Archive for February, 2008

A kind stranger sent me an email today and told me he thought my blog was “refreshing”… 

I thought it was quite a nice compliment. 🙂

Well, I apologize, but I’m putting “refreshing” on the shelf for the evening and giving myself a little ‘rant time’.  I deserve it.  See, I’ve had a lousy week. 

First, our bosses were in Florida Friday thru Tuesday.  Then, I had a flat tire on my way to work on Friday,  had to call AAA, the whole thing.  I got to work about 10am.  Blah. 

Saturday I had to drive to the far side of Columbus (an hour and a half drive) for a trade show.  No problem, I like working trade shows–the whole meeting people and talking about what our company does agrees with me.  The whole getting up at 5am to be there at 7:30am to set up on a Saturday morning doesn’t so much agree with me. 

Monday was the kicker.  I woke up with one of the worst migraines I’ve ever had, but I had to go to work because my bosses were out of town.  I prefer not to take Imitrex (my abortive of choice) when I drive, and we had one of the busiest mornings so far this year, so I didn’t get a chance to take my “miracle pill” until lunch.  By that time the pain was throbbing/shooting through my temple and down my left nostril.  It felt like someone was sticking a fire poker up my nose, and my left cheek was numb.  Since I’d waited so long to take my Imitrex, it took THREE STINKING HOURS to take effect.  What can I say–they tell you to take it asap.  User error…but I’m me and I have to take care of the company before I take care of myself.  I can’t help it, that’s the way I am.

But the migraine wasn’t even the best part of Monday.  Oh no.  For those who don’t know, I live in Dayton and commute to work in Columbus.  Normally it’s an hour and fifteen minute drive.  In winter weather it has taken me as long as five hours to get home from work.  Monday we got winter weather.  Long story short, my husband’s car (yes–my husband’s!) and I ended up in a ditch.  I got us out of the ditch (yay for four wheel drive and off roading it!!).  However, my husband’s poor Trailblazer was, sadly, somewhat worse for the wear than I was (despite the returning migraine).  Guess what?  I called AAA for the second time in four days.  Fabulous.

The Trailblazer went into the shop, the bosses were still out of town, and I had no choice but find a way to get to work the next day.  I really would rather have taken a personal day.  But I talked to our operations manager (who’s in the field, so he couldn’t cover for me) around 6:15am and we agreed that the best thing to do was for me to drive a company vehicle from Dayton to Columbus.  Which I did.  And all that ice that put me in the ditch the night before?  Yep, it was still on the road.  Nothing like driving a company truck 80 miles through an ice skating rink full of cars with drivers who also want to get to work on time.  I got stuck behind a 10 car pile-up.  Fortunately, I wasn’t part of it. 

Almost $600 later and the Trailblazer has a new tail pipe/muffler/exhaust system.  But, she still needs new tires–which they said probably caused the whole mess in the first place–and will be another $600 or so.  Also, when they took off the old, mangled exhaust system they found another part that was bent that will need replaced, too.  There’s another $250.  How did I manage to turn Blondie’s exhaust system into an accordion, you ask?  Well, did I mention we went down a hill, through a marsh, and up a ditch–all backwards?  Yup, that’ll do it.  I did manage to miss the guard rail and two light posts, so I guess that’s a plus.

And then, just to round out my week, we had winter weather again tonight.  I got bored (it took me two hours to drive home–not too bad, but still), so I took some photos with my phone.  They’re not terrific, but they give the general idea.  At least tonight wasn’t as bad as Monday.


  Lots of snow, roads still OK.


Starting to get slick…


All the semi’s buzzing by me.  Yay.


Going about 25mph and the road is covered in snow.


Lots of snow on the road.


My welcome home lamp post 🙂

On the up side, I have my laptop for work with me and (unless global warming kicks in overnight) I’ll be working from home tomorrow.

Ok, end rant, resume my former self!

