Monthly Archives: July 2013

Spectrum

I know I know, reblogging is kind of a lazy way out of this week’s post. My life has taken over my schedule and won’t let go- but I still wanted to get something up for the week. Heart of the Continent is coming up with schooling starting Wednesday and competition starting Thursday so I will make a point of posting through out or at least after that show- the biggest show of the year here in MB!
I picked Spectrum to reblog because reading through it I can both relate to some of what my past-self was experiencing, and can find comfort from some of the stress I’m under currently with what I was feeling back then on the rodeo circuit. The past couple weeks have been full of great things, but also some more stressful, hectic things. I’m keeping up all right, but sometimes I wish I was off travelling again with the cowboys/girls around NZ.
Wish me luck with catching up to myself this week, and enjoy this piece from katmah history!

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 In less then 3 days since making my move North to my family’s place in Whangerei, I’ve gone from grooming for the rich/elite/ whatever show jumping barn, to roping steers and barrel racing at a local rodeo. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum!

The first few days at my new home were pretty quiet. While everyone else was away at work or studying for exams- I stayed in the house, cleaned (yes mom, I cleaned), and baked. As the weekend came, things got a bit more exciting- roping and barrel time! I went with Alison and Diva, her horse, about an hour and a half to Paparoa where the Northland District Team Roping Club was having a club day.

Saturday consisted of practice time for the 5 or 6 of us there. The group joked that I was their new groom- but soon had me practicing heeling with the…

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A year in a week, and only speeding up

HI.

It’s been a while. How are you?

I haven’t done a life update post in a while, so I thought I’d do that tonight. I know how you love those!

I’ve been just getting busier and busier. So it seems anyway. Which means I must really be getting back to normal! A week (or two?) ago I actually went out and bought a day planner, my phone just isn’t cutting it anymore- I need something tangible to write things out it, otherwise they drift out of my head like mosquitos in the breeze.

I FINALLY FINISHED MY SPRING COURSE!!! Only a month late. But that’s okay. Now I still have a month (sort of) to not worry about studying or prepping. I don’t have my final grade as of yet, but I do know I got an A on the final case study- which is really really exciting!! My topic, “A progressive strength program for the elite equestrian athlete”, was one that I fought to do. My prof originally didn’t want equestrian used as a topic as someone along the way had mis-informed her about how much strength and fitness is actually used in the sport. Long story short, she told me this- I then basically did an in class presentation on why she had been misinformed- which then led to her wanting to know more and granting me permission to focus on this topic. Shwing! Felt pretty good about that one. I wrote the exam as well as the Manitoba Fitness Council Resistance Training Instructor theory exam last week. Thank goodness it’s over!

I’ve registered for my 3rd year (eeeeeeee!!!), and since doing that I’ve been absolutely PUMPED about getting back into school. Funny, seeing as the last paragraph was about how excited I was to be done….. There is something about starting fresh in the fall that is always SO exciting. I also get to go shopping for pens and school supplies and post-its and all the fun stuff.. oo and text books! Wow, I’m such a nerd. My schedule is nuts, but there is pretty much no class I am not excited for. This is going to be a crazy year, and I am really really looking forward to it!

I’m starting to get back to the pace of life I was at pre-head injury, and actually able to handle it. A couple weeks ao I was still getting head aches and symptoms after working double shifts or having an overwhelming day- but finally most of that seems to be clearing up. I tried Bowen Therapy for the first time this week, which was recommended by the Naturopath I see (for lingering symptoms, neck issues I’ve also had from the same event, and some other nagging pains- also a little out of curiosity). It’s quite a different perspective to your usual therapy, but also quite interesting. I actually found it a little similar to reiki, which I tried last year (again out of curiousity, and I had a gift cert.). The initial appointment was focused over my whole body, and very generalized. The biggest thing I noticed afterwards was how much energy I had. Like, all week I was just so pumped about life- slept solid and never ending energy. Awesome! I go back this week for session 2, where things are getting a bit more specific.

