Friday, December 30, 2011


Tomorrow is the last day of 2011. If you can tell me where the heck this year went, then you're smarter than I am. What a whirlwind of a year! By far the highlight was welcoming our little boy into the world. Second to that was the thrill of being back in the saddle after many months away - and discovering that it was easier to pick back up than I'd even dared to hope. So I didn't make it back in the show ring, so what? I have never been more grateful for my horses, my trainer and the wonderful barn family I am a part of. Even my son is in love with the animals and the atmosphere at Triple Rise.
It being the 30th of December, my mind naturally drifts to New Year's resolutions. It's been awhile since I made one that I had every intention of keeping, but now that I'm a mom (read: a REAL adult), I would feel remiss if I didn't set at least one goal to improve my life in the upcoming year. I can think of a million things I need to work on to be a better mom - a more solid bedtime routine, eliminating night-waking, get Henri sleeping in his crib...I could go on - but this is, after all, a blog about my equestrian pursuits, so I will try to stay on-topic.

Resolution # 1: Improve my fitness. If I may be so immodest, I think I bounced back from pregnancy pretty well. I don't feel as though I've lost a lot of ground, riding-wise, but I *did* hope I'd be at the next level by now - if I hadn't had a baby, of course. Back when I was in the saddle three or four times a week, riding was really all I needed to do to keep myself in shape. Now that I can only ride once a week, however, this is not the case. So, that said, I need to dial up the workouts. Even if I only start off by buckling Henri into his stroller and walking for a half an hour every day, that is surely better than nothing.

Resolution # 2: Improve my sense of pace and develop a better eye for distances. I'm hoping that being in better shape will improve some of my equitation faults (like still occassionally jumping ahead), but all the walking/jogging/Zumba in the world can't help you see and feel things like this. I can make some mistakes at 2'6", but if I want to make it to the next level (see Resolution # 3), I have to be spot-on here.

Resolution # 3: Be riding in Adult Amateur by the end of the year. Pretty much says it all right there. Bring on 3'!

Resolution # 4: Rapper. More specifically, work on his ground manners, fear of the washrack, and overall fitness. Sarah told me the other day that he is one of the worst-behaved horses she's ever seen - with people other than myself. This is unacceptable - but completely my fault. Yes, he will be 18 in 2012, but it's never too late to better yourself! ...At least that's what I'll be telling him as I try to haul him in for a bath.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Knowing is half the battle!

If not more so. I finally had a really solid lesson on Wednesday, thanks to finally acknowledging that I am putting undue pressure on myself to always be 100% awesome. Since I only have one day a week in which to ride, I try to make every moment count. Nothing wrong with that - until it starts creeping into obsessive compulsive, must-be-the-best-every-minute-of-the-lesson territory. Long story short, I finally verbalized that to Rachel and in doing so, laid the ghost, so to speak.
Wednesday's courses were challenging, but I felt up to the task. Lots of rollbacks and bending lines galore - and boy were they fun! Rachel said it was some of the best riding she's seen from me. Hopefully I can keep it up!

Monday, November 7, 2011

This past week...

...has been a fun one (blah lesson notwithstanding)!
Wednesday's lesson was...mediocre. For some reason, I seem to have developed a lead foot when it comes to long approaches. I keep my leg on unnecessarily after we've turned to our jump and so every stride gets longer and longer until - oh crap! - I can't see a distance whatsoever and Keenan is forced to take off super long or chip. I don't know when this started happening or why I can't seem to knock it off, but it's really setting me back - and making me look like an idiot.
Actually, I think I know how it's come about. I think I'm so anxious to have a good canter and keep Keenan in front of my leg that I forget that a.) a good pace DOESN'T mean you have to freakin' steeplechase over the jumps and b.) once I have the proper canter, I can stop squeezing and keep that canter. Sounds like the classic "Missy is trying to do too much and she's getting in Keenan's way" scenario. Hopefully knowing is half the battle.

