Sunday, April 21, 2019



If you are a horse person (I’m guessing that if you’re reading this blog, the likelihood of the answer being ‘yes’ is particularly high), and you have been doing this for any period of time (let’s say longer than oh 5 days), then you have faced with a time when you question why. Why do you continue to push through the blood, sweat, and tears? Why do you pour your time, energy, commitment, and dollars (SO MANY DOLLARS) in to the love of the 4 legged? Why do you sacrifice so much for another day in the saddle? For me, at least, the answer is a moment in time with a horse like Caprivi.

On June 2, 2018, I posted an ISO ad on Facebook. Looking for yet another young horse to bring along. Something in the 4-6-year-old range, with a lot of talent, but not a lot of knowledge or training. Baby horses are really where my sweet spot lies in my riding ability, and what I enjoy the most. I received a lot (I mean 120+) responses, with many nice (and many uh, not so nice) horses, but there was a particular private message that intrigued me. A barn manager messaged me and said, “I have a horse at my place that really meets none of your criteria, however I think he’s a pretty nice guy, let me know if you want some video.” My interest was piqued. Nothing like telling me a horse is not what I’m looking for, not having any video, and then taking an entire week to send any footage to cement my interest.

The horse was a 9-year-old Trakehner gelding. Clearly attractive, clearly had talent, but was in need of body conditioning, some good time under saddle, and some love.

A fancy warmblood or a grade quarter horse? Not sure.
As happenstance would have it, he lived in Virginia Beach, and I was making a work trip just a few days later to D.C., so I made plans to make the quick jaunt over to the barn to see him in person. My quick jaunt became laughable as a 2.5 hour drive quickly turned to 5, and then closer to 6. Virginia traffic, you are no joke.

When I rode Caprivi for the first time, it felt a little like riding a train that had come off the tracks but was desperately trying to find its way back on. It felt to me like he had been given a lot of mixed signals, been through some rough riding, and he was incredibly defensive to ride. That said, there was something in there, something that whispered I should give him a chance, something that said he deserved the time and energy I had to give, something that told me he was to be mine.

I only had the pleasure of owning Caprivi for a few short months. Our story began at the summer shows in Colorado where I spent long hours with him trying to learn what he needed and stuffing his face with peppermints.

I likey the mints little boy, hand them over.

We had a moderately successful time at the show, but honestly our real story began when I got him back to Texas.

His entire way of going under saddle needed to be broken down and built back up from the ground up. His canter was unbalanced, his lead change was quirky, his grudges were deep. But underneath it all, was a current of trust we built together. He required a 50/50 partnership all the way. If you didn’t meet him halfway, it wasn’t happening. Actually, there were times if you didn’t meet him ALL the way, he just wouldn’t either. But the glimmers of greatness were there from the beginning.

The change in him was transformative

Caprivi was a conundrum in so many ways. He had a huge stride where he could barely fit the step in on one line, but then add two in the next. He had the easiest and smoothest lead change in the world, but only when he didn’t think about it too hard. He was the loveliest horse to hack, but had 100 tricks up his sleeve to the jumps. He was beautiful; he was tricky; he was demanding, and he is one of my favorites I’ve ever owned.

Our first, and what was to be only time showing 3'

On Monday, April 15th I headed to the barn on a beautiful spring day. We had had what was our best jumping school ever on the previous Saturday, ending with a short course of 3 flawless jumps and a perfect lead change. We were prepping for summer showing, and I was confident we would qualify for Zone championships, my goal for 2019. Mondays were hack days for C, and on this day I rode in the grass field focused on balance, transitions, and the dreaded counter canter. Our last ride together was frankly, one of our best. Caprivi hated the counter canter, but on this day, I can say he (finally, finally) figured it out. We ended with a lovely left-lead counter canter around the big oak, followed by a short trail ride down to the creek.

As I was changing clothes in the bathroom, two of the guys that work at the barn, came pounding on the door, telling me there was a problem with one of my horses and I needed to come now, right now.  I threw my clothes on and ran to his stall. About 100 things were running through my head as what could possibly be the problem. I literally had fed him a treat and walked away from his stall no more than 5 minutes previously.

