March 19th Schooling Show

Monday, March 28, 2016




Spring is the season of horse shows.

Well, it is if you're me, that is.

On March 19th, Amadeus and I trekked about 2 ½ hours away for our first horse show since May 2015. Normally, we would have shown all the way through November, but we all know how that turned out.

I was so excited to be going. Amadeus was schooling so well and I knew we were going to do amazing. Even if we didn't, I was just glad to be showing. Riding at all really.

I'll admit, back in August, there was a part of me that was wrestling with the scenario that I may never ride Amadeus again. God was incredibly faithful and Amadeus is better than ever. So, to be in the saddle, to be embarking on a fun outing...

I was thrilled!

This was a schooling show, meaning it wasn't recognized(sanctioned) and the scores weren't recorded by the United States Equestrian Federation(USEF). Schooling shows are more relaxed and are a great opportunity to practice for recognized shows(we have one coming up May 7-8!).


I wake bright and early at around 5 AM Saturday morning and stumble through taking care of my gaggle of cats and dogs, readying myself, and doing last minute checks on whether I really remembered to put my show jacket in the car. The plan is to arrive at the barn at 7AM. The barn is a 30 minute drive, don't ask me why I need that much time between waking up and getting there, I really don't know.

Amadeus is chowing down on some hay in his stall, but as it turns out, we totally forgot there was a bucket of molasses flavored, mineral-filled goop in a bucket, so Amadeus' white nose is now brown because that stuff is apparently delish. I decide to tackle that particular problem after we get to the show grounds.

Last time you lovelies saw Amadeus, he had quite the mop of mane going. I hope you said your goodbyes because when it comes to braiding, AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.

Also, I have an obsession with Andalusians with traditionally shaved manes.

Also, a friend roached her thoroughbred's mane and it looked super duper cute, so last summer, I(by ~I~ I mean, my trainer who goes along with my schemes) took the clippers to Amadeus' mane. And it looked fantastic, so I've kept doing it.

I digress.


The 2 ½ trip is filled with pulling in at QT to get coffee and donuts as well as me screaming and shaking my fists every time the car(s) around us decide to do something stupid like, tailgate or pull out in front of the truck and then go 15mph.

If I ever catch you beautiful readers doing that to me or someone else pulling a livestock trailer, so help me, I will track you down and beat you to death with a sack of potatoes.*

PSA: TRAILERS CANNOT STOP AS FAST AS A CAR. THEY CANNOT SLAM ON THE BRAKES OR THE ANIMAL WILL FALL. PLEASE SEE YOURSELF TO THE NEAREST INFERNO.


*this is illegal, but tempting nonetheless

A couple of hours of my nerves being shot later, we arrive at the lovely barn that is hosting the show. We've been there a few times back in 2015 and it's pretty grand. Plenty of parking, nice arenas, it's chill. I like it.

We somehow manage to park amongst all the other trailers whose drivers don't seem to know how to park. I unload Amadeus, dig out some baby wipes, and go to town on that nose of his. Ten minutes of scrubbing later, he now has only a minimally stained muzzle. The judge is probably not going to notice. I rub some baby powder on it for good measure.



At this point, I leave Amadeus alone with his bag of hay to munch on for a few minutes while I give my tack a quick wipe down because I didn't clean it because of who I am as a person. It looks fine, now that the layer of dust has been rubbed off. I start grooming Amadeus because we're about an hour out from our class and I need about 25 minutes to warm up.

Amadeus catches sight of a dog in the distance and suddenly, that is THE SCARIEST THING TO EVER WALK THIS EARTH. Like, he is pooping and shaking. This is made more entertaining by the fact that he has tried to maim and kill all the dogs at the barn at least once. The dog disappears, but Amadeus is still freaking out, so I decide to take him for a quick walk around the facilities.

Oh boy. Everything is spooky this morning. He's never seen another horse before. He's never seen a barn door before. He's never seen a stall before. Is that a truck??? WHAT IS A TRUCK IT SOUNDS TERRIFYING.

And then, as quickly as it started, his drama is through and he is totally chill once more. My horse is a weirdo.

