A day of sunshine, and…Gazeebos with wings!

A rather, mix match of a day completed with a burnt forehead, a rosette and a qualification!

I Beat my prevous Novice 27 score of 62.67% with a cracking 71.61% which gained 7th place. This was also on grass so i wasnt expecting anything better than last time! As a Dressage team for Hurst Riders we brought home a qualification for the London & South East Dressage champs @ Munstead as a team 3rd and individually placed 18th with a low 64.04% (down from last prelim 18) due to lots of spookiness.

Although pops is naturally spooky at most things, the wind did pick up quite a bit during our prelim 18 test and we performed lots of new movements to add the book of dressage movements when the secutary Gazeebo took off into the air mid test! I should have predicted my “death wish” would come again and booked in for a Freestyle!! Despite the low score, Panda did try her best to stay focused and produced some nice footfalls for the rest of the test, if not a little tense.

Constructive critisism from today bar the spooking and tenseness through out the first test were farily similar to previous comments and most of them being rider inaccuracy or errors! These are things i will be concentrating on perfecting (Hopefully) over the coming weeks…

CIRCLES – Why Oh Why are you so circle? I would like Hexigons added to dressage tests please! These are much easier. I am constantly making them ovel, too big or too small! So frustrating as I nail them in the warm up, and let myself down in the ring.

FREE WALK – DOUBLE POINTER!!! – Annoys me, seems so simple, yet I can never get her to stretch down enough or give the walk “Purpose”

HALT – Yep, seems the easy bit, Stopping! I might sometimes be able to halt square (Sometimes that is) But what i repeatedly get marked down in is maintaing the halt, and the suppleness of Panda. As soon as i halt, the head shoots up!

MEDIUM TROT – Got my first 7 for  this!!!!! Very pleased as this was unexpected, however i did not carry this through to the second Medium trot of the test unfortnuatly which lost me some marks….Still more work to do here!!

CONTACT AND BALANCE IN CANTER – loss of balance throughout transition, a little against hand in the canter

and not to forget, the ever so unwelcomed

SPOOKING! – Nothing much more than milage on the clock to help here, so in addition to working on the above weaknesses,  i am aiming to make hacking my schooling session more often!

Time now to prep for my Novice Freestyle next weekend! Busy busy!

 

 

 

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Time to get organised!

My Dressage Diary has arrived yay! Its the simple things!!

I will be using this to track my training and results etc to see how things change over time whilst also transferring some of this content into my blog incase anyone wanted to know what i am up too! 😀

This can also be used for the imprtant things like, next vaccs due, worming schedule, farrier visits, physio visits etc!

Very exciting times ahead!! Feeling determined and positive, the best i have felt this year!

K x

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Wibble wobble – naperty nap! 

So last weekend I decided to change the scenery and headed over to Windsor Great park to ride the Bucks & Berks hunt sponsored ride

Ride? Calling it a ride would implify that it was fun….2 Long hours of absolute hell. Riding a dragon seems cool, if you are in Game of thrones ! But having your own  liver chestnut fire breathing dragon is far from cool! I get it, Panda hadn’t been hacked with a group of others for a while, the spring grass is through, she’s in season, and it was the first fun ride of the year – and I thought I’d brave the cross country in a snaffle -ERROR!!

The whole 2 hours consisted of, sideways movement (not practicing our dressage), spin and nap to the horses behind, meltdown if your friend takes more than two strides away from you, spin again, spin some more, spin into a ditch, all fours off the ground at once, you name it, we had it! I had to dismount to get through a path of deer fencing along both sides as the pressure was obv too much for panda. I didn’t really havea choice, she wouldn’t follow a lead and would just back me into a corner if I asked her to move forwards. Getting off is always last on my agenda, firstly because she’s big, so I struggle to get back on and secondly because she’s big……and carries her headcarrige as a 18hh would, and has a tendency to take you skiing toward the next nearest group of riders. Just when I thought I can no longer cheat death, my arms are giving in, a steward came to my rescue and took over the skiing! He managed to throw me back on so I could finish the last couple of miles, well, spinning! 

Since then I’ve mad a conscious effort to hack more than I school, so hacking is what we have done! 