Read Full Post »

The first step was to come up with a list of 80 books I’m excited about reading over the next 1001 days (998 now).  Many of these came from a reading list supplied by a terrific motivational speaker we had at one of our training seminars for work, my boss’s recommendations, and suggestions from friends.  I’ve left a few open to “chance”, too.  So, here’s the list:


1. Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore (1st)

2. A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You Were Born to Do by Thomas Moore (2nd)

3. Financing Your Small Business by James E. Burk & Richard P. Lehman

4. Know-How: The 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don’t by Ram Charan

5. The Unofficial Guide to Marketing Your Small Business by Marcia Layton Turner

6. If at First You Don’t Succeed…: The Eight Patterns of Highly Effective Entrepreneurs by Brent Bowers & Carl Schramm

7. Steps to Small Business Start-Up: Everything You Need to Know to Turn Your Idea Into a Successful Business by Linda Pinson & Jerry Jinnett

8. The Elements of Small Business: A Lay Person’s Guide to the Terms, Concepts and Forms That Every Business Person Needs by John Thaler

9. Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton

10. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Steven R. Covey

11. Walking in Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markoe

12. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (1st)

13. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (2nd)

14. Becoming A Successful Manager by Jack H. Grossman and J. Robert Parkinson

15. 365 Foolish Mistakes Smart Managers Commit Every Day: How and Why to Avoid Them by Shri L. Henkel

16. Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service by Chip R. Bell and Ron Zemke

17. Built To Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras

18. Equinomics: The Secrets to Making Money with Your Horse Business by Lanier Cordell

19. How to Drive Service Competition Crazy

20. Good To Great by Jim Collins

21. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

22. The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.P. Covey

23. Crucial Conversations – tools for talking when stakes are high by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

24. First, Break All The Rules by M. Buckingham & Curt Coffman

25. Now, Discover Your Strengths by M. Buckingham & D. Clifton, PhD

26. Love & Profit:  The Art of Caring Leadership by James A. Autry

27. Swim With the Sharks: Without Being Eaten Alive by Harvey Mackay

28. Strategic Selling by Robert B. Miller, Stephen E. Heiman with Tad Tuleja

29. Comedy Writing Secrets: How to Think Funny, Write Funny, Act Funny, and Get Paid For It by Melvin Helitzer

30. The THINK and GROW RICH Action Pack by Napolean Hill

31. Getting The Love You Want: A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.

32. The Power of NOW by Eckhart Tolle

33. The Game of Work: How to Enjoy Work as Much as Play by Charles A. Coonradt with Lee Nelson

34. Who Took My Money? by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter, C.P.A.

35. A Table in the Presence by Lt. Carey H. Cash

36. The Morality of Money by Ken Hubbard & Nick Pagano

37. The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

38. Top Grading by Bradford D. Smart, Ph.D.

39. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

40. The Bible

41. Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance by Bruce Wilkinson

42. Holy Humor – Inspirational Wit & Cartoons, by Cal & Rose Samra

43. 301 Ways To Have Fun At Work by Dave Hensath & Leslie Yerkes

44. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

45. The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

46. Customer Satisfaction is Worthless – Customer Loyalty is Priceless, by Jeffrey Gitomer

47. Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach

48. The Healing Heart by Norman Cousins

49. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

50. The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood

51. Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie L. Siegel, M.D.

52. How to Win Customers and Keep Them For Life by Michael LeBoeuf, Ph.D.

53. ADD: A Different Perspective by Tom Hartman

54. Driven To Distraction – Recognizing & Coping With Attention Deficit Order by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.

55. Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

56. You Can Be Happy, No Matter What by Richard Carlson, PhD

57. Finding Your Purpose by Barbara Braham

58. Nuts! by Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg

59. The Secrets of Life by Stuart Wilde

60. Manifest Your Destiny by Wayne W. Dyer

61. The Power of Intention by Wayne W. Dyer

62. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy, D.R.S., PhD

63. Brands That Rock by Roger Blackwell & Tim Stephan

64. Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch

65. From Mind to Market by Roger D. Blackwell

66. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

67. White Oleander by Janet Fitch

68. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

69. Prep: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

70. Heart of a Mule: The Dick Schafrath Stories by Dick Schafrath

71.-81. Will be TBD as I find something that strikes my fancy 🙂

book-stack.jpg I want a few more “fun” books, so we’ll see what I can come up with…

Read Full Post »

It’s time for me to set a few goals in order to give myself specific targets to work toward over the next few years.  What it’s all about

The Mission: Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria: Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days? Many people have created lists in the past — frequently simple goals such as new year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities. 

Many thanks to Terra for unwittingly inspiring me to get motivated… 

     “If one moves confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”  —Henry David Thoreau

Start date: Today (Sunday, February 17, 2008)

End date: Monday, November 15, 2010


Bold=in progress

Alverna’s 101 in 1001


     1. Eliminate all consumer debt, including: my VISA & MasterCard, our Lowe’s card, my medical bill, and our parents’ generous “wedding expense” loans. 

     2. Put $5,000 in savings.

     3. Acquire a chest freezer so we can buy in bulk frozen foods to cut our grocery budget.

     4. Get overdraft protection on my checking account.

     5. Either expand the Wide Mouth Gifts I started or come up with some sort of on the side income. (See the results here, I’ve been working hard to make it more user-friendly.  Let me know what you think!)

Home/Farm Improvements 

     6. Replace the carpet in the kitchen with the snap together no-scratch slate look tile we’ve got picked out at Lowe’s.

     7. Replace the kitchen sink faucet with a stainless steel one (that doesn’t leak!).

     8. Install a drainage system around our barn. (3/19/08: I may not have been specific enough when I set this goal.  We’ve put in place a temporary solution–basically a sump pump in one of the storage stalls.  It’s helping tremendously for now.  However, I would like to have something better and more permanent eventually.)

     9. Replace the roof on the older half of our barn.

     10. Pick any manure in the arena and move the two sand piles that are currently in our pasture to the arena to improve the footing.

     11. Install a new wood fence section to separate the arena and the dry lot.

     12. Replace the chewed fence boards in the arena.  (March ’08; Thanks to my darling husband!)

     13. Replace the less attractive/functional boards on the run-in shed.  (March ’08; Also thanks to the Mr.–it was a joint goal!)


     14. Find a job I love…or come to a place where I’m 100% happy with the one I have.

     15. Attend at least four continuing education seminars, at least two being equine-industry related. [0/4]

     16. Start our business, officially.  (3/19/08: It’s very,very close to becoming a reality…)

     17. Move the Bugh Equine Center website from Freewebs to a “real”, hosted website.

Self Improvement 

     18. Re-register to vote–once my name change becomes official.

     19. Locate a nonprofit organization with a cause I feel motivated by and volunteer with said organization.

     20. Lose ten pounds, and keep it off. [10/10]  (3/19/08: I actually lost ten pounds without really trying just because of all the work we’ve been doing on the barn…but I’m not crossing this one off because the goal was to lose AND keep it off.)

     21. Work with my neurologist to figure out the migraine prevention & treatment protocol that works best for me and I’m comfortable with using.

     22. Keep a headache journal for a year.

     23. Find a birth control method that I like.  (Suggestions are welcome ladies!)

     24. Write an article & get it published.

    25. Blog twice a week for at least one month. [2/8] (1, 2)

     26. Make a list of 100 things that make me happy.

     27. Climb a rock wall.

     28. Read the (Catholic) Bible from cover to cover.

     29. Read 25 other books–that I’ve never read before–in 2008. (Book suggestions anyone?) [1/25]  (3/19/08: Completed so far: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Steven R. Covey.  In progress: Equinomics: The Secrets to Making Money with Your Horse Business by Lanier Cordell, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, and THINK and GROW RICH by Napolean Hill)

Read a book a month

     30. Read 30 books in 2009. [0/30]

     31. Read 25 books in 2010. [0/25]

     32. Visit the library down the road.  If it’s “safe”, get a library card.  If not, continue going to the library by our old apartment.  (February ’08; The security guard at the front door made me nervous, but it turns out our local library is OK.)

     33. Check out eight books on tape/CD in 2008.  Listen to them while driving to/from work. (These can count as the books I’m reading.) [2/8]  (3/19/08: 7 Habits & White Oleander are on CD.  I love this arrangement except–and this is no offense to the book/author–I had a little trouble staying awake while driving while listening to 7 Habits.  Apparently between 7-8am is not my optimal hour for self-motivation, which is good to know!)

