Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry christmas!  Was santa good to you?  He was good to me!  

I'm starting the horse search process next week.  I have a Thoroughbred to look at in PA, and a few other prospects including some in NJ, MD, and possibly Kentucky!  Wish me luck!

Friday, December 24, 2010

No me ha dejado

In Sevilla there is a city motto that is hard to miss when you are walking around the city.  It is used everywhere.  Loosely translated it means "It has not abandoned me".   When you leave the city, the city never leaves you.  That's how I feel about Seville.  As much as I miss it right now, I was ready to get home.  I've been spending the last few days with friends and family and it was definitely time.  I think that I could have done a year, but I would have had to be mentally prepared for it.  

In my last few days in Sevilla I spent the time saying good bye to my spanish friends, I went out to the farm one last time (not truly a last time because I will go back), and I took one last paseo on Sunday, the day before I left.  I was able to finish my shopping, and say goodbye to my city.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One day to see all of Rome? Sure.

And is there time to see the Pope? Why not.

Monday, December 13, 2010

From the top of the hill, Florence, Italy

I will get back to these different entries and really write - I swear - but for now, photos from the lovely Firenze, Italy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Where the streets are made of water

Lots to write, but til I have time I'm going to post some photos. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

El año nuevo, tienes una resolución?

As I think about my imminent return to the lovely U. S. of A.  I can't help but think of the coming year and what possibilities it will bring.  Last year right around that time I experienced some huge changes in my life, and rid myself of some of the toxicity that had intertwined itself in my life over the years.  While not a clean break, I can only hope this year's new years is less eventful.

For the first time since attending Elon I will be on campus for January term.  I am going to be completing my practicum with the Alamance Partnership for Children.  I'm still not totally sure what my role will be, but I was placed here so that I can continue to use the command of the spanish language that I have gained over the past three months.  I will be working from 9-5 each day except Tuesdays, Tuesdays I have a three hour class which I assume is to discuss what we are experiencing and learning in our placements.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cada día, cada semana, demasiado rapido

The past two weeks have been busy, and I'm sure since I only have less than three weeks left, it won't slow down.  Last Thursday I attended SICAB which is the international PRE festival that takes place in Sevilla every year.  It draws all the top breeders and riders from all over Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe. All I can say is WOW.  I saw some incredible horses!  At the same time it was a whole new world of horses for me.  I think that part of it was not knowing what the judges were judging on, and after talking to Johanna and Nancy, some of it is that the culture has changed and in turn has changed the horses.

Horses with less than ideal conformation are so fat that you can hardly even see how they are built.  In the morphology classes (conformation) they are basically required to show off the horse's gaits in each direction.  This involves making the stallions as animated as possible despite the fact that it usually makes them fall on their front ends.  Basically what I saw was nice horses not being shown to the best of their ability despite knowing that I was looking at a high caliber of horse.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Whenever I have a couple of days that are full of excitement I always feel like I don't know where to start.  This week marks the beginning of my last month here.  I can't believe it.  I feel like I just arrived, and also that I still have so much more I want to do.  I have a week long trip to Italy coming up next week, and so I feel like my time is running out.  On the one hand I mentally prepared myself for my four months knowing I'd be returning home in December.  On the other hand I know that if I wasn't mentally thinking about returning for Christmas and all the things I want to do in the spring then I would be perfectly able to stay here another semester.  

There is something about the time I spent in other countries that really gets to me.  I can never get enough and I always want more.  Four months isn't really enough time to truly learn the language and the people.  I have done a good job of pursuing friendships with Spaniards, something that was outside my comfort zone since I wasn't comfortable with spanish when I arrived.  I have traveled a lot, I have taken advantage of opportunities available to me within spain.  So then why do I feel like it hasn't been enough?  I suppose that may just be my personality.  Time will tell if I will be able to return to Spain after graduation, maybe to teach english, maybe to get a riding job, who knows.  Who knows where time and life will take me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ladrones son putas. Que mierda!

On Thursday I headed over to Nervión, a residential neighborhood in Sevilla to have lunch at my friend Fran's house.  It was Sahar, Christine, Adam, and Fran and we all had a blast just hanging out, eating good food, and speaking Spanish.  As much as Mom doesn't believe me, I really have started to eat different foods while I have been here.  That being said, I can't wait to get home to a good home-cooked meal, and to start controlling what I eat again.  Last summer I started using an online tool called calorie counter, where I was able to monitor my caloric intake online and get weekly analyses of my nutrition.  Since I have been here I haven't been able to do that because I have no control over what I am going to eat on a daily basis or how often I eat.  

The spanish have a different idea of food, and its basically that they don't believe in this new age theory of 5-6 small meals per day.  Each day I have either a piece of toast for breakfast or a half tomato and cheese sandwich (from the café next to CIEE), and a large lunch.  Sometimes the lunch has a protein aspect, but almost always it has a huge carbohydrate aspect.  A typical lunch would be chicken and rice (always cooked with as much oil as could be possible) then a small salad and a piece of fruit for desert.  Doesn't sound so bad right?  My señora goes out for dinner every night so each night she leaves me either a pizza-bread sort of thing, a pizza, an empanada, or a spanish tortilla (egg and potato omelette).  CARBS.  It makes me never want to eat pizza again.  I guess its good I have to walk 1.5 miles to class everyday.  Geez.  Anyway, I can't wait to start eating grilled vegetables, healthy stirfry and best of all lean meats.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

La final fin de con los padres

I know it has been a while since I posted consistently, but starting now I promise I will post at least several times per week.  This past week Mom and Dad were here and we had a great time.  They arrived last Monday and only left first thing this morning.  I was able to show them all around Sevilla, we took a carriage ride touring the city, did some shopping, and Mom and Dad even went down and visited Rhonda and Arco de la Frontera.  They were able to come out and watch a riding lesson and each day for lunch and dinner we ate fantastic food.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Need to update more!

Lots to update on, but no time.  Last week there was an AXiD invasion in Sevilla when Alex, Emily, and Aly came to visit from Copenhagen.  We had the most incredible three days, I played tour guide, and they got to meet almost all of my spanish friends.  Needless to say, it was a blast!  Pictures to come.

