Friday, November 30, 2007

Real men grow up on farms

My friend Lauren, in Nashville, recently endured the horrible experience of having one of her horses die on her in the pasture Tuesday afternoon. It was terribly unexpected (he was young, healthy, and talented), although he had impaction colicked several days before. He recovered from the minor bout with colic just fine, but as we all know with horses: anything imaginable can happen with/to them in the blink of an eye. In her struggle to deal with the death of her horse, she decided to transport him to the state lab in Nashville for a necropsy. She doesn't have a tractor, horse trailer, flat bed trailer, or a she was at the mercy of friends and neighbors who were willing to help out.

She wrote this message (below) to a group of us yesterday morning, recounting her ordeal over the past day or so, and it brought tears to my eyes. She told us that she actually laughed later when she thought of a bumper sticker she used to have that read: "I'm raising my kids to be cowboys." She said she'd like to get a new one that says: "I'm raising my kids to be farmboys."

"Ever try to find heavy equipment at 7:30 in the night when there are no farms nearby? We made phone calls for hours last night, and I made phone calls for hours this morning. I was a step away from calling U-Haul. We finally secured a trailer, to be rented from the Co-op, and the BM called her old boarding barn, and begged her to bring a tractor out- she was happy to do it, but it would cost us a pretty penny to have her haul the tractor on the trailer out there. We borrowed a truck from my roommate (hitch in place, no ball), a ball and an electrical adapter from one of my friend's students (she teaches high school agriculture and she was actually the person who was leasing Leo from me and prepping him for competitions in 2008). We were ready to do it. Four women, three of which were overly emotional to begin with.

Back-up to my friend, who teaches high school agriculture.
About 11am, I get a call from my friend- "Cancel everything, I have a truck, trailer and tractor, meet me in half an hour." What?!! I hop in the car and head towards the barn, I get there and find three high school senior boys, their big ol' farm truck with flatbed trailer and bobcat on board. The boys found out what happened to their teacher's horse, called their parents to get them out of school, packed up their equipment, teacher in tow, and came out to the barn, half an hour away. They took a look at the horse, sent us in the barn, and with the dignity he deserved, loaded Leo into the flatbed, covered him carefully and brought him down the the lab for us (another half hour south). They handled everything at the lab, we never had to see anything we didn't want to witness. They were polite, please and thank you, very genuine in their concern (they didn't use chains, they found straps, closed his eyes and mouth the best they could, laid him very gently and carefully down), apologetic for the whole situation and fixed up some other things they "happened to notice needed fixing" at the barn for us.

They very grudgingly let us buy them lunch and ADAMANTLY refused any other sort of payment, "No ma'am, it's the least we could do. We're very sorry."
On top of that, one of my friends called and offered to pay any vet bills we couldn't pay because "I live with my parents and have some extra cash laying around; you're on your own and I know things are tight." I can't even tell you how many times I've cried out of sheer gratitude today. People are truly amazing."

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I first became educated to the amazing genius of Dale Chihuly's glass artwork a number of years ago, back before I went to grad school. There was an exhibit of his work here in Knoxville at the KMA and I visited that temporary installation several times. I couldn't get enough of it! When I was in Cincinnati a few weeks ago for work, we all went to the museum of art for the afternoon. I enjoyed so much of what I saw (there was an original Maxfield Parrish painting there, and I LOVE MAXFIELD PARRISH!!! I got to stand close to the actual canvas and see every tiny brush stroke and every drop of paint he was amazing), but was obviously thrilled when I walked through the front doors and there was an incredible Chihuly "chandelier" hanging from the ceiling in the entrance hall.

I also frequently enjoy going to his
official web site and looking at all of the beautiful photographs of his various installations from around the world. Just going and looking at his "lap pool" work is well worth the time to check out his site.

"I love to be around water. The connections between glass and water are so unbelievable and so visual. There is no doubt in my mind that water is conducive to thought. Water allows me to be incredibly creative. I work with four materials, of any scale—glass, plastic, water, and ice. And it is really light that makes those materials come alive."
-- Chihuly

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I will win.

Brad Paisley is playing here in Knoxville on February 1st. I don't really want to buy tickets at 9:00 this coming Saturday morning, and it is predicted the show will sell out in only a day or two. Our local country music station, WIVK, is periodically giving away 2 tickets in a contest where they play a current country music song at a faster pace and "polka" style, and listeners have to guess which song it is. I'm soooo good at this. Anyway, they did a song this morning on my drive in to work, but I didn't catch the number to call (I never do things like, call radio stations) but when I heard the song, I knew exactly what song it was. It was "Fall" by Clay Walker!!! I knew it!!! But, I didn't have the number to call!!!

