Farewell, My Friend

I’ve been putting off writing this post for awhile because the last few months have been so traumatic. After my last post Oh So got miraculously better, and we even had six rides together. The vet said to take him off the meds after six weeks, and maybe in hindsight that was a mistake. He relapsed within 10 days and just never got better, even after six weeks more on the same meds.

I’m copying the post on Facebook that I made on the day I said goodbye to him, May 4, which was ironically four years to the day that I broke my ankles.

“This is not the news I was hoping to share about Oh So, but sadly, I had to say goodbye to him today.

We’ve been dealing with suspected EPM since he became neurologic on January 29, and he made a seemingly miraculous recovery after six weeks. I was even able to hack him a few days before he relapsed again in March.

After trying more meds for six weeks, he wasn’t responding, so I took him to Morven Park on Friday to see their neurologist, Dr. Estell. Both she and their sports medicine expert Dr. Kelleher looked at him and determined that it could be a few things; severe arthritis impinging his spinal cord which can cause them to walk like he has been, EPM pending a spinal tap, which could come back negative at this point because he’s been on meds for it and it can skew the results, or sidewinder syndrome.

But before that, they wanted to look at his left hind hoof, which had developed a fever ring over the last month. He’s been getting progressively lame on it and also had a bruise on the sole .Unfortunately, it was the news I had dreaded—he’d foundered badly from leaning to the left. His coffin bone was very close to the sole, which was causing the bruise. If it was arthritis causing him to lean, he couldn’t be treated with corticosteroids because of the founder. If it was EPM, it was too late to try new meds. There was no hope.

They sent us home to keep him in “hospice care” with lots of pain meds until I decided it was time. As much as I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, it truly was the only option, so I decided to take him in today so I didn’t prolong his suffering. Coach Lisa Reid and his friend Meghan Schott Corbitt were by his side with me with plenty of peppermints to say goodbye.

This morning he was his usual self, rolling in the mud and then trying to trot in his small paddock. He was fussy while I groomed him and annoyed he couldn’t go out with his friends. As hard as it was for him to walk onto the trailer, he did it because I asked and because he knows whenever he gets on the trailer we’re going to have an adventure. Over the last few weeks, I could see it in his eyes. He was in pain, despite trying to be his usual wild self. He’s 21 going on 5, but his body wouldn’t let him be himself.

I wish I’d made the decision to take him to Morven sooner. Then maybe he would have had a chance. It still doesn’t feel real that he’s gone. Driving an empty trailer back to the barn was devastating.

Oh So has been my partner for the past 13 years, and it feels like a part of me is missing. It wasn’t his time. He deserved another 10 years in retirement after everything he’s done for me. He had that warhorse Thoroughbred spirit, racing until he was 7, taking me through preliminary and earning me my USDF bronze medal, and I expected he’d still be packing me around at 25. He’s never lost enthusiasm for his job, and before this, he’s never felt better in his body.

I’ll never be able to truly express in words what he’s meant to me. I’ve had him for most of my adulthood—he’s just always been there. He’s made me the rider I am today, and we were partners. We anticipated each other’s moves and were so in tune with each other. Almost everyone I hold dear in life I met through Oh So, and I know he has a huge fan club. I’ve appreciated everyone’s thoughts and prayers through the last few months.

After he had a suspensory injury in 2013, we gave him an easier job at novice and training, and he always had the same joy for his job that he did jumping the bigger fences. Our last two years of competition together in 2019 and 2020 were the best in my life. We rarely came home without a blue ribbon, but of course, it’s not just about that.He taught me to be brave and patient and to relax in the dressage and show jumping. With Oh So, there was never a fence too big or scary—if I didn’t want to go, he didn’t care and took me anyway.

Lisa always said he had that “look of eagles”—the thing that great cross-country horses have. Once he found a job he loved, he gave it everything he had, the same way he approached everything in life, and that’s a lesson I’ll keep in mind for the rest of mine.I’m not sure I’ll ever have another horse like him. He can never be replaced in my heart, and he’ll never be forgotten.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been four weeks since he’s been gone. I had him cremated and have some of his remains in a box they sent me. I think I’ll scatter his ashes at some of his favorite places. I have his tail hair and his front shoes and will find an appropriate way to honor him some day.

