Wednesday, October 23, 2013


It's funny, 98% of the time when I don't blog it's because life is business as usual or nothing stands out, but recently I have had so much to say and no idea where to begin. So I'll start at the beginning and try not to overwhelm you.

As many people know the fall is a difficult time for me. I was 11 when I lost my mother in the fall of 1999 and there is not a day that passes that I don't miss her, or try to be more like her. She was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in 1997 and while we had more time then they originally thought, it still wasn't enough. My mom was a fighter until the end, she wanted nothing more than to watch us grow old, but sometimes god has other plans. I watched my moms battle with cancer daily. There were ups and downs, struggles, tears, fear, and even some joy. It was heart wrenching and life changing and now I couldn't see how my life could be any different.

There are a few scars and for me the biggest one was being proactive and knowledgeable about my own cancer risk. I had liked to think that I would never be effected by it, but it's funny how life can change in an instant. Earlier this year my doctor discovered some changes. One was located in the same region as my mom's. it struck a deep rooted fear, I don't think I could fight the way she did. After the first rounds of tests, appointments, and tears, decisions about a long term plan had to be made.

I was lucky enough to get an appointment with the high risk cancer clinic at UVA and sit down with some pretty amazing specialists. They give you charts and graphs that show your risk levels and how it compares to the average, map out long term screening plans, get genetic testing for the BRCA mutation, and poke and prod as much as they deem necessary. Seeing how much steeper the slope was on my risk chart about sent me into a tale spin.

What I learned was that mentally it was exhausting to go through the screening, constantly! You get strangely comfy with certain things because all the doctors want to poke and prod you. Just because you don't have the BRCA gene, doesn't mean it's not genetic.

Ultimately my doctors and I decided that the best plan for me moving forward is to have a bilateral mastectomy. That's more scary to type than it is to read. I am going to UVA Thursday and my surgery is first thing Friday.

I have gone back and forth on wether this was something I wanted to share. I am a very private person, but the affects of this cross over into all aspects of my life, and I am hoping that my journey can bring awareness to a wide spread problem that affects many people. I would like to thank everyone who has been a shoulder for me to cry on, has lent me hand, or has talked me off the proverbial ledge. This journey is far from over and I know that without the support I have received I would not be able to take this important step in my long term health.

I am sure there will be many more tears, and grumpy days, but today I'm going to enjoy my last regular day for a while, play with my ponies, thank my friends and clients, and feel blessed I have all of them in my life. Because without them I would be lost.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

You need a nap!!

Apparently I need one, according to Jenn anyway... We are headed home from a very successful weekend at jersey fresh. Jenn and GV Tuscany aka mo rocked it from start to finish finishing fourth.

It is so fun to be able to help Jenn at the shows as we have been friends for quite awhile and can spend hours laughing about our past funny trips. Which might not have been laughing matters at the time! I have known mo for a while and it is fantastic to see him back in action, rocking it!!!

I have to give a big shout out to everyone that helped put on the three day at jersey fresh, they did a phenomenal job. They had fantastic food and goodies for the riders and grooms all weekend. I am sure everyone will agree with me but the pizza and beer at the end of cross country was the perfect way to end the evening. We had a little party in our isle recapping the day. The courses were open and galloping and I felt like it gave the riders plenty to do. Every time I go to Jersey it keeps improving and I can't wait to head back next year.

I must say that the most exciting news of the weekend is that baby ned is entered in his first ever event, those beginner novice jumps never looked so big!! But they say there is no time like the present, right ? Ned has a big few weeks with cross country schools and lots of field trips to make sure he is prepared.

Jenn might be right about that nap!! There's something about being on the road that makes a girl sleepy....

Here's to another amazing weekend getting to do what I love and to many more to come!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Those that inspire

Sometimes life throws things our way that just seem downright cruel, but the thing that I find helps me get through it, is my horses and the people they have brought into my life. 

This week my heart is heavy because one of the people that inspires me has suffered a horrible loss.  

Colleen Rutledge is on the top of the list of people that I have met since I moved out east.  I knew of Colleen long before I met her, everyone knows her amazing horse Shiraz, her crazy children, her wild russells, and her horse show family, but most people don't know her. 

When I first met Colleen it was at Jersey Fresh in 2011, I was there grooming for Laura Vello and Dillon was stabled across from Laura.  I actually met Ciana first, she came running up to me with a huge smile on her face jumped in to my arms and was dragging me around introducing me to the animals before she even knew my name.  Sallie (Colleen's mom, super groom, and head cheerleader) introduced herself, and in between taking care of the horses, while Colleen was out walking, was trying to convince CiCi that not everyone wanted to be her friend.  I was in awe. They were just a great family making it work.  That night we went to a dinner that Jersey had and I got to meet her in the flesh. She was hilarious, charismatic, down to earth, and honest.  It was humbling and awe inspiring to have an honest candid conversation with a four star rider.  

Colleen was interested in my horses and my riding, and offered plenty of advice. By the end of the weekend I felt an instant connection with Colleen because of what our families had been through, since my mother passed away when I was young. Post Jersey, Colleen has helped me in so many ways, she opened up her farm to me and Lena for the training three day at Waredaca, helped me in the ten minute box, gave me the best pep talk ever (multiple times), catch rode a horse for me in his first novice when I was very broken, helped me survive at VaHT when I couldn't even lift a water bucket (and was trying to compete), has given me advice, and some of the best experiences. 

They say that people come into your life for a reason and I am positive that my life has been changed for the better since I have met the Rutledge's.  Colleen and her family are an inspiration, everyday I will keep them in my thoughts, and feel honored to be a part of their journey.