Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year’s

If you’re like me, you’re scratching your head wondering what happened to the summer…wasn’t it July 4th just last week?   I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already, that the holidays are just about over and we have a long winter ahead of us.

So to keep myself from falling into a deep depression (because I seriously hate the cold weather…especially after we say goodbye to Christmas when there’s nothing else to look forward to), I’m going to make some New Year’s Resolutions.

I usually avoid making resolutions (minus one you’ll see below) because I can get a little obsessive about holding myself accountable…and quite honestly, I put enough pressure on myself as it is.  But this year I’ve decided to make some open-ended resolutions – no due dates!

1.  To have fun with Misty
Every year I say things like, I’m going to take Misty to at least five shows…take biweekly lessons…be at this level of competition by this date, etc. and these things NEVER happen.  With horses, the only thing you can count on is…that you can’t count on anything!!  I’m finally learning this lesson…nothing with those crazy equines ever goes according to plan.  If I say I want to do X number of shows, something will surely happen that with throw everything off.  Misty will start having back pain…she’ll throw a shoe and the farrier won’t be able to get out right away…I’ll have a bad day/confidence buster and talk myself out of doing whatever I had planned for the following week.

Misty Mystique lives to ruin my plans.

So instead of making concrete plans with a Misty Mystique who lives to break them, I’m just going to set this simple resolution.  This way I won’t (hopefully, anyway) beat myself up if I’m not bringing home the blue ribbons every weekend.  I have finally recognized that horses are unpredictable, and I can’t always control every aspect of our mommy-horsey relationship.  Therefore, I vow not to get down on myself if I’m not where I’d like to be at a specific point.  Overall, Misty and I have come SO far, further than I ever thought we’d get.  So as long as I’m having fun and enjoying her company…and she’s a happy and healthy horse, then I’m okay.

2. To streamline my house/life
As a child, I was an extreme packrat.  I would keep everything because I thought “I might need it someday.”  In recent years, I’ve gotten over this.  Instead, I think – if I haven’t thought of this/worn this in over a year, it’s gone.  James and I are constantly putting bags of clothes and household goods aside for Purple Heart. 

Because clutter is scary...
This year, I want to continue that trend and give my whole house, thus, life, a makeover.  I want to continue going through my closet and keep only nice pieces that I wear on a regular basis.  I want to go through my house, room by room, and streamline everything, keeping only the necessities.  Everything else will go to Purple Heart…or the trash.

By doing this, I will be clearing the clutter from my life (although I wouldn’t really classify my house as cluttered, for the most part), and feeling more comfortable in my surroundings.  Also, I will be readying myself in case I move in the next year or two, which is the goal.  When we finally do move, I don’t want to be packing up boxes of useless crap…so if I sort things beforehand, I’ll be ahead of the game!

3. To eat healthier
This is my resolution every single year.  I love sugar…love love sugar…but I really need to eat it in moderation.  Some days are better than others as I really try to be conscious of what’s going in my mouth, but each year I still find myself hitting the sweets hard.  So…again…I’ll make this resolution.  I’ll feel like I’m eating healthier when I cut back on the sugar and add more fruits and veggies to my diet.  Fingers crossed I actually stick to this one for once…but given my track record, I’m not very hopeful!
Misty lives by the apple a day rule...I need to as well...
So there you have it…my resolutions.  Each is designed to make me a better, healthier person.  I know that I put a ton of pressure on myself in almost every aspect of my life, so I’m really hoping to put an end to that pattern and learn to relax and live in the moment a little more.  What are your resolutions?

I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!  And thanks for sticking with my blog during its first year! 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baltimore Horse Examiner

For those of you who don’t know, The Sassy Grey blog is not the only place I share my wit and wisdom.  I am also the Baltimore Horse Examiner and maintain a page through Examiner Online.

This is Rachel Alexandra - I write about her a lot!

This page is a little different than my blog in that it’s strictly about horses and horse-happenings in the Baltimore area.  I can post reviews (like book/event/movie reviews), but these articles are mostly how-to in nature.   My blog is a bit of a loose cannon compared to this page!

I don’t update my Examiner page as often as I’d like (maybe once or twice a month), but I invite you to follow it nonetheless!  The link is below!

Thanks and happy reading!