My friend Meghan took these photos on our last night together.

None of this feels real. This is not how I expected my 2021 to go. He was so full of life. After we took him to Morven, it was a very quick decision because we had to do it, and I think that’s what’s been so shocking. The worst part if we’ll never actually know what was causing the near symptoms, but what we do know is that it was the founder that was the end of it. There was nothing to be done.

The last several months I’ve been an emotional wreck, stressed and anxious and worried. I’ve had some other personal stuff going on too that’s just made me not want to get out of bed some days.

My spirits have been lifted by my friends and family though, and all of those who knew Oh So, either from real life or on Facebook. I didn’t realize how many fans he had!

But it’s still been so hard to feel like my normal self. I’m not there yet, for sure. He’s just always been there in my life, or at least for most of my adult life. I can hardly remember a time before him, and there’s a huge void. He changed my life and my riding in more ways than one. I haven’t been able to bring myself to look at photos or videos of him yet, but I’ll get there eventually. I just can’t believe that I might forget the feeling he gave me, from just hacking to flying over jumps, and all of his silly little things, like biting the cross ties and drinking from the hose.

He deserved a happy retirement, and I feel like I failed in some way by not taking him sooner.

The same day we said goodbye, my trainer Lisa happened to come across a young horse she’d seen a few times out schooling while she was up at Loch Moy. He impressed her again, and she kept him in mind. I spent the rest of the week grieving and in a bit of a trance, but she sent me a long email saying she thought I should get back out there sooner rather than later to have something to take my mind off my grief.

I went to watch the horse at his first Twilight Eventing at Loch Moy, and he was definitely quiet. I wasn’t sure I was ready, but I went to try him anyways a few days later, and it went well, so we vetted him and brought him home on May 18.

I still feel like I’m stuck this sort of alternate reality or in some haze. I can’t believe I brought a baby horse home two weeks after Oh So passed. Maybe it was fate that Lisa saw him on the day we said goodbye to Oh So? I don’t know. I’m trying not to look too much into it. I’m not sure I’ve made the right decision, but if I didn’t make this one, I would have had nothing to ride really. My barn owner has been kind to lend me one of her fox hunters, but I’m not into trail riding. I like to have goals, and I like doing the work. But I still have some anxiety over my accident and didn’t want a super green OTTB. Luckily this one has been restarted well and seems to be sane and kind.

I’ll introduce the new guy in my next post.

A Shocking Development

I had kind of been putting off a Happy New Year update on the blog because honestly, not much has been happening since my last post. We’re just trying to make it through winter, and we had some really nice schoolings at Loch Moy over their arena cross-country course with friends and a few good jump schools at home.

My friends had started to ask if I was thinking about the next season, and I had a general plan in my head. We had a nice lesson at Morningside with Lisa on Jan. 24, then I decided to give Oh So two days off. We hacked on Wednesday, and I thought he felt maybe slightly weird in walk, tracking with his haunches a bit to the left, but he got better as we went. The weather was terribly cold that Thursday, so he had a day off and a nice groom in the stall. By Friday when I went to get him in the field, he was acting neurologic in walk, so I immediately called the vet.

His haunches were to the left in walk, and he had a tail tilt that way too. She diagnosed him with EPM based on visual symptoms and a neurologic test, so we immediately started him on the anti-protozoa medication Protazil and Vitamin E.

To say I was in shock was an understatement. Where the hell did this come from? He’s been perfectly healthy with no signs other than on Wednesday.

It felt like my life had come crashing down. I know he’ll be retired eventually, but he’s been going so well, and shows no signs of slowing down. If he retires, I’m left with nothing other than a mountain of debt and no savings to get my next horse. My life revolves around him and has for the last 13 years. I’m just not ready for it to be over.

