Thursday, April 30, 2009

Self-Importance Abounds

At a lunch hosted by a vendor today, I end up sitting near someone who also happens to work for my company, someone I had never met before. We introduce ourselves and say where we work.

Self-Important Company Guy: "I'm in charge of this product!"
Colleague and myself: "Really? What group do you work for?"
(in the meantime our group handles hosting for this product for our company, one would think we would have heard of him, if he was "in charge of it")
SICG: "I work for XYZ (business group)."
Me: "Oh! Do you work with BC?"
(someone from XYZ group who I've worked with previously)
SICG: "BC works FOR me."

Our branch rep sits down at our table and introduces himself to SICG (obviously didn't know who he was either).

Branch Rep: "Which business unit are you with?"
SICG: "XYZ Group"
Branch Rep: "Oh, I know BC from that group, I've spoken with him quite a bit."
SICG: "BC works FOR me."

Alrighty then. We get it. You're extremely important being in charge of the product and managing BC and all.

Do you ever get the feeling that some people have an extremely inflated idea of their own importance? I mean, that's fine and all, but why do they always have to drag everyone else into it? Sheesh.

Louie, Louie

In an odd twist, I had an email from the owner of the thoroughbred that had I tried a few weeks before buying Ruby. The owner at that time was going to give me a trial with him and then at the last minute backed out, claiming that she had decided to sell him to someone else. Well, it turns out that the sale fell through and she wants to know if I'm still interested. She admits in her note that the other buyer was offering her more money, but the vetting wasn't very clean which scared the buyer off. I'm not sure if I wouldn't have walked with the vetting issues too, but that ship sailed anyway when I bought Ruby (and I'm very happy with my decision!) Still, it's funny how things work out. I was pretty disappointed at the time when the trial with Louie fell through. I think I'll forward her email to Alison & Ann anyway, perhaps there is someone else in the barn for whom Louie is suitable. Maybe the owner would consider a lease.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Jumping with Ruby

Just a quick post to note that I had another successful jumping night with Ruby. We were off to a bit of a bad start in the lesson when she took a big spook at some kids running around across the street -- although, I was proud of myself for sticking with her pretty well and not falling off! But we ended on a high note by doing a whole jump course (at the canter) which included an oxer and a two-stride line (jump in, two strides, jump out). She did great and I think I rode her well for our first real jump course, and second time jumping together. So, we're making progress!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Time Jumping Ruby

Tonight was kind of a combination flat and jumping lesson. I was a little nervous because I hadn't jumped Ruby yet and it was the last "test" left. Not that any of this has been a true test, but every first time for something has been an opportunity to see potential for our future partnership in each area. Everything so far has worked out pretty well, not that everything is perfect, but I haven't expected perfection, just a good mind, good personality and the potential for our future partnership. The jumping was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to complete my first impressions of Ruby,

We started on the flat and I had a lot of trouble with Ruby tossing her head. I had noticed this on my trail ride the other day and it wasn't a problem I remember having with her the first time I rode her last week. It's definitely a problem with me, I need to somehow find a happy medium between too much / too stiff contact and too loose / too little contact. I'm not quite there yet with her, but at least I'm aware of it and can work on it. Tonight it was also very windy and Ruby was a bit of a looky-loo for a good part of the hour. Had her head up, ears pricked and wanted to look around a lot, with also affected her general head & frame carriage. Towards the end of the flat part of the lesson, it had already gotten much better, although I think my contact was probably a bit too loose still, but it was better than the head tossing. I found that I was able to transition to canter much better tonight than I did last week with my first ride or two with her. The transition is still a little rough, but it was much better -- and I really had only worked on this a little bit over the past week, so that makes me feel like this will improve quickly with consistent work. Our pace at every gait was also much more consistent & steady, although there were a couple of breaks at the canter, towards the end of each canter session I seemed to be able to ride her through this issue too. On the right lead she seems more unbalanced and tends to lean in heavily on the turn. I tried to counter-balance that by leaning myself towards the outside, but I had to concentrate on doing that. This is something that I also think will improve with training and with regular work.

Finally it was time to jump. I was really very nervous. Not nervous in an, "OMG, I'm afraid I'm going to die!" kind of way. But more in a, I'm riding a new horse, I don't know what to expect, I want to do her justice, I don't want to screw up, I don't want find that there is some weird, unexpected jumping style or something that I can't deal with, with my own short-comings. I want to continue to love Ruby and feel enthusiasm for our future partnership, etc. etc. etc. There were a lot of thoughts and emotions running through my system so, bottom-line, I was a bit of a bundle of nerves. The first couple of jumps with her were slightly frisky, but mostly because of my own nervous interference. But even with her burst of enthusiasm, she didn't make a huge rush for the jumps, or take some huge spot (taking off far too early) in front of them -- something that some horses will do if you ramp them up too much. Once I had jumped a couple of times, I felt myself physically, mentally and emotionally relax and the last few jumps we did were much better. Overall, my impression is that she is very steady jumping. Dependable, enthusiastic, steady pace and honest. Of course we only did a few very small jumps, but it was enough to allow me to draw a huge sigh of relief and feel that this is GOOD. She's great, we're going to be FINE.

Observation: Automatic Faucets

I mean. With the Swine Flu apparently sweeping the nation, it might be a nice option to be able to control the water temperature when washing one's hands in a public restroom. You know, because hot water might be a bit more effective against killer germs than say, cool to tepid water. Just a thought.

You Know that You're Having an Aggravating and Frustrating Day When:

You're sitting in your cube already muttering & cursing to yourself and it's not even 10 AM yet.


Monday, April 27, 2009


I'm surprisingly tired for a Monday night. Odd. I didn't even go riding.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another Nice Trail Ride

I decided to take another trail ride today, however this time I was on my own. I got to the barn around noonish and things were very quiet. I was surprised that there weren't more people around as it was another beautiful, summer-like day. Anyway, I am no stranger to trail riding on my own, but I had been thinking that I might want to ride with others for a few times until Ruby and I were a little more settled in with each other. But since no one else was around and riding today and I didn't feel like another ride in the ring (did that yesterday) I decided to brave the trails alone.

On Friday with Marilyn, we had accessed the trails by riding through some of the apple orchards down the road. I decided to just go up the road and catch the trail from a different spot. Ruby was just great, not spooky at all, she didn't mind being out on the trail alone, just the two of us. We did a lot of trotting and some short bits of cantering here and there. Walked where is was rocky or there were lots of tree roots, or we were going steeply down-hill, but tried to trot a lot otherwise. I took one trail out to the end and then turned around and picked back up the trail that Marilyn and I had been on, on Friday. Well, at one point I must have made a wrong turn because I ended up a little lost. I knew it once I came to a wooden foot bridge -- I know that we hadn't come across that on our ride on Friday. I directed Ruby around it and through the stream beneath it. She hesitated a bit at first because the water was moving (the water we had been through on Friday had been more of the standing variety), but with some encouragement from me she went through it without too much fuss.

We ended up coming out of the trail way down the road from the barn. So it was a bit of a long ride along the road to get back, but I didn't really mind much. It was actually a really nice way to see the neighborhood. Very enjoyable. All through everything, the trails and the road and whatever, Ruby continued to be a star. We were even passed by a loud motorcycle and also passed some loud wood-chipper or some kind of machinery making very "scary" noises and she was just fine. Like I keep saying, a steady, sensible girl.

Once I got home, is was a good rinse off on the wash station for her and lots of carrots and some apple pieces as a reward. Okay, and maybe it was also as a bit of a bribe so that she'll be as in love with me as I am with her -- heh.

So, I've ridden Ruby five days in a row now and feel like we're well on the way to getting to know each other. I really am enjoying her so far and feel very lucky to have her. I've heard far too many stories of people who end up with horses that just aren't right for them, so I'm feeling very grateful right about now. Of course, now I have to really get down to the hard work with Alison in the lessons, starting this week. The hard work has yet to begin.

