Some exciting things I did this week (nerd alert)

Two posts in one day?? I’m impressed with myself. This never happens!

I’ll keep this one short and sweet, because most of it is super nerdy, and it’s my second post within 24 hrs. Also if I waited til next week either I’d forget half the stuff I wanted to write about, or you’d end up with a monster of a post.

I had an interesting week in many respects, and I’m not going to list all the interesting things because that would just be too much. In an attempt to keep it brief, I will now list some of the better aspects of the past 7 days:

  • Accepting a new job
    Okay, so maybe not that new. The volunteer position I took with Horse Connection turned into a paid assistant instructor position early this week. Which really only changes a few things- instead of one morning a week leading a horse around a ring and doing some assisting with students, I now am there two mornings a week and will assist in the lesson plans and eventually take over some of the theory classes with the kids. Kinda cool, pretty excited about it- a little unsure on how the extra time commitment will effect my sanity. This will be my third paying job. However, it is something I really want to be involved in- and upon discussing the basis of Horse Connection with a prof- I realized that this could also provide me with some potentially very interesting topics and experience to put towards my degree and eventual career.
  • Getting frustrated and working through it (on horseback)
    We’ve all had those rides. Where it feels like nothing you do is making a difference. This week I had two of them. Really boosting for the spirit… The horse I’ve been working with for the above listed job has been somewhat of a challenge this week. Last week when I recalled my experiences with him, you’ll remember I was quite happy with his progress. Horses keep us humble, of course, so clearly this meant we had to have a week of stubborness and frustration to follow up that excellent ride last week- right? That’s how it works in the riding business. One step forward, three steps back. The first ride of the week was just brutal. The horse I remembered from the previous week was long gone- I was now riding a straw bale with attitude. Probably didn’t help that I went into the arena with a negative attitude and a headache. Lets just say I didn’t do an awesome job of separating my own frustrations from my job as a rider that day. The horse wasn’t all to blame. The next time I got on this week I was prepared to deal with myself a little better. Sonny was still a stubborn brat. But instead of getting angry and taking it out on both of us, I made myself take a step back before we reached that point and only resumed work with Sonny when I was a little calmer. This helped, quite a bit. I won’t say we made a tonne of progress, but we made more then we had previously. As I was told by the owner at LC Farms once when I was working with a young horse in front of him.. “You must look at yourself before you can ask ze horse to listen” (imagine a heavy french accent, the quote is much more profound that way).
  • Bought a watch, felt like a grown up
    This one doesn’t need too much elaboration. It was a little bit of retail therapy mixed with actually needing to acquire a time piece for my wrist. To go along with the feeling like a grown up- I actually cooked some real meals this week! Squash and veggie medley with chickpeas and bacon, spinach pasta with meat sauce, and bison with rosemary and basil veggies. Look at me, acting all adult and stuff. 

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  • Got a little bit more hands on
    I was going to title this section “getting handsy” but then I figured that was a little creepy. Anyway. Classes have been getting much more practical lately, as mid-terms approach way to quickly. However, outside of the classroom I’ve been able to gain some exciting new experience in the clinic at work- as well as of course on the field at football. Thursday with the AT at MORfit I got a chance to practice my massage skills on real life patient for the first time! I had zero idea what I was doing, but it was great! Another patient who I’ve been stretching for the past 3 weeks or so also commented: “Either she’s getting stronger, or I’m getting weaker” to the AT- who responded with “that’s because she’s getting more experienced and doing a great job”. Yessss! The next day at football I was relaying some of those experiences to my supervisor there- regarding the massage and not knowing what I was doing, she had this to say: “that’s okay, you’ll soon get to the point where it’s like reading a book through your hands”. Speaking of football, we had an interesting game this Friday- the most exciting injury was a very dislocated distal interphalangeal joint on the 5th digit (aka the first joint of the pinky finger). I got to play shock control (aka distract the heck out of the poor guy) while we splinted it and got the player ready to head to a hospital. I also got to explain to the coaches many times why legally we cannot just “pop it back in”. The finisher to my argument was showing them a picture of the player’s hand (since we had already stabalized and covered it)- which generally resulted them in quickly agreeing with me and walking quickly in the other direction. Nothing like a little bit of gore to settle things. My supervisor said many times that she was so happy to have me around, and that her job is so much easier with another set of hands and another opinion on some of the more challenging issues we have come up more often now that the season is in full swing. Which was great to hear after a long week. Thursdays and Fridays always seem to be good days, even if the rest of the week is insanity.

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  • Practicing to make perfect
    I also made a point of thinking my way through the heel-lock portion of my ankle taping. For whatever reason this section of the tape job always gets me, and I swear I’m the only one- everyone else thinks they are simple. It’s all in the angles. And you cannot pick a fight with tape- you will never win. Friday I did my best on the ankles at football, but again just couldn’t get that perfection I want. My ankle taping is always very functional, it’s just the presentation side of it I’m wanting to perfect. Saturday I actually just sat down and thought my way through the physics of it a few times. Sunday I stole a friends ankle and practiced the crap out of the maneuver. I’m happy to report that I figured it out, I found the angle I need to make it simple. The picture below is literally an entire roll of tape put into heel-locks one on top of the other, trying to cement the technique I figured out into my hands. Now, I’m hoping muscle memory will start kicking in. It’s only taken me a year to wrap my head around the angles, it has to be only forward motion from here.

 

 

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So, there you go. A bunch of things crammed into a short post to sum up another week katmah style!

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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!

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!