Friday, April 29, 2011

No Rolex for You!!!! says my bank account. :-( 

I know how you feel, Elaine. Deprived!!!
But, just because I can't be there doesn't mean I haven't watched hours of highlights from the royal wedding the live webcast, all day long. Since I am only 2.5 hours from Lexington, and because my college roommate and her family live there, it is such a shame I can't manage the trip. However, I feel sure that I will be able to keep well informed on all the action through the official pages, web sites, and blogs of everyone there. To keep me occupied, I have pulled some photos I have taken of favorite riders from recent years. I don't have a particular favorite this weekend; I just hope everyone finishes safely and may the best [wo]man win!

Bruce Davidson

Dorothy Crowell and Molokai

Ian Stark

Karen O'Connor and Biko

Blyth Tait

Nick Larkin and Red

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Back by Popular Demand.....Badminton Babes: Part II

This post is for you, Megan Corbett!

Because there is still a strong contingent of "been on the scene a while" Badminton Babes (there is certainly no drought of handsome gentlemen in that department!), I have added a Part 2 to the previous post to honor the requests I have received for more, more, more. So, here you go ladies.....

Andrew Nicholson

Clayton Fredericks

Mark Todd: Eventing god, multi-gold medalist, and uber-legend.

Mark Todd, 4-time Badminton winner!

And....of course....the absolutely dashing William Fox-Pitt.

More WF-P, you say? Gladly.....
(Photo by Chris Depledge)

I do believe that a knee-weakening montage may be in order, as well. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Badminton Babes

Oh, the Brits. The Brits, the Brits, the Brits. They always out-do the rest of us eventers in every capacity it seems. Amazing horses, beautiful facilities, an excellent national/international program, an astounding history in the sport, and -- most clearly -- a wealth of cuties when it comes to the male competitor's department. {sigh} And, I am not alone in my admiration, since I know that handfuls of my fellow eventing girls could be found drooling over every footfall of Harry Meade's horse this past weekend, as well as hanging on every cheerful and intriguing word typed by the "grounded" Sam Watson on the Badminton blog. But, these guys aren't just adorable to look at; they can also pull off a popped collar like I've never seen on our American shores!  Here are a few photos I found of several of the most prominent Badminton babes. Sorry if I have unintentionally overlooked someone's favorite hottie, but -- please -- there are only so many hours in the day. I had to draw the line SOMEWHERE. :-) Gaze longingly, at your own risk.

Harry Meade

Ireland's Sam Watson, blogging at Badminton 2011

And, best for last, Francis "Francy Pants" Whittington and Spin Doctor

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Bunny Fail

I always feel like somebody's watching me.

I kind of liked the "look" of this Easter bunny, at first "glance." His soft white fur, snappy cravat, and pretty blue-velvet's all quite posh. But, there is just something about him that makes a viewer uncomfortable. I can't really explain it, though. Oh, well, maybe I'll "see" it eventually.

I'm off to Bristol to visit with my folks this weekend. Me and about 20 dogs. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Event Recap: The Fork

Photo by Jamey Price 

No, you're not going to get a big write-up from me about yet another event that my friends all got to compete in, but I didn't. Instead, you get to read it straight from the horse's the horsey friend's mouth.

Photo by Jamey Price (of course!). 

One of my very best besties, Kelsey Briggs, went Intermediate a few weeks ago at The Fork Horse Trials. Here is a link to her web site where she gives a great overview of her experience there as she and her OTTB, The Gentleman Pirate, continue their journey from racetrack to the upper levels of eventing. I thought about introducing this post by stating, "And now for something completely different," but that wouldn't be quite accurate. Yes, it is a departure from my personal rantings; however, I wouldn't say what you'll read is "completely different." There's a reason me and Kels are such great friends: we're a lot alike. So, without further and enjoy!

And.....another beautiful photo by Jamey Price.

