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November 26, 2013

Horse Show Trainer's Diary

Get up at dawn of crack. Fumble in the dark, pull on mismatched outfit, head for horse show. It’s 4 a.m. Why isn’t Starbucks open yet?

Arrive at showgrounds, get exhibitor numbers from office, try to organize riders and schedule for the day.

Have Advil and coffee for breakfast.

Where are my riders?

Find riders for warm-up class. School riders. Holler same three instructions 15 times. Each.

Realize this is Day 1 of five-day show. Enthusiasm wanes.

November 22, 2013

Adventures In Craigslist Shopping

After not having a horse for a few years, I am moving back in that direction (meaning, my poor husband has spent several weekends rebuilding our paddock fence). The quest for my next horse entails idle moments on Craigslist, looking for that "diamond in the rough."

November 20, 2013

Don't Puke At C

They stand in the middle of the ring and yell. A lot.

Trainers have to repeat a lot of the same commands. “Heels down. Don’t pull. Kick.” So it’s no surprise that they frequently come up with some entertaining versions.

June 10, 2013

Dressage Scribing Goes Digital

If you’ve ever received a dressage test and spent the next hour going line by line, trying to decipher the scribbled notations and finally throwing up your hands in despair as to whether it was your horse or your circles that “cld be roundr” or “nds electy,” then you are in good company.

But you are also in luck. Now a scribe can input a judge’s scores, movement comments and further remarks into a laptop computer that scores the test with each input and sends the final result to a printer that produces an ever so neat and clean test, complete with the judge’s digital signature.

April 9, 2013

Horse Shopping vs. Online Dating Part 3: The Test Ride

As a perpetual “long on goals, short on cash” rider, I spent most of my teens and 20s either riding or working to pay for my riding, and didn’t get in a whole lot of practice on the dating thing. So when it came time for middle-aged me to find a new mount—er, gentleman friend—I was at a loss. (Read Part 1: The Wish List and Part 2: Buyer Beware of this series.).

April 8, 2013

Horse Shopping vs. Online Dating Part 1: The Wish List

When it came time for me to jump back into the dating paddock after 15 years in a relationship, I decided that since I lived in the sticks (or at least the New England version thereof), and my main hobbies were heavy on the four-legged creatures, going online would be my best bet. In doing so, I discovered that many of the strategies I'd developed in two decades of horse shopping served me well.

Here are a few pointers I picked up along the way…

Be realistic about your budget.

July 17, 2012

Culinary Lessons With Your Human

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a newcomer to our farm—a tall, dark and dashing gentleman who, in a former life, was a race horse.

He’s handsome, he’s quick, and I may be in love. I gave him some tips on human management, and he helped me get in touch with the Thoroughbred side of my pedigree. He also told me about his traveling adventures to exotic places like Florida and New York, and he mentioned the great variety of hay, grains and grass he’d gotten to eat in his career.

July 11, 2012

How To Survive A European Horse Shopping Trip

I wish that I'd received some advice before embarking on a European horse-buying mission. I realize that flying to Europe to buy a horse is a fabulous privilege, but that doesn't mean there aren't many humorous moments. I hope this commentary provides you with a light-hearted idea of what to expect.

November 22, 2011

A Question For Special Adult Amateurs Everywhere: Why Can’t I Think Inside The Ring?

People in the horse world have a different definition and perception of amateurs than the rest of the world.

Horse folk think of amateurs as ammy-owners: the over 18 crowd who jump their horses 3'6". Everyone else thinks of the fools who try to do things that they’re not quite capable of. It’s sometimes used as a put down: “What an amateur!”

The hard part is when you take a person who belongs in the second definition of amateur and put them in the horse world. I know all about these people. I’m one of them.

November 15, 2011

Half-Halts And Transitions: Dressage Terms For Life Lessons

Any time I've ever scribed for a dressage judge, the dressage test requires marks for “transitions to” various gaits. The judge is called on to award scores for the smoothness, energy and accuracy of the transition, whether from trot to canter, canter to trot, changes between collected and extended gaits or what-have-you.

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