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I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

12 Mar

the equestrian life {and other technical details}

Given horses pretty much consume our time lately, it’s kinda crazy I haven’t posted more about it. But then I guess, there was that whole losing my voice thing, and the whole busy, busy, busy thing and well … with uploading photos, editing, posting … I just didn’t do any of it. And now I feel like my heart is bursting to tell you more about it!

I’m currently sitting in a golf cart, at a horse show, in front of our camper. We’re camping over the next two weeks while we’re here … and yes, we have a camper and not a tent, so it’s not like we’re roughing it or anything, but for the record … I do enjoy more than a thin pad to sleep on and a trickle of water in a shoebox to shower with!

Anyway. Seemed only fitting to write this post now.

And don’t worry … even though we spent most of last year at horse shows — so many I’m not sure I could count them — I promise not to recap every single one!

To give you an example of how many shows I’m talking about … here are the girls ribbons from 2013:

Wynter’s

Taylor’s

 I’ll try not to get too technical on you, but just give some basic information. :)

The riding discipline the girls do is Hunter/Jumpers. Wynter does hunters, and Taylor primarily does jumpers {with a few equitation classes here and there}. And there are two types of shows they do:

  • Local shows {that aren’t really “local” — they’re an average of two hours away — it just means they’re unrated shows and don’t count on the girls “professional” riding record}.
  • Rated shows, which are a bigger deal and do go on the girls permanent/professional record, and can be found all over the world.

That said, the only type of shows we’d done were local shows — until last August when Taylor did her first rated show in Kentucky. Since then, it seems like we’ve been in a fast-forward mode trying to get her record beefed up for college {when she goes to try out for a riding team}.

This particular show was at the Kentucky Horse Park and very, very different from what we’d been used to with our local shows! And actually, Taylor had ridden at the horse park when she was 12 for a Pony Club event. But it wasn’t a competition, it was a clinic that’s held every three years for Pony Club.

Needless to say … this was a big deal for her!

This is my very favorite photo I captured from the week.

Sorry … here comes some technicality … if you’re not interested, just skip over it! :)

When Taylor does Jumpers, it’s all about speed. Basically, the fastest time wins. But it’s not about being a cowboy and plowing over the jumps as fast as you can. It’s about walking your course, knowing how many strides between each jump, knowing what your horse can handle as far as quick turns and the best way to get to the next jump … and one hundred other things that I’m probably not even aware of. It’s about speed … but also skill {and safety!}.

Most of the time in her classes, there are two parts. The first, you need to go “clean” — which means not knocking down any rails, or poles, as you jump over them — and you also can’t have any time faults. You’re allotted a certain amount of time and you need to get through the course in that time.

The second part of her class is called the jump-off, and if you go clean as I’ve mentioned above, then you move on to the jump-off {if you don’t go clean, you don’t get to move on}. And the person who has the fastest time in the jump-off {with the least amount of faults} wins.

The two images I have posted here were taken on separate days. In the photo above, if you look at the monitor, you see she has 4 faults. That means she got a rail down. The good news is, the ride was her jump-off. So she’d gone clean in the first round and went on to the jump-off. Her time for the course was 42 seconds.

Technically, she could still get a good ribbon if the other competitors had more faults and/or a slower time.

And in the photo below, you can see on the monitor, Taylor’s time was 66.249 … she went clean … and moved on to the jump-off.

I hope that wasn’t too bad in the technical department!

Overall, Taylor ended up taking reserve champion in her division. It was a great experience for her and I’m so glad we were able to do it!

After Kentucky, the girls did a whole bunch of local shows, and then in October and November, Wynter got in on the action as they did three rated shows in Raleigh {with local shows on their weekends off from Raleigh}.

The video below is of one of Taylor’s jump-offs {and yes … maybe I do pray while she’s riding!}. At this particular show, Taylor won grand champion in her division. And extra special … she did it by placing 1st in each class! It’s all based on points, so one can still win grand champion even if they didn’t place first in each class.

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

At a different show in Raleigh, Taylor competed against some top riders {ex-Olympians even — although they were competing to train clients horses, different than competing strictly for themselves}, and she placed 2nd!

Taylor’s come a long, long way. It’s not been an easy road for her and this show we’re at in Florida has rocked us upside down and caused a lot of soul searching for my girl. We’re starting our fourth week … two weeks here, two weeks home, and two weeks back here again … and she’s still processing all she’s learning.

And then we have Wynter! This girl is following right in her sister’s footsteps! I shared about Wynter and her pony, Spanky a few months ago, but this girl has come a long way since then too! Here’s a photo of her doing crossrails with Spanky. As far as the ribbon department goes, it was slow going and she placed mostly in the bottom six, or didn’t place at all. But in the growth department {both personal and physical!}? Off the charts!!

