Wrapping Up The Year

The last part of 2017 has been incredibly busy and good! My latest children’s book, Pedro’s Problemo came out on black Friday. It promptly hit Amazon’s Best Seller’s list. The book is ilustrated by the very talented and fun ten year old Brady Ballard. I’ve been working on edits for the movie script for Lost Betrayal. As of today, I’m about halfway through the edits and hope to get some more done this afternoon. They do say that what you do on New Years is what you’ll do the rest of the year, so I’m not taking any chances!

Horse N Ranch Magazine published my article, Training Tips- If You Can’t Afford A Trainer, in December. A few weeks ago, I was asked to be a guest on the Whoa Podcast. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with John Harrar and his wife Ranae about writing, and staying fit for riding as we get older. I still think Kettlebells are the best bang for the buck! On the personal front, we’re back out at the new farm. These last few months, we were able to get water, electric, and septic hooked up as well as a house and camper pad graded out with gravel. We also got a run in shed built for the horses.

After losing my old dog Dillon, my OTTB Dynamic Host, and our young dog Chubby, we needed some good breaks. When you lose animals that make you ache with loss in the pit of your stomach every single day, you desperately need something good to happen to just keep you going.

We ended the year right with great friends and fabulous food at Smokin F BBQ. Yes, I enjoyed every bit of the foods I normally steer clear of! By the way, they absolutely do have THE best BBQ in the world, no lie!

Now that 2017 is over, I’m focusing on 2018 with a new lighter attitude and new goals.

In 2018, I want to let go more and worry less. At some point, if we really are what we say we are in regards to faith, we have to let go. It’s those times when the rubber meets the road as far as faith and believing.

I also want to let go more in regards to regrets and life and quit taking things so seriously. I’m not a surprise to God – He knows me inside and out and He still loves me. Even when I fail, He’s already got it planned out. He’s the one that’s in control.

Aside from a lot of self reflection, getting the tiny house finished is the main goal for the year. At 648 square feet, it fits right in line with a lighter attitude. Another goal is to have healthier feet on my horses. I figure it’s a great time to work on this as they’re not being hauled right now. For years we’ve struggled with Fireman’s feet and soreness. Early last year, I pulled his shoes and we’re working on a natural trim approach. It’s been a slow process and there’s been some trials and errors, but I think I’m finally starting to see some better heel.

Another goal is to do more book signings this year. I love connecting with readers and so often I’m reminded why I started writing in the first place. Although I enjoy the process of writing and creating stories, I love making an impact even more. It’s not my job to write a story I love to read, it’s my job to write a story others need to read.

My writing goal for the blog is to write more articles on horse training and plus size resources for riders. I want the blog to make an impact and be a catalyst for change in how women see themselves with their horses.

There’s always a writing project in the works. Of course, the main one at the moment is to finish the Lost Betrayal script. I’ve also got plans for another picture book, Beauford The Patriotic Donkey that my boyfriend Tab Bouk came up with, and trying my hand at self publishing some short stories. We’ll see where all that leads!

In the end, I’m very hopeful for 2018. As I’ve said before, if you want to change your life change your thinking. That’s exactly what I’ll be working on all year.

What are your goals for 2018? How are they different from last year’s goals?

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The Low Expectations Strategy

LOW EXPECTATIONS…

Springtime is here and show season has begun!

It’s a time to drag and rotate pastures in preparation for summer grass.

It’s also a time to get ready for the first horse show of the year.

It’s also a good time to assess your goals for the year, and your mindset. What are your goals as a rider? What are your goals for your horse? What are you goals for the show season? And, the big question is do all three of those goals align?

I’ll be honest, I’d absolutely love to run down the alley way at the Thomas and Mack arena at the NFR, or run a cow down the rail at the AQHA World, or jump a course at the Longines FEI World Cup. Actually, I’d love to do all three, but if i start my show season off thinking we’ll be hitting that level by the end the year, I’m going to be sorely disappointed!

The pattern at the State finals. Ground was awesome!

The pattern at the State finals. Ground was awesome!

Joel Sherlin who trained NBHA World Champion and RFD-TV American Semi-Finalist (2014), Bully By Design, has a saying that goes a long ways when it comes to riding horses and horse shows. Joel, who lives in Athens, Tennessee, is as down to earth as they get even though he’s somewhat of a local legend for his uncanny training ability and funny stories that all come from personal experience of course! His saying is, “Low expectations.”

"Team Blowout"!

“Team Blowout”!

You see, just like any great horseman that’s learned from experience, Joel knows you can have the best plans in the world and the biggest dreams, and sometimes things just happen that are out of your control. For instance, you’re riding a colt at a big show and he spooks at the flash on a camera as you’re making your way along the rail and you blow your class. Or maybe you’re riding a horse that’s been hauled a lot but they spook at the second barrel when the wind flaps a banner on the rail. It happens. The key is to not let it deter you from moving forward in your goals.

I’ve hauled with Joel and his wife Nancy quite a bit and I try to learn all I can about this “Low Expectations” strategy. Obviously with their track record and number of great horses they’ve turned out, there’s something to it!

We stayed in the Sherlin's trailer known as "The Double OO". It's famous!

We stayed in the Sherlin’s trailer known as “The Double OO”. It’s famous!

“Low Exepctations” is really a change in mindset that’s usually brought on by the school of hard knocks – sometimes literally – and disappointments. It’s a learning experience.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that when you ride horses that have issues or need some training, you learn very quickly to appreciate the little things. For instance, if you a haul your horse to it’s first show and you stay on, it’s been a good day – never mind you didn’t even place! That’s “Low Expectations” in action right there.

Bubba earned me THE black ribbon for the horse show for his horrendous go in Trail. The following year he won me an All Round for the day!

Bubba earned me THE black ribbon for the horse show for his horrendous go in Trail. The following year he won me an All Round for the day!

When you’re starting a new discipline, or your new to riding in general, it’s the same thing. If you get in your class and you remember your pattern, or you make it around all three barrels still in the saddle, then you’ve had a good ride! Again, “Low Expectations”.

By now, you see where I’m going with this.

Sometimes you have to take a step back and look at where you’re at and what your base struggles are. Do you have trouble getting a lead? Does your horse struggle loping small circles? Do your horse spook every time you go into an indoor arena? Those are the simple things you can focus on now. Fixing foundational problems such as these will lead to much bigger successes later on.

The same thing goes for us a riders. What are some of the things that you struggle with as a rider? Maybe you struggle with getting the correct diagonal at the trot, or being in time over a jump. Perhaps it’s getting left behind when you come out of a barrel headed to the next one, or just not being intimidated with speed. When you break it down, all of these things really relate to strength and balance. Just like working on foundational issues with your horse, you can work on the basic issues as a rider and improve your ability over time.

As riders, we always tend to look at the end picture. What we don’t realize is that it’s all the little things that eventually produce the final success, and that’s a side effect of having a “Low Expectations” mentality. Work on those small things a little at time and eventually they all add up.

If you could do anything with your horse, what would it be? What are some simple things you can do today to improve you and your horse, and implement a “Low Expectations” strategy?

Fireman at Ft. Smith futurity year

Fireman at Ft. Smith futurity year