dancing horses

dancing horses

Friday, August 23, 2019

A Week in the Life of a Mare Servant

This has been quite the week on the farm. I figured I should pull it together to show the ups and downs of a mare.

Monday was the mondayest of Mondays. It started with a flat tire on my way to work. Fortunately I hear right as I left the driveway so I was able to turn around and switch vehicles. While Ed dealt with the tire drama (the benefits of working from home) I had a busy day at work. After I tacked Carmen up to ride and she was in full dragon mode.

I swear she actually breathed fire
Everything was an argument. And I mean everything. Standing, moving, bending, not bending. As well there was lots of spooking at birds, leaves, air..... I survived and once she sort-of settled I didn't dismount but then worked on some transitions from light aids as opposed to heavy hands and/or kicking. We were both sweaty and tired at the end.

Tuesday I took off from riding so I could do other chores around the farm.

Wednesday I had arranged for an early morning (before work) lesson from Shanea.

And it was amazing.

Julia came out to ride at the same time. When she arrived we decided to go for a hack first and then go in the ring. Carmen led most of the way. She was a bit bemused about going into the ring after the hack but she settled right in.

Through out the whole lesson Carmen was right there listening and trying. Shanea and I were able to get into some of the nitty gritty of keeping her balanced and straight.

smooth and flowing

I told Shanea that we had been struggling with the First Level Test 3 move of leg yield into the middle and then the 10 metre circle. Of course Carmen flowed into it really well. But Shanea was able to point out that I wasn't preparing her for the circle at the end. I needed to start the bend a few strides out.

You can see in the video how tuned in and cooperative she's feeling. I love lessons where we're working on the details rather than keeping her attention. Our canter work was nice too. She was getting a bit tense in the corner but still it's way better than before. Julia finished her ride and left with Irish and, while Carmen noticed, she didn't worry about it too much.


Thursday Cynthia came to ride Irish (they came to NS for their daughter's wedding and a vacation). It was hot and humid. I had a long day of mental work and wasn't feeling the need to really work too hard in the saddle. I told Carmen to not pick any fights because I wasn't in the mood. And she didn't. She did think about being a bit distracted and spooky but it never escalated. Likely because I wasn't putting any real pressure on her and was just toodling around.

Carmen did give on spook when a gust of wind blew Fernando over (I decided on this name from the ABBA song).

he fainted

Carmen came to sudden and rigid halt staring at the bull.
Carmen: OMG what attacked the bull?
Me: The wind blew it over
Carmen: It was the trolls. I KNEW THEY WERE REAL. 
ME: No it was-
Carmen: Who's the foolish one now? Huh? 
Me: look, it just fell over. 
Carmen: I am suspicious. You are never careful enough. And after all I do to keep us safe....

We stood there staring for a bit and then she decided to walk up and give him a sniff. 
Carmen: he dead. 
Me: no, he's just resting

After sniffing him she was fine to carry on around the ring, occasionally keeping a close eye in case Fernando leapt up and charged. We carried on working a bit and then went for a hack. It was a nice way to end the week. 

Friday was also hot and humid and I've decided to not ride. I did some ring maintenance and decided to put the bull away. I carefully put Fernando into the tractor bucket and carried him down to the shed. Carmen and Irish watched us go by and I'm pretty sure that I heard Carmen say I told you he was dead

so very very true

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Name of the Game

Yesterday my husband pointed out that he had spent a lot of time making me a bull and I had not even  bothered to take it up to the ring. Clearly he was rankled.

Now in my defence, it was quite tippy, falling over at the lightest breeze. When he got that sorted I was in full show mode and wasn't putting anything in the ring to clutter things up. Add to that Irish's reaction when he first saw the newest member of the farm and it was easier to put it off. The first time Irish saw the bull outside the barn he lost his ever loving mind and tried to run through the fence. Fortunately it was on and he didn't but there was a lot of tense blowing and tail flagging for quite a while every time he spied it.

But he did have a point. And one of my goals for this year was to do more 'fun' things.  So today I set up a little obstacle course:

It was a pretty simple set up and I wanted to make sure that I was leaving room to practice circles and leg yields. The bull was just there for exposure- I don't have a ring or anything on it yet. 

Julia joined me and we made sure that Irish had a chance to be introduced to the bull (he needs a name I think. Any ideas?). 

Irish: Hey look, he's harmless! 

It was fun to play around with the various cones, canter poles, etc. Carmen was great with all of it. Which I expected because she enjoys these sorts of things. We would work on transitions, leg yields etc and then go and do one of the tasks. We struggled with the canter poles but Julia reminded me to look up and not at the poles and everything go better after that. 

Carmen: well hello there

I was super impressed with her at the gate. I've been working on each step, making sure she was relaxed and understood the questions. She has a tendency to rush a gate but not today. We were able to do it forward and backing through it. 

After we played for a while in the ring we went on a hack through the woods. Carmen led pretty much the whole way, walking out with confidence (although keeping an eye on possible dangers). We usually trot the hill back up to the barn and she led there as well. 

Guinness came along as well. You can see him in the photos and videos above. He's assigned himself the job of supervisor. All he needs is a clipboard and safety vest.  Carmen seems to be fine with him as well. This has become one of my favourite photos of the three of us: 

The Three Muskateers (screen shot from a video)

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Work in Progress

Today I was able to have a lesson with Shanea. It had been a while so I was really looking forward to it. Carmen's fitness has been translating into excess energy. It seems that she doesn't really know what to do with the energy.
look who's sitting up and not grabbing with her hands?!

Well, she does, but just not in a way that I would consider 'productive'.  Instead, it translates into extra spookiness and #feelings. It's been good for me to practice staying on top of things and riding proactively.

Yesterday that led to long session then I had planned but that is okay. I was hopeful that today she would be a bit quieter. And she was, at least in the pre-ride lunge and groundwork. And she was when I was riding.

The key I'm finding is to not let her get strung out or balled up. It can feel like riding a tight rope.
Actual quote from my lesson:
Shanea: and now canter
Me: you know you're not in the will right? 

But when she's underneath of me and feeling forward it feels really good.

It also feels like it comes and goes a lot. And Carmen had some feelings about some areas of the ring (different then the last time we rode. le sigh). So we would be flowing and then it was like someone choked the hose.

It's useful to me to feel that and help her deal with it rather then be a passive passenger and hope that she doesn't dump me or run away. I can feel that she has some thoughts about me insisting she stay with me. But once we work through it, she falls into place.

I also need to take ownership of my own emotions. Not about getting frustrated, but my self-confidence. I have this habit that when things are good of stopping because I want to finish before it goes bad again. I've been trying to not do that.

Instead I work her to a good place and then work on some specific things. 

I hope that this doesn't sound like we're stalled- because we're not. It's more about filling in a few holes and working on her submission. 

I was happy with our lesson and how I rode. Not that I was perfect, because I wasn't.  But we are work in progress. 

And to finish here's a really cute video. I didn't even realize that Guinness was doing this until I looked at the clips from my lesson. He seems to have assigned himself as our companion (also look at his extended trot). Notice that Carmen doesn't care at all. He can pop in and out of anywhere around the ring and she is fine with it.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Come Dance With Me

You may recall that I have signed Carmen and I up for a charity show in September.  I also talked my friend, Karen into showing as well. In a text exchange she was wondering whether to do one test or two.  I dropped the suggestion that it would be fun for us to do a Pas de Deux in honour of our friend Janet who is battling cancer. After a brief text silence I received two back to back:
Head explodes
It could be fun. 

Now doing a test to music has been high on my wish list for a long time. This fun show seemed like the perfect time and doing with Karen and her stallion would make it even more fun.  The tricky part was finding time to get together to practice. I have a full size ring so it made sense for it to be here.