She’s got a new horse … Wilber. :) And she moved up to showing in the short stirrup division. It’s kind of like going from training pants to big-girl underpants! Sorry for the crazy analogy, but it’s the first thing that came to mind!

I posted the below photo a week or so ago, but bear with me? This is Wynter and Wilber showing in Florida. So far she’s taken reserve champion three out of five times showing … in one of those she didn’t place, she was diagnosed with strep that morning {but more on that another time}!

I’m proud of her determination and budding passion for this sport. I’m telling y’all … horses are the best thing you can do for a girl! I’ve seen it in Taylor, and I’m seeing it all over again with Wynter.

I feel like they learn life isn’t just about them. But somehow they have a bigger to purpose to take care of this animal and grow as an equestrian and care-taker of their new best friend {and dare I say, first boyfriend?!}.

Below is a video I took of Wynter here in Florida a couple of weeks ago. It’s a little long {and probably boring if you’re not into the whole horse thing}, but it warms my heart to watch it and know how much it means to her to be riding this boy, and now showing in big-girl shows, in a big-girl division, with her big-girls pants {sorry, couldn’t resist!}.

And the last video is a bonus of her riding one of Taylor’s horses! That’s the best part about having two riding girls … they can exercise each others horses and save me some trainer expenses! :)

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}

{if you’re reading via email or rss feed, please click here to see the following video}


Posted in riding, taylor, wynter


3 Mar

and … we’re off again!

Not everyone can hear the silent language
between a horse and rider.  Not everyone
can trust their life with a 1200 lb animal. And
not everyone has the guts, blood, sweat, tears,
and dedication needed to be a part of this
world. But equestrians are no ordinary people,
and horses are no ordinary animals. The only
ones who truly understand this world are the
ones who are a part of it. {quote via tumblr}

I promise, I really was committed to meeting you here more often. But this happened and it’s taken every lovin’ ounce of energy I have to recover from it. And this morning we’re headed off to do it again. “You’re a glutton for punishment,” you might think? Nah, it’s not that.

The fact is, I love seeing this girl on a horse. When I watch her ride … time stands still {my heart too … them jumps be gettin’ high!}.

Taylor’s learning so much about who she is and what she’s capable of. This whole equestrian world is playing a huge part of that for her and I’m thrilled she has these opportunities to shape and mold her.

When I say I’m proud of her … it’s not for her performance {there were many classes she didn’t ribbon in during our last trip}, it’s for her accomplishments, her perseverance, her determination, and her growth.

And one more reason we’re heading back into this black hole of an energy suck? This girl right here! Can you say, “following in her sister’s footsteps?”


Posted in family photos, riding, taylor, wynter


28 Nov

for my girls …

Whenever you cross my mind,
I thank my God for you
and for the gift of knowing you.
Philippians 1:3 {Voice}

Taylor

Taylor … my precious firstborn … sweet girl, you hold a special place in my heart. You always have and you always will. I’ve always felt so protective of you and your heart. I want so much for you in this life, my love. And what I’ve finally come to realize? YOU want so much for you too! I can’t tell you how much peace it brings me to see the beautiful, mature, young woman you’ve become!

Our Father has His hand on you babygirl. Lean on Him, continue to trust in His plan for your life, and know I will ALWAYS be by your side loving you, cheering for you, and guiding you through.

Piper

Piper, I smile just thinking of you. My wide-eyed-soulful girl. You are a beautiful, precious girl Piper. I pray you take that truth and tuck it deep into your soul and never forget it. You have a deeper sense of the people around you than most others your age. You are a good friend. You’re thoughtful and caring.

The Lord created you for a special purpose … He created you, uniquely you. There’s no other like you Piper J. And I promise to always be here journeying alongside of you as we learn together what your place in this world looks like.

Always remember how loved you are, and how very, very thankful I am that you were given to me to guide through this life.

Wynter

My Wyntie. Oh sweet Wynt. I thought I had you all figured out, but you’ve been surprising me lately. Keeping me on my toes for sure as I try to navigate your emotions.

You’re a blessed girl Wynter. The Lord has blessed you with some amazing gifts, and I pray sweet Wynter, you learn how to harness these gifts to use for good things in your life … and in this world. Along with the gifts He’s given you, you’ve also been blessed with some challenges. “Blessed?” you might ask. “Yes, blessed.” Because blessed are those who can take the challenges allowed in their lives, overcome them, and use them for His glory.

I believe that is your story Wynter. And I can’t wait to watch the pages turn in your life.

Hunter

Hunter, my littlest blessing. You’ve completed our family sweet girl. I didn’t know how badly we needed you until you graced our family with your arrival. It seems you’ve been working to catch up with your sisters since the day you were born. They’ve had their bond formed and you’re struggling to find your place. Keep working sweet girl … keep your heart open and know how much you are loved.

You have a precious place in our family and in this world. There are great things in store for you my love and I can’t wait to watch them unfold!


Posted in blessed, family photos, girls, hunter, photography, piper, taylor, wynter


27 Sep

a perfect world …

At times, it amazes me to find out what my girls think about.

The other day I was driving here and there {and everywhere} with Hunter and Wynter. When out of the blue Hunter asks something about how so many of us got here. Not a “birds and the bees” type question {thank heavens!}. It was more of a “pyramid effect with people” type of question.

I took a deep breath and was about to answer when Wynter informed me, “I got this one mom.” She was sitting in the front with me, so as she was saying this to me, she also reached over, patted my arm, and nodded her nine-year-old-full-of-wisdom head with reassurance.

And then she proceeded to tell Hunter all about Adam and Eve, and the garden of Eden.

How God created Adam out of dust … how Eve was made with one of Adam’s ribs … how they disobeyed God and couldn’t live in the perfect garden anymore … and how Adam and Eve had children, who had children, who had children, and so on.

Hunter was satisfied with her answer — and was thrilled to find out that means she’s somehow, somewhere related to her little bestie at school! :)

But Wynter seemed somehow unsatisfied. And she talked about the garden again. And how they really shouldn’t have disobeyed God. And if they hadn’t, we could still be living in a perfect world.

“Can you imagine that, Wynt?” I asked.

Staring out the window, deep in thought, and from the depths of her soul, she answered, “I think about it all the time, Mom.”

And my heart kinda burst into bits.

For her. For me. For all of us.

“He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone …”
Revelation 21:4 {Message}

There seems to be so much pain and suffering all around us. Every which way we turn … tragedy after tragedy. It’s hard at times to hang on to the hope His promises bring.

For anyone suffering today. For anyone who — like my soulful Wynter — thinks about a perfect world “all the time,” I encourage you, as I’m encouraging myself and my littles, to cling to the Truth found in Romans 8:18, “Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us.”

If you have some extra time, it’d be so worth it to take a listen to the promises found in this song {based off of the two scriptures I’ve referenced in this post, and also from the pain of losing his first wife to cancer}.

Until that glorious day when all glory is revealed, I’m so thankful we have people around us to encourage, lift, and remind us of the hope found in Him.


Posted in deep thoughts, hunter, random, wynter


17 Sep

for girls like you :: featuring wynter AND a giveaway!

I met Wynter Pitts, founder & editor of For Girls Like You, where many of us meet each other … the Internet! She found me through my blog and the Mothers of Daughters blog and introduced me to her fab magazine, For Girls Like You.

For Girls Like You, is a ministry to young girls and their parents, that also includes a quarterly print magazine, journal, and other print and web resources. We have a passion and drive to introduce young girls to Christian values in a way that they are able to palate and digest, so they can walk passionately and boldly in who God has created them to be.

I love what Wynter is doing to point young girls towards Christ {more info below}. And let’s be honest, she gets a few extra bonus points because:

  • her name is Wynter — with a Y!
  • she has four girls too!

Wynter knows how much time we spend at the barn and how two of my girls are all about the horse! Given her readers are between the ages of 6-11 — prime “daddy, I want a pony” age — she asked if my Wynter would like to write a “horsey” article for her readers. Wynt was honored and decided to share about her time away at horse camp this past summer.

Wynt knew what an honor it was to be asked to contribute, but when she got the actual magazine in the mail, I think she was rather impressed with herself {as were her sisters … and let’s be honest, her momma too!}. But when she saw she was featured in the same magazine as DJ Tanner — ohgoodglory!! — she thought she’d made it big! :)

For Girls Like You is passionate about exposing girls to all the things they love {travel, positive role models, creative project, etc.} without the negative imagery and advertising that often appears in mainstream entertainment. Instead they want every article, interview, and photo to support a Christ-centered system for young girls!

As I mentioned, I believe strongly in what For Girls Like You is doing for young girls and am so excited to giveaway a two-year subscription!! Each magazine features many opportunities for your girls to contribute! From designing clothing to researching Biblical principles, there are special sections called “SPRINKLES” that are waiting for your daughter’s input!

For Girls Like You, is a ministry to young girls and their parents, that includes a quarterly print magazine, journal, and other print and web resources. Check them out online, on Facebook, and Twitter!

Giveaway details:

{what}
One winner will receive a two-year subscription to For Girls Like You.

{how}
~ leave a comment {any ol’ comment}
~ tweet the giveaway {but come back & leave a comment}
~ facebook the giveaway {but come back & leave a comment}
~ instagram the giveaway {but come back & leave a comment}
~ blog the giveaway {but come back and leave a comment}

{when}
Now through Friday, September 20 – midnight {est}


Posted in giveaway, random, riding, wynter