Waggy Tail

Waggy Wednesday

Waggy Tails continues to be a delightful addition to our household. She goes to work with me 4 days a week and with the hubs on Wednesdays. Last week she weighed in at 14 lbs!! That's 4 pounds of growth in 2 weeks.

We have a good scheduled down already. She crashes in my office until 11:30 am when she then determines it is puppy play time. I have patients until 12:30 so that hour is a little interesting. She stays awake until 1 pm when she crashes out again until 3:30pm. We leave around 5.

She is getting much braver about leaving the immediate backyard. I was very excited the day she wandered all the way to the horse pasture and helped Wyatt fill the water trough.

She hasn't gone into the vast wilderness of the nasty hay field next to our pasture. It's mostly weeds at this point and the fact that the guy has yet to make a second cutting is really annoying as not only does it look gross but is killing off any chance I have at riding at home.

The above is my favorite picture to date of her. Her floofiness hasn't changed one bit!

Einstein is worn out by her. She never passes up a chance to wrestle and as long as she is awake he is getting bugged. She is the very definition of the annoying little sister.

Most of the time she can be found passed out. Waggy Tails is the laziest pup I've ever met. I swear she sleeps 20 hours a day!

Wyatt continues to be in love although she has started her puppy chewing/biting phase and that scared him off of too much playing.

My two favorite girls!

There is just something about her that has crawled its way into my heart. She is a pretty serious puppy and is extremely intelligent which is a trait my last two dogs did not share. She is on par with my corgi in that regard. Most of the time she looks at my in condescension.

And then she falls asleep with her nose deep in my shoe. Puppies!



It’s no secret that I love to volunteer. Not only is it a great way to give back, but there is a lot you can learn by sitting on the sidelines and lending a hand even if it is just to learn how extremely hard it is to run an event.

Back in the 90s and early 2000s, I spent my time competing in whitewater slalom. My event was the women’s closed canoe and it was my first introduction to amateur sports. Running a race was not so different than running a horse event in that a lot of volunteers were needed to fill a large number of roles: gate judges, timers, start and finish gate, scoring, safety boats. Since most of the races barely broke even by the end of the weekend, there was no room to pay anyone for these jobs.

The whitewater world had a simple solution: make working the event mandatory. Each race day was split into a morning and afternoon session. As a competitor you get two runs with the best score kept. Unless you were competing in a class in both the morning and afternoon, which was rare but did happen, then you were assigned a job for the session you weren’t on the river. So for instance, if my class ran in the morning then I was assigned a gate to judge all afternoon. If someone shirked their duties they were eliminated from the race. It set it up so nicely that the event coordinators never had to worry about a lack of help running the race.

Now I understand that this system wouldn’t work in most horse disciplines and especially in endurance and eventing where I have some degree of exposure. Technically you could force those in the limited distance division to work after completion but that’s a bit unfair since the 50s and 100s wouldn’t be able to. I don’t even see how it could work at a horse trail with all three phases running in a single day.

But I do believe that giving back to your sport is important. Not even important. Vital. Just take a minute to think of the last horse event you competed in, no matter the discipline, and all the volunteers it took to run it: the ring stewards, bit checkers, scribes, jump crew to reset jumps, jump judges, timers, announcers, etc…. I’ve seen local to me events nearly beg for help and still run it on a skeleton crew.

I’ve heard a ton of lame excuses why people don’t volunteer. Honestly, they all suck no matter how much you think it is viable. You can’t tell me that in an entire season there is no way you could find one Saturday or Sunday to spend time at an event lending your hand wherever it was needed. I won’t buy it.

While the mandatory work of my whitewater days is not likely possible in the horse world, I do think that there is a solution. One that probably wouldn’t go over very well, but one I wish were a reality. If it was up to me I’d make a mandatory 8 hours of volunteering a part of maintaining membership. So if you wanted to renew your USDF, AERC, USEF, whatever else exists out there, membership in 2018 you would have to show proof of 8 hours of volunteer work at an event within that discipline in 2017. That’s one single day out of an entire year.