Eating wise I’ve been brutal the past while. Mostly because I’ve been too busy to grocery shop, and no grocery shopping = no food = eating out A LOT. Quite a few times this week I had good company for a few meals, so that was all right. But it is a lot to stay gluten, dairy, yeast, sugar, etc, and rough on my bank account when I’m buying lunch every day. How does someone not even make time to grocery shop? Does that even make sense? Anyway, this week I’m seriously, for realsies, going to get my butt to the store and buy some goods. I have some recipes planned and I can’t make them without ingredients. Might even start a food portion to this blog… Sooo yep.

One of the many highlights from the past week was my lesson on Thursday night. I can’t even try to get across how perfect it felt. The whole theme of the night was rhythm, and picking one and sticking to it. By golly does that work! Every distance came up, and every jump was spectacular. To add to the awesome, C even made a point of complimenting my riding. If you know C, you’ll know that compliments from her (or M) are only given when really deserved. She was very happy with my decision making, and amazed that she didn’t have to correct me once on my upper body positioning. Not once! Guys! A whole hour with her and she didn’t need to fix anything!

I hope you get how exciting that is!

Seriously.

Okay, I’m done.

Saturday brought the Color Me Rad 5k. Which was SO MUCH FUN! See my RAD post for some pics of that. After scrubbing off all the corn starch, I got to spend time with my favourite little kids and dog baby sitting. Then before I knew it it was work in the morning followed by a quick Lululemon spree (oops), and then Mom and Gord’s wedding shower! Super great to see all the friends and family, and be one step closer to their big day!

I’ve been surrounded by so much happiness in the last while, and I think today I was a little hungover, if you will, from all the blessings in my life. Also, it was Monday. Also also, my alarm abandoned me and I woke up with 5 minutes to get downtown- and I’m on the latter end of my second shift for the day. But reliving it briefly in this post brought back some of the buzz. And this week is jam-packed full of more exciting and busy things. I feel like I’ve lived a years worth in a short week- and that I’ve grown and changed more in the past 2 months then I have in the past 6 months. I still don’t know where June went, but July has escaped equally as sly. I’m getting pumped and ready for Heart of the Continent next week, and the fact that my horse is being SO perfect only makes it more exciting. Along with all of this I feel sometimes like I should be overwhelmed by all of this- and sometimes, I am. Maybe I’m more overwhelmed by the thought that I’m not overwhelmed by everything. Does that make sense? Either way, things aren’t slowing down- and I’m somehow keeping up. It really helps that I’m surrounded by some pretty bad-ass people, that can make even the most hectic of days seem easy. So I’m not going to question it.

I promise I’ll come up with some more things to write about, more often. I’m thinking August is going to be quite the eventful month- what with two major competitions, momma’s wedding, and possibly starting an internship.

As always, stay tuned- and I’ll post.. eventually!

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Rad

A few shots of team “Total Intensity” getting covered in coloured corn starch this Saturday at Colour Me Rad Winnipeg. Was such a blast!!!

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Fair Perspective

This past weekend I went back to my roots for the charmin’ Carman Country Fair, taking Felix (The Rio Zipper), through his paces in some pleasure classes. I haven’t shown there, or at any Country Fair in a few years- the hunter/jumper world kind of kidnapped me and wouldn’t let go. It was kind of cool looking back at the different perspectives I’ve had as a participant over time, and how things change (and don’t) as I age.

I wasn’t one of those kids who competed at country fairs in the “hobby horse” classes, or the lead-line classes from an early age. I didn’t start showing until I was 11 or 12. When I did, it was through 4H on my first horse, Otis. Back then, I couldn’t care less what ribbon I got- or how precise our stop was at cone 2 in Western Horsemanship, or if our lope was slow enough for the judge; I did however hate showmanship. For the most part, I was just happy to be on my favourite horse. The stress of competing can’t phase a horse-crazy kid. Or shouldn’t anyway.