Black-and-White Birthdays

Harold Lloyd, born April 20, 1893
Today is the birthday of silent movie great Harold Lloyd. Who is Harold Lloyd, you might say? Well, that is what happens when you are a funny, talented, and creative silent short and original "talkies" film actor.....who happens to be a contemporary of Charlie Chaplin. Charlie got ALL THE FAME, right? Anyway, happy birthday Harold!

Another great black-and-white star is also celebrating a birthday today: Flecken Awesome!!! Happy birthday, Fleck, and good luck to you and your mom this weekend at Foothills Horse Trials!

We HEART Fleck!
Photo by Chelsea Borne

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Badminton 2011

Don't forget that the Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships start tomorrow at Badminton! This link will take you to a listing of the qualified riders, the division entries, scores, and the official photos of the event as it unfolds over the next few days. Just don't be surprised if you Google Image "Badminton Grassroots Championships" looking for relevant competition pictures and see random photos of me and Eddie pop up there in the mix. Since I have an old blog entry that is also titled "Badminton Grassroots Championships," Google has linked to some photos from my blog, assuming (wrongly) that my photos are somehow connected. I was momentarily shocked when I searched a few minutes ago looking for the above logo. As I scrolled down the page, I saw a familiar picture of me and Eddie on cross-country at MTPC and I thought, "Hey, that horse looks just like.....wait." It did take a moment to sink in, 'cause I can sure as sugar promise you that Eddie and I have never gone cross-country at Badminton........Grassroots Championships or otherwise.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Eventing Etiquette For Dummies

Earlier today, I volunteered as the cross-country warm-up steward at my hometown event, River Glen Horse Trials. I have been volunteering out at RG for several years and I always try to help out with whatever Tracey and Kathy need me to do. Fortunately, what they usually need me to do is steward XC warm-up (which I love doing) and I've done this about 3 or 4 times, now, in the past year. 

The show this weekend was light in numbers and rather small (compared to their summer event in August, which precedes AECs by about 3 weeks). The reduced number of competitors meant that things were laid back, comfortable, and everyone had plenty of room to relax in warm-up and nothing today was hurried or behind-schedule. Since things ran quietly and smoothly, I had time to really take it all in and see who was there, how things were going, catch up with some visiting friends and other eventers, and I also got the chance to enjoy the beautiful day participating in something I am passionate about: volunteering at local, family-run horse trials. 

While most of what I absorbed and drank in today was related to the pure essence of eventing (good people, wonderful weather, great courses, nice competitors, and a well-run event), I was tweaked a bit by a trainer who kept popping up on my radar throughout the day in a less than positive manner. In my experience, obnoxious eventers are (THANKFULLY) in the minority. But, as a volunteer, I am in a prime position to see people at their best (Megan Moore deserves a public shout-out here as one of the nicest people I always encounter at River Glen), and to observe people at their worst -- mainly in regards to how they treat me and the other volunteers and participants. Fortunately, the majority of the trainers I encountered today were kind and cooperative (2 of these trainers being hometown coaches from here in Knoxville who are always polite, friendly, and pleasant to be around when I see them either riding or working with their students). If there is one thing I consider to be a mark of true professionalism (or the lack-thereof) it is how a trainer treats not just their horses and their clients, but also how they behave towards surrounding competitors and event volunteers. With that being said, here are a few things that some (fewer, rather than most....thank goodness) eventing trainers need to think about when at a show. 

Your clients/students are paying you to teach them, not to work them into a frazzle or run the legs off their horse before they leave the start box. Being a paid professional in this sport is a gift; a luxury. Be thankful for and respectful of your students and remember that without you.......they would simply just go and find another trainer. You're providing support and assistance, not solving world hunger. Act like you like the people who put money in the bank and help keep your business alive.

Part of your job at a show should be to keep your students safe and prepared, not to have them careening around warm-up as if there is no one else in the arena. Your students will do what you tell them, so be responsible and remember that this is a community sport and your part in the community is an honor and a privilege, not a God-given birthright. Watch out for others, don't expect them to just magically stand back and watch out for you/your students.

Show organizers and volunteers are here to help make an event run successfully, not to cater to your personal whims nor ask "how high?" when you tell us to jump. If you have a question, ask nicely and we will do everything we can to quickly comply. If you need something, inform us calmly and politely and things will be taken care of as soon as possible. I am not a bumbling idiot and my Walkie-Talkie is not your personal hotline to Wayne [Quarles]. Get over yourself and get down to the task you are there to complete: assisting your students. Be active; try to participate in making things run better, not worse. In other words, get off your butt and be a part of the solution....don't just be the megaphone that cries "problem!" 

Attitude is everything! When you are positive and enthusiastic, so are your students. They have a better experience, a more confident ride, and a more successful competition. Smile, respect those around you, and be grateful for the opportunity to take part in this sport we all love. Everybody puts on their pants the same leg at a time (even Boyd!). You are no different. 

Remember......whether you know me or not, I do know you. If you are rude, condescending, or just plain unkind (to me, to your student, to a horse, or to another person), I will tell 5 of my friends. And then they will each tell 5 of their friends. And then those 25 people will tell 5 of their friends. And before you know it? You have a reputation. A bad one. So, for someone that you might see as unimportant or insignificant, just remember that we volunteers are most likely also riders (potential clients) and we have lots of friends who are also riders (more potential clients) and they know lots of other riders (even more potential clients). If you think you exist in a vacuum and live above the influence of those you look down upon, then you've got another think coming!

So, the moral of this story is simple: do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. And if you do that? The world will be a better place. And that saves me from having to kick ass and take names. Why you wanna be on my list? Just play nice in the sandbox, people. 

I'm watching you, Focker.

Friday, April 15, 2011

If I'd Found the Right Words to Say

Yay! Another post titled after a Snow Patrol song.....except this time? It is a Snow Patrol kinda blog entry. 

The other night, I dreamt that I saw Gary Lightbody at a gas station in Western North Carolina, somewhere around Asheville (don't ask me how I know this or where that came from). He was filling up an older model SUV (maybe a Nissan Pathfinder?) and he was wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. I have no clue how I recognized him, as it seems that in all reality -- though I know and believe he is truly fabulous -- he would have appeared to anybody else to be just your average artsy, scruffy slacker. When I realized who it was, naturally I made a spontaneous and ill-advised plan to say something to him. He's great, and he'd want to know that.....right? Anyhoo, I somehow got his attention (waving to him from my gas pump, I think?) and when he saw me, I froze and awkwardly blurted out: "Um....I love Snow Patrol!!" He sort of stared at me like a deer in the headlights, then he mumbled, "Yeh, thanks," and got in his car. I woke up not long after this and was mortified, yet ecstatic to realize this HAD NOT REALLY HAPPENED and it had only been a dream. As I foggily replayed the little incident over and over in my mind, I laughed and thought to myself, "Yep, that seems about right."

So, let's all hope that I never randomly encounter GL at a gas station in Western North Carolina (or, a gas station anywhere, really). The world will be a far, far better place if that just never happens. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Kids Are Alright

This past week, I started substitute teaching for Knox County schools. I have thought about doing this for a while, but I was honestly not sure it was for me. All I know, thus far, is teaching at the college-level. My first day was (by design, I'll say) to substitute for a half-day for the librarian at a nearby magnet elementary school, K-2nd grade. My job was to, basically, read books to 3 separate classes for 30 minutes each. When you have 25 kindergartners for 30 minutes, this translates to about 15 minutes of flat-out kid wrangling, and maybe 15 minutes of actual reading time. But, it wasn't bad at all. They were excited because I was "new" and because they love to be read to! We read from Frog and Toad, and...I mean.....who doesn't love some Frog and Toad stories? The first graders weren't that much different, but we read about Chester and the public library, and I was absolutely thrilled to find out how much they already knew about a lot of things. They knew about fiction vs. non-fiction, what a bibliography is, what an encyclopedia is, what you can do in a media room, biographies/autobiographies, and how to read a call number on the book spine. I don't know a lot about kids' learning and comprehension levels (the scene in Four Christmases when Reese Witherspoon asks why the 9-month old isn't, like, walking and taking care of herself already isn't far from my realm of child development knowledge). So, I was really surprised by how much they knew and how excited they were to always find out more. Their willingness to tell one another what they know and to ask questions in order to learn more was very comforting to me, and I thought, "You know, these kids are alright!"

At the end of the day (2:30pm....woo-hoo!), I took about 20 minutes to tidy up and make sure things were neat and clean for the librarian the next morning. As I picked up books and straightened the shelves, I was pleased to see that there were some old, familiar faces smiling out at me from the rows: Nancy Drew, Sounder, A Wrinkle in Time, books by Judy Blume, books by Beverly Cleary, favorite surprise of the day....City Horse, by Jack and Patricia Demuth. I remember loving this book when I was little! The story about the Tennessee Walking Horses who left TN to live in New York City as mounted police horses was so fascinating to me. Their big, gentle black heads and faces were so beautiful and I was really touched to see that book is still around, educating and entertaining children out there today. 

The school where I worked that afternoon was a small school, mainly populated by the children of lower-income minorities in a remote part of urban, southeast Knoxville. I was talking to my roommate from college a few days ago (she has an MA in English, as do I) and I was commenting on how rewarding it was to see those kids so happy and excited about reading. But, what I really couldn't get out of my mind was the idea that, at what point do these little ones get "too cool for school" and lose their joy and love for reading and learning? I know some of them never do (like myself and my college roommate), but my time also teaching juniors and seniors last week at a local high school really proved that at some point -- between the age of 8 and 18 -- a certain number of students do lose their appreciation for knowledge and information. This is something that I have struggled with on the other side of age 18 (as a teacher in college), so maybe I can now help to change perhaps even one kid's impression of school and help that individual remember that, ultimately, "knowledge is power." Books are good!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sports Psych 101

"Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted -- one moment --
Would you capture it or just let it slip?"

I've really been thinking a lot about Sinead Halpin's COTH blog entry from last week. When I first saw the title ("Fear is My Friend"), I thought to myself, "Yes, now I can really sink my teeth into a piece of writing that speaks to my lower-level ammie sensibilities....but written from a talented and well-respected professional's perspective!" However, Sinead revised my preconceived notion of what simple "fear" meant, and she introduced an entirely new level of "fear" to an already complicated equation: the fear of being left behind in an ever-improving field of peer competitors. This isn't exactly the idea of "fear" that I had in mind when I began reading her entry. I was thinking of the standard definition of fear; that is, the fear of pain or injury. If anyone can experience, live through, and prevail over that very real fear, it is Sinead. That fear does exist for her, somewhere I'm sure, but she has come so far in overcoming that. It is such a testament to her as a true professional to no longer be overwhelmed by the danger of our sport, but rather to fear the possibility of not being, experiencing, and realizing everything she believes she is destined to be. 

This speaks to me and what I've been pondering when I think about the psychological impediment of "fear" as I see it. I find that what I fear most about eventing isn't necessarily the fear of harm or danger (although, I'd be flat-out lying to say that isn't in the wayback of my mind at all times, somewhere/somehow). What I fear most is probably the fear of failure. What, exactly then, would denote "failure," to me? I'm not the type of person who sits down in January and takes out a calendar and sets goals like "by ______ day I will have accomplished _______" or "by _______ I will be ready to ______ at ________ or else I will be a total failure." The second that I do something that concrete, the wheels have already been programmed to fall off. What I will do is sit down and say, "Right now, I'm going to focus on _______ so that I will see an improvement in __________." That might mean an improvement in a week, a month, or sometime that's just not that set-in-stone for me right now. That is how I avoid prescribing "success," so that "failure" is more abstract. I am more concerned with seeing growth and evolution, and not tangible, date-based/performance-based results. 

However, when I do enter a competition and head off to the event, I become very stressed about what will inevitably be a tangible result before the weekend is over....there's just no question about it at that point. That is when all my time put in at home has to be realized out there, in the real world, like it or not. There are no small goals, no excuses, and no wrapping things up when I feel like it (whether we're finished with the course or the test, or not). This is when I become most "fearful." I cannot afford to compete much at all in any given year, so when I do, the pressure is definitely on to ensure I do not waste my time or my money. I want to do the best I can, no matter what, so my fear of failure is very real. I'm not looking for any certain placing, position, or a "magic number." It's not that easy to articulate. But once we've begun, I know how and where I need to finish in order to feel as though I have "succeeded." A high-score in dressage, a rail in stadium, or a run-out on XC can throw me off the edge of the precipice in a way that a minor thumping in the dirt might devastate anybody else. I'm not worried so much about falling off and getting hurt as I am afraid of letting myself down by doing something stupid (not riding deeply into the corners in dressage, or riding badly through a turn in stadium, or jumping ahead of my horse). These are the things I obsess over at home, so a show is the place to get these things right. And, as you can see, this can be just as paralyzing an impediment as the fear of getting hurt. I am very demanding of myself, so living up to my own expectations is a stressful undertaking. 

In order to deal with this, I try to find "average" goals for a show weekend. I don't go intending to score in the upper-20's/low 30's in dressage. That's just not going to happen anyway. So, if I say, "Anything below 40 is good," then when I get a 35 or 36, I'm ok with that and I can continue to breathe and exist. I then say, "I'm not going to worry about rails in show jumping as long as we don't have any dumb run-outs," and when we go clear, I can sigh with relief. Before cross-country, I will decide which is going to be the "problem" fence, and I focus on that like a maniac. Inevitably, that fence rides very well, and thusly I haven't allowed myself to obsess over the ENTIRETY of the course and I just ride everything like it's nothing. When I come home clear, I can feel like I've conquered my fear (the one fence I focused on), when in reality, I've just tricked myself into riding the whole course by just RIDING it, and not handcuffing myself by breaking it down into 10 or 15 individual "issues." 

I find that everyone I know has a slightly different definition of fear when they ride, train, or compete. What I fear is most likely not the most pressing concern for any number of my fellow eventers, and what they fear may not be my greatest worry. This sense of anxiety or preoccupation is something we all know exists (especially at show time), but it's not something we really talk about.....even with our friends. Maybe there are circles of riders/friends out there who take a type of AA meeting approach to their mental preparation: "Hi, I'm Holly, and I define fear as......" I don't really talk about these things with anyone, though. I find that I try and solve my own problems and provide my own "tricks and tips" to handling what makes me most anxious. Perhaps this should be a more commonplace discussion we have with other eventers (since it seems that in all reality, talking about our "fears" is frowned upon or seen as a sign of unpreparedness or weakness). It's not as though we all have one universal fear (the fear of falling off and breaking bones) or one single area of frustration (we all just want to finish in first place). Our challenges and anxieties are just not that easy to categorize across the board.

So, in reading Sinead's blog and seeing how she recognizes and faces a fear that isn't as simple as being scared of injury or being afraid to jump big jumps, it made me feel as though I need to better understand what exactly fear means to me, and then I need to make that fear my friend. Ultimately, I really do believe that at the lower-levels, the fears involved in eventing truly have nothing to do with impending physical disaster. It's all of the other fears (fear of disappointment, fear of lack of knowledge/preparation, fear of failure, fear of losing confidence, fear of embarrassment, fear of unfulfilled expectations, fear of failing my horse, fear of wasted time/investment, etc) that really do make a typical competition become a mental mountain for me. I'm not sure exactly what a sports psychologist would make of this, but I do know that -- although I get what he was saying -- FDR didn't know anything about the complexities of the eventer's psyche when he declared: "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Springtime in Dixie!

J. Press skull bow tie.

One of the many things I love about my BFF, Kelsey, is that she has a very cool and classy boyfriend. Jamey is not just a nice guy, but he's also a great photographer who has the type of eye that's perfect for catching color, nuance, details, light, and personality (be it human or horse). Oh, and, did I mention he can also ride a horse pretty well, too? When he isn't galloping steeplechasers, he's usually snapping excellent photos that capture the fun and beauty of the sport. This link is to a blog entry on his site that shows all the different types/kinds/manifestations of bow ties that were on display at the Carolina Cup a few weeks ago. Also look for Jamey at the Queens Cup at the end of April (for those of you who aren't traveling to Rolex)!

This weekend, Kelsey is at The Fork Horse Trials. I don't know if Jamey will get to go with her this time or not (that's the drawback to having a horsey beau: if she's riding at a horse trial in one place, then he's most likely riding somewhere else in a race), but if he does go, I imagine he will have some amazing photos to share of that gorgeous facility and competition. And, good luck this weekend, Kelsey and Pirate!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

My friend, Cat, rides the most beautiful, gray Warmblood showjumper mare. She kicks butt in rated, unrated, schooling name it. They have also dabbled in unrecognized horse trials on the side, too. Very cool pair. But, Cat's other main ride is quite a different animal, indeed. His name is "Major Michao" and he is everything you would imagine with a name like that. He is HUGE. But, Major is also sweet, sane, brave, and absolutely lovely. I keep trying to talk her into entering a recognized horse trial with him, but she's not sure at all about dressage. He is very nice at dressage.....for a Clydesdale. In fact, he absolutely puts my little cow pony to shame! 

Here are a few pictures of Cat and her beautiful horses. If you know Cat, please stay on her case about seriously eventing Major sometime very soon. I want to see him tearing it up at AECs! :-)

Cat and Justify winning another jumper class. Photo by Jason Engle.

Cat and Justify racking up at RMI, spring 2010. Photo by Bonnie St. Charles.

Cat and Justify take a turn at cross-country. Photo by Jason Engle.

Cat and Major school cross-country. Photo by Jason Engle.

Yes, a Clydesdale can do lovely dressage! Photo by Jason Engle.

Cat and Major galloping on course at FENCE during a spring hunter pace.

So, who's starting the official Major fan club? Go, Major, Go!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Behold: the new concoction of choice. I have created this new cocktail, the "Dark Cherry Margarita." It's fabulous! Ice, cherry and limeade drink mix, frozen dark cherries, and cherry vodka (with a hint of mint). TO. DIE. FOR. It's perfect for enjoying while hunkering down with the dogs during a thunderstorm and watching Sex and the City 2*. similarly classy and educational....ya know. 

*The Miranda-and-Charlotte-as-frustrated-mothers confessional scene cracked me up! It reminds me of rare evenings catching up with my BFF Kelsey: "I feel like a worthless rider. My horse is such a saint and I ride him like absolute crap." DRINK "I am such a bad horse-mommy. I did not bathe Eddie the other day after I rode for an hour and a half. I just hand-walked him, curried him, and turned him out."  DRINK "I really want to go Advanced at Ocala, but I'm not sure if the timing is right or if Pirate has had enough runs by the fall event season...." DRINK "I would TOTALLY give you amazing and good advice, but I'm really starting to get pretty buzzed, so we should probably eat something now." DDRRIINNKK

Monday, April 4, 2011


Oh no they di-ent! 

These Hunter wellies are amazing. They really make me want to go out and dance in the rain. If only I actually had a pair....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Open Your Eyes

My friend, Amy, walking her Training course at FENCE, 2005

I am infinitely thrilled, on this beautiful sunny day, to announce that I have now -- for the second time in very recent history -- had the opportunity to title an eventing post after a Snow Patrol song. I'm thinking I might take on the challenge of "A Week of Snow Patrol Titles," and see if I can do it. But, that's a no-brainer.....I KNOW I can do that. And, yet, this is an eventing entry, not another babbling monologue about my obsession with Gary Lightbody one of my favorite bands. 

