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Never Stop Riding

So We Don’t Take Care of our Animals?

So we treat our animals poorly huh? We don’t treat our animals ethically? I along with thousands of others are obviously unaware that taking better care of our animals than ourselves is completely unethical. I recently read an article, “7 Myths About Animal Treatment at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo,” this reading couldn’t have been more true.

Myth 5 was, “Rodeo Animals Have Hard Lives.” I can’t speak for everybody but I know for a fact that my horse is treated better than I treat myself. She is fed the best hay, grain, and supplements. When we travel she has a portable pen for at the trailer because it’s important for her to move around and be able to rest. I have every Back On Track product imaginable for her. If she’s having a bad day, I cut her slack. She gets fresh shoes every eight weeks, while I wear the same boots for years. I make sure she gets her ulcer medication twice a day when competing to make sure she’s on top of her game, I’m lucky to eat a granola bar if I have time. Trailers have had such improvements over the years to make traveling for months on end easier on horses, nutritionists are constantly trying to find the most perfect diet for every horse, and all decisions are made based upon what is best for the horse.

What most PETA supporters don’t know is, “The PRCA has more than 60 rules to ensure the proper care and treatment of rodeo animals included in its official rules and regulations.” If any animals are treated poorly or unacceptable then you are asked to leave. When you have a 1200 to 2000 lb animal you are working with you have to pay attention and be aware of your animal along with being in charge of the animal, for both the safety of you and them. If you aren’t authoritative with them then chances are both you and the animal are going to get hurt.

The battle with PETA will be a never ending battle, nobody will ever win, and we are going to always be at war with them. They want to ban the flank strap, when they have no idea all the thought behind it. What PETA doesn’t understand is that for all the professional cowboys and cowgirls, these animals are their livelihood and hurting the animal will just hurt themselves, and nobody wants that. “These animals are treated as well, if not better, than private ownership of horses,” says Dr. Garth Lamb, a native of Las Vegas who heads a team of veterinarians at the National Finals Rodeo. “It’s hard to find horses of this caliber who do what they want ‘em to do. They’re hard to replace, and the last thing they want to do is abuse them. That’s their livelihood and they take great care of them.” Horse owners aren’t out to hurt their horse, we are lucky to have once in a lifetime horses that we come across and we don’t want anything to happen to them.

Battling with PETA will be a never ending ongoing battle. Nobody will ever win. In the end all PETA is, is an uneducated group of people who have no clue what they are talking about assuming they are experts. All we can do from here is stand up and promote what we believe in.

Happy Riding xoxo

http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2010/12/09/5617915-faces-of-the-rodeo-vet-defends-treatment-of-rodeo-animals

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To Everybody Who Helped Me That Summer

To Everybody Who Helped Me That Summer:

It’s been almost two years since the one and only time I chose to not to get back on the horse but instead go to the hospital. It was a weird day and it had been a weird spring overall. My coming three year-old was kinda out of control, she had always been such a good baby that I hadn’t really figured out I needed to discipline her quite yet. I got on that day, Tana started bucking, and I lost the battle.

I ended up on the ground in the arena, face and head filled with dirt, and no memory of the accident just happening. After a couple of hours in the Ellensburg ER, my Mom and Brother came to pick me up, and took me home. For a week I sat and felt sorry for myself and through part of it was probably going to quit riding. For a few days I wanted to give my horse away. After I realized the hair I lost would grow back and my black eyes would eventually go away, I picked up the pieces and decided I was going to figure it out. My Mom told me that she and my Dad would support me in whatever I chose, Mike called me and said, “we’ll figure it out.” Kylee offered to ride Tana because I was still scared out of my mind.

Throughout the next weeks people told me to give up on her, sell her, trade her, buy something that doesn’t buck. As a three year-old this was the first time she had bucked, she had never done anything I would classify as “bad,” and overall had been a pretty good filly. Some people told me she was a reject and would never amount to anything. Then there were the people who told me, things happen, young horses buck, it was all going to work out. I cried a lot to my best friend and went back and forth about what I wanted to do. She literally listened to everything I said and would tell me all my options and then some. She told me not to listen to everyone who told me to give up because deep down she knew that I shouldn’t listen to everybody and give up. I finished the quarter and came home for summer to figure it out.

