Sunday, August 23, 2009

From Laura

Laura Juniewicz, SFD's glamorous assistant, said she had a submission for our newsletter. She was pretty secretive about what she wanted to write about, but I trust her, so I said 'sure, I'll run whatever you write.' I really didn't know it was going to be this flattering, but thanks Laura!!! Hiring you was one of the best business decisions I've made.

My Pilgrimage to SFD...One Year Later

By Laura Juniewicz

So there I was a radiology student, in school full time and insanely in the middle of doing her L judge program through the USDF when I got a phone call from a fellow candidate that I had gotten really friendly with at the L activities and at the DVCTA Adult Team Show. Ange asked if I would be interested in coming to her barn to teach part time as her business was growing and she needed some help. I was firstly flattered and thought it would be a good match because in discussions Ange and I had we agreed on a lot of theory and saw things in a similar light. So I went to SFD and rode Sam and Clyde who were lots of fun and well trained. After being there a couple weeks, and after talking it over with mom I asked Ange if I could move my horses to SFD and so my journey began.

I had offered to do feedings and in discussing things with Ange I could see she was as meticulous as I was about my pony’s care. So what did I do? I promptly left my ponies in her hands and went to work my week at Dressage at Devon as the trophy and awards coordinator. But I needn’t have worried as my ponies were fine and survived the week.

So my first few months at SFD were interesting for me and I learned a lot about myself and about others. One of the first things I noticed about SFD was how tight knit the group was and how supportive they were. But it took time for people to learn to trust me as an instructor and as a trainer. And I could hardly blame them. After all, ninety percent of the time I try to audit someone before I take a lesson and sometimes it’s a gamble. But the time it has taken has been well worth it because I have gotten to see the progress in the group at SFD and they’ve gotten to see me and how I work and function. Training and teaching is not just about the process or the learning, it is also about trust and about building lasting relationships. After all, not only is one placing themselves but the welfare of their horse in my hands when I teach or train them and their horses.

The support of the group at SFD is unlike anywhere I’ve seen with such a mixture of levels of different riders. Everyone supports one another and I think it’s great! When we go to shows, it’s all about the team. There is such group support and you can feel your group of cheerleaders rallying behind you. Plus we bring great food or know the best places to stop for more food!

I really felt that support (as well as did my mother) when we had to make the heart wrenching decision to put Solitaire down this year. Everyone at SFD was so supportive, kind and caring. It made something horrific slightly easier to know that you all were there for us.

It is so nice having the support of Ange for me professionally. We joke competitively with one another, but it is so nice to have regular, knowledgeable eyes on the ground. We both are similar but also bring different things to the table. Between her and everyone else at SFD whom I get to teach or ride with on their pony, it makes me so grateful that I cannot even place it into words. But I know I look forward to going to the barn each morning! J

Looking back over the year, it was a great year! I passed my x-ray boards and became an R.T.! Ange and I passed the L program. Additionally, I have so many memories associated with SFD that make me smile. Taking my mom’s new horse to her first show, Merrick splashing himself in the face at Fiddler in the huge lake from the horrible rain, and Anita and Dream qualifying for BLM’s. Victoria Franzen and I driving to see Rocky, Pene, Secret and E show at Quentin. Going to get ice cream after Blue Goose shows. It’s all the little things and the great horse moments that make me smile and happy that Straight Forward Dressage is my home.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Show food

I love pre-show anticipation, not just about the ribbons. Of course, I want to do well and bring home lots of high scores, but the way I see it, 50% is preparation and 50% is luck at the moment (I have had many quite colorful examples of bad luck, but that’s for another blog…). By this point in show season, either I know my mounts are prepared or I’ve canned the show season to stay home and train. So for me, show anticipation takes on another angle–the food.

Showing as a kid, if you told me a show grounds, I could tell you the nearest fast-food restaurants. Maturity, and a husband who can REALLY cook, has improved my culinary tastes. Add Linda, Secret’s owner, who believes both commiserating and celebrating require linen napkins, and pre-show anticipation becomes very sweet.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First we have to pack to proper road-trip-stall-side munchies. We just cannot show without SmartFood White Cheddar popcorn. Animal crackers and trail mix are also essentials. Add some granola bars, apples, carrots and grapes, then wash it down with Smartwater for Ange and Coke for Linda, and we are set. Usually there’s a small bag of M&M’s somewhere, but white breeches require me to limit my quantities.

Of course we have to pack something for lunch, and my preference is good-old fashioned peanut butter and jelly. PB&J represents one-handed comfort food at its best. Today’s PB&J is a bit more grown-up than years past, though. To start, Doug bakes excellent bread. Last weekend, for fun, he took my leftover fruit and mixed it with honey and sugar, making an amazing jelly, so last weekend’s PB&J were especially tasty. Linda, not to be outdone, brought some chicken club salad from the farmer’s market.

Then there’s dinner, and of course I have my favorites. NJ has the most incredible Italian restaurant, Villa Barone's, and I’m sure the food tasted better coming from a very yummy waiter. In July, Linda and I split an appetizer, dinner, desert, and a bottle of my favorite wine. NJ also spawns an awesome ice cream parlor, Swal’s Ice Cream, on Main St in Allentown.

Lexington, VA’s long haul is softened by Southern Inn, which is hands-down my favorite restaurant ever. It’s so good, last weekend we went there twice. The appetizers show the chef’s amazing talent with cheese. The Cornbread-Stuffed Roasted Chicken Breast was incredible, and the Blueberry Napoleon was so good I actually used my fingers to get the last of the sauce (in public even). To top it off, they stock one of my favorite beers, Delirium Tremens. Does it get much better than that?

The schooling shows aren’t exempt either. We can’t haul to Blue Goose without the trailer drifting into Bruster’s Ice Cream on the way home. We are all card-carrying Sweet Rewards members. There’s a perfect trailer parking spot behind the shop.

At this rate, all that weight I carefully lost this spring will be back plus some. Good thing show season slows down in August, or I’ll never get back into my show clothes.