After my thoughts on lower-level cross-country courses went global last week (thanks to Eventing Nation and my friend, Lauren, posting it on COTH), I was so surprised to find that there are hundreds (possibly THOUSANDS) of LL ammies out there who feel the same as I do. Why should it be such a mystery? How do we know the best courses for what we're looking to accomplish? Where are the real beefy challenges and what exactly should I expect before moving up a level? It might take one person many avenues of networking or question-asking to possibly find the right answer to these queries. (rant: And don't tell me, "Oh, your trainer should be the one telling you where to compete," because I am a grown-up and my trainer does not want to/need to hold my hand when it comes to where I enter competitions.) Anxiety over choosing the right venue for lower-level competitors shouldn't cause the stress that it does in a very real capacity all over the country, everyday. Deny it if you like, but the truth is in every barn out there. I love a quote I read a few years ago from Dorothy Crowell that speaks to this very same issue. She said, "When the joy of galloping to a cross country fence is gone, so is the impetus that brings us home safely. Both horse and rider should be in the start box trembling with anticipation, not fear." This still rings true, today, although her letter to the USEA was written almost 3 years ago. Why is it that some of her suggestions for improving the sport (listed at the bottom of that letter) have still gone unheeded, in certain cases? It's always pleasing (yet sometimes frustrating) to look back on earlier commentaries to see how far we've come; and how far things have gone neglected, ignored, or completely unaltered, in other cases.

The feedback I received from my thoughts early last week was overwhelmingly encouraging! Yes, there are many of my peers who feel as set adrift as I do. Since so many of us have to make decisions on where to compete because of financial restrictions or geographical proximity, we don't get to realize the chance to physically see everything that is available out there. It is so intriguing and eye-opening to feel like I can view and understand lots of what is on offer for the lower levels. If you can't get to and be at every event out there, then who would know? After a few days of consideration on this topic, I was bolstered by the encouraging comments from friends and strangers alike (both here and in other nations, if you can believe that!). This past Friday afternoon, I sat down and started a Facebook page to upload and share virtual course walk photos from anywhere/everywhere and at every level (although primarily BN-P). I was thrilled to get some quick responses from eventers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Florida, and here in Tennessee. In only moments, and a few clicks of the mouse, I was able to view and consider courses that I might never have personally seen in a typical, ammie event season. I compete at the KHP a lot, so those photos were familiar to me. But, bump those up against Marlborough, Poplar, or Southern Pines and I could make an instant plan for structuring my lessons, schoolings, and future entries. Put all of that together with a few quick questions to other participating eventers and I feel like in only moments I can do a fair amount of research and due diligence (I am an over-thinker, afterall) to satisfy me in the knowledge that I am able to make good decisions and be a more confident, safer competitor. Of course, we never know exactly what will happen 100% at any given event, on any given day, but at least I can mail a check and pull up to the stables feeling ready to go, with one more layer of preparation having fueled my readiness.

So, I hope the Facebook page will be a positive resource for anybody who chooses to use it and I will endeavor to keep it updated as often as I get new material, and I really hope that it will provide assistance to even one other person out there. We will see how it goes and I wish everyone the best of luck and happy eventing!

Friday, April 1, 2011

MmmmMarch Madness

Now THIS is my kind of bracket battle! I love Garden and Gun magazine. Love, love, love it. I have since they published their very first issue and I will die a little inside the day they decide to close-up shop (*knock on wood* this won't be for a very long time to come!). Since I live in Knoxville and I am an alumnus of the University of Tennessee, men's basketball is a sore subject 'round here these days. Thus, I have really enjoyed following this Southern food bracket. I have eagerly watched these match-ups and have been right on almost all counts (although I was sorely disappointed to see Chicken Pot Pie beat out Chicken Fried Steak in the first round). Fried Chicken and Southern Ham Biscuits was probably a close one, but I new that FC would ultimately prevail. FC and Pulled Pork BBQ will be a big one and I don't know what I'll do if Pecan Pie beats out Shrimp and Grits. I'm thinking it will be a FC/PP final match-up, though, and I say "Go Pie Go!"  Yep.....I'm pullin' for the pie. 

And, I guess if I do have to pick a real team to win the NCAA championship, I'll admit I'm rooting for VCU. My little sister did graduate from there, afterall!