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Today I’m getting married. God, that just sounds… weird? strange? crazy? Sam and I have been together for almost six years. He’s my best friend and the love of my life. We’ve certainly been through a lot together, but I’m really looking forward to the memories we’re going to make as a married couple. Hopefully, there will be a lot more of this:

Myrtle Beach, 2008


Myrtle Beach, 2009


College Graduation, 2010


Ft. Myers, Florida, Christmas 2011


Showtime at Delaware, 2012


Engagement, 2013


Showtime at Delaware, 2014

Equestrian Miss Manners II: Talking to Show Management

We’ve all been to a show or two that was just simply poorly run. The schedule changed at the last minute; rings are held for forever; ride times are way off… the list of mistakes can go on and on. When you’re a competitor in this situation, it’s hard not to get pissed off, and let show management hear your displeasure. Trust me, I’m right there with you! It’s not only incredibly frustrating when you and your horse are ready to show, but management isn’t… and worst of all, it can really impact your performance, that you’ve worked so hard to perfect.

But I also spent time on the other side of the fence, so to speak, as part of show management. And I promise you, they’re not doing it on purpose. Management doesn’t want the show to be poorly run, and the office staff isn’t happy to hear your bitching. So here are a few tips to let your opinion be known, but to stay calm, cool and collected so that you can still put in your best performance.

#1 Wait for the Right Moment

If you are riding your horse and shit hits the fan, don’t lose your temper at that exact moment. Not only are you going to look like a crazed maniac in front of everyone else standing at the ring, but your horse is going to notice your change in attitude.
Instead, walk away, take a few deep breaths and finish your ride first. After all, that’s what you came to do!

#2 Be Honest and Clear About the Problem

When I’m pissed, I’m not always logical. Sometimes I blame things on others that they really had nothing to do with. So before you make a complaint, take the time to think it through in your head… or better yet, discuss it logically with a barnmate or friend. Spouting profanities at show management isn’t going to get you anywhere; I promise they’ll just tune you out.
But if you present a clear, concise and reasonable complaint, show management will not only hear you, they’ll respect you.

#3 Walk A Mile in Their Shoes

Adding a little empathy to your complaint always softens the blow. Take a moment to think about what show management is dealing with, and try to be relatively sympathetic. Yes, you’re the customer, but if you can see them working hard, or you notice that they’re really overwhelmed, just mentioning those simple facts will help ensure that you’re heard. After all, you’re both here to show, aren’t you?

#4 Go Through The Proper Channels

It’s never appropriate to complain directly to a judge. Always speak with show management, the show steward or the ring master; don’t approach the judge directly. And if you go to a show with a trainer, express your displeasure with them first. Chances are they feel the same, but a complaint from a well-known and respected trainer is always going to carry more weight than the same thing said by Jane Smith.

#5 Let it Go or Get Going

Finally, after the problem has been addressed, you have two options, and only two options. You either let it go and move on, or you leave and don’t come back. It’s really, really hard for me to drop an issue sometimes, but you’re only hurting yourself if you continue to stew about it for hours or days on end. And if it really, really ticked you off, don’t go back! Refusing to patron a specific show or management company speaks for itself. Plus, in the end, you’ll be happier if sh*t is really that messed up.
What tips do you have for handling a tough situation with show management? 
Equestrian Miss Manners Boarder Etiquette

Equestrian Miss Manners I: Boarder Etiquette

I’m not big on etiquette in everyday life; elbows on tables, speaking out of turn and worrying about hostess gifts are just not things that get my gears grinding. I do appreciate common courtesies though, such as saying “please” and “thank you” or washing your hands after you use the restroom [and before you shake my hand]. I subscribe to these same philosophies of using common courtesy at the barn.

Many of us are boarders, meaning we share our facilities with other people… the key word there being share. In my opinion, there are a few things that all boarders should do in order to respect the fellow equestrians who you board and ride with. Everyone has their own pet peeves, but basic boarder etiquette is important to keeping the barn safe and efficient. So here are my top five boarder etiquette tips! Follow these and you might even avoid some unnecessary barn drama!

Boarder Etiquette Tip #1: Clean up after yourself

If you groom and tack up in crossties or a designated area, please clean up after yourself. I’m not worried about scooping poop within 30 seconds, but don’t leave for the night without picking it up eventually. Same goes for the mud you picked out of your horse’s feet and all the hair you just brushed off him. Try to keep all of your “stuff” contained.. whether it’s in the aisle or stall because you just finished grooming, or whether it’s all of Hershey’s blankets in the tack room. Condense what you can so others have some room for their stuff too.

bridle rack

Boarder Etiquette Tip #2: Ask before you borrow [and return it clean]

Want to try a new bit for your pony before you buy it? Good idea! If Sally has one, just ask her before you gank it off her bridle. And after your ride, CLEAN IT and put it back onto her bridle. Most equestrians don’t mind lending stuff to fellow boarders, but if things are always mysteriously disappearing, being returned weeks later and filthy… the generosity isn’t likely to last.

Boarder Etiquette Tip #3: Know who has priority

If you’re riding and someone else is taking a lesson in the ring, be respectful and stay out of the way as much as you can. Did someone already set a grooming box out in your favorite area? Pick a different place to brush your horse. Always be mindful of those who are less experienced than you… other riders and trainers always appreciate a little extra room for green horse or beginner rider.
horseback riding lesson

Boarder Etiquette Tip #4: Be friendly

Know the saying “you catch more bees with honey than vinegar?” It applies to your fellow boarders too. A small “Hey how are you?” can go a long way toward friendship in the barn. Tell me my horse looks good, and I’m instantly in a better mood. You don’t have to be besties with every boarder at your barn, but being nice is always appreciated.

Boarder Etiquette Tip #5: Help out when you can

We’ve all been in a situation where just one more pair of hands would be so damn helpful. So when you see it happening to a fellow boarder, take 5 minutes to do just that and lend a hand. Whether it’s grabbing a forgotten whip from the tack room, holding a horse while a rider mounts up… or helping catch a loose horse your fellow equestrians will really, really appreciate it. And then when you need help, they’ll be there for you.

What is your number one etiquette tip for boarders?

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: Why Do You Ride?

Another wonderful blog hop topic, brought to us by Viva Carlos: “Why do you continue to ride?” Is because I can’t stop, too simple of an answer? In all honesty, there are a lot of negatives to riding and the equestrian world, including (but not limited to) gut-wrenching heartbreak, high financial cost, total time-suck and risk of bodily injury.

But despite these… I can’t stop.

I’ve lost horses I loved and cried for months and months. I’ve spent way too much money on tack. I’ve spent countless hours at the barn and horse shows. And I’ve broken a few bones along the way. But despite each setback, I always come back for more; I’ve never really considered quitting… ever.

I think it’s because horses complete me, even though that sounds super cheesy. Riding fills a void in my heart and placates my competitive spirit. I cherish the small moments with horses… like when Miles lets me rub his forehead and he falls asleep, or when Visa would nicker to me in the morning at shows. Some of the toughest times for me were when I didn’t own my own horse… and I know now that I don’t want to ever feel that again.

So while sometimes riding and loving horses really, really sucks… the highs are so much higher than the lows, that it will always be worth it.

A Short Brag

I try for the most part to keep my posts equestrian-related, but every once in a while my life outside of horses is too awesome not to share. This weekend was super busy; we traveled at mach 10 for all of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but it was the best kind of busy because I got to see lots of family!

On Friday, my wonderful fiancé Sam graduated from law school. I am so incredibly proud of him for taking a leap of faith to follow his dreams; it’s been a long three years full of studying, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. He graduated in the top 25% of his class and has a job lined up that begins this fall — all things he set out to accomplish four years ago. So congratulations to the best husband-to-be; I’m so, so proud and happy for you!!

Then on Saturday graduation madness continued with my younger brother graduating with his Bachelor of Science (in materials chemistry, no less). We drove about 2 hours north to watch the ceremony and take him out to lunch afterwards. It was awesome to see him — and of course my mom was thrilled because he got to wear about a zillion special cords, because he got the brains in the family! Eric graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa (which means he was top 1% of his class). He worked super hard in a very challenging program, and honestly I am so, so proud of my “baby” brother!!

The entire clan, all college graduates now!

Also, in bonus news my brother’s university is close to a tack store… so of course my mom and I had to stop to check it out. Annnnd I got a fancy new show coat! Yippee!