Sunday, October 22, 2017

Race Report: Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon

If you follow my on Instagram or are my Facebook friend, you've already seen the below photos (and caption). I ran my first ever half marathon on Saturday! A little backstory, I was supposed to run a half marathon in June (with my Dad) but got injured while training so I had to sit it out. 

My training for Saturday's half marathon was going well.  I finished my last 10 mile long run two weeks ago and was feeling well. Two days later I got sick...I was in bed for a day with a fever and then flew out to a conference for work. I had a lot of chest congestion, a cough, and no voice for a couple days. I ran lightly a couple of time during those two weeks but mostly laid low. 

Ran my first ever half marathon today. The first half (of the half) was pretty easy...the second half was harder and I prayed. I prayed for many of my friends; for peace, for strength, for healing, for comfort. As my dad always says, life is a marathon not a sprint. Some miles are easy and some are hard but at the end of the race I want to be able to say "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

Saturday morning was stormy and gross. I had several people question my sanity to go run the race with the cough I had but I had put in all that time training and I wasn't going to let the residual cough stop me. My original goal had been to finish in under 2 hours but I wasn't sure I'd be able to do that after all. The race set off and the miles ticked by. 1, 2, 3, 4, my pace was good and I was doing it! When I reached 7 miles I knew I was on track to finish in under two hours if I could keep it up. The last 2-3 miles were tough as my legs were getting so tired and I was starting to cough a little bit. I could have collapsed once I made it across the finish line. I started coughing so bad as soon as I stopped running and I couldn't get in enough air.  I don't have asthma but I imagine I felt how someone with asthma feels. I was struggling to get in enough air and it took me about 5 minutes for the coughing to let up and to feel like I could breath again. Once I could breath I checked the official race time and I had finished in 1 hour and 57 minutes.  Woohoo! I'm totally glad that I ran the race. Although my legs are really sore I feel pretty good today and am already planning my next one! 

Made it!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fancy Pony Video

I finally had a chance to pull out some lesson video clips. It's all of me riding after JW tuned her up. I had asked Auntie J to work on the leg yields along the wall, so she started with that and then moved to getting Emi off her right aids and also working through some canter transitions. She made it look so easy and made a significant amount of progress in a 20 minute ride. I need to become effective like that. It's so impressive!

I had been feeling the right aid leaning but hadn't addressed it in a serious way. I find that I'm often to complacent, nursing a problem along rather than actually fixing it. I need to work on that too! Emi felt super when I got on her. Responsive, forward and connected. The canter transitions are developing as is the canter itself. We've made a significant amount of progress in the past few months and I'm excited to see how it continues to develop through the winter (and beyond).

Although JW said that the right aid issue is a habit I've allowed, she also said I've done a good job with Emi as the tools were all there for her to put the pieces together. It was really satisfying to watch Emi work so willingly for someone she doesn't know and to know that I did all of the prep work leading up to that. Hooray for awesome ponies and instructors!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Emi and I were supposed to go see JW last Tuesday but I got really sick the day before, so we postponed until today. I asked if JW would ride her for part of my lesson, so Emi had her first ever training ride! Of course, JW made her look like a million bucks. Seriously. The pony was SO fancy with her on board. I'll write more (and share video) later but I'm feeling very inspired by what I saw and rode today. We are on the right track and I'm so thankful to have such amazing guidance as we go. 

Emi says, "If you'd learn to ride better there would be no frustrating four moments."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Frustrating Four - Part 2

Thank you for all of the good feedback regarding my previous post. When I break it all the way down, I really can't be frustrated with Emi. I'm hoping JW will hop on her one of these days, but I'm sure she'll show me that the problem is mine and not Emi's. So here's to becoming a more effective rider. 

Emi would love it if I would become a better rider
We had a pretty good ride last night and then we went for a "trail ride" around our neighborhood. Emi has only been out there once and she was being ponied by Roz. My plan had been to pony her around for a while before turning the tables and ponying Roz from her. Clearly we didn't end up with enough time to do that. I've been trying to decide out if I should take the donkey (who walks super slow) or see if Emi would go solo. 

As it turns out she was willing to go solo and was significantly better than I expected her to be. I did jump off at one point when a dog got out of it's yard and came running for us. Emi was pretty good about it and I think we would have been fine, but I didn't want to chance it. She stopped and looked at things several times but once she was sure all was well she'd march back off again. It's in no way great trail riding but it's still a nice break from the arena and it's good for her to go exploring. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Frustrating Four

Cathryn wrote How about "No" this week and I could really relate. I've been trying to figure out what term I should use for four and "frustrating four" comes to mind. I've found four to be the most challenging year yet. To be fair, yes, I know Emi's quite good. We aren't actually having horrific problem; progress seems slow and there is plenty of attitude going around. I think I know how the parents of teenagers must feel!

