I’m practicing my visualisation skills this morning while eating our pb and j breakfast after cooking and serving sausages, baked beans, and numerous other delicious sights and smells. If I try real hard this sandwich really does taste like hot sausages and beans. Mmmm.
It was a breezy 10 degrees last night and pretty darn chilly. I slept alone in our tent pod as apparently when Jenaya tried to get in last night I went, and I quote, “all ninja on her ass” and she slept in another part of the tent. Note to self, no ninja-ing tonight.
Our shift is only a couple hours in and we’re already pulling out the milo and coffee mix. I call it miloffee. Our accents are getting quite a lot of attention and apparently mine is a lot less thick now. But still very present. Jenaya and I are very aware that we’ll be the two coolest people in Carman when we get back because we’ll be chatting away in kiwi slang and nobody will know what we’re on about.
Sweet as!

Snapshots from the past week!

Went to rodeos in Wairora, and Upper Mohaka this weekend, about a 9 hour drive from Kaukapakapa. The weather was beautiful and summery! Met up with Hannah and Niamh at Wairora and I’m getting very excited to join them again in a week for our south island adventure. There is a possibility of doing some groom work down there on the show circuit too! Won’t say no to some extra cash!
Here are some shots I took along the way!












Rodeos, tan lines, and decisions

I realise last week that I said I’d write, and that it is now this week.. Nevertheless here we are.

As I mentioned before, we moved last week to a new place near Kaukapakapa, outside of North Shore, Auckland. I will only be here for a week or so before I move onto new adventures. On the 25th I’m going south ish to Cambridge to see my good friend Jenaya, and volunteer at a music festival in that area. I’ll hang out there until the 30th and then zoom down (I’m really not zooming, it’s an 8 hour bus trip) to Wellington at the bottom of the North and meet Niamh and Hannah, my Irish friends who I worked with at LC. From there a grand adventure to the South Island commences. I plan on spending the month of February seeing everything I can, so when I fly home in MARCH (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I have lots of great memories to share.

What have I been up to the past few weeks (when I haven’t been writing) you ask? Well let me fill you in.

I spent the week after Christmas on the rodeo circuit, started in Gisbourne (a 10 ish hour drive with a trailer) and worked our way back through Opotiki and then Taupo. Notable experiences from that week are:
1. Being fed raw cray fish, raw snapper, raw oysters (fresh from the sea off the shell), and some other form of raw bottom feeder. I was a source of great entertainment for all the Maori cowboys feeding me these things. Great sense of humour they have! Atleast now I can say I’ve tried it, right?
2. Riding briefly along the beach outside Opotiki- even though it was for like 5 minutes max.
3. Swimming in the gorge on our way from Opotiki to Taupo. Cold as Portage Avenue on a windy day in February, but worth it. The fact that the water was crystal clear and it was a river amazed me.
4. Having my second official driving lesson…. While dd-ing for a truck full of drunk cowboys in Taupo. We only told them it was my third time driving on the left and standard after we were moving.

We came home for a night that Friday, where I managed to get a stomach flu and was out for the weekend. So what did I do for new years? Fell asleep at 10:20pm and slept for 13 hours straight. But I stayed up for Canada’s new year! It was really weird being in 2012 before everyone else!

I spent the first week of January hanging around the house on Gumtown Road, while Ali and Dallas continued on with rodeos. I didn’t mind, though, as the weather was pretty wet anyway. Atleast I was dry! Unfortunately I managed to pass some of what I had onto the rodeo crew. Oops.

On Wednesday the 11th, I had my last appointment with Dr. Charles and reached the 2 month mark of no pain! My avoidance of riding for the past 3.5 months is paying off. Now we just have to cross our fingers and toes that it keeps up when I start riding again. Charles explained his diagnoses again, that the alignment (or disalignment) of my left shoulder/clavicle is what causes issues with my hips and lower back. Still wonder why nobody was able to figure that out till now, but now I know!

That pretty much brings us to now. I went back to Whangarei for the big Mid Northern rodeo this past weekend. Watched Dallas kick some serious ass, winning both her barrel races, and having the second best time (17.2) of the whole weekend for all divisions- including the big guns in the first division! On Saturday I found out how difficult it is to say goodbye to friends I’ve made, knowing I probably won’t see them again. Since I’m leaving for some new adventures soon and they aren’t coming to the rodeo in Hastings area this weekend- this was my last weekend with those crazy Maori cowboys. But I won’t likely forget them anytime soon! And hopefully they won’t forget “Meow” anytime soon either.

As for my decision to come home 2 months early, I’ve given it lots of thought. Although it’s great being here and seeing the things I’m seeing, not only will my funds run out soon- I’m more than ready to get home, get riding, and get working on my goals. This working holiday turned into a holiday pretty fast, and I’m not someone who can do nothing for long periods of time. I’ve almost reached my limit for that and am getting pretty anxious to be at home where I can be working towards my goals seriously again! I plan on taking one or two spring courses in may/June. The main one being Anatomy. Also having the extra two months at home will allow me to get mr Willard back into shape and more prepared for the 2012 season- same for my bank account. I hate to give up on my Bali plans.. But hey- that’s a trip for another time. Gives me something to plan for! Cause as my mom likes to say, I’m always atleast 6 months ahead of myself.

As much as nothing about the past 5/6 months has gone to plan.. I feel like things are working out how they should. Finally. Knowing life, it won’t feel like that for long- but I’m enjoying it right now, so that’s what matters. As it sits now, I have about 6 weeks left in this beautiful country and I plan on making the most of it! Very excited to be on the South Island again!



This makes me happy!

Eric is a huge inspiration to me, and when I heard the news of Hickstead’s untimely and sudden death a few months ago I was absolutely devastated, as was most of the equestrian world. I was equally as devastated at the idea that he would retire from the sport early. Although he had many reasons to leave the sport, after the career he’s had, I just couldn’t believe that he would. Knowing what I feel after being away from it for even a few short months I couldn’t see how he could lose his passion, even after such a hard and completely unimaginable loss. Much to my relief, as you will see in the above article if my link works, he has decided to keep going and do his best to still qualify for London on a new mount. YAY!!!!




My number one concern when shaving my head was that my riding helmet would be too big. Not that it matters too much as I haven’t been riding in over 2 months now. But still, it was a big concern. I worked up the guts to try it on once and for all today to find out. To my great relief it still fits reasonably well! Granted my hair has grown in quite a bit since December 12. I’m about ready to get back into the saddle ASAP, but will hold true of staying away from anything involving being on the back of a horse until I’m back in Manitoba. Which may be sooner then originally stated, but more on that later! The next couple days are quite busy as I’m helping Alison pack and move to her new place in North Shore. Speaking of which I’m supposed to be cleaning my room. I’ll post more news later in the week! Happy New Year everyone!


2011 Top 10

Since I’m not really a resolutions person, I decided I’d just make a top 10 of 2011 list. So, here it is in no particular order!
  • Second term of first year. I started actually enjoying my classes and realizing that UW was where I’m supposed to be. Also, many adventures were had- from playing a hooker in theatre (rehearsing- or trying to- those lines with Stephan and scaring most of 5th floor) to being called a whore at the Henderson Draft House on Taylor’s bday night (I blame the dress I was wearing, it was Taylor’s) and learning those oh so valuable life lessons with Joey, hide and go seek on campus wayyy after hours- Joey and I so won that match, Stephan and Taylor you can suck it. Loving all my kinesiology classes, falling asleep in intro psych.. a lot.. and still managing to pass, movie nights at Kathryn and Jordan’s, King Ginger, surviving living with Taylor on Langside, buying about 200 chocolate bars in a desperate attempt to use up my meal card. Almost succeeded..Rediscovering my love for the gym, and every other great memory that came along with first year.

Our shower wasn't quite big enough...

I can't even remember why or how this was created.

  • Assistant coaching the Varsity Cougars Basketball. Although it was hard to not be able to run onto the court like I would’ve the year before, it was a great experience still being a part and helping with the best Varsity team out there. It’s definitely a completely different experience being on the coaching side of things, and I’m glad I got to do it first in a familiar environment. I learned lots about leadership, teamwork, maturity, and coaching working with the two other coaches, and I’m very grateful to them for treating me on the same level as them- as only a short time ago I was a player on their team. Oh, and who could forget rubber chicken tag?

Best Asst Coaching Team Ever!


  • RMWF 2011. Not really because of any amazing results, but it was my first Gold level show with Mike and Charlene and because it was only me, Lauren, and Katie there from McMullans. It was a great chance to get to know each other better. It was also my first show competing in the adult divisions. I’ve been attending the Royal Fair for as long as I can remember, competing at it for the past 2 years. Unfortunately I won’t be there this year. 2011’s fair was definitely my favourite yet, except for the lack of cinnamon buns and food poisoning.

