Easy Like Sunday

“As they stood there puzzled about this, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared by their side. Terrified, the women bowed their heads to the ground. But, the two said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen.’ ” (Luke 24: 4-6, The New Jerusalem Bible)

Through His resurrection, He made all things new and He made all things possible.
May your Easter be blessed and holy.

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.

Easy Loving Sunday

She only has eyes for one. Every so often, she will cast a longing look at her one and only. She walks into a room very quietly, taking her place next to her one. She softly purrs her affection into the ears of her one. Her love is unconditional and unbounded. She also makes sure everyone knows their place, that she is the one and that she is “The Chosen”.

Miss Egypt, always devoted

For her unending devotion, the song, “Eyes For You” from Daryl Hall’s 2011 album, “Laughing Down Crying” which may be viewed here.

Easy Winter Sunday

It was a very early start today with the girls having a groom session with their horses. The early start was necessitated with a winter storm/blizzard beginning later today and tonight. It was snowing fairly heavily when we arrived at the JN Ranch shortly after 5:30 am. Amanda was feeding the horses, hers and ours, their breakfast of premium hay and rolled oats.

With six inches of snow on the ground, there was no plan of letting any horse onto the paddock. Exercise time would consist of walking the horses back and forth the length of Amanda’s barn several times. The more wooly ranch horses, however, they’re a different case. But, they also have a roof attached to their barn.

seen from Amanda’s barn, ranch horses stand next to their barn under the “patio” roof

The horses enjoyed their morning of pampering. Each received a nice brushing, a cleaned stall and fresh bedding, and a fresh horse blanket. Better yet, they had treats of apples and carrots.

Before coming home, Amanda treated us with hot chocolate and mini-marshmallows. A cookie-lover, Amanda didn’t have any cookies on hand. The best she could offer was PB&J sandwiches or pancakes. The hot chocolate was more than enough.

Since coming home, it’s been a slow afternoon. The girls have checked the campus web site a couple times, no delayed start or snow day cancellation just yet.



For those who have adopted named storms not of the tropical variety, The Weather Channel has dubbed this winter storm/blizzard as “Kayla”. Nice name, but we don’t know anyone named “Kayla”.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

The focus is all things hunter/jumper. The competition is very keen with a mixture of professional and excellent amateur riders. A rider can quickly gauge how well they are doing – what to keep doing, what needs fixing and everything in between. Instead of the two weeks like the year before, our stay was three weeks in SoCal. My girls, their coaches, Mark and Trish, thought, would gain invaluable experience and knowledge by riding an extra week. For many riders, a three or four week commitment here is the norm. But, how long or short the commitment really doesn’t matter much.

While staying and competing for nearly a month, often far from home, the priority for riders and their horses is staying relaxed and keeping to their daily routines. The show organizers did their part. They organized media days and fan appreciation days between shows. They also kept equestrian aficionados from wandering through the stable areas to a minimum. After a long day of competing, they ran several food and entertainment events at the horsepark for the riders, their families and support teams. The most popular event is “Beachcomber Night” which features a California-style clam bake and a live band. Though the nearest beach was about 15-20 minutes away, not having a real beach was okay. Besides, it wasn’t ideal beach weather with fog and cool temperatures nearly every night.

Mexican barbeque shrimp

About two days before Beachcomber Night, the live band who were going to entertain notified the show organizers their lead vocalist had lost her voice. Arranging for another vocalist on short notice was going to be difficult. With few options available, someone had asked about doing a karaoke contest with a twist – the twist being a live band. While the musicians were initially hesitant, they thought why not. They had plenty of sheet music, from country to rock and roll. It would be a matter of getting enough sign-ups. In many ways, it was not much different from adding an event, or two, to a horse show while in progress.

Connie, the assistant in charge of events, was tasked to look for possible entrants. A few possibles, though intrigued by singing with a live band, said they rather not. They would be much too nervous. On her short list of strong possibles was Elizabeth. Having struck out on her other strong possibles, Connie asked Elizabeth if she would be willing to participate.

She was delighted when Elizabeth said yes. Securing Elizabeth as her first sign-up, Connie refined her pitch. By the end of the day, she had five more sign-ups. With one more day left, Connie was hoping to add a couple more sign-ups – aiming for a field of at least eight entrants. Late in the day, Connie came around and heard Andrea singing while she and Laurie were brushing Mr. Ed. Connie asked if Andrea would like to be part of the contest. Andrea replied along the lines, “Are you sure? Isn’t the contest for riders only?” Connie said it was about having fun. Andrea didn’t know about competing against her daughter, but asked her if it would be alright. Elizabeth said, “Sure it would be alright. I compete against Deborah and Tara all the time.” Andrea asked Connie if she could do a duet, saying she had someone in mind to sing the other part. “Sure! More the merrier,” Connie replied. Elizabeth smiled, indicating she knew who the someone was.

Being told I was part of the singing contest, it was a little bit of okay, “what else have I been volunteered for?” At the contest meeting later in the evening, with only seven entrants in the contest, we were informed there would be two rounds – everyone sings two songs. The live band was open to the notion if we wanted to use a different arrangement and/or if we would like to play an instrument, just let them know. If there was a tie after the two rounds, a sing-off would take place. It seemed simple enough. The next step was a blind draw to determine start position. Andrea and I drew #5, and Elizabeth drew #7. In horse show terms, both were good start positions.

When the Beachcomber Night festivities began, Andrea and Elizabeth both had a tiny case of the butterflies. Though the evening started a little slow, the time passed rather quickly to the start of the “Karaoke Contest With A Twist”. The band was composed of studio musicians, which there are many in SoCal. Everyone had to stay with them in tempo, and be in very good voice.

The first song for Andrea and myself was the Hall and Oates song, “Sara Smile“. Elizabeth opened with another Hall and Oates song, “Do What You Want“. We were very impressed, and so was everybody else, by Elizabeth’s performance of the very soulful song. Undoubtedly, Elizabeth was the leader at the end of the first round.

After a short break, round two began. The other entrants, in front and behind of Andrea and I, stepped up their performance considerably, showing the true competitors they are. In introducing us again, Kevin, the band leader, said Andrea and I must like Hall and Oates quite a bit. Our second song was “I Can’t Go For That“, but the more sultry version similar to the one Rumer did with Daryl Hall. When it was Elizabeth’s turn, she did the Daryl Hall rendition of the early 1960s hit “Our Day Will Come“.

While Andrea and I thought Elizabeth was the winner based on the strength of her performance of her first song, it was decided a sing-off was needed. Elizabeth did her sing-off choice, the Diane Birch song “Nothing But A Miracle“. Andrea and I stayed with another Hall and Oates song, “Kiss On My List“.

In the end, Elizabeth kept her record perfect edging out her mom and dad. Long as we’re at a horse show and there is a singing contest, Elizabeth will do very well in this event. Afterwards, Kevin said we made it easy for him and the band with all of the Hall and Oates numbers. Three of them were working with a few artists who were considering doing Hall and Oates covers.


Side Notes

If you have the Palladia channel on your satellite or cable line-up, every week is an installment of “Live From Daryl’s House“. Originally beginning as a web series, “Live” features both established and upcoming musicians and vocalists. The series is also available as syndicated programming in local markets – sometimes showing in the middle of a Saturday or Sunday, or late at night. It’s a show you will certainly want to turn up the volume. And, if you have a surround system, you will certainly want to turn on the concert hall setting.

Live From Daryl’s House videos: