Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I have been a bad girl.

It's been over a month since the last blog. Wow. Where does the time go?Pine Top was the end of the competitive season for us although we too some babies to some smaller jumper shows which are always productive.

I am DETERMINED To get a better hold of my life, my office,my PR skills, my Mental and physical well being.It is MY responsibility. Horses go like riders ride them. We make our own messes and effect our own lives for better or worse. Not to say there are circumstances beyond our control that mess things up for us.I am trying to get control of those messes and outside influences the same way I needed to clean up my house.I have lots of toys to put away.I'm going to try and get a lot done....

The best way for me to start the clean up was to take some time away from the horses. Though I still rode and taught and judged and hunted during the month of December, I made a list of projects I wanted to complete during the month before January hits me in the face like a cold North wind.

On my list was the creation of a calender of photos to give to friends and supporters from Paradise Farm. I have to Thank Nikki Livermore and Mark Lehner for allowing me to use their wonderful pictures.This was a HUGE project for me as I have never downloaded or uploaded anything in my life before. It took me all day to do it. I would run out to the stable to check on Barby and Antonio who basically ran everything for me. I'd shake and stammer and say,,just five more hours..I'm almost there!One day I'll have a grip on this stuff. Ugh!Thank God for Pandora radio.I can go to bunny land, or to Ireland with Enya to dance with the fairies, or to Rock and Roll land with Stevie Ray Vaughn.I have new speakers on my computer that can send me to the moon. Often I just lay on the floor and listen to music.This is a whole new world for me.Free transport to anywhere for as long as I wanted.MY office has been transformed from a torture chamber full of dread and complete panic to a productive place. HUGE for me. HUGE. This will help with my PR skills.

I also did a little Christmas letter,that I should have sent to everyone,Christmas cards and had a great time taking the time to do it all.Almost normal behaviour. Am I getting closer to reality?

Another project was painting the dining room.Which turned into the dining room ,living room ,all the downstairs trim, bead board in the kitchen and other renovations.I had never painted inside before. My friend Terese Scott gve me painting lessons and support for last years Christmas present and we HAD to use it up befor this years Christmas!Choosing the color took me three years! The drama of being such a grown up and making such a monumental decision was more than most could bear as It took me FOREVEVER with Multiple panic attacks and indecision.....Finally, I chose a salmony color that goes very well with the rest of the room. The room now transports me to a place of great satisfaction.

Then the living room happened all by myself. It took about 4 nights to do.This room is Impressive Ivory! How grown up!I was possessed. I stayed up till 2 am every night painting with Pandora blaring through the house. It was pure magic.I cleaned every corner of every floor board and felt great. The colors talk to me. They took me to great places ,far away from, the many broken toys and bad places that have been plaging me recently.

The house renovations culminated in a wonderful,magical Christmas eve dinner with friends that was upraoriously funny at times. It was a proper dinner party. A huge celebration of Christmas for me.This house is very special to me as is the farm.It has taken a long long time to get these things done.

Another magical moment was the Christmas angel that came and helped me with the sale of a wonderful horse that came to me out of the blue.Not only did the buyer find Nirvana with this beautiful horse but I nearly feel to my knees with relief. This sale came straight from heaven. Pickles,Sydney,Oliver,Jaques,Waylon ,Bunny Cat,Pierre. and Clifford all got together and made this happen I am sure.It was my Christmas to be able to get back on my feet from the overwhelming stresses of the farm.I do believe in miracles.I lost faith a lot this year.But it is back now.

I also managed to accomplish my annual once a year Godfather fest. Almost 8 hours of my boys taking care of business.Micheal Corleone is the man......

Soon it will be back to business full swing. Thank you God for December. It has been more than I could have asked for.

Christmas shopping took me to the book store,where I found lots of stuff to keep me from evil.The books are like soldiers in my house. They protect me from myself. And they protect all of you out there too. If the books can't do it ,then there's always the Corleone family!

Happy New year to you all.Great luck to every one.Kick on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pine Top Thanksgiving Horse Trials

Once again,Janet and Glenn Wilson and company put on a great show for us all last weekend. Pine Top is a class venue.They were blessed with great weather,bumper entries and a safe weekend for the horses and riders.What more can an event organizer ask for?How grateful we all are and give THANKS to The Wilson team and Pine Top farm.

Team paradise had a great time,though I think Barby was freezing all weekend. She did a wonderful job as usual keeping myself,Arthur and Becca in line and on time for our respective rides.

The A team stayed home over Thanksgiving weekend and watched football in their paddocks while Rasta,Daisy,and Bisto made the trip up and down to Thomson.

Dressage was a success for us all. We are managing to remember tests,keep shoulders up and produce softer rides. As usual,when I like my tests ,they don't score well but ,that's only a matter of opinion!

Rasta buzzed the show jumping literally as I had to beg the officials and Teresa Brookins to switch my ride time so I could help Arthur and Becca with their dressage which all went at the same time.(Can you say multi tasking?)I am more comfortable being very busy than standing around as I do not have time to over think so I was pleased with the way it all worked out.

Becca had a good solid show jumping after a grueling weeks worth of very hard whip cracking at the farm. She had very little Thanksgiving holiday as it was more like marine boot camp for her. Arthur,got the same treatment. At least he has his drivers license and can escape the farm in between lessons!Becca was a true prisoner!Arthur's show jumping showed tons of improvement. Sadly it was one fence short of the required number. Ugh. Time to up the Ginkgo Biloba.

Cross country was a real whiz for Rasta. I got a speeding ticket but ended up with bugs on my teeth for sure and the owner is now requesting a move up.I could not bring myself to pull him back. It simply was too much fun.

Becca and Arthur are climbing the really hard part of the eventing ladder. With each event comes a new damn challenge.Eventing is a really hard sport that takes tremendous tenacity and strength to hang in there and wait for it to come right.There are SO many aspects to the sport,it is VERY VERY difficult to get it right and make things work.Success brings confidence. These gallant riders are very close to making it over the hump.Each of them have mounts that are extremely well suited to their riding styles and abilities.

