Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Obsessed Horse Owner


Definition of an obsessed horse owner:

I was next in line at the packed grocery store yesterday, when I looked at my list and realized I forgot carrots. Much to the delight of the lady behind me, I got out of line. The horses were happy though :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Remi






My sister Heidi took these pictures of Remi a couple weeks ago, thanks Heidi!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jealous Mare Syndrome


Do you have a mare that suffers from Jealous Mare Syndrome (JMS)? I have two. I don't think this is a recognized syndrome, but I could give researchers somewhere some concrete evidence that it exists.

Yesterday, I worked Secret first. Remi was seriously agitated and kept shaking the fence, while John stood there and watched. After I finished working Secret, I put her back in the field and got Remi out. When Remi was tacked up and ready to walk out the barn door with me, Secret realized what we were up to and came galloping up the field bucking. Didn't you just have a turn??

Today, I decided to work Remi first. I like to give everyone a chance to be first. Secret threw a fit. She galloped up and down the fence line while I worked Remi. I ignored her and she settled in and watched after a few minutes. John ran with her a couple of times, and then went off to watch the drama unfold.

When I put Remi back in the pasture after working her, Secret came running up to the gate. "My turn!!"

I saddled her up, and out we went. Remi was seriously displeased. When rattling the gate failed to get my attention, she threw herself to the ground and rolled. She made a thud when she hit the dirt - I've never heard a horse roll noisily before, but Remi managed to accomplish it.

Peace was restored a while later when I returned Secret to the field. I think they aren't jealous of the work, but the attention (and treats!) the horse that is being worked might be getting.

JMS actually started last year with these two mares. When my friend Megan would come to pick up John and I for a trail ride, the girls would race around the pasture whinnying. I could throw hay to them and they would ignore it. They knew something was going on and they weren't included. When I trail ride around the farm, I am out of sight within a couple minutes, so I don't know what goes on.

John, for the most part, doesn't seem to get jealous. I'm not sure if that is the gelding in him, or if its because he has been around me long enough to know everything will be fair in the end.

Both mares have been on a "mare product" in the past - one of the raspberry leaf products. They aren't on them now, I am hoping that mileage and consistency outlast JMS. Whatever the reason for JMS - the drama is slightly entertaining.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smile...


Sometimes you need to stop, take a deep breath, and smile. This picture should do the trick, as "Farrah" and all of her friends have a tendency to make me smile.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New Issue Is Online!


The December/January issue of Massachusetts Horse magazine is online. I wrote a breed feature about Arabians and did a business profile of Equinature, plus there are a ton of other great articles.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"How Good Riders Get Good"

Denny Emerson's book How Good Riders Get Good is a must-read for any equestrian. People who are new to horses, and those that have been riding for years will gain valuable insight from Denny.

Personally, I enjoyed his straightforward writing style, and his obvious knowledge and wisdom about horses, horsemanship and so many of the disciplines we all participate in. Reading How Good Riders Get Good was more like having a conversation (although one-sided!) with Denny.

My favorite parts of the book were where he used personal riding experiences to highlight a particular point. For those of you unfamiliar with Denny, he grew up in New England, won a gold medal with the United States Eventing team, won a Tevis buckle in the 100-mile Western States Endurance Race, with all sorts of other equestrian accomplishments in between.

In addition to Denny, there are also interviews with other good riders - explaining their journey to the top (because as Denny points out - we are all individuals and will need to make choices that are right for us). Some of the riders included in this group are: Courtney King-Dye, Jane Savoie, Clinton Anderson and Peter Wylde.

So equestrians, as winter settles in, and you re-assess your goals for the 2012 season, go pick up a copy of this book and read it. I guarantee that it will help you make smarter choices with your horses in 2012 - just as I can guarantee that I will be going back to reference it for years to come.

For more information on Denny Emerson, visit him at Tamarack Hill Farm or find out more about the book at his publisher, Trafalgar Square Books.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

CT Morgan's Turkey Trot






Last week, I helped Connecticut Morgan Horse Association (CMHA) with their Annual Turkey Trot at Bluff Point in Groton, Connecticut. You could not have asked for better weather - it was sunny and warm, and I think everyone had a great time. I know I did! The money we raised through registration fees at the Turkey Trot funds CMHA's Sue Brander Sport Horse Scholarship. To find out more about CMHA, visit their website!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The English Countryside



I've always wanted to visit England. When I was traveling with the National FFA Organization, we went to Scotland, Ireland and France, but missed England. Its on my to-do list. I've also always wanted to go on a horseback riding vacation, thats on my to-do list too.

Today, Secret and I made our own little "English Riding Adventure." We were riding through one of the fields, and came across some of my grandfather's sheep, who were also enjoying the unusually warm and sunny November morning. It took them a little while to notice us, I was trying to sneak closer to get a better picture, but then we scared them.

The surprising part of meeting the sheep, was that Secret was not afraid of them. She checked the other pasture, to be sure the cows were not out, and then gamely walked toward the sheep. The sheep were not so convinced, and took off. We let them go.

For a couple seconds there, I pretended we were riding through the English Countryside instead of at home!

Its been an awesome weekend for riding here in Connecticut. I think mother nature is taking pity on us after dumping all of that rain. Although the fields and trails are really muddy, its sunny and beautiful. I went for a long ride on John yesterday, and a long ride on Secret today. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thankgiving!


I hope that everyone has a very happy and safe Thanksgiving with their friends and family.

I think this time of year spurs everyone to reflect on the past year, and what we are thankful for.

Today I am thankful for:

- My wonderful horses, they are athletic and talented, but also have great personalities! I am very lucky to have three horses to ride.

- My family and awesome friends. Without the support of everyone, I would not be able to achieve many of my dreams.

- I am thankful that my parents have a barn where I can keep my horses (otherwise I couldn't have them) and that they take care of my horses when I am off on adventures.

- It goes without saying that I am glad to be healthy! Knock on wood, I will keep cancer as a distant memory!

- 2011 has been a year of adventure for me. I rode my horse in Acadia National Park, went whitewater kayaking in Montana again with First Descents, and ran the two-hundred mile Colorado Relay on the First Descents All-Camper team. Plus I rode my horse in lots of other fun places, thanks to my friends.

Be thankful and enjoy your day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jersey Devil Part 4






On Friday night, only two people had slept in the bunkhouse at the gun club. Saturday night, the bunkhouse, with around 30 beds, was filled. I was one of the people who moved inside!

