Rectus Oculosis- How not to think

Okay, so, if you read my last post- you may have noticed that the transition to the jumper ring hasn’t been the smoothest so far.. due to both fluky trips/falls and a decline in confidence for Team Kathlyn and Will. Coming off of Summer Smiles it would be safe to say my confidence was at a low point. With two weeks to prepare for Beach Party, I had a lot of work to do. And work I did. The first thing was to get my body back to a functional point. A couple days of rest, and a date with my AT (and some suction cups) got me back in the saddle and riding like I wasn’t in severe pain anymore. My goals for my horse and I in the weeks leading up to the next show were to work on our transitions, and to get Will moving a bit more on his back end.. He was starting to get too heavy on my hands for my liking. Transition work day after day worked to correct that. Sometimes you have to go back to the basics, even with experienced, trained horses!

In our first lesson after Summer Smiles, C was pleased to see that I was back to a normal riding style.. she noted that seeing me ride at Summer Smiles (with bruised ribs and a stiff entire body) was frightening. I have to admit too that in this lesson, even though we were doing nothing out of the ordinary (albeit jumping some large-ish jumps), I was pretty nervous. I’ve been dealing with somewhat random anxiety when it comes to riding ever since breaking my leg, but this was more then that. This was a fear that I wasn’t confident in my abilities anymore. And as any rider will tell you, confidence in this sport is the be all and end all of success. Thankfully I have coaches that are impeccable at picking up on things that their riders don’t always say out loud. The training I did leading up to Beach party was all about building both my horse’s and my own confidence back up.

Going into Beach it’s safe to say I was pretty stressed. Between finishing spring term the week of (including writing an exam almost immediately after doing schooling rounds Thursday), coming off two challenging shows, dealing with the stress build up of my insane schedule(s), and just having paid all my bills for the month (aka seeing all my money vanish)- my head was in constant chaos. Besides the chaos, I was pretty stuck in a negative thinking pattern. I was sure that I was going to mess up every single thing all weekend, fall off, and do something stupid like break another leg. I was experiencing a severe case of what a prof refers to as “rectus oculosis”.. or.. a crappy outlook. I knew that this was a horrible way to enter a competition, and was really trying to snap myself out of it. All the thanks to my two ever supportive teammates Megg and Lauren who listened to me vent, and constantly reassured me that I wasn’t the worst rider ever. During warm-ups I was actually feeling pretty calm, until I added in the two stride which triggered frustration. I got over it pretty quick and went to write a Intro Business exam (that I studied for 30mins for…yikes).

The next morning started out with my stress levels running high, as my alarm didn’t go off and I was late.. rushing to get on in time for my first class. When I finally got on and warmed up, I realized that I had misread the schedule and actually had another 15 rounds before I went… Cue more self-frustration. But.. when I finally got in the ring..this happened:

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My horse and I were back in sync, and I felt like a rider again. I could breathe after day one at Beach!

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Day two got even better:

20140710-210757-76077585.jpg The rides I had this day felt amazing. While we didn’t pin in anything, I felt like the rider I’ve trained to be. My leg was solid, my seat was efficient, and I was making better decisions on course. Best of all, I wasn’t terrified. My confidence was coming back. FINALLY. My mental outlook greatly improved.

Day three was a fun day, we entered just the .85m and the .85m relay with fellow rider Courtney and her horse Vinnie. This was the first time I’ve ever done a relay, and it was a blast! Definitely one of our best courses all weekend- purely because we were just  having fun and not thinking about what we might do wrong! Courtney and I ended up 4th.

20140710-210757-76077321.jpg What a relief to come out of a show feeling like I was grasping the idea of how to ride a jumper course.

This past weekend was a prime example of how much of a mental game this sport is. I know I’m not the first rider in the world to doubt themselves. Every single one of us does it, and we all are very good at telling ourselves that we don’t know what we’re doing. Especially when we’re riding up to a combination and not able to see a distance. Why our brain tells us to take our leg off, fall forward, and stop riding is an unfortunate mystery… but that’s exactly what happens. All those things you can do impeccably at home become the farthest thing from functional in an actual performance when you over-think, lose confidence, and see only the negatives.

It’s very difficult to approach any sport or performance and not let those little negative thoughts slip through your mind. I was one “tears hidden by sunglasses mental breakdown” away from scratching the entire show and giving up. What stopped me? For one I wouldn’t have been any happier not showing that weekend. Sitting around at home being miserable is worse then being in the saddle and mildly terrified. Secondly, I have an AMAZING support team behind me. Every show I am SO thankful for my coaches, my teammates, my mother (who has sat through my legendary freak outs more times then I can count) and supports me regardless.

