Horses: Hope or Hopelessness?

Horses: Hope or Hopelessness?
Fingers grasp the cool doorknob; one boot hits the step, then the other. The door closes firmly behind me as I push back, ensuring it’s latched. 

A deep breath of cool fall air fills my lungs. I pause. I hear my kids inside playing with the sitter. A smile tugs at the corners of my lips, slowly making way for a big toothy grin. 

❤️‍🔥It’s time! My time! 

I bounce down the steps with the giddiness of a child and heave open the heavy tack room door to quickly grab my favourite blue halter and lead. 
As I walk out to the pasture, my gaze turns skyward as a flock of geese honk overhead, they’re flying low to the ground, and I know they’re heading to the water across the road. I close my eyes with the sun on my face and take another deep breath. 

❤️‍🔥Freedom. 

Ace isn’t far now. His head rises from the grass as his ears prick in my direction. Hey buddy. Warmth fills my heart, it quickly spreads through my whole body, and I feel like I’m walking in an orb of warm golden joyfulness. 

❤️‍🔥I’m home. 

Touching his neck, breathing deep into his shoulder and getting the biggest dopamine kick from his scent. 

❤️‍🔥This is tranquillity. 

Ace sidesteps over to the fence to let me slide onto his back. We casually walk away from the herd, listening to the leaves fall gently to the ground while others crunch under hoof. 

❤️‍🔥Deep inner calm. 

Sitting on Ace, I can’t believe I almost said no. 
I almost allowed guilt, shame, overwhelm and stress to keep me trapped, small, exhausted and defeated. 

❤️‍🔥
Proud. 

Good boy, Ace. A gentle, loving rub on his damp neck as we finish our ride. Gratitude fills my heart as I see how far we’ve come. 

❤️‍🔥
Connection. 

Believing in myself. Connecting to my heart to know what I need. Trusting my soul to lead the way. Feeling more trust and connection to my horse than ever before. 

❤️‍🔥
Partnership. 

With peace in my heart and a gentle smile on my face, I grasp that cool doorknob once more and know in my soul I made the right decision.

🙏
It's my heart's prayer that you get to feel fulfilled and at ease with your time with horses, overcoming your struggles.

Looking to connect with other horsewomen who are daring to  Rise Up & Ride
See you inside.


"I'll just get in the way."

"I'll just get in the way."
“I’ll just get in the way,” I kept thinking. 

But first, let me paint the scene for you.

If you’ve never been to a branding pen, it's somewhat chaotic. The pen is shaped like a bottle, and the calves are on the large end where six to eight horses slowly walk among the calves looking for a shot to rope both back feet. Once a calf’s heels are roped, it is pulled by the horse and rider to one of three or four Nordforks steaked to the ground; a group of three or four people on the ground work alongside each Nordfork. Someone will place this Nordfork along the calf's neck where it fits behind its head, keeping it secure while the horse and rider keep the rope taught, preventing the calf from kicking the ground crew while it is branded, vaccinated and castrated. Once finished, the Nordfork is removed, and the calf is pulled out of the branding pen through the narrow alley to be reunited with its mom. The alley is under guard by horse and rider or ground grew to ensure the calf doesn’t run back in. 


[both photo credit to Countrified Photography & Designs] 


From the sidelines watching the branding pen, there can be moments of flow and efficiency and then times of panic. When you rope a calf accidentally by one leg, head, or belly, it starts to beller and run wildly about while the rider tries to maintain control of the horse, calf, and the rope connecting the two. This scenario usually causes everyone to scatter, trying to avoid being trampled. 

I’m not an avid roper. After my rope horse sustained a bad injury and had two daughters, I have barely swung a rope over the past five years, but I longed to be a part of the fun. My husband kept asking if I wanted to give it a try, but I kept declining. 

I wasn’t worried about looking like an idiot, but I was concerned about being in the way. There were also many calves to get through, so with every throw I missed, I would prevent another horse and rider duo from catching, thus slowing down the day, I thought. 

Have you ever felt this way? 
Found yourself sitting on the sidelines just to stay out of the way?
 Let others have all the fun because you might just mess it up. 

Luckily, I’ve been working on my mindset for quite a bit, and while I didn’t work up the nerve to participate on the first day of branding, near the end of day two, I bravely asked my husband if he would ride alongside me to give me pointers on my roping and just advice in general. If you know me, asking for help isn’t easy– but it is something I’m working on, especially with my husband. 

Working through these feelings took time! For a while, I avoided them lying to myself by coming up with excuses. “Brad deserves to do this more than me.” “Brad will be angry if he has to watch the kids.” “People will get mad if I’m too slow.” “I’ll just get in the way.” 

Eventually, I had to feel my feelings to understand my fears and reasons for why I wasn’t participating, and then I had to validate them. My concern about being in the way, getting hurt or hurting someone else is highly valid! Having a healthy respect for safety doesn’t make me a coward. 

However, I am also capable and worthy of participating. I lacked confidence in myself and my abilities, selling myself short. I am just as important as everyone else in that pen; everyone was missing shots and encouraging others to take their time. My happiness matters just as much as theirs. 

