Discovering Other Disciplines

I am beginning another segment on my blog because I feel like it and it’s fun so here we go yay! It’s called latte horse talk. My attempt is to make it similar to coffee talk, where you just discuss interesting topics and see what happens. Today, I want to talk about different disciplines.

I started out my riding career as an event rider. I swore I thought I was so good at riding. When I started competing, I was 10 and I knew that I had a long way to go and a lot to learn before I was riding some serious fences, but I figured that staying with event trainers would land me there quickly. Boy, I REALLY had a long way to go, but it seemed completely doable. Honestly, it would have worked out. Staying in one discipline usually works just fine, but I had a bit of a different path.

Instead, I tried different things. Most of this happened when I went away to college. Not only did I experiment with jumpers, hunters, and dressage, but I also took classes about conformation, judging, and beginning western riding! I also took a halter breaking class (which I talk about in this blog post) and I learned a lot about horse behavior. Each class/experience I had gave me a bit to take into my own riding. I’d like to think I became a better rider because of it.

Even if you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone and do another discipline, try taking a lesson with another trainer! Sometimes they give you a solution to a problem you’ve been having forever. One of the first times I rode with a different trainer, I asked why my horse kept doing running after the fence over and over again and I felt like I was falling forward whenever I would try to half halt. I swear it seems like the simplest solution now, but she casually said try keeping your leg on. I know, I know, it’s like the easiest thing to do and for years I didn’t have it in my head to do it. But now, I will never forget that and my half halts are so darn good it’s insane!

If you’re looking to get better at your riding, or looking for a fun adventure, try other disciplines. Compete in a jumper class if you’re a dressage person. Sit on a reiner and try a spin or two. Heck, just take a lesson from a different trainer. Trust me.

Because you learn amazing things along the way!

Okay cool, well I hope it works out then. Just take your learning experience one stride at a time and it will all work out!

 

 

Jump Into…Clarity

I was 5 years old when I decided that I wanted to be a vet. I spent my whole life being passive about it, worrying about other things like what movies were out or when I could ride. I never once took an internship at a vet’s office or asked my equine vet to ride around in his car. But I still kept this dream all through elementary, middle, and high school.

I was 19 years old when I decided I didn’t want to be a vet. I decided so after riding around with the previously mentioned vet and being thrown into thermodynamics (which I absolutely hated for many reasons). I decided that my career would have to be something different.

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So here I am, 19 years old, at a college that specialized in agriculture, engineering, and architecture, in a major that specialized in pre-vet, and I literally have no idea why I’m there. Instead of running away, I decided to take every single interesting animal science class I could to expose myself to different things. I learned that I love horses, anatomy is amazing, and I still have no idea what I want to be.

A couple years later, I graduate college. I enroll in the MBA program because a well-rounded education sounded nice. I’ve worked in businesses before and people seem okay, right? Okay, well then I graduate. I still have no idea what I am doing.

Then, people start asking me what I want to do. As if I need more pressure, right? But it was actually useful because these people were a bit older and wiser and actually gave me sound advice.

So, after years and years of feeling lost, I am slowly puling myself out of confusion. There’s a couple of things that helped me with this and I want to share them so everyone can embark on a journey of confusion to clarity.