Then last Monday Mom and Dad got here!  That has been a ton of fun too, unfortunately though, I am in school so that means I can't just hang out with them all the time.  They will come out to my farm to watch me ride on Monday though, YAY!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Xi love en españa

Last night Alex Lannigan, Emily Geigerich and Aly Hignight arrived in Sevilla, and I'm so freaking happy that I don't even have words to describe it.  I think with how homesick I've been this was the perfect time for them to show up.  Last night I picked them up at the bus station and walked them to their hostel, and afterwards we went out for a pitcher of sangria.  Afterwards I wanted to take them to try the drink Agua de Sevilla.  Its a drink thats made from 4 or 5 different liquors, orange juice, pineapple juice and whipped cream.  It is served at a little shot bar in the Plaza de Alfalfa, and as soon as we got there spanish guys started trying to meet them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pensamientos del futuro

The view of Ceuta, Spain, the Spanish territory in Morrocco
Its a week full of midterms and visitors.  On Wednesday night three of my favorite Alpha Xi Deltas arrive from Copenhagen, Denmark where they have been studying for the past few months.  Emily, Alex and Aly will stay here until Saturday morning when they leave for their next trip.

Lots to write about Morrocco, very little time to write.  This past weekend was the first weekend when I got truly homesick, this time homesick for the US, not for Sevilla.  Its a good thing I have axid's on their way to Spain and mom and dad on their way next week.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gracias Danke Thanks Obrigada

Beware: this is an essay that took an hour and a half to write, but it was the best weekend ever!

The weekend started out like any other, a regular Thursday night out partying with the friends (well almost regular, I only stayed out til two so that I could get up early and pack for Portugal).  On Friday I walked to Plaza de Cuba so that Carolina could pick me up and we could begin our journey west.  As she rolled up in her older small VW Golf, my heart started racing, I was about to go to Portugal to  vacation with my new spanish friend and her cousin!  I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.  As we got on the highway we started driving on A22 west listening to Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, some spanish rap and some german rap.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Soy profesora de íngles y voy a Portugal otra vez!

It's extremely difficult to wake up before the sun rises.  Each day I have class at 9am in the CIEE palacio, and the walk from my home to class is approximately 1.5 miles.  When I walk to class its usually about 45-50 degrees and by the time I finish class its about 75-80 degrees.  This type of weather makes it very hard to dress for the day as you can't stay warm, then you can't cool off.  Frustrating!

Last Friday night my friend Victor invited me to go out for some tapas with a few of his friends, his friend Ale that I had hung out with several times (the one that moved to Madrid to begin his masters program).  We went out for tapas and then went to Plaza Alfalfa where we had a few drinks and met up with a few more of his friends that I have met.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

La soñadora y la realista

Okay so about the past few days, I think I'll begin with Lagos.  The big group of our friends decided to take a trip with Discover Sevilla, the local travel agency that our friend Connor is interning with.  The trip cost 125 euro and included bus, hotel and several parties and tours of the city.  We left Friday morning and by 12:30 we were in rainy and stormy Lagos.  Lagos is in the southwest corner of Portugal, and it the place where people looked out to see and thought that it really was the end of the world.  The cliffs drop off into the water, and when you look out to sea you can just understand how people felt that the world really was flat.  Our weekend was mostly spent inside since it stormed for 80% of the time that we were there, but despite that we still had a blast.  We went out for our meals since the hotel didn't have a restaurant (and food wasn't included) so we had everything from American food to Thai, and the food was delicious.  We got to meet many other americans that are studying in Seville, but unfortunately nobody Portuguese. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Una finde en Lagos, Portugal

I knows its been forever since I have posted, internet in my house has been out since last Sunday, and hopefully it will be fixed by Wednesday latest.  I went to Portugal this weekend, so I have plenty of pictures to post and plenty to write, but it will have to wait until I can sit at home and get it done.  Hasta luego, its time for lunch!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Viva la vida que amas, ama la vida que vives...

Where can I even begin to describe the past few days?  I guess in the quote that became my motto two years ago when I went to Honduras.  A boy named Josue (ho-sway) used to tell us “ama la vida que vives, y viva la vida que amas.”  It is simply that.  Love the life you live, and live the life you love. 

I have said before that I can’t live without horses.  Here or anywhere.  Friday was the first day that I had the opportunity to go out to a farm and relax, and be with horses- what a feeling that was.  Hacienda Dos Olivos is located 45 minutes outside of Sevilla in a small town called Aznalcázar.  That means this was also my first time using Sevilla’s public transportation system.  The Plaza de Armas bus station is enormous and though fairly straight forward, I of course managed to need to ask for help several times.  Finally though, I made it onto the right bus, and off we went into the countryside.  After the first few stops I realized that the bus driver assumes everyone knows where they are going, and therefore does not call out the stops in any way shape or form.  I kept my looking around and waiting for the signs letting me know I was entering Aznalcázar.  Thankfully the Bienvenidos signs are fairly large.  Another fun fact about the bus system is that there are no official stops.  Anyone can press the stop button to have the bus stop wherever they want in the city; therefore I had to be very aware of my surroundings and where I was supposed to get off. 

When I arrived into the town center I called Johanna, the owner of Dos Olivos, and after asking me which part of the town I was in, she let me know that she would be there to get me within 15 minutes.  As we pulled into the farm my jaw pretty much hit the floor.  The architecture is all classical Spanish architecture with white walls and beautiful roofs.  Johanna immediately invited me into her home, and gave me a cup of tea.  It is the Spanish way to move slowly and appreciate the time we have.  Nothing is ever rushed, and I think it greatly adds to the quality of life the people here live.  

After the glass of tea and a phone call to my friend Victor to make plans for the night, Johanna took me outside and began the tour of the facility.  The farm is over a hundred years old, and in the best way possible, it shows.  You can feel the history around you as you walk through the courtyards, see the branches of the hundred year old olive trees hanging down, and notice the heads of beautiful Spanish stallions hanging over the stall doors.  The farm is a 30 hectare olive farm that grows organic table olives for the province of Andalucía.  Though the farm is small, it still takes the workers weeks to hand pick all the olive trees on the farm.  
Anyway back to the horses.  I had a chance to meet many of the faces around the farm including Johanna’s mother and daughter, yard manager, olive pickers and some of the temporary students.  I met each of the stallions and learned a bit about each of their stories.  I also had a chance to begin discussing with Johanna what arrangement we will be able to come to with the exchange of my photography for lessons.  They are looking to rebuild their website from scratch without using anyone on the outside, and I may be the perfect opportunity for them to use a professional without having the price tag that normally accompanies it.  Even just in the two hours that I spent with them, they already made me feel at home, and despite not being a dressage rider, were still perfectly welcoming in letting me know they would be happy to make me a part of their family.  Johanna offered to let me come out for full days at a time so I’m not rushing back to the city, she offered to feed me lunch on days when I stay later, and she offered to let me spend nights in the house so that I can see just how beautiful the farm is at sunset and sunrise.  I am beyond excited for this opportunity, and can only wait and see where it takes me, and this journey I have begun with my photography. 

After I finished touring the farm I hung out and watch Nancy, the farm manager, teach a lesson.  She is a calm and compassionate teacher that manages to share her knowledge in a way that is easy to understand.  When it came time for me to leave for the night, Johanna took me back into Aznalcázar to meet up with my friend Victor.  Normally the last bus leaves town at 19:05 but because I was meeting up with Victor we didn’t leave until 19:45.  Victor had received a text earlier in the day that had let him know there was a horse show beginning that night in the town next to his.  He of course thought of me right away and asked if I wanted to visit it.   Sevillano’s are a different type of people all together: Victor had just returned from Cordoba with his French friend Doña who was visiting for the week, and still he came to Aznalcázar just so that we could go to a horse show.  I can’t even convince my brother to come watch a horse show that I’m actually competing in, and here I have made a friend that is willing to pick me up from 30 minutes away, take me to a horse show despite knowing nothing about horses, while his friend was visiting, and just after finishing a long trip back from Cordoba.  AND afterwards he brought me back to his house and his mother cooked dinner for us before driving me the 25 minutes back to the area I live in the city. 

Its so foreign to me that the people here are so nice and don’t mind going out of their way to make other people happy.   There is no burden because here people aren’t only concerned with themselves, what a fantastically foreign idea to us americanos. 

On Friday I didn’t make it home until midnight, which was later than I had thought I would get home since we were leaving for Granada at 8:30 the next morning.  Despite the late night packing after an exhausting day (without a siesta!) I managed to wake up and make it to the bus with plenty of time to spare.  We spent the next several hours making our way east to the city of Granada, and when we arrived we were greeted with the most beautiful assortment of food most of us had seen since we arrived.  I think though that may be because most of us are not content with the food we receive in our home stays.  I know that at least for me I’m a picky enough eater that I struggle with the food on a day to day basis, and even when I try new things, most of the time I still don’t like the food and am left feeling unsatisfied and still hungry.   The food in the hotel was an all you can eat buffet with salads, breads, pastas and delicious meats.  The entire weekend we gorged ourselves knowing we would be returning to unpredictable food. 

The city of Granada is known for its major attraction – the Alhambra which is basically a series of palaces where the last Islamic king lived.  We had a tour (in Spanish of course) of the Alhambra and all of its rooms, including the restored lions from the Fuente de los Leones, a historically famous site regarded as the last symbol of peace between Muslims and Christians in the 1400s.  Its interesting that the gift was so well received by the Muslims because it is against Islamic beliefs to depict any living creatures in their art or buildings (they also cannot build their structures out of rock as it is too permanent – only Allah can create something that will last forever).  Therefore their buildings are adorned with colors and Sanskrit text instead of with any human or animal representations. 
After our tour of the Alhambra we rested before getting ready to go out in the city of Granada.  To our dismay the top location recommended to us by CIEE was a jazz bar that had for one, changed locations from the address given to us by CIEE and two, had some of the most expensive menu items we have seen since arriving in Spain (three euros for a cerveza is beyond expensive).  Adam, Paige, and I ended up finding a Chupitería (shot bar) nearby that had .50 cent mixed shots.  We each took eight (which might have been the equivalent of 3 shots… maybe) before heading back to Granada’s Plaza Nueva to meet back up with our friends.  Along the way (we didn’t have a map with us) we had to ask many people for directions, and the number one thing I learned about the city of Granada is that the people are much less friendly, and much less willing to help foreigners out.  I know that Sevilla has a reputation for being a very happy city full of inviting people, but I didn’t imagine that another city in Andalucía would be so opposite.  In the bars everyone keeps to themselves, and on the street many would simply ignore our questions asking for directions. But as the Sevillanos say “no pasa nada”.  We returned to Sevilla after two long days and were happy to be home. 

After I told my señora about my experience in Granada and she agreed, Sevillanos are known for being very happy and friendly people, and by noticing that, she says I am becoming a Sevillana. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Estaba en paraíso..

So I don't have time to write now, but let me just get you excited for my next blog post.  I'm absolutely in love with my new barn!!  I was able to take some fantastic photographs (even though it was my first day) and their horses are absolutely stunning!   I'm about to leave for Granada so the next post won't be until tomorrow night but I couldn't stand the suspense.

Hay potencial para un fin de semana fantastica!

I woke up this morning with the thought that today and this weekend have the potential to be absolutely fantastic.  Usually that isn't the best mentality to have because it makes it harder for the day or weekend to live up to my expectations.  Today though, I'm going out to Aznalcázar to meet Johanna of Hacienda Dos Olivos for the first time, and possibly ride.  This morning my Spanish friend Victor also texted me saying somebody told him about a horse show that is going on in the town next to the one he lives in, he offered to take me out there to watch for a little while.  I'm hoping we can either go before I ride and he can take me to Hacienda Dos Olivos or he can pick me up from there and we can go after.  He spent last weekend in Rome with his family for a wedding, and celebrated his birthday there too.  Its been too long since I've seen him, so hopefully this will work out today.

Tomorrow we leave for Granada through CIEE (=free) and so tonight we can't really go out.  I promised my friend Carolina that I would go out with her and her friends again though, so I think I may go out and only have a beer or two.  I don't want to be hungover on the bus ride!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reflecciones en la vida de la ciudad

I have always said that I didn't think I could live in a city, ask anyone.  Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about that a lot, because at this point its really hard for me to imagine leaving this one.  Something about it definitely changes you, but I think that may have more to do with the actual Spanish culture than it does with city life.  Everything is a little bit slower in Spain.  There is less emphasis on material things, and people just don't get so worked up about the petty things.  Most appreciate their friends, family and their church, and live life accordingly.

