Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I've started that post three times now. Everything I have to say is boring. I really wanted this website to be funny and interesting, with each post being engaging and thought provoking. Like Craig's site. He's funny. When I'm with him, I'm funny too. But I don't think I'm spontaneously funny. I need some kind of humor catalyst. Like an enzyme. Laughase, perhaps? Only the science geeks will think that's funny. Maybe not even then.

So anyhow, here's the big scoop for this week. My horse is moving to the new barn on Thursday. I went there twice this past weekend to take care of my trainer's horse while she was at a show. It's a very nice barn. It's only got 12 stalls, so it's small and quiet, which is good sometimes. But I wonder if I'll be there by myself most of the time. I guess many of the people who board there have full time jobs and come to ride after work like I do, so maybe I will get to see people. It's fun to have someone to talk horses with when you're grooming or cleaning tack or whatever.

Even though it's nice to see other people at the barn, it's also nice to be able to have to whole ring to yourself. Especially if the other riders are not very aware of other horses in the ring. Then it just gets annoying. There was this one woman who we used to board with who used to look down as she rode and you always had to watch out for her, cause she sure as hell wasn't watching for you. She's just ride wherever and almost run right into you. We'd tell her "Look UP!" and she'd say "Oh I'm so sorry!" but nothing ever changed. The etiquette when riding is to A) If you are walking, walk off of the rail. B) When passing each other while heading towards each other, pass left shoulder to left shoulder so you don't collide. And C) When going across the diagonal or doing some other pattern where people might benefit from knowing where you are headed, call it out so nobody gets in your way. Sounds simple, right? With some people, not so much. I understand concentrating on your riding, but for god sakes, learn to multi-task so nobody gets killed.

Regardless of how the other boarders ride, I can't wait to get there. There haven't been any more incidents with Mowin' Man, mostly because I think he was asked not to do anything with the horses anymore. It's just time to go. I hope Kaswyn likes it. That's the most important thing.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sleepy time

I'm writing this entirely with one hand, because my other arm is holding a sleeping baby. Macey fell asleep early tonight and I'm trying to decide if she's down for the night. I expect her to wake up any second now.

Macey is a much better sleeper than Lily was at this age. While Lily didn't sleep all night until she was 14 months old, Macey will sleep through the night about half of the time. The other half she'll only wake up once. Every now and then, when she's not feeling well, she will wake up every hour and a half. This kills me in the morning when I have to go to work (because it never happens on a weekend when I can sleep in).

Craig is taking Lily up to bed, and she just came in and gave me and her sister a hug and a kiss goodnight. We are so lucky that Lily is so good with Macey. Only rarely does she get jealous of her. Lily is a huge Daddy's girl, so it worked out very well when I had Macey and began paying so much attention to the baby. Oh there were times when Lily wanted me to hold her, but for the most part she was perfectly happy to have time with her daddy. The only problem was when I wasn't home and Craig needed to attend to Macey instead of Lily. Once Lily said "Daddy, put Macey down." and Craig said "I can't honey - she's crying." and Lily said "Put her down! That's Momma's Macey!!"

Speaking of which, she just woke up crying. Time to get this cranky girl in bed.

Monday, May 22, 2006

My horse, the comedian

My rides on my horse have been really good lately. He's been really responsive, energetic, eager to work. He feels very sound, has even strides, and is getting stronger every day. But yesterday during the left lead canter he stumbled. It wasn't like he just tripped over his feet, but felt more like he went to put weight on his right hind leg and it either didn't support him or it hurt so much that it gave way. If it happened only once I'd not think too much of it, but it happened twice. I'm concerned that this has something to do with his hock injections. I might be a little hyper sensitive about it, since before I had him injected I'm not sure this would have raised a red flag.

This is the frustrating part about riding horses. I wish I could just say "Hey, what happened there?" and he could tell me "Oh, I just had a cramp." or "That really hurt my right hock for a second." or "Haha! Scared ya didn't I?".

I wouldn't be surprised if my horse said that last one. He really has a sense of humor, which non-horse people won't understand at all. I think my horse thinks he's really funny. Prime example - every time - and I do mean EVERY time - I go to put his halter on he grabs it in his mouth. Not in a mean way, or in a way that makes me think he doesn't want the halter on, but he does it as a game. After the first two times I say 'KASWYN!" sternly in hopes that he'll knock it off. He just gives me a look out of his left eye as if to say "Okay, I won't do it again. I'm done" and then he does it AGAIN. Kind of like Lucy and Charlie Brown and that damn football she pulls away every time he tries to kick it. Sometimes it takes 6 or 7 tries to get the halter past his mouth and onto his head.

Now I know I could smack him and punish him for this and he'd stop, but I don't want to squash his spirit like that. Really great show horses need to have some kind of attitude, and I think Kaswyn's attitude is perfect. When I'm on the ground he plays these harmless little games with me, and for the most part I let him get away with them because I truly think he finds it amusing. When I'm riding him, however, it's all business. He's focused and ready to please, so I feel like if he wants to joke around with me when I'm not on his back, it's okay.

