Don’t “should” your horse!

It’s been a while… I know. The last month of school was crazy! It always is for teachers… Appreciate them more in the month of June. They’re battling restless kidlets and trying to get report cards finished up.

July also hit like a ton of bricks… The good kind 😉 I figured I’d have more free time once school was done. I was wrong. Between horses and balancing OE and my marriage, it’s been insane busy!!! And, as per usual, I love every minute of it.

OK, getting to the point of this post….

I’m a firm believer that every single horse comes into my world for a reason. Even the ones that are only with me for a short time.
The past month I’ll admit I’ve been struggling. Famous got really sick beginning of June and I have been on some challenging horses. I felt like I had lost my groove, my confidence was shook and I was questioning my abilities.

Let’s back up for a second so I can introduce one of my “challenges”. I bought a gelding in December to back up Famous. He was a 10 year old son of FDD Dynasty. He was gorgeous and I enjoyed him a ton. But, as I started hauling him, I quickly realized that he and I were just not jiving. Don’t get me wrong, he’s super talented and a nice nice horse, but it just wasn’t working out. It just so happened that a good friend called me the day after a particularly rough run at the end of may.

“I need you to take Boss.” Let me tell you about Boss aka Scootin Ta Fame. I had the opportunity to ride Boss for 3 weeks in 2018. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s opinionated, and he’s one of the most naturally talented horses I’ve ever sat on.

I laughed. “I have no money. And let me remind you, I quit my day job”

“Just take him. Make payments. Whatever. I’m not riding him and if anyone can get him going it’s you. I need you to take him.” By now my gears were turning. Clearly this was important to her.

“I can’t buy him. But I might have a better option for both of us.” You see, this friend of mine, she’s one of the handiest gals out there. She can take a horse that’s been tossed out by everyone else and turn it into a winner. I think it’s because she’s a true jockey and doesn’t really pick at them like a trainer does. So, I offered her my FDD Dynasty gelding in exchange for Boss, who, I might add, is equally as well bred. She watched some videos and messaged me. “We’re bringing Boss over tomorrow. Have your papers ready.”

Well, let me tell you, Boss has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. He has made me step back and take a good look at myself on multiple occasions. He has made me wonder if I know anything at all and oftentimes I stepped off him thankful that I own him, not because I was proud of the job I was doing on him but because I felt that I shouldn’t be paid to fail and I was failing…. And thank the good lord I didn’t have to hand this one back to his owners 🤦‍♀️

After the last time he tried to buck me off (about 3 weeks ago) I gave my head a good shake. I was doing exactly what I always preach… I was doing with this horse something I would never catch myself doing with a client horse. I was “shoulding” him.
You see, I figured I would step on the exact same horse I stepped off a year ago. Due to no fault of his own or anyone else, he just wasn’t that horse. He’d been pushed to the backburner and along with having a chip on his shoulder about being tossed out, he was unsure of himself, which, as with most horses with confidence issues, translated into what was interpreted as “bad behaviour”.

Thats when I slowed right down. I took him to the round pen. I stopped getting in fights with him. I allowed us both to fall in love with the sport again. I allowed him to start to love me and I him. A month and a half into our journey, I feel like I’m starting to make a pretty nice horse. He came into my world to remind me that sometimes we need to slow down and toss out the timeline.

I’ve always said you can’t train try. I still don’t think you really can. What I do think though is that circumstance can shut the tryingest horse down. Boss was one of those horses. He’s taught me, and this is a big one, that a horse who has natural try can find it again, with the right person. Proud of my Boss man and super excited to run down the alleyway on him… When he’s ready 💕

It’s a Cat’s World

Last night I realized something. Well I realized it a long time ago but last night I realized it would make a good blog post.

Animals run the world.

Or at least in our household they do. I’m not even talking about the horses right now. Although they are equally as demanding, but somewhat easier to ignore. I’m talking about cats. Those cuddly and soft and loving purr machines that sleep all day and, past the age of about 2 years, all night too.

What triggered this thought, you ask? Well you see, we have an army of barn cats. Don’t judge — I feed them all and never complain. They are loved and spoiled. There is something about watching two young barn cats play in the long grass that makes a barnyard. Anyway, we also have three indoor cats. Two very overweight old boys (they’re 11 this year and still play and fight like they’re kittens) and one tiny, sensitive, OPINIONATED little girl (she’s also a senior citizen… but you’d never guess it).

