If asked to describe myself, there are many words I could use. But the first one that comes to mind is horseperson. I'm a rider at my core, and horses are not just a hobby of mine--they are part of who I am. Maybe the largest part.

The purpose of this blog is not only to serve as a training log, but also as a tribute to my best friend.

13 August 2011


"this is the stuff that drives me crazy,
this is the stuff that's getting to me lately..."

I'm going to stop apologizing for lack of updates. Unfortunately, it's mostly due to lack of riding! The Bucs played their first preseason game at Kansas City on Friday night, so last week was a mess getting ready for that... on top of torrential downpours. We hardly ever get full days of rain in Florida (usually storms are fast and furious), but we had about three straight days of nothing but rain. It was ridiculous!

I was traveling with the team to the game, so I had arranged for Jody to ride Randy on Thursday and Friday for me. I felt pretty good about that plan, and was thankful that someone would be able to get some work in during the good weather while I was away.

Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Jody called me on Thursday as I was preparing to get on the bus to the airport and team plane to let me know that Randy had felt off. My heart dropped to my stomach. I am so nervous about Randy's soundness, sometimes I feel like I'm just waiting for something to happen to where he is forced to retire. I'm becoming paranoid as he ages!

I forced myself to stay calm and we decided that, since he was so due to be shod, perhaps that was the issue. The farrier was due to come on Friday, so Jody said she would come out to ride after Randy's feet were done and would let me know how that went.

I jetted off to KC, which is a story in itself, and heard from Jody as I was preparing to get dressed for the game.

She said Randy had been great, no feeling of not-quite-rightness and they had gotten in a great workout. I was so relieved, and it helped me to sit back and enjoy my duties at the game (sidenote: winning the game in a shut out, 25-0, also helps the enjoyment factor).

We arrived back in Tampa around 430 am on Saturday morning. I was in bed by 530, and for some reason naturally woke up at 8. So I decided that despite the lack of rest, I would go to the barn and get a jumping school in.

Fromt the first step of walk I knew something was wrong. Randy felt terrible--stiff, short-strided, in pain. He wasn't bobbing his head or pinning his ears, but his movement was so abnormal. After lunging and examining it really seems like it's something in his back or higher up than his hocks/stifles. Because he was fine for Jody just yesterday (and she has dealt with enough lame horses to pick up on subtle offness, so I completely trust that he was indeed sound for her on Friday), I can't imagine what is wrong, but you can guess how I feel now.

It's been a horrid day with all the worries.

For now, he will get a week off and will go on some bute to see how that makes him feel. I'm scheduling a chiropractor to come out, as well.

This is so not good, and I'm such a worrier for my boy, anyway... I definitely didn't need this. The one thing I have to keep reminding myself of is the second bit of the lyrics I posted at the top. While this IS the stuff that drives me crazy, the line continues and says, "in the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed."

Please let me remember that in the days to come.

07 August 2011

fitting it all in

"so please forgive me when we meet again,
for staying away so long,
i've just been out there in the dawn,
singing my early morning song."

I thought I was going to be fine to ride on Friday, as it was a one-a-day practice due to end by 4:30. But Tampa weather conspired against me, and a rain delay forced everything back. The day really cleared up nicely, but I wasn't home from work until 8 PM as opposed to 5:30, so I didn't get a chance to head to the farm.

However, my boss told us not to hurry in to work Saturday morning (two practice sessions, 10:30-noon and 7-9), so I set my alarm for the wee hours and headed to the barn around 5:15 AM.

After using the flashlight app on my phone to find Randy in his pasture, I pulled him to the barn and got ready to ride, heding my bets that it would be starting to lighten up outside by the time I was tacked and ready to go.

I was right, but just barely!

Worked a little flat schooling because I didn't have time to set fences. We had a decent ride... he threw a few little tantrums when I began asking him to really try and be through, which was frustrating. He will get his Legend and Ichon tomorrow, though, which I think will do wonders. Unfortunately, the old man needs a little special care!

I manged to get back home by 8:30 AM, where I grabbed a shower and headed in to work. It was a pretty long day, because we had a morning practice, then, instead of our regular evening practice, we hosted Night Practice at the stadium. That's a big fan event, and while a lot of fun, is also a lot of work. But things went smoothly enough. I was home by 10:30 PM, and while I knew some people from work were meeting out for some drinks, I also knew I wanted to ride early on Sunday, so I decided just to go to bed.