That being said Spain also has a 25% unemployment rate right now, and has overcompensated for Franco's dictatorship with lenient laws that could allow murders and other criminals to be back on the street in under ten years.  There are many problems with Spain, so it is by no means the perfect country, its democracy is young and they are still getting over the machista mentality.  Lets be serious though, is that going to be possible anywhere in the world?  Even the young people here prescribe to the same prehistoric notions that give women fewer rights than men. Don't get me wrong, women legally have the same rights, but socially that is a different story.  I'm taking a class this semester called Women Writers in the 20th Century, and while I was dreading taking a Lit class, I think this one will actually be really interesting.  The teacher is fantastic, the class isn't supposed to be hard, and so far all we have talked about are the social implications of being a woman in this world.  Interesting stuff.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Happy anniversary to my fantastic parents!  Today is their 35th wedding anniversary.  May they have 35 more together.  I can't wait for them to come celebrate here in Spain with me!

Estoy en España...

I haven't blogged in almost a week.  This has been one of our busiest weeks so far.  Well I don't know if that is really true, all of our weeks are busy.  It was the second week of our intensive language course where we essentially had all the grammar I had learned in the past 9 years crammed into two short weeks.  Surprisingly I think I did alright in the class (grammar has NEVER been my strong point) but I'm not too worried about it.

So several fun things happened this week. On Tuesday night a few of us went out to hang out at a bar that has beer pong tournaments once a week.  It was a little too expensive for me to want to play, but I did buy a budweiser at the bar since it was a very American bar.  I didn't love it there, but if I ever feel homesick that will be the place to go - its ALL americans. Afterwards Sahar and I went to Bilindo with our German friends when everyone else went home.  As usual we had a lot of fun!

Monday, September 20, 2010

La corrida de los toros

Last night a few of us went to a bull fight after we spent the day recovering from the night before.  Saturday night we went out with our group of friends to a botellón (similar to pregaming, but its more of a social event then an event designed to get a person very drunk) and afterwards we headed to Calle Betis to hang out at a bar and a club we liked.

As we were leaving the first bar we randomly ran into all of my German friends outside and we decided that we would meet back up in 30 minutes to all go to Bilindo together.  Bilindo is an open air disco that I had heard lots about from these boys, but that we hadn't yet made it to.  Dominic, Quin, Christine and I took a taxi around 2am over to Bilindo to start the night with some dancing.  That's right I said START.  Its normal here in Spain to go out around 1am and not come home until 7am or 8am (or later if there is any special occasion).  This specific club actually stays open until 9am.

El viaje a Cádiz

Sometimes when my friends and are all sitting around having a drink, or just hanging out, I look around and think "wow, this is my life".   To have the opportunity to live and learn in another country is something very few people are able to do.  Yesterday a big group of us went to Cadiz through CIEE and it was a blast.  I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before (Spaniards go out until dawn on a regular basis) so I was super tired during the tour, but as soon as the tour was over we hit the beach for a few hours of swimming and laying out in Europe's oldest city.  I didn't have my camera with my but my friend Adam took many nice photos of us.  I think we will definitely go back there soon since the bus ride is only an hour and a half.

Quin, Me, Sahar

Friday, September 17, 2010

Más fotos

They baked me a cake!
Adam, Paige, Me, Connor, Scott, Quin

Thursday, September 16, 2010

He vivido en Sevilla trece días

Today was day 4 of our intensive grammar course, and tomorrow I have a midterm on the grammar concepts covered so far.  Most of these thing are things that I have learned in the past, but that are relevant to the life here, and therefore used on a daily basis.  I think that the only way to properly learn a language is to be immersed in it and be forced to use it or lose it.

I've made friends here from other countries that easily speak 3-5 languages fluently, and they just don't understand why it is so hard for us Americans.  Hopefully by the end of this semester I will be closer to being able to have a command of the Spanish language.  I have been here for 13 days, and already I have spoken with many Spaniards, I'm comfortable striking up a conversation, and I have become more confident in my use of grammar.

I submitted my course schedule for the semester which starts on September 27.  I'm going to take a literature course about the women writers in the 20th century in Spain, and Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course in Spanish, 100 years of myths and Stereotypes about the United States in Spain, and then a course about Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in Spain.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tengo veinte y uno años, fiestaaa!

Last night my friends here made my birthday absolutely amazing.  We started out at a very classy/upscale bar and then went to an american bar that serves 1 euro shots and beers.  My german friends ended up coming out to celebrate, though my spanish friends couldn't. I think we will see the spanish friends this weekend.  No time to write now, I have to go finish my homework for tomorrow!

my señora bought me a cake!

Empecé mi curso intensivo hoy!

Today was our first day of our intensive spanish grammar class, and I really enjoyed it, though I think I might have been placed in a level that is a bit easier than I need.  Today was the first day of the grammar review and I already knew everything we talked about, though I know it will get harder as the week goes on.  Today is my birthday so tonight we are going to go out and celebrate.  Normally we won't go out on Mondays.

Today we also received our intercambios, these are students from the university of Sevilla that want to improve their english and help us improve our spanish.  Mine is named Sergio and I sent him an email earlier today.  Hopefully I will be able to meet him at some point this week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Con los españoles

Where do I even begin?  I've been having so much fun getting to know Sevilla and getting to know the Spaniards that I feel like I haven't had time to stop and think or reflect really.  Tomorrow is my birthday so the whole weekend has been a bit of a birthday celebration.  During orientation my guía was Victor, and after orientation Sahar and I started to become friends with him.  I think we ended up getting very lucky because he seems like a very genuine and sincere guy.  He also likes to go out and knows all the places we should go and the places we should avoid.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Me encanta la ciudad

I love this city.  I love my host mom.  I love my friends.  I love the people here.  Right now I'm concentrating on living and loving and learning rather than talking about those things.  When I have time I'll give a real update on life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Algunos amigos nuevos

I've only been here for five days and I'm already getting my bearings.  I love being able to walk around the city and know where I'm going without using a map.  The people here are beautiful, and they have such an amazing sense of style.  From the youngest children to the oldest abuelas all the women wear dresses during the day, and the men wear polos or button downs.  There are many dark people, but they are morenos, but also lighter skinned, light haired Spaniards too.