Thursday kind of made up for a less-than-stellar lesson. Henri and I drove up to TREC to deliver a check that I had forgotten to leave the day before. Henri has been to the barn a handful of times before, but he has either been sleeping or too little to really be interested in the goings-on. Well this time he was wide awake and very interested!
When we got there, Rachel had just warmed up Keenan and was getting ready to school him over fences. Henri was fascinated. This was perfection, as far as he was concerned - he was bundled in mom's arms, enjoying the fresh air and watching something big move around. All his favorite things! After Keenan's workout, we visited him in the cross-ties and that's when the real fun began. I took Henri over to show him how we gently pet horses' soft noses. He caught on immediately and was soon stroking Keenan's nose all by himself. Then, before I knew it, his little hand made its way right up Keenan's nostril! Ewww, horse boogers! Fortunately, I caught Henri's hand before he put it in his own mouth and managed to wipe it clean. Keenan, bless his heart, didn't bat an eye - he actually seemed to enjoy the attention. He was sure enthralled by little Henri! In fact, he was so enthralled, that when I stepped back to talk to Kristine and Rachel, he reached out and started tickling the bottoms of Henri's feet with his upper lip. So cute! Lead line classes in a few years anyone?

Finally, we took Henri to my favorite tack store, Gallops, for the first time on Saturday. I had money burning a hole in my pocket and have been desperately in need of new show breeches (I ended up getting a pair of FITS Bekas in tan and a pair of chocolate brown Devon-Aires to school in). Henri enjoyed all the interesting things there were to look at, as well as the rich leather smell. He even took his first pony ride - well, a rocking pony, that is. Keep it up, my little equestrian!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's that time of year again!

Time for Racing's Greatest Day: the Breeders' Cup! Admittedly, I have next to NO idea about any of the horses who are racing (except champion turf mare Goldikova), but that doesn't matter. This is the event that solidified my passion for horses. The 1995 Breeders' Cup is my favorite of them all, and no Thoroughbred will ever come close to Cigar's place in my heart (well, Thoroughbred RACEHORSE, that is!).
Here's hoping all horses and jockeys have safe trips and that we see some true champions crowned this Friday and Saturday. And hey, let's bring back the iron horse - or, as they say, breed more Secretariats! Or Cigars.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why do I go on eBay??

Someone needs to convince me that I don't need this model horse...

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Just when you think you're making progress...thud. Saturday's lesson was fantastic - I really felt like I was making progress. I was really aware of my decisions in the saddle and Rachel said I rode a "smart" course. Yesterday's lesson, on the other hand, was...less than great. It was one of those days when the real takeaway is a freshly illuminated mental light bulb and the hope that you won't make the same mistake again. I'll spare you (and myself) the embarrassing details - let's just say it involved having to grab mane through a gymnastic of crossrails because I dropped my reins. Yeah, ouch.
But I think I finished well and Rachel informed me that she wants me to get to the next level, so she's going to start pushing me. Okay by me!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

As if I didn't have enough on my plate...

So I stumbled upon a certain blog a few years ago that I have recently rediscovered and still enjoy. Basically, the writer relives her tween years one Babysitter's Club book at a time. Now, I was never much for the BSC (except, surprise surprise, the book where one of the girls gets to take riding lessons), but it got me thinking - why couldn't I do the same with my the Thoroughbred series? I think it would be fun to read them now and reminisce about the infancy of my horse-craziness. I was so head over heels in love with the world of those books. I wanted to be a jockey like Ashleigh; I wanted to save a neglected horse and train it like Samantha - even when the series shifted to eventing for awhile during the "new generation," I longed to be just like those characters.
Long story short, I had my mom bring down as many of the TB books as she could find in my closet. Surprisingly, there were not many. I think some of them must have migrated to the garage - and I KNOW one (my favorite) was eaten by Brady when he was a puppy. Not to mention, I think the last one in the series I ever bought/read was # 39 ("Living Legend?") and the series ended in the 70's or something, so I might have to hit up a library or the used book section of Amazon and see what I can get for close to nothing, dollar-wise.
I have one book read and my comments written down, now to type it all up into something worth reading. Note: I'm not starting ANOTHER blog for this project - I already have a baby-centered on in addition to this - since it's somewhat horsey-related, I'll keep it attached to this one. That is unless it goes big time, I have millions of followers and/or someone wants to make a movie starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep.
Just kidding, of course. Amy Adams doesn't look at all like me :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Just had to post some super cute photos that Kate Laue took of Sophie and Jackson in the 2'6" hunter derby they participated in over the summer. Sophie has officially outgrown Jackson and is riding Bella now (Lauren got a new horse earlier this year - adorable baby Mona), so this was kind of their last hurrah. Sophie has ridden Jackson for the past two years and they have done very well together. I will miss watching them rock the house, but I'm excited for Sophie to move onto a horse. She is still learning Bella's quirks but those two ladies are destined to be a FORCE come next year!

Movin' on up!

Yesterday's lesson was a good one. I never think "all RIGHT!" when I walk into the arena and see a gymnastic set up, but it was actually very good for us. In the beginning, we trotted into the gymnastic and cantered out, which Keenan was less than enthusiastic about (why trot jumps when you can canter them?), but once we started adding a course onto the end of the exercise, he got a lot more cheerful. Rachel even got sneaky and raised the last jump in the gymnastic to 3' without me knowing. Good thing she did, too - my hang-up with jumping 3' is all psychological and if I don't *know* it's 3', I won't look twice at it. Still working on not rushing the jump and throwing my upper body ahead, but I'm getting more comfortable waiting every time I ride. Adult Amateurs here I come!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Saturday lessons are the best!

My mom was down visiting us over the weekend and since the weather wasn't too dreadful (yet), she and Henri joined me at Triple Rise for a Saturday lesson! Henri napped most of the time which meant he missed seeing his mama rock the house, but at least he was rested enough to visit the horses before we left (Paris was very interested!).
The lesson itself was better than the previous one (Thursday) but still not quite as good as a couple of weeks ago. I'm still working on not jumping ahead and staying patient to the jumps. I feel like I'm getting better - I know in my head what I'm supposed to do, it's just a matter of learning how to make my body do it properly. Jessie seems to think that Adult Amateurs (3' for ages 18 and up) will be no problem and that I'm ready to get back in the show ring right this instant. God bless her, haha. I do hope to be showing at the three foot level next year, but I would be just fine if I had to do Modified Child/Adult (2'9") - or, hey, even a little Pre-Adult. I just can't wait to put on a hunt coat again! Spring Hunter Jumper (or Mother's Day) is so far away!

Friday, September 30, 2011

This is what I do when I'm stressed...

I should not be allowed to look at Dover's website when I'm tired and somewhat high-strung. Yes, it's soothing, but I get the "gimmee's" - and before you know it, I end up looking at Dubarry boots and wondering how many kidneys I'd have to sell to buy a pair...and if I could get one of their sweaters to go with. *Droooooooooooool*

PS: good lesson tonight. Not as good as last week, but Rachel is upping the ante and tossing really tough courses at me. Keep 'em coming!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

That's what I'm talking about!

What a great evening at the barn! We got to ride outside and enjoy the gorgeous fall weather and I finally, for the first time since I had Henri, felt truly "back in the saddle." And then some, really, because I actually made some progress on Project: Don't Jump Ahead. I found that happy medium between chasing Keenan down to a jump and taking my leg off and letting him back up to it. And because I wasn't throwing myself at the jump ahead of his motion, I was able to keep my reins more organized and Keenan more adjustable. It felt fantastic! It's like this light bulb went on over my head. Oh! That's what it feels like when you do it right! In a way, I have pregnancy and motherhood to thank. True, I've spent a couple of years working on this and have done a lot of reading and studying of my Practical Horseman magazines, but on an emotional/psychological level, I have greater confidence in myself and my body because I've learned how strong and capable I am. Might sound hokey but it's true! Now that I have applied that knowledge to riding I feel somehow complete. Rachel told me she really wants to see me show next year and I can't help but wholeheartedly agree. Bring it on!

"Let's try this again."

"Let's try this again."
"I need to get reorganized."
"He's never done that before!"
"I thought I had this figured out..."

I feel like I'm living oddly parallel lives these days. By day, I'm a new mom with an incredibly particular diva of a son. By night (and by that I mean Thursday evenings), I'm still a horse-crazy teenager locked in an almost-27-year-old's body. Thing is, I find myself comparing these two lives and coming away with the notion that the are more similar that they might seem on paper.
My little boy is a moving target. He likes to throw me a curve ball just when I think I'm starting to get things figured out. Optimists would say "ah, it keeps you on your toes!" Well, I don't *want* to be on my toes. My body is too worn out from holding, bouncing and rocking the little bear!
Keenan threw me a curve ball himself just last week (is there some sort of chat room these two go to? After almost two years of being a professional butt-saver, the little stinker threw me under the bus. It's like all of a sudden he decided that the best way for me to figure stuff out was to cease being the world's most generous horse. Of course, he was right. I had to ride him like I've never done before - very forward and determined, with gritted teeth and a steely resolve that we WOULD do the line in three strides. We WOULD get our lead change as soon as possible. I went from riding in a very reserved, conservative way (the way I *had* to ride when there was a baby in my tummy) to having my guns blazing, with a "Seize the Day!" mentality. And darn if there wasn't a knowing look in that horse's eye when I put him back in his stall an hour later. He and Henri sure are smart.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Baby Henri meets some very special friends

These photos were taken in Henri's first week of life, but I'm just now getting around to posting them *sheepish grin*. This was his first real outing - of course, he slept the whole time, which was a-okay with me. The horses took varying degrees of interest in him - Keenan was a little on the ambivalent side (he did not understand how me holding the baby was better than the baby being in my tummy), Henry seemed afraid that the baby might eat him, Rapper was enthusiastic to the point of dangerous (isn't he always) and Reno...well, Reno fell head over heels, as I'm sure you can see. If Old Man Reno is still with us in a few years, I have every intention of him being Henri's first ride. Not that I'm anxious to pigeonhole our child, but if he wants to be the next Michael Matz, Jon French or David O'Connor, far be it for me to hold him back :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today my favorite school horse and first horsey love, Terlago, goes up to heaven. He is a 33 year old, 14.1 hand gray Arabian gelding who stole my heart the first time I laid eyes on him sixteen years ago. He was a halter champion in his younger years but found his true calling as a teacher; helping children, adults and the disabled fall in love with horses. He was a versatile guy who could go English or Western, but he loved the challenges of Country English Pleasure, jumping and gaming and was a showstopper in a dark blue native costume.

Here is the only photo I could dig up of Lago - this is he and I at a barn schooling show in 1997. He is the very foundation of my love of horses, as well as my enduring appreciation for Arabians. His passing leaves a huge hole in my heart and I know he will never be replaced. But it is his time to go home now, and be relieved of the infirmaties of old age. We'll miss you, handsome boy!

In the quiet misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed
When the sparrows stop their singing
And the sky is clear and red,

When the summer's ceased its gleaning
When the corn is past its prime,
When adventure's lost its meaning -
I'll be homeward bound in time

Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow

If you find it's me you're missing
If you're hoping I'll return,
To your thoughts I'll soon be listing,
In the road I'll stop and turn

Then the wind will set me racing
As my journey nears its end
And the path I'll be retracing
When I'm homeward bound again

Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow

Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow

In the quiet misty morning when
the moon has gone to bed.
when the sparrows stop there singing....
I'll be homeward bound again

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Had to post photos separately for some reason...

It's getting tougher and tougher...

It's getting really hard to be at the barn these days.
I get tired SO easily, it's hard to get anything done with this tummy in the way, hardly ANY of my barn clothes fit and...well...sometimes I get really bummed out. It's tough to watch my friends, my horsey family, carry on with riding and training while I am stuck on the sidelines. I try not to be too much of a downer, but sometimes it feels like what I imagine a recovering alcoholic would feel like if he or she went into a bar. Maybe that's a weird way to think of it, but *shrug* there it is.
It's made all the more difficult by Keenan's attitude. I love that horse to death but MAN has he gotten cranky with me! Actually, it's not so much cranky as impatient. When I go out to see him, it's as if he can't decide whether he misses me or he's angry at me. It's actually kind of funny to be around him - he's trying to nip my shoulder and cuddle up to me at the same time. He wants to be loved but he also wants to punish me for "abandoning" him. He glares at my tummy, too - he's not sure how it works, but he knows that we haven't gone for a ride in over three months now, and that that bump has something to do with it!
Thankfully, Rapper is going about all this in exactly the opposite way. He's totally seeing this from a glass-half-full perspective. Mom's not riding me? No problem, I get to play outside more and torture Anna and Sophie! Mom's only visits once a week? No problem, I have Armando to annoy! He's happy to see me but he's not being a drama queen or trying to convince me that his world is coming to an end. Thank goodness!
I'm about a week and a half away from my due date and, pardon the phrase, chomping at the bit to get this pregnancy over with! For one thing, I am getting extremely uncomfortable - for another, IT'S ALMOST HORSE SHOW SEASON! I spent all last Friday at the Mother's Day Classic here in Eugene and it was wonderful/heartbreaking. I can't wait to ride again OR to show off my adorable baby boy to the rest of the Wilsonville gang!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's MARCH?! Since when?