I spent a week crying at home and every time I saw him. We put him in a small paddock because we’ve been having back to back winter storms, and we didn’t want him to slip. He didn’t seem to be getting any better 10 days in, and was starting to be in pain from shifting to the left all the time. It was hard to watch. I took him for hand walks to the nearest patch of grass, but he would trip while grazing and began to be lame from behind.

I finally decided to get a second opinion just to rule out anything else, which I learned from the first vet could be neck arthritis, although being on Banamine for a few days hadn’t helped, and he was using his head and neck fine, so that was unlikely. We do know he was arthritis in his neck based on X-rays from when he had strangles. His bloodwork came back about a week later and confirmed his numbers were 1:500 for exposure to EPM, which is not high, but the vet explained to me that the number doesn’t correspond to the severity of the disease.

The second vet took one look at him and was fairly certain it’s EPM. He recommended a compounded drug made of DMSO and toltrazuril, which is something a few friends had mentioned they’d also tried with success after he recommended it.

About two days after the second vet came, I started seeing improvement in his walk. It was less crooked, and he seemed slightly more comfortable. The new meds arrived on Friday, which was two weeks since his initial diagnosis, and I decided to try them. The second vet said he’s never had luck with Protazil and that it’s being trialled as an EPM preventative these days, so at least I could continue to use it after he’s better twice a week to use it up. $800 for that! The compounded medication was $180, and since he’ll likely be on something for a few months, that seemed like the better option.

As of today, he’s walking almost normally. It’s kind of miraculous. He’s able to walk over poles and is very eager to go on hand walks down the driveway. He’s not tripping while grazing, and I can now pick up all four of his feet without a problem. A week ago I was considering what would happen if he got down and couldn’t get up. Where would I bury him? Would I cremate him? How would I be able to go on without him in my life?

I’m thrilled that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. This is something I have no experience with and never would have expected in a million years. I have no idea where we go from here, other than finishing up a month’s worth of Toltrazuril. When will he be safe to ride? Will he ever be? With the progress so far I feel like there’s hope. I don’t think he deserves to be forced into retirement because of this terrible disease, and I believe he’s strong. I’ve never been an optimist, but I’m learning to be strong through this horrible situation. The second vet believes there’s a chance he can be ridden again because he didn’t start out with any muscle atrophy. That can be harder to come back from.

This horse is keeping me connected to the sport I love well past his peak because he loves it. I’m not sure what my future will be, and to think about not being able to ride and compete is devastating. It’s in my blood. It’s a part of me. I’m so thankful I’m able to ride a nice mare at the barn, and we’re hoping to get to some dressage shows this spring, but running and jumping is my real passion. It’s a privilege to get to ride Oh So, and I’ve learned to never take one day for granted at his age and after all we’ve been through. His enthusiasm for life is infectious, and he’s given me more confidence over the last 13 years than I think any horse ever could.

This still feels like some nightmare I can’t wake up from, but to go to the barn everyday and see him acting more like himself and happier makes me hopeful I’ll be able to look between his ears again.

The worst of it. Leaning against the wall to take pressure off the left hind leg.
Not too happy about being in a small paddock away from his friends.

Winding Down For Winter

The 2020 season went out with a bit of a whimper for us, but I guess that’s just the theme of 2020 isn’t it?

Oh So came sound after about 10 days, but I took him to the vet anyways just to have him checked out, and he was perfectly sound with no pain upon palpation anywhere and nothing that came up on flexions or the lameness locator.

We had lost a bit of fitness, so we chose to do a CT at Loch Moy, which went well. I picked a bit to the third fence in show jumping, but then got my act together!

We had a nice cross-country schooling the following week and I entered Morven Park. Unfortunately that meant foregoing a trip to Tryon for the big CCI4*-L, which ended up being the biggest event in the U.S. this year, but I decided I wanted to compete once more before the end of the year.

When we walked the cross-country on Saturday, Lisa and I were taken aback by how big the course was. There was a huge drop to a cabin about six strides away, and at that point, we started to think it wouldn’t be a good idea to run.

I emailed with the course designer and tried to communicate with the TD because I felt that a bank shared with prelim was inappropriate for the level, but I was told it’s been used on the course in the past. I consulted the rules which said a novice bank can be 2’9″ and a drop can be 3’11”! I guess they were considering this fence a drop. I have never seen a drop that huge novice anywhere. We know Oh So will go down any bank, but he hasn’t seen one that big since his prelim days, and we know if he launched off it we’d be worrying about his legs. Considering the footing was also iffy, we withdrew.

It ended up causing a lot of issues, unsurprisingly, but Lisa and I were OK with our decision, as much as it sucked to pay that much money for a CT and not be able to have a final cross-country run this year. I’ve since filled out an event evaluation.

So now we’re into winter and will hopefully be able to get up to Loch Moy to school the arena courses.

It’s been a frustratingly short season, mostly due to COVID, but I’m glad we were able to get out as much as we did and even win a couple of events.

Life On Pause

Wow, who would have thought I’d be writing this post? It’s April 1, and normally I’d be getting ready to start competing and be in the swing of a busy travel season for work, but instead I’m stuck at home, like the rest of the country and much of the world, on a lockdown from a global pandemic.

It’s been about three weeks since I’ve been working from home full-time, which I’m very fortunate to be able to do in these crazy times, and it looks like we’ll all be stuck through at least April and likely May.

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We won this lovely cooler for being the CDCTA TB of the Year!

I’m not mourning being unable to compete my own horse so much as not being able to have a normal routine and schedule and to travel and earn overtime. That’s what’s truly hurting me. I feel like Oh So and I accomplished a lot last year, and since he’s 20 this year, I’m not putting my hopes and dreams into any lofty goals. It was just going to be trying to improve our third level tests at dressage shows and competing at novice when we can.

It’s also the social aspect of competing and traveling which I miss. Seeing my media friends, talking to the riders in person and going to fun places. I thrive on being busy, and maybe sometimes I’ve used that as an excuse to not try new things in the past. Now I have a ton of free time, but can’t try new things because everything is shut down and meeting new people isn’t possible!

Before all of this, I was able to have a lovely trip to Wellington where I covered all three disciplines, and a trip of a lifetime to Sweden to visit the MIPS offices and Swedish show jumper Peder Fredricson.

I also ended up getting a new trailer in March after we had one too many problems with our 19-year-old Bison. I found a lovely Adam two-horse which I’m now not sure when I’ll be able to get registered and inspected since the DMV is closed!

I’m so glad I was able to see my parents and Oliver before all of this went down because my next trip was supposed to be for the Land Rover Kentucky in April. Not happening. In fact, pretty much everything through May has been canceled. It seems that most people have kind of accepted what’s happening and are doing their best to practice social distancing, but it’s still so weird to go out to the grocery store and not be able to find what I need or to see another human completely avoid being near me while out on a walk.

I’m so thankful to be able to continue to go out to the barn during all of this and ride. It’s definitely keeping me sane and giving my days a sense of purpose. Even if I don’t ride, just sitting in the barn and listening to the birds and the sound of the horses eating dinner is so relaxing after dealing with all the noise of the news cycle throughout the day. I’ll continue to go on walks every day too and do some at-home workouts to work up a sweat.

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We won this quarter sheet for being the MD TB Series year-end champions!

Unfortunately, Morven Park canceled Oh So’s spring check up and put us on a wait list. I was hoping to have his neck injected and do a soundness exam to see if he needs any help in his back, hocks or SI. He didn’t last year, which was great for my wallet, and he feels pretty good right now, but I don’t want to miss something and have him be uncomfortable. I’m contemplating having Piedmont, who usually only does his shots, do the neck injection at least.

It feels so weird to have no plans for the future and not know when this is going to end. How much fitness do I keep him in? For now, I’m keeping it sort of the same as I’ve been doing over the winter. Lots of hacking, a couple days of flatwork, maybe a flat lesson every other week, and a jumping lesson once a week with two days off. We’ve thankfully been able to go to Morningside and Loch Moy to jump and do some easy gallops and hill work, which is about where we’d be at this time of year anyways. We tend to not compete until late April or May because the footing can be wet this time of year, but it’s actually not been too bad this year.