Let me introduce you to the crew. It’ll help set the scene.

First there’s Pepper. Pepper is the biggest brother. He’s a grey tabby with more grey than black, creating a ‘salt & pepper’ look throughout his coat. Or at least what coat he has left. Pepper has anxiety. And because of this, he has an awful habit of pulling out his own fur. Don’t judge – he’s seen vets and we’ve tried a lot of different things. Currently he’s on Petanicals Calm. Fingers crossed that does the trick.

Next is Fudgey. Fudgey is Pepper’s brother and he is the golden child. Fudgey, other than being a little overweight, is perfect. He has a perfect black tabby coat that shines in the sunlight and is super soft all the time. Fudgey’s weirdest habits include a love for the bathroom and drinking water with his paw… you probably have the best mental picture right now. It really is that funny to watch. Fudgey never cries or makes a big deal about feeding time. All cats should be like Fudgey.

Lastly we have our little princess, Tigger. Tigger is a weird duck. Well, she’s actually a cat, but you get the idea. We took Tigger to get spayed a few years back (ok by a few I mean 9…) and she had no ovaries, and no scar to suggest she had already been spayed. She’s one in a million. Tigger is a calico queen who drools and loves to snuggle.. on her terms.

So on to last night. I got home from a barrel race at about 8 pm. I was excited to be home this early on a Sunday. Not placing worked in my favor I suppose, although I was feeling a little defeated from knocked barrels and not having the runs I’d hoped but such is the sport. Tylor had dinner ready and as we were eating, the crying started. Tigger’s crying I mean. When she has something to say, she will not stop until we hear her. Seeing as by now it was nearly 9:30, we knew she was ready for bed so we went into our room to watch a movie.

The crying continued. Throughout the entire movie.

We tried everything. Calling her, cuddling her, talking to her, feeding her. NOTHING worked!!! She just kept crying!!! Parents everywhere are dying laughing right now… I’m not naive don’t worry.

Finally the movie ended and we turned out the lights and turned over to go to sleep. As soon as we did, Tigger hopped up on the bed, curled in a ball between us and went to sleep.

This cat dictates our entire lives.

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident but it’s not. Tigger runs the household all the time, and when she’s not, the other cats, horses or dogs make sure to sneak their opinions in.

So, here’s some food for thought: who ACTUALLY runs the world???

Every Dog has it’s Day

” It was my day.”

I wrote that in a text to a friend after cashing in at a slot race last week. I know it may come across as ignorant, but the truth is, when it’s your time, there’s not much that can or will interfere with the outcome. Realizing this has become super integral to my mental game. About the time I collected my cheque and the 1D buckle cup was when I realized just how much.

I’m pretty proud of how my mental game has progressed this year. I can say with conviction that I don’t generally get nervous. It’s pretty easy to claim that when you know exactly what’s going to happen when you run down the alley… and when I’m on Famous, I do feel that way. There are no surprises. He goes in, turns 3 barrels (if I’m not sitting deep in the turns, I look and feel like a monkey hanging on for dear life), and he runs home. Usually, the clock stops in a respectable time. It’s a cool feeling. But it hasn’t always been this way and on the day of this slot race, for some reason I had it in my head that it wouldn’t be that day either.

It started the night before. I was falling apart. For some reason, I had major anxiety and could see nothing more than second barrel crashing down and my $500 entry fee going with it. My ego was trying to convince me to break all the rules and do all the things I always preach not to do – focus on the outcome, allow the entry fee to play a factor, and let past performance bother me.

The down barrel in my thoughts didn’t surprise me, but didn’t make it any easier to push out. I’d been struggling to get Famous by that barrel. This spring he is stronger than he’s ever been and is proving to be a lot like his momma… the harder I ride, the harder he turns. Second barrel has happened to be a casualty a lot this spring and it has bothered me. Which is ridiculous. Because I know the ‘problem’ is all in my head. I’m making silly rider errors because I’m anticipating a problem, in turn… I’m actually creating a problem. Fact is, everyone hits barrels. A tipped barrel doesn’t define us. Might cost us a cheque or two… but doesn’t define us.

Being bothered by the outcome caught me off guard. And being caught off guard by that made me feel more anxious and nervous. One of the major things I’ve worked toward in the past year is feeling comfortable with any outcome. I know that Famous and I are winners. If we don’t get a cheque, it doesn’t make us any less competitive. So why was I feeling like the world would end if we didn’t win the slot race??

Thankfully, I have also worked really hard to learn and master some pretty neat mental strategies to identify and conquer these feelings. I’d share them with you… but the fact is, I’m not a mental coach. Best I can do is direct you to my saving grace – Michelle Davey and her Mental Bootcamp. This woman has been so instrumental in teaching me to believe in who I am… a winner. This program is a 6 week program that changed the way I thought. A year ago I would have been toast before I even left the house. But last week, I overcame it all to bank a really nice cheque and cross a goal off my bucket list.

I wasn’t going to post this. I had no intention of sharing my insane anxiety with the world. But, a good friend pointed something out to me. Often times we look at the winner and think that they have it all figured out. When really, sometimes, the winner went through just as much crap as anyone else. They just had strategies and tools to get past the struggles.

Something that I will share is that the one thing that is ALWAYS in the back of my mind before I run down the alley is to trust in the universe. Either it’s my day or it’s not and I have to accept that. Every dog has it’s day… yours too will come 🙂

Jealousy – Life’s Natural Motivator

Turn your obstacles into excuses. Then, stop making excuses.

I was having a conversation with a colleague recently and the discussion turned to priorities. I’m the kind of person that firmly believes you get out what you put in. If you want something, make it happen. Turn your obstacles into excuses and then stop making excuses.

As a kid, my sun rose and set around horses. I loved being outside with the horses. In that respect, not much has changed. My parents get all the credit for using my love and passion for my horse to guide me into a responsible, driven adult. I don’t ever remember having a chore list or chart.. but I do remember being punished if I forgot to feed or water the horses.

I also remember being threatened with missing the rodeo on the weekend if I didn’t get on my horse at least 3 days during the week… this was all fine and dandy until I turned 16 and got a job. Then I needed to find new and innovative ways to get my horses rode while juggling a job. My solution: get up at 4:30 and ride in the dark before school. It was brilliant! My mom wasn’t impressed with my plan. She was even less impressed when I followed through. But hey, I never missed a rodeo!

Now, I’m a hard worker. To a fault actually. When I’m passionate about something, I will work myself into exhaustion. As I get older, I’m learning how to schedule better and prioritize. But I’m still the kind of person who feels a great deal of guilt if I don’t get done in a day what I have programmed in my mind I need to… such as getting my horses rode. This is probably part of what makes me a shoe in for a training business. I’m too hard on myself to screw anyone over with taking their money for not getting the job done. The trade off to being a hard worker is what I just outlined above. I don’t allow myself to rest. Even when I am resting, my mind is focused on what I should, could, or will be doing later on.

I get asked a lot “how do you find time to ride so much when you work a full time job? Aren’t you exhausted?” The answer is simple; there’s no other option. I don’t look at it as exhausting or something extra. It’s never been an option. It’s always just been what I do.

So, getting to the point I wanted to make with this post. I have always felt it is human nature to have feelings of jealousy or simply a longing for what others have. It’s how we express or handle that jealousy that turns it into a negative word. I have lots of friends that I’m jealous of for various reason. Notice how I said friends… I tell them I’m jealous all the time. For example, a great friend of mine put up her own indoor arena a few years back. I told her I’m crazy jealous. Because I am. We laugh and joke about it still…. because there are things I have that she wishes she had too.

Ironically, jealousy can be one hell of a motivator! When my ego tries to convince me that I’m jealous of someone in a negative way, I remind her of all the great things I have going… and once in a while I’ll tuck it into the back of my crown to work towards. If we stop wondering how someone achieves something and start working towards having it too… what a wonderful world we would live in!!

A friend, and client of mine sent me this meme a little bit ago and said that it made her think of me. It really resonated because it’s true. I do get complimented all the time on my drive and the great job I do on client horses and running my business and on my own horses. I get told even more that people wish they had my drive and passion. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t love what I do or that I would trade places with anyone to get out of being me. I love me. I love my passion and drive. But I can, 110% say that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. I love my crown. I love having 4 million things to do and being under pressure to do them. That’s just how I operate. Always have, always will. BUT, there’s no denying that my crown is heavy. As I stated above, I work myself into exhaustion. I don’t get ‘me’ time… at least not until the school year is over. I can’t actually remember the last time I had dinner before 9pm or got to sleep past 7am (and THAT is sleeping in!).

There are people I look at and wish I had what they have too. I’m no different than you 😉 I’d love to make the NFR one day. Ultimate goal. I think it is for most barrel racers. But, I also realize that that road isn’t always smooth and paved. Those girls spend more time on the road than they do at home. They have weeks of no cheques and empty bank accounts. They have injured and tired horses pop up at the most inconvenient times. They have struggles. Their crowns are heavy. I’m not going to say heavier than mine or yours… but definitely different.

The biggest similarity between everyone else and me… and you too, is that we all have passions. We all put our energy where we desire it to be. Think about that the next time you watch someone work a full time job and then ride 6 head and wonder how they do it 😉 On top of that… put jealous into your positive word bank. It’s ok to be jealous. But own it, recognize it, use it as motivation and know that someone is jealous of you too!

Would the Real Me Please Stand Up!

Before you go any further, I need you to do something for me. Stop. I need you to read this blog post from my very good friend Michelle Davey before you read what I have to say.

Are you done? Good read eh? I have a secret… I know where the inspiration for that post came from. Me. Me and my Imposter’s Syndrome. Bet you thought you’d never hear those words come outta my mouth. But it’s true. I come across as poised and confident but the truth is, I’m human. And my ego can be a real Bitch.

A few months ago I was having an unusually tough time. I was feeling sorry for myself, beating myself up over something. Something that, looking back now, seems ridiculous. I was in the early stages of coming to terms with the idea of not teaching next year and trying to wrap my head around training horses full time. I knew then I was good at what I do, but I had big reservations about other people feeling the same way and, in turn, making enough to justify quitting my perfectly good full time job.

“You need to look up Imposter’s Syndrome.” This came from a close friend of mine. She’s a rock and also an important part of the team that keeps my equine athletes healthy and happy.

So I did. And my eyes popped out of my head. “I have that!”

I recognized everything about Imposter’s Syndrome. The feeling of not-enoughness, the fear of being exposed as a fraud (even though I’m far from it), and constant self doubt… even the doubt of the things I had already accomplished… a feeling of it being a ‘fluke’ (umm… WHAT??). The burning question for me… and my actual first line of defense was “Ok… I have that… but what do I do to get rid of it?” In my world… when something catastrophic like this happens, we text Michelle 😀

I believe it went something like this. “Imposter’s Syndrome. I have it and I think you should do a blog post about it. I don’t know how to get rid of it.” I’m pretty sure Michelle was thinking I’d lost it. Like literally lost it. She had never heard of it. So she rushed off to google it too. It was about that time we both felt like we’d hit the mental jackpot and were on the road to curing millions of people 😀

Just as I’d hoped, Michelle’s post helped me. It led me to the realization that I’m normal! Who’d have thought! As Michelle points out, everyone, at some point, experiences the feelings that make up Imposter’s Syndrome. It is human to experience times of not-enoughness. And, as she reminds us in her post, we need to take a look at our egos. My ego can be real awesome. She can be supportive and happy and confident and poised. She can also be insecure and panicked and cranky and judgemental. She can make me feel on top of the world and she can make me feel like a total failure. Recognizing her sneakiness has been instrumental to pushing Imposter’s Syndrome out of my daily life. It shows up once in a while still, but when it does, I check in with my ego to let her know that she’s not running the show (she also really likes to be the star… figures). I kindly remind her that I’m busy over here building an empire and I don’t really have time for her negativity 😉

If you’re anything like me and had an “OMG I have that!” moment, do me a favor. Sit back, relax and tell yourself that you are enough. Get those feelings that your ego is trying to convince you are right out of your head and pump the good stuff back in.

You are enough. You are worthy. You are deserving. You got this!

Who’s the Star of Your Story?

The only really reasonable answer is YOU

I am a sponge. I love learning and bettering myself. I think that’s why I became a teacher… and why I have never let anything stop me from chasing my goals and dreams. I value education and know that knowledge is the first step to greatness… in any discipline. Now, my eagerness to learn has always led me to ‘follow’ people who are more knowledgeable than myself. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized this passion I had for dedicating myself to others was also my greatest demise.

