Thursday, June 20, 2013

The best job in the world...


Fourteen years ago, I could never have imagined how quickly the tiny newborn I held in my arms would become the most fascinating young man I have ever known.  I very clearly remember that day and evening prior where I spent the entire Saturday walking at the mall because I was two days overdue and felt huge.  That night when I went for a walk with my husband and we saw a doe and fawn on our evening sojourn we knew it was a sign of things to come, and come they did.  By eight o clock that night my contractions had started and around 11 pm we headed to the hospital as they were very close together.  We hung out for a little while to be monitored, and I'll never forget my husband reciting the entire Ghostbusters script as we walked around the Atrium of the hospital, talking me through my contractions. Ultimately we went home where I tried fruitlessly to sleep.  By 11:30 am we were back on our way to the hospital and Jake was born at 2:10pm on a Sunday...fittingly it was Father's Day that year. 
As each day goes by he changes so rapidly that its hard to see it happen, and I constantly feel like I am missing "it".  There are so many memories of him being a little kid up till now, but a favorite one of mine is Easter mornings.  When Jake was very little (3 or so) he LOVED finding the eggs the Easter Bunny would hide. It wasn't so much finding the eggs, as it was shaking them once he found them.  He would find a couple, and then shake them like maracas, not even opening them to see the M&Ms inside.  He just liked to hear the sound.  I recall him sitting in a rocker all by himself at my parents house, just shaking those eggs and BEAMING from ear to ear.  I have a picture of it on one of our end tables in the living room...Jake in his pjs, shaking those eggs and just grinning. 
Now that he is older, I just love listening to him talk; hearing his thought processes, sense of humor, and all the great little quips he comes up with like magic.  He is an amazingly kind young man, and I can't believe that this is the same little baby we brought home.  Time really does fly.  Jakob, you have brought so much joy, love, and laughter into our hearts. We love you dearly, and although I wish I could keep you forever, I look forward to seeing you grow for many years to come...just try not to do it too quickly. You gave ME the best present on your first birth day, the job of being your Mom. 
Happy Birthday to you, the greatest joy and gift of my life.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dressage at Grand Haven

We spent the weekend at Grand Haven Stable in Jefferson, OH competing three of our dressage horses.  It was a touchy start as we had to scratch three before the show even started (we were originally taking 6) for various reasons, and Mary had some car trouble, but we made it and buckled down for some early mornings.

As Goodman's rides were all in the 8 o'clock hour, we enjoyed three beautiful sunrises hacking him before sunup so that he would be relaxed and loose for his classes.  It was all worth it when he scored a 67 the second day placing third, and a 67 and change on the last day winning the class in the FEI Prix St. George!  We were so excited because this little horse just continues to surprise and amaze us!  We have a lot to work on still and the test had several mistakes (we did a lead change into the halt when I tried to get straighter!) and mistakes in the threes, but he got "7's" on his canter pirouettes! The collection and engagement for that movement is very hard and nerve wracking for him, and he kept his cool and allowed me to ride one step at a time.  I took a picture of him in his stall sleeping the day before, and it looked like he was dreaming about the pirouettes. 
His owner Angela Hambrick was very excited to see him being competitive at this level.  She had fun reminiscing with me about when she first bought him as a hunter and he had been ridden in draw reins so much that you couldn't see his neck...she joked that it was like riding the headless horse!  We can definitely see Goodman's head now, and I am so thrilled to be a part of the journey of this horse with her.  The best part of my job is seeing an owner truly enjoy their horse's progression through the highs and lows of getting to the upper levels, and revel in their horse's accomplishments and new found confidence.
Speaking of enjoying new found confidence, Angela herself competed her own In a New York Minute this weekend at Training Level. She came in second the first day and then won her last two classes at Training level, one with a 73.57!  It's fun to have her on a horse competing and not just watching.  York is also a repurposed hunter, who at nearly 18h, is quite a presence in the ring!  She got her qualifiers for regionals, so it looks like we will be making a trip to Chicago with at least two horses!
I also had the opportunity to compete a mare named Panglossian for her owner Sanae Tanebe at 2nd and 3rd level this weekend.  "Leggs" has been with us for nearly five years, teaching her owners the finer points of dressage, and recently Sanae had made the difficult decision to sell her.  We thought it would be a good idea to get a few scores at a bit higher level than Training, and Leggs did not disappoint us!  At Second Level she came in second with a 64% and fourth on a 62%, and then won the Third level test 1 on a 66%!  She has not competed at this level for probably four years, and it was a joy to see her get better and better over the course of the weekend.  This little girl LOVES to horseshow, and really turns it on when she goes in the ring.  Sanae and her daughter Utako had never seen her compete at this level, so I think it was fun for them to see what their little horse could do!  Check out her winning ride below!  She is a 12 year old Rhinelander mare, that is truly a diamond in the rough, and some lucky person will be very successful competing her in the future!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fear Factor