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Because of all those factors I keep pushing myself to meet whatever challenge came up. This show presented no physical challenges to overcome. The only thing standing in my way was myself, and for me that is more frustrating then any amount of physical pain. I overcame my crappy outlook, and I’m very glad I pushed through it. My thought process after something challenging happens is something I know I need to work on more for future competitions- because I know I’m going to have plenty of challenges to face in the future, but getting through this weekend and reviving my shaken confidence was a huge step in the journey.

Some other fun points in the weekend were entering the bribe your horse competition (Will will do ANYTHING for carrots), entering a team in the Beach Vball tournament (and winning it!!), and watching my teammates kick butt in their divisions. I’m so glad I didn’t quit this weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was hot, then it got hotter

Another season has come to an end in the hunter jumper world. And I have absolutely no complaints about anything that happened this season. It was for sure another up and down kind of summer for me, but the consistency I saw in my rides in the shows I was able to go to is truly encouraging- and the way my rides when this weekend at Fall Harvest sums up, as this show always seems to, how much I’ve progressed.

Our warm-ups Friday went by with ease. We warmed up in the hunter ring first, and were probably done in about 20 minutes- everything went so smoothly! C and I were wondering how it was going to go, as the night before during my lesson Willard seemed to have taken the equivalent of 50 caffeine shots. It was a little bit crazy. But, I guess either the heat took some of that out of him Friday, or he actually just chilled out a bit- because he actually acknowledged the human on his back this time. After jumping around the hunter ring, we headed over to the Jumper ring.. Our first jumper school at Bird’s Hill (or anywhere.. usually there either isn’t a jumper schooling or I miss it..). It was pretty intimidating, even with Lauren and Megg there with me. Lauren is an old pro at jumper schools, and Megg was there for the first time on her new horse. My horse surprised me with how well he handled everything. I expected him to be good for the jumps, but wasn’t sure how he would handle the natural obstacles such as the ditch and the bank/table top jumps. The ditch took a couple tries to get him to gallop down and jump out with confidence, but not as long as I thought- and the bank, well, he just loved that! Loved it so much that when we did the table top ride (jump up, three strides, jump down), he decided that it was so much fun he need to buck his way across- hop down- and buck away. Hokay pony. That evening Megg and I went out for a lovely supper. One of my favourite parts of shows is getting to spend time with the amazing friends I’ve made through training with M&C.

Saturday came bright and early with Jumpers beginning first thing. Will and I were competing in the .85m divisions. We went into the ring with the mentality of “ride like it’s a lesson”, and had no major issues. Will loves jumpers. Saturday we placed 4th in our .85 Junior Ami division, with a rail and a time fault. Later that day we moved over to the hunter ring for our Child/Ami Non-Pro Hunter division. We put in some good rounds and ended up top 5 in both over fences and the under saddle. Quite respectable for the competition there, and the fact we’d just come from Jumper land! C was happy, I was happy, and that’s what mattered. It was a great feeling to get out of the heat that night, I can say that much!

Our Sunday jumper rounds were even better then the previous days. In our Open .85, Willard decided to have a good long look at jump 6- so long that he forgot to jump it the first time. This provided us with a great set up for our JA round right after, as it was over the same course. That round was perfect, except for a lazy rail early in the course. Click here to watch it. I decided to drop our Open Low Hunter that day, because it was so hot (+40 degrees, crazy humid, and zero wind), and I could feel my horse’s energy (and mine) starting to dwindle. I wanted to save something for the $500 Hunter Derby later on that day. It was so hot my sunglasses would fog up while I was wearing them. I would be able to cross competing in a sauna off my bucket list, if it had been on there in the first place.

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So, finally came time for the Derby to get started. As myself, a fellow McMullan teammate, and M&C were walking the course- I was informed that I had been misinformed earlier and the class was a sign up order of go (I thought it was posted order, in which case I was in 5th). Since I hadn’t signed up they had listed me as first to go, and were taking no excuses- if I wasn’t at ringside, with my horse (who was still in the barn, untacked) in 7 mintues then I would be disqualified. I am blessed with amazing teammates on my side. Megg and Lauren sprinted ahead of me to the barn and by the time I had also completed the ~1000m sprint (thank god I’ve been doing interval training this year) my horse was ready to go. I had time to just barely take a couple warm up jumps and get to the ring, where M&C instructed me to gallop into the gate (not usually hunter style) and gallop straight to the first jump, which was about 50m inside the gate. So, that’s what we did. The video unfortunately missed the first couple jumps- but the rest was caught- it’s definitely worth a watch!

