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Getting my butt kicked by two amazing women!

So we are now T-1 year to the 2022 Gaucho Derby and it is time to get real and start training and preparing! Today my blog is going to focus on what I’m undertaking for training. I am insanely lucky to have Malia Melody, an amazing personal trainer, as one of my farrier clients and friends! Even more luck going my way, she is open to trading skills! So I now have my very own personal trainer/certified yoga instructor/nutritionist in exchange for trimming her two lovely appaloosa mares. Furthermore, I have an insanely talented dressage instructor practically in my backyard. I’ve been riding with Marina Parris-Woodhead from Hidden Oaks Horses of Joseph, Oregon on and off for years (as finances allowed). January 2021, I started taking lunge line lessons with her twice a month in order to REALLY develop my seat and “feel” with any horse I may get on. Both these phenomenal women are going to be critical to kicking my butt and getting me to where I need to be to be successful in the Derby.

I see physical fitness and endurance as a big personal challenge in the derby. I’m not saying that because I think I’m a big ol' slouch, but the race starts at the end of February which is literally the exact time of year I am usually the most unfit! At this point in the year (as proven by my current belly jiggle) I have survived the holidays, and months of darkness and ice where I‘m physically doing a small fraction of what I do in the summer months. Not only that but it’s COLD and I want comfort food!!! In the past I’ve never really worried about putting on a few pounds in the winter because I always loose it when summer comes around and I’m moving from pre sunrise until sunset. Next winter I just CANNOT let that happen!

Good habits take time to develop. I have decided it’s time to start right now with getting in good exercise habits that I can carry and maintain through next winter leading up to the Derby. I have been working with Malia for a little over a month now and she has developed two personalized workouts for me to help develop balance, release tension and muscle binding in my overworked areas and build strength in my weak areas. After the first week I noticed massive improvement in my riding and body awareness. After a month I can honestly say I feel like a completely different person! It has literally been YEARS since my hips and shoulders have felt so free. I still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to relieve a lot of the asymmetry in my body, but I’m off to an almost unbelievable start. Phase 3 should be starting soon!

When I tell people I am taking riding lessons, I often get funny looks and the question “don’t you already know how to ride?” My answer is “no matter how good you are at something, there is always someone better and something more you can learn.” My riding has improved immensely from the first lesson in January to (I think) the 5th lesson yesterday. I have a much more fluid seat; I’ve lowered my center of balance and gained confidence in using my core to partner with the horse rather than reins and legs to control the horse. The name of my game is body awareness and separation of church from state. In other words, can my lower body move independent from my upper body while maintaining rhythm and communication with the horse. Let’s just say it’s getting better…there’s nothing more humbling than when the kids lesson horse (Bob pictured in the blog photo) rats you out because you are bracing a muscle in some obscure body part or because you aren’t using your core or seat correctly. A huge shout out to Bob! He has officially been added to the list of horses I will forever be indebted to for making me a better rider and person!

One year from now, I should have crossed the Gaucho Derby Finish Line. I KNOW I won’t get there without support. There are not words to express how grateful I am to have Malia and Marina on my team! I cannot wait to see how far this team can elevate me in one year.

If you want more details on what I’m doing or how to contact Malia or Marina, PLEASE reach out to me and I will get you where you need to go!

If you feel so inclined, donations to my Derby Fund are ALWAYS appreciated and welcome! Donate Here

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I am so impressed & eager to continue the work with Brenda. She is a wonderful example of how dedication, seeking out & embracing opportunities, & even open mindedness to ongoing challenges, can bring goals & dreams to fruition. I’m excited to provide some of the stepping stones towards her journey & goals!

Here’s to ongoing butt kickin’! (Official Dresssge term for position & riding skill development 😉) Marina

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