Caturday: The Gotcha Day

Not only is it Caturday, it is also The Gotcha Day for Miss Susie and Miss Pinky.

When they were baby kittens …

Miss Susie: 10 months old (Dec 2011)


Miss Pinky: 10 months old (Dec 2011)


And, now, a little older, incredibly smart, and still plenty cute …

Miss Pinky: 4 yrs old (Sept 2014)


Miss Susie: 4 yrs old (Oct 2014)

We are very appreciative of Colorado 9Lives for keeping them safe until we could bring them home.


Happy Gotcha Day, Susie & Pinky


Maxie The Brave

We had a feeling it was time.

Maxie passed away Saturday morning, November 23, 2019, at 10:40 am. He fought his illness with courage, strength and grace. The odds against him were long, the options very few.

We had kept closer track of the health of both Midnight and Maxie after the unexpected passing of Tuxie in 2016. Both received the full senior cat exam beginning with their annual check-up in 2017. It made sense. The values of most importance were kidney function, liver function and thyroid function. In her exam, Midnight was very fit – not overweight, all of her values were down-the-middle normal. She could use a dental, but it wasn’t a necessity. Maxie, while fit, his kidney function values were slightly elevated. Everything else was down-the-middle normal. Accordingly, Maxie’s kidney function would be monitored more closely in the succeeding years.

Until experiencing a stomach upset earlier this year, Maxie’s health was rather normal. His kidney values, in 2018, had not changed from the previous year. A good thing. When retested in February, his kidney values showed a slight increase, but not indicative of any kidney issues.

In early October, a wellness check was made on Maxie. He had lost weight, and one could feel his spine. We had to determine whether Maxie’s kidney health was becoming an issue. While examining Maxie, Dr. Ramsel could feel a mass in his abdomen, on his spleen. To better ascertain the situation, an ultrasound was recommended. The ultrasound revealed a tumor mass on his spleen. His other major organs and digestive system were structurally fine. Moreover, there were no signs of metastasis. Splenic tumors in cats are very rare, but pernicious. It is a terminal condition with an outlook of 3-6 months after diagnosis. Treatment options are fewer. A splenectomy is non-curative, and may extend life for another 3 months. Aggressive chemotherapy is a poor option in which the health is quite fragile. The other option is a less aggressive treatment with prednisolone. While it is steroid, prednisolone is known to possess chemotherapeutic properties. It would not arrest the tumor, nor shrink it, but could slow tumor growth. Working in Maxie’s favor, he was still eating well, drinking his water well, and grooming himself.

During a follow-up check earlier this month, it appeared the tumor had not increased in size. It was too early to dare to hope, yet it was a good sign. Most troubling, though, was his weight loss. While we knew colder, more wintry days would pose a challenge, it was important to keep Maxie eating and drinking water, and keeping him warm.

Before leaving for Las Vegas, for the horse show, Maxie promised he would await our return. He warmly greeted us when we returned.

Over the last few days, Maxie laid in the sun, warming his furs. He was enjoying his most favorite Fancy Feast flavors, and baby food treats to keep his appetite running. Maxie even took time to work the scratcher boxes. And, he was sitting with his one on a nightly basis again.

Then came a wintry day this past Friday. It sapped all of his strength. Yet, Maxie gathered enough strength for one last lay on the lap, one last lay in a lamp’s warming light, that evening.

In her exam, Dr. Ramsel could feel the tumor mass had grown. It was time.

Our Maxie was a brave cat. He led Tuxie and Midnight to our front porch hours after their mom-cat was captured and taken away by animal control. Maxie kept vigil for several more hours waiting for their mom-cat on our porch. When they lived outdoors, he led Tuxie and Midnight into an open garage of a house across the alley, during a snowy and cold winter night. And, he led them to our back deck when he heard me calling for them the next morning. When it was time to come in from the outdoors to the warm indoors, he was the last to enter the patio. Maxie was cautious, unsure if we were indeed the safe harbor. But, in the relative warmth of the patio with lots of kibble, unfrozen water and a certain brown blanket, we earned his loyalty and affection.

Maxie was a true Musketeer in every sense, “One for all.”

Forever in our hearts
Maxie, Brave Prince & Loyal Musketeer
July 25, 2005 – November 23, 2019


Riding: The Nationals

The season began with a CSI3* show. It ends with another, the Nationals in Las Vegas.

graphic courtesy of Blenheim EquiSports

The stage is larger, the expectations are greater, the anticipation higher. The field of riders, among the best in the world. After a strong riding season, the girls were rewarded with another appearance at the coveted FEI World Cup level.

“What makes the Nationals exciting are the field of riders,” says Elizabeth. “They are exceptional. It is the best competing with the best.”

Trish adds, “At this level, it is rider and horse giving their all.”

The riding is serious. The riding is competitive. It all begins tonight.

Championship Sunday

The music is playing loudly.

Her appearance is meticulous. Not a single speck of dust on her white breeches and white, collared blouse. Her hair, whether she’s wearing a French braid, ponytail, or bun, not a single strand is out of place. A check in front of a mirror. Before the boots, it is another check of Lilith to make sure she’s comfortable.

A short break follows. She uses the time to relax and collect her thoughts, already knowing how she is going to ride the course.

Elizabeth: readying for the “Danger Zone” (Grand Prix event, San Juan Capistrano – Jun 2019)

She slips into her non-zippered dress boots, then straps on her spurs. A final check on Lilith. All is ready. A brush of her boots. Wearing a pair of white gloves, she puts on her dark, navy blue hunt jacket. She neatly tucks her hair into her helmet. A final check in front of the mirror. The white gloves are replaced by her black leather riding gloves.

A tap to the side of helmet. After mounting up, another wipe of the boots. “Thanks, dad.”

The song begins, playing a little louder. She’s ready to ride into the “Danger Zone”.

Note: The song, Danger Zone, by Kenny Loggins.

Riding: Santa Fe

Riding Sonrisa de Santa Fe, last season, was a grand experience for them. The people, the place, the setting. There was much to like.

Both Phyllis and Brian were appreciative of the girls making the commitment to ride. They understood the girls were already working a tight schedule with them starting medical school a few days later. Before leaving, Phyllis met with them, asking about the experience. The last question was what it would take for them to ride more than one week. It was a bold question. Deborah answered, “May be start the series a week or two earlier.” A bold reply. Phyllis jotted it down in her planner. While there were no guarantees, Phyllis asked the girls to keep Santa Fe in mind when setting their 2019 show calendar. “We certainly hope to see you next year.”

Initially, they left their 2019 schedule unfinished. The backend of their schedule was missing. While they were leaning to riding in Santa Fe, the girls wanted to explore a few other options. They hoped to finish large. It was February, there was no need to hurry a decision. The schedule for mid to late summer remained to be announced.

A good start to the season added more options to consider. Several email exchanges and phone calls were made. An added touch, a few handwritten notes. Their inquiries clarified their options. The girls decided to ride both Sonrisa de Santa Fe and Fiesta de Santa Fe. Phyllis asked if she should include Grand Prix de Santa Fe also. A AA-rated show, Grand Prix week was a natural lead-in to the Santa Fe International, a CSI2* rated show the following week. With classes scheduled to start the same week as Grand Prix week, and the Santa Fe International in the second week of classes, they were unable to commit. Phyllis knew asking for time off would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The girls decided on a bold plan, bring all of their qualified horses, eight, to Santa Fe. Fielding the entire stable would give them maximum flexibility during a show. They can reserve their best horse, or have multiple entries, for a particular event. Naturally, greater preparation and a larger expense budget would be required. While they had occasionally ridden a larger presence at shows in Colorado, Santa Fe would be the first time out-of-state.

Planning for Santa Fe began in earnest in June, while in SoCal. The primary logistical concern was transporting the horses to and from Santa Fe. The girls talked with a couple of transport vendors, going over their transport requirements. While securing bids from both companies, the girls asked why they should choose their company. Both companies offered similar services, discounts and a few extras at the same rate.

Comet testing a professional horse trailer (Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, Jun 2019)


horse transport on the road

With a day off after returning from SoCal, preparing for Santa Fe began the next. Practice. Staging supplies. Preparing their tack. Checking and re-checking their paperwork. A final review of stall assignments and supplies on site. The planning to manage and support eight show horses on the road, for two weeks, was no different if the girls were taking a smaller contingent. Taking the whole stable, however, required trusted assistance. They borrowed Trish’s chief groom, Griffin, to run and manage their ground support program.

The 2½ weeks preparing for Santa Fe passed quickly. In a change, Deborah elected to leave Comet at home and bring Odyssey instead to start his qualification process. We arrived two days early to settle in the horses and get them back onto their regular schedule and routines. At Hipico, Griffin, along with her assistant, Taylor, were ready to receive our stable of horses. They had spent a day preparing a section of the main horse barn where our horses would stay.

Having Griffin and Taylor along helped the girls concentrate on riding their events, making sure the horses were rested and ready. They were like their professional counterparts in every phase during the two shows.

fast tracks: Elizabeth riding Candace (Happy Girl) in a Grand Prix qualifying event (Fiesta de Santa Fe, Jul 2019)

The individual events are seriously competitive. Yet, they do have fun with the Sandia Mini Cooper Ride and Drive event.

The girls rode very well. If the calendar works out, they may ride the whole series next season.

Note – The Sandia Mini Cooper Ride and Drive video is from the 2017 Fiesta de Santa Fe. It is an open class event.

Elizabeth: Twenty Four

Written by Andrea Kanakredes, RN, MSN

It is not Liz, or Lizzie. It is not Beth. Nor, is it Eliza (or Elisa).

She prefers being called Elizabeth. I’m glad of her choice. Elizabeth is such a beautiful name. The name is of Hebrew origin, meaning “God is my oath”. It can also mean “God’s promise”, “God’s satisfaction”, or “God’s promise”. Our princess is all this and more.

Elizabeth: the sunset whip (JN Ranch, Sep 2014)

Our second princess, Elizabeth, is twenty four.

Her dad and I are very proud of Elizabeth. She has become a beautiful woman. She’s sweet, intelligent, loyal and thoughtful. A lover of handwritten notes, Elizabeth will leave one when it’s least expected. Our note back, “We love you with all our heart.”

Elizabeth and Lilith: an unspoken affection (JN Ranch, Aug 2015)


Happy Birthday, Baby Princess!

mom and dad

First Day, Second Year

Off one saddle onto another. From English tall boots to Skechers Work Relaxed Fit: Dighton-Bricelyn SR. From polos and breeches to Dickies brand scrubs.

My daughters are beginning their second year of medical school at UC Health Sciences Center.

While they were loving every second of a pair of horse shows in Santa Fe, the past two weeks, they were looking forward to the start of the new academic year. It will be a year heavy on human anatomy. The attention to detail, a requirement and necessity, will be relied upon more. But, of course, they know much about, and the value of, the attention to detail.

To be ready for the first day of classes today, they worked on a compressed schedule yesterday. The girls are accustomed to working on short timelines, and being well organized.

University of Colorado Hospital – Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion I & II

They’ll be home most weekends to unwind and get in some riding time.