Friday, July 3, 2015

2015 - The 3 Week Countdown to the International

As I prepare for and look forward to the WHOA International at the end of July, I thought it was a good time to bring you up to speed on the happenings this year.   2015 has been an interesting year.  By interesting, I mean not quite the year I had planned on having - at least not in the horse realm. And, as many of you know - I'm sorta a big planner (okay, control freak- but who's judging?)  Also, I am a firm believer that God works in mysterious ways and that things happen for a reason.  So, I continue to be watchful for the lessons and reasons in all that is happening this year.  And, I'm learning to embrace the unexpected and ride the tide.

HALO photo shoot from earlier this year.  Thank you
Marty Barr from Barr Studios for capturing him on film.
The biggest unplanned event has been that HALO continues to be out of the show ring.  His fracture has healed completely and successfully, (thank goodness) but we are dealing with getting his hoof angles right so that we can get him timed up and shaking like a champ.  Unfortunately that has meant another season down the drain for showing him - as we have made the decision that we want him "perfect," not just good enough.   And, it also has meant I have shown him once this year - with the totally tally of twice (ding ding ding) since owning him.  Not what the plan was!  (LOL, whimper.)  However, we have identified the root of our challenge - and we are addressing it - and in only weeks he's made a HUGE rebound.  So, I remain hopeful.  'Believe,' has become my single daily word.  
Lessons: Have a great vet, have a great trainer, and if your horse isn't right - he's telling you something, so stop watch and listen.  In addition, tenacity, which is my forte, comes in handy - especially dovetailed seamlessly with belief.  Never stop believing.

Bourbon's WHOA Walking-On eNewsletter
ad.  Thanks to Savannah Hoffman for the
riding shot of B that you captured!
With HALO sidelined, my focus for 2015 has turned full-on to Diva and Bourbon.  Perhaps, that is where the mysterious ways part comes in.  Putting my focus at home, in my backyard, has brought new rewards.  First, Bourbon and I have definitely found our sweet spot.  We're communicating and working well with each other.  He's shaking and going extremely well.  Scott says we're better than he's ever seen us ride before.  I think it is mostly due to me feeling confident - since we are riding 4-5 times a week, and through that process, we make mistakes, learn, apply and improve.  In the end, we are on the same page and communicating.  In addition, I have begun to apply what I have learned through Hannah and Bourbon... to Diva.  She's getting more off the bit, which has lead to her dropping more in back and raising her head.  Perhaps we're only progressing in baby steps, but I can feel a huge difference with his mare from the saddle.  She may never be as light in the reins as B - but, she's learning to carry herself more and I think she's happier too.  Maybe she likes the learning.  I certainly do.  
Lessons:  Apply yourself and never stop learning and trying.  Communicate and be consistent and find what works for you as the horse and team.  Sweet spots exist for every horse and rider.

A few other wonderful events include new, unexpected actions of others.  First, I've been riding with Mary and Miranda, two youth riders who live near me.  I've been fortunate to be invited by Annette and Mike to ride with their grand daughters which has been fun for me to help them become better riders too.   It has also given me a chance to see riding from the ground - not just the saddle - and in the end, I'm learning too.  Plus, sharing rides on B, D and Fash with these girls just makes me smile when they smile and think its "awesome."  Secondly, I'm over the moon about the number of Wisconsin Walking Horse Associations members who are going to be making the pilgrimage to the WHOA International this year in Tennessee!   Last year Gale and Eileen joined me to compete in Tennessee.  This year there is a whole entourage!  Myself, Gale and Eileen - plus Margaret and a number of youth - Tehya, Cordie, Alexis, and Owen!   Plus, Mary is coming to sing the National Anthem with Mike and Annette.  All in all, with riders, husbands, grooms, grandparents, singers and cheerleaders, we'll have more than a dozen Wisconsinites and 8 horses!  We've reserved a full row of stalls and have Wisconsin signage and drapes ready to decorate.   Many kudos goes to Gale, who has rallied the troops at her barn and is making it possible for so many of her clients and youth to go.  I hope my experience being shared through this blog has put the opportunity out there for others and hopefully in some small way inspired them to give it a try.  Much like hearing the stories from Terre, or seeing the success by Kim Leonard (others from Wisconsin who have competed in the TN circuit) has done to inspire me.    
Lessons:  Share.  Everyone can inspire someone else.  In some cases you may not even realize who or how you are inspiring.  But by sharing, you enable it to possibly happen.  Then continue to share in what you inspire - and be re-inspired yourself by enjoying everyone else's excitement and enjoyment!  

So, now the countdown begins.  In just three weeks, I'll be loading up and heading again to Murfreesboro, TN - to spend a week of hot competition.  2015 will mark my 5th year competing at the WHOA International.  By far, it is the best week of the year.  And, this year will certainly bring new and different experiences.  I think, perhaps it may be the BEST year yet.  Just knowing that we will have the company of a great group of people from Wisconsin has put new momentum and excitement into this trip.  It certainly will bring a unique and energetic support structure - and will sure to be a fun and exciting adventure!   

To everyone getting ready for International: You are about to have the best experience of your lifetime!  I can't wait to enjoy it all with you!  Good luck and remember to have fun-fun-fun!        

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