Monday, June 23, 2014


There are people in this world who really make a difference, who help build you into who you are and guide you to what you want to be.  We are lucky to be touched by these souls and, when they are gone we honor them and keep their legacy alive by giving away what we're freely given.

I've always wanted to be known as the Best Aunt.  You know, the one who can give you things, take you on adventures, loves you for who you are and every once in a while, when you really need it, send you a little bit of money.

Mostly as the Best Aunt, I want to give memories, lasting memories that say, "You are loved for being who you are - unique in a world of many.  I love you for you!"

My Best Aunt died today and I will miss her even though it was her time - a long life well lived.   If you asked her, she would deny that her life had any special meaning.  Worse, she would have a list of what she thought were her "failings" - a gift of a very strict catholic (small case intended) upbringing.  For, in her mind, God welcomes only the perfect into heaven and leaving the sinners "suffering" in purgatory.

She was my Best Aunt.  She gave my sister and I a girlish refuge from our house of boys.  She never forgot a birthday or Christmas and never complained if we did not return the honor.  She was a feisty red head when it came to view point, particularly on some of the "untouchable" topics.  You did not want to do battle with her beliefs.  Yet, her home was always warm, open and loving.  So many memories of moments in time...

Her legacy is in her children, the love of her extended family and how she touched our souls.  She raised some awesome kids, my cousins - smart, kind, creative and as generous. And, what we do with that love is the gift we give back to her. 

I heard someone call a funeral a homecoming.  That sounds really nice.  You see, my Best Aunt was called home to God today to be surrounded by the loving arms of the family that went before her.   God does welcome the perfect into heaven... the perfectly, imperfect human.

Tonight, I will go out on the hill and talk to the stars and thank her, once again, for being my Best Aunt!  She will always have a warm spot in my heart... 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


So I rode a wild horse last night over jumps that could be bigger and scarier...  I did not ask for more and I barely controlled my desire to tell Eventing Trainer that enough was enough.  You see, I suffer from ARD (Adult Rider's Disease) and last night it flared up dramatically!

 It's a little recognized and often prevalent disorder that attacks re-riders over a certain age.  I've heard it said that mothers of young children can be afflicted with a low grade infection for many years before actual diagnosis. 

There are two distinct forms of the condition:
  • Perfectionism - as in, I must have everything perfect before ________ (insert event - showing, taking a clinic with a BNT, etc here).  This form of ARD can be brutally limiting keeping the rider busy getting ready to do something.  It saps the fun out of the experience and often, even if achieving "perfection" the disease shifts into another level of desire never acknowledging the actual accomplishment.
  • Apprehension/Fear - for some, this is a fear of failure, a fear of embarrassment and although, less frequently, a fear of getting hurt.  This form is less debilitating than Perfectionism since many sufferers work hard with professionals to find relief and ultimately remission.
Used with permission
It's funny, once you've been diagnosed with a condition, you find others with it.  I hear their cry at every horse event - eventers, fox hunters, dressage - seriously, every discipline...  The terms "shoes" "footing/too hard/too soft", "taking it easy", "knees/back ache" and "a little off", "that could be better", etc are indicators that someone may be suffering from ARD.  We are not alone. 

Sugar was a wild thing last night.  Cooped up for three days nursing a loose shoe made my lil' pinto pony into a barely trained mustang...  Oh, she wanted to jump as she locked into every jump that hit her (our) gaze but she wanted it her way!  And, that way was fast and furious.

I spent a hard day at work thinking I should cancel the lesson - too hot, too humid, Sugar just got her new shoes, there were only four jumps in the outdoor, wasn't worth Eventing Trainer's time and work needed my attention.  ARD at my finest.

