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Unlearning

So much of the process when getting horses like I do, is spending a ton of time figuring them out. I have made 100% of my own horses my entire life, and I seriously enjoy the process. Both the boys right now are lovely, quirky, creatures. Figuring them out has been like a puzzle to me. Jake especially, since he has a significantly more sordid past than Eli does.

Problem child.

I recently stumbled across a quote on Pinterest that made me do some soul searching about how I think about my process.

Much of what I do is transforming these guys into solid citizens, so they can move on to good jobs (except Jake, he’s around forever). I am constantly wondering why they aren’t learning this or that or the other thing… and this quote is really helping me to switch around my internal dialogue when it comes to some of their quirks.

Eli with his head shyness. He doesn’t need to learn to let me touch his ears… he’s already tried to learn that and was led astray. He needs to unlearn that I’m not going to misuse the trust he gives me to force him to do something.

Magnawave has helped SIGNIFICANTLY!

Jake, with his bucking. He knows how not to buck. Now that we finally have a solid reason behind it, (he’s cold backed) and a plan to help him; it’s now on me to help him unlearn some of the habits that have been created while we were figuring it all out.

For my mental process, at least, it’s much easier to think of it as unlearning some of these quirks than it is to think of it as retraining. Maybe I’m just an eccentric duck, but it seems to be working with both of these monsters much faster than when I just tried to train them not to do something. Then it seems like an actual transformation instead of just fixed.

I’m going to trust them both that they can unlearn just as quickly as they learned and I will (eventually) have two wonderful, fun, solid citizens!

What do you think? Retraining or unlearning?

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Snow Day!

Hey there,

It’s totally no surprise that it snows in Vermont, but I think that no matter how old I get I will always be excited for the first real snow of the season. I happened to wake up to it today, and couldn’t get my clothes on fast enough to get to the barn.

The first gallop through fresh snow is kiiiiiind of what I live for in the winter. The horses love it too, so everybody is a bit frisky. Luckily snow also makes for a soft landing. 😉

I hopped on Eli bareback and took him for a spin around the outdoor, and I’m not sure who enjoyed it more! I’ve been working a TON lately so this was a great way to give myself a mental break and just have fun with the big guy. That balance is SO important.

Our barn has also started hosting twice monthly Wine n’ Ride type of events and it’s been a super fun way to socialize with other adults and unwind.

The local corner market even started stocking some fun wines in horsey themes for us!

The community surrounding this farm is absolutely amazing, and I’ve really been enjoying getting to know everybody. It’s so tight knit. The type I only thought existed in novels. My lunch trips to the local deli to catch up on the gossip, and realizing I’m starting to know who is who on the road has really been awesome. People even ask after Bug when he’s not with me!

It’s so comforting to know that on my drive in today, even though it was sketchy, I had a list of people I could call if I got into trouble. It makes me excited to move even closer in the next few years, and really blend with these wonderful people! I’m excited for Bug to grow up as part of the community and let this be his life as well. The stability is a blessing, and something I didn’t realize was missing when I was growing up.

I hope to enjoy many, many, many more snow days in Charlotte. I think having the local gossip to catch up on will make the winter go by much quicker than it usually does, that’s for sure.

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Wonderful Weekend

Hey there!

It’s finally starting to feel like fall here in Vermont (even though I decorated the house weeeeeks ago), and we had an awesome weekend of weather to take advantage of!

Saturday morning consisted of some barn time for the better part of the morning. I had to teach three and ended up riding one, plus we welcomed another new project pony to the barn. I’m super excited about this one, since he has some serious potential. I ended up hanging out a little bit longer than I meant to, but barn time is different from normal time anyways.

On the way home, LB and I stopped at Overlook Park in Burlington. I always pass by it and mean to stop, but since I had the rest of the afternoon off and the weather was gorgeous, I totally swung in.

For a little one, there isn’t a whole lot to do at the “park” because there isn’t a play structure and toddlers don’t really care about views, but we had some fun running up and down the hills.

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After finishing up at the park and grabbing a quick lunch, we found ourselves at the local firehouse for their open house. Bug is OBSESSED with emergency response vehicles, so he had so much fun climbing around in all of the trucks, seeing the controlled burn, and playing with the fire extinguishers!

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After a late nap, we spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the house and snuggling in bed with LB’s favorite Netflix show, Gon.

Sunday was a bit gloomier, but that didn’t stop us from going apple picking after nap time! We went to Allenholm Farms in South Hero and had a blast! We brought Emma along for some socialization, even though she wasn’t allowed in the actual orchard. Bug had a blast playing in the big culvert that they had, and swinging on the swings. By the time we left he was absolutely exhausted, but pretty much an apple picking pro.

10/10 would recommend going there for a great time. They allow dogs in the “petting zoo” area, but not in the actual orchard, so plan accordingly if you want to bring a friend. Luckily, it was cool enough today that we were able to leave Em in the truck while we went and got our apples.