No time for any second thoughts, we had one of the best rounds I’ve ever ridden. My horse left it all out there for me, and I could not have asked him for anything more. As we came over the last combination, a two stride, I couldn’t contain my smile- and it was so cool to have everyone at ring side burst into cheers. We achieved a score of 88/100 that round, a personal best! After the class of 10 finished- all very competitive rounds, we ended up 4th. Another personal best for us when it comes to special, classic, or derby classes. If there is a way to end a season, that was it!

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So what else have I been doing in this heat wave? Since getting home from the show on Sunday, I’ve been spending my mornings at football practices taping ankles, thumbs, and fingers, covering blisters, abrasions, lacerations, and assessing injuries. Oh, and learning. So much learning. I’m learning quickly to trust my instincts when it comes to this stuff, and more often then not they lead me in the right direction. Classes begin next week, and I’m pretty ready to get back into things. This year is going to be one giant challenge, but I’m excited to take it on. The other thing I’ve been doing a lot of this week is writing- obviously not on here, but a lot of it stemmed from topics I have covered here. One piece was for a scholarship entry, another an article for Horse Country on the EC Hunter Classic, and one more piece as a writing contest entry- all focused around how riding has impacted me in one way or another.

Other events happening next week, my first time covering (or being at really) a football game. In Brandon of all places. From what I’ve heard game days are pretty crazy, but if there is one thing I’m good at- it’s crazy. But, right now, I’m heading into a long weekend. I had the entire afternoon to myself yesterday- which I spent going for a ride with Lauren at the barn (I’m going to miss those this winter!), then with my old friend Netflix at my dad’s. Today I had the entire day to do exactly nothing, and I’m just about to head for another ride while my horse is still this close to me. He moves home tomorrow, where I’ll only be able to hack now and then when I’m out that way and time allows. Sad face. Saturday I do my one work shift for the weekend and then more freedom until Tuesday. I have no solid plans for those days- which is a new concept for my over scheduling brain- but I’m also looking forward to have some time to just chill out before the crazy train hits my life next week.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Find that rhythm

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” -Nick Caraway, The Great Gatsby.

That variety of life. Do you ever look around at what you fill your life with and wonder how you’re lucky enough to be where you are? I do. Sometimes I have to pause and breathe- taking in everything that surrounds me. As you will have picked up by now if you read my posts even on a semi-regular basis, my days could use a few extra hours in them majority of the time. I’m surrounded by amazing people who inspire me, support me, and keep me on this planet. Sometimes all the different shoes I fill can cloud my focus. I can get lost in it all, forget to slow down and take that breath.

This weekend thankfully I had a few different opportunities to do just that. With my first show of the season coming up next weekend, as well as a midterm, I am so glad this weekend turned out the way it did. Whether it was sitting on the floor of the gym or in an Olive Garden over Sangria (technically not supposed to have alcohol yet- but seriously, a little Sangria never hurt anyone), or anything else in between- I got the chance to just slow everything down for a little while.

A phrase often used by C in our lessons is “find that rhythm and stick to it”. Put into a riding context, finding your rhythm or pace is imperative to getting around a course, or doing anything really. You definitely notice when you aren’t on it. I’ve had rides where I can’t find that rhythm if my life depended on it. But when you find it, things happen for you. You see distances, you make lines, that single oxer on the diagonal is amazing. I’ve been translating that to my daily life lately. Sticking to “that rhythm” is how I make my schedules aline. My different lives, and the goals that go along within each of them, instead of colliding and crashing into each other- they work around one another and often even compliment each other.

Sometimes, like the past week, I fall off that rhythm and get a little lost in everything. There was less “enchantment” to life and more just flat out exhausting. It’s like getting into a combination at an awkward distance and then getting stuck in the middle because you lose your momentum. It’s not a good feel. Re-organization, a deep breath, and “riding positive” (man, m&c are full of philosophical quotes) are what is needed to get through that combo successfully. That’s exactly what I’ve been able to do the past few days.

