Thursday, January 31, 2013

Photo: :)
AWIP parents - Do you ever feel like this?
I was cruising through Facebook (yeah, guilty as charged, I'm an addict) this morning and came across this pic on a page my friend Sarah recommended to me.  I don't understand a word that's written on it, but it has some gorgeous photos.

For some reason, the picture caught my eye.  Not just in the "Awww, how cute!' way either.  I stared at it for a while, trying to figure out why it spoke to me.  Yes, I have a horse, but no goats.  I have nothing against goats; I just live in the 'burbs and zoning regulations preclude goat ownership.

Then the penny dropped.  THUNK.  Duh, I'm a Mom!  Here's what I mean: I just returned from a business trip, and basically got off the plane, took one kid (kid -- get it???) to riding lessons and spent the rest of the time since then picking up the tornadic debris left by the small, nimble creatures I share living space with.

Dried cat barf on the stairs?  Cleaned.  Counters crusted with several days worth of meal remnants? Scraped, scrubbed, and sanitized.  Dirty clothes escaping the confines of the hamper? In the wash.  Petrified gobs of what might have been Halloween candy stuck to the youngest's comforter?  Removed. Comforter waiting its turn in the wash. Clods of mud left throughout the house by size 10 sneakers? Vacuumed.  Towels left on bathroom floor?  Folded and re-hung.  Soccer cleats and shin guards?  Back in gear bag.  Dinner for voracious kids with goat-like appetites? In slow cooker.

And now I am ready to start my 9-5 job...

Notice that there is no father figure to be seen in this picture?  That's because he's no dope.  Heck no.  He wasn't waiting around to be told to clean stalls, pick up the paddock or play with the kids.  He got the heck out of Dodge to go to an "early work meeting."   

Pffft.  He better bring me home a donut.

Monday, January 28, 2013

You Can't Take it With You...( Or, What in Gawd's Name is That Stench?)

Do you miss your horses when you go away on business or vacation? What do you do to keep them close to you while you are away? Do you have pictures on your smartphone or tablet? Wear a favorite item of clothing or jewelry to remind you of your equine passion?

This week I left home for a conference my industry was holding in Orlando, FL. I have a gazillion pics of the ponies on my phone and iPad, so I was covered there. I packed my favorite horse print pajamas, and on the way out the door to the airport I grabbed my new barn jacket. I'd only worn it to the barn twice, so I figured it would have a little bit of that yummy horse smell to remind me of home without offending everyone on the plane.

Is that moving from just weird into "get that girl a huggie jacket" territory?

So there I was, standing in the TSA line at Newark airport minding my one business, vaguely registering that there was a very a annoyed woman complaining about every damn thing under the sun. I managed to ignore her until she turned towards me, flared her nostrils, and said. "My Gawd, what is that stench?" I assumed she was referring to me, which I found ironic as she was sporting so much perfume I was forced to mouth breathe and my eyes were watering.

In an attempt to diffuse the situation I started singing the John Lennon song "Imagine." You know, the one where it says " Imagine all the people, living life in peace." It worked. My horse infused jacket and I made it through TSA and on to our destination without further issue.

That night I did my client dinner and reception and then went back to the hotel. I got into my horsey pajamas, only to realize I'd forgotten toothpaste. So, off I trundled down to the lobby market in full horsey PJ regalia. Needless to say, I got more than a few funny looks.

I went back up to my room, snuggled up in bed with my jacket, and took a nice deep breathe of horse and barn while I scrolled through a few pics of my family and horses on my phone.

Weirder than fiction? Or perfectly rational horse woman behavior?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Wanna Go To Sleep Away Camp!

I am a wonderful and considerate wife. 

No, seriously, I am.

My husband finds buying birthday, Christmas, and anniversary gifts for me to be stressful. I'm not sure why this is so.  Give me a gift certificate to a tack store and I'm happy as a pig in poop. End of story.  Nevertheless, he stresses. So, in an attempt to relieve him of his burden, I have found myself the perfect present that will cover his obligations for all of 2013's gift giving occasions.  Maybe some of 2014's as well.

