Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Post Show Slow

Last week following the show poor Hemie did not see much of his momma. Just other life things getting in the way, with this week continuing the same. Between double-birthday, baby shower, wedding, friend visiting from out of town, etc, normal pony time is shrinking. And don't even talk to me about daylight savings time. Boo.

But if I can't ride, I can still blog. Depending on how crazy work is, actually, which has been very busy lately. Also boo.

But onto other things. Firstly, the professional photos are up from our show! I purchased one image:

You can check out the rest of the photos of us at:
Is it just me, or shouldn't they put some sort of watermark on their photos?

There's also a few more photos at Paola's Horse Blog - thanks again to Paola for coming to the show!

I've had some lingering thoughts following my super long show recap post. Thank you very much to everyone who has commented! I don't always comment back, but I read and appreciate all of them. In fact, comments tend to sit with me for a few days and influence how I reflect on things, and I revisit and reread comments as I mull things over.

2 readers suggesting leaving feedback for the show organizers. A really nice thing about the US Eventing Association is their excellent comprehensive website with competitor-oriented features such as the online event evaluation form. This kind of thing is a real bonus of competing in a recognized horse trial over a schooling show (where the dressage judges may or may not be going senile, cough cough).

While I generally never hesitate to share my opinions and leave feedback, I haven't yet filled out an event evaluation form for the show, because I just keep seeing both points of view and don't really know what I'd say. While it was in bad taste for the TD and vet to come to my stall with gross misinformation, I  understand that shows can be hectic and things sometimes get mixed up. It happens. And while I certainly didn't appreciate being pressured to withdraw, I can understand that their primary concern was safety.  The TD was pleasant and professional to me when I volunteered on Sunday - I got the impression that the vet had clued him in to the misinformation, as well as our excellent stadium warm-up and jumping round.

So right now I'm not feeling bothered by what happened at the show by the officials. It is what it is, and I'm proud of myself for knowing the rules, sticking to my guns, and getting through the experience, with a bonus of accomplishing a life goal along the way.

The only small thing that bothers me at this point is the fact that my group participated in an Amy Barrington fundraiser "fantasy team challenge" and the results were supposed to have been posted on Sunday afternoon. Then they changed it to Monday following the show. That was over a week ago and still nothing, though I've inquired on their Facebook.

With all the drama aside, if we take a good hard look at the shenanigans issue, we see solid improvement. Yes, there was some wigging out on Friday and Saturday. But it was to a much lesser degree than at Shepherd Ranch, where we had it every day and to a much larger extent. At Fresno, not only was I able to nip it in the bud, but we were able to move forward and put in some decent work following. We also confirmed some methods for handling it:

  • Buddy system with another horse.
  • Ponying system with trainer.
  • "March on" rider attitude.
  • Neck strap and whip.
  • Proceed with caution when making the decision to longe. 

I think that our training methods of regular bit-ups plus being more demanding at home gave Hemie the tools to cope with show stress better. He didn't feel as trapped by bit contact, and he was able get his brain back promptly following an incident.

My trainer thinks that some horses react poorly being in such close proximity to the power station. I don't know what to say on that, but who knows - it could have been a factor.

At this point in time I feel ready to move up to Beginner Novice in 2014. My trainer thinks we will quickly move up to Novice, but I'm in no rush whatsoever and I wouldn't even consider it until we have at least 2 horse trials with no shenanigans whatsoever. Not only do I find it simply unacceptable, but its inappropriate once you get past BN (which everyone knows is for greenies and newbies). We're done with showing for the year, so I've got some time to work on my position and get ready for the Annual Galway Downs Fundraiser in late January!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sunshine Award

Eventing In Color is honored to receive the Sunshine Award from Paola of Paola's Horse Blog
Thanks Paola!

The Sunshine Award is for people who "positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere." 
The nominee must do the following: 
thank the person who nominated her, 
nominate ten bloggers of her own, 
answer the ten questions given to her, 
and post them and the Sunshine Award button to her blog.

The 10 Questions:
  1. Mares or Geldings?  I like both very much, with maybe a very small lean towards geldings.
  2. English or Western? Again, both! Though currently I compete in an English discipline.
  3. Do you prefer "younger" or "older" horses? Yet again, both! I love horses of all ages, though for purposes of having a long-lasting partnership, I knew that I wanted a "young adult" horse (age ~7) when getting Hemie. I didn't want a baby and I didn't want a senior. 
  4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero? No, though I've ridden a good number of greenies.
  5. Do you prefer riding or groundwork? I prefer to ride. Groundwork is useful and can be fun, but I enjoy riding much more than I enjoy groundwork. 
  6. Do you board your horse or keep it at home? I board. I've mucked enough stalls in my life, I think. I really appreciate being able to afford to pay others to do that now!
  7. Do you do all natural things or just commercial stuff?(in sense of products) Whichever one is more effective at it's task and comes well recommended. 
  8. All tacked up or bareback? Both! It depends on the horse, for both shape and temperament. 
  9. Equestrian role model? Wow this is a tough question, actually. There are lots of top riders and trainers I respect and follow (Jimmy Wofford, George Morris, Anne Kursinski, Buck Davidson, Karen O'Connor, Hawley Bennet, etc etc), but I think I'm going to go with Bunnie Sexton, a West Coast rider and trainer based out of Shepherd Ranch in Santa Ynez, who in her 50s is competing at 3-star level for the first time. She truly is an inspiration.
  10. What's your one, main goal, while being in the horse world? My overall goal is to have a fun and rewarding relationship with my horse, preferably with us both learning and improving at whatever we are working on. 

Now for my nominees for the award:

Karen of Bakersfield Dressage, who inspires me to improve my riding through positive analysis of performance and training progress. Many of her posts help me see things in new ways.

Carly of Poor Woman Showing, who has given me many a chuckle, and reminds me to stick to my guns and trust my gut when it comes to being a steward for your horse. And to have a sense of humor about horsey life.

Aimee of SprinklerBandits, who has long inspired me to improve my writing style, to have higher standards for tack and equipment, and to stay positive in light of horsey-life letdowns.

L. Williams of Viva Carlos, who inspires me to be more consistent blogger, with better visuals and graphics, as well as to work on myself physically and educationally to ensure I'm the best rider that I can be for my horse and our show goals.

Laura of The Roany Pony, who has inspired many post topics, as well as my own introspection about horse partnership suitability. She also inspires me to be a craftier blogger.

Lauren of She Moved to Texas comes up with lots of fabulous post topics that inspire lots of other bloggers, and also has great tips on various elements of better blogging.

Andrea of The Reeling - Has long inspired me to be open-minded about various topics: barefoot, multi-disciplinary cross-training, and patience, patience, and more patience.

Nicku of The Polka Dot Periodical inspires me to have better work-horse-life balance, and to remember to surrender my worries to God.

Riding With Scissors reminds me that learning eventing as an adult is a grand adventure, and to not take yourself too seriously - enjoy the funny moments the most.

Lindsay of Nanakorobi yaoki -  her title says it all: "fall seven times, rise eight"

Niamh of Life of Riley has a contagious positive attitude, enviable artistic sense, and inspires me to be grateful every day and see the positive.

PS.  Yes, I know that was 11. Some rules are more guidelines, really.

Monday, October 21, 2013

WE ROCKED!! (super long show recap!)

Oh my goodness, I am just smitten as a kitten today. Our weekend had some extreme lows and highs, but luckily it was in that order!! Right now I feel like I'm king of the world and my horse is Pegasus.

So let's cut to the chase. We placed 16th out of 23 entrants in the Intro division, moving up in the rankings each phase. I was part of the winning Intro team, so I got to take home a pretty blue ribbon. Amazingly, we accomplished a goal from my equestrian bucket list: we finished the horse trial on my dressage score!! Granted, it was a very bad dressage score. Probably my worst ever. But still - we went double-clear in both stadium and cross-country which is really awesome! I'm just so stinkin' proud of my handsome and brave pony, so thankful to have a wonderful trainer, and proud of myself for getting through it.

Like the last show, I ordered video from Ride On, but until they're available I have a few photos.

Day 0 - Arrival and practice ride

The California Grapevine

FCHP Show Grounds

We left Friday morning on the 4+ hour drive. The horses settled in quickly so I could take Hemie out for a practice ride in the warm-up area for dressage and cross country. He got a nice longe first and was very happy and willing.

On the walk up the hill to the warm-up area he was a little hot and hip-swingy, but he settled down to work right away. We had 2 very small "incidents" of stuck-ness where he wanted to go sideways instead of forward, but I handled it much better and faster than I had at Shepherd Ranch and was able to loosen the reins (and hold on for dear life on the handy neck strap) and kick him forward. It worked and we moved on right away, and got some nice dressage work done.

Safety vest and neck strap at the ready.

On the one hand, I was a little disappointed that he had the issues; however, I'm proud that I handled it more effectively than I did at the last show.

