Motivation


Oooooh, icy cold deliciousness

Oh, how I loved the icy cold deliciousness of a coke in the morning.  The sweet release of carbon when the can is opened, the sound of it pouring over ice and the quiet fizz as it sat by my computer.  Sometimes I would buy a 32 0z. coke and sip it all morning.  It was great.  I wouldn’t get hungry at 10 a.m. if I had a 32 oz. coke there feeding sweet sugar into my veins all morning.  Have a coke and a smile.  I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.  Coke is it!

I’d be driving in to work and thinking to myself, “I need a little treat.”  Stop in at my favorite fuel station, talk and laugh with the attendants since by now I’d developed a relationship with them, fill my cup with cubed ice (not crushed!) and fill the plastic cup with the nectar of the gods.  Enjoy all morning.

I never drank coke in the afternoon or evening.  It was a morning ritual for me.

And then one day I noticed how ridiculous it is for a college-educated extremely fortunate person to put high fructose corn syrup daily into my body.  It just finally made no sense.  I decided to quit.

I didn’t quit because continuing to drink soda would make me fat (though it would) or because my mom has Type II diabetes.  I quit because I finally realized just how stupid it is to drink soda on a regular basis.  There just is no redeeming quality in soda.  I simply fell out of love with it.

It has been 12 days.  Driving past my Quik Trip the first few times was really a challenge.  I drove a new route to work.  I also bought the kind of tea I like, even though it is more expensive than soda (which was my excuse for not buying it on a regular basis before.  Lame-o.)   I also had to start bringing a 10 a.m. snack, since I couldn’t rely on high fructose corn syrup to carry me to lunch.  So I brought apples or pears or nuts.  The first of the positive changes.

Then, since I had a healthy snack at 10 a.m. and didn’t have gut rot from all that soda, I felt like having a decent lunch.  With the lack of morning caffeine and the more frequent healthy lunches, slowly but surely the afternoon crash I used to be able to set my watch by at 2:30 has dissipated.  Another unanticipated bonus.

After a week off soda, I started to sleep through the night rather than having to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Maybe TMI, but also a bonus.

And other changes.  I don’t have to carry my cans home for recycling, my teeth are whiter and I drink more water, which tastes better to me now for some reason.

But the best, THE BEST, was today.  It was 78 degrees at our house today.  The forecast for tomorrow is for 40 degrees and a rain/snow mix.  Today I could wear a T-shirt and ride in the fields and woods near our house, tomorrow I will have to wear a sweatshirt and ride indoors (ok, that isn’t so bad either, but still, my point is that today was glorious weather for November 1st in the mid-latitudes).  So I wanted to ride all four horses TODAY.  I wasn’t tired.  I didn’t hit the afternoon nap wall.  I didn’t have to run in and go to the bathroom.  I just rode 4 fabulous horses.  I hacked all over southern Story county.  I worked on connection, lengthenings, galloping, leg yields, you-name-it.  They were all great.

Coke or this?

Charlie reminded me about the thrill of galloping.  Eddie aced the cavaletti.  Sammy is learning to let go in his poll and breathe.  And Elliot was the last to go.  Many is the time in the last year where I was too tired to ride the last horse.  Very disappointing and left a hangover of guilt along with the tiredness.  Not today.  Today I tacked up the last horse with ease, warmed up in the arena over the cavaletti and then out for a hack as the sun set.  Balanced canter and medium canter, joyful, springy goofy-warmblood trot.  Then a swinging walk the last quarter mile home.  I was the luckiest person on earth tonight.

All because of one change.  I gave up coke because I decided it was a ridiculously stupid habit.  I didn’t know how right I was until I stopped doing it.

Have you given up a bad habit and been pleasantly surprised by unanticipated horse-related repercussions?  Maybe you have changed your diet specifically for your horse.  I’d love to hear your experiences.


One of the tricks to being the Horsitivity Girl and keeping a positive attitude, is dealing as well as I can with days that are not so terrific.  Today is not a bad day at all, Jay and I are well, all the horses are well, so the basics are covered.  But I am annoyed with the mud that is part and parcel of the arena construction project.  This can really drag on a person as my paddock boots are always dirty and heavy with mud.  My barn is full of mud.  The footing is terrible everywhere, so I am limiting my riding to only the absolutely necessary rides, which bums me out.  It is overcast today and there is a long winter ahead.  All these add up to a slight melancholy for me.  But it is ridiculous for a person as fortunate as me to whine, so for days like this I always keep something easy and fun to do that cheers me up.

My cheerup for the moment is the helmet cam video of Peter Atkins riding Henry Jo Hampton around the WEG xc course.  Peter has a fun accent, he talks to his horse like he loves him, and watching the video generally reminds me of all that is effortless and fun and why horses and the people who love them are great.  The sort of growling you hear is him saying “Henny!”, the horse’s name.  He also takes out the flag at the third to the last obstacle and doesn’t miss a beat, just lands it and takes the option.  Love it.  Enjoy.

Tomorrow is supposed to be very windy, with rain.  So today we are getting as much done as we can outside – riding as many horses, raking leaves, and it turns out, late night dog walking in the pasture.

Even though the moon is nearly full, it is dark outside tonight.  The cloud cover has overpowered the luminosity of the moon and a southeast breeze blows forebodingly. But it is still mild enough out for a walk and we take the three dogs out.

Dory the wonder pup

Dory, who is 3 months old now, is a new addition to our family.  She was mostly ignored the first 8 weeks of her life, so she arrived fairly skittish.  Peppa, the Newfoundland, immediately understood the situation and took Dory under her wing, showing her all the good hangouts at our place, where varmints live or even momentarily passed by in the last 6 years, and that life is good here.  Now we are doing our part to show Dory that people are good too, thus the late-night pasture walks, clicker training at the Animal Rescue League and patience when she occasionally gets scared of something and runs from us.  That part makes us both very sad.  It is hard to not take it personally when a puppy runs away when all you want to do is comfort her.  She is getting much better at coming to us when loud noises and scary things, which are many to her, happen.  She is starting to see us as protectors and we are delighted.

Thus the pasture walk in the dark tonight.  Another opportunity to bond, to show Dory that we are fun to be around.  About 400 yards into the pasture, after we had joked that if we didn’t walk into a jump it would be a miracle with our lack of visibility, a silent horse form appeared, white stockings announcing the presence of Elliot.  He stood quietly as we walked up and we petted him while he lowered his head  and accepted our affection.  I moved back along his neck and over his shoulders, petting his developing winter coat  in long strokes.  I was amazed with how smooth and silky it was.  Soft and springy as spring grass, and nearly as sweet smelling.  He turned and looked at me with his big soft eyes as if to say, “Did you forget how sweet we are?”  I had.  These cooler days I have been wearing gloves most of the time, and in a little bit of a hurry here or there, so I hadn’t petted a horse barehanded and really paid attention to the luxuriousness of a horse’s coat in, well,  a while.  I just hung out a few minutes and really felt his coat while the breeze blew and the dogs and Jay played.

I had intended to do something nice for one animal, to spend some time with Dory, and I was thereby blessed with a reminder of the magnificence of experiencing something so familiar, but altogether new.  Glad I got off the couch.


More than a decade ago my husband and I went to the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event as spectators. We walked through the fabulous vendor fair, bought too much, enjoyed wildly overpriced food, greeted old friends and marveled at the cross country course.

On that beautiful spring morning in April we found ourselves in a crowd behind the spectator ropes right behind the entrance at A, watching Karen O’Connor enter at A on the unforgettable Biko. As we watched mesmerized, up drove a golf cart with a young driver and not-so-young passenger.  They pushed through the crowd with the cart until they were right up front. We could all see over the cart, so it was no problem to anyone.  It became apparent that the older woman was the owner as she commented on the test, “Oh dear, a little tight there, wasn’t our boy?” “Oooh, good man, Biko, cookies tonight.” “Wasn’t that lovely. Good man.”

It was charming and it reminded us that even Rolex horses are simply somebody’s love. Her endearing comments made all the fabulous horses we saw that weekend more real and accessible. And in some strange way, it raised my own horses to a more Rolex-like status. After all, the Rolex horses were just somebody’s horse. And my horse was somebody’s horse.

So I went home and unpacked and on that Monday I asked myself what Biko and Karen were doing that day. Obviously, good Biko had the day off after his work at Rolex, but imagining that there was someone who cleaned his stall that morning, and would walk him this afternoon for a stretch, reminded me that the daily work of riding, cleaning stalls and loving attention is what makes a horse and rider great. No rider is alone any day as long as she remembers that thousands of people are out riding, making small changes, doing the deal to make small improvements in themselves and their horses everyday. You need only to find one small thing to improve in your riding every day to make a huge cumulative improvement.

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” -Jim Rohn

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