Horses, being horses, can find unique ways to get themselves in to all kinds of danger, but this did not look good. When rolling, he had managed to get a leg caught, and hang himself upside down in his stall. Things quickly went from bad to worse as he managed to pull a grate of bars off the wall with his leg trapped between. What transpired over the next 20 minutes is nothing I wish on anyone. But I can say affirmatively that as the entire crew at the barn worked to save him, I was glad I was there with them, and no one else.

Caprivi had done significant damage to both of his back legs, the left one taking the brunt of the blows from the bars. He was bleeding badly, non-weight bearing, and in a lot of pain. I knew immediately that he had to go in, and I knew that if there was one place that could save his leg, it would be Texas Equine Hospital. As I made the 2-hour drive to Bryan, all I could think was the pain he was in, how scared he was to get in the trailer, and how we went from a beautiful morning hack to a life-threatening injury in a matter of seconds.

Upon arrival, his prognosis was guarded. Based on initial assessment, he had severed 25% of his Achilles tendon, and Dr. Honnas warned me that an injury like this could go one way or the other. As they worked on his leg, his entire body shook, and shook, and shook. The amount of shock and pain that he was in cannot be understated. About 3 hours in to his treatment, as I was rubbing his head above his eyes just like he likes he finally looked at me and took a deep breath. He put his head in my arms and closed his eyes. I like to think he knew we were trying to help, and we would do all we could to save him.

Over the next 5 days, Caprivi did everything right. He was a perfect patient and was improving every 12 hours just as he needed to. On Friday morning I got texts from both of his vets that they were thrilled with his progress, and that he was doing excellent. By Friday afternoon, it was unfortunately a different story. He had suddenly lost stability in the leg and was quickly losing normal function of the gait. They wanted to give him 24 hours to see what would happen, but the early good prognosis had vanished.

As I headed to the clinic on Saturday, it was with a lot of trepidation. I didn’t want to lose my horse, but I didn’t want him to suffer needlessly either. It’s impossible to know what the right decision is in these kinds of situations, and I hoped that Caprivi was that slim chance of a miracle. Unfortunately, when I arrived no miracle had occurred. His leg had degraded since the previous day, and in the end, there was really no choice to be made. I spent the afternoon sitting quietly with him, stuffing his face with carrots, peppermints, and as much time grazing as he could handle. Twice he quietly let me know he needed to head back to his stall for a rest. It wasn’t easy for him to maneuver, but I think he enjoyed the time in the sunshine.

A red halter never looked so good

For those of you medically inclined, the necropsy showed that Caprivi suffered from a complete rupture of the medial tendon of the gastrocnemius and about 50% rupture of the superficial flexor tendon. It is of course impossible to say what happened between Friday morning and Friday afternoon, but the best theory is that he had a partial tear of the gastrocnemius that was not detected with the original injury given where it was torn. As he began to place more weight on the leg, what was left of that tendon gave way, leading to the significant instability and sinking of his hock.

Some would say I’ve had a run of bad luck with horses, but I disagree. I would say horses are a part of my life, my soul, and my being. And they are quite simply tragedies waiting to happen. Although our time together was not long, I became Caprivi’s person. He needed someone to trust, someone to believe in him, and someone to give him confidence. In the end, I hope I did that for him, and I hope he knows how hard we tried to save his life. To say I will miss him is an understatement of no measure, but I will. I will miss the partnership, the trust, and finding the keys to unlock the puzzle of his potential. I will miss his kind nature, thoughtful patience, and willingness. I will miss my friend.

There are a few people that have helped me through this terrible week, that deserve much thanks. Miguel, Lallo, and Enorio, for their incredible horsemanship and working together as a team to get him out of the emergent situation. Kalli, for her ability to help me think through situations infinitum, kindness, and long support. Stephen, for his steadfast support, which I have to say, I manage to push to every limit possible. All of my dear friends that have kept my phone lit up with checking in, you guys are amazing. Dr. Honnas for his ever-enduring patience, knowledge, and expertise. And a special special thanks to Dr. Alvaraz who answered every text, every question, sent me photos, videos, fed him treats, took him on walks, and in the end was there with him to say goodbye when I couldn’t be.

Godspeed Caprivi.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Finding Me

It might be easiest to pick up this blog where I left off (forever and a day ago) with Derbies!

And Pretty Ribbons!