This morning I handed panda over to becka who freelances whom will be working her for me whilst I am away this week. She’s used to “dumb bloods” so should get on just fine with her! I was conscious of leaving her for the week and then pulling her out of the field and expect her to dance in dressage the following Sunday, it’s always good to keep the engine ticking over! I moved my friends love,y new forest pony Jim to his new stables today, lovely cheeky boy who needed some encouragement to get on the trailer, but eventually went on whilst having cuddles with his mum! It’s nice to see a true bond with horse and owner..you’ll be surprised how little bonding you see these days! 

Coming up I have unaff dressage competing for hurst riders club on 11th June both in a dressage team and individually novice, and the on the following week I have my novice freestyle to music! Very exciting few weeks for me, so it’s good to keep my focus and keep on the straight path! Successful training sessions make me so eagerness positive about the future! 

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I’m sure it’s sorcery!

It isn’t easy, riding. I’m not sure why i need to tell everyone this as most people know that a lot of time and effort is put into perfecting the partnership with your horse. But it looks so easy doesn’t it! Today i watched riders effortlessly floating around the castle arena to their individual Adv. Medium freestyle to music at The Royal Windsor Horse show , thats right, effortlessly and such a picture they made too!

I must admit, when i go to watch dressage, it makes me get the bug and want to go home to have a play in the school, granted i don’t actually know what to do when i get  in there! That leads me on to my next thing! Memory? Multitasking? Does this get better with time? I was practicing my Novice Freestyle floor plan for an RC competition in June with my instructor Colleen Knox. She put together a lovely flowing freestyle that i think highlights mine and Panda’s strengths in our partnership. So we hired out Wokingham Equestrian’s 60 X 20 to have a play!

Colleen took me through the movements a couple of times then we put together the whole freestyle, focusing on what i need to focus on and where! I ran through it a couple more times as Colleen videoed. Putting together the full picture is where my “Uselessness” comes in to play. Why can i only focus on one thing at a time?! When going solo, i forget how i should be riding the movements (I’m not even talking laterally, This is Novice lol)  All my little brain can focus on is where i am going to next? Left at B? Or right at B? this meaning that i completely forget how to ride! I can get Panda going great, but only when i focus on “getting her going great” on not on where i am going next. Its seems silly and easy i know, but it isn’t to me!

Ill never forget the first time i dared to do a dressage test without having a reader, i learnt the test, i rode the movements, i put the test together, i drew the test, i put the movements on to paper. I knew it like the back of my hand, it was only prelim, so not like it was overly complicated! I had this in the bag, all i need to do is ride the movements like i ride her at home and there is no reason i wont get 7’s and 8’s! Well, lets just say nerves got the worse of me, i lost my way twice, why, Brain freeze? Because i was too busy thinking about whats coming next and missed a movement in between!! Is this just me? Am i stupid and incapable? I think i need to learn that dressage isn’t scary, it may use complex concepts described with intellectual precision but surely these can be simplified for my simple little mind? Like my title states, its like bloody sorcery at the moment to me!

I know things take time, and this is a totally new discipline to me, I know what area’s i need improvements on, im getting the same comments every test, Accuracy of movements, size of circles, use of corners, control of spooking, (That’s a whole new ball game!!) Relaxation and suppleness etc – Easy simple things that loose lots of marks mind, I am just starting to learn what inside leg to outside hand should feel like, and where to use this, and also how to support more with my outside rein. I will get there, and ill probably look back at this and think pah! What simple things i used to worry about!

So the freestyle floor plan is in, next is to find some music to suit us both! Easier said than done! I am excited for the finished piece though 😀

 

 

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Changes!

Lot’s of changes of recent, Life changes, Outlook changes, but most importantly those “Small” changes that make a HUGE difference!

Firstly lets talk about changing me, I can’t expect my horse to change and develop fitness if i am not developed or fit myself!

I know that i don’t have a core of steal, Thighs or calf’s of rock, but i thought schooling my horse daily should surely be enough to build on my fitness? For as long as i remembered id always been what i call “Shouldery” meaning that stress or strain most commonly builds up in my shoulders. I used to have numerous sessions when i was younger on perfecting my posture as i have always had a dropped shoulder. The last couple of months however, seem to have gotten to my shoulders more than ever before, causing me to hunch up and roll my shoulders up into my neck and forward. This in the saddle means that i straighten my arms and lock my hands and elbows, making an elastic contact with the horse near impossible!

