Once again, before I begin, I must add a caveat to my blog. I am an amateur rider, through and through. I work a full time “real” job, I make huge mistakes in the ring, and most importantly, I follow the amateur rules vehemently. I’m adding this caveat as I don’t want it to appear like my hacking horses that don’t belong to me is for anything other than my own pure enjoyment. Yes, I enjoy riding horses! I know, shocking revelation. Really I do feel as though every new horse I get on has something to teach me, and I certainly wouldn’t be the rider I am today without the variety of creatures that I have been blessed to ride over the years. I digress.
I know I know. You all thought we were done with day 1 yesterday, and we would move along quickly to my day 2 carry-ons. However, there is one important part of day 1 that I left out yesterday, and that would be after dinner which thus becomes day 1.9. I came back to Suzanne’s place to sit down to some lovely work (this time creating a power point deck, really my job is enthralling). After that, I decided to unpack.
Earlier in the evening, Suzanne had helped me carry my plethora of bags up to her place. Given the sheer number of bags, I was excited that I clearly had packed so well and for all occasions! That was until I actually started unpacking. Based on numbers alone, the following were my priorities when packing for three weeks of horse showing in South Florida (if you don’t know what the weather is like here, go look it up as I clearly should have done).
- Cute going out clothes – for all those times I would be going out after working 8-9 hours at my real job and hacking a few horses. My energy abundance knows no bounds.
- Socks – ok good necessity. Check!
- Sports bras – nicely done self!
- Coats – Fleeces (2), Vests (2), Softshell coats (3), and a Ski Jacket (???) for all of those wintery snowy days in South Florida I suppose. Please note, not included is my rain coat, since you know, it’s not a tropical climate or anything.
- Breeches – always a good choice, my list is looking up!
- Underwear – I should maybe be concerned that I brought fewer pairs of underwear than breeches. This is perhaps where things start to go awry.
- Show Coats & Show Shirts – at least I have more underwear than show clothes.
- Long Underwear – In my defense, tops only and no bottoms. Further in my defense, it was icing in Austin when I was packing. Ok really, I have no defense for bringing long underwear.
- Bikinis – because what goes better with long underwear than several bathing suits for the beach?
- T-Shirts – surely I need fewer T-Shirts than bikinis.
- Running shorts – this goes with my abundance of energy from number 1. Not only was I planning to go out and look cute, but I was also planning to run (???) in my spare time.
Finally we have made it past Day 1. To tell the truth if all of my days are like Day 1, 3 weeks here might seem like 3 months elsewhere.
I wake up Day 2 sounding like a 60 year old lifetime smoker with emphysema. For once, I am not exaggerating in the least. I felt like I was trying to breathe through water, an elephant was sitting on my chest, and I was attempting to cough small bits of my lungs right out of my body. Since I am fond of all the bits of my lungs, I decided that my best course of action would be to go visit a doc-in-the-box before things really went south. I have asthma, but it only affects me when I get sick or take a sprint across the Houston airport in desperation to catch a flight. Since this occasion is the former and not the latter, and me being my brilliant self who doesn’t have the wherewithal to pack asthma medication (reference Day 1.9), I needed to get myself to a place that could prevent this from going further south. However, all of that said, apparently my small bits of lung were less important to me than working and of course riding.
Thus I began my day with more work work work, boring boring boring. No offense to my work really. It pays my way to be here in horse paradise, I’m actually fairly decent at it, and I’ve met and become friends with some of the coolest coworkers on the planet, but it is still work. The very best thing about my job is the flexibility I have to work remotely a lot of the time. This gives me the opportunity to be here and work all at the same time (except next week, when I go home to work in the office).
After wrapping up a few conference calls (and before the next series commenced), I headed to the barn for some more beloved pony time. On my drive there I passed a live polo match, full on Pretty Woman style. I wish I could have snapped a pic, I’ve never seen a polo match before, and even in passing I could tell it was incredibly intense.
The barn we are stabled at is a quaint place with a pond out front, a cute house with an apartment above, and an adorable barn with huge airy stalls.
On my list to ride today was Zomar, DC, and a new one to me, Rainbow. When I picture an equine named Rainbow, I picture a tricolor paint pony. In reality Rainbow is a 17.3 h jumper bad ass. Maybe the name gives him a softer side.
