Tag Archives: equestrian

Believe Your Own BullShit

We humans are experts at perpetuating our own patterns. For better or for worse. Usually against our own benefit…

So much so that often we don’t even believe ourselves when our true selves are trying to lead us onto a better path.

Unsurprisingly, only two lessons back into riding on a more dedicated level then I have in years and I’m finding philosophical life lessons being thrown at me left and right.

Coming back into the game after a few years off, riding a much different style of horse then what I’ve worked with before, I’m being confronted with all my old baggage.

While I’m not covered in as much rust as I thought I would be, old habits are dying hard. It’s like a Pandora’s box of baggage has been opened and needs to be organized and hung out to dry.

Warming up today the words that floated to me from the eyes on the ground suggested that I am riding like I’m riding a young horse. Supportive, encouraging, trying to lead the way and being overly accommodating. I was presented with an amazing analogy for my go to leadership style. Teacher all the way- lead by example and empower. This style works sometimes for me- but not all the time, and actually as of late- rarely. The words that followed next smacked me in the head with another relatable flow of logic. You need to tell and direct, not suggest and expect.

I’ve seen in the last while that my greatest strength and weakness is seeing the absolute best in those around me. Empath to the core- I can see you’re greatest potential before I even know you’re last name… and that often gets in the way of really being helpful in leadership/teaching/management.

I’m now riding a horse that has the power and ability to do whatever I ask. Tell him the plan and he will get it done. However, suggest an idea and expect him to collaborate on a plan? Not very effective with his archetype. He really is a mirror for many of the other situations I’ve approached with my habitual way of wanting others to empower themselves through situations (be them personal, relationship, or professional).

When I was directed to quit letting him decide where we were going and tell him what we were doing and how we were doing, something clicked.

Through all my confidence and leadership ability- I do indeed have a tendency to defer decision making. I personally learn through experience, and want every else to learn about themselves in a similar way. In a past relationship I did exactly what I was doing during this ride.. deferred direction to the other, assuming growth would occur from them having to figure things out and allowing myself to follow in their process. While growth certainly did happen, a lot of unnecessary time was spent being “dragged around” so to speak.

Unsurprisingly, the theme of power has come up frequently in meditations lately. It seems that a voice within me and situations around me keep telling me that I have some work to do around believing in my power, speaking that power, and becoming that power. Power– so many of us attribute it negatively. Is it though? When used towards our higher purpose and used to navigate ourselves and others towards a fulfilling destination?

I’ve sacrificed the idea of power and replaced it with the ideal of service in many contexts, especially in close personal relationships. I learned a lot. And I’m grateful for those lessons. Yet, I also experienced so much anger and frustration at that sacrifice. Was I truly serving anyone for the greater good? Or just playing nice and hoping.. hoping for the ‘right’ outcome, not even truly knowing what outcome that should be. I needed to experience that anger and frustration to learn what standing my ground meant. Where I thought it might mean losing something I valued, it really only demonstrates what is actually of value. Speaking from a place of inner power/value/purpose takes out the unnecessary and clears the path for the next step. What gets lost becomes less valuable and powerful then you once thought it was, and what remains is what is worth cultivating.

In my businesses- I can forge ahead and get so far ahead of myself and the team that I come off as intimidating, and I’ve often slowed my own process by getting caught up in wondering why nobody else sees my vision– instead of just directing and explaining the steps to accomplish that vision to the others involved. As I get more clear in my direction and communication- I’m seeing what I want to see happen in those around me. They become empowered, they communicate, they inspire and push harder towards the direction I lay out. There’s no equality, only motivated collaboration and new growth as a result.

I can motivate, inspire, and direct others… but if I take my leg off right at the moment where the next navigation is needed, less then optimal results come through. In reality it’s just miscommunication, confusion, and stutter steps.

Similarly, if I am too accommodating in my direction and collaboration, we don’t get anywhere. One party is happy to plod along and the other is aimlessly encouraging. There’s no connection.

My favourite line from this morning’s philosophical ride through a jump course/life was “believe your own bullshit”.

When you think you’re right, but doubt your correctness and don’t follow through with a direction/intention/cue.. it creates the same results as above. You’re bullshit, or your gut, or your inner thought- is almost ALWAYS right. Believe it. Even if you think it’s bullshit. Ride through it. Don’t play nice and let him (the horse)/life/another person lead.. you’re right. Direct the situation, even if it feels like you’re full of it.

Riding has always been a mirror for me. Just as yoga, meditation, and other things are as well. Riding doubles as having a physical, 1300lb, living breathing mirror to nail home it’s point. Returning now has unveiled many insecurities, blocks, and patterns in my psyche for review.

As I drove out to the barn this morning I was washed over with gratitude. For my mother who always sacrificed where she could to make my riding dreams a reality. The coaches I’ve been blessed with all the way through, all with their own philosophical roles in my growth and development in the saddle, and out. My high school principle who allowed me to use my spares in senior year to go to the barn and train. The profs who let me persist in being the “horse girl” and do any project possible focused to the equestrian. The opportunity to ride this horse I’m on now. The riders who participated in my early projects and those who came on as clients as I grew my understanding of changing how we develop athletes in this sport so many of us are addicted to.

Leaving the barn after the lesson I was blasted with reflections on situations gone by. How I played nice and hoped that the person or group involved would learn, choose themselves and see the collective vision– usually sacrificing myself in the process– where I could have stood my ground and navigated with some gumption instead. Sure, maybe the outcomes wouldn’t have changed. I obviously needed to experience all these events in the sequence they’ve occurred to get to where I am now… and boy, am I soaking up each and every experience.