     34. Do 100 sit-ups a night for two weeks. [0/14]

     35. Pray daily for a month. [0/30]

     36. Attend mass every Sunday for six months. [1/24]  (Mass 3/16/08)

     37. Attend mass for all Holy Days of Obligation for one year. [0/10] 


     38. Take ballroom dance lessons with my husband (his idea, not mine 🙂 ). 

Take a dancing lesson

     39. Find (and buy) a pair of sunglasses I actually like (and that fit me!).

     40. Remove clothes from my wardrobe that I don’t like or don’t fit me.  Replace with clothes I like and will actually wear.  The end result should be a wardrobe I love!

     41. Find and buy functional and attractive sleepwear…then throw out all of the old, over-sized tee’s I usually wear.

     42. Find and buy a dress I can wear in the winter.

     43. Find and buy something slinky and sexy to wear for my husband.

     44. Find makeup that doesn’t make me break out and matches my skin tone.

     45. Mail a postcard to Post Secret.

     46. Get a massage.

Have a full body massage from a professional

     47. Get a facial.

Have a professional facial

     48. Take a cooking class.

     49. Travel outside the continental US.

     50. Take my husband whitewater rafting.

Go white water rafting

     51. Go horseback riding on the beach.  Somewhere warm.  Anywhere.

Ride a horse along a beach

     52. Call or email my mom at least twice a week.

     53. Become a big sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

     54. Make at least two new, permanent friends in Dayton. [0/2]

     55. Have lunch with at least one “long lost friend”.

     56. Go to a concert.

     57. Have our wedding photos printed & put them in an album.

     58. Put together my cookbook.

     59. Cook 20 new recipes. [0/20]

     60. Visit either NYC or Chicago.

     61. Learn & practice monthly breast self exams for a year. [0/12]

     62. Find 10 new restaurants, coffee shops, or hang out spots within 15 minutes of our house. [0/10]

     63. Go on an overnight mother/daughter trip with my mom.

     64. Give blood at least four times per year. [0/10]

Give blood

     65. Try five new foods, preferably foreign. [0/5]

     66. Take my husband to a strip club, just for the heck of it!

     67. Join a local hobby group.

     68. Buy a quality digital camera.

     69. Go to a drive-in movie.

     70. Buy a new lap top.

     71.  Plan a girl’s weekend road trip.

     72.  Plan a romantic trip for my husband and I.

     73. Go snorkeling.

Try snorkelling

     74. Golf 18 holes…note I don’t have any performance goal!

Try golf

     75. Write and mail 2008 & 2009 Christmas letters.

     76. Show Pea (my OTTB) in-hand and under saddle.

     77. Take Pea to either a RPSI or a Trakehner breed inspection.

     78. Get Pea in foal to a warmblood stallion.

     79. Send a non-special occasion card to someone who’s family and someone who’s not.  (3/17/08: I mailed a “Hope” card to my Grandpa, who’s 82 and fell last week.  He broke a bunch of little bones in his hand…and now he’s grouchy because Grandma’s “making” him walk with a cane so it doesn’t happen again!) 

     80. Finish a knitting or cross stitch project.

     81. Have one of our wedding photos blown up to 16″x20″ and framed…and hang it above the fireplace.

    82. Write my husband a love note every week for a month (email counts). [1/4]

     83. Buy a cute corset–and wear it.

     84. Visit Cheryl, Scott, and the girls in Cleveland.

     85. Learn how to make at least one fancy dessert.

     86. Take a completely spontaneous getaway trip.

     87. Go bowling at least four times. [0/4]

     88. Take my little brothers on a day trip.

     89. Spend a weekend with my oldest brother.

     90. Go to a wine tasting event.

     91. Give a massage.

     92. Ride in a “Hunt” at the Miami Valley Hunt.

     93. Get tipsy in good company.

     94. Ride at least twice a week for six months, providing the weather is decent.  [0/48]

Go horse riding

     95. Face a fear. 

     96. Go naked for a day.

Go naked

     97. Make love outdoors.

     98. Learn one good joke.

     99. Leave work on time every day for a week. [0/7]

     100. Figure out which charity is most meaningful to me.

     101. Donate $5 to that charity for each unfinished item on this list.



Read Full Post »

I remember sitting in a restaurant next to my horse judging coach/4-H adviser (who also happened to be my boss and holds a prominent position in the world of science and education) when I was a Junior in High School…and one of my teammates ordered a Diet Coke.  We started discussing diet vs. regular and my coach, in her matter-of-fact, completely non-judgemental but informative way, said, “If you knew what that stuff did to your body, you wouldn’t drink it.”  I think she went on to provide a few more details about some current research (without embarrassing my teammate too much) and then our conversation moved on.  However, my coach’s warning has always stuck with me and I’ve never been inclined to drink diet pop or eat “sugar-free”.  Besides, I like original 🙂

My mom recently gave me cause to revisit this topic when she emailed me this link.  I’m not sure how scientifically sound the research is, but someone did their homework at least!  From that site, I visited several others. 

