Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sophie and the Great Snowy Day Snot Incident...

Looks all cute and innocent,
doesn't she?
One good thing about having a 40 minute commute to the barn is the quality time I get to spend with my kids.  I'm racking my brain to find something else positive to say about the commute, but that's all I can come up with.  Oh well, points for trying, I guess.

So today we left for the barn and our riding lessons despite the fact that 2-4" of snow was forecasted.  No big deal, right?  Naaaaahhh!  We have 4-wheel drive. What's 2-4 measly inches?  I mean, if it we'd been talking about feet, well, that would have been another story.  THAT would have been impressive. Yeah, I know, not my brightest moment, hindsight being 20/20 and all.

Let's just say we got almost halfway to the barn and we'd already seen several accidents.  The kids and I had a quick discussion and decided that although we really wanted to see the horses and ride, it was probably not worth dying over, so we turned around.  By this point visibility had deteriorated and snow had accumulated on the road and things were getting a bit dicey.  Not really bad, just bad enough that I was sitting bolt upright, gripping the wheel and squinting anxiously at the road before me.  I needed to pay attention, and asked the kids to be quiet so I could concentrate on not going off the road.

You know the saying that says "Nature abhors a vacuum?" Well, Sophie feels the same way about silence, and she was hell-bent and determined to fill the void of our silent truck with sound.  Didn't matter what kind of sound, she just needed to make noise.  Did I mention that she has a cold?  Yep, she does.  Sophie discovered that some of the best sounds she could make were ones that took advantage of her, ummm, congested state.

Snoooooooooorrrrrtttttttt!  Huuuunngaaaaaah!  Snnnooort!   Hnnnnnghhh! Hnnnnnghhh!

"Soph, stop it."  

Snnnooort! Hnnnnnghhh! Hnnnnnghhh!

"Knock it off, Soph. Mom needs to concentrate."  

Snoooooooooorrrrrtttttttt!  Huuuunngaaaaaah!  Snnnooort!   giggle giggle  

Now just as I was about to lose my cool and drop the f-bomb (I know, bad Mommy!!!!), the snorts stopped.  I smiled, reveling in the peaceful silence.     Have I ever mentioned what a drama llama my daughter is?  No?  Let me give you an idea.  The same child that will play an entire soccer game or rugby match one-legged with blood spurting out an artery will come shrieking into my room in the morning, convinced that the mark on her skin left by a crease in her sheet is a harbinger of some horrible wasting disease.    

The silence in our car was soon cut by the noise of a violent thrashing, accompanied by other  panicked sounds:    

Unnngh, Unnnnngahhhh, Unghhh,  Aaahhhhheeeeeeeeeeee!   

"Soph, what's happening?!" I was trying to pull over while Noah tried to assess the situation.    

"Mom, I'm choking on snot!  I can't breathe! I need a hospital!"    

"Duh, Sophie, if you can talk, you can breathe," says the big brother, in a tone dripping with scorn.     

"Oh, yeah, I guess you're right," says the girl spawn with an unrepentant giggle.    

"Okay, troops," I said, "Stand down.  Crisis averted." 

Seems all of her antics had caused the uh, snot, to get caught in her throat for a moment.  Luckily I kept my head through all the shenanigans and we stayed on the road, eventually arriving home safely.  I gave Sophie some cold medicine, poured myself a medicinal glass of wine and sat down to watch the snow fall while the kids played outside.  Yeah, this car-bonding with the kids is a great thing, I suppose.    

Here's how the she-devil entertained herself after we got home from our aborted barn trip...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Dear Friends,

I can call you a friend, yes?  I mean, we've never met (except for you, Marissa!) but I feel we've spent some real quality time together and established a bond of sorts, right?

Anyway, I hope you are all tucked in with the family and friends who make you the happiest, and if not, that you've at least got enough adult beverages in stock to assist in fortifying your holiday sense of humor!

I'd like to wish those of you who celebrate a Merry Christmas, and while I'm at it, a Happy, Safe, and Healthy New Year to you all!

All the best to you!

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Very Sweet Moment...

Noah and his pal James
It's probably an understatement to say been a rough few months for many folks, this last bit of 2012.  Our lives are more hectic than they've ever been, and sometimes it feels like the harder we try to get ahead, the faster we fall behind.  It often seems like every time I turn around there seems to be another horror in the news, or another sad happening in the lives of my family and friends.  So it's the precious little moments I try to treasure, and hold in my heart for the times when I am feeling overwhelmed and sad.  One of those moments happened last night while we were at the barn. 

To understand the reason it was precious, I'll need to give you some back story.  Several years and two barns ago, we were lucky enough to befriend a wonderful woman and her gorgeous Paint gelding.  She was very kind to my kids, and gave of her time generously.  Noah, in particular, enjoyed her company and would listen intently as she shared her knowledge of horses.  One time I remember clearly was when she was grooming her her gelding. Each time she approached him with a new tool, she'd show it to him, and tell him what she was planning to do with it.  She'd then let the horse sniff the tool before she began using it.  Noah took it all in.

