Hitting Your Stride -- The Equestrian Elements Life Coaching podcast with Tracey Mitchell
By Tracey Mitchell
Hitting Your Stride -- The Equestrian Elements Life Coaching podcast with Tracey MitchellMay 11, 2023
Ep. 65 - Christine Reupke: Being Wired To Win & Small Things Making Big Differences
Those familiar with the inner workings of The Royal's competition side will know the name of Christine Reupke, as she is the current Director, Equestrian & Breed Sport for the show. She joins Tracey for this episode of Hitting Your Stride, sharing a wealth of experience she's gained from being in the saddle, coaching, judging and orchestrating shows at multiple levels.
Christine has built her equestrian life around a number of tenants: being organized and accountable to one's self, keeping an eye on the details at every level of her life-long adventure, and how big a factor humility is and should be for an equestrian. She mentions how being a competitor, coach and now a judge has given her new perspectives, while also making clear where the sport she loves fits in the grand scheme of things. And while a life in horses has given her a multitude of friendships, she says judging has helped her learn how to make hard decisions - even when someone she calls a friend is before her in the ring.
Leadership is a big theme of the conversation, as Christine and Tracey break down the key differences between leadership and self-leadership and why that is an important distinction. Christine talks about a shared cab ride with someone after a Royal competition and how that contributed to her understanding of what being wired for success is really like.
Christine Reupke can be found and contacted on Facebook.
Ep. 64 HYS - Meghan Mackenzie Bell: The Standout Horse Girl Obsessed With The Details
An education in horses can take on many forms, and for Meghan Mackenzie Bell hers came in one of the more unique ways. She started out by riding Quarter Horses while growing up in Southwestern Ontario, but then expanded her learning post-university by working in Ireland, Kentucky, Australia and New Zealand before coming home.
As she and Tracey talk about her role now -- Meghan is with Henry Equestrian, Powered by NFP, as the senior manager of operations -- the role of insurance in the equine world is explored and Meghan gives some insight as to how being a horse girl for all those years has given her the ability to bridge the gap for her clients when it comes to covering their needs. As most horse people do, she's learned a way to speak in a new language of sorts while also seeing the different ways care for their horses - from the pros who need to make sure their investments are in good hands all the way to the leisure riders out for a weekend hack.
One of the key topics Tracey and Meghan cover is the idea of adaptability and how it allows Meghan to throw herself into so many different things. It's also an important concept for insurance agents, as she says they need to be able to tailor their messages to clients rather than having it the other way around. Meghan also takes pride in her championing women's advancement and enthusiastically talks about mentorship. But like so many things for this wife, mother, businesswoman and life-long horse girl, it all comes back to the experiences she learned in the barn. As she says, if you have a background in horses, it usually means you can do pretty much anything.
Henry Equestrian covers areas such as equine mortality, medical/surgical insurance, horse farm insurance, riding instructor insurance and more.
Ep. 63 HYS - Catherine Willson: Equine Passion Meets Legal Expertise
How often do you conduct a walk-around at your barn or farm? Do you know the rules when it comes to paying employees who work for an equestrian-based business? Are you up-to-date on all the waivers, safety regulations and tax implications that go along with running your business?
These are just a small sample of questions that Catherine Willson posed to Tracey on this episode of Hitting Your Stride. Catherine has been a practicing lawyer since 1989 and has just published her first book on equine law -- Canadian Equine Law: A Guide For Anyone Working With Horses In Canada (the first equine law book published in Canada). She joined the podcast to talk about that, her long-standing passion for horses, and how she balances all of her many interests with a very busy schedule.
Catherine publishes extensively in HorseSport Magazine and other industry publications on issues of equine law. She has given conferences across Canada on the subject for Equine Canada, the Ontario Equestrian Federation, the American Association for Justice, various horse and racing associations, and the Jockey Club of Canada. Her clients come from many horse-related industries, and she advises on contracts, syndicates, litigation, disputes, and tax issues related to horses.
Her book is available through Self-Counsel Press as well as Amazon. With the book, she has published a number of equine legal documents, such as purchase and sale agreements, boarding, breeding agreements and more that can be purchased separately and used by the industry. Anyone wanting to reach out to Catherine can do so by visiting her law firm's website at www.truelawlegal.ca and by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ep. 62 HYS - The Maxies: Struck By The Adventure Of Fashioning The Sport
There is something to be said about the idea of stepping away from something familiar and going towards something adventurous. In many ways, Ashley and Kevin Maxie of STRUCK Apparel get to live that ideal every day: working together as spouses, joining forces to form a new company in the equestrian world after coming together from vastly different personal journeys.
It's been a near-perfect match for the Maxies, as they've discovered how to work well with each other by working well off each other and placing value on listening to one another and maintaining an open mind and attentive ears to what they each have to contribute. As Tracey finds out, their passion for equestrian sports made starting STRUCK feel more natural than anything else -- even if Kevin felt like leaving a career in mathematics was akin to running off to join the circus.
Time and effort, along with some trial & error, has put Ashley and Kevin in a good place with STRUCK and has allowed them the latitude to push a few boundaries along the way. It's also given them the platform to be environmentally conscious and use their business to help promote ecological responsibility, something they didn't set out to be known for but have begun to see it as a natural progression of their business's arc forward.
Tracey explores with them how challenging it can be working with your spouse, and finds out how they make time to experience joy in their busy lives. And as the Maxies keep the pastures green for everyone else, they keep on adventuring together.
Visit ca.struckapparel.com to check out their clothing lines, learn more about their sustainability principles, and links to their social media feeds.
Ep. 61 HYS - Erica McKeever On Finding Family At The Castle On The Hill
There are some people who know they're destined to make dreams a reality - some figure it out right away, while others take a more winding path. Erica McKeever's path included a few trips across the Atlantic Ocean, but it also had her trusting and believing in herself to make it happen.
A native of England, McKeever got her first job in the horse world by applying to an ad in a horse magazine. A few years and many miles later, Erica arrived at Castle Hill, a place she felt connected to instantly. It turns out the connection was mutual, and the seeds of a new family were planted.
Erica talks about being pony-mad as a child and having that become the genesis for a life in the equine world. She recalls the encouragement she got from a friend to take a chance in applying for a job as the barn manager at Castle Hill, and how that has turned into a relationship with the Ward family that is more like family than anything else. She talks with Tracey about the challenges of the job, how important it is to maintain open lines of communication while also finding a balance between work and family that has given her children opportunities to follow their own equine passions.
Over the years, Erica has seen many faces come and go in the Castle Hill barns but what never seems to change is the commitment to the horses and the devotion to the animals - caring for them, helping them develop, and sharing the best parts of their lives together.
Ep. 60 HYS - Officer Stacey Jennings On The Value Of Partnerships And Learning A New Language
Life is about partnerships - finding the right ones, cultivating them to make them last, and learning everything you can from them. Officer Stacey Jennings of the Toronto Police has learned that in her time with the Mounted Unit, and she's applying those lessons every chance she gets.
As the latest guest on Hitting Your Stride, Stacey had a lot to share about her experiences both on and off the horse. She grew up with a dream of being a judge ... or a zoo keeper. And while it seems she has found the perfect middle ground between the two, it's what she takes away from the experience of being a mounted officer that is both unique and profound. It began with the drive to join the unit in the first place and carried on with the number of equine partners she's had until her current one, Saunders, came along.
In learning how to do her job from atop a horse, Stacey has been able to take the best parts of being a police officer and combined them with her passion for animals. She's seen how the community reacts to the mounted unit, as their 'big boys' offer a sense of comfort and familiarity in times of stress for the public. But working with Saunders in particular has helped her learn patience and how to speak a new language - his language - to be able to form a better partnership and truly have each other's back.
There are some funny stories (including one about Saunders' first trip to the shores of Lake Ontario) and some touching moments where Stacey shares the true value of all kinds of partnerships with the audience. It's a unique look at what can be a polarizing profession, and it offers an interesting perspective from someone who's seen a lot from the saddle.
Ep. 59 HYS -- Para Is Parallel: Kim Scott Dreams Without Limitations
Being an athlete means you'll always face challenges, and for Kim Scott she accepts that she's going to have to work hard in the saddle to get the results she wants. That she as Cerebral Palsy makes it a little more of a challenge but not one she shies away from.
In this episode of Hitting Your Stride Tracey welcomes Kim and engages her in a conversation about what it's like in her quest to become a member of the Canadian team at the 2024 Paris Paralympics. It's a story with roots in her childhood where Kim wanted to do everything her sister was doing; from there she grew as a rider and learned what it takes mentally and physically to compete and grow as an athlete and a person. She talks about how her condition affects her and what the difference between a good and bad day is - and how you still have to put it together when you're going down the centre line.
Parental support has been big for Kim, as they've backed her every step of the way despite being a little terrified - even joking about how she doesn't leave the ground any more except during collection. Her coach has had her back as well, giving Kim inspiration to join the coaching ranks as a pro one day. She admits there have been ups and downs in a number of areas, but the horses and her training have been the constant that's gotten her through the tough times.
A sense of gratitude prevails Kim's attitude, and her desire to pay it forward is clear in her actions and words. And her admission that dealing with Cerebral Palsy 'is easy' because she's always had to account for it might seem shocking, but it puts her work on her goals into a better perspective in so many ways.
Kim Scott can be found online at her website www.kimscottequestrian.ca and on social media (@kimscott_paraequestrian on Instagram). Contact Kim via her website to find out how you can help support her Go Fund Me page in her drive to make it to Paris.
Ep. 58 HYS -- When Little By Little Becomes A Lot With Heather Lillico
On the cusp of a new show season, riders have a lot on their minds: preparations, goals, excitement and anticipation. It can be a lot, but it can also be counter-productive and lead to anxiety. Heather Lillico has been dealing with anxiety most of her adult life, but as she shares in this episode of Hitting Your Stride, it's not about a war as much as it is about understanding.
A holistic nutritionist, meditation and yoga teacher who works with businesses on corporate wellness, Heather has been dealing with anxiety since she was in university. She was able to turn her near-debilitating condition into something she manages and she did it through learning more about it and herself. She brings tips and techniques to share with Tracey and the audience on how to deal with anxiety, how to use nutrition to make it manageable, and how meditation can play an important role for riders when they're gathering their thoughts and preparing their mental state before, during and after competition. And it's not a long or involved process Heather and Tracey talk about when discussing meditation, as she points out it can be as minimal or as detailed as you want, but the focal point is learning to be mindful in and out of the saddle.
It's her personal accounts of anxiety attacks and how she was nearly felled by it in the beginning ... but by choosing the right mindset, she's stronger and in a position to help others lift themselves up as well.
Heather Lillico can be found online at www.heatherlillico.com, and on social media at @heather_lil (Facebook & Instagram)
Ep. 57 HYS - Lise Leblanc Has Authentic Flexibility
The new discipline of Working Equitation is starting to grow and gather a new following in the horse world, and Lise Leblanc is on the front lines of that growth in Ontario. Lise, a long-time teacher in the educational system, joins the Hitting Your Stride podcast in this episode to talk about that and so much more.
Their conversation opens with Lise's memory of a book called A Little Black Pony; that was the hook into the equine world for her and it's been a tale of devotion ever since. Growing up out East, she got her first taste of horses from her grandfather and 'was in heaven' observing the relationship he had with his horse, Queen. Her equine love affair blossomed, introducing her to the joys of dressage and its wide-ranging teachings.
It was then that Lise connected another passion of hers to her growing work with horses, as she detailed the connections riding and training horses has with yoga. So while she's a student of the classical method of dressage - having devoted much of her study to the works of Nuno Oliveira, Alois Podhajski, Walter Zettl and others - she talks extensively about how many aspects of the discipline are akin to the movements and practices studied in yoga. Lise goes on to talk about how yoga has helped redefine her as a horsewoman and how it plays a role in her own teachings in and out of the ring.
