Quietly Trucking Along

It has been a month since I have written.  I have had nothing to say.  I have needed time to process life and what it has in store for me. I have no new answers.  I am just determined to make the changes I need to make to my life to match the challenges with which I am faced.

What has been going on?  Well, Lauren, Mia (from Malaysia), Ally, Jordyn, Kendyll and I traveled to Denver to stay with Amber and family.  Originally, this trip was booked as we would be able to see our new baby horse and we could not wait.  As it was, getting up enthusiasm for the trip was hard for me.  The last thing I wanted to do was head to Colorado the scene of my recent heart-breaking loss.

Kendyll and Lexie showing off matching rompers

But family and kids are great reminders of the good in life and I did so enjoy the time we all spent together.  We had Kendyll’s and Lexie’s birthdays to celebrate.

Amber and Ryan competed in a “Tough Mudder” race at Copper Mountain Ski Resort while the rest of us rode chairlifts (that was a little traumatizing with the kids either being scared to death or wanting to jump off-respectively), let the kids do their own obstacle course and just hung-out. It was a glorious blue Colorado day and it was hard to not be happy spending time with the kids and grandkids.

My grandkids surrounding me with love

After a couple of days in the mountains, it was back to Denver.  Kendyll, just five, wanted to go see granny-nanny (my mom) at the cemetery.  It was good to visit my whole, immediate family who are buried there now.  We brought lots of flowers, remembered good times and cried a bit. I am glad my grandchildren remember my mother so well and want to visit her grave.  One thing about the farm life is that death, as ugly as it is, happens regularly.

Back in Houston, Lauren and Mia prepared for their trip to Malaysia.  Lauren went back home with Mia for two weeks.  Lauren has had the year of living large with her amazing riding locales and this fabulous trip across the world. This trip she got to voyage on to Thailand for a beach get-away.  As if a trip to Malaysia was not enough.

000malan

Mia swimming in the clear seas.

Meanwhile, I am back in Houston doing my day job, having Ally’s great help with the horses and spending what seems to be the norm any more, time alone.  I have to say I have a great routine down and actually have been getting up, getting the horse and animal chores done and getting to work earlier than usual.  The evenings are busy with chores until I drop, exhausted, into bed.

Lauren will be home this weekend and a lot of change is in store for both of us this fall.  I have some very nice horses for sale and I appreciate that many of you have shared my ads.  I hope to find amazing homes for these animals I love so dearly.

As always, thanks for riding along.

Flexible GES aka Bull

For at least five years I have watched and revered the great champion and stallion Flexible.  I dreamed and dreamed about a baby from this supreme stallion- what it could mean to my farm and to my daughter. Many sleepless nights were spent trying to decide the perfect bride for this wonderful stallion. We wanted to breed our horse Feather, an Irish sport horse to Irish horse Flexible but she was a maiden mare meaning she had never had a baby, and we were unsure what the results would be.

We even discussed the breeding of Feather and Flexible with Bennie Traurig, an Olympian, and his words to us were for let me know when the baby was born, that’s how excited he was about the potential mating of Flexible and Feather.

But in the end we chose to go with Silhouette, Betty Sue’s mother, an experienced broodmare with outstanding German jumping lines, a great mind and easy disposition. Our thoughts for breeding these two would be to offset the sometimes stubborn/opinionated Flexible with the gentle spirit of Silhouette.  And they couldn’t have been much  better of  a match in terms of size and development.

So last year at this time the breeding took place and almost one year to the day from the time that Silhouette was bred she gave birth to a beautiful buckskin baby colt on July 3.

But that’s where this fairytale story started to go wrong.  We all expected and then waited for this baby to get up and then start nursing but this baby never did. There are many reasons this happens none of them good.
For the next 48 hours everything possible was done for this baby to successfully get up and nurse. Stephanie, God bless her soul,  hand fed by bottle baby Bull (get it- short for  Flexible?) for 48 long hours never missing a feeding, never missing a moment where the baby might eat even if he refused.

