My Education cost me and my family (Bo Harwood) nearly $95,000. Thanks to him and my mother I was able to get out of college with only $25,000 in debt. The first job I ever had after college (2005), paid $11.75 an hour and it was a graveyard shift writing the morning news (11pm-8am) for an NBC affiliate. I also paid federal taxes, state taxes, union dues of $200 a month and I managed to pay for car and health insurance. I went into debt $300 a month with that job, but I managed until I was qualified for another job. This job was also preceded with a six month long internship at another station that didn’t pay anything. I had no furniture and I slept on a bed that was borrowed. I shared a place with two other girls. I actually turned down a job that paid .25 cents more an hour as a personal assistant because it wasn’t in my career path and I thought that eating crow for a little while was better for me in the long run.The day after I graduated I didn’t ask for one penny from the people that helped me through college. I was bound and determined that I was going to make it on my own, since they had sacrificed so much while I went to school.
Although this was my first job out of college, it was by no means my “first” job. My first job was actually cleaning stalls and loping horses for a reining trainer that paid $0 dollars when I was 13 years old. That instilled the work ethic in me to get my second job at 15, washing dogs at a dog grooming salon in a 100 degree building. Cleaning anal glands was part of that job and it paid a whopping $5.25 an hour (federal minimum wage at that time). I then got a job at a feed store through high school, then I worked as an admin assistant at my junior college and at a local gun club. Then I gave riding lessons and started training barrel horses…. that is what got me through high school and college.
I am the poster child of a kid that wasn’t supposed to make it in this world. Both of my parents are/were Alcoholics. My first introduction to Children’s services was at the age of 8, when my mother’s boyfriend committed suicide in our house and attempted to kill my mother in the process. I love my mother and father (my dad past away at 15) and I think that some parents today could learn a thing or two from them. If I could summarize it one sentence it would be something like this, “Giving your kids a healthy self-esteem and the confidence that they are loved, is more important than giving them a perfect life and shiny nice things.” From ages 8-I8 I lived in two states, moved dozens of times and went to at least 15 different schools. At 15, I ended up moving in with my Godfather, Bo Harwood and I slept on his couch while I went to work and graduated from high school. He fed me, clothed me and cared for me like I was his own biological child. I was grateful for the food he provided and the roof he put over my head. I didn’t ”expect” any of it. I was grateful for it all (even if I acted like a teenager sometimes who didn’t act like it)…. I didn’t even expect a bed… the couch was fine. The children’s services file that I have (thanks to research I did for a documentary I may someday produce) is in a huge box. Every statistic in this world says, I should have been pregnant by 15 and on welfare. The only person who has had control over the outcomes of my life wa/is ME.
So back to the Walmart employees, who are expecting nearly double the federal minimum wage. If you don’t like what you are getting paid, then move on and be willing to look for jobs in other places (states and fields of employment). I have many job skills that I have never marketed, for example I can clean houses, dig holes, wash cars, feed animals, etc. I’m sure there are a hundred more I could think of. I’m not too good to offer tutoring services to kids when I need money or sell stuff I own to pay down debt. I know some people are going to disagree with me on this one, but to this day I am grateful for the career I have and it didn’t come by demanding anything… it came from sacrifice, hard work and the love of my family. Quit depending on major corporations to make you happy!
**sorry for any grammar and misspellings, I wrote this fast***
The images coming across the airwaves about the Boston Marathon Bombings are disturbing to say the least! I just can’t believe this type of thing keeps happening over and over again. In places that we are supposed to feel safe! People should be able to take their kids to school (Sandy Hook) and know they will be protected! They should be able to drop them off at a Day Care Center (Oklahoma City Bombing) and know they will be safe! Go to work in Manhattan and come home to their family (9/11)! Families should be able to go a Marathon and cheer on runners without fear of being blown up! But the reality is that this is not the world we live in. It’s sad and crazy, but I have finally accepted that anything is now possible and maybe I have been one of the people who blindly thought that tragedy is rare and miracles occur often. I know that there are probably hundreds of people that have stories about how they weren’t in the blast locations because of a multitude of random events that occurred, but still I can’t help but think of the 3 people that have lost their lives including one little boy and the many others that are facing amputations, life altering deformities and possibly death because of this act of terrorism.
If you have never been to a Marathon, the spirit, the people, the atmosphere is just infectious. It’s very similar to what you feel at a rodeo or barrel race, minus all the catty gossip and smack talking. I may not be in the inner circle with runners and maybe that is why I don’t see that side of it, but needless to say I think because there are so many runners (thousands) it’s a little hard to bad mouth and be catty. That is one of the things that makes me so sad about this whole thing, not that one tragedy is ever worse than another, but the fact that these people were all running for their own reasons. People were making memories and accomplishing something they will never forget for the rest of their lives. Crossing things off their bucket list… and now some A-Hole has completely ruined it and ruined peoples lives.
You don’t hear heckling at a marathon, people actually come to just cheer the runners on, whether they know them or not. I’ve never done over a 10k (6.2 miles) but let me tell you I wish I could go back and thank every single spectator who cheered while I was running. Sometimes I don’t think I would have made it without them. It’s like they showed up like angels, somewhere around mile 4. I was reaching the end of my playlist so I knew I was getting close, but I was also getting to a distance that I had never run before. Because of the metal plate and screws in my leg, I wasn’t really sure if I was going to have to walk the last mile or if I could finish the run without stopping. I had never gone over 5 miles without stopping. At mile 5, a song came on that made me think of my Dad and how proud he would have been to see me run. He was always so supportive of my horses, but I think sometimes he wished I was a little more of a city girl. He would have been proud to brag on me about this, with every year that goes by since he passed away when I was 14, I realize more and more what a true loss it really was. It made me sad to think that he couldn’t see me. I began to just weep, tears and sweat running down my face. But I didn’t stop, there really was no reason to stop. I think I was more surprised about the emotions I was feeling and the fact that I had to completely wear myself out to get to a point that I let it all go. Once I stopped weeping and wiped the snot and sweat from my face, I talked myself out of the tears and then realized, he could see me! So I was really crying for no reason. I finished the race with a smile and high-fived a women in about her 50′s running with braided pig tails as I approached the line. I will never ever ever forget it.
