Merry Christmas everyone!!

It doesn’t quite feel like Christmas for me here. It’s been a balmy 25 degrees out the past few days and yesterday (Christmas Eve here) we had a family BBQ for our christmas lunch and opened presents. It was rainy in the morning, and I was able to imagine that the rain was snow falling- which helped it seem a little more legit. After lunch we sat outside in the sun and watched Dallas play with the foal. Very chill day. My gifts included a All Blacks Adidas scarf, one of the cool ones with pockets. Jordan and Brandon got me a pikarua necklace, which symbolizes the bonding of cultures and friendship. Alison got me a Koru, which is a beautiful glass sculpture that represents growth, new beginnings, harmony, love, and support. There was also lots of chocolate involved in the gifts. You can never go wrong with chocolate. Ever.

I’ve been living on straight baking for the past week or so, really not a good diet. On tuesday I made 48 tarts and about 50 gluten free gingerbread men (complete with icing). Thursday I made chocolate pb marshmellow cake, shortbread, and cherry surprises. I made two batches of shortbread, because the first batch I messed up big time. They still tasted awesome, but as soon as you even thought about touching them they would crumble into 10 pieces. The second batch was much sturdier.

On Wednesday I had another physio/osteo appointment. Where Dr. Charles was very impressed that I had actually done my exercises and could see dramatic improvement in my shoulder/back muscles. After a quick adjustment he was pleased to tell me that my next appointment should be my last. Fancy that, something I’ve been fighting with for a very, VERY, long time- solved in under 2 months… As it stands now, I haven’t had any problems with my back since my first appointment with him, almost a month ago. I think this is the longest I’ve been pain free in like 3 or 4 years. It probably helps a lot that I’m avoiding riding with all my being. I get offered horses a lot.. and I hate saying no, but I love not living in pain. So, for now, I’ll just continue taking pictures at rodeos and strengthening my own body so that I can hopefully continue being pain free when I start riding at home again. Fingers crossed!

Christmas here had many differences from home, including but not limited to:

  • No turkey. :(.
  • The temperature was nowhere near the negatives.
  • I applied sunscreen.
  • The children didn’t know what butter tarts were. Mine were the first they tasted. Yikes.
  • The BBQ was involved in cooking Christmas lunch.
  • It was generally just much more casual.
  • Since the kids here went to their dads for Christmas day, we had our Christmas day on Christmas Eve. So Christmas day I spent hanging out around the house, trying to avoid sugar with all my being (and failing), and skyping family members back in Canada. Different.
  • Another thing I noticed, not really related to Christmas at all, but the youth here are much more interested in going outside/physical activity for fun. The contrast between them and majority of North American youth is crazy. Another way  NZ is about 10 years behind North America I guess.

In some ways all the differences help with keeping me away from homesickness. It truly doesn’t feel like Christmas to me, therefore I can’t really feel like everything Christmas usually is is missing. It just feels like an ordinary summer day. On the other hand, it feels weird not seeing family- well my usual family, as I am living with family right now. Also.. the whole no turkey thing.. just not cool. Heads up family back home, I’m going to want turkey real bad when I get back.

And stuffing.

Oh yeah! My hair has grown quite a bit already! I have a solid fuzz now. More so then a peach, but less so then a horse in mid winter. Two things I never thought I’d compare my head to.

Tomorrow, very early in the morning, I’m going with Alison and Dallas down to Gisbourne to do the southern rodeo circuit. I’ll be gone for a few days, so I’m sure I’ll come back with lots of photos and stories. This post probably isn’t too interesting. Forgive me, I’m dealing with a major sugar crash right now. On that note, I’m going to leave and eat some real food.

Excuse me, I mustache you a question.



Dunedin and Alexandra

sdSpent the day in Alex wandering about. Climbed up and around the mountains surrounding the town and hung out with their giant clock. Going back to Dunedin tomorrow, possibly doing another modeling job- which would bring in another $300. This one is not as shocking as the last one, haha, just a student project involving no drastic appearance changes. I hope to have the shots from Monday’s shoot up asap- just waiting for the photographer to finish them. More details on that- it was for a hair design advertising group. What they do is find girls like myself, design a unique hair style for them- usually quite short- and film the entire process from long hair, to new style, and then in my case bald. They use the film to promote the hair design they did as kind of a “how to” video and sell it to different stylists.

I’ve got a bit of “phantom” hair syndrome right now. It feels like I have hair.. until I go to move or touch it. Or if there is a slight breeze. It’s amazing how cold one’s head can get! Also, hitting your head on things hurts quite a big more.. significantly more. I’m going to have to be less clumsy I think.

Went for a great hike today. Spent the morning climbing up rocks and enjoying the view. Only had one near death incident where I nearly broke my ankle. As it is, I have some pretty awesome scrapes and bruises. Rocks don’t joke around. My ankle was nicely twisted, but that went away after I walked it off. Best remedy for sprains.. walk it off. That didn’t deter me, I continued to climb up things and down them. I was presented many times with a decision to go the beaten path or the small barely trod path. Of course I took the less beaten path. And it was definitely worth it! Also managed to avoid sunburn! It doesn’t feel like a week (ish) away from xmas when I’m talking about avoiding sunburn. Odd.

I bus back to Dunedin tomorrow at 9:20am. And fly out at 9pm that night back to Auckland!


Christchurch and Surrounding Area


The Arts Centre- still closed due to earthquake damage. As you can see..


Hearts for Christchurch!

Hearts for Christchurch!


Santa's new ride.



Empty downtown..

The usual busy city centre was rather quiet and deserted except for the workers and the occasional tourist. It’s all fenced off, and signs warning against the area are everywhere.

Big rock!

Byrdling's Flats

eThe past few days have been filled with a hurried adventure around the Christchurch area. Yesterday I took the bus into the city and wandered around and today my gracious host Tracy toured me around the country side. Tomorrow I’m busing to Dunedin to.. I’M STILL NOT TELL YOU. Keep checking to find out what happens on Dec. 12th. Trust me, you will want to find out.



All in a days work.

Flew into Christchurch late last night. The following photos are mostly from my hike around Halswell Quarry Park, and then a few at the bottom from my drive into Auckland yesterday morning! Tomorrow I’m going to test out the public transit system here, and see where I end up. Won’t be anywhere the main city centre, as it’s still in ruins from last years quake. It’s beautiful here though! I managed to find enough for a bus fare in my wallet.. reminded me of searching for change so I could take the bus last year at Uni. Too bad I can’t pull the old “put your hand over the date on the 3 day old transfer ticket and see if the driver notices or cares” trick. That worked a few times for me in Winnipeg.. Only got kicked off once. Anyway. There will be more on my South Island adventures, no doubt. For now- enjoy these shots!

125m above sea level!

Couldn't resist.

Looking towards Christchurch City


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

As most of you will know, just from reading this blog or through actually knowing me, I have had ongoing issues with my low back, hip, and shoulder. I’ve incurred most of these injuries if not all of them over the years through falls from riding. None of them overly bad falls, mind you, just because of the repetitive strain and growing weakness in different parts of my body I’ve ended up with constant, on going, problems. It really doesn’t help that up until November of this year (this goes about 5 years back), that I haven’t given my body a break to actually recover or get stronger. I’m sure I’ve annoyed many a physio/AT doing this. Sorry.

This summer was definitely the worst. I made next to no progress with therapy and exercises, but I also wasn’t willing to take a break from riding. Things got a little better after my last show, where I was finally able to take a few weeks and prepare for my trip to NZ and not worry about riding. Although things got better, I could tell the issue was still there. Nevertheless, I was determined to carry on with my plan to work at LC. No matter the cost to my body. After all, how much worse could it get? I’m so smart sometimes. The first while at LC, my back help up okay- it was more the shoulder that gave me problems. As I started riding more at the farm, however, the back issues kicked in again. By this point I had already decided that I hated it there and I wanted to leave. I still stuck it out another month, in which my back and hip got a whole lot worse. After I left the farm I was sure things would start improving again. And they did, for about 2 weeks. Then everything just went downhill again. The past 2-3 weeks, nothing I’ve done has deterred my back and hip from being constantly annoying. I was really hoping to avoid having to call in the pros while over here. Unfortunately though, I ended up going to a physio/osteotherapist today to get it checked out.. for the 5th time this year.

I’ve been told a couple different things over this year as to what’s going on with my body. I started out going to a Chiro in Carman, who basically told me nothing and fixed the problem for time periods of about 2 weeks. Useful. From there I say a physio in Carman, who told me I had a sprained hip. Sort of useful, but he also didn’t really tell me how to fix it, and stopped trying once he realized that I wasn’t going to quit riding in the meantime. This was around Xmas of 2010. After this, I started going to athletic therapy at the U of W. This is where I’ve had the most success. Here was the first time my SI joint was even brought up, and focused on. And I did start improving. I continued with this therapy all summer- as I refused to quit riding I never really progressed past the point of fixing the problem, but never actually fully recovering, and three weeks later ending back in the basement of the Duckworth being massaged and stretched. Because of this, I never really got a chance to purely strength train, without the added strain of riding consistently- which is what was needed. In August things started getting worse, really worse, and my AT sent me to Legacy Sports Clinic to get a second opinion. This was probably the most useless of them all. He basically told me that there was nothing wrong with me, and that I’m still at an age where I should be indestructible and all I need to do is up my strength training. He was probably right about the strength training, but when you’ve been in severe pain for a long time- you don’t really want somebody to tell you you’re fine. It makes you think you’re completely insane. So, for the rest of the summer I continued seeing my AT and making baby steps towards recovery.

This time around I was told something completely different, and useful. Instead of being told I have weakness in my core, and I need to strengthen that more to solve all my issues- it was my upper back and shoulders that were focused on. The weakness there is causing the issues in my left side SI and hip. Makes sense when you actually think about it. Especially when you look at riding form. The osteotherapist I saw explained to me that when one is riding, if they’re weak in there lat muscles it cause your shoulders to roll forward and the muscles in your seat are put through a lot more strain because of the position you’re in due to the poor posture. Weakness in your lat muscles can be cause from many different things, one of those being injuries in your rotator cuff (shoulder) muscles. He did some sort of cool muscle release, alignment, decompression stuff with me. The best way to describe it I guess would be something in between, or a love child of, traditional chiro and massage work. But it’s different from anything else I’ve had before. If you want more info on what Osteotherapy is, google provides quite a lot of info! I noticed immediate results. The day after seeing him was the first pain free day I’ve had in a very long time. Probably since I left home actually. It probably helps that I didn’t run off to ride or compete the day after (or the same day) as being treated.

Recovery is a choice. And it’s really starting to sink in that if I want to seriously pursue riding in the future, now is the time to get my shit together and make sure I have the body to do so. It just so happens that I’m 10,000 miles away from any temptation to ride my horse. How lucky! For years I’ve always had the view that the only way to advance in the sport was to do nothing but ride, and then ride some more. I wasn’t able to do that over the years because of other commitments, all of which improved me as an all-around athlete and person. It caused me a lot of stress to know that I was always going to be one, two, or three steps behind other riders who could commit all their time to the sport. And then when I was finally able to commit more to the sport, it caused me physical pain to do so. I really, really hope that I can use this time away from home to get stronger so that when I get home I can continue improving. Even though I’m not riding for the next 6 months, I’m training my body in different ways that will help in the long way. I have a great horse and great coaches waiting for me. It’s up to me now to make my goals happen.

5 days until I fly to Christchurch… 10 days until the big surprise! Ah!