In his column dated 1/1/06, Dr. Woodrow Monte (a retired Food Sciences Professor) details the poinsonous components of aspartame, including the toxins methanol and formaldehyde.  I highly encourage reading the entire piece–it’s both enlightening and a fairly easy read.

No matter what you believe about the possible dangers of aspartame, several facts are irrefutable.   First, as is often the case with drug research and development, the company behind the discovery, development, and promotion of the product (G.D. Searle & Company) is also responsible for the research to determine it’s safety.  (Conflict of interest, anyone?  In discussion of the aspartame controversy, Wikipedia mentions the possible conflicts of interest during FDA approval.)  Obviously there is a huge conflict of interest because there is a huge amount of money on the line.  According to research compiled by Dr. Ralph Walton reviewing all controlled human and animal studies looking for the effects of aspartame, out of 90 independently-funded studies, 83 of them found one or more problems caused by aspartame.  However, Dr. Walton found that out of the 74 studies funded by the aspartame industry (e.g., Monsanto, G.D. Searle, etc). every single study claimed that no problems were found.

Second, while the FDA has given aspartame the thumbs up, other government agencies aren’t exactly riding the same band wagon.  Did you know that the Air Force put out an alert to pilots in May of 1992 warning against drinking diet pop or even chewing sugarless gum before flying?

Finally, and most compelling (at least for me), the FDA has a list of symptoms attributed to aspartame that have been submitted by over 10,000 aspartame consumers [easier to read version].  Aspartame is out on the market and has been for almost 30 years–thus, we don’t really need to rely on lab rat research.  The “real world” research is being done each time YOU open a Diet Pepsi.  Note that several fall under the same category–i.e. there are multiple types of menstrual/womanly issues that are listed separately (#5, #23, #74, #86), multiple types of seizures that are listed separately, etc.  Oh, and make sure to check out #77 on the list.

A recent (2006) paper published by Dr. Soffritti of the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center/European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences in Bologna, Italy from his 1 Million dollar aspartame research project provided solid evidence that aspartame is a carcinogen.  “Our study shows that APM [aspartame] is a multipotential carcinogenic compound whose carcinogenic effects are evident even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg bw, much less than the current ADI [Acceptable Daily Intake] for humans in Europe (40 mg/kg bw) and in the United States (50 mg/kg bw).”  The results of the study call for “an urgent reexamination of the present guidelines on the use and consumption of APM [aspartame]” in both the US and Europe.

Cancer is the most often debated (and researched) aspartame-related disease, but there are a plethora of others that–whether true or not–are blamed on aspartame.  They include, but aren’t limited to: a multitude of neural disorders, Alzheimer’s and other memory and cognitive disorders, birth defects, joint and back pain, atherosclerosis, arthritis, vision disorders including blindness, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, headaches including migraines, hormone imbalances, MS, Parkinson’s disease, sexual and reproductive disorders, and seizures.  (See the link “Discussion of Aspartame-Related Symptoms” below.)

What do I believe, personally?  I believe there is enough information about aspartame to be cautious, if not completely avoid the stuff.  I believe that any common food additive discovered while developing a pharmaceutical drug (as aspartame was) should be held suspect.  Drugs are meant for those who really need them, not for everyday use because they happen to taste sweet.  Also, I think Dr. Monte brings up some very excellent points.  His first interesting point is that methanol is extremely toxic to humans, and humans alone.  Thus, lab testing on other species is not going to give us accurate information about potential negative repercussions of ingesting a substance containing (or metabolised into) methanol.  The sad part is, scientists already know methanol is extremely toxic to us homo sapiens.  The second point I find fascinating is the recommendation that pregnant women take folic acid during pregnancy and its (possible) connection with aspartame toxicity.  Dr. Monte writes:

     “The incidence of the Neural Tube Birth Defect, spina bifida in the United States was significantly increasing from 1992 to 1995, to the point that the US Food and Drug administration in 1996, mandated that all enriched cereal grain products be fortified with folic acid (a very unusual move since, up to that time folic acid was the only vitamin the FDA limited consumption of). The Center for Disease Control recommended that all child bearing women in the United States increase their Folic Acid intake to 400 micrograms a day, in order to prevent “Neural Tube defects”. As I stated in my 1984 article, folic acid, is primarily used by the body to give some protection from methanol metabolites, and little else. Since Folic Acid fortification has been in effect it has been reported that as much as 50% of the incidence of Neural Tube birth defects have been prevented. How many more would have been prevented by removing what is now the major source of the teratogen methanol in food… Aspartame?”  

Hmm, I find THAT fascinating on so many levels!

For more info:

Discussion of Aspartame-Related Symptoms


Aspartame Net


The Basics

The Truth About Stuff


Aspartame Blog

Read Full Post »

I think there’s been a flood watch banner at the bottom of our TV screen any time we’ve had our TV on for the past two weeks.  Straight.  I kid you not, and welcome to Ohio for those of you not familiar with her weather. 

It turns our yard into a pond.  I think I saw a fish out there today, actually.  Our Border Collie cross turns into “Swamp Dog” (yes, she’s nuts!).  When I got home from work + the feed store the other night I had to wade through the little river running across my driveway to get to my back door. 

If it were just all that, I wouldn’t mind.  And I wouldn’t complain, promise.  But, last night, my barn flooded.  NOT COOL!  It’s not flooded because of a rising creek, it’s flooded because the ground can’t take any more water and whoever built this place didn’t know about a little thing called a drainage system.  I’m not happy.  On top of that, the barn’s roof needs some work.  Our supply of hay that’s supposed to last us until June (and has been dwindling WAY too quickly) is now missing some members due to all this rain and said roof issues.  Needless to say, I’m worrying away…

Rain rain go away. 

So instead of worrying about my hay, I looked at upper level Dressage horses.  Riding Dressage is a love/hate relationship for me, but I love to watch the best.   It’s poetry in motion:   

Read Full Post »



THE BACK YARD RIDER: Usually found wearing shorts and a sports bra in the summer; flannel nightgown, muck boots, and down jacket in the winter. Drives a Ford 150 filled with saddle blankets and dog hair. Most have deformed toes from being stepped on while wearing flip-flops. Has a two-horse bumper-pull trailer, but uses it for hay storage, as her horse hasn’t been off the farm in 6 years. Can install an electric fence, set a gate, and roll a round bale, solo. Rode well and often when she used to board her horse, 5 years ago. Took horse home to “save money” and has spent about 50 grand on acreage, barn, fence, tractor, etc. Has two topics of conversation – 1) How it’s too hot/cold/wet/dry to ride. And 2) how she may ride after she fixes the fence/digs drainage ditches/stacks 4 tons of hay.


 THE NATURAL HORSEMANSHIP DEVOTEE: Looks like a throwback from a Texas ranch, despite the fact that he lives in the suburbs of New Jersey. Rope coiled loosely in hand in case he needs to herd any of those kids on roller-blades away from his F-350 dually in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Cowboy hat strategically placed, and just dirty enough to look cool. Levi’s are well worn. “Lightning” is, of course, this natural horsemanship guy’s horse. Rescued from a bad home where he was never imprinted or broke in the natural horsemanship way, he specialized in running down his owners at feeding time, knocking children off his back on low-hanging branches, and baring his teeth. The hospitalization tally for his previous handlers was 12, until he was sent to Round Pen Randy; after ten minutes in said pen, he is now a totally broke horse, bowing to the crowd, and can put on his own splint boots. (With R.P. Randy’s trademark logo embossed on them) R.P.R. says, of all this, “Well, shucks ma’am, tweren’t nuthin’!” “It’s simple horsemanship.” “With this special twirly flickitatin’ rope ($17.95 plus tax), you’ll be round-pennin’ like me in no time!”

