An Open Letter to my Daughter’s Teacher

1611000_10206264573146823_332706424748759814_nWe have a guest writer today but I think she expresses what a lot of us feel as it relates to equestrian sports.  I will never forget talking to Lauren’s rural high school about getting PE credit for her horseback riding and they told it was not a sport.  So many misconceptions.  Anyway for any of you that were or had horse-loving kids-this sums up what they learn as they ride.  I think it is outstanding!
To my Daughter’s Teacher,
Today my 7 yr old daughter came home from school a bit sad. When I asked why, she said you told her that if she kept missing days, she would get bad grades. I understand where you are coming from, I’m sure it’s frustrating for you when she’s gone, but she’s missed 3 Fridays since the beginning of the year to compete in something that at 7 years old she’s found to be her true passion, Eventing. And so you know, there are not many 7 year olds that event. It’s difficult. It’s mentally and physically demanding. And she works harder than any kid I know her age because she enjoys it, and loves her pony, at a level beyond words.
It was interesting you told her that today, because in her backpack she had her report card with 6 A’s and 1 B. She also had her standardized test scores, where she scored above her peers in every category. But most interesting was the sheet of paper you also sent home, listing out what I should expect of my second grader, what I should work with her on. And as I read it all I could think is how much my daughter is benefiting from all the hours she’s spending at the barn preparing for her competitions. How much she is learning from all the hours, day in and day out, she practices. And finally, how my expectations of her are so much higher than yours, because of her riding.
Under the “Life Skills” portion it states she should be zipping zippers. She can put on a pair of leather half chaps by herself. Zipper level: Expert. It states she should be able to snap snaps and button buttons. She can put on her show shirt and jacket, a stock tie, breeches and her helmet. She can also tack up her pony by herself and apply bell boots, open front jump boots and brushing boots, and she knows which ones to use when.
It says she should know how to wash and dry her hands. Not only can she do that, but she knows how to clean and condition her boots, bridle and saddle, bathe her pony, pick his feet and apply hoof polish, organize a tack trunk and shovel and sweep manure from the grooming bays.
She’s supposed to know one parent’s phone number, and her parents names. She knows the names of the 30+ horses at the barn. She knows what size girth to use, and when to use a running martingale. She knows what hole to put the jump cups for a 2’ course, or a 2’6 course. She also knows how to change her diagonal, turn down centerline, make a 20 meter circle and how to ride a transition.
There was a section for “Following Directions” where it says she needs to be a good listener. She listens to her trainer give her a jump course consisting of 10+ fences, which she has to immediately remember, and then jump. It says she has to remember multiple directions at a time “such as brushing your teeth, putting on your shoes and moving your backpack.” She can remember and ride a dressage test, cross country course and show jump course in one day.
It says I should play “Mother May I” with her. Everything her pony does, is because she’s asked and she knows she has to ask correctly. She weighs 50 lbs. He weighs 700. She has spent hours learning how to not only ask, but listen, when she wants something from him.
It says she should have responsibilities, such as packing her lunch. She can not only feed herself, but knows how to feed and care for a pony. She can groom him, put on his blanket, braid his mane and brush his tail. She can scoop his feed, throw his hay, fill his water buckets and lug all 5 gallons 100 feet from the hose to his stall (though I do have to help her hang them.) She knows he always comes first, even when she’s hot and tired or it’s cold and raining.
But most of all, she’s learning about hard work. She’s learning how to succeed, and how to fail. She’s learning patience and compassion and best of all Love. Love for her pony, Love for her sport, Love for learning.
Dear Teacher, while I know school is important, I also know there is more to life than what can be learned in a classroom. These experiences aren’t just teaching her the things that come from a book, but things that are making her a better human being. When she looks back on her life, she won’t remember missing those 3 days of school. She will remember her last show on her beloved pony Champ, her first ribbon at a USEA show, and how she and her Best Friend spent 3 days in the rain together doing the thing they love the most, being Eventers.
The proud mom of a horse loving little girl


At three years of age, Kendyll is a wild woman! But a beautiful one.

At three years of age, Kendyll is a wild woman! But a beautiful one.


There is something about this picture that reminds me of my long-departed sister, Betty Sue (no, not my horse).  Her hair was long and similar in color to Kendyll’s now.  Probably my family that is still around and remembers her as a child would not agree, but there is something here in Kendyll’s eyes, in her expression, that shows strength and determination and my sister had both.  It takes me back in time and yet, secures me tightly to my future, this granddaughter is special as all of mine are.

It has been a run of several weeks of gorgeous weather and clear, cloudless skies.  While this is doing little to preserve what is left of my pastures (which desperately need rain), it starts and ends each day with fresh beauty.  The clear, star-filled sky as I got out early to feed and the dropping sun as the day ends again, an orange ball in the sky.

With this wonderful weather we have been spending a lot of time riding.  Lauren because Zone Finals are upon us and the rest of us, because it is so lovely.  A couple of nights I rode horses back to back after a long day at work.  I galloped for the first time in several years, trusting my mount (Mickey) and myself (as I get stronger) to hang tough.

