Quiet, wet weekend

Kona hanging out in the damp arena with Quest.

Kona hanging out in the damp arena with Quest.

The plan was for Dev to ride new Canadian Warmblood, Quest, on Sunday morning.  His owner’s plan was to wear down the young horse so Dev did not die on his first ride.  So off to the arena the beautiful black gelding went.  He ran and played accompanied by the black poodle.  The skies may have been dreary and grey but the boys were stunning.  My vet had commented that when this horse trots he moves so beautifully that it made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.  Must be a pretty cosmic experience.  I have not seen him go under saddle yet but just his big flowing trot around the arena was something amazing.

Checking out the jumps.

Checking out the jumps.

I lunged the mighty Quest and he got away from me the first go around.  Which lead to some excited galloping around the arena with lunge rope and poodle in tow.  All Mia could say (as she sat quietly on Snowboy) was “I wish I had my camera, I wish I had my camera!”  I think there is just something amazing about a solid black horse-it is the dreams from our youth with all the Black Stallion books and Black Beauty.  And this horse of Jo Ann’s is stunning.  Any of you looking for a great eventing or dressage mount, this guy is for sale!

Betty Sue wanting to come in out of rain and wet.

Betty Sue wanting to come in out of rain and wet.

After the Quest events, my friend Gaylyn came with her new mare Annie.  I had seen her when she had first bought her and she has grown and developed into a lovely young sorrel mare.  Gaylyn, Libby and I rode our three Quarter horses in the cool afternoon. It was a very nice time full of talk and camaraderie.   Soon enough the rain and cold hit us in earnest and we ran for the barn.

It rained all night Saturday.  Lessons were cancelled. Lauren was out-of-town and I was on my own cleaning for company that will be coming this next weekend and enjoying the new tv that Luke, Ally and Lauren had arranged to have set up in my bedroom.  I have not had a tv in my bedroom for at least 15 years.  But with my surgery coming soon, it sure will be nice to be able to watch a movie or some mindless show while the hours pass.

My favorite part of the cold, wet weekend?  I took all the dogs out to the barn with me to play while I cleaned the now 12 stalls we have occupied.  I sent my horses and Cody out in the drizzling rain but left the rest of boarders in the dry, warm barn.  I have been cleaning stalls for years.  But just recently have we escalated to 12 stalls of horses. Twelve is a lot!! Like seriously, I am too old for this.  When it rains, everyone stays in all night and day (and poops and poops!).  Saturday morning’s chores wore me out.  Sunday I was starting with aching bones and tired shoulders.  But I wasn’t in any hurry.  I did not have a thing I needed to accomplish or a place I needed to go.  I actually hoped the big gate on the driveway would stay closed all day.

I worked my way through the boarder barn (called the Blue barn as all the geldings are housed here) and but was really dragging by the time I hit stall number ten in the Pink barn.  It was raining.  It was cool.

I took Feather’s stable blanket and laid it out on the dry concrete in front of her stall. I simply laid down on the concrete and rested my back.  As I did, Lula the dachshund, laid down on my stomach, Muffy, the spaniel fit herself around my head.  The Doberman and poodle took up guard along each side of me while the Corgi and wild border collie lay at my feet.  It was a perfect time.  There is no where else I wanted to be.  My regret was that I could not figure any way to get a picture of my special friends joining me in rest.  I watched the rain fall.  I listened to the wind.  I ran my hands over my trusting dogs.  My back felt better.  My attitude improved.

I had a great weekend in the wet, damp weather.  I couldn’t have asked for more.

On the wings of Angels

I know the three of you were watching from heaven yesterday

as Lauren and Feather made their way through the in-gate for finals

I could feel the wind stir, I could see the drapes rattle

a little dust even blew up under Feather’s feet as she approached

the first jump

Lauren and Feather had your wings and your hands were upon them

‘Lil Betty stroking Feather’s neck so she would stay focused and calm

Helping Lauren hold the reins in a hand that no longer functions

Heels deep, back straight, reins even

Heels deep, back straight, reins even

I can see you daddy, being sure Lauren’s heel was deep in the stirrup as she approached the jump

And momma, your hands were upon her tired shoulders to keep her upright and strong

All three of you supported my little broken girl as each jump came up and they rode away clean

What team she had with you all on board!

Thank you for watching over my girls in the ring today.

Zone Finals Champ-Say what?

The outside wall is four foot.  Feather takes this big oxer like the wind blowing across the top of it without touching a thing.

The outside wall is four-foot. Feather takes this big oxer like the wind blowing across the top of it without touching a thing.

Over the years of this blog, I have written about our journey to the USEF Zone finals.  The United States Equestrian Federation divides the country into Zones and those states compete for points over who is the best of whatever division in which they are showing their horses.  Although Hawaii is just one zone (probably because it would be hard to trailer to a show in Hawaii from anywhere else), the other zone definitions by states are not necessarily equal in terms of size (geographically or by population).

Somehow, Texas (which clearly could be a whole zone all on its own based on size-I mean Alaska, Hawaii, Texas-which is clearly bigger?) ended up being placed in a zone with five other states.  So, Lauren and her fellow Texas riders compete for points with riders from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, and Kansas.  Now, does anyone actually make shows in all those states, probably not.  Six states in the NE would be a possibility but these six states in our Zone 7 are geographically disperse.

In the past, Lauren has qualified for finals three times on her horse, Irish Midnight, aka Mickey, the first time in hunters (where they had no chance of winning at all but it was fun to go) and twice in jumpers once in the Children’s Low Jumper and once in the Adult Low Jumpers but they have never walked away with a ribbon.

This year very little thought was given to zone finals.  We had qualified early in the year based upon Feather’s and Lauren’s performance at one of the first winter shows.  Then she added some points at the Oklahoma Go Show this summer.  But that was before she broke her arm and her hand stayed permanently paralyzed in a claw position. And before her grandma died leaving a hole in our hearts.  And before the thought of jumping a horse over a big fence was something to be feared instead of something she loved.

Personally, I was pretty happy with Dev riding the mare and pushing her up to new heights.  I didn’t want to worry about how Lauren would grip the reins or hold a crop or intuitively know how to set the mare to a slower pace without a right hand to count on.  I was not keen on zone finals.  But Dev thought they should do it so off they went.

I usually try to get out to see her ride during the week but I have been sick with various ailments and have had a lot of work to catch up on.  Or so went my excuse.  When Lauren called me Friday to tell me they had a refusal in the .85 (about 2’6″) I just wanted her to quit.  I figured if they couldn’t get through that they were never going over three feet in the following classes.  I literally sat at my desk at work and silently cried.  I was just so afraid it was useless and that Lauren would be hurt more.

I texted my three dearest friends and both my other daughters to say a prayer for Lauren as she headed to the next round which would be set at a meter high (3’3″). My friend Lynn sent the following prayer:

dear Lord,

Keep Lauren safe and give her the confidence and the courage to face her fears and ride straight through them, Amen

My friend Kathy told me “she has already achieved a lot just getting back on and riding through the in gate.  Great rounds will come.”

Friends are awesome.  And they were right.  Friday she rode into the meter round with Feather and caught the first pole creating an immediate four faults, but then something just synched and they were perfect.  They did not place but rode very well.

Friday night and Saturday found me with horrible stomach flu which I blame on my granddaughters but fear and apprehension could have been a culprit as well.  Probably for the second time in the history of Lauren’s shows I was not with her on an important day.  I got texts later that they had placed fourth in one class (Out of 40) and were just out of the ribbons in the other.

This morning on the last day of the show I woke up feeling better than I had in a week (gee, wonder why).  I was off to sit at the ring and watch and write down the times of every single rider in her big group.  Lauren was 37th to go. I had seen falls, lots of pulled rails, many, many stops and only completely clear round for the adults.  Even John de Leyer’s horses had some issues.  I felt good about Feather as I watched her warm up.  Lauren was riding easy and clean.

Clearing the jump easily.

Clearing the jump easily.

IMG_2234 IMG_2239Feather flew around the course never even rubbing as pole or chancing a refusal.  It was a beautiful round.  And again, Lauren never used her legs, spurs or crop to ask for more from Feather, they just flew together to victory.  What a sight it was to see!  I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else today than watching this ride with this brave girl on this wonderful horse.


An extremely elated Lauren holding her ribbons.

An extremely elated Lauren holding her ribbons.

In the end, she was first in this class for both the Zone and the Division with only one other double clean rider, she combined the points for both her Zone classes and the division classes and ended up as follows:

Tied for Champion for Zone 7 Finals *****see below

Tied for Reserve champ for the division

It has been a year when the lows have really been low for us, but just as clearly these highs have really been top-notch.  I would have never dreamed when this little Flagmount horse got off the trailer from Florida she would take us so far.  Yet, even then I had a hint of a dream, a dream of a once in lifetime horse and we are so blessed.


Thank you especially to my daughter Ally who has been our savior and the only way this barn has kept running in the dark days and big thanks to Dev Branham who believed in Lauren even on a little bay horse and has helped us develop Feather to what she is today.  And to so many of you that urged us on, prayed for us and will be here for us still as Lauren and I go back to surgery once again.  Thank you for riding along!  God bless.



I had a couple of things wrong.

First, Lauren was Zone Champion all by herself and not tied with anyone.  And second, the class on Saturday where we thought she did not place, she actually placed sixth.


The young ones

Kendyll's first official (pre)school photo at 28 months.

Kendyll’s first official (pre)school photo at 28 months.

Three year-old Lexi shopping with her momma.

Three year-old Lexi shopping with her momma.

The first grandchild in any family is special.  Usually it has been awhile since a baby has been around the house and the long, endless days of exhaustion are well forgotten.  Everyone gets enamoured with the first grandchild.  Jordyn was my first grandchild and enamoured I was!  Probably with expectations and visions of greatness far beyond what Jordyn could possibly ever meet, I thought my first grandchild was great (and she was/is).

Next, came Riley, the second grandchild and the first boy in our family (I had two sisters and I had three daughters).  He was special indeed.  From what he wanted to play with to his approach to the world, he was different and new. He was just named student of the month and one can understand why with this special little man.

Then came the young ones, as I will call them, Lexi born in 2011 and Kendyll in 2012.  While they had their unique personalities they were more of the same (wonderful same!) in many ways.  I could almost predict what they would like to wear, to play with and to do.

As time has passed they have started leaving their own mark on the world and it is as unique as they are.  Lexi is tiny, brilliant and opinionated.  She looks a great deal like her mother Amber did at the same age.  Lexi is fearless and complicated.  She follows brother Riley and but also dreams of princesses and magic lands.

Kendyll, whom I have come to know more and more since we have moved to the new farm, is quite different from her sister Jordyn.  Not any less bright (if anything perhaps smarter) but Kendyll is a loud red if Jo is a soft pink.  At two, Kendyll reasons out and communicates thoughts beyond her age.  She also hates many foods (Jordyn loved everything from veggies to burgers).  She is fearless like Lexi (or has yet to learn the consequences of her actions).

The young ones are beautiful and willing. Kendyll was at her other grandparents and told them she was going on a cruise with Lauren and granny.  She was going to eat ice cream on the water slide.  They were stunned.  A family cruise-why were they not told?  Well…

Lauren’s and my latest idea is to take the young ones on a cruise.  That’s right.  We want to take the two year-old and three year-old on a cruise.  No one else.  Just the four of us.  Wow-we are nuts right?

Think about it.  There are some real advantages to this age.  First, we would probably extend the invitation to Riley and Jo but they go to school with that annoying school schedule where you can’t miss any time.  We want to go when the prices are low and the boat is not full of children (a contradiction I know).

Plus, no matter the meltdowns, the tears or tiredness, toddlers can be redirected to new shiny objects.  On a boat, there are so many things to show them from the elevator to the swimming pool to a movie in the room, that we could always deflect them off to a new activity.  Plus, Lauren and I are good at this.  We have no expectation of a long sit down dinner (or any meal for that matter).  We can eat and go with fastest child.  We are also great at eating at any time, Lauren in particular, is always up for ice cream so if the young ones are hungry-we are happy to oblige.

Then there is the schedule.  Lauren and I, both, go to bed early and get up early, just like the kids.  Plus, leaving the pool for nap time sits real well for us, too.  I really do not see any issues here.  Kendyll and Lauren have had a whole summer to learn to play together as Ally did the barn work and Lauren nursed her broken arm.  Kendyll loves to play teacher with Lauren as her student.  I bet we could incorporate Lexi into that game as well.  Lexi could be the queen and Lauren the peasant.  I could be reading.

Really the only big problems I see are if something happens to the boat, like an Ebola scare or downed engines.  Being stuck with the young ones in our room for extensive non-sleeping time could cause tragedies, like Lauren and I could be killed.  I would not want to do be on the shut-down Carnival boat you are reading about back home.  But I wouldn’t want that without the young ones either.

The other issue could be the inevitable line standing you do on a cruise.  Toddlers are not noted for their ability to stand well, indefinitely, in a line.  I am sure there is some solution to this issue that I just haven’t thought of yet.

All and all, I say let’s take the young ones on a cruise.  I bet we would have a wonderful time.