Monday, December 29, 2014


"Forgive me father, for I have sinned... It's been over four weeks since my last posting."   And this is one that just keeps circling my brain...  I forgot! 
Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate!

No, I did not forget to write.  Work obligations, a "busy season" and maybe a tad bit of malaise is at fault for that.  I just never got to it. 

And, as I walk into the dark side of a middle-aged life, forgetting can be a bit worrisome and perhaps, a reflection of a mind already too full to add more tidbits without causing a slight spill of other such thoughts. 

You see, it came to a head, shortly after getting the proverbial "green light" to canter and progressively return to full work, that I have forgotten how to ride my lil' pinto pony.  12+ weeks of traipsing around the indoor with nary a move off the outside tract, I have become the epitome of a beginner rider.

Loving the canter!
I forgot the hundreds of tools I've been given to loosen up a tight, naughty girl...  (hmmm, that doesn't sound quite right for a G-rated post).  My brain is like mud as I try to remember the difference between renvers and travers.  And, is a leg yield done with the hips or shoulders leading?  And, can someone tell me why I am slumped over like the worse eq rider?  Am I flopping about?  WHERE ARE MY SEAT BONES?

Dear god, have I no skill left?

Sug and I had a lesson last night.  Our inner DQs', buried deep under the cob webs of "rehab" felt a fluttering... Could it be the memory of what was forgotten?  Of a past dressage experience worthy of a superstar? 

Wait...  who's blog is this?  I believe what I was recalling as a memory is, in fact, a fantasy...  I forgot...  Sugar and I rock the warm up as we practice our Beginner Novice/Novice/First Level Test while demonstrating grand prix (lower case intended) airs-above-the-ground.  

Oh well, 2015 is a new year and who knows?

Psssst, I also forgot how much I love to write!  Let's git 'er done!

Sunday, November 23, 2014


What if real life, like you know... housecleaning, career, school, dating...  you know real life was like rehabbing your Lil' Pinto Pony?  What if, instead, of throwing yourself off a cliff, changes can be made in increments?  What if?
Keeping busy photographing our
  • I am pretty sure that Sugar did not spend this time reflecting on her issues, meditating on life's next steps and truly resting for any and all future decisions.  She fought it like a good, co-dependent alpha mare until we relented and let her stand with her UL Dressage Lover with her promising to be quiet.
{{Note, she also did not clean her tack well, polished her brass or cleaned out her closets at home.}}


After a bit of time whining, complaining (quietly) and fighting restrictions, one finds gratitude and begins to enjoy the quiet solitude of our new found freedom.  These twenty minutes allow the reflection necessary to move forward (or accept) with life.

In the later phase of this stage, you begin to see the future more clearly and yearn to make changes but are still inhibited by restrictions.  Sugar chose to deal with this with occasional leaps and bounds - leg said GO! 


Release the Hounds!
The eagerness to move forward is exhilarating.  Yet, change must happen gradually or you risk further injury or a set back.  The first set is dull and lifeless... is this the right thing?  Do we need to wait?  Then the second set is brilliant, each stride more enthusiastic then the next.  This where we need to be! 

Still, while boldly moving forward, we must do so incrementally - 6 minutes week one, 12 minutes week 2 adding lateral movements, 18 minutes (ok to hack outside with no limit on walking), 24 minutes week 4 (still no 20 meter circles or turns on forehand).

Happy Thanksgiving!

The world opens up again...  To be determined

There is so much going on in my life now.  What if I rehabbed it as gently as we rehabbed the Lil' Pinto Pony?  What if I had a guide as good as my vet?  What if? 

Hmmm...  Still, Life is, indeed, Good!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


First, let me say this, Ingrid Klimke is a goddess!  That's right, this is a woman who excels at the highest level of two demanding sports - Eventing and Dressage.  And, after auditing the New England Dressage Association's (NEDA) Fall Symposium on "Methods for Training the Classical Way Through Fitness & Gymnastic Exercises", I would also say that she is the ultimate horseman.
Grand Prix rider on an UL Dressage

I really want to inundate you with great quotes, particular exercises and lots of her tips to help you become a better rider.  Alas, it was 38 degrees and my ability to write notes quickly deteriorated into indecipherable scrawl.  (See, that word, once again hypothermia.)