Last night I thought of her when Noah was grooming James, a new horse he's been riding. James sometimes prefers that we are a bit cautious when getting near his head. Noah approached James with the comb to do James' forelock, and James pulled his head back before Noah got close. Noah held out the comb to James, letting the horse sniff it, explaining in a soft voice what the comb was and what he planned to do with it. He then combed his own hair, saying, "This is what I am going to do to your hair, James."  James watched Noah intently, then dropped his head and quietly let my son comb his forelock.

I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.  Such a simple moment, but yet so fraught with memory and meaning.  Noah and I owe a debt of thanks to this friend who showed us a small way to gain a horse's trust, for showing us a way to have a moment like this with one of these miraculous animals.  I don't know if she had any idea what a gift she gave my son, or how proud it makes Noah feel when a horse shows trust in him.

I just wanted to take time during this crazy holiday season to share a beautiful moment with you, and to thank you all for the beautiful moments and memories you've all shared with me.

Be well, friends.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Bit Off Track...

Whoopsies! Damn cats.

Sorry for not blogging in a bit, my friends.  Things gone a bit sideways around here recently, not unlike this Christmas tree.  This is a picture of this morning's excitement, courtesy of the cats, Mo and Dreidel.

Thanks, Boys!

I swear to you, I will get the next installment of the Bernie clinic up before Easter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Weekend With Bernie- Part One

I'm in the blue; Bernie is holding Ms. Antsy Pants.
photo by Bow Brickhill Stables.
If you've been with AWIP for a while, you know what a "learning junkie" I am.  I overdose on DVDs,  clinics, my magazines/books and equestrian TV/video subscriptions.  One of my favorite learning tools for more than a year now has been Bernie Traurig's One of my equestrian highlights from early 2012 was the opportunity to audit one of Bernie's clinics at Mary Babick's Knightsbridge Farm in Atlantic Highlands (Day One and Day Two reports).  So when I learned  Bow Brickhill Stables in Milford, NJ, was holding a clinic with Bernie, you can bet I jumped at the chance to ride in it.

My blogging buddy Marissa and her boy Tucker (of Tucker the Wunderkind fame) joined me as clinic participants.  More importantly, they were our ride over to Bow Brickhill! (Sadly, I am trailer-less.)  This is an ideal situation as 1) Marissa and I have a total blast together, 2) Tucker has a HUUUUUGE crush on Sugar and 3) Tucker (the poor besotted creature) lets Sugar eat all his hay, which makes Madame Mare very happy.

We had a brief panic attack two weeks before the clinic when Sug presented with fatigue and lameness, but a quick call to our vets, B.W. Furlong & Associates soon put things right.  Dr. Furlong thought Sugar most likely had Lyme's disease so we put her on a course of Doxycycline and lo and behold, a few days later she was in fine form again.  Phew! 

Prior to the clinic the Sainted Mare was primped and foofed, and all my tack, jumping boots, saddle pads, wraps, polos, breeches, and pretty much damn near everything I owned was cleaned and laundered within an inch of its life.  The Friday night before the clinic I set out my wardrobe for both days - breeches, sweaters, UnderArmour, belts, my comfiest sports bra and undies (very important!) and my lucky socks.  I set my alarm clock and I made my husband set his, which he was none-too-happy about.  Turns out all that alarm setting was unnecessary, as I didn't sleep a wink and was up long before the alarm could go off.  Ummm, nervous much??

The kids finally meet Tucker!

Marissa and Tucker picked us up at our barn and Tucker was clearly thrilled to see his girl again. I loaded Sug on the trailer and Tucker made googly eyes at her while she proceeded to tear into his haybag without so much as a "Hi, how have you been?"  We loaded my stuff and headed off in high spirits - two girls and their horses in search of a good time. The high spirits lasted for about 10 minutes until we got to the end of the road and I realized I'd forgotten my boots!  Cue emergency turnaround in local elementary school followed by sheepish return to barn, panicked search for tall boots, and eventual return to the road almost half an hour behind schedule.  A pox on you, Mr. Murphy, and your bloody law.

We got to Bow Brickhill, unloaded and tacked up in a lather.  Thankfully we made it to the ring on time to get kitted out with our wireless headpieces. I'd never ridden with these before, and found them to be a right nuisance.  No doubt it was my inability to adjust them properly, but they kept bobbling about and distracting me, especially as I was jumping, but when they stayed in they did make it easy to hear what Bernie was asking us to do.  Bernie started with introductions and a tack check, making sure our tack was appropriate and correctly adjusted.  He noted that Sug wore a figure eight noseband and asked why (Answer: Because she can get strong over fences and open her mouth) and that she wore a full cheek Dr. Bristol snaffle (for extra control while turning).  He noted what everyone else wore and then sent us out on the rail to warm up.