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Not Too Late To Give

Tis the season to be generous!!  This time of year, James and I like to donate to our favorite charities, and I’m sure it will come as no surprise that animal-related rescues are always on the list. 

One rescue that’s on my list every year is Days End Farm Horse Rescue, Inc.  This year I donated $100 and got to pick a horse to sponsor.  While I follow all the horses’ stories and love them all, I ended up picking Buildmeup Buttercup Baby.  As soon as I get a farm of my own (fingers crossed that next year is the year), this sweet mare is mine!

I think I can speak on behalf of the entire Maryland horse community when I say Days End is a dream come true.  Words simply cannot describe the amazing gift they give neglected and abused horses.  “Days End Farm was established in 1989 to ensure quality care and treatment of horses through intervention, education, and outreach.”  If you visit their website at: www., you’ll see that they take on some of the absolute worst cases of horse abuse, cases that some might turn away from, and use their love and knowledge to rehab these animals into the brilliant stars they once were.

They do more than give second changes, they give life.

Please add Days End to your list of charitable donations – every little bit helps.  (A bale of hay is only $3 or $4!!).  Once on their website, just click the Donate Now button at the top right corner and help a horse in need.

Thanks to all and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Misty’s Christmas List

Misty’s a bit of a diva.  She likes the finer things in life and dreams big.  As I have had the privilege of being her mom for more than three years now, I was not surprised to receive her extravagant Christmas list.  Please see below.

Recently, Misty and I have gotten into dressage.  We have been taking lessons at Thornridge Manor and even showed in a small schooling show this past November.  I purchased a dressage saddle (well, my birthday present from Misty – she’s occasionally quite generous), but didn’t have the extra money for a bridle.  Misty wants one for Christmas so she can have matching tack.  She’s a very particular fashionista.

Misty has requested treats…but not just any kind of treats, organic treats from Withers & Withers.  She likes the fancy tin with the grey horse on it…figures.

A stall ball.  Misty lives outside 24/7 because she has a run-in…but she will occasionally come indoors to her stall during extreme weather.  Though she isn’t inside often, she wants to be entertained when she is.  She wants a stall ball in either purple or blue.

Since Misty and I are traveling a lot more (to lessons, shows, etc.), she wants a horse trailer.  We already have one…but she wants another one.  A newer one.  The bigger, the better.  Girlfriend wants to travel comfortably in style.  See the picture below…classic Misty.  She’ll have a grande white chocolate mocha with 2% milk and whip, please!

Misty really likes her current barn, but she’s asked for another…one on MY farm.  I haven’t had the heart to tell her that we haven’t bought the farm yet, but she’s not the best listener anyway so I probably won’t even mention it.  She wants a barn like the ones I saw in Kentucky.  She says she deserves it.

And finally, Misty has asked for some shoes.  And no, not horseshoes.  She wants two pairs of Manolo Bhalniks.  What can I say?  She’s sassy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas cards that didn't make it

Tis the season for Christmas cards!  James and I will randomly get all ambitious with our cards some years (don't expect much this year), and will do some family portraits with the pets.  My all-time favorite was the one we took in 2008 with Izzie and Misty.  While the final one that we sent out turned out really well, there were quite a few that didn't make it!  The ones below are the best.

At first, Izzie was so excited to be near Misty that James had to sit on her to keep her quiet.

Iz adores her sister; Misty is not amused by the photoshoot.

Apparently Misty doesn't like it when I cluck at her.

Okay - everyone's getting bored now.

Getting a little too close for comfort!!

Picture Perfect!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Traveller – Another Sassy Grey

I’m late with this post too – this one is about my mom’s horse, Traveller, another very sassy grey.  I can remember life before Trav, but just barely.

My mom rides Traveller Western, but he is trained English as well.

Traveller is an Arabian and was born 23 years ago at Imperial Egyptian Stud, a beautiful farm in Parkton, Maryland.  I’m not sure of all the specifics since I was so young at the time, but apparently Traveller was born without Arabian show-quality features, and therefore his owners didn’t want him.  My mom had lost her first horse, Pepper, about nine months prior and was ready to bring another horse into the family…and this one was free!

I remember the day Traveller came home – he was only a yearling and was a funny roan color.  Basically, he looked pink with a black mane and tail.  We were told that he would “grey out,” which, of course, excited me, and my father, being a Civil War buff, suggested the name of Traveller (the name of General Robert E. Lee’s favorite horse who was also a grey). 

