Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Year in Review


Kenai tried his hand at being a ski patrol dog during my NSP candidate training and loved it. I spent every weekend training for NSP on the mountain and loved getting in all those ski days, even if the snow sucked. There were a few phenomenal days and I really loved my first season as I learned to telemark ski. I found some time to try my hand at chasing cows and had a blast! I accepted the change in my life as a good thing and then adopted some more change in the form of a new horse, Griffin!


I had some difficulty coming up with a name for Griffin at first, but I eventually settled and posted a much-awaited (at the time) photo of him. He was so little! Mountain Khakis published their first catalog and I was the featured female ambassador. NSP training, despite difficulties, continued and I really began looking forward to its conclusion in March. I also found out that my summer plans to do a Leave No Trace Master Educator course with an emphasis on stock use in the backcountry would be happening!! I also finally got the edited video of me riding a horse I helped start the summer prior. Kenai had troubles with measuring, and I visited NYC for the first time for my birthday with my mom. I got to catch up with an incredible person while I was there, too. I learned to dance with a horse.


NSP training continued and I completed! Huzzah! I filmed a training session with Griffin and Kenai got to play with a starling after. We bid adieu to one of the greatest horses I've had the pleasure to know due to a freak accident. Kenai turned two! Griffin got his first trim, and I posted photos of his improvement. And the biggest thing of this month, I went to MONTANA! We squeezed in a car. We skied. And we frolicked. And we visited Yellowstone and saw WOLVES! 19 wolves from three different packs. Marked that one off my 30 before 30, big time.


I spammed you with more photos from MONTANA. And I shared a video of us skiing western powder (squee!). And then spammed you with videos of the horses. And Griffin started tagging along on trail rides. I took a moment to reflect on how incredibly awesome life is. Griffin discovered his inner idiot. I updated on my year of yoga (which failed miserably due to a shoulder injury) and gave yummy recipe ideas. Somehow I had a ton of time to read books. We went to the Equine Affaire, too. Oh and of course, there were a lot of Griffin updates!


I focused on the fact that I needed to be more present in my every day life instead of always looking toward the future. I scored a sweet deal on some minimalist shoes for running in a hope to start running more (which never happened because my ankles are whiny little bitches). I spent a fun week of adventuring and training with Griffin. I had a really big weekend of photography for prom, an engagement shoot, and finally went climbing. This Wordless Wednesday post got a heck'ova'lotta hits for some reason. I had another memorable weekend watching my good friend Chris graduate from college, taking photos for two of my best friends for their engagement, and ground driving Griffin. I went to a clinic/trail ride weekend in the southern part of the state with friends and met Q; I then proceeded to ask advice on her and ended up buying her. I think its safe to say she was a pretty good decision!


I threw myself into life with two horses full-force. I found out that Q hates bears, but really doesn't mind ground poles, and she really has a knack for jumping! I got to fulfill a mini-dream of mine and play with Freisians for a day (and many after, actually). I finally left for 2½ weeks in the Great Smoky Nat'l Park where I learned to pack horses and practice Leave No Trace concepts.


I re-hashed my pack experience gone wrong in three different parts (part I, part II, part III); it is the longest story I've told on my blog to-date, and was really hard for me to tell at the time. I went on a crazy-fast 20-mile training ride with a local endurance rider on two of her horses. And jumped back in action with my own horses, while finally pondering some of Griffin's potential TWH background. I continued to spend a lot of time with my horses, photographed one of my best friend's wedding, celebrated Griffin's birthday, and had an absolute blast fulfilling a childhood dream of riding my own horse in a parade!


With August came the start of the coveted 30-mile ride. I had some pre-race anxiety, but Q exceeded all my expectations for this ride and did AMAZINGLY. I was (and still am) so happy with her performance. To get my mind of horse things I went and saw Mumford and Sons the weekend following the race (THEY ARE SO AWESOME LIVE!!). I shared a huge post of new experiences with my horses and then went to fulfill yet another horse-related childhood dream (wow, I really fulfilled a lot of these this year) and rode at Spruce Knob.