This is getting long and, quite frankly, I need to speak with Marissa before I go into more detail.  Seems that I was so busy trying to do what Bernie asked us to do that I don't actually remember any of it or why we were doing it in the first place!  Aaack, senior moment!  More to come at some point.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Weekend With Bernie - The Prelude

Are you crazy?  It's COLD out!
Big excitement going on around here.  This weekend Sugar and I are supposed to attend a clinic with renowned equestrian Bernie Traurig!  We're hitching a ride over with our good friend Marissa and her boy Tucker, which will double the fun all around. Fun for me as I get to hang out with Marissa, which I don't get to do often enough. Fun for Tucker as he can flirt with Sug for two whole days, and fun for Sug as she has somehow bewitched Tucker into giving her the entire contents of his hay bag.

At one point last week I was thinking we'd have to miss it, as Sug was very ouchy and lethargic, but the vet came out and we started her on a course of Doxy and so far things look good, fingers and toes crossed, although CRAP, why did I let those words come out of my mouth!  No whammies no whammies no whammies no whammies!

She's got a hot date, and as you know when a gal has a hot date she has to foof herself  up a bit, right?

Sug showered...

Mom! No soap in the eyes, please!

And she shaved (all the way up, too, the little hussy!)

Nekkid (and possessed?) mare.
 Looking forward to sharing more about the clinic in the coming days.  Wish us luck! 

Did I mention I am nervous as heck?? 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Childhood idols...

I saw this photo of Roy Rogers and his horse, Trigger, being honored with a star at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Facebook today and it brought me back to my childhood.  I used to ADORE Trigger, and can remember when Roy and "Trigger" came to my town to appear at the local Roy Rogers Restaurant. The horse was actually one of the "other Triggers" used for personal appearances to give the famous stallion a break, but I didn't know that at the time, nor do I think I would have cared.

I can remember sitting on my Daddy's shoulders to get a better look and being completely awestruck by the famous cowboy and his glistening gold companion.  The absolute wet-your-pants exciting best part of the night was when I was able to get an autographed copy (GASP!!) of my favorite Roy and Trigger poster, one that showed a rearing Trigger and a waving Roy with a rural Western background. 

That beloved poster hung above my desk for years, and I have vivid memories of staring at it and daydreaming while I was supposed to be doing my homework.  My Mom took it down when it got old and faded and torn around the edges, and let me tell you, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth on my end when that happened!

The genesis of many young daydreams.

Who were your childhood horse-related heroes, and what do you remember most about them?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ahhhhhh...Reveling in Thankfulness

As I write this the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is coming to a close.  As weekends go, it was one of the good ones.  Originally, I had devised all kinds of virtuous plans. I was going to clean my closet, do some Christmas shopping (online, as I cannot ABIDE malls), and get some work out of the way (maybe those expense reports that I've been putting off).

Turns out that I didn't manage to do any of that, and you know what?  I don't feel one bit guilty.  Not even a smidge.

I did spend lots of time with my family.  My aunt, uncle and cousin from Florida came North, as did my aunt and uncle from North Carolina.  It was wonderful to re-connect with them and to create new memories together.  It was also good fun to see some of the family elders a wee bit overserved- hehe. (Although, Aunt Kathy, I am gonna do my best to forget our little conversation! There are some things a niece just does not need to know! LOL!) 

Turkey Day at Casa Crazy.
I did spend a lot of time with friends.  One friend, who has been elevated to family status, was able to be with us for Thanksgiving and that was wonderful.  My family dragged her right into the craziness, which made me proud.  We were also able to spend time with friends we don't get to see very often anymore.  Don't you love when you get together with a friend after some time apart and and you are reminded why you became friends in the first place?

I did spend a lot of time with the girls, without feeling rushed, which is almost miraculous these days. The kids and I had a couple of lessons, we hacked, and one semi-frigid day the kids, Libby, and I even managed to go on a trail ride.  It was, in the words of Winnie-the-Pooh, a very blustery day, and Madame Mare shook her sassy head and threatened to toss her heels every time the wind blew a strong gust. Wheeee!

Princess Po-Po gets a massage from my buddy Carolyn. 
Umm, me next, please?!
So, good intentions be damned.  This fine weekend, sloth won out over industriousness and I, for one, am thankful.

Thanks for reading, and I hope your weekend was wonderful as well!

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Old Bay Mare...

Pre-tumble popcorn sharing.  
No gray hair.
Gives me gray hair.

Seriously.  That's the line that played over and over in my head last Friday night into Saturday morning.

Our lesson started out well.  She was forward and feeling good, none of that "it's cold and my old bones are creaky" stuff that sometimes happens on cold days.  We flatted for a bit, working on getting her straight and on the outside rein, and not letting her collapse against the wall.  Not too stressful, right?

Then we progressed to jumping, doing a little figure eight exercise over two small verticals so i could stay calm and think of nothing but relaxing into a rhythm.  Relaxing is hard for me; I desperately need to complicate my life, or so it seems.  Rhythm is equally as challenging, which you would know if you've ever seen me dance. 

Anywho, things were going fairly well until we came off the vertical going away from home and my trainer told me to start thinking about preparing to transition to the walk. I don't know if Sug hear walk and had a brain fart and forgot to move her legs, or if she just tripped, but all of a sudden there was no more horse in front of me! 

Her front legs just sort of collapsed and she went face first into the dirt.  Despite a valiant effort at neck riding and a desperate attempt to swing my leg over and dismount, I wound up face down in the dirt beside her.  OOOOF!  After I rolled out of the way I turned to see Sug struggle to a standing position, which was good until I realized she was only standing on three legs.  She was holding the fourth, her left front, up off the ground in front of her.  My heart stopped and I started to tear up, immediately certain she'd broken her leg.

By that time my trainer had arrived at her side and was examining her.  At that point Sug felt she could bear some weight on the leg, and then she took a few delicate walk steps.  She must have realized she was better off than she'd originally thought, as her walk become stronger and she started licking and nudging me as if to say, "It's alright. Nothing to see here, just a slight misstep.  Up you go and let's carry on, shall we?"

My trainer did have me trot Sug out, which she did nicely, so I popped back on her and trotted around a bit.  Sug seemed completely unfazed by the fall, but I just kept waiting for her to stumble again and realize she had really hurt something. (Paranoid, much?)  Everything seemed normal, so we popped a teensy tiny baby vertical to let her end on a confident note. (Seriously, who did my trainer think she was kidding with that?? Sug has plenty of confidence.  We know that little baby fence was for the benefit of Sug's galactically neurotic mother.)

Our next lesson was the next morning, and yes, I worried all night thinking that she'd be holding a swollen left limb off the ground when I arrived.  I thought fracture, suspensory, check ligament, you name it.  By about 2AM I'd resolved myself to spending the entire winter to hand walking her.  She was out in her field when I arrived, happily munching away.  Her leg looked fine, and when I finally got on her, it turns out that the leg actually was fine.  No stiffness, no nothing.  All good.

Phew!  HUUUUUGE sigh of relief, knock wood, and all that stuff. 

Only casualty was my hair.  I happened to glance in the rear view mirror and despite the fact that I'd just gone to the salon, I saw a few grays.  I know who those puppies belong to!

Sug has gray hairs too! 
Think I gave her those?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Santa Baby...

Aaaaack!  Once again it is that time of year again, the time when bloodpressure skyrockets because I've realized that despite any number of good intentions I've not yet put a dent in my Christmas shopping.  Drat.

Thankfully there is the Internet, and any number of companies willing to help a sister out by sending gift ideas to my laptop via email or Facebook.  Bless their hearts!

Here's a snapshot of what came over the screen the other day, and all I can say is ME LIKEY!

From our friends at Cheval Fashions we have several DI-VIIIIIIIIIINNNNE new shirts.  You may remember Cheval Fashions if you've been playing in the AWIP sandbox for a while.  Last winter I did a review on some of their shirts that I adored, and the adult version of the "name belt" that I absolutely needed to have.  I got that belt, I LOVE it, and I do not mind telling you I get quite a few comments on it.  So what if most of them are men wondering why I wear a belt that says Sugar. (Yeah, maybe I shoulda thought that one through and gone with her registered name, Obottie.  Live and learn. Sigh.)

Anyway, here's a look at what the folks from Cheval Fashions were showing at the Royal this year and posting on their Facebook page:

For the pony princesses we have this little darling...

The girl second from right is Sophie, the daughter of Cheval Fashions' owner.
She looks a lot like my Sophie!  I think this means my Sophie needs this shirt!!

Then there's this precious polo for Mom...(it also comes with a burberry-looking plaid as well).

Then there's this eyelet-collared beauty...The color under the eyelet matches the lining on my jacket, so clearly I need this one as well.

And to round things all off, here's this year's winner in the "Momma needs a new belt" category...The Side Zip Belt!

Here's the little blurby thingie from the Cheval Fashions website:

"These belts not only do up in front like usual, but they also have a snap at the hip so they open on the side for side-zip breeches.

So you can wear them with front zip and side-zip breeches as well as jeans!

These belts not only do up in front like usual, but they also have a snap at the hip so they open on the side for side-zip breeches.

So you can wear them with front zip and side-zip breeches as well as jeans!"


Santa Baby, I've been a very good girl this year!  LOL!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sophie Weighs In...

Sassy and cute child on sassy and cute po-po.
I was back in the saddle this weekend after what seemed like eons out of it due to business trips.  Yesterday I felt like a sack of potatoes, and even though I only felt marginally better in the saddle today Sophie and I lessoned together and I had a great lesson.  My trainer and I focused mainly on rhythm and I FINALLY did what she and my horse were begging me to do and got my canter in the corner, maintained it, lowered my hands and SAT STILL to the fence. Blasting of heraldic trumpets, choruses of angels singing hosannas and lo and behold, it worked!! 

I was riding that high as we met our friend Libby for lunch.  Libby and I were so engrossed in our conversation I only half noticed how quiet Sophie was being. (Actually, who am I kidding? I totally loved it and was hoping fervently that it would continue).  When lunch ended Soph handed me my phone and I saw why she'd been so quiet.  She'd been busy writing something.

Today my daughter is being a good child. I love her soooooo much. She's the best daughter in the whole entire world. We had a lesson together and it was just simply amazing. My daughter Sophie rode very well too! I accomplished my task of staying on rhythm  step by step over a cross rail. Sugar,my horse, got a little fast and forward so we cantered over the cross rail to slow things down a bit. So anyway, the lesson was great the teaching was superb and my daughter had an amazing time so I was joyful for it.
The kid cracks me up.  No self esteem issues with that child!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Equestrian Finds A New Use For Her iPhone...

