Coatesville, PA 
Apr 30, 2010

It’s been a long few months since I wrote in January.  To be honest, I sat down at my computer and starting typing at least 4 times, but never could bring myself to click send.  I have been finding it hard to shake off the storm clouds (literally and figuratively) and I’ve been sounding way too “dark and twisty” a la Meredith Grey (ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy).  I’m starting to understand why they picked Seattle to stage that show, because this winter, the rain has had an incredible ability to drown out any levity I could muster.  It was getting to the point that suiting up like a north-sea fisherman was standard garb to walk out the door, and after what seemed like weeks of trotting the driveway because there was nowhere else to ride, I have to admit, my enthusiasm was waning.  You all know I’m not one to spread the doom and gloom around, so what resulted from each of my previous attempts to write, was an unfortunate union of Pollyanna and Eeyore.  I kept trying to make lemonade out of all my lemons, but it always had a funny aftertaste.  I can finally say things are good without it feeling like a lie!  So here goes  –  My winter;  The good, bad, and ugly!

An excerpt from my March draft-
At the risk of whining about my life and all the things that are going wrong in it… now wait a minute, that’s exactly what I want to do.  Let me just indulge myself for a moment and then I’ll get a grip, move on, and look at all the good around me.  I consider myself a pretty optimistic person, and it’s not too often that I regard myself as unlucky.  In fact, I’ve had a lifetime of luck and good fortune come my way, but it is beginning to seem like my next load of jolly good anything is currently bobbing away somewhere in the Atlantic, caught in the equatorial doldrums. 
I had my lovely horse Kelso go wrong at the first event of the year, Galway Downs, and to add insult to injury, he had put in a beautiful dressage test and was leading the division.  I returned home to find McCool, a 2* horse that I get the pleasure of working with, swollen up with hives, rashes, and all other forms of skin conditions exacerbated by the unusually wet year we are having.  While I’ve managed to clear it up for the most part, his coat has been ravaged and he’s looking more like a leper than the strikingly beautiful guy he really is.  Perfect timing for his first outing of the year at Twin Rivers last weekend!  In preparation for the event, I choked down the fact that it was time to buy new breaks for my trailer, and took it in last week.  En route, my transmission went out in my truck, making a set of new breaks seem real cheap!!!  Now, to really make this sound like a country song, my mom called amidst it all to say the family dog was really sick and had to be put down.  Somebody said these things come in three’s, but I’m thinking they forgot the detail about multiples of three’s!

Since then things have definitely turned around, or at least I’ve been able to refocus my perspective.  Kelso’s initial tendon scan didn’t turn up any lesions and his second scan confirmed that everything looks perfectly fine.  It’s frustrating to miss a couple months of competing him, but I will take the conservative route any day when offered the prospect of a 6-9 month lay-up.  He’s very happy to be returning to full work and should be back out at an event before too long.  All the rain has also made the grass come in so I guess it was worth suffering through.
I had a great show at Three Day Ranch with McCool winning the Preliminary and Regan doing his first Intermediate.  It was not my original plan to move him up so soon in the season, but with a strange turn of circumstances, Wednesday night of the event I told him to put on his big boy shoes and he brilliantly obliged.  McCool reaffirmed his cool-ness by scoring three 9’s and a 10 in his dressage along with a healthy serving of 8’s and then followed that up by jumping well the next two days.  It was great to finally get to know him cross-country since we got rained out at Twin Rivers. 

The most exciting news by far was last month at Galway Downs.  Finian led the CIC3* from start to finish with a very commanding lead.  He was absolutely spectacular in all three phases, but I was most pleased with his cross country.  He was so honest and mature all the way around, and it was a real feeling of accomplishment to gallop past the place where last year I had pulled him up on course.  McCool was second after a very good dressage test and moved into first after a clean show jumping.  With both horses leading in their respective divisions, Friday night was a little surreal.  Unfortunately McCool’s winning weekend came to an end Saturday afternoon, when he had a run out early on course, and two more later on.  It was of course disappointing, but considering I had only gone cross country with him once before and that a preliminary horse trials, it’s easy to see how our depth of communication was lacking.  He’s a horse that wants know you inside and out before he’s comfortable performing for you, so I was able to look at Galway as a step in that process.  A very public and well documented step!

Following Galway, I took Regan in the CCI1* and McCool in the CCI2* at Twin Rivers.  McCool took an early lead with our best dressage test yet and Regan had the best test of his life to stand second.  Regan moved into first after cross country having had a casual canter around, and McCool moved down to fourth after a silly little bobble, but having been fantastic otherwise.  He was a different horse than I had had at Galway, and I can only guess what he’ll be like with a little more time.  Both horses finished fit and sound enough for another go around.  Sunday both horses trotted up sound and show jumped great as well.  McCool jumped an easy clear round, but with all the horses in front of him jumping clear as well, he stayed in 4th.  Regan jumped the best round of his life but had one silly rail right at the end.  With all the placings being very tight, he disappointingly slid all the way down to fourth.  Both are having some well deserved easy time now while Finian and I tackle the CCI3* at Jersey Fresh.

We left Monday to trek across the country and arrived safe and sound Thursday evening.  We are once again fortunate enough to be staying with Bea Cassou in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and spent today settling in, resting up, and catching up on everything that’s happened since our last visit for Fair Hill last October.  It’s great to see everyone again and pick up where we left off.  I feel like this is my second home and I’m so thankful to be here.

We’ll have lots of news in the coming week with competition starting Wednesday.  ’till then, have some lemonade.