What I can do is give you a few things that, after 3 days, remain crystal clear in my brain.  Here you go:

Area 1 Eventer & Ingrid
"Don't worry!" - No matter what happened, no matter what mistake, no matter how awkward something looked, her response was always, "Don't worry!" Mistakes will happen and, you have to let the horse figure it out and keep doing it.

Repetition helps the horse gain confidence.  Once you're successful give them a big pat and allow them a walk break.  Then move on to something else.

Cavelletti exercises done regularly will improve a canter, develop a weak hind end and will break up the routine of a dressage horse.  Eventers, these are low impact exercises that will just improve everything - jumping and dressage.

"Ride him like he's a 4 year old" - For horse who easily goes into a frame but isn't quite on the bit or a horse who has been collected or worked in a frame, allow the horse to flow easily forward on a longish rein to find their rythym and balance.  Use this as a break in your collected/medium gaits.

On Training Aids (like draw reins) - maybe some horses might need them but she never uses them.  "If I did, I know someone (Reiner Klimke, her father) is looking down on me and he wouldn't be pleased." 

"If you make a mistake, you must continue"

Another Area 1 Eventer doing us proud!

"Be brave and try" - This is one for all you dressage riders who participated in this clinic.  I watched the exercises and they were hard.  You were brave to do this with your dressage horses and the results were stunning!  Keep trying (and maybe try the dark side).

A girl can dream... one day...
"Reward your horse by doing something that they think is fun" - One rider did 3 tempe and then 1 tempe changes and another entertained us with passage.  And, you could see the horse's enjoyment.

And, for us Eventers, she talked about safety, bridging the reins for XC and then showing us how and why you should bridge your reins for dressage training.  She was a phenomonal clinician.  I wish I had more to offer you but the chill won out that day!

Shhhhh, Sugar doesn't know that I told our trainers that winter training will be cavelletti training...  lucky girls!  "Don't worry!"  We'll figure it all out!

Monday, October 27, 2014


The little rain drops
Way back when, I used to work for a software design firm.  It's uniqueness was embedded in their research - they watched folks while they worked, recording every step as they used a piece of technology or software.  It was the little steps, the tiny gestures and the stuff to minute to remember that were important and it is all remembered in the very moment...

In addition to our handwalking,  three of the days I am permitted to walk Sugar, under saddle, for no more than 20 minutes.  Sugar is not quite sound (almost but not quite) and the tendon injury is 80% healed.  We're getting there... 

A little bit of color as fall fades
Tonight, alone in the indoor, we were serenaded by a pack of coyotes howling and yipping nearby.  They were so close, I expected them to come in to check us out.  Sugar was not impressed and continued her quiet march around and around the arena.

If you asked me what I missed most about riding, I may have said something like, "I miss the connection between her body and my hands."  Or maybe, "The rhythm and power of her trot."  And all sorts of riding stuff...

But, what I really, really missed was our post ride ritual.  I slide her bridle off, careful to not bang the bit against her teeth.  Then with cupped hands, I wipe the foam off her outstretched muzzle and scratch her head and ears finishing with kiss on that kissable nose.

Tonight, for the first time in 6 weeks, I wiped, scratched and kissed.  I believe my Lil' Pinto Pony was as happy as I was...  Life is indeed... very, very good!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


First a definition - From Webster's Dictionary:  "morally good, having or showing virtue, ethical behavior, good moral values"

Used with permission
I do not smoke, drink and, with effort and consciousness, I try to be kind and gentle with others.  I donate time and money to organizations I love (USEA, American Cancer Society, youth programs and scholarships).  To the bane of my mother's existence and teachings, I do curse like a drunken sailor on leave.  The key thing is that I really try to be morally good.

Phew...  now here it comes...  the word that cancels out the above:

BUT, I am so sick and tired of hand walking my lil' pinto pony!  And, at a client meeting this week, a CFO kindly said that he would say a prayer for her healing.  I stopped him and thanked him profusely for his kindness.  And. then begged that he would pray, not for her healing (she will heal to 100%) but that I would stop this god forsaken whining! 

Enjoying photographing
the Hunts
Seriously, when a client... no, a C-Suite Client, sends a prayer to your horse, you have to acknowledge that your whining is out of control.  And, it's not just clients, it's coworkers, vendors, the girls at Dunkin Donuts, my neighbors and even the guy who mows the lawn at the church across the street from my house.  Yet, I believe that no one is more tired of hearing it than me! 

