out of sync

Saturday, August 27, 2016

During a riding lesson, my trainer began addressing one of my bad habits.

Sometimes, when I'm cantering, I don't always follow the movement with my elbows.

I'm concentrating on other things. I get stiff. Disconnected. Out of sync with the horse.

Once she pointed it out, I was better able to focus and fix it.

What a difference it made!

Amadeus immediately became more light and forward-no surprise there. His movement was no longer blocked.

She continued on to say that the next thing that would likely happen was that I would start following with my elbows..but in backwards rhythm.

The best way to address this is to let your elbows go still and allow the horse to pull you back in sync.

Isn't it funny how that can relate to our relationship with God?

Whether we get distracted by school or work or personal issues, sometimes...

Sometimes, we just end up out of sync.

And sometimes we're trying to establish the rhythm, but of our own accord, not His.

The solution is the same:

Be still and allow Him to pull you back in sync, back in rhythm.

Be still and know that He is God. 

Hey, guys! Just some thoughts and some pictures of the horses in my life :) Hope you all are well!


The San Juan Island Adventure: Superpod, Orcas, Akhal Tekes-OH MY!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

(Featuring the beautiful photography of my mom and my sketchy iPhone pictures. )

My time on San Juan Island was split between two things:

Horses and killer whales.

“Ashlyn, do you mean to tell me that you went to an island in the Pacific Northwest to a convention about cetacean conservation and you got involved with horses?”


As mentioned in this post, I visited Sweet Water Farm, an eventing facility that raises Akhal Tekes. I sent the owner a Facebook message about a week before we left for Friday Harbor and scheduled a dressage lesson. I also arranged transportation with one of the island's bus services. This is going to lead into a story, so stay with me.

I worked out with the bus transit owner whether or not they could drop me off at this farm.

They said yes.

I gave them the address.

They were all like, “Yeah, we go right by there! We can drop you off! Just let us know what time you need to be picked up and we can work it out with the driver!”

I have emails to prove this.

So, 9AM Monday morning, my mom and I board the bus. At first, we were the only passengers, but then a family from Utah(I think) boarded as well. And then the bus driver and the dad of the family kept trying to set me up with the seventeen-year-old son??? It was awkward. Mostly because everyone(except me. My mom thought it was strange but hilarious) seemed totally okay with it.

I'm still scarred.

I digress.

We start off toward whatever direction...west?...whatever. My point is that the bus pulls away from the curb and leaves town. The driver is very friendly and tells us stories about the island. Cool, cool. Long story short, we had to turn around twice because we accidentally passed Sweet Water Farm because there was a lot of talking and not much looking-at-addresses going on. It's all cool as we get there on time.

Now, listen, because this will come up again later in this post.

I confirmed three times with the driver that he would be picking me up at the driveway of the farm at 12:15 PM. THREE TIMES THIS WAS CONFIRMED.


Mom and I walk up the driveway of the farm, we meet the owner and her working student, everyone is friendly, the horses are gorgeous, it's all great.

I rode a lovely cremello gelding named Kegas. We had a stellar lesson. By stellar, I mean all of my bad habits bit me directly in the butt and I learned so much and it was amazing. Like, Kegas was super sweet and patient, but he wasn't going to let any of my crappy riding slide, you know?

Rita(the owner's name, if I remember correctly, I'm so bad with names lately, I'm sorry) was an excellent instructor. She didn't even yell at me, though she was within rights to because I lost all ability to use an outside rein correctly. To be honest, I wasn't that great at it in the first place. She was so patient. I loved her.

I finally got the hang of actually using my outside rein properly and Kegas was probably having a internalized Hallelujah chorus. I am so sorry for sucking so bad, little blonde horse dude. I was grinning the entire lesson because I was just thinking, “OKAY WOW I SUCK BUT I AM LEARNING SO MUCH AND I CAN TAKE THIS HOME TO USE WITH AMADEUS YAY!”

After the lesson, Rita kindly introduced me to the rest of her herd. The broodmares and yearlings were just lovely. So friendly and sweet and the love between Rita and them is so visible. I adored it. We spent about fifteen minutes giving the horses' scratches and pats. I helped Rita and Jessica(again, bad with names, pretty sure this was the name of the working student), move the geldings. I was planning on watching them move the broodmare herd to a new pasture, which would have been cool, except that it was getting close to my pick-up time and I really didn't want to miss the bus since Google Maps said it was a two-hour walk back to town.

So, we say our thank yous and goodbyes. Mom and I walk back to the end of the driveway to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait.

Where is the bus? Is the driver lost? Is he dead? Has the apocalypse happened while we were gone?

The driver gave us his number, but I apparently wrote it down wrong because it's disconnected or something.

So, after about forty minutes, Mom calls the main office. The owner is all like, “Oh, wow, yeah I'll give him a call and send him your way and if he's busy, I'll come get you myself.”

Another half hour passes. No bus.

So, we call again.

“Yeah, I'm probably going to have to come get you myself,” said the dude.

We wait a little longer. Call again. Nobody answers. Okay, cool, the owner is probably on his way.

I don't remember the exact timing, but it was close to two hours later when the owner pulls up and is all like, “Oh, yeah, he thought you guys were going to meet him a section line over.”


Uh huh. That's why we confirmed the pickup address three times. Because we were going to walk to the next section line that we didn't know the location of.

The moral of this story is maybe be picky about your form of transport? Use a taxi or rent a car or freaking hitch hike. Just don't ride the bus unless you're going to a very specific tourist trap, in which case, you'd probably be okay.

Anyway, we make it back to town.

This is where Superpod begins. Friday evening, Susan's ferry gets in and we all meet at the community theater to see the premiere of Blue Freedom's film Voiceless. I seriously cannot wait to be able to share it here with you guys!

The theater was packed and I was having a silent meltdown

because there was going to be a Q&A afterward and I am terrified of public speaking. Or speaking in general. HAHA. But seriously.

It was kind of over the top amazing when the film ended and we got a standing ovation. I just kept looking over at Kate. All of her hard work and passion was laid bare there on the screen and her face was nothing short of rapturous. I am so proud of Kate and Abbie for working so hard to make this come together and for inviting Susan and me along for the journey.

We go up on stage and I'm like 66% sure there's a chance I'm either:

A) going to puke


B) going to run off the stage

But hey, I'm not likely to need to even open my mouth, so it's all good.


*It was totally Dr. Lori Marino. I love her. But I love not talking in front of large crowds more.

I don't remember what anyone else said, though I remember they were eloquent. Why don't I remember? Because I spent the entire five or so minutes of waiting for the microphone to end up in my hands, rehearsing silently and with great panic about what I was going to say. I still ended up saying at one point, “I don't remember where I was going with that.”

Beyond that, I literally don't remember much of what I said. I think I've suppressed it because it wasn't pretty. I mentioned that I hadn't seen the ocean before arriving in the San Juan Islands and I got a round of applause??? So, I guess I said something decent?? And I expressed my desire to move out of Oklahoma, which led to me meeting a couple of people in attendance who were from Oklahoma.

I won't type the details of Superpod here because there will be a recap post going up on Blue Freedom's blog really soon. I'll link it to you when it's posted.

The week was full of amazing presentations from activists, marine biologists, and neuroscientists. I learned a ton, became aware of some things, and was overall in awe.

Wednesday evening, we went whale watching. I was so eager to see the Southern Residents and I knew it would be spectacular, but I was completely blown away. The second we caught sight of our first two killer whales-the first I had seen ever-I burst into tears. I really don't have words to describe it. I wrote a post on Facebook about it and I'll copy it here because it is the only thing that even halfway touches the emotions I felt watching something as beautiful as a wild orca in its natural habitat.

Whale watching yesterday was the most incredible thing. Not only did I discover that I very much enjoy being on a boat, but I also got to see some of God's most beautiful creations. Pretty early out, we saw Spirit(L-22) and her son Solstice(L-89) hunting for salmon. Spirit is around 45 years old and Solstice is 23. Southern Resident males spend their entire lives with their mothers; it was very sweet to see them working so closely together. About two miles later, we saw Calypso(L-94), Cousteau(L-113), and Windsong(L-121). Calypso is around 21. Cousteau is her 7-year-old daughter and Windsong is her 18-month-old son. These three swam right by the stern of our boat! Once they were further out, Windsong breached for us twice. It was the most spectacular thing. We also saw two other whales that the naturalist was fairly sure were Matia(L-77) and Joy(L-119). Matia is 29 and Joy is her 4-year-old daughter.

I have never had an experience like this and I feel so blessed to have been able to see it. It was absolutely breathtaking. I'll admit to promptly bursting into tears the second I saw the mist from the breath of Spirit and Solstice. I am so in love with the ocean, so in love with these whales, and so in love with Jesus for blessing me with these memories.”

 So, yeah.

That was my wild orca experience. I don't want to ruin it by adding any more words to it.


Nevermind that I don't know how to swim; I want to get on a sailboat and like, never leave it.

We weren't even on a sailboat, it had a motor, but a sailboat, guys. Gonna happen.

I began traveling home on Thursday afternoon. I was sad to be leaving my friends, but I did miss my animals and family at home.


(for anyone thinking, “What about Susan?”; Susan and I grew up together. I love her and we hadn't seen each other all summer, so it was obviously awesome getting together, but I have, you know, met her in real life before xD)

They have such a great family and I can vouch that they are even cooler in person than on the internet. I hope we can all get together in “real life” again sooner rather than later.

Meeting them together with Susan was just kind of like:

So, that's it. That's the gist of my trip. Just because I feel like mentioning it....:

Every single day I was there, I got a locally-produced yogurt and cherry parfait for breakfast from a place called The North Cafe. I did cheat on them once at a coffeehouse called The Bean Cafe. The parfait was delicious and I am enraged that I no longer have access to it.

I am so thankful to Kate and her family for helping to make this possible. And I am so grateful to God for blessing me with these opportunities. Heaven knows, I don't deserve it. So much love for them and Him.

I really am trying to update more often. Thank you for your patience!

What about you? Have you gone on any adventures this summer? Do you plan to? Have you ever seen wild whales or dolphins? Or an Akhal Teke? Have you met Kate and Abbie in person? ARE YOU JEALOUS THAT I HAVE?!?!?! MUAHAHAHAHA


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