It had been three weeks and my Mom said one day, “if you aren’t going to ride her then you need to get rid of her.” So that Saturday my Mom ponied me on a trail ride and of course Tana did just fine. I have no clue why I was less scared to ride her through the woods than in the arena but I was. My friend Kylee rode her the following Monday and she didn’t even act like she had ever blown up before. When it came down to it, I wasn’t scared to ride her in general, I was scared to get on her. Kylee made me get off, get on, get off, get on. That entire summer my Mom took me to the barn everyday and made me ride, even on days I didn’t want to, by August I went on my first ride by myself. By September I was confident to go back to school, with Tana in tow.

As the summer came to a close and I was back in Ellensburg riding everyday without my Mom. I realized that entire summer was a mental battle. I had to mentally fight with myself everyday not to be scared. I had went back to my Mom lounging me on a line while I rode because mentally I needed that. I took Casey with Tana everywhere because I thought she would protect me. Did she protect me? Sure she did. But did I need her? No. The entire summer was a mental battle, a mental battle I won. I won this battle because my Mom made me ride everyday, Linda picked me up and took me to barrel races even when I didn’t want to go, she would stand in the corner while I scaredly trotted circles, Kylee made me get on even when I didn’t want to and was there to hold Tana when I got on. She would tell me over and over that she didn’t like crying, so I wasn’t allowed to cry.

That summer wasn’t easy. Did I want to give up some days? Sure, I thought it would be easier but I had put a year and a half into this filly so I thought I owed her one summer. Has she ever bucked again? Nope, not one time. Has she grown up a lot? Yeah, she has. Does she still have bad days where I decide it’s not worth the fight? Yeah of course she does, she’s a horse. I wouldn’t trade not giving up on her, it taught me a lot. Horses in general have taught me a lot. I learned to be tough and giving up isn’t always worth it. If you broke your leg would you just give up walking ever again? No you wouldn’t and you would surely hope that your friends wouldn’t give up on you. Last night I was loping and thinking about how blessed I am. How I learned so much from that summer and realized those few months made me a much better horsewoman.

 

XOXO Happy Riding

5 Reasons Horse Friends are the Best Friends

My entire life I’ve had “school” friends and “horse” friends, but I have to say horse friends have always been the best friends!

  1. They understand the majority of your life is going to be consumed by horses. You might not be able to hang out after school or work because your horse needs to be rode, pens need to be cleaned, and hay needs to be stacked. They get it because they are probably doing the same thing! They have their own hay to unload or move, horses to ride, and pens to clean. If you spend a Thursday night packing not only you but your horse too instead of going to $1 beer night, they get it.
  2. They don’t mind when you show up somewhere and you smell like a horse. This one is pretty self explanatory!
  3. Chances are that if you are spending your weekends off riding, they are too! They don’t get hurt feelings because you can’t hang out because they can’t either. I spend most weekends off barrel racing and most of my best friends spend the weekends with me at barrel races or off doing their own event. It’s just part of what we do. We don’t have days off, it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  4. Growing up I spent my entire summer with my horse friends and I enjoyed every single moment of it. As we grew up, we all grew into different disciplines and even through that we all continued to go and watch each other. I can’t say how many times Jacklyn would spend her days at barrel races with me or how many times Mackenzie woke up at O-Dark-Thirty to go barrel racing with me. Horse friends support each other from start to finish!
  5. You share the same passion! No matter if what discipline you ride if you text your horse friend about making a really good run or having a really good go. When your two year-old starts picking up the right leads automatically or you beat your best time. Or even the little things like, “today I cleaned the trailer out so now it doesn’t look like a bomb went off,” text messages, they understand!

 

 

In the end, they get it!

Horses & College

Every little girl dreams of taking her horse to college with her. Sadly for most girls this doesn’t become a reality. Either the horse gets turned out, leased out, or sold the summer before college begins. I will be the first to admit taking a horse to college is a lot of work and one more responsibility. Sometimes it means waking up an hour early to go to the barn and clean your pen before leaving on a Friday or riding at 8 p.m. after you went to three classes, worked 4 hours, and spent a few hours in the library studying. For myself, taking my horse to college with me is how I keep my sanity.

We had an awful winter, I mean awful. So I made the decision to leave her at home until the never ending storm was over. Being able not to ride everyday sucked a lot, I’ve rode three times since Christmas, two of those which were local games shows. Because Tana is who she is, she handles the craziness of college pretty dang well. She doesn’t mind early morning rides or late night ones, waiting in the trailer while I’m in class for an hour, or having a day off every once in awhile because I spend the entire day studying in the library.