I took some time this month to summarize the progress that both Q and Griffin had made during our time together. Q got a mystery ailment (which is still a mystery, though I lean toward a friction/heat cause) and I freaked out a bit and ended up not doing any more training or races this year because of it. I made the decision to really devote myself to getting into a better fitness routine for the upcoming ski season/life. I also dabbled with both horses lunging in a quasi-liberty exercise and decided it was something I would work on more this winter after I established both horses on the ground a little more. I embraced my favorite WV season (autumn) with several pursuits outdoors; this state is absolutely magical in the fall.


Q and I did our second parade; the weather wasn't as great, but she did phenomenally again! A friend came and photographed Q and I jumping; our form is really improving. I spent a lot of time on the rail trail goofing around riding with cyclists instead of other horses. Q continued to amaze me during our last trail ride of the season.


Frankenstorm (Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy) trashed my trails as over 3 feet of snow was dumped at the higher elevations. At this writing they are still clearing trees from roadways. I don't know if any of my summer trails will be the same for awhile. The horses weren't hurt, only a little sore. The weekend after the storm I put away studying to explore the woods with the ladies on horseback. Q and I had a blast. I worked on trailer loading with the horses some, and then goofed off with Freisian horses more. And then I went to Cape May with my bff Mandy and we caught some raptors and I met Dom IRL! Griffin's really gotten big and solid as of this month, and Q exceeded any expectation I had for her in our third parade of the year - a night parade.


I reviewed 23 things I've learned in my 23 year of life. Spent a rainy Sunday training Griffin; put in my first ride on him. I spent an unnaturally warm December day climbing (finally). I took some time to recollect resolutions and goals I had for the year and make some new ones for the upcoming year, and I finally updated everyone on fitness and what I'd learned from my readings.

Man, 2012 was a busy year full of fun adventures, welcoming horses into my life, and developing myself as a person. Here's to a new year, new adventures, building upon foundations I've laid, and making 2013 the best year yet.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Learned it all in Kindergarten

Today is a flashback. The next few wordy posts may be flashback articles I wrote for courses in college. I love reading back on my papers from my interesting introspective honors courses. I'm impressed with my insight then and how much I am the person now that I so wanted to be then. Progress is an absolutely amazing and wonderful thing, but it is also difficult as it usually takes lots of dedication, persistence, and diligence. 

Today's flashback is from my senior year of HS. I graduated Salutatorian of my class and had to give a speech, this is what I wrote:

Before I begin my speech I ask the graduating class to hold the hand of the person next to them, if you are at the end of a row reach back and hold the hand of the person behind you.  Create a big circle in a sense, you did it in kindergarten to stick together, let’s do it one more time.

                Its funny how out of the many lessons we have learned in the past thirteen years of school it is the simplest of life’s lessons introduced in kindergarten that are the ones that will stick with us for the rest of life. They will find ways to apply to everything we do.  In Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten he states:  "All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten.”  His words enable us to understand how strange it is that the simplest things are the most important.
                Playing fair.  We all remember the golden rule.  Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.  It was hard to learn the golden rule in kindergarten.  I had a little brother who had already helped me to learn it but walking into a room with 21 people I had never met before meant learning the golden rule to its fullest.  Sharing crayons, markers, pencils, scissors, and books with that many people was harder than I’d imagined!  Be fair to others, they’ll be fair to you in return.  Sharing my scissors with DW when we happened to be at the same table meant that he would share them with me later on; a valuable lesson, a valuable friend.  Being fair now is the same as it was in kindergarten and it still helps one to gain priceless friendships. 
                Put things back where you found them.  Not putting the teacher’s pencil back in kindergarten had a minor negative result, but as we grew older and misplaced more important things, perhaps the car keys?  We learned after being late to school or missing an important meeting or sports practice that we should pay much more attention to things no matter how small they seem to be.  Details are important.  In foreign policy and government putting things back where they were found is important as well.  Just imagine what the world could be like if governments put things back where they found them and cleaned up their own mess!
                Saying sorry.  Remember getting in a small fight with a friend in kindergarten and then the teacher would force you to say sorry to one another?  I do.  HB and I met when one of us wouldn’t properly share the school supplies at our table.  After a little dispute Mrs. A came over and made us apologize to one another.  It seemed so hard then, but I can’t remember how many friendships I probably saved by simply saying sorry when I made a mistake.  Sorry is the simplest of words and can make such a big difference in so many circumstances.  Two little words, “I’m sorry”, can calm anger, mend broken pride, and strengthen relationships.  Don’t be afraid to say sorry.
                Flush.  Well there’s a pretty self-explanatory term.  Flush.  If you don’t, its gonna look yucky and smell yucky.  Eww.  But I’ve learned in the past eighteen years that there is more to flush than just a toilet.  Emotions need flushed out on occasion.  Worries need to be flushed especially.  Don’t let the little things get you down; don’t sweat the small stuff!  Sweating the small, petty issues will only lead to more stress on top of all the pressures you may already be dealing with.
                Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.  More or less, DON’T WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH!  I know we certainly didn’t work ourselves to death in kindergarten!  We’d do a little bit of work and then immediately do something fun as a sort of reward.  Learn some letters, color a picture; read a book, go outside to recess.  Find time in life to enjoy the little things.  Go on a walk, play a game, roll down a grassy hill, visit an old friend, anything!  Have a little bit of fun every now and then, its good for you.
                Take a nap every afternoon.  In kindergarten I can remember rushing to the steps where the napping mats were kept and then rushing to find a place to be beside CH.  We would then lie down and “nap” when in truth we were whispering about some sort of kindergarten nonsense.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could curl up with our favorite blanket every afternoon for an hour like in kindergarten?  Unfortunately growing up includes many more responsibilities that lead to a busier and more hectic schedule.  But seriously, get some rest when you need it; research has proven that it’s good for you!  All-nighters with friends can be fun but you aren’t the Energizer Bunny, you can’t keep going and going and going and much as you may think you can.
                When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.  I can remember holding the hands of my classmates as we walked to the playground when the weather was kind enough to allow us.  We held hands to stick together alongside the road and to make it easier for Mrs. Arbogast to make certain no one wandered away.  We’re all big enough to let go and cross the street on our own now, but we still need to keep alert for obstacles at all times.  Whether it’s someone out to get you or a greater power altogether.  Stick with people you trust.  They’ll watch your back and you can watch theirs.  There is nothing more wonderful than a close friend. 
                Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.  We all sank our roots here in Elkins.  They grew and lengthened as they were nurtured by our teachers and other mentors until our plant grew up out of the ground and unfolded its leaves and a beautifully unique flower.  That flower is the person we have become.  Now our flowers are about to spread pollen to many different places in many different ways.
                And finally, remember those Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.  Robert Fulghum has reminded us to remember the simple lessons of kindergarten as we continue through life.  So, keep an open mind as you continue.  Be open and willing to try new things – no matter how strange or scary they may seem.  You never know where they may take you.  Life is a great big adventure waiting to be had.  Have it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Let the Madness Begin!

Y'all like pictures right? Because I predict a lot of picture posts in my future. My down-time is about to be seriously reduced into nothingness.

Beginning tomorrow the madness begins. The resort opens and I will be working 62 hours up there within a weeks time. Oh, did I mention this is in addition to my job-job that is full time? Total paid hours worked between two jobs from 12/29 - 1/6 will be 89.  

89 hours.

On the mountain Sat, Sun, Tue, Fri, Sat, Sun. In the office on all the in between days. Yay for holidays and every other Friday off.

I will have some KILLER AWESOME legs by the end of this. And probably a sizable dose of ibuprofen in my system for a day or two. Crash course to awesome telemark skiing here I come. Last year's goal was getting comfy on my tele legs, this year's goal is getting solid and throwing down. (By the way, for those non-ski readers, telemark skiing is when your heel is free and you can bend your knee. This is different from Apline skiing where your heel is locked in. Wikipedia here.) The only downside to ski season is that any tall riding boot will cease to fit due to my calf muscles getting jacked. Ah well, I'll sacrifice.

Substitute my blue jacket with a red/black one with white crosses and you'll find me on the mountain!

Anyone want to come ski?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Of nighttime and riding

I went out to see the horses last night, give Jordan a lesson on Q, and show another horse-curious friend what we do. In order to mesh schedules to do this, we didn't arrive at the barn until after dark. This isn't a big deal because we have lights in the barn (yay!), but catching horses that have 40 acres to roam in the dark? Not the easiest of things.

I whistled and called and saw nothing so I hucked off through the field looking for dark shapes in the distance. Whistle, call, whistle, call. Nothing. I headed in the direction of the gate to the upper pasture that had been closed off for months. Open. Eff.

I sighed and trudged through, hopefully optimistic that they would just be across the creek and not up the hill. I paused and whistled again and as luck would have it they were all gathered just on the other side. Kenai knew it too and was frustrated that I wouldn't walk to them because the creek was high (he wouldn't go without me).

When it became apparent that they weren't going to walk over to me, I hucked it back up to the barn to get my car. By this point D's son's girlfriend Nicole had come down to visit and agreed to drive over to the other side to get the horses with us. Off we went.

The creek was higher than anticipated, but the joys of having a 4WD vehicle with loads of ground clearance guaranteed passage. I had no trouble catching Q and let Griffin follow freely behind us as we slipped out of the field.

I brought her bridle and tossed it on her, apologizing for the cold bit, but guaranteeing her it could be worse (we had rain, sleet, hail, and snow intermittently yesterday). Fortunately she was dry and not a COMPLETE muddy mess so I dusted her back off with my gloved hand and hopped on up. My friends drove my car back across while Q, Griffin and I jaunted off into the darkness to take the route through the field back to the barn instead of the road.

Q did remarkably well in the night, she balked a tiny bit at Kenai sprinting around in front of us, but realized it was him and chilled out in a hurry. I really think having Griffin around helped, he marked pace with Q the whole way, only chasing Kenai for a brief 50 feet into the creek.

Riding at night is something I've wanted to do for awhile, and getting to do so last night was quite impromptu, but so much fun all the same. We trotted most of the way, cantered a little. All the while snow was lightly falling. So much fun. The best part was that Q gave me far more of her attention than I expected. I'm happy we've built that level of trust between us. Good pony!

Riding her over guaranteed that she was warmed up and ready for Jordan (though we still did a little lunging around the "scary" tarp). Jordan did remarkably well in her second lesson. Its pretty safe to say she understands what posting is now and can definitely feel for it and fall into a steady, proper rising rhythm. Now to work on leg strength so that she can do this steadily for a longer length of time!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

FITNESS POST!! (finally)

Okay, okay, finally, I have sat to compose the coveted fitness post per my reading of THIS BOOK! (Thanks, Mel!) This post is long, but I’ve bolded the key points I learned from the book. Ultimately, I’m an active person involved in a myriad of activities that keep me pretty fit. This book helped me to refine some of my activities to get the most from them, while helping me to realize other areas that I could stand to improve upon for fitness/diet/etc. Great book, definitely recommend to anyone out there looking to improve their fitness routine/life/understand better about what is best for their body.

(And additionally, I've schedule this post for a time when I should be up on the mountain skiing! Yeah, fitness!)

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My take aways from the book:

Cardio is important! High intensity interval training (HIIT) will give me the most bang for my buck: I’m a busy person. I think anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time will realize that – hell, I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t even posted with the frequency I used to! So, obviously, fitting in time for a workout is sometimes difficult. Fortunately, I lead a very active life, my busy schedule is such because I fill it with so much time for play. Work with the horses? Exercise. Rock climbing? Exercise. Skiing? Exercise. Adventuring in the woods and exploring? Exercise. The majority of what I do involves moving my body in some way.

With this being said, I know I could still benefit from a more structured workout. Mel runs. A lot of people run. After reading this other book I found that I, too, liked running. I ran for a solid month and was able to run longer than I ever had before and had to make myself quit running some days (I decided 45 minutes was probably sufficient) because I didn’t want to hurt myself. But, inevitably, my ankle injury (tendon-related) from swimming came back to bite me. I can’t get rid of this issue and thus, running isn’t a very viable cardio option for me. I tried to do HIIT with running and succeeded for almost 2 weeks before my ankles reared up and bit me.

I love swimming. I swam competitively for 10 years. I had scholarship offers to college for swimming, but academics have always been more important to me, and my ankle injury from hyperextension when I did kick sets for years had become such an issue that I didn’t want to botch them up even more. Since swimming has left my life, I’ve really struggled to find good cardio that fills the void it left. I loved swimming, I loved getting my ass kicked daily, I loved being utterly exhausted from workouts. I haven’t found something that kicked my butt so much that I also loved so much.

For the past month-ish I have been going to our local YMCA for spin class twice a week (total of ~2 hours a week). I did it to have some cardio in my life and to prep my legs for ski season. (Wait, the east coast can get snow? Haven’t seen any yet…) Hanging out with a bunch of mountain bikers and hearing them talk/getting my legs whooped into shape has been a blast. I’m really reconsidering this whole biking thing (I’d formerly tossed any idea of me biking out the window after a series of not-awesome experiences with it…and the fact that I’m certain a tree would jump out and kill me if I did any single track mountain biking). I look forward to spin class and the burn I get from it. It might be filling that void that swimming left – at least a little bit.

2 hours a week of these workouts has been perfect. We do HIIT training during spin class doing hard sets and maxing out, then resting, then repeating. A 5-10 minute warm up and 5-10 minute cool down with 30-40 minutes of HIIT in between. My legs are slightly sore afterwards, but I’m never miserable. I’m always recovered and ready by the next workout. Additionally, since this isn’t as concussive as running my ankles are happy and, thus, I’m happy.

Weight lifting twice a week would really help me out: Weight lifting to most people brings to mind images of dumbbells and big, sweaty men grunting it out while staring at themselves in the mirror in the gym. This is not weight lifting for me. Weight lifting that I’ve incorporated into my life involves me lifting my own body weight in some way. Pushups, pull ups, etc.

I incorporate this primarily by rock climbing and attempting to keep myself fit for climbing. I’ll do push ups and pull-ups (off my door frame, yeah, I know, those are narrow and involve finger strength in addition to upper body strength – that’s the point) in addition to some plyometric-type exercises occasionally.

I will soon have my own hangboard to use to workout, as well. This will lend very much to a weight-lifting-type exercise regimen. I’m headed to San Diego in early February and have a two-day climbing/camping trip to Joshua Tree planned. I want to be in quasi-shape for this.

Carbing up while exercising is recommended: I don’t eat enough when I am doing something active for an extended period of time. Its my biggest flaw when it comes to fitness. I get so involved in whatever I’m doing that I forget to eat. I usually manage to keep some (minimal) liquids in, but food? Not enough. I need to work on doing this. The book recommends 200-300 calories every hour you’re being active. I need to strive for this. I’ve felt rather faint several times because I haven’t done this (and, tell you what, sitting atop an exposed rock fin hundreds of feet off the ground is NOT a good time to be feeling like that!). Making sure I consume “real” food is also good: I need to better figure out what kinds of snacks (grapes or crackers or something) that I will eat no matter what so that I have something to fuel me.

Drink when you’re thirsty; don’t guzzle water/Gatorade/what-have-you if you’re not thirsty: Well, duh. Fortunately, I’ve never been someone to force-drink anything (alcohol in a college-party atmosphere [or via webcam *coughcoughcoughDOM&MIKEcoughcough*] does NOT count. I do need to make certain I stay better hydrated pre-big fitness activity and in extreme weather conditions. I get heat stroke very easily, so I may have to force-drink on days when that is a threat because heat-illness is not pleasant or funny. Oh, and chocolate milk post-workout is recommended by science. I’m totally for this idea.

Diet to maintain weight, exercise to maintain fitness: This seems so glaringly obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things aren’t. I think this was probably the absolute biggest thing I took away from all of the reading. This statement has fueled me to continue making good choices for myself as far as diet and exercise are concerned.

I’ve never eaten very poorly, and I’ve always been very lucky to not have to worry much about my weight or fitness. There are times when I lose my focus and “let go” a little, but for me to get on track again has fortunately never been a great sacrifice or battle of any kind. I am incredibly fortunate to be this way. At the same time, I don’t know that it is in my make-up to be lazy. Sure, I’m lazier than some of my crazier adventure friends, but in the grand scheme of things, I’m not a lazy person at all. I sometimes long for a day of rest, but usually I get halfway through that day of rest and I become restless. I feel guilty when I’m not out doing something and making the most of a day.

The best part about my fitness activities is the people I meet along the way. They are often very like-minded to me. Additionally, as far as rock climbing is concerned, it’s rare to meet a serious climber who isn’t very aware of their diet and other cross-fit routines. They are some of the most physically fit people I have ever met. They play hard, keep their bodies in perfect form, and eat VERY well. To have a diesel body you have to eat well and take rest days. These athletes really have it all going on. They’ve been great role models for me in terms of diet and fitness.

Exercise stimulates creation of brain cells: I didn’t know this before I read the book. The finding doesn’t surprise me in the slightest though. I gotta work out to make sure I stay smart! And to keep my brain sharp for when I’m old. Yeah, I want to be quick-witted always.

Be patient and keep it up: You won’t see results from any sort of exercise or fitness regimen unless you keep up with it. This is an “oh, duh” kind of statement but its very true. I’ve been spinning for twice a week for a month now and am finally starting to notice benefits. Hiking to the crag to climb last weekend wasn’t taxing at all.  My legs welcomed it and screamed for me to bring it on harder. I love the burn I get at spin class. My muscles yearn for it now. I can tell that I’ve gotten over the initial hump of getting my body back to being used to a usual cardio routine and now its time to push it even harder. If I expected to feel this way on day one of spin class I would have been very disappointed.

Listen to your body: So many people DO NOT DO THIS. Well, guess what, science says you should do it. So, HA. I’ve always done this because I’m mostly a wuss about working through pain. If I’m sore, I’m either going to not work out, or if I have to (i.e., High School sports practices) I don’t put forth much effort. I rest. I come back stronger when I’m not sore.

Additionally, if I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m thirsty, I drink. And, a twist to the eating/drinking listening to my body thing, I don’t diet hardcore and keep certain things out of my diet. I eat what I crave. Some days I may eat very unhealthily, but for every day that I crave bad foods my body counters it craving healthy raw foods. I don’t give into cravings for bad things always, but I’m definitely not afraid to indulge. It’s a balance. I’ve come to realize that my body won’t let me get too crazy, if/when I go against it and eat too poorly it really comes back to haunt me as I tend to feel ill. (I did cut things out of my diet when I was swimming hard in HS to help increase my performance, and I remember it being hard at the time. But cutting things like soda and super sweet things out of your diet long term ends cravings for them. I’ll have a soda or something super, super sweet occasionally, but I can’t handle it as well and don’t typically want these things at all anymore.)

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So yeah, that about concludes my summary of learnins from the book. It was a really good read – even if I was interrupted in my progress of reading it/posting this because of school. Moral of the story? Be active, people! Get out there and play hard and have fun and eat good food when you’re done.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reflection and Forward Motion

Last year I wrote this post on goals and reflection.

Writing that post, coupled with writing those goals on a mirror in my room has held me more accountable than ever before to fulfilling them. My frame-of-mind is different now than in previous years, as well. I realized that I'm at a point in my life where change happens almost daily. You accept and adapt or you get left behind. Its frustrating. Its exciting. Its totally worth it in the end.

Holding myself accountable and being aware of how I actively wanted to change myself for the better this year was a complete and total success. Certainly, there is more I could accomplish within each of the goals I set for myself, but I have come leaps and bounds from where I was this time last year.

I'm so much calmer than I've ever been. My personality type up until this year was one in which I always  had to try to micromanage everything. I was always concerned with what was going on around me at all times and how things might affect me. Not now. I've quit micromanaging my life. As a direct result I sleep better, I don't lie away fretting and worrying about things. I've accepted that I have the power to change things and I don't have the power to change other things - so why worry about those things? I no longer beat myself up over those things. I accept them for what they are, make the most of them, and move forward with my chin up and a smile on my face as much as I can.

I've also made a huge effort to judge less. We all judge everyone around us. We don't speak up about things, but we all think things. I've stopped myself from thinking negatively countless times this year. I've forced myself to see the best in everyone around me as much as I can. Its a much better way to be.

Additionally, I've really learned when to pick my battles and to keep my mouth closed when there is really no point in my saying anything. My mind races through things faster than a lot of other people, I've realized. My core group of friends are all equally quick-minded and quick-witted with snarky tongues, but the rest of the world isn't so much. I've learned to rein in that side of myself around people who can't handle it. I don't speak up and I let things slide past that won't matter in the long run. There are times when I need to speak up, and I do, but for the most part, I've avoided many a complicated situation by just staying mum. Its been a valuable lesson.

I'm certain someone, somewhere reading what I've accomplished is probably thinking "well, DUH" about things, but if I've realized anything this year, its that people can tell you to do something or not do something until they're blue in the face, but until you have a really striking experience with it you're not going to get what they're telling you.

I went through some really rough patches this year. Some really, really low points. But I came out of them. I knew as I was falling into them that I would be okay. That I would get through them. That I would be better for it. That it was only going to take time. And time SUCKS. But then time passed. And I started making a conscious effort to say every day, This will be the best day. or to say at the beginning of each month, This will be the best month. I repeat these phrases daily/monthly. Because why the hell can't today be the best day? Why the hell can't this be the best month? Why can't each following day and month be the best? I can be my own worst enemy and make life miserable or I can actively make my life incredible. I chose the latter.

I'm happy. I'm so happy. I've accepted that things will fall into place as they're meant to. I've accepted that I have a good head on my shoulders. I've accepted that I have the ability and means to accomplish whatever I set my mind to do. I've accepted that sure, there are rough days, but they will pass. I've lived more in the moment than I ever have before and its been wonderful. I wish everyone was able to do this. The world would be such a happier place.

So, moving forward. A new year is on the horizon yet again. Change is just as evident in my life now as it was last year. The only thing that has changed is my perspective on it.

This year: I will strive to further improve on last years goals. To build upon them. In addition, I'm going to strive to accept changes and make the absolute best out of them. And, I want to be as honest with myself and with others as I can be.

Last year I mentioned some other goals, too, some doing things goals that involved me actually getting out there and physically doing something. These included the following:
  • finding future-super-star horse: Check. I found two horses. Two wonderful super stars. They fell into my life without me seeking them out. They're wonderful and you are all aware of how much we have accomplished this year as I actively update about them all the time.
  • riding 100 days: Check. I altered this at first to include training days as I didn't anticipate Q coming into my life. But then she did. And she and I have had well over 100 riding days. Griffin and I have had well over 100 training days. That's one helluva lot of horse time. I wouldn't change it for anything.
  • skiing 20 days: Check. Exactly 20 on the dot. The last two days kicked my ass, but they were totally worth it. I don't know how many days I will strive for this year, but I definitely want to get out a lot and visit somewhere new....maybe the Alps.
  • reading more. Check...ish. This goal was going all well and good until my fall quarter at OSU began. Then my life became all about school and reading ceased to exist. I did manage to read a number of incredible books though. Nonfiction mostly. I've learned me up good this year.
  • learning to edit photos better: Check. Double-check. I wanted to learn one new thing in photoshop for each month. I think I tripled or quadrupled the number of things I learned.
  • running a 5k: Fail. This did not happen. While I aspire to run, I'm just simply NOT a runner. Booo on running. Its not for lack of trying. I got to a point where I enjoyed it more than I ever had before, but old injuries from swimming ultimately prevent me from getting very far with daily running regimes.
  • cooking 1 dinner a week for myself: Fail. I did cook. But I didn't cook that much!! I actively changed my diet for the better and have stuck to that life choice and plan to keep that up in the new year.
  • and completing a number of items on my 30 before 30 list: Wolves?! Um, CHECK!! Check x19! I learned how to telemark. I slept in my hammock. I went to NYC. And I learned how to pack a horse and travel in the backcountry. Five checks off my list this year. Not too shabby at all!! I'm certain the others will fall into place as time passes. I move closer to each of these goals every year.
2012 was a pretty flippin' awesome year. 2013 is going to be even better. I just know it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I have seriously had "write fitness post" on my to-do list for weeks now. You know, based on that book I said I was reading awhile ago? I swear its coming... But more exciting things in life keep happening and I find them so much more fun to share. That and I want to do right by that fitness post and just haven't found the time to sit down and write it yet.

But I've been active! I went CLIMBING finally. And I had a blast! I'd never have thought I'd be climbing in a t-shirt (seriously wishing I could take it off and just climb in my sports bra) on a mid-December day. I even got a bug bite that is itching like mad now.

It was an awesome day with some awesome people. I forgot how much I loved and missed climbing. I really hope to get back into it in the coming year. I need to find a way to better balance my horse-love with my climbing-love. Balancing skiing and horses is easy because of the season, but climbing and horses isn't as easy - I need to make it work though. I will make it work. Ah, climbing love!

