It’s the first real snow we’ve had in a while. I enjoy the down time and just watching the horses play in it.
Riding horses and writing are two things that are a very much a part of what makes me who I am. This past year, I took a break from writing while I did some soul searching. Prior to that, I had taken pretty much a complete break from riding since 2016. Honestly, I felt a bit lost not having something to shoot for in front of me, but sometimes that can be a good thing. Breaks can allow you to sit back and re-asses what you’re at, what you really want, and what it’s going to take to get there. Sometimes too, it can change who you are as you reflect on the things you want to discard and the things you want to keep. As I said in my post in Talking In The Barn, I don’t believe in things I once did, and believe in things I use to not believe in.
In order for me to get where I wanted to be, which was running, I had to get a barn built so I could get my horses in the dry and have some hay storage. I finally got that checked off the list around April of last year, along with the start of an arena.
My next goal was to start hauling and running barrels again because it was something that I just couldn’t shake. Fireman & Cool had some soundness issues, and I was still trying to work through those. Willie Bobby was the only option for a sound horse to run.
A lot of folks would have sold their horse and bought something sound and ready to go win on. For me, sometimes things aren’t all about winning. Sometimes it’s about the challenge to see what you can accomplish, and Lord knows I always love an underdog! At 20 years old and still GREEN at barrels, Willie was definitely an underdog. Add to that fact that he’s grade out who knows what, spooks a lot, is barefoot, and trimmed & ridden by his 50 something year old owner that hasn’t seen a can in 5 years. We make quite the underdog pair!
Sometime early July, we ran our first run – no exhibitions – at a little open show that had around 30 entries. We didn’t place, but I didn’t fall off, he didn’t spook, he handled the ground well and his pattern wasn’t too bad. The icing on the cake was that I had an absolute blast! We ran barrels and poles at that same show a couple of months later and had a lot of fun.
Later, we went on to run a night time exhibition at the rodeo, and made a few NBHA shows where we picked up a little money and points. In fact, we won a headstall for district year end, and qualified for the NBHA World. Not too bad for a 5 year break and being underdogs!
This coming year, I’d like to run a little more and that’s what we’re working on. Step by step.
Sitting was hard for me. When you can’t do something that you really do have a passion for, that you can’t go a day without thinking about, it takes the wind out of your sails. As the saying goes, there’s a season for everything. Sometimes that season of feeling like you’re doing nothing really is preparing you for something. Maybe it’s a time to reflect and find your orientation, maybe it’s a time to learn lessons you won’t learn any other way. For me, it was both.
I say all that to say this…..
Don’t feel bad if you’re having to sit right now. Use it to best of your advantage.
Don’t count yourself out just because you think you’re too old, too out of shape, or not talented enough to do something. Go do what you can with what you’ve got, one step at a time, and run your own race.
Life is too short to be afraid of going after those things you love and that give your life vibrancy!
So where are you at right now? Are you sitting or taking those steps?
It’s been a little while since my last blog post. I finally landed a second job waiting tables at an Italian restaurant three nights a week. It’s been a hectic schedule between working two jobs, keeping my horses ridden, and trying to get the farm sold. So far I’m managing, although I will say I do know I don’t want to wait tables as a second job for the rest of my life!
While I have a more extensive blog post planned for later this month, in the meantime I thought I would share an update on my physical progress, and a few quick tips on what has helped me so far. The next blog post, I’ll share some of my favorite exercises, and talk about how some of them relate directly to riding.
When I started the CWC blog a year and a half ago, it was the start of a journey for me. My weight had ballooned up to 208, and no matter what I did or how much weight I lost I was tired, achy, and miserable.
The first step I took was changing my internal dialogue. Instead of criticizing myself all the time, I started to try find positive things I liked. Being kinder to myself mentally was very hard at first, but as time went on it got better.
The next step for me was attempting to just eat real food, and limit the junk, and then also limit dairy. I didn’t count calories, carbs or anything else. I just ate natural foods most of the time.
I usually fluctuated twenty or pounds anyhow, and by eating naturally, over the course of time I managed to drop off that twenty pounds and keep it off. However, there were many days I still felt tired and achy and my mental health wasn’t the best either.
This past March, I decided to make even more changes. I started eating protein and vegetables. Again, I didn’t count calories or anything else. I kept it extremely simple – I could have anything I wanted as long as it was protein or veggies.
I also started lifting weights, and just like with my food I kept it simple. Just three or four exercises a few times a week and no more than fifteen to twenty minutes. I knew it wasn’t realistic to expect myself to keep up more than that.
This pic below was taken several weeks back, but this week my scales said 155. I haven’t been this thin since my EARLY twenties!