We have the amazing ability to create our own realities. In this day and age, almost nothing is impossible. How many of us actually take initiative and choose to navigate towards the reality we want? How many of us can sit with our own bullshit and see the possibilities that lie within it?

Put your leg on, sit tall, and ride on through. The power is there, you just have to direct it.

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Eyes Up, Shoulders Back

“You must not fail to explore anything that interests you. Any skill you want to master should be learned. Any subject that arouses curiousity should be examined. Every insecurity should be overcome. Every question should be answered. If you do not do this, then you cannot freely experience life. Every one of your uncertainties will be an obstacle.. Initially it will seem as if there is no connection between your time meditating and the outer things in your life. After all, the masters themselves constantly stress the difference between the spiritual and the social. But eventually, you will reach a point where the quiescence of contemplation and the active ness of living are integrated..” — The Daily Tao, “Integration”

I’ve circled around to some old insecurities lately.

Since I wrote last so much as happened, and yet I feel like it’s all circled back to where it started a few months ago, a few years ago.

If you look closely you can notice themes in your life. They all revolve around similar bread crumb trails- which lead back to insecurities, questions, uncertainties we had at one point. You continue being faced with the same problem, question or archetype- even after you thought you’ve clarified it ten times over.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately meditating on how much a small business, or any business at its roots, depends on the development of it’s proprietor. As my ventures grow and opportunities come and are unpacked- I routinely have to go within and unpack different layers of myself, and experiences that I once thought had nothing to do with running a business.

It’s true, though. You listen to the successes of the day and they all say the same things. Once, not that long ago, they were living off ramen, broke, unsure of where to turn, with nothing but raw passion and a vision for some form of creation. Usually with the greater good in mind, and nothing else to back them up, they went for it. Lack of money be damned. Money flows where intention goes, similar to energy goes where intention flows- or whatever. Money is energy and energy follows thoughts. Along the way they were forced to work on themselves, face doubts and crippling fear, build authenticity, and as their business grew so did they as individuals. The collective effort of experiencing life and developing a vision formed mad success in wherever they chose to have success.

You hear a lot of the opposite too, sure. Those who gave into the doubt, got sucked into profit over passion and lost their way, etc.. those who return to something more stable, safer- and pay for their security with regret, sickness, chronic stress or mild resentment ongoing.

I was smacked in the face with some of my own insecurities recently. I spent weeks debating the decision to send out a status asking about availability of horses for part board. WEEKS. My hesitation came from the fact that every single year around this time of year I feel the need to be riding again. The last couple years I’ve pursued that feeling lightly and found those in need of someone to spend extra time on their horses. It lasts a few months and then I get distracted with the rest of my life and feign phrases like “it’s just not a priority right now” and move on.

I finally just made myself put the post up, and within an hour had at least ten offers from fellow riders offering connections with horses or horses close to them for part board. The difference this time is that I chose a route that required commitment in the form of money and time with coaches. I know this works for me as its exactly the same thing I did a year ago when I hired a personal trainer for myself. I also know what a game changer last years self enforced commitment has turned out to be.

I rode for the first time on Saturday and I am still depressingly sore in places any rider who has taken time off knows. Muscles groups that seem to come alive only in the saddle were re-engaged and.. yes, I am horrifically out of shape compared to where I used to be. A strong foundation exists, currently covered in a few years of silt.

You know what came up during my brief trial ride this weekend? The same damn things that have come up over and over again in the last few months as a manager and business owner/entrepreneur. Fear. Anger at the fear. Loneliness.

The same things I left the sport with a few years back. Fear of falling. More than that. Fear of letting go. I was asked if I wanted to pop over a couple jumps on this horse, who in all honesty was already the most advanced and well-trained/anatomically gifted horse I’d ridden to date (and who frankly was already babysitting my rusty ass)- the first voice in my head was “don’t do that, you’re not ready.. you haven’t jumped in years and what if you mess up and get hurt”. That voice was immediately followed by a sickening frustration, and then shortly after followed by a second long panic attack- THEN finally resulted in resolve. A voice calmly stating “If you don’t jump over that tiny ass jump today, you’ll never commit to this long term.”. So I rode over a few jumps, until I literally couldn’t control the muscles in my legs anymore, and jelly-fished myself off the horse afterwards feeling like I’d just made it to Base Camp again.

There’s never going to be an end to the mountains in your life. The discomfort. The emotions. The insecurities. The horse. The jump. The fear of the first fence. There’s always going to be an equivalent. The panic arising when things aren’t what they appear or don’t progress how you predict. The exhaustion and the solitude. The fear that doesn’t go away after the first fence- the fear that just gets stifled eventually by resolve.

I realized in that second that my goals, especially in the equestrian parts of my business, but also in all my other ventures, were riding (pun not intended)- to a certain extent- on this moment. Just as they were riding on my completion of the trek to Base Camp. There’s nobody holding me accountable, but my choices around how to confront (or how to avoid) the insecurities within myself do unequivocally impact where I go next. When I really sit with myself and ask if there is a right or wrong direction to go, I know the answer is simultaneously that there isn’t a right or wrong direction, but there is always a direction that feels true.

I rebranded/launched the equestrian specific portion of my business this winter as RideWell Performance, and I set lofty goals for RideWell/myself. Which I know I’ll accomplish.  Integrative Movement is growing and opportunities continue to find me. They find me because I am open for them. What I’ve realized in the last year is that not all opportunities are as shiny and necessary as they initially seem. Where last year was a year of saying yes to everything, this year’s theme has become negotiating, sitting, waiting, and examining all sides. This is most definitely why I am so tired mentally, emotionally, and spiritually lately.

From where I sit today, and in the last few months.. I am exhausted.

