Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wisteria Writer Tag

Hi, guys!! So, the always awesome Abbie tagged me in the Wisteria Writer Tag!! Like two weeks ago, but I'm a bad peach who doesn't update her blog as often as she should. BUT ANYWAY, THANK YOU ABBIE!!!

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
  2. Answer the ten questions
  3. Write ten questions of your own
  4. Nominate ten other people for the tag!

1)What is your earliest memory of writing?

Uhmmm I'm pretty sure it was right after Dreamwork's Spirit(the one about the horse) came out and I decided to write a story about a horse named Cinnamon. Which I am certain I never finished. I don't remember any details except that I had to ask my mom how to spell Cinnamon. I think I was six at the time or around that age. I didn't actually do any more writing until I was about twelve.

2)Girl's POV or Guy's POV?

Girl's. No particular reason, it's just that all of my protagonists have been female. I don't really do that on purpose, but then again, most of the books I read are those with female protagonists, so perhaps it's a subconscious thing for me to choose that voice.

3)What is your best motivation to write?

Hmm....usually after I experience a lot of feels after reading a really good novel or watching an intense season finale of a TV show. For example, the reason I started my first novel was because of how Wuthering Heights made me feel. I wanted to make other people feel that much(-evil laughter-). And after watching something as magnificent as NBC's Hannibal(PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE THIS SHOW COME BACK), I am determined to finish at least one of my story ideas and just hope it can be anywhere near the artistry that is that television show.

4)Most words you've ever written in a day?

I mean...I honestly haven't always kept track, so I don't really know? I think one time I wrote about 3k. Which doesn't seem like hardly anything until you realize that squeezing out 200 words takes a lot of effort for me. Time constraints and general lack of motivation make me a very unproductive sort of human pinto bean.

5)Tea or coffee?(While know. The question is relevant.)

I can't say I ever purposefully get a beverage out while I'm writing, but I definitely prefer coffee to tea. Sorry, Abbie. Coffee is where it's at.

6)Out of everything that you've written, which book is your favorite?

I can't say because I haven't finished anything yet(besides the rough draft of my first novel). I love the characters of my first novel. I feel like I know them extremely well and I have a lot of emotional attachments to them. I love the plot as well; the story arc is a fun one to play with. It's a contemporary/thriller/???
The other one I'm working on is a post-apocalyptic/dystopian/sci-fi that I'm really excited about, but it's still very much in the pre-writing stages. Which one is my favorite will depend entirely on what they are like once both are finished.

7)Who is your favorite character and why?

OH MY GOSH I LOVE THIS QUESTION. Okay, okay, my favorite character is a male character in the contemporary thriller I'm working on. His name is Cassius and he's a beautiful cinnamon roll, too good for this world, too pure. I don't know exactly why I love him so much. He's really genuine and selfless, but still has a lot of realistic flaws?? I set about to write raw, human characters and I feel like he exemplifies that goal?? I DON'T EVEN KNOW I JUST LOVE HIM OKAY. Half of this novel's Pinterest board is dedicated to him and his squishable personality.

*I find Sebastian Stan/Bucky Barnes to be a very squishable character so *shrug*

8)Writing method: slow and steady or LIGHTNING! BOLTS! OF! INSPIRATION!

Uh kind of a mix of slow and steady and LIGHTNING! BOLTS! OF! INSPIRATION!
I'll get inspired and write like a chapter or two really quickly and then I won't touch it for four months lolololol

9)If you had to burn one of your books, which one would you choose?

I wrote this really awful story when I was twelve or thirteen that I was super proud of at the time, but now I hope it rots in CyberSpace Hell because it's really badly written and it will never see the light of day. It was a horse story, for those who are interested, but it was just really, really, really dumb plotwise and grammar wise and in general. Okay.

10)Worst spelling fail and best spelling victory?

I always spell necessary wrong. Always. Except just now. Which makes me out to be a liar. One time I was convinced that when wasn't a real word. It looked so wrong and I wanted to spell it a million different ways, but there it was. When. Taunting me.

Best spelling victory...I don't know. I make a lot of typos on the regular I even have one??? Probably not.