I have a bad feeling that the stumble yesterday wasn't a joke.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Out of Gas

Thursday night when I came home from the barn, I took as shower as usual. Then I put in a load of laundry. As I was closing the washer, my husband Craig says to me "We have no gas." and I said "How do you know?" and he says "The oven won't light."

Perfect. We knew this was coming, since we went through this same thing in December. We had no gas coming into the house, and were told by the gas company that there was water in our line, possibly from a leak in the gas line coming from the street to our house, which was our responsibility to fix. We asked if they could pressure check the line, but the guy told us that if they do that and there is a leak, they can't turn the gas back on until they fix it. At that point, in Cleveland in December, it was way too cold to go without gas. So the workman told us that they could blow the water out of the line. If that fixed the problem, then they'd turn the gas back on right then. Since that worked, he suggested that we sign up for the gas line insurance which would cover fixing the line, which he predicted we'd have to do in the spring. I'll be damned if he wasn't right on.

Friday they sent a crew out, and we thought they'd just fix the line since we have the insurance. Well, we got home and there was a note to call the gas company and they'd explain "the procedure" We called the gas company and they said we do indeed have a leak in the line and they don't fix that - we need to call a plumber. Craig told them that we have line insurance, which they hadn't even bothered to check for, so they gave him another number to call. Eventually we got a plumber that called us back and said they could come out Saturday around 3. Then he says he's pretty sure that we won't get our gas turned on until Monday cause the gas company has to do that, and they only run a skeleton crew on Saturday and are closed on Sunday.

How can this be true? Closed on Sunday? They're a utility, and people use utilities every day. What happens if there is a gas leak or an explosion on a Sunday? Do they get a recording that says "Hey, we're closed, call back tomorrow?" I doubt it. So someone is working on Sunday and that means, by God, SOMEONE will be turning our gas on.

Granted, it's not that cold, but it did go down to 40 degrees last night so the house went down to 60, which is pretty damn cold. And we have no hot water and can't cook, so I'm a little whiny about the whole thing.

It's too bad we can't run our appliances off of little girl gas. Cause let me just tell you how gassy our kids are. The other night we were at the dinner table and I heard this HUGE fart from the other side of the table where Lily and Craig were sitting. I looked blamingly at him and his eyes got really wide and he pointed at Lily. We took this as our 20 second warning that poop was a comin'. See, we're starting the potty training thing with Lily and she will poop and pee on the potty if we put her there. But she never tells us when she has to go. When Lily poops, it goes down in one of three ways. #1 - She'll poop her pants and say nothing, which forces us to play the "Who pooped?" game and go around smelling baby butts until we find the culprit. #2 - She says "I have to poop on the potty" which means she just crapped her pants. #3 - She casually walks up to you and says "I pooped.", almost as an afterthought. But sometimes, very rarely, she'll fart loudly enough before she poops that we can get her on the potty.

Our girls like fruit and vegetables. Oh, they eat meat and rice and bread products too, but the high fruit and veggie intake means soft poop as well as considerable gas. We took Lily to the doctor at around one and a half years old, thinking that things should have firmed up by now with the addition of table food. The doctor assured us that her poop was okay if it was soft, and that it was much better than hard poop and a consitpated child. Sure, better for them. But it means a lot of work with each diaper change. I'm talking at least 8 wipes to clean their ample butts. And since the poop is not formed and is soft, it goes EVERYWHERE. Up the back, out the sides. It's just gross.

Turns out the plumber was able to come early and fix the line pretty quickly so we were able to get on the list for the 4pm - 11 pm crew. The gas company said they'd be here "soon". We'll see what they think soon is. Craig said "I don't care if it's 10:59 pm, just as long as they turn the gas back on tonight." I hear that. We both need showers. And I'm a huge hot water hog so I'm going first. I always say that if your skin isn't red when you get out of the shower, then the water wasn't hot enough. Viva la gas!

Friday, May 19, 2006


Right now both my horse and I are trying to get back into our tip top riding shape. I was in my top form in 2002 when Kaswyn and I won our first National Championship. Soon afterwards I got pregnant with my first daughter, Lily. I was just getting back into the swing of things when I got pregnant with Macey. I've been riding again for 6 months and it's a hard road back. I've picked up all the bad habits that I had when I was a weaker rider. Mostly my left leg vexes me. It's not as strong as it should be, and it doesn't stay where I put it. It tends to creep upwards and back too far, making it easy for my horse to ignore it. Which, of course, is super frustrating. He tends to be too far over the left side anyway, and bulges his shoulders left and gets too crooked. I need a stronger left leg to help straighten him out. But my stupid left leg is feels blind and dumb. I'm constantly telling it "Stay THERE. Push HARDER. Can you HEAR ME??!" and it does what it wants.

This does not help us in our half-passes right. Or left either, but mostly right. He just gets so far over the left side that he can't really go right. And my left leg is nothing to him. Or was, until about a month ago. I finally said "Ok, when I put the leg on, you MOVE." It took a few sessions of me really getting on his case when he blew my leg off, but he finally gets it. Now we need to work on the quality of our half-passes. Sure, he moves right, but now I want dynamic, reaching, flowing strides. Yeah, I know. Very demanding. It's hard work, but still fun.