Most people said I was crazy taking my horse to college especially fall quarter of freshman year and then I tell them she was two and a half when I left and they thought I was even more crazy. Taking a young horse to college wasn’t exactly easy, but it sure was worth it. Being able to leave the hustle and bustle everyday and spend a couple of hours at the barn makes the madness so much easier to get through. I love getting to spend my weekends going on trail rides, to barrel races, and just hours riding. I’ve given up a lot of my social life to go to the barn everyday. Taking your own horse to college is totally different then riding a horse through college. You deal with the not so fun parts like cut legs, ripped blankets, cleaning the trailer out after a long weekend, and everything that comes with a horse.

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My parents are truly saints for letting me take Tana with me and its taken the whole family to keep this going. My brother has come to pick her up in the snow for Christmas Vacation, my Mom has woke up at 3 a.m. to be in Ellensburg by 6:30 a.m. to watch my time-onlys, and the family has brought me numerous loads of hay. Having your horse at school isn’t all fun and games but it is definitely worth it!

I wouldn’t trade my college experience with my horse for anything!

XOXO Happy Riding

 

Practice Pays Off

Three years ago I took a leap of faith and bought a coming two year- old that had ten rides on her, a hay belly, short legs, and a big head. Eventually consistent exercise took away that cute hay belly, her legs grew, she got taller and grew into the large head. Having only a young horse makes you miss things like relaxing rides or jumping in the trailer to go to a last minute barrel race. I spent the last two and a half years getting up way too early for time onlys, staying till the end of the race to make an exhibition run, riding even in the pouring rain because consistency is key and fighting through every tiny battle.

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Best Lane Partner and Friend, Cara

I know I talk about my Mom a lot and how great she is but literally she is! Well my whole family is and raising a filly is hard especially when you’re 18-21, juggling college and busy with life in general. My Mom still is the best in all the consistency even a coming five year- old requires. She helped me with the battle of catching her as a wild two year-old when I didn’t have enough patience. My brother, Brandon, helped me with the trailer battle this last summer when I threw in the towel. He got her in the trailer not one, not two, but three times that day. Well all these battles and fights and long nights filled with consistency paid off this last weekend.

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My show buddy, Summer and I 

This winter hasn’t worked in my favor and is still continuing to work against me (today it snowed another couple of inches), but I’ve managed to make it home for SCWGA in February and this last weekend. Something hit me this weekend and I decided it was now or never to start actually riding. So I got my whip out, put on my big girl panties, and rode like my horse wishes I would every race. It paid off. I ended up placing 8th overall in a tough age group, running most of the best times I have on Tana, and riding the best I had in years. Tana didn’t cheat me, I stayed off her face, gave her slack where I needed to in each event and just rode how I know how. Miraculously when I do what I’m supposed to, she does too!

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After not only a successful weekend but overall series, I am that much more excited for what the rest of the year has to hold!

Thank you SCWGA, for choosing me as one of the scholarship recipients! It’s much appreciated.

Happy Riding!

How Do You Take Care of Yourself?

Each and everyday is a new challenge. Often times it’s easy to get wrapped up in taking care of others, but you can’t forget to take care of yourself. College is all about “adulting” and being independent; however, sometimes you need help. Recently I’ve had to be reminded that asking for help is okay. We aren’t in this journey of life alone for a reason. Sometimes you need to be reminded to most importantly take care of yourself.

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Today for Mental Health Awareness week, I attended an event with the words written across the board, “How Do You Take Care of Yourself?” Students got a chance to stop and reflect on how they are taking care of themselves through their college journey. It really made you stop and think for a second. You also realized you aren’t alone and that’s something I think people struggle with. It’s easy to forget you have others who are probably going through the same thing as you.

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People had a variety of different answers. Some students wrote their favorite type of alcohol, other sports, recreational activities, going to the gym, being outside. A couple of the more popular answers were, calling Mom or Dad or an animal. If you’re worried you aren’t going to be “cool” if you call your parents to make you feel better, you are wrong.  Just last night I called my Mom when I needed her to tell me everything was going to be okay.

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My contribution to the board was, horses. Horses have been my sanity, therapist, and reality check my entire life. I was that lucky little girl to be living my fairytale horse dream throughout my childhood, I had the perfect little Paint Mare with a heart of gold and more patience than I’ll ever have. A great support system filled with my family, friends, trainers, and fellow competitors. As I grew up and I gained more horses and challenges they still always kept my sanity even if it wasn’t as easy as before. Growing up my Dad always joked the horses took up my family’s whole life although it really wasn’t a joke, they did. However, I never got in trouble as a teenager, got good grades in high school and now college, I’ve never done any type of drug, so I’m pretty sure my Dad thanks the horses for all of that.