Something about this upcoming show in Brandon is a little bit nerve wracking for me (besides it being the first show of the year). I have a lot going on right now. It’s really not surprising my focus isn’t always where it needs to be. Between two.. three jobs, completely reworking my eating habits (which is still amazing, btw), spring courses, and training myself and my horse for competition… things can get jumbled sometimes. Some of the weird feeling about next weekend is probably because it’s the first show in a long time that I’m going into with no chronic injuries to speak of. Those ongoing issues almost became a comfort zone for me, even though they were far from comfortable. When something is with you for that long, it becomes a habit and part of who you are. While I’m very excited that I have been able to move past that pain, it’s a little weird not having it still. And of course, there is the fear that it will come back. I don’t write about this often because its a scary thing for me sometimes, and I have struggled with it and worked on it for a long time. However, it’s also something that I’ve gotten through, learned from, and improved from. I’m in the best shape of my life, and never been more able to handle whatever life throws at me. I’ve always said that life begins when you step out of your comfort zone. This is just another piece of that comfort zone I’m stepping away from, onto better things.

The other new thing for me is heading over to jumper land. It’s not exactly new, I’ve been there before. But it feels different this time. Maybe because I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been. And it’s one step closer to some big goals of mine. Things are starting to happen for me, hard work is paying off. It’s exciting, and it’s terrifying. Finding that rhythm with my horse isn’t as elusive as it used to be- and I have much more confidence in myself as a rider to know that even if things don’t go perfect- I can fix them. I can get out of that combination. A little leg, positivity, and a lot of determination is all it takes.

Up until this weekend I was having a hard time visualizing myself riding around a course and something not going wrong. My focus just wasn’t there yet. Then, this morning, while hacking Willard as a rain storm pelted the tin roof above us, things started to clear up for me. All I could hear was the rain, all I could feel was the rhythm of my horse underneath me. No conscious thoughts, other than knowing that this is my rhythm. This is where I need to be right now. Things clicked back into place somewhere in those moments. I’m back on a rhythm. Thank all the things. Not being on a “rhythm” is frankly exhausting, and a lot more work than it should be.

Had enough philosophical musings? Okay. Well here is a quick update on Week 4 of my diet! It’s been good! I had a few days where I wasn’t feeling amazing, but I think that was because I overdid it on the fibre side of things- which can cause some GIT discomfort. I’ve been feeling much better the past few days and more back to my normal. I made some amazing meals over the past week, as well as some cookies. I’m interested to find out how this new eating style holds up over a weekend of competition. I’m really, really hoping that it goes well and I have just as much energy as I have had while eating this way and that carries over to my riding. That would be amazing! It will definitely take planning. But that is something I am getting very good at.

This upcoming weekend will be a good trial run on many fronts. I am hoping for good results in all aspects, but it’s one of those things you just have to take as it comes. No sense worrying about it until something happens worth worrying about. Although at this point I’m wondering if we should do some anti-rain dances. That might be something to think about.

As usual, here are some photos of my delicious food creations (and one just for fun selfie)!

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Hummus, anyone?

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Breakfast “pasta”

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COOKIES! I love cookies!

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Look at how much my hair is growing!!!

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Without thinking

I had one of those lessons today where things went from amazing to stressful in about 30 seconds.

Maybe stressful isn’t the right word. Challenging? Thought provoking?

Riding is a sport where things can change pretty quick. As most sports are. However, this sport adds in the wild card of being seated on a 1200lb creature with a mind of it’s own, pointing it at a fence and saying lets get there and over it while keeping a steady pace, leaving from the exact right spot, and making a tight turn afterwards. As a rider you have to  be able to react in a hundred different ways over a span of a few strides between jumps. You have to keep that balance between aiding your horse enough, but not so much that signals get mixed.

I’ve written about the role of trust before. The last time I wrote about it I was exercising steeplechasers in Napier, NZ.

Every muscle in my body is sore and tired, and I’m way past the point of exhaustion. But I’m still saying yes to another ride out and smiling as the horse races up the hill on the way to the work out trail. In this kind if situation you have to be able to build the trust quickly. You don’t have months or years to build a relationship. You have seconds, maybe minutes, to trust the horse you’re on and establish a confidence.

Click here for more from that post.. 

Over the course of this competition season, Willard will be moving into the jumper ring more. This has been a long time goal for me, and I’m very excited for the new challenge.

I’ve been working with M&C for a few years now, and have very high trust in their abilities as coaches. Tonight was one of those nights where things may not have gone as well if that trust wasn’t there. Lots of new challenges are being thrown my way this year, both within the sport and outside, and while I take them all on as best I can- I would not be able to do it alone. Will is a fantastic horse, with loads of potential- but right now he is still in that excitable spring thoroughbred phase that I’m pretty sure most horses that got 6 months off are in right now. You ask him to do a roll-back to a tiny oxer and he assumes we are in the jump off of the CN International. Drama queen.

Through the exercises I worked on tonight with M&C, the issue of trust kept floating through my mind. For some reason there was a small communication issue at times between Will and I. Where he wanted to rush towards jump, I was saying hold on. Where he was saying lets make this turn tighter, I was saying lets go out one stride more. Where I was saying relax, he was saying “this is so exciting!!!!!!!!!!!”. These are all little things. In no way was any of this a disaster. Just a little less graceful then it could have been. However, it took a lot of trust between me and my coaches, and me and myself to not get overwhelmed and frustrated. I had to keep reminding myself that I knew what I was doing. To stay calm, be patient. If I’m not confident in my abilities as a rider, what right do I have to ask my horse to do what he’s doing? The trust I have in M&C was also a huge part in being able to remind myself that I was okay. I knew all along that they would never ask me to do something that they didn’t think I could do. Knowing that helped keep me confident that things were going to be okay.

As athletes we do so many things without thinking. We’ve done these things so many times that our brains run on autopilot. Not to say its easy- having the ability to not only do these things without thinking about them and also the confidence and trust in the other factors like the unpredictable animal you’re on, yourself, and that person telling you to point that animal at, and jump over, an object it is traditionally supposed to stay on one side of.. is not an easy thing to do all the time. But, imagine if we as riders had to consciously think about every thing we do on course? Riding up to a jump would go something like this…

…shoulders back, hips forward, eyes up, inside leg/hand with slight pressure to control bend, outside leg/hand slight pressure for speed, balancing horse, slight squeeze on outside rein before jump, both legs positioned approximately at girth line, heels down, flex in elbows, appropriate contact on horses mouth, keeping pace steady, finding the right distance, using leg pressure to keep that distance, waiting for horse to jump to you, hands follow horses mouth over jump, shoulders still back, slightly closed hip angle, eyes looking towards next jump, middle of arc opening hips bringing shoulders up and back preparing to land, legs maintaining pressure at girth line, bringing hands out of release (all while maintaining steady contact on reins), open shoulders, balance horse, slight squeeze with fingers on inside, steady contact on outside, looking for line to next jump still, turning and balancing with legs and hands, maintaining steady pace, present horse to next jump, repeat…

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That’s all happening in about 5 seconds. I guarantee I’ve missed about a hundred other tiny things. These are habits that are automatic for us, made that way by years of practice. Experiences good and bad teaching us that even though all common sense says you are crazy, find a saner hobby, this is what we love doing- and while that is bound to come with some doubt occasionally, trust is what gets you trough. Some of those things we still may think about- but for the most part, I know for me anyway, my head is pretty quiet while I’m riding a course. Quiet of those thoughts anyway. At times, like tonight, I am reminding myself that I have trust in my horse, my coaches, and myself. That is the only thought I need to get the job done. Everything else follows.

“Just do what you do best.”

I don’t know if any of that made any sense. So good luck figuring that out, I’m too exhausted from that 90 minutes of course work to make much sense of anything right now.

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Spring is in the air?

I know, I know it’s been basically months since I posted last. To be fair, not much has happened except for the same old burnt out student thing.

The mountains of snow are finally starting to shrink. Slowly but surely this long winter will melt away into what is sure to be a disgusting, sloppy spring. The most exciting thing that has happened in the past few weeks is my momma bear getting engaged, and beginning the flurry of dress shopping and wedding planning. This excitement will, I’m sure, hang around for the next few months leading up to the big day. It gave me some excellent excuses to not go to research methods lecture a couple times. Who could refuse dress shopping over 2-way ANOVAs and factorial design??

Classes are FINALLY winding down this week. Which means I have to, need to, must must must stop procrastinating with my papers and final assignments. My exams are all spread out throughout April, kicking off with my Prev and Care practical this coming Saturday, and kinda average out to one per week. Which is nice. Since I got a regular shift at the gym and AM MOVING MY HORSE TOMORROW SO I CAN START RIDING. (!!!!!)

I’m not excited though. No way. Nuh uh. Totally could wait longer. Totally.