We had a personal trainer whom specialises in Riders fitness come out to our yard for an hour long session, Jessica Grove. As i turned up to the yard, Julie, a fellow livery was rolling around on yoga mat on the yard, as i got out of the car i giggled at the fact Jessica was putting her through her paces, then, it was my turn ( I didnt giggle again!) I tacked up and jumped on, did my usual warm up and a walk trot and canter on each rein whilst Jessica noted (probably laughed 😉 ) at all of my weakness and bad habits and then i jumped off again. It was time to feel the pain!! As i expected, My shoulders were no.1 suspects, however i didn’t realise that i was also stiff throughout my pelvis and my legs. My left thigh was so tight it was causing my lower leg and ankle to retract  meaning that i couldn’t sit “long in the leg” and left my leg swinging freely when i picked up trot and canter. Jessica gave me a list of exercises that i can do to release my shoulders and the tight muscles in my thighs and assisted me as i put myself into painful positions! I then jumped back onto Panda and WOW, what an instant difference! I was freely moving, allowing panda to freely move within her paces. Before every schooling session, i now perform each exercise to keep my body supple and relax, it is also very helpful to warm up and cool my muscles down before and after riding too….The next best thing would be a hottub!!

The Saddle was next to change, I only had one saddle for Panda, A lovely brown working hunter show saddle,  Why i had this for her i do not know, but it soon became apparent that the lack of support from the saddle was giving me a non existent leg aid meaning i had to work 5 X as hard to keep Panda moving forward! In addition to my position, the saddle was such a close contact fit to Panda’s shoulders it wasn’t allowing her to move freely, imagine having two pieces of plywood clamping your shoulders tight and then trying to move your arms freely! This caused a couple of problems, One lack of free movement and swing, two inability to develop muscle around the shoulder and topline. Julie Knaggs help me to find and fit a saddle to suit my needs and Panda’s developing shape, and luckily enough, another livery had one for sale so after a couple weeks of “riding in” we bought her saddle. The difference in my position in my Harry Dabbs Dressage saddle is such an improvement, Panda is more accepting of the leg aids, and i am not working as hard to keep her forward. Her strides have lengthened and her outline has changed to a much better uphill posture. I am still working on my fitness to improve my riding and i am still learning new things every session and will continue to develop myself in order for me and Panda to develop as a partnership.

I have added a picture taken before Christmas, and a recent to compare the change!

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Worth a read from Walter Zettl Classic Dressage!

I was talking to one of my students today about the importance of the “give”. The horse has to know he has the possibility to go forward. I like to tell my students, even when you think you cannot give more, give again. Don’t throw away the contact – this is just as wrong as riding with your reins too tight. The “give” should come from relaxing the shoulder and softening the arm – not from lengthening the reins or losing the contact.

 The “give” has a profound effect on the horse. Instead of the horse feeling blocked or trapped, they feel free to step through with the hind leg. The “give” encourages the horse to move with an active hind leg, with schwung, a soft neck to a gentle inviting contact. It ignites the circle of energy between the horse and rider. When you give, it encourages the horse to try harder, to work with the rider, and to be willing to approach the limit of his abilities without tension. I like to tell my students “Open the door!”

When you are confused, or if your horse is tense and things are not going well, just “give”. You won’t be wrong!

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Great tip!

We can’t expect our horses to have supple necks and soft mouths if we are bracing and fixing against them.
This is a great tip to tell yourself when you are riding. ‘Olivia Towers Dressage’

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Why Can’t I Do that?

This is a delayed blog post from a month previous. My eye related blogs will be delayed as I physically and mentally couldn’t write them at the time, plus the time i can spend in front of my PC is limited.

This title counts for lots of things in life. Why can’t i be rich? Why cant i just get paid to ride horses and not work? Why cant i have my own livery yard? Lots of “Why’s” which motivates people to become successful in life. My most recent “Why’s” have been, Why cant I ride? Why cant i fill up my haynets? Why cant I Drive? Why cant I be normal again? Why can I still not see out of my eye? Why can I not sleep?

