• "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of it's creed: "We hold these truths to self-evident that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be to the sit down together at the talbe of brother-hood...I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of character." -Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial
  • "But when a long train of abuses and usurptions pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them uder absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards to their future security." -Declaration of Independence
  • "There are no safe choices, Miss Temple. Only other choices." -A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  • "If you are a painter, paint. It doesn't mean you have to paint Jesus into every picture, just paint good. If you paint good enough, then people will aask why you do what you do." -Issac Slay; The Fray (on why the band doesn't use the name of Jesus in every song)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Books and Bookworms

As most everybody who knows me knows that I'm a self-proclaimed bookworm. I LOVE books. I've been known to devour a 1,000 page novel in less than a week, depending on my schedule. My parents can't take me into a bookstore or the library without the 50/50 chance of me walking out with less money and one more book to store on my already sagging bookshelf (yes, my bookshelf is in fact sagging with several cubbies double-stacked with books. True story). Most of my closest and dearest friends will spend pretty much all day in Barnes and Noble drinking Starbucks coffee and pouring over the dozens upon dozens of books that the store has to offer. It saddened me when I got an email from Borders saying due to financial troubles, the company was closing its doors (I honestly nearly cried). It wasn't even a day after I got my new DROID phone that I had downloaded the Amazon Kindle with several free classics onto it (I now have four books on there so far). These (and other) examples are all true about me when it comes to books. So when I tell people I'm a voracious bookworm-I'm not kidding. And I owe it all to my parents, who opened up a different dimension in my imagination when they taught me how to read when I was two. I blame them for creating the book-monster I am today (not that I regret it, but it their fault lol). So what does all this rambling about my love/passion/possibly unhealthy obsession with books have to do with anything?

Simple: James Patterson wrote an article for CNN exposing possibly one of the most tragic problems we, as a country, are facing today. Problem: parents, schools, mentors, role models, every single adult in this world are failing kids (especially boys) by not turning them onto books. We whine and gripe about the condition we're leaving our government in to our kids, who are our future, but if said kids grow up not able to read or write properly, then what are we whining about in the first place? They won't be able to take over and try to run what's left of our country's government because THEY CAN'T READ!! The solution? It's simple: in order to bring up our kids' reading abilities, we have got to them away from their computers, away from the tvs and video games and READ!

I've heard parents say that their kids just don't like to read. Well, Mr. Patterson has a solution for that: "The best way to get kids reading more is to give them books that they'll gobble up -- and that will make them ask for another." That's right. Simply find books that will appeal to them the most. Then parents will say, "I don't know what they will like." Pardon me, but that's bull. You're the parent; the person who has swaddled, coddled, cooed, your child from time he/she was born (or adopted, whichever the case maybe). You know what your child likes, dislikes, what makes them happy, sad, mad, their dreams, their goals, what music they like, etc. You know your kid the best. So if your child likes animals, go to the library or go online and find books on animals. If they like history, there's books on historical fiction. If they like a cartoon on tv like X-Men or Yu-Gi-Oh, go into the manga/anime or comic book section and show them that their favorite tv shows are based off of books (it might also appeal to them to tell them that by reading the manga or comic books, they will already know what has happened by the time the show gets around to it; most times, I've found the manga are at least a year ahead of the episodes). Or better yet, take them to the library or bookstore and let them explore the shelves and see what interests them. You might just be surprised at what peaks their interest. 

Mr. Patterson also warns parents to not tell their kids that a book is too hard or easy. Case in point: by the time I was thirteen, I was already reading Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Granted, my reading comprehension levels were way above my grade, but the point is, my parents very rarely told me I couldn't read a certain book. Yes, while they made sure I stayed clear of the romance section of Barnes and Noble for obvious reasons, they also never put limitations or restrictions on what I read. I pretty much had free range of the library and bookstores and what they found is that even though I would pretty read anything and everything they put in front of me, they also found that I would (and still do) gravitate towards the science fiction/fantasy section. So don't discourage your kids from reading what interests them. Even with all the controversy that surrounded Harry Potter, the seven-part series turned thousands upon thousands of kids, both girls and boys alike, onto reading. 

Parents shouldn't leave it up to the public school system to make sure their kids find books they like and actually read them. While many schools have great programs to get kids to read, most schools, sadly, actually don't give a crap. They would rather put the money they receive from the government in sports equipment rather than education. I lost count of how many times my mom and dad had to fight the school in order to let me go into an advanced reading class (which never happened). But, on the flip side, there are the exceptions of schools having great programs or simply individual teachers creating incentives for their class to read more (my second grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade teachers were a part of this: my second-grade teacher had an incentive program for the class to get them to read more. Basically, the student with the highest number of books read would get the coolest prize out of the treasure chest. Needless to say, my childhood best friend and I were the top two who the most [I won by just a couple books]. My fourth grade teacher set aside thirty minutes or so and read to us [one of the books was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone]. My fifth grade teacher set aside a set time period where we could read a book of our own choice, but at the end of each book, we had to write up a small book report and discuss the book with her. I'm pretty sure I was the only one in the class who came up to her with the most book reports to talk about. LOL).

