"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Four Things

Have a blog filler post while I work on A Real & Epic Post that might be up by next week if this tropical storm system really does bring as much rain as they're saying it's going to...

4 names that people call me other than my real name:
1. Saiph: Blogland pseudonym. Pronounced "sife" (to rhyme with "wife") or "sayif". It means "sword" and is part of the Orion constellation. Saiph marks one of Orion's feet.
2. My real name is Nicole so my nicknames include Nicky and all its variants: Nicolasa, Nicoletta, Nikita, Nic, etc. My favorite is Nicky. My dad gave me my real name because he liked the idea of calling me Nicky. I wish more people would call me that; nobody does. It gives me the warm fuzzies to hear it. My favorite criticalist used to call me Nic; that is my second fave nickname. I like the ambiguity of it too: it can be both a girl's and a boy's nickname. :)
3. Coco: my brother is 4 years younger than me; as little kids he could not pronounce my real name and "Coco" was the closest he could come up with. (This is also how my Aunt Lucy ended up with the lifelong nickname "Tuti": my mom couldn't pronounce her name as kids either.) It stuck, despite the fact that my brother stopped calling me Coco when he was able to get the hang of talking. Only my mom and aunts are allowed to call me that one though!
4. Bo: pronounced "boh". Not "bow" nor "boe" nor "beau". This is my brother's nickname for me and only he can call me that. I call him Be in turn ("beh"). It's a really long story and it's better if you know Spanish.

With my bro, The Be.
The best little-tall brother a girl could ever ask for.

4 jobs I've had:
1. Horse trainer & riding instructor
2. Tack shop assistant manager
3. Museum exhibit designer
4. Art teacher

With one of my students in South FL during a lesson.
With Bella, one of my training projects, at her first show.
At the Museum of History, Anthropology & Art in PR, with my awesome boss, an artist in his own right.
With my favorite Irish woman, the owner of the tack shop where I worked at for 2 years.
Loved her. We were at the Little Everglades steeplechase when this photo was taken.
4 movies I've watched more than once:
1. Practical Magic
2. Garden State
3. The Matrix
4. The Black Stallion

4 books I'd recommend:
1. The Hunger Games books
2. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
3. When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time to Go Home by Erma Bombeck (this book is absolutely, insanely hilarious and if you need laughter in your life you should totally read it. I've re-read it so many times the cover has fallen off!)
4. Ride with Your Mind by Mary Wanless

4 places I've lived:
1. San Antonio, TX
2. Guaynabo, PR
3. Coconut Creek, FL
4. Rockville, MD

Fort San Felipe El Morro in Old San Juan, PR. It is an old Spanish fortress built in the 1500's by the Spanish conquistadors. It has been turned into a museum. I have been on both sides of those walls during my own explorations. There are tons of nooks and crannies along those walls to hide out in, with a view of the crashing waves against the rocks below, like something out of The Last Unicorn.
It was one of my favorite places to hang out in Old San Juan.
This photo of the castle is mine, as seen from the ocean on a very stormy winter day. 

4 places I've visited:
1. El Morro castle in Old San Juan, PR
2. Yellowstone in WY
3. Sapphire Beach in St Thomas
4. Nassau, The Bahamas

Sapphire Beach in St. Thomas as seen from the road leading to the beach.
This was on our honeymoon. We rented a scooter at the port and zipped around the island on our own, since our cruise ship was going to be docked there for 12 hours.
These photos are NOT enhanced. The water REALLY IS that color! It is STILL that color when you're out IN it.

This is why Charles and I are unfazed by Florida beaches: the ones in the Caribbean are far more beautiful.
MY photo. Also Sapphire Beach.
I wanted to take that little white chair, that little peninsula and the entire view home with me!

4 places I'd rather be right now:
None. I really like where I'm at right now, both in terms of where I work, where I board, where we live and where we are at in life.

Two awesome mares that RECOGNIZE MY CAR!
This amazing town.
(Those are real mosaics, btw)

And this man, of course. This story wouldn't exist without him.

4 things I prefer not to eat:
1. Anchovies
2. Rare meat. Even medium well is a no-go. Did you know that eating raw-ish beef and pork can give you parasites like roundworms and hookworms? That like to MIGRATE & encyst themselves in the human body? True story. No thank you.
3. Thick cuts of beef. I'm not really a red meat person, and when I do eat it, I like it cut as thin as humanly possible and well-done.
4. Pasta with alfredo sauce (those of you that know Charles in person: I will tell you that it is his fault I can't deal with white sauce on pasta. Ask him why when you see him...)


4 of my favorite foods:
1. Mallorcas
2. Cuban style black beans & rice
3. Fish tacos
4. Talenti pistachio gelato

This is a mallorca sandwich.
Mallorca bread is a type of Puerto Rican soft sweet bread with powdered sugar dusted over it. You can cut it in half and put butter in it, and then place it on a frying pan and flatten with a plate over low heat, or use a flat plate sandwich press. The powdered sugar melts and becomes crunchy caramel over the bread.
If you want to make a lunch out of it, just add ham or deli turkey and swiss cheese, cook as above. It's basically a Puerto Rican version of a Monte Cristo sandwich. Except a million times better. It's hard to find this type of bread in the US, though apparently there are some places in Chicago where you can get it. My mom just sends me mallorcas from PR when I can't stand it anymore. :)

4 TV shows I watch:
I pretty much only have the TV on nowadays as background noise. I'm not a huge TV person, mainly because I'm usually outdoors, on the computer or drawing during my free time. But some shows I've loved enough to re-play over and over:
1. Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. You guys should watch his Puerto Rico one. It is spot-on. The Hawaii one is another favorite.
2. United States of Tara
3. Orange is the New Black
4. Dexter. One of the reasons why we loved this show so much was because, having lived in South FL for so long, we were familiar with most of the places where events take place. In fact, you know Dexter's apartment on the Intracoastal? At one point the in-laws kept their boat at a dock really close to that apartment building. It was a familiar sight from the causeway. Pure coincidence, but we recognized the location on the show! Both funny and weird. The only reason why we had paid attention to that building in particular was because of the windows: those slatted glass windows are highly unusual in the US but very common on the island!

At Bayside in Miami with my friend Mio from vet tech school. Bayside was 15 minutes from school.
This seaside mall is also featured on the Dexter show!
4 things I'm looking forward to this year:
Not saying any of them because I am superstitious.

Not superstitious about black cats though! Love them. :)
4 things I'm always saying:
Remember I'm bilingual, we speak in Spanish at home because Charles is also Puerto Rican, and I speak mostly in Spanish to both the cats and the horses too. Gracie and Lily know their voice commands in English but when I talk to them, it's in Spanish.
1. Dude! (I say this one enough at work that it's rubbed off on everyone)
2. Gatito que tu haces? (Kitten, what are you up to? My #1 greeting for Aengus. The funny thing is that he always responds to that question both verbally and with an invite to follow him somewhere to be petted, played with or to request food...)
3. Ven aca. (Come here. Lily knows this one to a T, but I was actually surprised when I realized recently that Gracie had picked up on it too. And then I started paying attention to how much I really say it, and this is what I came up with: I use it when I need them to move over closer or shift their weight in my direction, when I need them to swing their heads my way to place their halters on or remove them, when I need them to step around the field gate a little faster, when I want them to close the distance between us, when coaxing them on the trailer, when I need them to give me a foot to pick or rasp or put a boot on...I have no idea how they know the 10 million different ways I use these two words but they do. I'll say it again: animals are awesome at figuring their confusing people out!)
4. That's awesome.

4 breeds of dog I like
1. Pitbulls - if we didn't rent, we would have a Pit or two already...they are my #1 favorite breed.
2. Whippets - smaller than a Greyhound and also calmer and easier to train. I love sighthounds in general. Sighthounds are fascinating: they are almost a separate species from other dogs at the cellular level because they are so athletic, especially Greyhounds and Whippets.
3. Shiba Inus - they are basically cats in a dog costume. Of course I like them! ;)
4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels - sweetest dog breed of all, IMO. In 8 years in the vet field, I have never once met a mean one. The problem with them is that early-onset heart disease is so darn common in the breed. That, and syringomyelia, a result of a birth defect where the back of their skull is too small to accommodate all of their cerebellum, which means it squeezes out the back of their skull, which in turn causes fluid pockets to build up in the spinal cord right at the top of their necks. You can read more about it in this link. About 50% of Cavaliers worldwide have it or will develop it. Symptoms don't show up until at least 6 months of age and sometimes they don't show symptoms until years later down the line. It is an excruciatingly painful progressive disease, and it is hereditary. Surgery really is the only true solution, but it is very expensive and the issue can reoccur. I wish people would stop breeding so hard for specific looks. Not even mutts nowadays are exempt from the genetic horrors we've bred into the most popular dog breeds.

4 horse breeds I've ridden
1. Paso Fino
2. OTTB (I'm throwing this in here because the #1 breed I have ridden the absolute most are Thoroughbreds, most of them off the track, because in PR if you want to jump, you will be riding OTTBs. People have imported Warmbloods over there but they don't tolerate the constant heat and humidity well. Can I just say how crazy it drives me that OTTBs are treated as a different breed from TBs? Well, it does. Because I own an unwanted, unregistered and unraced TB who is pretty damn amazing but even if she was registered, I wouldn't be able to participate in any of the TB things because they have to be "OT". OTTBs are TBs, but apparently the only incentives out there are for TBs that have raced. It makes NO SENSE. The only difference is their training. A driving Percheron is not the equivalent of a different breed from a Percheron that is used exclusively under saddle. There. I said it.)
3. Quarter Horse
4. Belgian

I'm riding Ricky Bobby, one of many Paso Finos. And that's Charles dancing with glowsticks, all of us moving to the beat of Santana's "Smooth". This was part of a show for a charity event.
Ricky Bobby was the most bombproof horse I have ever worked with.

On Divot, one of many, many, maaaaanyyyyyy OTTBs.
4 horse events I'd like to participate in
1. The Biltmore Challenge endurance ride - it is held at the Biltmore Equestrian Center, which is part of George Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate in Nasheville, NC. It is rated one of the top 3 best places in the WORLD to ride.
2. The Vermont Moonlight endurance ride - even the shorter distances start later in the day so that you finish the ride at night, moving along in the darkness on your horse with the trail outlined by glowing markers.
3. Competitive Trail Riding - similar to AERC distance riding (endurance) but with different rules. There are a lot more CTRs in my region than AERC rides
4. Maryland Horse World Expo - I dream of taking one or both horses to this event to participate in one or more clinics or maybe even take Gracie in the Breeds Parade.

The Biltmore Estate
4 of my favorite animals
1. Cat
2. Horse
3. Wolf
4. Red-tailed hawk

Astarte and Aengus. Because CATS...
4 places I would like to go:
1. The UK
2. Basically any part of Western Europe
3. Someplace where I could see the aurora borealis. That is a big one on the bucket list.
4. Washington State and Oregon. I've never been to either.

4 things I wish for
All the cliche things, but I think these are things everyone truly wishes for:
1. Happiness
2. Eternal love
3. Good health
4. And you know what? I'd really, really like for us to be able to own a house one day.


  1. Excellent post! If I ever meet you in real life, I'll be sure to call you Nicky ;)

    1. <3 I hope we do meet in real life one day!

  2. Love reading these!!!

    I think CA needs to be on the places visited list!

    1. Ah, but I've been to CA already! :D San Francisco, San Jose, and Lake Tahoe. Loved them all!

  3. reading this post made me hungry haha (and i kinda love everything on your 'dislike' list too... mmm alfredo lol)

    1. Hahaha my mom and brother LOOOOOOVE anchovies!

  4. The Biltmore is right near me! i hope to make it one of these days but the entry fee is more expensive than for many other endurance rides. As far as CTRs go were you thinking about ECTRA rides? My horse has a ton of ECTRA miles and I always wondered what the main difference is. Is ECTRA just like a super long ACTHA ride?

    1. Yup, I'm considering ECTRA. From what I've gathered, ECTRA is basically like endurance but there are some obstacles with judges along the way. Distances can range from 15 to 50 miles. There is a pace range: you can't go too fast nor too slow. They have the vet checks just like in endurance but instead of getting A, B, C, etc you get a numerical score (like a school grade) for each of the parameters (gait, attitude, hydration, etc) and it gets tallied up at the end. From what I've heard, because of the scoring system ECTRA can be better for horses that have very mild lamenesses (like from arthritis that they warm up out of) or who are slower/older. It can be a better starter sport for distance riding than endurance because of their format. They do have some bizarre rules though: I think there are certain containment systems that aren't allowed and you are not allowed to dismount from your horse during a ride, which I think is crazy.

      I think ACTHA is more of a judged trail ride, where they have man-made obstacles on a much shorter course? Don't quote me on that, though!

  5. Oddly, there's a whole section of the horse racing world that calls me Niki (DomiNIKa).

    I LOVE alfredo and you make me sad. LOL.

    YES to Biltmore and VT. We should DO THEM TOGETHER CUZ I MISS YOU.

    Also, come snuggle my pit bulls :)

    1. I've really been looking forward to snuggling your pit bulls because they are both ADORBS.

      That's awesome about Niki!!

      Carlos loves alfredo too. He's just really good at ruining it for other people. We'll tell you the story when we all (finally!) meet up. :)


  6. I should do the added 4 facts :P

    Hillary and I just talked and we're extending the baseline due date to Wednesday at midnight, might not do too much if the weather back east continues to be poor but at least that's a couple extra days.

    1. YAY on extended deadline! I'm hoping it clears up a bit by Sunday with the storm moving away off to sea. *fingers crossed*

      I stole the questions word-by-word from Karen over at Thee Ashke...and just went back and looked at yours. Yup: somewhere along the way extra questions were added!

  7. All the happy smiling pictures = #1 on "4 things you wish for" (: CTR is super fun and is definitely a good intro into distance riding since it hyperfocuses on horsemanship rather than speed. Some rides may have judged obstacles though the ones I've done are the paced trail ride type with a judged fly-by trot on the trail where vets check the horses for soundness and note their trail disposition.

    I agree there are some strange rules though; one of them being no forward movement if you dismount (exception being if you are in a dangerous situation) and another is no leg protection can be used- so stuff like splint and fetlock boots are not allowed. The whole point is to basically to see which horse ends up doing the required mileage with the least amount of change before and after = "best trail horse".

    1. I forget that your first ride was a CTR! Now I know who to direct all questions to. ;) Thank you for the explanation! Good to know about still being allowed to dismount if you are in a dangerous situation: that had been one of my main concerns with CTR. For example, Liz and I would have been in serious trouble last year at Fort Valley if we had not dismounted when ambushed by the gray mini stallion that freaked the hell out of our horses! You just never know when a situation like that might happen.