Twenty Four

A special post by Andrea Kanakredes, RN, MSN.

In one moment, it is their first word. In another, it is their first step. Then, their very first day of school. Children grow so fast.

serious: Deborah after the first day of second grade (Aug 2002)

Our baby princess, Deborah, is twenty four. The years have slipped by much too quickly, especially the past few. Dad and I are so proud of who you have become. Beautiful, intelligent, talented easily come to mind.

Soon, you will begin a new chapter in your life. It will be the most challenging step you will take. Both dad and I know you will give your best effort. We know you will work hard to perfect your skills. In whatever you will do as your life’s work, you will be successful – whether as a physician, rancher or equestrian.

pure love: Deborah kissing her Comet (North Ranch, Mar 2018)

Always, you will be our first, beautiful princess. A princess who still quietly slips her hand into ours, and embraces ever so tightly.

My perfect princess, your dad’s perfect princess.

Happy 24, baby girl!

mom and dad
xoxo

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Riding: In The Southland

It was a short turnaround. Four days to be precise. Time enough for laundry. To prepare for a new set of shows. Knowing and choosing which horses will compete the best.

dressage moves: Elizabeth and Secret Agent Man warming up (North Ranch, Mar 2018)

“It is keeping yourself and your horses in a daily routine,” is how my daughters describe the four weeks away from home. Their June calendar, at first glance, appears busy. Practice, events and times marked for every day of the four show weeks, and in between. Their notebooks are filled with notes and observations on every hoof beat taken in practice, and in the show ring, this season. And, making sure they and their horses are ready for travel. “Preparation and organization are key, attention to detail required. But, you need to be practical and resourceful.”

warm-up: Elizabeth and Brie before the $15,000 Grand Prix qualifier (San Juan Capistrano, April 2018)

The four show weeks in San Juan Capistrano are well attended with riders from every skill level. Around 350-400 riders and nearly 850-900 horses compete every week, with a few calling it home for the month. “Each day is taken as they come. keeping it simple and relaxed makes for a better experience.” The four weeks may seem long. Large shows, though, have a way of making the days pass rather quickly.

While the first show week ended Sunday afternoon (Jun 10) with the last rider finishing the final event, my daughters had a short workout with their horses in one of the practice rings. It is not too early to look ahead to the next show week, which begins on Wednesday (Jun 13).

It is the equestrian way of life.

Deborah and Comet: the late afternoon workout (San Juan Capistrano, June 2018)

 

Odyssey

odyssey – noun  (od-ys-sey ˈä-də-sē

  1. a long wandering or voyage marked by many changes in fortune.
  2. an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest.

It was the regular, Monday morning groom. The music on loud, the horses waiting their turn in the ties for a brush down. With their coats trimmed to competition standards, keeping them dust and burr free is an imperative – especially when it’s windy.

Finishing her work first, Deborah raced to the loft office to check her email. The new update said they were ahead of schedule. She checked the time on the office clock, rechecked on her watch, then again on her Blackberry. Deborah raced back down, then walked about a hundred feet down the drive. She saw the dust plume headed our way. “They’re coming!” Deborah shouted.

She walked briskly back to the barn. Her precious cargo from SoCal was arriving. Though they weren’t expecting anything of their own, Deborah’s excitement had rubbed off on Elizabeth and Tara. The horse trailer pulled around, and was positioned to unload the new addition. Deborah signed the paperwork, and was given her ownership portfolio. She carefully reviewed each document in the portfolio. Lastly, the transport and transfer documents, paper and digital, were signed and copies distributed.

Odyssey: welcome home

It was time to unload. Odyssey cautiously poked out his head, not sure if he wanted to step off the trailer. Deborah whispered in his ear. Whatever she said worked; he unloaded easily. The music track playing when Odyssey stepped off the trailer seemed appropriate. It was a cover of the Amy Grant song, “House of Love”.

About Odyssey

He’s a nearly three year old OTTB bay stallion. Officially, he stands at 18.0 hands. On the racetrack, his record is 4-7 in 14 starts. His previous owner said Odyssey wasn’t cut out for the racetrack, but may be destined for success in show jumping. An evaluator said he has natural jumping ability, and would develop under proper ownership and a sound rider.

House of Love

It is the title track of Amy Grant’s ninth album, House of Love. Performing the song with Amy on the album was Vince Gill, singing the high harmony vocal. The song reached #5 on the AC chart and #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. A video of the Amy Grant/Vince Gill studio session can be found here, and their appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno here.

MCATs

Three questions –

flash card: optically active molecules, side A

My daughters had scheduled the important exam to be taken before The Nationals, before the October shows. For more than a year, they’ve been quietly laying the groundwork for a career outside of riding. The entirety of their degree coursework was geared in this direction, and followed by working towards an advanced degree. It is not surprising their career interests are very similar. Further, it is not surprising they are following in the footsteps of their parents, especially their moms.