OK that's a poop brown ribbon but it's pretty to me in a national derby out of 40+ horses!

And a classic where I was 13th out of a zillion and missed the cut by half a point because I am an idiot and forgot to ask for a lead change not that I’m still bitter or anything.

However, I have been encouraged by a few to write my story of finding me, so I will. Besides, it would be reticent of me to just ignore this part, and pretend like it never happened

DH and I worked very hard to get pregnant. There were a series of heartbreaks, trials, issues, surgeries and other fun things. So I will start this blog by stating I understand how lucky I am. I understand that the LO (Little One) is a blessing beyond belief, and that I should be grateful for every minute I was pregnant, and every minute I have with my son.

That said, I can say with all of my heart I have not struggled as much as I did when I (finally) got pregnant, and honestly still continue to find hard at times.

I have defined myself as a “horse girl” for as long as I can remember. You know the kind (if you’re a reader of this blog and don’t know the kind, clearly you’ve lost your way). The barn rat who lives and breathes horses. Growing up I spent all free time, summers, vacations, mornings, afternoons, and nights with horses. Since then I have found a way to keep horses in my life at all costs. In college I worked three jobs, Nanny, Shot Girl, and Technology analyst at the same time (true story). When entering the work world, I would skip out on team lunches to get to the barn early, used my vacation time to go to shows, and have since done anything and everything to make it work.

Then I got pregnant, and felt my world crashing in on me. Even through all of my other roles in life, I was defined as a horse girl first (just ask my coworkers how boring I am speaking nothing of horses horses horses all the time, good thing my friends understand). Now suddenly it became clear to me that I would be mommy first. Call it a 1/3 life crisis, call it an unexpected side effect, but my panic about my self-identity was all encompassing. I felt both terrified and sad, then guilty in a cyclical succession. How could I possibly change me?

My path through was thankfully filled with support from my unbelievable DH, some amazing friends, and in the end the world’s cutest baby (if I do say so myself). I hacked TJ up until 33 weeks, and still got on at week 37 to walk around. I was so swollen I could barely get my paddock boots on, much less zipped, and my half chaps were more like sausage casings (I was fun a parties, that much is for sure). But, I was on, and was that all that mattered.

From the other side of pregnancy, having a beautiful, healthy baby boy, I’d love to say that it’s all rainbows and sunshine. But there are days (all of them…) that all I really want to do is go to the barn and all I really can do is fold more onsies. I might be mom first but the horse girl isn’t far behind. 

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that I juuuuust might have bought a little something to keep me entertained for a few years. Meet Wesson

Maybe, just maybe I will set aside time to blog more often, and be more connected to this world instead of baby world. Here’s to hoping.       

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Working (Pregnant) Rider + WEF Day 2 - Really, officially Day 1, in my head.

“Previously on The Working Rider” –  Goals were made, dreams were broken, confidence shattered, and the Working Rider was completely ill prepared for what became the most trying horse show experience of her life. Stay tuned for more!

It was suggested on the Chronicle of the Horse Bulletin Boards that my blog is like following a soap opera. Although I’m not sure how to digest this allegory, I can’t deny what might be an accurate description.

So first, for the big announcement of the day, yes I am pregnant! I found out in mid-January. Being the reasonable person I am, the only logical thing I could think to do was to add two weeks of showing in Gulfport onto the already planned four in Wellington. I mean, why not? If everything worked out it would be my last showing (horses) of the season and what could possibly go wrong with this plan? Not even one thing. Hahahahahahhahhaaha

Really, considering it was my first trimester, I wasn’t affected that much. But between 12-16 hour work days (work was crazy crazy), 6 am hacks, stressful showing, and often hanging up on my last conference call after midnight, I flat out did not have any energy to do anything. Including write this blog. I took notes, dreamed of the days when my fingers would fly across the keyboard chronicling my days, and hoped that I would return to writing when things settled down a bit.  

That day is today, and thus I continue with….

Day 2

I think we can all agree that Day 1 should really just be forgotten about. I retired from the eq ring eons ago, and maybe I should have just stuck to my hand dropping, shoulder hunching guns. DC was just showing me the light that I didn’t want to equitate anyway and Medals are for those just graduating into the younger adult section, not those about to graduate from it. By the way, freaked out about my last younger year? Nooooo not me!

I began Day 2 with much excitement of getting back into the show ring with my ever trusty TJ. If there ever was a confidence builder, he is it. Having owned him for exactly 7 years now, we’ve built a relationship of just knowing that the other side will be there for better (International Derbies! Championships! 3’6 hunters) and for worse (Crashes! Lameness! Choke!). TJ is currently leased to a lovely adult rider who lets me borrow him on occasion for my own enjoyment and some assurance that I am more than just a monkey with two feet in the stirrups.

The plan was to hack DC in the morning, while Kelley (a lovely young pro) did TJ, and then I would lightly jump TJ to start my confidence back up after the previous day. In even better news, my division was scheduled for the aforementioned Rost arena where I had had great experiences the previous year, AND felt very ready for. I thought about having confidence, but then realized that was a terrible idea.

DC hacked great for me, light in the bridle, forward off my leg, and in a generally pleasant mood (as we know mood means a lot for DC). I hopped on TJ and honestly had some dead good riding going on. I was straight, had good rhythm, and was really finding the jumps nicely. Matt, being incredibly impressed that I could actually ride a horse and not just pretend like I used to know how, sent me away after only a few jumps to save him for later. 

I’d love to say I spent the morning wandering the show grounds, doing some shopping, finding the best food, and having a generally good time. But, in light of my work demands, all of my days were spent looking something like this:

The working rider: Laptop, MiFi, and lunch in my cooler. I really know how to glam it up in WEF.

In the official order of go, I was 8th on DC and 17th on TJ. A little pleading and I was allowed to switch their places. I REALLY needed my TJ crutch to get me in the ring with a bit less “kick, pull, lean, miss” and a bit more “hand and leg together, rhythm, collection, straightness.” Riding is so easy; the horse does all of the work after all.

I wandered by TJ’s stall, and he definitely seemed ready to conquer the world.

If TJ were to pick a hobby, sleep would be #1 on the list.

Warming up on TJ, I felt exactly as I needed to feel. I saw the jumps well, knew he would take care of any BS I were to throw his way in the ring, and ready. Since it was a Saturday, I as lucky enough to have a cheering squad/videographer in the sometimes roommate. 

Looking back watching the video, you can almost see my nerves being expressed through his canter as I jittered my way around the course.

We were close, we were long, we had a hard rub, but we also survived, and were less than embarrassing.

For the Handy, I took a deep breath and actually did less jittering and more riding

I missed my inside turn after the trot jump, but my transition was beautiful, and it really was quite decent.

To be completely honest, TJ is not the winner at that level of competition, but he IS worth his weight in gold as he hauls my butt around the 3’3 A/Os and on the same weekend successfully navigates a Low Adult division. Not to mention the confidence he gave me getting on my gray beast.

Who basically was amazing. Given the fact that the previous day was a true torture session in the ring, I halfway expected the opinionated DC to come out with the opinion that horse showing wasn’t for him. Thankfully, though opinionated he’s also forgiving, and truly stepped it up in a BIG way.

We walked into the ring with a good calm, a confident stride and laid down a very nice course:

In the handy we were a bit sticky in the rollback, and our trot was a bit rough in the transition, but overall it was good as well. I even remembered my inside turn!

The line -> trot jump sequence was a tough one for many riders. I’ll tell you that although mine was not the best, it certainly wasn’t the worst, and I actually trotted!

In the end I jogged second and second on DC

Aren’t they pretty!?

And even jogged 10th on TJ in the handy!

Considering we are going to pretend Day 1 didn’t exist, the "real" Day 1 could not have gone better. Two pretty red ribbons and a black horse that is the kindest animal in the world. 

What more could I want??

Thursday, February 12, 2015

WEF Day 1 (2015)

A quick synopses of the day after our arrival in Wellington:

  1. Go to barn, check on horses
  2. TJ isn’t eating, generally seems unwell, and is dehydrated. Panic panic panic, make a million phone calls, panic panic some more, rush around to find the meds that I (accidentally left at home), panic panic.
  3. DC is pacing and pawing. Panic panic, he’s not going to settle, panic panic
  4. Realize I’m about to miss my plane, panic panic, oh God, my flight leaves in a half hour panic panic

Right, so that went well….

On to day 1!

Honestly? I’d prefer if I didn’t have to call this day one given how well day 2 went (foreshadowing), but nevertheless….

You can imagine my excitement as I arrived to the show grounds bright and early, with such confidence as I

  • Knew my way around and
  • Had nothing but glowing reports about DC all week

We were starting in the unassuming Rost arena, where we had had much success in the previous year.

With this confidence, I walked to my stalls only to get a (ping!) text from Matt. “You’ve been moved to Grand, make sure you hack there.”

I can promise you, at this moment a few choice words were muttered by yours truly. Grand was where the epic melt down happened in the previous year. And although horses might not have memories like Elephants, I do.

With trepidation, I walked to the Grand to do my morning hack, and joined about 5,000 of my closest friends

Immediately I was reminded that although a “fancy” horse, DC has NOTHING on the quality you see of the average competitor at WEF. Cresty necked beauties that were 10 movers (if you think you’ve seen a 10 mover, think again) sauntered merrily around the ring looking all perfect.

Meanwhile me and a DC tried to manage a reasonable hack without

  • Biting anyone around us
  • Squealing with joy at the sight of the pretty bay horses (him, not me)
  •   Making a general fool of ourselves.

I had obtained success and was feeling generally good about my hack. I should learn to be less confident.

As we walked around sniffing the jumps and thinking about how amazing we were going to be later in the day, we walked up to a particular jump that had a nice astroturf ground line. Great, fine, all good, and then as I turned him to walk to the next jump, he thought maybe the ground line was actually meant to be stepped on. Except it wasn’t. His knee buckled he fell over himself taking a walking step, and we ended up on our knees blinking stupidly as he couldn’t quite figure out how he went from standing perfectly nicely to on his knees on the ground.

Please note that my #1 goal for this year was to not make a fool of myself at WEF.

This is why I do not make goals.

For our plan for the first show day was to do the Ariat adult  medal as a nice warm up for the A/O. Fantastic plan. Until it wasn’t. Honestly, I’ve not had a worse moment of absentee-riding in my entire life. I walked into the ring and froze. Call it PTSD, call it nerves, call it the horrific. Whatever it is, it was bad. I will save you the recount of the horribleness fence by fence, but know that we had one stop, one run chip, one pull pull pull and nothing, and a horse that was grinding his teeth in anger by the time I walked out of the ring.

Please note that my #1 goal for this year was to not make a fool of myself at WEF.

This is why I do not make goals.

I came away feeling like I should either quit riding, drive myself and my horses back to Texas with my tail between my legs, or at very least, drop down a division. Matt loves when my confidence plummets. It’s his favorite part of having me as a customer, I promise.

A series of pep talks and a little ride on my favorite TJ, and we decided to stick with the plan of the 3’3 A/Os on both horses. For that, I am thankful, as we will all find out about in DAY 2!!!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Countdown to WEF!

In trying to prepare for Epic Winter Tour (EWT) 2015, I decided I needed a strict program, lots of lessons, and a strong exercise program so we could be as ready as possible. This pretty much worked just about as well as weather, horses, and work would allow it.

Stage 1 – A week at Woodhill

After ending on a sub-par note at the Thanksgiving and Christmas shows in December in Texas, Matt and I agreed that spending a week at Woodhill in January couldn’t be the worst thing in the world for either of us. The plan was to take the horses on Friday, lesson over the weekend, and leave them there until the next weekend for Matt to ride and then more lessons before heading home. Unfortunately due to my work schedule, I absolutely had to be in Austin Friday afternoon and Sunday morning (remember Woodhill is 3.5 hours away north of Ft. Worth in Northlake). As a result I coerced DH into going on a one day turn around trip up to the Farm, ride 5 horses, and back to Austin. Leaving at 5 am, some excellent lessons, a truck stuck in the mud, and a shutdown highway later, and we were back in Austin just shy of 2 am. Seriously, my husband is the best.

Over the next week I got excellent reports on DC with texts such as “considering the weather, he wasn’t bad” and “well he’s straighter now, I hope.” Raving reports I tell you.
The second weekend I was actually able to do consecutive days of riding and got to school both TJ and DC in the big field. We prepared for WEF by jumping this:

And this:

And this:


Just kidding, that we tried to walk by, spooked 5 feet and I almost came off. How great of a story would that have been? “How’d you come off?” “Oh I was walking by the water jump.” “Jumping the water jump?” “No, just walking.”