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My daughter spent a lot of her career and the time in neonatology with human babies and called this initial period as Bull eagerly ate to be the honeymoon period.  Then as sometimes human babies do, he “tanked”.

In the beginning baby Bull was bright and responsive and couldn’t wait for his next feeding. He ate hungerly and often but as time went on he became lethargic and quit eating. This was not a “dummy” foal.

In the meantime, we tried everything that we could to get Bull standing with legs that had been contracted too long in the womb with a great trained  Colorado State University Vet.  Even when he could stand he gave up trying to stand.  It was not meant to be.

Yesterday morning after 48 hours of life I agreed with the vet that it was time to let baby Bull go.   His life was not destined to be for whatever reason. Reasons we will never know. I’ve said it before but dreams die first.  My family, Stephanie and close friends are devastated by this loss.

I cannot thank Stephanie enough for all she did to take care of my baby during his two days of life. I doubt she slept at all. I also know she would do it all over again if she thought it would make a difference.

 Flexible GES July 3-July 5, 2017 

In love you were conceived.

And know in love you leave.

The summer of ’77

Waking up this morning, needing to get up and feed the dogs,  knowing the horses would need attention,  knowing my old body would be grinding in protest, I wanted to turn away and go back to sleep. And suddenly I wondered, what it must’ve been like 40 years ago, the summer before my college graduation when I might’ve awakened in Fort Collins, Colorado to a whole day ahead of me with no appointments at all. And no real obligations.

Don’t get me wrong, I was busy then I worked a couple of different jobs.   I went to school full-time. I had a cat.  And I don’t remember an overwhelming sense of freedom of waking up and having a whole day stretch ahead of me with nothing to fill up but time.  I probably made up things to fill the time as we did when we were young and didn’t know the value of time or its place.

Fort Collins, Colorado, in the summer,  was as close to ideal as one could ever imagine. Perfect weather.  Blue skies, dear friends and mountains beckoning.
I wish I could capture that feeling of not having to get up and do something in the morning and have my body willingly and not complainingly wanting to do it with me. Oh the many things I would do over again if I could.

I certainly would take this day that I had off away from work and away from school and I would’ve driven down to Denver and I would’ve visited with my parents and seen my sister, Betty.  I didn’t know then how little time I would have with any of them especially my sister.
I might’ve taken a long bike ride along the mountain ridge as I often did in those days enjoying the freedom, the isolation and the ability to go where I wanted to go by myself. I might’ve just spent the day cleaning my little apartment. I don’t know how I would’ve spent the day but I would give anything to have the day over again to spend, to have time to hope and I think about my dreams.

Many, many of my dreams have certainly come true. I have had a blessed life but there’s something about the innocence of those days in the green Fort Collins that I would give anything to have one more glimpse of.

As always, thanks for riding along.

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I have some amazing horses for sale top of the crop, if anyone is looking please be in touch.

Ready to Relay?

Jordyn with the red cap before starting backstroke.

Some of you may have seen that my granddaughter, Jordyn, at age nine, tried out for swimteam and made it.  I was a swimmer for most of my youth, swimming on summer and winter teams in the Chicagoland area.  I was actually shocked when Jo made the team.  She could swim but wow, to get in and compete against kids who had been doing this for a few years already, is hard.

First meet, Jordyn did not have a quality dive or a good turn but she got in and won a second place and some other ribbons.  Excellent start.  Her coach clearly believes in her and pushed into the relay space (filling in for an absent swimmer) at this last meet.  Oh, goodness, barely a dive and now has to wait for the other swimmer to touch and dive off into the pool to swim the relay race.  She was worried sick and having a panic attack but she listened to her coach and focused on what to do.  Guess what, the relay won first place!!

Jordyn ended up with three firsts (swimming freestyle in two relays and 50 yard free) and a second place for the day! I can’t help but think where she will be when that dive becomes routine and those turns are flip turns.  Wow, this lean, tall girl is going to be (or has become) a swimmer!

