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!

Monday, August 4, 2014


"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."  Wizard of Oz 1939

Yeah..  you kind of feel that way when the great Bruce Davidson Sr (Olympic Gold and Silver (2) Medalist) apologizes for "scaring" your precious lil' pinto pony!   And, I graciously brushed away the apology and said, "Thanks, but in this state all she needed was the tiniest little cough to get the same reaction."  And, I kid you not, I blushed!
Doug Payne 2013 Millbrook

Millbrook Horse Trials - the biggest, most celebrity filled (eventing types that is) and spectacularly beautiful event in Area 1 finished today.  Sugar and I were there amongst the 500+ entrants and we were in awe!

Actually, I believed that Sugar loved her accommodations and enjoyed hanging out at the barn with her barn mates and gossiping with the Upper Level Horses from VA stabled behind us.  She could barely contain her eagerness to return and often tried to encourage me to hurry up and finish our tasks.

 (Shhhh, have I told you how white she is?  How pretty she is?  Have I?)

The sky is magnificent over the rolling hills.
My first thought on the very first night just before the first day of competition was, "Oh my!  This is the most atmosphere we've competed in since Groton House in 2011." 

Ok, you folks in Area II and Area III are so used to it that you probably don't even notice Philip Dutton, Boyd Martin or Buck Davidson warming up in the ring beside you.  For me, it was a first.  I won't lie.  I wanted a picture of us warming up alongside a member of the US Equestrian Team... Yes I did!

Alas, what I learned pretty quickly is that in order to be a member of the US Equestrian Team one generally is very focused and that big flash of white whipping herself into a frenzy is just another breeze in an otherwise quiet day.   It left me thinking...  "Could I find my inner USET focus?"

A past DQ moment
Our Dressage was tight and spooky - a 45.5 (24 out of 26).  Honestly, I wanted it to be all about Sugar's need to go back to the barn, that she should be used to seeing dressage cones and that although, the judge can be intimidating, the judge's box isn't.   (You see, I too would like to be a princess diva.)

And, this is why one has coaching at the event to humble (or balance) the ego.  Said Eventing Trainer to OBN competitor, "Well, you really didn't give her enough time to warm up and, when they called your number, you panicked and rushed to the ring so any calm you brought into the warmup really was blown away by the time you got to the ring." 

{{{{Note to self - remembering the time posted 2 days before the event instead of the time on your packet is not efficient...  12:42 and 12:24 are not the same.}}}

The terrain and corresponding views are gorgeous!
Here's another tip...  Even if the Omnibus says that the BN course is "just" 2'6" and mentions that terrain is a factor at all levels, please do not pooh pooh the course until you walk it. 

Millbrook Horse Trials is all about undulating terrain and every jump incorporates the hills into the question.  The only "scary" jump for us was Fence 2 but the "scary" factor is minimized because it lines up directly on the path back to the barn.  If you're curious, check out the virtual course walk

Fence 8 was my...  hmmmm... fence.  The virtual course walk does not give justice to what it looked like...  You rode down into a gully and then straight up to a 1/2 ledge and then the jump.   The Eventing Trainer advised me to keep my hands low and push Sug up into the bridle with active leg and wait for the jump (do not push for a long one).  I kept thinking...  uh, ok... whatever that means, I hope it works.

Lots to look at in SJ
We never did get to run the course.  I was dressed and ready to head out to XC warmup when a furious thunder and lightening monsoon rolled in.   After waiting it out with all my peeps in an iron framed temporary tent stabling on a hill, XC was postponed til Sunday.  Sugar was leaving for NJ to be my niece's horse for the last week of camp at her barn and the shipper couldn't rearrange their schedule to stay the extra day.

But we still had Stadium to do...  And the course was filled with things, pretty things and surrounded by tents, bleachers and folks watching pretty ponies doing their jumping thing.  I kept thinking... "Must find my inner USET rider... focus, FOCUS, GET OVER EACH JUMP!"
Coming into a serious hairnet FAIL!

I was given the ok to say whatever I needed to do to get my spooky mare to jump the jumps.   Apparently, my commentary was "funny" even if I can't remember any of it.  Although when my little girl spooked at the second jump in the line and tried to spin, I caught her at the spin, backed her up and jumped the jump while saying "Really?, Really? Just jump the jump!"

Four faults for the refusal and 4 time faults kept us in 24th place.  If we had gone double clear in XC we would have finished in 14th place.
Riding the wild thing!

I wish I could say that I was anxiety free and eager to have FUN but that wasn't the case here.  I think the biggness of the show, the fact that it was a destination event and one of my dream events put flash backs to my Groton House failure in the forefront of my mind.  Yet, despite those memories crowding all the healthy practices, I still functioned reasonably well.  'Cause once I was geared up to go XC, I was ready to make it happen.

Next year... yeah, next year... that's the ticket!