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No matter how you take care of yourself remember it is an important thing to do. Taking care of yourself will help you to be a better person everyday. You aren’t alone if you need to call your Mom at the end of a stressful day and go to every event the school offers that involves puppies. How do you take care of yourself?

 

Happy Friday!

The One

People say you get one good dog and one good horse in your lifetime. Now I’m not sure if I’ve had that one good horse yet, but I have no doubt in the world that I have my one good dog. Throughout the last fourteen years of my life I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, been through a few horses, lots of friends, losses and gains. The one constant I’ve had in my life is Cookie.

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If you know me, you know that since I knew what a horse was, I’ve been obsessed with them. Well for a period of time from second to fourth grade I was horseless, so needless to say Cookie became my fill in horse. She would load up in the trailer for hours on end and go on “rides,” let me wash her outside at the hose multiple times a week, be lunged featuring my genius method of putting a tennis ball on the end of a fishing pole, and at night would jump in “shows” I put on for the neighbors.

Cookie walked with my Mom to drop us off at school and then back again to pick us up at the end of the day. She always waited quietly and would start wagging her tail when she spotted my brother and I. She would run beside us when we rode our bikes. We were allowed to walk up to the school to play on the playground as young kids if we took Cookie with us.

As I grew older I never drifted apart from Cookie because she just grew up with me. Senior year in high school was a rollercoaster and Cookie was there throughout it all. She kept Tana company when she first came home and taught her to walk in a straight line. We went on numerous trail riders at Pilchuck Tree Farm. I’ve never had to worry about Cookie around the horses she just knew what to do. At barrel races she stands at the fence of the warm up arena with my Mom and watches me get ready to make my run. When I enter the arena you can guarantee to hear at least one bark from Cookie. Cookie is the first one ready to leave at 3 a.m. to head out and doesn’t mind if we don’t get home till 9 p.m.

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People always say, you have the happiest dog in the world. It’s true Cookie is the happiest dog, which has made her such a good traveling partner over the years. Cookie’s life hasn’t been the easiest in the world and her never ending happiness has helped through the bumps along the way. Two years ago while on a walk with my Mom and Dad, Cookie was attacked by another dog. The next day she underwent surgery and was incredibly blessed to be 100 percent following the attack. Then last fall she suffered nerve damage losing her ability to walk on her own, after many months of rest, we had a Christmas Miracle and she was able to walk again. One evening at the barn she stood up and walked down the lawn towards my Mom. Through both of these tragic events she never once lost her happiness and good spirit.

Freshman year of college I had to suddenly come home after being bucked off for the first time in ten years. Even though I was disappointed Cookie wasn’t in the car when my Mom pulled up, I knew she would be waiting at home. The week of recovery was long and emotional but having Cookie made it that much better. She laid on top of me while I laid on the couch for three days straight. I took her on short walks when my Mom would finally let me get up and I of course snuck her all the ice cream I was getting to eat.

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There’s nobody else I’d want to have by my side while I’m chasing this dream. I can’t thank my Mom enough for always letting me bring her, even when it’s probably not the wisest idea. Because who else would I be passed out with at 3:30 in the morning on the way to Wenatchee in the backseat of the pickup. But at the end of the day my Mom knows Cookie is my sanity. Plus, I know Cookie loves to go to the barrel races because chances are there’s a kid with a lunchbox and he or she is more than likely to share whatever is inside.

I’ll never be able to thank Cookie for everything she’s done for me the last two thirds of my life. For listening when nobody else would, being Tana’s best dog friend, comforting me when I needed it, those long drives at sunset that ended with whipped cream and bones from coffee stand girls, and for just being you. Other dogs will come in my lifetime, but nobody will ever be Cookie.

Making Choices

With everything in life you have to make a choice and horses are just another part of making choices. Which saddle pad to buy, do you enter that barrel race or this rodeo, are you going to be gone all weekend or pick one to attend, how many shoes are you going to put on your horse all summer? These are all choices we make daily, often times without even realizing it.

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Lisa Lockhart and Louie, my favorite celebrities 

Just like with anything the “celebrities” of barrel racing and rodeo affect what the everyday people are going to use. When Fallon Taylor came out with her helmet line everybody bought them and they started dying their pants wild colors just like Fallon. People are going to listen to NFR people who get to live the dream about the products they trust from tack to supplements to therapeutic products. I am one of those people that waits awhile to see if a product is all its cracked up to be before I try it. For example when Back on Track started becoming “the next big thing” I held off, watched if they worked, waited to see if the product lasted and then went out and bought them. I started out with just one pair of quick wraps, won another pair a few weeks later and in the last few months I’ve bought the mesh sheet, saddle pad liner, and hock boots. Needless to say, I LOVE Back on Track, and so does my filly. She was that spoiled two year- old who got to wear it and so now as a coming five year-old she absolutely loves it.