Emi says "don't let her fool you, there's no attitude here."
I'm finding the lack of a solid forward button is a real struggle. It's not that she can't go forward, she'd just rather not. When I finally get her fired up she's lovely... I'm trying to be very fair with her but at this point she's getting spanked until she believes I mean it when I ask her to go. Spanking leads to bucking which is really way more effort than just going forward would be. Tuesday was quite windy and I was hoping Emi would be a bit spicy...she was not and I got off feeling frustrated. Thursday I chose to keep it short and sweet, carrying peppermints in my pocket. Today we put in a longer ride and it was good. What is boils down to is that I have to be consistent in my expectations and she needs to do her job.

To rule out physical problems, I had my vet (who's also a chiropractor) out to adjust her earlier this week. Emi was out in her low back and neck so I do think that was contributing to our problems. I'm also going to get her saddle fit checked, which will take place at the end of this month.

I think where we are at has less to do with her being four and more with where we are at in our relationship and in her training. Up until this year our life together has been pretty much sunshine and rainbows. Plenty of fun, low expectations and all the cookies. While I'd like to think that we still have plenty of fun and all the cookies, the expectations are higher and the work is harder. More accurate than frustrating four is really probably "growing pains" or "do I have to grow up?".  As I have been reminded, embrace the struggle and enjoy the journey.

We get to have a lesson with JW on Tuesday and then Wednesday I leave for a work trip. I'll be home Sunday night and we will have just about two weeks before our training level debut. I'm crossing my fingers that it won't be a disaster but it will be what it will be. We are also riding intro b one last time so that should be fine.

In more fun news, I was chosen as a Dapplebay ambassador. Check out their cute apparel and accessories. I have two of there eventing t-shirts and can't wait to wear some of their newer dressage designs.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Making Progress

Today Emi and I headed to JW's for a lesson. It's my goal to have a lesson once per month, as the sporadic clinic schedule is just not enough consistent help. The trip north takes about 2 hours, so not super quick but still a doable day trip.

Emi and I arrived with plenty of time and I slowly got her ready. Our lesson was great! We re-addressed many of the items we worked on at our last clinic. Connection, leg yields (both normal and nose to the wall) and canter transitions. We had improvement in pretty much all of it. Of course, there is continued improvement necessary but we've made progress on a lot of fronts. The canter was some of the best we have gotten, particularly the canter transitions (the video is a super quick canter snippet). I need to continue making sure that she responds promptly when asked for things, and that I don't settle for a poor effort.


As I was riding today I was thinking back to the fact that just about 1 year ago I took Emi to see JW for the first time.  Sometimes in the day to day struggle you don't realize the amount of progress you are actually making. We are getting there and are having fun along the way.

The day was hot, around 87, when it has been in the low 70's recently. Emi and I were both covered in sweat by the time we finished. She even had sweat running down her hooves. As I was cooling her out, two other people in the arena were talking to me about her tail, wondering if it was real and commenting on the color. Once she was cooled out I got her untacked, hosed her off and we hit the road. I'm sure she will sleep well tonight!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Hitting the Trails

Saturday Emi and I got out of the sandbox and hit the trails with a good friend. We enjoyed a lovely ride through Willamette Mission State Park, stopping to check out a field full of geese, the water and we even spotted a fox! The ponies were good and the weather was perfect. 

Almost better than the ride itself where that Emi loaded like a normal horse coming and going and I got to haul with my dad's new truck! I'm super fortunate to have a truck to borrow so that I don't have to buy my own. He purchased one of the new Dodge Eco-diesels to replace his older F250. The new truck is lovely! More power than the old one, way better fuel economy, and did I mention it has a back up camera? Hooking up has never been easier. Woohoo!

That's the quick update of life around here. I seem to have lost any desire to write. I'm not sure if it's because of Roz or what. I'm doing better with that, although I did burst out in tears when texting my farrier about it today. I also shipped his tail off for my bracelet to be made. I'll share what is looks like when it returns. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


I'm working on getting some memorial type items for Roz and need your help. I have a ribbon jar, his last pair of horse shoes and a square cooler that he won that's on my bed. However, I've had all of those things for several years.

