Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And To Match Those Funky Breeches I Won't Be Wearing...

Why?  That was the only thought going through my brain when I first saw this picture.  Why in the name of all that's holy would you need this?  I mean, I'm all for a little bling, whether it be for you or for your horse, but really, isn't his going a tad far???  (To give some perspective, this is coming from a woman whose trainer nicknamed her Rainbow Bright because of a penchant for buying her mare pink and purple accessories.)

You have to wonder if it would be comfortable.  Looks kinda slippery, really.  Guess that would build some killer leg muscles and a seriously independent seat after a while.  Seriously though, and I admit I might be channeling George Morris and sounding a bit fusty here, I have to say I prefer a traditional saddle.

Although I wouldn't mind this in a bag, belt, or boots.....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What You Won't See Me Wearing Around the Barn...

Slow night around my house. Kids and I watched the FTI Charity Challenge on the USEF Network and when they hit the rack I just cruised around the internet for a while.  Not sure where I found these equestrian fashion statements, but hope I can find them again when I'm in need of a good giggle.  The thought of parading myself down to the barn in any of these breeches sends me into fits. 

Seriously, some people can pull the following looks off.  I am simply not one of them.

In the Happy Gilmore Goes Riding Category...

Mango Is a Fruit. 'Nuff Said...


Red Stripe is a Beer, Not a Breech....

 When You Want Your Ass To Look Like An Awning...

And my personal favorite:

I'm the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

I guess the good thing about this pair is that if you wear them during hunting season, you'll decrease your odds of getting shot.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cinema as Life...

I embarass and annoy my children.  Every day if I can manage it.  I look at it as my right and my responsibility. I figure as long as they spend less on therapy by the age of 40 than I did, we're golden.  Consider it character building, a 'gift from Mommy,' if you will.

One of the things we enjoy doing together is watching movies.  We love to settle in on the couch, hunker down, and watch a good story unfold. The wonderful thing about having fairly young kids is that their father and I still get to help orchestrate their viewing choices.  I, for one, find movies to be excellent teaching opportunities as well as entertainment, and try to suggest what we watch  accordingly.

For example, we recently viewed Rudy, the story of a pint sized blue collar boy who dreamed of playing football at Notre Dame, despite his lack of size and academic eligibility.  Noah was highly annoyed by Rudy's over the top enthusiasm; Sophie completely responded to it.  My take on it?  The dude had a dream, he worked his butt off, and he made that dream happen.  What more could you want?  This movie doesn't tug, it full on yanks on the hearstrings.  I basically sob from scene one until the end. Highly annoying to the kids, but again, odds are they'll get over it.

Then theres's Secretariat.  We saw it for the first time in the theatre.  We all loved it, even the husband, who is NOT a horse fan.  The other day I bought the DVD and the kids and I snuzzled up for a family viewing session.  What are the teaching points from Secretariat?  I'd say that similar to Rudy, the most important point is the power of dreams and fighting for what you believe in.  Most importantly to my way of thinking, the movie shows how powerful a woman can be. 

My kids were present when I graduated my EMBA program.  They watched me study, write papers, travel to China, and finally, walk up on stage in the IZOD Center to recieve my diploma.  I can still remember seeing them, high up in the nosebleed seats, my son in his father's tie, my daughter in her best party dress, clapping for me.

My kids know that my horse is the culmination of a life long dream.  They know that I am working my butt off every day to pay for this dream.  When we watch Secretariat, I point out to them the faith of the woman who had a dream, the strength of the people who helped her realize it, and the spirit of the magnificent animal at the center of all their dreams.  I want them to see the love of a woman for her children, and the fact that the best way she knew to show them her love was to follow her dreams and to teach them to follow theirs. 

Hopefully some of this will make sense to them somewhere down the road.  If not, at the very least we've seen some darn good movies.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Being Surpassed By One's Child...

As a parent, you want your kids to be more successful than you were.  You want them to get better grades, be better athletes, and be more successful financially.  You spend your whole life nagging at them so that this natural order of things happens as its supposed to.

At least, until the child beats you at your own game.  I gotta wonder how former NFL quarterback Archie Manning really felt when he realized that Peyton was going to make him look like a scrub?  Let's get real, here.  Certainly the man was thrilled that his boy had serious talent, but don't you think there was a moment or two of sadness that Archie himself was no longer top dog?   I think I may have a little insight into a few of the thoughts that may have passed through Archie's head.