 No one can really answer my why’s apart from the ever most popular “Because you need to get better and rest” but still, i feel this answer isn’t enough to keep me wanting to do what i cant.

 The main reason for this post isn’t necessarily to talk about my “whys” and “wants” but to talk about an experience that has helped me to face some little fears along my way. My friend came across a local clinic on Facebook called “Why Can’t I Do That? You and Your horse together” at Checkendon Equestrian Centre. After feeling very weak and vulnerable when around Panda I registered my interest in the clinic and soon received a personal message from Gill Garside who runs the clinic to discuss in further details. I explained to her my story and that I now understandably lack confidence on the ground with Panda, who is a big girl anyway but grows to an 18hh Giraffe if on her toes. Gill took me through the clinic agenda, and what outcome I could leave with so I thought, Sod it, lets do it, I have noting to lose? Accompanied by my friend, we hitched up and set off to Checkedon.

 I have always had more confidence riding Panda around a show ground rather than leading, as she is a big girl and i feel a lot more in control when in the saddle than I do at the end of a leadrope. She also settles quicker and knows her job once I am on,  it just takes away those added stressy nerves on competition day. (Absolute nightmare for competing nerves. If i am ever rude or blunt at a competition it is nothing personal or intentional, i just have a funny anxious way of dealing with my nerves!)

 We arrived at Checkendon and met with Gill and Rob Waine (Rob Waine Dressage) , and 3 other lovely ladies that attended the clinic for personal reasons of their own with their ponies. Gill and Rob made introductions and discussed their personal background and how they came together for the “Why Cant I Do That” clinic’s Individually, we all went around the table discussing our own personal stories and what we wanted to get out of the day.  Mine being a connection and control of Panda on the ground in hand.

 Moving on from our stories, Gill highlighted the areas we were to run through before getting the horses, I cant remember them all but I think we talked through Positiveness, Relaxation, and confidence. Working around the table, Gill was able to take us all to a place we felt confident, positive and  relaxed, and demonstrated on how we can find that place in any situation around our horses.

 We wrapped up in the training room, and I can remember feeling pretty sleepy at this point, but I volunteered to go first with ground work with Panda. We were instructed at this point to bring the horses out with just a head collar and lead rope. As Panda walked off the trailer, she instantly engaged “Giraffe” mode. New sounds, new smells and a new sights, she froze for a couple of seconds to get a good look then we pretty much jogged our way to the indoor school, me at the end of the lead rope and my arm in the air! As we walked around the indoor school still in Giraffe mode, Panda was  on high alert,sniffing and snorting at everything, standing tall to be able to see over the wall of the school, I did not have any control, however, nothing tragic happened.

 Rob and Gill taught me how to connect with Panda, how to become the leader and how to gain her respect. It probably took  10-15 minutes, but I eventually got her attention on me. Seeing her lower her head and respond to my “leadershipness” buy licking and chewing, all I could think of was wow, I did not expect that I could take her anxious eye off whatever she has locked on too, and bring her into a relaxed stance, I was pretty overwhelmed! Next, Rob asked me to un-clip her leadrope but keep the connection together. This again I thought would be impossible, unless I had food, which I didn’t. I walked away and remember saying to Rob, “she isn’t following me is she? I bet She’s buggered off!” To my surprise, Rob’s response was, “She is right over your shoulder!” and as i turned my head to the right, there she was, following me in this spooky new and interesting environment. I felt the joy and happiness run from my tummy up into my throat and I gulped holding back the happy tears. I didn’t think that joining up and connecting with a horse is particularly difficult if you have formed a bond with your horse, but I just did not expect me and Panda to click that quick, in that kind of environment. Absolutely chuffed to bits I was!

 Now Panda can still be a madam at times, there is no doubt about that, but if this workshop taught me anything, it taught me how to channel my nerves into confidence and how to find that confidence in nerve wrecking scenarios. Panda is a sensitive mare and if I am nervous or anxious, so is she. It has also reminded me that horses are horses, they are flight animals, I do not have a “bad” horse, i just have a sensitive horse. After the accident, the thought of selling her had kept me up over night, but actually, no, she doesn’t deserve that, she is just being a horse, and look at how I got that horse to connect with me, and freely follow me whilst having the opportunity to run to the gate. Since then, we have really come on leaps and bounds, more so riding. I feel like we are finally gelling together, after almost 18 months ownership!

