2015-12-15: Hi! You're probably here because you did a Google search for 'plus sized horseback riders' or you saw my content quoted elsewhere. There are a couple of things I'd like you to know.

I am still here! But I am living away from my horses and not riding often. I could tell you a lie and say that I am, but I have always endeavored to give you the truth here. As a result, I'm not feeling terribly motivated to write blog posts and I feel out of touch with the community.

I'd love for you to stay a while and look back through the archives. Visit the links listed below. We still have an active forum community and I post on the Facebook page from time to time.

I have tentative plans to try to get more involved in the horse world in 2016, and I will absolutely share whatever that adventure becomes with you, so keep checking back!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bring it on, 2014!

It has been a couple of years since I have gone into a new year with any clear vision for the 365 days to follow. So often, the holiday season depletes me to the point that all I can think about is being able to clear my head after it's all over and done with and get some rest.

This year has been no exception. Some of you may know I work an additional physically demanding waitressing job during the holiday season and my primary job can be influenced by poor weather affecting my company's infrastructure, so with back to back weekly storms for the last few weeks, it goes without saying that I have been both physically and emotionally drained for weeks now.

We have just one more holiday celebration tomorrow with G's mother's part of the family, which is traditionally always on New Year's Day (a bit of a relief considering how many different places we have to divide our time between during the holiday!), we are wrapping things up for another year.

Unlike previous years, however, I feel a renewed sense of motivation for productivity, goodness and self development. I started drafting a list of wishes and resolutions for 2014 in my paper journal a couple of days ago when I found myself with a few free moments and a glass of wine. So, here I share with you the stream of consciousness that is my desire for the new year. Please share yours in the comments below!

- Spend more time reading and writing. These are things that I love to do and rarely have a problem doing once I actually make myself sit down to do it. Finding myself unbothered by other, more "present" distractions can be difficult. The plan is to enforce a 1 hour daily, timed if necessary, alternating timespace in my day for reading or writing. Doesn't matter if it's good, just matters that I am doing it. Eventually, it will be habit and a cherished part of my day, though I am sure it will begin feeling painful and forced.

 -  Publish (e-publish, possibly) at least one piece of fictional writing in 2014 and build my portfolio as both a blogger and writer of fiction. I have made some connections to begin to explore my options - might as well make that hour a day writing count for something, right? I would also like to get into my options as far as guest blogging and possibly cultivate a non-horse related blog for my other body positivity/feminist ramblings and rants.

- Write at least 4 blog entries per month (preferably weekly!) and integrate at least 1 guest blog or review entry per month. Here is where all of you can be helpful in keeping me accountable. Shout at me on the fanpage if necessary. And if you are interested in guestblogging or writing a review, please see this page.

- Get the Etsy shop for my bling saddle pads - Sweet Angel Custom Bling Saddlepads and spend some time promoting and working at this. This is something I really enjoy doing and again, it falls into lack of productivity. During any time but the holiday, my work schedule allows for me to work on other things in my own time, and this is something I want to pursue more.

- Go swimming once per week. Everybody says "lose weight" every year and I was really tempted this year. I have put on a little bit of weight through bad eating habits in the last month or two but when I really got down to it, it is not about losing weight and being "skinnier". I have come to terms with my body in any state that it is in, I truly have, but I have not been feeling good or energetic. Once I get moving, I feel like continuing. I got a new waterproof MP3 player for Christmas from G, for the purpose of my lap swimming - so this is something I am going to make time for once per week, and hopefully it will lend itself to other things.

- Attempt to do at least 2 "social" things per month outside of the things I do with G. This one is as much for him as it is for me. He insists I should be out doing more social activity. So this will be a movie or a coffee or a trail ride with a girlfriend or a group of friends at least twice per month. (There, are you happy? Haha, just kidding!)

- Get out of our apartment by the end of 2014. This is one both G and I set together. I want this to mean a house with a property for the horses to be with us. All I know is we are outgrowing our apartment with the sheer volume of our "stuff", soooo...

But Amanda, you don't have any horse related goals.


- Ride Rex. I have talked about this OVER AND OVER AND OVER. A few months ago, I started a small savings fund and have been putting away a little bit at a time. I already have enough for a month of training on him in the spring. My parents have me nearly convinced to ride him myself and a strong motivator for that is that I could then, instead, use the money to take him and Bronwyn out to trail rides, clinics, and other fun stuff. I am fully capable and able to ride him myself, I just have to DO IT.