I don’t want my kids to sit on the sidelines growing up. I don’t want my girls to sit back and out of the way, worried their team will lose if they participate. I want my daughters to bravely jump in even if they are the least talented in the group. I want them to know they are worth it. 

In the end, I roped two calves! Hearing my husband cheer me on made me grin ear to ear and feel proud that I was brave enough to try.  I am pleased that I am showing my girls how to be courageous. 

My happiness matters. I deserve to participate. My dreams are valid. I am worth it.

And so are you.


Rise Up & Ride, my friends,
Leanne


How To Come Back Into Your Body During Moments of Fear or Anxiety

How To Come Back Into Your Body During Moments of Fear or Anxiety

Yesterday I hauled Ace and our new horse Greg to the arena. It was barrel practice night, and this was the first time going for all three of us. 


Ace has been really learning to let go of his anxiety and fears during rope nights with my hubby's help, so I personally hadn’t ridden him the last few times he was hauled. On the drive, I mentally prepared myself to be a relaxed and confident leader for Ace while listening to a podcast. (The Journey On Podcast with Warwick Schiller interviewing Jane Pike)


This podcast really explained things in a way I had never thought of before, and it helped a lot! I want to share a few of those with you now summarized in my words. 


  1. My body and mind are amazing. It created defence mechanisms to protect myself during stressful/scary/traumatizing situations when I literally couldn’t process it. I am thankful my body has this ability -- but I am now aware it's time to release these defence methods as they are no longer serving me. 


  1. When I feel anxiety, stress or fear, it's like internal energy becoming bigger than my body that I cannot hold it in anymore. I am learning to tune into what my body is telling me and respond before my emotions become bigger than my body, creating a fight/flight/freeze. This is my body trying to protect myself from danger - which again is a beautiful thing! Accepting that nothing is wrong with me is extremely important. 


  1. When I start to feel anxious, an easy method to help refocus my brain is to move my body: wiggle my toes in my boots, tap my thumb against each fingertip. Yesterday I also became aware of how I wanted my body to feel to Ace while riding. I envisioned my body being connected to him through my seat and thighs, like in Avatar minus the ponytail hehe. I wanted to feel soft, relaxed, gentle and curious about his own movements. This helped me ride so much softer I was shocked!


  1. Every single thing I learned about myself is exactly the same for my horse. When Ace reacts anxiously or fearfully, this is his natural response to keep him safe and protected. I don’t want this to disappear, or if a bear ever came for a visit, then he would be in trouble! I want to show him he can trust me and that I’ll keep him safe.

    1.  His anxiety can feel so big it's pouring out of his body, putting him into fight/flight/freeze; it is up to me to recognize when his cup of anxiety is getting too high and help him empty it before it overwhelms him. 

    2. Asking him for simple body movements can help him come back inside his body, getting his mind off his stress, but it's important to keep things very simple and basic, so it doesn’t become an additional stress source. 


There is nothing wrong with feeling fear or anxiety or stress, for either you or your horse! This is an instinct meant to keep us safe from harm. Learning to accept this is the first step to understanding and moving past our fears. Invite your fear to sit at a table beside yourself; what would you say to it? Invite your horse's fear to sit at your table; what would you tell it? Loving ourselves through these feelings is so important. 


Thank you, Jane, for the amazing reminder. 


These 7 exercises helped me get back in the saddle after having kids.

These 7 exercises helped me get back in the saddle after having kids.
Riding after having babies is a challenge! Not only are we completely different humans; our brains work differently, our bodies are different, our confidence might be less, but when it's hard to even get back into the saddle it can feel really embarrassing.

First off - don't let anyone, and I mean anyone shame you for your diminished strength, flexibility and grace. You have done an amazing thing carrying and delivering a baby; whether vaginally or c-section the toll on our bodies is massive. It is to be expected that your core, flexibility and glutes will be stiff, sore and weaker. Yes, some women can 'bounce back' without missing a beat, but my friends...this isn't the norm ok! So, stop comparing yourself to someone else, stop letting anyone shame you. Be proud for getting back out there my friend! 

After the birth of each of my daughters, I can still remember the scary feeling that I almost couldn't get on; then when I finally did manage to get in the saddle I felt sooooo top heavy! Any quick movements from my horse had me flopping around like a dummy this way and that. (Ok, that might be an exaggeration but that's what it felt like!)

I took a few exercise programs to start regaining strength in my body. I also went for walks to increase my stamina and focused on targeted muscles with each step. Tighten Glute with each step. Engage my core for 20 steps, relax for 10, engage my core for 20. Tighten the thigh each step. Walk on tip toes. This was a fantastic starting point and often had me startled by how much I would sweat and how much I could feel the effects afterwards. 

Once I felt stronger walking I knew I was ready to add in daily exercises. These 7 exercises helped me get back in the saddle after having kids. I loved how they were gentle, encouraged a flat tummy, but I could quickly feel them changing my body for the better!

If you'd like to see a short video where I show a few demos you can check that out here:




Here is a summary of the exercises that helped me the most!

