"Riding a horse is not a gentle hobby, to be picked up and laid down like a game of solitaire. It is a grand passion. It seizes a person whole and once it has done so, he/she will have to accept that his life will be radically changed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Burghley Stalking 2012

The most challenging 4* event in the world is taking place right now.  After watching only a few dressage rides today while stuck in the office, maybe I should go to England next year.  I can't even imagine what an adventure it would be.  (Psst - Mom, we should go to England instead of going to Sea Isle City.  Think about it.)

Here's the basic information:

  • August 30 to September 2
  • 85 international entries from 10 nations 
    • Only 5 mares are competing
  • Thursday and Friday - dressage
  • Saturday - cross country
  • Sunday - show jumping
  • Last year's winners, William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk, are in contention again.  
    • This could be WFP's 7th win at Burghley. 
  • American representatives
    • Erin Sylvester
    • Kristi Nunnick
    • Kate Hicks
    • Allison Springer
    • Will Faudree
    • Sinead Halpin

Cross Country

Watch the recaps at Burghley.tv (but not when the boss is around!) 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Return of the... mediocre blog posts.

After a major hiatus from writing, here is my triumphant return.  Many people have been waiting for my next blog installation.  For example, Rob has been texting me every day for a new post detailing every last equine moment of my weekends.  Ha, I totally just lied, especially about the Rob part. 

Since I last wrote, a lot has happened!  I ran two more 5Ks, competed in three novice events, celebrated a birthday, enjoyed the Olympics through hours of TV and internet, and bought a new horse.  

 Sitta and I.
 Dad and I on the river.

My last 5K in June was the Hershey Miracle race.  Amanda and Julie ran with me and the extra support was huge!  I finished in 32:50.  Admittedly,  I haven't run much since then and it's showing! There's a run at Gravel Hill, right by my parents house, in October and I should do it.

My 28th birthday was a quiet event.  The folks at work took me out to dinner, which was much appreciated.  M&D pitched in to help buy me a Point Two air vest! Go Safety!

(Random observation - Sunday night tv is disappointing.)

I love the Olympics.  Not everyone will agree, but I thought NBC and Comcast did a great job with the coverage.  The eventing was amazing to watch.  Michael Jung is outrageous!  While the US didn't have the best trip in the equestrian events, the big sports had some major moments.   My Olympic obsession - Oscar Pistorius.  Oh, and he has race horses.

Archie and I completed three novice recognized events - MCTA, Fair Hill, and Seneca Valley.  Lauren, Amanda, and I made a weekend out of the trip to SV.  Piece of advice, don't run a 5K on Saturday and event on Sunday unless you know you can.  Yeesh, that weekend was a bit much.  

Archie and Aileen have made such an impact on my riding this year.  When at one of my lowest points, Aileen stepped in and offered me what I needed.  I haven't properly thanked Aileen and I don't know how I truly could.  Archie gave me a huge boost in the few months we worked together.  

Our last XC run did not go as I expected.  Archie jumped everything but I felt like he was laboring to make short work of the course.  A week later, we found out that his RF tendon was very sore.  The vet told me that with a lot of time off and rehab, he could come back to the Novice or Training level.  The decision is ultimately Aileen's, but I couldn't justify risking Archie's long term riding so he had a month off and has been doing light work for the month of August.  I hopped on him Friday night and he feels spectacular.  Archie is staying at Walnut Hill in "semi-retirement."  He has a very special role in the barn for us girls as we depend on him to teach us.  He is also a great babysitter for my new horse!

Oh yeah, I got a new horse.  Sherwin Williams has proven to be what I've wanted!  The timing was right.  I called his owner, Jen, shortly after Archie's news to find out if she knew of a horse which might work for me.  Only days before, she had decided to sell Win/Winsome/Sherwin.  Two weeks after the phone call, we had a great schooling day at Carousel and I brought him home!  Win is a 13 y/o Paint who has done several Training level events.  He also is extremely cute, snuggles, and is just adorable.  Can you tell how in love I am?

 Day 1. 
 Being Lauren's back rest in between jumper rounds.

We didn't waste any time getting out and eventing.  After only 7 weeks together, we tackled our first horse trial today.  Dressage was better than at home, I let him roll through stadium too fast and we pulled a rail, and then I took a fence for granted and he ran to the left about two strides before it.  Not exactly a great start, but I learned so much from the event that I wouldn't have learned without going out there.  I am still smiling and so very excited about our future.  (Sssshhhh, Fair Hill on Sept 15.)

Many, many thanks to Valerie (Rough Coat Photography) for these fantastic photos of our first HT.  

 Oh, don't worry, Tyler is doing quite well.  He is the same - fat, happy, and in charge.  Hmm, is that the dictionary definition of spoiled? 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Change is inevitable and change is good.

After the loss of Fred, I made some major changes in my life.  Ok, primarily my equine life but the rest of it too.

My very good friend Aileen made me an offer I couldn't refuse when I returned from Aiken.  Until I find a horse to buy, she is free leasing her appendix gelding Archie to me.  Archie and Aileen had several successful runs at Training last year.  Aileen recently purchased a beautiful mare allowing me to sneak Archie away for a few months.  I'm still horse shopping but very carefully and slowly.  

Archie and I are entered in my first recognized event on May 5, MCTA Shawan Downs.  I'm nervous and excited!

Along with the new ride, I'm at a new barn.  Archie moved in next to LClark and Pony at a wonderful facility in Manheim.  I miss HVS but am anxious to open new chapters. 

Outside of the horse life, Amanda and I completed our very first 5k today!  We had both started working out around the same time.  I nudged Amanda into a bit and she proved to be strong and resilient! I was really nervous if I could make my goal.  I felt like three 12 minute miles was reasonable and so wanted to finish around 36 minutes.  Turns out the race adrenaline helped and I ran it in 34:13!! I didn't walk and felt pretty good when I was done.  

My mom, my sister, and our BFF Jackie were there to cheer us on at the finish.  Ok, that was kind of freakin' cool.

 Me and Amanda pre-race
 Finish line!!
 Never thought I'd have a 5K tshirt that I earned.
 Me and Sitta "tailgating" before 8am with the Nav (work car!)

A very delayed continuation of the Aiken blog.

Wow, it's been too long since I've blogged.  Sadly, this means I'm doing an abbreviated post so I can catch up.

I traveled to Aiken with Lauren Gress again.  Why she puts up with me, who knows! We also went with the mom and daughter pair of Laura and Alexa.  Laura had to leave Moose at home with sore feet but Alexa brought her rockin' mare, Jewel.

The girls were spectacular!  Lauren and Poleon looked great coming out of winter.  They entered Sporting Days and focused on preparing all week.  Alexa and Jewel were introduced to jumping Novice fences and were AH-MAY-ZING.  Jewel was on springs and Alexa did her best to analyze the new challenge and adjust.  It was so cool to watch them.  Since Jess is green and Moose was at home, Laura and I enjoyed watching the girls and learning from their lessons.

Lauren and Poleon had a great go at Sporting Days.  The dressage ring was sloppy but Poleon sucked it up.  They show jumped very well.  The XC course looked awesome! They had a near perfect round.  Poleon has a H20 phobia and stopped at a log before the water complex.  Lauren made him do it on the second try and finished the rest of the course strongly.  There were a few fences, the brush and bench combo, that Lauren couldn't have done more perfectly.  It was so much fun to watch them!  

The pieces fell together so LClark, Gwen, Kelsea, and Antoinette were all at Sally's while we were.  I love those girls!  They are smart, hilarious, and supportive!  We had several meals with them full of good food and laughs.  I don't see any of them enough, even LClark, so I tried to make the most of the week with them.

All of the girls competed at Sporting Days and kicked ass.  We had a great week training, laughing, and entertaining Snuffy.  

 Susan and Trick
 Snuffy putting Martine through bootcamp.
 LClark and the pony.
 LClark and Scotch showing off.
 Gwen and Barney
 Gwen and Barney
 Lauren and the track kitchen
 Antoinette and James
 Antoinette and James getting big air.
 Laura :)
 Jack (minus Kelsea)
 Alexa and Jewel
 Alexa and Jewel
Annemarie and Cigar

The week in Aiken was outstanding and I'm not doing it justice.  It was a sad year, too, with just losing Fred.  There wasn't a better place for me.  A huge thank you to everyone who helped make the trip to Aiken a success. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Aiken 2012 - Part 1

It's a big relief that February is over.  Losing Fred has made my equine life very sad.  I was fortunate that only days after his death, I was able to make the trip to Aiken, South Carolina and spend a week with people who truly understand what I'm feeling.  I'll try over the next few days to recap the week I had in Aiken.  It was good for my riding and my life.

Laurie McDowell, of McDowell Racing Stables, is an extraordinary woman I have never met.  She has trusted the HVS family to care for her mare, Jess.  I happen to be the primary person with Jess right now. Jess is a lovely 14 year old TB mare who raced very successfully and produced four amazing foals.

Poor Jess showed up the night before Fred's death and I didn't spend more than a few minutes with her until the day before we left for Aiken.  The good girl let me flat her in the indoor before our giant adventure began.  We experimented with shipping boots and she took to them in seconds.  By 5:30am on Saturday she was wrapped up, on the trailer, and escaping the snow for a week in Aiken.

Jess is good on the flat but green when it comes to jumping.  She may be green, but oh my is she sane and brave!  Her footwork is still a work in progress but she'll jump what you put in front of her.  We had four jump lessons that were simple, short, and straightforward.  I was majorly impressed with her.  I'm not one to get on a horse I don't know and ride it around much less jump a green one.  Jess was relaxed and then so was I.

 Lesson 1 - starting with trot poles.
  Lesson 1 - ending over the flower cross rail.
Lesson 2 - Jess jumped a little vertical, the white gate, the barrels, and the yellow and blue gate WITH a rail! Now to fix my hands and chicken wings.
 Lesson 3 - Gymnastics! Cross rail, stride, vertical, stride, vertical.  We started out small and simple and built up.  Jess was very smart through the grid. We finished with a one time try at 2'6 on the end and she looks great!
 Lesson 4 - We attempted the green box at the end of lesson once and Jess was great so we called it quits. 

Jess behaved perfectly the entire time we were there.  Oh wait, ok, she wasn't 100% perfect.  Two different nights I didn't pay attention to where I left the hay bales and she helped herself to them!   At least she never escaped like Tyler did.  

I'm looking forward to working with Jess when I get home.  She's been a very pleasant surprise!

Here's my draft plan for the rest of the Aiken blog:
Part 2 - Lauren and Alexa and Laura
Part 3 - Gwen & LClark
Part 4 - Kelsea & Antoinette
Part 5 - Annemarie
Part 6 - horse shopping (that's right, I'm in the market!) and everything else I've missed 


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rest in peace, my dear friend.

Homemade Sin died on February 19, 2012 from an unknown neurologic disease.   

I will write more about it all when I have more energy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

5K? OK!

Odd, right? Crazy, maybe.  Definitely.  Yeah, this is weird.  I want to run a 5K.  

Back in November before Fred's twitch derailed our short term plans, I decided I had to get in shape.  As it turns out, I'm having a bit of a revolution.  Or growth spurt, in lifetime terms.

I like going to the gym in the morning to start the day.  It wasn't easy to make that change.  Now I notice a difference if I don't go to the gym.  I'm probably fitter now than I was in high school.  

Last week I decided I better transition from the treadmill, which I do 2 to 3 miles on 5-6 days a week, to outside.  Eventually I have to run outside if I want to do a 5K race, right?  There's a perfect sidewalk by the hotel that if you go to the end and back it's one mile.  I told myself to go run one mile and prove that I could.  Well, I did and then I ran another one.  ODD!  It gets weirder, the next day I ran 3.3 miles outside.  Proving myself wrong was strangely satisfying.  Now that I know I can do it, I want to find a run to do after we get back from Aiken.  All along I remember my motivation is that I'm doing this so that when Fred can go around a XC course again I will be ready!

Another part of my revolution is learning.  I'm reading a lot about what's good for my health.  Nothing outrageous, just some simple ideas and practices we should all follow and I should have adapted a long time ago.  Little changes and choices everyday DO make a difference.  Nothing is instant and eat your peas/broccoli/green beans. 

The other thing I'm reading about is horse related (surprise!)  Horse people understand horse people.  Non-horse people don't understand us.  How could we spend so much money on the big furry thing? How can we spend so much time with them? Why is it they so important to us?  What I don't understand of horse people is how do we do it all? How do we work, ride, and live?  It's so much to balance!  And I don't think you can ever really balance it all out.  I'm also trying to learn how to be the best at what I'm trying to balance.  I'll never be a great rider, but why not try to be my best?  I want to be a contributor at work.  I want to have a social life which results in great stories.  Apparently I want a lot.  Winning lotto tickets also goes on the want list.  

Here's something I didn't expect out of my revolution.  Exercising gives me the energy to balance.  Odd coincidence? I'd like more energy and I still have to say no to things.  I can now wake up on Thursday morning, go to the gym, work until 4, drive home to PA, and then ride one or two horses without sleeping in the next day.  

I'll keep working out and find a 5K.  There are more books on my Kindle list.  And when Fred is ready to get out there to run and jump, I'll be ready for him. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I couldn't live without my iPhone Calendar.

Busy I have been!  I thought the winter would give me some down time.  Apparently I have been very wrong.

January 29th marked a year of owning Fred.  What a silly horse!  I wouldn't give him up for anything.  He's been on phenobarb since the beginning of January for his twitch.  I've been allowed to put him back into work, too!  Last Friday we saw the twitch for a few minutes at dinner time.  It was gone as soon as it came though and it's the only time we've seen it.  The riding was going very well until he pulled a shoe off this weekend.  His return to full time work will be slower than I'd like and that's all my fault.  Having only 3-4 days a week to ride him limits what we can do.  If Fred can go three months twitch free, we can start the slow process of weaning him off the drugs.

How could you not love this face?

Yes, I did things that weren't completely barn related.  Sorta.  I made a trip to the Farm Show with Amanda for dinner one night.  I hadn't been there in two or three years.  I feasted.  No really, I did.  Beef sandwich, cheese cubes, sweet potato, and of course, a milk shake.  We walked around the place and saw the usual fun attractions.  

Another great weekend was when Jackie visited! We hadn't seen each other in a while.  Sadly, I had to leave her alone for a few hours while it snowed at I was at the barn.  We had a relaxing weekend just handing out and yet again, a feast was included.  The entire family sat down for an awesome seafood dinner.  Jackie is coming back in March for a dinner party!  That reminds me, I need to schedule a dress shopping date.

I didn't think I could convince Jackie to get in the saddle.  St. Patrick toted her around and she had a great time!  She even rocks the eventing helmet.

Saturday mornings have been packed full of riding lessons.  I'm really enjoying teaching and the feedback I get.  Everyone is making progress and I'm really excited for the riders. 

Work keeps me plenty busy.  We had a few Monday to Friday on site weeks.  We're working long hours and making a ton of progress.  

 Replacing our energy source.

There's a lot more everyday stuff to write about, but the most important thing going on right now is preparing for Aiken! We leave on Saturday, February 25 around 4am.  Lauren, Laura, and Alexa and I are making the trek to Sally's for a week.  We're a little over 2 weeks until departure!  The trailer is ready to go and the truck gets checked out this weekend.  The vet stops by Friday to do health certifications and coggins.  

Patrick and I are doing well together.  I feel very comfortable taking him to Aiken.  In fact, let's not lie, I'm thrilled and excited for this opportunity.  Patrick will teach me a lot.  If I can't take Fred, Patrick is working out to be the next best thing.  We had a great lesson with Sarah.  She helped me loosen him up a bit and we had a few snorts as a reward!  We jump around fairly easily together which is a big, big, BIG relief for me.  

I can't finish this post on a happy note unfortunately.  Linus, a wonderful family and barn dog, was lost on January 29.  He was a Bernese Mountain dog who had such a great life and lived to be 10 years old!  His kind soul always made you feel better.  In the almost five years I knew Linus, I never saw a child be afraid of him.  You just knew Linus was a gentle giant.  No matter the weather, Linus always used the Berner ways to sit on your feet and keep you warm.  I always appreciated that Linus never moved when you stepped over him in the tack room.  He will be very much so missed as the big black blob, the watch dog in the back of the truck, and as the happy soul that could make you smile.  His family, both immediate and extended at the farm, miss him terribly.  

We miss you, big dog.  Linus didn't care how you looked.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thank you, Coach.

The Penn State family lost our greatest leader on Sunday.  Joe Paterno was more than Penn State's football coach.  Coach Paterno strived to make an impact.  I count myself as a fortunate recipient of that impact. JoePa, as he was commonly known, dedicated his life to making Penn State a high quality school while coaching a strong football team.  It turns out, much to our honest surprise, that JoePa was human and made mistakes.  When we remember his legacy, let us also remember his mortality.  We are all mortal and so, as JoePa did, take time to contemplate and build your legacy. 

The Paterno family has asked that donations be made to the Special Olympics or THON.

 The classic coke-bottle glasses in memorial.  
Courtesy of Penn State Football on FB.

(This is a serious blog.  I'll do a much more relaxed one next.)

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is announcing she will step down from her position this week.  I know nothing of her political history, but I do know that she has strength few other people will ever experience.  Giffords was shot in the head a year ago at the Arizona Congress on Your Corner event.  She will return to the site and finish that event.  Thirteen people were wounded and six were killed last January.  I applaud Congresswoman Giffords for her fight to not only recover, but thrive in the future.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Holy Smokes, Holidays!

Yawn.  What a crazy last few weeks!  My Mama got on my case New Year's Day about not blogging recently.  She's right, I need to start typing.  I had two weeks at home and as you can probably tell, I avoided the laptop like the plague.  I use this machine every single day and sometimes I need a major separation from it. 

 Mom, Me, and MaMa
The boys.  Same spot about 3 years apart.

We can't talk about the holidays without discussing presents.  Let's be honest, I'm more about the commercial holiday.  Back on Black Friday, I bought myself an awesome chrome toolbox for the back of the diesel.  Then I moved all the equipment from the back seat of the truck to the toolbox and still had lots of room in it.  The only solution seemed to be a chat with Dad.  He told me to wait for Christmas. Holy smokes, be careful what you ask for!

The "starter" kit.

 This is all I really wanted.

I feel extra unstoppable in the Green Giant now!

Another crazy present story is that LClark and I took a trip on the Friday before Christmas Sunday to Park City Mall.  We were expecting to die and honestly, it wasn't so bad!  

In between the holidays we had the HVS party.  It was at the Lawn Fire Hall.  I thought it was a great success.  I had a great time watching the polo wrapping relay, pin the nose on the reindeer, and Pictionary.  And the food, YUM!  So very good.
 The Christmas Hulu Rat.  It's my Mom's...
 The kids took revenge on me for spinning them too much.

I spent almost everyday riding and at the gym so I slept through the New Year's celebration.  It was all part of my plan to start the New Year rested and relaxed.  Ok, so rested anyway.  Yeah, and about this gym thing.  I know some of you are tired of seeing my FB posts about it already.  But I also hope some of you will nag me if I start to slip.  I have big riding plans this year and my fitness must improve.  I'm running about 2.5 miles a day right now.  I didn't think I could do it, but I am and it feels GOOOOOOOOD!  Trust me, I think it's weird too.  Let's just go with it.

Fred is still out of commission.  The test results have come back as normal on all accounts.  Now we move on to a phenobarbital trial.  Phenobarbs are used to treat seizures.  We should know in a month or so if that addresses Fred's twitch.

Cindy has very generously let me ride Patrick over the last few weeks.  (THANK YOU!)  He was amazing to ride almost 5 years ago when I started at HVS and now that I've learned a little since then, I think he and I are having some fun.  

 Jean, Crabby Paddy, Me, and Gadget

Lauren G and I stopped by Watermark Farm during our time off.  Ellie and her mother Anne have an amazing herd of horses.  They gave Lauren and I an amazing opportunity by letting us ride Oz (Wizard WF) and Lauren also rode Liam (Don William WF).  Oz is a 5 year old stallion and moves like nothing I have ever ridden before.  Liam is a 4 year old gelding who is probably around 17.2!  It was cool and such a treat.  Check out Ellie's website and drool over the horses.  Go on, you know you want to.

 Lauren and Liam

After our trip to Watermark Farm, I went to Cindy's first lesson with Kim Walnes.  I'm not gonna lie, my head hurt from an information overload.  Kim taught everyone in attendance many things.  You probably want more details, but I'm not kidding, it was a lot of good stuff and I'm not sure that I can start without covering everything.  I'm glad I was on the ground for the first lesson because I would be overwhelmed in the saddle. There will be more opportunities to audit her lessons and I encourage riders to attend at least once.

Ok, so that wraps up the holidays in an express manner.  I'll have to talk about the new year in the next post, and Fred :( , but that will have to wait until later this week.