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.

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?