On my way home I stopped in at the farm stand down the road from the barn to buy a soda. This guy in line behind me noticed that I was wearing riding clothes (and probably also noticed how dirty and sweaty I was) and asked me, "did you ride your horse here???" At first I wasn't sure what he meant and said, "oh I ride at a barn down the road, I keep a horse there. OH! Do you mean, did I ride my horse to the store and have her tied outside somewhere?" and he said, "yes!" -- his eyes all lighted up with excitement. Too funny.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ruby's First Trail Ride (in New Hampshire)

Because it was supposed to be beautiful, and because I have a new horse to ride, I scheduled a vacation day for today. I just love these Spring days where you just start to get a taste of Summer, I love to take advantage of them if I can. And what better way to enjoy a sunny, lovely 70-degree day than to go on a long trail ride with my new horse?

Marilyn (one of my friends from horse camp, who also boards at the barn) kindly agreed to go with me today. This is especially good because, besides for the company, she also knows the trail system really well! One of the ways to hook into the nearby trails is to ride through some of the apple orchards down the road (which is very generous of the local farmers). There were some people working on the trees as we passed by that the horses took a few spooky looks at, but there were no major freak outs. We also managed to pass a tractor underway that both horses passed by without any major issue and then we were into the woods on the trails. I was very pleased to see that the trail network seems pretty extensive. We took a loop that is about an hour and a half long. It wound through the woods, over and through water, up and down hills (even down some steep banks). There were sections for trotting and some good canter opportunities. Through it all Ruby was a star, I was thrilled with her, really thrilled. There were a couple of minor spooks, but other than that she was steady and sensible, went through water without issue, up and down the steep sections with no problem, on trails and banks over water, without a blink. She didn't mind when Marilyn's horse led and didn't mind if she led. Even during the canter bits she was quiet and responsive and stayed in the position I asked of her -- she didn't try to run away with me or think of it as an opportunity for a horse race. And all of this in a very mild, loose-ring snaffle bit too. So all-in-all a very fun and successful riding day.

After the ride I put Ruby up on the wash stall and hosed her off. She was also very good about that, stood calmly and let me spray the water as I wanted. She really is a very sensible girl.

What a wonderful way to spend an impromptu vacation day!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Ruby Ride

Another nice ride on Ruby today. I'm still keeping it loose and easy. We're not working too hard, just some trot work, some canter work with a lot of walking in between. Trying to get more consistent with everything, but more importantly, we're getting to know each other. Even though we didn't really work very hard, I rode Ruby for a long time. About an hour and a half, I think. I also did a bunch of socializing with other people from the barn while sitting on her and watched a couple of lessons (I love to watch lessons, I usually end up learning something). I definitely felt much more comfortable and relaxed today and completely happy to be hanging out at the barn while sitting on her.

I sent in an application for Ruby to compete in a sanctioned HT in a couple of weeks. Alison is going to ride her. It will help give her some mileage so that once I'm ready to ride in HTs myself, at least one of us will know what we're doing!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finally Ruby

Well, I finally rode Ruby and she is just as lovely as I had hoped that she would be. It was not very nice out today, it seemed to alternate from drizzling to pouring rain, and I wasn't too ambitious either. I just wanted to start to get to know her. I was a little nervous to start, but she made me feel very comfortable pretty quickly. I was very encouraged to see how nicely she frames up and comes onto the bit. It is my own shortcoming that I can't keep her there for every beat, but now I know that she does it and does it nicely and relatively easily, so it gives me something to strive for. It's good to know that I will get good results from her when I do everything correctly. I just have to work on being steadier and more consistent. I also had trouble keeping her pace consistent, but her gaits were very nice and very comfortable. Not too bouncy, nor too flat. So I think I have a lot to work with and am very happy about that. Best of all, she didn't seem at all spooky, seems to have a good, sensible mind. Even though she looked around a bit at her new surroundings, She didn't freak over anything and never took a step wrong. I am very, very happy.

I don't plan on jumping her until my lesson next Tuesday, so we'll see how that goes then. However it is, it's going to be a work in progress. Ruby is young, so we have years to work together and become wonderful partners.

I was also very happy that my new (well, new to me) saddle fits her and seems to fit me as well. I was a bit worried about that, since I bought it on eBay and before I even had a horse! The saddle fitter is coming tomorrow, so I'll get official feedback from them then, but so far so good.

So, all-in-all a good first session and very positive overall. I'm very happy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I finally received my necessary tack in the mail today and it's pouring rain out. So, no riding tonight!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Things I Hate about the Gym

* Locker rooms. No matter how old I get, nor how many years I continue to have a gym membership, I don't think I'll ever feel truly comfortable using a locker room. I really, really hate changing in "public". I know there are some out there who think that this is some flaw in my personality and that I should just get over it. But I don't like it, I feel incredibly self-conscious. Always have, always will. Everyone has their thing. This is one of mine. I also hate the constant running of blow dryers and the way some women feel that they have to spread their crap all over the place.
* LOUD and BAD music. I mean, comeon. I am at the gym at work. I work for a conservative financial company. Do you REALLY think most people want to listen to horrible disco or (worse) mind-numbing techno music? Besides, most people have iPods at this point anyway. Now, because of the loud pounding horrible music, we all just have to crank them up and risk permanent deafness. The alternative is to run screaming from the gym -- that's what this music makes me want to do.
* People who invade personal space. Like the guy who absolutely MUST use that the treadmill next to me, when all the other remaining 8 are free. Or the woman who decides that the locker right next to mine is ideal, even though the rest of the room is empty. WTF???
* Self-congratulatory pompous asses who want to make sure everyone in the room knows great they run, or how much they work out. I listened to this guy today tell three different, completely unrelated, people (at different times) that he ran 10 miles yesterday and that "Heineken" he had afterwards was the best he's ever had. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We're all so freaking impressed.


Boston Marathon Monday

Good luck to all the runners! Looks like it's a wonderful day for running.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Horse Tack

I think I'm addicted to horse tack. I keep looking at stuff online and shopping for it and buying bits & pieces of it. So far I have bought or ordered:

* A saddle (on eBay a couple of weeks ago -- I hope it works for both Ruby and for me).
* A bridle (on order, hopefully will be here by tomorrow).
* A bit.
* A girth (hopefully arriving with the bridle & bit).
* A breast plate.
* Galloping boots.
* Various saddle & wither pads.
* A pair of reins (nicer than the ones that come with the bridle), purchased on my way home from Boston today.

In addition to the above are also sundry items like fly spray, turnout sheet and other stuff.

Oddly, I have not purchased one article of clothing for myself (either for work or for play) for the new season. That's extremely unusual.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wireless Internet and the Screened Porch

I worked from home today, as I usually do on Fridays and I was very lucky to be able to enjoy this fabulous day by spending part of it out on the screened porch with the work laptop. First time I've used the porch this year -- it was about 72 degrees! It was lovely and such a nice change from the claustrophobic cube. I'm so lucky to have this flexibility.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ahhhhh Spring!

I think the dogs have Spring fever, particularly Tig. I've never seen dogs want to constantly go in & out out like this! They come in and want to go out again. They ask to come back in once more, and they want out again twenty minutes later. Sheesh! I would be annoyed, but it was a rather long Winter, so I can't say as I blame them all that much.

Lulu & Ruby

So, last night was technically my last ride on Lulu and I’m actually incredibly sad about it.

Tuesday night I had a great jumping lesson with Ann – she called it “Graduation Night”. We did a few jumping courses, cantering everything. I know that this doesn’t sound too impressive, but with Lulu’s habit of rushing fences and taking big distances, it’s been great to be able to trot into jumps to keep better control of pace and to better allow me to ride her to the base of everything. On Tuesday I had to bring everything that I had learned about riding Lulu together and ride steady, cantering jump rounds and I have to say that it came off beautifully. I was able to keep her steady and balanced and at a perfect pace. She came back to me after every fence, listened to everything I asked her to do, didn’t take any huge distances – she was a total star, I was so proud of her.