Sigh...  patience and acceptance is not one of the virtues I embrace.  Want to have?  YES!  Embrace? NO!
At least watching, I can
enjoy the beautiful colors of Fall

Clearly if not patience, what has this experience given me?  No, my house and tack are still not sparkling and the closets are still stuffed with things that need a bit of organization.  And I can assure you that I haven't solved world peace or found a cure for cancer. 

What it has given me is the clear understanding at how frustrating lay-ups are to owners/riders/persons.  Our on-injured-reserve-list-ponies are having a good time eating, drinking and being gently attended to with their every need met. 
Sug looking stressed with her boy toy!

Sugar has enjoyed the company of an older sophisticated UL dressage horse and a young boy toy who is just getting a career going.  She has a full belly, is groomed every evening and is hand walked during which she has moments of grazing to "stretch her neck and back muscles".  

Our on-injured-reserve-list-ponies are not suffering.  Their owners are...

Last show, jumping Novice again!
Lucky and grateful me!
used with permission
And, here is a confession for you!  I never, ever, ever understood that!  So, I send out to all those that are suffering or once suffered a rehabbing horse my sincerest of all apologies.  I am sorry that I planned fun adventures as you hand walked your horse!  I am sorry that I may have pooh-poohed your angst and frustration at being trapped in a ring as the weather tickled your galloping bone.  I am sorry that I said (what I thought was kind encouragement) that you would soon be out and about again.  I am truly humbled and sorry for my lack of virtue in this regard.

The vet comes tomorrow for the next lameness exam, ultrasound and shock wave therapy.  I'll show up in riding attire acting as hopeful as my hound watching me eat - so eager, trying so hard not to let my anticipation erupt in sound.  Maybe tomorrow will be the day we will be set slightly free!  Maybe!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


No matter what discipline, every organizer agonizes over how to attract and retain their volunteers.  Without volunteers, no event is possible. 

{{{And, if you've never volunteered before, please dear god, do not complain about how a show is run or even, make suggestions on how to make it better for the participants.  And just once in your life, show up the day before an Event and ask them if they need a hand.  Trust me, you'll never complain again.}}}

Course Brook Horse Trials was Newbie Event Rider's first (and hopefully not last) volunteer stint.  "Come on, it is so much fun", I told her!  It was 47 degrees and raining.  Despite wearing a rain coat, hat, three layers of fleece, ski pants and waterproof insulated boots, I left my post jump judging at Course Brook Horse Trials shivering, soaking wet, and chilled to the bone. 

You know the kind of chill where it takes another 5 hours of deep therapy - hot shower, dry clothes, hot food, hot steaming tea and two very warm pooches to finally warm up.   I can only imagine Newbie Event Rider's excitement at volunteering the next time (maybe a plague of locus?).

{{{Pretty sure I could have used deep therapy for other reasons, like understanding why I spent 6 hours outside in the rain watching folks leaping over jumps.}}}

How do you attract and retain volunteers? 

Well, Course Brook Farm provided each volunteer with a lovely gift bag, a nice lunch and, when we thought we were going to die from hyperthermia  (yes, Newbie Event Rider, I will use this word again and again), they delivered hot chocolate and coffee out to our fence. 

{{{Angels arriving in a gator... best sight ever!}}}

What else?  Did I mention that we were cold, wet and suffering from hyperthermia (that word again)?

Hmmm, how about a Fence Judge's Drinking Game?  Ok...  what would that look like?  So we set out with a simple Jump Judge's Chug-a-lug.  At your jump only (or it could be a very short game):
Used with permission
  • One shot for every "Good Boy/Girl" (and please hope that the Beginner Novice Division is small)
  • One shot for every long spot (really hope that the Prelim folks are not contenders)
  • Two shots every time a rider makes a fence judge gasp (could be any fence judge)
  • Chug-a-lug for every "Good Boy/Girl" after just having done a flyer at your jump
For those of you who have never fence judged, this might seem to be a light weight game...  Right!  Don't actually try this, the day could be awfully short and the EMTs might be carrying you out!

{{{Shhhh, I'm actually not a drinker but it was fun to figure out a game where, if played, a person could last the day...  all depends on the BN Good Girl/Boy levels.}}}

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Fall Delights
Used with permission
"Forgive me father for I have sinned.  It has been several, well, many...  (Let's not get into length of time...  Seriously, time is whatever you make of it...), days (sounds better) since my last confession."

I'm bored!  There I said it... bored, Bored, BORED!.  It has only been three weeks since Sug has been laid up/resting/rehabbing/vacationing...  whatever you call it and I am bored. 

There is a routine to our visits.  I drag out her grooming kit and go over her with a fine tooth comb using the curry and three different brushes.  Her hooves are cleaned and keratoxed.  And, then we begin the hand walking - 15 minutes around and around.  Sometimes I entertain myself and practice "going down the centerline", "lengthening across the diagonal" and a few "marching reinbacks".  I visualize the perfect gait and march towards it.

There is only so much mental entertainment that can be done as the days get shorter and our field of view are the walls of the indoor.  And, what's even worse?  I feel the green goo of Facebook envy.  You keep teasing me with your ear pics overlooking great galloping spaces or the beautiful fiery fall colors.  It's the lust for the experience that consumes me more than the envy. 

Autumn calls to me...
I want you to keep enjoying life's pleasures.  It is so good for the soul.  And, for me, I must remind myself to be patient and tolerant... 

I am bored and by the animated antics of my lil' pinto pony, I suspect she's bored too.  My tack is not yet clean, nor is the brass polished and please, don't ask me if I cleaned the closets, finished and/or put away the laundry...  I guess my boredom can not be solved through cleaning...  sigh.
We will jump again
Used with permission

Some of you are probably saying...  "Seriously, just a month and you're bored?  Get over yourself!  I handwalked my horse for (insert # of months here) and didn't ride again for (insert # of months here)."

"I know! I know! I know how lucky I am.  I know!"  And, despite my overwhelming positive attitude toward her lay off, I still want to whine just a little bit!  I beg your forgiveness!

Ultimately, my boredom does not extinquish the gratitude that Sugar's injury is minor and that IF I am patient and tolerant, I will have a jumping horse in the end. 

{{{And, if we're really lucky...  I might even have one before Christmas!  Shhhhh, don't tell anyone because that would mean I'm not patient...  just sayin'!}}} 

Monday, September 29, 2014


Self promotion - my braids
Going to horse shows/events as a competitor, volunteer and/or a spectator, for me, is like going to a huge luxuriant shopping mall where everything is what I like and there is so much to want.  I can not help myself, I'm lusting after your horse and if it's big, beautiful and flashy, I can feel just the hint of drool...  I want your horse!

{{{{Oh, that's right... my next horse has to be ugly.}}}}

The one I fell in love with this weekend had ears that twitched and wiggled as she approached each and every XC jump.  You could see the excitement in her big brown eyes and her ears just communicated to the world her eagerness.  And, when my niece answered her question with a calm "Yes, that is ours!", her ears stilled and her body lifted them over, landing as lightly as a feather and galloped on!

Can I say it again?  Those ears twitching and wiggling were the cutest things ever and I fell in love with her over and over again!   You know, it wasn't just those ears but that this lil' palomino pony (actually a draft cross horse) gave this teenager the ride of a lifetime and the smile as proof. 

Nothin' better than the post XC
Did this Niece remember her last (and first event ever) outing where her final score was worthy of a A++ grade in high school?  No, I don't think so!  And, that is why Eventing rocks!  This week, she finished 9th, did not take home a piece of colorful polyester but totally and completely came home with joy and happiness in her heart!

And, little Miss Winter, if you have a brother that is a hand or two taller, maybe just a little bit longer neck...  Can you give him my name?  'Cause little Miss Winter, you are the Perfect Pony!

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Can you name one person in your life (friend/acquaintance/family member) that is always suffering from one bad thing or another?  Or, always seems to have some drama going on or crisis in their life...  Sometimes you just shake your head sadly and think, "Poor So and So, he/she never gets a break!"
My steed instilling confidence
before we tacked up.

Destiny is not something defined in stone or a clear set path that you have to follow because it is your "lot in life."  I truly believe that life is a journey and that there is no wrong path to take.  I even believe that it is within our own power to change the course of our lives and make it exactly the way we want it. 

(I also firmly believe that I will win the big, big lottery and become a major landowner and fund elite and upcoming riders and the low middle class rider who needs some help with a passion...  just sayin'.  Naysayers...  you just wait and see!)