In the article, Mr. Patterson discusses other options and websites to help parents get their kids reading more (I realize I hadn't done it before, but here's the link for Mr. Patterson's article  I think this article needs to go viral and get passed along any chance we got. Because, let's face it, by not getting our kids to read more, we're failing them creatively and academically. Reading a book, whether it's sitting on a shelf or downloaded onto a Nook or Kindle, opens doors to new worlds and dimensions that we cannot possibly fathom. It sharpens and hones a child's imagination. Without reading, we would not have anymore teenagers vying to publish their own stories; kids learning how to create new works of art; kids jamming out a new piece of music they simply created on a whim; children going outside and sitting under a tree, ready to open the new novel they have been dying to read for the longest. Without reading, we would lose all that and more. 

Earlier, I may have come across as harsh and brash, but this is a subject that I feel needs to be talked about, discussed, and then done something about. Cause if we don't do something now...there won't be a future to talk about later...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One more month!

Whoa, hard to believe that I only have one more month until Marsha and I take Raider and Balou to the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Tennessee. I'm getting more and more pumped up as that weekend gets closer, but to be honest, it's also bittersweet. Cause it also means that I have to let him go for adoption. Even though I really want too, I won't be able to take Raider home with me. Not only do I not have the money but I also don't have the space for him.

So besides still looking for sponsorships, I've also started looking for people locally that would like to adopt him. With his personality and the way he works, my parents and I have been constantly telling people he would make an awesome 4-H Colt to Maturity project for a kid who has ridden for a few years. He's a great little horse with a big heart and he deserves a good home to go to at the end of this, even if it can't be mine.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Marketing Strategies

This week, the next step of my business plan is to write up a marketing strategy. Honestly, I've been a little more excited about this part than the other steps. Probably because I have a better idea of how to research what I need than the others or probably because I already have an idea of how this step is going to work out. Or maybe it's just because it gave me an excuse to research and print off the company profile and marketing strategies for Starbucks. I don't know. The only way I can justify printing off five pages of nothing but Starbucks is the company has been in business selling freaking coffee, so they must've done something right in the marketing process, right? Exactly. Moving on.

So as I said, I'm pretty excited about this step in the business plan process. But while I'm working on this step, I'm still working on steps 1 and 2 from the past couple of weeks. So I basically have about two weeks of work to catch up on and only one more week to gather what I've got together and get it to Marsha so she can look it over. Yes, it is procrastination and yes, it is a bad habit that should be broken, but honestly, I find it as a good motivating tool to get things done as long as it is channeled properly. And I honestly have gotten better about my procrastination. See how I'm getting caught up two weeks ahead of deadline? There was a time I was still working on putting my 4-H project together two hours before it had to be judged. True story. Ask my mom.

But I digress slightly. Really, all I have left is to get together a mission statement, a name, and a description of the business like qualifications, location, how it'll serve clients, etc. It may seem a lot, but honestly, it's not. Or at least I don't think that it is. Or else, I'm not letting myself think like it is. Either way, it'll get done. Ask my mom.

I can't really think of much else to talk about with this project right now, so I guess I'll just leave it off for now and either start on another blog post of a different nature or just go back to researching and see what other things I can come up with. Hmm...definitely gives me a good excuse to research Barnes and Noble. Hmmm...


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big Bend Horse Show

Raider did very well at the Big Bend Horseman's Association show on Saturday. I showed him in Novice Western Horsemanship, Novice Trail, and Novice English Equitation. I was going to show him in the Senior Poles, but by the end of the day, everyone was extremely hot and exhausted, so I simply scratched him. In the Horsemanship class, he received a fifth place ribbon; in Trail, first; and in Equitation, he got second place. Even though he kept getting into trouble all day outside the arena (mostly it was getting into people's space and being downright nosy-typical little boy behavior), he was extremely well. We did have a bit of a trailering problem in the morning, but Marsha and I think that it was because we loaded him last, so he thought he didn't have enough room to get into the trailer. I was very happy and proud of how Raider handled all those people and horses around him; he took everything in stride.

This week has been pretty quiet at the barn with Marsha, Splash, and Balou in Texas at the Supreme Mustang Makeover. With everything quiet, it has given Raider and I chance to really work more with our right-lead (which he's finally getting) and starting on our simple lead changes. Even though he needs help getting into his right-lead, he's really getting the hang off getting into his left lead quickly. He's been getting faster and faster with it everyday.

