To this day, I can still (poorly) sing along to Carly Simon’s 1971 top twenty song “Anticipation.”  My singing is not fit for public consumption – just ask my husband who is subjected to it in the car…That aside, things are gearing up for our show in two weeks.  Anticipation is building and hopes are high that we will do well.  My riding has come along way the past few years and is finally fit for public viewing.

With the seasonable temperatures, we have been able to ride and not finish looking like drowned rats.  Although the region could use some more rain, I am not complaining that the sun is out more often than not.   We have been able to school 4 or 5 days a week.  Ike had his pedicure last week as well as an acupuncture and chiropractic session.  My extensive packing lists are on my desk as well as the lists of stuff that I need to get done at home and work before we leave.  The dog sitter has been hired.  Ike has attempted to grow back some mane.  We have about 1.5 inches of spikey growth in the “bald zone.”  I am hopeful that there might be enough hair to fake some sort of braid.  Still praying that roached manes will surge into popularity with dressage riders in the next 10 days.

Our lessons have been intensive.  A lot of discussions about keeping Ike up in his bridle and not letting him dive into the connection.  My whip has been taken away since it not allowed in the championship classes.  I’ve played with a longer spur so that I can speak to the other time zone that is Ike’s hind end.  A few test movements are interspersed in the lessons, but we continue to focus on me understanding when I am connected and through and when Ike’s stride is too short/tight/quick/choppy.  Once the problem is identified (if I am successful at the identification) then we work on what I need to do to fix the problem.  Thankfully, I’m now better able to fix the problems.  Could it be that I might have discovered the secret language of the half halt?!  I’m still waiting to be taught the secret handshake, but that can wait until after the show.

Of course, anticipation can be a bad thing when your horse has ridden the dressage tests enough that he begins to anticipate the next move.  I finally realized that Ike was anticipating the up and down transitions in my Training Level Test 2 rides.  When I sat back and looked at my score sheets from this year, I saw that we quite frequently jig right before our trot transitions.  We also got hit a number of times for trotting before we finished our right lead canter circle.  While practicing my tests at home, sure enough, Ike is jigging and trotting too early.  Hmm.  Guess I need to change up my preparatory methods.  Part of it is that I might be on cruise control myself.  I should know better by now, but some habits are hard to break.

Back in the saddle again tomorrow and then a break on Wednesday.  Thanks for checking in on Ike and I!



It Is All About Your Perspective.

Ike at RM 2014

Our final regular season show is now behind us and there is only the Region 1 Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championship Show ( ) left on the calendar.  It is hard to believe that our third year of showing is almost complete.  Where did the time go?  As I reflect on our show last weekend as well as the season as a whole, I realize that I have much to be thankful for, more than just the satin ribbons that hang on the wall of my home office.

At my show in August, I had my mental breakdown.  Cried like a baby with my frustration about our performance.  There, I said it.  Now everyone knows.  The frustration came from the numerous mistakes during my First 3 ride – cantering like an out-of-control freight train, falling out of canter on the canter loop, our inability to ride a centerline. and having the judge tell me to learn my leads (how pleasant of her).  Just wanted to crawl into a hole albeit a big one so that Ike could get in there with me.

During the weeks between that show and our September show, I have cried a few more times, but not because of my riding.  I cried when I heard the news that one of my dear blogger friends lost her sweet mare Sugar.  It was completely sudden and unexpected.  I never had the opportunity to meet Sugs, but I felt the loss as if she was my own horse.  I am now crying again with the news that a dear coworker, who only just retired last year, is now in hospice care.  How unfair life can be.

These recent events have placed some perspective on how I am going to look at my show performance.  We sometimes place too much importance on the attainment of a ribbon and a placing.  I am as guilty as the next person of this.  But, dressage provides us a way to rate our performance that has nothing to do with a ribbon.  Whether or not you place, you get to take home your dressage test; the test tells you how the judge rated each and every movement of the test with comments for all the lower scores.  Some judges will even give you comments with the higher scores.  You need only read the comments to know what you need to raise your score.  How lucky that we have written comments?!  You can compete against yourself from show to show.