I’m exhausted in new ways- ways that are similar to how I often felt in University. New experiences, shifts in relationships, people coming and going from my life- people taking on new roles in my life, people taking up mental energy even when they don’t physically hold presence anymore- ghosts that reside in my head and still offer valuable advice and words of affirmation (Read: I’m losing it but in a good way, it’s fine). None of it is ever negative, and everything continues to align just as it needs to for whatever comes next. My faith and resolve has never been stronger, and I’m.. exhausted, often lonely, yet always grateful.

I know that many people, especially those working hard to be true to what they know inside themselves, feel these things. If someone like me who has been blessed enough to have more support, opportunity, and resources then many could even imagine can feel lost, exhausted, beaten down, lonely- alongside the inspiration, resolve, and gratitude- then I know without a doubt others are experiencing the same thing in all different walks of life. And so it seems pithy to remark on how exhausted I am while sitting in the apartment I can afford, eating the meals I have the resources to create, sore from being lucky enough to ride a large expensive animal for recreation, mulling over parts of the businesses I brought to life… but I am remarking on it because I know I need to read, hear and see other’s stories- and wish more people would openly speak of this part of figuring it all out and pushing for more.

It’s human, and it’s universal- with varying contexts.

As usual I’ve rambled onwards over the thousand word mark- but I think what I am trying to get across is that through all the exhaustion I am tied even more signifcantly to the (often blind) faith that pulls me onwards. What other choice is there? Once you follow your heart, mind, soul towards a vision that clarifies why you’re really here (even if you haven’t reached the clarity part)- there isn’t another choice but carrying on. Life just keeps coming at you anyway. Wherever at in your experience, keep experiencing it (note the change in this blog’s domain name ;)).

I’ve seen enough proof in the power of having faith in one’s own power, vision, and path (or direct faith in the Universe, or God, etc etc). You’re where you are for a reason. The fears and insecurities that keep popping up for you are valid in their own way, and they have something for you to reflect on every time they do come up. Give them a voice, recognize them, but don’t surrender all your power to them. Let them help you realize your own power in new ways.

That turned cheesier then I wanted to.. but here’s to getting back on the literal horse again!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Up, down, and in between: A competition debrief

The first two competitions of the season have come and gone, and left me realizing that I am out of shape– and have a lot to learn. We’ve made our debut in the jumper ring, and said our farewells to the hunters. We’ve dealt with rain and heat, and been tested by new challenges. I’ve found new muscles, and realized the stark differences between the riding styles required in the different rings. Here’s a run down of the highs and lows over the last two weekends!
My most rewarding day was definitely my first day at Ride of Rides, during Red River Exhibition. This was in the sand ring, and the first day brought gorgeous weather and fun courses. I competed in the .85m (2’9″ft) and the .90m (3ft) jumpers. That day may have been a classic case of beginners luck- I came away with 2nd and 3rd in the .85m open and Junior Amateur classes, and another 2nd and 3rd in the .90m classes. Everything seemed to go without a hitch, although I was feeling quite out of shape after round 1 (and 2, 3, 4). Compared to what I’ve been used to (8 jump hunter courses), a 11 jump course that requires a very active riding style, plus a immediate jump off course (additional 7 jumps for speed) felt like a marathon (in all reality it was more like a 500m sprint x 8). The second day of competition brought literally all the rain, making for a sloppy ring. Our first round of the day in the .85 brought a decent course until about jump 9.. where Willard caught the back rail of a wide-ish and stumbled upon landing, causing me to slide off the side into the quicksand below..landing on my back for some nice whiplash effects. The next 15 minutes were spent with the medics, who quickly realized that I wasn’t going to agree to stop competing for the day. I promptly signed the refusal of treatment form and hopped on to go back into my next .85m.. this time I ran a double clear for 3rd place. Warming up for my .90m that day, Mr. Will did exactly the same thing and stumbled me into the biggest puddle in the warm up ring after a oxer. Sigh. This time I landed face first (mid tuck and roll), and fully exfoliated my entire body (without the spa experience). In my own true style, I managed to bruise my ribs and make my rotator cuff very unhappy. Thankfully the medics already knew my name. This stunt caused M to grumble “enough playing in the sand for you today” and scratch me from my .90m.. which I was thankful for. I was also quite thankful that day three of the competition was cancelled due to torrential rain.
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Half recovered and not at all refreshed, we headed into the next competition 4 days later. Warm-ups felt great, minus my complaining ribs and surrounding muscles. This time we competed in just .90m jumpers, and then did the Child/Adult/Non-pro Hunters (3ft) so I could compete in the Hunter Derby. This meant Saturday had 5 courses between rings (2 jumper, 3 hunter). Our jumper rounds were a little sketchy. The combination of me not being horribly effective as a rider, both myself and Will’s confidence still being shaken from the previous weekend, and the courses being much more challenging then we’d experienced before brought some new lessons. The jumper courses on Saturday featured a lovely combination going away from the gate to a long one stride (for Will anyway)– vertical to a wide oxer, and then 4-5 strides to a scary skinny plank jump that featured a pair of wide smiling cartoon lips on it. It was rare to see any horse and rider combo get through this combination with complete grace over the weekend. Our first course was half decent until getting around to this combination. Will got into the one stride okay, but didn’t make the distance to the out oxer with much confidence (mostly my fault) and had to chip and leap to get out- unseating me in the process. I recovered on landing, but not well enough to set him up for the teeth that came up pretty darn quick, resulting in him taking the left side run out. No blame on him for this, my riding instilled absolutely no confidence for him to draw off! We came back to it no problem and completed the course. The second course started out the same way, and this time Will took a great distance into the one stride, but stopped at the out jump.. he really wasn’t giving me any breaks this weekend. Coming back for attempt two,  we added into the one stride and got through the rest of the course okay.
Our hunter rounds that day started out equally as sketchy. This is where the stark differences in riding style became very obvious to me. Both of us forgot how to ride a hunter course, and with this lines being built pretty long (again) we were presented wth a challenge. Our first course came with adding to each line. Which was okay, as I really wasn’t trying to compete in this division- I was just required to enter it if I wanted to do the derby. Our handy course in the division was built for us, though. Set to all our strengths, the course involved no set lines, and was full of roll back turns and bending lines. Yay! This was definitely one of the best hunter courses I’ve ridden in my entire career thus far. We both clicked back into the hunter rhythm. I was able to loop the reins, sit into a half-seat and let Will do his thing over the course. We placed 2nd in this course! This definitely made up for our somewhat frustrating jumpers earlier in the day, and reminded me that I can actually ride worth something. The derby started up at the end of the day, and our course was great- except for our unlucky rail at jump #2. For those who are unfamiliar with derby scoring, a rail automatically lowers your score to 40/100. So although we had an excellent round, we were out of luck for placing.. I ended the day with a 56/100 after bonus points for handiness and high point option jumps being added. Through all his grumbling about me doing hunters this weekend, M even gave me a “tough luck, kid” after that round. M’s statement from last year: “you have to be lucky to be good, and good to be lucky” was ringing in my ears after day one at Summer Smiles.
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Day two left us with just two jumper courses. Much to my chagrin there was a two stride and a one stride in the day’s courses (some part of my brain was hoping they would omit any challenging combinations from the courses…). We started out with each of us giving each other mixed signals through the first course. Jumps 1-7 went okay, with some unnecessary lazy rails on Will’s part. 8A-B brought a one stride, which Will promptly halted right before, for no apparent reason other then lack of confidence. He came back to it and did it fine with an add (again, felt pretty long). Around to the two stride we got through with an add again, and then looping back to the final line (oxer on the outside rail 7strides to the lovely teeth jump…which was conveniently placed right beside a group of endurance horses tied to trailers). Through sloppy riding on my part, and an uninterested horse, we ran out the left again. Course 1, incomplete. Warming up for round two, in an attempt to wake myself and my horse up (after grumbling a motivational, “c’mon girl get riding!”), M set the warm-up fences a good few inches above course height. So, with me muttering “holy shit, M” under my breath in the strides leading up to the warm-up fence- we kicked ourselves into gear and Will clumsily knocked it over first and then over jumped it the second time (goal accomplished, M). The next class brought a lovely round- actually- with a confident add in the one stride (no point fighting for it at this point!) and a beautiful two stride. Around to that dreaded final line again we went, this time getting in okay but Will was having non of the teeth endurance horse combo, and my legs were apparently non-existent. So we stopped, and I flew off the side. Classy finale, team, classy finale. I, however, have chosen to omit that jump from the course- and as a result am quite pleased with how we finished off.
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So, as you can probably tell, competition two was a little more challenging then competition one. But competition one was a little more painful and wet then competition two. They both had their ups and downs. The biggest lesson I learned is that it is absolutely impossible to be an effective rider with stiff, bruised ribs on one side. It 100% affects one’s ability to be fluid and therefore confident in the tack. C picked up on that from a field distance away, and commented that I wasn’t riding as well as I could be, and queried as to whether my leg was okay or if I was sore from the previous weekend still. The leg is fine, even though we’ve had some issues with proprioception over the last few weeks– taping is helping with that. The soreness definitely was a factor, and I’m sure I will be going through rider bootcamp in the next two weeks in prep for the next show (Beach Party!). Leading up to both these past competitions, I wasn’t able to be in the tack as much as I wished- which lead to the resultant fatigued horse and rider. We learned how much we still have to learn, but also how much we’ve progressed. M&C are continuously challenging us which is exactly what we asked for this year, and I am loving it- even if it comes with small frustrations along the way!

 

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What kind of fuel are you using?

How much time and effort do you spend picking out your horses’ feed? Planning out their nutrition, making sure what they’re eating is going to give them the most benefit. If you’re like most riders/horse owners.. probably quite a bit. It’s important stuff, these animals do great things for you- and they rely on you to make good choices when it comes to care.

Next question. How much time and effort do you spend picking out what you’re going to eat? Are you as picky with what goes onto your plate as you are with what goes onto your four legged friend’s? If yes, then kudos! If you’re reading this and realizing that the amount of time and effort differs between the two- I hope I’m inspiring a positive thought process. I am by no mean passing judgement.

I should also mention that I am not a registered dietician, or nutritionist- and will not shove advice directly related to what you eat personally down your throat. Ever. It’s not what I believe. I do, however, believe in the power of the right foods. My exercise physiology professor started off a lecture the other day with this statement:

“95% of what you eat, your body absorbs..”

While this isn’t a new fact, it was a phrase that got me thinking. 95% is a lot! In the past year I’ve completely changed how I eat; at first only because I had two doctors telling me it was a good idea, if I didn’t want diagnostic surgeries- and then continued on because I just felt so damn good all the time. I truly saw how much better I was functioning.. physically, athletically (in and out of the saddle), mentally, and academically. The extra effort was more then worth the benefits!

We live in an society full of fad diets, weight loss tips, and people telling you their way is the best way. I live and breath evidence based practice at work and at school- and am skeptical of any claim I hear unless there is recreatable, realistic, and legitimate research behind it. Much of the research I’ve been reading lately is starting to catch onto the fact that the way we eat as a society in general is causing a myriad of health problems.

“Nutrition is not a mathematical equation in which two plus two is four. The food we put in our mouths doesn’t control our nutrition…not entirely. What our bodies do with that food does.” -T.Collins, Whole. 

The body is an amazing machine that will absorb what it needs, when it needs it, from what you give it. However, if you don’t provide it with the option of the things it needs, it has to compensate by using less ideal substitutes from the options available. Each individual body needs different things, and functions it’s best on it’s own special kind of “fuel”. While I can’t say what’s best for you, I can say that no body will be it’s best version on processed, refined, “fast” foods.

You wouldn’t knowingly feed your equine partner(s) something that would give them less energy, cause inflammation within their body, decrease their immune function, or put them at higher risk for a variety of health problems- would you? That’s precisely why you think about what you are filling their feed tub with. Likely you want to give them a type of “fuel” that helps them function at their best.

What kind of “fuel” do you fill your own tank with? Have you made changes recently to that intake and noticed differences? How do you think spending just as much time planning your own nutrition might improve your daily life, in and out of the saddle?

Think about it.

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Heart of Hearts

This show started out for me fairly similar to how RMWF did. Going as a spectator, falling in love, and setting a goal to one day be one of those glorious people in the competition ring. This is the second time I’ve made that dream come true, and taken my humble horse to Heart of the Continent- Manitoba’s largest and most competitive outdoor hunter jumper show. Willard and I entered in our usual divisions- and were most competitive in the 3ft hunters. If I were to take you round by round over the course of this 5 day event, this post would take 5 days to get through- so I’ll give you a briefing on how we did.

Overall this was one of our best shows yet. I feel like I say that every time I write about a competition, which is the way it should be right? Always seeing improvements, and the big picture starts getting a little more awesome. Thursday and Friday we stayed consistent and earned ourselves top 6 placings in our Child/Ami/Non-Pro division as well as the Senior Low and Open Low divisions. Will pulled out his awesome for the flats- which he normally despises, and we were scrounge up some good results there too.

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Saturday brought the big Equine Canada Open Low $5000 Hunter Classic, which we managed to put in a great round for. My best Classic round yet (Hunter classics are just a fancy, longer hunter round- of which the top 10 scorers get called back for a second final round- usually intense, always more expensive). If you’d like to see what our round looked like, click here.  We ended the first round with a score of 64, just a couple points below the cut off for the second round. There were 30 competitors in this class, one of the biggest hunter classics I’ve ever competed in (no doubt the purse helped). What brought our score down? We didn’t find the elusive perfect distance to the first fence, which in a big competitive class such as this one is important. I also had to push him up in one of the lines, and that slight pace change would for sure catch the judges eye. However, the fact that we were only a few points behind the top 10, and it was our best classic round ever, is enough to satisfy me! Besides, missing that distance in that class meant that I found it in every single course I did the rest of the weekend (that same first jump ended up being the first jump in most of my courses). Later on that day we ended up 2nd in our Child/Ami/Non-Pro, click here to see that round, and placed in the top 6 of our other rounds and flats for the day.

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The final day of competition brought our Adult/Ami medal and our 3ft Hunter Special (specials are similar to classics, except they are only one round). Our course in the medal class went really well, however I didn’t ride a very great flat portion and we ended up 4th overall- still very respectable given our competition! The high light for me was our Special round. It was absolutely perfect, except we had some loud ticks on a couple fences which brought down our score. However we still managed to place 6th overall, which meant I achieved my goal of winning a “fancy ribbon”! It was the first time we’ve ever placed in a special, and I am SO pumped about it! Another high light was being Reserve Champion in our Child/Ami/Non-pro division for the weekend!

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Fancy ribbon!!!

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The rest of the loot!

So, it was a super great weekend for us results wise. Many goals were achieved, even the superficial ones- like getting a cool ribbon. One of the best things for me was to be able to place, and be competitive with some really good, national competition. To hold our own against some of the best horse/rider combos in western Canada is something to be proud of! Another really cool thing is how consistent we were throughout the entire weekend. Something that is becoming common for us is that consistency. The ability to go into the ring and have good rounds over and over again is new, but exciting. I used to be happy with one good round over an entire show- but now I expect to go in and be successful no matter what. The bar keeps getting raised higher, and I’m excited to find out what we can achieve next.

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Still 1

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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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Classy

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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This Crazy Life

It has been a topsy turvy week.

I’m becoming very aware of the fact that I have some sort of guardian angel watching over me.

Where do I start? Monday was a pretty chill day- Willard had the day off and I used the extra time to go out to “Dad’s Country Resort” where there is a laundromat, kitchen, and a quiet deck overlooking the river for which I used to study for my Advanced Resistance Training midterm. It was a nice, peaceful evening. Much needed after a competition weekend. Tuesday I wrote said AdvRT midterm- and pretty sure I destroyed it. Wednesday was where things got little bit cray (sigh… I just used “cray” in a sentence).

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I’ve been looking forward to this particular Wednesday for a while. This Wednesday was the day I got to go to a cadaver lab. Yes, I am one of those weird kids who gets excited about cadavers. To be completely honest I was LOVING it. The human body is a fantastic thing- and being able to see how it is put together is even cooler. So that’s great, right? Whats so crazy about a nerd loving bodies in a lab? Well- lets get to the fun part. I’d been in the lab for about an hour-hour and a half, when I noticed that my vision was little on the spotty side. So I decided to go outside to get some air. Lucky for me I was on the opposite side of the room from the door. I got about half way where I paused, hoping to regain some blood pressure. The last thing I remember was putting my hands on a lab table for balance.

