Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Of Those Days

Today is just one of those days where I would rather be curled up in bed with a book and dream about riding rather than go out into the humidity that is summer in North Carolina and put in the hard work.  That being said, I will be heading to the barn once my riding tights are dry.

This is probably going to be a bit of a scattered, boring post but here we go.  I'm waiting to hear back from my old instructor, Caroline Atherholt-McClung (formerly Caroline Dowd), so I can discuss competing again and a few other things I will get to later.  My plan (as of right now) is to run Southern Pines I & II, and the May VA HT.  At that point I will be graduating grad school and who in the world knows what life is going to be like then.

Did I mention I'm in grad school?  I think I did in my first post.  School resumes next Monday and it will be my final year of formal education unless I decide to go for my PhD.  Let me just say: I do not want school to start and I am absolutely terrified of graduating and having to be an actual adult.  I have been blessed with an incredibly supportive dad who has said he will be there as my safety net, but it is still very scary thinking about trying to make it on my own!  It's just one of those growing up things I suppose.

Now, I've been considering a few options for after graduation.  For those of you not familiar with becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) I will break it down quickly and simply: you get your Master's (MSW), then go two years with a provisional license and you have to get a certain number of work hours and supervision hours along with take an exam, and only THEN are you fully licensed.  I have been told by others that the best time to move is directly following graduation, hence my current consideration of potentially moving to Virginia post-grad.  I would love to get a job up in Roanoke or Lexington which would allow me to (maybe) board Jerry at Caroline's farm in the beautiful Eagle Rock, VA.

Now, all of this is very new in my brain and really I have nothing set in the least, but it's fun to think about! Alright off to some pony time, my breeches are dry!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Life As I Know It

I think everyone has experienced those times where you sit back and just realize that life as you know it has completely changed, and you just aren't sure if it's for the better or worse.  I think my turning point in my riding was really after I went through a breakup about a month ago and started to reassess my life.  I'm a good student, a good friend, and I pride myself in being an independent person, but I just. wasn't. happy.  When I realized that, I felt almost selfish for not feeling "okay" and excited about life; I've been blessed with a very supportive (especially financially) father who has always encouraged my passions.  I have two wonderful dogs and an incredibly athletic horse.  I am in school and don't have student loans.  I live at the beach!  I just didn't understand why I felt like my life was so lacking. Then it hit me.  I wasn't experiencing the one thing that was always my sanctuary in life when things got rough.  I wasn't feeling like myself because I wasn't doing the things that meant the most to me at my very core.  That's why I've decided to throw myself back into riding because, frankly, right now the only time I feel true, pure joy is when I'm at the barn.  At the barn I feel at peace with life.  At the barn, anything can happen and I feel like it will all be okay.  If you haven't yet read the article "The Souls the Barn Builds", you should.  I'm not sure how the author did it, but she touched the very essence of me and elicited memories that I haven't thought of in far too long.  This article reminded me of WHY I love horses, riding, competing, but really why I love the atmosphere of a barn.  Just sitting on my tack trunk with Jerry's head hanging out of the stall is enough.  I may not have everything, but in that instant I am complete.

So far I've spent the last 6 days at the barn, 5 of them riding.  That may not seem like a lot to some people, but for me it's a huge step in the right direction.  I have decided to stick to walk/trot work for at least a month to start building both Jerry's and my muscles back up before we even attempt to canter.  We are working particularly on not letting any of our old bad habits come into play.  Jerry's bad habits tend to be being overly bendy through his shoulders and neck to avoid really engaging his body and also he tends to get heavy on the forehand, get strung out, and heavy in the bridle.  My bad habits are numerous, but my main ones are rolling my shoulders forward instead of opening my chest, using less leg than I should, and dropping my inside hand too much (particularly the right).  Can I also put it out there that OH MY WORD I AM SO OUT OF SHAPE!  I have been so sore it is ridiculous.  Like I said, I have only done walk/trot work and I know several of my weak spots have gotten worse.  I really need to strengthen my core and my ankles outside of just riding.  So yoga and pilates, here comes one extremely uncoordinated, inflexible, out of shape girl.

Well, I'm off to the barn (today marks a week straight!) to do some dressage work.  We get to focus on keeping it slow, a steady tempo, light in the bridle, and working on movements like shoulder ins, quarter turns, and turns on the forehand.  Until next time!

Meet the Characters

Welcome!  I figured that to start this off, the basic characters should be introduced.  So here we go!

Elle (aka El-dog or Elsie)
(My mom is so going to kill me for posting this)

This is my wonderful dog and loyal companion Elle. She is now around 12 years old and I adopted her from the Greensboro Animal Shelter when she was 8 months old.  She has a penchant for finding any and all unoccupied hands and for getting underfoot in the kitchen.  Now she has begun to find joy in her elderly age in tipping over the food bowls and ripping my carpet up (so not cool, but I still love her).  She has been to the barn (it's been a while) but never to a horse show, so we may be finding out how she is next year, but more on that later!

Pippin (aka Pip, Doodlebug, or the abhorred "Pimpin" by male friends)
In the truck for a little walk on the beach

Insert the second addition to the family: Pippin.  Pip is a character, and the most often word used to describe him is "special".  Special he is!  Pip was found at the barn I pretty much grew up at in Summerfield, NC.  He was the pup of a pair of wild dogs that tended to roam the property and he was found when he was less than 5 weeks old (according to vets).  Being as it was December, he just had to be my Christmas present.  Now Pip is around 7 years old and fast as a whip.  He has a fear of hard wood and tile floors and takes joy in the art of spooning.

The pups enjoying the sun on my mom's porch

Jerry (aka Great Expectations XI, Jer, Jer-Bear, etc.)

So this is the infamous Jerry! Okay, he's not that infamous (yet) but this is my pony dearest.  Who so is not a pony.  With an enormous shark fin that puts him at 17hh, he's definitely not a pony.  Jerry is a character, to say the least, and at times I wonder if he thinks he's a lap dog.  His favorite treat is peppermints and he will lick incessantly after you give him one. No really. He will lick anything. This includes you, me, my truck, my face, the stall wall, and pretty much anything he can get his tongue on. It's a little weird.  Best of all, however, is his passion for running fast and jumping over solid objects!  Yes, that's right, I have the ultimate cross country machine.  I bought Jerry back in 2008 as a 12 year old Thoroughbred cross (no idea with what) who had run Novice.  At the time, I had run a few recognized Beginner Novice and was looking for the horse I could move up with.  Cut to today and we have run in three Training level events, spent a summer up in VA with Caroline Atherholt-McClung (formerly Caroline Dowd), and have moved from Greensboro, NC to the coast of North Carolina.  It's been an interesting five years!  But more on that later.

Jerry running xc at Carolina Horse Park in 2011

Jer & I in a dressage lesson with Adam Gamble

Me (aka Taylor, Tay, and a bunch of other horrid nicknames)

So that's me!  What do I say about myself...I'm a 22 year old mostly raised in Greensboro, NC.  I've been riding horses since I was 7 and found my niche when I started eventing several years later.  Currently I'm halfway through graduate school for my Master's in Clinical Social Work (MSW) at UNCW and praying to make it through the next year to graduation.  I haven't made enough time for Jer the past few years, so we are both incredibly out of shape and needing some serious muscling up.  I'm not sure what it is about college that sucked my enthusiasm out of riding, but it did.  Through a series of not-so-fun life events, I somehow stumbled across my passion-bordering-on-obsession again and really would like to get back to where I was before in my riding (and obviously improve upon it).  My semi short-term goal is to compete again at Training level at Southern Pines I & II in March 2014 and ultimately qualify for and compete in a Training 3 Day.  As far as my quirky self, it's always been hard for me to really describe me so how about you just keep reading and figure out your own opinion? Until next time!