From Endurance to Dressage
Crashing on My Couch
If you've been here for a while, you might remember that five years ago we moved out to the edge of town into a golf course community. The golf course sits just 100 yards to our south. A golf course on the edge of town means wildlife. For the most part, we don't see many of the animals, but we know they're around.
Our backyard faces one of several reservoirs used to provide water for irrigation for the golf course. Our lake - some insist it is just a pond, is the largest of the reservoirs. It is home to a plethora of birds including egrets, herons, Canada Geese, and tons of different ducks. The lake is filled with bass, turtles, crawdads, and of course frogs. One of the reasons we bought this house was because of its proximity to such a diverse ecosystem. We're just minutes from the grocery store, gas station, and bank, but once we're home, the bustle of urban life disappears.
On Thursday afternoon, we had a little visitor. While my husband was watering plants in the back yard, he noticed a lump of gray fur nestled into the pillows of our patio furniture. He frantically waved me outside asking what the lump might be. I took a step closer and saw that the bundle of gray fur was a raccoon. Its head was tucked under the pillow so it was hard to tell at first. Of course, we both leaned in closer to see if it was alive. The steady rise and fall of its belly told us that he was indeed breathing.
I began cooing about its cuteness, while my husband threatened to sic the dogs on it. I of course declared that there was no way we were doing that. Instead, I grabbed one of the throw pillows as a shield and a broom as my lance, and I set to work trying to shush the tubby guy off the furniture. I've met my share of raccoons, but this guy had a set of huevos the size of grapefruits.
I first poked him softly with the business end of the broom to which he said, hey! He grabbed the broom in both paws and tried to jerk it from me as he growled and hissed, clearly cussing my lack of hospitality. I poked him a bit more firmly and told him to get off my furniture.
It quickly became quite apparent that the broom was doing nothing but annoying my new friend, so my husband grabbed the pool net with the plan of poking it with a bit more force. Our unwelcome guest did not like getting poked, and he showed his displeasure by growling even louder and doing little somersaults along the sofa. Eventually, my husband irritated the little dude enough that he crawled through the back of the sofa and got down under it.
My husband kept poking with the pool net, but the little raccoon was having none of it. He simply scampered from one end of the couch to the other as my husband tried to fish him out. I kept warning my husband not to hurt it, but I doubt he could have; that raccoon was pretty sturdy. The sun was beginning to set, so I suggested we leave him be and check on him in the morning. It was clear that no amount of prodding was going to get him to come out from under the sofa.
We kept our eye on on him all evening, and by the morning he was gone. We've seen our share of skunks, and my front yard has been sprayed more than once this winter, but this is our first raccoon visit. He was super cute and braver than I would have liked. His tough guy attitude certainly worked on me. I wouldn't mind an occasional visit, but we hope he hasn't decided that our patio sofa is a good place to crash.
If he is going to hang out, he'd better clean up after himself at the very least.
At my house, horse stuff is mostly limited to my office. I have managed to place a few equestrian themed objects around the rest of the house, particularly in my reading room, but for the most part, I honor my husband's request that the bulk of it stays in my office.
When I started working from home last August, I realized my office needed a redo. I had never actually had adult furniture in my office before, so the "makeover" was due. Besides getting a new desk, chair, and credenza, I rearranged all of the artwork on my walls. My favorite piece was a large canvas taken of Speedy from our last show together.
I've since ordered quite a few canvases from photos my husband or I have taken. I like Easy Canvas Prints; they're cheap, the quality has always been excellent, and delivery is pretty quick. The large 24" by 36" canvases, like the one I just bought, cost right around $48.
I absolutely love these canvases. As soon as I walk into my office, they're the first thing I see. When I sit at my desk and think, I gaze at them as though they're windows looking towards what I'd rather be doing.
It has taken me a long time to get images of Izzy worth framing, now I am running out of wall space.
More "Home Edit"
Originally, I thought I was the last human on Earth to watch Clea and Joanna on the Netflix series, The Home Edit. Turns out, lots of you hadn't seen it either. I wrote about what they first inspired me to do here. As you likely already know, dressage people tend toward a Type A personality which means we like things done just so. Think Sheldon Cooper if you will.
When life gets stressful, screw you,COVID-19, the state of my physical surroundings plays a much greater role in my emotional health than it does when life is humming merrily along its little way. The more stressed out I have become due to work and COVID, the more the little piles began to look like mountains. After I gave my office a once over, I couldn't stop myself. The rest of the house became fair game.
The Home Edit's system is fairly straight forward. Essentially, it boils down to five basic steps.
With my office zoned, edited, and contained, I moved on to other parts of my house. The visible parts were all tidy and well organized. While not terrible, it was the hidden places in my home that needed some love. I started with underneath my kitchen sink. Per Joanna and Clea's directions, I took everything out. Then I cleaned the cleaners, tossed out the nearly empty ones, and laid down a vinyl mat cut to size. I took some quick measurements and headed over to Lowe's. Only three baskets would fit, so I created zones based on my available area. While the strategy might not be obvious to you, the baskets make sense to me.
While at Lowe's, I purchased extra plastic bins knowing that underneath my bathroom sink was next. My husband's side of the bathroom has far fewer products, so I left his alone ... for now. I followed the same strategy of removing everything, wiping the cabinet out, and then creating zones. Clea and Joanna call all of the new, unopened items, backstock, so that is what is filling up the space in the back.
I also tackled the drawers. For the one above, I threw out piles of old make up, tarnished mirrors, used-up emery boards, and a bunch of safety pins, old buttons, and strands of hair. For my hair accessories, I got rid of old scrunchies, broken barrettes, and even more loose hair.
Not wanting to spend even more than I already had - right now I've spent around $300 for new containers, I repurposed the baskets that I already had. Without so much junk in them, the baskets now have plenty of room to fit the items that I deemed serviceable and safe to use.
I know that for myself, overcoming inertia is the hardest part of any job. Newton's first law of motion states that "An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force." Once I started, there was no stopping me.
For once, my husband wasn't annoyed by my frantic puttering because he knew the kitchen pantry was next. I am the cook in our house, so the pantry's chaos was to me at least, an organized mess. Unfortunately, I was the only one who could figure out the system. My husband needed a compass, a map, and a headlamp to figure out where the flour was located.
Since my zones were already pretty well established - back stock goes on the top shelf, cookbooks next, and cans go a shelf down, I only had to empty one shelf at a time to reorganize. For the cans, I bought a set of three-tier spice rack steps. Those gave me a lot more useable space on that shelf. You can now see what's in the back row.
The worst offenders in my messy pantry were the bottom three sections. My fourth shelf, the top shelf in the photo below, became a baking and snack shelf while the one below it is now for pastas, grains, and liquids. The Applejacks are not a regular staple, and while I desperately wanted them on the snack shelf, they just would not fit. I am still working on a solution for the occasional cereal box.
Having zones has made it much quicker and easier to make a grocery list - I can now see what's missing, and it's all a lot faster to put away since everything has a designated space. If you're interested, the canisters holding my sugar(s), flour, and oatmeal were from Amazon as were the wire baskets.
As I was refreshing my kitchen, I realized that the plastic organizer that I had been using for my silverware drawer was easily fifteen years old, so I sprang for a more contemporary model which turned out to have better compartments anyway. As for the rest of the drawers and cabinets, I had already emptied and reorganized them a year or so ago by buying racks to hold my pot lids and cutting boards, and I tossed out anything that hadn't been used in the past decade.
I continued through the house, consolidating all of the bedding from the two spare bedrooms and accompanying bathroom. Why I had sheets in three different places I'll never know. I even found a set of really nice sheets for our bed that I haven't used since moving into this house four years ago. They've now been laundered and put back into circulation.
The final stop on my whirlwind tour was my half of the closet. We both keep our respective sides very neat, but my sweaters and pants were constantly cascading over the edge. The cloth, closet bins that I found were fairly inexpensive and have solved the problem of lost and buried sweaters.
As I open drawers and cupboards around the house, I find myself sighing in contentment. Organizing my physical world is a sure-fire way to get my mental house in order. I feel less stressed, less overwhelmed, and far more relaxed.
If you've started watching The Home Edit, let me know what you think.
The Home Edit: Equestrian Office
I am not in the know. I don't follow people. I don't use my Instagram account. I don't even have a Twitter account. So it should come as no surprise that I am the last human on Earth to have discovered The Home Edit on Netflix. I don't watch much TV, but on a rare afternoon where I did sit down for a few minutes, I binge watched The Home Edit.