I pick the best places to pass out. In grade 2 it was in the middle of morning assembly half way through verse one of “God Save the Queen” (I still hold a grudge against the principle for continuing to sing while I lost consciousness). Last year, in NZ, it was with family in a small town where the local doctor is on speed dial (if it had happened just a couple days earlier I would have been alone in a hostel full of partying travellers…not ideal).  This week, it was in a room full of highly knowledgable athletic therapists, first responders, and AT students.. in the basement of a hospital. Props to whoever assigned this girl’s guardian angel. Not so thankful for the formaldehyde and other chemicals that cut my cadaver experience short. Also, the fact that I was about to go examine the glutes on one model, means I fainted thinking about a dead man’s ass. Class act. Realizing that there was a 50/50 chance I could have fainted face first into a cadaver is also not a happy recollection. New most embarrassing moment.

Where were we, still on Wednesday? This day was nuts. So. After regaining consciousness and spending the next hour coming out of shock. Cold sweats, nausea, dizziness, a massive head ache. The works. I decided to head off to work (don’t ask me why). Believe it or not, this day has a weirdly optimistic ending. My loving prof had her lab instructor drive me to the office, on strict instructions (I just completed prevention and care of injuries with her) that if I even start to have any concussion signs or symptoms that I was to get to a doctor asap. Said lab instructor is a graduated AT student, who is currently preparing to write her CATA certification exams. We chatted about this and that (main topic was concussions, suitably), discovering that we had heard about each other through a mutual friend (an AT who she worked under and who I am hoping to work under) and as she dropped me off in the exchange she gave me her card with her email and told me to email her if I was interested in a PAID internship with her in the fall working with a football team. Seriously. Whoever is looking out for me. Keep it up. Although, if I could make one humble request… maybe scope out some series of events that have less impact next time?

I’m pretty sure I was running off adrenaline for the rest of the work day on Wednesday. By the time Wednesday evening hit I was starting to feel it wear off. By the time Thursday morning hit, I was able to deduce how I felt. Thankfully I fell backwards. Discovered by awaking to a very sore tailbone and stiff back. From there it was definitely my head next as my neck was just a tad sore and there is a nice sore spot on the back of my skull. However, other than sore, I didn’t feel too bad. So I went to work (again, don’t ask me why). I started to notice a decline when, because of the great weather we’ve had here in MB, we decided to cancel majority of our games Thursday night. Which means my job becomes calling team reps to ensure they know of the changes. Easy task. Look up their number on the computer, dial, speak. Well, easy in theory. I dialled approximately 10 wrong numbers. Reading numbers off the computer screen is easy. Dialling numbers is easy. Putting those two tasks together and dialling numbers in order? Not easy when you are mildly concussed. Apparently.

The great thing about concussions is that the symptoms can come, go, and randomly appear even days after the event. Symptoms are as unique as the individual experiencing them. A lot of times just noticing that you are not yourself is a sign that you may have a concussion. I’m usually a fairly focused person. For me to not be able to concentrate long enough to dial 10 digits- that’s not me. I saw a doctor that night, who agreed that I had a very mild concussion, and suggested taking some time off could be beneficial.

Friday was my first ever sick day. I believe I slept 18 hours.

Saturday was a fun day. Really, no sarcasm! We spent most of the day helping Grandpa and Grandma move into their new condo in Carman. Well, I can’t say I helped that much. I took a lot of pictures, but when I tried to actually be productive and carry things, my brain reminded me with bouts of dizziness that I was taking time off. Sigh. Either way, it was great to spend time with the family. A nice way to say good-bye to the house in Sperling, where so many memories and experiences were shared, and hello to making new memories in a new place- with the same amazing people. My grandparents are those kind of people who have been all over the world, met all sorts of people, had all the experiences. As much as this is a change for them, for all of us, I could write a book on all the memories I have in that house (Uncle Jerry giving us kids a water balloon slingshot and setting us loose on Sperling with the result of  shattered living room picture window comes to mind as one of the great chapters)- the memories were built around the people, not just the structure that housed them. The character that surrounds my grandparents will fill whatever space they inhabit, just as much as it spills over to those who spend any amount of time with them.

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After a much needed nap on Saturday afternoon, and supper with G&G, I headed out to Homewood where me and some of my closest friends braved the chilly June (????) temperatures and built ourselves  teepee and a bonfire. You should not be able to see your breath in June. However, that didn’t stop us. Bundled up, in our hick level teepee, it turned into a great night.

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So, did you get the impression of a kind of up-down-all-around week? Certainly had a slower pace than my usual. I think this slower pace is around to stay for a few more days. I went to work at the gym this afternoon, headache and all, to see how being out and about affected this head of mine. So far it looks like I’ll be taking my second ever sick-day tomorrow. Today has been full of headaches-which is new. Not really wanting to push that back into full-time Katmah style scheduling just yet. Especially since I have a competition in 3 weeks. That I fully plan on still going to. Heal brain, heal.

Willard, poor Willard. He was scarcely mentioned in this post. Mostly because I couldn’t do much with him this week as I just did not feel up to it. On Friday I did stop in and spend some time with him. I didn’t ride, I didn’t even lunge. I just played with him in the ring while the rain came down outside. Something I’ve really come to do more of in my training program, just being silly with my horse. When I came home from NZ, I wasn’t able to jump right back into the saddle- I spent a lot of time in the round pen. Your horse is your teammate, your partner. He does things for you that he might not for another. Take some time to have fun with him. Be his friend as much as he is yours. The trust you can build by just fooling around is irreplaceable (here I go on trust again). I used to not think of ground work as A) fun or B) important. The past couple years has shown me it’s very much both of those things. After working with horses overseas who were never worked with outside of being ridden for 15 minutes and then put back in the their stalls- they weren’t happy. Unhappy horses = unhappy riders/grooms = not reaching full potential. Being able to be silly with my horse reminds me to not take myself too seriously. Being injured sucks. I hate having to take time off. It is my least favourite thing, and it can get me down real quick. But, it’s part of being an athlete, or even just being human. Why let it bring you down? Accept what you cannot change, and be silly every once in a while.