Not pinto ears, just keen ones!
Sometimes, all you gotta do is say YES...  Think about it!  How many times have you been asked/offered an opportunity (gift, support, etc) and for some reason, you said NO.  "No, I can't go out Friday night, I'm bushed and want to nest at home."  "No thanks, I really don't have time to do that..."  "Ahhhh, thanks but I really couldn't take your help.  It would be too hard to coordinate."

Sugar is still lame on her right front.  Two lameness exams have ruled out a whole bunch of serious things - not her check ligament, not damage to the boney structure of her hoof/pastern or fetlock, not any serious or debilitating arthritis.  Tuesday we rule out a soft tissue injury to her medial collateral ligament.  If so, then we might just be dealing with a bad pastern bruise...  Fingers crossed.

Not too much color yet...
I left the barn after 2.5 hours of vet work carrying the world on my shoulders - How do I take more time off of work for another vet visit?,  How much is this going to cost me?  What if she's broken...  like really broken?  How do I get all my work done, get more sales so I can support her in retirement and get a new horse? (Still need some work on the "living in the day" concept?)

One of my hunting peeps called me to see how Sugar was and listened to my tale of woe, worry and fret.  After my diatribe, she said that the cure for my mood would be a fall fox hunt on her new mare.

These ears will be back in action, I'm sure!
Photo used with permission -
And here goes the cleverly disguised NO - "Thanks, that sounds like fun!  She's an awesome horse but, I don't think I have the bandwidth right now to ride.  I really need to nest, take care of the house, do my laundry, hang with dogs!"  (Translation - I want to mope and feel sorry for myself.)  "I'll let you know tomorrow after I have time to figure things out (mope).  Maybe, I'll just come and take pics for the calendar."

Gently, but firmly, she replied, "We need riders not pictures."  With that, I just said YES!

It was a beautiful, early fall day.  The hounds were melodious and Zelda was a blast to hunt!  Her gaits were smooth as glass and her gallop powerful and uphill.  I smiled, laughed and had a great day!  All of that, because I chose to say YES!

How lucky am I?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


First and foremost, let me apologize for years of whining and more recently, for three and a half years of words that probably should have been kept to myself.  For me, show nerves (anxiety) = verbal diarrhea.   Words just spray from my mouth like a garden hose giving life to the dry earth...
The All Knowing
So, for the most part, at an event, I am not your Go-To-Person for wise advice...  unless, of course, we have just finished any phase at a multi-day show or just came off of XC.  Then, I'm your girl!  Just sayin!

We are lucky to love a sport so intense, so hard and yet, so fulfilling physically, emotionally and spiritually that are very participation makes us one.  And, as a competitor, I truly know that I am as alone as I want to be... 

You see... Wise Women are everywhere!  And over the last 3.5 years of intense worry and fret, I want to share some of your gems:

"My trainer told me to repeat as often as needed, "I am calm, I am strong and I am capable!" stated Newbie Training Rider.
My go to ER kit

"When I walk XC and feel anxious,  I say, in cadence to my footsteps, I am so lucky to be here.  I am so lucky to have my horse, I am so lucky to be able to afford this sport, I am so lucky to be able to walk this course, I am so lucky that my horse and I can run this course, I am so lucky to be here."

"I take Rescue Remedy before the warm up.  It just keeps the voices quiet enough to get the job done."

"Stay in the moment.  Jump one jump at a time.  If you feel that you want to retire, jump the next jump."

"Ask yourself, is it real (in the moment) or a story (a possibility of happening in the future)?  If it's a story, get back to what is real." Stressless Riding ( and (

Photo used with permission
"I work on slowing my brain down, by exhaling after every jump.  It gives me time to think and I think it relaxes my horse."

"This is a gift for me... every second I'm in the saddle I just thank god that I have the opportunity to ride. And to be able to ride this horse, in a lesson with Eventing Trainer is the biggest gift at all. I try not to make mistakes and I want to do well, yet I always remember that every stride, every jump and every moment is to be cherished."

"Sometimes, winning is all about leaving the start box."

"To finish, all you have to do is start."

And, one of the kindest and most well timed card was sent to me as I was recuperating from hitting the tree.

 The front said:
"Never, never, never, NEVER give up. (Winston Churchill)"
The inside said:
"I'll never, never, never, NEVER stop cheering for you."