And, it was a good lesson.  My apprehension caused me to override her which exasperated the wild thing.  The more we jumped the better we got until we went from wild, underpowered/overpowered and irratic to jumping somewhat in a rythm and somewhat keeping her exhuberance under control

So, the prescription from the Eventing Trainer, for folks with my form of ARD - jump at least once a week.  Let me say that again - Jump at least once a week! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Tonight, a "gentleman" refused to let me merge...  He was willing to crash into my car to prevent me taking the turn off the highway.  And, then he slowed to give me the finger, his mouth twisted with rage.   It was scary...  all that hate/anger/rage justified in his mind as he gunned the car and sped away.
Puppies for peace!

Another school shooting, the 74th since Newtown in 2012 (  And, didn't two people walk into a pizza parlor just last week and shoot two policeman point blank?  We ask why?  Why so many?  Why so young? 

My sister, the therapist, told me that researchers are looking into the impact that Social Media is having in teenage suicide.... that Facebook memorials to teen deaths may actually trigger others to do the same in an attempt to be memorialized.

Hate/Anger/Rage...  Have we become a nation unable to think critically, to assess fact from fiction?  Have we become so passionate about a belief that we're willing to post without researching the truth?  And, why do our beliefs have to be be encased in hate? Or violence?

More puppies
You may believe in gun rights without restriction...  good for you!  And, you may not like the current President... good for you!  You may not believe in global warming or climate change... good for you!  And you may think that illegal (or legal) immigrants are the ruin of the nation... good for you!

You're right... this is America and you have the right to free speech.  I applaud that!  And I do not judge... 

Social Media has made it so easy to promote some thought or a message.  Some of that is very good.  What is very wrong , is the level of hate/anger/violence in some of your messages and this is what I deplore.  You don't get to wish people harm...  You don't get to promote killing!   That is where I draw the line.

Think first, research and understand the context of what you promote.

Pretty please?
I blame... not guns or knives or whatever weapon...  I blame the media... be it the polarization of our news outlets, the sensationalism of our press or the randomness of the radical -  right, left, religious - social media posting.  And, you know...  we are all to blame everytime we stop questioning and passively promote violence... even if it seems funny.

Think first, research, understand the context of what you want to promote AND then, do it in a thoughtful, peaceful manner.  Promote peace not violence.  Strike out against the hate before everything else...

Sigh...  I hope my angry driver made it home safely...  I did. 

Monday, June 9, 2014


Picture this...  It's 5:30am and the sun is starting to rise over Vermont's Green Mountains.  I grab a quick cup of coffee and set off down to the barns.  Da Boys are trotting next to me eager for the day's adventure.  Sugar greets me with a welcoming nicker knowing that we are going to watch the sunrise on our morning hack.

Later, after my second cup of steaming joe and a light breakfast, I head back to the barns to greet the arriving campers.  "Good morning children!  It's going to be a great day!"  Everyone scurries about joyfully taking care of their ponies and loving all the work to keep them well! 

The day just keeps getting better.  The sun is warm, the air is dry and the kids are off to their first mounted lesson.  I prepare for my class on grooming to win, preparing for the jog or perhaps equine first aid.  I finish the day with another great ride on a happy horse with da boys trailing about enjoying a dip or two in the stream.

Further north in VT but beautiful
much like GMHA
This fantasy sustains me!  For 12 days (7 work days), I will be in the land of no cell reception and little to no wifi = no work access at all!  And, just before I get lost in that dream, it occurs to me that, for the most part, I have a sedentary job accented by the physical nature of riding and walking the dogs.  I am so afraid that by Day Three, the Jersey Girl is going to surface and "Good morning children!"  might get a little... well, dark.

What I'll look like at the
end of the day!
Shhhh, I can not wait!  I've been a Girl Scout Leader, a basketball coach for 10 - 13 year olds.  I love it...  I love working with kids.  And, to be working with kids with their horses AND having mine there too is a priceless gift...  need I say, a dream come true! 

And, I would not be me if I didn't confess that I am a little worried.  What if I hate it?  What if the kids hate me?  What if I'm so exhausted that I don't want to ride Sugar or walk da boys?  What if I can't get coffee?  What if...

