay, Craigslist, or Tack shop?  Tack Shop - I like to support those entities that support my sport.
  9. If you could take on the life of any character in any TV show or movie, who would it be?   Ghost Whisperer.  I love that she talks with the dead and helps folks move on. 
  10. If you had an unlimited budget, what type of car or truck would you buy?  I would want a 4 horse trailer with a dually to pull it. 
  11. If you could move to any part of the world, where would it be?  England or Ireland with visits to New England and VA Hunt Country. 
This was fun!  Sending thanks to the following blogsters who nominated me: Amy writes a fabulous blog - witty and interesting  Monica writes about life and eventing... cutting edge - Writes a great blog about horses, motherhood and living life to the fullest - Emmi is a new blog for me and a new part of the country...
And I would like to do the same and nominate the following blogs: - this blog may have more than 200 followers.  I couldn't validate.  I do like her style - Love this blog - horses, fashion, travel and news!
For now, I have to stop at 3...  there are others but apparently, it's to hard to find their URLs.