Tack Trunk Tuesday

Tack Trunk Tuesday

I am back in the swim of things!

I sure do love my new specs!

I sure do love my new specs!

I started my Triathlon Sprint/Olympic distance training plan last week. I was off to a swimmingly good start until wham, bam, pow the unexpected ice tornado of the century hits our small town overnight and suddenly we are without electricity (and upright trees with limbs!) for 2 very stressful days. Some people are still without electricity! I question how anyone exercised in the 1800’s, I am pretty sure they had absolutely zero time for such frills after hunting down their food (Bojangles) and washing their clothes by hand in (bath) tubs. Not to mention shivering through layers of blankets while they sat by their (gas) fire logs without a blower fan. I’ve seen photos of women swimming in their dresses and corsets. I wonder if corsets are similar to the constriction I feel in my wetsuit? The wetsuit is really just a modern day corset. Thought for your Tuesday.

I hit the pool yesterday and swam an easy (slow) 1400 yds.  I was testing out some new equipment for this season.  I own many pairs of swimming goggles more than my glasses and sunglasses combined. Why you ask? Because my goggle specifications for the pool are totally different than the ones I have for tackling the high maintenance of open water. If I have the wrong goggles for the occasion my swim becomes a beast.  I have 3 tints for open water depending on how brightly the sun smiles and the water color which I won’t discuss here.  Another consideration is whether or not I want to see fishy and snakes?

I recently purchased a pair of the most tranquil blue tinted swimming goggles EVER to make the water look similar to the Caribbean sea and it works!  I was relaxed and sleepy. Sleepy is good for me in open water because I have less energy to freak the freak out.  Magnificent after I figured out how to put them on properly so they would stop filling up rapidly with water.  The lettering on the straps should not read upside down no matter how right that may look.  Trust me.

And when someone in the lane beside you says ‘flip’, it’s possible they are not referring to your fancy flip turn. Just saying.


The Type of Suitcase Doesn’t Matter as Long as My Boots Fit

The Type of Suitcase Doesn’t Matter as Long as My Boots Fit

My second blog post for The Chronicle of the Horse!


My 2014 Triathlon Race Schedule

My 2014 Triathlon Race Schedule

After much thought and some trepidation (ha!), here is my (un) official triathlon race lineup for 2014.  Ah yes, I’ve left some time in transition for a few races of the non-triathlon variety – 5k/10k charity runs, a metric century (sure would be nice), and 1-2 open water nearly drowning swimming miles (around small islands, yachts, whales, you know the usual).

Mucho thanks to Mid-Carolina Multisport (www.midcarolinamultisport.com) for coming up with these focus races for us this year.  Joining a local triathlon club makes everything better, seriously.  At least I’ll go down (literally) in style while my supportive race friends cheer me back up on to my feet!

June 14 – The Three Little Pigs (honestly this race name intrigues me so much that I could not pass it up!)

July 26th – Buckner Mission Man (best race EVER hands down!)

August 2nd – Lake Logan International (what am I thinking here?!? crazy, crazy, crazy and crazy)

August 10th – UNC Wellness Super Sprint (over before I can blink the chlorine saturated pool water out of my eyes!)

A bit of a lighter schedule than originally planned, but I have a few specific goals in mind and I want to be super competitive with myself this year because you know, I still have that lingering Tri bike bet to win this year.  Did you hear that hubby?  I am going to win that bike!  Yay, babe!

Tack Trunk Tuesday


Everyone has a comfort food list.  I am certain that our lists have some similarities because your list probably includes food you ate as a child.  Food that evokes incredible memories and calms your senses.  I don’t view this as a slippery slope when these foods are reintroduced occasionally.  Sometimes just a few bites puts my life back in balance.  Sometimes it’s just a few bits.  Sometimes.

My comfort foods are associated with events.  My mom supported my horse shows the best way she knew how with homemade goodies – oh the comfort! – for the rumbly in my tumbly.  It was always brownies and hermits.  Always.  Mom knew that consistency ruled!

When I started swimming longer distances this year for my Triathlons, I encountered a similar nervous tummy.  There is a laundry list of foods I refuse to eat before swimming and so what is left, is …essentially nothing.  There was nothing that I could eat or drink except water before submerging myself into a lake and swimming over a mile.  Excellent.  I’ve literally tried forcing things down my throat and that doesn’t work.

My comfort food list for the save!  Hooray!  I’ve found that I can pop a couple of hermits and have a stellar performance because I am not passing out from low blood sugar.

Here is the recipe for my mom’s hermits (essentially an old fashioned spice cookie).  I’ve included a few of my own modifications that were inspired by my friends.  It’s really a granola bar in a cookie costume.

Mom’s Hermits

1/2 cup of butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp of fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp of ground cloves

1 egg (hand gathered are best!)

2 tbsp of milk

1 tsp of vanilla

1 1/2 cup of flour (I use a combo of wheat & unbleached from a local mill)

1 mixed cup of dried cranberries, dried blueberries, dried cherries, raisins, chopped dates and orange peel (really whatever you like!)

1/2 cup of walnuts (heart healthy!)

In a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed beat butter with brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Should look really fluffy!  Beat in egg, milk and vanilla.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer.  Stir in remaining flour, mixed cup and nuts.

Drop on a greased cookie sheet by rounded spoonfuls.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly brown.


Part 3 of the Global Dressage Forum North America – Fascination with Bio Mechanics


This is a repost from my Barnby Notes journal.  I’ve decided to transfer the entire series bit by bit to my new blog.  Enjoy!

March 3, 2013

The scientifically inclined side of my brain was really intrigued by Stefan Stammer’s presentation, Bio Mechanics for the Dressage Horse.  As a rider, it’s important that I have visual images to back-up the verbal explanation of ‘how things work’.  Stefan’s gear box horse complete with all the bells & whistles, nuts & bolts was a great take home lesson.

Stefan suggested in order to control the power of our horse, we need to put the horse’s gears in the correct position – forward and upwards.  Riding the horse with the neck a little bit higher is ok.  The gear box consists of the forehand and hind end engine.   Stefan offered the example of a horse being stiff on the right side and weak in the left shoulder.  We must create positive tension through proper weight distribution by stabilizing the hip rotation and not with the position of the neck which is so often used.  Suppleness will be achieved through stabilizing.  Negative tension is equivalent to the ‘run away’ mode.

Especially during the warm up, think of muscular slings around the ribcage & hips of your horse.  Is the ribcage up and interconnected with the hips?  Don’t forget to install a springy, relaxed and supple system in your horse.  Of course, all of this requires a rider in active balance and is not achieved by using the bridle and spurs.

In conclusion, Stefan stressed that we should build the athletic points of the horse and this is not achieved by the actual movements, which is the finished product.  Test the gears of your horse often!  Are the front legs forward and ribcage up?

I could draw an example of Stefan’s gear box horse here, but it would not be pretty because if there are two things that I do not do well it is draw and sing.

I highly recommend checking out Stefan’s presentation for yourself!

Part 2 of the Global Dressage Forum North America – Star Struck


This is a repost from my Barnby Notes journal.  I’ve decided to transfer the entire series bit by bit to my new blog.  Enjoy!

February 9, 2013

When Ingrid Klimke arrived for the second day of the Global Dressage Forum North America,  I was mulling around the beautiful Jim Brandon Equestrian Center grounds secretly hoping that the infamous cupcake truck with its marshmallow cupcake goodliness would magically appear.  Yes, that very same cupcake that Lauren Sprieser of Sprieser Sporthorse posted a picture of on Facebook during the World Dressage Masters.  Sadly, no cupcake truck arrived and while I was contemplating other ‘not-so-much’ healthier lunch choices, I caught a glimpse of Ingrid out of the corner of my eye walking down the sidewalk with her roller bag in tow.  I am guessing that she just stepped off a long transatlantic flight, but she certainly didn’t look like she did.  I noticed right away how genuinely happy Ingrid appeared.  She seemed so approachable; however, I fought back that overwhelming urge to disrupt her progress and become known as the star struck, bothersome, pink iPhone paparazzi girl because I have on my bucket list a lesson from Ingrid.  I knew by Ingrid’s entrance down centerline (I gave it a 10 by the way) that her presentation was going to be stellar and my friends, I am here to tell you that she didn’t disappoint at all!

Ingrid is a fantastic speaker.  When she spoke, it felt as though you were invited over for dinner at her house.  She engaged the entire audience.  You could literally feel her energy and passion not only for riding, but for her horses.  Her presentation reminded me that we should always have a joyful, playful spirit when working with all horses.  Something we often lose a bit as we enter adulthood and it changes our riding.  My mentor who coaches many top Triathletes shared the reason so many adults find running difficult is that we’ve forgotten what it is like to run as a child.  Watch a child run.  They don’t run in that restricted, held back, stiff, linear manner that so many of us do.  Do we do that in our riding too?

Ingrid stated that the rider must also be elastic.  Students should be encouraged to do other sports.  Riding one or two horses a day is not enough.  Our dressage horses should be cross-trained too.  Simple gymnastics using cavalettis (dressage jumping 🙂 improves back strengthening and self carriage for the horse and the rider’s playfulness.  Refresh your horse’s mind (and your mind!) every day, work no more than 3 days in a row in the same arena with the same exercises.

Those of you who know me well, know that I agree 100% with Ingrid’s diversify message.  It is very important to incorporate other sports/workouts outside of my riding, so I can be the best athlete possible for my horse.  With this endeavor, I also have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the mental and physical aspects of riding.  I was taking a spinning class at my local gym the other day and my eyes were instantly drawn to a flier taped to the wall advertising yoga for athletes.  I was curious as to what this yoga for athletes was all about, so I decided to take my first class this week.  I arrived at class without my own yoga mat which is a BIG mistake because I had to use one out of the community bucket.  If you want to try yoga, bring your own mat.  I thought this class would be very relaxing and I could take a small nap during those moments of Zen.  I was wrong.  I realized this seconds after the instructor told us to get up in the chicken pose.  Picture a flock of wayward chickens toppling over in a fit of giggles.  And it only gets better!  The instructor then showed and asked us to do a kickstand on our hands.  At this point, I made a mental note to bring not only my yoga mat, but my riding helmet to the next class.  It turned out to be a really fun class that definitely got my heart rate up for most of the hour.  To perform these exercises, we focused on continuous deep breathing from our core, our instructor stated that is where the magic happens.  Playfulness while breathing.

Ingrid’s father left her with a special forever message that she shared with the audience that day,

We have to understand the nature of the horse and not suppress their personality.

Ingrid further added that horses need to be brave and that her pony, Braxxi (twice an Olympic gold medalist!) has the heart of a lion.  Everyone should watch the replay of Ingrid and Braxxi’s 2012 Olympic effort.  Amazing!

Ingrid climbed aboard a young horse unfamiliar to her for the demonstration segment of her presentation.  Ingrid continued her conversation with us as she schooled the horse while grinning from ear to ear.  She opened the warm-up with a stretchy trot circle.  The horse should be in front of your aids, but not running.  Give (release) it all (aids) and see what the horse does.  Pat with the inside hand and not the outside hand.  If the horse falls on the forehand, shorten the outside rein and push (in rising trot) while applying positive leg pressure into the contact.  Ingrid then proceeded into a forward canter around the arena with a light seat that was slightly up out of the saddle.  Sit back for your transitions stated Ingrid.  Reactions from the horse should come from your seat first, then your legs, then your hands.  During the walk break, keep your horse moving forward and in front of your aids.  Let the movement come out, but retain your soft contact.  Ingrid did a lot of transitions on the circle, walk-trot-walk, the trot aid should come from the seat.  Hind legs in the canter must work under the center of gravity.  The horse clearly enjoyed cantering and Ingrid commented that the canter is now her carrot.

Ingrid adds fitness using hill work.  Fitness training on a gradual slope, especially while going down the hill, is super work for the horse’s shoulders.  Hill work should be incorporated every 5-7 days.  Do not have a huge spread between the intervals and then expect this work to have great benefits.

Ingrid continued her session with some pole/cavaletti work.  For the walk work, Ingrid suggested putting two poles in the middle of the walk pirouette.  This will act as a visual aid and help keep the walk pirouette the same size and ensure that you are returning to the same spot you originated from.  I can’t wait to try this exercise!

Ingrid ended her session with a small jump.  In Germany, it is common to finish the work session with a jump.  Ending it on a rewarding note.  Even the ‘not-so-jumping-inclined’ dressage horse can find joy by randomly jumping over a cross rail.

 Thank you, Ingrid for reminding us all to be more playful every day!