"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


One of the biggest lies around identifying trauma.

One of the biggest lies around identifying trauma.

Would you say you’ve experienced trauma in your life? Most people would say no. 


If I were to ask those who said yes what those traumatic experiences were, they would most likely share things like a car accident, serious illness, near-death incident, war, losing a spouse or child, becoming an orphan, being sexually or physically abused. 


But what if trauma wasn't only these notable dramatic moments in time? 


The more I learn about trauma, the more I’ve come to understand that experiencing trauma isn’t about the dramatic event; it is about how you felt from an event. 


So what does this mean? If there have been moments in your life that you have ever felt abandoned, terrified, never heard, never valued, worthless, waste of time, then you have experienced trauma. 

When we experience trauma, we go into fight, flight, or freeze/shut down. We aren’t safe to express ourselves, or worse, told not to. When our nervous system enters this sympathetic state without being able to complete the cycle - process emotionally and mentally what’s happening and it is met with empathy and validation from another human - then those emotions become trapped inside our nervous system. 


For those of us who perhaps didn't realize what trauma included, we would most likely have thoughts like: “Oh jeez, my childhood was great! I really don’t have anything to complain about,” or “sure I was bullied, but it wasn’t that bad, they were just kids and didn’t know what they were doing after all.” This denial is a safety mechanism to keep that trauma locked away deep inside us to protect us from the pain. 


When we can start learning what trauma actually is, we can begin to free ourselves from it. If for your entire life, you were trying to tell yourself that what you went through wasn’t a big deal and to just get over it, those painful emotions stay trapped. What you felt was real! What you felt was painful and traumatic. 


Learning how to overcome my trauma has been the gateway to understanding myself. Trauma is the root of anger, frustration, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, self-harm, and more. All of a sudden, I’m not “messed up.” I’m simply emotionally and mentally wounded, and I need to heal. 


If you find yourself relating to this, I want to personally invite you into my Facebook community. Inside the guide section, I have a free 30-day transformation - Chomping at the Bit: Transition from Guilt to Freedom. This will help you get started on your healing journey. Click HERE to connect with others wanting their happiness, hope and freedom too. 


Learning to heal has transformed my life to find happiness, hope, and freedom! Becoming more whole has helped my anxiety and depression; it helps me be a better mom and prevent passing my trauma down; it’s immensely helping my marriage. 

If you would prefer to go through the 30-day Transformation off of Facebook, simply create your free Membership Login to access all of my materials HERE.

See you inside. 💜



Three steps to help your anxiety, depression or other overwhelming emotions.

Three steps to help your anxiety, depression or other overwhelming emotions.
Anxiety and depression are big, painful emotions that many people struggle with. Are you one of them? Perhaps you only deal with one or the other, or maybe you struggle with both regularly.


Sometimes, however, I think people only know that they feel gross, down, frustrated, stressed or sad. When we feel this way, we often don’t even want to really think about what we feel because we don’t want to get lost down that rabbit trail of figuring it out. I believe that is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make when they truly desire to improve their life and strive for happiness.


First off, do you know the difference between anxiety and depression? When I first thought of that question, I honestly had to stop and really think about it. I then decided to double-check with good ole Google to see if I had it straight.


These are common struggles for those with anxiety: (summarized in my words based on this article)
 - Often thought of as “worry-warts.” They are always fearful about something bad happening, right now as well as the future.
 - They often get stuck thinking about all the horrible things that could happen today, tomorrow, or ten years from now. Something is bound to go wrong, and they can’t stop thinking about it.
 - They don’t put themselves in any situations where they are scared that their anxiety will take over and humiliate them. This can result in a lot of self-isolation.
 - Getting fixated on the probability of death due to random circumstances, feelings or symptoms.


Depression rather shows itself as:
 - Feeling of sadness that you cannot shake or possibly even identify.
 - Feeling hopeless about a situation, or even your own abilities not being good enough.
 - When you feel like you are worthless and all your efforts in life are worthless.
 - You think of death often; your life is hopeless, you are worthless, and you are a burden on your loved ones.


The struggle with anxiety and depression is dealing with one of these alone is a huge struggle. But, commonly, one can create the other, so you find yourself fighting with both anxiety and depression.


While I’m not a therapist, and I always suggest seeking professional help (especially if you find yourself fixated on death or suicidal thoughts), I want to encourage you to try out these few practices that can be life-changing if used regularly.

     1. Deliberately sit with your feelings and try to identify them to the best of your ability. Depression, anxiety and overwhelm for a lot of people can be a symptom of an unmet need or an emotion that isn't being taken care of. Check out this feelings wheel chart I found that can help narrow down specifically what you are feeling.

     2. Once you’ve got a feeling, we will use worthless as an example, and I want you to remind yourself that you are not wrong or broken for feeling this way. Emotions are never right or wrong; they simply are what they are. Hating them or wishing you didn’t have them will not serve you; that will only start creating hatred and resentment toward your own faults.