As much as I would love to fully commit to that accepting attitude, it’s easier said than done. Part of me is fully committed to taking the time I need to get better so I can go back without any risk. Another part of me is saying suck it up and go to work in the morning. Carry on. The educated part of me is reminding that voice that that is an awful idea and not to mess with a concussion. As much as I know the importance of taking it easy the next few days- I don’t want to. Please tell me I’m not the only one out there that has these conversations with myself? Life is forcing me to slow down, and it’s cramping my style.

On a more cheerful note, here is a video from last weekend of my other hunter round!

Click here for the video!

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Momentum

First of all, I am so happy with this weekend. Second, I’m still coming down from the “horse-show high” so if this post is a little scatter-brained, forgive me. Third, it’s a long one. I neglected to write down thoughts for each day- sooo I’m combining them all into one. You’ll be okay. Take breaks if you need to (I took about 3 to write this post).

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Let’s start with Friday. Warm-ups on Friday were great! It was our first time in the outdoor rings at Brandon, as well as our first outdoor experience (showing and training) since August 2012. So, it would be natural to expect a little bit of a gong show. However, Willard was impressively more chill than I expected him to be. Yes, we were excited. And yes we had a little bit of a motor, BUT, we were controllable and willing to participate in common sense. The deep sand footing helped, I’m sure, keep the shenanigans down. We discovered quickly while galloping around that the ring was unique in that in had slight uphills and downhills throughout. It added a cool challenge to courses over the weekend as you needed to plan for those changes- some lines would ride tighter or longer- and singles could come up pretty quick on the downhill if you weren’t careful. That, along side the deep footing, were a variable in the number of rails throughout the riders this weekend.  I must say though, Will loved the footing. He’s always been a sand horse, but he felt amazing in this ring.

We actually had two warm-ups on Friday. As I was hacking him around in the warm-up ring, M called me over to the main ring and popped me over some smaller jumps- mainly trotting in and calm canter out- just to see how he was going to handle life in general. After about 40 minutes of that he told me to go back to the barn and get C, and let her know that I was ready to do some real work now. C, surprised I had already done some jumping, worked us for at least another 40 minutes- this time doing the usual schooling of cantering to everything and working around a full course. Here is where I started to feel great in the tack. The added challenges of the slanty-uphill-downhill ring made rider effectiveness imperitive to success. Coming into the diagonal line up the centre? Left leg, left leg, left leg. Otherwise the slight uphill with the left slant drags you out and your line to the in jump gets blurry- causing rails either in or out (which we learned the hard way a few times). This year so far as been new for me in that I can actually be more effective in those ways. I can think my way through a course while riding it, and control my aides appropriately. Before it all became kind of a blur. Mentally and physically I feel like I’ve broken into a new dimension. And I like it.

Saturday.

IMG_2991It was a little bit chilly…

This was one of those days where you just had to laugh. Being the nineteenth class in, the morning was a lot of.. well not a lot of much actually. Trying to stay warm. We went for breakfast at a nearby bakery (which was somewhat torture for me.. smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns when you can’t have any?) and then us hunters braided and finally it was time to go. Our first two hunter rounds, Willard had his motor running at high speed and we were a little bit too keen. However, they were good schooling rounds and by the time the Classic came along we were a little bit more chilled about things. We rode the Classic at 3ft and had a really good round, with an unfortunate rail at the second jump. Because of this our score was dropped under 50 and we didn’t make the call-back round- however I was perfectly fine with this as it just felt so good to be on our rhythm again. Rails happen. Especially at the first outdoor show of the year in deep, new, footing.

Here is our Classic round <—Click there.

Now it was time for the jumpers. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous. Or excited. I was. Just a little. Enough to cause me to attempt to put my gloves on the wrong hands.. M was questioning my sanity, hands down. My horse was also feeling some of that. Also a little confused as to why we were back in the ring and why there were so many new and exciting jumps this time.  We worked our way down to the first jump, a oxer with white rails on top and a plank with colourful “bubbles” on the bottom. Annnnnnd we stopped 3 strides out, Willard was a bit surprised by this new and odd looking thing in front of him. No worries. With a good snort, and a small tap beside my leg with my stick,  we galloped around again and this time I was able to convince (tell) him that jumping over the scary bubbles was a good plan. After this we had a nice forward pace around to the vertical bricks on the diagonal five strides to the  red and white planks out. Around again to the green oxer five strides to a one-stride out combination. This is where Willard needed to test the effectiveness gravity, and the distance a 160lb rider could fly before succumbing to the forces acting. Luckily the jump standard caught me. I must say I’ve developed cat like reflexes in the air. I came out of that with only a beautiful bruise on my thumb from trying to hug the standard as I collided with it.  Still 14IMG_2998

So that was a bit disappointing. Well, more so frustrating. Mostly because it was almost entirely outside of my control. We had the perfect distance and I was riding well. Nobody saw the abrupt change of pace coming, if you watch the video (which is hilarious- mostly because of my mom’s comments throughout) you’d also be surprised to see my flying through the air as if that was the plan. The theory I’ve come up with is that he was just a little surprised at how much fun he was having and his excitement took over his brain causing a system overload (side effect of being a thoroughbred…). As much as I was frustrated and disappointed.. and as usual, my brain was involuntarily making my tear ducts open. I was greeted at the out gate by the most amazing group of people. M and C, as well as the rest of the McMullan team. They helped me not only reassure myself and my bruised confidence- but also laugh it off. Because what else can you do, really. Especially when M puts his hands on your shoulders, looks you straight in eyes, and introduces you to the “McMullan rule”… “It’s not acceptable to come out of the jumper ring with tears, unless you’re hurt. Otherwise I send you back to the hunter ring”. I wonder if laughing and crying is an exception… Anyways, no time later it wasn’t frustrating anymore, it was just an experience that was actually more funny than anything. It would be no fun if things went perfectly every time. Horses keep us humble, right?