Happy Dance!
Sugar and I, for the first time since 2011, competed at Novice this weekend.  We jumped a Novice SJ course in the pouring rain and, my one thought as I left the arena - I LOVE JUMPING THIS HORSE OVER BIGGER JUMPS!

I had to withdrawl the next day before XC.  Sugar was NQR (some heat in the leg and off at the trot).  Good news is that the vet confirmed that it wasn't her check ligament but her right foot.   

Monday, September 8, 2014


Used with permission
My niece just completed her very first Horse Trial this weekend.  From the scores, it was a tough day.  You mothers of Eventers know this moment when someone asks you, “How was the show?”  Do you answer like the Mom, the Cheerleader or the Non-Rider-Eventer-Observer-Parent?  And how do you address that child with tears in her eyes and disappointment in her heart?  You want to do so much to make it better because you know how much effort went into the day…

If you’re a Non-Rider-Eventer-Observer-Parent, I must warn you.  Your child has chosen a sport where the work is hard, prizes are rare, ribbons are elusive and the potential for mistakes are many.  If it’s prizes and accolades you want, sign them up for the Hunter/Jumper world, where classes are a plenty and if you time it right or go to the right show, ribbons and championships can be had.

Used with permission
We ride three times, doing very different tasks for one chance to place… once chance for a ribbon… And, one spook at the judge can end the quest no sooner than you start.

A mom wants them to feel better and to make it all right.  How do you make it ok?

First piece of advice from an Eventer (non-mom), you can’t make it ok.  There is not one of us out there that hasn’t had a tough day or been disappointed.  Some of us come out of the ring frowning, upset at what we should have done, wanted to have done something better or even been pissed at our precious ponies (yes, admit it… you have at least once).  

Used with permission
As the Bestest Eventing Buddy and I used to say, “Sometimes the best thing about Eventing is the ride home!”  The horses are munching hay in the trailer, you have a nice iced coffee (Dunkin) in your hand, munching on a little snack and the stories get told again and again.  Sometimes it’s a little bit of a…  “wish I had just kicked instead of pulled”, “she was great over the oxer and then I leaned”, “we were having a great run, he was awesome and we blew by the trakener” , “God I love my horse!  Next time, I will ______” and sometimes, we ride the most glorious ride over and over again…

I’m sure my niece’s ride home with her trainer contained the same stories and I’m sure as they traveled further away from the show grounds, her disappointment lightened until the plans for the next one got better, the excitement grew bigger and the desire to do it again was stronger than any tears...

Let the trainer teach the child our ways…  For you?  How do you deal with it?  Ahhh, take it from one Eventer:

Clueless and contented on the ride home
Don’t tell your child that they shouldn’t be upset.  You see, he or she won’t get another chance to make the mistake right until the next one.  And, that Event is going to be different than this one riding the same horse who might have different issues (or not). 

Instead, ask them why they are upset, you may be surprised at what caused those tears...  Listen to the rant (cause I think eventers are all somewhat masochistic perfectionists).  When it’s done, ask to hear the story of XC - what was her favorite jump, did she have galloping space, how did you handle the water, the ditch, the bank, table?  If you know what her scary jump is (and she did not have a stop at it), ask her how it rode.  (That will be at least a 15 minute talk with smiles.)

And when she’s done, ask her when the next one is… even though your heart might hope that she’ll be a basketball player instead!

Enjoy the ride!   It’s a doozy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Photo by Liz Kast
In 2004, after 86 seasons, the Boston Red Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino...    Now, I am not a multi-million dollar baseball player and I'm not going for World Series glory and fame.  No, I'm just a Master (aged) BN rider who just wanted to (in the order of importance), stay in the tack all the way back to the trailer, complete the event, and/or go clean...  I wondered as I dropped my Town Hill Horse Trials entry, if I could Reverse my Curse in four! 

You see, in order to "Reverse the Curse", expectations were gonna be kind of high since our performance at Town Hill the last three tries were... um...  not great:
Water Complex at sundown
Friends would ask, 'Why do you keep going there if you do so badly each year?"  Why?  They run a beautiful event, over great terrain, with cool jumps and questions, are efficient scoring and are really nice people.   And if you do well, there are prizes that go with the brightly colored polyester.

