A Synopsis of Life Currently

Back in the day, this blog was more of a journal than anything. You guys knew everything about my life, my horses, I was an open book. (pun intended) Somewhere along the line i've sort of diverged from the ultra-personal, and although a lot of my posts these days reflect what's going on in my life, or in my journey, they don't really put a name to whether or not it's me! Well, today, i'm posting about me and what's been going on in my life directly mostly because I have a lot of people wondering, and this is so much easier. Sometimes when you put yourself out there on social media, it can be pretty raw and nerve-wracking, but I almost feel like I owe you guys this post. If anything, I think a lot of people can relate to what I've been going through with my horses, and that's the whole point, isn't it? To share stories. This is going to be a very, super personal, long post but I think sometimes you just have to share the real, real, of it too. Sit back and get a coffee. Let's start at the beginning of all the craziness, shall we...

Lady, sometimes a Donkey, sometimes a Unicorn, always a Camel.
 Mates Special Lady. My truly wonderful 13 year old show horse. Some things to know about Lady is that she is in incredible shape for her age, and I take really good care of her. But lately she just has not seemed like she wants to do it. When she feels any ounce of soreness or stiffness, she gets anxious and pushes up the pen. That's show pen suicide by the way. She's thirteen, and she's a cutting horse, some days you are going to feel stiff, just like some days I feel stiff when I wake up in the morning. I know for a fact that she isn't sore because I literally pour any money I make into paying vet bills that are suppose to be keeping her feeling the best she can. PSA - I don't have the money to be doing that. She's also, very much, not a beginner horse. She isn't forgiving of my mistakes in the show pen, AT ALL. She isn't a horse I can work at home myself. She requires a lot of maintenance, a lot of my trainer, and a lot of mental strength for me to get her through runs... and sometimes, I just don't have that mental strength. Knowledge is power, but sometimes with horses, it can be a killer too. I started feeling like she wasn't doing everything perfectly (my expectations were probably way too high to begin with) and I started losing faith in her, I started not being able to trust her through runs. It came down a lot too money. I didn't have the money to pay my vet bills, I didn't have the money to enter her in shows, and so I started entering her and starting entering the show pen thinking, "I NEED to pick up a cheque." My mental game was shit, my nerves were shit, my trust in my horse was gone and in the back of my mind I had the very real thought of "if I don't, this cheque may bounce." It's not a nice thing when you have that thought in the back of your mind, and you don't pick up a cheque. Your lows are way more amplified. Your stress is way more amplified. You are looking at this horse that you know doesn't completely want to do it anymore, that doesn't help you out AT ALL in the show pen and you start to look at yourself and think, why the hell am I doing this? It was always my game plan that after this year I would breed Lady. Of course, I had these visions of me winning Canada and literally picking up cheques left right and centre, but that vision turned out to be severely unrealistic.

Proud (Hopeful) Parents - He's Smiling At Her!
So I decided two things, I was going to show Lady at the Novice Challenge in Okotoks, and that, that would be her last show. I was going to breed her to my Boss' stallion, Reys From Heaven, and after Okotoks I was going to turn her out and let her be a horse. If I took her for some trail rides, or moved cows on her, or whatever, cool. But she deserved a happy, healthy retirement, and I didn't have the damn money to show her anyways. So I bred Lady, and then I checked her and she wasn't in foal. Sigh. So shots ensued to get her back into heat, and then her follicles regressed and we had to wait longer than we should have had too, to breed her again. While all this was going on I was trying to keep her in shape, and getting her worked for Okotoks. She started to feel like she absolutely COULDN'T do it, not even that she didn't really want too. She felt lethargic, and tired, and her coat was dull, and I'd watch her in her turnout and she just wouldn't move. She was stiff and sore, and the kicker - she suddenly had all this plaque appear on her teeth. If you know Lady you know she is a camel - she drinks WAY more water than a normal horse, but her blood tests have always come back as relatively normal. This time, her blood levels came back as not so normal. Her values aren't off the charts, but they aren't normal either, and I have suspicions that it's early signs of kidney disease. Which, is very rare. Which, it may not be. But, she checks every box for it. So we are now slowly trying to figure out what's going on there, but for now, Lady seems like she is doing okay, she seems healthy and I get to check next week if she is in foal. Fingers crossed she is. I really only have one more chance at it, and even then, it's a lot later than I want it to be to have a baby next year. So, Lady is doing... okay... and is hopefully in foal.. but there are some big question marks there and as of now she is retired. She doesn't owe me anything, I owe her a happy and healthy retirement and that's our focus moving forward. Hopefully, she can produce some amazing babies for me and one day I can realize all the dreams I had with her, on one of her offspring.

So while all this was going on, I was published in Western Horse Review, not once - but twice! I had the opportunity to interview John Swales about his World's Greatest Horseman Title, as well as for training tips and advice in the cow horse pen, and Chad Besplug about his life, and his new venture, his production company, Alpha Bull. Interviewing these two quietly reminded me that sometimes you have to remember what your end-goal is. That, to be a visionary, you have to be secure in yourself and your goals. So I started thinking more seriously about where I want to be in life, and who I want to be. Couple all these thoughts with being on the committee for the Okotoks Classic, pouring myself into that and yeah.. my mind was definitely in over-drive, but in a good, super challenging way. I felt like there was this bouncer at a door in front of my mind telling me, "the only way you can enter is if you figure some shit out. You haven't been grinding and goal chasing like you used too, and until you start, we aren't letting you in. Who do YOU want to BE?!" Now, let's bring it back to the Okotoks Classic. This is... a very significant show for me. The first year, Bunny, my beloved three year old, had passed away totally unexpectedly in the night, and I remember seeing all the posters for the show, that was it's first year, and thinking to myself... I'll never get to show there. I'm done, it's over. I remember watching a friend show there and thinking to myself, I don't know anyone up here (I had basically been in hiding since I returned from Arizona and knew NO ONE in the cutting scene up here, aside from two people). I remember being super... super... down on myself and my life and my circumstance. I also remember missing cutting so much it hurt. I didn't even know these people I was surrounded by, but I WANTED too, I wanted to be a part of this world.

Hey old pal <3
Then, I bought Lady in late summer that year, and I brought her to my Trainer's in the fall, and he was helping me with her a ton, and by the time Okotoks was coming around last summer, I was all set to go cut up. I'd been showing a bunch - I'd won my buckle! I was so excited, this was our show! Two days before entries were due, she coliced and she was at Moore Equine, not showing at Okotoks. She obviously came out of it fine, and I feel so lucky that she didn't have to have surgery or much worse, but it was still such a gutting feeling. I finally had the horse, and this show... this had been my goal, and I wasn't there. I was back there, and this time I had more friends in the cutting pen, and was starting to feel like maybe I was finding my place up here, but I was still sitting on the sidelines, watching other people show their horses. So this year, with all that was going on with Lady, I knew it was over for us this year too.

So, I had the brilliant idea, a week before the show, to call up a lady that had purchased a horse from my trainer in the fall. This horse was actually the first horse I ever worked cows on, I worked him quite a bit last year, more as a "practice horse", and even showed him twice. He was an old friend, he was a buddy, it was so easy to get on him. When he showed up at our place and I got on him and worked him on a cow, it was like... time stopped. I've been trying so hard to be a student of my trainer's for so long, and it just never totally fit with Lady, now I was riding a horse he trained, and it was like all those things people say... you have to communicate with them with your feet, you have to ride to the stop, you have to trust the stop... I was able to do all of that with this horse. He was for sale, for a very reasonable price, but of course - as we already know, I couldn't do it. I couldn't buy him. Every time I worked him last week, I smiled and laughed because it was so wonderful and I honestly had gotten to a point with my riding that I thought I could never feel this with a horse. I was so down on myself that I felt like I would never be able to get a horse through a run. To be able to get on this horse, who had basically 8 months off and be able to create what I was?? It was the biggest, most pivotal confidence boost I could have asked for. Then, after the smiling, after that honestly, I cried every single time after because I couldn't own him. There is a lot going on in my head right now, and the looming fact that walking this horse to the herd at Okotoks would be the last time I show for, feasibly, a very long time... was hard on me.

Hey - I'm talking about you guys!
+ others, but I love this photo.
So, while all this cutting horse fuelled emotional turmoil was going down, I was also attempting to help a committee produce this damn show. You know, that show that signified so much for me, you know, that show I had always dreamt about. You can imagine the significance of going from knowing no-one, and feeling like I never would at the first show, to being on the committee for the third... that's a pretty big deal. I have been lucky, I have been truly lucky since that first show three years ago to have people in my life that really believe in me, and that allow me to take the reins when I want too, and tell me, go for it, you can do it. This year, I went for it, and I did it with the Novice Challenge, and I'm super happy I did, because it reminded me that I can be a little bit of a unicorn too - if I want to be. What Okotoks also quietly reminded me of was that I have built this really awesome support system in the cutting world up here, from different barns, from different stages, and that I'm super thankful for them. So, even if I'm not showing and won't be showing for awhile - that's okay, because I'm still involved in this industry in SO MANY ways, I'm still a part of the cutting horse industry in Alberta, and I have these great friends in this industry too. It reminded me that I can take a step back from showing, until I have the money to do it properly, until I have the horse to do it properly and until I have the mindset to make all those things work for me when I step to the herd. It's an evolution, and it's okay to take a step back if it means ten huge steps forward in the future.

Smiling as the buzzer went - not my usual cutting face ;)
And so... I showed my old buddy, my old pal, the one I couldn't afford. I got a little nervous, I tried to make it happen when I shouldn't have. He was pretty amped up and not used to being back in the show pen, we marked a semi-respectable 67, which I was a little bummed about, but... I had fun. It felt fun to ride him. It was a reminder that the next horse I have, it needs to be a lot more about fun, and a lot less about stress. We ended up seventh in the 2,000, only one spot out of the money, and for two old buddies that hadn't shown together in a long, long time... I think that's pretty good, and I think that's pretty respectable, and seeing as it was literally 9 pm at night after a week of panic and emotional turmoil on my behalf... I'm pretty proud I even remembered how to cut a cow!

Feeling like a chute boss..
but also this photo may be a hint ;)
And, there's been other things on the go too... I'm no longer full time at my trainers, I'm no longer a full-time loper because I accepted another job, and I still can't really believe it to be true, but I think I'm going to wait a few weeks until I publicly announce it. Just going to let it set in and be real first, I think. Although, I have a sneaking suspicion many of you may already know what I've been up too. I also have a couple other really exciting projects swirling around, and I'm just trying to tie them all down before I announce those as well. Basically, there are some very, very exciting things on the horizon for myself, for With A Western Twist & beyond, and I just feel really lucky, really blessed and really content that I've found myself where I am. I just want to be a bad-ass Girl Boss in the western performance industry, and I know I can be, so I might as well just let everyone know that's what I'm going to be. Oh, and one day, I'm going to win major aged events and not worry about the entry fee's that got me there, but first... I need to get there. :)


  1. I sure do hope you get Lady in foal. Curious about the possible kidney problem- has she always been fed alfalfa hay? I know it can be hard on the kidneys and am wondering if it contributed to the problem.
    I love your big grin riding that lovely horse.... that's the way it should always feel!
    Here's to your future plans (raising my coffee cup!) It will be exciting to see what the heck you are up to next- I will wait and see if my guess is correct. And congratulations on your published articles!

    1. It's looking like she is in foal, but it was twins, and one had to be pinched, which seemed successful. Now we wait to ensure the embryo stayed and we have a heartbeat soon!

      Under my ownership she was always fed both, generally we feed alfalfa in the morning and a grass hay at night, but she's always been picky and has picked through the fines of the alfalfa and has always preferred grass hay, so it is interesting as I've now read that horses with kidney issues should be kept off alfalfa. I've moved her to only grass hay now, and because she's now confirmed in foal, i'll be turning her out on a great grass pasture to hopefully get her diet a bit back on track.

      Thank you for the support Shirley! <3

  2. Yes so much going on. But even if you arent showing for a while you are around and in the industry and a force! You will be back out in the show pen and it will be good. Cant wait to hear more about what is happening in your life

    1. Thanks Crystal! Hopefully see you at a cutting sooner than later!

  3. Here's to your future plans (raising my coffee cup!) It will be exciting to see what the heck you are up to next- I will wait and see if my guess is correct. And congratulations on your published articles!

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