Both horses were great all weekend, and I felt like I had some good homework for the next two weeks.

Stage 2a – Two weeks at home with lots of work

Stage 2b – Pray it stops raining

Stage 2c – Realize it’s not going to stop raining and pick my way through some grass like areas trying to just keep the horses in shape.

Stage 2d – 30 degrees and freezing rain -- Just give up and start dreaming of Florida and 85 degrees. Who needs prep anyways?


Fantastically, the drive to Wellington was mostly uneventful. No polar vortex related traffic, no colicky horses, just the awesome BFFs DC and TJ hanging in the trailer being their angelic selves.

However, I can tell you that if you need a friend at an Ag station, Howard at the Escambia County office is the man to know. Howard and I became close as the coggins I printed wasn’t signed, my Health Certs didn’t match the other paperwork, and the State Veterinarian wanted to quarantine me for 24 hours. I placed a panicked phone call to my vet, had new paperwork emailed to me, and then sent to my new BFF Howard. Bless his heart, he printed it for me, sent an online copy to the State Vet, and got me out of the quarantine restrictions. Thank God for small favors by Howard who clearly went above and beyond to help get me to my destination.

Stage 4 – Arrive!!!!

We arrived to the PBEC at a decent time of 5pm, which seemed decent until I realized the daunting task of everything that needed to be done to settle the horses. We are stabled this year on the show grounds instead of one of the farmettes offsite. Our long term stalls were full, so we had some layover stalls on grounds. After finally heading to my winter home (I’m the sometimes roommate) at 11pm, I crashed with dreams of those blue ribbons that I was sure to win, or something.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Chronicle of the Horse, they actually published me!

Honestly, until I got my first comment on facebook, I thought perhaps COTH was going to call me up and say "just kidding, we're going to profile someone who matters, let's say someone with a name like Margie or Beezie."

The chances were high really.

But, as it turns out they really were serious about publishing my article

AND adding me to their blog roll

Ok that's pretty much all I've got.

But really. What else can be said?

Monday, January 12, 2015

News! News! News!

As alluded to in my last blog of 2014, there are some new and exciting things happening in the world of mis caballos and my little blog in 2015.

1. New barn! In a fortunate turn of events, two stalls opened up at a barn that is four, count them FOUR minutes from my house. Sometimes when traffic isn’t bad I can make it in three and a half. Please try to hold back your jealousy of my new commute. Granted, I am paying a premium for the location, but given the time I am getting back during my day, and that it’s directly on the way home, well worth it. Both horses seemed to settle right in to their new digs, and this is DC’s new view.

The first day there I might have gone out three times just to check on them. Obsessive?  Maybe, but it’s FOUR MINUTES AWAY. Try not to be green with envy.

2. Chronicle of the Horse (part a)! In November, COTH reached out to me regarding writing an article about WEF from a working amateur perspective. After much consternation over each word written, I turned in my article at the end of December. I really think they It’s due to be included in the January 19th printed issue, and will also be online. They’re even including pictures of me and DC competing. He’ll be like, famous and stuff. Just don’t tell him, he already thinks he’s hot enough stuff.

3. Chronicle of the Horse (part b)! In addition to the article, COTH has asked me to be featured as a regular blogger for their “voices” section of the website. It’s an incredible honor that they asked me to participate. I believe that anything I write will be posted both here and there, but let’s just guess what will get more reads??! Ha.

4. WEF 2015! Hold your breath, knock on wood, cross your fingers, and any other superstition you can add in for no soundness, colic, suicidal horse issues, and we are headed back to WEF for four weeks in 2015. Not only that, but DC will have some company in the form of a big black horse named TJ. The Adventures of Yin and Yang will be the title of my best-selling book, sounds like a winner right?

5. Time Warps! I’ve decided the best way to finish out my 2014 show year is via time warps. If one shows up, know that it is likely something that I did ages ago. Perhaps the 6 month perspective on THE WORST TRIP HOME FROM COLORADO EVER KNOWN TO MAN will be beneficial. No, actually maybe not.

So, 2015, heeeere we go!