Livin’ On A Prayer

When you think of New Jersey, many things spring to mind. Before I moved to southeastern Pennsylvania, there were two things–Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, in that order! It’s likely impossible that you’d grow up in the 80s in this part of the country without thinking of Jon and his band, particularly when they named their 1988 record after the state.

So I felt that it was not only timely but appropriate that I heard my friend Dave Moore play Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” on B101 last Wednesday evening as I drove through the Garden State hauling Waimea back from the show at Suddenly Farms–in Lumberton, NJ–after we got our second 4th level score towards our Silver Medal.

So now we are–like Jon says in the song–halfway there.

Halfway there

Halfway to our USDF Silver Medal. Standing right in front of the Prix St.George, the gates to the FEI starting to swing open.

Have you dreamed, even prayed, that you would ride in the double? Show in a shadbelly? Do canter pirouettes and tempi changes?

Me too. And here we are. Halfway there.

Waimea and I have a new theme song. How would you like to see a Bon Jovi freestyle?

Searching For Silver

Margo Marano showing Waimea

Image courtesy of Stephen Crowers Photography




And so it begins! The path to the USDF Silver Medal. I just officially entered the first Recognized show at Blue Goose Stables in Cochranville on May 16. All winter we’ve been working, and since we were lucky to have such a mild few months even taking a few outings and hacking.

I think we are both stronger, more fit and more aware of what is required of us. Our goal is to get our two Fourth level scores so that we can begin concentrating on the Prix St. George. When my trainer, Tim Mellott, returns from Florida we will start regular lessons again with a vengeance!:) I am very much looking forward to it.

Whatever your goals may be this year, remember you can accomplish them–just believe you can! Remember–“obstacles are what we see when we stop looking at our goals.”

Happy Riding!

The Bronze Age

When you take on a long-term project, what does “long term” mean to you? That you will be able to accomplish your objective in six months? Five years? Or is next week long term enough for you?

When I set out to receive the scores necessary to obtain my United States Dressage Federation Bronze Medal, I knew would not be something I could achieve quickly. I set the goal knowing it would be a long-term project.

What I did not know is that it would take me over ten years and three horses to accomplish my objective.

Getting to a goal means knowing what criteria you must meet in order to meet the goal. In this case, it was simple. The USDF sets the criteria. Your task is to fulfill those requirements.

In order to be awarded with a USDF Bronze Medal, you must show at competitions recognized by the United States Equestrian Federation.  You need a total of six scores. All the scores must be at 60% or better. You must obtain the score at each level from a different judge. Two of the scores are attained at First level, two at Second level and two Third level.

The scores at First and Second levels came fairly easily. I managed to get my Second level scores at one horse show, on my gelding, D’Agincourt.

But two Third Level scores did not come so easily. Roadblocks became a way of life. Lameness, training issues and my need to really understand how to ride my mare, Waimea, took up the next nine years of my life.

They were hard years. I cannot possibly express how grateful I am to everyone who helped me push through those years. My husband and my family were incredibly supportive and helped me keep going when things looked really bleak. Many friends held my hand, hugged me and cried with me through those years. And I had three amazing trainers who made it possible for me get the right horse, and train the horse and me through all sorts of setbacks.

In those years, I learned more than just riding skills. I about learned persistence, patience and flexibility.  I learned what truly supportive friends and family look like.

And through it all my understanding of the incredibly generous nature of horses was strengthened.  The things they put up with in order for me to learn to ride and obtain this goal are staggering.  Waimea is still not sure I will ever learn to ride!

But I am getting there, and setting new goals, eyeing up the USDF Silver Medal.

And I continue to be inspired by what Thoreau said. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined!”


First Hack Of The Season!

One of the many wonderful things about spring is being able to break out of the indoor and head out on the trail.

While many people do little or no hacking with their dressage horses, I believe that riding out is very important not just to the health and fitness of your horse but also is a fantastic way to strength your relationship with your equine partner.

I am very fortunate to have some of the best hacking in the world just out the front–and back–doors of the barn. I am also lucky to count Liz Bewley as one of my dearest friends. She has hacked and hunted countless horses and has been a huge help to Waimea and me with where to go, exactly how to condition, and also with recommendations of proper tack so that we have a fantastic experience.

Yesterday Waimea and I headed out to The Laurels Preserve with Liz and Janet. Although Mea had not been out since November, I could not have asked for her to be better. She is very bold and not spooky, but she clearly LOVED being back out and didn’t think that trotting up Twin Bridges Hill was work at all! She would gladly have trotted all the way up Nelson’s Hill if I had let her. The horses also saw several vehicles–cars and trucks–and crossed water, all safely and calmly.

Riding out in the open is such a great test of your skills and relationship with your horse. If you can hack out in company, at any gait, crossing water and bridges, jumping small obstacles and dealing with any number of distractions, like trucks, cars, dogs, baby strollers–even pigs!–you have gone a long way towards keeping your horse calm and focused as you come down the centerline.

Here’s to many more fabulous hacks this season, with my best friends, in my favorite place in the world–on the back of my mare, Waimea, in The Laurels Preserve!