People were calling and guessing really stupid stuff or just blanking when it was their turn to guess. Nobody won, so they went to commercial, and did it again about 5 or 6 minutes later. Some girl called in and guessed "Fall," and you bet...she was right. So, Carrie with a "C" won my 3rd row seats at the Brad Paisley concert this morning. ARggggghhh. That's alright. I'll get them next time. I just went to WIVK's web site and put the contest line number on speed dial on my cellphone. Look out, peeps, because someone is about to win some concert tickets!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Only in eventing...

...would you see a horse and rider jumping onto/off of the roof of a house. :) Photos courtesy of the amazing Francis Whittington and his equally amazing horse, Sir Percival III.

Monday, November 26, 2007


4OTs??? The SEC East title??? Are you kidding me? I cannot believe we actually ended up winning this game, but win we did. Now, on to Atlanta...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I guess they couldn't "FTJ" this time around, either. Maybe next year!

(I really wish they would incorporate more purple into their uniforms. I loved when they played VT and pulled out the all purple outfits. But, then again, I'm certainly not one to complain about too much orange-and-white.)

Monday, November 19, 2007


I was so devastated to hear this news. My friend Amy was a competitor there this past weekend and she is just all torn up about it. People are saying, "Well, at least she died doing what she loved." It makes me wonder if that's good enough consolation for this type of tragedy anymore. This seems to be happening more and more lately.

If anything, though, it reminds me that life is and love while you can.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Garden & Gun

I am sooooo getting a subscription to this magazine. There are other people out there like me. Who would have thought it? And, here I was, imagining that I was the only girl who rushes home from work, feeds her dogs, rides her horse, cleans the barn, puts out hay, then absentmindedly reaches up to her throat with grimey hands...and realizes that all this time, she's forgotten to take off her good pearls.


Tomorrow and Friday the WSA Central MAPS team is gathering in Cincinnati for a team meeting. We are going to the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Krohn Conservatory (a botanical garden). We'll just be missing the start of the holiday flower show (which I would have loved!!!) but I'm really looking forward to it anyway. I'm excited to be visiting Cincinnati (I've never been) and bonding with my fellow MAPS teammates. Bonding with teammates is also good, since we all actually like one another. It should be fun! :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Kids and Horses

This past weekend, I had friends (and their children) over to my place to ride the horses. It was a very nice Saturday afternoon. The kids were great and they all seemed to have a wonderful time. I'm such a firm believer in the power of fresh air and the out-of-doors for active kids. Everyone had fun riding the horses, but I think that almost as much fun was had climbing on my tractor and jumping off of my hay trailer. As long as they're having a good time, so be it.

These are pictures of my friend Jennifer's little boy, Blake, riding Eddie. Isn't he a cutie? And, when I say "cutie,"
I mean Blake, not Eddie...we all already know that Eddie is

Monday, November 12, 2007

Hunting license

In order to ride with the hunt over Thanksgiving, I have to obtain a TN small game general hunting license. I can either do this online, or I can do it somewhere like Bass Pro Shops. I've opted to do this online since it is easier and more efficient, and because if I physically GO INTO the big Bass Pro Shops out near my house, then I am likely to spend lots of money that I don't have.

So, let's get this straight: I need to get a hunting license, but I'm afraid to go to BPS because I will buy lots of stuff (possibly even a new 4-wheeler) that I need but can't afford. I am such a Tennesseean that it's almost scary, don't you think?


Friday, November 9, 2007

A hunting we will go...

My sister and I decided yesterday that we are going to go fox hunting on Thanksgiving morning for the annual opening meet of the Tennessee Valley Hounds. And, when I say "hunting," I mean "chasing," because the TVH is a "no kill" hunt. I hunted with them last year, and it was amazing fun!!! Their primary hunt country is 2,000 acres along the Holston River in west Jefferson County, TN (about 20 minutes up US 11E from my place) and we ride in the valley along the river, cross the river and ride on an island, then cross back over the river and up into the hills. Eddie was a fox hunter for 2 seasons with a member of a hunt in middle-Tennessee, before I got him a few years ago. He's such a good little hunt pony (he's a good EVERYTHING pony, though) and I can't wait to get out there with him again this year. It's great exercise/conditioning for an off-season eventer, so hopefully this will help keep us sharp going into our competition season next spring.

My sister will be taking my mom's Tennessee Walking Horse ("Rebel") who jumps a little, but not the bigger types of coops, brushes, and paneling that are found in the TVH's hunt country. So, we'll most likely ride in the third flight and I can jump fences if we come to something that has an option where Melissa can also go around, but if we mostly end up just galloping around only jumping logs and ditches, then that's ok with me and Eddie too. Who knows, maybe Rebel will surprise us and really bust it all out. I always thought that he would love fox hunting.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


This is a picture I took with my sucky camera phone yesterday (thanks for nothing, Motorola) of the deer that come out in the mornings beside my house. There were about 7 or 8 of them beside my driveway, and when I walked over to my car after taking their picture, they all turned-tail and ran into the woods behind my barn.

That was a much more peaceful end to my morning routine, than say, THIS MORNING, when my cat caught a little cardinal
by snatching it out of a tree. Yes, he actually leapt up and caught the bird while it was sitting in an apple tree in my horse pasture. I was so devastated and I chased down the cat and finally got him to let go of the bird, at which point I picked it up and ran with it (the bird...not the cat). It was a baby cardinal, which is probably why it was a bit slow and was too close to the ground in the tree. Plus, I saw my cat headed to the tree and yelled at him before he even jumped, and the poor little bird never even saw it coming. Why are there baby birds so late in the year? Why was he sitting so low in the tree? Why didn't he fly off when I yelled at my cat for stalking him, before he even jumped into the tree?

I put him on a shelf in my horse feed room with a little bit of cracked corn. Although he was looking around and bright-eyed (and he bit my thumb really hard with his beak), he wasn't flying and he wasn't moving his legs. I'm not very hopeful, but I set him up by a window so he can see out and maybe die peacefully (if nothing else). I was so mad at my cat. I'm going to have his teeth pulled and he can eat Fancy Feast for the rest of his life, for all I care. I feed him well! He doesn't need to kill birds. Or squirrels. Or rabbits. Or mice. Or moles. Or chipmunks.

So traumatic...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Francy Pants

I have had the BIGGEST crush on British event rider, Francis Whittington, since I witnessed his amazing dressage test (via DVD, of course) at Badminton aboard Spin Doctor in 2005. Suchhhhh a lovely rider. He's not bad to look at otherwise, either. :)

Plus, he's English, and we all know how I feel about ANYTHING English.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Well, I made the move to Novice this past weekend and it was a good event in a number of ways. First of all, we finished fine and actually ended up in 5th place. That was great, since Eddie and I both love pink! Not bad for my first outing at Novice, but I also take it in stride, knowing that it wasn't a recognized event, so things weren't quite as "maxed out" as they may be at the real deal.

We had a lot of time penalties on cross-country (which means we were slow and "x number" of seconds over the optimum time; an optimum time which was too fast for an unrecognized show, in my opinion). It was very wet and slippery out there first thing Sunday morning, so there was no way I was going to tear around the horse park, slipping and falling all along the way, or sliding into big solid fences (like my friend Sarah did at the "stairs" jump, fence #6...although her horse got his hindend underneath him just in time, and they cleared it fine). Sarah was even slower than I was, and she had speed faults (meaning, she was too fast and was too far under the optimum time) at May Daze this past summer, so she and Raj aren't known to be pokey. But, since it was so muddy/slick out there, we both took our time with our horses and had clean jumping rounds, which is the most important goal in a schooling/unrecognized event: sacrifice the time penalties for clear jumping efforts. We're there to practice, not take home blue ribbons.

Neither Eddie nor Raj were 100% this past weekend. They are both pasture horses and being in a trailer on the road for 3 hours, then in a stall all weekend, really makes them stiff and "ouchy." Both of them took some "off" steps in dressage warm-up Saturday morning, so we only asked of them what they felt like giving this past weekend, and as true and honest as both of our guys are, they sucked it up and never let us down. It was a good weekend for seeing how Eddie might deal with a new level and new challenges, and I couldn't be happier with the result! He was very eager and easy throughout the whole competition, and knowing that wasn't his best effort, made me feel confident that when we are both 100% and ready to go, that our first "real," recognized Novice next spring will go great. Now, I can't wait to get back out there and do it all again! But, that won't be until March 2008. Until's fox hunting season!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


For crying out loud. This kind of wishy-washy bureaucracy is so infuriating. Who can tell whom to lower a flag, or not; or how many times in any given time period it's allowed, or forbidden??? Let them honor their dead, people. It's so sad, as it is, without there being stupid semantics blabbered all around.

I despise how everytime there is a particular tragedy or crisis, some type of political rhetoric inevitably factors in, and takes away from the levity of the situation. Can't there just for once be a time for human emotion, without some technical issue coming to the forefront? Leave us to our love and hate, joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, fear and bravery. Sometimes, rules are just rules, and they can always be broken.