For my brother and I (Andy was 8 at the time, I was 6), Trav was like a big, fun dog.  We’d play with him in the field (Andy would flat out try to wrestle him), we’d chase him with our bikes (and then he’d turn around and chase us back!), and, of course, we helped my mother take care of him.  Sometimes I would drag a chair out to the barn, and sit by Traveller’s stall and read.  Trav would stick his head out the window and just watch me – he has always been super inquisitive.

I remember sitting outside the barn, hanging out with Trav while my parents were inside fighting (which was a regular occurrence).  I remember saying to Trav something like, “if mom and dad get divorced, don’t worry.  I’ll make sure we keep you.  If I have to get a job and pay for you, I will.”  I think I was about 7 at the time…always willing to work for my horses.

Sure enough, when I was 19, my parents divorced, but of course we kept our Traveller.  We moved him (and Komie) to the farm where we board now, but now our herd has grown from two to five!

Me and my "Crazy Man!"

One note about him though – Trav likes to bite.  He’s the one horse we have that we can’t turn our backs on.  But even though he can be a brat, you will not find a better trail horse.  Traveller has always been very reliable, a good, sturdy trail horse who loves to get out and see new things.  I showed him a handful of times as well; we always did great as he was very flashy! 

He turned 23 in July and is still going strong…just watch those teeth!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope all of you had a great day filled with lots of turkey and family time.  I'm feeling especially blessed this year, and I hope you are too!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

F. Scott Fitzgerald

There’s not a time in my life when I can remember not reading, not loving books.  When I think about the two things I’m most passionate about in my life, I can say without skipping a beat, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if it weren’t for horses and books, I’d be lost.

Trips to the library or a book store were almost on the same level as trips to the tack shop – sheer Heaven.  I can lose myself in Barnes & Noble for hours, sitting on the floor of the Fiction section, paging through the latest best-seller or one of the classics with a latte by my side.  Sometimes I like to think that I own the store (for, honestly, who appreciates books more than me?) and will get a little irritated if the place is crowded.  Who let all these people into my sanctuary?

I remember on Christmas Day how disappointed I’d be if I unwrapped a box full of clothing from Santa…but how beside myself with joy I’d be with new books and horse stuff!  Interestingly, several of my books would disappear after I unwrapped them and I only learned several years later that my mom would hide them because I’d read them too fast, flying through them all while on Christmas Break, only to turn up “so bored” the following week.  So my mom would hide a few…then they’d gradually reappear, giving me something to do during the long, cold, winter weeks spent indoors.

Like any avid reader, I have my favorite authors, my most hated books, and lists of that sort.  After reading The Great Gatsby in 11th grade, a book that quite honestly, changed my life, F. Scott Fitzgerald sealed himself away in my heart and firmly holds that place of honor as my most favorite author.  Since then, the man who led a most turbulent life and died young at the age of 44, has been a large part of my literary life.

Since The Great Gatsby, I have read every single one of FSF’s novels and all of his short story collections.  I have poured over The Great Gatsby so many times that I’m surprised my copy is still intact.  I make references to the novel so often, but almost no one gets them!  When talking about someone new, I’ll say something like, “I heard he killed a man,” in that suspicious tone Gatsby’s party guests use when speaking about the host they’ve never met.  And at night, when I shut the curtains in my bedroom, I look across the way to my neighbor’s backyard to see the green light they have on their back porch.  Only I would see that and think of Gatsby standing on the edge of his dock late at night, arm outstretched towards the green light from the dock of Daisy’s mansion across the water on East Egg.

I spent the last year of graduate school completely surrounded by Fitzgerald as I decided to devote my Thesis to him, my favorite literary genius.  I focused strictly on his short stories, but of course, referenced his novels from time to time.  I immersed myself in his stories, his novels, and his many biographies.  I even wrote a short article that later appeared in the Fitzgerald Society’s newsletter (because, yes, like any good nerd, I am a member of the Society).

