Tag Archives: life decisions

Horse Happiness

Yesterday I headed 4.5 hours (one way) to go see Junebug and decide if she was the horse for me. I brought my most trusted advisors with me, Sarah and Stella, and knew I wouldn’t go astray with them helping me.

Stella got car sick the entire trip up there, which made me feel like maybe we weren’t starting off on the right foot. But once we got there her spirits brightened and she happily ran around while Sarah and I met with Rapid’s owner/breeder.

We brought Junebug in from her pasture, put her on the cross ties and I got to grooming her. She stood and let me groom her everywhere as well as pick up her feet. She wasn’t antsy, or pushy, and literally just stood in the crossties.

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I also got right to work getting lots of pics

Next we took her into the arena, out of sight of the other horses. We trotted her around a bit so I could see her move and then I attached the lead rope and walked and trotted her over some poles. She was slightly distracted, but it really wasn’t until the other horses whinnied for her that she realized she was away from them. She still allowed me to lead her around and was completely sensible.

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We headed back out and I took her for a walk around the property and down the long driveway. She was slightly more interested in turning back to her friends than heading away from them, but was easy to handle and was easily convinced to go with me and leave her friends.

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So shiny!

As we were walking along I thought to myself, I’m buying a horse for her brain, everything is secondary and I need to remember that. When I got back to Sarah and Junebug’s owner, I found out that Junebug had only gotten out a few times in her 23 months. If mare is this sensible with that little handling, I feel like I am getting the brain I want.

Conformationally she is built uphill, has good bone and is the thick, stocky build that I like. I imagine she’ll grow to about 16hh. She won’t be built like a lithe racehorse, but I feel like her breeding will help with getting around xc easily.

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Lastly, after saying goodbye to Junebug, we drove over to go meet her momma. Her mom is a Quarter Horse who has produced some nice babies. Junebug’s maternal grandma produced lots of nice, smart, jumpers. I need to research the lineage a little more, but momma was well built and seemed sweet. Her full brother is a total sweetheart, with a lovely build and great brain.

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Cute momma!

And her Dad. Her Dad is who I hope will get us some nice dressage scores and will give her major athletic prowess. Her half sister has proven to be quite the athlete, so I’m hoping Junebug will also prove to be a great eventer.

As we headed home I started talk things over with Sarah and Stella. Our conversation didn’t last long, as it was clear she was a great baby horse for me to take a chance on! I’m currently figuring out when to bring her home and what our future will look like together. She will be 3 on 6/24, so we have some months of ground work and life experiences together before I get to riding her.

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Not a bad life so far

I’m obviously excited, and nervous, and anxious, but mostly excited. I can’t wait to start our future together!

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Plan #15

It’s been a whirlwind week. I flew to Florida for a conference, spent 4 days there, flew back for one night, and then flew to Seattle for a U2/Mumford and Sons concert. (With guest appearance by Eddie Vedder!!) So, I’ve been travelling a BIT.

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Drinking my favorite drink (or two of them) with my cousin while in Florida.

Somehow in between traveling I’ve managed to get some rides in on Macy. And, they’ve been pretty horrible. What I realized is, that after she spooks or is crazy once, the ride is over for me. I worry about her bolting so I tense up, shorten her and then neither of us can recover. I don’t want to get into every crazy moment she has had, or what she did, but do want to mention that I get why people keep horses that aren’t appropriate for them. I’m struggling with the idea of giving up on Macy and she isn’t even my horse. I didn’t buy her, invest a lot of time or money into her, and even having her doesn’t make me exempt from having to buy a horse in the future. So, really, I have it super easy with her and I am still struggling with giving up riding her. I can’t even imagine what it is like for people who bought a horse and are having this struggle. I get it.

In the past weeks I have realized Macy isn’t the horse for me and lately I feel more unsafe and frustrated than I have since the beginning. I let Sarah know and she totally understood. But then I kinda back tracked and was like ” Well, maybe we can see if I can make it work.” Because I just couldn’t give up, even though I wasn’t really enjoy riding her. It’s so messed up!

Yesterday I brought her in for my lesson and she was cuckoo bananas. She was tied in a different spot than usual and was so distracted and antsy. I was worried she would pull back, or trample me, and so I was tiptoeing around her. Sarah came over and let me know I can’t do that. Got her to pay attention and Macy didn’t like it, pulled back, broke her halter and galloped around the arena.