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Fallon Taylor’s Helmet Line

I’ve never felt the need to always be up with the trends but instead do what works best for me and my horse. People probably think I’m crazy for waiting to put my boots on until right before I run but it’s what works or scratching her neck right before we go in the arena. I’ve struggled a lot with loading Tana in the trailer (she got her stubborn side from me), but what works is opening both trailer doors so I do it.

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Tana being spoiled in all her Back on Track producs

Over the years I’ve also learned its not the most expensive thing that’s always the best either. For the last three years I’ve used a classic equine pad I got from my friend Kylee for $15. I tried to use a nicer one of my pads on Tana recently and she just didn’t like it, so back to the CE I went. Does she love the BOT Liner I put under it? Of course! Tana also likes to stand with someone instead of being left tied to the trailer or in her stall, so my Mom and I do our best to try and be with her at all times. As time goes on, you start to realize every horse is different and is going to have their own set of quirks. If they like something, do it, even if people laugh or question why you do what you do. At the end of the day, you know your horse the best.

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Back on Track Saddle Pad Liner

When it comes to entering for a weekend, do what you think is best. Don’t enter somewhere you don’t think your horse will like the pen or where you know you won’t make a good run. I’ve worked really hard the last few years to make all experiences good ones for Tana because of this she doesn’t freak out when a horse becomes loose at a games show in her heat, she will stand quietly at a trailer all night and doesn’t escape her pen, and she doesn’t shy at anything in the arena. I’ve also put her in a lot of situations that will gain her more experience.

At the end of the day even if the choice isn’t necessarily what I want to do, I make sure its the right choice for my horse because we wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for them.

Happy Riding!

Life of a Games Show

As a barrel racer you get spoiled, show up at 7 a.m., pay your entry fees, warm up, time only your three year old, time only your seasoned horse, wait for the tractor guy to work the ground, the arena crew to set the pattern and then you make your run and head to the next barrel race. Unless you are putting on the barrel race, chances are you don’t have to set the pattern, find a tractor driver, write checks, keep track of times, clean the facility and follow up with your Facebook post filled with results.

Two summers ago my trainer, Linzie, got on a kick of hosting barrel racers. At first I was like, “oh, this will be fun!” By the end of the summer when I was writing the last checks of the series, and Linzie was giving out the awards, I thought to myself that race producers don’t receive enough credit. It takes a village to run a barrel race, Linzie and I wouldn’t have survived that summer without all the help we had along the way and especially my Mom who was constantly willing to do anything and everything. For anyone wanting to produce a barrel race, if you put one on, the people will come!

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It’s the Western Gaming clubs that make each and every person work and earn their end of series prizes in more than just your horse/ rider abilities. You have to rake every three heats of riders or run the in gate or records times, etc. Not only are you making five runs each of a different pattern, but on top of all it you are either judging one to two age groups or raking at least 5 age groups or running the in gate for at least two age groups. When the series is over and you’re at the awards series picking up your stable sheet, saddle pad, or hay bag, you’ve definitely earned that prize. It’s not usually until I go to a games show after a while off that I realize just how much work they are. Although I won’t complain about all the Fit Bit steps I get on those days!

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Your day consist of:

  • Warm Up
  • Run
  • Rake/ Judge/ Time etc.
  • Warm Up
  • Run
  • Rake/ Judge/ Time etc.

And repeat this at least five times, that doesn’t even count if you bring a training horse and have to warm up and ride that one through all the events. There’s a special place in my heart for those people who don’t have the obligation to rake for riders but go ahead and do so anyways. I know my horse appreciates it.

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Attending a few games shows each summer definitely puts my barrel racing life back into perspective. I enjoy all the socializing that comes with the raking, making five runs in a day, standing in a holding pen with all the girls you’ve grown up riding with and then camping in the summer with your horse and all your closest friends. The days are long and sometimes hot or cold, but they are good for a barrel racers head, a horse’s head, and will make you appreciate all the race producers and committee members who work hard at barrel racers to make the race a breeze.

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So at your next games show or barrel race, thank the producers, committee members and when they need a helping hand, lend one!

 

Safe travels!

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