As I got older, progressed through horses and levels, started going to more fairs and started trying out for the Regional team- I enjoyed the competition more. It mattered more if I placed in my horsemanship classes, or got Monty over every jump in our little equitation classes. I wanted those points. I wanted those ribbons. I wanted to beat my peers, the ones who always seemed to have the perfect patterns, and have no problem getting that perfect lope in pleasure classes. I still hated showmanship, but I wanted so badly to make that regional team, win those stake classes, and be named a high-point.

The year I finally made the regional team and got to go to my first provincials was so exciting! I was finally one of the cool kids who could did well enough to be named to the legendary Central Region Team. The confidence this gave me through the next few years of country fair showing was irreplaceable. Belonging to that team proved that I had potential. I could hold my own against my team-mates in try-outs, and we were the top team in the Province 3 years running. Therefore, I was someone in this world. Having those perfect patterns, the perfect turnout, it was expected now. With that behind me, all the sweat, blood, and tears before (and after) were made worth it. Showmanship still sucked (maybe not as much as trail now), though, even if I could pull off a good pattern. Also, who could forget the Central Team rap of ’07?
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After I had retired from 4H, and there was no more provincials to attend, country fairs were still a staple in my summer schedule. Now combined with a few more hunter/jumper shows, I was starting to be torn in different directions. HJ shows were new, and I felt like a nobody again. I was showing up on my humble appy and paint, lost among the close knit barn-groups that dominate that world. The braiding techniques that were more than acceptable at 4H shows were nowhere near close to HJ level. I knew how to rock a show hack/road hack class (thank you country fairs), but found that many of the norms from country fairs were not present (prize money, for one). It was a different world. One where I was being pushed in new ways, having to start all over at the bottom. Country fairs remained my home turf for a few years yet. Me and my trusty (somedays) chestnut mare were rock solid with each other. Just don’t ask us to do trail. Showmanship was acceptable, though. The jumping classes at these shows were no problem. Summer after summer we rocked the fair circuit, whether it was a great show, or hilariously awful show (if you knew Flash, you’ll recall those), high-points weren’t uncommon. Those were some of the best summers. Those of us still left-over from the Central Team were the cool Senior class regulars. The ones who chatted and joked in the line up while the judge made their decisions. Or even in rail classes as we passed one another. It wasn’t the same if one of us wasn’t there. Something felt off.

One by one, us regulars drifted away. Whether it be to move for school, just get busy with “real-life”, or get involved more heavily in another part of the horse-world (Hunter/Jumper, for example). The classes started getting smaller, and the atmosphere that once surrounded the fair circuit changed. Other things took over; there were bigger classes to win, other high-points, different teams to make that took precedence. The skills we learned from all those years on the circuit forming our base for success in all these other areas. Showmanship, funny enough, probably lending it’s fair share life skills (as stupid as it is).

Coming back to Carman Fair this year was fun, and exciting- for many reasons. I was riding a gorgeous young prospect, I got to pull out my fabulous Western saddle, and there is just a novelty to going to a country fair whether or not you’re participating, or just taking in the sites, sounds, and smells. One of the challenges to Carman Fair has always been that the Midway is traditionally set up right beside the horse ring. From my point of view, this is a right of passage every rider on the fair circuit goes through. Getting their horse used to the crazy carnies popping in and out of the trees, or the “dragon wagon” rattling from the corner, or the kids shooting out of the slide behind the trees (with the carnies). What a perfect experience for a young horse.

Coming home to Ctown Fair, I knew I was likely to be the only one of the “regulars” from the prov. team days there. The fair itself has shrunk dramatically since the “good old days” (I did not just use that term, what am I, 60?). I was going to give Felix some experience, and maybe catch a glimpse of the magic that used to surround the show. A hilarious perspective change that I noticed immediately was me preaching to my mom about the importance of making sure Fe was clipped and ring ready- whereas she kept saying “Oh, it’s just carman fair. It won’t matter that much”. Completely the flip side of where we started out. The next thing I noticed was the emptiness of the barns the night before. There were some horses there, but not that many competitors as there used to be, braiding tails, putting slinkies on, making sure everything was show ready for the early morning start. It was like a shadow of what used to be.

