I’ve had such an up and down couple weeks! One day I can come home completely exhausted and de-motivated, and then the next I will have absolutely everything completely inspire me and tell me I’m exactly where I want to be. Between it all I turned 21, and am managing to stay on track and achieve little goals everyday. Somehow.
I just finished writing a blog post for my practicum requirements- it had “surviving” in the the title. Which should give you a good idea of how I feel about everything right now. I’m making it happen, sometimes barely. Don’t get me wrong, my perspective on surviving is a good one. I’m somehow keeping up to my plans. Which is huge- because my plans are big and daunting and scare me most of the time.
So, what have I been up to the past two weeks?
Everything. Legitimately go from one end of the spectrum to the next in a day. Absolute insanity.
Its not uncommon for me to start my day at the barn where Horse Connection is based working with some of their new horses. The horse I’ve been focusing on is Sonny, a 7 yr old paint who is relatively new to the program. He is also relatively new to all things balance, forward motion, collection, and anything faster then a jog. The program directer asked me to put some miles on him before we start with the kids in a few weeks, and the first time I rode him it was easy to tell he wasn’t lacking in brains- just in motivation. Our first ride was a lot of walking, figuring out what he knew and didn’t know. I realized quickly that nobody had really ever helped in out with balance. So, I spent time giving him guidance in that area. Circles, bending, transitions, serpentines, and more transitions.That first ride I was only able to keep him at a canter for one circle in each direction- and trotting was also pretty messy. He just wasn’t convinced about where to put his feet and how to hold his head. I came out of it with lots of ideas with what to do next with him. The next time I got on Sonny, it was clear I had made an impression on him. Right away he was walking with more confidence and putting himself in a gorgeous frame. His trot had more impulsion, he didn’t fall into our circles as much, and I didn’t have to encourage him as much to keep moving forward through the trot and walk. When I asked him to canter, he wasn’t overly motivated- but I kept him at a consistent pace for well over 6 circles in each direction, which he hasn’t done for anybody yet. I was pretty surprised with how quickly he made progress- and it was one of those beautiful horse-rider moments where you can feel progress happening. The director was around to see this ride, and was equally impressed with his progress. Which is always nice to hear!
So that’s the first major commitment I have. Next I head to school- where I listen and practice practical skills. This past week I started researching ideas for a pathology research paper. There are two options that interest me, one of which is hippotherapy as a intervention for cerebal palsy (might as well seeing as I’m going to be getting hands on experience with this once Horse Connection starts up), and the other on the pathology of post concussion syndrome. Also pretty relevant to my career as an AT. This past week I also helped with fitness testing in the older adults fitness class I’m working with. The testing we do now, and again at the end of the program, is going to be used in some research one of the profs is doing- and I’m hoping to get involved with- on the effects of exercise on an ageing population. Among some of the other fun things I learned this week in classes were pre-event massage, which is exhausting to perform, and hilarious to receive. You find out very quickly where you are ticklish, and learn that you can make some pretty interesting noises when trying to stifle laughter and not kick your lab partner in the face. Later in the week I also learned how to make a orthotic cast and assess gait/foot postures. It was pretty fun to play with plaster, and I now have a lovely cast of my foot courtesy of my lab partner. Below is a picture of my looking way to happy while working on my partner’s foot.
After classes finish for the day I can be headed one of many directions. Sometimes its to a yoga class, other times it’s cooking with my bestie. This week we made Chicken and bacon alfredo(made with coconut milk) spaghetti squash with sautéed spinach and asparagus with a side of gluten free garlic toast. Mostly paleo, all delicious.
If it’s work I’m off to, I get to spend time watching and learning from the AT at the gym. This week he had me teach and supervise exercises with a couple clients as well as stretch them out. He gave me the complement of telling me my “flow” has greatly improved in the past few weeks, and I’m becoming much more confident and efficient. Eee!
On Friday’s I head to football, where I tape, stretch, watch, assess, and dress cuts and abrasions. And banter with the players. I’m no longer known as “trainer #2”, “other trainer”, “that girl”, or “not Nikki” anymore. I am now acknowledged as “Trainer Kat”. They can’t figure out my full name, which majority of the population can’t apparently. I’ll take it though, it has a good ring to it.
I had a big moment at this week’s game. Even though it was pretty chilly, I got 3 half-decent heel-locks in a row (if you don’t know what this is, just know that it’s a huge challenge for me) in my ankle taping (3/6 for that event- definite improvement!), and performed an assessment/referral on a wrist fracture and concussion testing on two players–by myself! I also didn’t forget any steps like I usually do! I also managed to tape an ankle at half with hands that were completely numb from cold. That was a challenge. And it’s not even that cold out yet. During the game, my supervisor and the head trainer for the team, nudged me on the shoulder and pointed to one of the players I had taped and another player who I had dressed a cut on (and later assessed his wrist) and said “look, that’s your hard work out on the field- you can be proud of that”. After reading my reflections from the past couple weeks, she also let me know that she is really happy with me and has some more challenges for me in the next few weeks. I’m so lucky to be surrounded with teachers and peers who are willing to push me and challenge me exactly the way I need. It’s not uncommon for me to feel completely overwhelmed a lot of the time. But at the same time I have had so many feelings of accomplishment alongside the overwhelmed feeling.
When I’m not in school, working, taping footballers, cooking, reading, researching, riding, or sleeping- I’m working out, coaching, and practicing taping. This weekend I got back into the gym, and started lifting actual weights again for the first time since May. Oh my gosh did that feel good. Overhead BB press and hex bar Deadlifts 10×5 followed by pushing the sled for 3x3min intervals. That’s a welcome back.
Afterwards I took some time and used my friends foot to perfect some taping. An AT’s tape job is their best advertisement- or so my supervisor likes to say- so I’m really working not only on functionality but also presentation. My ankle taping is getting better and better, it’s by far the one I do the most. I can now do it in under 3 minutes. I also worked on some taping for turf toe (hyperextension) and arch support. Here’s some pictures!
The last thing I’ve filled my schedule with is coaching a new client- which is such a nice way to finish up my crazy weeks. Working with a horse and rider that are willing to learn on a crisp fall morning- how much better could it get?
This year has already been so crazy, in so many ways. I’ve been able to integrate my life as an equestrian into my school schedule. I’m getting to ride and coach, alongside work towards goals in the other part of my life. I used to worry about how these two parts of my life would fit together, but currently I’m getting a glimpse at how they can work really well together. Did this recap of the past while leave your head spinning? Don’t worry, mine too. I’m starting to see my future in a much clearer perspective now as I get more involved in the last half of my degree and gain real life experience in the field. I’m having to work so hard and the most minute things, but I’m being rewarded for it in sometimes the most abstract ways. I feel very blessed to have found things in this life that I am head over heels in love with. I’m thriving on surviving (feel free to throw this back at me when I’m complaining about midterms).
Each day brings a new challenge and a new goal to achieve. I hope I can keep keeping up!