Generally, dressage is a sh*t show since warming up alongside galloping XC horses is tooo exciting for one to remain earthbound.  Wait!  They moved dressage far away from an active XC course?  There is an eventing god! 

Our warmup was going to be different this time.  Dressage Trainer and I had a long conversation on how to keep my little princess' hooves on the ground.  Just keep her moving, turns on the forehand... canter when you can... return to turns on the forehand.  Keep her brain and body engaged.

Photo used with permission
And when it was our turn, I walked her up to the judges booth/scary pop up tent and then proceeded at a nice slow trot, shoulder-fore and leg yielding.  For the first half of the test, I actually felt that we were going to break into the 20's and then, out of the corner of her eye, Sugar caught the galloping horses way off in the XC field.  She lept up and over in a huge spook at B and did two tempe changes on the canter circle to the left.  She accepted every aid as a call to for aires above ground.  We finished cantering down the center line into a nice square halt (got an 8). 

The Judge mentioned that she really wanted to be doing 4th level dressage...  And scored us with a generous 35.5.

Sugar's Twenty-Something-Friend (TSF) was our compatriot and competing her fabulous Youngster at Training level.  Her times were early and tight.  Here is where I confess...  Anxiety was once again my unwelcome guest.  I so want to be the kind of Eventing Friend that you want to travel with and not a whiny/needy/weeny rider...  (A girl has to have goals.)  I did not want to fall apart in a heap of self misery and loathing.    So I took Dressage Trainer's advice, "do one task at a time, keep moving" until it was my time to roll. 

2013 THF
Photo used w/ permission
Anxiety sucks.... there I said it!  What folks don't hear is the ranting going on in my head....  (I'm done!, I can't do this!, This is too hard!  What if Sugar jumps the brush (7a) and then sees the oxer (7b) and spins me off in a spook?... blah, blah, blah!) 

And when we approached the oxer with the box underneath it in the warmup, Sug spooked and dumped me.  Well, that's my version.  Sug's TSF's version is that she did spook, I leaned and stopped riding and dismounted ungracefully.  "Now do it again!"

Stadium Jumping - double clear!

In the XC warmup, Sug's TSF told me to go out on course, jump one jump and then look to the next.  If at any point, I felt we needed to retire, we could after jumping the next jump.  (Hmmmm)  And, added. ride your line and the combinations will come right where you want them to be...  just hold your line and ride her...  Don't push her either before or after the jump - just keep your leg on and allow the jump to happen.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1  Have a great ride!

It took 4 jumps before it felt that Sug was on fire...  She was game and goey but still questioned the possibility of a zombie apocolypse beginning with each approaching jump.  As long as I stayed in the game and encouraged her forward, she jumped (haybales, houses and barns)  At Fence 4, we had a slight discussion about the reality of zombies.  I kept my leg on her and instead of spooking and spinning, she drifted right and I took out the flag... 

Wish I could say I was fist pumping at the finish...
just fixing the helmet!
Photo by Polly Phillips

And, we were off...  no discussions, no spooks... just gallop and jump.  When we came up to my nightmare fence, I trusted the experience of Sug's TSF, held our line... trusting and still riding.  Sugar jumped the brush up and through me (like a flower opening) hit the ground and galloped to the oxer like a PRO.  When we landed, she pulled...  I said loudly for her to hear...  "Girl, if you want to gallop, you just go ahead!  Run like the wind because nothing will be better than that for me!"

Finished clear with .4 speed faults...  Reverse the Curse!  Check!

There is nothing better than running xc clean and fast.  And, every time I do it, I know I can do it.  The nerves fall away, the mind clears and it is just Sugar and I... 

Let me repeat - Nothing will be better than that for me!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.  Dalai Lama

A wise woman once told me that if you believe it to be true, see it as truth...  then it will happen. 
Used with permission
Sometimes I actually hear myself talk and sometimes I correct negative beliefs, negative visions and replace them with the way I want life to be.  Yet, sometimes what I say is so habitual, so ingrained that I can not make the correction.

It's like when your trainer tells you to slow your brain down, feel what is happening and when you can do that, you can make the changes in your position, use your leg/hand to get a reaction and improve what may already be ok.    And if you can not feel what is happening, change can not occur.