  1. How do you combat writer's block?
  2. Do you carry a notebook around in case of random inspiration?
  3. Have you ever posted a story on Wattpad?
  4. Do you prefer writing/reading books in third person or first person?
  5. Past or present tense?
  6. Ideal writing environment?
  7. Favorite font?
  8. If you write with a pen and paper, do you use colored pens or just a black one?
  9. If you novel/short story became a movie, who would you cast as the main character?
  10. Favorite author/poet? 

It's really cute to think I have ten people to tag, but I think most everyone I know that blog and write have been tagged in this? So, if you're reading this and want to be tagged, then *magic wand* I tag you. 


Saturday, August 27, 2016

out of sync

During a riding lesson, my trainer began addressing one of my bad habits.

Sometimes, when I'm cantering, I don't always follow the movement with my elbows.

I'm concentrating on other things. I get stiff. Disconnected. Out of sync with the horse.

Once she pointed it out, I was better able to focus and fix it.

What a difference it made!

Amadeus immediately became more light and forward-no surprise there. His movement was no longer blocked.

She continued on to say that the next thing that would likely happen was that I would start following with my elbows..but in backwards rhythm.

The best way to address this is to let your elbows go still and allow the horse to pull you back in sync.

Isn't it funny how that can relate to our relationship with God?

Whether we get distracted by school or work or personal issues, sometimes...

Sometimes, we just end up out of sync.

And sometimes we're trying to establish the rhythm, but of our own accord, not His.

The solution is the same:

Be still and allow Him to pull you back in sync, back in rhythm.

Be still and know that He is God. 

Hey, guys! Just some thoughts and some pictures of the horses in my life :) Hope you all are well!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

The San Juan Island Adventure: Superpod, Orcas, Akhal Tekes-OH MY!

(Featuring the beautiful photography of my mom and my sketchy iPhone pictures. )

My time on San Juan Island was split between two things:

Horses and killer whales.

“Ashlyn, do you mean to tell me that you went to an island in the Pacific Northwest to a convention about cetacean conservation and you got involved with horses?”


As mentioned in this post, I visited Sweet Water Farm, an eventing facility that raises Akhal Tekes. I sent the owner a Facebook message about a week before we left for Friday Harbor and scheduled a dressage lesson. I also arranged transportation with one of the island's bus services. This is going to lead into a story, so stay with me.

I worked out with the bus transit owner whether or not they could drop me off at this farm.

They said yes.

I gave them the address.

They were all like, “Yeah, we go right by there! We can drop you off! Just let us know what time you need to be picked up and we can work it out with the driver!”

I have emails to prove this.

So, 9AM Monday morning, my mom and I board the bus. At first, we were the only passengers, but then a family from Utah(I think) boarded as well. And then the bus driver and the dad of the family kept trying to set me up with the seventeen-year-old son??? It was awkward. Mostly because everyone(except me. My mom thought it was strange but hilarious) seemed totally okay with it.

I'm still scarred.

I digress.

We start off toward whatever direction...west?...whatever. My point is that the bus pulls away from the curb and leaves town. The driver is very friendly and tells us stories about the island. Cool, cool. Long story short, we had to turn around twice because we accidentally passed Sweet Water Farm because there was a lot of talking and not much looking-at-addresses going on. It's all cool as we get there on time.

Now, listen, because this will come up again later in this post.

I confirmed three times with the driver that he would be picking me up at the driveway of the farm at 12:15 PM. THREE TIMES THIS WAS CONFIRMED.


Mom and I walk up the driveway of the farm, we meet the owner and her working student, everyone is friendly, the horses are gorgeous, it's all great.

I rode a lovely cremello gelding named Kegas. We had a stellar lesson. By stellar, I mean all of my bad habits bit me directly in the butt and I learned so much and it was amazing. Like, Kegas was super sweet and patient, but he wasn't going to let any of my crappy riding slide, you know?

Rita(the owner's name, if I remember correctly, I'm so bad with names lately, I'm sorry) was an excellent instructor. She didn't even yell at me, though she was within rights to because I lost all ability to use an outside rein correctly. To be honest, I wasn't that great at it in the first place. She was so patient. I loved her.

I finally got the hang of actually using my outside rein properly and Kegas was probably having a internalized Hallelujah chorus. I am so sorry for sucking so bad, little blonde horse dude. I was grinning the entire lesson because I was just thinking, “OKAY WOW I SUCK BUT I AM LEARNING SO MUCH AND I CAN TAKE THIS HOME TO USE WITH AMADEUS YAY!”