Karen found the music and we played with some choreography via google docs and I tried riding to it to figure out the timing. Yesterday evening she arrived so that we could spend Sunday morning pulling together the choreography.

Because that should be enough time, right?

Irish was so excited to see Kalimo. He's so in love it's pathetic. Carmen could have cared less.

full on bromance! 
So we started with the first part and that fell together quite easily. The canter work was much much harder. Carmen got a little tense with the whole thing and was ready to quit. At one point we passed Kalimo cantering in opposite directions and he let out a big fart. It scared Carmen and she bolted. Karen looked around to see us at the opposite side of the ring. It was hilarious, even though I almost came off. 

We rode and discussed and I began to wonder if we'd figure it out. Finally we had a plan and we rode it through the music and it worked! I then asked Ed to come up and video it so we could review it. AT the end he said 'I expected that I would be trying to conceal my laughter but that looked good'. 

Oh ye of little faith.  Just because we said that we weren't sure what we were doing......

After we were all exhausted. 
Kalimo: time for a nap

Carmen: can you just calm down?
 After, Carmen and Kalimo went out to the field to have a rest while Karen and I reviewed the video and ate the delicious lunch that Ed made.
doesn't he look great in my field? 
Then it was time to go home. 

It was so much to play with this. We will practice it on our own and, hopefully, have one more chance at a rehearsal. But like Karen said, this is more for fun and love then anything else.

So if you are at the show in September you will see us debut our dance number. And just to get you interested, here's a small preview:

I am so excited. Janet, I hope that you can come and see it.

Hopefully, Carmen won't add any extra drama....

Friday, August 9, 2019

Another Country Heard From

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you have heard the news bombshell about George Morris and his lifetime ban from horse sports for 'sexual misconduct involving a minor'. The reactions were swift and furious.

While I am sure that another opinion on the internet is likely useless I'm going to do it anyway.  If you want to see some really awesome and informative posts on this you can find them here and here (I am sure there are more).

The rhetoric I am hearing on FB and other platforms is horrible. The accusers are being vilified, as is Safe Sport. There is a collective throwing up of hands saying that it will no longer be safe for trainers/coaches etc.

Does this sound familiar?
Because it should. We heard the same bullshit when the #metoo movement started.

I am not going to weigh on George's innocence or guilt. I wasn't part o the investigation and know nothing about it. If you think that you know that it was flawed and had no part of it then you are reacting without knowing the facts.

pretty pony to break up rant (PC Cindy McCullough)
Don't tell me that these teenage victims of 'sexual misconduct' are equally to blame. Because you are wrong.

When I was 15/16 I used to meet a friend at the roller skate rink for an evening. Yes, I am that old. We styled and hair sprayed our hair almost to death, strapped on big ass roller skates and skated to disco music.
not me. But it could have been
One night we ran into her cousin who was there. I was immediately smitten and he was clearly attracted to me. The problem was he was in his 20s. I tried to hide my age but when he found out he let me know (kindly) that he could not date a teenager. I was crushed. Could he not see how mature I was?  He could totally have taken advantage of me, but he didn't. And you know what? That shouldn't be viewed as fucking noble on his part. It should be standard.  I was young. My body and hormones were sending me all sort of weird and interesting signals and I didn't have enough maturity to really understand it.

All I wanted to do growing up was ride horses. If that dream had been realized in my teenage years I could easily have been a victim of an adult trainer/coach. We admire these individuals and can even worship them. These young people are vulnerable and they need to be protected. It is not unusual for young people to spend a long time at a barn unsupervised by parents.  

Don't tell me 'it was a different time'. It is not okay for adult men and women to have sex with teenagers. It has never been okay. The only thing that is different is that people didn't want to hear about it and vilified the victim. I've even heard the comment that it was legal in some states to marry underage girls. Whatever. There are still countries that do this. It doesn't make it fucking right. And if we're going to start quoting the laws-back then homosexual sex was illegal in many states. And that law was wrong too. 

