Monday, February 28, 2011

The February Finale!

We made it! We made it to the end of February, and thus, the end of the 28 blog posts in 28 days challenge!

You won't hear from me for a month.

Just kidding. But I might take a few days off.

What did I learn through this whole process?

I learned how much I really do enjoy writing, and connecting with readers from all over the world. I'm still astounded that people from other countries check this blog out, so I strive to keep things interesting, light hearted, and positive.

I had an idea for what I wanted to do for our last February post a few days ago, but first....Sunday was a really nice day - sunny, and relatively warm (upper 30's). It was warm enough for good footing, and that meant a ride on Zeus!

He was an excellent boy, and I just love him to pieces.
Matt was out there with the camera yesterday, enjoying the sunshine and taking a few pictures for me.

But while I was busy riding Zeus, someone else was just pining for Matt's attention. Luckily, you can see one of the many reasons why we just love our Siggy. (Video.)

To close out the month of February, and therefore, the challenge, Zeus and I wanted to say thank you for sticking it out with us! So this is for our readers. (Video!)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Greetings from Kerry!

I don't know who Kerry is either. In case you were wondering.

My BFF Bexy, who lives in London, was gallivanting around Ireland this weekend for a wedding. We caught up on Skype over coffee this morning, and she told me all about her wonderful trip. She was lovely enough to send me some photos from her weekend, which I am delighted to share with you!

It's a little taste of Irish heaven, is what it is. Take in the photos, enjoy the amazing scenery, and thank this gorgeous gal!

Boy. It looks cold there. Brr!

Anyway, here's an old church. I wonder if my 10th Great Grandfather had anything to do with building it! Just kidding. I do wonder how old it is, isn't it gorgeous?

Matt saw this photo and said, "They should make that a golf course..."


Oh, look, the neighbors look friendly!

Now this tunnel looks a little sketchy, I'd speed up to get through it if I were driving.

This is just beautiful.

So beautiful, that I can't even think of anything funny to say about it. Breathtaking!

Just think of the Cross Country jumps and galloping you could do through here! In Ireland, I bet they do. I'd have a hard time restraining myself from finding a villager's horse and just taking it for a spin around this incredible countryside.

Here's a taste of an Irish village. I bet there's a pub around there somewhere.

And last but not least....

...where all the leprechauns have been hiding.

Thanks for the virtual trip, Bexy!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Iris You Were Here

I have a huge announcement!

Ground breaking!

An encouraging, heartening, and wonderful announcement!

Whether we like it or not, Spring is on its way! I feel like doing cartwheels.

Look closely. You would think by looking at this photo that I have nothing better to do than take a picture of our outside basement wall. But look closer. Really close. What's that I see?
Green! Oh, happy day!

This is one of the sections of plants that I photographed for my Botanical Quiz last year, when we didn't know what the plants were around the property. Someone correctly guessed that these were Iris plants, and they were right! (Amanda and Arliss get points for correctly guessing the Iris bulbs a year ago!)

And look! They're back again! Even though we're still freezing, with snow tonight and freezing rain on the way Monday...that won't stop these pretty reminders that warmer times are coming.

Thank goodness!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Filling in the Blanks this Friday

I'm feeling a little under the weather today, and my brain just cannot muster up a topic for today's post. So, I'm completely borrowing a post idea from good gal pal Alisha in Ohio, for the sake of keeping up with the February Challenge!

Ready to get to know me a little more? Well, here we go.

1. I am currently obsessed with: Getting a horse trailer. I've been obsessed about that for a few weeks/ months now, but as Spring looms closer and I have friends packing up for a month in Southern Pines to ride and others who are hoping to meet up with me in the 2011 competitive season, I cannot stop thinking about all the schooling and practice we need in order to be ready! Zeus is a star, but I like my stars to be prepared for the year ahead. A trailer is one huge step to get us there.

2. Today I am excited because it's Friday and we're having leftovers tonight, no cooking! And tomorrow is a (semi?) relaxing day!

3. The age I am is 30 and the age I feel is 25. I still feel like there's so much I want to do, so much I want to see (compete with Zeus, go to Italy, perhaps making my way to the American Eventing Championships one of these years). I'm not sure that drive will ever go away. I will always be looking ahead to the next thing, setting goals, etc.

4. My favorite place is my barn. Or my house. Or my bed. Ok that's three answers but it's hard to pick, I love them for different reasons!

5. Something I have been procrastinating is making a hair appointment. I know, I know, how can I let my locks go? But never fear! I finally called today and have an appointment next week! This is a good thing, since the last time my hair saw a salon was in....gasp....July. Yeah.

6. The last thing I purchased was a new riding helmet. Due to the new US Eventing Association rules, all helmets must be ASTM certified. I needed a new fancy helmet to wear in dressage since my hunt cap will no longer suit. Luckily, it was on sale! And I am totally on board with rules that will make riders safer.

7. The thing I love most about my home is the fact that when I come in the door at night, I can relax, let my guard down, get my velour pants on, and unwind. Even if I still have to get Matt from the train at 8:30 PM.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Million Dollar Ride

Four days left! Only four days left on the 28 in 28 far, so good. Hopefully my posts thus far haven't been boring or weird! We're in the home stretch, folks...thanks for sticking with me.

Today will be a quick entry, because I'm a little exhausted. But, a certain little lady deserves recognition!
This is Million Dollar Moon, aka Moonie. You may have seen her before in prior blog posts, or in videos that also feature Paris and Casey. Moonie lives in their field too.

She was born at Akindale, raced, and came home once her racing career had ended. She was adopted out, and sadly, mistreated, so back home she came.

She got a few months off to get her head back in order and to mentally detox, which I think she needed. But with Spring coming, I thought it was important to begin working with her so that when the weather was nice enough, she'd be ready to go and hopefully, be adopted.

Because quite frankly, she's just too darn pretty to not be adopted!

I'd done a few sessions with her - bringing her in, grooming, and longeing her (all groundwork). Then I'd put the saddle on and do some work with that.

She'd passed all of that with flying colors, so today was the day to ride. With Erin on hand to assist, I hopped up!

It was a quick ride - just enough to remind Moonie that this riding business is no big deal. She took it all in stride and kept looking at Erin like, "See? Aren't you proud of me?"

And we were.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spring Babes

Spring makes me think of babies. Baby chicks, puppies, bunnies, ducks, all that good stuff. I also envision pastel colors, bulbs popping out of the ground, birds chirping....

...hold on. Let's not get too crazy here.

But I did get a chance to meet some new little friends today. And I mean little.

Try to contain yourself from squealing if you're at work, or cooing at your computer monitor. I do it all the time, but I'm at home and Matt's the only one telling me I'm nuts.

But that's why he loves me. Right?


Them There Eyes is a pretty grey mare who gave birth to the cutest little colt about a week ago. Telling you about him just doesn't cut it, so say hello to him yourself (video).

So Long Dearie followed suit not long after, with a little one of her own. I love how this babe can't figure out if he wants to nurse, yawn, scratch, lay down, or come check me out. Oh, decisions! (video.)

And one more of Them There Eyes and her colt. Because I couldn't help myself. (video.)

For the newbies that read the blog, if you get this in an email subscription, in order to see the videos, you have to click on the title at the top of the email to go to the *actual* blog page.

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Case of Mad Cow

I'm getting some Mad Cow.

The horse world is all abuzz over a certain kind of leather care, a saddle soap and conditioner all in one that really does great work, lasts a long time, and happens to smell heavenly, unlike most saddle soaps.

After staring at it online via Smartpak, I decided it was time. I bought in to the Mad Cow hysteria.
See that little 8 oz. jar? Yeah, that little jar is nearly $15. However, I am hearing that it's worth every single penny.

So, we shall find out soon enough! I'm excited to get it, as I'm running low on my normal soap and I'm beginning the Mass Cleaning of Tack before the spring begins in earnest. Perhaps I'm trying to rush Spring into coming, thinking I can coax it into warmer temps if I clean every single piece of tack I own.

But if you don't have any tack (meaning saddles, bridles, etc), Mad Cow may just be the ticket to put some new life into your favorite pair of shoes. Stay tuned to find out if it's moooo-velous.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

On Saturday, my brother Jay, my niece Emily and I all embarked off to Hartford CT to meet up with Mom and Dad. Mom was showing Checkers in a big weekend long show at the massive XL Center.

It was ridiculously windy, so it was one day I was delighted to be indoors!

Here we have a menage a Sheltie. Although none of the Shelties seemed ready for the camera yet!

There were big dogs....

....little dogs.....

...and very hairy dogs. With owners that strangely resembled them.
I am always amazed how much the dog handlers and owners actually look like the dogs they represent. And don't even get me started on the fashion at these dog shows, egads! I haven't seen that much Aquanet, shabby hemlines, and outdated Jazzercise wear since...since....well, the last dog show we attended.

Of course, Mom and Connie looked perfectly put together. I think they were the only two out of the dozens (hundreds?) I saw.

Can someone teach a handling course on "What not to wear?"

But this post isn't about the fashion don'ts that ran amok. It's about another little dog, with a little girl attached to it.

The car ride with Emily, to and from the XL Center, was certainly amusing.

For example, I was talking to Jay about missing his haircut (he had to reschedule in order to have me accompany him) and Emily took "Missed your haircut" to mean "Mister Haircut." So she happily called Jay Mr. Haircut, asked who Mr. Haircut was, and then giggled all the way to the highway.
She also informed me that it was not "Valentine's Day" as everyone else calls it, it's actually "Valen-TIME." So, all together now....what time is it?

I think my favorite part of the day was when she and I ventured around the show and benching/ grooming area. Emily carried her little stuffed dog along, leaving a path of disgruntled handlers and very overexcited dogs in her wake.
Turns out, all the fancy show dogs thought Emily's little token stuffed dog would make a great toy for them! The little puppy she's holding probably caused a lot of upsets in the show ring.
Oops! You've gotta roll with the punches at these dog shows.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chilly Weather Cider Beef Stew

The weather was nice while it lasted! Although I think we'll get back into warmer temps soon enough, it still gives me time to make some of my favorite winter comfort food recipes. Luckily, my winter fleece breeches are roomy enough to accommodate all the comfort food I've made this winter.

Oh, and by warmer temps, I mean 40 degrees. What I wouldn't give for 40 degrees without gale force winds.

So, I'm sharing one of my favorites - a cider stew recipe from my mom's arsenal of recipes. Make it for yourself and hunker down with a glass of wine and a good book, or an old favorite movie. You deserve it.

Cider Beef Stew

3 T all purpose flour
½ t pepper
1 t salt
2-3 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 T cooking oil
3 c apple cider
1 ½ c water
2T vinegar
½ t thyme
Potatoes, either cut in pieces or small new potatoes halved
carrots, cut into pieces
onion (I use the small bag of frozen pearl onions)
Any other veggies you’d like to throw in

Combine flour, salt, pepper and beef in plastic bag, shake to coat. In large saucepan, brown beef in oil. Add cider, water, vinegar and thyme, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until meat is tender. Add veggies, return to boil. (If using small pearl onions, wait until about 30 minutes before done to add them, otherwise they disintegrate). Simmer for another hour. Serve with bread.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Garden Wish List

Well, it's back to reality.

From 60 12. With a wind chill of 0. Wow, this is fun.

But, the warm temps of the past few days have reminded me that gardening season is not far off, and it was such fun to be able to harvest things from our own garden.

That said, I can easily point out that I had way more failures than successes!

Carrots, corn, watermelon, sunflowers and broccoli - fail!

Green beans, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes and basil - yay! Although the blueberries, basil and tomatoes were purchased as plants, not as seeds. But still. I didn't kill them, so I'll count it as a success. I also had insane success with weeds.

I figure I'll go through a few more years of trial and error before I find out what works, what we'll actually eat, and what saves us money by growing it ourselves vs. purchasing it in the supermarket. The problem is, our garden doesn't get as much sun as I'd like. Or the plants would like, for that matter. The prior owners saw nothing wrong in covering the garden with trees and shade - something I didn't figure out until late May, when all the shade began to cover all the seeds I'd so lovingly planted.

So, I'm throwing this out to you guys - any suggestions as to what to try and grow? Anything on your wish list?

Let's have a garden party! When it's warmer, of course.

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Ride

It's a gorgeous day. It's nearing 60 degrees, there's a light breeze blowing, and...well, what more do you need?

I decided it was time to get back on Zeus!

He hadn't been ridden since about mid-December, when the Christmas Crazies had set in - baking, prepping for the holidays, etc. Then the first blizzard happened, and that was that.

I was not going to squander today, oh no.

But the problem was, no one was home. Matt had to go to NYC to work, so I was getting on my rambunctious 5 year old, solo. I made sure to email my mom and Matt to let them know I was heading out, and that I'd let them know when I was back in the house!