We make our way back to the trailer, but now we're running late. Thanks, Amadeus. I scurry around and manage to make it to the warmup arena with enough time to get us loosened up and going. Our warmup went well and before I know it, we're in the arena for our first test.

Amadeus considers spooking at his reflection in the mirror hanging on the wall. He changes his mind and we begin our test.

Just a btw for anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about, a test is a series/pattern of ridden movements to showcase the horse and rider's skills. At my level, it's mostly just circles and changing gait, but that's a lot harder than it sounds because you have to stay balanced and forward and light and accurate and prompt and wow I am making this sound like a really boring sport.


ANYWAY.

The test was kind of ammmaazzziiinnnnggg. Amadeus didn't bobble once. I could have set him up for our canter work way better, but he did all that asked flawlessly.

Usually, it takes at least 30 minutes to get scores back, but this was a small class and this facility has got quite the system going, so I am just finishing untacking when my mother, who can't stand suspense, comes scampering up with my score sheet and a first place blue ribbon whaaattt.

The blue ribbon is awesome, but what really counts is the judge's comments on the score sheet.

We got a 70%!!!

This is 70 out of the possible 100 though 100 is not actually possible because horses have minds of their own.

Unless you're Charlotte Dujardin, in which case, you get a world record of 94.3%, which beat your previous world record of 93.975%.


This is the third time in my life that I've gotten out of the 60s with my scores. I hug Amadeus and feed him horse cookies(which I would have done anyway, but it feel more sincere when your horse actually did amazing). The judge's comments are helpful and all pertain to my inability to make a properly sized and balanced circle el-oh-el.

After asking a friend to pop in to check on Amadeus, our group, consisting of me, my mother, my trainer, her husband, and her wee baby, go in search of lunch. We end up at Chili's. I order nachos. I only eat half of them because my nerves never quite settle on show days. We get back to the facility about an hour later and Amadeus is still munching on his hay.

I putter about for about twenty or thirty minutes, grumble under my breath because I get salty when people see-saw the reins to get their horse's head to drop, and spot a lovely buckskin(or dun, I wasn't close enough to see which) pinto that I really wish I would have stalked more. I go back to the trailer to tack Amadeus again and warmup for our second test. A couple of people tell me how lovely Amadeus looks and I beam like a proud parent.

We go down to the indoor arena for our second test. You know how sometimes you just know someone is up to something? Let's just say, Amadeus is that someone and, as good as he was being, I knew he was up to something. Don't ask me how. I just knew.


Our test began well, but I made a mistake during our first bit of canter work. Amadeus was a little off-balance, so my brain betrayed me and was shouting that we were on the wrong lead when we weren't. So, I dropped to a trot and fixed it except there wasn't anything to fix, so it just made us look hesitant. Oops. One mistake, oh well. My geometry was a little off, but it's always a little off. One day, I will get better, I swear. That day was not the day.

As we approached the letter(marker) for our next canter lead, I knew. Amadeus knew that I knew, but what was it that I knew? As soon as I asked for the canter, he squealed, threw his head down, and threw in a magnificent crowhop. I got him to cut it out, but I busted out laughing(loudly) because I could tell by the chaotic tension in his body that he would very much like to bolt across the arena with exuberant, joyful bucks. Why? Who knows! It's Amadeus we are speaking of! I try to redeem us, but for the most part, it's too funny for me to really care. Pfftt I already had a 70%, what did this matter? We only had a few movements left and our last trot circle was really great until Amadeus decided to trip. This isn't something the judge commented on, but it was one of those 'last nail in the coffin' moments.

We ended up with second place and a 64%. We were two points behind the winner and, according to my calculations, if I hadn't “fixed” the lead and he hadn't been ornery, we would have won. I still didn't care, I was still cackling about the whole thing. It's hard to not have good humor when you know your horse is just feeling good about life.

We packed up and headed home. Overall, it was an awesome day and I am so grateful God helped us get back to that point. Amadeus received lots of sweet compliments and worked better than he ever had before. It's so funny to think about how last show season, we were going through such a tough time and I kept getting told that he wasn't worth the effort. That I should buy a horse “made” for dressage.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Horses are not made for dressage. Dressage is made for horses. If you want to reach Grand Prix as fast as possible and win the entire time, then sure, you're going to have an easier time buying a horse “made” for it. I'm not knocking that at all. It's simply not the journey I have picked for myself. I do dressage because of what it does for horses, not because of what horses can win for me. Of course, winning is a blast, but when my horse is 25 and still fit and strong, I certainly won't feel as if I have lost.

Our first show of the season is under the belt and I have deemed it a grand success! We have another schooling show April 2nd and I'm hoping to not suck so bad at circling this time! It's such a blessing to be out doing this. My main focus this year is to always keep an attitude that reveres God and is grateful to Amadeus, no matter how our tests and scores turn out. I'm also hoping to be doing First Level in May, but I'm in no rush. With God's advice and Amadeus' approval, we'll get there when we get there!




I hope everyone has a great week!


-Ashlyn

Infinity Dreams Award (tag)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hey, guys!!

So, the very sweet Serena at Poetree tagged me in the Infinity Dreams Award tag thingie(why do I always add thingie after tag??). Everyone needs to stop reading and check out her blog(and then come back and read this).


Rules, first!

Rules:
Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture
Thank the blogger who tagged you
Tell us 11 facts about yourself
Answer the 11 questions
Tag 11 bloggers


Here we go!


11 Facts

1. I love dressage but like real, correct dressage.

This piaffe is #aesthetic

2. I will scream and shake my fists about real, correct dressage all day if something sets me off.

3. I will spend 300+ hours a day musing about riding theories.

4. I am a learning theory nerd, particularly in how it applies to clicker training. If someone mentions operant or classical conditioning, I will drop everything and hang on to their every word.

5. I have a lot of trouble resting in the fact that Jesus loves me. Like, I get super caught up in God's holiness and slip into legalism really easily. A constant battle for me.

6. Dogs. I don't even know what else to say. I love dogs. Almost as much as I love horses.

7. According to Duolingo, I am 3% fluent in Spanish. Yo no rompí la lámpara, no me eches ese muerto a mi.*

8. PREs(Andalusians) and Lusitanos are my favorite breeds of horse.

Oxidado the Lusitano stallion gives me life,

9. If I could eat only potatoes for the rest of my life and live, I would.

10. I like patent leather accents on horse tack and I cannot lie(*dressage queens everywhere shudder in horror*)

11. I completely lack the ability to multitask. If you talk to me while I'm tacking up, I will stop because apparently, I can't brush a horse and listen. Talking to me while I am driving should be done at your own risk.


*yeah, I just googled that, I don't know, have fun figuring it out.



11 Questions


How many books do you hope to read this year?

More than I did last year. Which means like three haaaa :')



How many books have you read this year?


I've almost finished one. I'm not even a slow reader, so much as sporadic reader?? Like, I will read half the book and then not pick it for three months, idk man, don't judge me.



What is your favorite song?


Yeah, totally changes every other day, but I've been jamming to Migraine by Twenty One Pilots a lot lately.



What is your favorite holiday?


CHRISTMAS. CHRISSSTTTMAAASSS!!!!!!! The reminder of God's love in Jesus and the extra nicety we all seem to muster up makes me really love it. Plus, the decorations are just fab.



Why do you blog?


Because I kept getting unfriended for ranting on Facebook**

I just have a lot I want to say and I wanted a better platform in which to say it in.
 It's fun to practice my writing and argumentative skills. 
I enjoy chatting with people.
 I DON'T KNOW I JUST FELT LIKE IT.



Favorite dessert?


My mother makes chocolate chip cream cheese dip like this one and it is literally like baby angels pooped in my mouth. SO GOOD.



Some books set for 2016 release that you can't wait to read?


I promise I don't hate reading as much as this post makes it seem like. I just don't keep up with releases very well unless I've already read part of a series or something?? 



Where would you most like to travel to?


I gotta make a list, hold on.

-New Orleans, LA, USA.

-Wellington, FL, USA.

-Scotland. 
Probably Glasgow and Edinburgh.
But also pretty much the entire country.

-India. Not sure what part.

-Patagonia. Enough said.


What things inspire you to write/draw/take photos?

Empathy. I feel a lot of things, I feel things when other people feel things, I see photos and feel things. I have to put the feelings somewhere.

me 24/7



What is your favorite mythological creature?


It's a tie between Selkies and Kelpies. I like seals and horses. When they're monstrous and homicidal, I become enthused.***


Favorite (non-mythological) animal?


HORSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Horse. Obviously. Beautiful cinnamon rolls, too good for this world, too pure.


** I'm not kidding. As it turns out, saying draw reins should be thrown into the garbage or pointing out that Totilas is a poorly trained creature will upset some people.

*** I bet you thought I was going to say unicorns.


11 Questions

1.What is the last nightmare that you had?
2. If you had to be either a Selkie or a Kelpie, which would you choose?
3. Would you lure your enemies into your monstrous clutches?
4. What is your favorite number?
5. Do you hate Comic Sans as much as the rest of us?
6. Am I the only one who hasn't ever watched Interstellar?
7. Sebastian Stan, am I right?
8. What does the fox actually say?
9. You can spend an hour with one well-known, but deceased person. 
Who is it?
10. Do you hate cardio as much as I do?
11. Vanilla or Chocolate?


11 Bloggers
1. Susan.
2. Yeah, again, I have the problem of not knowing many bloggers.
3. Oops?




Thank you, Serena, for tagging me!

I had a really amazing time at the schooling show I went to with Amadeus yesterday. I have lots of pictures to share and I will chat about it in my next blog post!




-Ashlyn

I am alive. I am here. I am trying. That is enough.

Monday, March 14, 2016















 //

Whisper it to yourself, little one


In the night when the darkness ebbs and flows through your gray matter


Threatening to swallow you whole


Wrap it around yourself, wee soldier


Place it on your coat of arms


Write it on your heart


Inject it into your veins


“I'm going to be okay-”


“-yeah, I'm going to be just fine.”


Because you are here


And alive


Here and alive and Love is right beside you 


Offering to carry you home


Straight into His arms


Right beside His heart


In the shadow of His grace


Exactly where you belong




ramblings, burning bushes, and my hopeless opus

Sunday, March 6, 2016



It's a strange thing.

Being somewhat lost and not all the way found, caught somewhere between striving for a purpose and feeling blank and hopeless.

The root cause isn't anything in particular. Nothing solid to put my finger on, no pulse, no inhalation.

Just me.

Here.

Not really here, here, but not really anywhere else either.

Nothing is wrong. But my skin wants to crawl and my bones want to ache with the weight of things I thought I would have done by now, but never really found the opportunity for.

Life is good.

Great, actually.

The last six months of veterinary appointments for Amadeus have come to an end. He's fine. Better than fine. I have a sweet, baby colt who grows bigger and stronger every single day. I have so many things to be grateful for. I am thankful. And yet, it all feels completely weird and dreamy and unrealistic.

I do so many things on a daily basis, but none of them seem to matter in the grand scheme of things.

I made a vision board several months ago. Hung up all the pictures of the things I wanted to do or have one day. National dressage competitions, a sable German Shepherd, encouraging scriptures.

I look at it.

So what?” My mind whispers.

A motivational post pops up on my newsfeed. I want to be inspired, but a sigh comes instead.

I feel jaded. Confused. For no reason at all.

God brought me through one of the worst seasons of my life. He set my feet on higher ground.

So, why, why, why do I feel so low?

There was a time when I opened my eyes every morning feeling like the Holy Spirit came down and kissed me on the eyelids. So, so warm. Tangible. Buoyant.

Now, I wake searching and come up empty.

Everybody goes through dry seasons. I know. I get that.

But may I confess something?

I hate it.

Like, what even?

I feel like a Hebrew child, wandering about in the wilderness, except there's no cloud or pillar of fire. There's not even a burning bush.

Ugh, I wish there was a burning bush.

You see, I've spent the past two years living the same day, over and over and over.

I wake up. I work out. I go to the barn. I ride my horse. I come home. I walk the dogs. I entertain myself until I go to bed. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

And it's all so completely and utterly pointless.

Or it feels like it anyway.

There are so many people doing such amazing things for our Abba. Things that seem to matter, to make a difference. Would I feel better if God had called me to be a missionary in an inaccessible jungle, dodging death and smuggling Bibles?

Well, He didn't.

He called me to be a horse trainer.

I remember what He told me last summer when I didn't even have that to go on and cried out in frustration,

“I don't know where I'm going!”

I know where you're going. Just wait.

He still knows where I'm going. I just suck at waiting.

I suck at it because I'm walking through a desert with no map and I'm pretty sure I've passed the same rock a dozen times and I dropped my backpack into a ravine and there are blisters on my feet and what I really want to do is sit down under a cactus and refuse to move until I have some less enigmatic answers.

I suck at it because I've spent most of my life waiting for the other forsaken shoe to drop and when challenges come, I'm sure this must be it. But it never is. Somehow, I always end up on the other side, eyes blinking wide with wonder, in awe of this God who won't give up on me, even when I'm convinced that He has or even when I'm sort of wanting Him to.

Even when I cry myself to sleep because those anxious thoughts hiss and gurgle and threaten to tear me apart.

Even when I'm so nervous that I can barely breathe, please don't expect me to function, I'm just surviving here. Out of order sign on my heart.

Even when He goes from feeling unbelievably close to incredibly far away.

Even then.

He's still here.

Right here, in my bones, in my bloodstream, in every breath that I take.

Every thump of my heart, every cell in my body carries the DNA of the Divine.

I want my life to mean something, impact someone.

It means something because He gave me this life. Not a life of someone else. This one.

I sometimes feel so ashamed because I have such fanciful ambitions and some people don't even have food. I feel selfish for not wanting to just pay bills and die when some people wish they could do exactly that. My Western lifestyle doesn't feel pious enough.

But God has a good plan for the little girl in India and that is why He placed her there.

A good plan for the refugees fleeing a war-torn country.

A good plan for the one losing their life for the Gospel.

A good plan for the orphan.

A good plan for the saint.

A good plan for the sinner.

A good plan...even for me.

Because whether you have many possessions or none at all, every last person on earth needs nothing more than Jesus.

The existence of darkness does not stop Him from bringing forth light. It only amplifies it.

So, yeah. I'm a horse-crazy control freak who can't do this life without Him.

I don't get taken seriously because a 20-year old who has no show record isn't significant enough to have an opinion worth listening to yet.

I'm soul filled with wanderlust who can't seem to move outside the borders of this state.

But I know I can't give up because of that otherworldly pain I get when I see horses who have owners who believe that every move they make is a fight for dominance.

Horses who don't stand a chance because the pursuit of glory and popularity took precedence over their welfare.

I recognize myself in the kids who would do anything to be near a horse.

The girl on the scruffy off-bred mutt who keeps her head held high amongst the snickers of those who seem to think horses care what breed they are.

I remember that life isn't made meaningful by how much you do, but by how much you love.

Tomorrow, I may be scared of the future again. I may feel lost, dazed, confused, alone, and hopeless.

But I can remind myself of this:

The other shoe will not drop because there are no shoes.

There's just this breath.

And the next one.

What will happen tomorrow?

There's no telling.

But I don't have to know what is in all of my tomorrows because I know Who is.

I don't have to fear this moment or the next because He is not there, He is here.

Wrapped up in the strands of my hair, the flash of my teeth.

In the golden hues of my horse's eyes, his breath on my cheek.

To quote that Imagine Dragons song, it's not a picture perfect life, not what I had in mind.

But it's going to be just fine.

Yes, I'm in the wilderness right now, but I know that only leads to the Promised Land.

One of my favorite verses is Joshua 14:12 and it starts out like this:

“So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me...”

Joshua wandered the desert for forty years. Four decades of nothing, but wilderness, surrounded by the groaning of people who had long forgotten about Egypt and the Red Sea. But Joshua remembered what the Lord had promised and he kept his eye on the prize. In the end, the hill country was his.

When the daily grind gets hard and my hope starts to leave; when burning bushes are scarce and I just want to flee. When it feels pointless to ask, but something is telling me to trust, I lift my eyes toward heaven and whisper,


Lord, give me the hill country.”

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