I’ve not strayed from the meat and veggies since I started in March. I haven’t had any bread, sweets, or pasta even once. The interesting thing is that I don’t want any! For the first time in my life I finally have control over what I eat. There’s no bingeing or medicating with food!
One thing that has helped me has been the wise words of a good friend of mine that’s a Personal Trainer and veteran from Colorado, Scot Heminger – “Think of yourself as an athlete. Athletes don’t diet and exercise. They fuel their bodies and train to get better.” That mindset has made a huge difference because I don’t look at eating and exercise as deprivation and punishment, I look at them as a way to get BETTER.
Another difference I’ve seen has been my mental health. I no longer have the mood swings or the depression that I had before. Granted, I did make a big life change in getting divorced and surrounding myself with positive people, but I do think the change in diet has had an impact on my mental health.
Not only have I gained control over my appetite, and have a healthier outlook, I’ve also experienced a big increase in energy. My joints and my body also don’t ache like they did before. Because of all that, I feel like doing a lot more – and it’s wonderful!
While all these side effects are great, the one side effect that is probably the best is my improved confidence. I walk taller and feel better about myself, and I feel strong! That confidence has found it’s way into my riding as well. I’m running barrels more aggressively than I ever have my entire life and I’m clocking a little faster every time I run.
I’m still a work in progress, but if I didn’t lose another pound I would be completely satisfied with where I’m at. I’m happy, and what I’m doing is realistically maintainable. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that where I am now started by simply loving myself a little more and making a few simple changes. It’s true what they say – change the mind and the body will follow. I think I’m living proof of that — and you can be too!
This is going to be another one of those pretty personal posts in the hopes that it can help someone else that’s out there going through the same thing.
I’ve been slowly wading back into the dating world, even putting a profile on Farmers Only a few weeks back. While I’ve always struggled with body image all my life anyhow, the whole dating thing will definitely take its toll and make you doubt the rest of you, especially if you’re like me and have some extraneous baggage that a lot of guys can’t deal with! Most guys aren’t like the Chris Ledoux song, Tougher Than The Rest….
There’s been days of self doubt, ups and downs, frustration, and tears. There’s also been a whole lot of self reflection, and a lot of lessons learned, thanks in part to my dear friend, Austin Foust.
Austin has been my rock through this whole divorce ordeal. He’s been the one person to check on me every single day to make sure I’m ok. He’s been the one I’ve called when I’ve been crying so hard I can’t even speak. He’s been the one to pull me back off the ledge and give me hope. He’s also been the one to remind me time and time again that I’m enough on my own. Sorry ladies – he’s gay!
Austin has been my biggest cheerleader, and he’s reminded me of things that I knew but I just needed to hear. We all need a friend like that. They helps us get stronger.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not settle and don’t lower your standards. Again, do not settle and don’t lower your standards!
It’s amazing how we sometimes lower our standards on certain things when we want something so badly, or we think we don’t deserve better. Sometimes we accept not being treated as important, or less than we deserve. Other times, we say something really isn’t a big deal when in fact it is. In the end, we won’t be happy if we’re not made to feel important or we accept something that we really don’t want. So, why settle in either case?
Another lesson is that people make time for who and what they want in their life. If they want you in their life, they’ll come get you. It’s pretty simple. If they want to talk to you, they will. If not, don’t waste your energy chasing them down – you’re worth more than that!
The next lesson goes hand in hand with the last one – actions speak louder than words. Someone can say all day long they want you in their life, but if they don’t make time for you – even just a text or call – then their actions don’t back up what they’re saying. On a side note, why would you want someone in your life that you can’t take at their word?
You deserve better and you are enough. Just because someone doesn’t make you a priority doesn’t mean you’re not good enough, or that you deserve less. It just means they can’t recognize a good thing when it’s in front of them. Save your time and energy for people that recognize and appreciate the fact that you do deserve better and that you are enough.
Follow your heart. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, find a way to go do it. Life is too short to wish you’d done things differently. Don’t be afraid to start over or follow that dream.
I’m definitely preaching to myself on this one! I’ve always wanted to live out west as that’s where my heart has always been.
Spend time focusing on yourself and find joy where you can. If there’s something you love to do, go do it and have fun no matter how small.
In the end, life is too short to spend our energy chasing after people that don’t deserve us, or not following our dreams. Get out there and live while you can and love yourself in the process — You’re worth it!
I just returned from the Tennessee NBHA State Finals in Franklin, Tennessee. Although I’m wore slap out, and we didn’t have the perfect runs, I had a wonderful time.
I can’t go any further without giving some extra kudos to our NBHA State Director, Kenny Lane. Putting on a show of any caliber is an extremely hard job as people like to complain, and there’s a large amount of money that comes out of your own pocket with the hopes that you’ll make at least some of it back. Even in the midst of catty comments made about needing some extra help covering the $500 a day air conditioning expense, Kenny was gracious and put on a terrific show that was well run and had plenty of added money and prizes. The ground held beautifully, the holding area set up was very efficient and safe, and the alleyway was long enough to get a horse stopped. The air was cranked up too so we were all cool, which was a real treat considering most of our shows are either outside or in an arena without air conditioning! Plus, my mom came to see me ride and she never would have lasted if it hadn’t been that cool. Good job Kenny!
My barrel horse, Fireman, has been going through some corrective shoeing since spring. I had hoped he would be ready by the State finals but unfortunately he wasn’t. I had another horse that I’d hoped would be a possibility as he has a ton of potential but by mid-summer it was evident that he wouldn’t be ready in time either.
So, in August I borrowed a Dash For Perks bred gelding that was a sale prospect from my farrier and friends, Joel and Nancy Sherlin of Athens, Tennessee. Having bought a couple of horses from them and having ridden with them a good bit, I knew anything they had would have a phenomenal foundation. Their horses are light and effortless to ride.
I started riding “Beavis” at the end of July. He’d been used for lessons on their farm and had been running a good pattern in their pen. The catch? He was only four and had never been hauled…anywhere!
My goals for the State finals suddenly changed! They went from having a good time and drawing a check to challenging myself even more as a rider and helping a horse get some seasoning so he’s more marketable. It wasn’t about winning anymore.
In the weeks that led up to the State finals, there were more times that I can count that I felt like a complete idiot riding Beavis. Having broke a lot of colts, and shown in everything from hunter and western pleasure to trail, I tend to be a pretty quiet rider most of the time but there were times I couldn’t even get Beavis to the first and second barrel-and it was MY fault for picking up too much or not using enough leg!
It wasn’t the horse – I needed to step it up as a rider. I begin to doubt if I was cut out for barrels, thought maybe I needed to quit barrels and just pursue those things that I’ve already done well at. There were plenty of crying, snotting, mental breakdowns right in the practice pen. There’s nothing like a tough to ride horse to make you doubt your ability, or to show you the truth.
Quite frankly, as I was hauling a green horse, I wasn’t sure what to expect as our trip didn’t start off well. Then again, every trip that’s memorable has to have a story to tell, right?
The first hiccup was that as soon as we reached the interstate, one lane was shut down and we had to take a detour. Then we barely made it to the next county before we had a blow out… and my husband broke Joel’s lug nuts on the tire and then hit himself in the jaw with the wrench! That story will be around for YEARS!
As if that wasn’t bad enough, when we pulled Beavis out of the trailer his nose was four times bigger than it should have been, and he was swollen clear up to between his jaws. We suspected he’d been stung by a wasp in the trailer. Fortunately, a few hours later he was back to normal.
The State show was Beavis’ fourth show, his first long over night trip, and his very first indoor pen. I’ve taken a lot of young and seasoned horses on their first trip to an indoor and had many that couldn’t make a full lap around the pen. On his very first trip into the arena, Beavis didn’t hesitate or spook, and did whatever I asked him to do. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction.
Although our runs weren’t perfect, with the exception of the last Sweepstakes run, we made every barrel, improved our time every go, and he ran harder than we ever have so far. Our very last Sweepstakes run was a disaster but it was completely my fault and wound up being a learning opportunity in the end.
At the end of the weekend, instead of choosing to focus on our slow times, wide turns, or that last disastrous Sweepstakes run, I chose to focus on the positives and the lessons learned. I had ridden a young green horse that had never even seen an indoor arena that ran down the alley way without any hesitation and did exactly whatever I asked. He’d worked well, ran hard, and had been an absolute dream to haul and because of that he was going to make an awesome youth horse some day. That’s what mattered.
I also learned the value of eating well. You see, prior to every run but the last one, I had made it a priority to eat a good source of protein to make sure I was focused and thinking clearly – and it worked! The last run I didn’t do that because I didn’t want to take the time. As a result, I wasn’t focused and paying attention and it most definitely effected my ride.
Another lesson I was reminded of was the value of close friends and good times. I won’t ever forget that this race was the first time my mom ever saw me ride, let alone run, and all the memories of the weekend.
It’s hard to imagine as I look out the window at Beavis grazing with my mares, that just a few weeks ago I was ready to shut the door on barrel racing and instead focus on something I’m already decent at. I’ve shed a lot of tears, and still have a ton of work to do to improve but I know in the long run Beavis will make me a better rider and he’ll make an even better youth horse for it.