(I found out later that Matt actually called the house after I'd left, in an attempt to convince me not to ride!)

But not to worry. I had a chaperone.
Zeus was thrilled that a camera was there to document our big day, as you can see. He's ready to go!

And we also had a cheering section. Siggy seemed happy to doze in his stall, while Topaz whinnied, bucked, paced and generally freaked out over Zeus being 25 feet from her, while she's stuck inside?! What is this world coming to??

And we're off!
All we did was walk around the mud paddock, and focused on flexing, bending, changing direction, etc. He was a star and is clearly looking for some extra praise.

I forgot how tall he is. Out of all the horses I'm riding right now, he takes the cake in terms of height. This is my view from his back. I really could clean the gutters up there, and possibly climb onto the roof from his back. But I won't.

There is nothing like being on your own horse. Especially after a hiatus due to cold and weather!
Zeus was very pleased with his performance. So pleased, in fact, that he decided to take a bow as I was getting his saddle off!

Here's to the first of many fantastic rides in 2011!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shadows Past

I think we all have some shadows chasing us, through our lives, and we stop occasionally, looking over our shoulder to keep them at bay.

Some horses, especially ones who have a spotty history, are no different.


Yes, Shadows Past is her actual race name, and she was born in NY, ran in 4 races in her career, and was then retrained to be a riding horse. Somehow, she ended up in the wrong hands, being starved and abused, and through responsible horse ownership and a fierce drive, her original owner once she came off the track managed to find Shadow. She came to Erin at Akindale a few years ago and asked her to take Shadow, so she'd know Shadow would never end up in danger, or hungry, again.

Erin, and Akindale, have lived up to that with flying colors, as always.

But, Shadow has more to give us. She is a beautiful horse, only 10 years old, and built very solidly. She has a kind eye and although she's a little aggressive at feed time, I've learned it's just a facade - she'll make faces at you, but I've never felt threatened or that she'd bite or kick.

She's at Starlight with the indoor, and we've been working hard the past few weeks. When I first started riding her, I had about a 5 minute window before she would blow up, rearing and rocking back and forth, shaking her head in distress and twitching her withers as if she couldn't stand the pressure of a saddle pad resting on them.

But, over the past few weeks, I've gradually increased her riding time, moment by moment, one ride at a time. And it's clicking.
Shadow is one of the best movers in the barn, with such a fluid, floating gate, she moves more like an imported Warmblood than a feisty Thoroughbred. She is poetry in motion. And some day, someone is going to love her to the moon and back.

Well, I love her, and she knows it.

Here's our ride from today...I am so proud of this girl!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Some days, you're gonna hurt.

If you work with horses, that is. Especially if you work with horses every day.

Today, I headed over to Akindale to work with some of my youngsters over there. My first horse up, Paris, was a star under saddle and is just really proving herself to be a great prospect. But while I was leading her back into the barn....


She managed to place her foot ever so nicely squarely on top of my left foot, and slowly put alllllllll of her weight on it, twisting her hoof and grinding it in as she pivoted around me.

Ouch. To put it mildly.

The point is, did she do anything wrong? No. Was it her fault? No. You could say it was my fault for having my foot in her way, but sometimes, these things just happen.

So in the horse world that begs the question: what do you do? Do you hop around on one foot? Go home, elevate it and ice it?

Not in horsey land. You finish your work (which for me, included 3 more horses, and I have one left still to ride today at Starlight), and you show your incoming black and blue badge of honor to your husband who recoils in horror.

Oh yes, mission accomplished!

I'm sure I'll be feeling it, big time, tomorrow. But I'll still go about my day.

Not because it's what I do, or it's my job.

Because it's going to be 50 degrees and I'm going to enjoy it if it kills me!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feline Vocals

Our cat, Whimsy, just yodeled.

For about a minute and a half.

I kid you not.

It was hilarious.

The end.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Really is All Around

Happy Valentine's Day to my TMF Readers!

I'll be totally honest. I'm not too in love with Valentine's Day. I picked out a box of chocolates in the grocery store and told Matt that it's my Valentine's Day gift, he said OK, and off we went! I really feel like it's a holiday meant for those who are dating, but us old married folks go about our day as normal.

As I type this, I am realizing I sent Matt off to work without saying Happy Valentine's Day! He didn't say it either, so I guess we're even.