I am an organizer. My house is always clean and tidy. I literally can't function if things are stacked, strewn, or piled. I also suffer from a healthy amount of obsessive compulsivity. If the dishes are clean and dry, I can't walk by without putting them away. Mail is sorted as soon as it arrives in the house. Clothes are either dirty in the laundry basket or folded and put away.
That doesn't mean my house can't use a bit of The Home Edit's touch though. After watching the show, I started "editing" various drawers and cupboards around my house. I always tell my husband that I'll never have an item for the Antiques Roadshow because I am a minimalist when it comes to the house. If it's not necessary, out it goes. That's probably because I am a mental hoarder with plenty of junk stored in my brain's cracks and crevices.
The one room in my house that hadn't been updated since we moved here four years ago, was my office. I just hadn't found new office furniture that suited my personality and taste. And then suddenly, I saw the two pieces that I needed, a cabinet and a desk. I ordered both and then set to work reorganizing my triple-door closet.
I found containers for the loose things, grouped things into categories, and labeled the boxes. THE has much more attractive containers, but function was more important to me than form. Clea and Joanna have some very cute products though.
I am terrible about taking "before" photos, mostly because I usually start by moving this and replacing that, and before I know it, the whole project is done. That's what happened with the bookshelf and cabinet. I emptied the bookshelf before taking a photo. Oops! In the end, I replaced the bookshelf, one my dad and I built thirty years ago (!), with the new cabinet.
I also forgot to take a picture of the old desk, but I did find a recent photo showing at least the top. The desk was nearly fifteen years old and slowly falling apart. The new desk is not as spacious, but the minimalist aspect is less distracting, allowing me to better concentrate.
Without the hutch and old desk, my wall looked pretty bare, so I also ordered a canvas from Speedy's last show. I've been wanting it for several months, but I didn't have a good place to hang it. With the hutch gone, the perfect place was created. It doesn't look very big in the picture, but it's 24" x 36." It gives me the feeling of looking out a window.
The one remaining project is to get a large, framed picture of Izzy. I replaced some of the photos on the cabinet to include one of him, but he needs to be on my wall as well. I just need to get a good quality photo that doesn't come from a Pivo screenshot.
I need to schedule a photo shoot ...
The Cabin Room
Today, I am heading to the vet, but thank goodness it's not for one of my horses. It's also not an emergency, but the horse is a senior citizen with some soundness issues. The friend doesn't have a trailer, and the vet she sees is out of town.
Not the best time to be doing that, but we have a plan. Lots of hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, and social distancing will be involved. She's the only one going into the vet office; I'll hang out in the truck. If you're going to be going anywhere right now, a medical facility where the focus is on minimizing exposure to germs is your best bet.
In the meantime, I wanted to share another household acquisition. A few weeks ago, I showed you the Dog Room. And yes, we really call it that. We also have a Cabin Room.
When we bought this house more than three years ago, even we were intimated by its size. There are five bedrooms, but only two of us. It was, and still is, way too much house, but we liked the location a lot, and that's the one thing that you can't change. Location. While the house is finally furnished, we're still working on the details. After finding a better dresser for the Dog Room, I started looking a lot closer at the bare wall in the Cabin Room.
The decor probably does look out of place and a little ... thematic? I get it, but there's a reason. A few months ago, we finally sold our cabin. This is the furniture that was up there. It looked very appropriate in our little A-frame of a mountain place. It seemed really silly to toss out perfectly nice furniture, and besides, we had a lot of fun up there. So, we decided to keep most of the bedroom furniture. That's why it's called the Cabin Room.
We had one big wall though that didn't have a thing on it. It hasn't bothered me too much because the whole house is a slow work in progress. For Valentine's day, I bought my husband a large wall canvas of a photo that he had taken of a train utilizing the Tehachapi Loop. If you have a minute, you should read about it. It's kind of famous in the train world. Anyway, we replaced a print that was sort of ho-hum with the canvas. Like I said, the house is a work in progress.
Since he liked that print so well, I started paying attention to what he was posting on Facebook. He's been having fun with his new iPhone's camera, so when I saw a series of pictures that I really liked, I ordered three more canvases using his photos. Last night, we hung them in the Cabin Room.
They're not super "cabin-y", but they're colorful and very personal. The one in the middle with Tobias is hilarious if you look at really closely. He has a huge grin on his face, and in the distance, you can see Yellow Dog madly trying to catch up.
I did tell my husband that the next canvas, or canvases, that I order, will have horses in them. Good thing this house has plenty of wall space.
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%: