Am I done yet?

Just kidding, I love school. Most of the time. Sort of? Ask me again when I’ve recovered from midterms.

It’s been one thing after another, as usual, this week. Between midterms, my car breaking down, and then being fixed, but actually not being fixed and breaking down again, not getting to work, taking two too many cabs, midterms midterms midterms, awards banquets, more Thanksgiving, wanting more sleep, assignments….. and everything else… Lets just say I’m tired.

I just finished my last midterm (of 5) today.. Last Wednesday I had two of my bigger ones. That was lots, by half way through the second one of the day I was starting to wind down. I haven’t quite been able to get my studying mojo back. My brain is in full rebellion mode, and I don’t really feel like fighting it to be honest.

Now that midterms are over with, it’s time to really stop procrastinating on some of the assignments I have. Instead, what do you think I’m thinking about? Riding. I think I have the MHJA year end awards banquet to thank for that one. Hanging out with the McMullan Team this weekend, seeing many fellow riders get well deserved recognition for accomplishments this season, and discussing goals for next year- how could I not just want to jump back into training full time and forget about school? While I am getting some of my barn fix with Horse Connection, I’m really craving that feeling you get after a great course, or after a lesson. Or just after a good ride on my own horse. I know I would miss my “other life” in school and all these other goals I have. But, grass is always greener.. right?

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M&C. The impact these two people have had on my life, and the lives of countless others is astounding.

As much as I can’t really be riding as much right now, I’m being presented with a few opportunities to tie in my career goals in the AT world with my goals in the riding world. A proposal from a prof in regards to brainstorming ideas around a functional training program based around things one does on a farm came about around the same time my boss at MORfit proposed that each staff member come up with some sort of class to teach, or event to run. This combined with my longstanding plan to form a fitness program tailored to the equestrian athlete is definitely causing some ideas to float around. If anyone reading this has some specific things they would like to work on, or questions about how a training program could help your riding- please let me know! I’m very much still in the brain storming phase.

The thing that’s becoming painfully obvious about this year in Uni is that, for me anyway, we’re getting to do just enough hands on stuff to make you want to do more and be done with all the lectures and in-between things.  Especially because I am able to integrate what I’m learning into more than one of my work places and volunteer opportunities. Sitting in assessment lecture just is not quite the same as actually getting to do an assessment. Just like practicing in taping lab just doesn’t cut it when you have been doing it in real life. At the same time, all these classes make us realize how much there is to know.. and how little of it we actually know.

This past week a classmate and I ended up accepting the position of Vice Presidents of the Kinesiology Student’s Association, which is a partner of our other student association, WATSA (Wesmen Athletic Therapy Student Assoc.). We had been wanting for a while to become more involved, so this was kind of a “go big or go home” response. I’ve had very minimal experience in student politics, with small roles in high school. Nothing, however, to this scale of responsibilities. I’m both looking forward to the new role, but also hoping it doesn’t completely overload my schedule. Another thing I said yes to was a paid research assistant position with the same prof mentioned above, who I have been working with the older adults fitness class. He received a grant to continue with research, and I gratefully accepted the chance to be a part of it. Why not, right?

I’m hoping this week brings some time to get my feet back under me. I’m pretty much headed to bed once I push publish on this sucker.. it’s 9:30. Here’s hoping I get my car back tomorrow (9 business days and counting it’s been at the shop), and that I also find some of my energy too.

Monty at Horse Connection

Monty at Horse Connection

 

 

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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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.

Turbulent 2012

Similar to previous years, seeing as I don’t make resolutions, here is a list of some of the most memorable moments of the past 12 months (in no particular order)!

  • Meeting the people I met overseas. Especially all the distant relatives. To be made to feel at home in a country that is so far away from home was something truly awesome. I am very lucky to have had that experience, and those people surrounding me during part of a pretty rough year made some impossible situations very possible. 
  • The last few weeks of travel in NZ. Working for a grand prix rider, glacier hikes, bus trips, amazing scenery, living on trail mix and instant noodles, being broke, sitting along the coast and listening to the waves crash to the shore, scenic train rides, busing through, unbelievable landscapes, and everything else. Pictures don’t do it justice, and no words can describe it. This post has more detail on some of what I did those last few weeks.