This week brought a surprise Naturopathic doctor appointment (I wasn’t supposed to go until May, but due to a cancellation I got in much sooner). After recreating the last year of crazy health issues for this guy, as he scribbled notes and gave me some classic “you’re-life-sounds-nuts” looks, he came to conclude that my symptoms match up quite perfectly with having a parasite.. of some sort. Which actually might make sense, as I did originally start having symptoms while travelling and working at LC (not the greatest living conditions), and parasites can often mimic appendicitis. It was encouraging to at least have someone give me an answer with confidence. However, further tests are still needed to confirm before going about treatment- all tests which I send in myself (and pay quite a lot for unfortunately). But hey, if it turns out this is what it is, it seems like an easy fix- without any sort of surgery. I am keeping my GIT specialist appointment as well, as it falls close to my follow up with the ND anyway. Definitely grateful I didn’t have my appendix unnecessarily taken out. Getting closer to some answers.. finally!

Good Friday took me out to Brandon for the RMWF. I don’t know what it is about that show- but it feels like coming home every time I go. Especially now that I know so many of the people involved in the competition- and have competed there myself. While it kind of sucked being on the sidelines this year, and only able to spend one day up there- it kind of kick started my riding brain (more so than the withdrawal symptoms I’ve been experiencing all winter). There are many other riders out there, I know, who will relate to the feeling of a kind of magic while watching those lucky enough to compete in that long week of classes ride their courses. Every day is different. One day can go perfect and the next will be a disaster. I’ve always loved the atmosphere of RMWF. It’s a tradition for many of us, whether it be riding or just watching.

Speaking of riding. The season is finally starting! My brat of a horse is about to get that worked out of him. It’s been a long winter for us both- with him bored out of his mind gaining weight and growing a more than adequate winter coat, and me working my butt off in the gym and in the class room. Going into this season I feel more than ready. Last year I was anxious to get back riding but I had the pilonidal sinus surgery on my mind, looming on the future, taking away from the excitement of a great show season. This year I feel completely different. I’ve worked hard to keep my body and my mind on track, throughout a tough school year and lingering health problems. Whatever this year brings, it doesn’t feel as intimidating as it could. I’ve handled so much the past while that it doesn’t phase me much when life throws me something else.

Today we moved the now 3-yr old (and much more grown up) Felix out to another facility where he will start his spring training tomorrow as well. He was such a champ. Walked onto the trailer as if it was something he did everyday, and got off at the new place with dogs running around and a pen full of bison close by in sight and hardly gave more than a snort. I’m quite excited to put a little more time in the saddle with him this summer as well, even though Mom claims him as “her horse” lately.

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Now that I’ll be back in the saddle on a regular basis, I will make an effort to update this blog more often with what are sure to be many fun moments getting back into training! Also I have done surprisingly well keeping my Fitness page updated, so take a look and ask some questions if you want to get you’re own pre-season training started!

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Carrot at the end of the stick

“You’ve got that ‘march glaze’ about your eyes.. its that time of year for you students”

Yep.

Talk to any student right now and they’ll either give you a zombie-like reply and/or mumble something about “only 3 weeks left.. so close”. I know pretty much all my peers, as well as myself, are pretty much over the whole classes, assignment, school idea.

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Totally burned more calories on my run then are in this dish…. Totally.

It carries over to other things as well- like running. Tonight, for instance, the only reason I convinced myself that doing my run was a good idea was by bribing myself with cake and ice cream. Productive? No, not really. But, hey, it worked. And it was better than sitting on the couch and eating cake anyway. Right?

But in all seriousness- I’ve been working really hard at keeping my motivation levels up. 2 weeks ago now I started a self-designed “pre-show season bootcamp”, which I have been sticking to as best I can. I’ve been putting all the fitness programming knowledge I’ve learnt this year into action (anybody want a trainer?), and feeling the results. In a good way! Since I’ve made so much progress with my back and hip issues- much thanks to the great AT/Chiro that helped me get on this track, Dr. Notley – I want to go into this season as best prepared as I can to not back track. There is definitely some fear there that it will all kick up again as soon as I start riding full time- but I’m trying to keep my thoughts trained on the fact that I’m in great shape and stronger then I’ve ever been. And if it does, then I know how to work through it. Anybody who has had a lingering injury will know how tough that can be sometimes. If you’re interested in seeing some of my workout plans, I post them all on my Fitness Log, so feel free to take a look!

It’s been a pretty quiet few weeks for me, school wise. Well. Relatively speaking of course. It’s kind of the quiet before the storm. The storm being finals. The quiet being me still running around 6 days a week not knowing what I’m doing half the time. But hey, I’ll take it. The last big project I worked on and finished (B), was a group presentation on “Norms in Athletic Therapy” for psych skills in sport and life. Past being frustrated with my fellow group members for most of it (apparently none of them had really done a presentation or public speaking before…(thank you 4H)), it was a pretty fun project. Instead of sticking to boring classic research for our references- we decided to interview two practicing ATs from the community and use their answers to support our points. Norms was a pretty tough concept for us to present- and there were definitely aspects we lost marks on because of that. Norms are the things you do in life, but don’t think about really.. ever. For an AT it would be something like showing up before a practice, having a certain set of personality characteristics (naturally or taught), or being the type of person people are comfortable talking to. Its things that aren’t in the code of conduct, but things that are often past down through peers or teachers you have along the way. What norms do you have in your career, or daily life? In groups/organizations you are a part of?

The next big paper I’m writing is on (hopefully anyway, proposing the idea to my prof tomorrow) the Canadian Eq. Team and the Tiffany Foster situation at the olympics- mainly on how Eric Lamaze and the other members of the team reacted relating to the topic of “leadership” in sport. Should be a pretty interesting topic, I think!

In health news I’ve finally got a date with a specialist… unfortunately not for another month or so- which I guess isn’t bad for wait time. I’ve also started looking into seeing a naturopathic doctor- so here’s where I ask you lovely readers- does anyone know of good names in Winnipeg?

As I alluded to in the opening paragraphs- I’m in the homestretch for the semester. What’s my “carrot at the end of the stick”? Besides cake.. it’s getting on my horse and starting spring training! Everyday I get through is one day close to riding season. Assuming I can get my saddle on the white buffalo…

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Do what you love. Find it. Do it well. If you don’t know how to do it, learn. Know that it will rough you up a few times, and occasionally bring you to tears. Do it anyway, to the best of your ability. You’ll have no other choice. There is no end- only the journey. It will be a long one- but know this: You will be forever changed.

Before you know it

It’s over. No more lazy days of nothing with no specific plans…After a crazy two weeks of holidays- it’s time to get back at it. Crazy of course being the understatement of the year!

I mentioned briefly in an earlier post that my previously organized surgery had been cancelled- and more testing ordered. This is because the original diagnosis of appendicitis is being questioned, and I have since gotten opinions of a couple other doctors who seem to think it could be any number of things. So, that being said, I agreed to have more testing done. Blood tests today, CT scan being scheduled, and then more decisions to be made after those results. Its very much unknown at this point. As much as I would have liked it to be as simple as the first doctor being right, and the surgery going as planned. I’ve come to realize that I would much rather go through all the diagnostics, spend a little more time in the limbo of not knowing, and have a correct diagnosis- than go through all the stress of surgery only to have the same symptoms later on. It’s honestly been some of the most frustrating few weeks for me- as anyone who has had health problems could relate, I’m sure. Had a few emotional roller coaster like days. I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by amazing friends and family who have kept me sane through it all.

After having blood taken this morning, I moved myself back to Ainslie Street- and settled back in for semester numero 2. I’m still waiting on most of my marks back from semester 1, but I know I got an 81% on my Scientific Principles of Fitness and Conditioning final exam, and a final B grade in that course. So yay! Still anxiously awaiting my Biomechanics project and final mark- as well as to know whether I passed my stats course. Nevertheless, onwards and upwards! This term looks as though it will be a little easier- even if it is spread over 6 days of the week. Intro Kinesiology was the only class on the docket today- and looks as though it will be a pretty straight forward course. As to be expected. I am also enrolled in Psych Skills in Sport and Life, the same old Anatomy and Physiology, Intro to Research Methods (a continuation of the stats course (yay)), and Prevention and Care of Injuries. I’m quite excited for the psychology and the prevention and care courses! It will for sure be another busy term, but after all that how I function best.

What else have I been up to lately? Well, I’ve spent a good amount of time in the gym-as well as riding. Reached a personal best in both deadliest (lifted 145lbs) and bench press (75lbs), which was awesome! Also went for my first run over 2 miles since June, yesterday, got in about 4 miles around Carman. I have to say, winter running is pretty awesome! Foot felt great (until the blister started forming), and back felt great! And thanks to the snow covered pathways, offering great cushioning, no shin splints occurred!  Still ever so grateful to be able to hack around once in a while on Samson, my good friend Lauren’s jumper. Barn time is sane time. The gym, and the barn are probably the two places I am most at peace. I don’t have to put thought into what I’m doing there, especially in the barn. It’s second nature. Everything little thing I do there, from putting a halter on, taking a blanket off, grooming, tacking up, etc etc, all the way to riding and then untacking, seems to centre me. Perfect atmosphere. Plus the people that are around always cheer me up too! I am holding the optimistic thought of the 2013 show season in my mind’s eye. I can’t wait to get back on my own horse and start training this spring. As much as I love school, and understand that right now it would be next to impossible both financially and scheduling wise to be training like I’d love to be, it’s a huge part of my life and as any athlete will relate- offseason kind of sucks sometimes. I’ve chosen to pursue a career along side being a competitive athlete. I’m so lucky to have found a path that I am equally as passionate about as I am my chosen sport. I just need to find a way to combine them so I can have the best of both worlds!

For now, I’ll just have to keep taking it one day at a time.

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Just in time

I’ve broken my record for length between posts, I think. Which must mean my life is finally getting back on track (insanely busy)!

It’s been just over a month now since “the surgery”, and I’m finally almost back to normal. I’m done dressing changes, and although there is still some healing needing to be done- I’m pretty much able to forget about it and just let it happen. Which is good, because that means I can ride! Yesterday was my first real ride back since surgery, and I haven’t been that happy in a long time! Willard has been moved to McMullans for the week as we’re planning on going to Fall Harvest this weekend. Yes, a show right after a month off- an excellent plan, isn’t it? Any other year I might not have felt comfortable doing this, but this year I have complete faith in my horse and our ability that this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. And here is where I need to say a HUGE thank you to my friend and fellow rider Laura Clark, who rides at Bluebear and also hails from Carman. She has been coming and hacking Willard for me over the past month and after riding him tonight in the ring I was so happy to find he was moving beautifully and so willing to do lateral work. Like I never got off! I knew he would be in good  hands with her. So, Laura if you read this, thank you thank you thank you!  It’s great to know my horse is in relative condition even when I’ve been unable to ride for a while.

I rode for about an hour and a half yesterday, and an hour today- I just couldn’t bring myself to get off. Even though my body has gotten a little too used to the easy life. I’ve been slowly trying to add things to my schedule, like work outs and now riding, plus work- and soon school again. 2 months ago it was easy to do all of those things in one day and still have energy at the end of the day. Now, it’s a little more challenging. I’m still trying to find the energy I used to have. I’m sure it will come back, I’m not really giving it a choice. Hopefully over the next couple weeks, as my schedule starts to pick up again I will feel back to normal. School is only a couple weeks away!!! I can’t believe how excited I am! Before I started this post I had my nose stuck in one of my texts already. Wonder how long this will last? Haha

My class schedule is pretty full. Actually, it is completely full. I have 10 courses, my 5 for the fall are: Nutrition, Biomechanics, Data Analysis, Anatomy and Physiology, and Scientific Principles of Fitness and Conditioning. Following those, with my AP running all year, are: Intro Kinesiology, Research Methods, Prevention and Care of Injuries, and Psych in Sport and Life. It’s definitely going to be a challenging year, to say the least. To add onto my school schedule, I plan on riding and working as well. Although fall has some of my tougher courses, I think it will be the easier term, schedule wise as most days all my classes are in the afternoons- so I’ll have most mornings and evenings free to work and ride and study. The winter term things get a little crazier with courses spanning from late morning to evening classes plus a Saturday class- which means I’ll be in school 6 days a week. Unfortunately this was the only way I could schedule things so I got into all my classes and labs, so it will have to do! The past week or so has been a flurry of me organizing text books, gym memberships, locker rentals, and everything in between. Thankfully most of that is done now and I can focus on Fall Harvest, and then finish moving things to the city and settle in there. As much as I’ve been pretty stressed lately, it’s all for the right reasons and I’m very excited to face the challenges that come up this year in school. I proved to myself in Anatomy this spring that I can get decent grades if I work hard at it, so I hope I can continue proving that to myself in the future. That B was definitely not easy for me, but it was such an accomplishment when I got it! I still stop and wonder sometimes why I chose this path. What is someone who has always drifted towards arts and never did well in sciences doing in a Bachelor of Science degree in one of the most challenging specialities?! At the same time, I can’t see myself doing anything else. And the more I talk to other people in the profession, the more I fall in love with it.

That’s all I’ve got for now, I’m exhausted! Here are a couple pictures from my ride on Sunday- and I hope I write again soon! There will definitely be a Fall Harvest update!

MS River Rouge cruise!

Roomies!