THE ENDURANCE RIDER: Wears Lycra tights in wild neon colors. The shinier the better, so the EMT’s can find her body when her horse dumps her down a ravine. Wears hiking shoes of some sort, and T-shirts she got for paying $75 to complete another torturous ride. Her horse, Al Kamar Shazam, used to be called “you bastard” until he found an owner almost as hyper as he is. Shazam can spook at a blowing leaf, spin a 360, and not lose his big trot rhythm or give an inch to the horse behind him. Has learned to eat, drink, pee, and drop to his resting pulse rate on command. He has compiled 3,450 AERC miles; his rider compiled 3,445 (the missing five miles are the ones when he raced down the trail without his rider after performing his trademark 360. Over-heard frequently: “Anyone have Advil?” “Anyone got some food? I think last year’s Twinkies went bad.” “For this pain I spend money?” “Shazam, you bastard – it’s just a leaf [thud]!”

THE HUNTER RIDER: Is slightly anorexic and trying her best to achieve the conformation of a 17-year-old male in case she ever has a clinic with George Morris. Field marks include greeny-beige breeches and a baseball cap when schooling or mud colored coat and hardhat with dangling chinstrap when competing. Forks over about a grand a month to trainer for the privilege of letting him/her “tune” up the horse, which consists of drilling the beast until its going to put in five strides on a 60 foot line no matter WHAT she does. Sold the Thoroughbred (and a collection of lunging equipment, chambons, side reins) and bought a Warmblood. (Bought a ladder and a LONG set of spurs). Talks a lot about the horse’s success in Florida without exactly letting on that she herself has never been south of the Pennsylvania line.

THE DRESSAGE QUEEN: Has her hair in an elegant ponytail and is wearing a visor and gold earrings sporting a breed logo. A $100 dollar custom jumper (also with breed logo) is worn over $300 dollar full-seat white breeches and custom Koenigs. Her horse, “Leistergeidelsprundheim” (“Fleistergeidel” for short) is a 17.3 hand warmblood who was bred to be a Grand Prix horse. The Germans are still laughing hysterically, as he was bred to be a Grand Prix JUMPER, but since he couldn’t get out of his own way, they sold him to an American. His rider fell in love with his lofty gaits, proud carriage, and tremendous athleticism. She admires him mostly while lunging. She lunges him a lot, because she is not actually to keen to get up there and try to SIT that trot. When she rides, it’s not for long, because (while he looks FINE to everyone else), she can tell that he is not as “through” and “supple” as he should be, and gets off to call the chiropractor/massage therapist/psychic, all of which is expensive, but he WILL be shown, and shown right after he perfects (fill in the blank). The blank changes often enough that the rider can avoid the stress of being beaten at Training 1 by a Quarter Horse.

THE EVENTER: Is bent over from carrying three saddles, three bridles, three bits, and three unrelated sets of clothing (four, if she is going to have to do a trot up at a 3-Day). The hunched defensive posture is reinforced by the anticipation of “a long one” a ditch and a wall, and from living in her back protector. Perpetually broke because she pays THREE coaches (a Dressage Queen, a jumper rider, and her eventing guru, none of whom approve of the other) and pay trailers/stabling/living expenses to go 600 miles to events that are spread out over 5 days. She is smugly convinced that Eventers are in fact the only people in the world who CAN ride (since Dressage Queen’s don’t jump, the H/J crowd is to afraid to go OUT of a ring, and the fox hunters, a related breed, don’t have to deal with dressage judges). The hat cover on her cross-country helmet is secured with a giant rubber band, so she can look like her idol, Phillip. Her horse, who has previously been rejected as a race horse, a steeplechase horse (got ruled off for jumping into the in-field tailgating the crowd), a jumper, a fox hunter, and a polo pony (no bit stops this thing), has two speeds: gallop and “no gallop” (also known as stop ‘n’ dump). Excels at over jumping into water, doing a head first “tuck and roll” maneuver and exiting the complex (catch me if you can!) before his rider slogs out of the pond. Often stops to lick the Crisco off his legs before continuing gaily on to the merciless over jump just ahead. Owner often threatens to sell, but as he has flunked out of every other English-riding discipline, it will have to be to a barrel racer.

Read Full Post »