Friday, August 31, 2012

Quality Time...

Libby and Percy. 
Good friends of the
2-and-4 legged variety.
Serendipity.  Don't you just love that word?  It means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise." That was last night.

Sophie was in Hershey park (again) with a friend, so Noah and I went to the barn by ourselves.  I guess most of New Jersey is on vacation, as for once Routes 287 and 78 were relatively open and we made good time.  That enabled us to make a stop at Melick's Town Farm for carrots, some apple butter, locally grown veggies, and homemade cookies.  As we drove away Noah turned to me and said, "You know, something about shopping there just makes me feel so good." I replied, "You know, I feel the same way," and for the rest of the way to the barn we had a lovely discussion about why that was.

We got to the barn, groomed the girls, and then split riding time on Sugar.  Our barn buddies Terri, Libby and Tamsin were also there, so it was a nice communal ride.  Bless Tamsin's heart, she'd brought pizza along for all of us to share, so after we cooled out the horses we all sat down and had pizza, beer, and the cookies Noah and I had liberated a little bit earlier.  Tamsin's hubby Dave and her son Trevor joined us, and we all relaxed while Trevor, Libby's dog Percy and Billie Jean, the barn's mini donkey, provided entertainment.

Billie Jean thinks she might like some wine...

Trevor: Ready to Ride!

The evening was balmy with a gentle breeze, and the moon was in full view over the treetops.  After we all went our separate ways, Noah and I had a lovely chat while driving home, one of those everything-and-nothing chats that just make you glad you're together. (Hopefully he'll remember this night I commit some infraction and he's convinced I am the Worst Mother on the Planet.)   Don't you just love when things just fall nicely into place and you have a peaceful, enjoyable evening with your friends of both the two-legged and four-legged varieties?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An Equestrian Goes On Vacation...

Rainbow over Hershey, PA.
It ends in a pot of chocolate.
Which I ate. Yummy!
It's summertime, and like countless other families around the world, our family took some time off to go on holiday.  As anyone who has ever watched National Lampoon's Vacation knows, family holidays are always interesting, to say the least. Finding a vacation that fits all family member's activity levels and interests is bloody challenging, if nigh upon impossible.  Mom may prefer to park her butt on a beach with the latest hot summer read, Dad might prefer to golf, one child might want to explore old battlefields while the other would rather boogeyboard in the surf. Needless to say, it's an exercise in compromise.

The first compromise in our vacation planning came at the outset.  The kids wanted to bring the horses.  I liked the idea, but knew my husband would rather pluck his eyeballs out with a spork.  "Hell no!" was his exact response when the kids broached the idea.  Okay, nix the horses. 

After some deliberation, we decided on Hershey Park.  Lots of rides for the kids and hubby, water park for all of us, outlets for back-to-school shopping, and most importantly, CHOCOLATE FOR MOMMY!  I did not pay as much attention to the planning details as I should have.  Hershey Park is mostly roller coasters.  I don't do roller coasters.  I don't mind admitting that I'm a big old wussy pants. 

The Skyrush.  Which I didn't go on.

As soon as we got to the park the rest of the family raced to get on the Skyrush.  I went on the swings. And promptly confirmed that since my concussion I can't ride on anything that goes in rapid circles. Took me 20 minutes and a bottle of water to finally calm my stomach.  Next the family went on the SooperDooperLooper.  I tried my luck at Skeeball.  They tried the Sidewinder.  I went on the railroad. So it went for the rest of the day as the family went on eleven of the park's twelve coasters.

One thing we noticed as time went on was you can take the horsey family away from the horses, but you can't take the horsey outta the family.  Or however that saying goes.  Doesn't matter.  Wherever we are, we are still thinking ponies. 

Yep.  This ride is my speed, AND it has horses.