Recently I wrote about getting a new iPhone and my doubt that it would really add to my life that much more than my old Blackberry did. Well, helloooooooo, score one for the new iPhone!

You may recall the East coast was pummeled by a stroppy old cow of a storm called Sandy that laid a serious can of whoop-ass on us. Many folks in my state of New Jersey are still without power and under water a week later. My barn still doesn’t have any power other than a generator, and that runs the basics only.

So when I went to the barn the other day on my way out to the airport for another business trip (I could justify using the gas in these times of gas rations because I had to go somewhere anyway, so what if I arrive at the airport by way of the barn?) I discovered something amazing – it’s extremely difficult to pee in the dark. There’s no window in the bathroom, so when I say dark, think cave-like. You know how in that Beatles song they ask “What do you see when you turn out the lights?” and Ringo answers, “I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine!” Well, it was that kind of dark.

Peeing in the dark can also be dangerous. You’d think with a tuckus like mine I’d have a pretty good shot at landing square on the commode, but lo and behold, it was harder than I’d thought. There were a few dicey moments, but after some scuffling and creative vocabulary I managed to pull it off with only minor bruising.

It wasn't quite this bad, thankfully.

Then I couldn’t find the darn toilet paper. At this point I was losing my sense of humor and not in the mood for a little game of touchy feely along the wall, and then, wait for it, LIGHTBULB!!! I realized I had my iPhone. This puppy has a flashlight app somewhere, right??? Whoohoo! Thank the saints, angels, cherubim, and God’s holy beard trimmers, there was light at the end of this particular tunnel! A few quick icons were pressed and BAM! I had light, and more importantly, I had toilet paper.

Cool. This phone is going to be more useful than I’d thought. I’m keeping this thing by my bed when I travel, which is often. One can get a little lost in hotels when on those midnight potty runs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get Your Vote On!!

I saw this on Facebook, posted it on AWIP's page, then decided it needed to be a blog post.

Did you get out and vote yet?  I did, right after I had my first cup of coffee and could actually make sense of the ballot.  I figure that I don't have the right to bitch about anything unless I did my part to influence it.  Sounds reasonable, right?

Am feeling a little guilty as my choices for local positions were a bit eenie-meenie-miney-moe.  Does it make one a bad person if one knows more about politics on the national level than on a local level? 

Anyway, I hope you are having a good day, and that you are making your vote, whatever it is, count!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Surviving Sandy...

Sophie made me this.  Awwwww.
 Sorry I've been AWOL for a while.  Things have been a wee bit hectic around here.  It's my busy season at work, which means a lot of travel. Last Saturday I left my home in New Jersey to fly to Chicago  for a business trip.  While I was winging my way westward, a sh!tstorm of galactical proportions was bearing down on my home.

Hurricane/Post-Tropical Storm/Post-Tropical Cyclone/Superstorm (?!?!?!) Sandy pretty much pummeled New Jersey and surrounding states. She left tremendous devastation in her wake as I watched helplessly from Chicago, in fear for the health and safety of family, friends and four-leggeds.  When I was finally able to get through to my husband I learned he and a good number of our neighbors were at our house waiting out the storm and having what he called a "Hurricane Party."  The next day I called home to find out much of the neighborhood was at our house again, having a "No Power Party." The next day was the same, except it was a "Power On Party."

Don't get me wrong.  My husband was actually making sure everybody stayed fed, showered, in clean clothes and good spirits while everyone helped dig each other out.  We were one of the few homes that had power, as many of the lines were downed by fallen trees. We live in an old neighborhood, one lined with many old and magnificent trees, a good number of which are now chunks of firewood that my husband his buddies chainsawed into bits.

Tree-1, Schecter's Pool-0

My parents were in the process of selling the home I grew up in and moving to the beach home my grandparents had left them.  Their home in central New Jersey has been without power for almost a week, and their shore house, located on one of New Jersey's barrier islands, is currently several feet under water.  Many of the means of access to the island are gone (see Mantoloking Bridge) and the island is a war zone, with gas fires breaking out amongst the flooding. Officials say it may be a month before they allow non-emergency workers out to assess the situation. (To get an idea of the damage, check out these before and after pics taken by satellite). My parents are staying with us for the moment, which, despite the sad reasons behind the temporary living arrangement, is quite nice.  It's giving us some good bonding time with my folks, and I hope it's providing my parents some much needed support during a difficult time.

One of the many fallen trees at my parent's place

This is the end of my parent's road at the shore.
The ocean and the bay are now one and the same.