Finally I completed and successfully defended my thesis, which was entitled (starting with a quote from FSF himself):

“Show Me a Hero and I Will Write You a Tragedy”
F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Art of Chronic Failure

It was a few pages shy of 80 and capped off my graduate career, but to me it was a year’s worth of late nights, constant edits and revisions, and many, many, many tears.  But it was also a labor of love.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Kentucky Poem

Even though I’ve only been to Kentucky once, I’m missing it…Lexington especially.  As some of you probably read in my earlier blogs, James and I went to Lexington last summer to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  Don’t I have the best husband in the world?  I mean, he definitely enjoyed himself (naturally), but maybe not quite as much as I did. ;)

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from a poem I really like by James Tandy Ellis:

Back in Old Kentucky

I want to get back
to the old time hills

Where the corn juice runs
from the old distills

I want to get back, yes,
the good Lord knows

I want to get back where
the Bluegrass grows

Back in old Kentucky.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Horse of a Different Color

Obviously, I love grey horses.  Dapple grey horses have been my favorite for as long as I could remember.  There’s just something so beautiful, classic, and flashy about a dappled grey – so different from all the other brown, bay, and chestnut horses out there.

However, when I was in the market for a new horse in 2008, I didn’t rule out any color (and still wouldn’t).  But when I got a call from a friend of a friend about a dappled grey soon-to-be ex-racehorse, I knew I had to see her.  (Actually, I hesitated for a few days because I wasn’t sure I’d have the skills to retrain an OTTB – off-the-track-Thoroughbred).  Anyway, once I buoyed up my courage and went to see Misty, it was love at first sight.  She was (and still is) literally the horse right out of my dreams.

The only problem with dapple greys, however, is that they never stay that way!  Unless grey horses are kept in their stalls for most of the day (as racehorses and show horses are), their coats fade.  Below are some pictures of Misty through the three years I’ve had her…and yes, though I HATE to admit it, she’s turning white (though white, in terms of horse colors, is always considered grey).

Bah!  Misty – stop it!!!

Here's Misty on her first day home (summer 2008) - she's so dark!

My sweet little 4 year old, fresh off the track and ready for a new life as a Berglie.

Misty in a field of buttercups the following can see her face has already started to lighten up.

Misty in spring of 2010, one year after the previous picture.

And here's my girl this past spring...almost all of her dapples are gone...I'm devastated!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rockin’ the Red

While I love to play sports, I have a hard time sitting down and watching them on TV…especially during the afternoon if it’s a nice day and I could be outside.  But I do try to keep up with two sports: tennis and hockey. 

I played on the Varsity tennis team in high school, so I love watching the four Grand Slams.  James and I are already getting our schedules together for next year so we can make it up to Flushing Meadows to catch a few matches at the U.S. Open.  Roddick and Federer, you’ve been warned!

And, of course, I’m a Capitals fan!!  I got into hockey when James and I started dating in 2001.  James is a goalie and played for years before we met, and his parents have had season tickets to the Caps since the mid or late 90s.  If they’re out of town, we love getting the tickets and heading down for some action on the ice!

My favorite Caps players:

Brooks Laich.  He's a redhead...what can I say?  (My husband is a redhead for those who don't know!)

Alex Ovechkin, The Great 8.  He's kind of the man...and I like how he's not afraid to throw some punches and take some hits.

Mike Green.  He's just plain cute, rocks a faux hawk AND is an awesome defenseman.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Equestrian Fashionista

 Anyone who knows me, or who has seen me, knows that I’m not exactly a fashionista.  Of course I like to wear nice clothes, but you’ll almost never find me in the mall, hopping from store to store, looking at the latest trends and trying on outfit after outfit.  Every so often I’m in the mood to do that sort of thing – but only like once or twice a year.

However, I do love clothing lines for the equestrian (there’s a shocker!)…not that I have the money for these fancy things, but I do keep up with these trends!  My favorite company is Dubarry and below are my two (one day) must-haves.

This coat is out of my budget as it retails for about $500…but it’s so beautifully crafted and simple, I can’t imagine it ever going out of style.

Below are the classic Dubarry boots – I’ve had my eye on these for about five years now.  These, too, retail for around $500, but they are totally worth it.  They are completely waterproof and will last forever.  There are always Dubarry salesmen who set up booths at the Maryland Horse Expo.  You can find them perfectly groomed, decked out from head to toe in their brand, wearing these boots, and standing in a large bucket of water.  They stand there ALL day to show potential buyers how wonderfully crafted these boots are – that they can withstand a lot of abuse (which they’ll certainly get if worn around horses!), and that they’ll last for years.

The only thing about these boots – they are just TOO pretty to wear around the muck and mud you’ll find at a farm during the winter!  However, after I get my farm (and pay it off!!), I’ll probably invest in a pair of these…love them!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where has the time gone?

On this Friday, September 30th, I will be turning 29…for the first time.

I know there a lot of people out there who will laugh/scuff at me for thinking this sounds old…but, it kind of is.  I am entering the last year of my 20s, and I’m not exactly happy about it.  I agree with the adage that you are only as old as you act/feel…but 29 sounds and feels…like…30.

Turning 30 will be a big deal to me.  When I was younger, 30 was that magic (albeit still old) number when life would be figured out.  All the trials and tribulations of my youth would be over and on my 30th birthday, I’d be sitting pretty.  I’d have a great career…an amazing house…I’d be well-traveled…in short, I’d be filthy rich…naturally.

Thirty was also the year I was going to start *thinking* about kids.  Ha! 

What my almost-30 reality actually looks like:

I very much enjoy my work (and not many people can say that!!); I’m a Senior Proposal Writer for Aerotek.  I could not have asked to work with a better group of people – they are truly fantastic!  But, as is my nature, I want more, more, more…hopefully I’ll continue to up the corporate ladder.  It would be nice to run that joint one day.

I have an amazing…townhouse!  Okay – it’s not my farm, yet, but it’s perfect for us.  We have plenty of space and since it’s an end-of-group, my dog has a nice-sized backyard in which to play.  I’m extremely grateful that James and I were able to buy this place in 2007 (not grateful that the market sucks now)…but what can you do?  We’re hoping to make the farm (farmette, really) a reality in the next year or two.

Am I well-traveled…eh, probably not.  I’ve never been to Europe, but I’ve been all over the East Coast, and have been to L.A., Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Mexico, Canada, and Bermuda.  So, no real complaints there.  My brother and I would love to go to England and Ireland in the next year or two though…so fingers crossed.

So am I rich?  Yes and no.  I don’t have a million dollars in my bank account…but it’s not empty!  I have the best husband in the world.  He is kind and patient and very understanding of my I-need-more-horses disease.  I love his redheaded face!

And kids?  Nope…still not ready for them either.  Now, we’re going to start *thinking* about them around age 34…or 35…or 37.  For now, we’re totally content with our four-legged family…Misty, Izzie, and our three cats, Penelope, Snapple and Duckie.

I know that I’ll always be that person who isn’t satisfied with her current position…who always wants to be better, be smarter, do more…but getting ready to turn 29 for the first time has taught me that being like that is okay.  It’s okay to ALWAYS have goals…it’s okay to always be looking for that next thing on the horizon as long as I’m not overlooking the present and taking it for granted.

Happy 29th Birthday to Me! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Takoma Star

I’m far overdue on this post.  I should have introduced the rest of my herd months ago. 

The matriarch of my herd is my 30 year old Mustang pony, Takoma Star, or Komie, as she’s affectionately known.  Komie came into my life on July 11, 1994.  I was 11 years old and would be entering 7th grade in September.  This was, without a doubt, the best summer of my life.

My beloved Komie earlier this spring...check out those dapples!  I love my girl!
I had been taking riding lessons for two or three years at this point, and my mom felt that I was ready for a pony of my own.  At the time, she had her Arabian, Traveller, (who will get his own post), and our two goats, Laverne and Shirley.

Komie is a large pony, 14.1 hands.  She’s a bright bay with a white star that connects to a thin stripe and snip at the base of her nose.  To this day, Komie is beautiful, yet standoffish.  She was adopted right out of a wild herd of Mustangs in Arizona at the age of three.  Just less than a decade later, she was mine.

Komie this summer.  I'll have to dig up some pictures of Takoma and I from 'back in the day' and scan them to my computer!

I could not have asked for a better childhood friend.  She was always kind and patient to the horse crazy girl who spent hours grooming her, brushing out her long, thick tail, and braiding ribbons in her mane.  On Preakness Day one year, I made a garland out of buttercups and placed it around her neck, the winner of my heart.

But like any pony, Komie could be feisty.  I find it funny that my off-the-track-Thoroughbred, Misty, has never once taken off with me, grabbed the bit in her teeth and bolted.  Yet my supposedly saintly pony has taken off with me no less than 10 times (maybe more?) over the course of our riding career.  For such a little thing, she certainly had some speed.  And I, completely surprised, would just cling on for dear life. 

She eventually always came to a screeching halt.  Good girl.  And I would dismount on trembling legs thinking, it’s a shame I’m already too tall to be a jockey!

And though Komie had her days, she was as close to perfect as a pony could get.  I rode her English and Western; I jumped her and barrel raced her.  We spent many long afternoons trail riding down to the Gunpowder River, wading along until she decided she wanted to roll in the water.  (Yes – I dismounted (hurled myself off?) in time…but my saddle was never the same!).  From my childhood eyes, Komie was my angel sent from God…my best friend.

My beautiful girl on a snowy winter's day.  She's a hardy little Mustang and grows the fuzziest coat...she almost never needs an extra blanket.

Now Takoma is living the life of a retired pony: grazing, sunning herself, hanging out her with BFF Misty.  And though she’s a little grey around the face, she looks awesome for her age!

I pray that Komie continues to stay healthy and lives long enough for me to buy my farm so she can live the rest of her life as my backyard pony again.  She has given me so many wonderful, happy memories – I owe her so much.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Review – Beyond the Homestretch

So Hurricane Irene is here, ruining my weekend with lots of rain and heavy wind!  Since I’m inside reading (and blogging), I figured I’d give my readers a review of a book I read and enjoyed earlier this year.  (And yes, it’s a horse book).

After reading Lynn Reardon’s Beyond the Homestretch, don’t be surprised if, as a horse lover, you want to run off to Texas and start your own off-the-track Thoroughbred horse rescue.  (James loves it when I read these types of books!).  Lynn’s stories about the horses up for adoption are wild and lively, painful and joyous, but awe-inspiring with a satisfied sense of happily-ever-after.

Lynn, a transplant from Maryland, moves to Texas to leave the 9-5 rat race behind her, (must be nice!).  She expects she will live an enjoyable and fulfilling life with her husband and finally have the time to focus on her true passion: horses.  What she doesn’t expect is to open a rescue for off-the-track Thoroughbreds who are beautiful and fierce, high on life and who knows what else.  But before she realizes it, she finds multiple four-legged friends in her care, looking to her to find them forever homes and second careers.

In Beyond the Homestretch, Lynn tells us of LOPE’s (LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers) humble beginnings and introduces us along the way to a variety of amazing horses that are seeking a second chance at life. 

We meet Zuper, “a husky bay with an endearing splash of white on his nose, [who] exuded wisdom and Buddha good cheer.”  We smile at the thought of sweet Sugarfoot, “[who] was known for two things at the racetrack: an endearing habit of licking her groom’s bald head and her incredibly slow speed.  A small red filly with gentle eyes, Sugarfoot was oddly put together, like a toy assembled in a rush.”  We imagine Lynn’s panic as she pulls an all-nighter caring for Spider, the adorable three year old colt who was bit by a poisonous snake and lives to tell the tale.  And we completely understand why Lynn decides to keep Tulsa Mambo, a large black gelding and her first adoptee, for herself.

Horse owners can definitely relate to all the trials and tribulations Lynn is put through while caring for these accident-prone animals.  And while there will always be days of frustration, horses are worth the effort. 

Lynn continues to make these efforts every day and her LOPE ranch has helped numerous OTTBs find life after the racetrack.  For more information about Lynn and her organization, please visit: or

I hope everyone is staying safe and dry during this storm!!  Happy reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keep Cool

With about a month of summer left, we're still in for some hot, humid days.  Follow this cute foal's lead and keep cool.

He's a genius.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Equus Keepus Brokus

It’s a common misconception that if you own a horse, you’re rich. This probably couldn’t be further from the truth! Now – of course, the extremely wealthy do own horses sometimes…and they play polo or have a racing stable. But your average horse owner isn’t rich. In fact, she’s poor.

There’s a saying that I like – “If you want to have a million dollars AND a horse, then you have to start with two million dollars.” This is dead on! Horses are really expensive – so much so that I sometimes take a step back and think, why couldn’t I have chosen a different hobby? A cheaper hobby? A less dangerous hobby? One that is not such an emotional roller coaster? But it’s too late – I am afflicted with the must-always-have-horses disease and I’m okay with it!