That being said, I went to the show last weekend with my personal goals – to maintain my Training 2 and First 2 performance, obtain higher than 65% at Training 3, and to get higher than 60% at First 3.  If we placed, wonderful.  If we did not, that was okay as well.  I am happy to say that we obtained each and every one of our goals!  Could not have been prouder with Ike’s performance at the show.  If you would like to see some action shots, check out our pictures at Pics of You –

I can head to the CBLMs and know that we are more than capable of riding Training 2 and First 2 in our championship classes.  No matter how we finish, I know that we will have put forth our best effort.

I am so thankful and grateful that I am able to own a horse and that I have the means that allow me to compete.  I am lucky that we are both healthy are physically capable to do the sport I love.  Life is too short and our time with our horses and loved ones is a gift.  Remember to enjoy each and every ride.


Can You Guess What They Tried To Do To Me Yesterday???

Alison and Ike Culpeper August 2014

I have yet again seized control of the blog to share with my fans the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Mom just doesn’t do a stellar job providing you the facts.  Mom forgets to take off her rose colored glasses sometimes as she skips through her days.

The poor woman continues to struggle with what to do with her appendages.  I hear her reminiscing about how I used to attempt to ram her knee into the fence since I couldn’t make all my body parts work together.  Well here we are three years later and I am more than capable of coordinating my legs.  I cannot say the same for Mom and she is almost 46 years old.  Come on woman! Put your inside leg up near the girth when I’m cantering to help me bend.  You can clearly see from the photo that she is incapable of listening while in the show ring.  Just look where her leg is!  Sheesh!  And then she is surprised when I break from the canter or lean in.  Will someone please tell her to be there to help me…yes, I do a lot of the work, but she’s got to learn to do her part for the team.  I can only hope for better leg/seat/hand coordination at our upcoming show at Rose Mount.  With only a week until the show, I have to hope for a miracle.

That whole feed bucket debacle had nothing to do with what was in my feed bucket.  I’m not really a picky fellow, except for peaches, those things are gross.  I might have been pawing one morning while waiting for my breakfast and might have gotten my hoof stuck in the bucket.  When I pulled back to get it out, somehow the bucket got in the way and it broke.  Yeah, that is what happened.  Or wait, is it too late to blame my brother.  Yeah, he made me do it.

Lately, it has not been fun to be outside.  The weather has been okay, but the horseflies have been out in droves.  We horses have decided that they are evil.  We are pretty certain that they are the devil’s spawn sent forth to make us all miserable.  I have mastered the tail flick and the neck-reach-around to combat the flying devils.  My brother does a nonstop shimmy shake so that they cannot land on him.  He only stops when Mom is close by and then he shows her where it is so she can kill it.  While she is uncoordinated in the saddle, she does have lightning quick thwacking skills to kill the flies.  Go Mom!

And let me tell you about yesterday…Mom and I had another lesson with Ms. C.  I’m pretty sure they tried to kill me.  We worked very hard on the various movements that we will need for our upcoming show: cantering, trot lengthenings, canter lengthenings, centerlines, and leg yields.  We didn’t stop much because the horseflies were lying in wait if we paused.  After about 50 minutes I was breathing very hard.  It was scary.  I huffed and puffed and couldn’t catch my breathe.  Mom dismounted and they hosed me off for at least 20 minutes (I didn’t think I was that dirty).  Mom then stuck this tube of brown goo in my mouth.  She called it “elektrolights.”  I called it gross and tried to spit it back at her.  After about 20 more minutes I felt better.  I hope that never happens again.

If you are going to be in town next weekend, come see me at the show.  I love when my friends come to cheer for me!  Especially the ones who bring snacks!