Last night we had a more mellow lesson with Kelly. Everyone was feeling rather lazy and not too ambitious. We did a little jumping, but we were all pretty satisfied pretty early on. I, personally, felt that I had proved whatever I had to prove the night before and was happy to leave well enough alone at that stage. We spent the last ten minutes of the session chatting with Kelly, which is always fun – she always has great stories about the Eventing world.

Now that I’ve bought a horse and will be ending my half-lease of Lulu, I won’t be riding her regularly any more. I’m very sad, I’ve really come to love her. She’s not the easiest horse to ride, but I have learned so much with her and am now feeling like I’ve reached a place where I know how to ride her to bring the best out of her. I finally know how to ride Lulu and it’s time to say “goodbye” and start all over with a new horse. This is pretty much a new experience for me, never having owned a horse before, in my former riding life, I was very used to always riding different horses. It’s a rare thing for me to be able to build a partnership with one particular horse, and after six months, that’s what I feel like I have with Lulu, a partnership. I can only hope that my relationship with the new horse will be as happy and successful.

Speaking of the new horse … she arrived yesterday! I had had “Mackie” as a barn name in my head for her, but I wasn’t completely sold on it. I also couldn’t seem to come up with a good show name that would tie that in (not that the show name really needs to relate to the barn name, but I kind of wanted it to). I also came up with “Ruby” and waffled back and forth between the two names all morning. Finally they were here and so I ran down to the barn to meet her. There she was calmly hanging out in her paddock, not at all fussed by being in a new place (after being on a 24 hour trailer ride or whatever), nor by all the activity around her. Right away “Ruby” seemed to suit her – she kind of looks like a Ruby, so Ruby it is. I’m thinking that her show name might be “Ruby Slippers”, I think it’s kind of cute. Anyway, I ran back to the barn last night on the way to my lesson to bring her the turnout blanket that I had ordered for her (which had conveniently arrived in the mail that afternoon). I put her on cross-ties and fussed around her a bit as I fitted the sheet to her. She was a little nervous on the ties with all the barn activity, being in a new place and with everyone settling back into the Summer barn, but she calmed down nicely as I worked around her.

I’m not sure when I’m actually going to end up riding her for the first time. I have a saddle, but no bridle or girth (I’ve ordered both). I also wonder if I should ride her for the first time in a lesson. On the other hand, I’m dying to start to get to know her! I think I’m going to take a vacation day next Friday, if the weather looks like it’s going to be nice. I should have the rest of my stuff by then (I hope) and so can hack around with her. Marilyn (one of my friends from adult riding camp) said that she would trail ride with me – sounds like the perfect day.

So, I am both very excited and a little nervous for this next, new phase in my riding life. Ruby is super sweet on the ground, I just hope that we really hit it off under saddle. I also hope that I can do her justice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What happens when Dressage & Reining faces off?

I just love this!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

She should be here sometime tomorrow!

04.15.2009 10:25 AM Update: Alison expects to be here with her around 11 AM. I'm going to run out between meetings and meet her -- work clothes and all.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I may be a bit of a freak

But, sometimes I rather like Mondays. In fact, very often this is so.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Buying a Horse

I posted last week about my frustrations with horse shopping. After the trial with “Louie” fell through, I started seriously looking at horse ads through various resources. I answered a bunch and Ann (one of the trainers at my barn) also sent me a bunch. I followed up on quite a few of them and in pretty much all cases, all of the horses I had found in my price range had something wrong with them. In particular were the horses that actually had a record with the US Eventing Association -- horses that never cleared cross-country and were thus eliminated from every competition (not a very good sign, you want a horse that you can trust on cross-country). The horses that didn’t have any kind of USEA record were even more concerning because then that really becomes a crap shoot. Might be a nice horse, but you just don’t know how they’re going to be. Plenty of perfectly nice & reasonable horses suddenly freak out when faced with being out on a cross-country course alone, or asked to ride through water or up / down a bank or to jump a ditch. Or maybe a horse who has performed well in hunters but will never achieve a respectable dressage frame. You just don’t know. But I was looking quite a bit and responding to ads, corresponding via email with people, Ann and I both were looking up USEA records (and both being scared senseless by what we found!)

And then on Monday Alison forwarded me an ad for a horse down in Aiken. Between my & Ann’s searching (and maybe some searching online by Alison as well) she had determined that there wasn’t much for sale up here in my price range -- at least there didn’t seem to be any suitable eventing horses in my price range. So she had been looking around down there at the same time. She found this reasonably-priced Irish Sport Horse mare who is relatively young (five), she had been doing some fox hunting and then had been introduced to eventing this Winter. She’s competed in a few horse trials (at Beginner Novice level) in the South over the past few months, always going clean jumping and even coming in fourth at one sanctioned event. I liked the price and the look of the horse and I liked how she seemed on the video they had of her, so Alison went off to see her.

The sellers trailered her over to a neutral location that the horse had never been to before, the seller’s rider rode her around a bit and then Alison tried her. She ended up liking her quite a bit, found her reasonably easy to get on the bit (especially given that this is still somewhat new to the horse), a willing jumper, and a quiet and sensible ride. She then called me and spoke to me at length. Alison knows how I ride, knows what my goals are and knows what my strengths & weakness are and therefore has a pretty good feel for what I need in a horse. As a professional, she also knows Eventing very well and what is needed in an adult amateur horse to event -- for me, at least, at the lower levels for now. We discussed the horse and what I want. We both came to the conclusion that she is a lot of horse for the money and I was particularly attracted to the fact that she’s young (like Gambler was). I like the feeling that I could have the horse for many years, that we’re both just starting out our riding careers and could potentially have a great partnership in many different things for a very long time.

The sellers were extremely agreeable and arranged with Alison to have the horse out to her farm in Aiken for a couple of days. This was so that Alison could test her out some more, and also hack her around some, to make sure the horse wasn’t stupid or crazy or reacts horribly to new circumstances, etc. The big question that remained was whether I was going to run down to Aiken for a day to also try her out. I went back & forth about it for a few days and then finally decided not to, but to trust what Alison felt about the horse after trying her some more. I’m still a little conflicted about the decision not to go, but I felt that it was going to cost me a lot of money and time for just one ride, where it was very unlikely that we would completely click on that first ride anyway. In my experience, it takes months to even start to click with a horse, certainly with Lulu I didn’t start really to do so until recently -- and I’ve been riding her for 6 months! It’s also very rare for me to get on a horse and just hate him/her. I can’t remember the last time that happened (it would have been over 22 years ago) so really the point of the one test ride would be a matter of, did I feel like the horse had the potential to be a good partner for me? If Alison seems to think so, I’m actually inclined to trust her judgement more than my own! Anyway, Alison also said that the mare is so nice that, even if I don’t click with her and I realize down the line that it’s not going to work out for us, that I really would have no problem selling her for at least what I paid, if not more (and given that she will have more training and some more competition under her belt, it would be reasonable to assume that I could get more). Given what little I’ve seen for sale in the area, I have to agree. But, like I said, it’s pretty unlikely that I wouldn’t like the horse anyway.

Alison took possession of the mare on Friday and spent a lot of time with her, on the ground and riding her. Rode her around the farm, introduced her to some spooky stuff, tried her over some jumps that she hadn’t seen before. Apparently the only jump she gave her a hard time about was the ditch, but after schooling her over it, she was able to bring her back to it much later and the horse popped over it nicely, she didn’t stubbornly hold on to her original objection to it (a good sign). She also hacked her down the road and she seemed fine to hack out alone and didn’t mind leaving the farm behind. Her spooking consisted of slowing or stopping to take a second look at scary stuff, but not the crow hopping, leaping sideways or fleeing-type of spooking that is hard to deal with (and might make me think twice about wanting to trail ride a horse). She said that she had a little trouble balancing her before some of the jumps when cantering to them, that she would sometimes break to a trot. But she feels that this is an experience issue, in fox hunting she was probably just used to being able to gallop at everything and just doesn’t understand that a balancing half-halt is not a request for a downward transition -- she just needs a little more training and mileage. The horse was also very nice on the ground, cross-tied, hung out quietly in a stall (without cribbing or weaving or showing any anxiety) while other horses were out in the paddocks. So Alison came to the conclusion that the mare was sane, sensible, sweet on the ground, has some nice eventing potential, is green, but not “hot” green (in other words, she still needs some training and experience, but is not the explosive type of green that would be dangerous for an amateur) and will therefore be a nice match for me. We spoke about this all at length on Friday morning so I said, “Let’s go ahead with the vetting”.

The results came back very favorable from the vet on Friday night. Alison was actually a bit amazed as her vet down there has a tendency to be very conservative, she says that she’s never been able to buy a horse down there before because he nixes everything! So the fact that he was extremely positive about the results of everything in his exam of this horse (including x-rays) is remarkable.

So, I’m going forward with the purchase! I know it seems a bit strange that I haven’t even met the horse yet, but I felt like I could make a reasonable leap of faith here. I just hope I love her as much as I’ve loved Lulu, and as much as I felt that I was going to love Gambler. I sure am looking forward to having a horse that I can compete with as well as a horse I can take trail riding, to hunter paces, do conditioning work with, etc.

The mare’s current name is “BeBe”, which I don’t like, so I’m going to be changing it. She is a pinto-colored Irish Sport Horse, so I was thinking of names with an Irish theme. I am kind of playing with a barn name of “Mackie”, with an official (“show”) name of something like, “The Colors of MacDuff”, but I’m not sure (any opinions or ideas are welcome!)

The plan at the moment is to have her on training board for the first couple of months to give her a bit of a finishing. Training board means that Alison (or perhaps Ann) will ride the horse in training 5-6 days a week (in addition to the riding I’m doing). This should polish up her dressage and jumping skills. Alison will also ride her in a few sanctioned events in New England this Spring & Summer to give her some mileage and I will do some schooling events on her. By the end of the Summer or early Fall, hopefully I will be ready to start taking her to some sanctioned events myself.

Here is a short video of her -- isn’t she cute?

She is coming North with Alison this week. I'm not sure what day they're arriving, probably Thursday or Friday. I need so much stuff!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Ambien = Miracle Drug!

I’ve written here repeatedly, and with increasing frequency, about my on-going battle with insomnia. It’s gotten to the point where my sleepless nights are out-numbering the nights where I actually manage to string together a few hours of sleep (and I can’t even call those restful nights).

I had an appointment with my doctor last week for an actual physical – that may actually have been a first, I tend to go the doctor if something is wrong, or for a fifteen minute consult about whether my thyroid levels are correct, but an actual, real physical, I can’t remember the last time I had one of those. Well, the results were that I’m pretty healthy. My cholesterol has actually come down quite a bit over the last year or so (was somewhat high, but is now normal). My BP was something like 100/60. Everything else was great, but I brought up the insomnia and how it is affecting my ongoing quality of life. The doctor seems to think that it is hormones (I’ve been thinking that too). Fine, but do I really have to live like this? She mentioned that it was okay to continue to take Advil PM or Unisom or some other OTC stuff. Great. But then I asked, “Well, could you prescribe Ambien to me?” She looked at me for a beat and then said, “Sure. I could do that.”

So with an official prescription in my greedy little hand, I trundled off to the pharmacy and got it filled. I decided to take it for the first time on Friday night since I didn’t know how it was going to affect me and I preferred to sort that out on a weekend, rather than struggling to be at work or something while under the influence. Well. Let me say that I had just about the best nights sleep that I can remember ever. I took the pill right before I was to climb into bed (I had visions of otherwise falling asleep and drooling on my couch with all the lights and TV on, etc.). I remember turning off the light and then nothing at all else until about 5 AM when I very naturally and gradually woke up. No repeated trips to the bathroom (which even happens when I’ve taken Advil PM), no waking up to see the clock and going back to sleep (ditto), no repeatedly changing positions in the bed. Just deep, blissful sleep. Once 5 AM hit, I was able to sleep lightly for another couple of hours, it just wasn’t the deep sleep that I had for the rest of the night. When I was up for the day I felt no residual tiredness or sleepiness. No sleep hangover. I felt awake and refreshed and was not looking for a nap suddenly later in the day.