After the lesson, Rita kindly introduced me to the rest of her herd. The broodmares and yearlings were just lovely. So friendly and sweet and the love between Rita and them is so visible. I adored it. We spent about fifteen minutes giving the horses' scratches and pats. I helped Rita and Jessica(again, bad with names, pretty sure this was the name of the working student), move the geldings. I was planning on watching them move the broodmare herd to a new pasture, which would have been cool, except that it was getting close to my pick-up time and I really didn't want to miss the bus since Google Maps said it was a two-hour walk back to town.

So, we say our thank yous and goodbyes. Mom and I walk back to the end of the driveway to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait.

Where is the bus? Is the driver lost? Is he dead? Has the apocalypse happened while we were gone?

The driver gave us his number, but I apparently wrote it down wrong because it's disconnected or something.

So, after about forty minutes, Mom calls the main office. The owner is all like, “Oh, wow, yeah I'll give him a call and send him your way and if he's busy, I'll come get you myself.”

Another half hour passes. No bus.

So, we call again.

“Yeah, I'm probably going to have to come get you myself,” said the dude.

We wait a little longer. Call again. Nobody answers. Okay, cool, the owner is probably on his way.

I don't remember the exact timing, but it was close to two hours later when the owner pulls up and is all like, “Oh, yeah, he thought you guys were going to meet him a section line over.”


Uh huh. That's why we confirmed the pickup address three times. Because we were going to walk to the next section line that we didn't know the location of.

The moral of this story is maybe be picky about your form of transport? Use a taxi or rent a car or freaking hitch hike. Just don't ride the bus unless you're going to a very specific tourist trap, in which case, you'd probably be okay.

Anyway, we make it back to town.

This is where Superpod begins. Friday evening, Susan's ferry gets in and we all meet at the community theater to see the premiere of Blue Freedom's film Voiceless. I seriously cannot wait to be able to share it here with you guys!

The theater was packed and I was having a silent meltdown

because there was going to be a Q&A afterward and I am terrified of public speaking. Or speaking in general. HAHA. But seriously.

It was kind of over the top amazing when the film ended and we got a standing ovation. I just kept looking over at Kate. All of her hard work and passion was laid bare there on the screen and her face was nothing short of rapturous. I am so proud of Kate and Abbie for working so hard to make this come together and for inviting Susan and me along for the journey.

We go up on stage and I'm like 66% sure there's a chance I'm either:

A) going to puke


B) going to run off the stage

But hey, I'm not likely to need to even open my mouth, so it's all good.


*It was totally Dr. Lori Marino. I love her. But I love not talking in front of large crowds more.

I don't remember what anyone else said, though I remember they were eloquent. Why don't I remember? Because I spent the entire five or so minutes of waiting for the microphone to end up in my hands, rehearsing silently and with great panic about what I was going to say. I still ended up saying at one point, “I don't remember where I was going with that.”

Beyond that, I literally don't remember much of what I said. I think I've suppressed it because it wasn't pretty. I mentioned that I hadn't seen the ocean before arriving in the San Juan Islands and I got a round of applause??? So, I guess I said something decent?? And I expressed my desire to move out of Oklahoma, which led to me meeting a couple of people in attendance who were from Oklahoma.

I won't type the details of Superpod here because there will be a recap post going up on Blue Freedom's blog really soon. I'll link it to you when it's posted.

The week was full of amazing presentations from activists, marine biologists, and neuroscientists. I learned a ton, became aware of some things, and was overall in awe.

Wednesday evening, we went whale watching. I was so eager to see the Southern Residents and I knew it would be spectacular, but I was completely blown away. The second we caught sight of our first two killer whales-the first I had seen ever-I burst into tears. I really don't have words to describe it. I wrote a post on Facebook about it and I'll copy it here because it is the only thing that even halfway touches the emotions I felt watching something as beautiful as a wild orca in its natural habitat.

Whale watching yesterday was the most incredible thing. Not only did I discover that I very much enjoy being on a boat, but I also got to see some of God's most beautiful creations. Pretty early out, we saw Spirit(L-22) and her son Solstice(L-89) hunting for salmon. Spirit is around 45 years old and Solstice is 23. Southern Resident males spend their entire lives with their mothers; it was very sweet to see them working so closely together. About two miles later, we saw Calypso(L-94), Cousteau(L-113), and Windsong(L-121). Calypso is around 21. Cousteau is her 7-year-old daughter and Windsong is her 18-month-old son. These three swam right by the stern of our boat! Once they were further out, Windsong breached for us twice. It was the most spectacular thing. We also saw two other whales that the naturalist was fairly sure were Matia(L-77) and Joy(L-119). Matia is 29 and Joy is her 4-year-old daughter.

I have never had an experience like this and I feel so blessed to have been able to see it. It was absolutely breathtaking. I'll admit to promptly bursting into tears the second I saw the mist from the breath of Spirit and Solstice. I am so in love with the ocean, so in love with these whales, and so in love with Jesus for blessing me with these memories.”

 So, yeah.

That was my wild orca experience. I don't want to ruin it by adding any more words to it.


Nevermind that I don't know how to swim; I want to get on a sailboat and like, never leave it.

We weren't even on a sailboat, it had a motor, but a sailboat, guys. Gonna happen.

I began traveling home on Thursday afternoon. I was sad to be leaving my friends, but I did miss my animals and family at home.


(for anyone thinking, “What about Susan?”; Susan and I grew up together. I love her and we hadn't seen each other all summer, so it was obviously awesome getting together, but I have, you know, met her in real life before xD)

They have such a great family and I can vouch that they are even cooler in person than on the internet. I hope we can all get together in “real life” again sooner rather than later.

Meeting them together with Susan was just kind of like:

So, that's it. That's the gist of my trip. Just because I feel like mentioning it....:

Every single day I was there, I got a locally-produced yogurt and cherry parfait for breakfast from a place called The North Cafe. I did cheat on them once at a coffeehouse called The Bean Cafe. The parfait was delicious and I am enraged that I no longer have access to it.

I am so thankful to Kate and her family for helping to make this possible. And I am so grateful to God for blessing me with these opportunities. Heaven knows, I don't deserve it. So much love for them and Him.

I really am trying to update more often. Thank you for your patience!

What about you? Have you gone on any adventures this summer? Do you plan to? Have you ever seen wild whales or dolphins? Or an Akhal Teke? Have you met Kate and Abbie in person? ARE YOU JEALOUS THAT I HAVE?!?!?! MUAHAHAHAHA


Saturday, July 23, 2016

I'm alive! An apology and some updates

Hey, guys!

Yes, I am alive. I'm just very, very busy right now. Not even with anything in particular, but my everyday activities have me up at 5AM and able to relax at 8PM(which is what time it is now as I write this; I dunno what time I will post this).

Anyway, I swear I am intending to keep this blog up. I have topics planned; it'll take some creativity to find time to write them.


Dr. Pittman came to check on Amadeus on June 24. If you don't know who Dr. Pittman is, please see the entire story here and here.

We pulled radiographs on Amadeus' hooves and found that he has 10mm of sole. That is down from the 14mm he had at his last appointment with the podiatrist. Dr. Pittman isn't too concerned about it, but it is something we need to stay on top of. He would really like to see Amadeus maintaining around 18mm-20mm. We believe a combination of the wet weather this spring as well as the times I rode in a purely sharp/rough sand arena may play a part in why he lost the sole depth.

Amadeus stayed in his plain rockers, but pads were added to give his sole a break from any abrasion he might be experiencing. We doubled his biotin dosage as well. Dr. Pittman will be back out around August 5 to check him again. Based on his sole depth, we will see if we need different mechanics or if avoiding sharp/rough sand arenas will do the trick. Any prayers you want to send our way for the sole depth we need as well as God's will concerning what shoes Amadeus needs to be in would be appreciated!

Sunday at 5:10 AM, I flew out with my mom to Friday Harbor, WA! Kate, Abbie, and Susan were there as well because...


If you don't know Kate and Abbie, they created an organization called Blue Freedom which works to educate the public, specifically teens and young adults, about the cruelties that go on in the captive marine mammal industry. Susan and I volunteer with Blue Freedom and they graciously invited us to join them at Superpod.

Blue Freedom's documentary Voiceless premiered at Superpod on Monday evening. It was so amazing to see it on the big screen and to hear the cheers of support once the credits rolled. If you would like to view Voiceless, the full 36 minutes will be available on Youtube and other platforms soon!

I'll chat more about Superpod and the incredible experience of seeing wild orcas in another blog post!

Because I can't go almost six days without horses, I managed to book a riding lesson and tour of Sweet Water Farm which is located in Friday Harbor. I have followed their Facebook page for a few years because they raise Akhal Tekes. Akhal Tekes are a rare breed with only around 6,600 of them throughout the world(fun fact: I thought there were only like 900, but then I fact checked myself. Oops). Sweet Water Farm competes their Tekes in eventing. It was fantastic and I learned a lot. I will be posting more about that as well as some pictures soon!

That's about it as far as updates go. With a bit of grace, I will get back into the swing of posting regularly soon. Thank you for your patience!

love, ashlyn

Monday, June 20, 2016

Speaking The Truth In Love

I am getting really tired of negativity lately.

And I think it's because negativity in and of itself is exhausting.

Whether you're the one spewing it or the one having it spewed at you.

So much energy wasted on being rude or cynical or snarky.

“Whoa.The Queen of Salt is saying something against being snarky?”

Okay, yes, I am sarcastic/salty/snarky/what have you, but I do believe there is a difference between being cheeky and being a jerk.

Lately, my Facebook newsfeed(and in some instances, life) has been filled with so much negativity based on disagreeing opinions. Whether it involves me personally or a debate I see a friend in, it has felt like 24/7, nonstop, hateful remarks. Vague, passive-aggressive, subposts. All done in an attempt to prove superior intelligence.

The leading example of this was when a video of an acquaintance was posted in a classical riding Facebook group. This video was of this acquaintance working with their horses using a method that worked spectacularly for them. It is a somewhat “alternative” of an approach if you will, but in no way harmful to the horse. To clarify, it utilized clicker training and that isn't an openly accepted training method in mainstream horse training.

By not openly accepted, I mean using and/or mentioning clicker training on a public equestrian forum will get you tarred and feathered. Why? BECAUSE THAT IS NOT WHAT SUCH AND SUCH MASTER WOULD DO SO AND SO TRAINER SAYS IT'S STUPID FIRST OF ALL HOW DARE YOU SECONDLY YOU DISGUST ME.

That is only a small exaggeration of some of the comments I was reading.

To quote, “Oh, yuk.” was one remark left.

All because one person was using clicker training to encourage their horse to find a better posture.

And since that isn't explicitly mentioned by Alois Podhajsky*, it was automatically discarded as “useless” and “ridiculous” among other things.

*just an fyi, I love Alois Podhajsky, but he's dead and would have no working knowledge of clicker training

The real kicker is that nobody on this forum even knew the person they were attacking.

In fact, the person didn't even know their video had been posted until there were close to a hundred comments.

I'm all for speaking out about the welfare of horses, but nothing being done was detrimental to the horse in any way. It is one thing to discuss whether something is beneficial, which was being done to an extent, but it's another thing to attack someone for having a different-but-not-harmful idea than you.

There is more than one way to go about things and achieve the same result.

Different does not equal wrong. Different does not equal harmful. Different does not equal stupid.

I'll admit to being biased on the side I took because utilizing clicker training to inspire and motivate my horse to find better posture and learn desirable behaviors is something of a journey I have been on the last year. And it's a journey I've been enjoying. The merits of training with positive reinforcement are another subject entirely. I came here to say this:

Speak the truth. In love.

I may disagree with the “truth” of what the group members were saying, but I wouldn't mind it if it had been done politely. In love.

You guys know I'm opinionated on this blog. I like to think I'm very thorough in expressing why I don't agree with a particular viewpoint. But does that mean I'm not open to suggestions or different ideas?


My opinions on things are entirely open to alteration. When my mind is set on something, it does take one heck of an argument to modify it, but I can and do change my mind. Some people may think that's a bad thing, but when presented with new information, viewpoints can transform.

Whether it is parenting or pet care or horse training or cooking or Biblical doctrine, we all have different thoughts and opinions. To each of us, what we believe is the truth. And that is great, it's wonderful, that is what makes us diverse human beings.