Now some jerk has ruined that same experience for others to say the least. A mother and father are going to lay down to sleep tonight knowing they will never see their beautiful little boy again. Absolute crap! We live in the United States of America, supposedly the greatest country in the entire world…. This is why I never made it in the “News” business. I can’t handle witnessing all of the sad stories. When I was a news writer/producer, I had a box of kleenex on my desk for what my editor called “Super Sad Stories.” I would just cry and type and cry and type. My heart couldn’t handle it.
Now I’m facing another decision and I’m going to leave it up to you guys?
I was thinking about doing the Oklahoma City Half Marathon in two weeks. I have been thinking about it for about a month now, well before this tragedy. Up until yesterday, I was seriously thinking about doing it. I mean the finisher medals are so pretty, but now it doesn’t seem very smart to go to a Marathon which commemorates a bombing, two weeks after a bombing at a marathon. Do you think I should go? Do you think it would be stupid or is it the very thing that we need to do to show that we aren’t going to tolerate terrorism? I’m not so sure and I’d love to hear from you!
As a barrel racer trying to improve and shave precious tenths and hundredths of a second off of our times, we get training tips and words of encouragement from just about everyone. It could be your best friend, competitor, parent, or significant other who has never swung a leg over a barrel horse. Sometimes their advice works and sometimes it doesn’t, and since we are being honest here, most of the time even our own ideas only work about 50% of the time. So how do you decide what advice to take?
The first step is realizing and accepting that the “change” whatever that may be, whether it’s a bit change or a riding style change, may not work! Prepare yourself not to be disappointed and allow yourself to be grateful. It’s all part of the process! It’s called growth and you have to be willing to make mistakes if you want to get better.
The second step is being honest with yourself. We all can be hard on ourselves, bang our heads against the steering wheel and very easily blame it on the horse, but the fact is if you look back and see what has and hasn’t been done, 100% of the time you can see what you could have done better. This is something that I learned in my professional life when doing work performance evaluations on myself and other colleagues. The question always stands, “What could have been done better?” and you have to put something down. Writing “I’m Awesome, it’s everyone else’s fault, is not an option.”
However, I think there are few fallacies that do exist in the barrel racing world that you hear over and over again. In my 25 years of running barrels I used to live by some of these rules and it hasn’t been until the last 5 years of running that I have figured out that living by these rules has actually hurt me. I would say it’s been a hard pill to swallow, but I’m just grateful that I was able to see past my own close mindedness to open up my riding abilities to new horizons.
I have by no means “arrived” at where I want to be with this sport. A matter of fact I don’t really even know what my ultimate goal is. It’s something I just leave up to God and know that he has a plan and I’m just going to keep doing what I do because it’s who I am and I love it. Having said that, I know that barrel racing doesn’t make me the person I am!
So here we go! The Top 5 Fallacies of Barrel Racing!
#1 Don’t Look at the Barrels!
I think I have been not looking at the barrels for 25 years straight. I was taught to look between the horses ears and about two strides ahead of you. When in the turn to look at the fences. I had horses that were all very turny and I’m sure this is where this came from, but having talked with many trainers and professionals and amateurs that win, I have also heard people say to look at the barrel or look at the ground. It always amazed me because I thought this was the sin of sins. But in a fit of “trying anything” to get faster and stop hitting barrels, I thought to myself, “Hey, if I looked down at the barrel and saw where it was, I would be able to jockey my horse better.” Guess what, it worked, well at least it is for now. The theory behind this fallacy is if you look at the barrel then that is where you are going to run and you will hit more barrels, but I have found the opposite to be true. At least now, with where my horses are at, when i look at the barrel I can guide them and keep them moving forward or out. Connie Combs looked at me one day when i was talking to her about this and said, “Well just steer your horse!”
Is it really that simple?
#2 Kick Past the barrels
Uggh this one kills me. If you’ve ever rode something that is a hard turner, this is much easier said than done. For many years I have prided myself in my ability to get a horse past the barrels, but I don’t know if it’s age or growth in my skill, but I am just flat tired of gapping the air out of one to get them past the barrels. A lot of people will call when this happens, a horse “shutting you out.” At a recent clinic with Bo Hill, Jolene Montgomery and Deana Kirkpatrick they made an interesting point that you can’t fix this problem going slow. It’s something that has to be done at a run (by no means am I suggesting that you go run your horse over and over again until they get past the barrels, that’s not what they were suggesting either). What I think they meant was that you need to get your horse freed up. Most people will only think about the barrel pattern, but I think people need to step back and think about how they ride their horse on a daily basis. For example: I lope a lot of small circles (my foundation for barrel racing is from when I worked for a reining trainer in my early teens). I started to realize that maybe all of my horses are so turny because they are constantly throttled back and made to work in “perfect” shape. I analyzed other trainers who would more less gallop their horses on a loose rein and just let them get exercised. I tried it, it has worked so far. So maybe kicking past the barrels is not the solution, but more less getting your horse freed up in all areas of your riding.
#3 He’ll be alright, he needs to get tougher!
I have one of my most favorite horses of all-time outside. He won saddles, buckles, pro-rodeo money and collegiate qualifications and much more before his 6th birthday. Now at 15, when I turn him out to run, he bucks twice and then runs around the pasture on 3 legs. There are some days that he can’t even get up from rolling and I have to go out and put a halter on him to pull him up. He’s only 15. He was semi-retired at 6 when the vets told me that his hock has a bone chip and a lot of other “junk” in the joint that would make him only have a 30% chance of coming back as a performance horse after an arthroscopic surgery. In my early 20′s and in a partnership deal on this horse, I had to walk away from him because my partner didn’t want to do the surgery. I refused to ride him, the partner then sold him to someone else as a trail horse, who then turned around and sold him to someone who wasn’t told about the hock damage. After discovery of the damage they did the surgery and ran him. They have since sold him back to me and even I have made a hand full of runs on him in the last 2 years. With injections and pain meds and chiropractic he can make a good 2D/3D run. I think I heard the above fallacy a hundred times when I ran this horse. He gave me everything he had every run and when he didn’t work it was because he was in pain. I was told by some people very close to me, “He’ll be ok, just make him work” Now looking back, that seems like the most insensitive and heartless thing that anyone could do to a friend/horse. The fact is that he wasn’t ok. I should have fixed him, paid for the surgery and then gone from there. But as a college student $2,000 for a surgery was a lot of money. My horses today are probably babied, but after looking at my old horse, it reminds me that they only have so many runs and the decisions you make today will affect your relationship with that horse tomorrow. Choose wisely.