My daughter also rides.  This is nice, in that we have a lot of together time.  She's progressed to a point where we can also occasionally lesson together.  Occassionally, this is maybe a tad too much together time. 

In a recent lesson our trainer, Annabel,  wanted to work on turning.  Specifically, concentrating on using the outside leg and rein aids, as well as your eyes, to turn the horse.  To increase the level of difficulty, she took the reins over the horse's heads and then handed both to us to hold in the outside hand.  Sugar, my mare, was visibly unimpressed, and her expression clearly let us know her feelings about having to play "reining pony."

We spend several minutes trotting and cantering on a circle, and spiralling in and then out and then reversing on that circle, all the while trying to avoid running each other over.  Not exactly easy. Then Annabel upped the ante: We were to canter the horses on the circle and jump them over a small cavaletti.  Not only were we to steer them with the reins in one hand AND get them to jump smoothly in stride, all the while cantering on a (ostensibly) round circle, she wanted us to count our strides to the jump!  So, at some point while we were approaching the cavaletti, we were supposed to decide if we were, say, 5 strides away from the fence and count down, hopefully arriving at the jump when we got to "1".

Now, math has never been my strong point.  I tapped out somewhere during Intro To Algebra.  Something about letters and numbers together just struck me as violently against the order of nature and that was the end of it for me.  Multitasking is also a challenge.  That rubbing your stomach and patting your head thing?  Dang near impossible for me and a sure indicator that a visit to the ER is fast approaching.  So, counting and riding was bound to present a problem. 

It certainly did.  I barrelled around, huffing and puffing and calling out numbers and interjections when, try as I might, I  still failed to arrive at take-off at "1".  Sophie and Annabel were having giggle fits.  I was only marginally irked by my incompetence, until my daughter tried the exercise.  That little imp of mine cantered merrily around at speed, calling out "5-4-3-2-1" and jumping like a little gazelle.  "4-3-2-1" she'd crow, taking off at the perfect distance when she got to the "1". "3-2-1" she'd cry, just to add a little variety to things.

As if this wasn't bad enough, Annabel decided it would be even more valuable to have us count down to the fence backwards.  Good grief!  She might has well have asked me to run the 40 in less than a week and a half!  Off I'd go, only to get to the fence, jump it, and realize I'd never starting counting.  In either direction.  Period.  Then I'd circle back around, and try again, only to face my daughter and trainer, both laughing openly at me because I'd remembered to count (thank God for small favors) but in ascending order.  Right. The old multi-tasking bugaboo rearing it's ugly head.

By this point I was bound and determined.  My horse was at the point where SHE was ready to count the strides, in Roman numerals, to bring this exercise to a close.  By this point my daughter and my trainer were prostrate with laughter, tears streaming down their faces.  Round and around I went, red faced and cussing, until finally we met with success.  Needless to say, you can probably guess what happened next.  Sophie and her pony traipsed around, hitting their distances and counting (in descending order, as requested) strides, perfectly darn near every time.

I was proud as can be.  It's not the first time Sophie's surpassed my abilities.  She's better at soccer, gymnastics, basketball, and Connect Four.  I'll also be the first to admit it: I have fantasies that Sophie will continue riding and continue to do well at it.  I'd LOVE to see her have opportunties I didn't, and would one day love to stand ringside as she rides in the Medal, Maclay, or USET Talent Search Finals, or (GASP) a major Grand Prix.  If that's what she wants, I want it for her, and will do whatever I can to help her get it. 

For all the pride, there is a bittersweetness to it as well.  Yeah, there's a part of me that wanted to shake her for succeeding so effortlessly at something I've tried so hard at, something that has always meant so much to me.  If I'm honest, for all I want her to surpass me, there's a small piece of me that wishes I'd been better so that she couldn't.  Is this because as a parent, you want your child always to look up to you, or are there more selfish motivations at work here.  I don't know - I haven't honestly figured it out yet.

So back to Archie and Peyton.  You can absolutely tell, when you see Archie up in the press box rooting his boy on, that he is proud as a peacock and wants nothing but success for his boy.  But I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts there was a moment, probably on a day when Archie felt his "courtesy of the NFL" arthritis kick in,  that his tow-haired haired future phenom threw a long bomb for a touchdown and Archie felt the same bittersweet combination of pride and sadness that I did.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Totilas' New Gig...