The Medical College Admission Test (MCATs) are a rather thorough exam. It is part of the overall credential portfolio for admission into medical school or veterinary school. The first half is similar to every standardized test in measuring comprehension, vocabulary and analytic thought. Also included in the first half, behavioral analysis. The second half is the science part – general and organic chemistry, biology and physics. The all-day, 7½-hour exam is completely computer based. It allows each test registrant to receive their exam score within 4-6 weeks.

prep manuals: studying for the MCATs

To prepare for the exam, my girls bought a selection of prep manuals and flash cards. Also, there are a variety of free and paid tutorial resources online, and in classroom tutoring sessions. The manuals are study guides; the flash cards asks specific questions in a “flash setting”. Whether their use leads to a better score is largely subjective, they are primarily designed to help organize the large body of material that needs to be studied.

My daughters found preparing for the exam to be no different than preparing for a highly-rated horse show with top-tier competition. It was important to treat the MCATs like any other exam. Prepare thoroughly as possible, then set it aside. Like a horse show, over preparation can lead to overestimating performance and ability.

While their scores became available while away for the October shows, they resisted in seeing them until very recently (this past Monday). The higher priorities for them were The Nationals in Las Vegas, then celebrating Thanksgiving. Judging by their “eeks” and smiles, they did well.

The three answers –

flash card: optically active molecules, side B

Why are optically active molecules important? Simply, it is all about the molecular geometry for proteins, and for nucleosides and nucleotides (RNA/DNA) in living systems. It is an area of continuing research.

Riding: New Territory, Higher Stakes

My daughters have rarely competed past the Labor Day (USA) holiday. Going to school, followed by obtaining their university degrees, precluded any notion of riding late into a season. When they did compete in the fall, it would be from a favorable calendar, or they had proven themselves in the classroom to gain a few days off. The time away would not cause them to fall behind. Mark and Trish both have placed a premium on studying and having good grades for their riders who are students also. It prepares them for life away from the show ring, away from horses. Moreover, a good student makes for a better rider.

The girls have found riding in September and October to be a challenging, grand experience. With the shows and events more national in setting, and higher rated, they draw riders that are among the best. The skills of their fellow riders are very polished, their experience level substantial. They are similarly detail-oriented in charting and studying their own riding, but are also watching the other riders and horses. It is about learning what other riders are doing to be better – on and off saddle, inside and outside the show ring.

the details: Elizabeth’s course notes and riding notes for season 2017

While the very best riders in show jumping win around 20-25% of their starts, making basic adjustments, including minor ones, are relatively few. They become particularly more reluctant late in the season. A rider will stay within their skill set, opting to trust in themselves and in their horses. A horse, knowing their rider trusts them wholly, gives them the certainty and confidence in any competitive setting.

My girls love the higher stakes. “In riding,” Elizabeth begins, “there are no automatics. Talent and a strong work ethic will open the door. The rest of it, the intangibles, the rider needs to bring them to table. They are what separates individual riders from one another. When it comes together, it all falls into a rhythm – the riding becomes more instinctive, much easier.” And, when the rhythm develops, its inherent consistency follows.

after the practice: Deborah and Comet (Del Mar Horse Park, Oct 2017)

“There is a crispness to the riding,” Deborah adds. “It is fast. It is precise. It is clean. It is focused. Yet, a rider cannot be afraid of making mistakes or taking risks.”

Finishing the thought, Tara adds, “When it comes together, it is as close to perfect one can imagine. Every move is fluid. What was hard is easy. And, what was easy is unreal.”

close to perfect: Tara and Cameron (Iowa, Aug 2017)

The hardest part – to keep it going.

Día de Muertos

It is the holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the central and southern regions, and by people of Mexican ancestry in other places, especially in the United States. The multi-day holiday brings the family and friends together to pray for and remember friends and family who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. The Aztec influence in Día de Muertos is substantial, beginning as a festival dedicated to Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec goddess of the underworld. After Spanish colonization, the holiday became associated with All Saints’ Eve (Halloween/Oct 31), All Saints’ Day (Nov 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2).

With the spread of the holiday, it has been absorbed into other practices of honoring the dead. In northern Mexico, Día de Muertos, was unknown, with the people having separate traditions and where the Aztec influence was minimal. It wasn’t widely celebrated until the Mexican federal government declared Día de Muertos a national holiday. A backdrop for the opening sequence of the James Bond film, Spectre, a Día de Muertos parade in Mexico City is featured.

In Colorado, Día de Muertos celebrations are fairly rare, though some of the costuming is widely seen. Halloween remains firmly entrenched, and in the realm of the spooky and ghostly tales.

Whether celebrated as Día de Muertos or Halloween, enjoy your celebrations.

Background information from Wikipedia.
Photo: Deborah in full make-up for a Halloween party when she was a high school senior several years ago.