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How she reacts to me reprimanding her

I want to take a moment and mention something that happened while Macy was being a wild mustang. There were two other horses present. Both OTTBs and both, ironically, from the same breeder. One was getting acupuncture and one was being ridden in a lesson. When Macy had her meltdown, neither of them flinched. As she galloped around the arena, they stood still and waited for us to catch her. When Macy was caught they went back to what they were doing as if nothing happened.

So, props to those two OTTBs. And seriously, I am looking into who the breeder is and if he has any horses off the track for sale….

Ok, so Macy. Sarah hopped on her to show me a couple things to work on and then I got on. We ended up having a lovely lesson. Mainly because Sarah was there to guide me. I learned the following things:

  1. I need to keep Macy’s brain engaged every single step of the lesson.
  2. I need to be active every step of the lesson. If she gets the frame and bend I want, I need to keep working in order to maintain it.
  3.  If she spooks once, or even worse, if I THINK she is going to spook, I can’t get tight and lose the elastic connection. Because when I do that, it makes things worse.
  4. If she wants to spook, or does, get right back to work. Stop it before it escalates (if possible) but don’t get her short and tight. Get her back into that deep frame. (And when I say spook, this mare rarely just spooks, the spook leads into a bolt, head tossing bonanza)
  5.  I don’t trust Macy. I wouldn’t let go of the reins to even pat her when she was good.
  6.  I should not be riding this horse by myself. I haven’t ever been in a full lesson program, where all I do is take lessons and never ride on my own, nor do I want to be. But with Macy, I am doing neither of us any favors by riding alone without Sarah guiding me on staying relaxed and getting us through the tough spots.

 

So. By the end of the lesson I realized what I wanted to do. Showing is off the table completely. (Despite getting into an over subscribed recognized show, I scratched.) I won’t be riding Macy unless in a lesson. I’ll be doing that twice a week. I will continue to ride her with supervision because the lesson was actually really fun and I learned a ton. Once I learn how to ride her reactivity, I think I can ride her alone again. But that might be months from now. And that’s ok. Some of you mentioned that you worried a horse like Macy would make me lose my confidence. And I think that’s an incredibly valid point. I think that if I continue to ride her the way I was, when I free rode, that could definitely happen. With showing off the table I have no goals I have to meet in order to feel prepared to run her at Training. I can just learn and enjoy. I also realize Macy isn’t my long term horse. But my long term horse is going to be a young, green, unbroke horse, so I better get used to a little crazy in my life.

So, this is plan #15 I believe, and I am excited to give it a go. Plus, I’m going up to see Junebug Tuesday so I have something to look forward to 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meeting Junebug

As I alluded to in earlier posts, I have been considering adding a young horse to my life. There was one in particular that I have known about for a while, but never thought would be for me, as I already had a horse.

“Junebug” is a half sister to Sarah’s mare, Rapid. You know, the one I coveted after riding, and had so much fun on back in March? You can read all about my love affair here: Rapid!

Junebug shares a Daddy with Rapid- the USEF eventing sire of 2015, Riverman. Standing at Hilltop Farm, Riverman is a Holsteiner who has gone on to produce a lot of really lovely eventing offspring. You can read about him here: Whose Your Daddy?

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But where Rapid and Junebug part ways is with their momma. Rapid is out of a Connemara/TB cross and Junebug has a Quarterhorse momma. Now, at first, you may think, who breeds a Holsteiner to a QH? And I would be right there with you. Except that this mare had already shown to produce some really nice jumpers. And so, she was bred to a fancy Holsteiner.

And what resulted was a really lovely baby (or two! The bay is her full brother).

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Junebug was super sweet and well-mannered when I met her (considering she’s a baby) and I love her build. A bit stocky with a QH butt and AMAZING forelock and tail. (Which is equally as important as a good brain, lol).

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And she knows how to pose for the camera, also important

My first instinct was “YES.” And it still is. But with age comes patience. And since this would be the first youngster I’ve ever purchased, I wanted a second opinion. So, plan is for Sarah to head back up with me the end of May and we’ll play around with her a bit. And then, hopefully take her home. Her breeder is a good friend of Sarah’s and also wants to make sure this is a good match.

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In the meantime, while I think Junebug could certainly be the right horse for me, she is coming 3, so it would be a while before we did more than groundwork. And while Macy is also getting better and better, I just can’t help myself and am also looking into a couple of other going horses. What’s that called? Weighing your options? Or maybe just being impatient and indecisive…

Anyway, I’m glad you all got to see the adorableness that is Junebug and hopefully you’ll be seeing lots more of her!

 

 

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Saying No To Your Dream Horse

I’ve hemmed and hawed about even writing this post. You see, I’ve been keeping a little secret from you all, and now that it’s all said and done I wasn’t sure I even needed to write about it. But, I will. Mostly because it will be cathartic to put it out into bloggerland and close this chapter.

When I let people know Georgie was injured and no longer competing with me, I got a lot of very sweet emails and lots of people reached out letting me know about possible horses for me.

What I didn’t expect, was for the folks in Ireland who I had ridden with, to contact me and see if it would be possible for me to purchase Buttons, the horse I had absolutely fallen in love with over there. (you can read about him here) At first I was like “yeah, right.” But the more we talked, the more I realized this could actually, amazingly, possibly, happen. They were being incredibly kind and generous and wanted Buttons in a good home, so were willing to work with me to see how we could make it happen. I started to freak out a little and imagined Buttons being here with me. OMG it would be a dream come true!!!

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Buttons. Look how happy I look!

What it all came down to was the cost of shipping him to the States. They agreed to look into it and they mentioned that without an agent, shipping costs could be drastically reduced.

I know nothing about the cost of shipping horses overseas, except that it wasn’t cheap. I decided to set a budget for myself so that I wouldn’t get carried away with getting Buttons if I really couldn’t afford it. At the top end of my budget, I could have the horse, and pay his board, but I wouldn’t have any money to compete or really take regular lessons for about a year. But, at that moment in time I didn’t care, because THIS WAS MY DREAM HORSE.

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More Buttons and I looking very happy together

So, we began working on looking into shipping costs. Unfortunately, the Shannon to Chicago route, which EN teased us with this past fall, never really took off. That would have been the far cheaper option, as Shannon was about 40 minutes from the barn Buttons was located at.  So, we’d have to haul the horse to Dublin and fly him to Chicago. Then, 3 days of quarantine. Then, I could drive 23 hours to go pick him up, and drive 23 hours home. This all sounded like it was NOT going to fit into my budget.

And it didn’t. Despite the folks at Dartfield working their pants off to get me a reasonable price, it was still far above my budget. The top end of my budget. Shipping horses can cost anywhere between $10-$20k I learned.

Yup. Let me break some of the steps down for you:

  1. Health cert, passport, blood work
  2. Transport to the airport
  3. Groom
  4. A shipping pallet is about 15k, and fits 3 horses. So, just to sit on the plane costs 5k per horse.
  5. Quarantine
  6. Transportation from airport home

Even with the most economical option we could find, and with people being incredibly generous, it would cost me $10k to get Buttons home.

I was now $7k over my stretched budget.

There was no way I could make this work, even with both the shipper and the seller offering to take payments.  I’d be paying this horse off for over a year, and literally doing nothing but paying off the horse. Like, I would be sweating every single payment and trying to make it work. Yeah. No. Can’t justify that.

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So, I called Sarah just to make sure I was making the right decision and she agreed. Goodbye Buttons.

The folks at Dartfield  were so amazingly nice and tried so hard to make this work out. I felt horrible having to tell them no, after how much work they put into it.

So, the last two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. From EXCITED to sad to EXCITED to sad. I almost felt a sense of relief when I sent the final “I’m sorry I can’t make it work” email. As sad as I was, I knew I could move on and not set my hopes on this horse any longer.

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Maybe one day I’ll get my dream Irish horse. Maybe not. I can’t live in the “maybe” and it’s so not my personality to dwell.

With Buttons behind me, I’m ready to move on to the next option. I’m really, really, excited about a baby I am going to check out next week. She’s not Irish, but she has a great pedigree and I think she could be a great fit for me. As I said to Sarah when I was weighing the options of Buttons or this baby horse , neither is a bad option. I’d be lucky to have either, despite how different they are. So, even though I am down to the one option, instead of two, I think this one can make me equally as happy and make it much easier for me financially. And if baby horse is the option I go with, I’m also looking into options to keep riding and even competing this season, as that has been the hardest part for me- not having something to consistently hop on.

So many options! I’ll keep you posted as they go from options to decisions.

 

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Saying Goodbye

When I originally started this blog it was to chronicle my adventures as I looked for a new horse. I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep leasing Georgie and thought I would purchase a horse instead.

At this moment in time I have no idea why I would ever have thought I didn’t want to keep Georgie.

This past Friday the vet came out to ultrasound her suspensory. Georgie has a tear in her suspensory ligament. The vet checked and rechecked, not understanding how a hole of this size could be in a horse with such minor lameness. She mentioned that Georgie must be a super tough mare.