That evening a few of us headed to a local restaurant called Komfort Kitchen- which I highly recommend! A nice wind-down from the day, and a reminder of how far things have come and what the potential is for the future. That was a lot of the atmosphere for the weekend, actually. Which is exactly how a competition should feel.

Sunday. Oh, Sunday. I loved Sunday.

Because of our projectile debut in jumpers the day before, I dropped down a level into the 2’6 class for Sunday. As much as I wanted to stay at 2’9, this was a fantastic choice for confidence building. Jumpers came first thing Sunday morning, and the course was only slightly changed from the day before- with the same first three fences. Which was nice, as we already had confidence over those three. This time, things were a little less new (although just as exciting). Coming up to the first jump there was a fair amount of Will saying “uhhh I was scared of this yesterday.. maybe I should also be scared of it now?” and me saying “nope. Get over it.” and him actually responding in a positive manner. This was the theme for the rest of the course. Coming into the combination that ended us the day before, this time it was further into the course, I rode it exactly the same in and set him up nicely- thankfully this time there was no questions asked and no gravity checks. We earned a second place in that class!

IMG_2990Our first official jumper ring ribbon!

Our hunter rounds that day were also quite good. The first, was a little bit quick- Willard’s motor was still running on high from the jumper round earlier that day. So in between we did trot laps of the warm-up ring. By the time we went in for our final class of the weekend, the 3ft stake class, the motor was a little more settled and we put in a nice clean round which earned us a 3rd beneath some great rounds by two other McMullan riders. It was a great way to end off a fantastic weekend!

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One of the most exciting things for me was actually getting to feel strong and effective in the tack and not  hurt. Anywhere. Also, not constantly be thinking about when the hurt is going to come back. It’s amazing how effortless things get when you aren’t trying to compensate for anything. You can actually ride. You can stay positive- both physically and mentally. All the work I’ve done inching my body towards health and strength these past years is really starting to show. I’m in the best shape of my life, and starting what looks to be a new era as an pain-free athlete. FINALLY. I am starting to build a trust in myself that wasn’t always there before, which is only helping my skills in the saddle.

I also survived on my new eating habits. I’m no longer a cheap date (not sure I ever was, to be honest), as often the only thing I can eat on the menu at many restaurants now is steak (love it). I’ve also found that I’m craving things I used to really not like. Tomatoes for one. And grilled shrimp. It’s really odd to all of a sudden just want something you’ve been disgusted by for most of your life. However, the body generally knows what it needs so I’m going to trust that logic.

So there you go. A pretty thorough play-by-play of my weekend. I’ll post the videos of my hunter rounds from Sunday once I can, and hopefully some pictures as well! Unfortunately mom was so excited about my jumper round she forgot to video tape it. But, there will be more of those. M has said, in his way, that I did well enough this weekend that he will keep me around for the next show. The momentum we’re building is taking us in a new and exciting direction. The highs and the lows are teaching us more about each other, and me more about myself. It’s been years of baby steps- but all the little things are starting to add up.  We learned so much at this show, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

945040_10151692181008086_2016810418_nFocus on your goals and believe in your actions. Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. 

 

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2 days to go

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Willard’s face as he sees me eating HIS apple.

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“I did that one stride like a champ.. and this is how you reward me?!” I know.. I’m a jerk.

Had a fantastic lesson with M&C tonight. Which is exactly what I needed coming up to Wheat City this weekend. I am really starting to get a hang of this whole riding thing, it seems. I’ve never felt stronger in the tack, and my legs stay where they need to be and find the distances for me. We even did a one stride tonight, to finish off. One strides used to be a terrifying thing for me, but I realized tonight that I really don’t have anything to fear anymore. As long as I support my horse, he will get me out of there. For the most part, tonight, I was probably overriding through the combo. The thing is though, you’re moving so fast that you don’t even have time to think about things as they happen. The two main thoughts for me were, okay- legs on, shoulders back, jump in- one- out. After take off of the first jump, there are no thoughts. Only rhythm. Which is what my last post was themed around. Tonight really came down to just that, all over again. Getting to that first jump with a rhythm- everything else is taken care of after that. There is nothing you can think in that period of time to fix anything. Leading up to the vertical in was C’s voice creating a pace “da dum da dum da dum” as she does, and all I could hear past that was hooves leaving the ground- silence- one stride- silence- and landing. It’s nice to not have to think so hard about everything. It’s even nicer to feel a more concrete trust forming between me and myself regarding my ability to not slip into bad habits and not let old fears take over.

Progress, I love it!

I also have to say that my horse is still managing to surprise me with skill and power that just seems to keep coming year after year. He is jumping fantastic this season. So fantastic that tonight C actually stopped mid-sentence out of distraction after he took a beautiful jump over a vertical. C, speechless. That doesn’t happen often. But, I’ll stop bragging about my horse now…

The evening ended with M saying “You’re getting good at this.” and then “If you keep riding like this we might let you ride jumpers more often!”. Now if that’s not encouraging (especially for those of you who know M), I don’t know what is.

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