Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mean Girls and Fractured Toes

Remember my last blog entry on "Balance"? Well that also means balancing the good with the bad! Since my last entry I have worked the Hydra Bull twice with Hayden and have managed to ride him a only handful of times in between.

On the night of the second I was starting to feel "blah" with a sinus infection.By the following Wednesday night I was on a Z-Pack that made feel even sicker.Plus the night before,Hayden decided to spook and do the splits on to my toes in the concrete hallway! My toes were so pretty! I might add that you don't know how much you use your toes while riding (especially in the stops)until it hurts very much badly when you do! WOW! But all is well and I think my toes are maybe only fractured. But enough negativity!

So let me tell you about our Hydrabull runs! The week before last (sorry no pics!) we managed to do 4 runs. He got better and better each time and the 4th go I even went to one hand for the last couple of turns! It felt great! Just before we went in for that last go I had been loping him around working on trying to get comfortable riding him in one hand. He did awesome! Head was down, and he was relaxed and stopping nicely on his hind end. Probably the best he's felt at the lope to me!I think I was more excited about the loping in one hand than I was with his Hydrabull work!

The way we've been working with 8-10 riders is everyone works the Hydrabull 5-10 minutes each time and going 3-5 times.We all go in the same order each time.I wish I could watch all the gos of everybody but even standing on the fence off of Hayden's back, he would get stiff before my go.So I try and watch at least one of everybody's just to be supportive and try and learn new things.

There were no pictures taken of my practice session from the 2nd but this last Wednesday night my dear (non horsey) hubby joined Miss Dee,Miss Lisa and I for the evening and took pics. He did a heck of a job!

This week I tried a new strategy. I warmed him up longer before our first go which Steve lets us go slow for. He was more settled and his stops were great! After Steve told us to quit,I would get off of him (which I have been doing all along) and watch the person who goes after me. Then I would get back on him and walk him out then work him on bending and flexing,stops,90 degree and 180 degree turns. When the person that goes just before me is starting their go,I lope and add a few stops.My new strategy seemed to work well! We had a pretty decent 2nd run but our 3rd run was super fantastic! Hayden was stopping so hard he was throwing dirt onto Steve in the Hydrabull! He was doing most of it himself and the most I had to do was lift his inside shoulder up to remind him he had to back up first before turning.Even that only had to be done a few times and when Steve bumped the speed up a notch, Hayden was more ready than I was! He felt awesome! When Steve said that was good and probably the best he's seen Hayden do,we stopped for the night on 3 runs! Made hubby happy since that meant leaving an hour earlier (9pm) than I usually did!

Remember I mentioned earlier that you have to balance the good with the bad? Well that translates around here into that I need to ride my other gelding,a 4 yr. old APHA gelding at times. He's really not a bad horse.In fact he's pretty good considering he really doesn't have that many hours under saddle.But he's not as fun to ride as Hayden is,so I don't ride him as much! So when I do ride him,usually just on trail rides,he will resist doing basic things like going down a hill or up a hill or into water.I know with more time and practice he'll be great but I am so focused on Hayden that it's hard for me to switch gears and ride this "other" horse.I know-poor poor pitiful me! I hear you playing your violin!

On Thursday I rode him ("BullsEye" aka Sharp Shootin Peppy) with some wonderful women at the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve in Atmore,AL. I should have ridden Hayden since he's just been schooling and working in the arena but he'll get his trail time next month at an AQHA ride!

So what have I learned these last few weeks?
1.) Work my horse smarter-NOT harder!
2.) Mean girls suck!
3.) A supportive husband is gold!
4.) Not everyone is going to like you or support you but for every person who tries to pull you down,there are at least 2 others who who will lift you up!

This quote came to my attention this week and it seemed fitting although I am not sure who said it:
The road to success is not straight. There's a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies, caution lights called family. You will have flats called jobs. But if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, insurance called faith, a driver called Almighty GOD, you will make it to a place called SUCCESS.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Let's Talk About Balance

I'm not talking about balance in the saddle(although that IS important!)I am talking about balance of LIFE!

At one point in time, all I wanted to do was horses! I thought if I could just be around horses day in and day out that life would be perfect!

When I graduated college and finally left the "loveliest village on the plains" aka Auburn University, I went to work for Bartlett Ranch in Montgomery,AL. As a single girl,I absolutely LOVED working there!I got up at the crack of dawn and went out to feed all the horses,cleaned stalls,worked with the weanlings and yearlings,helped with the AI process of breeding mares, and just did general ranch stuff!I got to bed late, was paid nearly nothing but I was in heaven!

The short version of what came next is best described as "fell in love with a non horsey guy and got married and started a family." Suddenly there was more to life than horses! Who knew? There was traveling for a non horsey job,vacations not surrounded by horse activities and hanging out with people that generally didn't know the difference between each end of the horse!

Somewhere in the lifestyle change, horses became almost a challenge to do at all! Not because I didn't have support! On the contrary I had A LOT of support! It came in the form of "Sure! Buy that horse if you think you can make money on it!" At one point in the last 8 years we had at least one child and owned 6-8 horses as well as boarding others! Then soon we had 2 boys and several horses! It was crazy! Not to mention I was spending all my time cleaning stalls and all my money feeding them! Not having any energy to actually ENJOY them! Something had to change! My scale was tilted all the way to one side and I was NOT happy! I had no time for anything and no energy to do anything anyways!My balance of LIFE was WAY off KILTER!

So one day, my dear,sweet husband came to the conclusion that horses,no matter who owned them, were a lot of work! Years later I finally came to that same conclusion!
When I did, I decided it was just as easy to take care of a barn full of horses that I DIDN'T own as it was to own them! Actually it was easier since boarded horses didn't HAVE to be RIDDEN by ME or GROOMED by ME or best yet PAID FOR by ME! And with finally selling all but 3 perfect geldings, I could finally afford to DO things with my own horses as well as have the energy to do them! The scale of LIFE or at least barn life was starting to finally balance out!

With being married to a non horsey husband (NHH) and having two kids,comes activities that DO NOT revolve around horses. There are beach trips,going out to eat,church life,going to concerts,and just general low key everyday family life that take up time.If I CHOSE to not recognize this and instead say:"Ya'll have fun! I have a horse to ride or a show to go to or some other horse thing I have to go to," I would not only be pretty lonely but I'd end up dividing myself away from my family and undoubtedly end up in divorce! Of course the upside (maybe the ONLY upside) to that might be that I would end up being a decent rider and considered the top of my field.

The picture I just painted is scary for me to even think about! I know a few people that their lives DO revolve around the horse business.Their lives were/are lead from the barn or the truck on the way to a horse show.No non-horsey vacations were taken, no lessons were canceled, no horse shows were skipped in hopes to spend quality family time together.Meanwhile they missed out on their kids lives and the life they could have had with their spouse. The marriage,if it's still in tact,is full of resentment,anger, and lost hope.Good times. Of course they ARE at the top of their field. They're looked upon and regarded with the utmost respect by their peers and even some clients.When I think of what these friends have missed out on it makes me sad for them.

By witnessing such imbalanced lives, it has made me strongly focus on the balance of my life! I love God,my family,horses,friends and photography.I love to read,learn,taste and discover new things(especially about myself!)I have goals with my horses but even more so I have a goal to be a huge part of my children's lives and be the spouse my husband deserves and needs!In order to be "ALL THAT" I have to learn how to divide my attention and energy accordingly.When I am with my boys, I give them my full attention. The same goes when I am with my husband, horses, and friends.

I have learned too that LIFE is composed of MOMENTS.Sounds cliche I know but since I have "decided" to truly enjoy each moment, I get out of my comfort zone and try new things,I find JOY in little things like getting my boys dressed or even saddling up my horse.(Still looking for the joy in doing things like unloading the dishwasher!)

So with today's blog-if the only thing you get out of it is:"Emily is more than just a cowgirl", YOU ARE missing it! GET OUT THERE AND ENJOY ALL LIFE HAS TO OFFER! ENJOY THE LITTLE MOMENTS! And yes balance is more than keeping a leg on each side of your horse!

Below are some of the things I am super glad I DIDN'T MISS!