Monday, December 10, 2012

An eventful rainy Sunday

Midweek last week the cowboy trainers and I decided we should try to put together a Sunday afternoon trail ride since we haven’t gotten to ride together since our last hurrah in mid-October. After Frankenstorm, the holidays, hunting season, and now this wealth of poo-tastic weather none of us have done a great amount of riding. Trail riding is only safe on Sundays at this point in time. The weather changed for the worst after we made our Sunday plan, however, and we instead decided to go to the barn where one of the cowboys does his training.
Originally I was planning on riding Q, but then with the change in plans I pondered taking both horses to Cowboy’s to play and ride in the indoor. But then I realized I didn’t know which trailer D would want to take and if we took the gooseneck we’d only have room for two horses so I settled on taking Griffin. I knew he’d gain more from the experience than Q.

We ended up taking the stock trailer, so I could have taken both horses, and I pondered it briefly, but dismissed the idea because I knew it would be good to concentrate on Griffin for a day and having two local trainers there would be beneficial.

I’d been contemplating sending Griffin to the barn we went to play at for a month of training in April or May of next year. I worried that I couldn’t start him properly and that maybe it would be best to let Cowboy do it. Get a solid foundation that I could then take and tweak to my heart’s desire. However, after the day of play Cowboy told me that while he’d do it if I really wanted him to, he saw absolutely no reason why I should send Griffin to him. He and the other trainer both gave me a lot of praise for the work I’ve done with him. Another guy who was there was interested in buying Griffin! While I wouldn’t dream of selling him, I was flattered that someone else was interested.

Cowboy set up a series of poles to weave, a tarp with white poles and barrels to have to walk over/through, and at one point we even brought the dirtbike into the arena to see how the horses handled that (oh, how I wish I’d had Q as that would have spazzed her out and it would have been a far better learning experience). Griffin could have cared less about the growling, screaming dirtbike. Cowboy pulled it alongside both he and Oliver and ripped and roared the engine. It earned an ear flick and a deep sigh from both youngsters. Good boys!

I did a bit of lunging with Griffin in both directions. Had him respond to pressure from my body gestures and back up or come forward or move his hind end away accordingly. He walked and trotted over the tarp obstacle without a care in the world. I gave him a break for 15 minutes or so while I had some food and then I tacked him up with my English saddle and his bridle with the broken D-ring snaffle. I lunged him a little more and then mounted him. *gasp* 

He stood steady as a rock. We flexed to both sides and then proceeded to follow D on Oliver (Griffin’s best mate in the field) around the arena. Over the tarp, weaving in and out through the poles, backing up, more flexing, more forward movement, and plenty of halts. He was much more eager to move off my leg than from cues with my hands. I liked this and hope he keeps it up. He didn’t switch his tail or pin his ears at all throughout the exercises. He did throw his head to try and rid the pressure from the bit when we worked on backing up, but it was nothing crazy or unexpected. I would have done the same were I him. He figured it out quickly and was backing like a champ by the end of the session. Good boy, Griffin.

I’m very thankful for all of the time I put in on the ground with him up to this point. I really think it helped to make a difference with his mindset toward work undersaddle. What we did was nothing exceptional, but it was a huge stepping stone for us. I look forward to a winter of more exercises like that at home once a week or so to build and mold his reactions to my cues.

Cowboy was really impressed with my work and complimented me a lot. He’s working with a colt Griffin’s age, too. That colt is much further along than Griffin, but I’m not in any rush. Cowboy looked at me with this little gleam in his eye at the end of the day while we were all sitting around and chatting and asked, “Can I lie your horse down?” “Sure,” I responded. “It might be crazy if he gets scared,” Cowboy warned. “I trust you,” I told him. 

He took Griffin into the middle of the arena, had Griffin give to pressure when asked to lower his head, and then pulled one of his forelegs up with a lead and waited. Griffin stood for a moment, flipped the leg around to see if it would release. When it didn’t he bowed down on his forelegs. He alternated from the bow to standing position 6 or 7 times before lying down. We praised him and loved on him and then left him to rise on his own. I’ve wanted to try teaching Griffin to bow, but always worried I would do it wrong and freak us both out so I never tried it. I was glad to watch Cowboy do this exercise with Griffin.

Overall, a great day. I’m glad I chose to take Griffin. He got a lot out of the day. He was such a good boy, too, though I really didn’t expect anything less. He’s such an easy-going fella. Looking forward to more adventures in coming months!