Tuesday, July 23, 2019

moving up is hard to do

It's safe to say that things didn't go quite to plan at Full Moon this weekend. But I'll be nice and spare you the suspense: We ate it big time in show jumping. Sigh.

It's ok, tho, I promise.The horse was a good boy. He tried hard. I tried hard too, and I'm proud of myself for trying. We're both fine. It just wasn't our day.

Moving up is hard enough even in the best of circumstances, right? This wasn't even a full move up, exactly -- we were signed up for Training dressage + show jumping, then Novice cross country. All of which we have a fair amount of experience with over the last 12 months (not to mention the past 7 days).

my car clock is 15min fast, it was actually not quite 5am and already 85*F in the city.....
But still, the show environment tends to expose the soft squishy spots that maybe aren't so readily apparent in normal schooling. Lord knows I've got enough soft and squishy to last a lifetime as it is haha.

And anyway, this weekend was far from ideal. I did everything in my power to prepare Charlie for the conditions, but there was one aspect I hadn't considered: How much of a toll his emotional state would take.

first sponge down of MANY throughout the day
Charlie is a very good horse. He's generally quiet and reliable. He's a thinking horse and understands his job and the rhythms of a horse show. But he's also quietly emotional. Atmosphere has an effect on him, like it does with any other horse.

This is actually part of what makes him such a great show horse at times, too. When Charlie gets to a show, he understands that stuff is gonna go down. This tends to make him more forward, sharper off the aids, and more dialed up in the wattage department.

i finally picked up another canopy too. these things are game changers - but beware the wind!
What I didn't expect was for that undercurrent of tension to draw so heavily on his energy reserves in what were undeniably brutal weather conditions. If anything, I kinda hoped it would have the opposite effect and work in my favor by allowing him to dig down to some deeper vein of adrenaline.

also a game changer - power inverter for my truck's cigarette lighter
I also tried to stack the deck in our favor by kitting out my trailer set up after a last minute trip to Home Depot. We got a new canopy that's big enough for Charlie to stand under (not pony club approved, exactly, but #safetythird), and a power inverter so I could run a box fan out of my truck to keep on Charlie at all times.

Plus, obvi, plenty of water for frequent sponge downs. And ice and rubbing alcohol and electrolytes and all the things.

yes it did end up draining my truck's already compromised battery. #noregrets tho, that's why sweet baby jesus invented jumper cables
He seemed fine going into dressage, and I basically skipped my warm up entirely aside from a few circles and transitions at all gaits. Charlie was tense tho. And kinda running. Which... obviously was not ideal at all. Possibly I could have gotten a better test out of him if I had ridden him down a bit more in warm up, but I preferred to save some horse for later.

So the test was pretty bad. Still a full 10pts better than our attempt at 1-1 a few weeks ago, but nothing worth writing home about. And a sad first mark on our permanent record... .Judge's biggest comment was a reminder to ride more smoothly from movement to movement, rather than just kinda chopping the pattern together.

not a pony club approved set up. but can we take a moment to appreciate the epic job rachael's mom did with brushing charlie's tail?!
Since I'd walked my courses the day before, we had the full break between dressage and show jumping to just hang out in the shade focusing on staying cool. Likewise, since I'd entered the Training / Novice division, there would be a long-ish break between my jumping phases too.

My show jumping was scheduled at the very end of the T division, and then we were intended to be some of the first horses on course for the N xc, after all the jump judges had relocated etc. However, organizers were clear that they'd take horses as they came for both jumping phases. So my plan was to arrive for SJ a little early, and XC a little late -- giving us at least 30min but possibly longer between phases.

literally the only pic on my phone of either of us dressed up and ready for action. don't worry tho, the pro pics cometh eventually
Step 1 of that plan worked out great. SJ warm up was empty when I arrived and the steward said they'd take me when I was ready.

Alas tho, our warm up was... not promising. Charlie continued with the tension and running. Like he almost felt like he was in xc mode (since, ya know, we had just schooled xc a few days prior). Except he just wasn't locking onto or reading the fences. Normally a bigger fence makes him pay more attention and adjust himself. Like in literally every recent video I've posted where he's been a rockstar.

braids are #respectable enough, but now my superstition is kicked into high gear after our only times braiding coincided with bad outings.... conspiracy theories abound!
He just wasn't in that gear tho, so it was up to me to do the adjusting. I'll always be the first one to raise my hand and admit that I'm an unreliable pilot haha. My horse's eye is WAY BETTER than mine. So.... Yea, that worked out about how you'd expect. We were a little long here, a little close there. Knocked the oxer once for good measure. Ended up doing a few more fences in warm up than I'd normally do.

So when we went into the ring for our round, I wasn't really sure what to expect. But basically ended up with more of the same. It doesn't look terrible in the helmet cam's wide angle lens, or at least it doesn't look how it felt. It was the same as warm up, tho. A little long, a little short. Basically all misses.


We were getting the strides, and Charlie mostly moved up when I asked for it. But, he was a bit flat and I had trouble getting that "bouncy" feel in the canter. Essentially, he wasn't really using himself as well as he can.

And any horse will start questioning things after enough misses. Any horse. Even saintly Charlie. So when we got to the second combination at 5A a little long, Charlie started to pick up and go for it, but changed his mind at the last minute, skidded into the fence, then hit the deck.

Homeboy went down like a friggin camel letting me know the ride was over.

there was one single shot from the pro photogs where death didn't look imminent, and it was taken over this oxer. is it a sign for the season ahead? good or bad?? who knows!
God bless the photographers tho. It doesn't look like they were shooting that particular fence, so they don't have pics from the very beginning of the refusal, but they started shooting the moment they saw shit start going sideways, and didn't stop until the entire drama had unfolded completely.

Yes, I bought a couple pictures (thanks KC, Amelia, Nadia, Austen for helping me choose!), but you're just gonna have to wait for those.

aw guys, he's a good boy tho
also i ditched the flash strap to avoid any undue airway restrictions. might be time to consider flair strips tho!
And thus I had my first fall off Charlie. He was kind even in this tho - and let me down gently and slowly (tho you better believe I tried my guts out to hang on - I clung to that horse's neck like a cheap suit...). And so concluded our day at the Aloha Horse Trials. Le sigh.

I'm grateful that it wasn't worse. Grateful that my horse was no worse for the wear, nor was I. Also grateful that.... it felt like the perfect storm of less-than-ideal circumstances that led to the fall, vs some gaping maw of a training issue. Like, obviously there are training issues. There are ALWAYS training issues.

But ya know. This was mostly just a tough day for doing what we wanted to be doing. A tough day to make it happen and dig deep. We tried tho. Really really really hard. And again, I'm proud of trying.

he tried. i tried. we all tried. we'll get 'em next time
It's always easy to look back in hindsight and say, "Well obviously you should have done x,y,z differently" or whatever. And let's be real, I'm already predisposed to think like that haha.

But unlike our meltdown at Plantation last year, I'm trying to see this experience as a case of "just one of those days" vs an indication of a major systemic failure. Horses are hard, yo. But I'd rather keeping trying and failing, than be too scared or always wondering what could have been.

So ya know. We live for another day. And, good news - the heat wave broke today! Small miracles, right?


51 comments:

  1. Oh, yikes! So glad you're both okay! I love how you're hardly standing up before you're telling your boy it's okay. <3

    So sorry the day ended in that way, but you're right to be proud of all the try and work you've put up to now. Hot weather, tough day for a move up. But y'all have all the pieces. They'll end up in their places in no time - hopefully at your next outing!

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    1. thanks girl <3 we were very very close to being able to get through, but sadly still outside the margins, it seems -- at least in these conditions!

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  2. I read recently how a heat index of close to 120 even stresses out TREES. Y'all were really fighting nature out there, and nature is one brutal b. I'm super proud of you both, too. But I think I'm most proud how tenaciously you rode that beautifully braided neck until the very end. 😂

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    1. oh man, yea the stress was real. i was honestly kinda shocked they didn't cancel the event entirely, or run it as a CT or something. but i figured, if the TD and ground jury and organizer and USEA and all those people say it's ok to compete in these conditions, then i guess we'll give it our best!

      oh well, shit happens haha. and yea you better believe i was clinging on for dear life -- i would have much rather been able to sit up and raise my hand to retire haha. not that it matters much but you know what i mean LOL

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  3. I know we already talked and all that- but hugs again! Horses, man. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. You and Charlie will be out doing all the fun things in more reasonable weather and this will soon be a distant memory (of which you now own lots of pictures of)!

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    1. oh man, we really must be crazy to try to do these things with such fragile fickle beasts. the moment when FINALLY the horse is sound, in full work, on his A Game and ready for the step up, we get the heat wave from hell. aaargh. it's always something, right??

      but yes. omg the pictures. the drama package. hoooo boy. the pictures cometh!

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  4. I'm glad you and Charlie are ok! You'll get them another day.

    And in was reading and watching this morning with my coffee and SJ and she put in a request for you to jump a car 💁

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    1. omgggggg haha SJ is already a little daredevil lol, or at least a devil's advocate!!! i'll have her know tho that we've previously jumped a TRAIN ;) granted, a wooden "train" on XC lol, but maybe it still counts? i'll see if i can dig up any pictures haha

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  5. Things happen, and as long as you walk away having learnt something it's never wasted. I'm glad you are both ok, and good on you for giving it a go. New things are not easy! You guys are gonna be awesome when things come together for you :)

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    1. oh man, new things are NEVER easy lol --- why oh why is it always harder than i expect tho?? sigh. but yea i don't really feel like it was a waste. i mean, we probably would have been totally fine with NOT experiencing that, but them's the breaks sometimes!

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  6. Yeah it was def 'one of those days'... it was sooooo hot and it's just hard to tell how horses are going to react in that. I've had some act like it was the same as any other day, and some as if all the air got let out of them. You had some solid ideas for keeping cool though! I bet he loved the box fan.

    Last year at great meadow I tried one of the equicool down products and it was amazing... if I'm ever showing in the summer again I'm totally getting a blanket. I think shires might make a cheaper version, too.

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    1. oi except it totally wasn't last year I think it was 2016 the year we went????? jesus.

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    2. ugh yea, i had a lot of hope that charlie would be ok based on how well he handled the conditions at windurra for that lesson. but ya know. it was a lot worse out, plus there was a lot more activity and horses and things going on at full moon. not even mentioning the fact that i was probably giving off a different energy too...

      and yea i've seen those cool blankets - got to feel them at kentucky actually, and really liked them! lainey ashker uses them in the vet box too. my only concern is that it's a LOT of material to have laying around soaking wet after using it. on a day like this horse show, i would have used it in a heart beat. but on more normal days i wonder if the hassle of dealing with it is worth the benefits??

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    3. yeah that's very true. I'd probably only bring it for the most humid of days.

      Or if I think I'm going to die of heat stroke I will steal it from the horse and cuddle myself in it.

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  7. That box fan is genius. Sorry the day went a little sideways. I was just talking to Wyatt last night about how failure (not that this is a failure but you get the point) is better in the long run than always coming out on top. You learn more. You grow more. You get hungry instead of complacent. Again, not saying you failed or were complacent but just...it didn't turn out the way you hoped and while that really sucks, your attitude about it is great and you learned a lot and will come out even stronger for it the next time. And knowing you and Charlie there will be a next time and it will be epic.

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    1. omg i LOVED that box fan and don't even care that it killed my battery. it only sorta killed it a little bit, tho, not all the way. esp considering i've killed that truck battery a few times already, it's possible that a different battery would have lasted longer. all in all, i think i ran the fan for probably somewhere around 4ish+ hrs. (forgot to turn it off when i left for SJ). probably with better management it'd be less likely to kill the truck, so i think it's worth it to have.

      and YES, agreed 1000% about failure and complacency and all that -- i know exactly what you mean. i was just talking to someone else the other day about it, actually. complacency is almost as insidious as anxiety in some ways: it creeps in when no one's looking. meanwhile, nothing is quite so satisfying as achieving some big goal after having gone through some adversity. personally i feel like i could do with a little LESS adversity haha, but yea it's just part of the process and we can choose to learn and grow from it.

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  8. Kudos to you both for at least trying to compete. I had a show planned for Sunday, but it was canceled (true fact, I would have bailed anyway). Gotta love the H/J world for that reason - no commitments on either side.

    I watched the video yesterday when you posted it and thought your round looked smooth, so it was really surprising in your post to read that you guys were struggling.

    Sometimes it is just not our day - you guys make a great team and you will come back and have totally different results on a different day.

    Also, kudos to your horsemanship on display at the end. You reassured your horse, you were thoughtful and polite to staff, you notified the organizers, you made sure you complied with the rules, and you made sure Charlie was ok. Exemplary horsemanship and sportsmanship.

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    1. aw thanks, girl!! there were a lot of other events this past weekend that were cancelled too. honestly i'm questioning a little bit the judgement to continue running this one. it's tough tho for these venues. last year so many had to cancel bc of the extreme and constant rain, and a lot of competitors lost out on those qualifying opportunities. it's always a hard call, i guess.

      we tried tho. and thanks re: thinking the round looked smooth. that wide angle lens on the helmet cam hides many MANY sins haha, but i promise had you been sitting ring side for our warm up and actual round, you would not have been surprised by the ending. all the volunteers were wonderful tho -- really really friendly. the ring steward actually came RUNNING to the gate to let me in, which like, dear god friend - plz no running in this heat!! plus ya know, i've been on the other side of that equation enough times to know that everything is easier when the competitors are compliant haha. no one wants to hunt or be hunted down!

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  9. Good for you for getting out there and giving it your best. You should be proud of all the work and conditioning you and Charlie do. I'm so glad neither of you were hurt, but still not a great way to have your day go...

    You guys are a good team and will no doubt be out there again soon and be successful. And three cheers to the end of this heat wave!

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    1. thanks, i appreciate it <3 i was definitely pretty sad and felt really bad, kicking myself about how things went, which is probably pretty normal. he's such a good horse tho, it feels like we're really close. honestly maybe already close enough in sliiiiiightly better weather HAHA. go figure, two days later it's in the friggin 70s. dammit, maryland go home youre drunk!

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  10. Horses are so dang hard and you two are hardcore! Nothin but mad respect from me for getting out there and doing the darn thing. (especially in that weather!)

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    1. thank you!!! idk if we're hardcore or if i'm just too stubborn for my own good LOL, but maybe it works out the same in the end anyway? ;)

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  11. Ugh that's a bummer! Good for you for going out there at rated though, even if it didn't end up the way you wanted. There's always next time!

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    1. thanks girl. sometimes i feel like it takes a giant kick in the ass to finally step up to the next challenge. and then when things don't go well, i'm all like 'OMG SEE THIS IS WHY I SHOULDN'T BE DOING THIS!!1!11!!' but... ya know... it's ok if things don't always go well. bc i *do* want to keep working on that next step, even tho it's hard!

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  12. Can I just say that I'm super impressed when you said that was your first fall on Charlie! not that he's bad or anything, but that you basically trained him from the beginning and that is no small feat. I am sorry that it happened in this context though.

    "He's sad, but I'm fine though" is perhaps my favourite quote.
    I was watching the video and then I was like 'shit, she fell off'. Moving up is hard and you guys did well. That kind of heat is just crazy.

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    1. ok so real talk, i've been so ridiculously superstitious about that "first fall." i mean, it'll be three years with charlie in september, it had to be coming, right?? and like, it's not like we haven't had some close calls ya know? to be honest tho, i totally expected it to be something infinitely stupid -- like him just casually carelessly tripping over a root or something while aimlessly ambling along the trails... so actually, in a way, i'm kinda relieved the first time i went down was at least like, doing something challenging lol, if that makes sense.

      and i'm glad you liked the quote. poor charlie, i don't think he wanted or meant for it to happen that way, but he kinda just got to a point where he basically deflated like a balloon. next time hopefully we'll have better conditions!

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    2. Girl, I've already fallen off my new horse twice and I've only owned him since February 😂 It ain't no thang. Now you're christened! :)

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  13. Ah man, I'm sorry! Yeah, I think in this instance you did do everything you could right and the heat was just killer. You guys have so much humidity that it seriously seems to suck the life out of everything lol. I'm glad you both were okay tho! <3

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    1. thank you!! and yea this forecast was so freakin awful. like i know there are very important reasons why entries are due so far in advance, but it feels like such a gamble to try to plan around the weather sometimes!

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  14. He's SUCH a good boy, and you're an incredible partner with him. It'll happen for both of you. Just wasn't your day. I'm so sorry, but can't wait to see you rock it in the near future!

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    1. thanks ;) he is the best friggin horse in the world, and as long as he knows that hopefully we'll be just fine <3 <3

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  15. I spy a mazada 3 (6?) dashboard......
    Sorry you had an unplanned dismount. Sounds like a tough day with all that heat. I'm sure you were more tired than you realized too. It's HARD to create impulsion and then have to harness it. I can't imagine what it would be like trying to accomplish it in that kind of heat. Good for both of you for trying, working hard in the heat, and rolling with the punches. Sorry it didn't work out as planned, but I'm glad you're both ok.

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    1. ha good eye for the car dash!! and yea agreed that there was definitely a not insubstantial amount of fatigue. esp considering this day was the hottest after a full week of extreme hot. so like, the cumulative effect was probably greater than we realized too. summer sucks, yo! le sigh... fall will be here soon, tho!!

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  16. Oh man! I am so glad you are both ok! Crap happens and you are now better prepared for the future! You guys will get there! <3

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    1. thanks!!! i wish there was more we could do to prepare for stuff like this beyond what i've already done, honestly tho i'm just hoping that we can have some nice weather coincide with our adventures for at least the foreseeable future!! a girl can dream, right???

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  17. Aw, such a bummer! Definitely not the way you want a move up to start out. But I really think you're right, it just wasn't your day. Mistakes happen, and the conditions were definitely far from ideal. You'll get 'em next time!
    You are prepared, and this isn't a training problem, it was just an accident. You both walked away ok, so best to chalk it up to poop happens and move right along!

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    1. thank you <3 sometimes it's hard not to want to beat ourselves up a bit when things go sideways so unexpectedly. i'm trying really hard not to do that this time around tho, i swear haha!

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  18. Too bad! If it makes you feel any better, Bridget and I had a similar tumble at a show and she opted to then take a big groany poo in the middle of the jump when she stood up. I'm 99% sure she was like "must poo...oh no jump incoming...AHH what do I do?" and the rest lives on as a funny story :)
    It sounds like it was just one of those off days, and the heat surely couldn't have helped. Next time will go great!

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    1. omgosh Bridget haha, that's hilarious lol. it's always something with these horses!!!

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  19. Falling off is always a bummer, falling off at a show smarts in its own special way too, but you are having a more than good attitude about it and I'm certain you guys will pick up and be better than before!

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    1. such a bummer tho, bleh!! falling off at shows is possibly my least favorite, tho it hasn't happened in a long time so i guess i shouldn't complain too much. thanks tho - i'm definitely ready to pick up and look forward to a better next time!

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  20. Aw man, I'm so sorry :( But glad neither of you are hurt and you have a great attitude about it. You'll get it next time!

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    1. thanks!! it's definitely a relief that we're both basically totally fine!!

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  21. Glad you're both doing ok, but sorry to hear about this :(

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  22. Falling is never fun, especially not in front of people! But at least you can take heart in that Charlie didn't *mean* to get you off. As you said, he's still the best boy!
    As an aside, thank you for getting up and reassuring your horse instead of being scared and annoyed with him. It means a lot to him, trust me!

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  23. Gah! I'm sorry things didn't work out but man you look like you landed so damn softly, I thought Charlie had put a mattress under you! I'm super glad neither one of you were hurt. Don't stress, just come back and try again next time. Because moving up is hard to do, I can attest to that statement a lot bc it is what I am trying to do currently.
    Congrats in even attempting it! You'll definitely get it next time!

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  24. You two are a powerhouse pair. One day dictates nothing in the grand scheme of things! And I can't wait to see how great you guys will do at the next one. :)

    Also, the fan set up is genius!

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  25. Gah- I'm sorry about the fall, but that is definitely tough to try and move up on a day hotter than hell. I love your attitude though and making sure Charlie was quiet and calm after the dismount- that's fine horsemanship right there.

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  26. Darn - so sorry that happened but glad you are both OK!!

    Charlie was a good boy <3

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  27. Aw... I love that your first words to him were, "It's ok!" I got all misty <3

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  28. Bummer! But glad you are both ok!! Also random, but your car dash looks exactly like my old Mazda!

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