Sunday morning dawned with a clear sky; you could see all of the stars. I went out to feed the horses at six and they were both happy and dry in the trailer.

Later in the morning, we headed over to the vets to trot-in for the 25-mile ride. Both horses were cleared to go. As we tacked up, John had the strangest expression on his face. He was pretty sure we should be headed home. We never rode two days in a row at a competition.

We rode out of camp around 9 am, and knowing we were doing the same 25 miles we had ridden on Saturday, made it pretty low stress for Meg and I. The fact that the sun was out and it was not raining did wonders for our spirits.

The trails still had decent footing. Of course, there were tons of puddles, but we could trot along with few issues. I could tell John was tired, not so tired that he couldn’t complete the mileage, but tired enough that he recognized he had worked hard the day before. Ideally, he would not have had to stand around shivering before a two-day ride either, and I felt bad for that!

Because he was tired, we spent more time following Minnie than we had the first day. Both days, we spent some time with each horse leading, following and riding side by side. It was a great educational experience for both!

The sunshine and the previous day’s weather really made Sunday’s ride more beautiful and more meaningful. The lake we stopped to water at four times on Saturday was pretty in the rain; on Sunday it was stunning in the sunshine.

The most eventful part of the day happened when we were traveling down a paved road (see the picture above). A part of trail had washed out and the detour took us down this road. We were walking along at a relaxed pace since we had plenty of time, when Meg looked behind her and said, “Loose horse!” We both dismounted. It was Berit’s horse – the wonderful volunteer who had given us soup and coffee at the hold on Saturday. John had already met this horse at the hold earlier Sunday and did not like him at all. I had been holding John and Minnie while Meg went inside to get us food, when Berit’s horse came wandering over with another voluteer (he never stops moving I guess) and came a bit close to us. Luckily John responds to voice commands and didn’t do anything, but I could tell he was mad!

Back to the loose horse. We were both standing on the ground, facing the trotting horse. Meg outstretched her hand, said whoa, and the horse zigged and trotted past her. I knew he wasn’t going to stop for me. I carefully looked at his tack as he trotted closer to us – and made a calculated move. I grabbed his rein as he trotted past and dug in my heels, spinning him towards us and stopping him simultaneously.

John looked at me with disgust. If he could speak, I think he would have said, “What are you doing!! I don’t like him.”

I handed the loose horse to Megan, and took Minnie instead. The five of us started walking back in the direction we had come, hoping Berit was okay. One of the volunteers caught up in his truck, and he took Berit’s horse and walked him back to her. We mounted up and kept going.

We lost some time, so a bunch of horses caught up to us. This agitated John, but he dealt with it. Then Berit caught up to us and decided to ride with us, trying to slow her horse a bit since she was way ahead of time. This really agitated John. We worked through it, it was a long 7 miles, but I was proud of John for holding it together.

At the end of the day, we vetted out and started driving home. One of the other New England riders picked up our awards. John scored a 94.5 out of 100 for day two – but no lameness points! He lost a point on an interference, 3 points for his trot-out (he was tired!) and some points for not pulsing down (I didn’t try that hard, not wanting to get him cold).

I’m really proud of him, grateful to Meg for agreeing to this crazy trip, and looking forward to the 2012 ride season!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jersey Devil Part 3


The picture was taken on Sunday - you can see how nice the trails were. Now imagine those with the weather report below!

Because of the winter storm and our southern location, the weather we were seeing was interesting to say the least. It was a mixture of cold rain, freezing rain and hail. At one point I looked down at John’s mane and there were ice balls covering the top. I glanced over at Minnie and her mane was also covered in ice.

We kept riding.

After 15 miles out on the trail, we arrived back at the gun club for the 20-minute hold. We pulsed down and did our trot outs immediately after arriving back at camp. I was worried that when we started standing still, John would get cold again and have problems. Both of the horses got through the vet check fine, we threw their other blankets on over the tops of their rump rugs and tack, and they stood there eating hay. Meg and I stood there for twenty minutes shivering.

One of the volunteers, a veteran rider, brought us chicken soup and coffee from the gun club (a warm, heated building). She told us not to go inside – that if we did, we would not come back out and we wouldn’t finish the ride. The chicken soup was wonderful and we truly appreciated her kindness.

When we mounted back up, to do the last 10 miles, we had several problems. The first was that at this point I was so cold I was barely functioning. My hands were frozen and I just wanted to sit down and cry. I was trying to put up a good front because this was my idea, and I had talked Meg into driving down here, but I was headed to the land of cranky people really fast!

Then, I couldn’t get my P&R card out of my pocket. John didn’t help by refusing to stand still. Finally I got one of the volunteers to take the soaked card out of my pocket so that I could leave camp. But neither horse wanted to ride back out of camp (can you really blame them?) After a little encouragement, I got John to lead us out of camp.

My hands were still frozen and I just wanted to quit. Who cares about the mileage, or the 7-hour drive down or any of the rest of it? But then Meg would be alone on the trail, and that wasn’t fair either. I looked down at John, he seemed pretty happy; I was the only miserable one.

I was complaining to Meg about how cold I was, and she gave me her gloves. I had attempted putting mine on before we left camp, but they were soaked through and my hands were also so wet and cold, John hadn’t wanted to stand quietly, I had given up on getting them on.

Somehow I was able to get Meg’s gloves on as we walked along. I immediately started to feel better, both physically and mentally. I could ride ten more miles, it wouldn’t be so bad. If we had survived the first fifteen, it seemed silly not to tough it out and finish.

The last ten miles weren’t so bad. The rain/hail eased a bit, and the horses trotted along happily. The trails were still great, just had lots of puddles. Ever since the monster puddle that John got injured in at Tessier last year, I have been slightly neurotic about puddles. If we couldn’t go around the edge of one, I slowed to a walk. This had to be slightly annoying for Meg and Minnie, but we all managed.

We got back to camp and blanketed the horses up. No need to sponge them off today! After we finished vetting out, we loaded them both onto the trailer in dry blankets. Luckily Meg was more prepared than I was and had an extra dry and waterproof blanket John could wear. Since she has a stock trailer, we knew they both would get a bit wet, but we also had the advantage of giving them each a box stall. We took their halters off, gave them hay and water, and went inside.

At this point I loved the gun club. I had a hot shower, more coffee and soup and felt like a new person. When it came time for awards, both horses scored a 98 out of 100! They definitely did not feel the rain the way we did. I don’t know how they broke the tie, but John was Reserve Champion with Minnie placing right behind him.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jersey Devil Part 2


For those of you in New England or the Northeast, I think it is important for met to note that the dates of the Jersey Devil were October 29th and 30th. The weekend of the snowstorm. The picture of Meg's truck was taken after we had finished riding Saturday.

The rain started on Friday night/Saturday morning between 2 and 4 AM. When I got out of bed at 6 Saturday morning, the horses were both wet, but seemed okay. I fed them and watered them and they seemed perky. I checked John’s blanket and it had soaked through, but his hair was dry. I decided to take it off, figuring he would be okay.

I came back awhile later and he was shivering! I felt awful. I quickly layered him up in the anti-sweat sheet (to let the wet hair breathe) and then a waterproof winter blanket on top of that. I wondered whether I should pull him from the ride – he was really shivering and we needed to ride out in awhile. I threw more hay at him, trying to get him warm and kept a really close eye on him. My level of guilt was pretty high. Why did I sign us up for this again?

I left all of his blankets on while I tacked up, just rummaging underneath them trying to get all of his tack on. I was so cold that I couldn’t even do the girth – now my hands were shaking as I had also soaked through. One of the riders in the 50 stopped to girth him up for me. John was still cold (as was I), but Meg said he would warm up when we started moving, so I hoped for the best and headed to the start line with her.

It had taken me so long to saddle up and get John to a level that I was okay with, that we actually left ride camp 5 minutes after our official start time. However, no one caught us and we didn’t catch any other riders (and there were around 25 of us riding that day), so apparently everyone was having trouble getting out of camp in the cold, pouring rain.

The trails were great – sand and dirt based and even in the rain the footing was decent. We made good time and since it was cold and wet, didn’t really want to linger too long anyway. The other huge accomplishment for us was that Megan and I had not ridden together in a year and a half. The last time we had tried riding together, John and Minnie had been so competitive with one another; that both Meg and I worried for our safety. I had ridden alone a lot, and with others when possible. Meg had ridden with her sons. Both horses have matured a lot and come a long way in their training and we were pleased that they happily went down the trail together. The weird thing is, that even when we couldn’t ride together, these two loved being stabled next to one another at rides – and Minnie is the Thompson horse that gets along with John best. It was only out on the trail that we had problems.

In the saddle, things were not so happy. I was soaked through and cold. While John trotted down the trail with his ears up, I was doing my best to keep a positive outlook. He did have a waterproof rump rug on, so the majority of his body was dry.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jersey Devil Part 1





The first picture is of a truck we followed for awhile before getting to ride camp in Pemberton, New Jersey. No, the road was not tilted, this truck was just slightly broken and slightly overloaded. He didn't move very fast. The final two pictures are of the cranberry bogs we passed on the way into ride camp.

After the Maine 25 ride, I was feeling bummed that our competitive trail ride season was over. It felt too short. I missed the Fryeburg ride in July when they cancelled it due to minimal entries. I skipped the Stamford Stampede in August to visit family, assuming I would be riding at Fryeburg two weeks earlier. I intentionally skipped VERDA, thinking that I would be riding at Tessier the next weekend. Then John jumped a stonewall, making himself lame and we missed Tessier.

With all of this rummaging through my brain, I pulled out the ride calendar to stew over it one more time. The only rides left on the calendar were in New Jersey – the Jersey Devil Competitive Trail Rides and the Mustang Memorial Endurance rides. I started scheming for ways to get John to New Jersey – I really didn’t want to go alone – especially since driving through New York City was on the route.

I happened to mention my scheme to my friend Megan in an email. She had already mentioned that she was also bummed ride season was over, but I knew that her sons (who also ride with us) had a fencing tournament and a piano recital the weekend of the Jersey Devil. Megan asked her parents to take the boys to their events (her husband had to work), the boys supported our decision to go to one more ride; we packed up and headed out.

Both of us entered the 25-mile rides on Saturday and Sunday. My thought was that it would be a great way to introduce John to a two-day ride, without the pressure of losing the first day’s mileage if he wasn’t capable of completing a 50-mile ride.

The drive down was going great until we got to the Tappan Zee Bridge, or more correctly, about three miles away from the bridge. Then we sat, for a long time. Luckily, being the end of October, it wasn’t hot for the horses in the trailer; we were just pretty bored. Finally we reached a sign that said there was an accident on the bridge, but when we finally got to the bridge, traffic was flowing fine and there were no signs of an accident. Welcome to New York City.

Then we hit rush hour in Newark. I tried to keep an upbeat attitude; after all, this was my idea! But the driving had to be pretty awful for Meg.

We finally made it to our destination. The “5 hour trip” took seven, but we both got pretty excited as we drove on dirt roads through the cranberry bogs to the gun club, sight of the Jersey Devil Competitive Trail Rides.

We unloaded horses, set up panels (you could rent panels and create a pen that way) and headed over to vet in. All in all, we were pretty happy, except that the forecast was calling for rain and that made us a bit nervous!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quarter Sheets

As winter weather approaches (maybe not this week, but it is coming) I wanted to take a moment and share my thoughts on quarter sheets.

For those of you not familiar with them, quarter sheets are a partial blanket that cover the horses hindquarters while you are riding them in the colder months. They are great for keeping the muscles warm and allowing the horse to perform to the best of their ability.

In some advertisements, you see riders with the quarter sheet covering the rider's legs as well. I heard a personal account from a rider, that has led me to advise against this situation.

This particular rider was riding with the quarter sheet over her legs - there is velcro to attach it. Her usually reliable horse spooked, and she knew she was going to fall off. However, since the quarter sheet was around her legs/waist, she had a few precarious seconds before the velcro let go, when she was not sure how the fall was going to go.

My advice to any of you who ride with quarter sheets - save it for the horse and wear winter breeches or long underwear under your summer breeches. Several years ago, I also tried riding with the quarter sheet over my legs. As soon as I picked up a posting trot I found that it constricted my movement and stopped to put it back under the saddle. After hearing my friend's story, I will definitely be layering up and saving the quarter sheet for my horse.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2nd Annual Turkey Trot



Connecticut Morgan Horse Association is hosting their 2nd Annual Turkey Trot next Sunday, November 20th at Bluff Point State Park in Groton.

This is a fun trail ride, bundle up and come join us!

The trail at Bluff Point is between four and five miles, with some ocean views. Coffee and lunch are provided and there are some fun prize donations again this year. Prizes include:

- Morgan hitch covers and stickers from American Morgan Horse Association
- A necklace, stall name card, stationary etc from Dana's Doodles
- A Breyer set from the Traveling Tack Room
- An English saddle bag from Indian Hollow Stables.

Cost is $25 for adults and $15 for youth, the Turkey Trot benefits the Sue Brander Sport Horse Scholarship Fund.

All breeds welcome!

For the registration form or more information, please visit:
www.ctmorgans.org

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Product Review: Marigold Spray

Last year, I got a bottle of EQyss Marigold Spray and really can't say enough good things about this product. For any of you horse owners out there looking for some extra help with your horse's coat, this may be the solution.

If you read EQyss' website, it says the spray is great for repelling dirt, adding shine, etc.

I'm sure that it does all of these things, but I have specifically used it in problem areas. Remi had some crud (a bug bite that turned into a bigger problem when I didn't notice it) in the crest of her mane. It bothered her terribly and she itched at it - rubbing out a piece of her mane. Fortunately, she has so much hair, that you can't really tell.

After cleaning up the spot, I sprayed it daily with the Marigold spray and it helped relieve the itching. I like to believe that its making the hair grow back faster too - but I think her hair grows fast in general.

I've also used the spray on some dandruff spots on John's hindquarters, and the top of Secret's tail. All three horses seem to get relief from the spray, and the trouble areas seem better for using the spray.

I rarely find products that I feel the need to "rave" about, but this one certainly qualifies!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun In The Forest Trail Ride





The 3rd Annual Fun In The Forest Trail Ride to benefit First Descents (www.firstdescents.org) was held on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at the Silvermine Campground in Natchaug State Forest in Eastford.

Thirty-four riders from across Connecticut gathered to ride trails in Natchaug and Goodwin State Forests. This year’s trail included dirt roads, woods trail, and airline trail. Riders had the opportunity to stop at a boat launch in Goodwin State Forest and water their horses before continuing on the trail. Riding on the airline trail was popular with many riders.

The Fun In The Forest Trail Ride also has great prizes. Our 2011 sponsors were: Dover Saddlery, Absorbine, Horse Zens, Every Equine, BiSaddular, Knight Equestrian Books, Tamarack Hill Farm/Denny Emerson, Barnmice, Herbsmith, Alltech, Nicole Cloutier, Live For The Ride, Chaplin Farms, and Hosmer Mountain Bottling Company. Thank you again for your support.

The trail ride is a benefit for First Descents (www.firstdescents.org). First Descents provides whitewater kayaking and other outdoor adventure experiences to promote emotional, psychological and physical healing for young adults with cancer. All donations to First Descents are tax deductible, and the money raised at the trail ride will be used by First Descents to send a young adult cancer survivor to camp. This ride raised over $500 and the combined total of the benefit trail rides is $3,900.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Maine 25 Continued

Finally our start time came. We walked out of camp. John wasn't nearly as cantankerous about leaving camp as he had been at Pine Tree, and I took this to be a good sign.

We were riding alone, and I knew the other riders were two minutes ahead and more would be coming two minutes behind, I just hoped that I could stay alone long enough to get John calm and focused. I kept him at a walk.

Unfortunately, the group of six riders was not walking, and soon caught up to us. We heard them long before we saw them. And composure John had been gaining, quickly went out the window. I rode off trail, continuing straight instead of turning right, so that they could pass me. They yelled to me as they went the correct way to make sure I knew to turn around. We fell in behind them (a good distance back though!) and John calmed down a bit.

Soon, the Lasher's caught up to us. I let them pass, and stayed behind them for awhile, but couldn't get my pace right. I was always having to stop and walk. I decided to try and match their pace, and see if John could just stay behind them. This was very challenging for him, he really wanted to pass them, but he was managing to listen and stay behind.

This tactic was working well for awhile, until Joanna's horse tripped and fell on a rock and she fell off. We stayed with them while she got her breath back (wind was knocked out of her) and then continued on alone. Two other horses had passed us while I waited with the Lashers', and I did let John pass them.

This worked well, for about five minutes. We had been traveling down a dirt road, and were now required to cross a mesh wire bridge. You read that correctly.

The bridge was steel, or some sort of metal and was mesh - the holes were 1/2 or so, but you could see the water in the river below. John said, "No way!" And really, who could blame him.

I knew the two horses we had passed had been on the circuit a lot longer so we waited for them to catch up and then followed them over the bridge. I thanked them and passed them again.

At this point someone else on a Morgan caught up to us and her horse was another horse that "has to lead." This is when things got a bit out of hand. We were playing leap frog for awhile, with neither horse wanting to back down. It was obnoxious. I got frustrated and tried to pass her for once and all, and get a good distance between us. A few minutes later I could hear her horse, pounding up the road behind us.

At this point I decided that John was going to have to figure out that he couldn't pass every single horse and always be in the lead, or we were going to become that other horse and rider. I gritted my teeth, let her pass and then held John back. He was very angry. I found a couple more seasoned horses and tucked him in behind them and made him follow them. After a few minutes, he forgot the horse that had passed him and settled back into work, following the horses in front of us.

The hold was in the middle of a field and was kind of crazy. There wasn't enough water and horses and people were everywhere. I got John pulsed down within minutes of arriving and then went and trotted out for the vet. With all of our requirements met, we tried to stay on the outskirts, out of the fray, until our 20 minutes were up.

Soon after we left the hold, I met up with a Haflinger and mule and their riders. They had been in the group of six that passed me early in the ride. I tucked John in behind them and kept him there for the remainder of the ride. This was a great experience for him - he didn't mind following the Haflinger or the mule, and other horses passed us, but he settled back in to following his friends a lot quicker. He didn't get to lead at all, which was also a great learning experience for him.

We rode back into camp and headed to vet out. John didn't pulse down - he was at 46 instead of 44. This was the first time he hadn't pulsed down all season, so I was a bit disappointed about that. Otherwise, he vetted fairly clean.

After lunch they handed out awards. I think there were 15 horses in the 25 mile ride. John ended up second. I was very proud of him, and more proud of everything he and I learned at this ride.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Maine 25




Its been almost a month since the Maine 25 mile competitive trail ride, so its about time I blogged about it! We drove up to the North Waterford Fairgrounds (home of the World's Fair) on Saturday, October 8th. The Pine Tree Endurance Ride in June was also held at this fairgrounds, so we were very comfortable with the trip up and our destination.