Throughout this time Sugar and Cookie have been safe and sound at their barn.  They are on high ground, so no flooding, and the trees are far enough away from their fields that there was no damage and they were able to be turned out.  The power has been out but thankfully there's a generator.  Bless her heart, my trainer has been in regular contact with me, which has alleviated much of the worry and helplessness I've been feeling.  What makes things difficult now that roads are passable is that we are experiencing unbelievable gas shortages, so I haven't been to the barn since my hurricane-delayed return home lateThursday night.  It's killing the kids and me not to go, but we can't justify the gas expenditure during this time of rationing and shortages.  We tell ourselves the girls are being well taken care of and that we're tremendously lucky and leave it at that.  I feel guilty even saying this, as I have power, and so many I know do not.

That's the amazing thing I've taken from this experience.  People are so amazing and resilient.  We can experience tremendous difficulty, and yet still be willing to extend a helping hand to others.  My family has been tremendously fortunate, sadly others haven't been.  We are lucky to be able to offer our home as a place for friends to eat a hot meal, take a shower, or do laundry.  Yet despite it all, I still see so acts of kindness. One of the restaurants I know of is not charging patrons who are displaced or without power. Can you believe that?  I'm trying to witness these acts, and remember them when I'm not feeling like Miss Sweetness and Light.

The inside of my "Welcome Home" card.
I guess maybe that's what they mean about silver linings?  If there can be one in this situation. In any case, my thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been less fortunate throughout this experience. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Play Day...

This was my view this morning.  Perhaps I'm biased, but I think it's the best darn view going. 

I dropped by the barn for a last ride before heading off on a business trip.  As Sug had seen the inside of the indoor ring a lot this past week it seemed like a good time to take her out to one of the neighboring fields for some playtime.

I could tell as soon as we headed away from the barn that she agreed.  She tossed her head and trotted right off with her ears pricked, letting off the occasional snort.  Her trot was big and free and powerful, and she felt amazing.

You know how Hunter/Jumper guru George Morris often bemoans the fact that today's junior riders don't seem to have any experience riding outside a ring, or on anything other than perfectly manicured surfaces?  Holy cow, was I feeling the truth of that today!

Riding out over terrain is HARD!  It requires a completely different balance.  Honestly, I felt like I did the very first time I ever tried to post the trot - I was all over the place.  Sug must've thought she was carrying a very heavy sack of potatoes.  We trotted around that field for what must've been 15 minutes before I felt like I had some sense of balance.  Don't even ask me about our trot down the hill!  All I can say is that I had a tremendous amount of respect for eventers before today's excercise, and I have even more now.

So Sug trotted, and I worked on my balance in the two point, trying to allow my heels and knees to absorb the shock.  I let her move out into a canter, and she was clearly thrilled, tossing her head and squealing with equine joy.  I'm not afraid to say tell you I grabbed a little mane.  She is the Sainted Mare, but you can't be too careful, and I had a plane to catch.  She had a few "moments of joy" and threw in a couple exuberant hops, but true to form she didn't throw me anything I couldn't handle, bless her big ol' heart.

I'm so glad we had this play day. I had a great workout and learned a lot.  Sug had a chance to stretch her muscles and enjoy herself.  She was clearly energized by our excursion -- her walk on our way back was enormous and swing, and she let out repeated snorts of satisfaction. 

Talk about a win-win!  After our post-ride grooming session I put her back out in her field with Cookie and then left for the airport smelling like horse and happy as heck. 

Happy horse.  Happy horse-Mom. All good!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

No Longer a Luddite...

Today the new iPhone 5 my company got me arrived.

A friend of mine congratulated me on "no longer having the oldest blackberry ever."

Is it horrible of me to say that I am not particularly excited about the iPhone because of its ability to enhance my productivity at work?  I'm not even really sure if it will enhance my productivity at work.  I just can't see myself demonstrating my magazine's digital products on my phone. (God, I hope not! Can you picture my client and I pulling out our reading glasses to peer at my iPhone! HILARIOUS!)

I am excited, however.

I am excited about this:

Because it will allow me to take better pictures and video of this:

I'm pretty sure that wasn't the reason my company sent me this thing!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

O Happy Day!

My Heart Horse.
Some days are just great days. Period.  They don't have to be a "Special Day" or "Momentous Occasion" to be a good day.  In fact, don't you find that the simpler, non-occasion days are most often the best?

Why was today such a great day, you might ask? 

It was a gorgeous, mild, sunny fall day with beautiful fall hues abounding, and I got to spend my morning relaxing while watching my kids take a lesson.  The kids worked hard and clearly enjoyed themselves, and we then spent some quality time fussing over the girls and thanking them for their efforts. 

Po-Po and her Pit Crew

The Boy and his Mare.

I adore this pony
After our time at the barn we had lunch with a dear friend, ran some errands, then met another set of friends for a quick get together.  Both sets of kids played darts, pool and foosball hockey while the adults chatted and stuffed their faces. (Yes, if I'm involved, food is always involved.)

After a quick stop by Party City to get the kids' Halloween costumes we came back home and at that point I assumed the position I am in now -- flat on my back on the couch.  I'm indulging in a little more horse craziness, courtesy of the USEFNetwork and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show's  Prix de Penn National Grand Prix.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.

To top it all off, look what I got in the mail today!!!  I'm going to finish my evening off by reading one before I go to bed, and am looking forward to reading another with my coffee tomorrow morning.



