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.

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!

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.


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.