2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #36

The weeks, and the prompts, are starting to fly by! Being October already, I was a little pressed for finding a book to qualify if I was to be strict with how it was written. This would have been much easier earlier in the year, but we are following them in order. Unfortunately, the book I really wanted wasn’t even in the library system (for the second time now), so I got what I could.

A book becoming a movie in 2017- The Dinner by Herman Koch

Paul Lohman and his wife are meeting his locally famous brother, Serge Lohman, and his wife at a high end restaurant for dinner.  The two couples have something important to discuss, but none of them want to get to it too quickly. As the meal progresses from apertif to dessert, the conversation waxes and wanes until it inevitably lands on the real reason for the gathering.

What they have to discuss will impact several lives, but are they all on the same page? As they begin to finally broach the matter at hand, it becomes apparent that maybe they aren’t.

The entire novel is written in the first person from Paul Lohman’s point of view. I found this perspective to be interesting as it layered on the mystery as to what everyone was doing there and what everyone else knew.

That was just about the only interesting thing I found with the novel which was disappointing since the premise led me to believe that I would really like this book. Paul Lohman is a very negative, petty man and while at first this was mildly endearing, his internal thoughts on paying ten euros for the house apertif was quite amusing, after 130+ pages listening to him complain about every little thing it got grating. Maybe that was what the author wanted.

The actual plot of the book finally came to light at around page 135 or so and that is when the book finally got interesting and kept my attention. The two Lohman couples broach the topic that brought them all together during the main course and it becomes apparent quickly that the two families are not on the same side. Paul and his wife are cut throat, mean spirited and small minded parents who would, and will, do anything to protect their 15 year old son from his own evil actions. Serge, on the other hand, wants to force their own son, and his cousin by default, to turn himself in to authorities and take the punishment he rightfully deserves for beating and murdering a homeless woman in an ATM vestibule. The conversation gets more heated as the families discuss the future of their sons.

While I typically avoid watching movies after I’ve read the book, this one has me intrigued. Since the vast majority of the book is written inside the inner thoughts of Paul’s mind, I wonder how that will be portrayed on the screen and if the screenplay will shorten the time between beginning and exposing the plot.

The book was pretty good after page 130, so I’ll give it a 3/5.


A Case of the Blahs

My typical keyboard diarrhea has temporarily dried up. I’m not sure why. There are some big changes in the very near future yet every time I sit down to write about it I just don’t like anything I’ve written. I delete and try again and hate that even more.

Wags has taken to jumping in my lap while I am typing my medical records. It makes it a bit harder to do, but I can’t say no to some puppy kisses. 

Riding had been blah too. I think it basically boils down to the fact that both Gem and I are bored. I’m bored of doing walk, trot, canter in the pasture in circles and figure 8s. Gem is bored. When I rode her last, she made me laugh by basically running through my exercises on autopilot. I feel very stagnated in my riding right now. After nearly a year of lessons, albeit only twice a month, I’m still working on w/t/c in a balanced manner, still jumping the same height, still trotting my jumps. I know we are both calmer, we’ll typically, and that a lot has changed in the last 8 months, but it just feels like I’m doing the same stuff over and over and over again and getting nowhere.

My mom surprised me with a blow up Frankenstein. She was at my office supervision new carpet being installed while I worked at the hospital and when I came over after work , there was Frankenstein chilling in my exam chair. 

I did introduce turn on the haunches to Gemmie. She makes me laugh any time I try something new since her default response is getting pissed off about it. We stood at the halt and I asked her to move that big butt of hers. Her ears immediately got pinned back and her neck went all giraffe and tense, but she did move the way I wanted. She got a ton of praise and asked again. Both directions went fairly well and then we went off trotting again. Mare was angry that I changed up her routine and made her use that big brain of hers but at least the task was at the halt so she couldn’t do her typical escalation of speed.

The new vest is wonderful so far. Hopefully I will get back out on the cross country course this weekend to try it out for real. 

I don’t know. I guess I was hoping to be doing something different by now. I am hoping to attend my first HT in December and feel less ready than ever. See? I’m just so very blah about everything right now. I think it is stress. A big work thing didn’t go the way I had hoped which bummed me out and then there is a big personal thing that should be exciting but has just been a lot of work and stress and ugh.

My two point time did double though! I used the dressage saddle again because I just like using that better when doing flat work only than my jump saddle. I got in 1:07 before Gem zigged a way I was expected and my butt touched the saddle. This challenge is going to be more about learning how to steer and control pace with Gem while in two point than about my legs keeping it.

An improvement from the baseline

And that’s about it. It started raining yesterday which killed off my riding plans. I think it should stop tomorrow. We need the rain though so I’m not complaining too loudly. Wyatt is supposed to have his second lesson tomorrow after work and then I might have a lesson myself on Wednesday. I’ve been invited to go cross country schooling on Sunday though and I can’t really justify doing both in the same week plus the hunter pace I went on already this month, so it will be one or the other and I’m not 100% sure which. I really, really want to do the cross country schooling since we need to exposure and experience plus it is with a different trainer to get new eyes on us and with a friend. But…Gem and I aren’t the easiest pair and we have only been trotting our jumps and and and and….so many reasons to feel…sorta inadequate….being out in a group like that. I don’t want to drag anyone else down or be told to basically just go trot around out of sight. So maybe I’ll just do the lesson. I don’t know.



2ptober Challenge

Emma (hey, look I learned how to add links!!) is hosting the two point challenge this month and I am so excited to get to play along this year. Two point in my endurance saddle was nigh on impossible to really do with the long endurance stirrups, so I watched and followed along last year. This year though I am full on participating.

A beautiful sunset over the pasture. 

My base line was pretty crappy at only 0:33.

I read all the rules, remember I am a strict rule follower, and while I held the two point longer than that my butt technically hit the saddle at the 33 second mark, so I stopped the watch then and continued to practice after. My biggest issue with this challenge is going to be Gem. Shocker, I know.

Mom! I know you are working, but pay attention to me instead! 

I decided to do it at the walk, which I find harder than at the faster more rhythmic gaits, but Gem is also easier to steer and manage at the walk. Well, I got up in my two point position and then Gem began jigging. Its hard to two point at the jig. Its a good learning experience for us both though. She needs to be rideable in the two point with my butt out of that saddle just like she is when I sit.

I got a cross country vest!!! I wore it for the firs time while getting my baseline ride in. I’m waiting to wear it a few more times to do a full on review of it, but so far so good. 

I’ve been working really hard lately at getting her to respond to my seat and have been playing around a good bit with leaning back more to get her to slow down or maintain the walk. I tend to lean forward all the time, so my feeling of leaning back is actually just sitting up straight. Progress is tough.

Take away this new aide for her and she was a bit lost. We managed though and she kept her brain in her head for the most part. I was also in my dressage saddle and I think next time I do it I will put her in the jump tack instead.

The good thing about a crappy baseline is that i have lots of room for improvement! I look forward to working hard on this and seeing how my times improve over the course of the month.

2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #35

This prompt was one I was glad to give over to the mother ship as I would have had no clue what to choose. As it is, I’m not sure this pick really fits the prompt because I’m 110% sure my mother had never even heard of the author before and she is the least political person I’ve ever met. But, it was her pick so I read it. At least it was short.

A book written by someone you admire- Trump and Me by Mark Singer

Mark Singer was given an assignment in the early 2000s to get to know Donald Trump. At first he balked at the idea, but his editor held the cards and he had no choice. He spent several months tailing Donald Trump and meeting up with him at various locations trying to get to know the real man behind the facade.

I’m not really sure what the book is actually trying to do. It is 133 pages, per my kindle version, and just never really does much. 90% of the book is dedicated to running the numbers on Trump’s various business exploits, homes, deals and casinos. It focused on times spent while Trump was making a public appearance or playing up to a crowd and make specific note of how he put on a show for the public.

If the author was trying to find the man behind the pomp and circumstance, he never did. Maybe there isn’t one.

The book was a quick read, I finished it in a couple of hours. It failed to shed any light on the man’s routines, his thoughts, his emotions or really anything other than acting as an accounting manifesto for all the business dealings, both in the red and black. By the end of the book, I knew nothing new about our now President and had no additional insights to his personal failings or accomplishments. All I had was a running tally of money.

I don’t recommend this book at all no matter which side of the political line you are on.



Quarter 3 Goal Review

Seriously?? Is it October already? Thankfully the weather has started to cooperate some and the mornings are getting cooler.

Time to look back through my goals and see where we are. I’ve been doing a whole lot of thinking lately and haven’t really reached any conclusions, but it was really nice to talk about it during the pace last weekend to confirm some of my feelings of late.

Gemmie Life Goals

FOCUS – With Gem it is going to be all about finding the right balance of being with her and not being away from the family too much.  Success!!!

1.) Bring her and Pete home.   Yup!

2.) Start riding consistently 2 days a week. I’ve been riding at least two days a week for the past couple of months and it is really working out great. 

3.) 1-2 long trail rides a month, preferably with friends.  Yes!! it is always more fun with friends.


4.) Make it to 1 lesson a month.  Yes again!!! 
Wow – that is 100% goal attainment for Gem 🙂
Gemmie Competition Goals

1.) Complete a 50 mile endurance ride towards our decade team award.

2.) Complete a Ride and Tie of any length.

3.) Make a decision on what to do about her 100 mile bronze medal.

4.) Make it to a dressage show and not make a complete fool out of ourselves.

None of the above competition goals matter any more. I’m not chasing endurance miles or doing R&T at this time and have no plans to return to those sports any time soon. Not because I don’t love them, but because they just don’t fit right now into my life and family. If they ever do again I’d be open to rejoin the competition fray, but for now my focus is completely elsewhere.


0% attaintment here, but that is planned and I don’t mind one bit.

Me: Life Goals

FOCUS – For me it is going to be all about striking a better balance in life. Currently, I feel guilty when I don’t ride and guilty when I do. I haven’t taken an actual vacation longer than a long weekend since 2007. This is mostly accomplished. I have no guilt whatsoever in my riding life as things have balanced out nicely. I did take an actual vacation as well as a work trip. Life is good.

1.) Stop feeling guilty about self care time.   No guilt remains for now. 

2.) Run 2 days a week minimum.  I sorta run. Some weeks I fit in multiple runs and others I don’t run at all. I stopped stressing about it. If it fits in and I feel up to it, I run. If not, I hang out with Wyatt or go ride or read a book. So much less self induced stress. 

3.) Ride 2 days a week.  Yes!

4.) Establish with a primary care doctor and get a physical.  Uh..yeah nope. Its still on my list of things to do though and the year isn’t over yet. 

5.) Figure out just what I want with my relationship with Gem. Is it okay to back off and just putz around? Do I need to have some set competition/training plans to feel satisfied?  I think I’ve figured this out. I’m not happy just putzing around. I need goals to work towards and I need to feel like I am learning something new and moving forward. I don’t care so much about a competition schedule or record, but I do need to feel like I am going some where. 

6.) Continue with my pen pals. Add two new ones from new countries. This has mostly dried up somehow. 

7.) Create a smashbook for Wyatt.  Not looking promising since I lost the book when we moved last January and have yet to find it. 

8.) Find a trainer that I can work well with in regards to approach, personality and scheduling.Trainer J and I have been working together twice a month sine February of last year. 

5/8, 62%. Not too bad.

Me: Competition Goals
1.) Complete a half marathon.  Nope and probably not gonna happen unless I just happen to lose my mind and sign up. 

2.) Complete a full marathon. Nope

3)  Host a Ride and Tie.  Nope and not even on my list of wants at this time. Too much time and money is required and I have neither at the moment. 
0/3 in this category.

As far as life balancing, happiness, and general care goals are concerned I am doing extremely well. I feel way less stressed these days even with an insanely busy work schedule and our always busy home life. There really isn’t a whole lot I wish to change right now.
When you look at competition goals, basically I suck but that is because my entire focus shifted from one discipline to another after I made my 2017 goals. Nothing like a major shift in direction to make you look like a failure. I’m not stressing about it though. The major thing I learned here is to make some over lying goals for the entire year in terms of self and horse care, but maybe focus on quarterly goals only next year when it comes to competition.
One quarter left to go in 2017 and then bring on 2018!!

Windridge Hunter Pace 2017

Hunter paces are my favorite thing. Typically I’m out there all by myself which is still fun, but everything is better with a friend. When I met KC at AECs and she expressed and interest in hitting one up this fall, I was practically peeing myself with excitement. Blogger friend and a hunter pace? Sign me up!

Gemmie looking gorgeous in her endurance bridle with her jump saddle. 

I’m an early morning fool which is usually a turn off for fellow human beings, but KC was game to meet at 9 am for the start and we were the first ones out on course. I love being the first out there as you can avoid some of the etiquette issues that pop up later in the day when the trails get crowded. Plus there is something about riding in the early morning cool air that speaks to me.

Is that a Pilgrim butt I see???

The weather was perfect as we set out following the pink ribbons on the right. Gem isn’t into leading on trail, so we ducked behind and I was sorta a back seat driver helping to point out the ribbons. It was maybe an ominous sign when the guy counted us down and we immediately made a wrong turn. About 2 feet from the start. I’m sure the guy was thinking we would never return.

Yup, that is a Pilgrim butt 🙂

The first section was through the woods leading to the cross country field. We warmed up with some nice trot and Gem and Pilgrim got along pretty well. No pinned ears or fussing and Gem was able to keep up with Pilgrim’s massive stride without an issue. At the trot anyway.

Once we hit the cross country course and the trail became wide open grassy lanes, we let the horses open up into a canter. Or well, Pilgrim cantered. Gemmie had to gallop to keep up. Poor mare was not very happy that she was getting out run by a good bit. Sorry mare, you just aren’t built to race an OTTB!

Gem is very competitive so when we opened them up on the next section, she decided that if she couldn’t out run him she would out smart him. She took off at a gallop cutting through the weeds in a straight line thereby getting from point A to B minus all the switchbacks that you were supposed to do. Little cheating mare! I got her wrangled back on trail and forced her to canter politely until we caught up commenting that Gem was likely thinking that I screwed it all up yet again.

Things were going great. Perfect weather, two game and ready horses and amazing company. We were making good time too and I was figuring that we would be pretty close to optimum at the pace we were going. Then we got a little lost. They added a poker run to the mix and told us that at the various carriage obstacles there would be a bucket with playing cards. At the end we should have five. I saw a bucket off to our left just as we were leaving the cross country field and grabbed the card but then the trail kinda looked wrong. There were markers going both right and left and the ribbons were on our left. Hmmm…we back tracked and easily found our missed turn and got back on track.

Gorgeous views along the way. 

From there it was another few canters, one run in with a rider going the wrong way and turning to gallop off right in front of us, and then we hit a tiny snag.

We came to a creek crossing and Pilgrim said “oh hell no”. Gem plowed ahead and he followed her lead over the water then we paused so KC could school him over it. He went back and forth several times no issue and we moved along to conquer the rest of the trail.

Schooling back and forth over the creek crossing. 

We got into a lovely groove of trotting and walking with a lot of laughter and fun thrown in as we climbed up and over a large hill and descended again. The morning was flying by under a beautiful blue sky and I was thoroughly enjoying being out on trail with Gem.

My natural element is being in the woods. Gem agrees. 

We came to another water crossing and Pilgrim once again put a hard stop on that. Gem gave the lead, but Pilgrim wasn’t having it. This is more KC’s story to tell but he did go over eventually only to run smack into another crossing about 10 feet later.

Just down stream from the crossing that Pilgrim put his hoof down on. 

We spent about 30 minutes trying to get him over. Eventually a couple on TWHs came up and tried to help. It was hilarious. The guy’s TWH must be used to teaching younger horses how to do the trail because he went behind Pilgrim and gave him a hard shove several times in the butt. When that didn’t convince him to cross, he started biting his butt. Duke just stood there calmly behind Pilgrim biting him and obviously telling him to grow a set and just cross already. I was doubled over laughing.

Duke crossing back over to teach that young whipper snapper a thing or two

Unfortunately no amount of coercion worked. The other couple left us to continue on their ride and I took a look at our surroundings. While living in the woods is tempting, I wasn’t so sure KC wanted to plop a tent out there and live there with P for the rest of her days. Fortunately, there was an easy way to pop up onto the paved road that paralleled the trail and it was only a short ways down before the trail re crossed that road and entered the woods again.

This trail took us to the very secluded dressage arena. I saw a vulture circiling over head and joked with KC that anyone who didn’t do well on their dressage ride got eaten. Good luck next week KC!! Lol!!!

The secluded dressage arena. I have no clue how you are supposed to get there from the barns, but I am sure there is a simple trail. 

We thought our troubles were behind us and started joking around some more until BAM another water crossing and then another. I’m sure Pilgrim was thinking enough with the water already people!

Showing Pilgrim how it is done

More woods, more trotting and talking and laughing. Around this point Dusty texted me and asked if I had signed up for the slow old lady division. He is used to me being done with these in about 1 1/2 hours and we were over 2 hours at this point without an end in sight. No worries though, I was still having a blast!

This bridge was the only thing on course that gave Gem pause. She isn’t really a fan of bridges to begin with and this one was particularly dicey without any railings and with a very deep pit on either side. 

There was one last speed bump at a ditch and I do believe KC threatened to sell P at this point. I’ve been there and done that with Gem many a times. The threat typically helps 🙂

The last bit was back through the cross country course and we made great time trotting through everything. I’m not sure what our official ride time was but I believe we were on for nearly 3 hours. I don’t think we are going to hit that elusive optimum time, but we did end up with a decent poker hand with a pair of aces. Since pretty much nobody found all 5 buckets we stood a decent shot at winning a free entry to another hunter pace. We will find out in a couple of days.

Gem did super well through the entire ride. I forgot my GPS watch but it felt like 8-10 miles. She didn’t miss a beat being off trail for so long although she did pull a typical spook and ran into Pilgrim over absolutely nothing. At the end she was bright eyed and could easily have gone again. I love having a fit and happy mare!

Unfortunately we were well over the time I had planned it to take and we had an important meeting at 2 which meant I couldn’t partake in the lovely lunch they had. I basically washed Gem off with some water and shoved her in the trailer so we could go. I did manage to get asked to jump judge at the HT there next weekend so that will be fun specially since KC is competing in it. I can’t wait!!!

I hope KC and Pilgrim aren’t scared off of future paces with us and that we can go again sometime this fall. Even with the few issues in trail it was a complete blast.