Horse Show Firsts


This weekend Jazz competed in his first horse show. That alone, was noteworthy.

But my competition in the ring?

My own kid.



This was the first time — in Hadley’s very short career — that she has competed against me. At the same horse show. In the exact same classes.

And maybe you’re wondering: how’s that fair? A 40-something going head-to-head against a kindergartner?

Well, this was a lightly-attended local show, and our division offered minuscule, unimposing jumps intended for green horses and riders. Hadley was paired with a veteran pony who’s only a few years younger than I am. And I was the veteran to Jazz, who’s just a year behind Had. It was a level playing field.

And I figured that Hadley would suceed, since I was piloting the wildcard — the Thoroughbred who might suffer a racetrack flashback and be overcome with post-parade jitters. Fortunately, Jazz quelled his nerves and held it together.

Martin came to help and watch, as did Brynn. She perched rail-side and cupped her hands around her mouth, shouting words of encouragement while the class was quietly underway.


It was nice to receive such enthusiastic and audible coaching, especially when we faced obstacles that barely constituted “jumps.”


Whoa, that’s a big one…


In the end, Hadley beat me in one class, which was way cool. It was her first blue ribbon.



Perhaps it was a sign of things to come — Hadley succeeding me in the showring.


And if not Hadley there’s always that other one, coming up from the minors…



Christmas Day: Intermission Tradition


Celebrating Christmas with 3 young kids, Martin and I are in the tradition-building phase of the holiday. Annual practices and habits reappear and nestle themselves in and around December 25. And one in particular has staked a permanent claim.

The forced march.

Actually, we’d never call it that. It’s “intermission” — a cease fire in the rapid destruction of Santa haul beneath the tree. We rug-up the kids and take a long walk.

The origins of intermission date back to 2010, when we discovered Cayden and Hadley early Christmas morning, methodically and indiscriminately tearing through every present and package. We extracted them from wads of crumpled paper and tape, and pushed them out the door with baby Brynn. They were tearful and remorseful, but the walk bucked them up.



The following Christmas, we versed our early-risers on the “open only the gifts in your stocking” rule, but set out for a late-morning walk. We ditched Brynn’s stroller and opted for a combo of Bugsy/wagon transport to crest the top of the neighbor’s hill.





The next year, we officially announced “intermission” halfway through present-opening. That was last Christmas. Bugsy carted two kids to the yak-cow property, to check out a new lamb.

This year, a few days ago, I decided that Bugsy deserved a lighter load. Just Brynn. I hoisted the older kids aboard Jazz — who was probably baffled by the octopus effect of four bareback legs. A vast departure from his racetrack days. But the journey’s purpose was the same: take a break from new-toy acquisition and appreciate the day.


Double duty on the way up….



…just one passenger for the return leg.


I have no doubt that intermission will continue, maybe with bikes (if the kids ever learn to ride them) or perhaps with a fleet of horses.

Either way, it’s an official Christmas tradition… and perhaps the impetus of another tradition:

The post-intermission nap.



New resident


Meet “Jazz,” a recent addition to the farm.

He’s my new project horse.


Jazz is a 4-year-old OTTB (an “off the track Thoroughbred.”) He’s Kentucky-bred and the offspring of respectable bloodlines. But when the starting gate opened, he never delivered.

His race record? Abysmal. Eleven starts and one paltry win. Plenty of 9th, 10th, and 12th-place finishes. Running fast wasn’t in the cards. Now we’ll see if he can succeed in a new career.


A new career, beyond eating…


With Jazz’s arrival, we are officially booked up. There’s no vacancy at the farm.

We’ve got 5 horses, 5 sheep, 5 cats and 1 Border Collie.

And 1 Border Collie is equivalent to 5 normal dogs….