Happy Birthday Musketeers!

The Musketeers – Maxie, Midnight and Tuxie – are turning 12 today. Time has flown by so quickly. They have grown into fine, loving kitties. Closely bonded, they have kept an eye on each other.



Tuxie, forever remembered and forever loved

Losing Tuxie, last August, most fortunately Maxie and Midnight handled it well. Whether they had sensed Tuxie’s short time, that can only be surmised. Maxie and Midnight have carried on in true Musketeer tradition.

the rare three-shot (September 2006)

Happy Birthday Musketeers!

mom and dad

Grand Prix Saturday: Semi-Live

Note: An experiment of sorts with a semi-live blog. Comments will be off until later tonight.

Updates are at the bottom of the post.

A warm week of riding, this morning begins on the cooler side. While the cooler conditions are much welcomed, thoughts turn on whether afternoon storms will be easy or severe. Last Saturday, thunderstorms sort of wrecked havoc with the schedule with many delays for strong rains and lightning, pushing the start of the GP into the evening hours. Hopefully, it won’t become a long day for everyone.

6:30 am

Arriving at the horse barn an hour earlier, time for a light workout. SAM and Captain Andrew have been having an outstanding two weeks. Candace (Happy Girl), still in recovery for lameness, has been doing well also. Tara wasn’t too sure in bringing Happy Girl but is glad she did. Happy Girl has shown no shyness with the taller fences (1.40 and 1.45 m) and jumps with the spring one expects. Also, she has shown no tenderness.

The easy workout ends. After a cool down, a supervised relax period in the paddock.

8:45 am

Walking the horses back to their stalls ahead of the 9:00 am GP riders meeting. Through last night, only 7 riders were listed for tonight’s GP. This morning, the list expanded to 32. Not uncommon for the list to expand. The meeting will be a breakdown of the day’s schedule – final vet check, handout of the course layout, ring walk-through, course walk-through – and the all-important blind draw on starting position.

9:30 am

Tara has drawn the best starting position, #32. She will have the opportunity to watch the entire field and know what she needs to do to get herself and Happy Girl into the jump-off. Deborah has drawn #18, Elizabeth #25. They’re not bad starting positions, though Deborah hoped for something in the 20’s also.

Update, 2:40 pm

If you’ve ever been to a horse show, as a competitor or attendee, the schedule ends up running late. Most times, it is a class that has become too large, or there is a technical issue. Though clouds are in the distance, you can’t call this one on the weather. The WiFi has been up-and-down since late this morning, which in turn delays so many other things, like scheduling, that has become part of the wired world. To be only 45 minutes behind schedule isn’t too bad.

Around 11:30, it was the ring walk-through. This is the chance for the riders to have a sense of the footing. With a GGT surface, the footing is very good. Rarely, rarely does one experience any soft or hard spots. It is also surface that doesn’t grab onto a hoof. Also, the amount of rain we’ve had this week hasn’t changed the footing dynamic. The horse park has one of the best drainage system.

In about 30 min, the vet checks will begin. It’s mostly a pro forma process with a focus on the legs, the hooves, and veterinary paperwork. For a horse, like Happy Girl, the vet will pay extra time checking her over.

Update, 4:56 pm

The gates to the Grand Prix ring opened at 4:00 pm. Unlike most other horse parks, the grandstand has limited seating. The remaining seating area is contoured like a gentle hill in a grassed park for the attendees to spread out their blanket or set-up their own lawn chairs. If they wish, they can picnic their dinner. It is also one of the few venues in which the GP is not a ticketed event. Though more relaxed, the electricity of a GP event can be felt.

Remarkably, the weather has stayed fairly nice. Though the afternoon clouds have built, they seem not to be the stormy kind – at least not yet. Temperature-wise, it is in the mid 80’s. Warm, but not the blast furnace kind of heat from Thursday and Friday. Eyes, though, remain focused on the sky as the cloud cover has come closer.

Around 5:40 pm, it is the course walk-through. The GP riders will get to walk the course, to gauge their sight lines, riding lines and footing. Most likely, the stadium lights will be on to minimize shadows. While it seems the GP may begin near its scheduled time of 6:30 pm, more likely it will begin between 7:45-8:00 pm.

Update, 11:39 pm

The horses are safely bedded down for the night in their stalls. Back at Bella’s home, my daughters continue to unwind. Each have a tiny sip of champagne, setting it aside for  tall sodas. Their minds and attention turn to Iowa, planning out a short week of practice.

The parents, and Bella, proud of our girls.

Comments are on.

Dino: Rainbow Bridge Day

It is the ninth anniversary of his Rainbow Bridge Day. We remember Dino with great fondness and love. He was the best of cats – friendly, happy, close confidante, and loyal littermate. Dino loved all things fresh, from cut-flowers to laundered clothes to Kona coffee to babies.

Dino: on kitten watch in early spring  (March 1990)

the fan: favorite objet d’arte

napping with his objet d’arte

catnip scratcher box: “all mine”

Pebbles and Dino: waiting on dinner

Dino at one (Sep 1990)

We were most privileged to have our Siamese boy for nearly 19 years. Every day was a good one with him. We miss you much.

Love you always,

mom and dad

Photos are from the Two Cats Two archives. They were taken using a Canon FTb 35 mm SLR using Kodak Gold (ASA 200) film.

Riding: The Home Ground

Over the past few years, it has been riding away from home. The level of competition is much greater and more varied. Riding at a higher level certainly warrants this kind of approach. It is important to measure individual progress and to improve riding skills. It also requires more selectivity while constructing the show schedule. Traveling a long distance for one show and back home, that show likely does not make the schedule – though we’ve done it a few times. Making all the pieces fit – shows, practice, downtime – on the calendar is the difficult part. It provides invaluable experience for the younger equestrian contemplating a professional career.

Walk of Champions (Colorado Horse Park, July 2016)

This week, and next, the riding will be closer to home. These two shows are part of a summer series, which begins in early June and ends in late July, or early August. It is a nice series drawing riders from the Four Corners zone, the larger Intermountain West and the Midwest. With the away schedule, my daughters have used the month of July as downtime while maintaining their in-season practice schedule. Last summer, they rode the last show of the series. This summer, it is the last two shows of the series.

Riding the home ground has given the girls the opportunity to renew their ties with riding friends who still make the trek, here, for two, three or four weeks. They’ll also be sharing some of their experience with the five junior riders from RRC. Trish will have them shadow Deborah, Elizabeth and Tara like she had them shadow Greg, Sarah and Megan. Trish, she’ll be watching everything from the sidelines.

end of the day: Trish and Perry head back to the barn (RRC, July 6 2017)

Candles: Twenty Three

From the sophisticated to highly-regarded equestrian to the everyday, Tara can easily wear any style and look. Her strawberry blonde hair draws attention.

Iowa downtime: stylish and sophisticated (Aug 2014)

Tara and Brie: the special forever connection

everyday: a kitty-ready lap

Without a doubt, Tara is a beautiful young woman. Very kind, very loving. Though easy going and relaxed, Tara can be strong-willed when she needs to be. She has a wisdom about her. Credit much of that to her mom, Laurie.

Tara has a way of surprising. And, in a way to make smiles. Her song of the moment is Trisha Yearwood’s “How Do I Live Without You“. The lyrics speaks to her heart.

“Without you
There would be no sun in my sky
There would be no love in my life
There’d be no world left for me”

They speak to ours.

Happy 23, Miss Tara!

mom and dad

Mid-Season Break

It’s another day off from riding, before going back to work tomorrow. The day off from riding is good for both horse and rider. The horses, essentially, to be horses. My daughters, the riders, to be the young women they are.

Having their nails done, they enjoy.

Deborah & Elizabeth: matching multi-color glitter

Tara: classic red glitter

Their thoughts, though, are not far from riding. The off-saddle work of reviewing hours of video and sorting through a few hundred photos is exacting, ferreting out the good and the not-so-good.

Come tomorrow, they’ll be ready to get back to work – riders and horses.

Deborah and Comet: the end of a day off (JN Ranch, Jul 05 2016)

A Bit of Inspiration

My daughters have found some of their preferences match up with one of best riders in the world, Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden. The video featuring Beezie Madden talking about preferences can be seen here.

Independence Day

The moment was sobering for the 56 delegates gathered together. By ratifying, then signing, the document before them, each one knew they were risking all. Life, liberty, family and fortune. They were ordinary men called to a greatness larger than themselves, and with extraordinarily high stakes. Yet, John Adams said this was a day that should be celebrated with parades, bonfires, fireworks and general merriment. Nowhere else could it be found where a people have asserted their freedom, working and self-governing for the common good.

fireworks display: a sparkler fountain (Utah – July 04 2016)

Taking Adams’ advice, celebrate well – whether in your own backyard, at a parade, watching a fireworks display, or firing your own fireworks (where allowed). The politics of the moment can be set aside for a day.

a golden sunrise: this is America (Texas, May 2017)

To all our friends across America, and those defending her in far off lands, may you have a Happy Fourth!