Horses are our best teachers. I have learned (the hard way) one really has to ride hard and work hard to make it all happen. Good riders create illusions of ease.One has to try to be ready for every ride, every damn step .You just never know when a small surprise will pop out and ruin your day(or make you day ,to be more positive).So Becca and Arthur are dealing with mini surprises that are making them far better riders.Eventing is a game of horse and rider reaction.It is a tortuous combination of being very relaxed ,but with lightning fast reflexes for the unexpected.

I have two other friends that also rode at Pine Top and deserve a mention. Sallie and Christy that braved the big Prelim course.Good on them for their move up and future successes. They both have lovely horses and I shall look forward to seeing their dreams come true.

OK. The eventing year is coming to a close. Though we have lots of horses in work on the farm I am going to try hard to have some sort of slow down period till Christmas.We will still train every day. I would like to hunt some more and see people and do "Christmasy" things.

The February Horse trials is rapidly approaching and then the next season will be upon us.

To be honest ,I will be glad to see the back of 2010.This has not been a great year.This has been the year of learning how to let go.Pickles the wonder horse taught me how to let go of my riding . I rode well this year. I feel much happier with my riding and the confidence that he gave me while in the saddle with him is priceless to me.I cannot let him go. He is with me always.

Letting go of the love of my life plagues me endlessly.I am failing in that department.But I figure,if I can learn to wait and be quiet and patient to the base of a 4'6" square oxer ,into a triple, with a vertical of planks on the other side,I will learn how to relax my hold, breath and go on without him too.I just never wanted to have to let go like that.

Letting go of the Aiken Hounds is easier with each day. At first I was fooled into believing that integrity and honesty would prevail. I was fooled into believing that family history and tradition were important factors into my association with the hunt.But I now know that is a true gift from God above,that I am well away from that association as my interpretation of what drag hunting was all about is obviously incorrect.I am mad at myself for not seeing it sooner.What was I thinking for over 20 years?With each day and each story that I hear, it is very clear to me now why I was no longer welcome there.I have very different views about hunting,history,etiquette,principle , and Aiken than most,that is clear.Not to mention my views on preparing horses and riders for hunting and safety issues. I think we are clear on that as well.WE all know about opinions,they are like........... and everyone has one.

So bring on next year. Bring on the Christmas merriment! I want Santa to bring me strength to help me free myself from the downsides of 2010. Life goes on. I am going to go stare at big oxers some more..........Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seeing That Light

The Horse business is far from easy. Years ago ,when I fell off my great horse The Travelling man ,I came back from the hospital with a knee bigger than my head,and asked Bruce Davidson what I should do? He said sell the horse to me.I did. Long story short,I bought Paradise Farm with my Olympic hopeful.

So one light went out and another big one went on.Paradise Farm. Owning a farm like this can be heaven and it can be straight ,pure hell. Sometimes watching the grass grow is enough to wake me up in the middle of the night in a complete panic attack.Everyday, it is a joke around here to see how much money can be spent before 9 am .It is often in the thousands.

EVERYTHING seems to need repair at the most inopportune time.And I have a fit and say ,,,,"all I want to do is ride.HA HA HA!"Riding is the easy part!If I can calm down long enough to allow myself near the horses. I have learned not to ride at certain times. The horses are too valuable and their brains are far too connected to mine. So sometimes,it's best to read a self help book and calm down.Mowing is thereaputic as is raking,walking ,and working out. Driving for about 12 hours straight will do it too.

Teaching is very theraputic.I love to help other people see the light.I love to be able to help them get through their issues with their horses. As I know how much it means to get to the other side.I know the feelings,the ups and downs. The ups and that moment when someones light goes off is easily visible and makes EVERYTHING else worth it.

Thank God in heaven the teaching is picking up.It was pretty dry for a while,due to very strange circumstances.I am seeing the light more and more. More and more people are out there riding all over Paradise and making the most of their riding time. That's what it is all about.

There are people and horses of all levels here.All anyone needs is interest and effort.In the words of the Hall of Fame polo player(and former employer) Davey Rizzo,,,,"It ain't easy baby".

No it definately ain't easy.But I wish to THANK everyone that comes here for help with their horses.Seeing a new friend cry with happiness at the purchase of her new horse and new friend, made my day.I asked her yesterday what she wanted to do with her horse that afternoon. Her reply was a classic."I want to go on an adventure".So off she went out on her adventure and found some action.Watching this lady transform back into a confident rider is great fun.

Feeling the horses change and grow is very rewarding too.From Peter pan growing into a sucessful two star horse to a young 4 year old filly I have. Fox Hunters. Eventers,jumpers,dressage horses. It doesn't matter to me.When they see that light,it's well worth it.No matter how big or small the job.Calm ,Forward and Straight is what we get a thrill out of around here.

It's great to be feeling good about things again.UGH ,what a year this has been.It is so great to be able to see the light again,instead of being plagued with drama and crap.I am getting stronger again . So to all you toads out there. I hope you can find your lights too as I feel sorry for your darkness.

My biggest light is Pickles.He is there everyday.He is right here in front of me with Percy the chicken on his head.Pickles showed me a real light. I OWE it to him. I PROMISED him I would hold on for him.

Thanks to all,especially big Pics .we love you always.Keep your lights on!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


So far we've had a beautiful fall in Aiken. The weather has turned. We got a little rain last week that really helped us out. The foliage is great. Lots of colors and the temperature has been quite good for houndwork.

I have been out with Why Worry and today with Whiskey Road for their beautiful opening meet.It's always wonderful to see everyone on opening day. Horses and riders were well turned out and Woody Baxt farm was a perfect venue to start off the year.

I felt very welcomed by both hunts. Everyone said they were delighted to see me out.Guess what I was delighted to be there.I have a stable full of nice horses and have the time right now. I have hunted with hounds all my life and will continue for some time to come.I love horses (obviously) and hounds and houndwork.I love being outside and enjoy the countryside.I was fortunate enough to ride right up with Alan Young that led the field beautifully. He knew every stump and stone out there and was very aware of his field at all times.

I had many flashbacks to the good old days before I went to England,when I hunted regularly with Whiskey Road while riding for John Ellis.The country has changed with developement but there is quite a lot of the old guard still on top of the saddle and we had a rip roaring time today as we did then.

A fantastic breakfast followed with great food and nice people. That's what it's about.I will only get to hunt during Nov. and December this year as I have a lot on the plate already for the future.

I am looking forward to riding with Why Worry as well.More good horses,hounds, people and good times.

I would like to announce in public TO THE WORLD,that I DID NOT EVER RETIRE from hunting as so many seem to think or may have been told.It is not about eventing. Please let me make it clear to all of you out there. I was thrown out of The Aiken Hounds after thirteen years of being a joint master and over 20 years on the staff with no explanation or discussion.As for my being told I was not "allowed to hunt again" ,that is about the best one I have heard so far.Keep dreaming you guys out there.I have finally reached the stage that I can almost laugh.

I have moved on from the AH with sadness for sure. Betrayal,Dishonesty and cowardice is never pretty. It's never pleasant.

But today was. And my time with Why Worry was too.So onwards to great times,more music and happy days.....ARF ARF

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pedro The Great

WE MADE IT!!!!AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH the last event for Peter Pan this year and he is very happy and extremely sound. I am so happy and grateful for a safe weekend,I can't sit down. I also just discovered great music on Pandora, so my office has changed from a room of torture and tears to a rockin', jammin' place!

Peter Pan has many names depending on the day.Peter Pan,Peanut Butter,Osama,El Diablo and Don't BUCK ME OFF!But today he is my shining star.It has been a long season with many ups and downs.He won a couple prelims,I crashed at his one star debut and broke my back(wearing number 13!)and had a STELLAR dressage at the AEC's and then,this weekend completed his first two star,safe and sound!

Believe it or not,I was drawn number 13 again and I had a fit and begged the Ground Jury to change my number.I swore to myself I would never ride with that number again having had terrible experience in the past. They were very accommodating so I became 197 and spent the rest of the weekend confusing everyone. Thank you Ground Jury!

I was happy with the dressage,having had a rather large blip when he touched the boards in his second turn on the haunches. At that moment I felt he turned into" Mr. Don't BUCK ME OFF!"He thought about it but quickly regained his composure to finish the test in fine form in FOURTH place. WOW!

His Cross country was exactly what I had hoped for at this early stage of his career. He is only 7 and just started jumping 2.5 years ago. I purposely went slow and had what I call a controlled round off a loose rein. He went all the straight ways(except for when I forgot where I was going after the water jump for about 7 seconds!!!!OOOPS!)I was pleased with my ability to control myself and stay slow and straight.I got cocky twice this year and paid the piper.Feeling my little boy be so happy and confident was well worth dropping to 12th place. I was over the moon with his performance and I felt we did a lot of good for our partnership in the future.

GOD I MISS RIVERDANCE AND PICKLES!!!!!!!!!It is very hard to have only 1 ride and keep it together emotionally at that level.I had a very very strong visit from Pickles walking back from the vet box after the cross country. He was in my pocket on Saturday for sure.How Lucky I have been to have had so many great rides on Riverdance ,my horse of a lifetime.Too bad I wasn't where I am now when I had him ...but we all have so much to learn.

River and Harry are next up to come out of the cobwebs and keep me jumping the big stuff till Peter comes back from his holiday.I know one thing for sure. One has to stay jumping the bigger fences or your eye goes quickly South!

I was pleased with the show jumping today. I'm feeling a little more at home with those monster fences.Peter was very relaxed and handled them well. But I had a slip in the turn to the last line.Naturally it was the triple with a good sized oxer in. I had the A and B down but then Peter got his feet back and cleared the last two jumps.Whew ,that was a close one.When I slipped on the approach to those giant red and black rails ,I thought,"Oh this is going to hurt!"

I owe a huge THANKS to Barbie Reeser and Lynda Clary-Burke ,my two helpers at the event. No one can do this alone. They were there to support and help and Peter looked amazing. Barbie is a super groom for sure now.She'll definitely be ready for Kentucky in a few more years!(Hope I will be!)

All in all a great weekend. I was very proud of Peter Pan. He can really fly and I hope he never grows up. I know I won't so we're really good for each other.Well that's all for now. Off to Neverland for the night. Happy Halloween.

Thank you everyone at Chattahoochee Hills.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Short But Very Important Blog

There is a lot going on around Paradise farm as Usual. I am so very very relieved to have been given the HUGE honor of riding some really nice new horses for people. I am very grateful that people seem to be creeping back to the farm for lessons and I am able to make the weekly payroll without feeling the need to sell plasma or my beautiful truck to pay the bills.I will be able to have the support of Antonio the Great and the famous Barbie Doll for one more week.

The Hunter Trials was a sucessful and happy day.Despite all the efforts of some of Aiken's finest, My friends continue to come out and support the farm no matter what.We are very happy to put those non humans behind us.

Last night I was working at pullng the upcoming horse trials together with my right arm , Karen Kelly . She has been through every minute of The Paradise Farm Horse Trials since the beginning.My new puppy, Brumby ran away and was GONE.He wears a small bell on his collar so I can hear him when he rambles. The silence last night was deafening.He was gone. Only four months old and the cutest form of happiness on the farm,I could not believe that I had lost him.

The Horse Trials is hairy to say the least as we are a week out ,and only getting a few entries now.Listening to millions of reasons why people can't come is very taxing and brings one way down for days on end.Wanting to pull off a nice competition but without entries ,I'd rather just pull the covers over my head....or go drive a truck.And then my puppy runs away. Is he dead? Is he Stolen? How much more bad luck do I have to endure?Why is this happening?

I ran around the farm until 2.30 am, cursing God ,telling him I would punch him in the nose if I ever met him.I yelled out loud in the darkness ,that I thought he was very unfair and that I thought I'd had enough for one year and he should go pick on someone else.I said every bad thing to God that I wanted to say to a few of Aiken's finest, that I have yet to have the pleasure of seeing...

About 2.30 am I heard the bell. Of course I cried and hugged the poor puppy to death,then told him I wanted to spank him for torturing me.He licked my face and wagged his nub and said yea yea where's the bones?

Today......I saw the first of the 31 miners pulled from a hole in the ground after weeks of torture down under. The look on the miners sons face brought me back to reality.All of a sudden, I wiped more tears from my face(again) and I realized how great life is.That little boy 's face said it all. That little boy said the same thing Pickles said to me in April. I had forgotten.I owe Pickles a huge apology.I must go back to Pickles who is so important to me.Pickles, my dead horse, and a little boy that didn't speak a word, said more to me than anyone else ever could. "remember what is real.Remember what is important."

Four people came to my house tonight to help me with next years hunter trials and this years next event. These people were terrific.They were there to help. They were there to support and create good positive energy.And we are going to take that energy and help one of our friends that needs our help. And that's what it's all about.The bad stuff I have been feeling can be put back in the garbage can where the stinking rotting filth of something I once thought was important can fester without anymore thought from me.So be gone all of you that think you are anything ,for you are nothing.Life is far to grand to even allow you one more minute.You will all get yours.

You are the sorry ones. I will stay with Pickles, my puppy, the South American Boy and his family and my real friends.And my Farm. Paradise Farm. Be gone all you Toads... May you Rot in your own Hell that you create for yourselves.Ribot Ribot...... Dramatic you may say?.......No, Just very honest.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Up and coming Blogs

I have lots to write about.I mentioned Mr. Miagi from the Karate Kid as an inspiration and mentor to me, but I would also like to make mention and give thanks to a local friend and Horseman ,Mr. Mike Sharp for helping me with some great words of wisdom yesterday at my Hunter Trials.His words have also given me a second wind,when I had some pretty flaccid sails.

I must tell you at great length about the FABULOUS day I had Judging The Southeast regional 4-H championships up at Clemson University.This is an important blog that I hope lots of people will take back into their own sports.

I have to report on the American Eventing Championships. They were enormous and well done.

I have to report about Peter Pan's debut in the CIC TWO STAR world YIKES!!!!!!!!Can you believe he is about to go to his first CCI two star?Just this time last year I was barely able to say the "I" word and now there are slight little teeny tiny mentions of the "A "word!(though not for a while yet)

For those of you asking about Harry,He is starting back in work tomorrow! After several months off with a STUPID CUT that wouldn't go away,we are feeling like he can start walking. UGH. Take care of your horses!

And I have a TON of miracle stories about great lessons people have had. Our dear friend GOD has been very active sending great riding messages to our friends. Stay tuned.I have to go to sleep.

Catching Up

So many of you have asked me why I have not been "Blogging". Who made up that word anyway? It's like :"Facebook and Twitter or Tweeting?"Any way the simple answer is that I had once again lost all faith in humanity and myself and thought it best to keep my opinions on things to myself.

So I watched the Godfather over and over again and a few other good movies that inspired me,yet todays feature film was one of my all time favorites,The Karate Kid.Once again,Mr. Miagi pulled me from the depths I so often visit and regave me the will to live.I wish I could stand like that pelican or whatever it is and kick my leg up that high and make the same sound as it did when it hit the bad guy straight on,but I am afraid I would tear something and I'd be back on crutches again. I had better not.

2010 hasn't been the greatest of years.The loss of quite a few great friends,4 four legged and one two legged.(Boy would I like to do the pelican dance with that Dummy!)A few more broken bones and the recent BS with the AH .But out of bad always comes good and almost always when one doesn't expect it.

We had a magical day here at Paradise yesterday with the Hunter Trial. A lot of great people came to support the farm and had a wonderful time. It was perfect weather and the field was emerald green after the great rains we had.The courses rode well.We had lots of children on ponies and adults on their ponies. Smiles were everywhere.I will get Miss Ann to put pictures up on this blog when she feels better cause I do not know how to do it.We had teams and pairs and braids and ribbons and lots of dogs in the dog show!

Many people were beautifully turned out.There were shadbellies,tweed and colors galour. I think that sets a great example for the future.Horses were sparkling.Sadly not a lot of hunting people came which this event was aimed for but we had so many other enthusiasts I don't know how it could have been better .

Nanu's famous sandwhiches,magic cookies, hamburgers , Hotdogs,and fabulous meatball sandwhiches made by a REAL FIREMAN were a big hit as was the rest of the food. Next year we'll have a better stock of beverages on hand. I MUST Get a bigger tent!

The Hunter Trials are a day of fun. There should be something for everyone. The Hunter Pace is about 2 miles long and goes all over the farm,making use of all the terrain Paradise has to offer.Hills,Ditches, water and small banks.Perfect footing and not so perfect footing. One can go at ones own pace and just enjoy the ride. It is an excellent warm up for the rest of the day or just a great experience to enjoy ones horse in a party atmosphere.

The cross rails are a good starting point to jumping. Next year there will be an entire division and several low jumping classes in the ring as we had so many requests already!We have already decided we need more judges as well to move things along as there is so much to do.

We had 5 different courses and the classes were beautiful to watch. Thanks to all that helped decorated the jumps,put out numbers and cut brush.The Hillside at Paradise offers unparallelled viewing and our spectators were VERY enthusiastic. Mike Sharp had his FABULOUS music playing along with his great voice doing the announcing.

Everyone was a huge winner but it was Chis Powers and Olive that piped out Lynn Kramp and Earnie as the adult grand Champion!Our Junior champion was Rebecca Beaudry with her lovely horse Daisy and Madeline Eves was reserve. A tight competition decided in the last class!

There are already huge plan for next year's Hunter Trial. So save the first Saturday in October.We are planning a fun party the Friday night before so clear your calanders! Stay tuned

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another Step Up

The Loudon Pony Club Horse Trials was another step up for Peter Pan and I after our crash in May.Having spoken to the course designer,receiving assurance it was a "soft course" I thought it the most sensible next step in our progression back up the ladder.

It was exciting to be back at Morvan Park and in Virginia in general as I consider that to be the land of the big boys.It was well worth the ten hour drive from Aiken.

Virginia has been blessed with rain and the ground was excellent for this time of year. The staff at the event made it even better with the rotovator.

Sadly Harry was not able to play as he has had a nasty wound on his leg that I can't get closed up and I didn't want to risk anything. So he is out until it is fully mended.He is such a lovely horse. No chances will be taken with any of the horses.

Peter warmed up for dressage like a champ. He was focused and relaxed.I was on him about 5 minutes too long and a huge black bomber fly started to find me right before I went in of course. But I managed to dodge him. I swear those wretched things have a timer on their radar and know exactly when to come ruin your ride!I wonder if it was the same one that attacked Harry at River Glen.

Barbie and I walked the show Jumping the night before dressage as well as the XC. WE thought,"Oh this is very doable."We even thought it was soft for Intermediate.Well,DUH, of course it was because it was set for Preliminary.When I walked it again the next day,at the correct height and width,back came the butterflies.It is SO easy to make the smallest of errors in Show Jumping,especially on sloped ground.It was like the old days jumping on grass as opposed to a prepared surface with perfect distances and perfect footing.

Peter sailed around. I managed to ride forward and aggressively,the way it needed to be done but all of the balancing work we have been doing really paid off and he came back to me like a champ.We had a clear round. I cried.Then Barbie came up to me and told me we were in the lead!I couldn't believe it!It was such an honor for Peter. I was very proud of him. He is only a baby boy and was so businesslike that day!

I walked the cross country course 3 times. Upon our first walk,my heart sank and I thought. Oh boy this is more than I am ready for. I haven't felt that way in a long time.I did not feel it was a soft course by any means. Tremaine had done a good job.But there were 2 fences that really got to me. One was 9A,B. An angled palisade question on a down hill slope with the camber of the ground sloping away towards the angle. They were big and the were VERY vertical in my opinion.

I had a plan at this event and on my journey back up the ladder. I was to go slowly round this course, complete the questions and not be a hotshot.No worries there. Tremaine had ensured I stick to that plan with his clever design.This particular question stopped me dead in my tracks and made me want to go home.Pippa Funnel jumped into my head right away and said,,,,"never go to an event unprepared or unsure of anything.Make sure you practice what you know will be on the course so you will leave no stones unturned!"This was too big a stone for me. NO WAY was I going to attempt this angle at this point in my journey. I was NOT READY for that.So I opted for a long S turn type serpentine through the question.I felt much better after making that decision.There will be another day for those wretched angles!

The other fence I thought was difficult(though there were many hard combinations) was a very big bullfinch into the dark followed 4 strides by a skinny table to the water ,then a bank up ,one stride to an arrowhead.This was a blind bullfinch,meaning the horses could not see through it. It was stuffed thick with cedar about 5 feet high.Peter has seen bullfinches before but this one was especially difficult because of where it was placed and the ensuing combination.It was the cumulative effect of the multiple jumps I was concerned with.I thought it a serious question.

We had a very nice trakehner to another arrowhead,a corner to a big flower stand off a three stride turn and an angled coffin with skinneys in and out and two big chairs in a wood as the penultimate fence.

I stuck to the plan and went slowly,dropping down to sixth place but couldn't have been happier with the day.Peter answered the questions and was there for me,really helping me get my mojo back.As usual he pulled up from the course rolling his eyes back saying ,"is that all?" "Yes Dear ,that's all for now!"

Next stop,The American Eventing Championships.Between now and then I will practice angles everyday.I will sleep on the angle.I will continue to practice trying hard not to be nervous. Self doubt is a killer.

How lucky I was to find Peter in that field that day.He has come so far.He has brought me back to what used to be a normal way of life for me.No doubt one needs to see these jumps on a regular basis.

I can't wait until Harry gets back on his feet and I sure miss Pickles.Hopefully another horse will come along hopefully at the upper level to help me keep my eye in. We'll see. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Bye Aiken Hounds

Dear Aiken Hounds Friends,

It is with much regret that I write this letter to all of you. On August 9th, at 9:00am, Linda Mclean came into my house unannounced and told me I was no longer Joint Master of the Aiken Hounds. There was no discussion or communication. The decision had been made and I was out. I wish to make it perfectly clear that I have not and will not resign upon Linda’s orders without due reason and/ or cause. To this day, I am unclear of the reason for this decision.

I have hunted with the Aiken Hounds under several masters and have a long standing family history with the hunt. This is not only unfair and unwarranted to me but a direct insult to my family history in this town and also to the Aiken Hounds itself. It is also insulting to all of you that the hunt is being run in this manner.

It was a huge honor to be asked by Linda in 1997 to become a Joint Master. This has always been a job I have taken seriously and carried out with tremendous pride. .I have filled almost every position in the hunt and hunted hounds myself for several years. I have fulfilled all kennel duties and have organized multiple activities to support the hunt.

Apparently, the Aiken Hounds have no formal By-Laws. The way this has happened is all rather mysterious. After receiving the news from Linda, I approached the past Masters of The Aiken Hounds to learn if I had any recourse. I was assured by the three past Masters that this was not the way to do things and they offered to hold a meeting where Linda and I could discuss this in a calm, controlled manner. They assured me when the Mastership was passed onto Linda, The Aiken Hounds was never meant to be owned by one person.

They also assured me of their complete support. Just before the meeting, I received a call saying the meeting was cancelled and there was nothing anyone could do. Again, there was no reason, no explanation. I was told I just had to accept Linda’s decision.

I feel this is an unrealistic and unprofessional way to handle a situation. Just two weeks prior to this debacle, Linda and I were planning the calendar for the next season and all seemed right with the world. There was no indication that I was to be “removed “from the hunt.