I’m sure there are a lot of reasons people wouldn’t want that to go into effect, but the truth is that without volunteers there wouldn’t be a show to attend. Or at least not at the price point they currently are if they’d have to pay people to do the work. So the next time you have a Saturday or Sunday without plans and there is a local show going on, offer up your services in whatever capacity they can be used. Give back to the world that you love so much and help keep these events running.

2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #28

This was a little out of order as the next prompt that was mine was on hold, so I went ahead and skipped to my next one as we waited. Turns out my pick was one my mom had already read which was surprising to happen for the first time this late in the challenge. She opted to wait while I read it and pick back up when the next one was available off hold.

A book with the main character of a different ethnicity- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 

Florentino is a man of love. He happens upon Fermina Daza when he delivers a message to her father and from the moment he lays eyes on her he knows he has seen the only woman he will ever love. From then on, he stalks her waking moments and positions himself in such a way as to be able to “happen” upon her. After many weeks, he finds the courage to speak to her and thus begins a passionate love affair via the written word: the two never again speak in person and instead their entire relationship takes place in letters.

For her part, Fermina believes in her love of Florentino. She is a girl of sharp wit, a quick temper and a hatred of her father’s plans for her life. While Florentino writes prose full of poetry and flamboyant love, her responses are short and to the point. When he proposes marriage, she takes her time before accepting. Their love affair is secret from Fermina’s father and only her Aunt knows of them. When her father does find out, he is enraged. He sends the Aunt away and takes Fermina on a trip to her ancestral home to meet up with her cousins. Along the way, they devise a way to stay in touch.

Once she returns home however she meets up with Florentino face to face for the first time since their initial meeting and all her feelings flee. She abruptly ends the relationship, requests all her letters and trinkets returned and refuses to speak with him again.

Florentino is devastated. He continues to swear his love for her and only her and as their lives diverge, Fermina marries another and Florentino stays “true” to his one and only. As old age draws near, he hopes to rekindle a fire that he believes still exists between them.

The book takes place in a fictional Carribean port at the turn of the 19th century and spans 50 years.  It is written in a mix of past and present tense by an unknown narrator that is neither of the main characters and is never fully revealed.

The main theme is of love, both returned and unrequited and the lengths one will go to to hold onto the past.

Fermina at once puts Florentino out of her mind once she turns him away  and moves on to marry a local doctor allowing her to move up in class. She lives her life without a second though to the boy who once proposed marriage to her although she sees him out in town quite frequently. Once her husband passes, she is confronted with Florentino once again and quickly sends him away out of hand but soon realizes that perhaps she is as wrong now as she was before.

Florentino never forgets Fermina and begins to build his life in every way to serve his greater purpose of winning her back. He understands that her husband must die before he can make his move and waits patiently for over 50 years to do so. Lest one should think him a martyr, over those 50+ years he has nearly 700 sexual encounters and affairs which ends with an affair with his 14 year old goddaughter.

The book was riveting in content building the story in both the past and present. It takes care to spend time looking at those years from both Florentino’s and Fermina’s point of view which casts an interesting look at our lives and how we effect those we interact with. Each character is well rounded although I did find myself liking Fermina more and Florentino less as their stories unfolded over the course of their lives.

There are times when the book bogs down especially as it goes over the many sordid affairs Florentino aligns himself with. It got redundant and I found myself thinking “yeah, I got it the man likes to sleep around” multiple times throughout and wishing for another Fermina chapter to come along. The ending leaves a little to be desired, but I suppose there wasn’t any better way to do it.

I do recommend the book. My copy was nearly 900 pages long of close type, single spaced lines so it took a while to get through. 4/5

2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar reading Challenge Book #27

With such a broad prompt, nearly any genre could fit the bill. I was pretty excited about the possibilities with this one and waited to see what mom chose.

A book set during wart time –  Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. 

The world is on the cusp of World War I and those working in office in England at the start only have a hint of what is to come. Christopher Teitjen is one of the last Torries and has a station within the statistics department and a wife he hates and who has recently left him for a brief period on vacation with another man.

I’d like to tell you all more about the plot, but the truth is I got 100 pages in and hated it so much I stopped reading. My mom made it about 50 pages. Maybe less.

The book is lengthy to the point of being drudgery.  The descriptors are overly indulgent and the characters are mere facades. Apparently there is an entire series on TV following the book and I can only hope it is more interesting than the book.


Riding/Horses, Uncategorized

Our First Cross Country Outing- Part 3, Cross Country

Ok, ok..no more dragging this out 🙂 Here is the moment we have all been waiting for…

I followed Trainer out the back gate of the arena and down the grassy hill. I really had no clue what to expect. I had never seen any cross country fences there before and was uncertain what was about to happen.

Gem was obviously happy to be out of the arena and took advantage of the grass to stuff her face because, you know, her crazy owner may ask her to do anything and she needed her energy. My stomach was doing flips that would make an Olympic diver proud.

We stopped in front of a small stone wall. Trainer explained that she typically does not let horses see the jumps beforehand, but given Gem's personality she didn't want her to think she was being tricked and to go ahead and let her sniff it. At first I was like "sniff what? This pile of rocks? What are we jumping?" Then it dawned on me. We would be jumping the pile of rocks. Ok…Gem hates things like this. Like down to her core hates it. With a passion.

I walked Gem over to it with a knot in my stomach expecting her to go sideways at any moment, but she just stood next to it and looked around like "what's the big deal here? Where are we going now?"

I would have been happy to sit there in the sunshine all afternoon and call it a day. Seriously, I'm not brave. Trainer however is and wont take my wimpy crap too much, so she told me to circle around and pick up a steady trot. "Remember to steer and add lots of leg."

I turned Gem away, picked up a slow trot and prepared to jump it. I was scared shitless. Not gonna lie. I've taken Gem on so many miles of trails and dozens of hunter paces and she has never once liked even walking over anything solid out and about. Jumping a log across the trail was always an impossible feat. Adding to it, the approach was in the shade and had a super long grassy lane leading away from the jump between the trees. My biggest fear out on course is that Gem is completely untrustworthy in big open spaces. She tends to look for monsters that don't exist and spook at random. Trotting through a field has always been a big risk as she zigs and zags and jumps out of her skin at absolutely nothing.

I swallowed my fear like a rock in my throat and pointed her to the rock pile. I'm pretty sure Trainer was holding her breath waiting for a train wreck.

Gem trotted happily and loosely up to the wall, remained steady and even and hopped over it like no big deal. Then she picked up a beautiful canter and floated away. All this with extremely limited input from her rider who was in mortal terror sitting on her back like a useless monkey.

Trainer looked shocked. My jaw was on the ground. No theatrics. No issues. No unsteady "maybe I'll go right, no left, no stop, no forward" squirrelyness. Trainer just said "huh. Um. Well. Ok. Come back around the other direction where you'll be going from light to shadow. Be prepared because the change in light can back horses off. Lots of steering. Lots of leg."

So I did. And Gem repeated her performance of nonchalance professionalism.

My face split in a grin that would make a jack-o-lantern jealous.

Trainer stood there with her jaw on the ground. I could tell she hadn't really planned much more than attempting to get us over the rock wall. I mean, I don't blame her. I would have bet the farm we would have taken an hour to get over one single solid jump. And even then it wouldn't have been that safe or pretty.

"Ok…. I want you to jump the coop into the pasture then. It's narrow and wide so be prepared." It was also the highest I had ever jumped to date.

I brought Gem around and lined up. I was a bit timid. I mean, a coop? Solid triangular shaped wood? And the tallest to date? I put my leg on and Gem took it like it didn't even exist. Holy shit mare. What is going on?

"Go jump the stone wall again"

"But I'm inside the pasture. How do I get back out?"

"Over the coop"


And this is where Trainer's master plan finally came to light. We were now inside the pasture. The only way out was either back over the coop or over a jump I didn't know was there at this point, but would be introduced to soon enough. I had to jump the coop to leave the pasture.

She had me exit over the coop then take the stone wall again this time stringing them together. I was to let Gem canter if she was controlled enough to do so. Honestly at this point Gem began to tell me I was useless in this whole partnership and that she had this. We cantered.

We turned around and repeated the wall to coop to enter the pasture again and I've never felt anything so wonderful in my life. If that is what stadium is supposed to feel like, I've been missing out. I finally understood what Trainer had been telling me all along – act like the jump is just in the way of point A to B and ride it like it doesn't exist. For once I could. Gem just trotted or cantered along and never once even held back. It was AMAZING.

Once back inside the fence, we walked over to two railroad tie fences. On the left was a teeny tiny one that up until that point would have sent me into cardiac arrest, but now looked a bit wimpy. Gem proved me right when we went over it and she barely stepped it.

Given that response, Trainer made us do the larger one next to it. Now this fence gave me some major anxiety. It was really big. Big enough that she couldn't just step over it and would have to jump. My crutch of being able to crawl to a walk and step over it was gone. At this point Gem had begun to think that she knew better than I did (she was probably right) and was just starting to lose her breaks a little as well.

I had wanted a trot which is my other crutch, but three strides out she disagreed and broke to canter then flew over it.

Having yet to expose her to something that phased her, Trainer had us jump out over the coop and then turn left down to the driveway to come at a new fence. We flew over the now easy peasy coop, but then I completely pissed her off when I turned her prior to the stone wall and she had really wanted to go over it.

Seriously I have no clue where this horse came from. Mad that I didn't let her jump? Flying over solid natural obstacles like she was a pro? Huh??!

I got her turned down the driveway and met the new fence: a small but very wide railroad tie at the top of a super steep, short hill. The hill doesn't really show up well in the picture, but the approach was short due to the 90 degree turn off the driveway, headed straight up and then continued up on the other side.

Again, my Wonder Woman mare didn't even bat an eye at it. Except now we had an issue. Gem had decided she had no use for me, my half halts or my steering. She galloped up the hill and locked on to anything she thought she could jump. Um, no mare. I'm still the navigator.

I turned her back around and approached the jump going down the hill. This was much, much harder for me. I had to sit way back and wait patiently. Since I tend towards jumping too early, this was an exercise in fighting myself. We did fine over it, but I lost all ability to steer going down the hill and we ended up hitting a tree. Oops.

Back around and back in over the uphill jump and then Trainer had me halt to set up a plan. As I was chatting with Trainer about what we were going to do Gem started to wander, then trot and went right over to the coop in glee and fully intending to jump it. No mare. We are standing still now.

The plan was thus: uphill jump into the pasture, small railroad tie, loop around to the large tie, coop, stone wall.

I came up the hill and it was apparent that I had lost all steering and most of my brakes. Gem was having fun and had tuned me out completely. We barely made the turn to the small tie, which she then just stepped over in disdain, and by the time I turned her back to the larger tie I had lost all control. She broke to a gallop and we were off.

I freaked. I mean, this whole Gem having confidence thing was new to me and I had zero trust that we would make it over and not die. I turned her off it and Trainer wasn't very happy. I explained that I had zero control and felt really uneasy about jumping like that. She was okay with that decision but told me I needed to take control way before the jump or else I'd teach Gem to run out.

Not wanting to end on a bad note, she had me go back and try the tie again, but this time make her halt right after. Well, the halt after took 5-6 canter strides as Gem was locked onto that coop and had no intentions of doing anything but going over it. I did get her to stop though, then picked up the canter and out we went over the coop and ended over the wall.

I forgot to mention that all the times we did the coop and wall I whooped in joy. The first time Trainer, who remained inside the fence, asked if I was ok. I was more than ok. I was elated. I was having the time of my life. I never wanted it to end.

As I loosened her girth and ran the stirrups up, I was shaking. A bit adrenaline, a bit overwhelmed and lot excited. Neither Trainer nor I ever expected that out of Gem. Trainer walked over and exclaimed "You have an event horse!" I think she was as happy as I was.

I have no idea where that came from. She had never shown any interest out on trail before. A log on trail makes her jump 50 feet sideways. She balks in the arena over the smallest fences that she has seen a million times and yet when presented with solid obstacles on varied terrain with wide open spaces or with treed lanes, she took them like a pro who had done it all in her sleep. I'm floored.

I am a little scared of the beast I awoke within her. Trainer said that a lot of gymnastics are in our future to teach her to slow the poop down and wait for instruction. Guys, the future is wide open!!!


Our First Cross Country Outing- Part 2, Stadium

The flat work had gone extremely well and while there is still a ton to work on, the differences were easy to see from when we started way back in February. Trainer was super happy with the work we put it and I was really proud of Gem for working so hard to try to give me the correct answer. I’mm to a point now where I feel like I can start to push Gem a little more. Before she was a little delicate. Too much pressure would send her over he edge and it would take a week or more to bring her back. Now she can take it.

It was time to get jumping though.

More hiking pictures to break up the text. 

The same course was still set from last Wednesday only this time Trainer set up a cavaletti with a ground pole on either side to make it wider.  She wanted to introduce a jump without standards to Gem to see how she would handle it. I hadn’t even thought about that difference in stadium versus cross country.

She first had me take Gem over the cross rail we had been over a dozen times before. I kept my legs on, looked up at the gate opposite the jump and rode towards it. Gem went over but it was hesitant and squirrelly. Trainer just shook her head because she saw me ride it hard and yet, even though Gem has jumped this same jump before, she still got all squiggly before it.

Same old cross rail, same old hesitation

It is a little frustrating when she is all “maybe I’ll go left, maybe I’ll go right, maybe I’ll stop, fine I’ll go over but I’m going to keep you guessing if I will or not right up to the base”.  Trainer remarked that Gem requires steering the entire time including in the air and that makes it very hard. I used to blame it 100% on me and my lack of confidence going towards the fence, but on Friday I had no butterflies, no hesitation and was not backed off at all. Gem was still the same.

We came at the jump again and this time I booted her pretty good right before it to make sure she kept up her pace and went over. Well, this caused her all sorts of confusion and she lost track of her legs and tripped right in front of the fence. We managed to make it over, but it was ugly. The third time was decent enough for Trainer to set us loose on a small course.

Carrying over from the flat work, Trainer set up three small fences: the cross rail, the cavaletti and a vertical. She told me the order to jump them, but that was all. I had the entire arena to do my thing in and she wanted to watch my decisions as I made my way around the course. I could trot or canter depending on how balanced Gem was.

And this is where I got sorta frustrated. When I very first started jumping with Trainer, she stressed allowing for bigger and deeper turns to give Gem more time to notice and realize the plan. So going around the course that was my thought. I made big sweeping turns, got deep into the corners and chose to overshoot and come back rather than turn too early and lose my rhythm.

Trainer kept shouting out to steer, turn and better prepare. I told her what I was thinking, but then when I went around again and made my turns sharper and didn’t overshoot I got told I needed to give her a better set up. I honestly didn’t know what the correct answer was as either way seemed to be wrong. I was steering and I did have a plan, it just never seemed to be the correct one.

My little guy is growing up so fast. Not only is he getting tall, but he has lost all remnants of his baby body and is looking like a little man

For Gem’s part she jumped as she always does: needed more leg support than I have access to, required precision steering and would duck out or stop if given the smallest opportunity. Thankfully, I didn’t give her the chance to duck out and kept my legs on her blocking the path, but she never felt locked on or enthusiastic about the whole thing.

After a few trips around, Trainer ran out of the ability to stall any longer, said it was time to leave the arena and begin work in the wide open over solid obstacles. Honestly, I’m convinced she was nervous about the two of us. I mean, in the arena we pretty much stink and I had been pretty vocal about my concerns on cross country.  For my part I was on the verge of telling her never mind about the whole thing. We had already been riding for an hour, it was getting really hot out and I was chickening out big time. I didn’t let the inner voice win though, and nervously followed her out the back arena gate….