But, I did take a moment today to take stock in the love that's all around us. It's here every day, but today it's magnified.

While I love my husband, I love him more because he loves my horses. He tolerates late nights at night check, standing around in the freezing cold while I give my horses goodnight carrots. He lugs water buckets from the house to the barn. He changes blankets, grooms, occasionally picks up a pitchfork, and patiently listens to me talk about our own horses, Akindale horses, other people's horses, people who have anything to do with horses, horse supplies, etc etc etc.

The man should be sainted.

Every morning without fail, Whimsy attaches herself to my legs and rubs on them, purring, meowing and telling me about all the exciting events of the night while we were sleeping. Monster dozes nearby, purring from contentment. Mojo keeps me company outside while I clean the barn.

Zeus' favorite thing is to give me kisses, although sometimes they're a bit exuberant and I end up getting bashed in the face with his nose. Siggy stretches his neck out as far as he can to get a good rub and closes his eyes, as if to say, "Ahh, that's the spot!" And Topaz, well she pins her ears and snaps at me with her teeth, but at night before her carrots, she'll stick her head in my stomach as if to say "thanks."

That's love to me. And how lucky that I get to live that every day?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Foxcar Hunting

A very good friend of mine sent me a video that had me roaring with laughter, green with envy, and generally smiling with mirth.

A show over in the UK, Top Gear, decided to do a mock fox hunt. Only the fox was an off-road car. To see the lead-up to the good stuff, click here.

While I've only ever done mock fox hunts, there are several real hunts in the area. Most just give chase to the fox and when it "goes to ground," meaning it hides in a nest or appears to slow down, the Master (head honcho of the hunt) calls the dogs off, everyone goes back to home base, and then they party.

But what happens when a bunch of foxhunters decide to give chase to an off road car painted and scented like a fox?

See below to find out! (Video.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Wilder Side of Life

My family research has yielded some fascinating results!

I've been able to uncover some amazing stories and bits of information about people from long ago....people I'm related to. Their stories are ones of victory, of strife, and of wood.



My grandmother on my father's side has the maiden name of Wilder. It's the same Wilder name tied to the very famous Laura Ingalls, the author of Little House on the Prairie. The Wilders have been in America for generations upon generations.

Oliver Wilder, my 7th Great Grandfather (1694-1765), married a lovely gal by the name of Mary Fairbanks, and they had a little Oliver - my 6th Great Grandfather. His dad (back to Oliver the 7th) had a rough go of it, watching his father (Nathaniel Wilder, 1655-1704) be murdered by indians during a raid on their farm. Oliver the 7th had a brother killed during yet another ambush, and he was almost murdered himself until he was able to take refuge in his farm's garrison house.

But what really struck me as wonderful is that we have an actual piece of North American history, still standing, just a few hours away.

Remember Mary Fairbanks? Her grandfather, Jonathan, is one famous dude. He built a house in 1636.

Why is that remarkable?

Because it's still standing. In Massachusetts.

This is the Fairbanks House, located in Dedham, MA. It's the oldest timber frame home in North America.
The image below is actually from a postcard from the 1920's, trying to bring tourism to Dedham.

To learn more about the Fairbanks House, there is an entire website dedicated to it.
That Jonathan guy? He's my 10th Great Grandfather.
Seems like he did a pretty great thing, wouldn't you say?

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Sponsor - Georgetown Stable Outfitters

I am thrilled to announce Thunder Moon Farm's newest sponsorship, with Georgetown Stable Outfitters!

It's a big day. Why? Because I love this stuff.

Where else can you get something so functional and beautiful at the same time? Pottery Barn? I think not.

GSO's creator, Colleen Litof, has very quickly become a wonderful friend to me and an advocate for Akindale, too. We connected through our mutual vet, Dr. Christina Braun, when Colleen began to start looking for a youngster to bring along. Since then, Colleen has come to visit Akindale, the horses at Starlight, and has also referred several people to Akindale to look for horses for themselves. Visits with Colleen are things to look forward to, as she's always got a lovely outlook, and is wonderful with the horses. She truly has an insight to horses and the people who love them, and it shows in the craftsmanship of her GSO pieces.

The best part is, I think most GSO pieces can live in your house, not just in your barn. Don't have a stable to outfit? No problem!