Recently some of my clients and I have been discussing the "Fear Factor" that some of them have in their riding.  I find that adult amateurs have a way of putting ALOT of pressure on themselves to succeed or perform better than their current ability or that they believe their ability is less than what their actual performance indicates.  Enter Fear.  For some its Fear of Failure at a horse show or perhaps it is Fear of Spooking, Fear of getting the wrong canter lead, the list goes on and on.  As a coach I try to be the best mentor, cheerleader, and sometimes psychologist I can, but ultimately it is up to each rider to make the choice to overcome their fears or not.  Check out this outstanding article on how to overcome "problems" and emotions that hang over like a dark cloud paralyzing our progress, and then MAKE the CHOICE!

Originally published on USEA tip of the month
By, Daniel Stewart
"This is a wonderful question. Our horses mean the world to us so we need to make sure that the time we spend with them is as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. Regardless of whether you're competitive or recreational, this should be one of your most important goals because you can really only achieve true greatness doing things you love and enjoy. Sadly, if you're not enjoying yourself you'll probably struggle riding to your true potential.  
To create this kind of enjoyment it often helps to know the various mindsets that lead to it. If you know them - and can adopt them - the positive emotions you create (e.g. self-belief, confidence, enjoyment) will chase the black clouds away.
  • Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset- Instead of telling yourself what you don't have, or what you're not good at (what's scarce), tell yourself what you do have and what you are good at (what you have in abundance). Rather than always trying to get what you'd love, remind yourself to also love what you've already got.
  • Solution vs Problem Mindset- Instead of focusing on problems, teach yourself to find their solutions. It's true that problems can create black clouds, but finding their solutions is a sure way to clear them away. Teach yourself to see problems as learning opportunities (not missed opportunities) by focusing on the solutions rather than the problems.
  • Present vs Past/Future Mindsets- Instead of allowing your mind to focus on negative past experiences or the pressure of future outcomes (e.g. standings or placings) keep your mind locked in the present. One way to do this is to set performance show goals like "balance my corners and landings." If you focus on doing these things while showing you'll increase the chance of succeeding in the present rather than worrying about whether it'll happen in the future.
  • Belief vs Fear Driven Mindsets- Instead of focusing on what you're afraid of (e.g. losing, forgetting your test, pulling a rail), teach yourself to focus on what you believe you can make happen. Rather than being afraid of the kinds of things that might happen, become the kind of rider who goes out there and makes things happen!
Riding - like life - is all about making choices. When given the choice to choose who you'll become as a rider, always choose to focus on the great things you can do in the present, the many skills you have in abundancesolutions rather than their problems and the belief that you can make great things happen rather than simply being afraid of the kinds of things that might happen.
In the end, the love of the horse and of our sport, and the enjoyment we feel while riding comes down to always remembering that: 
Emotions Shouldn't Get The Best Of You...
They Should Get The Best Out Of You!"