A few examples: 

  • We pull in to where we were staying at a friend's house, and the first thing my daughter says is, "Look at the size of this lawn!  We could put a 2 stall barn and a couple of paddocks back there." Yep, we pretty much assess every place we go to in terms of equine housing potential.
  • Every field we see evokes a comment along the lines of, "I bet Sug would love to eat in that field."
  • Whenever we pass a field with horses in it my husband preempts the inevitable requests with a "No, we are NOT stopping to pet the horses. We need to make time."  Now in my world, the estimated arrival time on the GPS is considered the Time To Beat, but really, what is the male mandate to Make Time??? 
  • We bring apples as snacks for the drive.  This got a bit funky when we realized the kids were saving their cores for the horses.  This is normally okay, but not when you are not going home for several days and said apple cores will be marinating in a hot car...
  • The kids want to stop and play every game that offers a stuffed horse/unicorn as a prize.  Vaguely reminiscent of the "It's so fluffy!" scene in Despicable Me.
  • We need to ride the carousel.  Several times. And we need to find the horses that look the most like Sugar and Cookie and ride them at least once.
Yep, that's how we roll.  We're the Equestrian Griswalds.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coolest Gadget Ever - The Helmet Helper!

Sometimes you get your giggles in the strangest places, you know?

If you've been following AWIP for a while, you may have seen this post where I consideredintimidating the younger competitors in the jumper ranks by wearing a spiked helmet like this:

Scary spiked helmet designed to intimidate pre-fetal jumper types.

This little beauty came across my desktop today and I was instantly in love with the concept. 

I mean, think about how many ways you could use the "Gooseneck" alone! No more transferring the reins to one hand and then reaching back with the crop.  Nope!  One quick twist of the neck and you're all set.

Can you envision jumping a course with this thing?  That oxer look a bit high to you?  Just use the old "Gooseneck" to pluck that nasty top rail off and over you go!

Barn chores would be done in a jiffy.  Imagine - you could clean stalls while filling water buckets.  Eat lunch and clean tack at the same time -- just put a slice of pizza in the "Gooseneck" and hang your bridle from the "Spike."

I am sooooo getting myself one of these babies!

(With thanks to Lexicon Technologies, IT maintenance solutions providers and makers of the Helmet Helper.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Over The Hill Hunter Jumpers

I wish I could say that I came up with this all on my own, but sadly my genius lies more in imitation than in actual creation.  A few of my eventing friends have been sharing the Over the Hill Eventing version on Facebook. I believe it originated on Eventing Nation, which is home to numerous witty equestrians.  My friends challenged me to create a Hunter Jumper version and, well, here you go!

Note - I changed the beverage of choice from tequila to wine. The reason for the change was not because Hunter Jumpers are too highfalutin' and foo-foo to drink tequila.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Rather, this particular Hunter Jumper can't drink tequila.  It's that simple.  Nothing good has ever happened when tequila and I have gotten together.  Wine, however, is a different story.  If you are a regular AWIP reader, you know I am a fan of the grape. 

Thus, my knock-off, my addiction beverage of choice. :) Thanks for reading, and feel free to share!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Best Business Trip EVER, Continued...

Day One: Newburyport, MA. 
View while I downed my AM coffee.
Last week I was lucky enough to be able to mix business with pleasure in a way I've never managed before.  I was making sales calls in Massachusetts and was able to meet up with a blogging buddy I'd met through my efforts here on AWIP. 

We met at her barn, loved on her mare (who is also named Sugar!!) and settled in to watch a few rides of a dressage clinic that was being held at the facility where she boards.  It was honestly the best ending to a long day of sales calls that I've ever had.

Fast forward a few days. The town of Plymouth made sense as a centralized base for my last two days of meetings.  You've heard of Plymouth.  It's home to the site of that famous Rock.  You know, the most visited rock in New England (reallythere are statistics on rock visitation?) the one the Pilgrims supposedly disembarked upon?  More importantly, to me anyway, it's home to Cupcake Charlies, contestants on FoodNetwork's Ace of Cakes 100th episode celebration.  If you are ever in Plymouth, Cape Cod, or Newport, Rhode Island, do yourself a favor and stop by this little slice of heaven on earth.  I recommend the Hostess With the Mostess cupcake.  Or the Chocolate Overload.  Or the Lemon Drop.  Or the Peanut Butter Pleasure.

