Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In Which We Experience a Setback...Injury Alert

My apologies for not posting for a while.  I was feeling a bit down and worried because Sug injured herself, and because the Boy got what he considers bad news from the doctor and has to spend more time using the cane. (The good news is there is improvement and we're almost there, however, you can imagine that a cane is NOT the coolest accessory to a 13-year-old's way of thinking.) 

Then all the horrible news from this past weekend - the trailer accident that caused the death of three of Pollard Eventing's top horses, the loss of the show jumping mare Kellemoi de Pepita to colic, and the death of of US equestrian team physician Dr. Craig Ferrell to injuries sustained in a polo accident - just depressed the heck out of me and made me feel small and horrible for having indulged in my own pity party for what are minuscule and trivial setbacks indeed.

Now I have managed to contract a stomach virus, in May, for gawd's sake. However, I am choosing to look at this as a GOOD thing, as Nature's own form of weight loss.  Yippee!  Maybe I can hang on to it long enough to lose the 10lbs I've gained since my accident! (I know, I'm not right in the head, but you knew that already.)

So, the update on the Sainted Mare:  She's got an inflamed branch in her suspensory ligament.  From what, we have no idea.  Luckily, we caught it before it became a tear or anything more serious.  She was on stall rest with hand walking for a couple days, with lots of icing and bandaging.  After Dr. Furlong diagnosed her, the vet techs drugged her up and administered a round of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) to the injury site.

A buzzed Sug catching a buzz -- in more ways than one!

The theory behind ESWT is that it helps soft tissue and joint issues by producing an analgesic (pain killing) effect with an anti-inflammatory effect and by stimulating blood.  The vet tech holds a wand which emits shock or pressure waves, which pulse to a specific site within the injured tissue. Basically it looks and sounds like the vet tech is tasering the horse.  Hence the need for anesthesia.

Sug has been recovering nicely and we've been able to start tack walking.  Hopefully we'll be able to trot later this week after Dr. Furlong reevaluates her and she has her second round of ESWT therapy.  If all goes well (fingers crossed) we should be back in business in about a month.  Of course, there is always the risk of a relapse, since the injured ligament is always weaker, but I get the impression that this was slight enough that we don't need to worry too much.  Although I will, excessively, as that is what I do.

Am off to Walmart to buy as much Bubble Wrap as I can lay my hands on.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Priorities, Schmiorities...

In the "I couldn't have said it better" category comes this guest post from my pal Emme, who blogs at I Pick Crazy.  I met Emme through blogging, and have come to think we are twins who were seperated at birth. 

At one time or I think we've all felt a bit "not-normal" because of our obsession with equines.  Emme sums those complex  feelings of "otherness" up quite niceley in the following post:

This is what I hate:

That is a picture of the inside of a Toys R' Us store. See all those aisles filled with cheap plastic poisonous crap from China? I HATE IT!! There are also aisles of baby stuff; booties, onesies, cribs and strollers. Aisles of stuffed animals, and a whole section just for game stations. And inside the store, at least our local store, wanders a bunch of moms, some with kids and some alone. They stroll around, looking down every aisle, and seemingly enjoying spending their cash on toys that will break as you take them out of the mission impossible wrapping. I think if the actual toy was made from the same stuff as the plastic wrapping they would last forever! (I smell a conspiracy!)

Anyway; as I sped around the store looking for a suitable gift, I realized that although I have hated these places forever, I hate them more after becoming horse nutty. I truly can't stand it! As I was checking out, the cashier asked if I had a Frequent Shopper card, and I bristled and answered "no" in a voice that can only be described as Haughty. I realized my rudeness and stated "I will only come here under extreme duress." Really? Could I possibly have come come across as any more of a BeeYatch?

My kids are teenagers, 17 and 20, and so it has been a long time since I was forced to fake Toys R' Us enthusiasm, and I have clearly lost my touch. Let's hope that by the time grandkids come along (that better not be soon, ya hear?) I will have a semblance of self control and be happy to fake it again. I kind of doubt that since I have come to that stage of life where I am "honey badgering" a lot, meaning I don't "give a shit."

I have always had a hard time with the "Super Mom's," and never really felt that I fit in with the mom and wife crew. You know what I mean, because as a horse nut you probably don't either. They have long discourses on the benefits of Huggies vs. Luvs, and can tell you the nutritional value of any juice, and know the school secretary's name and bring in a cupcake for the principal's birthday. I have NEVER been the classroom mom, and I can't really blame that on working, as I bet I would not have volunteered had I been home. I am just bad at that stuff. Sure, my house is fairly clean (I NEVER make my bed) I cook on a regular basis, but I feel no passion for that stuff. I have never looked at juice from a nutritional stand point, and I just bought the diapers that were on sale. Our meals are quick and easy, except for holidays or when I feel inspired, and I keep finding new ways to combine laundry loads to save time. (wow, when read in a row like that, even I am shocked!)

