From Endurance to Dressage
I am not one to see a whole month as being evil, but, January, you really did me wrong.
It all started on the 3rd, my 49th birthday. The nines have been historically difficult for me; 29, 39, 49. The tens always come as a relief; 30, 40, ... 50? How is that even a birthday? It feels like a death sentence. When I was 17, 50 was like old. Grandpa old. Now I am married to a 50 year old. Turning 49 was like a sock to the gut. I might have cried a few times. I hope 50 is as much of a relief as 40 was.
About the time that I acknowledged that being older was better than the alternative, the second week of January slammed into me. I apparently wasn't feeling enough gratitude about merely being alive, so the Universe thought I needed to be reminded of my mortality by giving me a little shove. Here, have a cold, you ungrateful little snot.
Just when I was feeling like I had life back under control, I had a CDS Chapter meeting which got me home after 9:00 pm. I leave for work around 5:30 a.m., so it was a hellishly long day. I had to work late into the early evening the next day, and then yellow dog started to have her stifle issue. Which by the way seems to have cleared up, but still, I missed another three days of riding.
By the middle of the month, I was starting to wonder if I would never again ride my horses on a Wednesday. I must have had a premonition because that's about the time I started worrying about the pimple that was really a spider bite. Dealing with that monstrosity really ate up the next week. The last steri strip just fell off this morning. I now have a reddish bump which I am hoping will eventually fade.
I started looking forward to the final week of January. There was no way it could be as jammed packed with visits to doctors as the first three-quarters of the month had been. I had an earlier dental appointment, but since it's not on the calendar, I must have still made it to the barn. While at the dentist, he found a tiny little something that needed shoring up, so it was back to a medical professional on the first day of the week. I guess I should have been grateful that it wasn't on a Wednesday.
And here we are on the last day of the month. It took paying homage to the gods of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I might have had to sacrifice a few cute bunnies (not really), because I've finally gotten back on schedule. I actually managed to ride on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Both horses seemed a little surprised.
Always one to find the silver lining though, I read through my entries for the month and noted that we had some really good riding days. There were some wonky ones in there too, but let's not look at those. So for now, good riddance to this first month of the year. My fingers are crossed for a quieter February.
And, February, just because you have an extra day this year, don't even think about messing with me!
Green as the Irish Hills
California's Central Valley is not known for being verdant and lush. It rains only in the winter, and only a few times at that. California's Central Valley is fed by melting snow, or runoff, from the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. As such, valley farmers rely on a vast system of canals to water the valley's massive agriculture output.
Unlike a lot of the rest of the country, our green shows up in the winter only to turn brown and die by mid-spring. Winter grass, as we call it, is a welcome respite from the dry hills we see most of the year. Last year, California had a fair amount of rain which contributed to the 2019 wildflower Super Bloom. When you live in a state as water starved as ours, flowers are pretty exciting.
Our green period only lasts through the winter. Once the weather warms up, everything dies. Right now, my boys are loving the green grass. And even though both of them live in large dirt pastures, Speedy loves to get turned out.
While I ride Izzy, Speedy gets locked in the alley between the pastures. When I am not riding, I let him loose to wander where he may.
We have a new pony at the ranch, Baloo, and Speedy has taken a liking to him. He lives directly across from Speedy, so while Speedy was turned out on Sunday, he and Baloo spent some time visiting.
Izzy also enjoys the winter grass, but he still needs some supervision.
Spring is just around the corner for us, but its arrival always signals the end of the lushness of winter. In its place, we prepare for the arrival of the brown and yellow hills. We're not called the Golden State for nothing.
A week or so ago I wrote about horse hair jewelry and how, initially, I found it creepy. After thinking about it, I decided that I liked the idea of a bracelet made while my horses are still alive. I am still waiting for it to arrive.
Lytha, from A Horse Crazy American in Germany, said something that really resonated with me. When she finds horse hair from her heart horse, Baasha, she feels a sense of nostalgia. I had a nice nostalgic moment myself the other week.
Ten years ago this week, I lost Montoya DSA, the best horse I will ever own. She was spectacular. Not only was she gorgeous, but that mare could do it all. She ate up the endurance trail with an appetite that knew no end. If you needed more, all you had to do was ask. I never found her maximum. I remember crossing the finish line at the Manzanita 75 miler to find a vet waiting for us. Her pulse, after riding 75 hard miles, was 36 beats per minute. Riding her was an absolute privilege.
Losing her to colic was hard. To this day it remains the most painful loss that I have experienced. I cried in bed for three days. But life goes on. I already had Speedy, whom I really hadn't connected with, but as soon as Montoya was gone, Speedy filled the hole. The very same day that we put her down, Speedy came up to me and rested his head on mine. He knew she was gone. I am not sure who was comforting whom.
