Disappointments & Different Plans

Well, it’s been a week of ups and downs, that’s for sure!

We’ll start with the positive… I had previously said that I had been asked to do an interview about Cowgirls With Curves on the Earn Your Spurs podcast. That episode aired on March 17th – you can listen it to it on the Earn Your Spurs website.

I’d like to take a moment to tell you a little about Alyssa Barnes and what she hopes to accomplish with Earn Your Spurs because I feel like she’s a kindred spirit. I had a blast talking with her  – she’s passionate about what she’s doing with the podcast and she’s someone who I can relate to on a lot of levels. Her goal for the website and the podcast is to be a resource for the horse community, especially for those new folks that don’t have any idea where to get started. She has a heart for those that love horses and her podcast interviews are always a lot of fun to listen to. She brings a fresh and thoughtful point of view to the table and I love that. So, if you get a chance check out her podcast and spread the word.

Now on to the not so positive – depending on how you choose to look at it.

No doubt about it, sometimes we need a good kick in the butt. Sometimes we get so focused on something we think we have to do that we can’t see the forest for the trees. I have a tendency to do just that.

For instance, I’m not the greatest at sorting cows. Especially when a cow gets a little hard to cut out of the herd, I have a tendency to get tunnel vision and focus too hard on that one cow and forget the rest of herd, thus pushing them through gate and automatically disqualifying.

Sometimes I have a tendency to do the same thing with my horses. This past year was a really rough one on a personal level, and a competitive level. Last year I only ran three or four times total the whole year. With everything else going on, for my sanity I really needed to run. Unfortunately, I had issues with my barrel horse’s feet and he came up lame or hurt every single time I was serious about hauling to a race. I can only take so much disappointment! The only bright spot is that we ended the year with the fastest run I’ve had so far — and I’ve been working three years for that!

The weather here has been horrible but I’ve ridden as much as I reasonably could the last couple of months. Fireman isn’t in tip-top shape, but he’s in good enough shape to breeze though a set of barrels without pushing too hard. So I planned on running at the first NBHA race this past weekend.

My plan this past week was to do my usual ride Monday and Tuesday, breeze Wednesday, lunge lightly Thursday, and then give my horse Friday off. Monday and Tuesday went as planned. Wednesday, I warmed him up around the pasture and then let him open up without pushing him. He was full of himself and felt good!

Thursday, I went to get him and he was three-legged lame. Seriously?!

I called my farrier. He looked him over and he agreed, it was coming from the foot but he couldn’t get Fireman to flinch at all with the hoof testers. One of my other horses was just getting over an abscess from walking on the frozen mud we had earlier so we both suspected a possible abscess but it was hard to tell.

Needless to say, for about 24 hours I had a severe mental breakdown. You know, one of those that requires wine and you question your existence in life, and maybe you’re not meant to ride anything because every time you plan on going something happens.

One of the problems I have is too many horses and not enough time. I only have one barrel horse, and one honest to goodness barrel bred prospect that’s five this year. But I also have a halter bred gelding that I sometimes call ugly names (because he’s handful) that I’ve put EXCA and ARHA points on, and that I’ve shown in anything from Ranch halter and trail to cattle sorting. I’ve also got another big halter gelding that I’ve done some limited showing with that needs to be finished out as well.

The gelding that gets called bad names sometimes...

The gelding that gets called bad names sometimes…

So after I dried my tears off, I figured if I’m going to have that many issues with my one good horse, then maybe I’d better get to work on these other ones and let them earn their keep as back up horses. Yes, they’ve all three given lessons, but I’ve really been piddling all this time and I’ve got too many horses to not be running something else!

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I’ve thought about sending a letter to the NBHA to see if they’d create a 20-D class just for me while I get these guys ready but I’m not sure that’s a possibility! (Kidding!) Even so,the geldings might not be the fastest thing on four legs, but at least I’ll get to run something! Sometimes it takes getting disappointed to be able to see something right under your nose the whole time.

Have you ever been disappointed and had to change your plans? How did you deal with it? Did something positive come out of your experience?

Rainbow after the rain in Tennessee

Rainbow after the rain in Tennessee

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Junk In, Junk Out

We’ve all heard the sayings, “You are what you eat”, and “Junk in, junk out.”

 For most of my life, I’ve taken that saying with a grain of salt, pun intended. However, over the last few years I’m beginning to think there’s a lot more truth to those sayings than we realize.

 After a bout of unanswered questions about my health – that’s another blog post in itself – I started paying very close attention to how my body reacted to certain foods. Now, I’m not talking just gaining or losing weight. I’m talking about how food effects my breathing, my sinus levels, and even my mental status for the day.

After doing some experimentation, I learned that dairy and breads cause me to wheeze – that’s in addition to sinus and stomach issues. I also learned that cokes and sweets cause me to become depressed, and soy will send me into an emotional roller coaster during certain times of the month. In contrast, turkey and other meat cause me to focus and think more clearly.

The same thing could be said about our thought life. When we think negative things, the impact is negative.Those negative thoughts impact our happiness, our confidence, and ultimately our performance and whether or not we pursue dreams.

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Recently, I read a great article on thinking like an athlete. The article stated that the main reason athletes are successful is that they see themselves as just that – an athlete.

The article went on to say that when you see yourself as an athlete and get into that mindset, regardless of what your body is like, you start thinking differently in other areas of your life. You start taking training more seriously. What you eat and the amount of sleep you get become more important. Instead of those seeing those things as a means to lose weight, they suddenly become a way for you to train better and be a better athlete.

How many times have you been asked what you do with your horses or what discipline you ride? Probably too many times to count. Your answer has probably been, “I just run barrels” or “I just do a little western pleasure.” That’s the wrong answer!