I started with Zomar. We had our normal walk to the show grounds, but as soon as we entered, it was obvious it was no longer Monday. In horse show land, Mondays are dead days. Everyone recovering from showing the previous week, I think yesterday I saw a total of 5 horses out other than the ones I was riding. But now, now it was Tuesday and the show grounds were buzzing. Horses, golf carts, and dirt bikes where everywhere, it was like a hives nest of activity. The difference in Zomar was palpable. My slightly up horse was nowhere to be found. In replacement was a jumper that was READY TO GO. He has so much power and athleticism to him it’s cool to sit on.
I navigated my way to a warm up ring where a couple of other jumpers were hacking as well. Immediately I was struck by the feeling of “I don’t belong.” This is the big leagues where the leading rider board looks like this.
Whizzing by me was a Kessler Show Stables golf cart, and riding with me in the ring were a pair of beautiful stallions ridden by young handsome foreign men. So pervasive was this “I don’t belong” awareness that I had talk myself down off the nervousness I felt. In order to do this I convinced myself that these amazing riders simply had no idea that I didn’t belong. For all they knew I could be some up and coming young German rider named Annika Geschlauder that they just hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. Why did I choose German? No idea.
I played this out in my mind while hacking and gained some confidence. That was until I was merrily cantering along on my right lead, and one of the handsome young men on a gray stallion headed my direction on the opposite lead. We were quite a ways apart from each other with plenty of room to pass, but the beautiful gray had a different idea. He SPUN out from under his young foreign rider and galloped the other way, almost dumping him in the dirt. It was a close call. CRAP. Gone were my day dreams of being Annika, and back was the reality that the young foreign man almost ended up in the dirt, partly caused by my horse cantering the opposite direction. When I had the opportunity, after he had worked the stallion down a bit, I apologized to him. He looked at me, and laughed. He said “no it is not your fault, you were just cantering, this? this horse is a Dick.” At that moment I felt some of my nervousness dissipate. Even if they’re handsome, famous, and riding beautiful creatures, these riders handle the same issues every rider faces, including sometimes horses being a D$%#.
I ended my hack nicely and headed back to the barn to get on DC. Since we were planning to school DC in a show ring today, and not just hack I had to wear a back number. That’s another new thing to me. It wasn’t ticketed warm up, just schooling, but still I needed a number to enter the ring. DC and I headed over to the show grounds, showing the way to Rego who was leading Amigo in hand. As a note, Amigo didn’t so much as flick an ear while Rego was leading him. I swear that guy is like a horse whisperer.
We started with jumping DC over a few warm up jumps in the schooling area, and then were called for our turn in the show ring. They manage the traffic and number of horses in the ring very tightly, and you have an order of go just like you would for showing. I walked in the ring and once again felt my panic rise. I came very very close to getting off and letting Matt do my school. I think if he would have had his helmet with him I would have. But alas, he was helmetless and I needed to buck up. I have to honestly say DC couldn’t have schooled better. He was amazing, responsive, open, flexible, and clearly loved to be jumping. He helped calm my nerves more, and gave me confidence that at very least he looks like he belongs. I don’t have any pictures of our ride, but here he is in bath time!
The last horse I rode was the non tri-color paint pony, Rainbow. Officially, Rainbow is the type of jumper I’d love to have if I ever had a jumper again. He was a straightforward ride who did exactly as I asked as soon as I asked it. He was just lovely to hack, and the kind of horse that makes a rider feel like they’re actually very competent and not some pointless sack of potatoes getting in his way. However, he did try to jump all of the palm tree shadows on the bridle path. To his credit, they look an awful lot like poles on the ground, but it amused me none the less. On the way back to the barn, I couldn’t help but take this picture of the Beval store. Yes, a Beval store. I swear I will get to blogging about the show facility itself….eventually.
After riding, I had to jump on a series of conference calls, and I really felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. I headed to the urgent care facility that is closest to Suzanne’s place. Officially, according to the doc, I have acute bronchitis. Not sure what the difference is between acute and non-acute, but I’d rather be a-cute (hardy har har) any day of the week. He prescribed me asthma meds, antibiotic, and cough syrup so I could sleep.
And sleep I did, dreaming of being independently wealthy and spending my winters at WEF.