Well it’s New Years Eve. A lot has happened in this past year. I retired. I came to terms with being retired, and then I got my act in gear and got my health back. At the beginning of the year I set some goals. I wanted to get healthy and in shape. I did start going to the gym and I did that regularly, but for some reason I couldn’t break my bad eating habits. I would say I was going to try but each day but I would come home and eat a lot of bread with butter, ice cream and chocolate a lot of chocolate.
Then there were a couple of life moments. Last Spring I went to watch Selena O’Hanlon ride Foxwood High in the 3* and A First Romance in the 2*. I was very excited to see my first 3* and get a chance to walk the course. John and our friends Robbie and Dawn Brady were with us. I was able to walk around the course but it almost killed me. I was out of breath, sweating and basically in pitiful shape. I got home and saw the pictures and was really disappointed in how I looked. I almost didn’t recognize the person in the photos. I was upset but not enough to do anything about it.
Then came haying season. I got through one day and managed to get 175 bales into my barn. But when a friend needed help bringing in her hay my body gave out. It was one of those hot 30 degree days this July and I was part of a chain bringing hay off the wagon and into the barn. I had hardly started working when I felt my chest tighten and I had to stop. I sat down drank some water and then felt fine, but I was scared. The next day I took my blood pressure at the drug store and it was high. You'd think that would have shocked me into doing something about my weight and health, but no, I continued to eat junk and feel like crap.
Then I guess the next aw-haw moment came after riding my youngster Floyd. I had been riding him at home but my footing wasn’t great and so my friends Judy Dupuis and Ron Braaten allowed me to trailer over and use their sand ring. As it was the first time Floyd had been off property in two years I asked Hilary Popiel to get on first. When I finally felt comfortable to get on, John recorded the event. When I got home and watched it again I was shocked. Who was that fat old woman sitting on that lovely horse? I was now aware there was no hiding from my lack of health and general obesity, but even thought it was upsetting and depressing but still I couldn’t stop eating.
Then my friend Barb Broughton had a trip planned to Alberta for a week long camping trial ride. She wanted a bit more time in the saddle to get ready, I wanted someone to ride with. We started riding together at my place. I’d had a couple of rides on Derby she was on Floyd. On the third ride together I got on Derby and started to walk to out to my grass riding area and Derby freaked out and bucked me off. There had been bears in the area that day and I think that was what set him off. Now Derby has bucked me off before but not for a while. This time I fell hard. I was fine, nothing hurt really but I knew then and there I wasn’t safe to ride at that size. I didn’t have the body control to react to my horse’s movements good or bad. That was the moment "the penny dropped", I’d arrived at a point where I wanted to change.
Ok then what? What had to happen? I needed to make some big changes in my life.
I had to stop eating outside of meal times. I had to start eating less. I had to start eating good foods. I’ve done Weight Watchers, and a million other diets…. but they’d all been diets. I have lost more weight in the past than I like to think about, it’s been a lot. This time I didn’t want to think diet, I wanted to think change. So while I have been officially on a diet the last 4 months I haven’t. I’ve been on a path of new living. Carbs, that means bread, pasta and cereals are out. They are hard things for me to control. I will bring them back into my diet but on an occasion basis not as part of my daily eating. I made the decision not to eat starchy vegetables until my weight was under control and I no longer was officially obese. Sugar, and sweets of any kind are out, period. I have an addictive personality and sugar seems to trigger the bad eating gene in me. No booze of any kind, actually this wasn’t hard as I’d already given up drinking two years ago. It doesn’t mean I won’t have a drink now and again, but like sugar it will only be on an occasion basis. I suffer from depression and an anxiety disorder so booze is only an occasional treat at the best of times. Fat was gone too. Only the fat that was in lean meat was part of my diet. I learned to eat salads with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar or just plain. What kind of food was in, was all low calorie veggies. I could have my fill of lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, bok choy, spinach, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, celery, peppers, kale, cabbage. Besides salads I got very good at making zucchini spirals (Starfrit spiralizer is the model I use) instead of pasta with tomato sauce. I also love cabbage broccoli curry stews as well as soups of cauliflower and chicken broth. After 4 months of this and working around the farm the 54 pounds came off and I could move again.
Breakfast is two apples and black coffee. Lunch is a serving of protein and as much good veggies as I want. Super is a repeat of lunch. There is no eating after supper. I do drink lots, mostly a hot tea made of ginger and lemon slices. I also like a hibiscus and rose hip tea sold at bulk barn. I will tell you that I ygiven the amount of tea I drink I'm never far from a bathroom.
I also take a multi-vitamin everyday.
Now that I have got that all together and managed to do it by year end its time to make some serious goals for the New Year.
The main goal is to continue to eat properly in a new balanced, disciplined and healthy manner. That means that I will be introducing more complex vegetables but in a controlled manner, I will learn to respond to what my body needs and not what my mind thinks it needs to eat. I will limit the fats I consume. Butter and olive oil along with other such liquids will be monitored and only consumed when needed. Sugars, desserts and candies of anytime will be restricted to birthdays, holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) and only the actual day not every day in the season. I know this all sounds very strict but why should my diet be any more flexible than that of my horses. I am a 58-year-old woman, if I want to continue to be healthy and active into my truly senior years then I can’t muck about anymore.
Goal two, ride more and ride often. That means getting all three of my horses back into regular work. I want to be riding or working my horses 5 days a week. That is going to be a huge goal for me. I have three horses and it will take a good part of my day to get them fit and keep them fit. The consequence if I don’t is to sell the horses and the farm. What is the point of having horses and doing all the work only to looking after them. If I'm not in shape, or they're just lawn ornaments then I might as well move to a condo with John and the cats.
Goal three, get my competition duds out of the closet and get Floyd and Derby to some shows. It’s time to make some dreams into a reality. I want Floyd to go to at least 3 schooling dressage shows this year. That will force me to improve his flat work. Derby I want to do at least 3 entry level horse trials. I want to do at least 3 of the Upper Canada Derby Series with either Floyd or Derby.
Goal four, I want to get my qualifications as a riding instructor. I want to go through the process for a number of reasons. First, just because I’ve always wanted to do it. Second, because I think it will help me pay attention to my own riding. And third I think instructor certification is important in any activity and so it’s put my beliefs into action.
Goal five, I want to travel with John again. In the past couple of year’s I’ve let my anxiety about going away from home control me. We are planning our first holiday together in 3 years this March. I’m working on getting my passport ready and I already have my farm sitter set. Now it’s a matter of getting on the plane and going. Then after that I have to plan a number of short trips away so my anxiety and nerves don't get the best of me.
Goal six, I want to complete 3 paintings this year and have them framed and put them up on the wall. This goal is about doing it, not whether or not I like the end result but actually making it happen.
Goal seven, to sell 7 of my custom made jumps. That will go a long way to paying my entry fees at the competitions I want to go to this year.
Goal eight, this is the hardest one. Be proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished.
Well last week was a doozie. John and I had decided a few weeks ago that we would go to Bromont to watch the cross-country element of the 3 day event. Our friends Robbie and Dawn Brady said lets make it a road trip and the adventure began. My friend Barb Broughton said she would look after the horses for the night. This was a really big step for me. I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety issues the last couple of years and hadn't been able to leave the farm for an over night for a while. Barb was booked. The inn in Bromont was booked, so all was set for us to leave the farm. Or was it?
My barn had got out of control over the winter. Truth be told it's never been under control. It was dusty, full of cobwebs and a number of projects were piled here and there collecting more dirt and taking up valuable space. So after showing Barb the routine of the barn I finally was embarrassed enough to do something about it. That's where the leaf blower came in. Above friends Robbie and Dawn had purchased a light blower form Home Depot and used it to get all the cobwebs out of crevices and ceilings of their barn. I checked out the end result and was impressed so off I went to said box store and got another essencial tool.. Now I had everything I needed to get this barn in order, or so I thought.
First I found you actually have clear out the barn of all junk before you start using the blower or really the blower won't work. So I took out all the left over plywood, pieces of cedar siding, various empty containers. When all the junk was moved out I saw that the mice over the 5 years mice had dug up through the stone dust under my rubber tiles and dumped the stone dust on top of the tiles. So I had to lift all the tiles, re-place the stone dust, smooth it out and then replace the rubber tiles. Once that was done I thought it would be a good idea to lift my feed bins off the floor. That's where the pallets came in. My friend Eileen Dumbrell had moved late in the winter and she gave me a number of pallets for projects. Among them were two very large and well made pallets. I measured the space, cut the pallets to fit under the bins and then started painting them. I mean really what is the point of tidying up if your improvements don't look sharp as well. The thing is until you actually paint pallets you really can't appreciate how fussy they are to paint. First they are very dry so suck up paint like a sponge. Then they require several coats to cover the would so the paint job looks worth the effort. That little barn improvement took two days.
While the paint was drying I continued tidying up and clearing out junk from the barn. By this time I had managed to clear out the entrance and my former tack area. Enough space so I could turn on the leaf blower. Now this is a noisy appliance that blows dirt and crap. So I bought a pair of swim goggles to protect my eyes, a paper mask for my nose and mouth and earphones to protect my ears. I was a picture of country elegence. I turned on the blower and BA-BAM the dirt and dust blew away. At that point the siding I hadn't finished in the other area of the barn stood out. So I sorted boards, measured for plywood and finished off that area.