Today, I also set up four cones in a square and practiced some foundation drills for barrel racing. After practicing the drills for a few minutes, he started getting the hang of it and his turns got smoother. Hopefully, tomorrow his turns will be even smoother than today. I'm also hoping that by the time he goes to Tennessee, Raider will have a nice barrel foundation under him, if not at least trotting around the barrels nicely. I also plan on doing some pole bending on him. I've already played around with the pattern around some tires, now I just need to take the poles that my dad made me over to Marsha's and play around with it more.

Other than that, not much else has been going on. Like I said, with Marsha in Texas, it's been very quiet around the barn.

So I guess that's it for now.

God Bless,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Last week in a nutshell...

Because the past week or so has been absolutely crazy, I have been having trouble figuring out how to start a new post on a new mustang update. So I'm just going to tell you what has been going on in a nutshell. Hopefully after this, I'll have a better time of getting the words from my head to the computer. So anyway, where to start?

Well, on Saturday, August 27, Marsha was holding a Dressage Under the Stars nighttime show. It was really cool. The show started at 7pm and it ran until almost 1am (I didn't stay that long; my parents and I went home long before then). Watching the dressage riders and horses do their tests as the sun went down and then being bathed in the glow of the arena lights was really cool; just as cool as being at a nighttime rodeo or barrel race. But what does the dressage show have to do with an update on Raider? Cause I actually showed him in it!

I had actually decided to do this about two weeks before the show and Marsha and I decided that Introduction Test B would be good to show him in. Intro Test B is just a simple walk/trot test and I have actually done it before during a dressage clinic on MJ. So it was only a matter of brushing off the cobwebs of what I remembered (which was pretty darn near all of it-I actually only forgot one sequence of the test) and working Raider on it in a dressage saddle...for the first time. In fact, some of the pictures I've posted on here with him in the dressage saddle is his first time in it, so he adapted very well to the weight and feel of it.

After working a little over a week in the dressage saddle and working on certain aspects of the test, we rode through our test on Saturday evening. He did extremely well and took fourth place with a 58% on his test! I was very happy with what he did. The only thing he spooked at was the judges' table, which it seemed that several of the horses were doing the same thing too. But I was very happy that instead of bolting (which is what he did that morning while practicing), he only bulged the inside shoulder in a bit and went into a bit of a counter-bend. Which wasn't too bad and he came back to me anyhow and went back to work just fine. Needless to say, he got Sunday off from work. ^_^

Then last Saturday was the Leon County Horseman's Association (or LCHA) monthly show. Marsha and I took her Supreme mustang, Splash, and Raider and while Marsha showed Splash in several different classes, I decided to take things a little slower and just showed Raider in three classes: English Equitation, Western Horsemanship, and Trail (all walk/trot of course; we're still working on getting the right-lead canter on him). I was a little nervous as I went into each class, but he took it all in stride and won blue ribbons in all of his classes! He did an excellent job and was a complete gentleman the entire time we were there. The only problems we had in the trail class was the sidepassing over the log to the left. We've been having some issues in him not moving his hips along with his shoulders going to left, so I wasn't too surprised when he tried to pivot on his hind instead of sidepass. But eventually, we somewhat got it and he still managed to take first. He did have his cute moments though; we've got pictures of him sticking his entire head in the hay bag and all you can see are his ears. I'll have to grab those photos off my parents' computer so I can upload some of them here.

But he did so well, Marsha and I are going to take him to the Big Bend Horseman's Association (BBHA) show this Saturday. I plan on doing more classes with him, including a game class and pole bending as I ride MJ too. So I have a pretty full day on Saturday, not to mention the barrel race on Sunday that I'm taking MJ to in Pavo, GA. Hopefully, he does just as well, if not better, especially on his sidepassing.

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah! I've also started a sort of side-job alongside training Raider. It's called the American Mustang Apprentice program and what it's about is while training Raider, I have to create and implement a business plan for a horse training business and promote what I'm doing with training a wild mustang. Some of the things I have to do with training is to create a business plan for my horse training business, keep a time log of what I'm doing, create a business expense record system, and create and implement a campaign promoting the awareness, training, and adoption of the mustangs through different media outlets such as Facebook, blogging, magazines, newspapers, etc. I have 12 weeks to get everything done, but luckily, instead of the 12 weeks being up when the Tennessee competition ends (like I originally thought), it ends in November. So far, I'm into week 2, so I'm a little behind in the blogging aspect, but I did get everything else on the list done.

Just another little thing I've added to my plate, but I'm pretty sure I can handle it. I just have to get my time management a little more organized so I can get everything I want to get done, done before I go to bed at night. Which, speaking of bedtime, it's about that time now. So I'll leave off with what I got and post more updates and perhaps a couple seperate thought-processes soon.

Goodnight and God Bless,