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Never Stop Riding

Breaking the Stigma

Horses and college, the stigma that all you are is a spoiled kid. Ya I’ll admit I have nice horses, are they the nicest? No, but that doesn’t mean they lack in any way. Whenever anyone hears I’m in college and I have not only one but two horses they automatically tag me as, spoiled. I’ve never denied that I am spoiled because I am; however, I also work very hard and have been given high expectations.

Bringing your horse to college hasn’t been no walk in the park. In fact it’s turned into a lot of long days and sleepless nights, and relying on others for help when I need it. My boyfriend has hauled endless loads of hay, my brother has hauled my horses back and forth from home to school for me when I haven’t been able to do it myself, and my parents have taken time off work to go to barrel races with me.

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Barrel racing and horses kinda has the snowball effect on people. Once you start you can’t stop, it’s more addicting than cocaine! Not that I’ve ever tried cocaine, but that’s what everyone says. I don’t think barrel racers ever stop looking for their next barrel horse. A word of the wise once said to me, “don’t be afraid to trade up!” I sold my high school horse when I came to college and it was the best thing I ever did! Now she has a great home with a competitor she exceeds with.

Horses aren’t cheap, in fact their downright expensive. My parents always joke about all the things we’d have if we didn’t have horses, well mostly my Dad. Horses have taught me to work hard, I’ve had a job since Freshman year of High School and haven’t stopped working since, last spring I went out and got my first grown up job because sadly these horses don’t pay for themselves. If I didn’t have horses to pay for I’d be a millionaire but my life wouldn’t have half the fulfillment it does!

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Although I’ve had more financial help with this horse dream than I could ever repay everyone that’s helped me along the way I’ve also had endless amounts of emotional support. From helping me mentally be able to lay down a run my horse was capable of to everyone who’s cinched me up prior to a run or rubber banded my feet in my stirrups, thank you it’s all helped. The stigma of spoiled horse girls is strictly a stigma. We drive through the night to make it to the next barrel race, we ride late at night or early in the morning between work and school, we are responsible for not only keeping ourselves alive but also our partners!

Barrel racing is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Just when you think you’ve got it all under control or all figured out more curveballs are thrown at you. You’ll be at finals brave enough to finally lay down a nice run and think your all set and then boom after an awesome first and second barrel you can’t finish the third no matter how hard you work. But hey if life wasn’t like that barrel racing would be boring.

Horses are a weird thing like one day you love them, the other day you wanna give them away but really you learn endless amounts of life lessons. I’ve been bucked off, drug through a parking lot (don’t ever let go of the stud horse), I have hit more barrels than I can count, but I’ve made the best friendships, gained the best mentors, felt on cloud 9 about runs, sometimes the best things in life are the hardest to reach.

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Dealing with Crisis

If there is anything cowboys and cowgirls are good at besides riding horses and doctoring calves it is dealing with a crisis. When someone in the community is in need we are the first to reach out.

Helping those in need has gotten a bad reputation because of GoFundMe. More often than not you don’t know what your GoFundMe donations are going to and you worry a vacation might be taken with it.

On Wednesday, November 22 just a few short months ago a tragedy struck the cowboys and cowgirls of the Northwest. Murray Gudmundson lost his life on that rainy afternoon in a tragic accident. Murray had been married to Jackie for the last 10 years and father to eight year- old, Bodee. Bodee idolized his father and had absorbed so much information he is very wise beyond his years. Throughout the last 12 weeks the community has been working endlessly to help in every way they can.

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Murray’s life was celebrated on December 1st where the attendance was over 300 people and just because that aspect of closure followed the accident doesn’t mean the efforts of the crisis have stopped. Each Friday we send flowers to Jackie and Bodee because they like to have fresh flowers in the house. People continually offer efforts in every way. This previous weekend a benefit race was held in conjunction with a silent auction to raise money for their “leftovers fund.” The money is available to use when they are in need and they can give to others in need as well.

There is no doubt in my mind that during a crisis the community of cowboys and cowgirls know how to handle anything.

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The PRCA, Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, has a Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. This fund is used to help with the cost of Professional Cowboys who are injured and unable to compete. The fund was incorporated in 1990 and is used to support cowboys and their families when they are in need during an injury. They have awarded nearly $8 million dollars to over 1,000 injured cowboys in the last 28 years of helping out.

No crisis is a good one, but realistically they happen every day and we have to be able to tackle them as quickly and effectively as possible and being prepared is only going to help.

Picking Your Poison

Owning horses is one of those things where on a daily basis you pick your battle. For being such a big animal horses sure are fragile and sensitive. The littlest thing can upset them. However, just like anything some are more sensitive than others.

I knock on wood everyday that I’ve been blessed with some pretty sturdy horses. I make sure their feet are kept up, they eat better than myself, their stalls are freshly bedded, and most importantly they are happy. Because happy horses last longer. Just because my horses are sturdy doesn’t mean they aren’t picky.

Something as small as shavings in the trailer can cause a crisis for some horses. Shavings in the trailer was the latest debate topic I saw on Facebook. Usually I refrain from these because every horse is different, but this one I did chime in on. This post was a reminder how easily a crisis in the horse world can happen and most of them done innocently.

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A simple trip at a barrel race can end a horse’s career, shavings in the trailer for one horse can be the reason they are comfortable getting in while for another can cause respiratory issues. Some horses require a much stricter diet than others. In the land of owning horses you are constantly picking your poison to avoid a crisis.

Examples of Crisis in the Land of Barrel Racing 

  • Pulling up to the barrel race and your horse coming three-legged out of the trailer
  • An abscess
  • Respiratory issues  – thank you modern technology for assisting in this!
  • Your horse running off in the middle of the pattern
  • In general showing up to the barrel race and something is wrong

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It also depends on the barrel racer what they consider a crisis but we live a lifestyle filled with trying to avoid crisis. It’s a funny thing though because when crisis does occur the entire community comes together as one large family!

Here’s to the lifestyle of avoiding crisis!

What’s Next?

Since September I’ve been asked too many times to count what I’ll be doing next in life post graduation. Being the planner I am, I’d like to think I have it all lined out. I have career plans, goals to fulfill as a barrel racer, and work on becoming an adult.

Following finishing up my undergraduate degree in March I plan to continue working at my current job. Hopefully in a couple of years I will begin a graduate program and eventually I’ll be able to come back to CWU either as a PR professional or an Assistant Professor. Who knows maybe I’ll find time for a Ph.D. too?! This is all if becoming a professional barrel racer doesn’t work out for me!

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As a barrel racer I want to be the best athlete I can be with Tana. Begin running her more to her potential and quit holding her back. This summer I hope to begin looking for another weanling/ yearling to add to the madness, I’m ready for babies to start popping up for sale! Casey is moving to Ellensburg next weekend and I’m looking at it as the beginning of an era. I have a lot of barrel races planned for this spring and can’t wait to get back at it.

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When it comes to working on becoming an adult I’m not sure yet what that has in store, but I feel like I have a pretty good start on it. I make coffee in my Keurig every morning, I’ve started living by a normal schedule that includes waking up and starting most of my days off at the gym. I intend to continue going to the gym 4-5 days a week even when the Iron man Challenge is finished, so that’s a start! Eeek I’m going to have to purchase a gym membership! Plus, Nick and I plan to put this long distance thing to an end, finally!

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Ask me in six months if I have anything figured out because I probably won’t but hopefully I’ve learned a lot!

Getting Ready for Spring

This weekend in the windy town of Ellensburg, we had a real tease of spring. I so wanted to ride outside in the sunshine but the arena wasn’t quite dry enough. I took Tana’s blanket off on Saturday and she got to eat outside, for the first time this year! This morning I made a list of all the big barrel races I plan to hit this year, needless to say I’m ready for spring!

Aside from hoping for enough sunshine to ride at home this month, I’ve been devoting a lot of time to the gym because on January 29, Rachel and I got the wild idea to sign up for the Ironman Challenge! We have the entire month of February to complete the challenge.

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Ironman Challenge:

  • 26.2 miles running
  • 112 miles biking
  • 2.4 miles swimming

We’ve made tracking sheets to keep track of our completed miles and every Wednesday we email an updated count of our completion of the challenge! Having a partner in this is so hopeful because it’s motivating, someone to hold you accountable, and at the end of the day when you can hardly move you aren’t alone.