Plymouth Rock.  A little underwhelming, right?
Whoops!  Got a little carried away there.  Give me a minute to wipe off the drool and we'll move on...

So, it turns out that while I was in Plymouth my dear friend/first riding instructor and her daughter were going to be just down the road in Halifax, horse showing at Fieldstone Show Park.  Sweeeeeeeeeet!  Not only did I get to hang out with them and catch up over a very nice dinner, thanks to the hurry-up-and-wait nature of horse shows I was able to catch a couple of Kendall's rounds after my meetings.   

Not only did I get to see some of Kendall's rides, I was able to catch bits and pieces of other classes as well.  I don't know about you, but spending I can park myself at a horse show all day and never run out of things to do.  The Fieldstone Show Park is also not hard to enjoy.  The park is close to a number of activities, like whale watching, fishing, shopping, and various historical sites, so non-horsey family members can find stuff to do while you are waiting at the in-gate or for planning post-show family excursions. 

OK, nix the whale watching, I'm doing this!

The show itself has some pretty good shopping, and the grounds are lovely.  The derby field is gorgeous, and the rings all have fabulous high-tech footing.  More importantly, the furthest ring is no more than a 5 minute walk from the stabling, so you don't need a golf cart.  The park is set in a pine forest, so there's tons of shade for competitors, as well as strategically placed picnic tables for lounging about between classes of for watching a class in progress. I'm planning to cajole my trainer into adding it to the schedule for next year, then working like a madwoman to be able to make the trip.

LOVED the Boston Sports team fences!

Watching Kendall school prior to her class.

Best Business Trip EVER!!!!  Luckily I had very productive meetings with my clients, and I was able to satisfy the horsey jones while I was not working. WINNING!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best Business Trip EVER!!!

Two cool bloggers with mares named Sugar meet in MA.
Some people are fortunate that their profession and their passion are one and the same.  To date, I have not been lucky enough in that respect; however, I can't complain, as my profession allows me to pursue my passion.  It's rare that the two intersect, as they did so serendipitously yesterday.

I'm on a business trip.  During the day I meet with clients, and at night I sit in my hotel room catching up on emails, perusing Facebook, and (this week) stay up way too late watching Shark Week.  My first night in Massachusetts I stayed in my favorite seaside town and while I was there I took a few pics and posted them to Facebook.  Shortly after I posted them a woman I've "met" through blogging responded to my post offering suggestions on where to eat while I was in town.  I'd totally forgotten she lived in the state I was currently traveling in!

Funny part about this --huge small world twist here- is that this woman is from New Jersey, as I am, and owns a mare named Sugar!  WHAT???? I dare you to calculate the odds on that!  Long story short, we were able to arrange to meet and after my meetings I drove to her barn, got to love on her GORGEOUS mare Sugar, and watched some of a dressage clinic that was being given by Niall Quirk.  Quirk is a former Irish national dressage champion and a well known clinician, specializing in teaching flatwork to jumpers and training event riders up to the 4* level.

HOW COOL IS THAT??!!??  As you can tell, I'm still smiling a day later.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Catching Up...

Damn NBC and thier confounded blank screen.

Sorry to have abandoned you for a while.  You know how it goes, real life tends to intrude on the stuff you really like to do.  Work got crazy busy and required all my attention.  Then there was the Great Computer Crash of Summer 2012, which was somewhat like the Great Computer Crash of Winter 2011. 

So let me catch you up.  I was trying to watch the Olympics, getting up at 5:30 or 6:00AM so I could catch some of the action before work. Did you watch any of the NBC livestream coverage?  Have any issues?  I couldn't sleep the night before Tina Konyot ride down centerline at Greenwich, so I gave up and went downstairs. I waited, foregoing coffee (didn't want to wake up the family) and when 6 o'clock came I switched to NBC's stream and all I got was a BLANK SCREEN. 