A few months ago the horse world erupted as news that Edward Gal's mythic black partner was sold, literally out from under him if you believe some reports, to the German maestro of horse breeding and training, former show jumper Paul Schockemohle. 

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued all over the horse world and social media petitions and pages were created in hopes of keeping the magnificent Dutch Gal as rider of the now-German stallion.  Clearly, these hopes were doomed from the onset.  Shortly thereafter the horse's new rider was announced to be Matthias Rath, the 26 year-old stepson of Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, former Olympic medalist for the German dressage team and Totilas' co-owner with Schockemohle.

Yesterday, February 6th, when residents of the US were more concerned about Super Bowl commercials and hors d'oeuvres, the Germans were thinking about future gold medals and dressage domination.  Matthias Rath and Totilas performed their first public display at the 2011 Schockemohle Stallion Show in Vechta, Germany.  Yes, it wasn't perfect and yes, you could tell the two were still trying to understand each other's language.  However, if that ain't perfect, I'd take it any day.  I doubt the words "wicked step-mother" will ever come out of that young man's mouth, and I bet he's down on his knees every day and night thanking every conceivable deity for his unbelievable luck.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Chocolate, AND Wine, are Most Definitely Virtues...

My son's friend James came over today, and noticed I had the makings for chocolate chip cookies out on the counter.  "Every time I come here you're making something with chocolate," James said.  "And drinking wine!" adds my smart-aleck son. 

"Boys," I say, "you say this like it's a bad thing.  In MY book, this is called consistency."

"My Mom made blueberry muffins yesterday," continues James, adding, "She also made oatmeal cookies, but she made them unhealthy by adding butterscotch chips."

"James, let me let you in on which way the parade is going" I begin, to much eye rolling by my son. "You should eat healthy stuff. People who eat healthy feel better and live longer."

James is no dope.  He knows me, and and knows there's a big fat BUT in this story, and he's sitting tight and waiting patiently for it.

"People people who drink wine and eats lots of chocolate may die young, but we live and die happy."

James stayed over for dinner -  pasta with bolognese sauce, 3 cheese roasted garlic bread, and not a vegetable in sight (unless you count the tomato sauce). I told him he was carbo loading for his run the next day.  Then we happily snarfed the chocolate/butterscotch ship/bailey's caramel cream cookies I'd made. 

Now, before you get all Food Nazi on me, understand this: James' Mom is a good friend, and those oatmeal butterscotch cookies? Only because she thought the butterscotch chips were chocolate, and finding they weren't, was so desperate for a cookie fix that she made the recipe on the butterscotch chip package.  The blueberry muffins?  She had a mix. So here's the deal - I'm not subverting the kid, just broadening his horizons a bit.

In the "Wish I'd Thought Of This" Category..

My Mom is retired now, and that means she's got a LOT of time on her hands.  That, and her newfound facility with email, means I get a LOT of emails containing jokes, videos, and political commentary.  Quite honestly, most of them I delete without reading.  Needless to say, I'm glad I read this one!  If I ever get another horse, I think I will name it ALIGAR.

If you can think of others, let me know!

Horsey Texting Terms

OOH - out of hay
LAS - lost a shoe
BJBM - bastard just bit me
FOMHL - Fell Off My Horse Laughing
FTC -- Forgot the carrots
MIHA -- Mare's in heat again
LWW -- Lesson went well
HSIH - Horse Snot in Hair
HAO - Hay All Over
HIMB - Hay in My BRA
PIHH - Poop Induced Half Halt
UD - Unplanned Dismount
PTTDG - Prayed to the Dirt God
MHTS - More horses than sense.
BAHHFDP - bought another horse husband filed divorce papers
GBBF - got board bill, fainted
GFBF - got farrier bill, fainted
HRHCF - husband realized horse costs, fainted
SLH - Smell like horse
DQFOY - Dressage Queen fell off - yippee
HTNHFH - Hiding the new horse from hubby
WWFNS - Will work for new saddle
SSB - saddle sore butt
ALIGAR - At least I got a ribbon
BHLATB - But Honey Look At The Bloodlines