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I’ll be honest I really want the long sleeve dry fit t-shirt that comes with completing the challenge! Then I read the fine print, the top 3 female and top 3 male finishers receive additional prizes and there’s nothing I love more than prizes! My other half of motivation for the challenge comes from barrel races being just around the corner and my desire to be in good shape for the 2018 season!

It doesn’t mean this challenge isn’t going to be hard or I’m not going to want to quit, but Rachel and I are going to keep sticking with it! We are determined to get those shirts! I’ll make sure to do a follow up post at the end of the challenge, let’s hope it’s prior to March 1!

Crisis on the Inside

Recently I talked Nick into purchasing Direct Now, it’s the best of both worlds. Boyfriend pays for the internet streamed cable and I watch it, how is that not perfect? While flipping through channels trying to find all my 90’s Sitcoms I like to watch late at night, I continuously see, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams.

This is Brian William’s second show and nothing like his first, except he’s on it. William’s used to host the The News with Brian Williams, the most watched program in America. After stories didn’t begin adding up about Williams’ story of an experience in the Iraq war. He was a respected and trusted journalist throughout America and this event came as a shock to millions.

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The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is the solution to the crisis of Williams’ exaggeration about the Iraq war. Recently, American’s watched Matt Lauer be removed overnight from the Today Show. If I’ve learned anything in my last four years as a PR Student at Central (Go Wildcats!) it’s that just because journalist cover and write about crisis’ doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of one themselves.

I grew up watching Matt Lauer on the Today Show with my Mom before school in the morning, eating my bowl of cereal. I never imagined he would be fired immediately because of inappropriate behavior towards co-workers. As viewers we gain “relationships” with the TV journalist, we trust what they are saying is true, it comes naturally. Most importantly they influence us on crisis such as Chipotle with their three outbreaks, they tell us not to eat there so we don’t!

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TODAY — Pictured: (l-r) Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer appear on NBC News’ “Today” show — (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

One day journalist are telling you about a crisis, and the next you find out that the same professional was the cause of one!

Throughout the last four years or 14 quarters I’ve read thousands of pages and had multiple eye opening experiences to the insights of Communication as a whole. Something millions of Americans won’t ever touch. I cringe when people speak sometimes because they actually don’t know what their talking about. If a journalist is capable of causing a crisis than anyone is!

The Lifestyle

Being an equestrian is a weird thing. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, constant adrenaline rush, and sleepless nights that you’ll never forget. I thought barrel racers were the only people who snuck into arenas in the middle of the night to warm up; however, I learned I was wrong when watching, Down the Fence.

Down the Fence sums the lifestyle of an equestrian up in 90 minutes. Barrel Racing is a different style of riding, most of the time you ride your own horse 5 days a week, have your own rig, and are up at 2 am riding your herd of horses you snuck into the arena. But your trainer is right there beside you because she’s just as crazy as you are!

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I remember one time Linda reminiscing about sneaking into arenas at 2 a.m. so their horses could get a feel for things before making a run. She said, “all the greats do it.” Well about 6 months later there we were sneaking into an arena at the fairgrounds so the next day we could lay down solid runs. There were 3 of us, year- old Charlie, and 4 young horses, a combination of entertainment. But the next day when it was time to make our runs, the young horses didn’t shy away.

The lifestyle is a funny thing –

  • You eat a lot of meals out of tupperware heading to the next race
  • The majority of your snapchats are with the view of your dash
  • A duffle bag is always packed with clothes
  • Sometimes horse hair makes its way to your gym clothes
  • A barn full of hay is like Christmas

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The lifestyle isn’t always easy. I give up a lot of social time to chase this crazy dream, I can’t tell you the last time I went out on the weekends with my friends because I always have something to do the next morning. It sometimes challenges my relationship with my boyfriend, but at the end of the day he’s supporting me in my dreams 100%.  My family has had to give up a lot so I can keep chasing the gold buckle dream, as all the kids are calling it these days. My Mom wakes up at 3 a.m. so we can be to the barrel race early enough to get in the arena while it’s still open before time onlys. I get excited when I have a barn full of hay and a load of shavings. It’s a lifestyle where you’re main priority is not yourself as an athlete but your horse.