Until next time,



Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings


I can feel happy when I eat my ice cream, I feel sad when the ice cream is gone.  I feel tired after spending the entire weekend at a horse show.  My bed feels really good when I collapse in it at the end of the day.  Feelings are everywhere.  You can’t escape them even when you are riding.  Your trainer and clinicians talk a lot about feeling certain things when you are riding your horse.  “Did you feel that push your horse just gave you?”  “Did you feel how connected you were on that lengthening?”  “Could you feel your horse tense up right before he spooked at the vulture?”  All very valid questions.  But truth be told, I’m still not good with my “horse feelings.”

Like in the above photo, I’m obviously not sitting on my butt because I’m leaning too far forward.  I can see that in the photo.  But if you ask me about it when I’m riding, I will tell you that it feels like I’m sitting perfectly tall and upright.  When I’m told “sit on your butt,”  I immediately think, I am!  I know I’m not sitting on my head.  What else would I be sitting on while on a horse?!  When I lean back until told I’m in the correct position, it feels like I’m about to tip over backwards.  Ugh, this feeling stuff is hard.

Trainers also talk about feeling the horse in your hands.  Is there too much weight in your hands?  Is your horse leaning on you wanting you to carry his big head?  Do you feel nothing because your threw away your contact?  It is a hard thing to teach and even harder to understand when it is right.  Your trainer can’t be on your horse with you to feel what you are feeling.  They can only talk you through the sequence of aids until they see that your horse is moving correctly from behind and coming up and out of their withers.  They then say, “do you feel that?  That is correct.”  You then must process what things feel like and then try to reproduce it at a later date and time.  Sure, no problem you think.  Ha!  I usually have the epic fail when I think I’ve reproduced the “feeling.”  I’m told my horse is too flat and I’ve left his hind end trailing.  Sigh.  Again, this feeling stuff is harder then I imagined.

The feeling stuff just never ends while on your horse.  You need to feel when your horse needs a half halt to maintain your rhythm/tempo/balance.  Then once you realize that you need that half halt, you need to determine how much of a half halt to give.  If you do too much, you will have “lost that loving feeling” and ruined your connection.  If you do too little, nothing will have been accomplished.  You also need to make your aids subtle so that it looks like you are doing nothing.  [look up Charlotte and Valegro on YouTube and watch any of their rides – they are the epitome of finding the right feeling on your horse.]  I am the poster child of what not to do.

The worst feeling is when your instructor asks, “Which of those (transitions/lengthenings/leg yields) felt the best?”  Oh no, you are now in the hot seat.  Which one is the right one?!!  Eeek!  Was it the first one?  The last one?  Think woman, think!  You finally blurt out an answer only to hear the following, “Why do you think that one was best?”  Crap!  Put on the spot again!  I still don’t know if I’m right about the first question.  I finally mutter something about my alignment and my connection and pray that I’ve muddled through that portion of the oral exam.  I’d say that I get it right about 60% of the time.  If I could just make it to 70%, I’d feel a bit better.

I equate learning my “horse feelings” with learning my “baker feelings.”  What are baker feelings you ask?  It is the feeling of the bread dough in your hands when the consistency is correct.  My mother has tried for years to teach me to feel the dough to no avail.  She has the magic touch.  Her pie crust and apple crumb topping are divine.  I have tried to replicate that crust and those crumbs.  Fail!  My crumbs melt into a single blob in the oven; my mother’s are delicious individual balls of heaven.  She tells me what is in them, but when I ask how much of each ingredient I need, the answer is, ” enough of each so it feels right between your fingers.”  Thanks Mom, that is helpful…not.

Twenty-five years later, I’m still trying to learn my baker feelings.  I can only hope that my learning curve for my horse feelings is faster.



Pony Gone Mad


You know it isn’t going to be great news when you hear from your trainer early in the day with an email with your horse’s name in the subject line…great, who did what to which horse or what body part?  Luckily, the damage was to an inanimate object.  Even more lucky, there was no damage to the horse that caused the barn damage.

As you can see by the photo, Ike decided that his feed bucket was very, very naughty and had to be destroyed to save the barn.  Not sure what triggered this destructive turn.  We did begin switching Ike to a new supplemental feed with yesterday’s dinner. [Purina discontinued their Athlete feed last year.  I stockpiled almost 20 bags in my family room to delay the switch, but the day finally arrived to change over to the Purina Amplify.]  We are not certain if the change in the feed made Ike mad that there was a change in the taste or if he like the new feed so much that he was mad that there was not more.  Or it was completely unrelated to the feed and he was bored.  Either way, Mom had to stop to buy a new feed bucket on the way to the barn today.

Sadly, this is not the first time Ike has destroyed pieces of the barn.  We had to buy a new gate after he mangled the old one when he’d rear on the gate to take it off the hinges.  He also played with the ceiling fan blades enough to damage the motor;  his fan would spin slowly like top getting ready to topple over.  That poor fan was put out of its misery last summer.  And finally, the day is near, when we will have to purchase the lumber to reframe the windows of his stall.  Ike still exhibits termite like behavior in spite of the No Chew sprayed on the wood with chicken wire stapled over it.

Fingers are crossed that the new bucket will survive the night.

The Changing of the Seasons


So here we are careening towards the end of August. It is almost hard to believe that fall is just around the corner. Where did 2014 go? It seems like just last week that we launched our 2014 show season with our First Level debut. This summer has been a busy one for Ike and me. Three weekend long licensed shows, clinics sprinkled in-between the shows, as well as more lessons than I can count on my fingers and toes. When the seasons change, it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the outgoing season and prepare for the one just over the horizon.

Some might ask why we are still showing Training Level at this point in the season. Well, it is because we (okay, okay, I) am I still struggling to get good scores for some of the movements in Training Level Test 3 (that blasted trot loop and the canter to trot transitions at the letter). You would think it should be easy for us by now, but being the perfectionist that I am, it bugs me that we can’t seem to get anything more than a 64.__% in Test 3. Grrr. Even at the last show when I thought we’d finally crossed that invisible divide, we still only received a 64.8%. And truth be told, our canter is still a work in progress. Some days we canter and can look like a pair that belongs at First Level, but then a new day dawns, and we are back to the strung out Scooby Doo shuffle. Luckily as the season has progressed, the Scooby Doo days are fewer and fewer…unless a vulture shows up and then all bets are off.

Our First Level work is also inconsistent. There I said it. There are folks that have the skills to go out and get good scores no matter what the day, no matter which test they ride. I am not one of them. Am I happy about that fact? Nope. Do I work my butt off to try to change that? You bet I do. Will the change happen? Your guess is as good as mine.

Ike and I are still trying to figure out when forward becomes too quick, and when our connection goes from steady to too tight or nonexistent. It happens in the blink of an eye, and I’m definitely not always quick enough to catch it as it is happening. I might get lucky every once in a while, but more often than not, we’ve lost the beauty and become the clunky beast. Our leg yield goes from a floaty “8” to a choppy “6.” Our trot lengthening looks more like we a scrambling to the barn in a rainstorm. And that evil canter loop? Pole bending gone horribly wrong. This will not be our breakout year at First Level nor will we be attempting a Second Level test anytime soon.

In preparation for our final two shows of the year, VADAF’s licensed show at Rose Mount and the Region 1 BLM Championships, we spent some time with Ms. C analyzing our scores and more importantly, the judge’s comments. While there are always comments that leave you scratching your head as to their meaning, most of the comments provide valuable insight on how to improve your score. Unfortunately, there are many areas that we need to improve – that inconsistency thing again. What we do well in one test, we blow in the next.  The list of things to work on is long.  We pick one or two at each lesson and do our best to improve.

So with all due respect to Aretha, we aren’t looking for R-E-S-P-E-C-T, we are looking for C-O-N-S-IS-T-E-N-C-Y. Wish us luck!

The Rollercoaster Ride of Showing


This past weekend was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting.  Ike and I had our third show of the 2014 show season at the revamped HITS Showgrounds in Culpeper, Virginia.  The show was hosted by the Virginia Dressage Association Charlottesville Chapter.  Ike and I came home with a first, second, fifth, and a six, but not without some tears shed, some aches and pains, and a huge blister on the inside of my right knee where my britches didn’t sit quite right.

Anyone, whether you are a professional sportsman or the amateur competitor, who commits their time, effort and money to the sport that they love, knows how vested you are in the outcome of your dressage test, game or match.  This is why you see 300 pound football players with tears in their eyes when they lose the big game.  The emotional, mental, and physical investment into the sport you love is huge.

You sacrifice in other areas of your life when you commit to the sport you love.  I’ve missed weekends away with friends and family because I’ve been sitting in the barn waiting for my ride time.  I’ve turned down promotional opportunities at work which would mean less time at the barn.  My yard looks like a jungle for most of the year since I’m at the barn rather than tending to the flowerbeds.  The dogs are a bit unruly since I lack the time to take them to obedience classes.  The house is “clean enough” but never ready for a white glove inspection.  I’ve become a budget ninja to fit my horses into my life…and have a credit card on file with the veterinarian which I’m pretty certain helped finance the vet’s latest vacation.  I’m a compulsive list maker to make sure that nothing is forgotten while trying to juggle home, work and barn time.

You feel bad when you fail to succeed.  There are so many people who support you as you pursue this crazy obsession – your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, and your horse support network that includes your vet and the farrier.  They miss seeing you since you are atop your horse for yet again another lesson.  They come and cheer for you as you head down centerline.  You want to do well to thank them for their commitment to you.  I know that I wish I could crinkle my nose and disappear after the end of a disastrous test.

The commitment to the training also takes its toll on you mentally.  There are dressage tests to memorize.  There are countless lessons and clinics so that you can become proficient enough to brave the scrutiny of the judge sitting at C.  It is a challenge to learn to coordinate your aids to obtain the movement you want…then you have to do it at least 1000 times the exact same way before it becomes effortless.  Even after 5 lessons in two weeks, I still enlisted help at the show to keep Ike and I focused.  A girlfriend who does competitive dog obedience trials and I noted that our trainers are much like our graduate school professors.  They nitpick the minutia since we are driven to do our best.  They constantly ask us questions and expect quick answers.  We are mortified when we cannot quickly answer since there is no time to deliberate in the show ring.  The answers must become second nature and you must always be thinking one or two movements ahead.  Um, yeah, sure, that is how I ride.  Ha!  There are times that I can barely hold it together for the movement at hand.  “Use your corners to rebalance.”  Right, I’m lucky to steer through the corner without knocking a rail down.

You can’t discuss riding without noting the physical toll riding takes.  I’ve had people note that “How hard can it be?  You are just sitting there while the horse does all the work.”  Yeah, no, how wrong you are.  This is not trail riding on a dead broke trail horse as you play follow the leader down the path.  Riding well enough for competition requires that you have aerobic stamina, core strength, leg strength, flexibility, and lightening quick reflexes.  And while you are sitting up there working your ass off, you should look like you are just along for the ride.  I haven’t quite mastered that part yet.  Smile, I’m told.  Photos show that I grimace while I concentrate.  It is a good look…There is also the fact that I managed to pick a horse I consider to be extremely big and who is very fit.  When I am done riding, I am spent.  It doesn’t get any easier as you move up the levels either or so I’m told.  Good heavens!  I guess I’ll join a gym in my spare time to be able to keep up with my horse.  Besides the physicality of riding a 1200 pound animal, I’ve also got my blisters and callouses, my mystery bruises, achy back, and sore ankles.

In spite of all the challenges riding presents, I would not give it up for anything.  The emotional low of failing to perform as you had hoped only helps you to appreciate the good rides even more.  Saturday was a challenging show day.  We did okay with our Training Level test, but with a huge spook with resulting tension, Ike and I completely botched our First Level Test 3 ride and the 60th percentile was again unachievable. {Insert tears of frustration and embarrassment here.}  The hardest part was the comments from the judge at the end of the test sheet.  [Note to judges = Please try to find a polite way of telling a competitor what they need to work on.  We all didn’t come out of the womb being world class riders.]  I am proud of Ike and I for regrouping on the second day.  We rocked our Training Level test 2 and won the class.  But best of all, we finally crossed the 60% mark for First Level Test 3 with a 65.6%.  It felt like redemption and gave me hope for our future success.


Hello All You Happy People!

Ike shares his latest thoughts...

Ike shares his latest thoughts…

A happy hello to all my friends!

My Mom is yet again a slacker, so I am tasked with filling you in on the latest news from my little corner of the world…Seriously, I don’t know what that woman does with her time.  I mean, she is only at the barn for two maybe three hours a day.  What could she possibly doing that is more important than spending time with me?!!

In fact, Mom left me for another week recently.  She went on what she called a “vaycashun” and said that I was getting one too.  Hmm, I think I got the short end of the straw.  She went to some place called a beach and came home with brown skin and a peeling nose.  I didn’t go anywhere!  How is that even close to being one of those “vaycashuns”?  I stayed in my same stall, hung out in my same paddock, saw my same friends each day.  No sign of a beach anywhere.  I hear a beach has sand and water.  I didn’t even step foot in our arena which is the only sand at the farm.  Water?  I had to paw the water trough to make the water slosh around.  To express my displeasure, I decided to rub off a large section of my mane.  Let’s see Mom try to put a braid in it next weekend!  Muwahaha!

And yes, you guessed it, we have another show next weekend.  Mom says we are going to yet again attempt the test with the canter loops.  Since after she arrived home, there were only two weeks until the show, she has been a bit of a maniacal slave driver.  We had not one,not two, but THREE lessons this past week.  I know that I don’t need that much help, so Mom must think she needs extra help from Ms. C.  I think it is funny when Ms. C asks Mom, “So what did you think of that transition/leg yield/circle/halt?”  Mom gets this blank look about her because she knows that obviously there was something lacking, but she isn’t quite sure what it was.  Why don’t they just ask me?  I can tell you when Mom is noncommittal or making a half-assed effort.  It amuses me to only kind of commit.  Ms. C then fusses at Mom to try harder.  Haha!  The problem is when Mom finally does, we both have to work a lot harder.  Ms. C gets all excited and tells Mom, “there’s your working trot,” “that is your lengthening!”  Phew!  It is hard work to get those comments.  Ms. C says that kind of work is what we need to continue to strive for during each ride.  No more putzing around.  Hmm, all this hard work makes a fellow tired.

At least we will be better prepared for those canter loops than we were at the last show.  Did Mom really think that only two weeks of practice were going to make us proficient?  After all, she’d never ridden countercanter before…and of course, neither had I (at least not intentionally).  Now we more often than not can ride a shallow loop without me showing off my flying changes or dropping out of the canter.  Thankfully, Mom is more refined with her aids.  She even knows where to put her legs.  What a good Mom.  She should get a cookie.  No wait, I get all the cookies at the lessons. 🙂

At least it hasn’t been blazing hot this past week for all this extra work.  Usually by now, we are roasting like marshmallows.  I’ve heard the term “unseasonably cool” used a few times.  That is okay with me.  I hope it is this way next weekend at the show.  If you are out and about in Culpeper, come see me!  I love when folks come and cheer me on!  It is okay to cheer for Mom as well, but we will know you are really there to see me.  I promise not to tell.




Take One National Seashore and Just Add Horses

Headed through the dunes onto the beach.  Photo by Equine Adventures.

Headed through the dunes onto the beach. Photo by Equine Adventures.

What do you get when you have the unspoiled beauty of one of the United States’ National Seashores and add horses?  You have one bucket list item scratched off your list.  While on vacation last week, I took three of the grandchildren on a beach trail ride with Equine Adventures ( located on Hatteras Island in North Carolina.

I have heard the stories of sketchy operations with tack held together with bailing twine with horses that should never carry inexperienced riders, but Equine Adventures is not one of those.  This ride was top notch and I would go back in a heart beat.