My first win ever in the adult ami division!

  • Volunteering at Kaayikawow Adult Education Centre. It started out as a mandatory volunteer portion of my Learning Through Service Education course- but turned into one of my favourite experiences. The first few weeks were rough, between getting lost trying to figure out the downtown/north end bus system (do not trust the internet), and adjusting to teaching adults- most my parents age- lessons I took just a few years back; I was a nervous wreck half the time. But once I saw how happy the students were to have my help, I got less shy and from there the whole experience just got better. I really started loving it when I was asked to help with their Phys Ed program and designed/taught a fitness plan to the students. This experience really showed me the job of teaching and helping others achieve their goals- big or small. One student had a goal of getting his high school diploma and continuing on to Uni so he could get a good job to support his daughter, while another wanted to improve his fitness so that maybe he could get a girlfriend. Both were equally appreciative of any help and knowledge I shared with them- even if it was just giving them someone to talk things through with. I hope to go back and volunteer there again in 2012.
  • Figuring out how to drive in downtown Winnipeg. Pretty much self explanatory. Many new curse words were invented (OSFGD, Leah?), and I know that I looked completely insane ALL the time whilst driving and talking to myself. Pep talks were usually needed to keep myself from complete and utter chaos. But hey, I now know many new routes, where all the one ways are in Osbourne, and how to get myself un-lost (usually the best bet is calling dad).
  • Curry Clinics. Andrew is very similar in style to McMullans with his techniques, an during his clinics I was always challenged to take what I’ve learned and put those skills to practical use. I was always pushed to another level, and was able to see all the components of previous lessons clicking into place.
  • Rance family road trip to Kelowna, BC. Who couldn’t love endless hours of CBC, 4 equally opinionated (all with a different opinion) and stubborn people crammed into a mini van arguing over everything from directions to whether we should go to Denny’s, Smitty’s, or Perkin’s for lunch, the smell of sunflower seeds, or the argument over who “gets” to drive next? Through all of that, it’s still one of my favourite memories of 2011.

Hey hair..

  • Show season 2011, especially Fall Harvest. This season was full of ups and downs. Some of the highlights for me were not directly related to competing, but more related to the time spent outside of competition. I got to know my barn mates from McMullans quite a bit better this year. I’m closer with them then I’ve ever been with fellow competitors and that I love. It’s great to have their support at shows, and to support them. I especially loved hearing how well Lauren and Katie did in Alberta, and wished I could’ve been with them even just to watch! I’ve never felt more welcome then with McMullans and I hope 2012 brings more great things for all of us! Fall Harvest gets a special mention here because it was the one show where everything just worked. It was fitting that it was my last show of the year. From warm ups to the last class we had smooth rounds and a great pace. Finally everything I’d been working on clicked!
  • FHB Program. As much as I hated that job- it’s brought me some pretty incredible friends and has earned the right to be on this list. Among other things, I now know how to rate severity of fusarium head blight in my sleep, avoid sunburn, drive through mud and not get stuck (unlike the crop diagnostics crew (GARTH)), how to look like you’re working, job creation, how to get drowned gophers out of irrigation holes, how to rototill like a pro, how to play truth or dare, how to get stuck (hidden trenches suck), how to chase donkeys, how to snake up on certain organics crew members, every lyric to every top 40 song that came out between June and September, how to dig a trench, how to hoe, how to paint stakes (1-10,000), how quickly one goes insane when stuck inside a tiny room sorting seed, and the list goes on.
  • New Zealand. Obviously this was going to be on here! Although the trip isn’t over yet, here are some highlights- Auckland for the RWC semis and finals, working for an international level barn, leaving said barn, going on the rodeo circuit (or part of it), and everything I did on the South Island! Definitely not done here yet! Even though next to nothing has gone to plan or worked out as I originally wanted it to, this will still be something I’ll always remember. I’ve learned a lot already and had some great experiences. The best thing for me so far has been getting somewhere (finally) with my back problems. I’m sure that being a world away from my horse and not riding is a major component of these improvements. While I still worry a lot about if it will last once I start riding again- it’s still a relief to not be in pain all the time.

I’m more than ready for 2012 to get on it’s way! I’m sure it’s going to full of it’s own challenges, and plans gone wrong. But sometimes those make the best memories!