It would be nice if we all knew and operated on this principle. But they don't. So organizations need to have things in place to protect everyone. It's not a court of law and does not function like one. So stop whining about them not following the law. It a set of regulations on what is deemed inappropriate conduct and determines what the consequences are. 

If you disagree with how it's done then get involved. But don't say that we don't need it. Because we clearly do. 

Stop assuming you know an investigation was flawed when you know nothing. (pro tip: not seeing something happen does not mean that it didn't happen). 

Stop assuming that the victims are lying because who would honestly put themselves out there for this type of reaction? I will remind you of Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein. And it is not just limited to those who are 'famous'. Locally there is a case of a teacher/coach abusing over 20 children in the 80's. 

Stop acting all wounded like you can't coach anymore. Because if you think that sexual behaviour or any type of abuse is part of the sport then you can just fucking leave. 

Because we don't need you. And I don't care how good you are. 

me on my high horse (PC Cindy McCullough)

Monday, August 5, 2019

"Riding is Hard!"

I had a really fun weekend of fun and learning. Friday I trailered Carmen to the barn and settled her in.  I swear that she remembered the last time we were there, despite it being pretty close to exactly 2 years ago. 

she was fascinated by this orange cat who was completely
unfazed over being snuffled all over. 

That night all of the ones participating got together for the evening 'lecture'. We started by introducing ourselves and our goals for the clinic. When it was my turn I started on my laundry list of flaws and then realized how I sounded. I stopped myself and simply said 'riding is hard'

Everyone laughed and that became the motto for the weekend. I know I called it a lecture that night but it wasn't.  Karen had us share and practice things like balance and using our centre to signal. Karen shared a really interesting quadrant to help think about our rides:

The vertical line is energy and the horizontal one is mental state (note, this is not Karen's drawing but it is the same concept). I really liked it and it helped me to think about my rides on Carmen. 

We played with ropes to practice how subtle signals need to be and we even practiced 'riding' each other to see how little change in our posture is required to send a strong signal (no we didn't sit on each other, we just stood over top). 

My goal for the weekend was to really find some tool to target my tendency to lean forward. Karen helped me to feel my seat bones and to feel when I rock back. The goal is to let the horse move my seat bones but to not let them go back too far. I am sure that I'm not explaining it well but the idea is the if we let our seat bones go back too far it encourages the horse to let their legs go out behind and not step under. Karen used the phrase 'close the back door' which seemed to help. 

At first it was really hard to keep that way. Like really hard. Because riding is hard.  But I could feel Carmen respond. It was easier on day 2 but it still required a lot of mental focus. Karen had me stand next to her and she put her hand on my back between the shoulder blades and had me resist her pushing me forward. This helped me to feel where I need to be:

It really helped. When I lost it Karen would remind to feel her hand. 

look at that uphill canter and erect rider! 
On day one we even tried a little baby half-pass:

One of the tools is focusing on the 'X' that is in our back (you can find it by drawing an imaginary line from your shoulders to the opposite hip. The idea is not to use muscle tension (which was what I thought at first) but to pulse the energy down.  Again this really helped.
sitting up, carmen is forward and in the bridle but
I am not pulling. 

I found that I had to keep cycling through my body: core, loose pelvis, back, shoulders. 

It was such a great learning experience. At no time did Karen get frustrated with me or lose her sense of humour. I feel that I got some tools to help me in my rides.  

I plan to keep practicing. 

So I can target the next thing. 

Because, (say it with me): riding is hard

But (like I said at the end of the clinic), it is also so much fun

Which is why we do it. Because, otherwise we would just be masochists. 

And that can't be true. Right? 

Friday, August 2, 2019

So Many Flaws, So Little Time

As riders we are all familiar with this question from non-riders: "Why are you still taking lessons? Don't you already know how to ride?"

My long answer, about how continuous improvement takes outside eyes and if you want to get better you need a coach etc, makes their eyes glaze over and quickly change the subject. My short one is also true: 'Riding is hard'

While there was a lot to truly like from the show, there's a lot that drives me crazy about my riding.