Yeah. She is. She also has a heart of gold.

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I’ve obviously shed a lot of tears over this new-found information. I spoke with her owner and we both agreed. Georgie shouldn’t compete at the upper levels again, even if in 6 months or a year she appears sound. She’s given me everything. Why would I ask her to do it again and possibly reinjure herself?

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I feel like I’ll still be seeing this view from between her ears

So, come May, when the snow has hopefully melted, Georgie will be rehabbing in a lovely privately owned stable. I’ll be giving up the lease as is, and creating a new lease on her. One where I am responsible for checking in on her, getting her out for walks and making sure she is doing well. While I can’t continue the financial aspect of keeping Georgie during rehab, I didn’t want to say goodbye completely, and happily agreed to continue being her primary caretaker.  My hope is that one day she can show someone wanting to go BN what an incredible thrill it can be to ride a safe and honest horse cross country.

I have so many “I wish we could haves” but I’m not going to dwell on them. Our partnership was clearly not long enough, but man it was super fantastic while we had it. I never fell off of Georgie. She never, ever, refused a fence. What horse in 3+ years never stops at a fence??? She never scared me and she never hurt me. She didn’t mind that I dressed her in purple from head to toe. She let me learn so much, and kept saying yes when I asked for more.

I am so incredibly lucky to have had Georgie in my life as a competition horse. My dream when I started eventing to was to maybe, one day, go Training. Not only did we accomplish that goal but we became a competitive Training pair and were ready to tackle Prelim, despite the fact that I was initially told Georgie would never be a Prelim worthy horse. With Georgie as my partner, I never feared a thing while on her back. That mare took care of me and saved my butt more times than I can count.

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Mare tackled this ditch wall like it was nothing. Just like I knew she would

So, yes, I’m devastated. And yes, the crying and lamenting will continue for a bit longer. But here’s the thing. Georgie will still be a part of my life. And who knows, perhaps if she is sound I’ll get to rehab her and take her to her first BN event post injury. I’m lucky that this is not a final goodbye.

And I’m lucky for incredible friends. People who have been offering me horses to ride and buy since they’ve heard the news. This certainly isn’t the end of Georgie, and it isn’t the end for me either. Sure, moving forward every horse will have to live up to Georgie and I’ll always compare them to the mare that did no wrong. But it’s ok. I am ready to start falling off, and refusing fences, and I am more than ready to continue the 3Day adventures with horses.

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Year in Review

I have a habit of not setting solid goals for myself as a rider for the coming year. I feel like horses and riding are so unpredictable. Georgie could be lame tomorrow and there go all our goals for the spring. Or, I could break my elbow. Again. Or, everything could go exactly as planned. And wouldn’t that be nice. And unusual.

But, I’ve decided to set goals for the coming year. They will be put into the universe in a later post, as this one will be to review how shit went down in 2016.

Things started ok. It was a lot of indoor work due to an Idaho winter, but we worked on thinking quickly while jumping. Something I struggle with.

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This instilled some serious fear in me

Off to Utah in March for some xc schooling and my spirits brightened. Georgie felt like the horse I never thought I’d have. Adjustable, uphill and forward. It was a blast. Plus, Training felt easy. That was a nice change.

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Jumping over the rock

June was the start of our official season with our show at Inavale. Once we were able to get there- after my truck died and a kind friend let us borrow theirs. Dressage in my mind was AMAZING but the judge had a different view and gave us our worst score to date. Just made me determined to show her this wasn’t a dressage show, stupid judge.

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Amazing. Duh

Georgie ate up the xc course at Inavale. So much so that I thought I had speed faults. I didn’t. We were perfectly within optimum time. It was a great course and gave me the confidence I needed to know we could tackle the 3Day in a month. Plus, we had an awesome show jump round. Only one rail down, which is below average for us. And it was the final rail because I rode to it stupidly. So good news was if I ride well we can do well. We finished in third place, and I had a lot of fun, so really it was a great weekend.

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Does not care about 3rd place. Cares that there is a stupid ribbon on her and her tack has yet to be removed.

The following month was the Training 3 Day at Rebecca. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you have the chance to do a long format, do it. Dressage in the big arena sitting the trot and doing some movements we will be doing at Prelim. Again, judges and I disagreed. This time they thought my test was nicer than I did and gave us our best score to date. That’s cool.

Endurance day. Pretty sure I smiled the entire time. Steeplechase was SO MUCH FUN.