The iconic power plant behind us.

Full moon rising above the power plant.

Day 1  
Dressage & Crazy Show Drama 

Hemie was HOT HOT HOT on Saturday. I took him out for a hand-walk and it turned into an extra long walk with not one, but 2 longes too!

The electricity make me crazy pony?

When it came time for dressage, he got yet another longe, and he was still so hot that it lasted probably 20 minutes instead of the 10 I had budgeted. Oh well, sometimes you just need to let them get it out of their system.

Again, he got a bit spunky on the walk up to the arena - a little more than the day before, in fact, but half-way up the hill I decided we could trot instead of walk and that settled him. We trotted right through the in-gate and around the whole warm up area. I realized later than I should check-in, and found an official-looking person holding a clipboard and gave her my number to check in. I wondered if they were going to measure my whip like the last show, but she just said she'd call us when it was our turn. Okay, great. We warmed up pretty darn well. No incidents at all. He was tense, but slowly relaxing. A few great moments here and there.

Finally we were called down to the competition arena - of course the closest one to the power plant. We started off okay - tense but with some moments of stretching, and some good bend. He broke to canter and switched his hind leads a bit. Our free walk was a complete disaster - neither free, nor a walk (more like alternating halting and jigging). At the end of the diagonal, we had a mini meltdown in the corner. He got completely stuck, would not move forward, and bounced sideways. It probably lasted about 5 or 6 long seconds while I tried to squeeze him forward, then I gave him a little spank and he said "yes, ma'am." We moved forward and continued on with a nice trot, but it fell apart again for the canter - it was more of a hippity hop with swapping hind leads. We approached the offending corner again but had no issue. As I halted at X, the judge started waving me over before I could even salute (I still did though).

"We need to talk." she said seriously.

Not a good sign.

"I called the vet over because I think your horse is lame."

Oh no.

"I'm going to continue scoring your test. Please come outside and meet with the vet."

Sheisse. I called Laurie over and we spoke with the vet, who said the judge called her over during the test and that she and judge both think he showed signs of clinical lameness in the left hind. She asked a few background questions, and said that the judge wanted to eliminate us on the disobedience but preferred that the vet handle it. I started to argue that we couldn't be eliminated on the disobedience because it didn't last the required length of time. The vet said that was between me and the judge - her role was just to evaluate soundness. Hemie was quite tense, no doubt picking up on mine and Laurie's incredulity, shock, and intense anxiety at the situation. The vet said to go back to the barn and she'd stop by later once Hemie had a chance to settle down.

Hemie and I headed down the hill and he got worse - started cantering sideways downhill and getting light upfront and almost tripped. I reached for the neck strap and realized I left it in the warm up. I got him to settle and walk nicely for 5 steps and decided to get off and hand-walk him back up to go get the strap. I could feel the vet's eyes on us the whole time. Meanwhile I was stewing of course. There's a big difference between disobedience due to tension & inexperience, versus due to lameness - how could these professionals not tell the difference?

Finally we made it to the barn. I had some water, Hemie settled down quickly. He got a quick bath and some lunch and I got out my rulebook to figure out how this situation gets handled. The vet showed up with the Technical Delegate in tow.

The TD said that he heard from the dressage judge that our test had numerous issues - that I was talking to my horse the whole time, circled following a disobedience, and didn't take my hands of the reins to salute the judge when halting which itself could eliminate me.

Huh? I may have been a little rattled from the disobedience, but I know I didn't circle, know I didn't talk to my horse (maybe 1 cluck during the disobedience...maybe), and specifically did salute properly though it took a moment longer than normal for my horse to actually halt (and as I said the judge waved me over before I even finished saluting). I tried to bring up my concerns but both the vet and TD did not want to hear my side of the story.

The vet instructed me to trot out my horse for evaluation. As I pull him out of the stall, she says to the TD "Watch out! This horse is a striker!"


Laurie an I both immediately ask what she's talking about, and she says that the bit-checker volunteer at the warm-up gate said my horse struck her, she had even starred next to my horse's name on her list. Before we can discuss further, she tells me to trot him out. I must have been beet-red in the face with incredulity and tension, but trotted my horse out as instructed. After a few minutes, he was deemed sound.

We then had another round of extremely frustrating conversations with the vet and TD. I tried to explain that there was no way I had all those issues in my dressage test. I tried to explain that there was no bit-checker at the in-gate when I went through. But they didn't seem to care about what I had to say. Both the TD and vet repeatedly asked me if I thought we were safe to continue. I kept saying yes. But they kept on asking - they were clearly pressuring me to withdraw. The TD took me aside and said that if I had a problem in the stadium warm-up later that afternoon, that I should "call it a weekend" to avoid a dangerous situation in the stadium round. I acknowledged that I would not do anything that I felt was a danger to myself or my horse, and the TD finally left.

The vet stayed, and finally listened to my side of the story, though I didn't think she believed me. She said that we were flagged and she'd be watching us at stadium. When I said that I knew the rules and couldn't be eliminated in the warm up, she said "yes, that's true, except for Dangerous Riding." Then she said that I better go up to the warm-up gate right away to talk to the volunteer if I wanted to get to the bottom of the striker accusation, since dressage was ending soon. Instead I decided to wait for my dressage score and test at the show office, since per the rules (as I well know) you only have 30 minutes to lodge a protest.

I was certainly upset at the untrue accusation of my horse being a striker, but at the end of the day that's not against the rules and wouldn't alter my score. Incorrect dressage scoring would, especially if it could be used as grounds for elimination (not removing hands from the reins to salute). I was too emotional to go confront a poor volunteer anyway.

We got the dressage score, and it was bad. 59. Ouch ouch ouch. However, happily, there was no incorrect scoring - no circling, no points off for vocal assistance, nothing of the stuff the TD had mentioned. As one person was eliminated in our division in dressage, we figured the TD had gotten me confused with that poor person. The test scores were a tad harsher than I'd have expected (seriously, people, I got a *1* on our free walk. Yikes!), but ultimately there was nothing to protest. In fact, when I watched the video again, I thought the scoring was about right. We were pretty darn bad.

I checked the rule book on the technical definition of Dangerous Riding, and Laurie and I decided that if he started to wig out in the warm-up, she would simply come over and pony us around until it was time for our round (kinda like at our last show). With the vet and TD having already "flagged" us, I didn't want to chance a DR elimination (which goes on your USEA record). Talk about pressure.

Day 1 continued  
Stadium Jumping & meeting a fellow blogger!

Before I could allow myself to get too stressed out over the crazy show drama, I was saved by the fabulous Paola of Paola's Horse Blog who came with her family and friends to watch some of the show! She is a very bright young lady, and clearly a natural horsewoman.

Hemie snuggled in exchange for some cookies and it was just the perfect mood-lift that I needed right then. Thank you so much to Paola and her friendly, supportive family and friends for coming out to meet us and cheer us on!

As I started tacking up Hemie for stadium, the vet came back over to our area. She said that she had personally followed up with the volunteer doing the bit-check, and asked for a description of the horse and rider who had the striking incident with her. Apparently, it became immediately clear that it wasn't Hemie and I. Upon further questioning, the gal remembered that she had starred us because she wasn't able to bit-check us at the in-gate, as she was busy dealing with getting struck by this other horse (I guess it happened right before we arrived), and that she needed to follow up with us. The vet conveyed the volunteer's apology for the mix-up, and to be honest I was surprised and impressed that the vet cared enough to get to the bottom of that situation to set the record straight.

I finished tacking up, and we decided to have Laurie walk with us up the hill and around the new warm-up area. This worked out very, very well - I could feel Hemie look around and tense his body, then he'd relax when getting a tug (or pat) from Laurie. Racehorses are comforted by being ponied, and we absolutely used this knowledge to help settle him.

We had a perfect warm-up for stadium. He was happy and forward, listening and bending. We went in for our round and he was great. By jump #3 I knew in my gut we were going to have a completely successful go. I'm sure I had the biggest grin on my face the whole time. After being so tense earlier in the day, it was an incredible relief to have such a good ride.

Wendy and Calvin walked us back to the barn, and Hemie liked having a buddy there - he offered no antics at all. The vet passed us in her SUV and gave us a thumbs-up out the window. An extra layer of stress melted away.

Day 2 - Cross Country

Even though my XC ride time wasn't until 4 pm, I decided to get up early and volunteer by jump-judging the Training and Prelim levels of XC. FCHP now offers volunteer incentive - a $20 voucher for a half-day's volunteering, which is very cool. The courses ran very well and it was awesome to watch these more advanced riders jump gigantic things I don't think I ever will attempt.
Gina Economou on Calidore, Prelim fence #12

Hemie was calm and perfectly behaved for his hand-walk, so I didn't do a morning longe. In fact, I decided not to longe him at all before XC and to only have a small warm-up. We kept the same plan as stadium - Laurie to pony us up to the warm up and to rescue us immediately if any incident starts to happen. Hemie warmed up like a dream - a little amp'd but in a happy way. Laurie ponied us to the start box and held onto us for the count-down.

Out the box, Hemie was a little nervous. There was a camera next to a large jump on our approach to our first fence which we trotted, but I put his eye on our destination and I felt him lock on. From there on out, we were FLYING. It felt like we were soaring, and decided to test my brakes well before fence #2 - Hemie was obedient and listening, so from there on I trusted him and only asked him to balance a few strides away from each obstacle. Down hills, up hills, he was perfect. I didn't bother telling him "good boy" every fence like I did last time - he was having too much fun. So was I. We schooled the water first just to be safe, but he was perfect. We also trotted one more jump that was on a tight turn, but he was completely game the whole ride. By the last few jumps I saw we almost caught up to the person ahead of us. I definitely had tears welling up as we crossed those finish flags, and gave him a million pats and hugs and "good boys".  We had gone double-clear, with over 25 seconds to spare, even with the water schooling and trotting. I haven't done the math, but likely that means we went between BN and N speed.

So there it is. Downs, and ups. But of course ups > downs. And double-clean is a great way to end our 2013 show season. :-)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why do you love showing? (from the Hunter Princess Blog Hop)


I've been really enjoying reading all the posts for the Hunter Princess Blog Hop, put on by Lauren of She Moved to Texas. It's geared for hunter/jumper riders, so I haven't been participating myself, though I've learned a lot about the h/j world through the participating posts.

But last week's question has really stuck with me. Especially with my show coming up this week, it's interesting to ask myself:

Why do I love showing?

Shows are fun to be at. I love the atmosphere, the excitement. I love watching others ride. I love meeting people, and developing friendships. I love looking at the beautiful and spirited horses. I love rooting for people I know or know of. But I could get all that by being a spectator, and I think the question is more about why I'm a competitor.

I'm not a particularly competitive person. Doing well is nice bonus, but since I've never felt I could actually be competitive in this sport (first because I was new, then because I had a green horse, then again because I had a newer greener horse), I never have gone into a show thinking that we were there to do better than our competitors and get a ribbon. They've all been outings and learning experiences. Shows are a tool for evaluating mine and my horse's training. It's a way for me to measure where we are and where we are going. They are useful for goal setting, and help give structure and purpose to our work.

Even once we've got more experience under our belts and maybe could be competitive, I still think my goal for every single show will simply be for us to perform to the best of our abilities on that day. That's why I love shows: it's crunch time. It's an opportunity to see if all that training and preparing can come together, on command. You can practice perfectly 100 times, but what counts is this time. I guess I like the challenge of performing under pressure - getting it done when it counts.

But especially at this point in our career, shows are a wonderful shared experience for me and Hemie to bond. We are going through this experience together, with stresses and joys, and come out the other side as a better team. The trust we develop during these crunch times is worth all the costs.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Catch Up Photo Dump

 An evening in the life of Sarah and Hemie...

Life has been wonderfully hectic, so I'm rather late in posting. On Saturday the 5th we went to Twin Rivers for an XC schooling and it was a wonderful experience. Hemie was brave and willing as we schooled all the BN jumps, with some Intro and some Novice thrown in too. We also had our very first gallop. As in, racehorse gallop. It was exhilarating.

This coming weekend we're headed to Fresno County Horse Park (formerly Ram Tap) for our 2nd horse trials. We've never schooled there before, but we're going Intro again so I'm not super concerned. It's the warm up ring I'm nervous about. But hopefully we've given Hemie the tools to deal with stress better. And me too.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bareback v. Stirrupless

The other day I rode Hemie bareback. We started with a bit-up and then did what I call a property tour: going into various arenas, working for a few minutes, then hacking around to the next arena, and adding in some work in the open spaces, etc. I kept it mostly walk-trot since Mr. Withers is not the most comfortable pony. At the end of the ride I watched a friend get a lesson and leisurely strolled around the arena. My trainer said she got a hoot out of our barebackness, to which I replied: "I pay too much money in board for him to just be a show horse!"

And while riding bareback is my telltale sign of a personal pleasure horse, to be honest I think bareback riding makes Hemie a better mount overall.

A day or two later I came across this article about riding stirrup-less. I'd read it before, but it struck home with me more this time. My gut is telling me that I really need to drop my stirrups more often, but I keep chickening out. Stirrup-less is so much harder than bareback for some reason. Maybe I need to print out some George Morris inspiration.