Most riders had already arrived when we got there - they were also offering a 50 mile ride, so a lot of riders rode on Saturday too. We settled the horses into their stalls and then went to vet in (after a quick grooming - see the photo above).

Sticking to my tendency to worry and overanalyze, I was nervous about the vet in. This was John's first event since he leaped the stone wall and injured his leg, and I never had the vet out to look at the leg, I just took care of it myself. I worried about pushing him and re-injuring the leg.

I was also slightly nervous about being back at the North Waterford Fairgrounds. Our last ride at this location was a bit of a disaster. I didn't want him to come up lame at the hold again.

The vet in went fine, we visited with friends and tucked the horses in for the night. I decided to sleep in the barn, since the stalls at the fairgrounds are in the cattle barn, and John has a history of escaping.

John and Minnie (Megan's horse) turned into Benny and Benita beaver all night. They chewed the wood in the stalls nonstop. At 1 AM, I got up and gave them each another flake of hay, trying to get them to stop chewing. At 1:30 AM, they finished their hay and went back to chewing. I didn't get much sleep, and was very glad to see the large pot of coffee at breakfast.

Once again, I got John out too early before our start time. I only went out six minutes before I could start, but they were a very long six minutes. A lot of other riders were walking their horses around, warming them up. John just wanted to leap and dive through the air, I felt like I was sitting on a coiled spring. My only goal was to keep him as quiet as possible. I stayed near the start line and kept him moving in small circles. At one point I had him standing still when a group of six riders rode up. John bucked in place. One of the riders in the group just raised her eyebrows.

"Yup, its going to be an interesting ride..."

Continued tomorrow...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Directions to Fun In The Forest

The best directions to the Silvermine Campground are:
- Route 198 (via Route 6)
- Sharp right on Morey Road (after traveling about 4.5 miles on Route 198)
- 3rd left after the bridge is the road to the horse camp (the second dirt road) I will be putting up signs too!

Registration is at 9, Riders on the trail at 10. See you in the morning!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More Trail Notes



Its been great trail riding weather lately (in between rainy days!) and we have made the most of that.

John and I had a great ride at the Maine 25 mile Competitive Trail Ride in North Waterford, Maine on October 9th. I'll blog about that later.

My cousin and I took our horses to Mansfield Hollow on Sunday, and it was a perfect riding day. Look for pictures soon.

In the meantime, check out these two photos I snapped with my cell phone on the short woods trail at home. All of the yellow leaves are the Sassafrass trees. None of their leaves are any other color. Also note John's happy ears in one picture, and in the next picture he has radar ears. Thats because he noticed a 6 ounce bird in a bush - he did not run away, but I did not attempt to take any more pictures either!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trail Woes Part 2

As I arrived at my parents’ house, I saw a man standing at the side door of the house, talking to my panicked looking brother. The NAPA Auto Parts guy found John standing on the yellow line at the bend in the road (YIKES!!!), contentedly chewing on a mouthful of grass and thought he should bring him home. John was 50 feet from the driveway, whey he just didn’t go home himself baffles me, but I sent the NAPA guy a thank you card.

I carefully checked John over – he seemed fine. I fixed my tack up – nothing was broken, just slightly askew, and headed back over the hill to do the trail ride correctly. It went fine. What I noticed that worried me was that John had not come through the gap in the stonewall, instead he had jumped the stone wall ten feet farther down and knocked some really large stones off the wall – four or five of them weighing at least 50 pounds each.

Two days later, on Thursday, John was lame. Really lame. My dad said he didn’t seem himself when he put him out in the morning. I tossed him on the lunge line to see what was going on. John was lame with a really swollen left hind fetlock and pastern. I cold hosed him twice a day and kept him in standing wraps the rest of the time. I kept him in the small square to keep his movement restricted and put him on bute. On Sunday, the swelling finally went down, but the damage was done. I had to scratch our entry from the Warren Tessier 30 mile competitive trail ride (September 24th in Hartland, Vermont). That was the hardest (and most fun) ride on our circuit last year and John’s tender leg would be no match for the 30 miles of tough trail that Tessier offers, not to mention the fact that he had bute and couldn’t compete with that in his system anyway.

Of course I was disappointed, but mostly frustrated with myself. This incident proved that the behavioral issues were not fixed and we still had a lot of work to do on learning “medium.” So back to the drawing board we went.

Trail Woes

A couple of weeks ago, I had a disastrous trail ride on John. After a good ride on Remi, I had a bit of time left before heading back to work. I decided to take John on a quick trail ride.

Before I went, I took the Mylar combination bit that had been working so well out of his bridle and put a D-ring snaffle back in. He had been reluctant to take the bit lately. If you have never met John, you need to know he is a mouthy horse, and while he doesn’t bite people, he loves to put things in his mouth. The fact that he did not want to take his bit confirmed my suspicion that I could not fit the Mylar bit properly in any of my bridles. I took the Mylar out at the hold of the NEATO 25 mile CTR for this reason and used the snaffle. A new bridle was coming, and I decided to use the snaffle until it arrived.

The other important thing to note is that I was overtired, which is not a surprising revelation, but proved to be a problem on this day.

We rode up over the top of the hill and as we were trotting in a field along the corn, a six-ounce sparrow flew out of the corn. John hates these sparrows, even though I keep telling him that he could kill the sparrow by swishing his tail. John did his normal spook – leap to the side, spin and run the other way. I was overtired so he caught me unaware and I was leaning to the wrong side. When I tried to stop him with my hands as a last ditch effort, it was as if I had no bit in his mouth at all. I was in the dirt and John was gone. I watched him gallop across the field toward home.

We have ridden this trail so many times; I just assumed he would go home. We weren’t farm from home when I fell. My biggest fear, as I walked back to the barn, was that he would get hit crossing the street.

Continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Funny Trail Story

Last week I was riding Secret on the short woods trail. We were picking our way along through the brush when a squirrel noticed us. He was about five feet in front of us and ran to the nearest tree. He climbed about four feet up, but then he must have lost his grip on the tree.

He fell down and landed with a small splat in a bush below the tree.

The bush has already lost its leaves and I could see him perfectly, he wasn't moving.

I felt really bad and worried that Secret and I had given him a heart attack. We had been standing still, but I asked Secret to walk forward so we could check the squirrel.