#4 He should be able to run anywhere in any type of situation
Let’s be honest here! We are dealing with a living breathing animal. We don’t know exactly what it’s like to run on different types of ground, different types of light, and different types scary situations. We only know that we train on them in our conditions, at home or at a local arena and we “hope” that is good enough to prepare them for the next time they enter an arena somewhere else. You can’t get mad at your horse for working differently at an arena that you don’t have that much exposure to or have never been in. You just have to “hope” it works. Instead of asking your self, “Why didn’t he work?” maybe we should be asking ourselves, “What did we not prepare for? and How can I better prepare my horse for the next time?”
#5 If you want it (winning) bad enough, it will happen
A dear friend of mine said to me the other day, “I don’t care, I just want to win!” I have so been there and to be honest I was exactly the same age that she is now. Sometimes we don’t want to look at the details, we don’t want to focus on what we need to improve. We just want it to happen. Unfortunately, the person who “wants” to win doesn’t usually win. It’s the person who has been the most honest with themselves and has made the necessary changes that they need to make and sometimes it’s the timing and the money. We all work “hard” even when we don’t win. It’s not the person who works the hardest that wins, but the person who prepares for the opportunity and takes advantage of it.
So I leave you with 3 words of wisdom
Honesty. Integrity. Determination.
If my years had themes, last year would have been “The year that I did what someone once told me I couldn’t” and this year would be “The year that I did the things that I didn’t even think I was capable of doing.” I know they almost sound the same, but really they aren’t. When I set out on my new life just over 2 years ago, I was determined to do the things that I had always dreamed of doing. I was raised to believe I was capable of doing what ever I wanted as long as I was willing to put the hard work and dedication required… into it. However there was one very important factor that was missing, that I was never made aware of… Sacrifice. At the unmarried, recently divorced age of 31 it has become a reality that I may never meet someone who wants to keep me forever, I may never have children, and my number one concern may always just be centered around my goals, my career, and my genuine care for others. It’s been a hard reality to accept. I don’t take any of it back, I wouldn’t want to change anything. It’s. Just. Not. What. I. Expected.
Dr. Phil says I’m getting dangerously close to an age that put’s me into a high risk pregnancy. Having said that… I haven’t watched one of his shows since then.
Screw you Dr. Phil. But what sucks is that he might be right. He had actual scientific facts to back it up. He said that women in my generation were lied to when we were told we could have it all; an education, a career, a healthy marriage, and babies later in age. Meanwhile, I have friends who have kids entering high school.
But this post isn’t about babies. It’s about realizing that no matter what you set out to do in life, that there is a possibility that you will actually succeed. People focus to much on the downside, they try to prepare themselves for the letdown. I say phooey to that! I mean imagine what you could accomplish if you truly believed you could succeed even at the things you couldn’t even imagine yourself doing. This adage is very similar to the saying, “Imagine what you could do if you couldn’t fail.” but it’s different. When I think of the latter quote it makes me think of all of the hopes and dreams I have had since I was a little girl. The first one is so much broader in thought, I mean imagine how you would feel if you did something so out of character that it seemed ridiculous that you would even try.
A couple months ago my family decided that we should all get together for a family reunion, but being the non-conventional family that we are we couldn’t just have picnic. No, we decided to sign up for one of the most challenging 10 mile long obstacle course mud races in the country, Tough Mudder. The way that I pictured it, we were going to go about 10 miles (easy breezy) and swing on some monkey bars, climb a few walls and possibly swim in some extremely cold water. One of my brothers told me that if I got tired he would carry me (insert princess complex here). Well was I wrong, not only was it 10 miles, but it was 10 miles up and down a ski mountain, I don’t know exactly how many vertical feet I trans-versed that day, but I knew I was in trouble when my good leg, the one that doesn’t have a metal plate and 6 screws in it started to hurt. I was the last one in the pack and patiently every single person in my family waited for me. While my pride wouldn’t let me quit my family knew more than anyone that I was in bad shape. Meanwhile, I was being passed my people with prosthetic arms and legs and I just couldn’t even imagine what it must have meant for them to finish. That’s what got me to the end. The last obstacle was electrified and I was warned at the beginning of the race that if I had metal in my body to not attempt the obstacle (Oh and did I mention I signed a death waiver), but I tried it anyway. The finish line was so close and I wanted to do all of the obstacles. I would like to say that I didn’t get hurt, but I would be lying. My family lined up shoulder to shoulder and we decided that we would all run into the hanging electric wires together, side by side. I do have to admit, I let them get a little head start on me, but it was at that moment that I understood true camaraderie. As soon as I saw they were three jumps ahead of me, I just started running and for the first time in my life I wasn’t running for any reason other than to follow my family. We had all been taught to be independent in our group, but maybe a little to independent in my case. It was refreshing, I smiled as I hit the first wire. I remembered thinking, “I’m with them, every. single. one. of. them” I was so happy. I only had a hundred more feet to go to the finish. I hit the second electrified wire. “That wasn’t that bad,” I thought. Then just ahead of me a spaghetti strand of wires, I moved right to avoid them, only to hit a highly electrified wire with my right shoulder. I felt the electricity run across to my left shoulder and down my leg straight to the plate. With only ten more feet to get out of the obstacle I staggered out and collapsed only 20 some feet from the finish line. I didn’t want nor expect anyone to wait for me. I just wanted to lay down on the ground and cry. (and I’m not a crier). I have never had anything hurt so bad in my life. When I could see again through the black spots, I looked up and above me was my entire family. Not only those that participated, but the ones that waited for us at the finish line. I couldn’t believe it. I know my family loves me, but I didn’t expect it. Standing over me, were my 3 brothers that participated each of them asking me if I was o.k. I couldn’t talk. It hurt to bad. I couldn’t move and I felt really stupid for causing a scene. They kept asking if I was o.k. and I just started laughing and crying all at the same time. I never answered, (maybe cursed a little) until I heard one of them say, “If you don’t answer us we are going to get a paramedic.” That is when I said, “I’m fine, I think, It just hurts, really really really bad.” They let me catch my breath and then attempted to carry me across the finish line, until I begged them to put me down. My brother voiced, “We tried to carry her, she’s too stubborn.”
And isn’t that just life in general, most of the time you’re fine, It just hurts really really really bad. I won’t ever be sorry that I did it. I know I’m a better person because of it. There is something that changes a person, when you think about giving up and you not only push yourself a little further, but you push yourself so far that you didn’t even think you were capable of doing such a thing.
… To be continued.
Love, Love, Love, Love! I have thought deep and hard about this subject and although I’m not sure you can really package up the whole idea with a clear-cut definition. It’s easy to determine what it is not! I have often joked that love is parking as far away from the water as possible and not complaining about carrying the bucket all the way back to the trailer for someone. I know, probably not love, but at least proof that a second date is in store. This joke has led to an affectionate saying a dear friend of mine and I have when I am feeling down. This person says, “Don’t worry, I’ll still carry your bucket for ya!” It makes me smile just thinking about it. So there it is in a nutshell. We are all just looking for a water bucket carrier!
Just kidding. He he. I crack myself up.
I have experienced many types of love and I know that there are many more types that I have yet to experience. But the topic today is going to be Romantic Love. I was going to try to describe to you what I think romantic love is, but to be completely honest, I have no flipping idea. I’m not a mushy person, most romantic stuff really actually embarrasses me. I don’t like the attention. I’m more of a, “Wow, you unsaddled my horse and put the saddle up exactly the way I like it!” kind of girl. Finish it off with a kiss. Now that’s my kind of romance.
Seriously, maybe my calling is to write romance novels for girls that ride. We are a different breed. Heck there really needs to be a book on how to date a barrel racer. I know there are ways to make it happen. There are couples out there that have been happily married for decades. [note to self: start interviewing married rodeo couples for book and personal growth]. I do know one thing though. It isn’t about the ring. My ring from my previous marriage was gigantic. So big I couldn’t close my fingers and not insured for enough, so I didn’t dare take it out to the barn. It was beautiful, people would point at it sometimes when I was out in public. But the marriage was crap and the ring stood for nothing. It was just something shiny to look at. The next time I get married, I just want a wedding band. I want my marriage to be more substantial than the ring. Besides, if a man buys me anything having to do with platinum that costs several thousands of dollars, it better be a trailer or he’s in a lot of trouble.
My dear cousin and her husband (who does fall under the water bucket carrier category, bless his heart) had their honeymoon in a parking lot in Santa Barbara, California, during the ProRodeo there. I thought it was romantic. I would like to do something along those lines. I think I’d want to get married at City Hall. Texas has so many beautiful old towns. I would just pick the prettiest City Hall and then get hitched there and have one heck of a party. Sincere and Simple.
I’m not saying I don’t have a soft heart. I love holding hands and all the good stuff. I even have a playlist called “Love” on my phone. All songs with the word love, some romantic, some angry, some mushy. But my idea of a great date is probably a little different: Picnic on the roof of the trailer or in the truck bed * Love notes on a Daysheet* A game of horseback tag (haven’t done that in 15 years) would be more our style. That’s if we are being creative.
So, If you don’t know what it’s like to stare through someones eyes. It’s just magical. If you haven’t ever done it, you are missing out. If I have any regrets so far in this life, my only one would be that I wish I would have loved more foolishly. I am too guarded and I protect myself at all costs and even when I thought my heart was as broken as it could be. I still recovered. After that, one of the things I’ve realized is that if it is that resilient, I should have taken more chances. I didn’t give myself enough credit. I should have danced when no one else was dancing, rode ferris wheels when asked, and been more playful…. laid it all out on the table.
So this Valentines Day! Take your chances. I mean, someone dedicated an entire day for us to make an ass out of ourselves for the sake of love. Don’t wait till next year. Do it now! And if you missed Valentines Day! Do it anyways, you have nothing to lose!
So tell me your love story or tell me what you think the perfect date would be!
Always The Love Song, Eli Young Band
Don’t Tell Me U Love Me, Kid Rock
God Only Knows, The Beach Boys
All you Need is Love, The Beatles
Don’t think I can’t Love You, Jake Owen
Give A Little Love, The Judds
Love in this Club, Usher
Love Love Love, Tristan Prettyman
Love Can Build A Bridge, The Judds
This Ain’t No Love Song, Trace Adkins
Where is the Love, Black Eyed Peas
You Can’t Hurry Love, The Supremes
Young Love, The Judds
It was on this day, that Karen Wyatt headed down the alley on her black gelding Dashton aka Ash, like she had done many times before. He headed into the Glen Rose Expo Arena with his ears perked and at full attention. Getting a stride away from the first barrel, he rated beautifully with his nose tipped to the inside, positioned perfectly to make what could have been a perfect turn. Instead, the crowd heard a pop that sounded almost like an overreach, but was as loud as a rifle. He took several more strides, trying to complete the turn and the job he was sent into the arena to do. The crowd gasped and yelled, as Karen tried frantically to pull him up and get off of him. While he hobbled on three legs, she hung half way off of him with her foot stuck in the stirrup. Someone from the crowd, yelled for a barrel setter in the arena to help her. Several people came to her aid. The music was turned off, all talking in the arena turned to a whisper. The loudest thing heard were the hundreds of hearts breaking all at once.
I can’t imagine what she is going through. I don’t know if I would ever be able to bounce back from something this tragic. I love this sport and we all know that accidents happen, but I just can’t even imagine. So many awful things happen in this lifetime and we don’t know why they happen to us or for that matter why they even happen at all. There was no bad step that I could see, the ground was safe, he was in the right position. Of all of the conditions that “could have been” I wouldn’t have thought that this could have ever happened to anyone at this race.
We take chances, every time we get in our car, get on our horse, or make a decision on any given day. We try to prevent everything we can from going wrong and yet still we have no power when it comes to these types of outcomes. Life is precious. I think that is why it is so important that we do what we love and love what we do. Because in an instant, it could be over. I have yet to run into a stronger group of people than barrel racers, they are hard working people with kind hearts. They always seem to bounce back and they are a true reflection of a true America. Stories of their perserverance are around every corner. I’ve had to tell myself in the past that barrel racing is not what defines me, which I believe is still very true. However, I can not deny that most barrel racers can be defined in a certain way. They are strong, dedicated, compassionate, loving and hard working. It is with this in mind that I can’t imagine ever NOT bouncing back from a tragedy like this.