This morning I woke up feeling a wonderful cross country run, an obedient dressage test and a rythmical stadium course.  It was clear and fun... my smile bright as the sun and Sugar stepping boldly in her post XC kick ass walk.  The world felt alive - crisp and brilliant.
Used with permission

Then I thought about how I would handle the hay bales...  And, what I would do if she was spooky...  And, how I was going to not get angry when she lept and bound in the dressage warm up.  And, how I would handle the growing anxiety...  blah, blah blah...

I lost my morning buzz...  And, my iced Dunkin and the first pumpkin muffin of the season was not going to get it back... 

Fear of failure holds me back from living in the dream of the bestest event ever.  Who wants to climb the ladder of hope and expectations only to be disappointed again?  Better to lie in the pool of mediocrity, low expectations and keep the dream down....

Used with permission
The Wise Woman showed up on my ride to work this morning...  Dare to kick ass!  Dare to drop the negativity and believe that success is within your grasp.  Do it!  "DO IT!" she said.  And, let the chips fall where they may!

{{{She also told me to ride forward, use active leg, stay in the middle of her, grab your neck strap, kick on and HAVE A BLAST!}}}

Let's git 'ur done!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Anxiety is like a balloon...  If you fill it, it will eventually break if the pressure isn't released.  Sometimes it explodes into tiny bits and sometimes it lies wilted like an exhausted being.  Neither is good... 
Sigh, despite everything I've done, my anxiety is back. 

You see, while competing at Millbrook was awesome, the experience  brought flashbacks to my disastrous Groton House experience.  I think it was the bigness of the event, the fact that it was a dream event for me, just like Groton House.  I kept seeing my happiness at finally being there end at the base of a tree.

So, the balloon filled all day in preparation for my 4:18pm cross country run.  I meditated, practiced TFT, called in my spirit guides, practiced all the tips that my Stressless Riding Camp gave me and I still filled that damn balloon. 

It reached its peak just as the storm broke loose.  After stretching the balloon to its breaking point, the organizers called it a day.  I withdrew so Sugar could continue on as my niece's horse during her last two weeks working her eventing camp.   I never did get to release the anxiety keeping that balloon tight and explosive.

Three weeks later, I needed to gallop over some terrain and jump some XC jumps to prep for Town Hill Horse Trials.  So, I entered a 2-Phase - Dressage and a Derby Cross.  Perfect, I thought!  Kills three birds with one stone and it was a Schooling Show!  I could practice my, "Who cares!  I'm just schooling for Town Hill!" (said with a haughty/superior tone).

What Sug thinks we're jumping and how I look jumping her
Photoshopped by Bestest Eventing Buddy
Did I mention my anxiety was back?  Full tilt, dread!  Yup, it was back!  And I really couldn't believe I felt that way...  It was a SCHOOLING SHOW!  It didn't count!  No one cared!  But that balloon came taut and I kept shoving more anxiety into it. 

{{{I was quitting!  Never going to do this again!, I can be a dressage queen!  That's fine!  I don't need to torture myself!  I'll scratch Town Hill, GMHA and ESDCTA...  I will not do this anymore!  Nothing is worth this!}}}}

My Bestest Eventing Buddy was competing her finished-rehab-and-newly-returned-to-eventing pony also as a prep for Town Hill Horse Trials.  She called over from her trailer that she would try to come back and warm me up for XC.  I told her if it didn't work out, I'll be fine...  "It was just a SCHOOLING SHOW."

She came back and went to work kicking my brain back into working.  She knows the fine line between babying/supporting and giving me a good swift kick in the butt...  For that I am grateful.  "Keep your hands low because when you don't, you look like you're riding a jet ski over a whale!"  Oh my!

How I will look again!
Photo used with permission

And off we went...  Sug boldly going forward, then squiggling like she never saw a XC jump and then jumping when asked and boldly going...  repeating the sequence for almost every jump.  I do believe that I've finally become that girl...  chanting and talking through every jump... loudly...  ewwwww...  But my hands stayed low, we jumped da jumps and I felt whole again!

Finishing that XC course was the release that needed to happen allowing that taut balloon to empty itself of all the anxiety of two shows.   All was right in our world again.  I felt competent again.

I'm praying that my GMHA experience was not a fluke and that I will be riding that ride again at Town Hill this weekend.  Where FUN is actually fun and not an acronym (F***k U Nerves) but an actually feeling I experience in the moment and not just on the drive home!