It was really cold last week. Too cold for my regular long sleeved shirts and a vest. It wasn't quite cold enough to ride in a jacket, so I opted for a sweatshirt. If you're anything like me, you probably have of a big pile of sweatshirts from which to choose. I reached down to the bottom of the pile and pulled out one I haven't worn in at least 7 years, maybe more.
When I shook it out, I smiled. I had forgotten about this sweatshirt which surprises me because it was hard earned. On the front, both of our names embroidered.
On the back, you can see the event where it was earned, the Death Valley Encounter, 200 Miles in 4 days. The race was held annually for many years. It began on the 28th of December, culminating with a big party on December 31st, Near Year's Eve. My husband and I spent 6 days with our 2 labs living in a 2-horse trailer with pretty small living quarters. It was an extraordinary experience.
I wore the sweatshirt every day for a week. It's still sitting on my closet floor; used riding clothes get recycled before they're washed. I can't quite clean it and put it away. I like seeing it there.
Reminders. This one made my heart swell with love.
Speaking of Bras ...
Even before the pimple that wasn't, I had been cursing my stack of sports bras as though their mission on Earth was just to annoy the heck out of me. I will admit that the oldest was more than 7 years old and maybe even 12.
How do I say this? My "girls" aren't particularly ample, so I can get away with moderate support. My sports bras were so old and stretched out that they no longer provided any support. I was nearly falling out of the top because the bras were sagging down to my belly button. They were simply doing more harm than good.
Since the wound on my back was still healing, the doctor insisted that if I absolutely needed to wear my sports bra - I didn't even try to explain how doing an extended trot braless was likely to give me a black eye, I should be extra cautious that the straps were well clear of the wound.
I tried one on and was happy to note that the clearance was more than acceptable. That's when I truly owned that my bras did just suck, they sucked rotten eggs. I immediately got on Amazon and placed an order.
I ordered a set of five and they arrived on Sunday. I love you, Amazon Prime. I barely made it through the door before I stripped off my riding shirt and nasty ass sports bra to don one of these beauties. I am not exaggerating. I giggled from the sheer luxuriousness of the fabric and fit. It fit. It didn't sag, it didn't fall off my shoulder, it clung to my body, hugging me ever so gently.
The bras came in a package of 5 for $32.99. If you're a more busty lady who needs a bit more support, these probably aren't for you. If you're shaped anything like me, and you need to update your sports bras, these are sold in sets of two, three, or five. I would totally buy them again in a hot second.
The old ones? I tossed them in the trash without even an adios.
Did I ever have a weird week. Have you ever woken up and immediately thought, ouch, what's that? I got out of bed to check my back and was horrified at the huge pimple that had popped up over night.
It was gross. It was gross the next day, the day after that, and the day after that. In fact, it stayed gross for more than a week. It hurt like hell, especially since it was just under my bra strap.
The damn thing would just not go away. By the second week, I was begging my husband to just stick a needle in it. He of course refused, loudly while swiftly getting the hell out of Dodge. It was planted right on my shoulder blade, so no amount of contortion would allow me to actually poke it with a sharp object. I tried.
Somewhere after the second week and maybe into the third week, I told my husband to look at it. And I meant REALLY look at it. He might have shrieked a bit. He definitely made a noise.
I mentioned that I should maybe go to the doctor. Uh ... yeah, you think? Was his immediate response. But really, who goes to the doctor for a pimple? What 49 year old woman even gets pimples? Setting my pride aside, I called during my lunch break and got an appointment for later that afternoon.
I couldn't see the doctor's face as she was examining my pimple, but I could hear her. THAT IS NOT A PIMPLE, was her diagnosis. It's not? I stupidly asked. Although she didn't come right out and say so, she must have thought me incredibly stupid. Um, no. It's an insect bite, probably a spider, and it looks as though it bit you THREE times. Oh, that must be why it hurts so damned bad.
I'll spare you the worst of the gory details, but she numbed it - that hurt like a mother forklift, and then she lanced it. Google how do you lance a wound if you really need to know. As a side note, I once had to have a sore on my eyelid lanced. This was nothing compared to that.
When the cutting was done, she sent me home with the wound zipped up tight with Steri Strips topped with a pressure bandage. She also loaded me up with a bottle of antibiotics and insisted I come back a few days later for a check up.
I was more than a little disappointed that I wouldn't be donning a mask and shooting webs from my wrists, but being told to NOT wear a bra for the next few days sort of made up for it. I spent most of the week babysitting my shoulder so that the knife wound on my back wouldn't break open and bleed all over my shirt.
I discovered that I must do a lot of talking with my hands as I was really sore at the end of my first work day. Oh, and we had our pest control guy out the very next day to spray the inside of our house. I made him do our bedroom twice.
Saline solution, iodine, packing material, pressure bandage, digging with a sharp object ... all that's missing is the duct tape. Holy hell, I just had an abscess.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: