Thank Yous

I just got back from a most wonderful two days and I have several people to thank.

On Friday I visited my BFF, Emily. Really forever, as we met when we were thirteen in 1973 (you do the math, I just count decades.) We were both horse-crazy girls at a riding camp in Vermont. The entire camp was filled with horse-crazy girls and I didn’t connect with all of them. But Emily was funny and brilliant. We both like words and writing and so were able to maintain a friendship when that was done with paper and pen, and it has continued with email. I haven’t seen Emily much. She lives several states away, and has a crazy-busy life of a college professor and mother. She’s also been battling cancer. “Going to war” against cancer is a cliche, but in Em’s case, she and her entire family donned virtual suits of armor and fought through chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant. She won against a rare cancer that is usually the victor.

So, there I was on Friday, on a gloriously sunny day, with the wind blowing the blossoms off of trees, at a farm in Connecticut, visiting with Emily and her good horse, Perry. Yes, we both remain horse-crazy girls. It would have been enough to stand in the indoor ring, smelling that smell of horse sweat and dust and manure, and watching Emily ride, but Emily asked, “will you coach me?” I haven’t taught for years. Emily and I went to that Vermont camp another year, and then to riding school in England, where we learned to be riding instructors, and then she studied Greek classics in college. But, I continued to study horses and got my BS in animal science. I rode and taught, mucked and cleaned tack into my mid-twenties, when I switched from riding breeches to chef whites. I continued to ride, off and on, and take dressage lessons (with some Grand Prix level instructors, I never do things half-way) until my back gave out and I had to stop.

Emily is a lovely rider but she’s always been a tad tense (Emily would say that “tad” is too generous a qualifier.) Perry is a nice horse, but he doesn’t know what to do to make Emily happy, so he moves reluctantly. They ride indoors because Em can’t risk a fall outside. They’re crooked and ring sour. I didn’t have to tell Emily how to ride, what buttons to push to ask for a canter, or where to put her hands. She knows all of that. I had to tell her where to put her heart. I pointed out each good stride. I made her imagine a window in the ring and had her ride through it. I had her recite nursery rhymes. You can’t be tense when saying something silly. I pointed out when to ask Perry for more and where to hold him together. I congratulated each good stride. Soon enough, Perry was carrying Emily with relaxed, confident energy, with, as we horse-people say, a beautiful rounded frame, and Emily was smiling and looking ahead.

So, I need to thank Emily for the chance to teach a lesson again. I’m loathe to put the jeans I wore into the wash. I do so love that smell of horses.

The next day, I headed further south to Westport, CT. Elizabeth Beller, a HenBlog reader from that area, had acted as matchmaker and connected me to Earthplace, which hired me to do a Tillie Lays an Egg story time and spend a few hours at their Green Fair talking about backyard chickens. Elizabeth and her daughter, Brie, brought three of their chickens. Brie is an animal-lover after my own heart, and spends hours with her hens. It shows. Her friendly and relaxed birds were the ideal chicken ambassadors. I talked about poultry for four hours, and then was treated to an early dinner by Elizabeth and talked about animals some more, which is just about my favorite way to spend a day. Thank you Elizabeth and Brie! (Click on their names and read their blogs.)

Here are Elizabeth, Lady Gaga and me.

Finally, did you notice that I spent much of my time in conversation? When I visited Emily a year ago, I had a hard time following her words. The visit was only a few hours and I was exhausted afterwards. This time, the visit lasted a day. We talked in the car, at the barn, and at the dinner table. I heard almost every word. At Earthplace, I heard the voices of little children and the voices of their parents. I heard. Thank you to Dr. Toh, my surgeon, and Nancy Cohen, my audiologist, for the incredible, life-expanding gift of the cochlear implant. And thank you to the scientists, everywhere, working on the devices and drugs that allow Emily and I to continue to be friends.


  1. Lovely story about BFFs.

    (Total shot in the dark, but camp TW? Me, too, three years in the late 70s.)

