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!