So, for me, I conclude that Ambien is BRILLIANT! I can’t believe I’ve lived in this misery and that I’ve waited this long to ask about it. Now I am in dire fear that my doctor and/or insurance company will someday become stingy with the prescription! ACCCCCCKKKKK!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Horse Shopping

I ended up having to pass on Gambler because of the vet findings. The vet in Aiken brought the x-rays around for a few opinions and everything came back pretty dire. The results were particularly concerning considering the young age of the horse. Alison told me that she wouldn’t want to take that chance, so I had to push emotions aside and listen to the professional. It hurt my heart a bit, but I have to believe that I made the right decision, but there is going to be a very big part of myself that’s going to always wonder if he was “The One”. I still carry the memory of my huge shit-eating grin while riding him cross-country that day -- I felt like I could do anything with that horse.

Fast-forward a few days and Alison emailed me about another horse she knew of for sale locally a few towns away. “Louie” is a 12 year-old thoroughbred who is owned by a former student of Alison’s, actually a girl who was a working student with Alison a few years ago. Louie and his owner spent some time down in Aiken at that time, so Alison knows him pretty well. So, I went off last Sunday to give him a try. Ann graciously went with me. Immediately it occurred to me that Louie is pretty big! About 16 hands, but built big for a thoroughbred, more like a warmblood almost. Anyway, Ann rode him first and got some very nice movement out of him. Then I got on. I found him reasonably easy to get on the bit and to track up to a nice frame, even though he was really out of shape. I found his gaits very big and bouncy, however, I was a little bit all over the place. Ann and the seller (the owner’s mother) then set up a couple of jumps that we popped over nicely. We noticed that the rain had stopped, so we then went out to the outdoor ring to try a few of the jumps out there. We had a couple of rushy-rushy jumps and a few where I had to try and sort out my body position after the fence (since I’m used to horses that you need to gather right back again and I guess Louie is used to a very neutral position), but we sorted it out after a few fences. Afterwards we spent a lot of time talking to the seller about Louie, his history, his training, what he’s like, etc. And I came to realize that he’s also a very sweet boy on the ground. He was a bit like a big puppydog. So the seller suggested that, since she knows and trusts Alison, I could perhaps take him on trial for a month.

I followed the tryout immediately by talking to both Alison and Ann and everyone seemed to think that Louie could be a nice match for me. So we spent part of the week trying to make arrangements for the trial. Alison had a stall opening up and so we were going to start the trial for this Sunday. The seller threw a last minute wrench in the works however, as we were making the final arrangements that she suddenly had another buyer coming out to see him yesterday and that she would get back to me today. It seemed a little bit odd since the horse had apparently been for sale for a long time, was out of condition and hadn’t been in any kind of consistent work, but whatever. Anyway, the seller followed up today to say that she’s decided to sell him someone else, but hey, thanks!

I’m surprisingly disappointed. I mean, I didn’t spend enough time with Louie to get very attached, but still, I was looking forward to exploring whether we were going to be right for each other. Part of me is also beating myself up a bit too. I wonder if I did something wrong, did the woman not like me, did she hate the way I rode her horse, or that my butt was too big? I don’t know, and I guess I’ll never know, but I’m finding myself somewhat down on myself nonetheless.

So, I’m back to square one in the horse shopping arena. This is something that I’ve been waiting for my whole life and I have to say that so far I sure am NOT having fun. I’m not sure now if I should be reading and responding to horse ads, or if I should wait more for the “word-of-mouth” type of leads -- Alison knows pretty much everyone in Eventing in the area after all, she is bound to hear about some nice horses here or there. So I’m feeling a little lost and depressed and overwhelmed about it all and not sure what direction to go in next.