I wanna go to Denny Emerson's Adult Camp!  I saw the video on Facebook today, and I am 100% on-board. Five days with like-minded people, riding and learning from the an Olympic Gold Medallist and International eventer?  Screw the islands. I'm heading to Vermont!

I never got to go to camp as a child, and always wanted to.  Hmmm, now that I think of it, not only will this cover the hubby's gift giving obligations but he'll save a ton of money in therapy bills now that I won't have to to go to heal the wound my poor camp-less inner child has suffered.

Not the kind of camp experience I am looking for.

"But hun, sleep away camp builds social capital!  I'll build a lifelong network of friends and colleagues who may then help me to obtain job interviews or develop a career path." I tell him.

"You're 43.  Your life is half over. So is your career.  If you don't have a network by now, you're in deep trouble," says my other half.

Not the answer I want, but I will regroup and try again. Rome wasn't built in a day.  I'm already mentally going over my list of things to pack for Sug.

Meanwhile, anyone interested in a road trip?  I'll share gas and bring the fixin's for smores!

Friday, January 18, 2013

What Horse Crazy Girls Do When They're Sick...

Sophie and I were both home sick today.  She was recovering from the flu, I was dealing with some scourge-like plague that resulted in a hacking cough, streaming nose, and other highly attractive symptoms. 
Most of our day was spent on the couch alternating between the Andrew Davies' BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (Colin Firth = sigh), the film version of Pride & Prejudice, and FEI World Cup Show Jumping DVDs.

Later in the day we felt a bit better, so we rolled off the couches and onto the floor to start playing Breyer horses.

En route to the horse show
First jumper class of the day
Theodore O'Connor jumps a grid in the warm-up ring
Mon Gamin blazes to victory in the speed class

What?  That's not what you do when you're sick?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Can't Find A $!%#ing Distance!





That was me riding down to each fence the other night during my lesson.  I couldn't find a distance to save my life. Not even if I had a GPS with stride-by-stride feedback.  Time after time I approached a fence, counting out loud like some deranged refugee from Sesame Street, only to take off from practically under the base or somewhere about three counties away.  It was not pretty, and the Sainted Mare was losing patience, as was my trainer.

The problem, according to my trainer, is the fact that I am trying to find a distance.  In doing so, I pull on the Sainted Mare's face and disrupt her flow, and then we get all herky jerky and Up and Down and whatever distance I thought I saw is no longer there and then AAAAACCCKKKK!  CRAP!  BUGGER!  $!%#!!!!  Sugar is either launching herself vertically in her best space shuttle impersonation or hurling herself across space a la Carl Lewis in the long jump with me clinging like a burr to her back.

My trainer implores me to forget about the distance, to get into my canter rhythm, balance her up about 6 strides out and then leave her alone. In other words, I should worry less about the distance and more about the rhythm and then, Voila! The distance will appear.  Easy Peasy.  Like magic.

So I tried it.  Set off, got my canter, balanced her up, and "Let go and Let God," so to speak.  The Sainted Mare promptly grabbed the bit, took off and made a bid at the fence, deciding on a leap that would have put good ol' Carl Lewis to shame.

Words I need to live by.

Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.

So the next day, per my trainer's suggestion, I worked on counting down to a small cross rail from 5,4, and 3 strides out.  I also worked on trotting in to a seven stride cross rail line and then cantering away, trying my best to stay still in my half seat and not to touch her face. 

I learned two things.  1) I suck at counting.  2) I am very good at leaving my horse alone and finding distances to very small fences.

Are there any shows with divisions called "Cross Rails for the Aged and Afraid?"  I think I'd have a shot in something like that.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pop Goes My Head

Bold Minstrel and William Steinkraus
jump a Puissance Wall. photo by Budd
"How do you spell minstrel?"

My daughter asked me this question just as I was about to press the start button on my coffee machine.  Even in my under-caffeinated state, I knew I was capable of rising to the challenge.

"M-I-N-S-T-R-E-L,"  I said.

"Nope," was my daughter's reply.  "It's an A, not an E."

"Yuh-huh. Is too an E," was my uber-mature retort.  "Know how I know?  One, because I am old and have spelled this word a few times over the course of time.  Two, I know this because there was a very famous horse named Bold Minstrel who was very successful internationally in both eventing and show jumping under Bill Haggard, Mike Plumb, and William Steinkraus."

(See, all this horse stuff comes in handy. Especially around the Olympics and the Kentucky Derby. It's a bit like reading historical romance novels. I tell my husband all the time that you can learn all kinds of interesting stuff in historical romance novels. For instance, one day I may be on Jeopardy and I'll be able to say, "I'll take Traditional Scottish Clothing for $200, please, Alex" and then answer "What is a sporran?")

"They must've spelled the horse's name wrong, because on the study sheet it's spelled with an A."  Soph was adamant, standing there with her legs apart, hands on hips, and her battle face on.
The great spelling debate raged on.  Sophie was not about to believe me, despite the fact that I have two degrees from institutes of higher learning certifying I've got at least half a functioning brain. Nor did she plan to give in without a fight.  In fact, we went back and forth about it as we headed to the barn, discussing the ramifications if she believed me (risk of TOTAL HUMILIATION in front of her peers) and my proposed solutions, one of which was sending Sophie to school with a page copied from the dictionary showing the correct spelling.  It wasn't until we were halfway there that I had the brilliant thought to call home and ask my husband to check the spelling on the sheet.  (In my defense, that was when the second cup of coffee kicked in.) 

Turns out the stupid word wasn't even IN the bloody spelling list!

That sound you heard was the sound of my head exploding.

Friday, January 11, 2013

And In Today's Holy Crap! Moment...

What the heck is it with horses lately?  In the last several months I've seen several reports of loose horses eluding their humans and taking off down roads or train tracks.  What do you think? Maybe once they get the taste of the big, wide world, they just don't wanna stay down on the farm?  Looking for bigger and better opportunities elsewhere?

This was a video by jockey Abel Castellano, (not Bullet Catcher's jockey) posted today from Laurel, MD, of a horse running South on Route 1 away from Laurel Park racetrack.  Bullet Catcher, a 4 year- old Strong Hope son based out of the Jerry Robb stable, apparently decided to dump his rider and see if the grass really was greener somewhere else.  He left the track and headed South down Route 1 on a 1.6 mile jaunt that covered parts of  Anne Arundel, Howard, and Prince George's counties.

Bullet Catcher was caught and returned to his barn with only a few minor scrapes and abrasions, although his trainer cautions they won't know the full extent of any injuries for a few days.  The colt has
a 1-1-1 record in six starts, with earnings totally just under $30,000. He hasn't recorded a win since May of 2011. 

Perhaps this was his way of telling his people he needed a chance of venue?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

And Today's Grab Your Kleenex Moment Is...

You may have seen this video floating around on the web somewhere.  If you haven't, take a moment to watch it all the way through.  The key piece of information that transforms this from a cool "girl trains horse" video into a "Holy Crap, I need some Kleenex!" video is about halfway through.

Kinda brings the point home about the importance of time and trust, not just in our equine partnerships, but in all our relationships.  You could also argue that it makes a good point about what exactly makes our equine partners "useful." 

Maybe that's the wrong word.  What I'm getting at is this: Sometimes if a horse doesn't tick all the boxes perfectly, he's deemed as unsuitable.  Granted, Stormy's case is an extreme situation, and it's not every horse person that could and should train a horse with a serious issue.  However, maybe we have a horse that can no longer do what we got it to do.  Perhaps, before we say our friend is no longer suitable, maybe we just need to realign our priorities and goals, and take a look at what may still be possible.

Anyway, I thought this was a pretty darn inspirational and thought-provoking video.  I hope you think so as well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lessons from the Master: The GM Training Sessions

Hi folks.  I hope this finds you well and enjoying your time with your two legged and four legged friends.  This past weekend was lovely for me in that respect, as Noah and I had a lovely trail ride together on Saturday and then a nice hack on Sunday, as well as some quality time with the ponies, watching them play out in the snow in their paddock.

The weekend was also a bonus as I had some extra time to watch the George H. Morris Horsemanship Training Sessions.  What can I say, other than I'm an addict.  Honestly, I know the man has reputation for brusqueness, but I can't find it in me to get upset about it.  He's a stickler for safety and attention to detail, and quite frankly,  it seems (to me at least) that he only blasts people who are not giving 100% effort.  I mean, I watched the sessions 2 years ago when he let loose with a few rather pointed non-PC zingers, and quite frankly, I was feeling the same frustration with the same people.  That being said, I think I'd be way too lily livered to ever ride with the man! LOL

I did some write-ups on a couple of the sessions for Horse Junkies United.  I'm sorry to make you do the extra work, but if you are interested in reading them, here you go:

Breakfast With George Morris!

Breakfast With George: Day Two " This Country is the King of Sloppy!"

One of my blogging buddies, Supreme Eq Princess and fellow Sister of the Riding Socks, Sarah Baldridge Omaits posted this review of the Day Four No-Stirrup torture session:

Stirrupless in Florida for the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session – Day 4

I hope you enjoy!  I'll let you know if/when I get a chance to post a review of Day Five.

As always, thanks for reading!


Friday, January 4, 2013

OD'ing on George

Okay, perhaps I am indulging my inner drama llama by saying I'm overdosing on George Morris this week, but really, what else can you call it?  I am watching the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Sessions before work every morning, during my lunch break, and as soon as all the dishes are put away/barn things are done at night.  My kids are walking around the house parroting what they hear from my computer in their best GM impersonation, "Sitting DROT!  Thaaaaaaaaat's iiiiiiiiittttt!"

My notepad and pen are next to me at all times and I am feverishly scratching out notes, planning my next torture session, uh, ride, with Sugar. 

Is anybody else doing this, or am I the only addict?  Is there a 12 step program for this?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I'm Bringing in 2013 the Right Way... doing my bit to stimulate the economy and (ahem) trying not to blow off work and spend the day watching the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session on the USEF Network.

Yep, somebody had a bunch of gift certificates from Santa burning a hole in her breeches pockets, so a decent portion of the afternoon was spent at a tack store in the company of my buddy Marissa.  Mind you, you couldn't pay me to spend time at a mall, but I'll spend HOURS in a tack store.

I've spent a decent amount of time (hours!) since Christmas envisioning what to spend my money on, and Marissa and I engaged in some deadly serious, high level pow-wows going over what made sense and what didn't.  Seriously, you'd think we were planning to invade a country with the amount of intensity we were putting into these discussions.

I'd hoped to get a pair of winter tall boots but none really worked (narrow feet) so I opted to get new half chaps- at least I can wear heavy socks with my paddock boots. Marissa tried on a pair of jean breeches that looked great on her - not so much on me.  Tried a size bigger than I normally wear and let's just say that there was some pretty unsightly tummy bulge AND when I sat down I swear the waistband dug in so far it shoved my ovaries up to my eyeballs.  Time for some extra serious treadmill time, and for some duct tape over my mouth!

Tomorrow I head back to work.  Bless my company, they put up with me and they have the decency to shut their offices over the holidays. Only problem (aside from the fact that I don't fit in any of my clothes, darn it!) is that my first day back to work coincides with the first day of the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session. Damn. Double damn. This is one of those rock and a hard place things. You know, a moral dilemma. Must work. Wanna watch George. Gotta work. Really wanna watch George. I know I can watch the replay at night, but it's just not the same. 

Any bets as to how this is gonna play out?