Monday, October 15, 2012

And In Today's Holy Crap News...

Wheeeee!  Off to see the world!
In September I posted about a Boston area woman who rescued a loose horse that was running along the commuter rail tracks.

Well, today's Wall Street Journal (what, you thought I only read the Chronicle of the Horse??) includes an item about a couple who rescued a loose horse who was traveling on the New York State Thruway east of Syracuse on Sunday.

Amanda and Michael Pietrak were returning home from their vacation, a cruise, when they spotted the horse. Michael cut the equine explorer off with his car while Amanda jumped out and grabbed it by the neck.  They were assisted by another motorist, Denise Marcum, a wholesale florist from Vermont who just happened to be a horse trainer.  Holy coincidence, Batman!

With two of NY State's finest troopers as an escort, the trio walked the escaped equine to the next exit, where its grateful owner met them.

What gives?  Bizarre coincidence, or are the horses of the northeastern states looking for greener pastures?  Maybe he hadn't heard that the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournment had been cancelled? (Alright, that was lame. Time for another latte.)

Makes you wanna run out and check your fence lines and gates, though, doesn't it?  Yikes!

No! No! No Meltdowns Allowed!

The Child and the Po-Po during
a more peaceful moment this week.
This was what I wanted to say out loud, but I couldn't do that, so I said it (very loudly) on the inside.

What prompted this, you ask?  It was Sunday night, the end of a very long week or the start of another very long week, depending on how you look at it, and my youngest was in full-on drama llama mode. The reason?  She had to get her weekly schoolwork signed, and she'd gotten a D+ on a quiz.  Yep, on the scale of 1 to saaaaaaaay, Syria, it doesn't even register, right?  But she was fast passing upset and moving swiftly to hysterical, with gulps and hiccups and everything.

Now, I'm normally pretty strict about grades and all, but this was the first time she'd ever gotten below a B so I just didn't see the need to go all DEFCON 1just yet. Plus, as I said, it was a long week.  You know how it goes, every night had either soccer or riding and the weekend was just as jam-packed.  I was brain-dead, and couldn't jump start the old grey matter quickly enough.

The Child today, showing some mad soccer skilz.

So inside I was screaming  "No! No! No Meltdowns Allowed! Mommy just drove you all over Manhattan most of its boroughs to get you to and from soccer! Stop the crying, I beg of you!" and outside I was saying something more like, "Well, let's look at what went wrong and see what we can do" and pseudo-soothing crap like that.  Yeah, what I was offering up was weak, but it was all I was capable of and thank the sweet baby Savior it pacified her.

Crisis averted.  For now, at least. 

Now Mommy needs a brownie. STAT.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y! Hey!

Remember that song by the Bay City Rollers?

Here's a reminder for you:

Anyways, it's Saturday night, and what am I doing?  Laying in bed watching the livestream of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on the USEFNetwork.


Yep.  That's how I roll.  Exciting, no?

I'm pretty happy with it. Thanks USEFNetwork - this is the next best thing to being there.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's That TIme of Year Again - Halloween and Horses!

I saw this on Facebook today and can only say I wish I had this person's creativity and artisitic ability.  This totally kicks butt!  Maybe one of the jumper riders in the Washington International Horse Show Gambler's Choice costume class will take inspiration from this rider -- how badass would you be coming in to a Grand Prix dressed like this??

Possibly the coolest equestrian Halloween costume ever!

Sadly, I'm a little less artistic/creative, as evidenced by Sug's first (and last) Halloween costume:

Sug dressed as a "Tough Girl." Or something.  I'm not quite sure what.

You'd think I would have learned after my only other attempt at making a Halloween costume.  This is the costume I made for my son's second Halloween.  For some reason I had it in my head that good mothers made their kid's Halloween costumes.  Now I know that's not true.  Now I know that creative mothers make their kid's costumes, the rest of us buy them.

He's supposed to be a tree.  That's a bird's nest on his head.  I think the tan thing on his chest was supposed to be a hole with a squirrel in it. Not 100% sure.  Amazing where your brain goes when you get a hot glue gun in your hands.  I'm pretty sure my husband threatened to divorce me if I ever made another Halloween costume for Noah.  By the way, if you happen to meet my son, DO NOT mention that I shared this with you.   
Noah as a "Tree." 
Again, execution does not match vision.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

She's Gone Off The Deep End Rant...

So today I had to get an EMG, which stands for Electromyography, which tests your nerves' ability to transmit signals to your muscles.  Think of it this way: A technician attaches a couple of electrodes to you and then takes an instrument that is essentially a baby Taser and then proceeds to (repeatedly) shock you.  Sounds like fun, right? 

Why would I sign up for something as silly as this, you might ask?  Because I have had rank, ugly, nasty, debilitating, eat-painkillers-like-they-are-M&Ms kind of back pain for eons now, and we are trying to figure out why.  The pain is in mostly in my lower back/Sacroiliac Joint region, so I affectionately call it Giant Pain In The Ass Syndrome for lack of a definitive diagnosis.

Anyway, being shocked repeatedly makes me a bit testy, so when the technician and the doctor commented, for the third time, how dangerous riding is, I went slightly foaming-at-the-mouth feral.