The arena, while dusty, seems to be drawing us all to ride.

The arena, while dusty, seems to be drawing us all to ride.

I have been busy taking photos.  Even today as I gave lessons I snap photos while my student trudges on. Did you know I am giving lessons now? It is actually going pretty well and I haven’t killed anyone yet.

Allyson is back on Snow after taking a few years off and it is like she never missed a day.  Isabel planned out a tough course for them and they did great. Isabel is getting a lot practice as she has been moving up on Prosecco.  They are jumping higher with tougher courses.  I think she wanted to pass along her experiences.  And in what is probably the crazy jumping picture of the year.  I caught Prosecco jumping like a frightened cat literally off the ground and over the jump.  This has to be an all-star photo!

OMG!!! Crazy jump photo of the year with Isabel and Prosecco!

OMG!!! Crazy jump photo of the year with Isabel and Prosecco!

Speaking of a little nuts, Mickey is headed to Zone Finals with Alex for his fourth time.  We have him on some new meds and he is doing so well. He is jumping well and moving like a young horse.


Mickey and Alex get their ride on.

Mickey and Alex get their ride on.



We have been pushing Mickey to jump higher and wider to meet the demands of the big show.  He is responding well.  The jump above had a wide enough spread that after jumping it successfully, they found the jump was wide enough for Alex and Mickey to stand inside of it.  Now, we just need to get Lauren and Feather to jump Mickey in the middle of the jump and we will really have something!

Another milestone for me passed this week with the one year anniversary of the arrival of Fargo and baby Betty Sue.  Betty Sue was only six months old when she arrived from Colorado.  Fargo is in foal to Feather’s sire and she has grown a little too!

Trotting with Fargo.

Betty Sue, tiny next to Fargo, a year ago.


Pregnant mama Fargo, me and tall Betty Sue.

Pregnant mama Fargo, me and tall Betty Sue.

The dogs are always a big part of any day and we caught a couple candid’s of them.

Sammi Dee has settled in so well to life here. But a girl does need her rest.

Sammi Dee has settled in so well to life here. But a girl does need her rest.










IMG_5291Alex took this one!  I have a couple more dog photos to finish up.  Gotta go get horses out for another cloudless night.  As always thanks for riding along!  Come visit us!

It's all fun and games until someone has to wear the cone!

It’s all fun and games until someone has to wear the cone!

Allyson's five year old sister Gabby spending so calm time with Maui Jim.

Allyson’s five-year old sister Gabby spending so calm time with Maui Jim.

We had joy

We had fun

We had seasons in the sun










Be Inspired

We can learn from any situation.  We can grow even if we are old and stuck in our ways.  We can be re-inspired given the right set of circumstances even if our days sometimes feel grudging familiar.

I enjoyed being re-inspired to ride through my friend, Jo Ann.  She is doing lessons each week (usually on one of my horses) but this was a difficult trip back for her after injuries and illness.  While she has fought a lot of demons this year, she keeps coming back to her time in the saddle.

Jo Ann on my Nova.

Jo Ann on my Nova.

I also was inspired in an unusual way at work.   I had a new employee that was coming to work with me this last summer.  He was coming back to our company from a competitor.  But he was a little legendary in the path he had made when he had worked here previously.  I knew he was smart, perhaps brilliant.  I knew he was a hard-worker.  I knew work was his life.

I was scared.  I appreciate my job.  I try my hardest to do my best at my work.  But I leave (most days) with a clear head looking forward to the evening or weekend ahead at the farm.



Then Alfonso came.  I was afraid he would be a sour academic with little time or thought for anything other than work.  I knew he spoke six languages and that English was not his first.  And then of course, there was the age thing.  He was in his late 20’s.  Certainly not an age (especially with guys) that I have a lot of knowledge of or much in common with.  He had no knowledge of horses, dogs or cats although he said he once rode a pony in Venezuela. What we were going to talk about with one another?

I was right about the smart thing.  He is smart.  As I said, perhaps brilliant.  But as these first 90 days have passed, I learned he was more than that.  We work in a small work space.  We somehow got delegated to the smallest cubicles in the company. Mine is maybe four feet by five feet.  There are six of these in a tight space.  Like it or not, you get to know you cube mates pretty well.

In the past 90 days, I went from having a pretty anonymous position, sitting at my desk for hours at a time without a soul coming by and quietly floating through the company without rippling the surfaces to having interruptions at  least every 10-15 minutes as my new colleague wants to ask me something, get my feedback or just show me what he is working on.  I might be a little ADD and sometimes it is hard for me to get back on task after these breaks in my concentration but I always learn something.

All of this I kind of expected when I learned Alfonso was going to join me in my group. What I did not know or expect was his quick sense of humor.  There are times we get to laughing so hard, heads go down on the desk.  No, I didn’t expect that from this human think tank. He sent me an old SNL skit on Toonces the Driving Cat.  Later at the barn, everyone from Kendyll to the teenagers were laughing at the silly skit.  Toonces happens to look just like my cat, Levi.  Like I said, not what I expected.