See more GM memes at Horse Nation & Eventing Nation

In the meantime we have the 2 Point Challenge to work on!

Friday, October 4, 2013

2 Point Challenge!

2pt Challenge 2013Viva Carlos and Equestrian at Hart are co-hosting a 2-point challenge. Yours truly is entering with a baseline score of 2:04.  The idea is to work on it all month, and submit new scores (hopefully improvements!) each week, with some prizes at the end for people who can do it longest or have most improvement.

Since I've got our show to focus on, as well as my birthday, hubby's birthday, a wedding, and a baby shower (busy month!!), I don't think I'll be really giving this challenge my all - rather, I plan on just making sure I've got some extra 2-point work included in every ride (with jump saddle - I don't know if I can 2-point in dressage saddle, though I've never tried...)

I'm also going to try L's 3000+ sit up challenge, which sounds a bit intense for me. 100 a day? Her sage advice is to split it up into smaller pieces. Well...we'll see what I can do. Any number of sit ups is better than no sit ups, right?

Also, be sure to check out the Horze contest over at She Moved to Texas!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

5 ways to simplify your life

We horsey gals are much busier than the average non-horsey gals. Between rides and shows and a whole slew of extra errands and chores that come with horses, regular life chores like dishes and laundry and meal planning may take a backseat. So here are 5 things that I have learned over the last few years that have helped my life run smoother overall:

#1. Just a few minutes. Set a timer.
You come home from the barn, and you feel your anxiety start to climb as you notice the sink full of dirty dishes and a whole heap of clothes that need to get folded. You're already tired and know you can't muster the energy to take care of it all right now. But, you can chip away at it for just 15 minutes. Or 10 minutes. Whatever. Get your phone out and set a timer, then tackle the dishes or the clothes. When the timer goes off, the end. It doesn't have to be "all or nothing" with chores. Little bits add up.

#2. Keep rags and all-purpose cleaner under each sink.
Cleaning the bathroom or the kitchen doesn't have to be "all or nothing" either. Keeping cleaning supplies handy allows you to do a spray-and-wipe of counter tops and other surfaces quickly. After you brush your teeth or grab a glass of water, grab a rag and the spray bottle and do a quick wipe. Don't move any stuff, just wipe what's clear. The Fly Lady's Swish & Swipe has helped me have "guest-ready" restrooms at all times. I keep a plastic bag under the sink too for the used rags. Again, little efforts adding up.

#3. Put away clean dishes before doing dirty dishes.
This is one of those simple things I wish someone would have told me years ago. Instead, I invented this method (as I am sure many others have also done) in a fit of frustration when doing dishes, realizing I have no where to put a clean dish because the drying rack or dishwasher is full! Sometimes just changing the order of how we do things can reduce stress and simplify our lives.

#4. A place for everything, and everything in it's place.
The first half of that sentence is the most important. When you are doing a quick tidy-up of a room, and you have some items that don't belong there, it can be stressful when you don't know where to put something. It probably gets shoved in the miscellaneous drawer, or a corner of the closet or something. The next time this happens, ask yourself where this item's permanent home should be. Making a decision about where an item belongs is freeing - it means you relocate it once instead of multiple times.

#5. Map your grocery list.

Do you shop at the same grocery store every time? If not, consider it. Before you go shopping, sit down with your grocery list and identify where each item is located in the store. For example, I put "D" next to items found in the deli/produce, R for items on the right-hand side of the store, M for middle, L for left. If my list is long, I'll re-write the list on a fresh piece of paper, sorting everything by location. Then when you shop, start from one side of the store and go to the other side. If you don't know where an item is, put it at the top of the list. Shopping at the same grocery store is key to learning where items are. This has saved me at least 20 minutes each shopping trip - I used to go back and forth all over the store!

Bonus #6. Delegate.
Wedding planning made me realize that its OK to ask for help, and that people are willing to help you if you simply ask nicely. Kindly requesting that your husband or roommate or mom or friend help you with something may result in them doing it for you. And if they say no, then that's okay. But help is often there for the asking. Also, think about your regular recurring household chores and responsibilities. Paying the mortgage, putting trash bins out, cleaning up dog poop in the yard, watering plants, etc - if you live with someone, are the responsibilities divided evenly? Might be time for a chat. In our house, I do the chores that Rick hates, and he does the chores that I hate, and the result is that we are both doing chores but get to avoid the ones that really bug us.