My days consist of school, work, riding, cleaning pens, watering, feeding, and then finally hitting the gym. Today I signed up for an Indoor Ironman Challenge with my friend Rachel, I’ve been spotting the promotional ads plastered on the walls for weeks but finally today I signed up! Thanks Rachel for the push! Stay tuned for updates on how running 26.2 miles, biking 112 miles and swimming 2.4 miles goes. The majority of me did this because my first spring barrel race is March 9-10 and I want to be in the best shape possible for Tana and I this season! I’ve got big goals for what 2018 has to offer us!

Costco Series – Buying in Bulk

On Sunday, I adventured around Costco for the first time in a long time! Thanks Uncle Randy for the membership.

Browsing through the isles there was so much I wanted to take home but know I have absolutely no room to yet because my current townhouse seems to have the smallest freezer on earth! I can’t wait to live with Nick because he has a large chest freezer, but shhhh don’t tell him that.

For Christmas I got a crockpot and pressure cooker and am eager to use them to make some yummy food! Yesterday I found so many good deals on food and household items and I didn’t even make my way into the clothes.

Buying in bulk does pay off! 

A few items I picked up included:

  • Mixed Nuts for $17.99 for 2.5 lbs. These are my favorite for snacks!
  • Asparagus for $7.99 for 2.25 lbs. This saves around $1.44 lb from buying at Fred Meyer and I haven’t been able to find a better deal!
  • Rotisserie Chicken – For only $4.99 per chicken this is unbeatable and really the best flavored chicken! I use this on everything and anything from sandwiches and salads to chicken quesadillas.
    • You can also now buy the rotisserie chicken already pulled off the bone and in a bag now! You receive two 2lb. bags for just under $10. 
  • Gala Apples for $6.49 for 12 apples. I usually eat half the apples and then dehydrate the other half!
  • Butternut Squash for $4.99 for 2 lbs. This comes in a container and is pre- cut which is really handy! I need to look up some recipes for seasoning this.
  • Mixed Peppers – I picked up a 6 pack for about $6 dollars, this is about the same price as the grocery store but these are much fresher than the regular grocery store!
  • Kirkland Non Stick Spray – 2 large cans for less than $5

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There was so much I wanted to pick up, but because I share a fridge, pantry, and kitchen with two other people it wasn’t practical enough just yet! Lately I’ve been reading a lot of other blogs about Costco and saving money buying in bulk.

On weekends I spend barrel racing, I really live off of Costco turkey rolls, apples, bananas, and a good costco salad. There’s something about Costco having the best salads from their deli! My favorite thing about the Costco deli is the fact that their meat is NEVER dry!

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Some meals I’ve made this week with my findings included:

  • Roasted asparagus and butternut squash in olive oil, black pepper, and garlic salt with rotisserie chicken
  • Crockpot Chicken Fajitas – thank you Pinterest!

Stay tuned for more blog posts on my Costco finds!

What’s Your Experience?

The first thing a potential employer will ask in an interview whether it be on the phone, in an email or in person, “tell me about yourself,” aka what’s your experience? As seniors in our winter quarter we are beginning to search for the next step after graduation in June. 

The struggle of all Public Relations majors is finding a job their qualified for.

For a lot of us it will seem like having a bachelor’s degree and experience from a part- time job throughout college just isn’t enough. A friend of mine recently graduated and is extremely frustrated because “entry-level” jobs are requiring 2 years experience. We’ve all done internships to graduate, but not 2 year long internships! How are we suppose to gain experience if nobody will give us a chance?

Internships are a weird thing and for Communications students they are almost dreaded because internships are unpaid in our industry. I didn’t know there was such thing as a paid internship until my accounting major roommate, Karli, got one paying $22 an hour and goes to training in Disney Land! Can you say lucky?

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Throughout the last 4 years I’ve watched people graduate and always wonder what they’ll do post- graduation. The first “friend” I had graduate went on to stay another two years and complete Grad School. At first this seemed like the “easy” way out because it bought you more time till the real world. Another recent grad is filling her days housesitting in the greater Seattle area while she searches to lockdown her first “big kid” job.

The dreaded never-ending question of seniors is, “what’s your plan after graduation?” It’s interesting to find a lot of no experience required jobs have admin titles. No offense to all the admins out there but I’ve spent the last 7 years of my professional life as one and I want to do something else!

Soon to be graduates out there, you aren’t alone in the frustration of searching for a job you’ve spent 4 years preparing for to only find out you aren’t qualified.

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