 I would greatly recommend Gill and Rob’s “Why can’t i do that, You and your horse together” Clinics to anyone whom suffers with anxiety around horses, Troubles with staying focused and positive, Pre Competition nerves, Lack of confidence or even if you think you are lacking any bond with your horse. I have added their website below for anyone interested to take a look and they also have 2 workshops coming on 30th May and 25th June at Checkendon EC.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

Christmas eve, Two Labradors, One freshly clipped ginger mare, and some relation of Storm Doris!

 Ahh, Christmas Festivities! Time off work, family,…food…Dreamy!

Christmas just gone was my 3rd Christmas with James, and the 1st Christmas  spent down south. After moving into our first house i was excited to spend Christmas with James rather than spending it 240 miles apart.

 With James out on his annual pub crawl on Christmas eve, mum and I decided to have a horsey day. Spend time at the yard, walk two dogs (Looking after a friends)muck out two stables, spruce up panda’s gangly unloved mane and have a nice chilled ride, excited to show mum how far me and panda have come on in our flatwork!

 Never would I have imagined that my afternoon would have actually been spent in hospital. I don’t want to write full details down as I can’t run through the drama in my head without feeling sick and emotional, but lets just say, a spooked horse can rip a tie ring straight off of a wall in seconds. Quicker than what it takes for me to lean forward to release the lead rope. (At this stage i would like to reiterate just how important it is to tie your horse to thin bailing twine that will snap under pressure) You can probably put the pieces together in your head and still not come up with the conclusion of “The tie ring ripped off and flew into my eyeball, all four nails attached” I know, pretty freak right? Like i said in my earlier post, Final Destination springs to mind.

 Whilst my mum scrambled to catch my now loose spooked horse, I am slumped over my stable door holding my hand over my eye. I can’t really remember the pain from that moment on as i think shock had kicked in. I turned around to gesture to my mum that it had caught my eye and specifically remember saying “I’m going to have a cracking bruise for Christmas tomorrow!” and as i take my hand away blood pours out. I was relatively calm until i managed to clean enough blood off to open my eye, to then realise that my eye is black, I cannot see. It is broad daylight out here and all i can see is black. Not even the slightest spectrum of light.

 This being the only reason i would drag my stubborn ass to hospital, the fact that i could not see, I knew something was damaged, but I didn’t expect it to be half as bad as what it is. Battling my shock on route to Basingstoke hospital, too hot, too cold, feeling sick, feeling faint, 20 minutes in A&E (very quick in the world of the NHS) to be told that I am being referred to Frimley to see the emergency Ophthalmologist ASAP. After learning that I will need emergency surgery to stitch my Iris back to my Cornea, I soon realised that out of hours eye clinics, do not host sick buckets, nor do they have mop and buckets handy to clean up after patients. The surgery to repair the tear to my eye was expected to take 30 mins however i would need to go under a general anesthetic.

 Almost 4 hours later, I wake up in recovery, sit bolt right up and squint at the clock across the room. How on earth is it 12am? I was only supposed to be in theatre for 30 minutes? The tear that the consultant initially thought was across the front of my eye actually tore from front to back, meaning that I lost some of the Iris in my eye (The coloured section) and my eyeball is rather flat. 14 tiny cob webb like stitches carefully knitted together my eyeball. I knew then, that I would be spending my Christmas is Hospital.

 The next couple of weeks to months have been a bit of a blur full of ups and downs, daily emotional breakdowns, no sleep, day long naps, hourly eyedrops, eye patches, hospital trips, positive news and negative news. Side effects from a trauma such as mine to the eye can lead on to other complications, infection, Retina Detachment, Cataract etc etc… And after weeks of positive news, my retina detached. My world stopped again. Another set back to what feels like an already long and slow recovery process.  No, its not life or death and certainly not life limiting, but that doesn’t mean to say that it does not affect you mentally. This is my health at the end of the day, and i am quite simply  fed up of weekly hospital visits, daily eyedrops, double vision, sensitivity to light, tonnes of emotion, tiredness, itchy scratchy eyeball and continuous flashes and floaters in my eye. Not to mention that i have an odd shaped eye. The next few weeks again would be very tense as I go down for Retinal surgery.