Apparently, I have somehow fallen out of Linda’s favor. She has made the decision that I am not interested in hunting or the welfare of the Aiken Hounds. It is my intent that all of you know why I may not be hunting with the Aiken Hounds again. I have been told I am not “allowed to”.

It is my intent that I tell you my interest as Joint Master was to maintain the integrity and tradition of the Aiken Hounds, full stop. There was no duty I would not do to support the hunt.

My exodus from the Aiken Horse Show was well known, as are my feelings towards the modern practices of drugging horses. Linda does not share these feelings.

The Fox Hunter safety clinics have been highly successful and improved the quality of our hunting. I shall continue to hold them as I hope they will help maintain the old traditions of good riding and horsemanship rather than promoting better riding through chemistry. It is my opinion that one must learn how to ride a horse first before one can ride with hounds.

I enjoy my time with the Aiken Hounds immensely. I have hunted in many places and the Aiken Hounds are very special to me. Linda is very wrong to have come up with whatever opinion she now holds. Sadly, she has created some scenario in her mind that lacks the dignity and honesty a senior Master of Hounds should portray. Her mother would be mortified by this behavior as is mine. No hunt can run without complications and issues but communication is a far greater tool than annihilation and/or sabotage. I am willing to own up to any offense I may have committed but feel I am due the respect and courtesy of a full explanation.

I am sure there may be people out there who are not interested in the knowing the “what’s or why’s” of these goings on. In Linda’s most recent hunt invitation of 2011, she made public that I am no longer hunting with the Aiken Hounds... I am terribly grateful for the outpouring of support I have received from many of you and I hope this will not make things awkward for any of you when next we meet.

I am and have been an active supporter of this town and care very much about Aiken. I hope you will continue to join the Fox Hunter safety clinics and support the Horse Trials at Paradise Farm. I also want you to know that I was “advised” not to write this letter telling me this would be bad for my business and future in Aiken. I have chosen to write this as I believe in who I am and what I do. I believe in principle and proper etiquette.

The Aiken Hounds and the Hitchcock woods and Aiken itself are for no one person. The tradition of sport and sportsmanship founded by the Hitchcock’s are something we all need to remember and emulate. This is what Aiken is about.

In closing. I strongly suggest that a committee be formed and formal by-laws be written to govern the Aiken Hounds, to protect all involved from issues like this. The Aiken Hounds are unique and very very special. I do not believe the entire future of one of Aiken’s finest traditions should lie completely in the hands of one person. I was told there was a committee, by the committee to do just this. But that committee changed their minds and stories very quickly.

I am looking for closure to a very sad incident in my life. I have never been thrown out of anything... I do not know why this has happened or how long this had been preplanned by Linda. I feel I deserve, as anyone would, a proper explanation. I ask all of you to put yourselves in my position for a moment and decide how you would feel if this happened to you.


Lellie Ward

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Sad Time For Aiken

I try to write happy , upbeat things but sometimes I can't always be that way. I am currently away from Aiken but feel it is important to write this blog.

Right before I left on this trip, at nineA.M.. I was bombarded by a purple faced screaming Linda Mclean. This visit was unannounced and a big surprise. I was minding my own business about to teach a lesson to a paying client when Linda arrived.Screaming and yelling with a wagging
, she scolded me me like a bad child.She huffed and puffed like a baseball umpire telling me "YOU;RE OUT!" Her demenour was laughable.After scolding me,she stomped up from her chair and ran out to her car like a coward.She drove away spewing the pebbles from my driveway like a bankrobber in a getaway car

I consider this inappropriate behaviour from a Master of Foxhounds.There was no discussion. The decision had been long made behind my back.Apparantly she has wanted to do this for a very long time. This is in fact the second time she has demanded my resignation.

The first time she made such cowardly demands was due to rumour involved by another one of Aikens fine citzens. I have known Linda most of my life .We both have a long standing history in Aiken with our families.Her current behaviour is a direct insult to the way we were brought up.But Linda is a much more social animal than myself. She is easily swayed by gossip and stories and does not have a backbone strong enough to seek the truth. Information gained at cocktail parties and restaurant jabber are the primary sources of her opinions.

Linda has decided for the second time that all I care about is myself and my eventing. She has declared to all behind my back for some time that I am not interested in hunting or the Aiken Hounds. An interesting concept. None of it true in any sense of the word and completely unfounded.

Our differences are ethical. I believe in the maintaning the integrety and history of the Aiken Hounds. Linda does not. Linda is pro drugs and I am not. I think this was where the trouble started. I cannot abide seeing first hand the majority of our staff and our master using drugs to be able to ride to hounds or to ride in the famous show in the woods. Full stop.Mrs. Hitchcock would roll in her grave.

There are plenty of opportunties to learn how to ride to hounds. But most people think they know it all and do not need to practice. Her attempts at down grading the quality of the drags is sad. Her attempts at making it more like live hunting are a crime. The Aiken Hounds is a drag pack. Let's hope it does´t die out completely with Linda.

Linda has made the assumption that my lack of participation at hound shows means I do not like hunting or the Aiken Hounds.This is not true. I work for a living and have little time to attend shows I am not actively participating in.

Hound shows are great fun when one has the time.I do not have the time.Nor am I interested in the subjective opions of the judges.

Linda has excluded me from every aspect of the Aiken Hounds.. Never in the history of the Aiken Hounds has any Master made the hunt their own personal hunt. I have been told by Linda and Dennis Foster of the MFHA that this is indeed Lindas hunt and she can do what she wants.So she has chosen to dismis me the way she has chosen to put so many of our hounds down.In Linda's world everythinig is disposable. A warning to all of those that choose to remain.

I am disgusted by Lindas cowardice. I despise untruth. Her holier than thou attitude is contemptuous.

I have written about the honor of wearing the green coat. I have written about the beauty of the Aiken Hounds for years. There is nothing I would not have done to prove my loyalty to the hunt.Once again, Linda has chosen the wrong path.

I am sad it has ended this way.Aiken is changing so fast. Gone are the days where one´s word is one´s bond. Gone are the days of honesty. Gone are the days where the Master of Hounds is not afraid to ride.

Linda says she needs a new Joint Master that will show more interest in the hunt than I did. I hope she will at least explain to the new JM their duties according to Linda. It is not easy to be a mind reader. It is a sad time for Aiken.It is a sad time for me.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The majority of us will say to our teachers and coaches."I bet you're sick of telling me that so much.When am I going to learn?"We are so quick to blame ourselves and head out on that self destruct,confidence sapping stage.

The self destruct stage is a very very familiar one to me.There are many days I do not even want to get into the saddle for fear of drifting away from my goals rather than towards them.Things can quickly multiply into my convincing myself I should give it up.

But something makes me want to go back out there and DO IT AGAIN. So I do. Over and over again. It usually comes right eventually. Practice practice practice. Barby is my body guard. I have her with me whenever I really feel like I am in a mess. She has seen enough now that her eye is getting pretty sharp. She watches all my lessons. We CONSTANTLY watch videos and I show her pictures of riders and horses I want to emulate.The shape of everything is so important.So we work it out.

I am staging a personal comeback from my latest crash in Virginia last May. Peter Pan had done a lovely dressage test at the one star level, leaving him in a very good position.I made several very very big mistakes that day. My horse was having a VERY hard time with stabling and had managed to kick off both hind shoes, step on the clips and have a really rough night. It was very touch and go that we were even going to be able to compete on the Saturday. But a sleepless night and lots of hard work got us to the start box the next day. (I always say eventing is like going to war)Battling sore feet was a big enemy.

I think I put the possibility of " making the magazine" a bit before sensible riding. Peter felt well enough for me to put my foot on the gas peddle. I angled a nice hay rack jump and whacked it and crashed. I thought the time was going to be very hard to make. I was wrong about that. I did not need to hotshot it to that hay rack. I had a fairly bad crash resulting in six weeks out of the saddle.

Hindsight is always 20/20. Maybe this maybe that. Maybe it was the feet. Maybe I was greedy. Maybe it was bad luck.

Thankfully Peter bombed off and was no worse for wear. I finished the event on my darling Harry and went home one sore dog.

Now I am back riding and have been given the green light to go again with strict instructions not to fall off. GREAT. No pressure or anything.....I am obviously very keen to get back moving along as I am playing the qualification game. Another blog topic. I have huge goals with my devils. But the main thing is to RIDE WELL with these wonderful horses and climb the ladder sensibly.

When coming back from injury there are many stages.

First one has to get past the pain stage. The Ohhhh Ahhhhh make you pass out thing when you press to hard or stretch too far. Let pain be your guide I always say. It will stop you quick enough.

Once you can get past that and you start to get fit again. A different kind of pain sets in more like aching. That's just screaming muscles. We can ignore them a bit , stretch them out and get on with it. There's usually a bit of excess fatigue but the urgency to ride and get back going again wipes that out for me.

Then comes confidence. Well I don't want to mess it up again. The what if's.One has to push through pain and one has to really push through the lack of confidence stage.. Last year after having broken my leg jumping a corner I had real "corneritis" in the beginning.Ten thousand corners later I'm out of that stage..

Dressage hurt at first. I thought ugh.... Can't stand to sit the trot. Vertical impact. But it is Ok now.I am out of that stage.Down transitions were scary.

Peter Pan was almost un- rideable at the beginning. He actually made me feel he had the best of me with his bucking. I came very close to hiring a cowboy. He has settled now. Thank god he is out of that stage!

My first jumping school was conservative. "Good, no pain I thought."

My first cross country school was dodgy. I rode like a mouse and choked a lot. No can do at the level I intend to ride at. Answer......Jump more fences later on. Not all at once. I needed more work at that stage.

I watch DVDs constantly. Mary king and Apache Sauce are big favs of mine. I see Pickles in him and that is a great memory for me. Of course there are zillions more but I like Mary cause she loves her horses and the game the way I do. Very simple. And I see Pickles over and over..God how we miss him. The Dvds seem to enable me to see balance and how the other riders manage the jumps before them. Watching them repeatedly almost makes me feel as if I am riding .

Today I jumped again. I had Pickles and Apache Sauce there with me and I was very pleased with the way things went.I had my flow back.I am not yet ready to ride to the stage I was at before the crash ,but I am getting closer. I am two weeks out from my first competition. I chose to downgrade a level from where I was just to make sure I can manage all the parts of a competition with confidence and balance.There are so many stages at a horse trial. Then I am entered back at the Intermediate level again, aiming for two star.

We are on go....Harry is not a great fan of the heat. But he is hanging in there. Stay tuned and remember to hang in there when you are in a "rough" stage. The good ones are well worth it.Push through the bad for the good.It will come.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Riding is a three way street around here.There is the horse. We must listen to him/her as much as we want him/her to listen to us. There is the rider.The rider has CHOSEN to ride the horse. Years ago Jummy Wofford (excellent teacher and very experienced horseman) said, "it is better to make a decision and have it be the wrong one than to make no decision at all."In other words do something rather than nothing on the horses back. THINK......MAKE IT UP IF YOU HAVE TO!But try not to do NOTHING. The horse is looking for guidance too.

The third person is the teacher.The teacher can HOPEFULLY recognize and read the horse and the rider. The teacher is not there to judge or form personal opinions.The teacher is not there to say their personal likes and dislikes ,unless they pertain to safety or a mechanical application.

It is easy to see when a horse doesn't like something. It is easy to see when it is confused,unhappy,in pain ,lacking confidence,balance or knowledge.They make it clear that the "flow ain't there".

This teacher makes it clear when there is a no flow situation. Stop,wait, let's discuss this or that.No,not like that,like this. Ok, now that's good. DID YOU FEEL THAT? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT NOW? Good DO IT AGAIN.OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.we practice this walking in the field as well as jumping big fences. you do not have to be doing anything grand to ride well(safely) all the time.

