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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baby Daddy A Go-Go

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Cicera's Icewater:

Gogo's (almost certainly) chosen baby daddy for next year. The video is not of the best quality but the stallion IS!

A little blurb about him:

"Cicera's Icewater is the American Holsteiner Association 2002 approvals tour Stallion Champion. At the time of his approval Icewater was the highest scoring and highest bonited Holsteiner stallion ever approved in North America. He is also approved and licensed RPSI and GOV (Oldenburg Breeders Societ/ German Oldenburg Verband). He stands 16.3+ hands. He is a leggy, refined, modern type. At his AHHA approvals he received 53 bonits: type 8, topline 7, front legs 7, hind legs 7, walk 7, trot 9, canter 8. The German judges loved his huge, elastic gaits! For his pedigree he was awarded the absolute top score 10! He is one of only two stallions ever have received the score. In 2003 Cicera's Icewater competed in the Five Year Old Young Jumper Championships, and placed in the top 15 at the East Coast Finals at the Hampton Classic. In the spring of 2005 Cicera's Icewater completed his stallion performance requirements in eventing with Team O'Connor. Icewater placed in the top three of all five events that he competed at, with notably excellent dressage scores. Icewater is also approved RHPSI Stallion Book I, with a total score of 60, with bonits such as "8" type, "9" canter, etc. Icewater is by international show jumper Corofino (by Corrado I), out of State Premium Mare Cicera, Stamm 474A, Cor de la Bryere - Liguster. Cicera is full sister to the late Cicero that stood in the US and to the international show jumper and extraordinary sire Cavalier Royale (see link at the bottom of this page and read about his impressive progeny!). Several years after his premature death at 17 Cavalier Royale is now also a leading sire of eventers 2006, (he is, for example, sire of Cavaldi, second place at Fair Hill CCI*** 2003, and Starlight). Cavalier Royale had no less than THREE entries in Rolex 2007, including the WINNER Ben Along Time. Cicera, the dam of Cicera's Icewater, and full sister to Cavalier Royale, is also the dam of the young international Grand Prix jumper Kira (by Carthago). Ridden by Ludo Philippaerts, Kira (a maternal half sister to Icewater) came third with a double clear round in the 2004 $91,488 Grand Prix of Cannes, one of the most coveted Grand Prix in Europe. In 2003 year she successfully competed in the international Audi-Championship for Young Horses. This proven pedigree with depth heightens the predictability of passing on awesome performance and looks! Icewater's sire Corofino I competes in international show jumping under Italian colors, and is one of the Holsteiner Verband flagship stallions per frozen semen. His full brother Corofino II recently qualified for the German Championship of five year old stallions. Corofino has sired a number of approved stallions, successful jumpers and excellent dressage performers, and is especially known for passing on outstanding rideability. If you are looking for an EXTRAORDINARY MOVER that also can jump, here you go! Icewater comes from Holsteiner Stamm 474A, one of the best and most successful motherlines in the world. This motherline Stamm 474A has produced close to 40 approved stallions plus international sport horses. At the 2004 Holsteiner Verband approvals no less than two stallions from Stamm 474A were approved. Icewater's first foals are a living proof of Icewater being an outstanding refinement sire of modern type: they are very elegant, refined, athletic and correct and most of all they are destined to excell in performance."

And this is the part that just makes me think they're a match made in heaven, which I posted about a long time ago:

They are jump twins. Love it.

Concering what Gogo's high and low points are:

Gogo's Physical and Mental Strengths:
- Incredibly intelligent
- Independant, bold, level-headed and calm
- Excellent feet
- Textbook shoulder angle, excellent for scope over fences and reach in dressage
- Huge natural gallop
- Three quality gaits, exceptional canter
- Nice hind end
- Compact yet light build
- Overall body angles quite correct - athletic build

Gogo's Physical and Mental Weaknesses:
- Can be very opinionated.... need a stallion with a tractable mind!
- Forearm a little shorter than desireable
- Upright LF foot (not genetic as far as we can tell)
- Offset front cannons
- SLIGHT (VERY slight) toeing out in front
- Somewhat tied in below the knee
- (Really, in general, not the best front legs... but she's been completely sound on them and they are not glaring, violent faults.. just there when you look for them. They are blemish free, tight, and cool every day of her life!)
- A hair flat in the croup
- Weak topline, neck put on slightly upside down (her biggest and most noticable fault in my mind)
- Slightly narrow in the body and chest
- Needs more room in her throatlatch throatlatch

So the biggest improvements that I'm looking for are a much improved topline, more depth to the body, and nice correct legs. Icewater's topline and legs all scored 7's, which is acceptable. From what I've heard from people with babies, his foals all seem to be correct or at least quite improved in the topline, and it's kind of hard to tell with the legs but I see no glaring faults on any of them. And not that this is important, but not all of them are grey! I would love a steely grey that stays steely grey, or maybe one with lots of dapples, but I have zero desire to ever own a fleabitten grey. I pitch fits over Gogo's TINY little socks.... can you even IMAGINE me with a grey horse? I'd be killing myself every day and my hands would be perma-purple from all the whitening shampoo. Obviously color is beside the point, but well, you know ;)

With this stallion, I would have access to unlimited event/jumper potential via sire and damside. He didn't get a perfect "10" for his pedigree for nothing you know! Most notably, Icewater has Cor de la Bryere on both sides, a legend in his own right with a very strong prepotent tendency to pass along his mind-boggling bascule. Icewater's dam Cicera is also full sister to the legendary Cavalier Royale, arguably one of the most influential and highly sought after event stallions of all time, proven producer of multiple two, three, and four-star horses and Rolex champions, most recently Clayton Fredericks' Ben Along Time in 2008. Having access to these bloodlines means tapping into an entire world of proven event breeding, which is EXACLTY what I want. His pedigree is completely different from hers, which I quite think is an asset in this case. She has Ladykiller xx twice in her pedigree, which is fantastic - can't have too much Ladykiller in my mind - but I would rather NOT double up on anything else in her family. His family, however? Doubling up on the Cor de la Bryere gives me the good goosebumps.

Icewater's produce at this stage are hard to assess, because as a younger and less-proven stallion he has inadvertently been bred to not the highest quality mares. The offspring I've seen are a mixed bag given their completely varied mothers, but I've seen improvements in all of them. At this point, you can't give them any uniformity though. You couldn't pick an Icewater foal out of a herd at this point. Out of quality mares, he is producing champions on the line. As Gogo herself is a pretty nice mare and I would be TOTALLY happy to have another carbon copy of her with absolutely no improvements at all, it's certainly a risk worth taking for me in case no improvements come of the match. I fully expect, however, that the two of them would cross VERY nicely and I'd have a fantastic eventer on my hands.

Now let me also tell you why I nixed the other two potential stallions on my list. I have always had my eye on Lintas, the highest bonited stallion in AHHA history, but since being imported he's done absolutely nothing so I have no idea of what he's capable of. His produce are all very nice, but again, what are they useful for? The thing that killed him for me though was not his lack of a competitive career. It was the fact that he's already been doubled up on Landgraf I. Basic rule of thumb if you're ever looking at this particular line: never can have enough Ladykiller, but more than one Landgraf and it's TOO much. Landgrafs tend to be a little late-maturing and somewhat opinionated, and having Landgraf twice in a pedigree is an almost certain recipe for, ah, behavioral issues. Gogo has Landgraf on her sireside (her grandsire) and we all know how temperamental she gets sometimes. I'd really rather NOT add fuel to that fire, thanks.

Exactly the same reason I nixed Riverman. High quality stallion, high quality offspring (or total barf offspring... there seems to be no middle ground), proven producer of high-level eventers. BUT Riverman offspring are notoriously difficult to break, I don't care what anyone tells you about them. Once they get going they're not so bad, but they really can be TOUGH and they are OPINIONATED. Why? Probably something to do with the fact that he too has Landgraf on both sides. Everybody ALWAYS asks if I'll be breeding to Riverman. Uh, no thanks... I'd rather keep my brains intact. Fantastic quality offspring for a professional, but for me with my already Landgraffed and opinionated mare? I'll tell you one thing, crossing strong-willed with strong-willed is not a good recipe for a fun time.

I am also happy to report that given Gogo's performance history, type and potential future, the breeder (a wonderful woman) has informed me that she knocks $1000 off his stud fee for performance mares like mine. That's what I like to hear ;)

EDIT: Video of a nice colt by Icewater.

And go here to look at more Icewater foals - make sure to check out the video of Cerano, an Icewater colt with Landgraf I in his pedigree too. Sweet!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Gogo's Demon Possession #8574904475

We all know Gogo gets possessed by demons on an occasional basis, right? They struck again today, those a-holes. Stupid demons. I should give them names.

Yesterday, we had a random snowstorm for the better part of the day, which made travel dangerous enough that I opted to stay home and work versus die on the roads (I did try to get to work, but alas, two hours later I was not even halfway, so I gave up!). I selected a few choice turnouts for the afternoon, and Gogo was not on the list - given the nature of her injuries I like to be there when she is outside so I can monitor everything. This, unfortunately, worked both for and against me today: she's feeling the ridiculously cold weather (about -9 at the moment), so thankfully yesterday she was not outside to do something stupid when I couldn't monitor her, but she DID do something stupid outside today because of her day inside and the demons possessing her. Of course.

Shortly after being turned out, one of my staff members called to me as I was walking down the aisle and said, "Gogo's crazy!" What he meant by that is that for whatever reason, instead of placidly munching her hay like she always does for her entire turnout time, Gogo was lunging at the geldings turned out on either side of her and double barreling at them. Excessively. Here's a nice set of pictures taken two years ago of what she looks like when in "attack mode":

Which is EXACTLY what she looked like today. For those of you that argue that dressage "isn't natural," check out the attractive passage/piaffe combo and collected canter. Lovely! (And she also does a reining spin and/or rapid-fire pirouette!) Which, of course, is exactly what you DON'T want to be doing on tender legs. I saw her lunge a time or two at the geldings, separated only by one fence and some not particularly strong hotwire, and yelled at her across the way. In typical I'm-in-trouble fashion, she froze, eyed popping out of her head, and stared at me in a worried way for a second, then started trotting around her little pen. Also not what I want her to be doing. She also started kicking out at the fence behind her with one leg, then the other, and over again. I had seen enough and was like, "That's it, you just lost your turnout privileges young lady." To which she said, "Well I'd rather just stay out here and kill geldings, thank you very much!" In the entire 3.5 years that I've owned her, the only time I can remember her ever being hard to catch was one day in the first few months that I had her when instead of walking to me like she always does, she walked verrrrry slowly towards the other end of the field. That's it! Even when she gets loose, she usually head to the nearest patch of grass and is readily caught there. Every other day, she either walks over to me or stands there immobile, easy as can be to catch. Not today! Today, she was determined to NOT come in. We walked around and around and around, and she was pretty sure that she was not going to turn to face me. Rude.

Of course, being Gogo this only lasted about 30 seconds. Then, she rediscovered the haypile, and figured it was better to just eat hay and let herself be caught. She did, however, attempt to jig the entire way in to the barn, which is not okay in my book and I reminded her that we walk nicely, always.

Back in the barn, I checked her legs and found that oh no! Her LH (one with the lesion) was really quite warm. A bit freaked out, I felt further up the leg and suddenly found my hand covered with warm, wet stickiness. GREAT, now she's bleeding! A lot! She took a good couple inches of skin and hair off part of her lower leg, completely superficially so but it still bled quite a bit. The leg, of course, became quite warm and swollen, true to form. I'm pretty sure it's entirely related to the mini-gash, but this isn't helping my total rising panic about next week's ultrasound. Ugh. Only the pictures will tell, I suppose.

Gogo, really?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The start of my own barefoot adventure.

The Eventing-A-Gogo blog has reached 150 official followers! That is mind-boggling. Thank you, all of you, for supporting this great journey. I've said it many times, I really can't tell you how much it means to me.

Gogo is getting the rest of this week off, for a few reasons really. First of all, my boss is coming home next Monday for a brief stint, so I need to fully focus my energies on working her five horses that she left behind and making sure they are all looking their very best for her return. Secondly, I scheduled Gogo's next ultrasound with Dr. C for next Tuesday in the morning. It's a week earlier than I had originally planned (I was shooting for more like the 10th, because we were set to start cantering on the 11th), but I always start to get exceptionally antsy around the time of an approaching vet appointment. I start to get paranoid - is there more fill in the leg today? Is it warmer than it was? Did she just take a funny step getting on the treadmill or did I make that up? Am I seeing things? Am I not? - so I figured I needed to just stop everything and wait until the ultrasound. She'll be treadmilled and turnout out until next Tuesday, where we hopefully will be getting more good news. I just always start to seriously imagine the worst whenever a vet appointment approaches, so I'm just going to stop worrying about it and just continue with the daily routine until then. I will be seriously glad when this daily paranoia is over. (Even though, at this point, it will never really be over for the rest of her life!)

In the meantime, I am beginning my own version of the barefoot adventure. I've been researching more about the human foot and its mechanism, and the parallels I've found to the equine barefoot movement have been mind-boggling. It's seriously a nearly identical process with nearly identical motives behind it. And now that I've discovered the human barefoot movement, I get to relive the entire process by which I found the equine movement - only this time it's a little different. When I found the equine barefoot movement, I was more ready to jump in wholeheartedly because of the way shoeing had crippled and, crudely put, killed my last horse. There's no way around it, he's quite dead now in large part because of some cocky choices my farriers had made with him, and because of that I was ready to try something new. With my own bare feet, I was much more skeptical to start, with a lot of the same criticisms that the anti-bare hooves people have.

For instance, I thought people that went without shoes were nuts. (People say that barefoot-only people are nuts.)
I thought that humans needed shoes given our lifestyles and the stresses we put on ourselves and our feet. (People say the modern sport horse needs shoes because of their lifestyles and stresses we put on them and their feet.)
I thought my soles would be too tender to ever try this because I've been wearing shoes for as long as I can remember. (People say their horses can't go barefoot because they get too tender and have been wearing shoes forever.)
I thought that everybody wears shoes, that's just what we do as people. (People shoe their horses sometimes because well, that's what everybody else does too, so who would think otherwise?)
I thought that human athletes needed footwear to give them a competitive edge. (People think horses need footwear to give them a competitive edge.)
I thought people with flat feet needed the support of a shoe. (People think horses with flat feet need the support of a shoe.)

Sound familiar?

(Daun sent me a link today, by the way, about a new study out concerning the way running shoes have changed the way we run, and Nicole called me pretty much simultaneously to tell me she was listening to the same story on the radio. Go read the study. It's really, really interesting.)

What have I found in my research and personal experience with the barefoot movement, human and horse? More parallels!

Many people and horses may need a little help transitioning from shoes to bare - there is a steadily growing market for hoof boots and transitional human footwear, both of which are designed to give tender feet a chance to start moving naturally without being in pain.
Feet change in response to bad footwear, good footwear, environmental stresses, and movement.
High heels = pain, in both humans and horses.
Flat feet, heel pain, and tender soles often rapidly and beautifully resolve when taken properly bare.
A very large majority of foot issues in both species stem from improper footwear.
If feet are being inefficiently used due to pain or improper footwear, it can lead to injuries higher up in the body. Mother Nature designed feet to do their job perfectly just the way they are, so anything we add to that proportionally decreases efficiency, and increases the possibility of issues.
Once feet are being efficiently used, the entire body's efficiency improves. A pain-free body is healthy body.

The one REALLY big difference? A healthy bare foot is supposed to land heel first - a toe first landing is indicative of a problem. A bare human foot, on the other hand, is supposed to land ball or midfoot first, and a heel first landing is painful and jarring. Our modern day running shoes are very heavily padded around the heel area, which encourages a heel-first landing. I myself am guilty of running heel-first, probably because I assumed that it worked for my horse, so it should work for me too. Wrong! I was plagued with eternal issues, from sore feet to shin splints to unbearable hip socket pain on my right side. Which, of course, is what led me here. If going barefoot worked so well for my horse, then why not try it myself? If I can simultaneously increase my efficiency and decrease my pain, then I've done exactly the same thing for myself as I've done for my horse.

My own barefoot experience began today. I finally had a chance to get out and get my pair of Vibram Five Fingers, a piece of minimalist transitional footwear designed to mimic the bare foot. Not quite ready to take the fully barefoot plunge (or sure that I ever actually want to go fully barefoot), I wanted the benefits with a little added protection to allow me to walk on difficult surfaces without being crippled or injured.

These, my friends, are my new favorite shoes:

Now for those of you that don't know, this is how my feet often look in the winter:

Obviously, this is a huge transition for me.

I tried on a few pairs before choosing the right one. And of course, I picked the blue ones ;) I have to say, it's VASTLY different from anything I've ever had on my feet before and I LOVE IT. They're going to take some getting used to, but they're really comfortable, although I can see how for a more squashed foot they would be uncomfortable because of how they spread the toes. My pinky toe felt a little pulled away from my other toes, but not uncomfortably so. I broke in the shoes on a quick trip to a very rocky Connecticut beach down the road from the shoe store, and got some awesome pictures while I was at it:

By the way, let's state this one for the records: wearing skinny jeans and VFF shoes is insufferably tacky and makes you look like THE dumbest person around. Won't be doing THAT one again!

But by far the most awesome pictures I got were when I befriended a very crazy old man with a loaf of stale bread who was feeding the seagulls. I stood there and snapped away while he cackled and held out the bread for them to take right from his outstretched hand. Boy I love making friends.

Walking 'bare' immediately showed me that the way I normally walk is WRONG! I found after a very short time that landing on your heels sends a very uncomfortable shockwave up your entire leg column into your spine. When I walk in regular shoes, I tend to slouch along, landing on my heels and dragging forward. Yea... that's quite painful in minimalist footwear! So, I thought long and hard about everything I have thus far studied on the efficient foot biomechanics, and changed to landing more midfoot. WOW. That was eye-opening! Suddenly, the pressure I was absorbing all the way up into my spine dissapeared. Everything dissipated in my foot. And not only that, suddenly I was using an entirely new group of muscles. I had to engage my abs while walking. I've never felt that before.

All in all it was very humbling and exciting. I intend on just walking for probably the rest of January and a good part of February, and then we'll think about running once I am comfortable. Then, we can lay out a plan for what I'd like to accomplish.

Until then, walk on!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An Exercise in New Year's Resolutions

I did in fact go back and delete my last post after having second thoughts about it. I know it's been requested of me to write about my awesome job but that's not what this blog is about, and shouldn't be. I certainly did not mean to gossip about my boarders by sharing that last story.... it really just was too funny and I wanted to spread a little joking cheer. In retrospect, not particularly appropriate of me! Won't happen again. If you want to know about the hijinks that ensure while trying to keep 31 horses, 23 owners, 2 cats, 4 trainers, and 4 staff members happy all at the same time, well... you'll just have to get to know me personally!

In other news, I've been doing my best to integrate my New Year's resolutions into my daily life. These are all, for the most part, life changes versus one-time events, so I've been playing with them and doing my best to make my life and my world a better place. As a refresher, here are my 2010 resolutions/goals:

Travel as much as I can – Madagascar/Egypt/? At the end of the year
Complete the 100 Pushups/200 Situps/25 Pullups/200 Squats challenges
Learn how to run barefoot and compete in a 5k barefoot (maybe!)
Do yoga once (or twice) every week
Eat healthier – buy fresh food every week and learn to MAKE IT
Save money for other things than the necessary – shows, and breeding next year
During the winter, ski every Wednesday that weather allows
Complete Metro's scrapbook
Have a poem published
Finish Patrick painting

Well, so far I've done my very best to ski every week, but it's quite a bit harder than expected. Unfortunately for me, Connecticut is on the temperate end of New England, so while my sister is up skiing in Vermont and Maine all weekend every weekend, I struggle on my one day off to get out to our tiny local hills. I went skiing two Wednesdays ago and the hill I went to SUCKED! The snow was terrible, there were only two chairlifts open, and I got SCREAMED at by some maniac chairlift operator when I didn't put the bar on the chairlift down. (Seriously? Is that a rule now? I thought it was a suggestion.) Last week I wanted to go on Wednesday, but I didn't actually have a day off last week, so that didn't work. This week, I've had to contend with the fact that it's been 40+ degrees all week, so ALL the snow is gone. Can't exactly ski with no snow! I HAVE done yoga every week though, which is great. We have a very nice small studio in town that has classes every evening, and while I was doing a very intense hotroom Vinyasa class, I also tried a few Naam classes with my roommate, just because it's always more fun to exercise with a friend. Our Naam class is.... not like any Naam yoga I've ever known. We do lots of chanting, obviously, but we don't really do much in the way of actual yoga poses. Lots of fitness stuff, but it's just not... yoga. It's a bit weird, but actually quite tiring, so that's good. On the barefoot running front, I've been researching a bit and I do agree that I want to get a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. A lot of barefoot enthusiasts say that getting a transition shoe is not ideal if you're going to run fully barefoot, but I'm not quite sure that I DO want to get to that point just yet. It's the same idea as getting hoof boots in my mind. Movement is critical to creating the bare foot that you want, and if you have a hoof in transition, forcing the horse to hobble painfully over rocks just isn't fair. That foot will come in time, but you need to help it get there. Same with barefoot running. If I'm hobbling over rocks with my pathetic feet that have been wearing shoes since I could first walk, I'm not going to get very far am I? My feet need to strengthen, and I need help getting there.

An interesting comparison: here are some healthy bare human feet versus unhealthy "shod" human feet, and healthy bare hooves versus unhealthy shod hooves.


Don't be fooled by the width of the shod foot. That is a hoof plagued with paper-thin, pancake-flat soles, serious flares, and a very contracted heel. Nothing at all like the rock-cruncher on the left.
As you can see by both the human and horse examples, the foot will adapt to compensate for improper footwear, and will also adapt to a more natural lifestyle if given the opportunity. To what extent it will adapt is dependent on everything - environment, exercise, diet, proper trim, genetics, etc. But every foot can change in some way, shape or form.

EDIT: I forgot to add in one more thing, and it's very important, maybe the most important part of the whole post. It is quite clear to me that if you were to take the unhealthy "shod" foot in that picture and set it to walking around barefoot, aside from the obvious pain factor from those weak, uncalloused soles, that foot will never turn into the big wide one pictured. Why? Because more likely than not, that unhealthy foot has been crammed into shoes ever since it was young. It's similar to the very outdated foot binding custom: a young, growing foot will become permanently deformed if forced into something unnatural. Countless doctors agree that improper footwear for children can be exceptionally damaging and unhealthy. And now here's a thought: what about that idea of the tiny, boxy Quarter Horse foot? The eternally crappy Thoroughbred foot? Quite obviously, genetics DOES play a part in this, but you don't see crappy feet in ALL QHs or TBs. You DO see a lot of crappy feet in OTTBs and QHs who come from young sport backgrounds. Those TBs get shod for the track when they are long yearlings. Those halter, western pleasure and other young western sport type QHs get shod when they are weanlings, and I've heard it's desirable to encourage a horse to put out the tiny, upright boxes that seem to plague our QHs today. I certainly hope that's not the real case. Regardless, those young feet are not done growing, and do they get the chance to develop a thick digital cushion, a dinosaur hide frog, thick walls, and a tough sole callous? No they do not. If you have a completely outstanding farrier, the damage probably won't be huge. But unless your farrier is God, it's quite possible that the fast growth of young hooves will quickly outgrow their shoes - but be unable to adjust for their size. They'll be stuck the way they are. Actually, Bowker did a study on this, dissecting hooves that had been kept bare and hooves that had been shod at a young age, and he found that the internal structures of the feet shod at a young age were essentially "frozen" in a state of immaturity - they were permanently stunted. (If anyone has a link to that study, let me know so I can put it up here.) This is why I think a lot of people won't - or even just can't - take their horses barefoot and expect them to be able to perform. Those feet were deformed when they were still growing, and never had the chance to develop what they needed to make it in the natural world. A majorly "deformed" foot taken bare will change for the better if given the opportunity, I assure you. But will it ever really be fully barefoot and sound and comfortable on all types of terrain in all situations? Maybe! But, maybe not. I wish we could take two cloned TBs, put them in the exact same diet, exercise, and turnout program, and shoe the one and leave the second barefoot, just to see what would happen. THAT would be an interesting study.

I digress. Anyway.

In this miserable, crappy Connecticut winter weather, I am really looking forward to trying on a pair of VFFs and am dreaming of a warmer, drier springtime.


As for Gogo, it's becoming quite clear that I've likely bitten off way more than I can chew financially for the upcoming season! Sure I want to do Holsteiner approvals in the fall and all the bigger events and the AECs and some dressage shows and some jumper shows and a competitive trail ride and hunter trials and hunter paces and OH MAN! that is a lot of stuff. Toooooo much stuff. WAY too much stuff. If I really want to breed her next year, I need to budget for it, and that means not being ridiculously extravagant this year. I certainly am bringing in three times the money that I was (not that that's a ton, but hey, it's a start), but that doesn't mean I can throw money wherever I want it. So, I'm going through my show schedule and scaling back to just include the most important things. The schedule is not complete yet - this is just events and a couple possible schooling dressage shows - but I am not planning to do any competitive trail rides, jumper shows or too many other things. Holsteiner approvals may not happen this year either... it's so many hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

April 18: Mount Holyoke Schooling Dressage Show (CT) First 4, Second 1
May 1: Once Again Farm Schooling Dressage Show (CT) First 4, Second 1

May 29: Mystic Valley Hunt Club HT (CT) (Novice)
June 25 - 27: Groton House II HT (MA) (Training)
July 10 - 11: ENDYCTA/Old Chatham (NY) (Training)
July 24 - 25: Fitch's Corner HT (NY) (Training)
August 5 - 8: Millbrook HT (NY) (Training)
August 14 - 15: GMHA HT (VT) (Training)
September 09 – 12: American Eventing Championships (GA) (Training)
October 2 - 3: University of New Hampshire HT (NH)
October/November: Cap in with Wentworth/Tanheath
October: New England Hunter Trials (Novice)
November 12-14: 2010 Equine Affaire Versatile Horse & Rider Competition

Italicised are the possibilities that I haven't decided on yet. Not included here are any potential hunter paces I want to do. There are TONS to choose from, so I haven't decided yet which I'd like to do. I am happy to report I have a whole slew of eager boarders who would love to join me in these endeavors, so I will have riding buddies, partners and support! Hooray!

As for the events - the real meat of the season - I am planning on starting the season with Mystic's very easy Novice, just as a pipe opener. If all goes according to plan, I do want to make Groton House our first Training. I considered doing the spring GMHA at Training, but it's in early June, and I just don't think we'll be ready by then. So we'll do what we did last year with Groton House - cross our fingers and hope that we'll get in!

Really what I'd like to do is one of those schooling dressage shows just to get her off the property, then go into the eventing season strong. Whether or not I will do Old Chatham entirly depends on how she feels, and how she does at Groton House. Once again, my brain has exploded seeing that every other level has their Area Championships in the fall.... but the level I want to show at? Yep, gotta be held at a spooky venue in JULY! So quite possibly, I will not be attending Areas this year. It just depends on, well, everything.

Gogo is feeling good, strong, and sound under saddle. One of our boarders commented yesterday on how perfectly even she looks behind, much to my happiness. She also mentioned while watching her from behind that she could also tell her evenness from just how evenly her tail waved back and forth while she was trotting. Love that!

Gogo would also like to say that she is REALLY looking forward to springtime and galloping again:

That's a "PLEASE!" face if I ever saw one!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Killer Treadmill of Death

Well. Let me start this post by saying how incredibly tired I am, because of the fact that I've worked for 10 days in a row without a break. That doesn't sound so bad on paper, but I am a girl that LIVES for my downtime. Not having it is completely awful for me, and as the week has worn on I've been getting more and more tired. So tired, in fact, that I've stopped paying attention to small details, which had proved to be trouble. Big trouble!

Gogo's been a complete peach under saddle this week, much to my delight. She's not been as awesome or sweet as she was on Saturday, but hey, I figure that was a special gift from Metro and it's not gonna happen too often. However, yesterday she had, an, um, incident on the treadmill, entirely my fault and due in large part to my brain haziness. I went to put her on the treadmill yesterday as usual, and hooked her up the way I always do, butt bar included. Only... for whatever reason, I didn't properly latch the butt bar, I'm not sure how. So, when I turned the treadmill on, she walked for a second, then let the treadmill carry her back to the buttbar so she could lean on it like always and let it carry her along (lazy). Only, oops! She sat on it, and it popped open. Well you can imagine what happened then. Suddenly there was nothing behind her, so she went, crap!! and staggered backwards. Thankfully the treadmill has an emergency stop when the horse moves a certain point beyond its sensors, so it stopped on its own, but the damage was done - she wanted OFF that treadmill RIGHT NOW and nothing was stopping her! We have bungee crossties, so she went sproinging off those for a second, then popped out of her halter and was free. Yes, that's right - apparently I used a LOT of Showsheen on her the other day when I bathed and clipped her, because the breakaway strap on her halter did NOT break, she just slipped right out of the halter, still hooked up and all! I have no idea how she did it! She backed off the treadmill and realized she was freeeeee! Thankfully for everyone involved, all she did was walk over to one side of the paddocks, decide she didn't want to be caught yet, trot a few steps to the other side of the paddocks, then find a bite of grass and stop to be caught. The whole ordeal took a grand total of maybe a minute, and I found her halter still intact and attached to one of the crossties. Sigh... this will teach me for thinking I am iron enough make it through a hellacious workweek without enough protein/proper sleep. Believe me, I crashed every day on the couch/in bed after work, but clearly it was not enough. I intend to spend a large piece of my day off refueling with sleep, protein, more sleep, relaxing activities, and more sleep, as late as I feel like. Really, HOW did I not latch the butt bar properly? What was I THINKING?

Good news is that I, of course, panicked about her legs and went into Intensive Leg Care mode immediately, with icing and limited activities in the forecast. I am happy to report that today they are as tight and cool as always, so it appears that no damage was done, but yeesh. Gave me my weekly dose of Crap My Pants. Ever do something COMPLETELY stupid like that? Boy do I ever feel dumb.

Gogo's inability to walk on her own.... she just sits on the buttbar and lets it rub hair off her butt while it pushes her along. Lazy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wahe Guru

Gogo and I out for our "hack" on Wednesday.

Do you ever swear that horses know when things are up? I think sometimes they pick up on our emotional disturbances and make an extra effort to let us know we're appreciated. I know that's totally anthropomorphizing, but... sometimes I really feel like it's true. Regardless, Gogo was in a stunningly good and sweet mood today, the best I can remember her being in since the injury. I walked in the barn and first went to a client in the grooming stall who was worried about her horse because he hadn't finished his grain (he's fine). I heard a very demanding nicker behind me and turned around to see Gogo standing with her head out, staring intently at me. Normally she always pokes her head out whenever she hears my voice, but this was different, very insistent. I went over to see her, and scratched her neck over the stall door. She started grooming me very, very insistently, very thoroughly, just with her lip. She hardly EVER does this, even when I try and get her to reciprocate a scratch. When I stopped scratching her and tried to walk away, she wrapped her head around me and pulled me back in! She even ignored her hay for a good 10 or so minutes while watching me walk back and forth in the barn, just staring at me the entire time. She was in a ridiculously good mood all morning, watching everything around her while in her turnout, nibbling her hay, ears pricked the entire time.

This past Thursday, she graduated to the next size paddock (yay!!) AND to 15 minutes of trotwork. Very exciting! The paddock size (this was the first day out):

And today:

Ooops I've been spotted.

Yesterday, I opted for spa day instead of riding, because it was warm enough to do so. She was just hairy and gross, and as I'm accustomed to having a nice clipped horse in the winter, I just couldn't stand her nastiness anymore. Not to mention a more concerning factor: she is FAT and I have a half-hearted hope that maybe now she'll use calories trying to keep warm. In a heated barn with a haircoat on light work.... it's not easy to stay trim. Once I got to clipping, what I thought was a big nasty haircoat ended up being hardly any hair at all, so it was a quick job. The lighting wasn't the best, so I realized today that I REALLY missed some spots! It wasn't quite the freakishly good clip job that I did last year, but it's not so bad. We stood her up today for pictures:

Holy CRAP is she ever fat. I'm practically starving her and I still can't get her to shed those pounds. I guess they probably won't go away until we get into real gallop-type work... but that's a couple months away yet.

But isn't she pretty. Look at the bionic tail!

Under saddle today, Gogo continued her freakishly bright, cheerful, happy streak, and was nothing less than amazing. She was light, responsive, connected, and best of all, NOT spooky at the scary end of the ring! She's finally stopped leaping around whenever the door moves at the scary end of the ring, but even up until a few days ago she was still putting her head up and scooting past the door quickly every time we passed. Not today! Today she was just feeling GOOD. I let her pick a trot rhythm that was comfortable for her, and off she went, power trotting around the ring like Superwoman, still connected and using her entire body with every step. It felt great, and she felt so sound and strong. I didn't let her go at the bigger pace for very long, but instead experimented to see how much she'd stretch - she practically put her nose on the ground, still in the big trot, still swinging and connected. I haven't been able to try and stretch her at the trot for a LONG time for fear that if she went bolting off I wouldn't be able to stop her in a timely manner. Not only did I get to ride her long and low her today, but she gave me that extraordinary stretch. I think all this walk work is really quite helpful. It gets us both to slow things down and take them piece by piece, ironing out the kinks and figuring out exactly where out bodies need to be. She just felt AWESOME today.

Not to mention the weather was a balmy 45 degrees today, and the scenery around the barn has just been amazingly gorgeous:

I dunno why Gogo was in such a fantastic mood all day, but it made me feel great. I can't not be thankful for Metro's sacrifice today, and remember what he gave to me when he died: the barefoot cause, an undying drive to help the injured around me, and a chance to let a little Gogomare into my life. Thank you Cookieman. I really appreciated today.


Today's the day. It's been four years since my Metro died. I just... don't believe it. I don't know what more there is to write about him. I made a tribute to him last year, and I must have been really upset while writing it - the sentence structure and grammar make it sound like I was biting chunks off the keyboard - but the sentiment is there, and the story.

He was really something else.

I want to share this picture too because it's incredibly eerie. Have you ever seen those ghost shows on TV where they show you pictures of ghost orbs? Me being me I think it's a bunch of baloney... except for this one case. This was taken maybe an hour after he was buried, along with another series of similar pictures. It wasn't snowing or raining, we were outside where there was no dust floating around, and there was no flash with the picture. None of the other pictures had this, just this one. And they can't be snow, they're moving UP. It's really, really weird. Normally I never buy into stuff like that but sometimes... as odd as it seems, it makes some sense.

There is plenty to write about Gogo, but not today. Today, I don't want to write much at all. Today, I just want to remember without words the time Metro and I spent together. I miss him, and I don't have the language to describe it any more.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Picture of the Day

I am happy to report that I'm feeling a whole lot better. Apparently I had a bad day like everybody does. I don't normally have bad days, it was weird!

Gogo was completely outstanding yesterday, even though she was spooky and a little hot because of that (she hadn't had her turnout yet). However, it wasn't out of control and it wasn't bad, because it gave me a very finite sense of where I could ask her to go without her losing it. On days when I let her go there instead of asking, she is always better. I was totally thrilled with our ride (even with a few butt-squinching scoots and something vaguely resembling a dolphin buck), and I'm really liking the borrowed KK Ultra eggbutt. There is no way in HELL that I can a) afford that or b) justify trying to afford that, but I can look around on Ebay for similar mouthpieces and metals. I've been riding her without the noseband again, and I like it. I think it also makes me a better rider because if I do something obnoxious with my hands, she's going to show me loud and clear.

This post is short, because I'm off to clean stalls shortly, but I just wanted to give you guys an adorable Picture of the Day, which I've probably posted before but wanted to share again:

Gogo out in the snow, back in 2006, before I sent her off to the crazy trainer. She's the best ridiculous face maker ever.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Completely weird.

I had a completely weird experience today, which I am not happy about. I swapped my regular Wednesday off so I could have this Saturday off instead, in preparation for the Area I Annual Meeting. For whatever reason, I woke up in a funk. I've been sick for almost two weeks now, with no sign of improving, and I struggle with wintertime anyway, so I wasn't surprised. I battled my way through the miserable arctic weather while cleaning stalls this morning, went back and forth about whether or not I really wanted to go to the meeting, decided not to go, then decided at the last second that I really DID want to go. I went all the way up there, found the place after getting repeatedly lost (Springfield is a GPS black hole), got to the meeting, and was suddenly overwhelmed with the prospect of my total alone-ness. People all around me were calling out to each other, embracing, talking animatedly to people they hadn't seen in a long time, and all sitting down together in their little groups at round tables. I wandered around, looking for a friendly face, anyone I knew. Nope, nobody. Not a single person. I felt very much like I was walking in on somebody's family holiday party, a total stranger amongst a huge group of friends. It was weird, and uncomfortable, though it was certainly no one's direct doing. Those of you who have met me know that I don't even know what being socially awkward means for the most part. I'm that weird person that just walks up to total strangers and introduces myself and makes new friends, it's just what I do. I've always been that way, I don't really get why people have trouble making friends or starting conversations because I never do. But for some reason, today I felt like I was interrupting. There were so many people seeing others that they hadn't seen in so long, and I just... wasn't a part of that. I felt weird, like I shouldn't be there. So... I left.

In retrospect, I'm really not sure what came over me. I've been feeling really weird about my ex-fiancee and missing her quite a lot, and I think that had a large part to do with it. She always came with me to things like this, and without her around it's been like a giant black hole when it comes to things like shows and banquets and travel and whatnot. I also felt kind of dirty, like I don't deserve the Year-End awards I'm supposed to be getting. I mean, my last act of the season was to break my horse, why should I get recognized for that? That's clearly not the actual case, but I feel odd about accepting awards in front of people when I clearly don't deserve them.

Have you ever felt weird about stuff like that? I've never in my life had that kind of an experience. Maybe I'm just having an off day.

But, in other news, I am happy to report that Gogo went on her first "hack"! It wasn't much, just a little wander around the barn on flat ground for about 10 minutes, but it was outside and it was very enjoyable. She was very quiet and happy to be out, and we even went over and looked at the little XC jumps that we have on the property:

I'm hoping to integrate a little "hack" into our daily workweek. I think it'll be very good for her brain to get out and just meander a little bit. Once she starts trotting for 15 minutes (this coming Thursday), we can start to add incline work on the treadmill, so I also hope with the vet's blessing to start walking up tiny little hills again sometime soon.

I dunno what's gotten into me today. But little hacks and things like that seem a lot more important to me nowadays than awards.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The World's Ugliest Tack

First off, I can't say enough thank yous to Bre from G is for Greta. She made my most awesome new banner and I am eternally grateful. IT'S AWESOME ISN'T IT!

I am very happy with Gogo's progress. She's been consistantly going outside like her good old normal self, standing around and eating hay while the other horses run and play like idiots, paying no mind to them or merely casting an ugly look whenever one of them runs too close to her fence and subsequent haypile. Even after being trapped inside for two days (we literally had an ongoing blizzard with 60mph gusts, sideways snow, and negative degree windchills), she went outside yesterday, and when released, she did a tiny hop, all four feet of the ground, and then went and ate her hay quietly for two hours. Nice.
Also due to the horrible weather, I didn't ride her for two days. Our indoor unfortunately had 5 doors, all of which rattle in the wind. I've propped stuff against them but she still had it in her head that horse-eating door monsters were lurking behind every one, something that isn't helped by the fact that our barn cats like to randomly pop over the top of them in front of horses and go streaking across the arena. The horses, of course, are all now quite convinced that we have a horde of cheetahs lurking behind every corner. You've seen the ridiculous video of Gogo reacting to the door moving - that's why I've been lightly sedating her before every ride! Today's ride, though, brought some changes. Today was the first day I didn't drug her in quite some time, and she was excellent. No spooking, even when the door jumped and rattled! This is good progress. I think now that we're up to 40 minutes of work, she's finally relaxing and realizing that we are in fact in a program and she will be able to get her energy out. Or maybe she's just waiting to catch me unawares, I'm not sure.

Something else changed today, just experimentally, and I like how it went. Gogo normally goes in a flash, but she's not really fond of it. She tends to be a bit of a jaw-crosser, primarily working her jaw to the left, which goes along with her general one-sidedness. The interesting thing, however, is that with no noseband at all, she doesn't do this, so it seems less a pain issue and more of a feeling restricted issue. With a noseband, no matter how loose or tight, she tends to 'bounce' her jaw off of it. I rode her without one yesterday just to see how it went (I rode her without one quite a lot in 2008), and as usual, it went fine. However, you need a noseband for dressage - it's not legal without one. She goes well in a figure-8, which helps with the crossing, but I wanted today to try a drop noseband on her to see if it made a difference.

Ewwwww!!! That HAS to be the ugliest thing I've ever seen. It was a little hard to fit because she has THE smallest mouth you've ever seen, and trying to fit the noseband below the bit was hard because there's not much room there! Now, here's the interesting part and I wonder if this isn't the root of the problem - see the weird lumpiness where you'd normally have a halter across the bridge of her nose? That is leftover scarring from where the Crazy Trainer shanked the bejeesus out of her. She had big white scars across her nose when we first got her back, which have thankfully all gone away, but the indents and lumps remain. Perhaps this is some weird residual mental or physical issue? (I'm considering borrowing one of these and seeing if that does anything.) I also wanted to try that bit in particular (a KK Ultra eggbutt) because she likes the stability an eggbutt provides. And actually, she was great. I dunno if the drop was really all that helpful - I think her mouth is just too small and short, it sounded like it was restricting her breathing a little - but the bit is definitely something I'd like to invest in. I'll try the drop for a couple more days and see if there's any difference, but we'll play around with nosebands to see what I want to stick with. The thing that annoys me about the drop? IT'S SO DAMN UGLY! Which is, of course, why it fell out of favor with today's DQs and why the flash became popular instead: drops make heads look plain. I love my dear horse, of course, but she has an exceptionally plain and lumpy head, so I certainly don't want to showcase lumpiness if I don't have to. We'll keep playing around with it and see what happens.

I saw four of my boss' show horses off to Florida this morning at 5am, so after they left, Gogo moved back to the New Barn to her old stall. And promptly, of course, settled in and took a nap:

Mmmmmmmmmmsleepytime. Sleepytime for me too, I'm exhausted, and still very ill. Bleugh.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

End of December Analysis

I apologize for not doing this a little sooner - I am one sick puppy right now. Time to go over all our December goals! Well, they weren't really goals - more like guidelines - but we were able to accomplish them all, which makes me feel very good. Baby steps, baby steps.

December Goals:

1) Continue successful walk work under saddle, building to 30 minutes and working on very simple on the bit work

Success! We progressed to very simple serpentines and large circles, and even a few very shallow leg yields. I don't do much, just because I don't dare risk stressing those legs, but walk work is relatively low impact, and at this point in our rehab, we're safe to carry on with slowly increasing levels of difficulty.

2) Take our first trot steps in 3 months and not be lame/freak out
Success! She feels great! Except she's... a little high energy. So there's been some freaking out, but as of late, it's been completely curbed. Thank you drugs. Sweet.

3) Fully plan out rehab schedule for the next 3 months
Success! Well, for the next two and a half months, anyway. We're set through the first week or so of March, tentatively. As I'm at work right now, I don't have a screenshot of Gogo's Fancy Daily calendar, but I will get one up later. I've never shown you guys The Calendar! It's pretty epic, so be prepared. If you guys think I'm an organized freak now, this is going to take that image to a new level.

4) Start looking ahead to next show season and make very tentative plans

Success! I've tentatively decided on all the events I want to do next year, but not branched out into other things just yet. I want to also pick up a dressage show or two (probably schooling, because I'm not pointchasing there so I see no reason to spend extra $$$), maybe a schooling jumper show (but now that I have a huge array of gorgeous and expensive jumps at my disposal, I don't think I'll end up doing that), a competitive trail ride (just for fun, why not, she'd be great at it!), and a couple of hunter trials/hunter paces. Now that I've written all that out, it seems like a lot, so it'll be likely I won't end up making concrete plans for half those things. But as it stands, the tentative eventing event schedule is as thus:
May 29: Mystic Valley Hunt Club H.T. (N)
June 25-27: Groton house Farm H.T. (T)
July 24-25: Fitch's Corner H.T. (T)
August 5-8: Millbrook H.T. (T)
August 14-15: GMHA H.T. (T)
September 9-12: AECs! (T)
October 2-3: UNH H.T. (at whatever level we're ready for!)
Obviously, this is all soundness pending. But I'm feeling very, very good about the upcoming season. I have no idea when Area Championships are going to be, but I'm a bit sour from the past two years of disaster at Areas, so maybe we'll just be skipping those til our luck improves!

5) Have Gogo chiropractically adjusted
Success! And it wasn't nearly as horrible as I expected. Mostly what he said was that her posture was bad from standing around like a lazy lump in a stall for 3 months, which isn't really surprising. But her SI stuff wasn't too dramatic at all, which I was very happy about!

January Goals:
1) Continue sound trotwork and build to 20 minutes of trotwork - 50 minutes of riding total a day (we are at 40 now with 10 minutes of trot a day)
2) Talk to the vets about when to schedule her next ultrasound (I'm thinking instead of mid-January, we want to shoot for mid-February before we start to canter)
3) Take our first little hack outside (flat ground, around the barn)
4) Set up show budget and breeding budget - how much do I need to save, how much each month, etc?
5) Add incline work on the treadmill


By the way, who am I going to be seeing at Area I's Annual Meeting? It's coming up fast (next Saturday!) anf if any of you guys are going, let me know!

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Happy New Year

Yes, indeed it is! 2010 is here and we can finally let the last decade die in peace. How weird is it that ten years ago I was still in middle school, standing around at Epcot in Disney World waiting for Y2K to shut off all the fireworks and lights? Aaaah, ten years come and come. We've learned many things in the past decade, answered many burning questions such as... how does one unfreeze an iPod? Should I shake it like a salt shaker or a Polaroid picture? Should I vote for Kerry just so Bush won't win? A decade where somebody finally realized that skinny shirts were out, skinny jeans were in, and skinny models should finally eat some more sandwiches. A decade where buildings got attacked, space shuttles fell out of the sky, and long wars started. A decade that gave us Facebook, Twitter, the iPhone, publicly available hybrid cars, and the pinnacle of human achivement, the Snuggie. A decade where I entered and finished both high school and college, owned all three of my horses, and saw many pets, family members, and friends come and go. It's quite remarkable to look back on it all and realize just what a huge amount of time a decade really is, especially for someone like me who is not quite two and a half decades old. That's practically half my life right there. That's crazy.

As is tradition, it's time to go over all the 2009 goals I set for myself and for Gogo, and to come up with new 2010 goals. 2009 was sort of a hazy year for me - started out SO strong (winning three events in a row!) and then ending on such a crappy note (a RF, a last place finish, a 5th after a rail, and a tendon injury!), so it wasn't quite what I had hoped for. Most of these goals didn't get accomplished at all.

2009 Goals:

1) Qualify for and attend the AECs at Novice – place top 10
Well, we easily qualified for them, and we attended them, and we WOULD have finished 4th out of 40 people. I suppose I consider this goal not totally a failed completion. Freak things can and do happen, things we would have never guessed could have. The fact that she kept going through that challenging course while being seriously injured unbeknownst to me and never questioned a thing or hesitated anywhere means more to me than any placing could, because of the heart and guts she showed. She just kept going. That takes a special horse to just keep going.

2) Break 70% (at First Level or Novice/Training)

We did in fact do that! But only once, which was a little dissapointing. While the average of our overall scores went down - and was VERY consistant - our lowest score was still only a 29.5. That's not as low as I want it. We'll work harder at that this year,

3) Show First Level 1-4
Nope. I just didn't have the finances.

4) Hopefully show Second Level 1-2 (not an official goal, due to money constraints)
See above. Hopefully this year.

5) Show Training Level eventing
Again, we WOULD have done this had she not injured herself at the AECs. She was mentally ready and she was definitely fit enough. So not a TOTALLY failed goal, just an uncompleted one due to circumstances beyond my control.

The goals I set for myself last year are also for the most part incompletions, or total failures. My problem ended up being this: I spent too much time focusing on my horse, and not enough time on myself. Which you know, certainly could be worse, but I am a firm believers that all people should have other things they love and enjoy to do away from their careers and career-like things. If I had a desk job somewhere, then of course my horse would be the perfect outlet away from that, but she's a large part of my daily career work, as are all her horsey comrades. I think it's very healthy to maintain other fun pastimes too, because of focused I get on just her. For most of this past year, she's been my entire life. Everything I've done from waking in the morning to sleeping at night has revolved totally around her. And that's great when things are going swimmingly, but extra devastating when things aren't - I had nothing else to turn to that I was putting any sort of emotion into. One of the (very) few good things about her lay-up has been that I've had so much extra time to do all the stuff I enjoy but don't have time to do when she's in heavy training. I focused a lot on myself. I go to go on small vacations. I traveled a bit, I spent more time with friends, I painted and wrote, and I did a lot of yoga and reading. It was nice, just getting to go for a stroll in the woods and not think about my next upcoming show. So this upcoming show season, while I won't be any less driven in the slightest, I fully intend on letting myself be a multifacited person. Sometimes I get so focused on one thing, I forget all the other aspects of my being. I'm crazy about skiing. I love to exercise. I love getting my hair done and a new pair of shoes. I adore sailing, travel, and walking up to total strangers to strike up a conversation. I have to allow myself time for these things this coming year. That way, if something else happens that's not in my favor (but it WON'T because I SAID SO), my whole life won't feel totally ruined.

The other problem with last year's list? It wasn't specific enough. It was very vague, and so therefore I had nothing concrete to hang on to or to focus on. Things never got done because I didn't have enough of an idea of what I really wanted to do in the first place. I'm starting over this year with a more difinitive list, both for myself and for Gogo. And for both of us, there will be a bigger list of things that are NOT just sport.

So, without further ado, our yearly goals.

2010 Goals:

Qualify for and attend the AECs at Training Level, top 10 finish
Break 70% at First Level or Training Level (Score in 20’s)
Show 1st level 1-4 (Schooling or recognized)
Show 2nd Level 1-2 (Schooling or recognized)
If finances are available, show in GMHA’s N3DE (do the T3DE next year!) – or at least attend/support/volunteer/donate to it
Take her to Holsteiner approvals and get into the MMB
Do some fun competition type things: the 2010 Equine Affaire Versatily Horse & Rider Competition, a competitive trail ride, hunter trials/hunter paces
Go foxhunting!

Travel as much as I can – Madagascar/Egypt/? At the end of the year
Complete the 100 Pushups/200 Situps/25 Pullups/200 Squats challenges
Learn how to run barefoot and compete in a 5k barefoot
Do yoga once (or twice) every week
Eat healthier – buy fresh food every week and learn to MAKE IT
Save money for other things than the necessary – shows, and breeding next year
During the winter, ski every Wednesday that weather allows
Complete Metro's scrapbook
Have a poem published
Finish Patrick painting

Now there's two or three things in there that might have caught your eye. First, it's true - GMHA is running a Novice 3-Day this year. THAT IS AMAZING. If I am still point-chasing, it's unlikely that I'd be able to do this, as they're running it a couple of days before their regular event. But if I can't ride in it, I still fully intend to support it, either through volunteer work or financially. With the time we've lost and my inability to really find someone out here that I'd really like to train with (any suggestions?), doing the T3DE is not a viable option this year, sadly. I don't have the qualifications or the knowledge to do that alone. I need a teacher and a guide. But you never know, maybe someone amazing will come along and we'll try for it!

Secondly, did you say breeding? Yes, that's the plan - finally, I'm in a situation where I will be financially strong enough, as well as be in a stable living/job situation, where I will be able to breed her in the summer of 2011. The goal all along has been to breed her before the age of 11, then go back and compete for several more years before retiring her as a broodmare. It is infinitely easier to get a younger maiden mare pregnant and mainain it to term rather than an older maiden mare, and it's actually quite common in Europe for a mare owner to breed the mare at the age of 3, foal out and see what's she's capable of producing, then break and train the mare until she's older and ready to be retired to be a full-time mom. Young bodies are good at these kinds of things, and old bodies are more concerned with keeping just themselves healthy and going. So for mid-late summer 2011, I am finally setting it all down in stone. Two and a half years from now, expect to be introduced to a bouncing, rearing bundle of joy. I can't WAIT already!! BUT, clearly that is a long way away, and I need to start planning and saving now if that's what I really want to do. All the pieces are ready to fall into place - I even have an inexpensive place to keep the wee one when he/she is weaned for very cheap... right here in my backyard! Turnout all day and an arena and everything! If that's not a great situation, I don't know what is.

Thirdly, did you say... running barefoot? In all the commotion in the past few posts about barefoot horses and barefoot human athletes, I got to thinking about it. Here's the thing: I LOVE to run. But I've essentially stopped every time I've really gotten into it because of the horrible pain it caused me. Knee pain, back pain, shin splints, cramps in my feet, and let's not even get me started on my bad hip. I was running in crappy shoes at the time and attributed it to that. I went out and got myself a fancy pair of running shoes and tried again, and strangely enough, the pains in my feet got way, way worse. I would have to stop mid-run sometimes because of the shooting cramps I'd get in my arches. It was weird, it didn't make sense. So now here I am, getting fat on the couch while my horse gets fat in her stall. I'm not running because my feet and my body hurt when I do it regularly. I have pretty good form... so what's the problem?
And then I had a lightbulb moment when everyone was bickering about it. Why not try running barefoot myself? It sounds ridiculous really, when I write it down, but I'm serious. If it worked so well for my horse, maybe it could work for me too. It's quite the same set of principles - nature gave us these feet and intended us to use them unfettered, and it's quite a growing movement. The human evolved as a bipedal walking/running machine, meant to be on their feet and going all day long. If I want to try this, I need to do some serious research and ask some very real questions. If it hurts me too much to run in shoes, maybe I should just try without them, and see what happens. Who knows? I might come back swearing with glass in my foot and write the whole thing off. But maybe, just maybe, it'll change me as an athlete for all time. I'm a novice runner - a very novice runner - but I want to do it and I want to do it a lot. I love it. I am no Stacey but I do want to try, late in the year, a 5k road race. Maybe I'll end up back in running shoes - who knows? But maybe not. It'll be an interesting experiment, and a sweet way to run a little bit of a parallel to the nekked hooves movement. I know what it's like to be an athlete limited by my shoes! So stay tuned to see what happens on that front.

Happy New Year, everyone!