Thursday, April 24, 2014


Pretzels?  Yes, please!
Does your horse eat weird stuff?  And by that I mean non-horsey type stuff.  You know, 'people food.'

Sug does.  She's like a goat in that respect.  If you hand her something, 9 out of 10 times she'll eat it.  She sees you eating something and then gets her Treat Face on - the tilted head with the ears forward and hopeful gaze, combined with the throaty rumble that's her way of saying, "Pleeeeaaaaassssse!"

Some of Sug's favorite yummies include:

1) Boston Creme donuts - If you have one of these in your hands, you'd better be prepared to share.  Or get mauled.  End of story.

2) Oreo cookies - See above.

3) Chocolate chip cookies - See above.

4) Ice Cream - Sophie really didn't need all that ice cream anyway.

5) McDonald's French fries -Mmmm, salty!

6) Granola bars

7) Brownies

8) Pretzels

9) Popcorn

Aren't you going to share that popcorn??

She also likes grapes, mangoes, pears, clementines, and the occasional horse show breakfast sandwich, preferable pork roll, egg, and cheese.

She likes hot chocolate. And wine. Did I mention wine?  She prefers red.

Long story short, if you plan on eating anything when you're near Sug, you'd best be prepared to share.

Rest assured I don't feed her huge amounts of any of the above.  She'd like me to, but like the Rolling Stones said, you can't always get what you want.

Just the occasional little morsel.  It's just so hard to resist that Treat Face.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dragons and Pixies and Trolls - Oh My!

Are those trolls over there??
I know my Mom mostly writes stuff here and sometimes Sug has something to say, but I feel I've been under-represented and I've decided to take things into my own hooves and add my two cents to this blog.

I'm really glad winter is over, but we've done well despite the weather.  Sophie (my girl) and Noah (my boy) have been working hard and improving.  We continued to have fun together. Sometimes instead of riding they just played with me in the indoor arena, running around with me and leading me through obstacle courses, which  was fun.  Sometimes when it was too cold to ride they just groomed me or clipped me or did what they call a "Spa Day."

Now that the weather has gotten nicer we get to come out of the ring and play outside.  I like trail rides a lot, but I'm not a huge fan of our outdoor ring.  Others may disagree, but I swear dragons and trolls run rampant in that place!  Mom and I went out there the other day, and yeah, it was a bit brisk and there was a breeze, and it was the first time we'd been outside, so I was feeling pretty happy.

As we walked down the wooded path to the ring, I swear I saw a troll come out from under a pile of leaves, and I bolted forward to get us out of harm's way.  You'd think Mom would have been happy that I saved our bacon, but oddly enough she was less than thrilled.  She put me into a shoulder-in and said "That's not a troll, you goofball, it's a squirrel!"   I feel a simple thank you would have been more in order.

We passed through the rest of Troll Path unscathed and entered the outdoor.  There were some new jumps in there, so I felt the need to go over and investigate, as it's common knowledge that pixies inhabit jump standards and will jump out and bite you at any opportunity.  I snorted loudly at the standards to scare away any pixies that may have been hiding there, and just to be on the safe side I snorted the next several times we passed in order to discourage them from returning.  Mom called me a boobie and made me shoulder-in past it in both directions.

I could not understand why Mom was not impressed by my diligent attention to our safety.  For example, when when approached the mounting block I very clearly saw a dragon hiding behind it, waiting to pounce.  I did everything I could to convince mom it was not safe to advance: I snorted, side passed, planted myself and then reversed field rapidly.  "James, you eejit, that's no dragon.  That's a chihuahua!"  We did a shoulder-in past the mounting block in both directions.

I was starting to notice a pattern.

Mom remained calm and chatted to me the entire time we rode, telling me that we were safe and there were no horse-eating beasties about and if by some chance they appeared she said she'd take care of me.  She told me I was a brave boy when I managed to control my fear and pass whatever demon I saw.  (I don't see how I was brave - the woman didn't give me much choice!)  She babbled on to the point where finally I relaxed and began to believe that either she was supremely confident in her dragon fighting abilities, or she was dumber than a box of rocks and completely oblivious to her surroundings.   I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and  put my mind to the job at hand, but I remained ever vigilant just in case she was wrong.

Chief Safety Officer James relaxing after a tough shift.
Thankfully we finished our session without incident and returned to the barn unscathed and ready to fight another day.  Mom gave me a carrot and a mint for overcoming my anxieties and bravely facing down my demons.  I know she was patronizing me, but I can overlook that because of the treats.  She put me back in my stall with my hay and I heaved a sigh of relief, thankful the ordeals of the day were done.


Friday, April 18, 2014


Love th view.
Last Saturday morning was my last chance to ride before heading out on a five day business trip.  My head told me I should get the most out of our time together by working on our lateral work and my fitness/level of comfort in the saddle.  My heart, however, had other ideas.  "Let's go out and play in the fields," it said. The sky was overcast, it was windy, and the ground was slightly damp due to rain the night before - not the most ideal conditions. Prudence told me that it was a bad idea - we'd only been outside a couple of times due to the harsh winter we'd had, the cool temperature and the wind pretty much guaranteed I'd be sitting on a fresh horse, and we'd be alone.

So of course I decided to ride outside.  I wanted my last ride before leaving to be fun, something Sug and I could both enjoy.  We set off, and as soon as we left the barn Sug's head went up, her ears went forward, and off she set in a very forward and purposeful trot.  I let her go, knowing that trying to curb her enthusiasm would only serve to amp her up more.  Off we went, trotting up a fence line and then down the opposite hedge row. Sug tossed her head and snorted several times, letting me know she was enjoying herself. 

"Wheee!  This is fun!  Check out my extended trot!"

Very impressive, Sug. Can we take it down a notch?

"Nope, I'm channeling my inner dressage horse. Totilas, eat my dust!"

We did trot sets in a neighboring field to build our base of fitness.  At one point we startled a deer, provoking it into leaping from the hedgerow out into our path (showing again why deer are dumb - what prey animal actually jumps into the path of a potential predator????)  Sug executed a high-speed leg yield, then stood glaring and snorting at the offender.  (I guess we got to practice our lateral work after all.) Thankfully I stayed on during this little maneuver, though I will admit to patting my pocket and making sure my cell phone was in my pocket.  

You'd think I'd take that little bit of excitement as a sign to cut our losses and head back to the barn.  Nope, I decided to continue on, just because I'm a) stubborn and pigheaded and b) dumb as a box of rocks.  It even started to mist a little bit, which a more intelligent being would have considered a sign from the gods to go back to the barn.  Nah, I figured that at some point we might need to show in adverse conditions and that this was a great opportunity to practice dealing with this kind of a situation.  Rationalization, much?

So off we headed into the next field, which was larger and better suited for longer trot sets.  Sug was stilling feeling spry, and bounded up the slight grade like she was on a mission, ears perked and head swiveling back and forth.  We were both enjoying the hell out of ourselves, and she kept trying to break into the canter.  I held her to the trot until I was certain the ground was good and there were no holes, and then let her go.

"Finally!  Hang on!" 

I'm always surprised at how quick she is.  She jumped into the canter and about three strides in I felt her back drop out from under me as she accelerated into a higher gear.  Damn, the sound of her hooves as she ate up the ground and the feel of her powerful muscles bunching and uncoiling under me was exhilarating!  I can only imagine what jockeys feel like.  The wind forced tears from my eyes and made my hood flap like a flag in high winds, and I just sat up there, going with her and laughing like a loon.  We repeated our efforts, running up the one long side and finishing on the short side at the top of the field, then walking down the other long side before galloping off again.

We did this a couple times until I decided to call it a day, wanting to end on a good note and before she got tired and we risked a potential injury.  Madame Mare was all kinds of full of herself as we jogged back to the barn. (I wanted to walk, but Sug used the power of the Rider Override to veto my request). 

"Did you see me back there??  Did you see how fast I was going?  I was on fire!!!   Suck my dust, suckers! Can't catch The Sug, baby!"

Madame Mare trash- talked the entire way back to the barn, shaking her head and breaking into the occasional passage as she kept up with her own ESPN highlight reel, completely forgetting she was an 18-year-old warmblood and not a three-year-old Kentucky Derby prospect.  I have to admit, I was feeling pretty darn good about my world as well. 

Sure, we all need those days of serious ring work, but there's definitely something to be said for 'cowboying up' and going out for a good old-fashioned pipe-cleaner.