Super Sunday

I have been taking dressage lessons in a Hunter/Jumper saddle. I have never ridden in a dressage saddle except to try one out at the saddle shop.  I wanted to be medically evacuated from the saddle. The position with my legs straight and wide is not one handled by surgically installed titanium hips. The replacements have very little range of motion.

But I have been enjoying my lessons and wanted to try to do better. I’m almost 60 but there’s always time to do better. So when one of my boarders offered up a dressage saddle that would fit my wide, tall mare I thought I’d give it another shot.  As luck would have it my vet was here as we put the saddle on my horse for the first time. She declared the saddle could not fit my horse better.

The brown saddle is a jumper saddle-meant to be ridden in a forward seat with shorter stirrups.  The second is a dressage saddle-meant to support an upright, deep seat and longer straighter legs.

Now if only I would be able to sit on the saddle without great pain.   We put the saddle on Nova and bought the mounting block to the horse’s side. My mare quietly waited for me to mount. I quietly waited to have my hips ripped out of my pelvis.

It was definitely uncomfortable but not as bad as I had feared. I rallied and said I would try to do the lesson in the new saddle. Everything felt different about it. My stirrups were a lot longer-changing my center of balance, my actual seat was forward in the saddle, but my shoulders and back were straighter and my legs were reaching down for the longer stirrups.

As we progressed through the lesson going from walk to trot and then to canter I started to understand the beauty of the saddle. When we got to the canter I was able to sit very quietly on the horse’s back,  my legs barely moving. My heels deep and down. It felt a lot like the old equitation classes I had taken when I had ridden western pleasure. That certainly required me to have a straight back. And I will never forget my old instructor telling me over and over again, “headlights, Cindy, headlights!!”  You might be able to guess where my headlights were located in that keeping my back straight certainly kept my headlights up.

The lesson was not a gold medal round. I had a lot to learn. My foot slipped from the longer stirrup. I slipped back in the saddle. But bit by bit I got more comfortable. I was quite proud of my progress and bought my first dressage from boarder Lisa that night.

I went to bed Friday night pretty pleased with myself. I got up Saturday to aching muscles I had not even known I had.  The backs of my legs hurt. My abs felt like I had done a hundred sit ups. Wow. Who knew? I have been riding a few times a week for several months (since the broken rib incident) but I felt like I just started out as newbie to the saddle.

Sunday I saddled up Nova for another practice ride. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and we spent over an hour in the ring. We practiced all the things that we had been taught. I had a really good ride. The most amazing thing was to be able to sit so quietly at the canter and I trotted and trotted-enjoying being able to set the trot.  Our transitions are still a little rough but I have so much to learn.

After my stint with Nova, I got Betty Sue out.  She is two and a half now.  Many Quarter horses and thoroughbreds are started under saddle by this time.  However, she is European warmblood and they tend to mature more slowly.  We won’t be really riding her for another year or so.  But there was nothing to stop me from continuing her education.  I saddled her up with my heavier western saddle-just so she could get used to weight on her back and the heavier stirrups flapping at her sides.  Everything done quietly and easily now will pay off in spades when the time comes to actually ask her to accept a rider.

I got her bridled as well and we spent some time walking the round pen.  I would ask her to “whoa” and gently pull back on the reins.  I would cluck to her to move her forward and release the pressure on her mouth.  We worked turning left and right.  Soon, I will add some long lines.  My theory is to have the horse able to walk forward, halt and turn before I get on.  Brakes and a steering wheel go a long way on that first ride.

We also did some work on standing quietly as I approached her side from the mounting block.  This was not her best drill.  I would stand on the mounting block and she would move away.  It will take some time.  Patience is a big virtue with a young horse.

Of course my dogs were with me for the glorious afternoon as well.  It was the perfect afternoon, both due to the weather and with the time I had with my two girls (Nova and Betty Sue). It was good for me to get back to what I love best-it has been too long since I have had a day like this.


Throughout the day, I kept an eye on phone.  My friend Tim was running the Chicago Marathon.  Quite an endeavor to undertake after not running for many, many years.  In fact a year ago, Tim was just starting to do some walking.  Then some short races were completed.  Step by step, he has worked toward his marathon goal.

I got a few updates as the day progressed.  I knew Tim had gone into the races with sore, strained hamstrings.  I wanted him to reach his goal but was worried the injuries would hold him back.

I needn’t have worried as he crossed the finish line in a very respectable time-certainly for someone my age (that’s pretty old) and someone who just started running again after so  many years.  I am very proud of him!  Here is to making and attaining your goals-from trying new things to sticking out the hard ones! Bravo!


Sounds like Life

CaptureSounds like life to me it ain’t no fantasy
It’s just a common case of everyday reality
Man I know it’s tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you’re caught up in some tragedy
It sounds like life to me

Sounds like life to me plain old destiny
Yeah the only thing for certain is uncertainty
You gotta hold on tight just enjoy the ride

Get used to all this unpredictability
Sounds like life

Darryl Worley

Wise woods for me as I get banged around the pin ball crazily careening through the machine bouncing off the flippers,  a marble gone crazy.  

My beautiful new from Kentucky, Foxhound suffered an accident Monday leaving her paralyzed. By Friday with none of drugs giving her relief, Lauren and I stood by her as we put her to sleep. So, what was the point of bringing that beautiful dog with such a dear soul to me for a month to tear our hearts out as she passed?  I don’t get it. 