I love this photo- she uphill and soft but
what the hell am I doing with my left hand?
(PC Amy Sangster) 

My biggest thing right now is my tendency to lean forward as soon as things get tense. I know why- it's my defensive posture. But honestly, it has to go because now I think I'm sitting up when I'm actually not. Which is why we need a person on the ground because our bodies lie to us

So when Shanea offered a lesson on Wednesday at 12:30 when there was a heat warning I said 'sure' (although faintly). 

I told her that I really wanted to work on this sitting forward. Carmen obliged by being a bit of dick about the far corner. (this is also really bugging me because it's only on the right rein):

I don't know where she got the energy to be so testing. With the humidex it was 39 degrees (102 Fahrenheit). Which for Nova Scotia is blistering. (The bucket you see there was filled with water so Shanea could periodically sponge Carmen down). 

I don't help this whole issue by leaning forward so the lesson was on me sitting up and using my back to not let Carmen pull me forward. 

here she is using that strong neck of her's to pull me then my
lizard brain says 'lean forward so we don't die!'
It's not Carmen's fault I do this- it's always been a flaw of mine. But her behaviour doesn't help me get rid of it. So I need to take charge. 

so much better but I could be back even more
Honestly, when I'm sitting up it feels like I'm leaning way back. So clearly I need to work on this.

Fortunately, I'm off to a clinic this weekend with Karen on balance in riding (she's a level 2 CR instructor).  I'm hoping that I can get some ways to remind myself when I'm riding alone.  It's a small clinic in a lovely setting. I'm staying with Paula so it will be another fun weekend with horse friends. 

I'm sure that Carmen is excited. LOL, I expect that she's not a fan of my vacation. 

Carmen's favourite way to vacation

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


I guess that title needs to come with a spoiler alert. But honestly, it was a great show. First let me thank Cindy (for the photos) and Tanya/ Nicole/ Faye for the various videos. You guys are awesome.

For whatever reason, I didn't have the nervousness or sick feeling before the show this time. I felt really mellow and positive about all of it. The rides leading up to the show were a bit fraught but the one the day before was awesome. I guess this time I decided to let the one good ride set the tone rather than the bad ones.

Like I said, it was stinking hot by the time my rides were up so I opted for a 40 minute warm-up. Carmen was awesome in the warm up and had a ton of energy.

Shanea and I in the warm up ring. Her mare is stunning
To be honest, I should have given us more time because I wasn't quite ready when it was our turn. I'm still figuring out the best approach for her. But it didn't matter because it was time for us to go. When we walked in and by where the judge and scribe were sitting she gave a massive shy/spin when she saw people were there. I put my leg on and circled her back and by.

Carmen, pretty sure she's about to be eaten by trolls
 We went back and she gave a sigh and relaxed.
Okay, not gonna eat me but they should have carrots. 

 Then the bell rang and in we went.
god, I need to get a handle on this whole leaning forward thing! 

OMG, are we actually square?!

I don't have  video of this test but it felt pretty good. On our first lengthen I asked for a bit too much and she broke to canter. Totally my fault and we just regrouped and carried on. About half-way through I could feel Carmen go 'OH! now I know what we're doing!'  and she settled into the work beautifully. Our scores were a mix of 6, 6.5 and 7's for a final score of 65.429 with a comment of 'lovely horse! Further develop suppleness over topline'.  We placed 4th over all (there were more than  4 in the class I just don't remember how many!).

one of my favourite photos from the test. I love the hind leg
reach and the lightness of her front end. 

There was a bit of chaos on Saturday because the judge got so far ahead that the times were all moved up by a 30 minutes (if you wanted).  I asked if I could again in about 10 minutes and the judge agreed. I quickly hosed her legs and hopped back on. A little more warm up and she was ready and in we went. 

Other then her deciding that a leg yield from the rail to the centre line was a ridiculous ask and she'd never heard of such a thing, the test felt really really good. 

Here's a video of the whole thing: 

Well there's a lot to improve in this there is a lot that I love. And honestly, it's the most consistent we've ever been. We actually got 7's on our free walk and lengthen trots! 

it got better as we went
I rode this test really focussing on keeping her straight and on the aids.

Our scores were mostly 6.5-7 with one 5.5 on our first leg yield.  Our final score was 66.528 and a second place (but in full disclosure there were only two of us in the class) and a comment to work on leg yields. Sigh. We work on them all the time.

On Sunday I spent a lot of time in the morning hand walking her and trying to keep her cool and rested. That turned out to be a mistake because Carmen was a fire breathing dragon in the warm up! She  had decided that certain things were totally frightening and she was going to run away. In the past this would have really intimidated me. Not anymore. I sat up, took a hold and booted her forward. If she had energy to burn then by god, let's go. I found moments of softness and really rewarded those but I was taking no bullshit. Once again the warm up felt far too short. 

Ready or not here we come!

Then there was the debacle with the number (yesterday's post) but we regrouped. It felt like this test took a lot of active riding. I had a caller which was great because it allowed me to keep all my focus on Carmen where she needed it. 

canter depart? yes ma'am

settling down a bit

yay, she's actually stretching. 
Here is the test in all it's gory details:

A lot to take away from it. One is that Carmen's would really like to negotiate this whole 'acceptance of the bit' thing. But I was not letting her get all inverted and then take off on me. Also it felt a lot more like a wrestling match than it looked, which is good information. We got a 5.5 on our first halt (as soon as I let go of the contact she decided to move around) but otherwise we were a mix of 6.5-7s and few sixes for a final score of 65.714 and comment Very nice horse. Some nice moments. More suppleness over back. Lengthens need improvement.  Which could pretty much describe every ride we have.  We place 6th out of 9 or 10 riders. The spread on this test for the placings (it may have been true of the others too, I didn't really look) was about 3 percentage points. After this test I went back to the warm up ring and we schooled our halts. This is not a new idea, that halts are still and that she waits so I felt that I should let her know that it is also true here. 

I put Carmen back in her stall to have a pee and cool off for a short time and then got back on. The warm up was much shorter but I kept her in front of the leg and supple. And this test felt really really good. I was happy with how it all went. 

It felt like we really were working together. 
here we go, last test! it's do or die!
Psst - I prefer to not die
we ride into corners now

Cantering in balance

yay, square halt at the end

We got far more 7s in this test and a 6 on our stretch trot circle. Our final score was 66.111 with the comment lovely horse- work well together. Continue to develop supplies and bend.  We place second out of two again, but since Shanea was first I'm not gonna lose sleep over that. 

At the end of the show I went in to thank the judge for her kindness and comments. She smiled and said 'which horse were you riding?
'the grey andalusian in first level (there was a grey andalusian mare in second level too, she was stunning). 
The judge then warmed my heart by saying 'ooh, yeah. She's a lovely horse. 
Thank you. I think so too.
No, she's really lovely! 

Of course she is but it's nice that others see it too. 

Why was this the best show ever? Because we were the most consistent and it felt that we were working together the whole time. And when we weren't I was able to get her back. In the past, after that big spook at the judges booth she would have been fixated on it and it would have been a struggle. This time I was able to show her it was fine and she accepted that.  The scores were better than we've been getting and placings didn't even matter (although I'd be lying if I didn't say that one day I'd love to win one of the awards). It was also a lot of fun with so many supportive people. There may have been drama, but I didn't see it. What I saw was a bunch of people having fun and enjoying their horses. None of us are going to the olympics so if it's not fun, what's the point? 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Show Shenanigans: The Further Adventures of Teresa and Carmen

If you recall, in the last chapter blog post I said that Carmen and I were headed to a show. Spoiler alert: I had the most fun I've had at a show in a long time. And I will get in to the details. But for this post I wanted to share some things that happened outside of the show ring. 

I headed out late morning on Friday and met up with Tanya so we could travel together. That way is something happened to one of us we would have another trailer and some support. It was uneventful, other than the fact some drivers make very stupid decisions and seem to have no fucking clue that their little mazda won't fare well in a collision with a truck and trailer. 

When we got there I decided to join Tanya in the outside shedrow stalls. It was a good decision- the weather was hot all weekend and these stalls had lots of air movement and shade. 

1. This will do:

Carmen approved of her new digs and made herself right at home. 

Proof of her angelic nature

erhm, maybe not
2. Calm and confident
She was very comfortable in the ring walking around and our ride that evening was really really good. No shenanigans, just focus and forward. 
In sync
The next morning I took her for a walk too see the ring and the flowers. She insisted on sniffing each and every one. 

@C halt and smell the flowers
3. Don't fence me in:
I had rigged up a stall guard to allow for more air circulation. I thought I was being clever and thoughtful. However, when I went to refill her water I walked back down the row and saw a pretty grey butt that was not where I left it. It took me a minute to realize that was Carmen and she was out. I put down the bucket and headed slowly towards her when I saw that Shanea had her. It seems that Carmen leaned on the guard and popped out the screw bolt. She just wandered down by the warm up ring and started grazing. It took people a minute realize she was loose.   I tightened the bolt but she did it again later and then again so I gave up. I am a much slower learner than Carmen, apparently. 

3. It's not OCD, it's planning:
When it was time to ride I went to put on my 'show' boots only to find that both zippers were broken. I was upset because this was only the second show I had worn them at. Fortunately I had packed my schooling boots so I had to clean them up and use them. Clearly overpacking is a good thing. 

I contacted the company and they are replacing the boots for me

4. Just take it
Our ride times were in the afternoon and it was so very very hot. I begged asked the show committee if we could excuse jackets. Fortunately the judge listened to pleas of a menopausal woman and excused jackets. In spite of that, after my first ride I was HOT. Like really hot. I was walking Carmen back to the barn when I saw Maria holding out a small glass of liquid and without thinking I grabbed it and downed it. It was delicious wine and she was handing it to Teri. Fortunately, a fight did not break out and Teri went to get another glass while Maria refilled my glass. Sorry-not-sorry. 

5. Friend's look after each other:

Tanya was awesome and looked after Carmen every morning, giving her hay and water while her lazy servant made her way to the show grounds. Nicole offered to wash my show clothes and I am so grateful. So was everyone downwind of me, I'm sure. 

I could see a business opportunity here....

6. You've got my number

On Sunday, I was a bit hotter, a little more tired and more easily frazzled. I came in to walk around the ring when I realized that I didn't have my number. I yelled to Cindy to run and get it while I cantered back out and hoped like hell I wasn't going to get eliminated. Cindy came back with it and said now which side should it go on  and I said hysterically  JUST STICK IT ON!

I trotted back in and when I went by the trailer that the judge was in I heard this amused voice say 'all ready? Do you have your number? 
Yes please I said sheepishly and I heard her giggle as I walked down the long side. 

If I only had a brain....

I had it all along, I swear.....
7. Talking to myself

I don't really realize it but I tend to keep up a running conversation with Carmen when I ride. Especially in the warm up ring. I guess it can be amusing sometimes. I saw Maria's husband, Isaac, standing at the fence and laughing at us every time I went by. I said something about providing some comedy relief and he said that he wanted to stick a mike on me and record me when I ride. I don't know if anyone is ready for that. Sometimes I have been known to *cough* swear. 

8.  Regretting life choices:
Carmen was in full dragon mode on Sunday in our warm up and for our first test (more on that later). I simply rode her forward and let her expend some energy. During the ribbon ceremony she could barely keep her eyes open. 


It was a great weekend, full of laughter and friendship and horses. I had a blast. I'm pretty sure that Carmen enjoyed it too, even though she is pointedly ignoring me out in her field today.