Back To School

It’s mid-August, and instead of planning out a fall show schedule, I find myself planning a school schedule. I enrolled full time (15 credit hours) at Oklahoma State University- Tulsa this semester. This certainly wasn’t what I planned to do in my early 30s, but here we are.

I’m sure I’ve talked about this on the blog at some point in the last eight years, but the gist of how I got to this point is as follows. I graduated during the recession with a degree in natural resources management. My plan to work for any number of government agencies or private corporations didn’t pan out; environmental compliance was not high on anyone’s priority list at that time. After an uncomfortable couple of months living with my mother, I moved to Wichita, Kansas (from the Nashville, Tennessee area) and worked at a cell phone carrier call center. I did that for a year before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma and got a job at a therapeutic riding center. That’s about the time this blog began.

For the last five years, I’ve worked as the e-commerce and marketing manager for a small tack shop. I like my work a lot, but always felt like I was making it up as I went along. I don’t know anything about marketing other than what I learned through free online resources. Last year, I enrolled at Tulsa Community College in courses I thought would be useful for my job. (They were.) I especially liked my accounting classes.

I’m uncertain about the tack store’s future, as the owners are in their 70s. If they sell it, will I still have a job? When will they retire? If they have an unexpected health issue, what will happen to the business? With those questions looming, I’ve been weighing my options. I do have five years of experience doing something. But I feel more like I’m competent at lots of things (sales, digital marketing, graphic design, retail buying, accounting) rather than an expert at anything. I lack relevant formal education, which I think hurts my chances for anything other than future entry-level employment.

Instead of waiting to see what will happen (which is my usual MO), I decided to do something. OSU Tulsa offers a variety of degrees and accepted all of my classes from TCC and my alma mater. I am four semesters away from a bachelor’s degree in finance. I’m still working part time at the tack store in addition to taking classes.

Right now, I feel overwhelmed- my classes are both on campus and online and require a lot of time. I’m mostly excited, though- the prospect of someday having a job that includes benefits and enough of a salary for me to maximize my IRA contributions is very appealing. (Although I imagine I’ll miss wearing breeches to the office three days a week.) My show schedule will be limited for the foreseeable future, but I’ll continue foxhunting for sure- I need something to keep me motivated to ride!

Madigan’s First Show

Madigan went to his very first show on Friday and while the show itself was a hot mess, Madigan himself was a very good boy.

The hot mess kicked off a couple of weeks ago. The closing date for the show was July 23; I waffled on whether or not to enter him, but finally did so while I was in Kansas City for work on July 21. I paid for his USEA number, filled out an entry via Xentry, paid the entry fee, and e-signed the form. When the show entry status page updated in early August, Madigan’s name was missing. I searched through my emails for the confirmations of payment and signatures and found them. And noticed at the bottom of one email something about this event not accepting online entries, only mailed entries.

After a brief profanity-laced rant in my car, I accepted that this was my fault for not reading closely enough. I emailed the show secretary to explain the error and asked if I could be added to the show or obtain a refund. She got me entered right away. Crisis averted! Money not wasted!

The show required every horse to have a health certificate, so I made an appointment at the vet clinic for the Tuesday before the show. The week before I took him down there, I called the clinic his breeder used to ask for a copy of his medical records so my clinic could have them. You would have thought I was asking for nuclear codes! I was informed that only his breeder could authorize the release of his records; when I told them his breeder had already done so (or at least told me she’d done so), the clinic insisted they’d heard no such thing and wouldn’t send me anything. (I guess they eventually called his breeder or decided the horse didn’t have a right to privacy, as the records showed up in my mailbox last week.)

On Wednesday, I felt positively about the upcoming show. Madigan had a shiny new Coggins and health certificate. He was listed as entered. Ride times were supposed to be published that day. All was well! However, at noon, ride times were not published. At 5 PM ride times were not published. At 8 PM, the facility’s Facebook page posted that ride times would be published within the hour. A post with ride times was never actually published (nor did I get an email with them); I found the times by guessing the URL of the ride times page based on the URL of the entry status page.

Baby horse or very small giraffe?

Madigan was scheduled to go at 3:12 PM on Friday. After conferring with Madigan’s show squad, I decided to leave at 11 AM. It’s a 2.5 hour drive to the venue, and everyone felt like extra time was better than too little time. I decided to have my friend next door handle Madigan at the show. She’s experienced with showing horses in hand and has presented lots of young horses at inspections. Plus, she runs way faster than I do! Another friend came to act as assistant handler (to wave the longe whip at him to get him to trot) and a third friend came for moral support. It was fun to have a group and useful to have all the extra hands!

We arrived around 2 PM and I headed to the show office to check in. Madigan unloaded a little wide-eyed but settled down quickly once he was parked in front of a hay bag. Assistant handler braided him, and she and my neighbor changed into their very professional-looking matching outfits. We all trekked down to the triangle with Madigan in tow. The triangle was set up in a field that was also being used as a schooling/warm-up area. It was busy, but not too wild. Horses were being ridden and led around and some were screaming like banshees, but Madigan was perfect. He let out one or two little baby whinnies and spent most of his time grazing.

We (and several other young horses and their handlers) waited around for about half an hour past the scheduled start of Future Event Horse. The judge never appeared. Someone eventually went to the show office to inquire about the delay, at which point we were informed the in-hand classes had been pushed back until 5 PM! I was super irritated about this- the ride times were apparently updated at 6:30 AM Friday morning, but I didn’t receive an email, there was nothing posted on the venue’s Facebook page or the show secretary company’s, and no one in the show office thought to mention it when I checked in and stated I was there for Future Event Horse. Back to the trailer we went. Madigan was unfazed. He was quiet and calm and spent an hour and half grazing (and attempting to trim the facility’s trees).

Trotting like a good boy.

Madigan’s spin around the triangle was uneventful. He was a little fussy about standing still- he didn’t do anything bad, just fidgeted a little and stood in the most awkward possible ways. That did not help him look his best, but the judge was understanding. Madigan walked perfectly and trotted with minimal encouragement from the longe whip. The judge complimented his relaxed demeanor and mentioned his athleticism and confidence on the score sheet. He ended up with a 71.11, which was good enough for second place behind a nice Oldenburg/Arabian colt. It took forever for the results to be posted; we left as soon as we could grab the ribbon and a photo and I pulled into my driveway at 10:15 PM.

Second place for a good boy!

I could not be more pleased with Madigan’s first outing. He stood around like an old pro, never got upset about anything, and traveled like a champion. It was a VERY long day, especially for a baby horse. I’m really impressed with his temperament- he’s such a sensible horse!