15 year old Dashton (Ash) stood there patiently in the arena as they took his saddle off and splinted his leg up. He was under the immediate care of two vets within minutes of the accident happening. A large stock trailer was pulled into the arena and he was loaded up. The x-rays showed that his hock was shattered. Karen made one of the hardest decisions there is to make in life and put him down. She hauled him home and buried him this morning.
I hope she finds comfort in knowing there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who are shedding tears and thinking about her today. I hope she finds comfort in knowing that.
Karen and Ash ran in the Texas Senior Pro Rodeo Association this last summer and fall, finishing Reserve Champion for the year end. Friends say that they have never seen Karen happier on a horse. The Jurassic Classic producers gave Karen the Julie Swanson memorial buckle that was going to be given to the fastest time for the weekend. Wow, I can’t wait to get to heaven. We’re going to have one heck of a barrel race someday!
“….I risk my life every time I climb on a horse. I’m not afraid. Neither are they. I want to win, just like they do. It’s true. The last horse I rode ran so hard his heart burst. But it’s who they are. And it’s who I am.” –(movie) Ronnie Turcotte, Secretariat
Horse Traders don’t have a heart because every time they sell a horse that has positively influenced their life, they sell a piece of their heart with the horse. The fact is if you sell too many horses you may not have anything left at the end of this lifetime.
I know that is an exaggeration, but this is how I feel. For damage control I have tried to emotionally invest the least amount that I can into any horse that I know is going to be sold. Well, everything is for sale in the barn, eventually. I also believe you can’t make a great horse unless you are willing to train with passion and heart. If you don’t invest emotionally into the horse, I don’t think that you get the same amount of try that you will out of one that you put your heart and soul into. They can tell when you care about them and I think they try harder.
Most of us are all looking for that horse that is going to change our life. The “Horse of a Lifetime.” The one that allows you to quit your day job and go down the road pursuing your dream. Since I started counting. I personally have had 3 “Horses of a Lifetime,” at least I thought at the time. Two of them I had to sell (neither of which I owned) and one went lame (I only owned half of him). I have two horses now that may be “Horses of a Lifetime,” but I’m finding that my standards are a little bit higher now and I realize that even if the horse has the talent, there are so many things that have to line-up, so you can take advantage of the opportunity.
In addition to the “Horse of a Lifetime” there is also a thing I call a “Life Horse.” The Life Horse is the horse that changes your life the most and directly influences your ability to take advantage of the “Horse of a Lifetime” once it comes along. I have only had one “Life Horse” so far. This particular horse came into my life just weeks after I found out that my marriage was falling apart. After several consecutive weeks of crying, a friend called and said that he had a 3-year-old Miss N Cash mare that he wanted to sell. I told him I would come down and look at her and see what I thought. He had run her through the sale barn a week earlier and bought her back because she didn’t bring enough money. She was skinny and wild. I saddled her up, not expecting much and after 5 minutes of riding her decided that she needed a home with me. There wasn’t anything that particularly made her special although she was quick and catty and she didn’t buck me off. I made him an offer and did what every heartbroken horse woman does to try and fix her marriage, I bought a horse I couldn’t afford. I made $250 payments every pay period until she was paid off. Note: she was not very expensive and she was paid off quick, but it was still a stretch for me at the time. This horse gave me something to focus on while my marriage crippled along. She needed me and I needed her. For her 5-year-old futurity year I won money on her and was able to travel around the western United States. When I was at a futurity with her, I didn’t have any marriage problems. She gave me something to focus on during my saddest days. I won money that helped me decorate my home, she gave me a sense of freedom and ability to travel. Because this is a business for me too, at the end of her 5-year-old year I decided to put her up for sale. My marriage was over. I then sold her and was able to pay off all of my credit cards and my horse trailer. This worked out well, considering just 3 months later I was divorced and moving 1,000 miles away and buying a new house. Her blessings didn’t stop there, even after this mare was sold to another family she kept on giving to me. She went on to a family that had two girls who ran her and won on her. After two years of her then affecting their lives the parents decided to sell her so they could buy a car for their teenage daughters who were riding less. I took her back in as a commission sale and ran her over the next several months, winning jackpots and money and giving me the confidence that I needed to ride my futurity horses. So in addition to the blessings she has given me, she is now helping two teenage girls get what they have always wanted. A Car!
Just last saturday I met a hauler in Oklahoma City to haul this horse to her new home in Ohio. She is now owned by an 11-year-old girl who is a clone of me at that age. She is 4’6 and 55 lbs and the perfect match for this 14.3 hand mare. This little girl can ride the hair off of anything. I can’t wait in about 10 years I’m sure I’ll be saying, “I knew her back in the day.” Here is a video of the girl running the mare for the 2nd time. She was 22nd out 256, some of Texas and Oklahomas finest horses. That’s me in the background screaming like a proud mom.
The money that I made off of the commission is going to pay for my eye surgery that I had last year. Did you hear that people? This horse has given me the gift of sight! No more eye infections, blurry vision, and stress headaches from squinting. Granted I had the surgery last year, but this horse is the one that paid for it!
I didn’t spend a long time saying goodbye to her last Saturday. I just patted her on the butt because I know that since she is only 8 years old she has a lot of life to share with her humans and I’m sure that the effect she had on my life will be exponentially consistent with every person who comes in contact with her. This mare is truly an angel. She never won a World Championships, She never won hundreds of thousands of dollars, but what she did give me is something you just can’t buy. She gave me what I needed, when I needed it. She is a Blessing to anyone who comes into contact with her. I have never had a horse in my life that made such a quantifiable difference. The fact is when I sell horses, I sell my blessings to the highest bidder. It never gets easier, but I guess that’s just life.
If you have a “Life Horse” that you would like to tell me about, please share your story. I know there are more out there!
“What’s so important about going around 3 barrels anyways? Who cares who does it the fastest!”
If you haven’t heard this conversation in your head, or you have never talked a friend out of quitting (even if you really knew they never intended to quit anyways. This is usual the case with me.) then you just haven’t been around the sport long enough.
As you may already know, I’m a competitive person. I make everything in life a challenge. I’m the person at the wedding showers that shouts at the top of her lungs when she wins the stupid prize from the dollar store. Tastefully of course, in a more dorky, than obnoxious way. All of this amounts to the fact that I take myself a little too seriously!
The challenges I face in life have a reoccurring theme of extremely high expectations, followed by hours of preparation, and then acceptance of the outcome. I have done this for years, over and over and over again. It is a great path and it has gotten me to a place in life where I feel extremely blessed. But let me tell you folks, it is exhausting. Sometimes I think, “Did I really sign myself up for this?” Of course the answer is always, “Yes.” Followed by, “But would you have it any other way?” Followed by, “No” Then it happens, that little voice in my head says, “Well then stop feeling sorry for yourself and get the job done.”
While on the way home the other day from a race, I was telling a friend that mediocrity may be the way to go. To heck with all these high expectations. I ran through the options. If I didn’t have all these dreams, I could travel, lay out on a beach on a tropical island, or I could own a boat. I was thinking average wasn’t too bad. Really if you wanted the majority opinion, then the average person is going to think you’re doing pretty good. While talking to her about my dreams, she said to me, “You can’t give up. While you’re giving up, there’s someone else out there trying to figure out how to win.” It was just enough to spark my interest. She knew exactly the perfect thing to say. All I needed was to think that there was someone out there who was currently conspiring to beat me. It was like a breath of fresh air, the wind under my wings. This friend is often a voice of reason in my temporary bought of self-pity and insanity. The reality is that sometimes, you’re not a Quitter and sometimes you’re not a winner, sometimes you’re just stuck in the middle. My goal is to get out of the middle and never Quit.
I think the secret is figuring yourself out and then going with it. Find something inspiring and think about it every time you start to lose strength. I recently witnessed a music video the other day that brought some true clarity. I saw it circulate on Facebook for about two days before I actually took a look. I wish I would have seen it sooner. It has everything in it that summarizes what makes me tick. Love. Horses. Determination. Grit. Innocence. Try.
P.S. If you know anything about the kids in this video, please comment. They are wonderful in this video. I heard they are from the North Texas area.
A good hauling partner knows exactly when it’s ok to start talking to you after a bad run and about what mile marker to call you out in the truck and say, “Ok I’ve had enough of your pouting, get over it, move on and make it happen next time.”
It’s takes a while to figure this out and if you do it too soon or at the wrong time, it very well may be the last time that both of you are ever in the same truck again.
If you’ve never experienced this either because you don’t rodeo or you just don’t ever haul with someone. Lets just say that not doing well (no matter what you consider well) at a rodeo or barrel race is like breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. It hurts every time. I don’t know if it’s the money that we put into this sport or it’s just the type of people we are, but I have yet to run into one person who plays our game that doesn’t want to just have a fit, throw their sucker down and then roll around on the ground for a little bit, after their run doesn’t go their way. The only reason why you don’t see this happening and you don’t see a huge sea of contestants rolling around on the ground is because of this bullcrap called ”good sportsmanship” that is put in our heads when we are children. Really I don’t know any really “good sports” they all just keep it inside. I’m not saying that we don’t find joy in our friends winning, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to figure out how we didn’t win in the back of our heads.
I am a Self-Proclaimed, Immaculately Contained Sore Loser!
I do a wonderful job of making everyone think I’m a good sport…. hopefully!
But every once in a while someone lets the cat out of the bag and lets their true colors shine! Sometimes they even take it to an extreme, make accusations, and post their opinion on this little social network everyone calls FACEBOOK. Things are said, things are not said and usually within at least an hour, things start getting deleted. It’s like a huge flood of emotion and then when the remorse occurs the delete button is hit and the waters recede. Unfortunately, just like verbal words, most written words can never be taken back again.
Most of time there are regrets, sometimes there aren’t. But in all reality. I think the first thing we need to realize is that the difference between having a good day and a bad day… Is usually about 4 tenths of a second. Anything larger of a margin than that and you are probably having a really, really, really bad day. That’s not a lot of time. In the past, to make myself feel better I have actually sat and watched 4 tenths of a second go by on a stop watch. It really puts things into perspective.
I like to remind myself that chances are no matter what division you run in, if you entered the race, you imagined winning it! With that being said, and if all of this is even remotely true that means of that if 356 people entered, then 355 are going home disappointed to some extent. The picture above is of my horse falling at a futurity that I really thought we had a chance at doing really well at. The day after this run, when I got home, I laid in bed for almost an entire day pouting about my mishap. Until now, only my closest friends knew this. You know… Friends? The ones who know everything about you and still like you.
So Remember, go easy on yourself! You only get one life….and whereever you are in that life, Be There!
It’s not very often that I write of great horses that have passed on, but Nate Shilabar (aka Hotshot) is a horse that undeniably can not be ignored. The fact is that all of us have had horses that have touched our lives, some of them won a lot, some won a little, and some of them didn’t win at all. It is the special place in our heart that makes them special. I don’t think that one person’s loss is any greater than another’s, just because one horse has won hundreds of thousands of dollars while another just took his owner on a trail ride once a week. It is with this in mind, that my expressed feelings are generally kept at bay and aren’t voiced any greater than, “My thoughts and prayers are with you.”
But… Hotshot is different.
In my lifetime, I have yet to see a horse that was run by so many people and consistently a threat to every great barrel horse in this country. In the years that he was running at the NFR, it was great to hear the stories of the short statured renegade gelding. With over $1 million dollars in earnings, he was a force to be reckoned with and he continually acted as a threat for years after his 1997 debut with Peyton Raney. In that year, they won the WPRA Rookie of the year. In 2001, Janet Stover won the WPRA World Championship after winning more than $126,000 in earnings at NFR. That same year the Steinhoff’s bought him for their daughter, Tanya as a Christmas present. She won $180,000 the next year. Hot Shot went on to be a “kids horse” for their family, winning multiple world championships and enough money to pay off what the equivalent of EVERYTHING I have possession of, year after year after year. What has your kid done to make a couple hundred thousand dollars lately?
Many great barrel horses have died this year and we all suffer our feelings of loss. It’s amazing to me because I know that there are so many people who this horse influenced in his lifetime, that will never be mentioned in any of the articles that speak of his death. I loved the 90′s and early 2000′s because I really feel that the “little” horses prevailed in that time. It was just a coincidence that the dominating horses of this time were mostly under 15 hands. It was great to see Sherry Cervi’s Hawk, Kelly Yates’ Fiesta and Hot Shot barreling down the alley with sheer determination of a win that was just beyond the horizon. I too rode a small horse, that many knew as not of a threat, but as the “consistent” horse. It was Hawk, Fiesta, and Hot Shot that gave me hope and made me push my horse to be the greatest he could be. I know there are other girls out there doing the same to this day, going over the memories of those times. One year at the Salinas PRCA rodeo in California I rode my small horse up next to Sherry Cervi to see if Hawk was shorter or taller than my horse. Hawk was actually smaller which I would have never guessed in a million years. It was a great feeling and still to this day gives me a sense of joy when I head out to run my barrel horses. In the past few years, I have realized that I should be as kind and accepting of myself as much as I am the horses. I may be small, but my heart does not acknowledge the limitations that are unjustifiably set in my head.
They said it best in Seabiscuit, “It’s not in his feet, it’s in his heart.”
The Steinhoffs say they found Hot Shot, 24, in his stall today (12/28/11) in the place where he always laid down to sleep. It appears that he passed away in the night. There were no signs of struggle.
Believe it or not! One of the hardest conversations I have ever had included telling an ex-boyfriend that I didn’t like the way he wrapped his horse’s polo wraps. I know you are probably thinking, “This girl is crazy! Obviously, she hasn’t experienced enough in life.” Unfortunately, that is not true…. Life has taught me many things and has taught me tough lessons on how to handle conflict, tragedy, death, hunger, addiction…. you name it. But for some odd reason, approaching a person about how they wrap a polo is like talking to someone about Cancer. It’s this huge elephant that sits in the room and no one wants to talk about it.
I remember the first time that someone sat down and had “The Talk” with me. I was roughly about 12 years old and started using polo wraps because they so conveniently matched every color of my high wasted 00 slim Wranglers and Rockies (Rocky Mountains at the time). Red, Maroon, Yellow, Green, Purple, Black, White, Grey, you name it, I had them and it was all about color coordination…. Thank you Marleen Eddleman. This was back in the day when performance leg boots were new to the market, only the “rich” people were able to afford the new sports technology that surfaced from Professional Choice Sports Medicine Boots. You also had your choice of regular splint boots or Bar-F.
Anyways, back to the topic at hand. I was about 3 tries into my newly purchased polo wraps and participating in a gymkhana where you were lucky to even see a horse with protective leg gear on, when I was approached by a beautiful tall blond-haired gal that ran a big, big, (did I say big) sorrel horse. Everyone talked about her horse because he was “off the track.” At the time I kind of knew what that meant, but didn’t understand the challenges that she faced. As a child I remembered seeing that he liked to run…. but turning… hmmm… not so much! She walked up to me as I was in mid sentence with a friend, interrupted me and said, “Hun? Can I take a few minutes to show you how to wrap those polo wraps correctly?” As a child, I was craving for information. I wanted to be a world champion and sitting in the dusty parking lot in the middle of a California desert, with 6 more events to go. I knew I was a long way away and “this, this could be my ticket.” Intently, I listened as she sat there and unwrapped my patient dehydrated burned out barrel horse. She explained where I needed to start the wrap and that the seam shouldn’t be exposed to any of tendons, wrap the tendons inward, pull the wrap tight across the cannon bone not the tendons, that they should be evenly spaced and start about mid-way up the cannon bone, then go down, then back up again making sure they are evenly pressured. I appreciated her helping me and to this day I still will re-wrap a leg (sometimes more than once) if I looked at it and it didn’t seem right.
Having said that I will still remember the day that I was going to “tell” him. It was after a horse’s lack luster performance that I realized that the wraps were not tight and had slipped down during the run. The bottom half looked the way that an old women’s panty hose stretches out and stacks at the ankle like the skin on an elephant. The horse had not wanted to get “in the ground” as much as we would have liked to see and he jumped out of his turns early. There were several theories thrown around. More chiropractic work, tuning, and vet work were all of some of the solutions. But the polo wrap thing, just seemed to obvious and as a friend I thought the largest disservice that I could commit to my friend, let alone my boyfriend, was the obvious epic polo wrap FAIL. I tried to find the time to say something, but no time seemed like a good time. I ultimately got in the truck and headed home in my own rig. Hands gripping the stirring wheel tightly, sweating (ok it was 103 outside) I contemplated my attempt to have the talk. I called a dear friend that said, “Don’t worry, just bring it up, either he will listen or he won’t. Who knows he might not even care.” But still I fealt like I was giving a professional trainer, the most obvious advice known to man. The type of advice that makes people’s skin cringe and their head drop as if to say… that’s not it. So FINALLY, I got up the courage. The phone rang, rang, rang (oh awesome maybe it will go to voicemail and then I can leave some generic message and hang up like I didn’t have a plan to give the most stupid advice known to man). “Hey what’s up?”, (crap he answered). “Hey, I was just thinking about the run and I don’t know if you noticed, but the polos slipped down and that might be why he wouldn’t get in the ground,” I cringed waiting for his response. “Oh I didn’t notice that, you may be right, who knows,” he said rather unclimactically.
So there it is, I worried for nothing. I don’t know if it was the problem or even a solution, but the point is… why doesn’t anyone talk about polos? I love them. I’ve used them nearly my entire life. I find wrapping polo wraps after they have been washed therapeutic. FYI… you have to wrap the female side of the velcro back into the male side or they won’t unwrap properly. I see dozens of polo wrap epic fails every weekend and have always thought someone should document these fails to spread awareness. Kind of like “what not to wear” meets “the people of wal-mart” but for polo wraps. So now I’m challenging you! If you have a documented Epic Polo Wrap Fail, please take a picture and email the picture to EpicPoloFail@gmail.com I will upload the pictures to the blog and maybe one of these days be able to award people with their contributions.
I was going to include a link to a video of how to wrap a polo correctly, but I was disappointed to find there was not one video that I completely agreed with. Just do a search on your own or have someone you know that is accomplished show you how to do it.
There are many ways that you can do it correctly and there are many ways that you can do it wrong! The supreme court once ruled on a very controversial topic that basically although something can not be clearly defined, you know what it is when you see it. This is very much the case with POLO WRAPS.
UPDATE … I was finally able to find a video that was a good demonstration. The only bad part about this is that the camera angle is from the front which is not how you look at your horses leg when you put them on. Hopefully is will help anyone who wants to watch.