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Today, you might not be running down the alley way at the NFR or doing a sliding stop at the finals at Congress. I get that you don’t want to blow yourself out of proportion, come across arrogant, or give the appearance that you’re competing at a level that you’re not – yet! However, if you keep thinking like you always have, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

Think about it for a moment…

Do you spend any less money on your horse than a serious competitor? You feed the best feed, supplements and hay. You keep a routine shoeing schedule so your horse can perform well. You take your horse to the vet every time they need it. You make sure your horse is in a safe, happy environment and kept on a schedule.

Do you spend any less time on your horse than a serious competitor? I know a lot of girls that compete locally and not nationally that ride their horses every single day. I also know girls that ride every free minute they can in the midst of working full time to pay the feed bill and mortgage, working second and third jobs, and taking care of families. Is the fact that they don’t get to ride as much any less worthy?

There’s things that you’re probably already doing that aren’t that much different than someone rides and competes on a higher level. Don’t cut yourself short in your thinking!

If you think you’re “junk”, then junk is exactly what you’re going to reap.

What do you think Charmayne James or Congress champion Karen Evans Mundy thought of themselves when they were working up through the ranks? Did they think they were just a barrel racer or just a hunter rider? No! They thought of themselves as champions that just hadn’t gotten there yet. All they had to do was work a little harder and ride a little better – that’s all.

So my question to you is this… If you knew for a fact that you would be running down the alleyway at the NFR, or riding the rail at Congress in two years how would that change your thinking TODAY? Would it make you see yourself differently? Would you have a new purpose every time you rode or worked out?

If you’re like me, you’ve beat yourself up for far too long thinking you’re not good enough and you’re just a barrel racer, etc. That thinking hasn’t gotten either of us very far, has it?

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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s time to do something different. It’s time to think different and see what results we get!

In the end, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. It only matters what you think about yourself.

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Something To Learn

There’s some good news this week!  I’ve been asked to do a podcast interview about Cowgirls With Curves and some of the challenges that real size riders face when it comes to riding and competing. The interview will be in early March and I’m excited to have the chance to spread the word and hopefully make a difference in how cowgirls everywhere see themselves! As soon as I have more information, I’ll post the link here so you can listen and share.

With the RFD-TV American Million Dollar Rodeo semi-finals going on, I think it’s a good opportunity to talk about attitudes. Attitudes towards ourselves and our horses, and attitudes toward other riders and their horses.

Just this week, I saw yet another Facebook post saying that just because a horse and rider doesn’t run 1-D times or win money at every rodeo it doesn’t mean that they’re crap or not worthy. I’m sure the post was the result of something that was said to the poster or perhaps she overhead. Either way, it had an impact.

I’ve seen the woman who posted the statement at many barrel races and ranch clinics since she was a very young teenager. While she may not have the latest greatest tack, truck and trailer, or have the most intimating blood lines, she has done well locally.

Three year old mare at her first ranch clinic fall of 2013.

Three year old mare at her first ranch clinic fall of 2013.

Now, I’d like to run down the alley way of the NFR just as much as any other barrel racer out there, or push a cow down the fence at mach nine at the ARHA National show. Heck, any national title would make me happy! Because of that, I read about and listen to a lot of national champions in the hopes of learning something and some day being in their shoes.  At the same time, there’s something that this young woman has that I think all of us, no matter what level we show at, can learn from.

Horsemanship is very important to this young woman, which is one reason she goes to the ranch clinics. Too often I feel like the horsemanship part gets left out in the pursuit of a title. Horsemanship and the best interest of the horse always needs to stay in the forefront, no matter what.

Trailer load demo at Circle C Cowboy Church colt starting competition and clinic 2011.

Trailer load demo at Circle C Cowboy Church colt starting competition and clinic 2011.

This young woman is passionate about barrel racing and she’s one of the hardest workers I know. She’s done the absolute best with what she has and it’s not been easy. Even through the disappointments and the hard times she’s managed to keep the fire lit under her dreams and keep moving in that direction. She’s always had a great attitude.

The last thing is that she dearly loves her horses and she realizes how blessed she is just to have a horse in the first place – any horse! Humility and thankfulness are two things that serve you well no matter where you go. They keep you grounded and they get you through the hard times.

On a side note, when it comes to humility and thankfulness, far too often I’ve seen a sense of entitlement develop with a little bit of ability or winning a title. Just because you have the horse and the ability to win doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled. When you’re humble and you’re thankful, that sense of entitlement doesn’t rear it’s ugly head.

The sad thing is that every section of the horse industry sees someone like this young woman and thinks they’re a nobody. They’re not appreciated for the qualities that they have, and no one thinks they have anything to offer or learn from because they don’t have a title under their belt. As wise horsemen say, good or bad, every person and every horse has something to teach you. Of course, in order to learn you can’t dismiss them.

I have my judge’s card with the Open Horse Show Association.  I would love to get my judge’s cards in several other large associations like ARHA, AQHA, etc. One thing that has kept me from pursuing it quite frankly has been the financial costs but I love judging open shows. The main thing I absolutely love about judging open shows is seeing people who are starting out on their own without any help. Even though they’re a complete novice when it comes to showing horses, I’m always in awe of how they remind me every single time what it’s all about. That keeps my own passion for showing and competing alive. It is also a part of what prompted me to start this site.

Judging at the Reinbow Riders open show at Tri-State arena in Cleveland, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Christina Simmerman.

Judging at the Reinbow Riders open show at Tri-State arena in Cleveland, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Christina Simmerman.

Have you ever had an experience where someone has dismissed you as a competitor? How did that make you feel? How did you get past it?