I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

3 Oct

that time i called the police …

If you’ve read Tuesday’s post and you’re back to read about a paranoid momma calling the police to check in on her daughter, then you’ll either need to be patient, or skim to the end of this post.

First, I wanted to share a bit how Taylor’s doing. I’m not gonna lie, these first couple of weeks, she’s had a pretty tough go of it! To keep things in perspective, we understand these are first world problems – Taylor’s very blessed – but still, when your baby’s alone, away from you, and dealing with responsibilities she hasn’t had before, it’s bound to break your heart a little.

SCAD had a late start, which I’m so very thankful for! We needed that extra month to get things in order and spend some time together while her sisters were in school. SCAD’s student and family orientation started on Friday, the 13th {thinking about it now, maybe that should’ve been our first clue?}, so Taylor and I brought her horse down on Thursday.

We’d been doing some practice with the trailer – without her horse in it – it was like driver’s ed all over again! When the time came, she was fairly comfortable and ready to load the horse and drive it down to Savannah herself. She followed me most of the way. I really didn’t know it was possible to be all “white-knuckled” when I wasn’t pulling the trailer! Goodness, I was a wreck! But half way down, we both started to relax a little and she did an amazing job.

We got Taylor and “Joe” all settled at their new home {barn} and – given that the SCAD equestrian team tryouts were early Sunday morning – Taylor was asked to set up a lesson for the following day, and the only time available was the start time of orientation.

We said yes, she’d be there. And I started feeling a tad guilty that she’d miss most of Friday’s orientation.

There’s always been a bit of a stigma that riding should come second. Other things should take priority. I remember when she was younger and on a soccer team, she couldn’t make some of the games because of Pony Club events. The soccer coach knew going in that Taylor’s passion and priority was riding, but he made it very clear she was letting the team down each time she didn’t show up to a game and let us know it’s not like she’d be riding forever.

Anyway, when we showed up to check-in for orientation and got instructions on where to go, etc. we apologetically explained that she was going to miss most of the session. He looked at her – in full riding gear – and assured us that riding definitely takes a priority and it was no problem. I was stunned!

Taylor had definitely found her home.

Sunday morning she had her tryout, but Sunday afternoon she’d found out she made the team, Sunday night she had a team meeting she needed to attend, Monday morning she started school, and she’s been running at 100 mph ever since!

Monday, we received a call that Joe {her horse, for those of you skimming} was very, very sick. A belly thing. Belly things with horses can be life threatening for them. One never messes around when your horse has a belly thing. The vet sedated Joe, flushed him full of fluids and started an IV. Joe wasn’t getting any better and they couldn’t control his pain any further, so by that afternoon Joe was taken to the hospital. It was touch and go for a few days, but Joe recovered on his own – no surgery was needed – and we were praising God! The following Sunday Joe was happily back in his stall at the barn.

After that first call with Joe, it’s been one thing after another. I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say the final straw came when she burned her hands two weeks later by spilling hot soup all over them! I realized then, the enemy is doing everything possible to get my girl!

She was doing her best to not get discouraged, but that night was a low.  I’ve had to remind her that in a very short period of time, her life is completely different!

She has more responsibilities now than she’s ever had, and with that comes extra stress and pressures. I truly believe she loves being at school and is enjoying the experience of it.

But the stress of it all is getting to her a bit more than either of us are comfortable with. I know it’ll take time for her, and I’m confident she’ll continue to find her way. Most of all, I’m so very proud of her and I just wish she’d be a little easier on herself.

SCAD Equestrian Team Places Second at FSU

Annnnnnndddd … if you made it this far and are still interested about a certain mommy-called-the-police story … here goes!

So. Taylor’s phone – like most of us – is her right hand … basically an extension of herself. We were talking one night, maybe her third night away, and she says she has to go because the furniture delivery guys are there. We hang up and I text her a half hour later … with no reply. I was at the Apple store and needed the password to her computer, so I called her … with no reply. I text, I call, I call, I text. For like the next 10 minutes … with no reply.

My heart starts beating faster.

I remember we have an app that shows me her location, and I quickly see she’s at her apartment. I contact her boyfriend, “Have you talked to Taylor?” Turns out the last time he heard from her was the same time I’d last heard from her. Since I arranged the delivery to Taylor’s apartment, I had the delivery guy’s phone number. I called him … with no reply.

My heart was pretty much pounding out of my chest now. It’d been a full hour since I’d last heard from her. I decided to call the police.

They assured me they’d send an officer over right away. After we hung up, it occurred to me I had the delivery guy’s phone number and I was pretty sure the police would need it to trace his phone. So I called back again and explained that to them. They weren’t as patient with me that time. Hmmmm … wonder why?

FINALLY!! Taylor calls. “The police?!?! Really mom!?!”

I burst into tears and I think everything I’d been holding for the last few days was released … well that, and the fact I was a tad relieved to know she hadn’t been hauled off somewhere by the delivery guy!

Turns out she was doing homework in her kitchen, while her phone was silently being charged in her bedroom.

I don’t think either of us will make that mistake again! Her – charging her phone on silent. Me – trying to give the police the delivery guy’s number {cuz a situation just may arise where I think my girl’s in danger and you’d better believe I be calling the po-po for that!}.

Posted in riding, sports, taylor

12 Mar

the equestrian life {and other technical details}

Given horses pretty much consume our time lately, it’s kinda crazy I haven’t posted more about it. But then I guess, there was that whole losing my voice thing, and the whole busy, busy, busy thing and well … with uploading photos, editing, posting … I just didn’t do any of it. And now I feel like my heart is bursting to tell you more about it!

I’m currently sitting in a golf cart, at a horse show, in front of our camper. We’re camping over the next two weeks while we’re here … and yes, we have a camper and not a tent, so it’s not like we’re roughing it or anything, but for the record … I do enjoy more than a thin pad to sleep on and a trickle of water in a shoebox to shower with!

Anyway. Seemed only fitting to write this post now.

And don’t worry … even though we spent most of last year at horse shows — so many I’m not sure I could count them — I promise not to recap every single one!

To give you an example of how many shows I’m talking about … here are the girls ribbons from 2013:



 I’ll try not to get too technical on you, but just give some basic information. :)

The riding discipline the girls do is Hunter/Jumpers. Wynter does hunters, and Taylor primarily does jumpers {with a few equitation classes here and there}. And there are two types of shows they do:

  • Local shows {that aren’t really “local” — they’re an average of two hours away — it just means they’re unrated shows and don’t count on the girls “professional” riding record}.
  • Rated shows, which are a bigger deal and do go on the girls permanent/professional record, and can be found all over the world.

That said, the only type of shows we’d done were local shows — until last August when Taylor did her first rated show in Kentucky. Since then, it seems like we’ve been in a fast-forward mode trying to get her record beefed up for college {when she goes to try out for a riding team}.

This particular show was at the Kentucky Horse Park and very, very different from what we’d been used to with our local shows! And actually, Taylor had ridden at the horse park when she was 12 for a Pony Club event. But it wasn’t a competition, it was a clinic that’s held every three years for Pony Club.

Needless to say … this was a big deal for her!

This is my very favorite photo I captured from the week.

Sorry … here comes some technicality … if you’re not interested, just skip over it! :)

When Taylor does Jumpers, it’s all about speed. Basically, the fastest time wins. But it’s not about being a cowboy and plowing over the jumps as fast as you can. It’s about walking your course, knowing how many strides between each jump, knowing what your horse can handle as far as quick turns and the best way to get to the next jump … and one hundred other things that I’m probably not even aware of. It’s about speed … but also skill {and safety!}.

Most of the time in her classes, there are two parts. The first, you need to go “clean” — which means not knocking down any rails, or poles, as you jump over them — and you also can’t have any time faults. You’re allotted a certain amount of time and you need to get through the course in that time.

The second part of her class is called the jump-off, and if you go clean as I’ve mentioned above, then you move on to the jump-off {if you don’t go clean, you don’t get to move on}. And the person who has the fastest time in the jump-off {with the least amount of faults} wins.

The two images I have posted here were taken on separate days. In the photo above, if you look at the monitor, you see she has 4 faults. That means she got a rail down. The good news is, the ride was her jump-off. So she’d gone clean in the first round and went on to the jump-off. Her time for the course was 42 seconds.

Technically, she could still get a good ribbon if the other competitors had more faults and/or a slower time.

And in the photo below, you can see on the monitor, Taylor’s time was 66.249 … she went clean … and moved on to the jump-off.

I hope that wasn’t too bad in the technical department!

Overall, Taylor ended up taking reserve champion in her division. It was a great experience for her and I’m so glad we were able to do it!

After Kentucky, the girls did a whole bunch of local shows, and then in October and November, Wynter got in on the action as they did three rated shows in Raleigh {with local shows on their weekends off from Raleigh}.

The video below is of one of Taylor’s jump-offs {and yes … maybe I do pray while she’s riding!}. At this particular show, Taylor won grand champion in her division. And extra special … she did it by placing 1st in each class! It’s all based on points, so one can still win grand champion even if they didn’t place first in each class.

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

At a different show in Raleigh, Taylor competed against some top riders {ex-Olympians even — although they were competing to train clients horses, different than competing strictly for themselves}, and she placed 2nd!

Taylor’s come a long, long way. It’s not been an easy road for her and this show we’re at in Florida has rocked us upside down and caused a lot of soul searching for my girl. We’re starting our fourth week … two weeks here, two weeks home, and two weeks back here again … and she’s still processing all she’s learning.

And then we have Wynter! This girl is following right in her sister’s footsteps! I shared about Wynter and her pony, Spanky a few months ago, but this girl has come a long way since then too! Here’s a photo of her doing crossrails with Spanky. As far as the ribbon department goes, it was slow going and she placed mostly in the bottom six, or didn’t place at all. But in the growth department {both personal and physical!}? Off the charts!!

She’s got a new horse … Wilber. :) And she moved up to showing in the short stirrup division. It’s kind of like going from training pants to big-girl underpants! Sorry for the crazy analogy, but it’s the first thing that came to mind!

I posted the below photo a week or so ago, but bear with me? This is Wynter and Wilber showing in Florida. So far she’s taken reserve champion three out of five times showing … in one of those she didn’t place, she was diagnosed with strep that morning {but more on that another time}!

I’m proud of her determination and budding passion for this sport. I’m telling y’all … horses are the best thing you can do for a girl! I’ve seen it in Taylor, and I’m seeing it all over again with Wynter.

I feel like they learn life isn’t just about them. But somehow they have a bigger to purpose to take care of this animal and grow as an equestrian and care-taker of their new best friend {and dare I say, first boyfriend?!}.

Below is a video I took of Wynter here in Florida a couple of weeks ago. It’s a little long {and probably boring if you’re not into the whole horse thing}, but it warms my heart to watch it and know how much it means to her to be riding this boy, and now showing in big-girl shows, in a big-girl division, with her big-girls pants {sorry, couldn’t resist!}.

And the last video is a bonus of her riding one of Taylor’s horses! That’s the best part about having two riding girls … they can exercise each others horses and save me some trainer expenses! :)

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

Posted in riding, taylor, wynter

3 Mar

and … we’re off again!

Not everyone can hear the silent language
between a horse and rider.  Not everyone
can trust their life with a 1200 lb animal. And
not everyone has the guts, blood, sweat, tears,
and dedication needed to be a part of this
world. But equestrians are no ordinary people,
and horses are no ordinary animals. The only
ones who truly understand this world are the
ones who are a part of it. {quote via tumblr}

I promise, I really was committed to meeting you here more often. But this happened and it’s taken every lovin’ ounce of energy I have to recover from it. And this morning we’re headed off to do it again. “You’re a glutton for punishment,” you might think? Nah, it’s not that.

The fact is, I love seeing this girl on a horse. When I watch her ride … time stands still {my heart too … them jumps be gettin’ high!}.

Taylor’s learning so much about who she is and what she’s capable of. This whole equestrian world is playing a huge part of that for her and I’m thrilled she has these opportunities to shape and mold her.

When I say I’m proud of her … it’s not for her performance {there were many classes she didn’t ribbon in during our last trip}, it’s for her accomplishments, her perseverance, her determination, and her growth.

And one more reason we’re heading back into this black hole of an energy suck? This girl right here! Can you say, “following in her sister’s footsteps?”

Posted in family photos, riding, taylor, wynter

14 Feb

where we’ve been …

I’ve desperately been working on a post sharing all about the girls riding activities. It’s been over two weeks in the writing, and I still don’t have it finished. Basically because we’re at an event right now and it’s taking almost every waking hour, and I haven’t had much down time {or alone time}. And we’re in a camper. And it’s been hard to get to my computer.

Anyway … Taylor was presented with an amazing opportunity to ride an amazing horse, at an amazing show, training under a well-known and respected Canadian Olympic rider.

It took a lot of thought, planning, and sacrifice and finally decided I we’d do it.

And so we’re here now. In Florida. For two weeks. Then home for two weeks. And then back for two weeks.

Taylor brought her two horses from home. And she’s also showing the above mentioned “amazing horse.” Wynter’s showing too and brought her new horse. The girls trainers from home are here, as are some of the other girls that ride at the barn and their horses.

We have just a few days left of this first run. It’s been quite an experience. Some good. Some bad. But always learning and growing experiences.

Below is a photo Taylor and her newer horse, Performance Colorado {aka – Colorado}. It was just her third time showing him and they were amazing {as shown in the video below}. :)

They went clean their first round and made it to the jump-off. In the jump-off, she had a respectable time, but got a rail down. And for the record, that other post I mentioned I’m working on? It’s probably got too many technical explanations … but — if you don’t know much about the riding world — going “clean” and making it to a “jump-off” will make much more sense after reading it.

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

Her ride starts around 38 seconds …

So anyway. That’s that. I’ve been wanting to check in, but just haven’t had a chance. So here’s a little snippet of what’s been keeping me busy the last couple of weeks!

Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Posted in family photos, movie, riding, taylor

23 Oct

a girl and her horse …

I couldn’t decide if I should just make this a “Wordless Wednesday” post … or if I should bore you with at least a few words.

Obviously, I decided on the latter.

Rocco … or Sirocco as he’s called in the show ring, has been an amazing partner for Taylor these last few months.

From the time she was just four years old, I have always loved to see her on the back of a horse. But watching her with Rocco has meant more to me than all those years put together. Maybe it’s because he’s meant so much to Taylor.

He’s brought life back into her spirit.

I think he’s touched her heart in a way no one else could.

I’ve seen her grow in ways I never thought I would.

All I know is … there’s definitely a reason girls fall in love with horses. And I think the image I captured above shows every single one of them.

Posted in riding, taylor