I’m making this sound depressingly nostalgic. It wasn’t, it was just somewhat different then the memories that hold true. Overall it was a great show, both results wise and enjoyment wise. It was somewhat lonely, not knowing many people I was competing against (and there only being 5-10 of us).

I’ve been talking a lot about how things have changed over the years, which is easy to do when you look back at how much you’ve grown as an individual. But really, things haven’t changed too much in the bigger picture. The people running the show are still bickering about the same things. There are still some riders complaining about the same things. There are still fussy show moms, and kids showing only because they’ve been doing it since they were 2 and their parents love it. It was still classically hot, and it still stormed as it always does right after the fireworks. It’s still very much the Carman Fair. The same, but different.

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Showmanship still sucks, for the record.

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Round by round, fence by fence

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What an awesome weekend!

I had some major doubts going into this competition. A head injury +  month off riding + a month of training + heat + a fresh horse.. not the greatest equation for success. However, somehow we pulled it all together and had a great show with some even greater results! We stuck to the hunter ring this weekend, to be safe and get our legs back under us.

Our warm-ups were slightly rushed, hot, and.. energetic. Will was pretty excited to be out and about, so I compensated for that by basically galloping him for 15 minutes in the heat- then moving to the show ring and doing lateral work at the trot for another 15. Then we did some jumping, a lot of single jumps and trotting into lines, adding out. Just to get a little chilled out (hypothetically, as it was 30 billion degrees outside). By the end we were going quietly over the baby jumps. I was exhausted. He was not.

Friday we started our 2’9 Junior Amateur, Sr. Low, Open Low, and Adult Ami/Non-pro (3fts) divisions with our motor on turbo. Willard decided that I needed an arm workout, and that’s exactly what he gave me. All day long, pretty much it was a tug of war between us- I managed to get him listening enough by our 2nd 3ft round to put in a decent one for Open Low, getting us a 5th in a big class. By the end of the day I was feeling how out of shape I am. Like seriously, I could barely walk. Let alone lift my arms. But, my head felt good- even through the hot temperatures.

Saturday things started turning out (thankfully, my body probably wouldn’t have survived another day like Friday). We still had some pull in our first couple rounds- but much more controlled. Our last 3 rounds in the 3ft handy courses were spectacular! Every time we went in we got the same consistent pace, and great jumps. I was able to actually give on the reins instead of being a control freak. Being able to go into the ring 3 consecutive times and have rounds like we did is a HUGE achievement. Every rider will know how much of a challenge getting that consistency can be. Our results on Saturday were a 6th in our 2’9 JA under saddle, a 5th in our Open Low, a 5th in our Sr. Low, 5th in our Open Low U/S and a 1st in our Adult-Amateur/Non-Pro!

I was super pumped!

Pretty pumped!

Sunday was a shorter day, just two over fences rounds and a U/S. We competed in the Adult Amateur Medal class (equitation- so based more on how I ride), and the Open Low Hunter Special. I didn’t do any morning hack, because I didn’t want to burn any lasting energy from my horse (or me for that matter). It turned out to be the right decision. When I got on for my warm up before the Medal, Willard was perfect. Our A-A course was a bit different, as we started on a 4-stride line. Regular hunter courses will start on a single fence- allowing you to develop a pace and be set up for the next combination. This trick in the course cause problems for pretty much everyone. My ride in was awesome, we had the perfect distance to the in of the 4-stride, and that pretty much lulled me to sleep. I forgot to put my leg on and ride the line, which resulted in an add to make the 4 a 5 stride. That was the only mistake we had on course. The rest of it was amazing. We had a great pace, consistent, and our turn to the trot fence was gorgeous (if I do say so myself). We had an even better under saddle portion. By far our best flat class of the weekend (Will generally hates flats). Much to my surprise, we ended up winning the class!!! I couldn’t stop smiling after that. Our first win in a medal class! Our Open Low Special round started fantastic, but the 4-stride got us again(even though it wasn’t the opening combo). That didn’t even bring me down. I was so pleased with both Saturday and Sunday. Not just the results, but how amazing our rounds felt and how consistent it was.

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Going into this weekend I didn’t set my sights on having perfect rounds. I really just wanted to be at a show, in the atmosphere, riding my horse. Results weren’t big for me, just seeing if we could put into action some of the things I’ve been feeling at home. That’s pretty much what we did, but (not so surprisingly) when all those things come together, results happen. Mentally this show started out as a challenge. After our warm-ups, and Friday, it was super easy to wonder what I was thinking. I’ve never felt so out of shape, old injuries were playing games with my head, and I was frustrated because starting out this year things were going so great- and then it all got halted- which seems to happen to me more then it should. I worked really hard Thursday and Friday to just turn all those thoughts off. Or at least quiet them, so more productive thoughts could take over. Yeah, it’s crappy that I’ve had another set back. Am I still surrounded by amazing support? Yes. Am I still good at what I do? Yep. Will I still learn something from this show, regardless of what happens next? You bet. Do I still love what I’m doing? Check. From there I decided to just enjoy whatever happened, and go with it. One stride at a time.

This helped me realize that it’s less intimidating to go into the ring and aim for that great round, and that it’s a lot easier to go in thinking about each jump as a individual. C always says to go in and “think your way around”, in fact that’s usually the last thing I get told walking in the gate (either that or M’s classic “go and be good”). I used to go in and picture what my entire round should look like, and that’s where my thought process would stop. If I messed up one distance, or had a awkward jump- my mind just froze- because that image of the “perfect” round had been shattered. This weekend, when I went in, the first thing I thought about was taking a breath, then where my leg and body was, how it feels, and what our pace is. From there it’s each separate jump as if we were just riding at home, from jump 1 to jump 8 (or 9 or 10)- after each one it’s coming back to our pace and waiting for the next distance. I’ve found that finding distances is easier this way too, especially into lines- which used to be a huge problem for me. Ride what you have, not what you want. Patience for seeing the distance, and commitment to what you get- while preparing for the ride away from the jump. Rhythm, balance, support, all that great stuff. It’s there, if you can settle enough to find it and utilize it.

I’ll post some videos later this week, for those who are interested!

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Why does this feel familiar?

So how long has it been since I last wrote? Years? Yeah. Sorry about that. You should feel special, though, as I’m choosing to write instead of work on my case study. Because its so abnormal for me to choose writing instead of school work….

I can’t even blame it on being busy. I will, however, blame it on attempting to not be busy. No, that is not a phrase that grooves with my style of living, and yes it was painful to write. I’ve been harshly reminded by my own brain lately that when I try and do too much (my regular amount) that what happens is not in my control. Wait, was it ever?
I’ve been back at work full time the past two weeks, mostly successfully. I’ve ran a couple times, which still isn’t producing symptom free results. BUT, it has been improving. I have hope that one day soon I will be able to run and not have a head ache. I’ve done a couple almost regular strength work outs as well, and those are surprisingly not as bad as running. What else have I been doing? I’ve been making an honest effort to do what is right for me in the moment.

This isn’t new.. I always try to do this, not just after I hit my head.

Doing that, for me, has always been more difficult when my regular routine of insanity and running about from one thing to the next is taken from me. It’s happened a few times, so you’d think I’d be more comfortable with it. Turns out, my comfort zone is pushing myself to the limits of comfort. I’m always looking for more, something new to achieve, or how to better myself. Is that a bad thing? No, it’s an important part of our human nature. If we weren’t always looking for more, for something else, where would we be today? So take away my option to be busy and involved, and I feel lost. It happened to me a few times when I was traveling, again when I got home and had surgery last summer, another time when my second surgery was cancelled (that might have just been more general frustration with the Universe), and now- right after a very optimistic start to my summer, followed by a head injury. I should be the boss at recovery by now.
This time has been different, slightly. Initially it was the same panic and “seriously, universe? Again?”, then it was the acceptance and “fine, I’ll take a week off”, and then it was “okay a weeks over lets get on with it”, and finally the realization that maybe it’s going to be more than a few weeks til I’m “normal” again. Looking back, I’m starting to realize that the one thing that is common in each of the situations I’ve been in where I’m forced to slow down, or worried about the way my life is going, is riding. It was a major factor in why I went to NZ and took that first job. Riding was the reason (one of them) why I left LC finally, because I knew it would ruin the sport for me if I stayed. Riding was the reason I took the next 4 months mostly off being in the saddle, the longest amount of time I’ve spent out of the tack probably ever. Because of that I was able to realize that my love for the sport wouldn’t disappear if I didn’t do it all the time (which was a huge fear for me). Riding (and my new career choice, AT) is what brought me home again.
Last summer the thought of getting back in the saddle kept me mostly optimistic through recovery, and the first show back (and the last show of the year) was one of my best- proving to me again that I can step away and still feel welcome when I come back again. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point- riding is a huge part of what my life orbits around, and what anchors me.
This time, like I said, something felt different. After the initial head hits ground event, I just couldn’t go out to the barn. I honestly did not feel up to it, and I didn’t go out until a week or two later. Even then I didn’t ride. I knew I couldn’t, and shouldn’t. Most of the panic and anxiety for me was around work and school. At first, realizing this scared me a little. Did it mean that riding was less of my life now? Was I losing hold of something that’s held onto me for so long? Then I got on my horse, because I felt ready to, and everything became a little clearer.
I wasn’t supposed to ride until after I could successfully run and weight train. But, in order to be me, I have to bend some rules. I did it 100% feeling ready to. And I’m not just saying that.
Last week I had my first jumping lesson in over a month. I was so nervous. I’d had 3 rides on my horse in the past month, he’d been fresh for all of them, and I was still far from normal. This lesson was going to be my deciding factor on whether to go to the Beach Party Show this coming weekend. All day at work I’d had the worst headache of my life, and I wasn’t feeling very well at all. At the end of a long week.. it had been my second week back full time, and I had also taken on two evening shifts along side my full time hours. I had pushed it a bit. I was so close to cancelling my lesson. When I left the office, my head ache dissipated a little- and I decided that I was going to try riding, staying honest with myself and stopping if anything got worse. Want to know something really awesome? Of course you do. As soon as I sat in the tack, everything else melted away. No headache, no anxiety over money, school, or my health. No excess thoughts. Just the current moment. Relying on pure instinct and learned muscle memory for the next hour, it was the best lesson I’ve had. My horse was perfect, I felt amazing in the tack, and nothing was disturbing that. It was truly one of those surreal moments. C was extremely pleased with us as well, confessing that she was also a little worried about how the night was going to go, but very pleasantly surprised by both my riding and my horse. Needless to say I am planning on competing this weekend, and I’m really hoping the heat doesn’t absolutely ruin me. Look forward to what I’m sure is going to be some interesting days ahead!

What am I taking from this?

You can plan all you want. You can think you’re in control all you want. You’ll almost always be proved wrong. So, what can you do to make sense of it all? Have something to come home to. Whether its a family, a career you’re passionate about, a hobby, or all of those things. I have a few of those things, all which come into play in keeping me grounded at one time or another. Right now, it’s riding. It’s giving me the confidence to relax. To take a step outside my anything but comfortable comfort zone. To trust that things are going to work out. Because they usually do, if you take time and trust your instincts.

Anyway, here are some snapshots for you….

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And some foodie pics!

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Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies. Seriously the best EVER.

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