  1. Talk to different people about things like careers, their past, or and wisdom that they can pass down to you.
  2. Don’t be passive in your life. Sometimes I think back on my life and feel like I was dealt the wrong hand. I feel like I wasn’t given as many opportunities as some of my peers. But when I think more on that, it’s because I didn’t allow myself to open up. I didn’t allow myself to try new things or ask people for help.
  3. Do things that interest you. Don’t worry about what everyone else thinks because in 5 years from now, those people won’t be living your life.
  4. Read self-help books. Whatever you want to believe about these things, they’re actually very helpful. Right now, I am reading about finding your career of your choice. I’ve also read books about empowerment and the like.
  5. Read memoirs. Watch documentaries. Learn. Expose yourself to things that might not be ‘you’ at the moment. This will all help you find yourself and your true passions. Plus, you might learn something really cool.
  6. Take time to self-reflect. I always loved the idea of keeping a journal. I’ve never been able to do it until I started this blog. For some reason, knowing that a couple of people read this keeps me accountable to write down my thoughts. It also drives me to think of new things to write about, some of which are from my inner thoughts. If blogging isn’t your thing, sometimes yoga helps. Doing something mindful for 20 minutes a day really helps.
  7. Don’t forget to have fun. I think I did this throughout my life, more than the other lessons that I’ve written down. While it’s not as productive, doing something fun helps you know what you want, what you like, and what you want to keep in your life.

There are so many more lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. But I think everything here is really important. No matter what stage you are in life, it is good to just allow yourself to have new experiences because that puts you one step closer to a life of happiness. And that’s what everyone on this planet should have.

 

Ok cool, so just take this thing called life one stride at a time and you’ll be good, yeah?

Jump Into…Life

Hi.

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So, its currently Friday morning and this week has been a whirlwind. I can officially say I’ve been out of school for one month and been inconsiderately shoved into the real world. And with this one month, it’s been really hard. But in so many ways, I can reflect on it and honestly I blow myself away with what I’ve accomplished.

This just goes to show that life doesn’t gives you what you make of it. It will be all up in your face, criticizing you and constantly telling you to do something different. But it also gives you unbelievable opportunities. Just from one month, I can’t believe that I have done all the things I did. The crazy thing is, it didn’t feel like a crap load at the beginning. In the middle of it all, yes, it was a lot to take on. But after, after it’s all been done, I can actually see the amount I’ve tackled. But I can never see the depth of my accomplishments until I reflect on it later.

I think this is a weakness, but there is also some beauty in it. This means that I need to take more time to reflect in my day, and hopefully this will lead to me understanding my actions and, hopefully, understanding life a bit more. Everything that I’m thinking and writing about write now ties back into patience and perseverance. (Maybe I should rename my blog patience and perseverance because I swear I keep talking about those two things.)

So if you’re riding a youngster and they, for the life of them, won’t give into your contact, or if you’re like me right now and struggling to find your passion and purpose in life, just remember to take it one stride at a time. Also, have patience and perseverance. There’s so many other things that I could say as advice right now, like always be yourself or always trust your instinct, but honestly, I don’t feel qualified to say those. Right now, I am unsure of who I am. I’ve always been an equestrian and a student. Now, I don’t have that student part. It makes me feel lost, but I can trust myself that I’ll figure it out. I also always know that being an equestrian will never leave. And that’s the part that I hold onto right now!

Life is hard. There’s so many forces always pressing down on us, but that’s just an excuse. With all of this rejection from unanswered job applications that’s destroying my self-esteem, it emphasizes that life gives you absolutely nothing. And in that moment, you find out who you are and what you are all about.

Okay, enough rambling. But seriously, take things one stride at a time. Every one of those strides is a small accomplishment. Every one of those strides shows the amount of strength you have. Every one of those strides gets you closer to your goal.

Jump Into…A Brand New Place

I totally thought that I would have time to blog throughout this move…but I was greatly mistaken. These past few weeks have been full of moving, starting a new internship, finding a full-time job, finding a barn for Rae, barely sleeping, and some part-time exploration of the town and the rest of NorCal! I can honestly say I am so happy to be back up here, but I can also say that I miss SLO more than I thought.

 

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It’s hard to change everything and move, but there is also a beauty in it. I feel like you learn who you are when everything else isn’t stable in your life. On top of that, it shows you that you’re stronger than you think. Trust me, I’ve had some hard moments in the past month between applying for jobs and devastatingly missing Raven. During those hard times, it’s best to just keep going. Because I’ve also had great ones! Not only did I find a place for Raven, but I also got to try backpacking for the first time and dare say I’m addicted!