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  • Flying into Vancouver, and then Winnipeg. After what seemed like ages away, the sight of the Rocky Mountains covered in snow and looking glorious brought an unexplainable feeling, and was the best thing I’d seen yet. There is no better feeling than coming home after being away. If even where you were became like a home away from home. All those things I experienced, good and bad, were solidified as my plane landed in Vancouver. A journey was concluded, and another begun. I came home both the same, and completely changed. DSCN0373
  • Choosing a career path, and making relevant goals. I battled with myself long and hard over what I wanted to do with my life. Pretty much exactly a year ago I decided that athletic therapy was where I wanted to be, and set some goals for myself. It was definitely the right choice, and accomplishing the goals I’ve set has been unbelievably challenging and terrifying- but also fantastic. It’s nice to know that I’m doing something with my life that is always going to present me with a new challenge to keep me motivated.
  • MHJA’s Fall Harvest Show. I believe this was in last years list too. Coming up to this year’s show, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After a surgery in mid-July on my tailbone- I wasn’t able to ride up until 6 days before the competition (approx 6 weeks off for both me and my horse). Challenge accepted. I definitely pushed my recovery a little far- but I rode everyday for those 6 days and against the advice of pretty much everyone went to Fall Harvest. I’m sure we only survived that weekend on pure adrenaline (sooo out of shape). It was at that show, same as last year, that the difference in my riding ability really was shown. Mike broke his gruff exterior more than once at this show, saying “we might make a rider out of you one day”. A huge compliment!
  • Similar to the above, the Hunter Derby class at Fall Harvest 2012 (Check out this post for more!)
    . This was the first year doing a derby was realistic for me, and I got the okay from my coaches to enter. I wish I had a video of it! But any rider reading this will understand- it was one of those courses that presented so many new challenges and tests for both horse and rider and somehow, by some luck, we got around it and were rewarded the greatest feeling of teamwork and accomplishment. Best way to end off our short season!

    Not from Fall Harvest, but from Beach Party 2012.

    Not from Fall Harvest, but from Beach Party 2012.

  • Getting to know the people I ride and compete with better. I realize this is more than one moment in time, but over the past year I’ve really gotten a chance to spend more time with my coaches, Mike and Charlene, as well as other riders who train with them. It makes the sport so much more fun to be surrounded by people like this! I’ve learned a lot just by being around them, and they’ve helped me to gain confidence in myself and as a result ride that much better.
  • Kin-3201 Biomechanics. From day one this course terrified me, as well fascinated me! The study of biology and the forces acting upon it. Anatomy and physics combined. Being someone who never really excelled in physics- this was a challenge. But I found the math part of things much easier to understand when it was put into a athletic/movement perspective. I liked this course way more than I thought I would. And the final project, which was one of the hardest academic things I’ve done so far, was so cool! My post Critical Instant has more detail on the project and what I did my research on. I learned so much from this course, and loved the challenges it presented!_DSC0315 _DSC0317

 

2012 was a challenging year for me. I saw some pretty unbelievable things, on both ends of the spectrum. I experienced some of the worst physical pain, and emotional turmoil I ever have- but also had some great accomplishments and good times. I am positive 2013 will present new challenges, tough times, and good times to rival what 2012 threw at me. After facing what I’ve faced the past 12 months, I don’t know what else could be better preparation for whatever 2013 has in store. Here’s to the New Year, and may it be what it will be!

 

One day

Today was short and sweet, and a lovely way to end the season.

The only class we had today was the hunter derby. Now I realize I’ve been talking about the derby on here and really haven’t explained it. Really it’s just a big hunter course, this one had 15 jumps set between 2’6 and 2’9 ish, with options having more points. So there were often two jumps beside each other, one higher- equalling more points. Both the hunter and jumper rings at BHP were used and natural obstacles such as the bank and others were involved in the course- with easier options. There was a brief chance to school many of the options before the class started. There are two rounds, top 8 advancing.
Here is my best effort at describing the course: we started on a single diagonal vertical with a higher option (I took all the height options), bending line to the problem oxer from the previous days- it was no problem today thankfully! Then a bend and gallop to jump number 3, a single oxer, to a outside vertical, bending line to a oxer. This oxer was causing some problems today because you ride the bending line to it around the judges booth- which was set in the middle of the ring- so jump number 5 really comes out of nowhere. We got over it just fine and galloped down to 6, a vertical at the bottom of the ring- I made the mistake of letting him be a little too cautious to this jump and getting ahead- which resulted in a rail for us. 7 was an option of the ditch or a vertical on the outside rail of the jumper ring- we did the vertical (quite nicely too), then a turn to a bending line across the middle of the ring, tight handy turn to jump number 10, a vertical with bales underneath, then up the hill to a 5 stride, down the hill balancing to the castle jump (so much fun), and then a turn to the final combo, a two stride. That makes sense in my head because I walked it, visualize it, and rode it today- but I’m sure it makes no sense to you reading it unless you were there.
I was SO impressed with my horse. Many of the jumps in there he hadn’t seen- and he has never had to ride up and down hills in a course, and he even did the bank first time in schooling- no questions asked. He galloped around that course like a pro, brave as could be. I think he was having about as much fun as I was! Our score after the first round was 53- unfortunately the rail was what brought it down and we didn’t make the first cut. Without that rail we definitely would have been in the top 8.
Mike and Charlene were both very happy with us- Mike even said that “we might make a rider out of you one day”. One day… One day. I was all smiles for the rest of the day. The trick to courses like this is to gallop around and pull out all the bravery you have. Sit up and keep your leg on and equal pressure in the reins. Don’t abandon your horse. And your horse won’t abandon you.
So with that, my 2012 season is over! I had so much fun this weekend, and at every show I was able to go to. My horse is really giving his all for me- and I am becoming a much better rider then I was even a short time ago- and we are a much better team because of that. It’s funny how quickly progress can happen sometimes, I believe it was last year I wrote around this time about everything “clicking”, and here it’s happened again, even more so. I wonder where we’ll be this time next year..

Only time will tell.

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