You know, I recognize that it's my nature...  Just like when I enter the ring, when I get to GMHA that first day, I will not only be ok, but I will have the time of my life!

Let the games begin!

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Shhh, I know that Judi Rossi's Four Rules of Eventing are specific:
  1. Leave Together, Come Back Together
  2. Don't Scare the Spectators
  3. There is No Crying in Eventing
  4. Nobody Cares on Monday
Hmmmm, do you think anyone cares on Thursday?  I followed all Four Rules at GMHA's Spring Horse Trials this weekend and I still am bubbling with joy.  You see, we completed AND I had fun before, during and afterwards!  For some of you, that's a given... for me, it's rare and sporadic.
Almost three years ago at Groton House Farms, I looked right when I should've looked left and hit a tree.   (If you wanted to catch up with the "gory" details read Landmarks vs Obstacles.)  It's been a long trek to find the joy "in the moment" again.  
This weekend was spectacular in its normalcy - normal preparation and normal nerves.  My big goal?  I wanted to want to do this without the paralyzing dread and self loathing that comes with my fear and anxiety.
Sugar was herself - beautiful, athletic and powerful.  Our warmups are worth the price of admission.  One local trainer even asked me if we were doing the Grand Prix Freestyle test when my lil' pinto pony burst into one tempe changes and a capriolle.  Our test was tight, relatively spook free and with only one expression of upper level dressage.  We ended with a 40.5 in third place.
The Stadium course was a "sea of jumps" complete with gates and a brick wall.  Our course walk started a mere hour before my start time and I was impatient/antsy to move along.  This is where I missed the coolness of the Bestest Eventing Buddy.  She managed time like she was running NYC's mass transit system.

 Like a child at her first show, I ran back to the barn to get ready and arrived in the warm up 45 minutes early.  And like a kid in "time-out", the Eventing Trainer sent me back to the barn to chill out...  Ooops!
When I returned, the Eventing Trainer hadn't arrived so I warmed up with our lessons in my head.  Sug jumped a square oxer like she was on a Grand Prix jump course.  I wanted to finish on that but could hear Eventing Trainer's words, "Do it again and make her wait!"  (I had my big girl panties on.)

Last year, I had a serious and embarrassing meltdown... so bad that the Eventing Trainer had to talk me off the ledge and into the ring.  This year, I went into the arena and rode the best SJ course I've had in years...  no grimacing and, my Grrrr was a soft confident "Good Girl!"  Double Clear and in second place.

My Cross Country time was at 8:04am...  Now the Training Level riders and above have the early morning rides down to a science.  Us Beginner Novice and Novice riders usually have plenty of time to obsess about our courses.  My 8:04am time meant no coffee...  And, if you even know me a little bit, you know that my morning coffee is like methadone to a recovering addict.  I don't just want it, I NEED IT!
Best advice of the day - "Today you don't need to worry about Sugar jumping.  She's going to jump everything you put her at with your leg on.  You have to ride everything else like a jump because she is going to spook at everything else."

So, for the record.... My apologies to all the spectators, officials and jump judges that heard me call my beautiful lil' pinto pony a shithead at what might have appeared to be random places on the course.  If you heard me, it was because my lil' girl was propping and spooking while galloping...  a feat of great athleticism.
Happy, happy, joy, joy!
So we finished in 9th.  Lack of caffeine and a brain slow to react caused a runout...  Well, can you really call it a run out when the rider decides to stop a freight train to reposition her after a spook and ends up two feet to the left and in front of the jump?  I am sure that had I had that cup of coffee, I would have jumped that coop at an angle.  Sigh...

Seriously, who cares!  Yes, I want a nice ribbon... I really, really do!  In some respects, I really, really won because I had fun...  FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!  And the fun was in the moment!

{{{{Per my clinic with Daniel Stewart, FUN is both a feeling and an acronym - F*CK U Nerves!}}}