1. Pelvic Tilt/Engage Core while laying on floor knees bent
2. While your core is engaged in doing the above exercise, bend side to side to touch your heels
3. Hip thrusts while laying on back with knees bent. The next step is when your core is raised add in a bent leg lift
4. Plank - start with short times, work your way up
5. Pushups - start with wall/ then hands-on bench knees floor, then standard "girl" pushups, then full pushups.
6. Squats - use a chair under your bum to assist you.
7. Step-ups onto a stable surface are also amazing and mimics getting on a horse a bit too. If using a chair lean it against a wall and make sure it's not tippy!! Falling off hurts trust me.
8. Bonus - Exercise ball sit: Engage your core and gently sway your hips side to side and front to back. Add in circles both ways. Perfect to do while watching your favourite TV show or while working at a desk.

Disclaimer! I am not a doctor or physical therapist...take this advice as just that,.... advice from a momma of two who struggled to ride/get on my horse after having babies.

Like what you heard? be sure to join  My Facebook Community

If you're looking for more one-on-one coaching to get you a stronger core, better flexibility and higher confidence, shoot me a message HERE


Asking For Support Shouldn't Be So Hard!

Asking For Support Shouldn't Be So Hard!

How come talking about the loneliness, guilt, resentment, anger and shame that comes with motherhood isn’t a thing?


How come when we try and reach out for help, we are told, “Yes, being a mom is hard, isn’t it,” or, “It’s just your hormones dear, it will all level out soon enough,” or my ultimate favourite, “don’t worry about that stuff, your babies are only babies once, sit back and soak it all in and just cheer up.” How isolating is that? We have just confessed we feel like we are drowning, and we are told to swim better.


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Do Everything, Do It Perfectly, Make It Look Easy: The Recipe For Unhappiness

Do Everything, Do It Perfectly, Make It Look Easy: The Recipe For Unhappiness

If I asked you to describe a ‘mom,’ what comes to mind? For me, Brene Brown explains it perfectly: mom’s do everything, do it perfectly, and make it look easy while doing it.


What about being a horsewoman? According to western movies, they make us tough, resilient, stubborn, firm and can do any job a man can do, but better.


Those are a lot of expectations. If you are like me, you are both a horsewoman and a mom. The weight of those expectations is exhausting. 


What’s worse is we don’t talk about these extreme expectations. These standards are unspoken by society, but they are implied. It’s not like after your first baby, a nurse comes in and says, “okay, now here’s what you need to do to be a good mom.” You don’t get a piece of paper when you become passionate about horses stating the requirements needed for you to be considered a good horsewoman. 


What’s sad about these unspoken standards is that we feel like failures when we inevitably can’t do it all. Those thoughts and feelings like we are failing, unworthy, less than, not enough, who am I to do that? They haunt all of us. These feelings are shame. We hide them away in hopes no one will ever see them; because if they did, we would indeed be judge and found unworthy.


Before we go further, let’s make sure we are all on the same page. Shame is the fear of disconnection, fear of being judged as unworthy and not good enough; to be cast out. Shame is “I feel awful because I am a bad person.” Guilt is “I feel awful because I did something bad.” 



As a mother of two amazing young daughters, living on a beautiful farm, with an outdoor arena as a front yard, who was I to complain? I should be the happiest person alive, shouldn’t I? But I missed myself before having children. I felt that I was a horrible mom for having these thoughts; I felt ashamed. I felt unworthy around my horses because my connection with them was almost nonexistent. I was angry, resentful, frustrated, and I felt alone. 


Luckily, thanks to my horse, I started going down a rabbit trail, trying to fix our connection. Instead, I found how much healing I needed. The shame I was carrying was eating away at my passion for life. I started to see the hope that I could indeed be happy and fulfilled as both a mother, wife and horsewoman. 


What I wish I had in those moments was someone to talk to. Someone, I felt safe enough to share my thoughts and struggles without being disconnected or judged.  I wish I had someone to help me realize that what I was dealing with was, in fact, shame and that there was a way through it. If you recognized a part of yourself as being stuck in shame, I’ve created a free booklet to help you start unpacking your thoughts to work towards finding your freedom from shame! If you’d like your copy sent directly to your inbox, you can get that here: Finding Your Freedom From Shame


Brene Brown is famous for her talks on shame; if you haven’t read or listened to her books or lectures on youtube, you need to. Almost everything I’ve learned regarding shame has been from her, so she gets all the core credits here. But what I’ve come to realize is in my darkest moments, it was shame that kept me there. Don’t let it keep you stuck. 


You are enough! You are worth it! 


HOW TO BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE AND QUIET THAT NEGATIVE VOICE

HOW TO BUILD YOUR CONFIDENCE AND QUIET THAT NEGATIVE VOICE

How often do you hear that little voice inside your head natter on and on about how you have no business training your horse. You aren’t good enough; strong enough; knowledgeable enough; big enough, small enough, skilled enough. Hearing this voice, I like to call her Negative Nelly, sucks you down to the endless pit of disbelief, self-doubt, no confidence, anxiety, and even fear. 


In this blog, I want to address what I believe to be the biggest problem we all face that will sabotage your relationship with your horse. Your mind. 

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