In the meantime pregnant and due to deliver Fargo just keeps holding on to the baby one more day. I have chosen to sleep out on the concrete by her stall. This is bucket list stuff and I dearly want to be there when the baby comes.  So far just rain and back aches have come from my all night camping trips at the barn.   


Fargo is 331 days pregnant. Full time is approximately 340 +/-  

  Last night as the storms moved on and the moon showed up in the sky I took about 200 pictures. Not sleeping. Pretty bored. No baby. All the other horses laid down at least for a while but Fargo just kept munching hay. Good times. 

  To make the week more chaotic my horse Nova colicked badly with a serious impaction in her gut. We were lucky after a rough 36 hours or so to see Nova was going to make it.     Feather super “drunk” so could get some good x-rays. 

Then Feather went to the top of the prayer list as X-ray showed a serious mass in her facial bones. Some top Texas surgeons were betting on a real bad end to Feather’s life but continued diagnostics have us thinking we might be looking at a completely different, and treatable problem. Fingers crossed. 


Finally our boarder Kendrick caught this great shot of Feather, Nova and Betty Sue on the beach in my back pasture catching some rays. I love it!  
I will keep sleeping again with my mare on the off chance I catch her giving birth. I am off to Oklahoma Monday for a few days so no doubt that is when the baby will come. I guess that’s life.  

Sounds like life to me plain old destiny

Yeah the only thing for certain is uncertainty

You gotta hold on tight just enjoy the ride

Get used to all this unpredictability

Sounds like life

Little triumphs

 Busy, busy times for me and the family right now. I am on several big projects at my real job and traveling a lot. I landed to a windy 18 degrees on Monday which is about 60 degrees colder than I like.

But I am ever so grateful at this stage of my career to be doing something I love. It is a little triumph to go forth each day excited about the projects I am doing and   people with whom I work.
Lauren is headed off to Wellington, Florida this week to spend some time with friend Catie at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). WEF is a 12 week international competition where your favorite Olympic hero might be shopping in the grocery store with you (Hello Ian Miller!) or show up at the local restaurant (McClain Ward,  table for two?).

What an amazing opportunity!  Another triumph for the kid from Wharton who just wants to ride.

And speaking of horse triumphs, my mare Nova should be back to sound after some vet magic from Dr. Criner.

Actually this will be more than a little triumph. I had continued to work my girl and things just weren’t right. A few X-rays told us she had been hurting and now she can be pain free. I am so excited to have this special girl back working just when I should be getting cleared to ride.

Additionally in little triumph category it has been several weeks since poodle  Maui Jim has eaten or destroyed anything important. Last night Lauren and I were on the phone (I was still out of town) when I heard a horrible crash and the sound of broken glass.

We have a free-standing staircase in our living room. For months now we have talked about getting my old headboard out to the garage but it hasn’t moved from its position on the wall opposite the stairs.

Last night as we visited on the phone, Maui came racing through the living room making a galloping turn around the stairs and catching the head board with his foot on the way by. What I heard was the sound of the queen sized headboard smashing into the back of the stairs with enough force to knock the shelf displaying all Lauren’s Zone Final pictures cascading to the ground.

I guess the triumph here is at least he didn’t eat another FitBit or my glasses. Lauren hauled him off to his kennel to think about what he had done.

Rising two year-old Betty Sue has hit 1000 pounds and grown out of her second halter. She got a brand new halter with her name on it!  Little triumphs!

Finally, as a rider in any discipline as you get better and more educated about your equestrian sport you tend to trade in equipment for more technical, better made models.  Lauren has definitely gone down this path starting with a synthetic Wintec saddle, moving to some low cost but name brand models on to higher priced models. Yesterday after selling her saddle of three years she received her dream saddle.

We tested it out tonight to see if it would allow Feather’s wide shoulders enough freedom when they jump. And it did-well, that’s actually in the category of a big triumph!

Thanks for riding along my friends. Stay safe and warm!

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY!

Several more inches of rain fell this afternoon.

Several more inches of rain fell this afternoon.

I have lost count of the number of days we have had.  Definitely double digits of days past, each with rain, thunder and lightning.  Perched as we are upon the sandy bluff above the Bravos River, it has taken a lot to effect us. Just as the days of rain are now measured in double digits (maybe 18 days maybe 22) the inches that have fallen from the dark skies can also be measured in the same double digits.  Five inches the first day.  Then it was three more the next day.  Day after day rain of biblical proportions has fallen.  Each day I am hopeful that the rain is over.

My girls decided that I needed a vacation so we are getting out-of-town for a few days.  It has been two years since I left town for fun.  I am looking forward to spending time with Lauren, Ally’s family and the her in-laws but am understandably concerned about leaving the farm.  Especially leaving the farm when the forecast continues to be full of rain forecasts.

Piper, Jordyn’s pony, is out on trial.  Piper has turned into a pretty quick little pony and hope Kendall who is to be her new mom, can deal with her.  We are down a few more horses due to recent sales so it at least is not so overwhelmingly full right now.

I continue to enjoy my new paint mare, Nova Mae.  She and I are getting stronger together.  My legs are not the legs of Cindy the rider of long ago.  But I feel with practice I will be able to live up to my horse’s expectations.  She is a little weak at the trot and needs to continue to build up endurance and muscle.  But she is just doing great and I think I have finally found that perfect horse I was looking for!

I hope all of you have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  May God watch over all of those that have gone before us and served this company so well.

The rain has done good things for my flowers.

The rain has done good things for my flowers.