Okay, call me crazy, but I swear it was just Christmas! Okay, it was at least just Valentine's Day...where on earth does the time go? I have the feeling that time is going to keep flying by - until I'm three weeks from delivery, that is, THEN it's going to slow to a crawl so as to maximize my inevitable discomfort. It will then start a peculiar pattern of zipping by again during the wonderful moments of new-Momhood and all but stop during the sleepless nights, dirty diapers and teething months. Oh well, I guess, such is life.
I haven't written anything here for a couple months now. Obviously. I guess I don't want this blog to turn into a blog about babies and my pregnancy. Maybe I'll start a different blog for that, or write notes on my Facebook page, but this is supposed to be about my growth and development as a horsewoman; my goals, accomplishments, struggles and successes. I suppose I thought that since I'm entering the final phase of my pregnancy and haven't ridden in a month and a half, I didn't have anything to write about on the horse front. I know I'm still a horse-crazy gal, but I thought "what kind of things can I possibly be learning when I'm not even riding?" Much, as it turns out.
There have been times during my riding "career" (ha) that I have become too focused on winning and my accomplishments and haven't given enough thought to the amazing blessing it is just to be around horses at all. I am sure realizing this blessing now! Aside from a handful of very casual and abbreviated rides on Mr. Rapper, I have been "grounded" since early February. It can be very discouraging at times to watch my friends ride, train and grow without me, but I have come to appreciate the little things I do with my horses. Or, at least, I used to think they were little things. Now I understand that the groomings, the treats, the walks up the driveway are not "little" at all, but the very foundation of my horse-and-rider relationships. Rapper is reaping many of the benefits of my riding hiatus. After all, he enjoys grooming while Keenan frets and fidgets; he relishes long slow walks up the drive whereas Keenan tries to drag me facedown alongside him. Rapper turned 17 on March 8 and I can honestly say, I have never seen him so happy. I am very grateful for this time I am able to spend with him - it has made him so much calmer and responsive, I feel like I can do anything with him.
Keenan is definitely getting some of the perks. Rachel is schooling and hacking him nearly every day and I must say, I cannot WAIT to get back on such a fit and well-schooled animal. Rachel told me that she always wanted to ride Keenan (she spent her younger days watching him in the show ring) and she has been doing great things with him. I can tell Keenan is starting to wonder what the heck is going on with me, though - he's started to get a little edgy with me, like he's annoyed that we haven't gone for a ride in a long time. As much as it would pain me to say good-bye to my hunter boy for a few months, a part of me hopes I can find someone to lease him for the show season. He's such a phenomenal horse and really deserves to have a great show season with an Adult, Child - or Pre Adult or Child - rider in the saddle.
Well, we are on our way out the door for family dinner, but I hope to make more time to write soon. After all, I may be a Mom-to-be, but I am ALWAYS a horse girl, no matter what!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

remembering a wonderful season

Two new bags for equitation reserve championships.

Look who wandered in! ;)

Mom and I, looking glam!

Sarah and I.

Rachel, Kate, Sarah, Kristine and Jessie.

Brady helps me show off our winning duds.

Mike, Mollie and I.

Sarah, Kristine, Holly, Lauren and Mike.

Rachel, Sarah and Kristine.

Sophie, Jessie and Anna.

Me, Kate and our new trainer Rachel.

The whole Triple Rise group!

Nathan, (baby) and I, all dressed up!

Banquet was great! Great food, great company, heels from hell...haha. It sure was a great evening! Made my heart ache just a little to think that I won't be much a part of that world next year, but with any luck, I'll be cheering my friends on with an adorable baby boy in a front pack! Bring on the outdoor shows!