     3. Now, I want you to envision yourself sitting at a table, and your worthless feeling is sitting beside you. What would you say to it? “Hey, worthlessness, I see you. I see you hurting and in so much pain. I love you, just as you are. I am here, I see you, I love you, and we will figure this out.”

Learning to identify and name our emotions allows us to see it for what it actually is. When we don’t know, and we stay stuck in the “I just feel horrible” road, we can’t love ourselves where we need to be loved.

Staying stuck in the unknown is the perfect recipe for continued depression, anxiety, resentment, frustration and anger. Love and empathy are the antidotes.


I, for one, have struggled with both depression and anxiety. They come and go, but the one thing that stays the same is that getting help from other people helps keep me happier and more emotionally healthy. If you would like to be surrounded by other like-minded wonderful people, you can find us in my Facebook Group by clicking the button.





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. 


Uncontrollable Outbursts of Anger

Uncontrollable Outbursts of Anger
This morning I had an outburst of anger.

I had a fit...lost my temper...yelled...and accidentally dented my wall with a door handle.

I am embarrassed. I am ashamed. I feel guilty my children had to witness it.

Still feeling completely out of control I forced myself to sit and close my eyes while my children zoned out in front of the TV. I listened to a guided meditation knowing I needed to be talked off an invisible ledge in my mind bordering complete chaos.

Why am I so angry? Why do I feel completely out of control? Why am I so disconnected from myself?

My inner voice quietly responded, "you feel powerless. You feel like a ship at sea with no sails; the wind and the waves are tossing you around and there's nothing you can do. You're angry because you feel hopeless. You're angry because you feel powerless to protect yourself. You are angry because you're scared to be vulnerable. You're frustrated because this is a cycle that never seems to end."

During the meditation, I cried silent tears holding my youngest daughter who was oblivious to my inner turmoil. She had already forgiven me. I apologized anyway. God created these wonderful, young, impressionable tiny humans to forgive so easily. What a blessing!!

I commit to slowing down and examining my emotions more.

I commit to making myself a priority.

Know better...Do better.

I have tools I can implement to help myself. Do I still fail? Of course! This morning, I failed...but now I recommit, pick myself back up and do better.

Don't give up on yourself. We are all growing, learning, changing, and stumbling.
You've got this

. Recommit and start again. I'm not perfect...far from...but I know the tools I have work when I use them.

How often do we suffer in silence with our big emotions scared of being shamed by others? 

How often do we feel like anger is completely unacceptable...the biggest and nastiest of all? 

Anger is a sign something is wrong. Feeling anger means something much bigger and deeper is happening and it's time to reflect. Anger is a signal that we don't feel heard, that we feel powerless and hopeless. Anger protects us from the scary feelings of vulnerability. Anger protects us from all of those feelings because it makes us feel powerful. 

If you're like me...and you're wanting to work on these emotions, don't feel shame. Don't feel worthless or messed up. You're not alone. 

Let's end the stigma that anger is evil. Anger itself isn't the problem. Buried, misunderstood, and unvoiced feelings create anger. Anger is a symptom.

If you'd like to surround yourself with others who want to do better, I've created a safe space in . Anyone is welcome.


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 Deal With Missing The Old You

How To Deal With Missing The Old You

Finding freedom feels impossible; independence? What’s that! This child needs me 24/7. Flexibility vanishes and is replaced by structure, nap times, play dates, sports, school and more. It’s exhausting to simply not go crazy and manage everything the family needs. You feel endless guilty for wanting a bit of the “old you” back when the decision to ride or not was entirely up to you, and it didn’t require endless planning and rescheduling to make happen.

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From Confident To Cautious...My Journey With Horses Alongside The Difficulties of Becoming A Mom

From Confident To Cautious...My Journey With Horses Alongside The Difficulties of Becoming A Mom

I was that girl who would ride any horse, anywhere. I didn't care if I knew I was likely to get bucked off; I was determined, brave, and thrived on the challenges of a difficult horse. Then, everything started to change...


I can remember it like yesterday. I felt the excitement of pregnancy, all the ideas, visions, and promises I made to myself before I had my first child. I’m not going to stop being me; I’m not going to let my baby needy, so I can’t go anywhere alone. I’m still going to ride a lot, not as much as now, but a few times a week will be easy. Our baby will go everywhere with us so that we don’t have to be isolated, restaurants, play days, coffee dates, travelling to see my parents or for holidays. There’s no way in hell my girl will sleep in our bed, this is my bed, and she will learn to sleep alone right away. We will be a family who still rides and rodeos! I never imagined it would be my last summer to rodeo.


I can’t help but laugh at my naivety. The second my first daughter was born, every preconceived notion I had, every plan, evaporated like the morning mist. Perhaps you can relate? We have this idea in our heads for how life will be like once we become a mother; I can guarantee we were all in for the shock of our lives. 

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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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