The rides occur either early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat of the day and the biggest of the coastal bugs with voracious appetites.  Even though there was a great breeze once you were on the beach, you do have to ride through the unspoiled maritime forest to get to that breeze.  That means that you are fair game to any and all hungry mosquitoes and biting flies that call the forest home.  We doused ourselves in 30% DEET and escaped unscathed.  One of our guides missed a shoulder when applying her bug spray and had no less than thirty bites by the time we reached the beach.  Ouch!  I get itchy just thinking about it.

The ride is a great way to see parts of the island that are mostly inaccessible to the normal tourist.  Hearty hikers and mountain bikers might give these trails a try, but your average visitor will never see this part of the seashore.  When your sure-footed horse is winding its way through the trees, you realize that the roots of these trees are what help hold the island together.  You see the native deer who are unafraid of the horses, and the horses are unafraid of them…Ike, take note that there is no need to run like a banshee.

It is thrilling to climb the dunes and emerge on the unspoiled beach.  No rows of houses, no hotels, no tacky souvenir shops.  Just sea turtle nests, piles of dried seaweed, seagulls and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in the distance.  If you are an experienced rider, you get to add the thrill of galloping in the sand with only the sound of the waves and wind in your ears.


The reason for such a successful ride?  The guides do an excellent job matching horse and rider.  When you make your reservation, they ask each rider’s age and experience so that they can make the best pairings.  The well seasoned trail horses will take care of their inexperienced riders even with the loosest of reins – no worries about unscheduled gallops.  Each horse has its own saddle and bridle.  All the horses are barefoot – if only I could be so lucky.  All the horses were in excellent condition – no small feat considering all the hay and feed have to be brought over to the island.  I learned that obtaining hay can be an all day excursion.

If riding on the beach isn’t already on your bucket list, add it.  You will not regret this incredible experience!

p.s. They are looking for a seasonal guide for the rest of the season…


Stop the Flop


Ladies, this is a blog post just for you.  Two of my friends and I were chatting a week ago.  One runs middle distances, one runs agility with her Corgi, and I ride.  But, we all have the exact same issue – how do you contain the “girls” and stop the flop.    For one, it is uncomfortable even if you are not well endowed.  Two, we all have seen ourselves on video and have cringed when you see the independent movement of uncontained boobs.  You might have halted, but certain parts are still coming to a stationary position.  That video makes you stop and realize that “I need a better bra.”

My friends and I discussed our experiences both good and bad with finding the perfect “over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder”  ( A nod to Bette Midler for that reference!).

One of the bad experiences is wearing a yoga top while riding, running or doing any high impact activity.  Just an utter failure on my part when I tried it once.  The shelf bra support meant a very uncomfortable ride when I did anything more than a walk.  It is not recommended unless you have something more supportive underneath.

Also not recommended by either my friends or me is the well worn bra that you have owned for over 5 years.  You know the one.  The one with no elasticity left in the straps or the back.  I’m willing to bet that we all have one that should have been retired, but it seems to do its job until you decide to be a bit more active while wearing it.  You even try adjusting the straps to no avail.  Please give it a moment of silence and remove it from the rotation.

We also strongly suggest that you leave the frilly and lacy balconette brassieres for non-athletic endeavors.  These bras are built for different reasons than a good athletic bra.  The materials are usually not sweat friendly and the styling is not very supportive.  How horrifying would it be to “break free” in the middle of your dressage test or marathon?!

What do we recommend?  Heading to your nearest athletic store and finding athletic bras made for runners.  They tend to have the most support and compression and work well for equestrians.  Try on your favorites.  Jump, move, turn and stretch in the contenders.  Comfort is key.  If something is too tight, too loose, or cuts into your underarm while in the dressing room, just say no and move on to the next one.  This is definitely like saddle shopping – one size does not fit all.  Find what works for you.

If you would rather shop from the comfort of home, then head over to the Title Nine website.  They rate their bras and bra tops with barbells.  The more barbells a bra has, the more support you will get.  They even guarantee that DDD cups won’t move in their six barbell bras…now that is some impressive support!

Feel free to share your favorite brands and stores in the comments below.  Now it’s time to head back to the barn – it is a shame that my undergarments can’t help my sit trot…