Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fruit flavored reality pill? Yes, please.

Wouldn’t it be great if your basic, run of the mill reality pill could be cleverly contained in a delicious little fruit flavored nugget? Or how about a chewable Gummy Bear brand? A tutti-frutti, candy coated, saccharine free morsel of deep understanding that not only leaves you with a new, profound, subterranean grasp of the universe, but fresher breath, a whiter smile, and a look in your eye that says “Hello world, you’re welcome.”

But, no.

A timely delivered reality check is more like trying to swallow an expired, powdery, aspirin tasting hunk of oversized shame that immediately starts to dissolve before you’ve had a chance to drink anything, and then continues to leave an acrid aftertaste for days.

Seriously. DAYS.  No matter what you drink, or how many tubs of Ben & Jerry’s you stuff down your pie hole you’re stuck with the memory of that stupid pill.

Sometimes before a jump lesson I’ll get all geared up in my brain. I’ll have my little inner-team huddle going on, my locker room pep talk, my humble yet knowing smile that says “I think we all know who won this game” wink, wink.  And I’ll be so sure that when I broach the idea of A MOVE UP he’ll be like “Well, duh? Of course you’re ready. I mean, just look at you.”

Oh, stop. You flatter me . . .

What actually happened is he looked up at me on my horse, raised an eyebrow, and said “How many rails did you have last week?” I happened to have two, I reply. Eyebrow lifts a tad more (which is actually really impressive; when I lift a brow I go all in right from the start). That’s when I start my rambling diatribe of how the poles were wet from the fire truck hose and the sun was really bright and it made everything shimmery and the first few horses had stops at THE VERY FIRST FENCE and it was tough to get a read on the distance and that one stride was super long . . .

That’s when he told me to stop talking. And when a former Olympian turned Olympic selector tells you to stop talking, you stop talking. Like, yesterday stop talking. Like zip it lock put it in your pocket stop talking. Like shut up shuttin’ up stop talking:

So I did.

I stopped talking and I listened.  I listened and I learned and I felt that hideous little misery encrusted morsel of shame start to dissolve at the back of my tongue; knowing there wasn’t enough Mint Chocolate Chip on the continent to erase the taste, and knowing that he was exactly right.  Shockingly, that same tiny little bitter pill that tastes like defeat today somehow morphs into success tomorrow.  I don’t know how it does it, but it does. And I accept it.

I just wish it came in tutti-frutti.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Oh, Waiter . . .

Oh Waiter, I’m a little pressed for time. Would you mind terribly combining my appetizer, salad, soup, entrĂ©e, and dessert into one big pill that I can shove down my gullet while you’re already processing my credit card? That’d be great, thanks.

Time is a funny thing. Not funny haha, more like funny peculiar. For instance, if I’m stuck in traffic for 30 minutes it is like LOSING MY WHOLE DAY! 60 minutes in the saddle, however, is over before I can blink my eyes.

And sleep? Pssshhhhttt. Don’t even get me started. I’m convinced my alarm clock is playing tricks on me every time it goes off. Of course, considering my alarm is a circa 1985 Dream Machine clock-radio, with the optional buzzer or FM tuner function (yeah, pretty high tech), I wouldn’t be surprised if IT doesn’t even know what time it is, or what decade for that matter. In fact, I’ll bet that crusty old clock is drooling on itself right now and at some point will randomly shout “Cheeseburger!” or “Whippersnapper!” or “Damn snooze bar stuck again”.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to find ways to blend tasks in an endless pursuit of efficiency.

And then I think to myself: Self, (sometimes Self answers back, but I don’t count on it) there are 86,400 seconds in a day and you just wasted 300 of them on nonsense.  And there went another 45 realizing you just wasted 300.

It’s the human equivalent of chasing your tail. Entertaining to watch, but not very productive. 

So I endeavor to strategically coordinate my efforts in what amounts to a predetermined game of cat and mouse with the clock: I grocery shop in riding pants and muck boots; though I shamelessly admit that I pretend to be a movie star avoiding the paparazzi (don’t make eye contact, wear a baseball hat, and keep sunglasses on at all costs); I blow dry my hair and drag the fields at the same time; heck, I even started brushing my teeth in the shower, which seemed like a good idea until I used face-wash on my toothbrush because I hadn’t included “contact lens insertion” into my new, ingenious, timesaving strategy. My hair was plaque free and my teeth had a new youthful appearance, without any fine lines or wrinkles.

And now, as I’ve used up 2,795 of my allotted seconds-per-day I realize that regardless of what I do those seconds will turn into minutes, and then those minutes will turn into hours, and then those hours will tick by in the same endless loop that they have since time was invented.

There’s no savings account for time. You don’t get to rollover unused minutes to the next day and you sure as heck can’t take it with you when you’re gone, so why not spend some of that 86,400 on something a little more meaningful; something you CAN carry over into next week, next month, next year.  Why not spend a little of that time smiling over an old photo album, or putting down the pitchfork long enough to enjoy just how blue the sky is or how clean the air smells. An afternoon with the kids before they’re all grown up is a pretty smart purchase if you ask me.  Even though I brushed my teeth with Oil of Olay I don’t think I’m wrong here.

I think I’m exactly right as a matter of fact.

Oh, Waiter, I’ll take that meal in a box instead. I’ve just realized I have an appointment with my front porch and a sunset. And that is something worth savoring.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The name's Cotton, nice to meet me

I’ve often said that Cotton is the James Dean of horses; that whole “cool without trying to be cool” thing. He’s definitely got enough naughty to make him interesting, but he knows how to work the sweet face when necessary.

Well, Mr. Too Cool for School made his USEA debut down at Full Gallop last week and, let me tell you, he worked his swag the whole time. He waltzed around that place like he had just been voted class president, homecoming king, and most likely to succeed all in the same day. I had to scoot over in my saddle just to make room for his ego.

I'm here. You're welcome.

He pranced and hopped and bucked on every square inch of that farm, alternating between flirting with the girls and picking bar fights with the boys:

hey ladies, how you doin’ . . . YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME, PUNK! . . . mmm girl, you smell good . . . WHAT ARE YOU LOOKIN’ AT, BUCK-SKIN! . . . hi honey, what barn you in? . . . COME AT ME BRO, COME AT ME! . . . say sugar, that’s a sweet looking saddle pad – I’ll bet it would look great crumpled in a heap at the end of my stall . . . YOU WANNA START SOMETHING MAN-BITCH? SO START! . . . oh her? that’s just my human, I’ll ditch her here in a moment, don’t go anywhere, baby . . . THAT’S IT, SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR FACE!

We had a few airs-above-ground moments (you’re welcome, spectators), a few ‘death grip on the neck strap moments’, and more than a couple head-flinging, rip your arms out of the sockets moments.

But, more importantly, we had lots and lots of “oh-my-God-this-is-the-most-fun-I-ever-had, you’re-the-best-mom-ever!” moments. He really, pardon the pun, took it all in stride. There was a very endearing look of wonderment in his eyes the entire time, and that very look is how I know that I’ve got a very special horse standing in my field right now.

He might have lost a little focus in dressage (okay, I guess going from a 28 to a 41 might be more than a little focus). And maybe he spent more time cantering in place than going forward for stadium (who else can say they racked up 12 time penalties in a Beginner Novice stadium course?). But when he wasn’t flinging his head up in the air and pulling me out of the tack he had the look of eagles on cross-country.

In his defense, when we got home I had the vet do a thorough nose to tail exam to make sure his antics weren’t from pain, and although he couldn’t find one sore spot anywhere on that horse’s body, he did find a very small, very sharp, accessory tooth that had grown in where one of his baby teeth had fallen out. So he got that pulled out and we’ll see how he does next time.

Getting a tooth pulled is exhausting

Maybe he'll be Goose, maybe he'll be Maverick. But I’ll love him just the same.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Birth of a Dressage arena

I've given birth. A couple of times, actually. 

I've watched the clock and counted contractions and breathed and pushed and sweated. I've also lay like a lump while the two-for-one specials arrived butt first into the world. 

"Oh, I have a baby now? Cool. Oh, now I have another one? Sweet. Alrighty then."

But at the end of all the waiting and sweating and puking and pushing there was this perfect little arrival(s) that just made you sit back, smile, and realize how beautiful life can be.

Until the works starts . . . 

Building a dressage arena was eerily similar. The waiting, the counting, the sweating, even the clock watching. Actually, it was more like calendar watching than clock watching, but I still sank my shoulders when my due date came and went without my bundle of sand being delivered. And the counting was more of a 'count the loads of clay while I squeeze my checkbook for a few more counts of ten'.

PUSH . . . .PUSH . . . Almost there!! Now just sign your name at the bottom of that check and we're all finished here.

All the waiting finally paid off and I now can gaze proudly at the beauty that now occupies a 20m x 60m space in my heart.

Until the work starts . . .