This is a tack trunk, but I also see it as a coffee table, that can store things inside. I'm just a little in love with it. It could be a treasured gift for a fierce rider but also a wedding gift, or for someone who has just moved into their first home or apartment.
And, you can never have enough closet space. The custom armoires are gorgeous and can store saddles, bridles or your winter clothes, don't you think?

I'm also really fond with this travel bit box. You look like a rock star wandering around the stabling area at events, and it holds a myriad of items - not just bits. Personally, I would use the little drawer for studs (screw-in cleats for horses), and the rungs can also hold on to things you might otherwise lose - your competitor number, the flash noseband you took off in a hurry, or necklaces or bracelets while you're traveling. Brilliant.
Take a few minutes to wander around the website, and admire the unparalleled craftsmanship and attention to detail. If you need a special gift for a horseperson, or a non horseperson who is special to you, look no further. These fine pieces will be a unique choice and will last a lifetime!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Con Artist Kitty

I am such a pushover.

Whimsy loves our bathroom. I have no idea why. She just loves to hang out in there while I'm in there.

We normally don't allow kitties in that bathroom...but, how can you not? Her pleas are just too darn cute!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Wish I Was Jumping

I'm on a campaign.

Matt and I want to deconstruct the ugly pigeon coop in the back yard...and I am chomping at the bit (literally?) to get to riding and conditioning Zeus for this year's competitive season!

Wait. Stop. I know. Pigeon coop? Not a chicken coop?

Yep. Pigeons. Why anyone would want to have pigeons is beyond me (especially after living in NYC), but the darn thing is huge, has multiple doors, and its own gutters!

Anyway, we'd been talking about what to do with it, and I am on record as saying, "I want jumps!"

I'm ready to head out now with a crowbar and go to Home Depot to try and duct tape something together.

But really, what kind of jumps can you make from scrap wood?

You can make what we call a coop!

We can also make a ramp, which the famous Jimmy Wofford is standing in front of. Bonus points if you add doors and windows on it, as if little gnomes live inside. Some horses are convinced they do, and it will spook them on course.

We can build the outline of a ditch, perhaps on either side of the natural stream in our field.

All of these ideas help push us towards getting more confident and able to jump the bigger stuff. I jumped a few picnic tables when I was about 12 years old, and that allowed me to move on to bigger tables, like the one pictured below.
We also have lots of chopped wood that we haven't used. I think I can recreate a smaller version of this jump.
Just wait. Tomorrow I'll have a little Cross Country jump workshop all rigged up in our basement, ready to get going so as soon as we see grass, we can make the most of these great jump ideas!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Family Mysteries

I am such a dweeb, I am absolutely in love with the show "Who Do You Think You Are," on NBC Friday nights.

I DVR it, and then subject Matt to it after he's come home from the city. Lucky for me, he gets sucked into the storyline too, even though he whines about it!

I've always been interested in our family history and where we come from, and have casually been looking around on since about 2000. It wasn't until the past week that I finally bit the bullet and decided to try the free 14 day trial, to see how far back I can trace my roots.

Due to good record keeping and an old document my dad gave me, I've been able to trace his family back all the way to 1550!

Through modern day technology, I've been able to view Census materials from the 1800s onward, with quite possibly, my own ancestor's handwriting (which is much better than any of ours these days). I learned that my Great Grandfather on my mom's side, Michael York, was not actually born Michael York. He was born Matej Janik in Austria, and moved to America in 1885. He then became a butcher (he was probably a butcher in Austria too), owned his own shop, and his sons worked in the shop with him. He changed his name to sound more "American," thus changing generations of names after him.

(Michael York/ Matej Yanik 1910 Census)

At this point, I realize how much easier it must have been back then to change your name. "Oh, I think I'll change my name today...." No paperwork, no documents could change your name as often as you changed your mind, it seemed.

Meanwhile, I think I still have my maiden name for some things, because I can't be bothered to do all the paperwork and official-ness required to change it to my married name.

My dad's family seems to be very well documented, with photos, World War I draft cards, and tombstone etchings. Many of them were farmers or teachers, and some of them arrived in America before it was actually America. Their names tell stories of their own: Chauncy, Dolphus, Sophronia, Flora, Edway, Erastus, Alanson...the list could go on.

(John Cover Headstone, 1758-1832, my 5th generation Great Grandfather)

(Maurice Wilder WWI Draft Card, my Great Grandfather)

What really lit my fire though, was my brother's passion to find out more about our history, too. We discussed it at length when we went out to dinner on Saturday night (much to the delight of Matt and Kristin, who I think just ordered more cocktails when that conversation got going). Between the two of us, we just may be able to find some interesting pieces of history that our family happened to be a part of. It's exciting.