Because my roommate went back to her parents’ house with the cat, I’ve been left completely alone, which sucks. I had been hoping to try to meet some new people through dating apps, but that’s also been halted for now, and I can’t go to the gym either. I’m lucky to be able to have a couple people to talk to at the barn, but it’s still lonely in my little apartment, so I decided now was the time to get a cat. With Oliver retired in Kentucky with my parents, I haven’t had a cat to call my own since August, and I’ve honestly been debating it since I moved here almost five years ago. Since I travel so much, I’ve felt guilty about getting one and then being gone all the time, but I think this is the best time to do it so I can get to know it. As of now, I won’t be traveling at all until the fall most likely since I had nothing in June or July scheduled anyways yet.

So, here’s introducing my new friend, Precious (new name TBD!). She’s about a year and a half old and came from Middleburg Humane. She came home on March 27 and spent the first 24 hours under my bed, and still likes to sleep there, but really enjoys following me around and being pet. We’re still not on the same sleep cycle yet, so I’m getting woken up between 4 and 6 a.m., but we’ll find our rhythm soon!


Winding Down The Season

And just like that, my fall season is done! I decided to wait to write until I had all three events done, so here we go (I’ll work on a Burghley blog when I get some more time)!

We started out with CDCTA in September. I had only been back from England for a few days, so not ideal, but I had a friend hack him a bit while I was gone to keep him moving.

It’s been a long, hot summer, and by September we were not getting much rain, so the ground was definitely firm. I hadn’t actually ever competed at the new CDCTA site, just schooled a few times. Everything is on grass, which can definitely be a challenge.

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I was a bit nervous because I ended up getting my old dressage trainer as my judge. She’s never judged me before, but we worked together from about age 12 until four years ago. I was able to put it out of my mind and put in a decent test for a 30.2.

Show jumping was on a bit of a hill and was in a tightly roped space. I wasn’t super pleased with our round, but we got the job done clear, which a lot of people didn’t.

Cross-country felt pretty good, and we ended up winning and taking home the reserve TIP award. We were also the highest-placed CDCTA member, so we won $600! We got to do a little victory gallop with our neck sash, which was fun. It was fun to see a lot of friends at that event, and I was able to catch up with my former trainer afterwards and we had a nice chat. She thought Oh So looked really well, which was nice to hear.

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He was not super into getting tacked up again for his ribbons!

We had a cross-country school at Surefire the week before Morven, and it was hot! The heat was just relentless, right up until two days before Morven when fall finally arrived.

I entered the Area 2 novice championship having never done any area championship at all. I was a little disappointed we didn’t have two dressage judges and that the cross-country was the same as the regular novice. So basically I paid $300 for the privilege of show jumping last.

Dressage was nice and steady, and we got a 29.8 to be fourth out of 48 people! Cross-country was one of the best rounds we’ve had in awhile; I didn’t mess with him, and everything came up nearly perfect. It was a bit odd to go straight to cross-country and have to do show jumping last, but I think he enjoyed himself.

We had about an hour to get ready for show jumping, and I didn’t get a chance to walk the course because the course walks never seem to happen when I cam actually make them!

We came around the turn to fence 4, and while it felt a little short, it didn’t feel bad, but he had the front rail down behind. That’s the first rail he’s had in probably two years. Lisa says I just lost some impulsion around the turn, and with him maybe being a bit flat and/or tired after cross-country, I needed to just squeeze him off the ground a tiny bit more.

It was a real bummer because we plummeted to 14th place when we had moved up to third after cross-country. In the end, we were the fourth-best amateur, so we got a few points out of it.

I had really wanted to do well at Morven, and I’m still really happy with everything, cross-country especially, but it’s just tough when we don’t ever get to practice show jumping last. I think we maybe did it once or twice a Virginia Horse Trials.