The rider usually shows the teacher they understand with a big smile or sigh of relief. "he did it...I did it!' type reaction, often referred to as light bulb moments.

It is not always smooth and easy around here.We all fall off. We get too hot. We are all tired. We are all stressed about money. Most of us have some degree of pain that runs through our bodies 24-7. But we WANT TO RIDE. Riding is not easy. Nor is it the safest of games we choose to play. So we make many many sacrifices to do this.

If the horse is unhappy , we try endlessly to try and access, and decide how to make things better. He tells us, we must listen and then go to work to make life better. When the horse is happy ,everybody is happy.......

I wish riders would do the same. Sometimes they do. Communication is the key. I KNOW I lost YEARS AND YEARS of my riding career by not being open with my instructors. I went home after YEARS of lessons thinking I just wasn't good enough. I thought for years I would never get better. And I digressed. I got worse.I spent hours and years thinking my teachers didn't like me.


I lost my confidence many many times. Yet I wanted to ride. I wanted to get better. I didn't want to give up.Something drove me. I was ashamed to ask questions!

I have learned I have to be around teachers that are going to allow me to speak up and say I don't get it. I don't feel it. What did you mean by that? I have had teachers say to me at the 4 star level.......How can you ask me that and ride at Rolex? You should know that(referring to how to better ride a shoulder in)The teacher made me feel like a jerk and I withdrew. I went backwards not forwards. I wasted time in self pity and loathing. And I wasted my horses time, legs and life too.....

Teachers have different styles. Lord knows mine is quite graphic. I use very unorthodox language. I want people to SEE in their minds what I am talking about. There a few terms I wish to bring up here."Fairy Riding",the" Helpless Housewife,""crumpling" or the famous" fat lady position."What do you think of when I use the term"life Support?"or "C 4?"I do not mean the explosive.

I love bunnies ,butterflies, cuddly puppies, Easter dresses , flowers. When I think of those things I see visions of soft pinks and blues dancing around in my head. Vivaldi pops into the soundtrack. Perhaps even the occasional angel and maybe a fairy or two. I see fairies as lighter than air little people that do kind things and live in a happy, soft kind place. I have never thought of the nasty horrible connotation that refers to ones sexual preference. That goes to the dark place. Bad music and dark colors......... Black.......

I do not look at riding as a a sport practiced in the land of the bunnies. My job is safety first. The music changes from Vivaldi to Heavy Metal. When dealing with a horse or pony, one has to be ready for anything. Like going to war. When one trains for war,,,,it is hard work. To sharpen ones reaction time.....often the exercises are difficult and hard.One has to endure mental and physical discomfort occasionally to get though to the other side. Survival first.......Learn to clean and hold your gun. Shoot to kill.....You never get a second chance to make a first impression.....

The fat lady position does not mean I think you are fat. The fairy ride does not mean I think you are gay. The helpless housewife.........well I have seen a few and they are not safe on horses. I even call men helpless housewives.. They get it!

I called a GREAT friend of mine Mrs. Tomato Face once and that did not go over well. She was VERY VERY hot and her face was red and I was laughing. I said a girl had wimpy wrists once. I did not think she was a wimp! That took three years to get past that one........She never rode with me again because I was so insulting......Now we can laugh.....I tell one of my best students right now that she leaves the classroom and goes back to California (and she is a blond,housewife). Come back,come back from California.....You are about to JUMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Ok you get it. So if EVER EVER EVER I offend any of you. Come get me. COMMUNICATE. If you don't feel well.......COMMUNICATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I t is FAR BETTER to SAY WHAT YOU Think than leave hurt or upset.

PLEASE COMMUNICATE! We can do this...

PS I do not like Heavy Metal and far prefer Bunny Music..................................Kick on silly wabbit

Friday, July 2, 2010

Message From God

Lord knows I talk enough during the lessons to drive people crazy.I often feel like an incessant mosquito, buzzing buzzing around in my riders brains, trying to get them to react to various situations.

It is difficult to listen and FEEL at the same time.Very often, one trys so hard while riding to get a FEEL that they can't see or hear anything. It is easy to bump into a jump standard in the ring. It is easy to miss a jump . Mud puddles can come out of nowhere and cause your horse to spook and catch one WAY off guard. I call this "riding blind."

It is easy to "go blind" with fear. When one's horse grabs the bit and starts to speed up, pull, or "get bigger". It is easy to forget what to do to REGAIN control and then confidence. That is all we are trying to do. It is the same out in the cross country field, hunt field, show jumping ring, even the dressage ring.

TIMING is another hard thing to learn right up there with FEELING!!!!! How much is enough and when do you do it and HOW DO YOU DO IT?

A great way to learn all this is by practicing, making mistakes, having problems and getting through to the other side. The aha moments. Sometimes God steps in. He shows up a lot in the open spaces. He says........You had BETTER find your balance. You had BETTER sit back. You had BETTER learn how to balance and control your horses step.... OR ELSE I WILL RAISE YOUR PULSE TILL YOU GET IT.

Of course this is all relative and should be thoroughly discussed with the rider beforehand. A great lady said to me today....."Oh,,, this is what I am supposed to be doing everyday!"I need to ride better!!!!Oh hallelujah . She got it! "YES ,,,EVERYDAY ,EVERY TIME YOU RIDE!!!!!" Thanks be to God. A real light bulb moment. Great fun and that's what teaching is about.

My lady went from fairy riding with a minimum of control and confidence, to clearly owning her ride and getting her young horse downhill into the water jump. She knew what to do when her horse said no. Even though I had loaded her guns with at least an hours worth of discussion about position and the application of the aids, it was a higher power that went down that hill into the water with her......She was safe.....And she was BEAMING at the end of her ride.

It is so much fun to see people transform from helpless housewives that ride blind into functioning riders with a real purpose.Yippee, another score at Paradise today.Thank God!