 Throughout all of these emotions the only thing that I can focus on to get me better is my horse. My Family and my dog have obviously been at my side all day everyday, but i feel like i need to rush my recovery to get back into the saddle and finish off positively where we left off before Christmas.

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To blog or not to blog?…

So, almost 4 months later than planned, here is my first ever blog….

I’m not really sure what to write, or what readers want to see to be honest, I initially created this blog in December as an idea to track my personal experiences with my mare, results/progress and my ambitions. I tell myself that having a few “readers” interested in my journey will in turn, keep my wits about me throughout the whole process.

 Since Christmas i have been pushing the idea of starting a blog to the back of my mind thinking, it’s too late now, no one is interested in what i am doing, why will people bother to read? I haven’t done what i wanted to do to round off 2016 and start 2017 positive so why write about?

 With another good result from Dressage at the beginning of December, as much as I love to Jump and always will, all i can think about is Dressage! I am itching to improve my scores and tidy up any silly mistakes throughout my tests. (Being able to remember a test without my good friend Emilie reading for me would be a start ) I haven’t completely written off Jumping,  but i feel much more connected with Panda strutting her stuff in front of the judges rather than me and her being a bag of nerves trying to get around a course of 70cm, a clear would be nice!

I seem to have had a tonne of bad luck recently, in fact, in recent events i feel as though I am starring in the newest version of the Final Destination Movies! They say bad luck comes in three’s, well I can say I have probably been hit square in the face with two if not three spurts of bad luck,  and its only March?!

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Planning ahead! 

Entries have just gone through for the Sunshine tour dressage qualifiers! 

Apart from my freestyle this weekend, in the coming months I will be concentrating on training towards those qualifiers for the Sunshine tour 🙌🏻💃🏻

I am aiming to make hacking a priority in hope that I can put to bed some small issues we have when we are out at a competition I.e being away from other horses, spooking at little and nothing, and just general all round fitness! Whilst I’ll be working hard on my transitions and my medium trot and canter, I have tasked myself with getting my self fit and strengthening my core muscles to support Panda more! 

I’m quite lazy these days when it comes to exercise, I used to spend most evenings in the gym but that was before I got back in the saddle and had another commitments! So I’ll be working on some home fitness routines I can add into my day everyday without disturbing routine too much! 

Time to put my brave pants and my hi viz on, lead rope at the ready incase I have to get off for whatever reason, it saves me skiing slightly – operation get hacking even if it’s on my own! 

I advise myself to definitely invest in a hacking app! 

Transformation Tuesday! 

You may need to zoom in, sorry the picture quality isn’t great as created on my phone app! 

The photos from the Left: 

Top – Aug16  | middle -Oct16 | Bottom -Oct16 

Photos from the right:

Top – May17 | Middle – Apr17 | Bottom -Nar17 

Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t achieve something. Small achievements are just as important as those big developments and big achievements! 

I know I don’t have the time, money, or team around me to get me on the path to representing the country- that is a very very big yet distant dream that I may never achieve however, even if at the moment this dream is out of reach that doesn’t change my attitude towards the way I think about progression and achievement. Personal bests for me are important, to know that I have improved on a weakness after after receiving constructive criticism to them seeing the hard work pay off in the new scores is all I need to push me to want to be and to become better! 

Lovely message from a reader! 

I received this after publishing one of my blogs the other day.  I write these blogs to express my feelings and to also look back on achievements and memories. 

As I’ve said I love writing, sometimes writing stuff down can help to clear what ever I have bottled up in my mind. I’d much rather put feelings to paper than express them in conversation and my first couple of blogs really helped me get things off of my chest. I don’t ask anyone to read them, but I do like to look back and reflect! 

It’s really nice to see that I have at least one reader who is interesting in me blabbing on so thank you & keep up the hard work riding. It’s 100% worth the effort!! 😊

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