I was also bummed they didn’t at least give separate amateur or Area 2 Adult Rider ribbons to the top amateurs. They really should have split the class into amateur or rider and open. I know I didn’t earn a ribbon that weekend, but it would have been to nice to have been recognized considering that may be our one and only time doing a championship.

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We headed straight to Loch Moy last weekend for the Maryland Horse Trials 3 as our last event. Dressage was nice and steady, and I worked a bit on riding a more forward trot and canter after a lesson I had with Heidi earlier in the week. She asked me why I don’t try taking a risk in the ring, and I figured, why not if he’s relaxed? At home she has me riding a pretty big, almost medium trot in warmup to get him to use his body and open up his step more in trot. At Loch Moy I definitely didn’t ride that big, but a fraction more, and I think it showed. He tends to get comments that he is steady and beautiful, but needs to use his back more and sometimes that we need a bit more impulsion, which is funny considering how he used to around very tight and tense! We scored a 27.6 to lead.

Show jumping was fine, maybe not the smoothest I’ve ever had. I was adding in a few lines for some reason and got in my knee a bit, which is the habit I’m always fighting.

Unfortunately that carried over to cross-country, and I had a few fences where I really needed to support him with my leg better, and I didn’t. He’ll still jump the jumps, but sometimes I can tell after having a fence where I didn’t support him as much that he’ll be slightly backed off to the next one. It was also a huge contrast to Morven’s nice galloping course. At Loch Moy it’s very twisty and turny, and the fences come up really fast.

We ended up winning and getting the TIP award and a bottle of wine! A great way to finish the season.

Now we’ll head into the off season working more on our Third Level movements, maybe riding without stirrups and going back to Loch Moy to school the derby course in the arena. My hope had been to do a few more dressage shows, but we did a lot this year, and I traveled a lot, so I think I’m good for now! I’m just tired; I’ve been at a horse show in some capacity pretty much every weekend since June.

It looks like we’ll end the season on the USEA national leaderboard somewhere, which is super cool, and we’ll win the CDCTA and Area 2 novice amateur year-end awards too!

I’m so grateful every time I get to ride Oh So, and to be able to have another winning season is just icing on the cake.

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Finishing Out The Summer Season And Saying Goodbye

It’s been a relatively busy summer for me with lots of changes, but I finally have a couple of minutes to sit down for an update!

After Seneca, Oh So and I had a decent cross-country schooling at Surefire and headed to Oatlands in Leesburg for the new Loudoun Hunt PC Horse Trial date at the end of June. I hadn’t competed there for years, since Sam was going prelim, so I was a bit nervous honestly!

The dressage rings were near the highway, and we had a pretty decent storm the day before I rode, so my test ended up being not-so-great. He was a bit spooky about the sound of the cars/trucks/motorcycles through the trees, then the footing in the grass ring was actually a bit sucky. We rode a different test than we’ve been doing, and I forgot the stretchy trot circle! Oops. We ended up with a 35, even though I thought the work wasn’t horrible. Definitely not our best test, but I don’t think it was 35-bad. Oh well!

Show jumping was on a grassy slope, and I don’t know why, but I was so nervous! It wasn’t the smoothest ride we’ve ever had, but after watching my video, it definitely didn’t look so bad.

Cross-country was also not so smooth. I just couldn’t really find my rhythm, but thankfully he doesn’t care and carried on! We ended up third.



After spending the weekend sweltering at the Maryland International to cover the Pan Am team final outing for COTH, I headed back to Loch Moy for MD HT 2. It was still horribly hot, but we ended up with a good second-place finish and the TIP award for novice!

We got a 27.4 in dressage, and had the excitement of jumping in the big ring over some new fences Loch Moy had used for the international classes the week before; think lots of fancy standards and fillers. I barely had time or energy in the heat to walk the course before I had to get on, but somehow it ended up being one of our nicest rounds in recent history. I didn’t touch his face, we kept the same rhythm and a decent pace, and he was jumping really well.

Cross-country felt pretty good, save for one fence were I missed my line and had to weave through some trees!