One day, we might be able to share the history we find with our own kids, so they know and understand just where they come from, and how far we've come.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Having a Snow Ball

Horses are good for the soul.

You can see for yourself (video):

Here are some of my charges, having a wonderful time playing in the snow and the above freezing (for once!) temps.

You'll see my newest girl, Moon, the pretty grey. Angelo was a bit more camera shy, but who steals the show are the two girls in the matching blue blankets - the fabulous Paris and Casey!

(Note: I had to ride them after this lovely little display...they were a little high on life after all that excitement!)

Yup. Good for the soul. And good for blanket repair. You'll see some surcingles and other straps flapping in the breeze from their exuberance - I got to troop out there after they had wound down and fix everyone's blankets!

With all that trooping...they are good for a thigh workout, too.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


A night out! Wonder of wonders, we had a night out!

I know. The mind boggles.

Despite the ice and otherwise awful weather, Matt and I were able to meet up with Jay and Kristin for dinner at Doc's Trattoria in Kent, CT. We'd been there once before with Matt's parents and had a lovely time, and Kristin had also been there before and enjoyed it.

Before we walked in (and we should have brought ice skates for the parking lot), I already knew what I wanted.

Just so you know: I love tomatoes. And mozzarella cheese.

For appetizers, we shared an insalata caprese (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, olive oil and roasted red pepper) and bruschetta. Paired with a delish pinot grigio, the night was off to a fabulous start!

Even better, after our appetizers we were presented with yummy salads, a salad surprise! It's not listed on the menu, so they were unexpected but really tasty. (I'd forgotten about the salads!)

My entree, which I didn't even have to open the menu for, I can describe in one word: fresh. I got the Penne Vesuviana, which is basically penne pasta (duh) with fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, oregano, and pecorino romano cheese. All sauteed together, it's a delicious mess of some of my most favorite things.

After polishing off some strawberry and chocolate gelato (are you hungry yet?), we all decided to traipse across the street to the Fife & Drum for an after dinner cocktail.

Who would think Kent would be the mecca of nightlife?

While we were there, Jay spotted a bottle spinning on the bar. And I think it just may have changed his life.
Jay discovered Black Lab vodka. According to the nice bartender, the creators of the vodka had a shop just across the street for many years. They've since relocated, but it's clear that the people who started Black Lab have strong ties to Kent.

Jay even got a souvenir bottle to take home with him!

A good time was had by all. And my lunch of leftovers today was just a reminder of a fun evening!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sounds About Right

What's happening today?

Snow. And ice. And a little rain in case we missed it.

Then later this evening, more snow!

(Let me tell you, I am just as tired of talking about the snow as you are reading about it.)

I happened upon our forecast for this weekend. It isn't looking good.
Yes, I think we will! (We're in the white portion.)

Actually, we are going to try and head out to dinner with my brother Jay and sis in law Kristin. Lucky for us, the restaurant (Doc's Trattoria in Kent, CT) is 5 minutes away. Not so close for Jay and Kristin. But, they seem to be determined to make it out. Hopefully, they will - we always have a blast hanging out!
Happy Weekend!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just Not My Day

Yesterday started out ok. Busy, but ok.

I got up, fed our horses, cleaned our barn, and dropped Matt off at the train. Then I went over to Akindale and rode/ worked with 3 horses there - Paris, Casey, and Angelo. After that, I ran back home, gave our horses some lunch hay, got some lunch myself, and headed back out to Starlight to work with other Akindale horses Shadow, Dream and Silver. I picked up my riding student, Marissa, on my way.

After driving out of a one-lane bridge, I was moving over (the road widens to 2 lanes) and before I could even react, there was a little black car there that I didn't see due to a snowbank that was too big! Thunk! I clipped the edge of her car, stopped, cursed a few times, and got out of our truck.

The lady was really very nice, we were both glad no one was hurt, and while our truck has nary a scratch on it, her car didn't fare so well. I really don't know who was at fault (definitely not all her fault, it was either all my fault or both our faults - I think she might have been going too fast around the snowbank and wasn't over on her side of the road enough). Either way, it was a gosh darn headache to deal with! The kicker was, I'd never been in an accident - so I had to call poor Matt at work to ask, "What do I do?" His first question was not, "Are you ok?" His first question was, "What happened to the truck?!"