Also, many days Alfonso brings some type of homemade organic goodie.  Like hummus and freshly baked bread. Or popcorn cooked on the stove not in a microwave.  He even insisted on bringing his own lunch when we headed to Bartlesville, Oklahoma on business a few weeks ago.  Imagine the laughter as his organic cherry tomatoes spilled out on the conveyor belt of the X-ray machine at the airport.  Wow.  You do not see that every day.

But what I also did not expect that he would do, just through his own nature and habits, was inspire me to work harder.  When we discuss something I am working on, he questions me (and he is always annoyingly right unless I can get the topic off on horses or dogs) and I dig deeper to find the answers.  I can say without question that I have learned more in the last 90 days about more subjects than I have in years.  I have been inspired to want to learn more.  That is not an easy leap for someone headed toward sixty and pretty content in her ways.

Before this rocks off to something bordering on adulation, I with just conclude with an observation.  If we are open to seeing inspiration it is all around us.  From my older friend Jo Ann that I watched overcome her fears to ride again to young Alfonso that brought intelligence, but also passion for his work, I learned and I stepped up.

Now, I am riding more, riding harder and riding faster-thanks to Jo Ann.  Work is more engaging, stimulating and a place I want to be because Alfonso brought learning back to me.

Find someone who inspires you.  These people are all around you.  Watch them.  Engage them.  Copy them.  Life is better for them.


My friend Jo Ann goes back to jump more medical obstacles today.  Say a prayer for her and her recovery.  She is one of the good ones.


Thanks for riding along!

A Week in the Life

What am I doing now? The Ergonomic specialist stopped by my desk with a few tips.

floor1What am I doing now? The Ergonomic specialist stopped by my desk with a few tips.

Seems there is never a dull moment in my life whether I am at work or at play.  The company I work for employs an ergonomic specialist that ensures we are sitting properly at our desk, with the best support and tools.

I think she found me to be a “special” case as I had many ergonomic challenges.  Just changing  the direction of my keyboard and a few things on my computer have led to better days at the office.

One of her most important messages was that we all need to get up and move around more.  Of course, there is an app you can use on your phone to remind you to get up.  For me, the “special’ case, I was told to get up from my desk and lay down on the floor.  I was given a noodle-like a form one that you would use to float on in the pool.  I am to put that under my back and roll around.

How great it is to be wallowing on the floor of your office filled with Millennial employees like a giant turtle on its back.  From the pictures you can see that I am not that joyful regarding this process.  However, I must note that day by day I am a little less knotted up and stressed filled.

So when I am not lying on the floor at work on a foam noodle, I have had a busy weekend with being a horse show mom.  We had not been to a show since last March and it was great fun to catch up with everyone and see what they are doing and who they showing now.  Lauren and Feather moved up a division to the High Amateur Adults at 1.10 and 1.15 meters.  It was their first time ever to compete in that division.  The 1.10 meter went well with the pair picking up a third place ribbon.  Feather has jump and Lauren has skill but it will take some more time in the show ring for it all to flow well.

Up and Over--

Up and Over–


Feather up and over the donut jump.

Feather up and over the donut jump.

This week I have also been spending extra time trying to get yard work, pastures, and grounds trimmed, mowed and ready for fall.  It has been much cooler in the evening and we have enjoyed working with Betty Sue.  We are working on baby horse things like being tied and cross-tied.  We have also had fun just hanging out with her and enjoying her quirky personality.  At 17 months she measured a solid 14.3 hands and almost 800 pounds.

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Most evenings have been quiet at the farm with Lauren and Isabel riding their horses and ponies.  The new Mustang Kit is coming along well.  Lauren and I were gratified the other night to see the neighbor who had to give up these horses drive by on the road above the farm.  He slowed down to watch Lauren work his former pony.  I hope he is pleased with her progress, but I feel he might be.  This Welsh and/or Quarter pony is certainly no longer looking like any kind of rescue project.  In fact we cut her food back as she is bordering on chunky these days!

Looking pretty well fed these days-our rescue pony Jete'.

Looking pretty well fed these days-our rescue pony Jete’.

Speaking of chunky, my friend was showing me a picture of her dog Teddy.  We decided that coupled with a picture of lean, young Maui  it could be a Weight Watcher before and after ad.

Rubanesque Teddy and lean and sweet Maui Jim

Rubanesque Teddy and lean and sweet Maui Jim

Kendyll has been spending the early fall mornings with her momma, Ally, working at the farm.  This morning she called Betty Sue and Nova over for some pets.  Then she had to bring her play pony Buddy over for a picture with Nova as well.  Wish I had been home to spend time with them.

The horses have their fly masks on to keep the flies out of their eyes.  Kendyll is pretty

The horses have their fly masks on to keep the flies out of their eyes. Kendyll is pretty


Looking forward to weekend!  You all enjoy the fine fall weather and thanks for riding along with us!