It’s no secret that James and I are saving our butts off so we can buy a farm. I grew up with property and had my horses right in my backyard…and it’s only natural that I want to get back to that (this is how I justify it to James!!. I love where I board my horse…but I can’t get up and check on them in the middle of the night just to make sure they’re sleeping soundly. I can’t take a book and sit in the middle of their pasture and read for hours and watch them graze. I can’t do anything too permanent to the barn because it’s not mine…and I’m ready for permanent.

My darling husband enjoys pointing out that if we didn’t have the horse, we’d probably already have enough money saved to buy our farm. This – I don’t deny. But if we didn’t have Misty, I wouldn’t want property!

Once I asked a co-worker, who does not own any pets, on what she spends her money. I can’t imagine not having all my extra money already accounted for! (My co-worker’s answer: clothes…my response: Misty is so much cooler than a new shirt or dress!).

But anyway – back to Misty costing as much as my mortgage some months…

I pay board for Misty…so every month, that’s an automatic check. Then every six to eight weeks, Misty’s hooves need trimmed and she needs her front shoes replaced…and she needs to be de-wormed…then there’s grain, hay, vitamin supplements (the horse takes more vitamins than I do), lessons, tack, riding gear/clothing, horse show entry fees…and of course, the dreaded vet bills. Last year Misty had some eye issues (I promise I’ll do a posting specifically about it one day)…and before I knew it, I had spent $3,700 in vet bills in three months!

And then there’s the emotional toll having a horse takes on you…and any rider will agree with this! When Misty is bad and acts up when I’m riding her…my whole day is shot. I’ll come home in tears because my horse hates me/I’m a terrible rider/I’m a failure as a horse mom, you name it…I’ve said it. Poor James has much to contend with! But when she’s good (which, quite honestly, is most of the time), then weeeeeeee – life is great!!! It’s truly amazing how an animal can dictate whether I laugh or cry!

But at the end of the day, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without horses, Misty especially, in my life. She’s worth all the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears ten times over. When we have those days where everything just comes together and we work as a team…and I can see all of our hard efforts paying off, it makes it all worth it. And even when we have bad days, it’s worth it then too.

I love Misty...annnnd Misty loves to sleep.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Men in Grey Suits

As many of you know, it’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel!  I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, but this is really the first year I’ve gone out of my way to make time for Shark Week.  How could I have missed this amazingness!?  For those of you who know me pretty well, you know that I consider watching tv a “tremendous waste of time,” and I’d “take a book over a tv show or movie anyday.”

But Shark Week is totally different!

The Great White - the stuff of my nightmares!

I’m not usually one for blood and guts and overall grossness – but sharks are just so cool…and freakin’ scary!

Shark Week is reminding me why I’m not much of a fan of the water and why I’m afraid to go out too far / too deep in the ocean.  I can’t get over how many shark attacks occur in such shallow water!

The Hammerhead - the coolest shark out there!

This week has also reminded me why I think most surfers are crazy.  While I like to watch them ride the waves, I can’t get over the fact that they’ll enter the water when they know sharks are around.  In one show, a surfer mentioned their code for sharks.  He said when a new surfer enters the water, he’ll say, “There are men in grey suits out here today.”

Umm…no thanks.  You can keep the water and your board…I’ll take the sandy beach and my book.

I love this picture because I know it's fake...this email hoax circulated around 2001.  The helicopter and diver were in San Francisco, and the breaching Great White was of the coast of South Africa.

 There is one animal in a grey suit that I love though – and that, of course, is Misty Mystique.  But just like the “men in grey suits,” Misty has been known to try and take a bite out of people in her way!!

Yes, she will bite you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Maryland Polo Club

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is go to polo matches. The Maryland Polo Club’s grounds are located in Monkton, right behind Ladew Gardens, and matches are held every Friday at 6:00 and every Sunday at 3:00 from June until September. You pay $15 per car, tailgate along the sidelines, eat junk food, and watch the ponies – what could be better?! We usually pack a bunch of people into James’ Explorer, bring an assortment of cheeses, chips, and sweets (all the essentials, of course), and sit in our folding chairs to watch the match.

Polo is pretty laid back – there’s no need to dress up super fancy, but you won’t be out of place if you do. I usually wear a cute dress, or shorts and a fun shirt (and sometimes my Preakness hat!) and flip flops.

If Izzie didn’t love to chase horses, we would bring her for sure. So – if your dog is well-behaved and will sit quietly with you while horses gallop past, then by all means, bring him/her!

After the third chukker, halftime, the spectators are encouraged to head out onto the field to stomp the divots.  That's right - just like in Pretty Woman!  Here I am with my Preakness hat getting ready to do some stompin!.

Polo is a very fast-paced sport, but it’s easy to understand. There are four players on each team and there are six periods, called chukkers. Each chukker is 7 ½ minutes long. There are rules, of course, but the main one is that you can’t cross the invisible line that the ball makes. So if two players are flying up the field in hot pursuit of the ball, neither play can cross the line on which the ball traveled, making it illegal for one to cut the other off, essentially. That kind of behavior is just too dangerous on horseback! Each player has a number (1 – 4) and a different responsibility. Number 3 is usually the best player on the team – he/she can be thought of as the quarterback.

Grey polo pony!  Interesting fact - Misty was almost a polo pony.  A well-known Maryland Club polo player was coming to look at Misty an hour after my scheduled appointment.  He specifically wanted a "pretty grey"...but I snatched her up before he had the chance to see her amazingness!

Every time I go to a polo match, which is fairly often, I get an incredible urge to learn how to play…and I will, at some point. After I get where I want to be with my jumping and equitation, then I’ll switch disciplines and learn polo!

The best part of polo, if you play, is that you need 6 horses. SIX HORSES!! Yes, most people switch horses every chukker so their horse is fresh and ready to go. It wouldn’t be fair to ask a horse, who has to run hard and bump into others, to play more than one chukker per match.

So that’s right James – get ready – I WILL NEED SIX HORSES ONE DAY! Another cool thing about polo – men and women can play together. So I was hoping that when I learn to play, my husband will join me for some lessons too. Which means – WE WILL NEED 12 HORSES IN THE FAMILY!!

But if you’re looking for something fun to do on a summer afternoon/evening, head up to Monkton for a polo match. The sound of the horses’ hooves pounding up and down the field will give you chills.

Friday, July 1, 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

That’s right – summer is here and 4th of July is just around the corner!  I look forward to this stretch of the year during the cold winter months.  I feel like the July 4th holiday officially ushers in this glorious time of year and that’s why it has always been my favorite holiday, trumping Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

 Here’s why this time of year kicks butt:

- The warm weather…yeah, I love not wearing a lot of clothing!  There’s no need to layer up – throw those hats and gloves and coats back (waaaay back) in the closet…I don’t even want to think about them!  Some shorts, a tank top, and flip flops – that’s it!

- The days last forever.  This equals more time outside riding Misty (which she’s always thrilled about).  I could stay outside doing just about anything from sun up until sun down.

- Crabbies!  Umm…sitting on the deck eating steamed crabs with corn on the cob drenched in butter and Old Bay?  Yeah – it doesn’t get more amazing than that.

Nom nom nommmmm!!!

 - Vacations…even if it’s just a little day trip or long weekend ‘downy ocean hon,’ it’s something to look forward to.

- Snowballs…old fashioned egg custard with marshmallow on top please…perfect after a long day of riding in the hot sun.

 - Outdoor events…concerts, picnics, cook-outs, you name it…everything is just better outside.  My personal favorite – watching a polo match.  Grab some food and some friends and tailgate for the afternoon alongside the polo fields in Monkton.

Grey polo pony!

 - THE STATE FAIR!  OMG FAIR FOOD!!...and SO MANY ANIMALS IN ONE PLACE…and sampling honey at the beekeepers’ station…and arts and crafts…and ANIMALS and FAIR FOOD!!!  The fair is also perfect for people watching…(Maryland – you may be small…but you are quite diverse)…and it gives me a chance to relive my sweet days as a cute, horse-crazy 4H-er.

 And finally…THE 4TH OF JULY!  Cook-outs, parades, fireworks, volleyball…and of course, my wedding anniversary!  James and I will be celebrating 6 years of wedded bliss on the 4th…gotta love that. 

Happy 6th babe - I love you!