Ah, men. Priorities!

On our way to Starlight, we have to travel up a dirt road - not surprisingly, called Long Mountain Road. And it is. A. Long. Mountain. With the snow, it's literally one lane that travels in both directions. If you encounter another car, one car has to back up and find a (rare) driveway to pull into to let the other car pass. As we were traveling up the hill, a station wagon came down at breakneck speed (after spotting us and passing a driveway they could have easily pulled into!) and proceeded to ride my front bumper as I backed up down the winding hill. It took about 6 minutes for me to back far enough, avoiding snowbanks and falling off the cliff of the mountain, to find a (poorly plowed) driveway to pull into. Meanwhile, the Station Wagon Schmucks are waving and yelling at me, as if it's my fault for having the audacity to be on their road!

At that moment, I was ready to call a cab.

We finally arrived at Starlight to see a few men up on the roof of the barn, shoveling the snow off. We were very happy about that - after hearing of so many barn and roof collapses, it was definitely a good move and we were thrilled it was being taken care of.

The horses that we had to bring into the barn, however, were not thrilled at the racket on the roof - they were certain of impending doom and destruction!

I was smushed into a wall by one horse panicking (resulting in a gorgeous bruise blossoming on my arm) and then another horse got spooked just as the roof guys were finishing for the day, breaking her bridle.

It was at that moment that my student Marissa, 14, smiled and said, "It's just not your day, is it?"

I couldn't help but laugh! Such a simple statement, and yet, so true!

The rest of the day went just fine, but at that point, I was ready to wave the white flag.

Later in the evening, I was perusing through Facebook, and saw a photo taken by the one and only Horsewife and great friend, Arliss Paddock. This is her yard, and it just seemed perfect.

What a beautiful way to bring some comfort to a day filled with chaos!

Let's hope today is better. It has to be, right?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Talking the Talk

Has anyone noticed? I love to talk.

I will talk to a wall if you let me. Plants will work too.

I am constantly talking to my animals, myself, the pitchfork...anything I come into contact with is subjected to my (sometimes) nonsensical chatter.

Occasionally, my gift of gab comes in handy.

Last Sunday, I was invited to speak at Lendon Gray's Weekend Equestrian Educational Program on the subject of Akindale, Thoroughbred Rescue and horse rescue in general. It was an honor to be a part of such a big event, and hopefully we'll continue to be asked back year after year!

My mom also did a lecture after me, about careers in equine journalism. I was so interested in what she had to say that I forgot to take any photos of her. Oops!
They actually moved us into a larger room to accommodate more people, and it was a wonderful reception. Everyone really reacted to my story about how I got into Thoroughbred rescue, and I think they latched on to some of our horses up for adoption, based on the photos and the stories I told about them.

Hopefully, the lecture will result in spreading the word about Akindale, and even better, a horse (or a few!) will find homes because of it.
Wouldn't that be nice?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Think Spring

Sometimes, there is just nothing else to do.
There is 500 feet of snow out there. And ice too.

You will notice the flowers on the wine glass (vs snowflakes) and the butterfly on the wine bottle.
These are the two tiny threads of hope that I'm grasping on to with both hands, white knuckles, and hanging on for dear life!
Pretty soon I'm going to turn the heat up to 80 and wander around the house in flip flops just for the sake of my sanity.
Take that, Winter.


Day 1 of 28 Days of Blogging!

Guess what?

It's snowing! Yippeee!

Can you sense the biting sarcasm here?

I'm sure you've heard the hysteria over roofs collapsing left and right...and I think there's some reason for concern. We just keep getting dumped on by Mother Nature, and our houses and garages buckle under the weight of the snow. A very good friend's garage smushed her husband's car last week, among other stories.

Even our birdie condo was at risk.
So, Matt spent a good portion of the weekend on the roofs of various buildings, getting the mounds of snow off in preparation guessed it, more snow.

Here he is over the garage, surveying his territory.

And once he stopped posing, here he is actually getting the snow off the garage roof.
As I type, he's getting a head start on some parts of our house so we don't have to worry about that. Our first order of business was the barn, because, well, we have things living in it.
And here we are again, with much more snow and ice on the way. I'm ready for Spring. Seriously ready.