Kaswyn is getting back in shape after being half-leased for a year. When I was pregnant my trainer rode him too, and when I started riding again I split the time with the leaser. The lady leasing him was a beginner rider, and he lost a lot of his muscling and stamina. He also started being uneven and crooked. We tried lots of different things to fix the problem (bute, ice boots, injecting around the pastern, even scoping his stomach), but ultimately what made my horse better was stopping the lease, injecting his hocks, and having just me ride him. I was really nervous about injecting his hocks. I know a lot of dressage horses have it done, but I was hesitant about going into the joints unless I absolutely had to. And I must say that it's made all the difference in the world. I was afraid at first, because over a week went by after the injections and he still did not feel right. Had I made a mistake here? But now he feels great! Straight (well, as straight as he ever was), even strides, eager to work again. We just need to build back up. We only work for about 35 minutes right now, but I want to try and hit an hour so we can do a lesson. Hopefully next month at the new place!

Barn Drama

There is a good bit a drama at the barn right now. What barn doesn't have it? Anyway, my trainer is moving to a new facility which will better suit the needs of her business. This is going to be a really good thing, but right now only her horse is at the new barn. Most of the rest of the horses (including mine) will be moving on June 1 when there will be stalls available. She is leaving the current barn on good terms, so that's not the problem. The problem is with the current employee situation. The old barn manager, who did a great job and gave great care to the horses, quit a few months ago. Since then the barn owner has not been able to find a suitable replacement for her. He has hired many people, but nobody has been able to step up to the job.

That's when Mowin' Man decided to get involved. This is a guy who has worked for the barn for years mowing the grass and doing other maintenance type jobs. He was not, however, involved in any horse care at all, although he has worked at the racetrack and other barns and thinks he knows a lot about horses. The old barn manager did not allow him in the barn, mostly because she didn't trust him, but also because he has a nasty streak in him which often is directed at women. So now Mowin' Man has been allowed to do turnouts and stall cleaning on the weekend, unbeknownst to the boarders. This weekend I personally witnessed him putting a horse in a very dangerous situation (cross tying a horse that is known not to cross tie, who also has a sign on his stall stating such), which I quickly put a stop to. I also found out that he put another horse in a stall that was under construction and had a large deep trench dug out all around the walls creating a leg breaking hazard. The horse was spotted by another boarder and quickly moved before she could get hurt.

Nobody wants him touching their horses anymore, but unfortunately on the weekends sometimes there is nobody else to do the work. We have all decided that rather than have him do turnouts and stalls that we would all rather do the work ourselves, so that is what we are going to do. I just keep thinking to myself that it's only 2 more weeks, but a lot can happen in two weeks. I just have to keep calm and trust that he won't do anything he's not supposed to. I hear that he has been asked not to come into the barn anymore, but I don't know if that is true, or if he will do what he is told. I guess we'll just have to see. But I know one thing - if I hear any more horror stories involving horses getting hurt or compromised I'm going to move my horse THAT DAY to my friends barn. She told me I could move there anytime as a backup. I just might have to take her up on it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dressage Mom? Huh?

So what's this all about? Well, it's about me. And my kids. And my horse. Why does anyone care? Becuse I think there are a lot of people out there like me - women who work full time, have kids, and also have a horse addiction.

Make no mistake, having a horse is an addiction. I get a serious jones if I don't go out to the barn every couple of days. Every now and then non-barn life will prevent me from going to see my horse for days at a time, and inevitably my husband will say "Hey, please go to the barn. You're driving me crazy." I guess I get bitchy or something.

I love my horse. I've had him since he was 3, and he's 15 now. He's a purebred Arabian gelding who is an FEI level dressage horse. He's a multi-National Champion, but that's not why I love him. I love him because we've worked hard together to become what we both are today. He's super smart and has a great work ethic. He's just a really good guy.

I also love my kids. I have two delightful daughters. Lily is 2 and a half, and Macey will turn one next month. Both kids crack me up on a daily basis. I can't imagine my life without them. They're the best kids in the world (no matter what you say about your kids).

Thus begins the tale of how I'm trying to fit it all in, and all the pitfalls that go along with it. The guilt (about money spent and time not spent with kids or hubby), the stress (about work, sick kids, sick horse, and a husband who is sometimes just sick of it all), the excitement (of seeing my daughter walk for the first time, or winning my USDF Silver Medal), and the satisfaction (of a rarely spotlessly clean house, or daily clean tack).

By the way, my husband has his own journal web site - www.scripturient.com. It's in redesign mode because he accidentally broke it while doing web site work for my dressage trainer. Unlike previous jobs, his new job prevents him from working on his site all day, so it's taking a bit to get it back up and running. The archives are pretty funny though. Anyway, when I told him I was making a blog he told me that it better not get more readers than his site. I told him that I'd make sure it was shittier than his. How am I doin so far, honey?
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr