Friday, October 26, 2012

To be, or not to be, - that is the question

Back in my Leaving Cert days studying Hamlet was the biggest mental block that I have experienced.... that is until now!

My latest block is figuring out what to do after my time here. Here in the US at this moment, I would be deemed as a professional. Horses are my profession, my job, my life etc. At home somehow I think it would be different. I often wonder could I see myself doing horses as a career at home or is that a silly notion?

Or am I better to keep horses as a side earner for myself and work part-time?

I had a chat with Mam and Dad when they were over. I will be nearly 28 when my visa expires ( I know everyone says that is still young! ) BUT I do not want to be still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up when I will already be grown up!! I need a plan. Now mind you I am not freaking out about this just yet but as ye already know I am a procrastinator - hence my lacksy-daisy attempts at keeping this blog afloat. A vague plan would be nice. :D

I do know this much, whether I will make horses my career or not I will get myself a great horse that I can get to FEI level. My Dad said to me that I am very demanding which I was horrified at! I said am I that much of a b***h??!! He said "Of course not! I meant that whatever you want you will make sure that you get it for yourself, not in a deceitful way but in a hard-working way". Basically whatever I put my mind to I will make sure I make the best out of it, for myself.

I guess he is right? I know that this will be a long road. What was the mean age of all the dressage riders at this past Olympics? Forties. So I have some time yet. Not that I am saying I want to aim for the Olympics. Some CDIs in England would suffice!! I know my limits.

Ugh. Growing up is difficult.

On a lighter note, the horses are going great here! I am riding Bernie a few times a week which is amazing. I do the 'physical therapy days' where I have to learn how to get him more through, listening to me and ON my aids. Not easy! This week was a great learning curve, Pam told me how to get it and left me alone. She said I needed to figure it out for myself. Day 1...I got him pretty good but it took quite a while. Day 2...YURT!!! I got it really good and quicker too.

LC had a hard week, our contact has been getting much better. The weather was quite nice and mild so we worked outside for a few of the days. That was a big issue for us for a while as she was originally quite shy and easily bamboozled so I could barely get her around the arena. Then she got quite bold and attempted to stop and try and buck. Difficult as I had not got the control of her shoulders, couldn't get my legs on her etc! Now that the contact is much better this week was brilliant. No major issues outside except turning! Her paces are HUGE. We can cross the short side in 3 canter strides!! The contact was an issue because she is part thoroughbred and TBs tend to need a trusting, solid contact where they have to ride forward and take the bit forward. Because she was still growing, not able to control her own legs and getting to know herself I was finding it difficult to keep it all together! My lower back was in bits boi! But this week it all came together...yaytimes!!

 Here is a video of us in action....bear in mind she was tired and I was booting her around the gaf

Hope my riding has improved!!!


                                              Oh lord. We dressed Mischa up. Oh lord. I am a cat lady :'( Crap.

Sooooooooooo excited to be celebrating Halloween here. Like you have no idea. Van Guard Stables is the home of the Behind the Mask theatrical troupe, where one of our amazing clients (Katherine Dow) teaches, rides and competes and part-takes in the troupe. check this out... 

So Van Guard are having THE biggest party tomorrow night. Pictures will follow for sure! The Party is called Van Gore! They have the indoor decorated with a fire pit in the middle manned by skeletons. their viewing room is actually transformed into a viewing room....!/photo.php?fbid=369376159812306&set=a.295532550530001.67857.294897363926853&type=1&theater

So while I finish this post, I am also writing a last minute list for any garb needed to finish off our costumes for this partay....


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Way beyond procrastination :'(

I am officially inept at keeping this going. It is now mid October and I have been here in NH since early April. Fail.

These past 6 months have been the sun, moon and stars to me. I have laughed, learned, roared, had tears in my eyes, aches all over my body and I am still up for more. I have went from a basic elementary level rider to one who now knows how to ride PROPERLY!!!!!

I am still struggling with the concept of owning it, riding every stride, taking no prisoners and knowing when to stop. It is the most difficult thing for me. My parents came over to visit me September 18th. They got to see me ride Bernie, Pam's Inter II horse. Dad could not believe how much I have improved and for him to actually say that to my face made my year! He was always the one to push me at home, but I guess it is hard for a close relative to say to you, "Cop the F**k on and ride! Do something instead of just sitting there poking and praying!!" Pam, sound for calling me out on this!! "You are going TO ride not GO FOR a ride!!"

That yell will forever ring in my ears.

Back in May, a 15yr old Morgan owned by an adult amateur came for what was only supposed to me a mth....he is still here!! Kelly was so pleased on how he was shaping up she wanted him to stay for an agreeable lengthy eductation. I was the proposed jockey. He has turned me inside out. I have learned how to ride a tricky moving breed and the main part, I have learned respect. One day he was going great, and Pam said do some walk-trot transitions. Sure not only did I do some, but I tore the arse out of the poor horse doing them because they were so good! He started acting up as he is temperamental by nature, so I was hard on him. Pam called me on it, "He can be only good for so long SJ, remember that!! He can be bad all day of he wants because it is easier for him to be that way. Working good is so hard for him. Know the god damn difference!!!!"

Filion being hand grazed

I believe it is so important to be an open book when being taught. Before I would have taken serious offense emotionally to being yelled at in such a way. Now it happens 20times a day! Would I have learned all I have thus far if I closed myself down?? Nope, I guess not.

In June the horses Pam bought from Denmark were to be shipped here. The 2 mares had to go into 2week quarantine for CEM tests. They have to have 3 clear CEM uterine swabs before being released. Ziggy, the only gelding was able to be picked up straight away from the animal import centre in NY. Guess who the proposed jockey for this boyo was? Moi! Nearly soiled myself at the thought because riding young horses under someone else's instruction other than your father is a daunting thing. Not knowing what she wants you to do and when etc. All that aside he is a super star for a 4yo. Easy to do in everyway. He can go outside on his own and hack around. When riding young horses and breakers at home I was always just asking for the bare minimum, if they did it without a hassle I left it be and didn't push for anymore. Now I see how bad that was!! How else are you going to improve them if you are not the teacher?

Ziggy being led out of quarantine in the NY Animal Import Centre

He wanted my ice cream!!

Can you see here my trend? I am not riding and asking enough of the animal I sit on. I need to be more on the ball as the saying goes. But I think I am getting there. I have relapses quite often. You can ask Pam that!

So my current mounts are UVM Filion ( the morgan) and the 4yo Danish mare Lucienne that Pam imported. Quite often Bernie too, as of late. He is a great one to learn ownership on! Today for example, he took over on every diagonal I rode, which I had intended in doing tempis. He is an arse on them anyway Pam says. But all the same, we went through easily ten mins of HALF HALTING and riding him forward so he got the picture that I am not one to mess with. I had to be on the ball every stride, otherwise if he was given just 1 stride, I was back to square one. Pam said that she rides EVERY STRIDE! Whats the point in just half halting and not kicking forward to the bit? He falls on the forehand and goes out behind, kicking me in the arse and ignores my leg aids to change. Guess what?? Half halt him and RIDE him forward and all peace will be restored! I had to change my t-shirt after this lesson. Whew.

LC is a chestnut beauty. Very sweet girl, but shy unlike Ziggy. She always tries to be good even if she is scared. She has thoroughbred in her, so she is fast when she wants to be. My major worry about riding her was that I was too slow. I guess I would have to learn huh?! Oh yes I did! She has been growing all summer so to ride her varied from day to day. She has the most unbelieveable hind end I have ever seen. So much so we have her nick-named Spiderlegs. She can't get her front legs out of the way quick enough at times! She is very strong but in a good way, once you have that right side you can do anything. As we are getting into winter and she has stopped growing the ante has been upped now that she can take it. She has to accept the contact and stay on the page. She still is a little young to stay inside the lines, but we will keep asking more of her and see how it fares out. I need to be more stern with her, her shyness is leaking away.


The summer has came and went, the trees are turning and talk of returning to Florida is a hot topic. Still have enough time to get LC where she needs to be before FL and Filion is set to go home at the end of this month. But he has been booked in here as soon as we get back from FL. I can see him becoming a regular fixture :)

6.30 AM Autumn Sunrise with my beloved Kobota ;)

How amazing is this? I am riding up to 3 and sometimes 4 horses a day, all under constant instruction. I work with amazing people, amazing clients and amazing animals. I never have regretted making the decision to leave Ireland for a few years to learn more about riding, dressage and myself.

Next post won't be so philosophical. Promise!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My new home (until Flo-rida again!)

So as promised, here are pics of Foster Meadow in the metropolis that is Boscawen, NH! ( Please note the sarcasm intended with the word 'metropolis') Boscawen is a small town 15 mins north of Concord, NH. Concord is the capital of the NH state.,_New_Hampshire

The most activity about Boscawen is the Dunkin Donuts and the 2 petrol stations. Woot craziness here lads!! But mind you, it is has a large surrounding farming community and there are plenty of farm stands that sell fresh produce.

But the MOST AMAZING THING ABOUT BOSCAWEN (besides Pamela Goodrich's top class dressage training facility) is Richardson's ice cream parlour that is situated no less than a third of a mile down the road!
Holy moly lads they have the BEST produce I have ever come across. Not only that but Jim and Sue are the cream on the sundae. I get such a kick out of them. Ever remember the couple John and Mary O'Leary in Father Ted? Mind you there are no murderous business about them as seen to the extent in Father Ted! But they are always slagging each other and everything. Pure highlight at the end of a work day. Their sundaes are killer, and their ice cream flavours are to die for. I love their coffee oreo, cookie dough, orange sherbert, peppermint oreo...the list is endless! Sue's pies and crisps are heavenly.

Ok, ok I know all ye want to see are the farm pics so here you go lads!!

                              Front view of the barn

                           Stabling on the left side, and indoor to the right

                         Parking lot and indoor. Delia is still alive and kicking too!!

                                    Barn aisle - Sixteen 12ftx12ft stables

 Grooming and wash stalls on left, tack room on near right, door to our apartment by the indoor last on the right
               Outdoor view...with a beautiful backdrop and a hilly field for 'play days'
                      Where all the yelling at happens
                      Pam's house
So here are all the pics! Not much said, but I am writing the next posts on the horses I have been riding. So the fun stuff is coming up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Hampshire...the first days

After the shock of falling down through my newly appointed bed the first night and the fact that it was bloody cold up here, I began to feel a little ill in the following days.

Mind you it all boiled down to the fact that I was pretty dehydrated and wrecked tired from the packing, driving 25hours with lack of water and sleep. Once we had settled in the apartment, resurrected the Lyons Tae and caught up on sleep I was a new woman!

All the horses travelled well, they did lose some condition but that was expected. However, the colder weather had all their backs up!!

Pam was due to fly to Europe as soon as she got back from clinicing in Ohio. Her holiday was both business and pleasure as she was going to visit family in France and then on a 3 day horse hunting trip in Denmark for herself and clients.

Of course we had a list as long as my nicely grown out haircut.

We had the whole barn, indoor arena mirrors, windows and screens to clean, the outdoor arena fence to put up, our apartment and her house to clean and put order to again. Luckily, we only had max 6 horses in the barn to look after until Pam came home!

                                                             The tack room floor needed painting

I used to work for my mother's family business, Shanahan Paints. I was a colour consultant and assistant to all home decor needs. My Dulux dog was not happy that I was using other brands :( Nonetheless, I had stairs to sand, stain and varnish.

                   Our only way out of the apartment since the stairs were undergoing a beauty treatment. Scary.

Finished product!! I know, I only had a circular electric sander, hence the edges are not great. I'm calling it "New England Rustic" ;)

The best thing was though, was that Shauna's family came over for Easter week. It was just so good to see them all again. They really made me miss my family, but I am thrilled that they could see how happy Shauna and I are here. They saw us ride ( I had Wyvern to ride while Pam was away). They bought us a kettle (YAY!!! No more boiling water in a saucepan!) and they fed us and all!

But the best part was......

                                                         No more falling through my bed in the dead of night!!!

                                                       Fair play Bernard and Kevin Finneran!

The rest of April went pretty quietly and smoothly, until Pam came back and kicked my butt for letting Bernie (Wyvern) take me over ;) So I knew then my dressage education was going to take a major turn for the better!

Next of Foster Meadow!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The big move!

I am now royally annoyed at myself for not keeping on top of this. Consider this a mid-year resolution!!

Quick few posts and pictures up to the present day methinks!

Early April was our marker date on getting up to New Hampshire. So the logistics behind it were pretty simple. Ali and Shauna leave a day earlier than the horses, driving in convoy that consisted of Pam's truck and trailer ( packed to the scut with all the barn things) and Shauna in Ali's car. So that left me on my ownsies in the Mini :D

                                               Ali's amount of things broke the wheelbarrow
                                                                  Packing the trailer!

It was 5am when the girlies left, so I had the barn to do myself with the help of Pam throughout part of the day. I made sure that all the horses were happy, clean and that all their belongings were all ready to go. I had to make sure that all the horses' halters had shipping fuzzies on them and that each horse had a pair of bell boots.

It was WAY too quiet that day, no Ali and Shauna, no clients just me and a handful of horses. Too weird!

D-day approached, I was up at 4am stripping the stalls trying to make my workload a little easier once the shippers start to arrive. We had three separate shippers due to come that morning. Our own being the first, which was scheduled for around 6am to take 6 horses back to Pam's. Then Alpenkonig's was due before 8am, and Remy's around then also.

It was hell for leather getting our own guys on, as the shippers were not just taking the horses, but all the feed, hay, water and feed tubs, barn utensils etc that we needed for the past 2 days. It was easily 25 degrees celsius at 6am that morning, I was a sweaty mess before the horses even got on!! Humid and dark. Totally weird.

                           Shipper has arrived!!  'Twas like looking out for the Xmas Coca Cola truck!!

The last friend I made in Florida!!

It was a relief when our guys finally went underway, as then all that needed to be done was strip the stalls and get the last two horses gone.

By the time all that was done, I had sweated through my shorts and t-shirt covered in a layer of shavings dust and more dust!! A shower was in dire need! There was no way that I could face driving 12hrs or more feeling stinky, itchy and icky! Quick shower, packed the mini, of course 200miles down the road I realised I left my overnight bag and all my cosmetics behind. Typical me. Don't worry folks, I got it "mailed" to me the following day.

So by the time I was ready to hit the road it was just short of 10am. I dropped Pam off at WPB airport as she was travelling off to teach a clinic and I was on my way!! Next stop, North Carolina to a hotel.

                                                           I wanted to shoot myself

Stayed in a pretty ok hotel, all I needed was a bed really and I was off again by 6am the following morning.

I handled the drive by myself quite well. I thought about nothing really, just bopped along to the music and took in whatever sights I-95 could offer me. It was amazing how much varied landscape I passed through the first day. I drove the length of Florida, into Georgia, South Carolina and then North Carolina. I drove through the palm tree scattered landscape of Florida to big leafy green hilly states like North Carolina.

I only stopped when I really needed to. I would tie in eating, peeing and getting petrol into each stop if I could!! I really wasn't too comfortable stopping regularly since I was on my own. And I stupidly drank very little the whole drive to minimise stopping which I paid for dearly a few days after I got to New Hampshire.

Second day went smoothly, drove through North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, part of Vermont and then into New Hampshire. I knocked 2 hrs off Shauna and Ali's time for that same journey. Lads, I should have gotten a million speeding tickets! That Mini Cooper S series is a fecking rocket!!! Not only that, but it only took maybe 4 tanks of petrol for the while 1500mile trip. I am in love.

Got to Pam's about 7.30pm. It was freezing cold and a major kick up the arse, as I can now say I am a soft weather person!!

Hit the bed as soon as I was able, only to figure out at 1am that my bed was tied together with socks.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

February and March! Settling into Flo-rida life

Sorry for  being a lazy bones in getting this post up. I have no excuse other than I was lazy. Haha!

Since January was a blur full of excitement, it was time to settle down and explore working in a dressage barn and Florida in general.

Feb and March were mainly months full of fast-paced craziness and Pam whipping me into shape. With the odd night out in West Palm Beach, a quick road trip to Miami, some Paddy's Day celebrations.....need I continue? ;)

As the heat began to rise, so did my photo collection of all the horses and other animals in the barn! It is amazing how over a short period of time how you can get to know the horses that you look after. So much so, they are willing to have their pictures taken.

                                                       Peanut drinking a cup of Lyons Tae

                                                    Amalon heard that the kettle was on to boil

                                                       Ginger hit the town too hard last night

                                                         Jealous? 30 degrees celsius in Feb??!!

February was a great month for me and my riding. I was finally getting going and OWNING IT with Peanut and I was having a great time. As Pam says, "You are going TO RIDE not going FOR A RIDE!!!" He is a great little horse to make you work for it, that is for sure! I perfected my half passes, my passage transitions and getting the base of the neck. It is a very different way of riding to the way I used to ride at home, but that is what I am here for!

March came in as quick as Feb did. March is the ending month for the winter season in WPB. So it was busy month to see as much as I could before we would head up to New Hampshire until November. So, I had Paddy's Day to enjoy, a road trip to Miami, more shows to groom at and more riding to do!

                                                    My last grooming gig for the winter season

                                                              Alpenkonig and I (the heat disappeared)

So of course me being a Paddy and all, St Patrick's Day HAD to be had. So the sister (here is a shout out to my older sis - Stephanie!) sent me over a St. Patrick's Day Survival Kit. It was full of t-shirts, whistles, hair ties and hairbands, hair clips and ribbons and wands. Watch out Clematis Street!!

I couldn't resist the urge to dress up a few of the barn regulars...

                                                            Yankee getting into the spirit

                                                               Care package from the Ma

After Paddy's Day, Cavalia was showing in Miami for a few nights. So we were Miami bound. Yurt!

Check out the website, it surely was the best show involving horses that I have seen live. We had to cheapest tickets in the nosebleeds but we could see everything!

               The stage was semi-circular with a hill up the back...and the front of it flooded into a lake!!

After our Miami excursion, the three of us felt that we could re-enact something similar on the horses back at the barn. Riding bridle-less, saddle-less, on our heads etc. But I think that was due to the copious amounts of Skittles and Coke we consumed to stay awake for the trip. The next day we didn't feel so brave...Peanut...Bridle-less??!!

                                                     Miami sunset with the Cavalia tent

Towards the end of March I got to ride Pam's Inter 1 horse, Wyvern. How cool!

                                                       Shauna on Peanut and I on Wyvern

I apologise for the mainly picture filled posts, but I truly left writing this blog too long and it really does catch up! I could write all day but I want to get up to date asap. Next blog post is on packing up the Florida barn and the drive up to New Hampshire. Then all about New Hampshire!!!