As we got closer to him, he looked up, and saw us. He let out a small shriek and scampered off. We went in the opposite direction.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Summer Reading List

One benefit to my crazy August of travel; was the chance to catch up on my reading while flying or sitting in an airport. Here is a quick summary of the books I read.

It’s Not About The Bike
By Lance Armstrong

Honestly, I started reading this book with mixed feelings. You can’t help but have high expectations for a book like this. Seven-time Tour De France winner, cancer survivor and founder of an impressive cancer foundation lead to high expectations. But, Lance’s honesty and character have also been severely called into question over the years in the cycling communities endless doping scandal and I have read a bunch of those articles as well.

The book is well written and a compelling read – I had a hard time putting it down. His cancer was tough and aggressive, and now knowing the details of his cancer journey, I admire him more for surviving. Having read the book though, I like him less as a person and a professional athlete. He came across as tough, mean, and extremely competitive. I often found myself feeling sorry for his wife, although knowing the ultimate outcome of their marriage may not have helped. I was already on her side. Bottom line, it is worth reading, but I am glad I borrowed a copy!

Ice Bound
By Dr. Jerri Nielsen

This is another book that I borrowed while at my sister Katie’s house. Dr. Nielsen is the doctor who diagnosed and treated her own breast cancer while at the South Pole.

Again, this is a very good book and interesting to learn about the South Pole and the entire community down there and the work being done. It boggles my mind that people signed up to go there and live there, knowing that once the station closed for the winter they would not be able to leave for nine months. I could not do that, yet they thrived in that situation.

One interesting side note about this book is that Dr. Nielsen chose to consult (via video) with an oncologist at the University of Indiana about her chemo treatments. They were connected during each treatment, and Dr. Nielsen had the same chemo nurse as Lance Armstrong. After she was rescued from the ice, she went there to finish treatments.

The sad ending to this book (although only if you run a Google search after reading) is that although Dr. Nielsen beat the cancer and the book ended on a positive enough note, her cancer eventually returned and she passed away in 2009.

Into Thin Air
By Jon Krauker

This book is about the disastrous 1996 climbing season on Mount Everest. I had read another book a few years ago about climbing Everest in 1996 that touched on the disasters. Touching My Father’s Soul was a great read and totally engrossed me. It went into a lot of detail about the deaths on Everest that year, but none of the people that died were in the Expedition of the author.

Jon Krauker was in the expedition that lost the most people on Everest that year, five people from his group died. I really enjoyed his book Into the Wild and the article about climbing Everest he wrote for Outside magazine (the article grew into the book).

Reading the book was very hard though. First, you cannot help but be heartsick for the people who died on the mountain, and in some cases, the stupid decisions that led to these deaths. Having struggled through a seven mile run at 9,000 feet, I cannot begin to comprehend how hard it is to make smart decisions at 29,000 feet, but the amount of tragedy in this book still hit me really hard.

I put the book down several times, switching to lighter reads and then would go back to it. Similar to reading Lance Armstrong’s book, I now like Jon Krauker less as a person, having read this book. Bottom line, this is worth reading, but if you are only going to read one book about the 1996 climbing season, read Touching My Father’s Soul by Jamling Tenzing Norgay.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Surftown Half Marathon

My summer of running prompted me to enter the Surftown Half Marathon on September 18th. My sister Heidi was already registered, so the thought of running a half marathon was less daunting having a successful Colorado Relay behind me, and a sister running the same race.

The course wound through Misquamicut and Watch Hill (i.e. flat course with beautiful views). But it gets even better, the finisher’s medals are surfboards and the post race meal was clam chowder. I couldn’t pass all of that up, and neither could Tim, all three of us registered.

Race day came and it was cold. I bundled up with yoga pants and a jacket over my running clothes. I was slightly disappointed that I had taken my knit cap out of my backpack. Tim had his knit cap and proudly sported it. We joined the thousand other runners bouncing around at the starting line, trying to stay warm.

We shed our extra layers and began running. For the first eight miles, we mostly ran together, three siblings out for a long run. After getting elbowed by Tim a few times, I decided not to run in the middle. We would loose each other at aid stations, but quickly regroup (usually we lost Tim, who then sprinted to catch back up with us).

As promised, we got some great views – salt marshes, streams heading down to the ocean, beautiful houses and of course the ocean itself.

At about mile eight, we started running on a road that also had traffic. This necessitated running single file. I was running behind Heidi and Tim and found two problems. One, if you are anywhere behind Tim, the only view you get is of his back – I had no idea what was ahead of us – he is too tall. I was also having trouble finding my stride, since we were running so close together and I was at the back, I kept shortening my stride to stay behind them.

Heidi had run a half marathon just six days before this one, so I knew she was tired. I decided to head off on my own. Tim did the same thing and quickly passed me. Every once in awhile, I caught glimpses of him, three or four minutes ahead (I told you it was a flat course!) I could see Heidi just behind me. We all stayed in close proximity for the rest of the race.

Somewhere around mile 10 I began to question my sanity. I had signed up to do this, and paid money to do this? I wondered what on earth was wrong with me. But I kept running. When mile marker 12 came into view, I felt a whole lot better. I could manage 1.1 more miles.

I heard the finish line long before I saw it. People were cheering, there was music and the festive air that goes with any race. I finished strong, a few minutes after Tim with Heidi coming in a minute behind me. We all got our medals and headed over for clam chowder. When awards were announced we found out that Tim placed third in his division. Pretty impressive for his first half marathon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Colorado Relay - Part 5




Van 2 at the finish line
Our team running to the finish line together

Knowing how hard the second half of my leg had been on me, I worried about Baby Guac. She was already tired (we all were!) and had a long leg too. We met her I think four times on her leg, to refill her water bottle and offer encouragement. She did awesome.

We were going to meet Marvel once on her leg (only four miles - but mostly climbing miles), but she ran so fast we missed her!

Mateo had the last leg. It was one of the hardest legs of the race - the last climb into Snowmass, on single track. Basically he ran up one mountain, back down (where the whole team, his parents and girlfriend met him to refill his water bottle) and then up another mountain, back down and then up into Snowmass village where we ran across the finish line as a team. He killed the last leg.

The sense of accomplishment and comraderie we had running through Snowmass as a team and across the finish line was incredible. Running 200 miles as a team, (it took us a little over 35 hours) is an incredible achievement. And we were a team of cancer survivors - running for a camp that means a lot to all of us. We were also proud that we did not skip any legs or cheat (drive runners) at all - we legitimately ran all 200 miles. And we didn't place last - we finished ahead of 7 other teams (including the team of Marines who got me back on course).

While I am not sure I will be running any relay races soon, I still marvel at the team and individual achievement of all of us. I started off 2011 as a non-runner. By the end of the summer, I had run 22.7 miles of the Colorado Relay, and I have a really cool belt buckle (and some awesome new friends!) to prove it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Colorado Relay - Part 4

Again, I had a long time to wait before my last leg. At Exchange Point 19, I got out and wandered through the dark night to find the volunteer checking in runners.

It was Jens Bishop, a friend that had gone to pre-school through high school with me and now lives in Breckinridge. First Descents was helping man exchange points and had been short on volunteers. When I found out they needed more volunteers, I emailed everyone I knew in Colorado. Jens signed up to help. I visited with him for a few minutes, and then, cold and tired hopped back into the van for some more unsuccessful attempts at sleep.

As dawn crept in, we met up with van 1 to shuttle all of the night pacers back to Papa Smurfs car so that he could take them back to their cars. We went out to breakfast, but before we could go into the restaurant, I had to run over to some nearby bushes and puke again. I was really starting to get concerned about how much I was puking. For one reason, I hated to puke, and considering that I had not puked at all on chemo (sometimes I wanted to, but I was always able to work through it), this was kind of concerning. My second concern was that I still had 10 miles to run at an altitude of 6,000 feet.

We ordered breakfast and I picked at my food, simultaneously sipping water and soda. The other issue that concerned me was a cramp in my right ribs that I had since my first leg. After breakfast, we went to my final exchange point and I walked around the parking lot for a long time stretching, trying to work the cramp out of my ribs. It was not successful.

Lemondrop came into view and I headed out on my final leg.

The first part of the leg was really nice, I was running on a trail, had great views of the mountains and ranches, and it was very peaceful. The sun was shining and it was hot, but really it was pretty nice.

At the halfway mark, my van met me to refill my water bottle. I hadn't really drank anything since I had started running it. I stood with them for a couple minutes, drank some, they topped it off and then I was off again. At this point, my route switched completely to roads. There had been a mudslide and the rest of the trail was not usable. To sum it up, the last five miles were awful. The sun beat down on me, cars sped by and I was getting tired. I kept running (very slowly!), never seeing any other runners, and wondering when on earth I would find the exchange point.

I was at a busy intersection, the last race sign I had seen said to stay straight and not to turn. The sign at the intersection said to go right. I went right for a little, but then got worried and turned around to go straight. I heard shouting and looked around to see someone sprinting towards me. It was another runner from the Relay - the team of Marines, who was waiting at a gas station to refill his teammates water bottle. He got me back on the right course (I was supposed to go right). He also told me I was about a mile from the exchange point (best news I heard all day). Later on I went and found him at an exchange point and thanked him for saving me who knows how many unnecessary miles.

I kept running. I was really hot, so decided since it was only another mile, I would finish off my water bottle. I drank twice as much water on the second half as the first of this leg. I was beginning to think it was the longest mile of my life when Smurfette and Papa Smurf (her husband) showed up in their car. Smurfette refilled my water bottle and told me I was really close. She said the reason I hadn't seen any other runners was that the other teams (not all teams, but ones near us) had been picking up their runners and driving them in because it was so hot. What?!? Not cool.

I finished my leg. The ten miles took me 2 hours and 26 minutes, but I finished, and ran a total of 22.7 miles for my team. Marvel met me at the exchange point with a soda (thank you - no more puking) and I could finally relax a little.

Continued tomorrow...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Colorado Relay - Part 3

I now had a really long stretch of time before I had to run again. According to our team predictions, my next leg would happen at about 12:30 am.

I cheered on my fellow van mates, hung out with teammates from Van 1 when our vans met up at exchange points, and tried to eat some and drink as much water as possible.

As the evening wore on, my next leg was approaching. Sleep was impossible, but we all tried to rest some while we waited for our next round.

And then the skies opened up again. We had a serious thunderstorm with lightning and heavy rains. Smurfette got hailed on while she ran her leg. When it was time for Buttons to run her 10 mile leg, it was raining so hard that many teams skipped the leg. Buttons had Brooks (her boyfriend and night pacer) with her, and ran the leg anyway.

The night finally cleared and it was quiet and peaceful as I waited for Lemondrop. My night pacer, John and I were joined by one other runner, a marine, as we waited at the exchange point. Everyone else was either that far ahead of us legitimately or had skipped legs and were now that far ahead of us.

Lemondrop came into view, and John and I cheered her into the finish, grabbed the number and started running. This leg was only 5.5 miles, and at 7000 feet. The night was beautiful with the stars shining brightly. We ran on the road the whole time and it was very dark, in some places there were no street lights, the only light coming from John and I's headlamps. When cars came along, he dropped back behind me, my only fear that they were drunk drivers behind the wheel. We ran the 5.5 miles at a pretty good pace, saw a couple of shooting stars and got to the next exchange point at 1:30 in the morning (having left the last exchange point at 12:40 am).

Baby Guac and Marvel asked how it went (the three sea level people were all in van 2 and we all struggled with the altitude on our first leg). I told them, "You are going to love this leg, there is so much oxygen out there!"

We hopped into the van and drove to the next exchange point. I tried to sleep a little in the back of the van. After awhile I got a little queasy. The feeling kept getting worse and worse. I hopped out of the parked van and puked into the bushes. ENC came back, Baby Guac went out and we headed to the next exchange point.

Continued tomorrow...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Colorado Relay - Part 2

I arrived at Denver airport and took the train to baggage claim, where I met Baby Guac, my teammate from Portland, Oregon. We then went to Enterprise and met Bruiser to pick up the two 15 passenger vans for the team.

We picked up a few more teammates (Fridge, Mateo and Buttons) in Golden, Colorado and then drove up to Breckinridge. My initiation to Colorado was driving the 15 passenger van on a dark and rainy night, up the twisty highway to Breckinridge. We met up with a few more of our teammates at a hotel. The others were staying with friends. We went to bed around midnight. Van 1 got up at 5 am (I think, I was still sleeping) and headed out to the starting line. Van 2 (my van) had a slower start to the morning, shuttled a couple cars to the necessary parking lots and then headed out to our first exchange point.