The best part of all of our hard work at the orchard was that we were able to make apple crisp when we got home! Hands down my favorite thing to bake in the fall is apple crisp. I followed this recipe from The Humming Homebody and it came out amazing. Randy even broke his diet to head back to the kitchen for a second piece! We have plenty of apples from our adventure, so I’ll be making another batch soon.

Bug was sound asleep by 6, so I’m hoping to be able to spend the rest of the night relaxing to gear up for the super busy week ahead at work! We’re hosting the second half of the VHJA Finals this upcoming weekend, so it’s going to be a little nuts. I haven’t read anything in the last few weeks that hasn’t been a course diagram or the back of a feed bag, so I’m jumping into a new book tonight. Maybe I’ll be able to get more than two pages into it before I fall sound asleep in my tea.

Peace,

Cathleen

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New News

Hey there,

Long time, no talk (blog)! We’ve had some big changes going on around here, which will explain my absence a bit. I’m hoping that I’ll still be able to find time for this space, as I really enjoy it…even as just something for LB to read back on when he’s older.

First on the list of changes, I’ve taken the next step forward in my career and accepted a position as assistant trainer and manager at a farm a bit further away from my house. It’s been the biggest reason why I haven’t been as active on the blog (though I still try to post to IG on the regular). I’m working a solid 11 hour day now, and teaching/horse showing on the weekends. I leave my house at 630 am and usually don’t stumble back in the door until 6 pm. I take care of LB and then collapse into bed by 830.

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I am deliriously happy, though, as well as tired. I’m back to riding several horses a day, teaching, coaching kids at shows, and building a fleet of wonderful school and sale horses with my boss. This is while making sure the barn is running smoothly and looks presentable just about all the time. It’s certainly not what I’ve been used to the past year and my fitness level is not where it was when I was in Kentucky, but I’m settling into the groove. It feels great to be a part of a team and to pull breeches on every morning. I have a great little group of project horses, and so many more resources to help Jake as well. It’s great to have the freedom to put my own horse in my rotation, and have a few other professionals to help work through the sticky parts.

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Liam has been settling into the longer days as well, however it’s more pressing that we find a spot that will open sooner for him in daycare. He’s fine in the mornings when it’s just him and I, and he can safely play in the sand while I ride… however in the afternoons when things are a bit busier, and he’s a bit crankier, he can be in the way. Everybody has been absolutely amazing, and welcoming to both him and I, but to maintain some professional integrity I need some help. He is loving helping me ‘cool out’ some of my quieter creatures, and I’m thrilled that he asks to ride!

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The learning curve of working at an active hunter/jumper show barn has been a bit steep for me, but my boss is wonderful about talking me through things and I was happy to take a couple of the older girls to the VHJA Finals solo! I’ve also been able to expand my horizons to trying other new facets of my sport as well, through the network that we have. Recently our farrier, Josh, invited us to try out a polo game. I’ve always wanted to play but haven’t really had the time but when he extended the invite to the last practice game of the season I jumped at the chance. I’m super glad that I did, because while I was absolutely horrible, I had so much fun. I’m excited to get more practice at the indoor league and have been working with Jake on being comfortable stick and balling with me around the indoor!

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The second fun bit of news is the new addition to our family, Emma! Our farrier reached out to me asking if I knew of anybody who would be willing to help foster some dogs that had come up to Vermont in the wake of the recent hurricane Florence. What they thought was originally going to be a few day long trip quickly took a turn when they learned that their house was completely destroyed. This led to them being stranded living with 14 dogs in a motocross trailer. I said that I would be happy to go take pictures of the dogs and help rally some help on social media, as well as my personal contacts. When I got to the property I immediately had to do something to help RIGHT THEN. After a quick call to my boss, she agreed to foster a puppy and I said that I would take one as well.

Enter, Emma.

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Once she walked in the house, both my roommate and I agreed that she would have to stay. I’m super happy to report that all of the other dogs have been homed and the family was able to return back to the South. I now have a Maligator puppy to add to the herd. I certainly couldn’t handle it if I didn’t have the option of bringing the dogs to work with me on the daily, as well as the help of my roommate… but it’s all working out pretty well. The older dogs in the house have (almost) gotten over the new addition, and Liam is super thrilled to have a playmate his own size.

As you all can see, it’s been a whirlwind the past month, but the dust seems to be settling for the most part. I’m so pumped about all of the new opportunities presenting themselves and I think that next summer is going to be an absolute blast…plus there are talks of spending part of winter ’19 in Florida!

There is certainly going to be a lot more horse related content on the blog and across my social media, but anybody who knows me won’t be shocked. I couldn’t think of a better turn that my life has taken, both professionally and personally, and I’m excited to keep sharing the adventures with you all!

Peace,

Cathleen

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Grace Under Pressure

Hey there,

I hope that you all are doing great!

As many of you don’t know, my last relationship completely shattered me. I’m grateful for the pain of it, in the end, because while it tore me all the way down to my foundation it also allowed me to start to rebuild myself.