But........... Pippi is on 12% protein, she has 2 supplements from Smartpak (SmartFlexII for joints and tendons, and SmartMuscle Stamina for Muscle recovery), she eats high quality grass hay, has access to salt/minerals, and two buckets of water that are cleaned and refreshed daily. Her stall is cleaned daily ( I NEVER make my bed!!), and she has her own run that she can access on her own. She gets all the shots (my sons are behind), sees the farrier every 6-7 weeks, the Equine dentist once a year, and a Chiropractor when needed. We massage and use muscle ointments on her regularly. I can spend hours in a tack store, love tack auctions, will get up at the crack of crazy to be a show mom when Pippi and Miranda compete, pay loads of money for boarding (not so much now, love you Donna and Kevin) and lessons, feed, and tack and etc etc. I will talk your head off about Pippi, and horses in general, and find myself a bit bored when in the company of non-horsey people for a prolonged period of time. Seriously!

All this came to a head today at Toys R' Us, when I realized what a nut I am. Can you imagine how crazy my priorities must seem to those women who love doting on and shopping for their kids, while I am all about my horse? I love my kids of course, and I love making them happy, but my own personal true selfish happiness comes from doting on Pippi, learning to ride better and just being at the barn. I am not just a mom, and the part that is not, loves horse stuff. And that part is growing bigger as the kids get older, and as they need me less the mom gets to take a backseat a bit more. Let's just hope I can fake it better when in the company of non-horsey friends now that I have some insight into how obsessed and nutty I must seem. I mean; what kind of a mother would rather shop at Tractor Supply for her horse than Toys R' Us for her nephew?

A Horse mom, that's who!

Friday, May 18, 2012

They Show us Who We Are...

Brian Crowley, aboard Arcadius, celebrates with
groom Percy Warner after winning the Iroquois.
The New York Times recently published an article about the unexpected death of steeplechaser Arcadius after his triumphant win in the Iroquois Steeplechase, a Grade 1 race worth $150,000.  The great 'chaser succumbed to a pulmonary aneurysm that caused  a fatal heart attack just minutes after Arcadius left the winner's circle. 

In a quote after the race, his jockey, Irishman Brian Crowley, told The Times: “I don’t get attached to horses, I just don’t, but with him, it’s different; he’s the one horse I would be close to. I’m not being a drama queen, I’m not just going on about it. I fed him carrots every day. I rode him, I schooled him. What a horse. I can’t believe it. I’m crying over a horse. I can’t believe it. You find out what you are when something like this happens, you find out how much you care.”

Seattle Slew's longtime groom, Tom Wade, had this to say about his famous friend, "In a sense, he raised me. I taught him nothing; he taught me everything I know." 

Another thing Wade said about his feelings for the Triple Crown winner was this, " I wanted to live my life for Slew to be proud of me."

I get that.  And isn't that bizarre, in a way?  Trying to live in a way that would make our horse's proud?  Try telling a non-horse lover that and tell me what reaction you get. In all honesty, though, there absolutely are times when I don't do something because I know Sug wouldn't approve, just as there are times I will do something because I know she would.

Mr. Crowley is right.  You do find out what,and who, you are with horses. I was mentioning this to a (non-horsey) friend and she found this hard to believe. "What about your family?  Where do they fit in?  Don't you try to make them proud?"

Well, I guess there you have the difference between those who love horses and those who don't.  If you are a horse lover, the horse IS your family.

Anyway, that's just what I was thinking this morning.

Thanks for reading! 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Weekend at the Jersey Fresh Three Day Event...

Happy Wednesday, friends of AWIP!  Quite frankly, I had to take a look at the calendar and make sure it was, in fact, Wednesday.  How the heck do these weeks go by so dang quickly??

Anywhooo, in case you don't follow Horse Junkies United and my antics over there, here are some links to my recent posts so you can see what I've been up to.  The Jersey Fresh International Three Day Event was held this past weekend at the New Jesey Horse Park in Allentown, NJ.  As I firmly believe that you can learn from any horseperson, regardless, of discipline, I took the opportunity to see how the other half lives, so to speak. 

Ummm, they live dangerously

Hope you like the posts, and Happy Wednesday!

Boyd and Neville!! Photo by Noah
A Hunter Jumper Converts for a Day – Dressage at Jersey Fresh, presented by Five Star Tack

I’m going to start this post with the following bit of important news:  I MET BOYD MARTIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAACCCKKKKK!

Sorry, had to go there. I feel badly, because I saw him walking with a group of people and totally had a brain fart, forgot my manners, and brazenly walked up and introduced myself (bad Amy!)

Phillip Dutton and Indie
A Hunter Jumper at Jersey Fresh – Possible Conversion Afoot? presented by Five Star Tack

One of my favorite regular contributors to the Chronicle of the Horse forums has a tagline in her signature that I love: “Come to the Dark Side, We Have Cookies!” This is a very apt quote for me, as I’ll go almost anywhere if there are cookies involved.

However, I didn’t need the promise of cookies to take a wander down to the Jersey Fresh International Three Day Event held at the New Jersey Horse Park this past weekend. The chance to see great horses and watch amazing riding was enough of a draw for me. Oh yeah, that and it was an Olympic selection event for the US eventing team!



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thoughts on Sapphire's Retirement...

Sapphire and McLain at the WEG 2010
 I was on my up to bed when I stopped at my computer to send a quick email to a friend.  Of course, that meant a quick perusal of what was new on Facebook. 

Dumb move, as the news that greeted me, the retirement of McLain Ward's magnificent mare Sapphire, pushed bedtime back a good hour and a half as I then needed to indulge reading coverage of her past triumphs, watch a slew of YouTube videos of past rounds, and peruse photos that I had of her from various competitions I'd seen her compete in.  Sadly, there were too few of these for my liking.

Why should this happy news be upsetting, you ask?  She's going out on top, she's recovered from her injured check ligament, and most importantly, she'll be able to indulge in as many Dunkin Donuts as she wants. (The Sainted Mare is violently jealous.) 

                      One of the Great Ones passing "The Greatest"

Selfishly, I'll miss seeing her in action.  When I expressed this to my husband, he said, "So what?  What's the big deal?  Athletes get old and retire all the time."  (This from a man who, at the World Cup in 2009, would not get me a snack as McLain and Sapphire were coming soon in the order and he did not want to miss them).

His comment left me incredulous.  "Haven't you ever been sad when one of your favorite Eagles/Phillies/Flyers retired?" I asked.


Men! Heartless creatures.  Let's just say I was not ready to see things rationally at this point and there was a decidedly glacial cool down on my side of the bed.

"Is this going to be like Princess Diana/" asked Mr. Sensitive.  A little background, I am not normally a celebrity hanger-on, but I was ENAMORED with Princess Di.  I have a collection of books and old magazines that darn near needs it's own room.  The night she died, I stayed up late to watch network coverage. I fell asleep before news of her death broke, and when i awoke the next morning, the first thing I did was ask my husband for news.  "She croaked," was Mr. Sensitive's reply,  I did not speak to him for a week.  (I swear to you, I'm not normally that irrational, but a girl's heroes are her heroes, and not to be trifled with.)

Back to Sapphire.  She's done it all -- 2 Team Gold Medals at the Olympics, a team Silver at the 2006 WEG in Aachen, winner of the Pfizer Million in 2010 2nd in the FEI World Cup in 2009, (we won't discuss what happened in 2010), and top spot by .02 seconds over Eric Lamaze and the insanely quick Hickstead in the 2009 CN International at the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament in 2009.

                        Baby Sapphire.
                      Think Her Foals Will Be As Cute?

Hopefully Sara's fans will one day have the opportunity to see her progeny take on the big fences. Attempts to breed her while she was recuperating from her injured check ligament were unsuccessful, but fingers crossed that things will go better this time around.

Sara doesn't owe anybody anything, least of all her adoring fans.  We've had 10 years to bask in her magnificence. Quite frankly, though, the show ring will be less exciting for lack of the Big Mare's presence. 
You'll be missed, Sara, and we thank you for all the wonderful memories you've given us.  It's been a privilege to watch you in action.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to All!

This Mother's Day wish goes out to ALL Moms, those who are the proud mothers of two-legged kids and those who are the loving mothers of four-legged children.  I hope you enjoy your special day. :)

It's been a wonderful Mother's Day Weekend for me.  On Friday the Boy and I went down to the Jersey Fresh Three Day Event and he took pictures for me so I could cover the action for Horse Junkies United.

My amateur shutterbug in action.  He was so serious and into his job it was adorable! (Please do not tell him I said that - he'd be mortified.)


Yesterday I went back to Jersey Fresh and took more pics, hung out with friends, and wallowed in all things equine.  LOVELY!  Then I came home and took the Boy and some friends to The Avengers movie.  Good times!

Now the daughter and I are off to the barn for lessons, then home for soccer and dinner.  A great weekend, don't you think?.

My husband sent me this video while I was at Jersey Fresh yesterday.  It was entitled, "Your daughter jumps higher without a horse than you do with your horse."  Guess who was feeling his oats a bit?  Hmm, paybacks are a b*tch, babe... LOL.

Wishing all of you a wonderful day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


According to, the word lucky is defined as:

lucky pronounced 'luhk-ee";  adjective

1. having or marked by good luck; fortunate: That was my lucky day.

2. happening fortunately: a lucky accident.

When I got home late last night after a business trip, I found this on the counter.  I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that when Sophie's teacher asked the students to describe why they felt they were lucky, she wasn't expecting this kind of a response:

I'm feeling pretty lucky for a number of reasons, one of which is that I have pretty neat kids.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Horse Showing in the Swamps of Jersey...

Locked on target.
 For the past 61 years, the first week in May has meant the Garden State Horse Show to many New Jersey equestrians.  The AA rate show is New jersey's largest, and is held at the Sussex Fairgrounds in the rolling hills and farmland of Augusta, in the northern part of the state.  Competitors come from all over the tri-state area, and the Grand Prix usually hosts industry luminaries like Mclain Ward, Beezie Maddedn, Kevin Babington, the Leone brothers, and Anne Kursinski. This year it was won by 16 year-old phenom Michael Hughes of Allendale, NJ.

Since 2008, Garden State has been the kick-off to my family's show season.  Why, I don't know, because every year it rains like heck and the place is a swamp.  It's either pissing down rain, or threatening to.  Only once you're well and truly soaked to the bone, slathered in mud and on the verge of hypothermia does the sun peak through, just in time for the last classes. 

This year was no exception.  Saturday morning saw us up at o'dark hundred schlepping up to the mud-pit, with the pony princess wrapped in bubble wrap so as not to get dirty prior to her class, the Pre-Children's Pony Hunters and Pre-Children's Pony Equitation. (Seriously, what is up with these names???  What do they call the division preceding this?  Fetal Pony Hunters? Oye veh.)

Since the last show was one of those "learning experiences," where the pony was feeling her oats a bit, we changed our show morning routine and tack a bit.  The kiddo was given a bigger set of brakes in the form of a pelham bit - not ideal in this division but we figured the stronger bit would be better than the sight of the child being dragged hither and yon on a tour of the show grounds. Cookie was also given an early morning Come to Jesus session, where one of the older girls schooled her in the ring, took her over a few jumps, and worked on downward transitions and halts immediately after the jumps.  Basically she reminded the pony of the First Commandment of the Pony World: Though Shalt Not Take Off With Your Child.

The change-up brought good results.  Cookie was forward, but in a good way, to my way of thinking. (I was raised during the days when you actually galloped fit horses around a course.  Today's preference for corpulent, half-comatose horses heaving themselves over fences is one I can't quite wrap my mind around.)  The kiddo did a pretty good job of balancing her and the pony landed most of her leads.  Maybe she could have ridden out more in the corners, jumped ahead less, and gotten her heels down a lot more, but no biggie.  The outing was a step forward from the last performance, and both kid and pony were pleased and proud.  All good, I'd say.  They also got a couple of ribbons, a fifth and an eighth, which I think is quite respectable in this level of competition and with 25 kids in the class.

What made the day even better was running into and spending time with old friends, our traditional show breakfast of bagels and mimosas, and, if you were to ask my husband and son, the rental of a golf-cart for the day.  The boy is still on crutches, so the golf cat was a sensible investment and gave my boys a toy to play with during the usual horse show "Hurry Up and Wait" nonsense.  Also made it much easier for the husband to ferry mimosas back and forth to the ring...

It was a good, albeit long, day.  We got home just in time for my son and I to watch the Kentucky Derby, and for the pony princess and her father to get changed and run out to her travel soccer game.  I know, it's ridiculous the amount of energy those two have.  It exhausts me just watching them.

Percy making sure there are no driving infractions

My Energizer Bunny

Happy hubby.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Many Happy Returns to A Special Someone...

Sug's special friend Tucker (my blogging buddy Marissa's Gorgeous Boy) turns the Big 1-0 today, and the Sainted Mare wanted to send a special "shout out" to her buddy.

Dear Tucker -- XOXOXOXOXO!
Love, Sug
Dear Tucker,

I wanted to wish  a very special horse a very special Happy Birthday.  It's been too long since we've been able to spend time together.  I miss hanging out on the trailer, sharing a haybag, taking turns doing jumping exercises with our Moms.

I wish you a wonderful year full of peppermints, warm bran mashes, lots of hay, carrots and apples to your heart's content, and if we're lucky and our Moms can get us together (maybe for a nice, long trail ride), I will make sure my Mom brings a special Boston Creme donut with a candle on it in honor of your birthday.  Trust me, Boston Cremes are the BEST.  Make sure you don't eat the candle, though. They are yucky.

Many Happy Returns and Sugar Smoochies to you!



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In Which I Attempt to Coach My Child...

The epitome of equine
and equestrienne concentration.
Do you have kids? If so, have you ever tried to teach them something? By this I mean something outside of not picking one's nose, putting one's fingers in sockets, or not running with scissors?

If so, you are familiar with how much fun that can be. You know what I'm referring to - the eye rolls, the huffing breaths, or the stony-faced "I'm pretending to listen to you but what I'm really doing is imagining you being hit by a rogue meteorite" look.

I've had some back issues recently, and as they have not abated, my saddle time has been limited and I've not really been able to do a whole. The silver lining part of this is that now, instead of concentrating on my own ride, I have a lot more time to nag the child while she rides her pony!

YAY! Because that's what kids love, right? Attentive and supportive parents?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!! (I'm killing myself here.)

Yep, the past two times we've gone to the barn I've basically parked my big ol' tuckus on Sugar, my Sainted Mare, and wandered around the ring exhorting the child to get her heels down, pull her shoulders back, take her legs off in downward transitions so as to avoid clashing aids, blah blah blah. As 10 year-old girls are pretty much hard-wired to ignore their mothers and mothers are pretty much guaranteed to go postal when ignored, you can see where this could go seriously sideways pretty quickly, can't you?

Picture the drive down to the barn: I've selected a a disk from the Bernie Traurig DVD The American Hunter/Jumper Forward Riding System that addresses some of Sophie and Cookie's issues and it's in the car's DVD player. Bernie's voice comes through the speakers a' la the Voice of the Almighty Equestrian. When we get to the barn and we're in the ring, we practice what Bernie told us about correct leg position (Sophie get your heels down -- wrap your legs AROUND the pony) and make sure Cookie is paying attention to the leg aids. Bernie's "hook up" correction, a little nudge with the spurs, is very effective and soon the pony is moving forward like she never had ideas otherwise.

We work on keeping our lower leg still and not nagging the pony (perhaps why the pony was tuning out the kiddo's aids in the first place, hmm??) and I keep them both guessing and sharpen up their transitions by playing a little Simon Says, a riff off an exercise I saw in a Sinead Halpin clinic. You know - Simon Says Trot, Simon Says lengthen the trot, Simon Says do a sitting trot circle, Simon Says canter, Simon Says Canter to Walk, Halt and Back up five steps.

Simon Says Mommy feels like a complete eedjit and is in desperate need of an adult beverage.

"This is fun. I could really get used to this. Tell the kid to get her heels down again."

Thanks, Sug. I'm on it.

Tired kiddo and po-po
Not everything went swimmingly, as you can imagine. I tend to overcommunicate (shocker!) and this can annoy the child, which results in the part where she rolls her eyes or blows me off and I raise my voice ever so slightly. Possibly more than slightly. Maybe enough so that folks in Delaware heard me (FYI -we're in New Jersey). So we had a "discussion," and some light drama from the pony jockey, which she thankfully got over quickly. We were able to work some more, get improvement on the issue causing the frustration, and call it a day.

While we were untacking and grooming the girls, I asked Soph if her soccer coach ever spoke with her team about how a play went? Did he ask them what they thought went well, what needed improvement, and how they thought they could improve? Luckily (thank you, Sweet baby Jesus!) she said yes, and I was able to relate that concept to riding. How, as riders, we always need to be checking in with ourselves to see if our position is correct, to ascertain why a movement went well or went poorly (were our aids correct?), and to determine any corrective steps we might need.

I have no idea if any of this stuck with my daughter. For all I know, she dialed the Division of Child Services to report her crazy mother as soon as we got home. Additionally, I may have just undone 2 years of our trainer's hard work. In which case, get me an adult beverage STAT, and then slap some duct tape over my piehole so I don't get any more bright ideas! Oh well, if it hasn't helped her riding at all, at least maybe I've earned some "Good Mom" points that will hold me in good stead during the teen years. Yeah, I hear you. Not bloody likely. Oh well, a Mom can dream, right?