You see, up until now, I allowed others to be the star of my story. Everything I did was for someone else. I was so quick to brag on or push someone else’s book… and this wasn’t just one person… its was several over the years. I was so thankful for the opportunities to learn from these people that I gave up myself to watch them succeed… to watch their stories take off. I allowed myself to feel like their approval and belief in me was the only way to be happy and successful… that what they thought of me defined me. Saying it now… that’s absolutely ridiculous!!! Now… please don’t take this as me regretting the time I spent supporting those I look up to. I do not regret a second of the time I put into others and their stories… in fact, I still support them wholeheartedly while I’m over here doing my own thing. But I wish I’d paid closer attention to my own true happiness at the time as well.

I stopped to see a friend I haven’t seen since my world turned upside down and then right side up again. She took one look at me and her face broke into a smile. “You look so happy.” That’s when it hit me. I am. I am SO happy. And of course, because this is what I do, I started to reflect on why. Why, after the past few months of discord, am I happier than I ever have been in my life? The last few months I’ve lost things that I thought were the secret to my happiness. The irony in this is that losing those things hasn’t changed anything. I’m still experiencing the same, if not more success, I’ve gained things that I never would have even thought to write into my pages, and, for the first time in my life, I’m doing things for me. I’m starring in my own story. I’m truly happy.

I think we often forget to look out for number one. Especially those of us with big hearts. As I talked about in my post about taking ownership of our successes, I hate disappointing people. I hate people thinking that I’ve used them or taken advantage of them. Do you know how long those feelings held me back from building my own empire??? I was literally terrified that if I stepped out on my own, someone would think I had used them to discover my own greatness. Typing that out sounds ridiculous too! You should NEVER be worried to do you! I should never have been scared to do me! But I was. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that someone reading this is too.

Everyone we meet has an impact on our book. It’s important to give them credit for the part they play, but don’t let them be the star. Take control of your story…. you’re the only one who deserves a starring role.

Do You Think They Know?

This morning, as I was gazing up into Famous’ soft, loving eye a thought crossed my mind. Do you think he knows? Do you think he knows how special he is, how many people would kill to have the opportunity to sit in his saddle, to run up the alleyway on him? Do you think he knows that yesterday, and so many days before that, he helped me to knock another goal off my list? Do you think he knows?

I’m not just talking about Famous here. He’s just the horse my mind goes to first because he’s mine. I’m talking about any horse who’s ever meant something. I’m talking about Sister (every horse named Sister because clearly that name gives them wings or something), Ripp, Stingray, Babyflo, Foxy, Elvis, Eddy… The list goes on. I’m talking about great horses. Do you think they know?

There are times I watch Famous (I spend alot of time doing this… I pinch myself a lot over him too) and I think he has no idea. He just knows his life is pretty great. He gets fed good. He gets nice stuff that makes him feel good. He gets to play with friends all the time and he has a human mom who tells him every day how much she loves him. He has it made.

Then there are days that I think he must know. Those days are usually the ones when leading him to the barn is a game of strategy to dodge his front feet and teeth. Those are usually the same days that he makes a good attempt to buck me off. That’s right, cat’s out of the bag people… Life with Famous isn’t all sunshine and butterflies. He’s kind of arrogant. He has the kind of arrogance that someone who knows he’s great would have. So he must know… Right?

A few years back I had a conversation with a friend. She was commenting about always having doubt that her horse was good enough. I surprised myself by saying “from the moment they’re born I try to always believe they’re gonna be great.” I often wonder if that has the same impact as that rice experiment… You know, the one where you say rude things to one jar of rice every day and nice things to a second jar. At the end of a month the results are startling. The “rude” jar turns all sorts of gross colors. The nice jar is thriving with health. Famous has never been told he’s anything less than amazing. Even when he wasn’t great, he was admired for living. Would he be different if he’d been told he would never become anything? Was Sister told she’d be great from day one?

So, as I sit here waiting to get the big guy ready for his run today, I’m occupying myself with these thoughts… Because that’s just what I do. I wonder if he knows just how much he’s done for me and just how special he really is 💕 I hope he does 😊