3.29.2013

Dénouement

Despite my immune system's plan to thwart my every ambition, I've had good successes the past few weeks.
Stressful at times? Yes. Visual payoff? Harldy. Worth it? Imma say yes, because today is a good day.

I got some good connections out of the Expo, and I did not wuss out. I actually had a great time, and I almost, and I really mean ALMOST, bought one of the trainer's challenge horses. That would have been a mistake, but a good one.

You came here for horse drama updates, didn't you? OF COURSE YOU DID.

After much back and forth, feverish delirious mind-racing torture, I decided to call mom and make her an offer.

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"Hello Martha." (this is what I call my mother as of late, despite the fact that her name is not Martha.)

"Hi Stinky, whatcha doing?" (This is what my mother has always called me. It's my name.)

"Well, I was at the barn, and I think I found the perfect horse for you. I know you're still sore and you'll have to take it easy, but this is a nice horse. Older mare, 13 years old, mustang, pretty short, great on the trails, totally adorable, and she has been getting ridden all winter. The only problem is that she doesn't pick up her right lead, so she'll never make a show horse."

"Ha, how nice of you to horse shop for me. Your father LOVES that idea, I'm sure. Get MORE horses."

"Ummmm, would it help if you knew that she was free?"

"There's no such thing as a free horse-"

"OHGOODLORDMOTHER, YOUR HORSE, I'M TALKING ABOUT YOUR HORSE, POSIE, AT THIS BARN, THAT'S FREE BECAUSE YOU ALREADY OWN HER."

"Oh. Yeah, that might work."

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In the end, Posie had some major question marks that could potentially stand in the way of her and I being perfect partners for each other, but those question marks meant absolutely nothing to my mother, who in the words of the Disney movie BRINK! is a "soul-rider". Like Brink, the talented in-line skater prodigy, mother doesn't ride for glory. She rides for fun. I only want a little glory. County Fair glory. Is that so much to ask?

So happy, calm, thinner Posie will go back to her real mother, to roll in the mud and scratch on ranch posts, and groom her mustang boyfriend Ralphy in the hot summer ranch sun. And I am going to be brave, and branch out. I'll start tonight by signing lease papers, and trying out every available horse for rent in the barn. Leasing grants me lessons, and leasing grants me horses I couldn't otherwise afford for awhile. How long that will last or what will come after? Don't know.

But I do know that Posie will be happier, and I will somehow learn to live without her noisy hungry chatter greeting me every day.  Her fake hysterics when I fill her water buckets. Her gooey eyes and drooped lip when I scratch her jowls just right. (who else on earth likes getting their jowls scratched??)

I feel like every horse I ride now is giving me back one piece of the complete puzzle I had with horses as a kid. Posie's piece was Laughter.

That was a good piece.


Doesn't she totally look like she is saying something condescending in this picture?

Like Tina Fey, she is not only funny, but super hot.

To quote When Harry Met Sally, "I love the way you get that
little crinkle over your eye when you're looking at me like I'm nuts."
Angry Serious Model Faces
 (you have no idea how hard it is to try and fit a whole horse head in a selfie. Pretty much impossible.) 



3.13.2013

Exposition

This weekend is the Utah Horse Expo. I'm excited. I'm scared.

I'm scared because I'm going to be there representing myself as the Editor of The Utah Trotter. Once people put my face to this thing, there's kind of no going back. And I don't want to wuss out like I did two years ago. (So much wussing out. I talked to one guy shaping hats before crawling into a dark hole of fear and shame. I can laugh about it now. Or...a week from now, maybe.)

I've been trying to read lots of motivational quotes about how good ideas look crazy at first, and how to overcome fear, and how you should do what you love and BLAH BLAH BLAH.

So this weekend I'll be at the Expo as a lone representative of my crazy idea that someone ought to be telling the stories of the horse industry- the struggles, the conflicts, the heroes. We ought to start getting to know each other and finding each other's experiences relevant. We ought to be resources and mentors for each other more than we are competitors. We ought to collectively care about the welfare of the industry, the sport, and the animals themselves more than our own isolated experience within it.

With all the differences between people to be mad about in this world, don't you think it's crazy that people who do Show Jumping in Park City think they have nothing in common with people who Barrel Race in Tooele? I do.

So this weekend, I'm going to walk around the Mecca of Utah's Horse Industry and talk to people. I'm going to ask questions and take pictures and not totally wuss out. I'm going to wear my website shirt and hand out business cards. I'm going to try and make sure that enough people know who I am at the end of the day that I will feel too guilty to ever give up.

I covered a story last month about some people who ran out of money, got caught up in a lawsuit, and let their whole herd of horses starve this winter. I had to take pictures of one of their emaciated colts seized by the sheriff's office, who was still alive, fighting, even friendly in spite of all the odds. In my heart, I accidentally named him Jiminy Cricket. He was my conscience.

We should never, ever, get so caught up in our own experience in this industry that Jiminy Cricket ever stops mattering to any of us. I want to help people do better by Jiminy, and this is my way. Connectivity, support, education.

I've decided I'm totally willing to make a fool of myself in order to even try fulfilling that mission. In fact, making a fool of myself should really not be such a stretch. I am 27 years old, and I blog about corn dogs, The Bachelor, and Breyer Horses. You might say I was born to shamelessly insert myself into bizarre situations. I was born to do this. Yeah. I like the sound of that.





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3.04.2013

5 Years.

It has been five years since I worked at the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The distance between then and now felt especially poignant to me this morning as I was coming into work and listening to the reporters talk about the Kenyan elections on NPR. Five years ago, I was a wide-eyed baby intern trying to find the balance between being helpful and staying out of people's way. The 2008 Kenyan elections had gotten out of hand, ethnic violence was erupting in eastern Africa's most stabilizing cities, and we were sending observers to try and sort out what was going on there.

When those observers got back, they had an intimate briefing with the Committee staff and some Congressmen. One of my bosses sent me to transcribe the meeting and report back. I sheepishly walked into the gorgeous congressional hearing room with a glossy oak table at the front, and rows of chairs in back. I took a seat at the back of the chair rows, trying to minimize my nervous fidgeting.

One of the observers (I believe he was with the United Nations) looked over at me, smiled, and invited me up to the table. I waved my hand and said "Oh no, I'm only an intern!" and he looked me right in the eye and said the thing that stuck with me more than any other one thing in Washington: "You're an intern now, but someday you'll be in charge, and you'll need the things you learned here today."

Whoa.

Five years later, I am using the information I learned in that room, but not the way I expected. I learned to sit at the table. I learned to observe from people who observe for a living. I learned not just how to make an action plan, but that action plans must be made, and if not by you, then who?  I learned that we are stewards of each other. I learned that no one wants to pay for logistics, because logistics aren't sexy. I learned a lot of stuff about Kenya that I don't remember as well as I wish I did.

Those words would also have a wicked double-edged sword. They would torture me for the 18 months after the committee, when all I did was answer phones and get "important people" their sandwiches. They would haunt me when I wasted my time. They would nag at me as I slowly drifted away from foreign policy, moved back to the Rocky Mountains, got married, and settled into personal happiness and domesticity.

Ready for a light bulb five years in the making?

I've been in charge all along.

No, I don't work at the State Department observing elections in Kenya. I'm not a Congresswoman. It's been 4 years since I did my humanitarian trip to Europe. But I'm a human being, who was born a steward of my fellow everythings- people, plants, pets, principles. And every day, I wake up trying to figure out how I can do that better.

Right now, stewardship means using my free time to turn a mustang mare into an ambassador of her kind, which are in terrible peril. Most people think mustangs are flighty, unmanageable muts with poor conformation and no potential in the show ring. But the people at my barn are in love with her, shocked by her, and believe in her. Whose mind can we change next?

Right now, stewardship means using my "other" free time to build an online network of local horse people to share information, build a network, and help them improve their odds of keeping our industry alive as barn after barn is torn down to make way for an Ivory Homes subdivision. That world I'm making now is small, but it's growing, and maybe I'm crazy, but I think it's working.

Right now, stewardship means growing the love and laughter in my home and in myself. Lovingly forsaking my treasured single self and embracing my role in a new family unit has changed everything. It makes me a better steward of ALL the things that are important to me.

So today, I send a prayer to Kenya. I hope their elections will be fair, free of violence, and result in a president who will be mindful of his people. I pray their country will bring their young ambitious minds to the table and say, "someday you'll be in charge, and you will need the things you learned here today."  I pray that all of us in the position to give that dream to someone, will.





3.01.2013

Today's Mantra

I did not fight the urge to partake of staff meeting office donuts all winter just to give up on my bikini bod in MARCH. Kick it back into gear, Little Lady.

Oh, and by "Bikini Bod", I obviously mean "Skin-Tight White Breeches Bod"

Curse you, Corn Dog Gods. (but not really.)