I could hear Calecto V's footfalls.  I could hear his breathing.  I just couldn't see him.  I had a minor meltdown.  Guess the lack of sleep and lack of caffeine caught up with me.  I swear I didn't do anything like throw the computer or anything (although I did think about it).  When it died a few days later it died all on its own, with no help from me.  As you can imagine, with a dead computer there wasn't much Olympic equestrian livestreaming in my house. 

The good news is that while I was AWOL the Sainted Mare was cleared for full duty!!  We had our first lesson in what seems like forever, jumps and everything.  Granted, they were little baby jumps, but they were still jumps.  Madame Mare was very happy to be jumping again, and she let me know with several very sassy head shakes and a couple of small bucks.  Thankfully she wasn't overly keen and I was able to rate her, which was a bit more of an issue the last time she came back from rehabbing. 

I was in crappy shape and needed several water and oxygen breaks during the lesson, but you couldn't keep the smile from my face.  It felt so good to have her back.  I worried a bit overnight thinking that her leg might fill up and that the work may have adverse affects, but the leg was cool and tight the next morning. Phew!  Finger crossed, next week we'll do another lesson and more days of flatting, and then the week after move back to our normal 2-lesson-a-week schedule.

That about sums it up.  Now we're back to Situation Normal, or at least as normal as it gets around here.

Billie Jean and I enjoying the evening after a nice ride. 
Sug's in the field, enjoying the evening her way with some grass.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Olympic Daze...

Why in the heck am I up so early?  Even worse, why am I up this early when I went to bed late and couldn't sleep?

I'm up this morning because there's a horse show.  Funny thing is, I'm not in this horse show.  I'm not up because I can't sleep because I'm worried I won't wake up and will miss my ride.  (Standard operating procedure around here the night before a show.)

Nope, I'm up early because it's the Olympics, and I don't want to miss Tina Konyot's ride.  Tina goes down center line at 11:00AM GMT, which is pretty much o' dark hundred EST.  Actually, it's 6:00AM EST, but o' dark hundred sounds better. Anyways... I'm up, and have been up, well, because I'm a type A and wound tighter than a clock.

Since I'm up early and have time on my hands, I made this.  I saw something similar on Facebook (what, don't you get all your news, culture, and information on Facebook?) and modified it for all of us equestrian addicts.  Feel free to share away!

Yours in caffeine,


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Astounding Cute Horsie Video Post...

Okay, I saw this on Facebook yesterday and had to share with everyone, as it's quite possibly one of the cutest videos of a horse every viewed by humankind.  Really, don't you just want to hug the bejeepers out of this creature?

Without further adieu, I give you:

The Wonderful World of Taffy

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On a side note, I am woefully embarrassed at what it says about me that I spend more time on Facebook than CNN. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I Won't Be Wearing: Olympic Style

I don't know about you, but I'm a "People Watcher."  So much so that if it was an Olympic sport, I'd be a gold medallist.  FACT.

The London 2012 Olympic Games have not disappointed in this respect.  First, there are always the jaw dropping team uniforms. 

Yeah, I wouldn't be smiling if I had to wear this. 
You think the Spanish designer who did this had a bit too much sangria when he designed this?

 Ahh yes, pink and blue always makes me think of Germany.

I'm sorry, but only the French can pull off a beret. 'Nuff said.

Then there are the spectators.   There's always somebody who's going to stand out of the crowd, and often not in the way they'd hoped.

Princess Anne.
Is she wearing one of Devo's energy domes? 

Funny thing was I liked this hat, and liked how it looked on Princess Anne. Something about it kept niggling at me, though.  Finally it hit me...

Did Princess Anne borrow one of Devo's energy domes?

And the winner is......

Boyd Martin shared this picture, taken by equine photographer Michael David Rogers of MDR Photo, on Facebook today. 

Kudos for excellent use of color coordination.  Otherwise, the mind reels.  I guess if there's a flag shortage during the medal cermonies they can always run these up the flagpole.