"No more dangerous than driving on the highways of New Jersey." said I.  (Seriously, if you know anything about Jersey you know I'm not making this stuff up.)

My doctor's office is the orthopedic practice for an NFL team, one of the premier US Tennis tournaments, as well as several colleges and elite prep schools.  They are used to seeing elite athletes.  They are less used to seeing non-elite, borderline psychotic athletes.  They cannot understand why I continue to pursue my riding, even through significant pain.  Riding is clearly not my meal ticket and I am way too old to hope it will get me a scholarship, so they can't comprehend why I persist in what they consider irrational behavior.

"Most of your patients won't wind up in the NFL or playing in the US Open or the MLS or NHL.  Do you tell them to stop playing football/tennis/soccer/hockey?"  I ask.  Of course they don't. 

"But riding is risky.  You're so high up. It's so unpredictable" say my doctor, who, by the way, has jumped out of planes and bungee jumped off bridges.  Call me crazy, but I consider THAT irrational behavior and it's a hell of a lot farther to fall than off a horse, thank you very much. 

The thing that gets me the most, is that in many cases, they don't understand the biomechanics of riding.  They'll talk about concussion and how when they rode on the beach on their honeymoon their back was sore for days.  Umm, understood, yes, there are concussive forces, but you on your honeymoon and me with years of training are too different things. (At least, I fervently hope so.) They GET the physics of soccer/football/swimming/baseball/lacrosse, but they don't get the physics of riding.  By the way, one of the doctors is a big mountain biker.  Hello!!!!  Concussive forces, anyone?  Risky, maybe?

Yes, riding is risky.  So is driving.  So is flying.  So is football/hockey/soccer and basically life in general.  Yes, the rate of traumatic injury per hour ( according to Riders4Helmets) is the same as for motocyclists. So we do the best we can to minimize the risk.

So, to my most esteemed medical team:  Thank you for your care and advice. No, riding will never be my meal ticket.  But it is what makes me happy and keeps me sane.  So don't ask me to stop.  I'll do my best to minimize the risk, and if you could figure out what's wrong with my back I'd be grateful.  And until you do figure out what's wrong, please keep writing those prescriptions for pain killers/muscle relaxants/Lidocaine patches. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Old Bay Mare...

Let me at 'em!
This was 2 years ago,
but this is what Sug felt like today.
Has still got it!!!  Sug and I had our first lesson in eons, and man, was it a blast.  I thought we'd have a lot more rust on our rockets, but from the moment I sat on her things felt in sync.

She marched out at the walk (she normally has a hip swinging amble.)  She powered around at the trot. (My trainer ACTUALLY said she was "in front of my leg." That's a new one.) I actually had to slow her down at the canter. (Again, not her usual S.O.P.).  Damn, I love the onset of chilly fall weather -- that's what I'm going to attribute this new found pep to.

Then we jumped for the first time in months.  I thought I was going to totally bomb all the distances.  I didn't.  I actually found a rhythm, stayed in it (for the most part) and the distances worked themselves out.  I was counting out loud like I was back in kindergarten (1-2-1-2-1-2) but so what, I'd go around Rolex counting out loud at the top of my lungs if it got me around the course.

We did tight figure eights, rollbacks, and actually jumped a couple of 3' fences, which I haven't done with any confidence in ages.  I can honestly say I did not even over think -- I just rode.  And had fun.  And the big bay mare had a blast.  She jumped like she was 10 instead of 16.  When we stopped she looked as if she could still go a few more rounds.  My fingers are crossed -- here's hoping age is just a number and today's burst of energy was not just an anomaly and my beautiful big girl has a lot more days like this in her.

Thanks, Sug. Momma had a lot of fun today.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fun Barn Times With the Kiddos...

Not too long ago I wrote a post about the joys of having a little alone time at the barn.  It's true, that's nice, especially when the kids are doing their Bickersons impersonation.

However, today's post is the flip side of that sentiment.  The other day when the Boy and I arrived at the barn he decided that Cookie looked like she needed a little special attention.  Even though Noah is too big to ride her anymore, he has a huge soft spot for the pony he had so many good times with.

He told me he thought she looked bored in her stall, so he pulled her out and groomed her.  I laughed as I heard him kvetching about the knots in her tail - he must have spent at least 20 minutes just picking them out. Cookie basked in the attention, chewing and licking her lips and turning her head to give him little looks conveying pony approval.  After she was groomed to his liking, he took her for a walk in the indoor, looking for all the world like a boy walking and chatting to his very large dog.

All of us went to the barn the next day, and we all fussed over the girls and hung out with barn friends.  Noah rode Sug for a few minutes before I got on, and when he hopped off Sophie and Cookie took the opportunity to play a few minutes of "herd the big brother."

The next time we went to the barn Soph decided it was time for a pony spa day, and gave Cookie a massage and then clipped her, all the while chatting to the pony and telling her all about soccer and school friends. 

These are the little moments I love, the ones I feel so blessed to have.  I'm so thankful to these wonderful horses that allow us to experience these precious times together.