 I'm getting ready to send his tail off for a bracelet and also have Alyssa making me a cartoon picture of him. Do any of you have any other must have memorial type items? I do plan to plan a tree in his memory, near my arena. I was also gifted some "Foxy Foxtrot" tulip bulbs  after he passed, which will be planted around the tree. 

And because you can never have too many Rozzy Ridge pictures...a few more that make me smile. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Waterproof Saddle Cover and Quarter Sheet

With the rainy season quickly approaching (and the fact that I'll only have access to my outdoor arena), I'm trying to figure out how to keep the worst of the rain off of my saddle. Do any of you have a waterproof saddle cover that you ride in? I would love to know the brand, where you purchased it etc. Along those same lines, how about a waterproof quarter sheet? How do you deal with a quarter sheet when you have a monoflap saddle?  So may questions and so few answers!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Beach Time

I've said it before and I'll say it again...the beach is one of my favorite places to ride.  We are lucky to live a little over an hour away, so it's not a big deal to head over there for the day. On top of that, they've finally finished a longstanding project to straighten and widen the road, making for a much easier haul. Monday the usual crew of Tarra and I, along with Mystic and Emi hit the beach. We added a good friend of mine and her family. They have been doing a part lease on Mystic this summer as Olivia (5) has been learning how to ride. She was so excited to get to ride on the beach. The ponies were great and a lovely time was had by all. 
Ponies rule

Passing the horse love to the next generation
Turning in to a solid citizen
A rare moment to get ears up on both of them. 


Monday, September 4, 2017

Emi's Response

Thank you all for your kind comments regarding Roz. He left a big hole on this farm. This is one of those times where I'm so thankful that I have Liam. When I was thinking about how we would coordinate euthanizing Roz, I knew that I didn't want to leave Emi back at the barn, with both horses screaming for each other. There's nothing peaceful about that. We opted to keep Emi out int he pasture, and my dad held her while we took care of Roz. Once Roz was gone my dad let Emi go. She wandered around grazing, never going over to Roz.

When we were finished cutting his tail and saying our final goodbyes, I caught her and we headed back to the barn. She seemed a little nervous/unsettled in the paddock but wasn't calling. The next day she seemed the same, a little nervous and more vocal towards me than normal. She actually heard me get home mid-day and she was whinnying at me with her head over the gate. I went out shortly after that to turn her out.

Once in the pasture she took off, running and bucking along the fence line. Back and forth, back and forth, almost as if she was angry or frustrated. I stayed nearby, watching for any signs that she might try something stupid. After a few minutes of this she wore her pony self out and slowed down, although she continued to pace the fence. I left her then, but kept an eye out to be sure she didn't start running again.

She hadn't been in the pasture for too long when she went over to the loose dirt. She sniffed her way down the hill until she reached the spot where Roz is buried. She stood over the spot for at least 30 minutes, head lowered, relaxed. She then rolled and moved off to graze. And wouldn't you know, she hasn't seemed to look for him since. I'm not sure what conclusion she came to when she found him, but it appears to have really settled something for her. Aren't animals amazing?

One of my big worries about losing Roz was how Emi would cope with out him. I'm not sure I ever really realized how fully she depended on him but I think it's going to be fascinating to see what kind of horse she is on her own. Although I "could" get another horse, I really don't want to do that at this time. Now that she seems to be doing well alone I'm even more hopeful that horse keeping with one horse and one donkey will be a success. I think the biggest hindrance to that will be how upset (and loud) Liam is when Emi is gone. I can't have him home braying all day or night while we are off doing stuff. Our neighbors will hate us! I've already been offered a pony companion if needed so we'll see how things go in the next couple of months.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Rozzy Ridge ~ 1992-2017

That bad feeling I was confirmed on Wednesday as Roz was diagnosed with lymphoma. My awesome vet, Dr. M was texting me updates (I had brought Roz to work with me). He did what he could to locate the problem and said that the bladder was fine (I was concerned about bladder stones). He did feel like Roz's spleen was thickened, which was also mentioned when he was in for colic. After bloodwork (normal) and ultrasound it was recommended to move on to an abdominal ultrasound with an internal medicine specialist. I agreed and they moved forward. A while after this my vet came into my office. We went from texting and one phone call to an in person visit. My heart sank. He sat down across from me and told me what they had done and that the internal medicine doctor had palpated multiple masses in Roz's intestines, consistent with lymphoma. That combined with the enlarged spleen suggested the lymphoma had spread.

He told me I didn't have to make a decision that moment and that they could send me home with steroids which could help for a while. I agreed to that plan. Next thing I know the internal medicine vet was there to talk with me. She told me the same thing but also that Roz's cecum was very full. Soft, but full. She was concerned that he could also have a mass in his cecum, obstructing it. She agreed with the plan to take him home with steroids and said hopefully it would give him some more good days.