It also marked the last time my parents will likely see us compete together since they’ve now made the move to Kentucky. I’m never saying never, but at least for the rest of this season I’ll be on my own, which will definitely be strange.

I had one free weekend to hang out at my parents’ farm before I was off to Rebecca Farm for a week. We dropped Rocky off at his new boarding barn on that Sunday, which is about 15 minutes from where Oh So is, and he promptly had a colic episode by Thursday which required tubing.

So while I truly enjoyed my trip to Rebecca Farm, I was trying to deal with that, plus my parents’ uncertainty about actually moving by Aug. 1 due to some issues on the buyer’s end, and just endless days with lots of work to do.

I did get a chance to have a relaxing vacation day in Glacier National Park before this all went down though, and I stayed with a couple of good media friends, so in the end, it was a great trip.

Of course on my way home on Monday I was told Oh So sprung a shoe. No big deal I thought. The farrier put the shoe on on Tuesday, but when I rode on Wednesday he was very lame.

Me being me, I immediately thought the worst, but after hoof testing and pressing on his heel, I realized he was likely lame due to a heel grab. He gradually got better over the week, but unfortunately, we’d had a dressage show scheduled for Sunday, and that wasn’t going to happen.

Add in a ton of work to do in the office and the stress of my parents moving with only one cat, and last week was not fun. I honestly felt like I was headed towards a mental breakdown.



About three weeks ago one of our cats, Lucky, disappeared. It’s unfathomable to my parents and I, and unfortunately, they had to leave for Kentucky without him last week. He’s never been gone for more than a day or two, and we just don’t know. He was 15, but in good health.

He was always “my” cat and a bit of a weirdo/anti-social, so the only thing we can think of is that with the increased activity, like packing, around the house, maybe he was freaked out. Maybe it was his way of telling us he didn’t want to go. We’ve had him since he was left in a box on the steps of the Fredericksburg SPCA as a kitten. I was in high school! I know it would have been hard to transition him to being a mostly indoor cat with a small backyard, but to leave him behind, wherever he is, is truly heartbreaking, and the not knowing will haunt me. I haven’t been able to look at any photos of him because I know it will just hit me that he’s gone, and I’ve kind of been trying to avoid any other stress at the moment.

The silver lining to this is that our other 15-year-old cat Oliver did make the trip successfully and is currently hanging out in a swanky cat hotel until my parents move in next week from their temporary apartment. I hope having his family with him with help make the transition to a new house easier. I’m going to miss seeing him every weekend, but I’ll do my best to get down there as often as I can. I wish I could take him, but forcing him to live in a tiny apartment just didn’t seem fair.

We’ve been talking about this move for four years, and now that it’s finally happened, I feel a sense of relief, but just extreme sadness about Lucky. I’m really sad to be leaving behind my home of 17 years and officially closing the chapter of our lives together with horses. Walking through the empty barn and looking at the fields where Sam, Lad and Toppers are buried, I was sad to leave them, and most of my childhood and young adult life, behind.

I’m happy for my parents to get a fresh start closer to their grandchildren, but feel a little lonely without my family close by. I may follow them eventually, but for now it’s just me and Oh So and Rocky for awhile.

Luckily Rocky’s been having a good week after another mild colic last week that we managed with some Banamine. Oh So is sound, and we’re looking towards another dressage show to try to improve our third level scores next weekend. I’m actually headed to Lexington this weekend to help cover Pony Finals (there’s a first time for everything I guess!) so I’ll stop by to say hi to Oliver and see my parents and the house quickly.

Oh So Update

I’ve been waiting to write an update on Oh So until after what turned out to be a nightmare dealing with strangles was over.

His gutteral pouch pain got better after we switched him to SMZs, and he was seemingly on the mend after a month off. Then he started swelling in his throatlatch area and abscessed out of his lymph nodes, which the vet thought might happen.

She took a sample of some of the pus before it was ready to burst during his follow up appointment in February, and we thought all was fine from Thursday through the weekend. Then the following Tuesday, after the abscess had burst, she called to say he tested positive for strangles. WTF?!

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A Look Back At 2018

Better late than never I guess!

After a truly disastrous 2017 in which I broke both my ankles and ended up selling Thomas and working through a lot of physical and mental pain, 2018 was one of the best years of my life.

Even though Oh So had a couple of minor injuries that caused some sleepless nights and one missed event, and despite tons and rain and event cancellations, it was the first full competition season I’ve had with him in a long time. Thing actually went to plan 90 percent of the time, which is a hard thing to do with horses! I almost had to pinch myself with each event and show we finished. Looking at the wall of blue ribbons from this season, I can hardly believe it.

Our bronze medal!

I’ve written a lot about accepting that novice is where we’ll stay for the remainder of his career, and I’ve had to adjust my expectations and goals with him, but this year I was able to reach my goal of getting my USDF bronze medal. It felt pretty amazing to set my sights on something and actually achieve it. I’ve had to force myself to not have big goals with him anymore because of his age, but that was one that we actually pulled off!

Winning nearly event, even if it was just at novice level, was a huge deal, and we were recently awarded the inaugural Maryland TB/STB Eventing Series, which came with a huge check and lots of prizes!

I just had a flat lesson with Heidi for the first time since October, and she asked what my goals were for this year. I was hesitant again to name specific things, but if I could improve our third level scores that would be amazing. The good news is that she noticed we’ve been doing our homework, so we’re on our way to getting a bit more collection and throughness in the lateral work, which will hopefully translate to better flying changes.

As far as eventing, I’d love to do the Area 2 Championships, and the American Eventing Championships are really tempting, but I don’t know if I can justify the entry cost.


2018 was a pretty amazing year of travel for me. I went on 16 assignments for COTH and got to discover amazing new places like Badminton and New Orleans, and saw the world’s best horses and riders at the World Equestrian Games. Personally, my trip to Scotland was one of the most amazing vacations I’ve ever done, and it inspired me to look ahead to new discoveries this year. I’m thinking Iceland perhaps and definitely Burghley on the fall.

2019 is going to be a stressful and emotional one since my parents are putting our farm up for sale and moving to Kentucky. There’s no detailed timeline yet, but I’m bracing myself for some strife as my entire life is about to change. We’re a close family and have lived in the same area my whole life, so it will be a seismic shift.

For now though, I’m looking forward to my first trip of the year back to San Diego and Temecula for the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival and then to Palm Beach in February, while praying for as little snow and rain as possible!

Winding Down The Season

The 2018 season’s gone out with a bit of a whimper and not a bang for me unfortunately. With Seneca being canceled and now Waredaca getting a few inches of rain, I decided to scratch today.

I knew at the beginning of the week that I likely wouldn’t be running cross-country because of the wet weather forecasted, but with reports and photos coming in yesterday of trucks being towed in and out and knowing that the dressage and show jumping warm up are on grass, plus having to get up at 4:30 a.m., I decided not to risk it for a combined test that wouldn’t count for anything.

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Hanging out at Loch Moy.

My trainer asked me to consider what I would get out of it, and honestly, probably not much. We’re both bored with the novice test and don’t *need* to do it, and we’re looking ahead to some local winter jumper shows for practice. I hate to throw another $200 down the toilet, but that seems to be the nature of this year for everyone. I just wish Waredaca would have made that call for me. I was still undecided right up until I went to bed last night, and really could have gone either way, but I also think I needed a quiet day where I can get some stuff done around my apartment, have a nice ride and probably clip him again since he grew his hair back so fast!

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Seneca Valley Pony Club Horse Trials Recap

I spent Father’s Day like so many before, at Seneca Valley Pony Club Horse Trials with my dad!

I had super early ride times and was done by 10:30, which I was grumbling about at 4 a.m. when I woke up, but I’m glad we got done before it got unbearably hot.

Bittersweet Field, where the event is held, had some damage due to cars and tons of rain this spring, and they ended up cancelling the prelim and intermediate. As a result, there were some rutty spots on course and the dressage warm up was half the size and not super great.

Continue reading “Seneca Valley Pony Club Horse Trials Recap”