Five: The Gotcha Day

Time flies“, so goes the saying.

It is very true in our case as today marks five years when Miss Susie Q and Miss Pinky came to live with us, in their forever home. The first to greet the pair of littermates was Miss Egypt.

They stayed in the master bedroom, mostly under the bed, for three days and two nights. With everyone tucked in bed on the third night, Susie and Pinky were given run of the house. On that night, they ventured out to check things. It must not have been too bad after seeing the toy basket, toys under the futon couch, and Egypt’s Fire Chief helmet.

After four days, they were fully integrated. The hissing was largely over, and the acceptance process in full gear.

Pinky

Susie

window watch: Pinky and Susie sizing up the neighborhood

kitchen dining: Midnight heads out after eating her dinner while the others finish

They’ve been absolute fun since they came. The daily wrestling between Egypt and Pinky. The chasing, the running, the late night playing with toys. They were truly home.

It goes without saying, we thank Colorado 9Lives for keeping them safe until they came home.

Happy Gotcha Day Susie & Pinky!

Warming the Ride

With a nice and fairly mild October and November, the weather has finally caught up with the calendar. These early days of December have been decidedly colder, with overnight temperatures in the single digits above zero (° F). Last Friday (Dec 2), a new record of the latest, first measurable snowfall was set, eclipsing the previous record of Nov 28 2010.

As expected, the weekend riding has started later in the morning. In between the riding, hot cocoa kept the girls warm.

before riding: Deborah with perfect nails

hot cocoa break: Tara’s perfect nails staying perfect after an hour of horse grooming

By noon, the heavier outerwear was shed in favor of lighter weight fleece, which makes for better riding. After lunch, it was riding three rounds of exercises until late afternoon. Deborah gave G-Man another ride before settling him down. He did like the idea of working out with Brie, Captain Andrew and SAM. They didn’t seem to mind his presence too much.

staying warm: Elizabeth waiting on Deborah and Tara to load their horses

It appears hot cocoa will be on the training table over the next few weeks.

A New Addition

Practice was going poorly with Comet, so it seemed. Clearly frustrated, Deborah asked to take a break from the session. Once dismounted, she flung off her helmet. Walking over to it, she kicked it over a fence panel at the opposite end of the practice ring. It is not often Deborah expresses her frustrations. After Elizabeth finished her round, I motioned for her to check up on her sister. They sat together, quietly watching Tara work through the complicated circle exercise. Not a word was exchanged between the two. A few moments later, they hugged and walked over to Trish. My girl had regained her composure. After talking with Trish, Deborah remounted Comet and flawlessly rode the exercise twice through.

While sitting alone, Deborah had taken notice of a handsome grey in the adjoining corral area. He was studiously watching the practice session in between his munching. It was like he understood everything – all the actions of a hunter/jumper going through the paces. The grey wandered off into another part of his corral to take in more of the September sun.

On the way home, Deborah worked on making the troublesome circle exercise course more difficult on her tablet. She asked Elizabeth and Tara for their input on the adjustments. A couple phone calls to Trish, the following week’s exercise course would be more demanding and possibly with a time limit. During the last call, Deborah asked about the handsome grey.

The grey had been abandoned at RRC when its rider/owner suddenly dropped out of the advanced riding class in early summer. Since that person did not return any of Mark’s calls or responded to his letters, he decided to keep the grey. The grey was going to be a project for Mark. He had not been under saddle nor halter trained, and only allowed to have a loose lead rope around the neck. Having a three year old, with a blank slate, is an exceedingly rare opportunity.

G-Man indoors after having his mane and tail trimmed (RRC, Oct 2016)

During the following week’s practice, Deborah made an offer – she would take the grey, train him, keep him as a forever horse pending clearance of the abandonment period and a vet check. Mark thought about it for a few minutes and said he would take the offer. One condition – if the grey proves too much to handle, Deborah is to return him. A handshake deal is made.

It is not like we need another horse. He’s willful, tall, and very muscular. His new name, G-Man. It is only fitting since we have a Secret Agent Man and a Starfleet Captain (Andrew). Will G-Man become a hunter? Only time will tell. But, since that September weekend, G-Man has adjusted to wearing a loose rope halter and has been under saddle three times with Deborah, once with Mark and once with Trish.

G-Man will move down to the JN Ranch soon as he clears the abandonment period on December 19. He has already passed his vet check.

The Home Fires

No matter how long we’ve been away from home, it is always good to be home. It means more at this time of the year. Not so much the Thanksgiving holiday, but celebrating the three birthdays that fall within a week’s time.

Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara took charge of decorating for the Saturday night dinner with plenty of white Christmas mini-lights and candles on the back deck. And, rather formal place settings.

Though dining on the back deck was a tad cold, it was not like we haven’t done this before. Fleece jackets, naturally, are required wear. After the steaks were taken off the grill, the fire was stoked to make it more comfortable.

Our family celebrations are not complete without a chocolate dessert made by our resident chocolatier, Laurie, and which we had indoors. With a slice of cake and our favorite hot drinks, we settled in for the night.

It was a very nice evening. Moreover, it is one of those evenings when we step away from everything. The electronics are off, the ringer is off on our regular phone line, the workstations and notebook PCs are off. The outside activities, work and studies are laid aside. The “everyday-ness” becomes unimportant.

The home fires – a time we relish and appreciate, and gives purpose.

In Thanksgiving

Written by Elizabeth Ksenia Ramos

These are the moments I thank God that I’m alive
And these are the moments I’ll remember all my life
I’ve found all I’ve waited for
And I could not ask for more

In his letters to the early Church, Paul would begin with a thanksgiving to those who remained steadfast in their faith. His words sought to encourage and uplift in a time of great tumult and uncertainty. By remaining faithful to the Word through Christ, it is the one constant that transcends time. It was true then. It is true today. And, it will remain true tomorrow.

While much has changed through the passage of time, not so much has changed at its basic level. Life continues on through its cycle, from beginning to end. We yearn to have the warmth of love to wash away all the hurt and pain. The accolades, the material aspects, do not matter, for they are fleeting. The admonitions, on the other hand, help shape our character. Our individual paths depend upon the journey we wish to travel.

On this day of thanksgiving, we give thanks for the love of our family and friends, and we remember those who we miss ever so greatly.

May God bless you on this day and every day.

 

I Could Not Ask for More

From the song of the same name, written by Diane Warren. Sara Evans covered the song in 2001, with her video seen here.

 

About the author

Elizabeth Ksenia Ramos is a senior attending the University of Colorado. Her degree studies is concentrated in the field of chemistry, ACS certified Bachelor of Science program. She graduated with honors from Machebeuf Catholic High School in Denver in 2013.

She is the most decorated equestrian in Rustler Riding Club history, winning Rider of the Year, Horse of the Year and Regulator of the Year awards on multiple occasions. Additionally, she has won multiple blue ribbons, and other placement ribbons, with Mr. Ed, Lilith and SAM: Secret Agent Man.

The Nationals

The practice sessions are over. The words of motivation have been spoken. It is time to show.

Deborah treating Comet with some premium hay after the Saturday morning walkthrough (Sat, Nov 12, 2016)

There is a sense of excitement in the air for my daughters. After having a very solid season of riding and competing well, the Nationals have arrived. They are a step up in competition and skill. Though this marks the third time in attending this particular show, the girls feel this is the one they are most prepared for. They are continuing to ride very well in practice. It is fast, it is crisp, it is disciplined. Every detail has been noted and remembered.

Since becoming a stop on the FEI World Cup Tour (North American League – West Coast Branch), the level of competition at the Las Vegas Nationals is definitely top-shelf. Not only is one competing against the best of the best from the USA horse show circuit, one is also competing against elite professionals from the World Cup circuit. Though it is very competitive, the one constant is the field of competition is even for every rider. Deborah uses the adage from the NFL, “On any given Sunday …” In hunter/jumper, it is a truism.

graphic courtesy of Blenheim EquiSports

While the stage is bigger, the expectations greater, the girls’ approach to the Nationals is the same. “It is no different from any other show, no different from any other practice session, and always give your best effort. Most importantly, place yourself in the best position to compete and succeed.” This is how they ride.

And, now, they are ready.

“Ride now, ride forever”

 

November 11

It is a word that is used much too often to describe those who are, or have been, in military service. The word is “hero”.

Occasionally, my dad and I have been both described as such. We prefer not to be called “heroes”. It is not who we are, nor does it describe our actions. While we did a few things that were called above and beyond, we would simply describe our actions as doing our jobs. Those who are heroes are ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things in the most difficult of circumstances. Yet, they do not wish to be called heroes.

If one was to walk into my home, or my dad’s home, one would see it as any other home. Modestly decorated, very comfortable and much lived in. There are no display cases, no photos from our respective careers to be seen.

In my dad’s home, two certificates from his Army career hang on the wall. One is from his service with the 1st Medical Battalion from the 1st ID in Vietnam. The second is a “Certificate of Appreciation” issued in Summer 2001. The Bush Administration still felt too little recognition and appreciation was given to those who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and wanted to make clear, once and for all, they were appreciated and valued by a grateful nation. The special recognition was much appreciated, especially by myself and my mom. Shortly after receiving the certificate and a few mementoes, the attacks of September 11th occurred. Later, we learned only certain servicemembers received the certificates of appreciation.

In my home, no certificates are displayed. One would not know I had served. Both Laurie and Andrea have suggested I should hang something on the wall. “It doesn’t need to be prominent,” they say. As a whole, it is not a big deal.

My dad and I, a simple acknowledgement is good enough.