I hauled him home after work and turned him out with Emi out. He went straight to the dirt pile and laid down. Not just sternal but flat out. Of course I had been in tears most of the day and that sent me right back to it. I decided to go for a run and headed down the driveway.

As I hit the pavement a car was coming towards me and flashed their lights. It was Emi's breeder, Cindy. As she saw me leaving she realized that she arrived a day early for a party I was having. I explained my distraught state and as she parked she pulled out a card and some chocolate cake. I gave her a tour of our farm before going out to the field to let her see Emi (and Roz). Roz was still laying flat out and at this point he'd been down for almost an hour and did not look well. Cindy hadn't ever met him before so when he rolled back up she walked over and introduced herself. His ears came forward and he was a perfect gentleman. Once she walked away he laid right back out. The sick feeling I had all day was not getting any better.

He did finally get up but was all tucked/hunched up, clearly feeling miserable. Cindy and I both agreed it was time, and I went to tell my parents and to grab my phone to call the vet. I called the hospital, following the prompts for the on call vet. Dr. E, one of the doctors that I interact with regularly answered the phone. Of course I was crying but told him that I need him to come euthanize my horse. He confirmed that I was sure it was what I wanted to do since he hadn't seen Roz and didn't know what was going on. I explained the lymphoma diagnosis and what Roz was doing. As I was talking to Dr. E Roz got up and started grazing beside Emi. Ugh.

Not long after that Roz went back down. I texted my friend, April (a CVT), who said she would come. While we waited for everyone to arrive I gathered a bucket of grain for Roz and two apples, along with the scissors. He stayed down so I didn't take the feed out to him. My dad went out to talk to him and he laid flat out while my dad rubbed him. Dr. E and April arrived at the same time and we headed out to the pasture.

Emi had laid down right behind Roz and it was a beautiful moment. I haltered Emi, getting her up before handing her to my dad. Roz was next and he got up with a little encouragement. I fed him his two apples and told him how much I loved him, and what a wonderful boy he had been. All of the good memories. The ribbons, the trail rides, the jumps, the beach. The best boy I could have ever asked for. And then it was time. He went down smoothly and I petted him until he was gone. It was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. 

It's such a privilege to own a horse, but also a great responsibility. One that requires you to look out for their interest, even when it hurts you. He was clearly in a lot of pain and letting him go was the right decision, even though it was so heartbreaking. 

The crazy part about the evening is that God was in the details. What are the chances that Cindy would show up on the "wrong" day for my party (and with chocolate cake)? That I wouldn't go for that run, but would instead stand in the pasture and watch Roz tell me that he was not well (yet again). When Dr. E arrived the first thing he said is life is hard and God is good. Yes he is and yes you are right, Dr. E. Once Dr. E was finished he told my dad that he was so glad I called him. My dad responded that it was nice that he was on call. Dr. E said, I'm not on call. Umm...I wonder who arranged that. And then my dad was calling some friends to find someone to burry Roz. He's on the phone with one guy who says hang on a minute, one of your neighbors is coming up my driveway now, I'll ask him. And that guy said yes, coming to bury Roz first thing this morning. 

So that's how I said goodbye to one of the best horses ever. A friend of 11 years. And a creature I will dearly miss. 

I love you my beautiful friend. 

Cancerversary #5 - Woohoo!

I treat today as my own personal holiday; it’s anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This year is extra special as it marks 5 years since that diagnosis. 5 years is one of the “magic marks” that your doctor talks about. If you make it to 5 years with out a reoccurrence things are good. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible for it to come back but it’s less and less likely the longer you go. 
These are such special pictures to me, taken on a beach trip the weekend after I was diagnosed. Two of my all time favorite horses with one of my favorite people. 

With this milestone, I’ve been reminiscing a lot on my cancer experience. One thing that always strikes me is the amount of support I received and I wanted to call out the many people who supported me. I think often times, in times of difficulty in peoples lives, it’s easy to stand back, not get involved, they’ll ask you if they need something. You don’t have to have the right words, you don’t have to know what to do, you just have to be there. Boy were my people there. 