Yesterday was our last day of orientation, so after dinner our guías took us out to a really fun shot bar then club.  At the shot bar (shots = chupitos) we met a lot of people including españoles, germans (alemanes) and some other americans on a different program.  As it turns out the germans are actually staying in the same hostel that Scott and I stayed in last weekend.  We got to talking to them and two of their birthdays are this weekend/next week also!  So apparently we might celebrate with them - smaller fiestas saturday, monday, and wednesday, then a huge party next Friday for all of us.  Who knows if we actually will celebrate with them, but we did exchange numbers, and they are here for the semester so its possible!  They were crazy but also really fun.  After the shot bar we went down to a discoteca with our guías (and only about 5 americans which was awesome) and we drank more and danced and talked.  It was fun to start to see more about their culture and meet more people. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No te olvides tu pasaporte

I have so much to write about but I've had so little time!  I feel like many people use these first three days of orientation to settle in, write home and maybe meet some people.  Orientation is busy, but I have already made lots of friends and am looking forward to meeting more.  Each night we have gone out to the local bars (and last night to a more club-ish bar), had several drinks and socialized.  In the hotel my roommate was a girl named Sahar from outside of San Francisco in Palo Alto.  She is a junior at the University of Oregon.  We instantly hit it off and were even in the same orientation group (con Victor!) so we have been spending a lot of time together.  Turns out we have a lot in common and we will probably become good friends.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Last night we went out for tapas and sangria, figuring we could start finding restaurants we like, and places we like to drink.  We explored for a while, eventually getting into an area that was too residential and the restaurants were too expensive so we headed back up towards the area near our hostel and found a nice little place where we could share 3 cold tapas, 2 hot tapas, each have a glass of sangria, and then share a fruit desert at the end for only 17 euros.

It's not cheap but sounded like a good deal and we liked the food on the menu.  It seems like there is seafood and eggs in everything and the food is drowned in olive oil, but the portions are so small, and we do so much walking that I don't think it will matter.  After dinner we went back up to la plaza de San Francisco and had another pitcher of sangria at the same place we tried earlier that afternoon - Bar Europa.

Bienvenidos a Sevilla

Traveling is tedious in general, traveling to Spain was beyond the usual annoyance at other passengers and incidents since I was traveling for a total of 24 hours.  It was business as usual in Newark Airport, but in London I was surprised to find my flight was 4 hours earlier than I had written down.  It wasn't a problem though, after I took the 30 minute bus ride to the other terminal we literally just got right on the plane.  There were many more students on that flight and I sat next to a nice guy who is spending his semester in Barcelona.  It seems like everyone wants to talk to each other but no one wants to strike up conversation.  I ended up talking to a whole bunch of students simply because I was willing to be the first to say "hey".  I didn't meet anyone who was going to Seville though, so I was on my own after Madrid.

I changed terminals and found the general area of where my flight would leave from (they don't announce gates until about 30 minutes before the flight leaves) so I made my way to McDonald's and ordered un ensalada césar.  It tasted nothing like a regular ceaser salad but I was starving and at least the chicken tasted like chicken.  I then got up to check if the gate had been announced - it hadn't - so I went to find another place to sit with all my stuff.  After 10 minutes of reading I was so tired that I put my head down on my book and fell asleep.  An hour later I realized I only had 40 minutes until my flight was going to take off, so I got up and found out which gate I needed to go to.  Typical - it was on the entire other side of the terminal, so I walked about a mile all the way to the end where I sat and waited to get on the plane.  On both Spain flights I had the good fortune of having screaming babies within two rows of me.  What a joy.  I tried to sleep through it but didn't have too much luck.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Andalucia here I come!

So as most of you know, I'm going to be leaving for Seville, Spain in 11 days and I will be living there for the next four months.  I'm going to be living the Spanish lifestyle, eating Spanish food, taking courses in Spanish, and best of all riding Spanish horses.  I've been corresponding with a barn outside of Seville called Hacienda Dos Olivos (  As a student and a photographer I will have an opportunity to barter my skills as a photographer in exchange for lessons in classical dressage.  Let me say that I am beyond excited to have an opportunity to learn from a fabulous instructor on gorgeous Andalusian stallions.

Monday, August 2, 2010

And I'm back!

Forgive me for it has been too long since I last blogged.  A summer without horses far from ideal.  I have lessoned twice and ridden some horses for Gloria several times.  All in all its been about a handful of rides when I was used to riding several each day.

Remember the crazy crazy yellow baby?  Well guess what?  I think she realized how much fun it is to have me around.   I went back down to Elon for the whole week this past week and she was FANTASTIC each and every day.  Thats five days straight of PERFECT pony.  It was unreal!  We walked, trotted, cantered, and jumped a few fences on a loose rein!  And I rode her bareback and she couldn't have cared less.  I don't think anyone else could do this with her, but she and I have a relationship based in trust and it makes our ability to create success that much more feasible.  We really are truly happy when we are with each other.

I know its pretty clear that the blogging has been limited for the summer.  That will change when I leave for Spain (I will try to write regularly) and when I get back I will be getting back into riding full time so I will have plenty of adventures to share.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Special Pony!

My pony is so special!  She jumped 3'6 two days ago UNDER SADDLE! I'm so proud of the little beast.  I recently made some tack changes that stressed her out at first but that will ultimately help her go better under saddle.  I switched her to a figure 8 noseband which will help to keep her  mouth closed and keep her from crossing her jaw so she can't evade the bit and from a standing martingale to a running martingale.  This will help to continue to encourage her to use her body over the fences and it doesn't restrict her from throwing her head up.

Yesterday on the flat we worked on canter lengthening and collection which is a totally new concept for her.  Its cool to see how responsive she can be, and even though she is hot, these days she just loves to work.  She loves jumping more than anything though so that is what really focuses her attention.  Yesterday I also worked on a cross-rail exercise that gets her thinking about her leads.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Free jumping!