I love Seth Godin on any day but this blog about relays was certainly appropriate for me (and Jordyn).  I hope you enjoy it too!

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2017/06/mental-load-and-the-worry-cache.html

Mental load and the worry cache by Seth Godin

It’s well known that the team that wins an Olympic relay isn’t the fastest at running or swimming—it’s the team that handles the handoffs the best.

The same thing is true of your job. The tasks could be done by many people, but someone who is great at your job embraces the mental effort necessary to do task switching, to read between the lines, to keep many balls going at the same time. Strategy and tactics both.

Sometimes, we think that these are the things that get in the way of our work. In fact, they are the work.

Writing a sentence is easy. Deciding what to write in the next sentence is hard.

Making decisions is exhausting. It involves perception and analysis and most of all, taking responsibility. Pretending to lead and manage is a trivial task, because there’s no, “what if?”

It turns out that the mental load of management is primarily around experiencing failure.

Actual failure, sure, but mostly potential failure. Imagining failure in advance. All the current things that could go wrong. And more important, the things you’re not doing that will be obvious oversights later. Our brains work overtime to cycle through these, to learn to see around corners, to have the guts to delegate without doing the work ourselves (even though that creates more imagined points of failure). Scan, touch, consider, analyze, repeat.

The other thing that’s a huge load: Worry. Unlike all the things I’ve already mentioned, worry isn’t actually part of your job. Worry (expressed through non-productive pessimistic cycles over things out of your control) is antithetical to the work you’ve agreed to do.

Clear your cache of worry.

It’ll free up your processor to focus on the useful stuff.

Genetics

One very pregnant Silhouette!

With the birth of our next baby horse weeks away, I have spent a lot of time reflecting upon the genetics involving the father and mother.  Of course, I hope that I have chosen the right combination to produce an outstanding jumper that also has a trainable mind and hungry heart.  (Try finding those terms defined in a breeder’s literature about their stallion.)

Genetics mix differently with each baby.  Are all your children the same?  Mine are surely not.  Even horses with full siblings may not look, act or move like their brother or sister.

My kids are separated out by age.   Amber, my oldest is six years older than her sister, Ally, and 12 years older than her sister, Lauren.  They all have distinct personalities and likes and dislikes.   In some ways, Amber and Lauren look more alike and have similar likes and dislikes than their sister Ally.  Genetics, it is all weird.

I am watching my baby Sims continue to grow almost before my eyes.  At this point, there is little doubt that he will be close to 17 hands or so tall.  But, will he be adjustable down the lines and easy to train?   Will he have the heart to take on the really big fences without fear or hesitation?  And no matter what his genetics say, a lot of this depends on how he is introduced to work and training.  His trainer is almost as important as genetic make up.  Will I be able to give Sims and Betty Sue the access to the training to adequately augment their own abilities?  That is a hard one.  For all of us breeding that home grown “want-to-be champions”, we can get the genetics right (or pretty right) and derail ourselves with the training.

My daughter, Amber, has been in Kansas City this week.  The kids have come face to face with new cousins. Have they found kids just like themselves or totally unique individuals without similarities? When I learn of a new relative from my mom’s big family whom I have never met before I search their face for ways it looks like mine.  Do you all do that?

Genetics is spellbinding to me.  The key to so much and yet the mystery of so much as well.  If any of it were easy, the next Derby horse would be better than the last and we would still not be telling tales of Secretariat and Man ‘O War.  Or even about the heart of the $80 Champion, Snowman.  I actually love that science and mystery abound still, distinct from one another. Every kid, every horse can be a champion- there is always a chance.  When we try to breed the perfect horse, we know we will get less but we continue to hope for the best.

I can’t wait for this baby to be born, boy or girl, win or lose, mixing these strong Flexible Irish lines with the trainable, beautiful mover Silhouette German/Holsteiner lines, is a dream come true for me.

Thanks as always, for riding along.