Lexi and Riley having a little summertime fun.

Lexi and Riley having a little summertime fun.

Summer came cautiously into Houston after weeks and weeks of rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. Between the high humidity and sudden blazing temperatures, it was like walking ill-prepared into a rain forest. I anxiously awaited a colorful bird swooping down from on high or a snake to slither over my rubber boots.

It certainly had not felt like summer previously with all the grey days and wet nights. I saw a picture of my daughter in Denver with the kids in swimsuits and I was momentarily confused-are they on vacation? where are they? Then it occurred to me it was summertime-kids out of school-all that stuff that goes along with that.

And so it is.  Jordyn headed off to horse camp last Monday.  She is seven years old and yet a pro in so many ways to the horse world.  But for the very first time, she loaded Snowboy into the trailer all by herself.  I guess she really is growing up.

Jordyn actually loading Snow by herself headed off to camp.

Jordyn actually loading Snow by herself headed off to camp.

The plan was for the pony to stay all week at camp and Jordyn to go out each day to ride.  That got derailed by Tropical Storm Bill who thought he would make a run through the already wet soaked area with some high winds and more rain.  Snow came home Monday night as we braced for the next onslaught of water.  Thankfully, that ended up just being a drill.  Although we are now restocked with water, batteries, and junk food to get us through any storm.  Snow got back on the trailer Wednesday morning and Jordyn really enjoyed the week.

Lauren rides jumpers.  We train with a hunter/jumper trainer.  This camp was run by a dressage person who does eventing.  Jordyn came home with the announcement that she was going to ride with Nancy Lindsey (a classic dressage instructor).  If Jordyn had ever actually jumped or hunted anything, I would be more impressed with her decision to change disciplines.  Right now at the trot, there is not much difference.  Still I appreciate she is open to new things.

Trainer Holly told us Snow had been an all-star.  I was rather surprised as he can be difficult to get to do anything beyond a walk at home.  Again, it was good news that he performs when he goes new places as it bodes well for a horse show.  Camp was an absolute win for Jo. She can’t wait to ride and spend even more time with the horses.

Meanwhile, back at the barn, our summer student, Mia, was looking for a horse to ride for the Greater Houston show.  Once again, as she has done multiple times before, our vet, Lynn Criner, offered up her pony, George for Mia to use for the remainder of her stay.  Some of you might remember Dolan that she shared or Rusty that took Lauren to the EAP.  Must be nice to have horses just hanging around your pasture that are show worthy without much tune-up.  Mia literally had been on the pony once before jumping on to school at the horse show grounds. Ready, set, show!

Mia and "Just George", borrowed from Lynn Criner had a great first show.

Mia and “Just George”, borrowed from Lynn Criner had a great first show.

The pair had a good weekend in a big class of horses, ranking well in the hack (as a pony against horses that is no simple feat) and taking a third place over fences against a field of 20.  What a great little pony!

Isabel continued with her success in the jumper ring, seemingly getter better every show.

Alex and Lauren had missed their show in Waco and just wanted to get Mickey and Feather back in the show environment.  I was proud of both riders as they set out with good rounds and great times to earn Grand Champion in both their respective divisions.

With everyone off at the horse show, I was on barn duty, including cleaning stalls and mowing. I had a full- throttle intro to summer heat.

I drank a ton of water and just kept moving. The dogs kept me company at the nearly empty barn with everyone off showing. I was totally physically exhausted by late afternoon.  I checked my fitbit and found out why.  Wow, a lot of steps even for a Sunday at the barn.

The Fitbit doesn't lie.  Makes me tired to look at it.

The Fitbit doesn’t lie. Makes me tired to look at it.

Our boarder, Jo Ann, bought a new horse Saturday after much searching. A Rugged Lark bred horse, Kisses, seems like she will be a nice addition to the barn. Jo Ann is temporarily side-lined following surgery but I know she is anxious to be out at the barn with her new girl.

Catch My Kisses showing off in the pasture.

Catch My Kisses showing off in the pasture.



Mia’s mom, Wendy, came for dinner Sunday night. I am an okay cook but everything I put on the table that night sucked. The meatloaf was under cooked (we ate the edges). The potatoes were like paste.  Jordyn announced the peas were still frozen. But we laughed so hard and had the best time. Just think if the food had been good.

Summertime is here.  I am willing to put up with some heat and humidity in exchange for less rain.  We are a mere half mile from the Bravos River that continues to rise as water flows down from up north,  Heat evaporates water.  I am good with that.

Thanks for riding along with our adventures-let me know if you want to come over for dinner some night.  I am sure it will be outstanding!


Seriously, Cindy?

Found on the Houston streets, this little one was starved and so much more.

Found on the Houston streets, this little one was starved and so much more.

You have to admire my restraint.  This posting that this little dachshund was found in Houston shortly after the storms went up on Renee’s Facebook and I left it alone.  But I kept thinking about my almost 13-year-old dachshund, Lula and how her health was fading.  I love Lula as much as anything.  I bought her for Ally as a bribe to break-up with her high school boyfriend.  Lula started with us in Sugar Land, moved to Wharton, and now is the queen (or king, she is having some Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner moments growing new sex organs, but I digress) of the farm.

I did not message Renee for at least a week about the dog.  At that point they knew there was not a microchip and no one had called about the “found dog” posters.  I told her I would be interested in taking the dog if it needed a home.

Renee said she would be asking for potential adopters soon but knew I had asked first.    We agreed I would pick up the dog on my way to the dentist Thursday.  I could leave the dog at the vet while I had my root canal (how fun!) but I made it clear if the dog had heartworms (and she certainly looked like a candidate) I could not take on that financial risk.

When I got there to pick her up, Renee showed me that the dog had a mass in her jaw the size of a jawbreaker (this is a tiny dog-so big for her) and that her eyes were filmy and blue toned.  Now I was thinking, oh, boy she is going to need surgery to remove the mass, she is partially blind, and probably needs to be spayed.  Her coat did not look very good either and she was so thin.

Of course, all the way to the vet, she snuggled with me.  I stopped to get a drink at McDonald’s and she growled and barked from her position on my lap at the men walking by my car.  I started to love her right then!  I had asked one of my generous boarders who loves dachshunds if she might be able to help with some of the expenses and she had said yes.  I was busy driving and hatching a plan to go to the vet office manager and see if I could do a payment plan on the surgery.  I still was on a “no-go” regarding the heartworms, though.

My mind tripped back and forth over alternatives as the dentist attacked my teeth.  I really wanted to keep this little girl.  In fact, I had already come up with a name.  You know how I have this thing for naming my animals after my dead friends and relatives.  Well, here we go again.  Both of my grandfather’s names were Samuel and my dear friend Dee, just passed away.  TA DA-I was going to welcome Sammi Dee to the family if I could afford to get her out of the vet’s office.

I got back to vet just as the heart worm test came back NEGATIVE!  So I was on a little bit of a high as the doc examined little Sammi Dee’s eyes and mouth.  In the category of too crazy to be true, as the vet opened the little mouth, she said she thought she saw something lodged in there.

The piece of bone that had been lodged for quite some time in the dog's mouth.

The piece of bone that had been lodged for quite some time in the dog’s mouth. It sure did not smell good.

She took some forceps and gently removed a small bone from the dog’s mouth where it had been lodged for weeks (at least).  It was a bit like I imagine the lion felt when the object was removed from his paw.  The relief was palatable on the dog’s face as she licked around her sore mouth.

Onto the eyes where the vet said there had been a prior injury and/or burning of the eye.  But after examination, she told me there was scar tissue but no problems with Sammi Dee’s vision.  I was ready to high-five her about this point.

IMG_4042 IMG_4038 IMG_4051

In the end, we determined the dog was probably five or six, healthy, except as noted.  She was spayed.  I left the vet’s having paid for the exam, the heart worm test, some antibiotics to heal her mouth and rabies vaccine. I will her the other needed vaccinations.   Pretty good deal I would say.

It got better as I got home and in true dachshund fashion, immediately told the Doberman and poodles what her position was in the hierarchy (second Queen) and started learning her way around the farm.

She slept easily with all the dogs last night, on my bed, next to my pillow.  She even gave a mighty what-for to the mean cat Levi and set him in his place.  I think I did something good here, both for me and for her.

So no admonishing me for getting another dog.  Sometimes things are just meant to be.  As they are with Sammi Dee!

Thanks for riding along!


Losing my friend Dee

There are people in your life right now that you visit with on Facebook or by text on a regular basis, maybe you even call them on the phone.  You take it for granted that they and you will be around forever.  I had a great friend like that in Dee McMaster.  We did not always agree.  She told me things I did not want to hear.  She challenged me to be better, smarter and have nicer horses.  She applauded my triumphs and consoled me for my losses. Honestly, her passion sometimes was too much for me.  I do not like confrontation and just want everyone to get along. Watching and reading about Dee’s latest activities sometimes left me tired.

My life is a crazy combination of a job I work, a business I love, my family that I cherish and my animals that fulfill me ( and not necessarily in that order).  I understood why USEA rule changes bothered her. I was perplexed along with her when her banana bread was stolen from her freezer (btw- it probably was THAT good!).  But sometimes I just did not understand the fight.  It seemed there was a lot grit in this strong women and when she was determined to do something, she accomplished it, taking no prisoners.

Dee had back surgery.  It should have helped but I am unclear if it did.  Still she carried on, feeding, cleaning stalls, cooking wonderful food. And always caring for her horses and others.  She would stay up long nights ‘just in case’ a mare might foal.  Her foals were products of serious study.  Which sire and mare combination would give Melissa the best chance of that top Rolex horse?  Dee intelligently evaluated mounds of data to make the perfect foal.  Some on the farm, right now, born of her knowledge and intuitive wisdom, just might carry on in her name to that winner’s circle.

Dee complained of being tired, of being hurt and of not sleeping.  I know a little about those things as well suffering pelvic fractures, two replaced hips and five rotor cuff surgeries in less than ten years.  Especially in the heat, you hit the wall with pain and lack of sleep and wonder if you can even make it back to the house.

But neither the pain or the chronic fatigue took away the pride Dee had in her daughter Missy and her riding accomplishments.  While she would be the first to tell you that recent times had been rocky between them, she would quickly acknowledge that she only wanted the best for her talented daughter.  Nothing less was acceptable.

Her son Jeremy was born with some serious issues that led a hospital spokesperson to recommend he be sent away to a state home.  As in lock away the baby and never see him again.  Although he has had his own difficult challenges, this son of Dee’s has accumulated three degrees and recently sat for his law entrance exams.  Sounds like that mama bear grit is happily at home in this brilliant young man, too.

And of her granddaughter, Codi, Dee thought she hung the moon.  No child could have been loved more intensely or appreciated so much.  From running track, to beautiful paint work, to top grades at a tough school, Codi has come to win.  Her passion for life mimics her grandma’s.

It will be a long time before the pain eases for me and I quit scanning Facebook for a new message from Dee.  I could count on her learned opinion on anything I cared to ask her about.  I have struggled as Dee has over the years to raise my family and care for my animals.  It is normal to dream about situations that can help you out of the endless financial drain.  I certainly have dreamt of winning the lottery.  Dee dreamed of winning the lottery but she had a whole list of people she would help when she did.  And I have no doubt that she would.

Dee did not wake up this morning to start another brutal hot Florida day on the horse farm.  She will never see those babies whose existence she pondered so deeply grow up.  Nor will she get to see Jeremy as a lawyer helping kids just like him find better lives because mom’s did not believe in them, like Dee did.  And that day when Melissa finally makes it to Rolex, Dee will be a whisper in wind and guide over fences.  And Codi, must cherish every wonderful memory of her grandma, because their will be no more.

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

      I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend

      But I always thought I would see you again…

May the lord bless you and keep you forever now, Dee.


Melissa with Roy.

Codi so proud on Ellie Mae.


I am trying to help this family with funeral expenses for their mom and grandma.  Give if you can.  Pass this on to others that might be able to help.  Thank you.

Craigslist OTTB rakes in high-level ribbons

Borrowed with permission from Off the Track Thoroughbreds-

I understand the actual video of Trapp riding in the race saddle over the crudely constructed jumps was something to behold. The owner expected him to fall off this little mare, but she just went willingly along. Feather and Lauren, no doubt, will encounter Cait and Lulu as they make their way up the ranks. Thanks Susan for a great story!

By Susan Salk on June 3, 2015

World Cup rider Trapp O’Neal found Au Girl on Craigslist. Now she’s in the ribbons for owner/rider Caitlyn Epperson. Alison Harwell Photography

World Cup rider Trapp O’Neal found Au Girl on Craigslist. Now she’s in the ribbons for owner/rider Caitlyn Epperson. Alison Harwell Photography


Leading Grand Prix rider and coach Trapp O’Neal was out shopping for a flatbed trailer one lazy afternoon in August when he discovered in the dirt and dust of a modest Texas farm a gem of a Thoroughbred with the makings of an A-rated sport horse.

Though Au Girl lived in circumstances that lacked a standard ring to stretch her legs or pretty jumps to display her form, she went along quite willingly and smartly for O’Neal, who rode her in her jockey’s saddle over jumps made of orange cones and lumber. The bay mare just seemed a natural for the job.

“As a Grand Prix rider and coach, it’s never been typical for me to chose Thoroughbreds to work with. But as a horseman, I’ve learned to keep my eyes open. I don’t think you can be too prejudice as to what shape, size and breeds the talent comes in,” O’Neal says. “And when I tried Au Girl I knew I couldn’t pass up talent.”

O’Neal purchased the ex-race mare in August 2013 and took her home to his Magnolia, Texas facility TKO Sporthorses, where the green mare quickly proved herself as worthy as the fancy show horses in the barn.

Au Girl
Barn name: Lulu
Sire: Formal Gold
Dam: San Miguel Queen
Foal date: April 23, 2009

Whip-smart and scopey, she trained for about a year before Trapp sold her to his longtime student Caitlyn Epperson, 20, who formed an instant connection with the mare. “The minute she sat on her, they just clicked,” says Caitlyn’s mother Kathryn Epperson. She adds, “They are a great team. They’ve already earned numerous grand championships and reserve championships … this mare just has a spirit like she’s in it to win it, and yet, she’s also very sweet.”

The pair has excelled at the TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Division at the lower heights, but has also ribboned at the High Adult Jumper Division as well. Her awards include: Low Adult Jumper Champion (1.0 – 1.05 meter) Dallas Harvest in October 2014; High Adult Jumper Reserve Champion (1.10 – 1.15 meter) Great Southwest Winter Classic IV in February 2015; TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumpers Reserve Champion (1.0 meter) Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in March 2015; TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumpers Champion Show Jumping Classic in May 2015.


Au Girl takes a nap after winning Grand Champion in the Take 2 Jumpers at the Show Jumping Classic in May

Au Girl is ranked 9th in the National TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumper standings and 7th in the USHJA Zone 7 TAKE 2 Thoroughbred Jumper standings through April 2015.

But more than earning ribbons there is the deep satisfaction that comes from bringing along a green OTTB to compete at the highest levels.

“In this area you don’t see a lot of Thoroughbreds competing at this level. A lot of trainers just want the Warmbloods. Trapp was one of the first trainers in our area to step out and try a Thoroughbred, and now that people see her, other people have started to show an interest in them,” she says. “This horse is just a trooper. I don’t care how tired she is, or if she’s been at a show for three weeks, she’s going to give 110 percent every time.

“And she moves, very, very well. And she was a fraction of the cost of the other horses in her division. She was a true diamond in the rough.”

The little things

Horse photos courtesy of Isabel Johnson

The race is on and Kona is doing his best to keep up with Betty Sue and Piper.

The race is on and Kona is doing his best to keep up with Betty Sue and Piper.

Maui running with Piper Pony.

Maui running with Piper Pony.

We have now had several consecutive days without rain.  As you can see, the horses (and the dog) are even turning up a little dust in the arena.  That is grounds enough for a little celebration.  I am getting through this first anniversary of my mother’s birthday without my mother with a few tears but a lot of happy thoughts and memories.

Last night, we took the girls down to play in the arena.  The last time I did this, Feather wanted to come, too.  She pulled back from where she was tied at the barn and ended up with a face full of stitches.  This time we left Feather in her stall, the fan running, oblivious to her friends having fun without her.  It was amazing to see, now a little over a year old, Betty Sue, romp around.  I swear she has the prettiest trot I have ever seen.  Of course, I didn’t get a picture of that-she was too busy running!

Kona and puppy, Maui Jim, were all keyed up for play time as well.  You will note fewer pictures of Maui.  He tuckered out way before the horses and Kona did.

I love the white streak in her man and that her tail has the white tip at the end.

I love the white streak in her mane and that her tail has the white tip at the end.

Back in my day we would have said, "Kona is really booking it," here.

Back in my day we would have said, “Kona is really booking it,” here.


The dogs went off to a new groomer today.  This is Maui Jim’s first official hair cut. Lauren told the groomer to make him look like Kona.  What do you think?

Maui Jim is a skinny puppy but OMG look at those feet!! He is going to be bigger than his brother!

Maui Jim is a skinny puppy but OMG look at those feet!! He is going to be bigger than his brother!

This was a new groomer who specializes in poodles and it showed in the great job they did.  Oh, it is the little things for me!

Happy boys, headed home.

Happy boys, headed home.

The farm is pretty much dried out with grass and the flowers growing like crazy.  I have lots to do this weekend with Lauren’s impromptu working student summer starting on Monday with the arrival of Mia from Malaysia.  We have worked out some great educational seminars for the girls including working with the farrier, learning basic first aid and how to build a horse first aid kit with the vet, a session on learning to pick horses for the Grand Prix and being a successful trainer in the horse business from some local hot shots.

Jordyn and Riley finished second grade and kindergarten respectively and are looking forward to a summer of fun.  Jordyn is headed off for a week of horse camp with Holly Flint and Snowboy! In fact, I am hoping to get them on the lunge line tomorrow for Jordyn’s first canter “on-purpose”.  Big times!

Lots to do, lots to see, lots to accomplish.  Hoping you are taking a moment to appreciate the little things.  They are really what life is about.  Thanks for riding along!