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The cut

I got my hair cut a week ago.

It was time.

The ends were icky and dry.  Even mousse couldn’t convince them to be bouncy.

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I do like the length of my hair in these photos, but the ends are not healthy…

So I went to an Aveda salon and it was worth it.

I had tea when I walked in.  Got my scalp massaged with amazing smelling oil.

Had a knowledgeable stylist who suggested trimming the ends only an inch but taking more off the layers so the curls would be lighter and bouncier.

She was right, now my hair bounces and curls and feels so healthy.  IMG_5467

Maybe I shouldn’t wait 9 months between cuts!  On my way out I scheduled an apt for a trim 8 weeks out.  It’s time to start taking care of my hair better.

I wanted to grow my hair longer but truth be told, this medium-long length makes my hair look full.  The longer it gets the stringier it becomes.

My hair smelled so nice and it was blown out nicely, so I did what any self-respecting equestrian would do – I stuck it up in my helmet and rode until my hair was damp with sweat.  Yum!IMG_5479

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It’s healthy and I’m happy.

Chels

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Grad School Is Coming And I’m Scared/Excited

That’s literally how I put it when people ask – “scared/excited.”  I got my hair cut this past weekend.  And it looked so good and felt so good with all the dead ends gone and new layers that made my curls bounce just the right amount – that I made an appointment for a trim (and partial highlights after discussing my odd “ombre” look with my stylist) eight weeks out – which is the weekend between my grad school orientation and the first day of classes!  No way!  It’s can’t be happening already!  I mean YES it’s finally happening but OMG I’m going to be so busy and have to work so hard and YAY because I’m ready and need challenge in my life so really I’m more excited than scared.  But I mean eight weeks!  Really?!  Wow the time just flies, I feel like I write that in every post…”the time has flown” I need a new phrase!

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I have started preparing.  I bought a backpack.  Which is dorky for some, but I was so excited when it arrived that I wore it around the house, I even put random books, binders and my laptop inside just to see what it would be like.  Then I took selfie and sent it to Michael.  Then I emptied it out and put it away so that I wouldn’t continue wearing it around, I needed to get a grip!  I mean come on selfies really?!  I hate selfies.  At least I like to say that I do.

Although there may not be enough preparing to actually make me feel confident that I will be successful – I just keep reminding myself that if I knew what I was doing then I wouldn’t need to actually go to school to learn it!  I’m not supposed to know what I’m doing.  I’m just supposed to learn.  And I feel like I’m ready to do that.

Still nervous/excited,

Chels

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Babies, Babies Everywhere!

Last week was my last working at the farm, and what a week it had been!

Monday morning I found a little filly beside her mama!  _DSC0003

She looks just like her mama!  _DSC0006

And she has her Daddy’s tiny white sock.
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And her mama’s star._DSC0017She was very inquisitive and enjoyed getting a nice scratch.  She also thought my camera was the very interesting.

Then this morning, I found another baby while I was feeding all the horses breakfast.  A miniature donkey baby!

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I’m so glad that I got to meet these cute babies, they are so fun and happy to be around people.  It will be fun watching them grow up.

No babies for me though,

Chels

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Tia Turns 8

Tia turned 8 last week – which means that I have now been her proud owner for over 4 years!

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Tia and myself the first day that I tried her out before buying her.

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Tia a few weeks after owning her.008

Tia two months after owning her (getting shiny and fat!)
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Tia 4 years later, different tack and muscled up!

4, sometimes difficult, mostly enjoyable and always interesting years. It’s amazing to think how quickly time has passed.  I used to think we had all the time in the world – we could take things slow and by the time Tia was old enough to really start showing I would have the funds to support it.

Well that’s all somewhat true.  But I’ve learned a lot in the past four years with my (sometimes) faithful steed.

1.  I could have pushed a little more, a little earlier.  Tia is now 8 doing training level.  I mean sure that’s ok but could we have gotten further had I started with regular lessons earlier?  Probably.  Now I have (what every trainer and judge has noted along the way) a talented horse whose age may eventually become a barrier to the upper levels.  It all just depends on how sound she will stay.  Fingers crossed.  My thought was always, slow meant less damage to the joints – but the natural aging process takes a toll as well.  We shall see.