On Friday we free jumped both beasties, and had so much fun!  The pony got up to a 3'3 oxer and Ritter up to a 3' oxer.  They both did so well!  We may be able to make show horses out of them both!

And then on Saturday we had someone out who may know people interested in leasing Ritter or buying the pony.  I ended up jumping Ritter through the chute, and the striding really helps him out!  We ended up jumping a really beautiful 2'9 oxer!  I'm so proud of him!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hello weekend!

This yellow pony is very difficult to figure out!  On Monday she ripped the lunge line out of my hand while I was lunging her and proceeded to take off around the ring for about 15 minutes with the line flying behind her.  On Tuesday though, she was great under saddle!  Walk, trot, canter and some fences, and she was happy!

On Wednesday she got a nice little Depo Provera shot, and she is also on an herbal supplement called mellow mare that she gets with each meal. Hopefully we will soon start to see a difference.  Yesterday I set up a free jumping chute for her, and this afternoon we are going to send her through it. I think we may have more success marketing her as a jumper rather than a hunter, and we know she's got the ups for it!  I've got a chute set up with a cross-rail, one stride to an oxer.  Our standards go up to 3'6 so today we get to see what she has to give us!  Pony jumpers compete at 3'6 so it will be interesting to see how she handles this height.  Christine is bringing her video camera and the whole barn crew is coming to hang out.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunny and 85 in Blacksburg!

This weekend I spent Saturday and Sunday in Blacksburg with Nikki, the girl who bought Zena in October.  The first things I saw when I pulled onto the property were Nikki and Zena walking up from the lower barn!  It was so good to see that bratty little pony again.  And she is so fat, fit and happy now!  She really looks the best she ever has, and she will continue to grow and get better everyday.  Nikki is hoping to go Training level by the end of the year.  Dressage is the only issue that will ever face that pony, and even that isn't too hard for her to figure out.  We already know she can jump the moon!

Friday, April 30, 2010

It's definitely spring in NC!

On Wednesday I went out to Chapel Hill to shoot Bonnie and Maggie, and we had so much fun.  After class we headed to North Star Training Center, and while Bonnie began getting her mare ready I scouted out a few locations on the property.  I chose three locations and off we went!  Because Maggie is an upper level mare, the only bridle Bonnie has is her double bridle, fancy!  We shot in two outfits, both her Shadbelly jacket, top hat, and show clothes, and also a beautiful white sundress.  Here is a sneak peak:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shoot in Chapel Hill!

Tonight I'm heading over to Chapel Hill for a photoshoot with my friend Bonnie and her gorgeous dark bay dressage mare Maggie.  Maggie is 15 years old and carried Bonnie to her Bronze medal and numerous Young Rider championships.  Maggie has spent the past eight months lame, and will soon be getting surgery that could return her to a point of soundness.  Today's weather is beautiful and I'm looking forward to a great shoot!  More soon.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Its been too long!

I need to get back to daily blogging!  The pony is finally gold - check this out!  

Isn't she just the cutest thing in the world?  She has been super hot lately and pretty out of control.  A few days ago she ripped out the board that the cross ties are screwed into, and she has also started rearing a bit again.  Dr. Shuler is going to be out soon, and hopefully he can figure out if there is something wrong with her.  I also want to look into possibly putting her on Regumate, and see if that calms her down.

This weekend I'm heading up to Blacksburg, Virginia to see Zena and Nikki!  I can't wait to share photos from that.  I'm shooting a fun show at her barn, and going to be selling myself to get people to sign up for portrait sessions on Sunday.  It should be fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back in North Carolina!

25 hours and 1300 miles in the car later, I'm back in North Carolina after one of the busiest and most fun weekends of photography I have had!  On Friday I headed down south to Howell, NJ to shoot my friend Gloria, and her Standardbred mare Blue who she adopted as a two year old over 13 years ago.  I've known Blue for a long time, about as long as I've known Gloria, and this is the first opportunity I have had to photograph them together!  Here are a few samples from that day:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A busy weekend ahead of me!

Ritter and I came to an understanding today about the barrels.  He thinks they are scary, I think they are harmless.  Agree to disagree doesn't work for us, we stared and stared, and then trotted and trotted until he realized that no, they in fact won't jump off of the rail and eat him alive.  Other than that little argument though, it was a fairly productive ride.  His transitions get cleaner and cleaner each ride, and he has the best Woah I've ever sat on. Hey yellow pony, want to take some lessons on that from him?

On another note, I received a call from Grayson this morning that Jim Bob may have found the next project.  Its an off the track Thoroughbred that has been sitting in the field a while since he was too slow and kind hearted to make it on the track.  Supposedly he looks like a Quarter Horse, he apparently has had some dressage training, but by the sounds of it has been in the field a while.  He is free to a good home, and he may be something, he may not.  I'll find out more this week, and we'll figure out if JB is willing to give him a shot.  Since I head back north in just over a month, it will hopefully be something that Grayson can keep going once I leave.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A weekend of photography!

Sometimes I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day, but at the end of the day I usually feel like I accomplished so much that its worthwhile.

On Friday I went out to New Heights Farm, the farm that the Elon Equestrian Team used to ride out of, and I was able to photograph my friend Mollie and her adorable gelding Chance.  The weather was beautiful, and we were able to take advantage of the huge field right next to the farm.  Mollie and I cut the shoot a little bit short so that we could both make it home in time to get ready for the Shwayze and Third Eye Blind concert at Elon.  Even though they are about 45 years old now, they still performed well!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jim Bob approves!

It is hot in North Carolina.  I don't mean the kind of hot where you want to stay outside all the time, I mean the kind of heat where you barely want to go outside or do any kind of physical activity for fear of bursting into flames.  Each day this week got well into the 90's, and it was hard to find the motivation to ride in that heat.

I did though!  The pony has been steadily improving, and I finally got Jim Bob out to see her!  He came out this morning, and I jumped her around a little course.  She was the worst she has been in two weeks! Typical.  The wind was blowing and she was alone out in the ring.  She wouldn't settle into a nice canter, but was really happy to start jumping.  She doesn't rush fences most of the time.  She still gets excited, but the only time she refuses is when I'm not riding well enough.  She still isn't quite ready for a kid but we are getting there.  We need to get her sold though, so I'm going to write her sale ad this week.   We haven't decided how much to ask for her, but once Anne comes out hopefully she will be able to give me an idea of what to ask for each.  He has been keeping his eye out for more projects too which is exciting, though really it just makes sense for him to wait til the fall to buy something, and that way we can get to work when I get back from Spain.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Its been too long since I last posted!

Its been too long since I have posted.  Forgive me!

There has been a lot going on!  I arrived back at school last week and got back to work with the ponies.  The little yellow one, who has affectionately been named Sunshine by Grayson, has really been coming along!  She has been putting weight on, and is starting to look really good!  Yesterday she also jumped around her first course!  Granted most of the course was cross rails, it ended with the barrels under a 2'3 vertical!  She refused the first time but the second time around I just grabbed some mane and kept my leg on and she went flying over!  We still have a lot to work on with her leads and staying quiet, but as long as you stay out of her face and off her back she is a pretty happy pony!  I'm going to look and see when we can get her out to her first show.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Home to NJ

I've had so much fun this past week seeing so many people I haven't seen in a long time.  I spent Wednesday at Lawrenceville having lunch with my previous photo teacher Mr. Vandever, and he gave me a lot of great ideas to try.  I also went to the squash team dinner, and spent the evening with many of the girls I played with during my senior year.  This year's team came in second at nationals though, the best that any Lawrenceville girls squash team has ever done.  I am so proud to have been a part of that team.

Yesterday I spent lunch at Purnell eating with Robin and Donna, the leaders of the Equine Studies class that invited me to give a photography seminar.  Afterwards I went out to Lightfields Farm and did a portrait session with my friend Ryann, and the outcome was fabulous.  The confidence I have developed in my work, combined with the skills I have learned in my composition class, have resulted in yesterday's images:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reflecting on the past

In my room at home I have this box.  I've always had it, but I have never spent any time looking through it.  Its old, an old Ariat boot box, probably 16"x24".  Inside the box are photographs.  I started this box (not this actual one, but the idea) when I was about ten years old and have continued to add to it ever since.  Now almost eleven years later it is nearly full.  The idea that there will ever be a way to quantify a person's experiences, or immortalize them through the recordings of the experience is a daunting thought, but that seems to be what this box is.  Despite the more sophisticated ways to store photos like frames or photo albums, I clearly realized early on that these photographs were so much more than the click of a shutter, there were a snapshot of a moment in time, a moment of my life. A tangible way to look back and reflect on the past long after the experience becomes cloudy in the mind.  Photos are a way to remember the best times, but also a way to remind yourself of the way things once were.

Since the day I started riding I have encountered hundreds of horses.  Maybe more.  While I don't remember all of their names, I do have a fairly easy time recalling the experiences surrounding each photo. I went to different camps, rode horses in Honduras, Peru, Dominican Republic, England, Ireland.    Like humans, each horse is different.  Looks different, acts different, has a unique personality.  The more I learn about different horses the more I love thinking about the ones I knew in the past as well.  

A little more about me

My senior year of high school I was asked to write an article in defense of the three sport athletic requirement for a campus publication called Explore.  That semester's exploration topic was education.  I forgot about this article until I came across it today, and I wanted to share it.  The piece was called "Athletics with Academics: A Necessity or a Nuisance?"

A Defense of Athletics
By: Kelsey Sullivan '08

Kelsey Sullivan '08, a V form prefect in Stanley House and Athletics Representative to the Student Council, disagrees, saying that athletics are an opportunity for many students to learn more about themselves through competition. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Some photography updates...

My photography has been a focus the past month and I have been thinking a lot about how to improve and expand my business, and how to improve my skills as an artist.  I'm currently taking a composition course with Shelley Paulson, the same woman who is running the workshop I'm attending in Lexington in June, and already I have learned a lot about my own style and have begun to learn about ways I can improve upon the skills I have.

Lately I have been looking for inspiration within the things I see everyday, but I have also been looking to other professional work to build my style, my expression, and the messages I convey in my images.  I'm planning on taking professional photographer Peter Demott's business advertising and marketing course in April-May once Shelley's course ends. Then it will be time for me to head to Lexington!  I have several ideas I'm going to work with, and several models who are kind enough to put up with me!  I'm looking forward to getting out there.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A week's worth of updates...

Its been such a busy week!  There is so much going on with AXiD this week, and our new girls are finally our sisters, and my little knows who I am!  She is awesome - her name is Emma and she is from Cary, NC.   I love my little!  

Last Saturday Janene helped me set up a free jumping chute, and we sent both Ritter and the pony through to help them figure out where their feet go and to see what they had to offer.  Ritter is well broke, but doesn't have much experience over fences. He showed some great potential!  And he is so level headed that he makes the training aspect easy! The pony too was fabulous over the fences!  I set up a cross rail, one stride to a vertical and kept increasing the size of the vertical.  She sailed over 2'9!  Here are the links to the videos:

Friday, March 5, 2010

A few more of Sarah and Moose


Some fun shots from today...

The sleeping beasties (note the yellow pony passed out in her blue blanket)...

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Today has been quite a week, and between dropping my Spanish class, being diagnosed with strep throat, and both my teachers cancelling class today, I feel like I have had a lot of free time, even if for most of it I didn't feel anywhere near 100%.  I have spent a lot of time harrassing my little - and she still doesn't know who I am yet!  I send her candy and cookies and boys, and I'm constantly surprising her with tasks and things.  I love her, and she is going to fit it so well with me and Sarah!

This morning I drove around the outskirts of Burlington, Liberty, and Gibsonville (I think?), as I explored Guilford county.  The first half of the week for my composition course I needed to shoot several images to illustrate my understanding of the rule of thirds.  While conceptually I understand it just fine and use it on a regular basis it was interesting to head it into "unknown territory" (landscape photography) and experiment with these ideas.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pampered pony!