Putting yourself into new situations may seems scary at first (or maybe even exhilarating), but it always ends up being a good thing. I’m thankful that I can be optimistic during this time period and understand that it will all work out.

But more about backpacking because I can understand why so many people go. The feeling of being in the woods with literally no one else around is beyond words. This was my  first time backpacking and before then, I always was hesitant to try. I’ve always loved hiking, but I didn’t know if I would like carrying upwards of 30 pounds on my back or going to the bathroom in the woods. Heck, I didn’t know how I was going to wash my hands for putting my contacts in! But I put that all aside and just dove in and did it. I’m glad that I put my fears away and explored the beautiful backcountry of Tahoe! I highly recommend going there, but also just ignoring your fears (or at least not embracing them). It will surprise you what you’re capable of!

 

Jump Into…Packing!

I’m kicking off this new series a couple of days early. I felt like it needed a to happen now and not later so here we are. Without further ado, welcome to the new series…Jumping Into! What better way to track the progress of moving than beginning with packing (yuck).

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I was laying on my floor last night, drinking a beer, and taking a break from packing up our apartment when I just got this crazy feeling. I’ve been so anxious about this move (for obvious reasons), but I felt oddly calm.Besides the time that I moved from home to college, I’ve never moved by myself to a new city.  In what is supposed to be such a hectic and disorderly moment, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. It was such a great feeling. It was one of those moments that you cherish forever because you can never forget that raw happiness and excitement.

And I think there’s an important thing to remember about this. Even though change is scary, it is absolutely necessary. Not to say that I was fighting all of the change that was in my life in the past couple months and now, but I certainly wasn’t welcoming it. That mindset, though, didn’t allow me to grow with this change. That mindset didn’t allow me to become better.

Change is in everything, not just the typical examples of moving towns or graduating from a school. It’s also true that basically every living thing resists change. Raven hates when I give a command a different way, when I’m late with her dinner (or even worse…her grain!), or just anything that deviates from normal routine. And while this all seems trivial, it makes a big difference in our lives.  Think of it this way: If I don’t do things slightly differently, or give her the change to experience new things that changes her routine, going to a show or learning something new will be over-dramatic and will probably lead to an uphill battle.

So, it’s better to just embrace change, because it’s inevitable. Another good way to think about change is that we are growing, learning, and striving to be something better than we once were. I’m trying to take this mindset over everything else, and I think that it’s working!

But then, all of my positive mindset went away when I remembered all of the packing I had to do and how I still need to clean everything before we leave. Uhhh my to-do list is so long….

 

Sayonara Cal Poly!

This week marks the end of my journey at Cal Poly. While it’s bittersweet to leave the place that made me who I am today, I can’t wait for what is in store for the future. Along with that, I’m going to start a new series on this blog. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it’ll be one for the books!

The next few months are going to be hectic while I am packing up my life and relocating to an entirely new city. Not only that, but I have to transition from the sporadic college life to a grown-up career and balancing a horse with that. I have no idea what is in store, but I want to chronicle it on here in a series because I’m sure I’m going to learn a couple useful things along the way. And if not, it’s going to at least be an experience worth remembering.

I think it will teach me something, though. When I first came to college, I thought I knew a lot more than I did. By all means, I knew that I had room to grow and expand my knowledge, but I never thought I would have the experiences that I did. College taught me more than just technical knowledge, I also learned important life skills that I could never forget. From things like diagnosing a lame horse, to getting through foaling season with only 20 minute naps every so hours, to juggling horses and school and a social life, my college experience equipped me with vast amounts of knowledge for the horse industry.

My time at college taught me important life lessons. My dad died my sophomore year here, and I had to cope with the stresses of not only losing a loved one, but how to deal with the legal stuff after. I also met some of my favorite people here like my one of my best friends or my boyfriend. It’s hard to think of where my life would be if I never went to school. I’m so thankful for these times, but I can’t wait to never take a final ever again.

College was daunting at first, don’t get me wrong. I remember crying while I was leaving the barn after my last visit before I went to college. I didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to leave my horse. But, had I never gone, I would have missed out on so many opportunities. Change is hard and most people don’t want to do it, but that anxiety that everyone feels means that you’re pushing yourself. And that’s what I feel right now. So hopefully that means something amazing will happen with this move!

So, here’s to my last week in college and a fresh start to the world! I’m definitely going to have to take things one stride a time with these next few months…

Moving Barns

In exactly 2 weeks I will have an MBA in general management. In exactly 2 weeks, I will leave the town I’ve called my home for 5 years and relocate to a city I’ve never lived in and be pushed entirely out of my comfort zone.

On top of that, Raven isn’t coming with me. Well, she’s going up to the new area eventually, but I just haven’t found a place for her yet. I’m hesitant to move her to a barn without seeing it first and talking to the people that board there for a very important reason. Most barns will grossly fall short of your expectations.

I wish this wasn’t the case, but unfortunately many establishments have major cracks in their business. Sometimes the footing isn’t right, the barns have old wood that look on the verge of falling apart, the hay is bad, there’s no pasture space, the list can go on. So, while I go on this journey, I thought it is important to remind myself (and whoever is on the same quest for a perfect barn) of what to look for in your new horse’s home.

  1. Price of board and services. This is a perfect time to dust off the ol’ computer and do some research of the area. When I lived in Sonoma County, it was unheard of to have board under $600, but SLO has board priced around $400. This drastic difference can severely limit your options, especially if you don’t want to pay more than a couple hundred. It’s important to get some number on cost of living and average board rates in the area.
  2. Types of horse housing. It’s also important to know the options you have to board your horse. For instance, some only include pasture boarding, but my mare would most likely kill every other horse if she had to be in a pasture. Knowing the housing situation will also help you determine what you can afford.
  3. Quality of feed. This is probably one of the most important things. Bad quality hay means an angry colon which leads to a colicky horse. No one wants a sick horse, so make sure the food is good. If you still want to board somewhere that has bad hay, be willing to haul in your own.
  4. Additional services. When I had my horse at the first barn I rode at, blanketing and turnouts were included. I moved, and everything changed. Most barns don’t include services like that in the normal rate. Figure this out in order to know what services you need and how much you’ll be paying.
  5. Training policy. Some barns don’t allow outside trainers to come work with you. That means you’ll have to trailer your horse to your coach’s facility.

This is a working list and is definitely not exhaustive. I try to be open to looking at barns, especially when I don’t know the area and if the website looks outdated. It’s important to remember to communicate with people, too. Talking to the barn manager, talking to the trainer onsite, and talking to the boarders will really help you get a feel for the barn. Also, remember that you can say no and if you make the mistake of barding somewhere that you end up not liking, you can leave at any time. While the horse business is more like a community, it can be difficult to leave. However, remember that these facilities are businesses and there will be no hard feelings. Just do what’s best for your horse!

 

Happy searching! Remember to take things one stride at a time!

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Update in My Life

Hi, guys…

 

So, the past couple of weeks have been a doozy for me. Every since April 1st my life has went from 0 to 60. I found out Raven was lame and has to be retired, I am graduating my MBA program soon, I am relocating to an area that I’ve never lived in, and soon I have to figure out the next career step to take in my life.

Needless to say, my life is a bit hectic right now. I’m in the middle of midterms and I have to take my MBA certification test next week. As much as I want to keep this blog up and running with a new post at least once a week, I am losing the time and motivation. I feel really bad because I love writing on this blog. It’s a bit of a passion for me and lately, I’ve been slacking.

As much as I don’t want to slack on something I love doing, sometimes life is incredibly unfair. When I was younger, I didn’t understand why everyone always said cherish the time you have as a teenager. Now, I get it. Being an adult means way too much responsibility all of the damn time. And it’s hard. I literally have no clue what kind of job to get, what I’m qualified for, what I like doing…honestly the list goes on. It’s really stressing me out and all I can think of is the easy lifestyle I had as a 16 year old.

But it’s also important to remember to take things one stride at a time (literally why I named the blog One Stride). I have such a hard time over-analyzing the little details that I forget about the big picture. I forget to live in the present and remember that life is great. It’s all in the positive mindset and focusing on one thing at a time. And I hope it’ll soon get easier like everyone talks about.

So I’m going to take things one stride at a time, and hopefully you will too!

(Side note: I went on pinterest to find one of my favorite quotes and I found this post that goes into more detail about what I’m talking about here. Funny how that happened!)

 

Taking a New Direction

Over the weekend, I received horrible news.

Raven needs to be retired from show jumping.

I knew this was coming. My horse has a significant pigeon toe (her hooves are turned in) and I’ve always known her performance days were numbered. She was always on-again, off-again lame. If I had a penny for every show we had to miss because she was lame, I might be significantly less broke than I am now.

Even with my knowledge of her poor hoof conformation, I am still mad about the situation. I’m mad that NO ONE ever warned me that this would happen. People occasionally mentioned that her imperfections might be a bump in the road, but no one ever told me that her hooves would create such heartbreak to retire my beloved mare at age 12.

While I needn’t blame anyone for my mistakes, I can certainly look to the horsemen and women in my life for never initiating a conversation. I know I should be bigger than this, but because no one spoke up, I have to decide what to do with my horse for the next 15 years because no one wanted to let me know it might be bad to have her as a competitor. Honestly, someone should have said that poor structural conformation will lead to injuries and she should not be a performance horse.

Her conformation sucks, I know. What sucks even more, though, is that she may never fully heal. This breaks my heart even more because she LOVES to work. Her ears are always pricked forward while jumping and she gets excited when I start tacking her up for a ride. It absolutely breaks my heart that she never gets to jump another course in her life.

I just received the rehabilitation plan for Rae, and while there is some home she will get better and we can do some fun stuff, there is a huge chance this injury will be recurring. Basically, her feet are tearing her away from her favorite thing to do.

So, folks, know your horse conformation before you take a risk and purchase a horse. Or, if you don’t know, ask someone experienced. Conformation is a big deal with horses, especially performance horses. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask me. While I may seem like the wrong person to go to because I made this silly mistake, keep in mind I got Raven when I was 13. I’ve had multiple physiology and conformation courses since then and I’ve competitively judged numerous halter classes. So don’t be afraid to ask! I can do a series about conformation, too, if that would help.

And don’t forget to take things one stride at a time! Especially when everything around you feels like it’s changing.

It’s Simple.

Whenever I have a lesson, it always goes the same. I start by warming up. Raven always feels good, with some room for improvement, but that’s what a lesson is for, right? We start warming up over jumps and it’s easy to see that we only jump once a week. We’re slow to remember everything we have to do to have a good jump. My mind starts telling me to pay attention to my leg, then my seat, then my upper body, but I also need to keep Rae straight to the jump otherwise her shoulder pops out…the list goes on. Soon, I get frazzled by everything I need to do and then I just become a mindless rider because my brain is too preoccupied with what I need to do instead of what I’m actually doing.

But this probably happens for 10 minutes, and then my trainer comes to the rescue. She always says the simplest things to get me back on track. If my shoulder start slumping forward, she simply tells me to focus on my lower leg. I don’t understand how it works, but soon my whole body is doing what I want it to do as soon as I just focus on my leg. Then, she’ll mention the outside rein and voila! Raven is straight and perfect over every jump. My lesson ends perfectly with things I need to work on before next week.

I swear, this happens every time I have a lesson. And my trainer isn’t telling me things I don’t know, she’s just reminding me of things to do that I temporarily forget. But this is what I want to talk about today: simplicity.

Simplicity while riding is a life-saver. I get so bogged down trying to remember to keep my body a certain way and to keep contact like this and to make sure my toes are pointed forward at all times and to basically be a perfect rider. I have honestly struggled with this for as long as I can remember.

But recently, I’m trying something new. Each ride, I focus on only one thing and try to work only on that. Or if I’m struggling with the right lead change, or Raven’s shoulder is popping out, or I can’t get my left leg yield, I simply exhale and start from scratch. Honestly, this has helped tremendously. Focusing on one aid at a time can significantly improve your ride. This is because both you and your horse will be more relaxed, and you will become a more effective rider.

I can provide a list of examples for this. One while ago, my horse was not listening to my half halts after a jump. Whenever I needed to get her back to her collected canter, she would just ignore me for about a second too long and then our next jump would be ugly. It was so frustrating! Finally, my trainer told me to engage my core and keep my upper body back. It worked phenomenally. Not only was my horse more responsive to my half halts, but our canter was more balanced. Or last week, my horse WAS NOT listening to my leg. She wanted to go, by all means she was basically galloping, but she just wanted to go her own speed. Then, I just repositioned my leg so my toes were straighter and my heels weren’t in her side, and there was a 100% difference. These little changes ended up making a huge impact on our ride.

Let’s also look at what happens when you don’t focus on one thing. (I have a lot of examples for this, too.) We’ve all had those rides where, for the life of you, nothing is going right. Just everything you do leads to more frustration and your horse isn’t listening, and you’re just sitting there like omg Raven, just get your life together. Well, most of the time, it’s completely my fault. I’m usually leaning forward, with my spurs dug into her (accidentally!), and somehow gripping with my knees. At this point, I usually realize what’s going on and try to fix all of it at the same time. But then I’m so focused on these three things, I don’t realize that my horse is going down the side of the arena as crooked as can be and that’s why we’re not getting our extension. If I would have just changed my leg, then worried about everything else later, it’s simpler to catch your faults early on.

Raven also suffers if I try to change everything because I’m preoccupied with things I need to work on and stressed out that we’re not doing anything right. If I just focus and simplify, I can relax. Not only will she relax because I am, but she will be relaxed because there isn’t an abrupt change.

Simplicity doesn’t just affect your riding style; it can also affect your tack. I had this friend at the barn a while back that would constantly change her bit. These would be drastic changes, too, like a hackamore to a snaffle, to an elevator, to a myler. Her poor horse had no consistency and their riding immediately suffered. Her horse would throw her, toss his head, just about anything tracing back to the complexity of her tack. It was terrible to see, mostly because it was easy to tell how frustrated the both of them were! Finally, when she came to her senses, the horse calmed down.

I’ve done this, too. Raven used to flat out drag me around the cross country course. We quick jumped from a snaffle to a Pelham within a month after I got her. Around the same time, we also had a problem with her opening her mouth, so we obviously thought a flash would help. Fast forward a couple of years, and the Pelham works wonders! She’s also not opening her mouth, but she’s having a hard time relaxing while I’m riding. We could never figure it out, until I had an epiphany and decided to take the flash off. She was suddenly a different horse.

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We tried a snaffle for our first jumper show and it did. not. work.pictures1 307

So, we moved to the Pelham. (You can see that we had the flash in both cases, so we made it a simple transition.)

This doesn’t work for everyone, but it does work for about half of horses. Having a running martingale with a flash and a 3-ring with spurs might not be the best choice for your horse. Sometimes, a simple bridle, a bit, and one pair of reins is all they need.

So, just try to take a deep breath, simplify your aids, and don’t worry about being perfect. Your horse will be thankful that you try to improve and will also be more relaxed that you make tiny improvements. Simplicity also comes from focusing and relaxing. If you feel overwhelmed, half of the time you probably feel that your ride is becoming to complex. Rides are simple, just take things one stride at a time.