Thursday, April 19, 2007

More Fun in Iowa!

New horse! Please visit the link below and enjoy more pictures of the little bay and my travels in Iowa!

What an experience!

Saturday, April 7 I spent the day at Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines. My family and I have participated on the fundraiser ride to Des Moines and dances throughout the year, however, my time at the camp with the kids has been one of the most rewarding things I have done with the organization. Throughout the day we kept busy with many different activities, including coloring, painting Easter eggs, playing games, and taking a covered wagon ride from the John Deere plant in Ankeny back to camp!

During the wagon ride, pulled by a very beautiful draft team, we sang songs and chatted about horses. The campers were so fun, and by the end of the day I felt as if I had known them forever because we were poking fun back and forth at each other! I went in with an open mind and open heart, ready to give sympathy to the children who attend the camp for the challenges and adversity they have overcome. However, I left with a new outlook on the lives of the people who attend the camp, and 10 new wonderful friends!

The lovable individuals I spent the day with at Camp Sunnyside showed me something that became a turning point in my life. These kids are not looking for our sympathy, they do not want to be treated any differently, and do not want us to make exceptions for them--all they want is to laugh, smile, love, and live just as we do. They are unique, talented, and bright individuals with caring hearts who just have to deal with a body that does not work as well as ours sometimes. Thank you, campers, for your friendship and life lessons.

Saturday evening I attended the Pony Express Victory Dance in Des Moines and got a brief chance to speak to the attendees about my experience at camp with the kids. I had a wonderful time, and I appreciated the opportunity to share my memories. I also had a great time dancing the night away because I LOVE TO DANCE!

The next day I traveled to Greenfield, Iowa and picked up some new cargo in the nice Sunshine "S" Featherlite Trailer I get to use for the year. The 14.1 hand little bay I have now has an outstanding pedigree and rides like a push-button horse. I am still getting used to the whole size issue, but I think I will grow to like the little bay when we get to know one another better. I haven't yet decided what to call him, but he answers to many names, including the ones I have been using lately: Doc, Duke, Tiny, Junior, Shorty, Little Horse, Slick . . . I am sure one will fit sometime soon!

Thank you, Jack Day, for helping me find this horse! Jack has done so much for me over the past year helping me get my big sorrel horse ready for the Miss Rodeo Iowa Pageant, as well as how to be a better horseman (or "woman," I guess). In my opinion, Jack is one of the best horsemen I know--just as good, if not better than Clinton Anderson, Cleve Wells, Richard Shrake, and the rest. He has a way of explaining things so I understand what the horse is thinking, what I am "telling" the horse by using my reins and legs, and how to get a horse to collect himself and ride into the bridle.

The next week I traveled to the Shenandoah Middle School to speak to 5-8th graders about the "Character Counts" program. I LOVE to speak, and especially to young people, because I want to convince them the sky is the limit if you put your mind to something and are not afraid of a little hard work to get there. I focused on how responsibility, leadership, trustworthiness, and kindness play into building your own self confidence, which to me is one of the most beautiful characteristics in a person.

That evening, I headed back to Council Bluffs to the Mid-American Center to watch the Omaha Lancers hockey team defeat their Sioux City rivals. The PR director for the Lancers read my interview in the paper about my post-eating incident at the end of February and said she was impressed with my sense of humor, so she wanted to give me hockey tickets. I gladly accepted them and took my dad, his wife Theresa, and one of my sponsors. It was neat to see how the hockey rink inside the building had been transformed into a rodeo arena. I had a slight tingle of remembrance along my jawline as Dad and I had our picture taken standing above the "accident scene," however, it was much nicer to leave the building in Dad's truck this time rather than an ambulance! Thank you, Lancers, for the great tickets! The game was awesome and our seats put us down 3 rows from the rink!

Just this past Monday, I was given the opportunity to judge the Iowa FFA Idol contest in Ames during the Iowa FFA State Convention. I had so much fun listening to singers, guitarists, pianists, fiddle players, and watching dancers, jugglers, and baton twirlers! We witnessed so much young talent in Hilton Colliseum, and it was hard to pick only two finalists. If I was half as talented as those kids I would be set! Once the other judges and I did decide on the finalists, the crowd picked the winner by the amount of applause they received.

If you get a chance, please join me in doing an anti-rain dance for this weekend becuase the new little bay and I will be riding in the VEISHEA parade in Ames. This will be a fun year as Iowa State celebrates its 150th birthday--with free cake and all! As a student, I am proud of the VEISHEA event and all of the hard work and planning that goes into producing such a wonderful weekend. All of the activities, booths, events, concerts, and the parade are planned, organized, and run by students. Central campus is filled with tents sporting club displays and games for children, petting zoos, food stands, and other booths showcasing all of the great things about Iowa State University. Many alumni come back every year and bring their children to watch the parade on Saturday and try the famous "VEISHEA Cherry Pies" that have been made and sold for many years. I have been in the parade for the last 3 years of my college career as "Road Apple Cleanup" dressed as a rodeo clown, so I will have to be sure to tone down the make-up this year as Miss Rodeo Iowa!

Thank you for checking in on me, and I hope you enjoy the pictures! I hope you are enjoying the spring weather as much as I; it is getting very hard to go to class and be cooped up inside! Have a great time, and I will write again soon!