However yesterday I got some information that was a complete punch to the gut. I was absolutely wild when I walked into the barn that afternoon. I didn’t even know what to do with myself. That type of anger is really rare for me. The blind anger that makes you want to scream, and cry, and plot the worst kinds of revenge. I’ve only ever felt it that intensely one other time in my life.

You see, this entire time I’ve been blaming myself for the dissolution of the relationship. I poured my heart and soul into it, and gave it everything that I had. In the end I was left feeling that it wasn’t enough. That I was too much.

In reality, I was doing the best that I could to survive two years of the most traumatic series of events that I’ve ever survived. There was nothing wrong with me. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically tired. My partner didn’t know how to support of that type of pain and exhaustion. It would be hard for anybody but the strongest of men to shoulder.

Then I learned what I did yesterday, and I couldn’t believe it. After a series of wildly descriptive texts to my best friends, Jamie and John… I thought about what I was going to do next. I was obsessed all day. It felt like a slap in the face. I literally focused on nothing more than how angry I was and what I was going to do next.

Later that night, Bug was having a hard time sleeping so I brought him in bed with me, something that I never do. After a few snuggles, he eventually drifted off and I was left thinking. My thoughts wandered back to being rooted in my anger and sadness. Then I realized… this kid is going to watch me. He’s going to see what I do. Why would I want to give my ex the benefit of any more of our time? We had wasted enough on him as it was.

So in that moment, I forgave him for everything. All of the hurt, and anger, and sadness. I am simply too tired to carry it with me. I don’t want to teach Bug to carry emotions like that. I want him to learn to sit with them, to process them, and then let them go. GracefullyWithout taking revenge. Why should I allow this person, who wasn’t enough for us to continue to direct our future, my feelings, and the example that I set for my child?

Too many people get so consumed in making people feel bad so that the score can be even. I was never the scorekeeper in the relationship, so why would I start now? What is the point in revenge? It just chips away at our own goodness and inner peace. I don’t want to raise my son to be the kind of person who automatically jumps to those thoughts and acts on them. There are already too many people in the world like that.

I want him to learn that sometimes people do bad things to us and that we need to forgive them for ourselves.

I also want him to learn that it is one of the hardest thing in the world to do… but that it is the right thing to do, no matter what. He will know that his mother struggles with it, because she’s a deeply emotional person, but in the end she will always rise above and take the high road.

At the end of the day, my number one priority is raising a strong man that, no matter what is going on in the world around him, will always have a reaction of grace and forgiveness first; never hatred or revenge. He will be a better man for it and the world can always use another good man.

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Peace,

Cathleen

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Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Hey there,

So, as I’m sure you can all see, I’ve had a heck of a time attempting to keep up with my WIRW. Guys, I suck at schedules (despite my love of planning). We had a super hectic week with Liam’s birthday and the girls being here and I’m kind of giving up on the idea of posting a read every Wednesday. It’s getting tricky to stick to… so instead, I’ll give you my book reviews as I finish them!

This week, I blew through Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco… it was so awesome, and the ending threw me for a bit of a loop, which I thought was the perfect cherry on top of the sundae that was this book.

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I literally had an impossible time tearing myself away from this book once it got rolling. It had all the best elements of a mystery and a love story; PLUS a great spin on a pretty significant historical event. Maniscalco takes some liberties to make the whole thing work with the story line, and she does an AWESOME job juggling both. The writing flowed beautifully and kept the reader engaged all the way up to the end.

The story itself is set in 1800’s London and follows our main character Audrey Rose through the struggles of being a female with a bit of a morbid male interest… namely learning how to perform autopsies with her Uncle. The story of Jack the Ripper is how she ties into the story, and we’re taken on an exciting ride with her and her love interest while they try to figure out the real identity of the Ripper. The end totally blew me away!

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(Kick ass bookmark from Plumey Crafts.)

I had to jump right onto Amazon the second I finished this one so I could add her other two books (Hunting Prince Dracula and Escaping from Houdini <- not out until September!) to my wish list for the future!

I seriously loved everything about this book… like… I had not one complaint which, if you know me, is kind of a big deal. I’m an A+ complainer, not gonna lie. I highly recommend this book to everybody and anybody who in looking for something good to escape into for a while. It has the perfect mixture of everything that a good book needs… plus it has “the smell.” I’m big on the smell and not every book has it. My fellow bookworms know exactly what I’m talking about.

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Now, on to the next!

Peace,

Cathleen

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Two.

Hey there!

Can you believe that Little Bug turned TWO yesterday? I certainly can’t.

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This past year has held so many ups and down for us… and I can’t believe how smart, resilient, and happy this kid has been through it all. I still can’t believe sometimes how blessed I am to be his Mama (yes, even when I’m wrestling his penis out of his hands in the middle of the grocery store). I’m so thankful for everybody who has been there for him, and myself, especially in the last few months when life really took a turn. I’m happy to say that we’ve made it through, though, and I’m excited for another year of new adventures together!

Instead of letting this post get super long and overly sappy… I’m just going to share some of my favorite pictures of Bug over the last year.

Happy Birthday, special guy. Mama loves you!

Peace,

Cathleen