“Next week she may have corn rows! You never know what she’ll decide to do next,” said a friend of mine to another barrel racer this summer.
She was referring to the fishtail braids that I had put in my mares mane. A newly learned task (thanks to Pinterest) and something to scratch off my bucket list of “things to learn how to do” since seeing my first fishtail braid on a beautiful brown haired girl in second grade. I always admired the girl, but I wasn’t quite sure if she may have been of Asian descent or if her mother combed her hair back so tight in a pony tail that her eyes were slightly slanted. The young girl and I never spoke on our hour and a half long bus ride home except for the one time I asked her if her pony tail ever hurt her head. She said yes, but her mom made her wear her hair like that everyday. I suggested she pull it out as soon as she got to school and I will never forget the look on that little girl’s face. You would have thought I was the devil! She glanced at me and said, “Oh no, I couldn’t do that. I would get in so much trouble.” We never spoke again.
I was never one for girly things at a young age. My mom dressed me in the most beautiful dresses until I was able to give my opinion and then It was jeans and boots. First it was a white pair of boots and then a red. I remember the white ones had to be thrown out while I cried because they were so beat up. So needless to say, I wasn’t one to really sit still and get my hair done on a daily basis and lets get this straight (haha no pun intended) my hair is wild, something between course dark blonde with waves, straight in the front and curly/wavy in the back. It goes from full to poofy depending on the humidity. Most of the time these days I have it straightened and dirty, that’s when it looks it’s best.
So, if I’m going to waste my time primping something’s hair its going to be something I can actually see without looking in the mirror, because as Snow White’s evil step-mother taught us, there is nothing more annoying than a woman who looks in the mirror all of the time! So my friend’s kids and the horses become my mannequins to test out all of the pretty hair styles I get to see on Pinterest.
I call this Pinterest Therapy! I have a theory that if you ever need a booster in life, go on Pinterest, learn something new, like a hair style and then wear it out into the world for everyone to see. EXPECT NO ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS!
The weirdest thing will happen… I promise! People will notice and they will comment and compliment and it will make you feel better. It’s a natural pick-me-up! I have actually tested this theory. It makes for great conversation and while you are searching for your latest greatest thing to learn, time will pass and you won’t think about anything bad that is looming around in that pretty little head of yours. It’s really a distraction, but sometimes I think a person just needs to get through the day. Can ya hear a sister out on that one?
I still think that my horses are my best accessories, sometimes they don’t shine like I want them to, but that’s my job to take them home and polish them up! If they don’t get as shiny as I want them, then I have to figure out how to get them shiny (as you know I’m talking about performance, not grooming)! It’s all up to me. A dear friend of mine posted a quote the other day by Buck Brannaman (one of the founding natural horsemanship trainers) that said our horses are the mirror to our soul. I don’t quite know how to take that! Especially when I think about some of the counterfeit ones that I have ridden in my days. Like one gelding I had that could clock like a son of gun, but would dump me on my head every three months without warning, religiously! After the third concussion he got a “new zip code,” as Bo Hill would say. Bo Hill, being what I’m now calling the most quoted barrel racer, barrel horse breeder and trainer, in all of history, has also said, “If you have a horse that makes you feel bad about yourself, send him down the road!.” I’ve never heard truer words said. I think about the horses that have caused tears and pain and I wondered why I held on for so long. But looking at Buck’s statement… was it me? There is a horse standing in my barn right now, that along with giving me some of the happiest times of my barrel racing careers, including pro-rodeo earnings, championships over then-current NFR qualifiers,and Intercollegiate Standings notoriety, also gave me a plate and six screws in my left knee
after lawn darting me at a dead run before the second barrel. To this day I say that it wasn’t his fault and that he gave me plenty of warning to pull him up. Now that we are both crippled, I kind of figure we’re even. I still make him work and heel some for my step-dad when he comes to
visit. I figure since I’m pushing myself to run a 10k he can go chase some steers down the pen. Besides, even though he made me cry he has given me more happy memories than I could ever count sad. So which is it? Is it you or is it them? If they are the reflection of your soul, then maybe that’s why you see some people win year after year. Those are the ones that inspire me! It’s like they know a language that I’m so eager to learn. I don’t know if it just comes with age or experience but at some point you’re just a girl on a horse going through life… and everything lines up just perfect and maybe that is when you are staring back at a true reflection!
So after nearly a 10 year history of being mad at Apple (due to an iBook dying one week after my extended warranty expired) I finally broke down and bought an iPhone. I took my personel vendetta against Apple very seriously, almost to the extreme that I was “too cool” to buy an iPhone. My Crackberry suited me just fine and I didn’t have to worry about shattering the screen or paying for any extra insurance plans and it fit well in my bra when I rode. I may have been the last barrel racer on the planet without an iPhone, a reality that became even more clear after setting my phone up on the ledge of the fence with 15 other iPhones at a barrel race. Since I was taking the plunge, I decided why not go all “in”. A iPhone 4S was the choice and I have never been more excited. I talked with Siri a lot and quickly came to the conclusion that beyond the comedic relief she offered when repeating profanities, she had one major “hole.” It turns out… Siri… is not a barrel racer, let alone a cowgirl!
Why was this not disclosed to me in my purchase?
Maybe the people at Apple just don’t understand why this is important! Well let me tell you! If you try to tell Siri
“I’m up in Slack”… she thinks you say “I’ve been Slack”
“Are they going to do a big drag”…. “Thinking to do a big drive”
“I changed his bit”…. “I changed his bed”
“I washed a bunch of Polos”… “I washed a bunch of hello”
“The Derby starts after the Futurity”…. “The Derby starts after the Paternity”
“I really like that Dash Ta Fame Colt”…”I really like that “-” to fame call”
“That colts a little broncy”…. “That Colts litte Bronte” (I don’t even know what that means)
“When is he due to get shod again”… “Linsay do to get shot again”
“He was a little ratey”…. “He was a little Rady”… (who is Rady?)
… and my favorite!!!!
“I never get a Perf”…. “I never get a perv”
I swear though, she is learning. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but she barely knew the word “Rodeo” when I first got her and now, she spells it correctly everytime!
Love you Siri… You will be a cowgirl someday soon!
I would love to hear your personal iphone fails… so comment away!