The pony was great today, and she got a partial spa day too!  I rode for about twenty minutes, just getting her to relax into a quiet walk and then a quiet trot.  Quieting the trot always takes the most effort since she is continuously anxious about life.  She hypes herself up even though all I want from her is to ride on a loose rein and relaxed so that she can actually learn something.  After the ride gave her a bit of pampering - she got her mane pulled, legs scrubbed, and tail brushed.  Looks good eh?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Severe weather warnings in New Jersey

I was supposed to head home to NJ today so that I could give an equine photography seminar at the Purnell School in the morning tomorrow.  New Jersey is expecting 18" of snow, which means no driving for me and my old wheels.  Now I have to wait until spring break for family and friends.  We are still going to try to figure out how I can give presentation/discussion over Skype.  Oh the beauty of technology!

I've been maintaining my facebook fan page with a "Photo of the Day" to showcase some of my work, and because its cold and wintery, much of the work is from the past year.  I have several irons in the pot for both portfolio building opportunities and for possible clients.  I'm looking into the details of attending an equine photography workshop in Lexington, KY this summer, and what an opportunity that would be!  I can choose between the seminar led by Gabrielle Boiselle, famous for capturing the spirit and essence of the horse:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parelli and painting

Yesterday Sarah and I headed out to the barn after our last class to play with the ponies.  Janene was there so we talked for a while about Ritter, and I ended up riding him so that she could watch.  We talked about what I was working towards with Rit under saddle and where his weaknesses were.  It was a lot of fun!  Today is rain/snowing so I'm going to try to ride tomorrow before class.  Sarah and I also did some more Parelli stuff with the pony, and each day she just gets better and better.

Here is a new painting!  I finished all my work early last night so I pulled out one of my last two canvases and started working on it.  Its not finished yet but here is what I have done so far:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finally, some photographs!

This weekend was finally beautiful! Over 60 degrees both days.  I was finally able to bring my camera out to play!  The photos at then end are all from yesterday.

This weekend Sarah started to do some Parelli stuff with the pony, and she is already becoming a different horse!  I know many people don't really buy into the whole natural horsemanship thing, but it is cool because its basically establishing a mutual trusting relationship, and mutual respect for each other.  This will be especially great for the pony because she is so fearful.  Already she is learning how to respond to pressure, read Sarah or my energy, and she is no longer afraid to come over in the stall or field.  And this is only after two sessions!  What we have been doing is learning together.  Sarah teaches her a game or two a day (Parelli is based on 7 games), and she gets her a little farther each time.  I then start from the beginning and play games that the pony is already familiar with so that I can learn how to do them, and she is already a little familiar with the expected responses.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Have you ever been in the mood to paint?  Or to draw?  For some reason I think all my thoughts focused on my photography business, future shoots, and the installation of more creativity into my work has led to some crazy desire to provide myself with an outlet for my creativity.  I haven't been able to shoot because of the weather, but today I just needed to do SOMETHING.  I went to Michael's and picked up six canvases, 6 bottles of paint, a pack of twelve brushes and I got to work!  I don't believe I have any artistic talent, but here is what I came up with!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two projects, spring here we come!

I've ridden the yellow pony twice since I've been back, and also lunged her a few times.  She has had what is now close to two months off, and since she didn't end up going home for the winter she has just been sitting in Grayson's field.  Each day to catch her I have to trick her into coming over to me, because if I'm over eager she will simply run the other direction - literally!  She wants to think that being caught is her idea, and the field is big enough that she is usually right.  She is fuzzy and shaggy and more white than yellow, but hopefully when she starts shedding she will be a palomino girl again.
She is figuring out just how okay it is for her to be interested in life, and although she still threatens to rear on the cross ties and under saddle, thus far her front feet have stayed on the ground.  Sarah is going to help me by teaching me some Parelli stuff to do with her, and I think that once she is in a consistent program (c'mon weather - dry up!) she will be fit and happy.  I can't wait to start getting her going over fences!  The free-jumping session was such a tease!  Remember this?

Molly, a freshman who rode on the dressage team with Sarah and me in the fall, recently began boarding with Grayson as well, and today she had a jumping session with her adorable mare Savannah.  I miss jumping around too!  

Today we just walked and trotted, and I'm trying to remind Pony that she doesn't have to GO GO GO all the time.  She does eventually settle down at the trot, but she has a tendency to lose her mind at the walk.  She can't really seem to fathom moving that slowly!  She doesn't really understand the point.  At the end of our ride though we watched Molly and Savannah jump around the course Molly set up and I think it was really good for Pony's brain to just stand while another horse was galloping around the ring.  Go Pony!

On another note, the little PonyFace Zena has been SO successful!  In her first jumper show with Nikki she won her 3' power and speed class, and got second in the jump off of the other 3' class she did. She also competed in her first two events, and she was one mistake away from winning the first one!  She stopped at the water fence, but jumped right in on the second try, and otherwise was set up to win the division!  That's funny, do you remember when she was terrified of even walking through a puddle?  Nikki sure has some potential in her hands! 

Recently I started talking to Janene about Ritter, and because of the economy and some recent harder times of her half leaser, she has decided that she may eventually need to sell Ritter if she can't find another half leaser for him.  I offered to take him on as a "project" so to speak (get him fit), and so this spring I will ride him most days when I have time, and the weather is good so that when Janene decides what she is going to do with him, he will be fit, healthy and ready to go.  

I rode him today for the first time since the fall, and he is the same old guy!  His birthday was actually on Valentines Day (Happy 8th Ritter!) so he is a new man looking at his eighth year.  He is AQHA, and was started western, and also in dressage.  For those who were reading this in the fall, they might remember that I jumped him around a few times.  He may just turn out to be a nice little hunter!  I'm going to take it slow with him, Janene says that when he is coming back into fitness he has a tendency to get sore in his back right leg, and so I'll be careful to monitor it and build him up slowly.  

Today we just walked and trotted and I got a feel for where we are starting.  I rode him in my own saddle with a riser pad and the french link loose ring.  He has two different bridles for two different riders, but I prefer to see what I have in my hands before I bit up too much.  Its nice to get on a horse that is always quiet whether it has been a day or a month since he has last been ridden.  While Ritter has been ridden recently, I know the weather prevents its consistency.  He has a tendency to lean on the bit for support and hyperflex as he looks for contact in the rider's hand.  I didn't give him that support because I hate horses that lean, but I'd be glad to get him going long and low and carrying himself rather than looking for constant support.  There was little to no engagement through his hind end which is to be expected, and as he builds muscle that will come.  For now we will simply focus on fitness, and the rest will come with time.