2.  Just because you take it slow doesn’t mean it’s any easier.  Tia and I have had some serious ups and downs.  I have seriously debated selling her twice.  Both times because I couldn’t keep her sound (abscesses galore) and I was tired of spending money on a horse I couldn’t ride.  And since starting regular lessons our lesson have been…well entertaining.  I feel confident I could hang  onto a bull for 8 seconds.

After about 6 really poor lessons with Tia being extremely defiant to my aids, I admitted to my trainer that I wasn’t looking forward to lessons anymore.  I could still have a decent ride at home if I wasn’t asking for anything new, and I held onto those rides, they were the only enjoyable time I was able to spend on my horses back.

I also admitted that I was afraid to become afraid.  Fear is the greatest enemy and I knew that with the way my horse was behaving, if I couldn’t ride her through it, I was going to have a heck of a time finding someone else to do it.  I knew I was her best option – I knew I was my best option, I mean I was ultimately the one who would continue riding her and having someone handle her strongly wasn’t ideal – yet who would be crazy enough to get on her?  She just needed someone to stick on and keep asking her to bend, move off the inside leg, yield to the aids, be a team player and not a bull.  I knew it was my responsibility and still is.  Every now and again my trainer tells me to get after her with the whip when she’s ignoring my aids and about a third of the time I admit to not wanting to get after her because I know she’s got a mean buck coming.  I know my horse so well I feel the tension, the ball of energy coming my way, and it’s scary and I pretend (most of the time) that I’m not afraid.  I go so far as to get after her and ride the buck.  And only rarely do I get off and lunge her to get her going forward again (but never in a lesson, I’m always more confident when there’s someone on the ground to help if I fall).  It’s slightly effective but it takes time for lunging to really change her behavior so I have my inner battles about fixing the problem as effectively as possible – and self-preservation.  I mean I really don’t have a death wish.  I don’t get on the crazy horses and try to prove myself to others anymore.  I know I can get hurt, I’ve had my share of close calls, of small accidents and medium accidents.  I’ve been lucky to not have a serious accident.  The fact is I’ve been most lucky in not getting scared after the ride.  Sure in the moment I’m hanging on with all I’ve got, but when it’s over I’ve always moved on just as quickly as the buck or rear has happened.  And I’ve always been excited to get back on, to try again another day.  I’ve always felt positive about our next ride, I mean come on - the possibilities!

3.  In the end it’s worth it.  The possibilities with her are exhilarating – she’s impressive, athletic and a great partner when she feels confident.  I use a lot of voice to reassure her that even when it’s hard and she’s shaking her head and kicking out that she’s on the right track.   And when I tell her she’s doing it right, my god, if you could feel her response – it’s like she’s giving me a beaming smile with her body.  She throws everything she’s got into what she’s doing.  It’s incredible.  And that’s the reason I get on my crazy redheaded mare 6 days a week, knowing there will be bucks and head shaking and complete defiance, because when she’s confident with the movement it’s a complete pleasure to ride her.  I’ve never felt anything like it before.

We now have far more good days than bad.  We’re showing and I can sort of afford to do that a little bit.  My hope is to do a rated show this fall.  Our sights are set on doing one day of the USDF region 1 finals in Williamston, NC.  It will give us a chance to be in front of 3 judges, stiff competition and the atmosphere that goes along with a show of that caliber.  I finally have white breeches to show in.  I’ll need to upgrade my show wardrobe a bit for a rated show (most importantly to get a jacket that fits!) but I think it’s the right step for us.  In the meantime we have another schooling show coming up the weekend after the 4th that I’m looking forward to.

My 8 year old Tia monster and I will keep on plugging away in the meantime, with lots of rides, surrounded by treats, hand grazing and all the other fun stuff that I get to do with my horse.  I’m a lucky one.

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Very lucky,

Chels

 

Tia Winking

A Year’s Training: Comparison

After this past horse show I realized that it has officially been a year since my trainer walked up to me and suggested that she might be able me with my dressage training.  I wasn’t training with anyone at the time and knew that I could definitely use help!

She had watched me at the EDCTSA Benefit Show and after seeing my ride, offered to give me some lessons.  I was all for it.  We took a few lessons with her over the summer and then things really got serious around the end of October when we started taking weekly lessons.  The most obvious way to show how much things have changed is to show you our video from the Benefit Show in 2013 before we started lessoning with my trainer, and the latest video from the Benefit Show in 2014.  Here’s the side by side comparison for you!

2013 EDCTSA Benefit Show – Intro C

2014 EDCTSA Benefit Show – Training 2

I could not be more impressed with Tia.  She really is a talented horse and I’m lucky to have her, but I would probably be showing you a very similar test to last years if it wasn’t for my trainer, Jeramie West, who has seen us at our very worst (leaping through the air, running backwards, lots of head shaking – all Tia of course!) and our very best!  I can now say that we are at a very good place in our training, making a lot of progress with each lesson.

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If I can’t see you – you can’t see me!  Right?!

Addie at the barn

Fully Committed to Training Level

We finally have moved up to training level.  This past weekend, Tia and I competed in Vanceboro, NC at the Benefit Show for the Eastern Dressage Combined Training Schooling Association (EDCTSA), in Training 1 and 2.

We had made a few changes the week prior to this show.

1.  I clipped all of Tia’s hair off (except her mane, tail and forelock of course!).  She is now much cooler and happier to work in the hot and humid weather.

Tia right after getting clipped and then bathed.

Tia right after getting clipped and then bathed.

2.  I made some changes to the way that I was riding her, requesting a lot more later movements like shoulder-in to create a better trot.  Our canter also finally came together, she was relaxed and round which was new for us!

I joked with my trainer the day prior that I thought I may be bringing my “new horse” with me to the show – although I wasn’t 100% certain that the changes in our training would stand up to a new and exciting atmosphere.  Luckily my “new horse” did come with me to the show ;) and we had two fantastic rides.  Our scores were ok – we won both classes, but what was more important was that I was able to make a lot of changes from our last show, we rode into all of our corners with bend!

Where we still need some work is the connection, which causes Tia to get tense at times.  Thinking a lot about this over the past few days I think the mistake that I’m making is hand to leg in our transitions and half-halts.  I need to think leg first.  This revelation came to me this afternoon while I was feeding the horses at the barn so I won’t have a chance to apply it until I ride again tomorrow night.

Here are the videos!

Training 1 66%

Comments:

Very nice pair – Prepare transitions more to better utilize your horses’s potential – nicely done. Thank you.

9.0 on final halt!!!

Training 2 62%

Comments:

Very nice horse – Prepare transitions more in advance & utilize corners for bend, setting up the next movement to build on a good foundations.  Thank you!

Our scores topped out at a 7 in this test.

Opinions welcome!  I’m eager to learn and progress!

And a totally random but cute picture of Addie…

Addie at the barn

Addie at the barn

Chestnut horse

Dressage Show at The Preserve

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Tia and I went to The Preserve in Washington, NC this past weekend.  Our plan was to knock out a 70%+ in Intro C (my trainers goal before we moved up fully to training level) and ride Training 1 as practice.

Tia was a bit wild in the warm up, we spooked – had some small bolts – a few bucks, but overall we were able to get quality gaits and softness before our Intro test.  However, upon making a warm up pass of the judges booth before the bell to signal the beginning of our test, Tia showed her dislike of the scary people at C watching her.  I passed them again giving her lots of praise and scratching her neck.  Then the bell sounded and we trotted in at A.  Tia still wasn’t a fan of trotting directly up to C, and when we made a pass again later in the test at the trot I had to really push her into the bridle and work with what I had.