I received the phone call from the radiologist while I was at work. As I walked back into my office (crying) Janna gave me a big hug and told me she’d add me to her prayer list and would pray for me when she woke up at night. I went to lunch early and my mom came to eat with me. She spent my lunch hour telling me all of the things that I wasn’t going to eat any more. Cheetos? Forget it. Soda? Nope! Love you mom. When I got back to work after my lunch period my supervisor, Karren, told me “if you don’t talk to me and I don’t talk to you we will make it through the afternoon”….and we did. I also had a note on my desk form Travis. To this day I still have his note, and it’s funny to read it now as we know each other a lot better than we did back in those days. 

In laws seem to have a way of striking fear or frustration in people but I was blessed to have the complete support of my sister in law, Holly. She attended doctor appointments, visited me pre and post surgeries, and kept up on all that was going on, lending support and comfort.

Sisters - you can tell we aren't actually related. Haha
This goes for my grandparents too. My first surgery consultation, the doctor’s staff had to go get more chairs as I was accompanied by my parents, grandparents and Holly. It was a crowd but I was so happy to have their support.  They would also frequently stop in to the infusion center to visit while I received chemo. My many visitors had the nursing staff calling me popular, as the phone rang often to see if the front desk could send someone back to see me. 

My parents! Where would we be with out them!? My dad took care of Roz and my mom took care of me (so did my dad). They took time off work, attended appointments, traded back and forth for my chemo treatments, helped with medical bills and made sure I didn’t have to worry about anything. My dad shaved his head too.  

Then there’s Tarra. She went to the beach with me the weekend after I was diagnosed. Oh how I wanted to bottle up those moments to help me later on. She agreed to ride my horse and got bucked off the night before my mastectomy. She couldn’t get back on and I so wanted to get on him myself but no one would let me. Thankfully she was okay and she did continue to work him for me. She brought my brownies after my first chemo treatment and sat with me through my second treatment. 

Kellie gave me a gift I can never repay.  She sat with me through 7 of my 8 chemo treatments,  which were hours long, making the time pass much more quickly. She drooled over Cardi pictures with me and listened to all of my plans for the future.

Not only did April take care of my horse and encourage me, she also rode him for me, with Tarra. I think all of us are super busy so to add someone else’s horse to your already busy schedule is a real act of kindness. 

One clear memory I have of Chantelle is that she packed up her 6 month old baby and came to pick me up from work one afternoon, when I was way too wasted to drive home in my post chemo fog. 

And Cindy! Cindy welcomed a bald girl with open arms and sold me my dream pony. What a treasure Emi has been and I’m thankful to have not only found a pony but a friend in Cindy. 

My list of kind acts could go on beyond what you would want to read, many of these were initiated by members from my church. I had a “hat party” prior to the start of chemo which was such a special time and a concrete way to encourage me. Lindsay made me a paper chain to count down the weeks of treatment (I still have the links to this). Donna gave me a beautiful quilt. Sarah came down and got manicures with me. I got so many cards and flowers! I just re-read them a couple weeks ago and I received 57! Some are from people I have never even met. Talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus. Eric is a fellow cancer survivor and was always quick to encourage me each Sunday. His own cancer journey was way more difficult than mine and I have so much respect for him. 

I’m sure there are many people that I’m not remembering to name, but know you are appreciated too. I’ll be honest, having cancer feels a lot like a bad dream…it leaves you with an unsettled feeling but it’s hard to recall all of the details. I suppose it’s how we cope. 

You may wonder, where things are at now. I just had a nice visit with my oncologist and all is well. She’s even pretty comfortable with me being able to have kids once my treatment is done (although that would require finding a husband, haha). I continue to get yearly mammograms, monthly injections (1 year to go) and a daily pill (6 years to go).  I’m diligent to do my self breast exams (you should be too) and also careful to make a note of any unusual pain. Being watchful is probably the worst part. For example, I pulled something training for a half marathon earlier this year, and I spent a week or two feeling totally paranoid and trying to figure out if the pain I was feeling could relate back to cancer in some way. #shesgoingcrazy

Here’s the (kind of) morbid part of this post: What’s interesting (or sucky) about breast cancer is that they won’t ever tell you that you are cured, but as I mentioned above, the 5 year mark is a good milestone. It’s a sobering reality that I could still die from breast cancer. To be honest, I don’t fear dying. I believe in God. I believe that his son, Jesus, died for my sins, and I believe that there is life after death. And because of that, I can’t lose. I refuse to live in fear of the return of cancer and instead choose to live life to the fullest, doing my best to bless other people along the way. 

Thank you to my family, friends, coworkers, doctors, nurses and complete strangers who supported and encouraged me when I needed it the most. Life can be hard but when we carry each others burdens it’s doable. Here’s to many more cancer free years, dreams coming true and purposefully loving each other.