    • The Vershire Camp. Where I discovered eventing and dressage and how to properly clean tack. Then on to The Talland School of Equitation, where I learned how to properly muck stalls, the owner was a Grand Prix dressage rider (not seen in the states much in 1976) and I learned about looking for each good stride.

      • Ah. I was at Teela-Wookett. Serious, but nowhere near your league, I think. (I washed out when I realized that jumping real stone walls meant falling onto real stone walls when things didn’t go well.)

  2. Sounds like a great two days…. it’s so wonderful that spring/summer are beginning which means a plethora of events like Green Fair! I appreciate four distinct seasons, but I love the growing/harvest time the best.

    I never realized you were a horse person (or I forgot). Anyway, I had the great pleasure recently of working on a documentary about the real-life horse whisperer Buck Brannaman and I think you would really love it, as well as your BFF Emily. It will be released on June 17th, so keep an eye out for it. (

      • I was the 2nd assistant editor and it was a real gift! He is an amazing horseman and human being. If you ever get a chance to check out one of his clinics, those are fantastic too. You can pay a $25 day fee to observe at a clinic.

  3. Congratulations on the hearing! I’m really pleased for you.

  4. Terry, I loved seeing new chicks. And also liked the new chickscam. Formidable! Success for you and your new pets.

  5. Terry
    You and I are truly related in some weird third world. My BFF and I have know each other since 1975.she is a rabbi,I was raised catholic. I love animals, she dose not. However on some high plane we connect……I love her even though we rarely see each other. I too am a horsey girl and I understand connecting with animals. One of my daughters connects while riding and one connects through simply “hanging” with our horses ( sheep, goats and chickens) . I find pleasure in both.
    Were you watching the Rolex today? NBC just simply ended coverage at 4p sharp even though the last rider wasn’t done…….that would never happen in a male dominated sport!

    • Trish – I think that where we are alike is that where some people only see the “cute” in animals and baby them like stuffed toys, whereas we look at animals for who they are and revel in their unique animalness and usefulness.

  6. What a special post about your friendship. I have Morgan horses, have bred and raised 12 foals, and now have only 3. (One is for sale, anyone???) I have decided to learn dressage with my 8-year-old named Beau, and we are enjoying it a lot. Interesting about the passion for horses, you either have it or not. The sounds and especially the smell are intoxicating. How wonderful that you were able to hear so much. Thanks for sharing this story.

  7. Terry! I did not know your knowledge with horses?! Yesterday my husband and I rode our walkers to the winery, tied them to the hitching post we installed and sat down on a beautiful 85 degree day and relaxed! If you come…I have a horse for you to ride!

    • I hear that walkers are very comfortable. My back could handle it! We’ll find a way to get me out to Temecula yet!

  8. I’m so happy that you spent some lovely time with your friend, time is so precious.
    Yesterday I rescued 5 baby chicks and a baby duck, unfortunatly I rent a small cottage and cannot keep them but I couldn’t let them stay where they were for another moment so I am fostering them but would really wish that someone loving would like to adopt them.
    I live about 25 miles north of NYC, can anyone help???

  9. Terry, what a wonderful story about coaching your old friend–and about your wonderful hearing, even in an all-day, noisy situation–what a blessing!


  10. Hi Terry! I’m a new follower to your blog/various cams and LOVE it. Just wanted to say congrats on your cochlear implant! I’m an RN in the OR and have helped out with many. It’s such a delicate procedure, with tini tiny instruments and a big ol’ microscope! A life changing procedure…and I’m so happy it’s worked out for you!
    P.S. Can you tell us why you leave the lights on for your chicks? It doesn’t mess up their sleep schedule? (although it is nice to see them when I’m up later at night!)

    • Anna- The CI implant is delicate – and more so for me. My audiologist (nicely) says I’m a “freak of nature” because my nerves are especially fine and wayward. The surgery took an hour longer than normal because my wonderful surgeon took the time to carefully make sure I didn’t lose my sense of taste. (The nerves were tangled.)
      The light is also their heat source and baby chicks need to be warm!