Well, my friends, the time has come to sit down and write about my happenings these past few months. As I write this I am strangely comforted by the nuances of my basement life. I hear Mary above me walking around her house, with what seems to be the gusto of a giant, and her dog gnawing away at a bone so aggressively that I wonder his teeth do not break. The instrumental music playing on my Pandora is embellished occasionally by the melody of water running through the pipes, building up to the crescendo of the water heater, and followed by the dull humming of the dehumidifier. At night I am lulled to sleep by the pitter patter of my mouse friend running laps in the ceiling from one side of my room to the other. He’s got to be a very fit mouse is all I can say. But this is my home and I am thankful for every faulty door latch and dirty window well with which it comes. Every morning I get to play the game of “Guess the Weather” before I step out my door in the morning and have on many occasions turned back to grab a few more accessories that will be required now that I have seen the great outdoors with my own eyes. The weather app on my phone can only tell me so much. What I don’t understand is how those pesky flies still manage to find a way to get into my apartment. One has to get through three doors to enter my establishment! I’m impressed.
On Memorial Day a group of us from church headed north to the White Mountains and hiked up Mt. Chocorua. The hike consisted of some very steep inclines and took us a total of 7 hours to complete. The way down was particularly treacherous as the dry, loose leaves on the trail hid all the roots and rocks and provided shifting ground as the foot rested upon them. Exhausted and jelly-legged we hurriedly climbed into my truck to escape the mosquitoes and my hiking buddies were drifting off to sleep as I made our way back home. Dropping them all off at their respective locations I changed into my riding clothes and rode and jumped Pepper since I had potential buyers coming to see him the next day. That was a very full day, but in my book was a perfect day as hiking and riding are two of my favorite things.
In June my family was here visiting for over a week, yet with my busy schedule I feel I had hardly any time with them! They got a few chances to take day trips to various areas of New England and I was able to join them on one occasion. We spent the day in historic Portsmouth and took a boat tour around the harbor, finishing with an evening visit to picturesque Nubble Light. They were here to witness some major events in my summer so far and I was grateful to share these moments with them.
Firstly, to kick off their stay, I was in the heart of negotiating the sale of Pepper to an enthusiastic teenager who just adores him! The time had finally come that Pepper was fit and ready to be sold. He was a gem and on his best behavior when potential buyers came to see him. He was the 12th horse this young girl had looked at and after her short hour with him she was head over heels in love and had filled up her phone’s memory with photos of him. The deposit was put down and the arrangement for a vet check and transport was quickly made. She came back to ride him again, taking a lesson from me, and I was exhilarated to be teaching again and thrilled at how well they were doing together. This is going to be a great match, I thought to myself as the lesson concluded.
My sister was eager to ride upon her visit here and her only opportunity was the day before I shipped Pepper out to his new home. So here I was again standing in the center of the arena teaching a rider on my beloved Pepper. How I do enjoy it! As a rider who is in shape and has the stamina to endure long, hard lessons I had to keep reminding myself that these two riders had not been riding in a while. I still failed to ease up on them enough as they requested walk and water breaks. Whoopsie, my apologies. I had no concern for the horse as that little spitfire is as fit as a pair of skinny jeans. I do have to say that the riders appreciated my challenges, and Pepper’s new young rider was thrilled to have a successful, positive Dressage lesson. Apparently her past experiences with Dressage were nothing more than confusing. Now, that’s a shame to me. Her exclamations of gratitude in how I explained everything so well was music to my ears. Glad I could help.
Now I managed to perform the course of events in selling my horse and buying another in the wrong order as I had already purchased a new horse for myself before the sale of Pepper was complete. But, when it comes to buying, one has to act fast before the horse is gone. And that I did! Through a close acquaintance of mine a brood mare came up for sale. She is a horse of great bloodlines and for the duration of her life had been used for breeding, producing a filly that was well known to me. I went out to see this brood mare and she has a wonderful temperament and personality and through playing around with her free on the ground a bit I saw her nice, floaty, warmblood gaits. Since her sale price was low she was receiving much interest from buyers and so I had to act fast to secure her. Never did I think I was going to find a horse of this quality and in my price range!
You see, she is almost nine years old and not broke. I took a risk to buy this horse that I couldn’t try under saddle first, but through her clear vet check and her temperament, I could not pass up this opportunity. I began to lunge her a few times a week until I could bring her to the barn to be with me. The day I loaded Pepper up and took him to his new home, I came back to the barn that night and unloaded my new mare! She is a 16.2h registered Rheinland-Pfalz-Saar with the name of Romance LBA and the nickname of Lola. Yes, yes, I can hear you all singing your Lola songs….don’t pretend you are not!
Lola is now a little over two weeks under saddle and is progressing at an alarming rate! We have the skills to walk, trot, and canter around the ring, circle, change directions etc. With the lightest of contact on the reins she comes into a nice working frame. She is a joy to train and takes every new thing I throw at her in stride. I do believe she enjoys this new career as a working woman! The fun part is her registration papers and passport (yes, she has a passport) are all in German and so I have a difficult time reading them. However, I do have to say it makes me feel like a rich Dressage Diva. Running through my head in my snooty voice are the words,Yes, my horse is German, so naturally she is exceptionally fancy! I am the farthest thing from a stuck-up Dressage girl, so this is all in good fun.
The following weekend of my family’s stay was my first horse show of the season. It was the very first recognized show I have ever ridden in and here I was jumping right in at the highest test of both 3rd and 4th levels. The first day was my 3rd level test 3. I came down the centerline leaving all nerves outside the little white fence. After my final centerline and halt a wave of accomplishment swallowed me whole as I beamed from having ridden what felt like a solid test. As I exited the ring I was preparing myself for the all too familiar tete a tete with Mary, going over every little thing in the test while it remains fresh on both our minds. Instead I was greeted with, “Great job, Beth! You did everything I told you to do! That was a tactfully ridden test!” My reply, “Well, isn’t that the point?” Smiles all around. We loaded up and went home. Later that night I received a call from Rio’s owner who had waited around for the results of the ride. From the other end of the receiver through the shaky, teary voice I picked out the words, “You won the class with a 71%, earning Hi-point and the Thoroughbred Incentive Award!” We were all so proud that day.
The second day was greeted with pouring rain showers which did little to dampen our enthusiasm to go to the show. Already fully dressed in show attire, seconds after I backed Rio off the trailer I was in the saddle and headed to the warm up. The slushy state of the footing was not appealing to either horse or rider as the horse’s legs flicked up mud, successfully coating everything with tiny mud smatterings. We couldn’t complain too much as the rain was merely a misting at this point and the footing in the show rings had not puddled yet. As I headed out to the show ring the rain gradually increased in intensity culminating in a down right downpour as I entered. Ignoring the uncomfortable feeling of soaking wet breeches and gloves, I rode through 4th level test 3, only once hindered by the rain as I’m performing a medium canter across the diagonal and losing my ability to see as the rain hits my face. I could only think of what the judge was making of my comical facial expression! After all the many difficult aspects of the test are behind me I begin to well up with utter joy hardly able to ride to my final halt and salute. We did it! The judge voices, “Thank you, beautiful riding!” Mary tells me this is the most uphill he has ever been as we soggily load up and head back to the barn. For this test we pulled out a 62.7% to the satisfaction of everyone. Not bad for the first time out at 4th level and at the highest test of the level! All in all it was a very successful show weekend and I am grateful my family was there to physically support and witness this event.
A few days later I hold back my emotions as my family climbs back into the car and drives away. That visit was too short. I spin on my heel, don the pitchfork, and so kicks off another work week.
A recent New England-ism that was brought to my attention is the use of the word “wicked.” Somehow this straightforward evil adjective has come to be synonymous with “extremely” or “very.” “That girl is wicked smaat.” or “Have you tried their lobster rolls? They are wicked good!” In fact only today I saw on the name tags of the grocery store associates “wicked good service since ___ (insert the year of hire).” My mind wanders to the neighbor kid on The Incredibles, “that was totally wicked!” Hmm, maybe that line makes more sense to me now, as he was in awe of what just took place in front of him, or should I say above him? Since I am now immersed into New England culture, all I can say about these past few months is they were wicked good.
Selling Pepper to a good home has made me wicked happy. Lola was a wicked good deal. My family’s visit was wicked great even though I was wicked busy. This mouse is a wicked nuisance. I could go on.
I pray that your summer brings forth many blessings and new adventures. I miss you all dearly and would love to hear about how your lives are proceeding since we last met. Between marriages, new jobs, etc. a lot has changed in just a short while. I’m still here in the basement in NH but things are progressing quite splendidly and I feel this is where I am meant to be stationed at this stage in my life. I know not what lies ahead, but the obstacles that have been overcome to get to this point do not dampen my spirits of tackling the ones that are ahead. I say ride into the heart of that test, do your best, earn that score, and at the end of it all I hope you are able to say, “that was wicked good!”
Stay tuned to see what happens next! There is Romance in my future….Lola, that is.