Rex's whole story is truly about false starts. Every year since he was two or three, I've gone through the motions that he was going to be ridden. All the ground work, lunging with a saddle, bridling him - I have even been on him a couple of times. But I keep making excuses. For him, this is old hat, for me this is some kind of mental block, I truly believe. I am going to punch a hole right in that wall this year. Particularly because if I don't, it will block the next wish/resolution.

- Clinic Bronwyn. This might be a cattle penning clinic. You never know.

- Canter Bronwyn. Yes, we've cantered before. This is more about getting the pair of us to the fitness level necessary to canter in a balanced and collected way.

- Spend more time with the ponies. Also, this little girl: 

Obviously not a recent picture.
Expect to see more Lola in 2014. Sweet thang.

Overall, I want 2014 to be a year of moving and shaking. Focusing on the things that I love to do. Allowing myself to be myself. Embracing everything that comes my way. Understanding that I cannot always be in control, and to trust others when that happens. Giving more value to my time. Taking care of myself. Pursuing my goals.

I'm going to be honest and say I've had a couple of theme songs leading me into this mindframe, I think. Don't laugh, now.

Aaand then... for the purpose of ringing in the new year, I bring you this!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dr. Temple Grandin, December 3rd, 2013

You know when something belongs on your bucket list but you've never put it there because it doesn't occur to you that it might be a possibility or something that you could make happen? Yeah, that's what seeing Dr. Temple Grandin speak in public was for me.

When my mother and I found out that she was coming to Truro, NS, about a four hour drive from my place, and we could head out there while combining a trip to make connections to a new forever home for a dog, it was a pretty easy decision for me to reschedule a dentist appointment and postpone a nacho night, since this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

As the daughter of a livestock producer (small scale as it is), I have particular interest in her influence on the welfare of meat animals, and as 50% of all cattle and pigs being slaughtered in North America today are being slaughtered in facilities that employ her strategies, that's kind of a big deal. She has a unique way of looking at the processing of commercial meat without attaching emotion to it - while still employing empathy.

Dr. Grandin was in the area to attend a conference on autism as, if you weren't aware, she is one of the most recognized adults with autism and, in addition to her work with animals, is a well known author and "inside voice" about issues surrounding the autism spectrum, but is a friend of the former Nova Scotia Agricultural College (now the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture) and insisted that she get a chance to "do some animal talks" while she was in the area. My mom is an NSAC alumni (she took a course called "Horse Care", hehe).

When Dr. Grandin spoke at the NSAC campus a few years back, it was the first time that the 400-seat Alumni theatre had been filled to capacity, which we didn't know. We were dawdling around town after making connections to deliver the dog when a friend of mine living in the area advised me that we should get to campus if we wanted to be able to get a seat, since an hour and a half before the doors even opened (which was 30 minutes before the talk was to begin!), there was already a line up. We motored over and found a line around the corner of the building, 3 or 4 people wide in some places. I hopped out of the car and mom went to park it. By the time that she got back, the line had doubled.

And the line got longer after that! We filled the Alumi theatre (we were fortunate to get inside), and they set up two on campus locations for people to view live streaming (and it was available online as well). It looked like the satellite locations to watch live streaming were pretty full, too.

We got in and settled in and I couldn't stop grinning. Dr. Grandin received a standing ovation when she took the stage. It was clear that I was not the only person THOROUGHLY STOKED to see this legend in person.

She was exactly like you would imagine her to be - from her enthusiasm to her outfit to the no-nonsense common sense information that she provided. From what I could gather, she had given a talk to livestock producers earlier in the day that would I would have found really interesting in addition to the lecture she gave us on animal behaviour and how to prevent fear memories in animals.

After the slideshow and lecture, we  moved on to the Q&A period, which she clearly was looking forward to (and I sometimes felt like she was pushing through the slideshow specifically to get there). The passion and enthusiasm that she spoke with made it really evident how invested she is in the well being of animals. She got another standing ovation when she left - and because we had a long trip to get home and the crush of people moving up into the foyer to have books signed by her was, quite frankly, overwhelming, we headed home. (Also, secretly, I did not want to "fangirl" in front of her...)

If you're interested, they put the primary talk on Youtube, but sadly didn't include the Q&A, which, in my opinion, was the best part!