That was a days work so up to the house to get a drink before bringing the horses in for their dinner. It was at this point that my friend Judy Dupuis called. I'd made a cheese cake for Judy's dinner party on the weekend. It wasn't a big deal for me and I knew Judy was up to her eyeballs and she didn't need to worry about desert. Well as a thank you for one little cheese cake Judy offered her services along with her partner Ron Braaten's to help me jack up my run in shelter that was about ready to fall down. As you can see I am blessed with very generous friends who have made my living on the farm possible. Thank you Mom for teaching me how to bake.
So next day Ron and Judy arrive with several large jacks, And the work began. It took us about 4 hours to jack up the shelter and get it braced until I can get an end wall built on the shed for permanent support. I didn't think it was possible to straighten out that hovel, Next step is to buy barn boards and get the shelter finished and painted before winter.
Now back to the barn. The feed area was tidy, but the area that I used to use for supplies etc still needed to be finished. I have been keeping my saddles in the house, as the barn was messy. Now there was room for them in the barn for the summer and fall. I had a couple of saw horses I could use to hold my saddles. While I was getting them out of the downstairs I noticed a old cabinet my Dad had made me to keep my brushes at Tic Toc Stables about 40 years ago. So I dug that out. I'd been keeping my brushes in carriers but they never really fit all my brushes and I just ended with a big pile of brushes on the floor. The cupboard needed cleaning and painting but now it's hanging on the wall and holding all my grooming supplies.
So my yard looks better now that the shelter is upright. My barn is cleaner (still lots of dust busting to do) and my first aid and grooming supplies are tidied and organized. Everything in order to go off to Bromont.
Robbie and Dawn picked us up in their truck. Robbie kindly did all the driving. He and Dawn had been to Bromont to watch the cross country a number of times so they knew the routine.. .We left Friday morning so we could walk the cross country in the afternoon and find a good spot to watch the action on Saturday. If you ever want to be humbled...walk a 3* cross country course. The jumps are big wide, solid. I was exhausted by the end of walking the course and I only had to do it once. The riders at least 3 times....and then many of the riders had more than one horse. It started to rain hard when we were about 2/3rds of the way around so we called it a day and headed back to the Inn. In the rain we saw Selena wiz by on her bike and so we followed to the barn to wish her luck. She was wet, but very happy with both horses. Solo had had a great dressage test and his score reflected an error Selena had made in the test. Woody was sitting in first place and Selena was beaming. She told us she was going to be careful around the cross-country with him because she wanted to build some confidence back in the Woodster after a slip at Rolex. We left her with our best wishes and hoped she could get a good nights sleep.
Dinner was lovely, we ate at the recommendation of our Inn keeper. So with full stomach we headed back to bed, stopping of course for an ice cream cone along the way.
Selena was riding Woody first we arrived around 10am just in time to see Teddie Laframboise's daughter Moira in the 1*. She rode a difficult combination of skinny fences up hill beautifully. Time seemed to fly by and it wasn't long until the 3* started and the annoucer let us know Selena and Woody were in the box. I didn't breath for the next 10 minutes are so,. After Selena went through the water for the second time I think I expressed an explitive, "Fuck me" or something clever like that and then of course I realised that I wasn't alone and Teddie's husband Andy St. Coix was standing beside me. "Sorry" I say "I honestly don't know how you parents don't kill yourselves rather than watch your kids ride cross country". Andy laughed. Eventing parents I think are a very special breed.
Then lunch and just as we finished and walking back to our spot I see a red vest bouncing off in the distance on this incredibly high stepping bay. My heart is in my throat it's Selena on Solo, OH MY GOD they look as if they are ready to ride through fire. I continue on as I don't want to miss them through the water or at the last 4 jumps at the finish. You can really see a lot of fences on the Bromont course from one spot. We just got to our venue and the announcer again was letting us know Selena and Solo were in the box. They were off. I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it. Solo is fast, he's strong and boy does he fly over those fences. I can't for the life of me figure out how Selena can think fast enough to keep up with him through some of those tricky tight narrow combinations. It hardly seemed like she'd left the water for the second time and there they were again galloping up the hill heading for home. We watched the rest of the 2*. Selena had moved up to 12th place and when we saw Selena again on her bike she was beaming.
It was a spetacular week for me for so many reasons. I got things accomplished. I had wonderful friends supporting me in many ways. And I got at the end of it all to see world class horses and riders compete at an unbelievable level in their sport. OH MY!