This morning, on Sunday, I was out at the barn by 8:30... later than I had hoped, but oh well.

It was also a player day off today, which meant a day off for me, too! I actually had time, after schooling, to clean tack and just chill out a little. 

But tomorrow is right back at it with another two-a-days, so no riding for me. I'm hoping to fit one in on Tuesday, and Jody will probably ride Randy on Thursday and Friday, since I'll be traveling to Kansas City for the first preseason game against the Chiefs.

Good lord. This might be more difficult than I thought!

03 August 2011

"it's a fight between my heart and mind
no one really wins this time"

Whew. Another couple of very busy days. In the time since I've last posted, my friend Jody has exercised Randy twice (Sunday, July 31 and today, Wednesday, August 3) and I have exercised him once (Tuesday, August 2). So he's getting some work in, but I certainly miss being out at the barn.

Work has been crazy, but enjoyable so on most counts. I'm a little bummed because Jason, one of my coworkers, is leaving to take another position. I'm so happy for him--he deserves this--but it's going to be rough for the first bit without him. I am also the kind of person who becomes very attached to other people, and I definitely bonded with Jason during the nearly two years I worked with him. He's a good person and friend. Luckily, the rest of my department is composed of other good people.

 PR family photo... Jason will always be family!

One thing about Jason leaving is that I may be asked to travel a bit more with the team. I'm totally torn about this. I want to travel very badly and had, in fact, been meaning to approach it with my boss for some time now. It's a big step for my career. But traveling means being busy every. single. weekend. Either working our home games or traveling with the team to away games. So it would be extremely difficult to keep up my riding (though I still believe I could opt out of one or two games due to prior commitments like Rocking Horse).

I guess it's too early to worry about that right now. I have to concentrate on what is going on now and see how things shape up at work. But this is certainly the most inconvenient season I could have picked to desperately want to travel!

On the riding side of things, Jody was pleased with Randy both times she rode him. On Sunday they worked on lots of lateral movements and really trying to get him to rock back on his haunches at the canter. We've been having issues bending left, and I definitely felt that on Tuesday... we had a couple mini-tantrums on his end. I really should get a chiropractor out to check him over, but I just don't have the money right now. He's sound and working well, just giving some signals that it's not as comfortable for him to bend that direction.

He is also due for his Legend, which may have something to do with it.

My poor old man...

I hope to get out to the barn on Friday and Sunday. Friday for more flatwork and Sunday for some jumping. Cross your fingers that my scheduling holds!

30 July 2011

my love/hate relationship with training camp

"workin' 9 to 5,
what a way to make a living
barely getting by
it's all taking and no giving..."

It's that time of year. My favorite time of the entire NFL season, but the bane of the existance of any part of me that wants to have a life outside of football. Yes, Training Camp 2011 has begun! And, in case you're wondering, the days are a LOT longer than 9-5! But I like Dolly's attitude...

Despite the hours, I love Camp. It's full of constant activity, you finally get to see the entire team, the fans are pumped and full of energy, and you can just smell the season on the horizon. And it's a season full of promise, no matter what team you are, because anything can happen. Training Camp is great. And this year is especially interesting, as the lockout prevented any team-sanctioned offseason workouts. When the guys arrived back to the facility to check into Camp, it felt like seeing friends on the first day of school after a long summer break apart.

Rookie cheat sheet... don't have as long to get to know these faces as we normally would!

However, Camp is also the busiest time of year. Our schedule alternates between one-a-day practices and two-a-days, and on two-a-days, I'm here by 8 AM and usually leave around 9 PM. So it's impossible to fit riding in on those days.

Though yesterday was our first day of practices, so the first day we were dealing with media and all of that, this week has been insane with the preparation. I haven't ridden since last Sunday! But I did have Tessa take a jump lesson on Randy on Tuesday, and my trainer said he was great. I'm not a huge fan of other people riding my horse... not that they'll mess him up on the riding part, but I doubt anyone takes care of him pre or post-ride the way that I would. In fact, I guarantee it! But I have to swallow my doubts enough to trust that he will at least be taken care of enough to be by. And I know he will. I am just particular!  

So Randy has only been ridden twice this week... my ride on Sunday and Tessa's on Tuesday. But there is hope for Camp. Today is our first one-a-day and I think I'm going to be able to get a ride in on such days going forward.

I got up around 5:30 this morning, pulled on breeches and a tank top, grabbed the dog and hit the road. I was at the barn by 6:15, and on by 7:00 (I'm a meticulous groomer...).

Randy and I got in a nice 40-minute session. We worked on our leg yields and shoulder-ins, as well as transitions galore. He needs a ton in every ride because he is very long through his neck and getting him to really sit back and not lean on the forehand can be difficult. It's getting better, but his natural way of going is with a longer frame than I'd like--so we'll continue to work.

There were also a couple of terrifying tarps in the arena, near the edge. Randy is not a very spooky guy, but he was giving those quite a look. However, we walked all around them and then over them, and then we trotted over them. He is such a good boy. I love the feeling that he trusts me enough to do something scary just because I ask him to. He didn't even consider stopping at them, because I told him to go. Good pony.

After I rode, I washed him down, took care of his legs (he gets dew poisoning/scratches very easily with the humid FL weather), slapped some hoof conditioner on his feet and deo-gel around his face, and put him in his stall to feed him breakfast. I washed my bit, wiped off my tack, threw it on its racks and hopped back in the car to go home, shower and head to work.

I've finished getting my credential list in order for today, I've sent in my round two edits for our 2011 Yearbook, and so I decided I'd make a post while I have the time!

Practice begins at 2:30. It's a public session, which is always fun. The fans should be out in droves. It's amazing to see the support. It's going to be an exciting season.


Now I just have to continue figuring out how to continue balancing my job--which I truly do love... when I'm here, I don't feel like I'm working--and my riding.

I have a feeling it's going to be a busy autumn.

25 July 2011

aaaand we're back

"i think i am running 
just to catch myself."

Well, folks, are you ready for some football?

That's right. The NFL has finally resolved the ongoing labor dispute/lockout, and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has been signed. This is great news for me, as someone making her living in the industry. Back when this whole thing was brewing on the horizon, my parents would joke with me about how I picked the worst possible time to be working in the NFL. But now it's settled, thank you god!

I can breathe again, and finally get excited about seeing our players again. I'm very much looking forward to the 2011 season.

But--there's always a but--this is where my riding is going to be challenged. 

My job demands time. A lot of time. There is very little free time, and you can think you're fine at 5 PM only to have something pop up that keeps you there til 9 or later. Now, I'm not complaining. I love my job and feel very blessed and lucky to be where I am. It's just going to be tricky to keep up my riding and keep Randy's fitness up.

Take today, for instance. I knew it would be busy because the deal was expected. But some crazy part of me still thought I'd get off in time to ride.


I had plenty of work to do, and, because I enjoy my work, it doesn't bother me to stay late. But I do always feel a twinge of guilt when I don't get to go out to the barn. I know Randy is well cared for, but keeping the old boy in shape is important.

As Training Camp and the season begin, I will eventually work into more of a schedule. Right now I'm in the weird limbo between being used to riding nearly every day and now realizing I'm back to the busy on-season life.

Luckily for me, there is a college-aged girl at the barn who will ride Randy once a week for me doing our trot and gallop sets in exchange for using him in a lesson with my trainer (her trainer, as well). This means two days of busy weeks can easily be filled--and one with the endurance sets, which is the bread and butter of keeping an event horse conditioned.

I also have a friend whose flatwork I very much trust who can be convinced to go school some dressage once a week when needed.

Normally I wouldn't worry about the occasional workweek that ends with me only riding twice, but, if I'm going to get back into competition seriously, I can't afford that. So I plan on taking advantage of every bit of help I can!

Now I just hope it all works out as I have it planned in my head, because life is about to get busy. Really, really busy.

24 July 2011

so it begins

"and it's funny how you find
you enjoy your life
when you're happy to be alive"

And now that everyone knows what I'm working towards, as well as the mushy stuff that has led me to this point, I can begin the boring part... keeping up with the work that's (hopefully) gonna get us there.

It was quite the scorcher outside today. On weekends, I try to get to the barn by 8 AM, but, even so, today was rough. This is Randy's first summer in Florida, so I do my best to help him get along with the weather. 
We had a jump school today--a little gymnastic "box" exercise to work on tight turns and suppleness, as well as going for the add before a fence. The jumps were only about 2', because the point wasn't to wear out his legs, but to get get us thinking on how we ride the fences. I tend to let Randy, who has a long neck and likes to lean, if you want to know the truth, pull my upper body forward, which leads to long spots. Not really what you want when you're galloping up to a solid Prelim table...

We didn't have quite as nice a session as we had with the same exercise on Wednesday, but it was still okay. I finished up with adding in some 3'-3'3 fences around the arena, including the dreaded single barrel. Randy hates that. He doesn't get why I'm asking him to jump an upright barrel when he can just go around.

Can't say I blame him on that, but I need to get him more between my legs, to where he can't dodge out, because there are going to be skinnies out there on XC. Another thing to work on. We have plenty on that list, trust me!

Tomorrow begins my "on-season" at work, so riding is going to be an interesting thing to fit in with work, but it's certainly nice to have actual goals I'm working towards, and I think that will help with my motivation. Again, hence the blog.

23 July 2011


"this is not the greatest song in the world;
this is just a tribute"

I have a horse. E-I-E-I-O, right?

I've actually been lucky enough to own three horses in my life, and I loved each. But there's a term--heart horse--that's used among horsepeople to refer to the horse that truly captures part of your heart and soul. A rider tends to always have a connection with their mount, but with your heart horse, it's different. I can't really explain it, but, if you've experienced it, you know.

My heart horse is Randy.

 I show him under the name By Random Chance, and, truly, our relationship is one of chance.

In 2004, I was looking for a new horse, having outgrown my faithful old Appaloosa gelding. My family's budget wasn't high, but, then again, I wasn't looking for some fancy competition horse. I had just gotten into eventing, competing in a couple of Beginner Novice horse trials, and while it was great fun, I wasn't then, and still am not, the bravest rider on the block.

I didn't have aspirations of competing in the upper levels.

When my trainer at the time brought Randy out for me to try, I didn't like him. I wanted a flashy horse with lots of chrome... my first pony had been a plain bay mare and then, after my eye-catching App, I wasn't prepared for another "boring" bay horse. Plus, for the record, he wasn't in the best shape at the time. Stress warts all over his ears, a little ribby, blanket rubs on his massive shoulders, scraggly mane, and a groom had to bridle him for me (by taking the bridle apart) because he wouldn't let you get near his warty ears.

Not exactly what you go out looking for as a buyer.

 But my trainer was insistent, so I was "forced" into riding him for about month. I proceeded to fall in love.

 The rest is history, kind of. My wonderful, supportive, best-in-the-world parents bought him for me for my 16th birthday. And over the next seven years, we grew together and achieved things I never imagined I would do.

 This horse is everything good. He has saved my ass on too many occasions to mention. He has taught me how to be a better rider and better person. He's listened to my dreams, my fears, and god knows he's seen me cry.

He is brave, kind, trusting, and forgiving. No matter how many mistakes I make, whether on his back or on the ground (sorry, buddy, that you had to teach me how to give an IV shot!), he never loses faith in me.

 I know every inch of him, every hair. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. I can pick out his whinny, his hoofbeats. Sitting on his back feels like home.

 Randy has taken me further as a rider than I imagined going, and he continues to do so. He's 15 now, and I don't know how many more "high octane" years we have left, but I'm going to enjoy every moment.

You're the best, Randy-man. And even if we don't get where we're aiming, we're going to have a ball trying, just like we always have. <3

20 July 2011

dream big

"I don't know if I'll make it, 
watch how good I'll fake it..."

Like I've mentioned, this blog is around mostly to serve as a training log. I'm lucky enough to have friends and family who care enough about me to want to know what I'm up to, and I've always been the type who is motivated by keeping records--having constant reminders of the goals I want to achieve.
Earlier this year, my goal was only to get back to Prelim. I wanted to run one--just one--Preliminary event, to prove to myself that Randy and I are still capable of that level. 

But our schooling has continued to improve under the watchful eye of our trainer, Lauren, and that goal has morphed. 

. . .Okay, actually Lauren just kind of told us what our goal was, whether I like it or not. Ha.

Goal One: Successfully move back to Prelim at the Rocking Horse Horse Trials in November 2011.
Goal Two: Complete 3-4 more Prelims between December 2010 and March 2012... Pine Top Farm and Poplar Place Farm are musts here.
Goal Three: Compete at... gulp... Red Hills International Horse Trials in March 2012.

Red Hills. 
 25,000 spectators. 
Competition level begins at Prelim
Completely roped-off XC course, a la Olympics/WEGs/Rolex. 

Hell, Red Hills is my Rolex--my Olympics--for all intents and purposes.

Am I going to get there by next spring? I'm not sure. Maybe I won't be there until 2013. Maybe I won't be there at all. But if you don't have dreams, what have you got?