Monthly Archives: August 2013

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!

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Beat this summer

Dirt road hacking with my boy- what could be better?

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Flowers, dresses, football, gluten, and competition prep

This is another “week in the life” post. As you might know from reading or even glancing at previous posts, my life has a large spectrum of activities filling up my schedule. This past week was no exception.

Mom’s wedding went off without a hitch (relatively) this past weekend, and it was so great to see everyone so happy and be a part of that joy. All the flowers got picked and the hall decorated by close family and friends- working out to look absolutely gorgeous and a great experience. The food was amazing, and most importantly the happy couple looked fantastic and everyone had an amazing time.

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Aren’t they adorable? Seriously though, it was one of the most gorgeous and happiest weddings I’ve been to (not even being biased). It’s now four solid days later and my feet are still sore from dancing. What I’m sure did me in was trying to keep up with Grandpa- he is much more adept than I am on the dance floor.

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Sunday morning after all the main festivities, the now even bigger family joined together in the age old “pancake breakfast”. Mom even made some gluten free pancakes for me! Even though my gluten free ways took a serious dive the last little while, more on this later.

As much as this weekend was all around awesome, it was also exhausting- however I gave myself no time to be tired as bright and early Monday I headed off to start my latest adventure as asst. athletic trainer/therapist for a high school football team. The first day was quite an adventure! Along with being in a basically entirely new situation for me (I’ve never worked in the field before, or clinic really, but I spend enough time in the clinic as a patient it is definitely more familiar..), the first practice of the season brought some unconditioned athletes, heat, full equipment, and full contact drills. What does that equal? A lot of random injuries and a lot of heat exhaustion. Which leads to a pretty hectic first day! Within my first hour I had assisted with two different knee injuries, at least 3 or 4 cases of heat exhaustion, asthma attacks, bicep charlie horse, and a potential fibular fracture. Thankfully I wasn’t alone, the head trainer stayed for majority of the practice and guided me through everything. I’m also realizing how much the variety of issues/injuries/ and experience from the patients side of the table is going to help me. I picked up on number of things already, without needing any explanation, because I’ve had the same assessments, or diagnosis on myself. Learning to do by doing, as usual.. Needless to say I was a zombie after practice that day. I hardly remember how I got through work that evening.

The last couple days have been a lot less crazy- and I’ve already learnt so much! I’m so lucky to have a great teacher as the head trainer- in any spare time we have she has me practicing taping and talking through scenarios. Much more then I could ever get out of just reading a text book! I’m very glad I took this opportunity- not only is it teaching me a number of valuable skills, but also the extra time I now have (due to leaving my full time job to do this experience) is allowing me to do some much needed catch up. Because believe it or not, I haven’t had time to do the little things- like clean, or cook, or just sit around and breathe. Sometimes the little things are just as important as the big things that keep us busy.

As I mentioned earlier, my gluten (and sugar… and diary..) intake has sky rocketed in the past week. And yes, yes I do notice a difference in how I feel. Mostly due to the gluten and sugar, I think. Dairy doesn’t seem to affect me as much. It all started Friday, at the rehearsal dinner, where there was homemade lasagna and garlic bread. I only had one piece of lasagna, but ate more than enough garlic bread (seriously, I have zero will power when it comes to garlic bread), plus sampling (more like gorging, but sampling is kinder.. lets stay there) both dessert options (cheese cake and lemon torte cake). I kid you not I looked 6 months pregnant when I got home that night. Massive food baby belly. Massive, I tell you. The actual wedding food wasn’t bad (paleo wise), and consisted mostly of meat and salads (the largest variety of salads I have ever seen!). It was later on when things got gluten-y (is it a coincidence that gluten and glutton are very similar words?). With possibly the world’s best carrot cake as dessert- not much was stopping me from doubling up on servings. No regrets.. Sunday morning brought pretty good things diet wise, however Sunday night brought pizza. Multi-grain crust, but still pizza. And I ate all of it, over Sunday night and Monday. By Monday night I figured, hey what the heck, might as well finish off the last 4 pieces now rather then keep the gluten trend going all week (because everyone knows it’s a sin for a student to through out pizza leftovers).

Finally, Tuesday brought time to make something a little more healthy. I found that even though I was eating enough (more then enough) with gluten in my diet- it wasn’t filling me up. I would be hungry half an hour after eating- every time. Which only resulted in eating more, feeling gross, and being hungry again. Vicious cycle. There is something to be said for a diet that focuses on lean proteins and veggies, keeps you feeling good and satisfied, and fulfills your nutrient needs. Not only did the trip off the wagon make me realize that, but it also solidified how much better (energy wise) I am without a whole lot of gluten in my diet. I mean coming off a weekend and week like the one past one is bound to be a bit exhausted- but being so tired you can hardly function? I’m chalking that up to poor nutrition. The rest of the summer my goal is to enjoy all the delicious veggies the gardens are producing, try out some more paleo inspired recipes- and get my nutrition back on track. Especially with Fall Harvest coming up in a few days!

Willard and I did a real jumper themed lesson last week, in prep for the .85m division we are doing at FH. It was a blast! We even popped over the two big scary walls M&C have on their outdoor course- with no hesitation or problems! I was so proud of my boy! Along with the jumper division, Willard and I will be competing in our usual 3ft Hunters as well as the Hunter Derby on Sunday! Very excited for the Derby, last year we had such a fun round and a good round (except that pesky rail). I’m excited to see how we do this year, with so much more experience and consistency going for us. This show is always a little bittersweet, as it is the farewell show for the MHJA season, and the outdoor season in MB. Which means soon it will be back to the books, and missing riding, and the people that come with it. I couldn’t be happier with how this season has gone already, all things considered, and can’t wait to have some fun this weekend out in the park!

 

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Life advice from someone who may not be completely qualified to give it.

What makes someone qualified on giving life advice, anyway? It’s not like we all don’t have experience..

Through my adventures so far this week I had some thoughts that lead to these small pieces of advice being formed.  Whether or not their relevant to anything but my crazy little world, I don’t know. But most of them are what get me through my craziest hours (weeks, months). There are many things I could have written down, but these are the ones that came to mind during my short period of time in which I had to write them down. Feel free to add some of your own in the comments section!

1. Socks. Always have a pair handy.
The number one thing I get stuck without is probably socks. Or food. But mostly socks. This is why I have a pair always in my car, my purse, and my room. This might not be a big deal for you if you don’t live a life that requires socks. But putting on paddock boots and riding with no socks, while completely doable, is not comfortable. Neither is being the sock-less employee at a facility where socks tend to be highly regarded in daily apparel.

2. Know your schedule, plan ahead, and have snacks ready. 

The only thing that has gotten me through this week is the fact that I have made a point of eating properly (well.. better anyway). Eating healthy isn’t a problem for me.. but eating enough is. I had a good system going for meal planning.. but then my schedule had other plans. I’ve had to get creative- but creativity is very necessary when you work 9-5, 5-10 or 9-5 followed by the rest of the evening committed to the barn. As much as I love everything about food, it just takes too much time sometimes. I get impatient. And my bad habit is to not make enough time to actually eat real meals, but rather sporadic bits and pieces of this and that where I find time. Planning out meals for the week has become my saviour. Cooking when you do have a spare hour, and cooking enough to pack meals for the next day or so. You have to eat, you feel better if you eat the right things and regularly- so make it happen.

3. Being able to small talk is a valuable life skill. 

And I suck at it. Or I used to (still do). Unfortunately I also suck at improv (ask anyone who attended the 2010 Miss Manitoba Pageant). What I’ve learned through my various jobs and experiences this past year or so, though, is that small talk can sometimes lead to big talk- which can lead to things you might not want to miss out on. As challenging as it is, just make a comment about the weather and see where it takes you. Hell, make a comment about anything- start a conversation. You might brighten someones day, or you might learn something. Maybe both. Try it. It’s one of those skills you learn to do by doing.

4. Technology is great… but get away from it once in a while. 

More and more I am finding I like to just have stretches of time where I’m not staring at a computer screen, answering texts, or checking emails. I’d much rather be talking to someone in person (small talk, maybe?), doing something productive like riding my horse, going for a run, or lifting heavy objects and putting them back down. Maybe it’s because of my constant on the go lifestyle, but those quiet moments are what’s kept me sane the past few weeks (relatively). Take a breather, your phone will still be there when you catch your breath.

5. Appreciate what you have, and find inspiration in the little things. 

Cliche, much? But for actual, look around you and find something to be happy about. Even on the craziest day of your life, something awesome is happening- you just have to look in the right directions. Maybe it’s something that isn’t directly related to you- like another bus passenger seat dancing like no one is watching (even though everyone is). Worth a smile, isn’t it? Maybe it’s not the biggest inspiration ever, but if it makes you smile, and a little bit cheerier, motivation towards every other aspect gets a little bit more achievable. What I’m trying to say is just spend a few moments letting yourself appreciate the happiness you have around you, because it’s always there. If you can’t find it, then smile and make small talk with someone- maybe they’ll return the favour!

6. Know when to say no, and that you can’t make everyone happy.

In contrast to what I just said, sometimes you just have to say no. Or hold your ground. This will make people upset. Or disappointed. Or indifferent. Well.. sh** happens. They’ll live. I have a problem with saying no, often, which is why my schedule fills up so fast. Whether its saying no to others, or to myself. I can make a day off look crazier then a double shift day in 3 seconds flat. I am, however, working on it. Furthermore, I’ve learned that people will do many things to try and make things work out perfectly- and from what I’ve experienced, sometimes the more you try to please everyone, the less people end up happy. Make a decision and stand by that decision. Yes, be open to new ideas and alterations- but don’t flip flop back and forth. There is nothing worse then trying to satisfy two sides of a losing battle.

