I was excited to see this book as my library’s “Big Read” (books for the Big Read are chosen by the readers themselves) as I normally enjoy these kinds of stories. I really wanted to love this book, but, aside from some interesting chicken and goat stories, I’m not sure I even liked it.

Jennifer, an English teacher, and David, an accountant, are “living the dream” with their three children when David confesses that he has not filed any income tax returns for several years, putting the family deep into debt with both the state and the IRS. With one child still at home, they leave their charmed life to move to a run-down cabin in the woods, where they attempt to raise chickens and goats.

Jennifer admits to having her head in the sand in general and admits that she ignored all of the red flags over her family’s finances. And though she doesn’t say it in so many words, she admits to a very superficial relationship with her husband.

Sounds interesting, right?

Well, it would be if not for Jennifer’s incessant whining and victim mentality. Even though she sort of-kind of admits to her own faults, she never really believes that anything is her fault or that she had any part to play in where she and David find themselves. She’s oh so very “tra la, oh well”.

At about the halfway mark I was hoping for some sign that Jennifer was starting to really embrace her roll in her family’s drama, but when, at the end of one chapter, she exclaims, “I choose this”, I just didn’t believe her. The whole “follow your bliss, to heck with actually paying your bills” was grating. Her comments regarding law enforcement were enraging, because, you know, when you break the law, you shouldn’t be held accountable. While I do believe she loves her animals, her irresponsibility regarding their health is indefensible. Her comments that Denise, part of the couple who sold them the house she and David bailed on, was “not a good friend to her” was jaw dropping.

And when you’re swimming in debt drinking pricey alcohol and getting your hair done on a regular basis is really where your priorities should be.

Frankly, Jennifer’s just not very likable – just glib. She may be book smart, but she lacks any common sense. I finished the book without any sense that she learned anything about herself or that she had developed any real connection with her husband.

So, if you are looking for a book about a family that suffers a financial set back, regroups, and comes out stronger in the end, this isn’t it.


Hadlow Rider Fitness

Riding is a great exercise that elevates your heart rate, makes you breathe deeper and requires your muscles work hard to maintain balance and rhythm. However should you only ride to maintain your fitness? Or look to include additional work to improve riding performance and health?

From the journals and books I have read they rightly encourage riding as an excellent way to reduce body fat and improve fitness. Maximum heart rate and the ability to use oxygen improve through riding, this is particularly relevant given that the performance of competitive riders is influenced by their aerobic capacity (how well they transport and use oxygen). Despite this most riding is predominately walking and trotting, but this can obviously vary depending on the standard of the rider and what the rider is training for. It’s not surprising that energy and oxygen demands are higher during jumping sessions than dressage and over…

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Purple Sage Equine

The time has come for Purple Sage Equine to relocate from the Reno, NV area.

As of January 1, 2017 I am offering full time services in the Carson Valley (Minden, NV to be exact) in a melding with 5 Clover Ranch & Trailer Sales.

I am really excited about this new endeavor. With the accessibility of an lovely indoor arena, 2 outdoor round pens, 2 outdoor arenas (1 under construction), cattle pens and tons of space to ride on, I can really begin to get my personal & client horses a broader spectrum to get “broke” in!

I will be hosting an eclectic offering of special events including a Ranch Roping clinic series that will be “beginner friendly”, we will literally be starting at square 1, and a jumping clinic taught by International Grand Prix winner Candice King ( http://www.usefnetwork.com/athletes/56/candice_king.aspx ). At 5 Clover our focus is to provide…

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One of the best things I’ve read in a long time. You can find it here: http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/look-up

By Kristin Carpenter

For as long as I can remember, my riding lessons have been filled with the order to, “Look up!” It isn’t that I find my hands particularly fascinating, but it’s just that when I concentrate on something, I tend to stare fixedly at it. My surroundings disappear, and it’s just me examining my fingers and begging them to stop moving so much. And that’s a problem.

There are obvious reasons this is an issue: I could run over someone or something, I could miss terribly at a jump, I could get off my line. But that’s not why I am writing this blog.

It’s easy in life to stare at something so intently that the rest of the world drops away. What we tend to stare at are what I consider “fire issues”: things that demand our attention but are not necessarily important.

So a weekday comes and we stress over the email containing a confrontation amidst the looming deadlines of our work. Look up. There are people buzzing around you, real people with real life stories. There’s a city outside with alleys that you haven’t seen and favorite places gone unvisited. There are homeless men scattered on corners that, statistically speaking, probably fought in a war. And while they didn’t give their life, in a way they did, because here they are. Look up.

So a dinner date ensues with friends and the glow of phones interrupts the ambiance and lets the food get cold. Look up. There’s someone sitting next to you that doesn’t just want another, “How are you?” They want an “Are you truly happy?” or a “What are your dreams for this year?” or a “Remember that time we…” And there’s dessert. Look up.

So I sit with a crying child who I desperately want to fall asleep and I stare at the flashing digital clock and think about how I have to be awake in three hours. Look up.

There’s a nursery around me that will fast become a toddler’s play paradise, then a teenager’s poster laden hideaway, then an empty room with remnants of the memories packed in boxes. There’s a moment surrounding me that I will miss for the rest of my life, if only I can look up.

So people spend so much time, especially this year, plastering their social media with articles mocking people who don’t have their views or their reality. It’s so easy in life to look down on others, but the real challenge is to look up. Instead of lecturing, why not try and learn? The world is more complex than any one person can ever understand, with empathy and humility in too short supply. We have privileges we should own, advantages we should share, struggles we should acknowledge. Look up.

So the barn gets filled with chatter in the stalls over how much so and so spent on their import, or how ridiculous the new kid’s riding attire is. Look up. There’s a sacred space around you, a space that so few people even get to know exists. There are people trading 16 hours of every day for the one hour here. When it’s too cold for the riders, there are workers smashing frozen water buckets and trudging through snow. Look up.

Time is fickle, and somehow worry and TV and daily habits absorb huge percentages of our lives, while the special moments that define our existence fight to even be recognized. Somehow a year has gone by and while I can tell you about who won Top Chef, I can’t tell you what two of my best friends have struggled with this year. What a shame. What a total misappropriation of my time here. I need to look up. There are people I can see now that I won’t be able to see by the end of this year. There are lives that will close and lives that will begin, and I want to be there for both.

2017 has begun and, I think we all can agree, we are happy to pack 2016 away for a variety of reasons. But I need this time to slow down. I need to abstain from the vortexes of Netflix binges and Facebook refreshes and my next riding lesson and my schedule restraints and how my day went and my my my.  I need to look up.

So I vow to look at my city with new eyes. To call friends on my long drives. To have people over for nothing more than stories and wine. To turn off the TV and perhaps do absolutely nothing instead. To be bored. To acknowledge my privilege and do more to help those without it. To lay around and listen to albums. To write. To help someone without reason or justification. To love actively.

And God willing, to stop staring at my hands when I ride, and look up.

Kent Farrington puts carriages in the Olympic spotlight!

Source: Go Kent!

Heart of Phoenix Equine Education BLOG

Yesterday I read a blog about an adoptive puppy turned 8 year old dog who terrorized his owner by attacking various innocent people and dogs for nearly a decade.

The owner finally found the ability within herself to do the right thing, and she had the dog she loved euthanized following a day of fun and love. Peacefully, he went over the Rainbow Bridge never knowing a bad day, and his reign of terror on his owner and those around him ended.

This was a first world problem, really. Only in very fortunate places on the planet can someone spend 8 years tormenting themselves over trying to decide what to do with an aggressive pet. . .or a sick pet. . .or pets that have no where to go for various and very real reasons.

I’m thankful for that. . .but we do have to recognize it is a luxury…

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I wish this was an April Fool’s joke…

Save Chicago's Horse Drawn Carriages

noble1 http://chicagopatterns.com/the-noble-horse-theater-and-stables/

While the bill to ban Chicago’s horse drawn carriages seems mired in the murky backwaters of City Hall, another more insidious threat looms. Chicago’s runaway construction boom has forced 2 of the city’s 3 carriage companies out of their home at the old Noble Horse Theatre.


Dating back to the late 1800’s, the two-story stable at 1410 N. Orleans was one of several built for access to the riding paths of nearby Lincoln Park. Over the years, the others disappeared but the Orleans barn survived, at one point becoming an auto chop shop. An enterprising horsewoman later converted the garage into a small riding stable, which offered limited boarding and riding lessons (showjumper Kent Farrington was an early student).

After Mayor Jane Byrne reintroduced commercial horse drawn carriages to the city in 1980, Dan Sampson and his father were invited by the barn owner to move their company…

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