I was the first person to run in Van 2 (I had legs 6, 16 and 26). I was starting to feel very nervous as we waited at the exchange point for Lemondrop, who was running legs 5, 15, and 25. Lemondrop came into view, and we cheered her to the finish. ENC (one of my teammates) grabbed the team number from her and we all ran to...the van. My first exchange point was not a safe place to run from, so they drove me a ways up the road (as did all of the other teams - race rule) and I hopped back out of the van and started running.

My first leg was 7.7 miles of dirt road, climbing from 9,700 feet to 10,000 feet. The amount of climbing didn't scare me - I climb 300 feet when I am running Crane Hill, it was the altitude that scared me. Looking at the leg book, I knew that if I could make it through my first leg, the others would be easier, this would by far be the hardest one.

They were probably the longest 7 miles I have ever run, the altitude had a definite effect, but I kept running. Vans passed on their way to and from the next exchange point, I saw a lot of other runners (when they passed me - but at least I wasn't alone out there) and got chased by three different dogs as I ran along a dirt road with huge ranches on it. In between all of this, I had stunning views of the mountains, beautiful horses out in their pastures and a sunny day. Towards the end of the run (mile 5), the altitude really started effecting me some, and I started taking walk breaks. Then, as it does in the mountains, the weather quickly changed. Thunder was rumbling, a few shots of lighting could be seen off in the distance, and then the skies opened up. The last mile in was pretty wet.

I finally made it to the exchange point, gave the team number (which goes on a belt around your waist) to ENC and he was off in the pouring rain to run the Georgia Pass (by far one of the toughest legs of the relay - 6 miles straight up and then 6 miles straight down).

Since it was pouring, I hopped straight into the van and Mojito (Van 2 driver and another First Descents camper) drove us to the next exchange point. It was a 45 minute drive. As we were driving down a switchback, Mojito looked in the rearview mirror at me and said, "Can you get me a bottle of water out of the cooler?"

I replied, "Can you pull over?"

She slowed the van, and I jumped out as we were coming to a stop and puked all over the side of the road. When there was nothing left in my system, I cleaned up with a couple wet ones (the vans are extremely well stocked), hopped back in, handed Mojito a bottle of water and said, "Okay, I'm ready to re-hydrate now."

We finished driving to the next exchange point. But it worried me a bit, I never once threw up on chemo. Was it altitude sickness, exhaustion (I arrived in Colorado pretty tired), being a passenger in a van going down switchbacks, or some combination of the three?

To be continued tomorrow...

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Colorado Relay

Its been a month since the Colorado Relay, I guess I should probably blog about it!

I agreed to run on the First Descents All-Camper Team for the Colorado Relay in March. The Relay is a 200 mile relay race from Breckenridge, Colorado to Snowmass, Colorado. First Descents was a beneficiary of the race this year and the race director thought it would be neat to have an All-Camper team. Each team consists of ten people (unless you are an ultra-team with only seven), our team had ten. We were not going to be a fast team, but a team of cancer survivors, representing our camp, and having a great time. Since there was no expectation to be fast, just to finish, I said yes.

I began training in March, having not done any serious running since high school (a very long time ago). In June, I re-injured my knee (severely twisted it in college and then had it kicked by a horse a few years later - its a bit sensitive). I slowed down my training, ran my preparatory races slightly lame and kept slogging along. In July, my knee became pretty painful and I took some time off. By August, it was back to normal and I continued my training.

The thing about running, or any other commitment (whether it is athletic or of another endeavor) is that it takes a lot of time and dedication to do it well. Many of my other activities went unattended this summer as I ran. I rode my horses less, blogging became non-existent, communication with friends (which has never been my strong point to begin with) also went by the wayside. And I got less sleep, a runners no-no (and a cancer survivor no-no) because I still had to work, even if I was running.

The benefits of running did not go unnoticed though. And I was slowly getting faster and more efficient on my runs. The thing that worried me most about the Colorado Relay was the altitude. For those of you unfamiliar with Colorado geography, Breckenridge to Snowmass varies in altitude from around 6,000 feet to 10,000 feet. I was training at sea level.

It nagged at my conscience a bit that I had not trained more. I wish I could have gotten in more miles, done sprints, or more hill work, or something. I was nervous and I did not want to let my team down.

Bruiser, our team captain (and the only person on my team that I knew) sent out a final email, reminding us all that we were not racing to win, but to have fun. I felt better after reading that. On Thursday, August 25th, I flew to Denver.

Continued tomorrow...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Cows Come From California...



...And Secret would be happier if our cows went to California! This is as close as she was "comfortable" getting to the cows. Can you even see them in the picture? Another day, we will work on our fear of cows, but it made me laugh!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Friesians and more!

The October/November issue of Massachusetts Horse magazine is online. Check out the article I wrote about Friesians - there are some beautiful horses in Massachusetts and Vermont.

I visited Friesians of Majesty in Vermont while working on the article, it is worth the trip up!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Mirror Has Three Faces

Pat and Linda Parelli of Parelli Natural Horsemanship have several advertising campaigns out in national horse magazines. The ads encourage horse owners to unlock the full potential of their relationship with their horse, by participating in a Parelli clinic or some other instructional format.

My favorite is a picture of a Chinese fortune cookie. The fortune reads, “Your Horse is a Mirror of You.”

If Pat and Linda are right, my mirror has three faces. In a way they are right. Each of my horses mirrors some of my strengths and weaknesses.

John has boundless energy and he is always busy. He can get so tense that it is like sitting on an accordion. But that horse has a huge heart and he puts every fiber of his being into his work (and in some cases, to getting out of his work!)

Secret is the boss mare and she knows it. But underneath her tough exterior, she second guesses herself and me and needs to be reassured. The mare has tons of athletic ability and can be the reason for one of the coolest rides.

Remi is all personality. If I walk out into the field to get one of the three for a ride, Remi is always the first to greet me. If I’m not looking for her, she will walk next to me and wrap her head and neck around me so that I cannot move forward, away from her. There is nothing wrong with that girl’s ego. She also has tons of athletic ability and a huge heart. Probably what I love the most is that when I teach her something, she gets it the first time and we rarely have to repeat the lesson.

If my horses really are mirroring me, I hope that I can continue to improve and build on that image.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

‎"It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Remembering all those who lost their lives or lost loved ones ten years ago today.

Colorado Relay Video

Brooks made this awesome video of the Colorado Relay and our team, check it out.