What is not okay is speaking the truth in such a way to belittle, degrade, or make the other person feel stupid.

It is a natural human inclination to go into a debate or argument automatically assuming the other person does not know what they are talking about.

What information are we missing by doing that?

I'm preaching to myself here, too, guys.

How often have I assumed a superior attitude?

Have I ever made someone feel bad about themselves over a difference of opinion?

How often have I held on to my belief that I am right and completely forsook the opportunity to learn something new?

When God corrects me on something, I never feel belittled. Maybe a little ashamed of my conduct, but He never lets me believe I am stupid for needing to grow and learn.

You can speak the truth without drowning out the voices of others.

You can speak the truth without making someone else feel small.

You can speak the truth in love.

What is love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love. It's the only way to bring real change into this world and the hearts of our creation.

Be kind to each other.


So, it's been almost a month since I last posted. I've been incredibly busy and the blog hit the back burner, unfortunately. The next post should be equine related! How about you guys: negativity getting you down? How do you ignore it? Or do you ignore it? Do you tend to tell people they're being cynical or nah? 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

the migraine in my head

I've been thinking
too much

h e l p m e

Yeah, I've been thinking.

Like a lot.

Too much.

About life, about truth, about how so much of what happens in this world has cosmic implications.

Cosmic as in, we can bring the Kingdom here to earth.

Or we can choose not to.

About how people have a lot of opinions, but sometimes, they miss the truth because they're too busy shouting.

About hope.

How I'm not sure whether the short circuit of my brain even grasps the definition.


What does it mean?

What does THAT mean?

What does ANY of this MEAN?

Can I be honest?

Painfully so?

The Bible is kind of a weird book.

A very weird, complicated, messy book.

Because it's a book about messy people who live in a messy world 'cause of their own messy sin.

And yet they are totally precious to a totally un-messy God.

I don't always get it.

Some sudden revelation will hit me and I'll be all, “Aha! NOW I get it!”

It fits in the box and I can even put a bow on it, make it all pretty and neat and perfectl and I can point at God and say, “You go here.”

But then I read something doesn't fit in the box.

And that's annoying because yo that is my box and EVERYTHING must fit in it.

So, the questions come.

If this doesn't fit in the box, what about the other stuff?

What if all that other stuff doesn't fit in the box?

Oh...oh what if I have been wrong this entire time?

What if Grace requires more effort than I thought or that Love I loved is just looking for an excuse to leave?

And I know none of that makes any logical sense, but you see...

I'm a kitchen
You don't know what that means.
Because a kitchen sink to you is <not> 
a kitchen sink to me.

Am I the only one who feels like they interpret things a different way than anybody else?

I'm not trying to be a hipster.

It's just that I'll be going along like, “Oh, yeah, I'm pretty sure this means that.”

And then somebody says something different and it's not even that I disagree.

I just don't see it the same way.

And most people might be okay leaving it at that.

But no, I must confirm am I right or have I failed miserably?

And too often I waste weeks checking out everyone's opinion on the Truth instead of just seeking the source of the Truth.

Why don't I go to Him when He is Truth personified?

And I know that I can <fight> or I can let the lion win
I begin to a s s e m b l e what weapons I can find
'Cause sometimes to s t a y alive you gotta <kill> your mind

Ever the perfectionist, I can't stand it when I don't have all the answers.

Sometimes, I can convince myself that I don't need to know. I just wanna know and I can totally survive without it.

But then some stupid question has to pop in my head and I can't answer it.

Nothing sends me into an infuriated spiral quicker than not knowing the answer to something.

Because for some reason or another, I don't want to believe that it's okay to simply not know.

I guess not knowing tastes too much like failure.

Why is that?

Not knowing is really just an invitation to trust.

To which, my flighty nature counters,

“Okay, yeah, but I could trust if I knew.”

But that isn't the definition of trust.

Trust means holding to the steadfast belief that what you have been told is true and that the person who told you will keep their word.

There are so many things I don't know. I don't have all the answers to life or theology or the cosmic implications or insert questions here.

It's okay to admit that you don't know.

It's okay to be okay with not knowing.

And choosing to be okay with not knowing, choosing to accept His invitation to trust..

When you choose to do that, failing to know isn't really failing anything.

It's just a reminder to listen and learn from the One who does know.

And when we pursue Him instead of just pursuing answers, we can rest in the truths that never change:

God is good.

God is love.

God has grace even for this.

Even for the mess.

Even for me.


I'm sorry I haven't been posting a lot. I have a lot to say, just struggling to find words to say them. Do you guys ever feel this way about not knowing things?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

An Open Letter To The FEI

An Open Letter To The Fédération Equestre International

You've probably heard about the study that has been released, stating that tightly fastened crank nosebands cause distress and pain to horses. You're probably not too worried as it is a very poorly done study.

But, the legitimacy of this particular study aside, you should be worried.

You should be worried because this study has been discussed on ABC News. You should be worried because it is unlikely that anyone will be asserting that it isn't the equipment, but the rider who causes pain. You should be worried because this will quite possibly be the final blow to equestrian events in the Olympics. Judging from your desperate scramble to make these events more interesting for TV by things such as proposing shortening the international Grand Prix dressage tests, suggesting name changes to events to make it more understandable to the public, adding more tricky obstacles so eventing is more exciting(re: dangerous), etc, I assume this interests you.

All of these things in an attempt to keep us on TV. All the while ignoring the real problem.

The FEI.

Forgive me, I don't mean to berate our reigning organization so unfairly, but I must confess, your actions in previous years have been...disappointing to say the very least.

Maybe it's how time and time again, influential dressage riders are caught riding with their horses' heads forced to their chest and you look the other way due to lack of 'proof'.

Maybe it's how you assure us all that you care deeply for the welfare of the horses, how you will look into allegations with the utmost care, but it was mere weeks ago that a rider was filmed repeatedly jerking and spurring her horse after he tripped and you accepted her half-hearted apology and the excuse of 'I thought we were going to fall and I wanted to wake him up'.

Maybe it was your decision to not implement the objective Taper Gauge to ensure nosebands are adjusted in accordance with the rule that states that a noseband should never be tight enough to cause injury. And yet, when presented with the opportunity to enforce this rule, you found it too invasive.

I agree that we should not punish riders unfairly and that we should take care to view all parts of a story before condemning anyone, but that's the thing. In recent years, I have yet to see you condemn even the most obvious cases of abuse.

That's why so many international warm up rings are starting to ban cameras and harass journalists. It makes a person wonder what you're hiding. Except that we all know.

You're hiding the flagrant use of rollkur under the new name of LDR(low, deep, round).

You're hiding your blatant bias toward flinging forelimbs instead of soft, correct riding.

You're hiding yourselves lest we see the money and the politics that keeps this industry filled with people who couldn't care less about who suffers, so long as they win and so long as you hire judges who let them.

Why else would Totilas be trotted in the soundness jog three times, yet allowed to continue on to limp his way through a Grand Prix test?

Why else would 60+ photos of a certain Danish rider with his mare's nose firmly against her chest get no reaction from you because photos, even that many, are only a moment in time?

Why else would voiced concerns be ignored, brushed aside with the assurance that 'we've just had a meeting'?

Why else would course designers continue to make courses filled to the brim with obstacles intended to frighten, confuse, or trick the horse, despite the ever increasing body count of riders killed in the cross country phase?

Why else would you refuse to make anyone take responsibility for their actions?

And, so now, we arrive here.

I'll be honest. I am not a fan of crank nosebands. This is because I have rarely, if ever, seen them used properly. In proper use, it's essentially just an extra padded strap of leather. In it's most abused form, it is used to shut the mouth of a horse so that no one sees it gape against the improper use of the bit, specifically the curb.

The study released is poorly done. But I have no doubt in my heart that there will be other studies, ones that are better, that will show the same evidence.

Study or no study, maybe the reason televised equestrian events are on the decline is because the public dislikes seeing horses paraded around in a facsimile of harmony. And with this becoming a storyline, it won't matter that there are riders out there who ride and train compassionately. The public is known for its tunnel vision.

I do believe if changes are not made to enforce the established rules and make the safety and welfare of horses and riders a top priority, that we will see events such as dressage, showjumping, eventing, etc go through death throes as an Olympic sport. Perhaps we already are.

And it is because we, as individuals and as organizations, have seen evil and allowed it to continue.

Willful ignorance at its best and brightest.