Overall comments: “wonderful potential! work on steadier bend thru corners + on circles”

Score: 67.75%

So we had a break and then warmed up again, this time really focusing on creating bend for our training test.  This warm up went really well and we only spent about 20 minutes preparing before deciding to take a break.  Luckily the show was running ahead of schedule and we asked to go right in.  I was really happy with this test, Tia was still nervous about the judges booth, but we rode much deeper into our corners on that side of the ring.  I made a few small errors, such as coming to a trot before the letter instead of after.  I’m still pretty new to the “dressage thing” and was reading the test as you must be performing the movement between the letters so medium walk between F&B to free walk B-H meant medium walk established at or just before F and free walk begins at B.  Instead it means come to the medium walk between F&B and come to the free walk between B and H – with the idea to make the transition exactly at the letter.  I was just doing everything a few steps early.  Now I know!

Overall comments: “good pieces but horses carries haunch out on circles left and in on circles to right.”

When she spoke to me after the test she thought it might be due to a slight right hind lameness.  My trainer thought possibly due to her overextending herself during her excitable moments in our earlier warm up.  The next day my trainer felt she was much improved, so we are keeping an eye on it but so far it seems to be just a slight pulled muscle.

Score: 67.08%

My trainer was unable to attend my last show and after watching us in person at The Preserve decided that it was time to move past intro.  I should also add that this schooling show was judged by an “R” judge which is the second highest level of judge.  We normally see “L” (learning) and “r” recorded judges at our shows.  It was nice to get a critical eye – it just means that at a higher level of showing these are probably the scores we would be seeing.  Which I’m pleased with.   This is only our 4th dressage show and 5th show EVER.  We are still having a lot of learning experiences and I’m incredibly pleased that we continue to get a lot of comments about our potential from the judges.  Now we just need to harness it!

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The Chop

Two years ago, I woke up on my first day of married life and headed straight to the salon.

“Off with it!” I instructed the hairdresser.

And within a half hour I went from longish curly tresses to a trendy chin-length crop of hair.  It felt amazing.

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When Michael and I met our friends and family out for a late lunch (lobstah!!!!) a few of them didn’t recognize me!

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So now comes a little back story on this decision.  Michael likes my hair long, although he never complained or was negative about my hair once it was cut (I mean he’s not stupid!).

As much as I enjoyed the cut, I realized that I am too outdoorsy and spend at least half of my life a completely sweaty mess, to have my hair unable to manage a ponytail.  My curly hair generally deals with this lifestyle by being completely out of control – frizzy, half curly – half straight , you name it….my hair has done it.  Cute, short hairstyles are difficult to contain on out-of-control hair days.  Thus once the hair was chopped, I decided to grow it out again!  Yay for awkward growing out stages!

So over the course of the last year I’ve been asking Michael – do you think it’s back to the length it was at our wedding?  His response: it’s getting close.  Well I’m convinced we might be there.

What do you think?  Here’s a picture of my hair being “normal” a few days before the wedding. IMG_1822

And here’s a recent picture.

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Yes I was standing in my closet when I took this selfie.  At least I wasn’t wearing the same striped shirt again!

Now I just need to rant for a moment about selfies – YUCK!  I hate taking them, I hate watching people take them, I hate thinking about them…so now I’m going to stop.

Okay.

So what’s your verdict on the hair?  Close, still way to short?

I think my vote is about 2 inches to go.  Which is depressing. Although to be slightly narcissistic – I think my hair looks nice in both pictures!  Go me ;)

P.S. I clearly liked that striped shirt quite a bit – the first two pics are from the same day – but the later one wasn’t…

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Two Years Together & An Anniversary Tradition

Today I am celebrating Michael’s and my two year anniversary.  While we can’t be together to celebrate – we still managed to get each other small gifts.

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We’ve been on the whole “traditional anniversary gift” kick from the start.  I think there are a few reasons for this:

1. We both have long wish lists of both small and big items that we would like; however, none of these gifts are really the so meaningful, I want to have in my house and all the future houses that we live in until the day that I die kind of gift.  So the traditional gift ideas give us a starting point of something unique that we haven’t already picked out for ourselves.

2. It starts small.  Young newly weds don’t have large bank accounts, thus the first anniversary gift of paper is pretty affordable.

3. You don’t have to think about it quite so much.  There are a million things that I could buy Michael and yet buying for him is always so difficult.  His wish list is mostly on the spendy side – for instance – ranch hand bumpers for the truck…$2000.  Not exactly in my budget for an anniversary gift.  So by sticking to a specific material – I can get creative with an idea that’s a little more conducive to my bank account.

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Last year’s gift was paper.  I had a photo framed for Michael that now hangs on the ginormous wall in our family room.  The photo is of Michael’s beloved black truck – the chevy half ton – that he poured most of his teenage money into.  He loves it.  To this day he still talks about how he’ll have it forever.  He really liked the picture until he realized the background was of the beach and that his most precious truck had been driven near…God forbid…SALT WATER!  Luckily for everyone the truck survived…and the crisis has been averted.

I got a paper receipt from our movie ticket.  I don’t even think I still have it…it was that memorable of a gift.  What is memorable about that day was being taken out to a fantastic dinner where they had my all-time favorite beer (Sea Dog Blueberry) and a delicious meal that ended with the creation of our anniversary tradition – a cannoli.  This tradition came about because a few days before our wedding Michael’s mom and her then fiance (now husband) flew into Boston for a few days before the wedding.  We drove down for the evening and went out to eat a fantastic meal that I will always remember – and then walked around town before finding a dessert shop and buying some cannolis.  So last year when they had cannolis on the desert menu we vowed to make this our thing.

The traditional 2nd anniversary gift is cotton.  My gift to Michael is a custom made pillow from etsy.  He always wanted us to have monogrammed pillows with our initials but – as with everything else that I buy – I was really picky about them and I couldn’t find anything that I loved, so I had one designed.

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My gift from him is a monogrammed robe.  His other thing is that he wanted us each to have monogrammed bath robes.  I actually almost bought him a robe instead of the pillow but he had just bought one over Christmas break and I didn’t to message him asking “so how much do you like your new robe?” I figured it would cause some suspicion.

Here’s the pic I sent Michael this morning after I had opened my gift!

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It sounds so cheesy but I just feel so incredibly lucky to have a wonderful, supportive, incredibly handsome husband and a great marriage.  As much as I loved our wedding – when I think back on our two years together I mostly think of all the amazing things that we’ve done since that day.  Our honeymoon last fall, in particular, always stands out as one of those amazing times that we’ve had and I can’t wait to create even more memories like that when he comes home!

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The Summer Before Grad School

The idea of being a full time student in a rigorous program is both scary and exciting.  Mostly exciting.  I start a training period for my assistantship as a health coach next week which will provide me an opportunity to work with family therapists and medical family therapists.  I will also gain experience working with patients and their families which I’m hoping will give me a leg up for next summer when I start seeing patients as a MFT.

I realize that the quality of work expected in grad school will be a big step up from what I produced as an undergrad.  This summer my plan is to improve my writing form while also working on increasing my vocabulary.  It’s one thing to study vocab for the GRE, and another to incorporate it into my speech and writing.

Another part of my grad school prep is gathering the materials I will need for school.  I’ve been searching gradhacker and thegradcafe for lists of items needed for grad school.  So far the coolest ideas I’ve see are:

- super slim portable scanner that I can pack in my bag to avoid library scanning fees.

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This canon canoscan is about $50 on amazon and has 4.5 stars with 1900 reviews.

 

- contigo coffee mug which you can store upside down full of liquid and it will never spill!

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Amazon has these mugs listed for about $20 and they come in a variety of colors.

The most useful ideas I’ve seen are:

- 1 terrabite western digital external hard drive

- 2-16 gb thumb drive (depending on price)

-evernote essentials (evernote is a program which digitally store and organizes your research material – the program is free to download, however this manual has been highly recommended to optimize one’s use of the features.  Apparently it’s pretty complex)

The splurge idea:

- Apple Macbook Air. You know, because I’ll be commuting to school from home each day so I will have to carry my laptop with me.

The moral of this story is that I’m going to have to put in a lot of hours at work this summer if I want to purchase some of these wish list items.  I think it will be worth it!

 

a journey into the post-college life of a curly-haired, horse back riding, photography loving gal!