 

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Bittersweet Season

Can we just talk about this weather MB is getting for a second?

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IT. IS. SO. AWESOME.

Not even being sarcastic. It’s like an early Christmas, except in sweater weather form, so maybe more like an early Thanksgiving? The smell outside is perfection, and yes, it’s a little cold for early August- but c’mon guys, how can you complain about that crisp feeling in the air! Ah! It’s just so nice!

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Anyway.

I thought I’d write a little diddy of an update for you guys now. As the next week or so of my life is going to be absolutely crazy, even for my standards, and I’m positive I won’t find time to write. Packed into the next week I’m working three 14 hr work days, riding my horse in there a few times (I hope), helping out with Mom’s wedding, attending the wedding, and finishing one of my jobs to start another job. So yeah, not a lot of free time. Which is becoming super common for me.

So, where to start. Last week right before Heart of the Continent started I got confirmation from an internship I’ve been offered for the fall, working with a high school football team as the assistant athletic therapist. The original hours they stated me way back in June were mostly late afternoons and evenings, which would have meant switching to half days at my full-time day job. Those hours changed, and through August practices are running during the day- which means in order to do this I would have to leave my day job a few weeks earlier than planned. Over the course of the weekend, in between classes, I gave it some thought and talked it over with a few people. As much as that extra pay cheque would be really nice, the experience I’m gaining from this other opportunity seems like it’s more worth it long term- especially in relation to some plans I have for next spring (more on that later). My boss at my full-time job was very understanding and agreed that the experience I’ll hopefully be getting out of this opportunity is worth it and valuable to my studies. It will be very much a learning as I go experience, as I’m starting my work with the team before I do the courses to go along side field work. If I know one thing, though, it’s that I seem to learn best by actually doing- and after a few discussions with supervisors in my department, and those I look up to in the profession, they agree that this is one of the best ways to gain amazing experience and learn valuable skills- making the classroom side of things that much easier. I’m a lot of excited mixed with a lot of terrified. Hopefully that’s a good combination..

This time of year always gets bittersweet for me. The bitter being show season is coming to an end with the final MHJA competition, Fall Harvest, fast approaching. Which means that soon (unless he sells) my horse will be taken home and my riding stuff packed for the school year. To keep him at M&C’s for the winter would be a dream but between my other time commitments and expenses, it just isn’t practical. Luckily, I don’t think he minds winters off- and it doesn’t take much to get him back into training in the spring. Another part of the bitter, closely related, is getting to spend less time at the barn. This summer I’ve really started to feel like I belong there, Will had a name plate installed on his stall, I got one put on my locker- all little things, but for me to have those symbols at that place is a dream come true- and while I know stepping away for a time doesn’t mean I belong any less, it’s always so hard to step away and put that dream and those goals on pause while I work towards some other big dreams and goals. Plus our barn group has gotten so close over the summer, and winter always means less time spent gossiping and life planning in the tack room.

On the sweeter side, while I’m pressing pause on a few goals, I’m kick starting a few more back into motion. In the same time period that my horse moves home, classes begin. As I’ve mentioned before, my course load for this year is full of all of the challenges and I am really looking forward to it. I’ll be continuing with this football team as much as I can throughout their season, and attending majority of their games through September and October. The practical experience I gain with them should compliment my course load quite well. This fall I’m registered in my First Responder, Massage, Taping and Splinting, Pathology and Orthopedic Assessment courses. Doesn’t that sound exciting?! No? Just me? Okay. Besides the fun courses, school means I get to see some of the people I don’t get to see as much through the summer season. People tend to scatter during the summer, but come fall everyone comes back to the same area and settles for the winter months. There has to be some bonuses to the school year!

I was sitting downstairs at the AT clinic on campus this morning (may have reinjured my back on the weekend, luckily I have a very talented AT on my side), where there is a poster on the wall, that I’ve stared at many, many times over the past few years (I spend so much time in that clinic…). The poster reads: “Effort: Some people dream of worthy accomplishments. Others stay awake and achieve them”. Looking at it today, thinking about the first time I looked at it almost 3 years ago was kind of a realization of how many personal goals/accomplishments I’ve made happen over that time period. And how much my goals have changed since then. It’s pretty exciting to see those things happen, and put more goals into action. I’m interested to see what I think when I look at that poster a few more years from now (guaranteed I’ll still be a frequent in the clinic, one way or another).

What will have changed by the? Where will my goals take me next?

Right now though, my life revolves around getting through the next crazy couple weeks. One day at a time!

 

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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