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Love her ears

The xc course was easy peasy and it was the first time I felt like I just let Georgie gallop and didn’t interfere three strides out. (My favorite thing to do.) Stadium was good. Two rails. But they weren’t for obvious reasons and I was pleased with our ride. Sadly we dropped from 2nd place to 6th because of the rails. Which was annoying, because there were cash prizes for riders up to 3rd place. But it is what it is.

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One of my fave pics ever.

Probably the best part was that when the 3Day was done and over with, trainer Sarah brought up the P word. As in, it was something we could start thinking about. I NEVER thought it was an option. But Georgie is such a different horse than she was 6-8 months ago, and I like to think I’m a different rider, but maybe not to such a dramatic degree. And because it would be the first time for both of us going Prelim, I decided to have Sarah take her to her first recognized event at the level.

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While schooling next door to Rebecca, in 2015 I had been too scared to do this ditch wall. This year we conquered it easily. Amazing the difference a year makes.

August was stupid. I tripped and fell (totally sober) and broke my elbow. So… Sarah took over riding Georgie after her post Rebecca break and got her ready for Prelim.

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The improvements with Sarah riding Georgie were pretty obvious early on…

September Sarah took Georgie to a schooling Jumper Show and they rocked. ZERO rails. Made everything I had said about her unable to not hit rails complete hogwash. This put me in a weird headspace. Mainly just not riding my horse, but also missing her and having someone else take over the ride for the first time in my life of horses was weird. But I knew it was for the best, and I am still enjoying all the improvements Sarah worked on. Hello responding to my leg!

And then her debut at Prelim with Sarah. Ok, let’s just skip too much writing about that. The fates just weren’t with us that day. But, you better believe this venue will also be the first Prelim I take her to in the spring. I don’t even care if I fall off (ok, I do) that course is not getting the better of that mare, or me. Stupid book jump.

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Being #13 DID NOT HELP

And then… Ireland. Trip of a lifetime. OMG. Foxhunting with the Irish. Riding Irish horses. I still have no idea why I came home.

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And then, in November, the final xc school of the season. Sarah took Georgie back down to Skyline and rocked the course with her. Had a blast. Georgie proved that she is a Prelim ready horse. Sure, the book jump was in hiding and not available to school, but that’s ok. We’ll get ‘er in the spring. Stupid book jump.

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Why hello, huge table

December has been work work work. Jump and dressage lessons. Raising expectations of what this horse is capable of.

She’s still the best damn horse I’ve ever known. I’ll never stop loving her and I cannot wait to see what 2017 brings.

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What I’m Doing When I’m Not Stalking Rolex

Let’s be honest. we’re all just checking blogs for Rolex updates and info, and the rest can wait until Monday. But seeing as I watched every video I could think of pertaining to the 4* I figure I have no excuse not to do some writing of my own.

It’s actually been a really big week, so lets get started!

I’ve been leasing Georgie for almost two years now, and as much as love her, and as amazing as she is, I am having a hard time with the lease part. I’m not going to go into why, but I will say it is hard to continue to develop a relationship knowing it is going to end. Do I really want to become more invested in this relationship only to say goodbye in the end? I actually think that’s the plot of the movie The Longest Ride that I will admit to having seen…

So, I got serious about trying some other horses. And I got serious about riding again. And I had a bit of freak out thinking about not having Georgie next year even though she would still be available. I rode her one day and couldn’t get over how fun it was to ride her. She’s come so far and honestly, I know there is so much more for me to learn with her.

So, I spoke with her owner and negotiated some things and decided to keep her another year. Apparently I am willing to put my heart on the line in order to keep her in my life. (Which is what happens in that cheesy movie as well…)

Galloping off to our future. ;)

Galloping off to our future. 😉

So, for those of you who don’t know me, you don’t know how anal I am about schedules. I have had my show schedule on my calendar since January. Ok, December. And now I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and change that schedule!! What has come over me???? While my goal for the summer was to compete in the Rebecca Farms Training Three Day, that was because I thought that come August I wouldn’t have Georgie anymore. Now that that has changed, I THINK I am going to push back the Three Day and do it in the fall. But we’ll see, apparently I like to change things around to keep it
interesting… (I can’t believe I was able to type that blatant lie. I am flipping out about having changed things.)

So, here’s what I learned this week:

I love Georgie.

I love Georgie so much that I am willing to keep leasing her despite what leasing entails emotionally.

I really love eventing.

Now, lets get back to Rolex!

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