Admittedly, it hasn't been an easy road for Lise to travel; she decided to follow her dream of working with horses and step away from the chalkboard at a time in her life where the pivot was both frightening and necessary. She says that almost losing her son was a real eye-opener, and advice from her sister helped make the decision - a bold choice that has led to dynamic change.
She's working hard to bring Working Equitation to the forefront here at home, as she and Tracey talk about the benefits of exploring the W.E. discipline can have on other styles of riding. The passion pours out of Lise as she describes what Working Equitation involves and how it's reaching into every corner of the horse world with positive affect. They wrap the conversation by looking ahead as Lise tries to answer what's coming next for her ... and she simply says she has to finish building the boat before she can sail it.
Lise Leblanc can be found online at www.lise-leblanc.com, which provides information on her lessons in French Classical riding and Working Equitation.
Ep. 56 HYS - Marie Labrecque Is Dedicated, Pivotal & Happy Behind The Scenes
In an interview that highlights another behind-the-scenes heartbeat of the horse industry, Tracey has Marie Labrecque join her for a touching episode of Hitting Your Stride. Marie, the groom, barn manager, and property manager at King's Grant Farm in Caledon shows off another side of her -- horse advocate.
It's been a long road for Marie, arriving in Ontario from her Quebec home where she first developed her love of horses thanks to an aunt. That has blossomed into as hands-on of a career as one could want in the horse industry, but it's also given her strong insight into caring for the horses in her barn. It's that love for equines that drives her on the good days and on the bad ones, too.
Marie shares that life behind the scenes is about support - for the horse, the rider, and fellow professionals in the industry who share the same life she does. And while she enjoys her work with younger horses, it's the older ones that she finds herself more connected to: an appreciation for their life of service and the lessons they can still teach.
The strongest two skills a good groom should have are observation and organization, and Marie talks about developing both as she worked at her craft. And as she wrapped her thoughts up, she gave a little advice to those who think that this is the life they want to lead.
Ep. 55 HYS - Dr. Robert Schinke On Daily Details Defining Success
Dr. Robert Schinke joins Hitting Your Stride for today's episode, and we hit some new heights in our quest to engage the equestrian world with information that will help them see goal-setting in a whole new way. Robert has a long history with elite-level equestrian competition, peaking with back-to-back appearances on the Canadian Pan-Am team in the discipline of eventing.
Robert went from riding right into academics, where he drew on his experiences as a rider to fuel his passion for learning about the athlete's psyche - his struggles with consistent performance spurred him to learn what it was that was stopping him from succeeding, which he now helps other athletes identify and correct. He mentions 'slicing the pie in half' and how tricky it can be to manage, talking about how support teams around an athlete can help shoulder various responsibilities to enhance their chances for success.
Tracey and Robert spend considerable time during their chat on the topic of flow state and how it might go by another name now but still remains integral for competitors; comparison-itis comes up, to which Robert makes the simple point of how each athlete and each horse are a unique 'boutique operation' and how they should be focused on their unique selves.
As the conversation winds down, Robert is asked about mental preparation; he sees it more as development or evolution within the athlete and is all-encompassing in their life, not just athletic performance.
Robert Schinke is the current president of the International Society of Sport Psychology and a Laurentian University Teaching Fellow in Graduate Student Mentoring. He's a published author several times over as well as having co-authored more than 170 peer-reviewed scientific publications. He also practices what he preaches, having been the sport psychologist with Canada's boxing contingent at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Also, he maintains a foothold in the equestrian world working with a number of high-performance athletes and their horses.
Ep. 54 HYS - Megan Robinson Is Feeling The Difference Between Living And Surviving
When was the last time you faced adversity and how did you handle it? Did it change how you see your life and how you live day-to-day, or did you just chalk it up to 'lessons learned' and move on? For Megan Robinson, she's been meeting adversity head-on most of her life ... and she's now the one dishing out the lessons because of how she's handled it.
Megan is the owner of The Movement Connection, where she is a Movement Specialist and Pilates instructor specializing in neuromuscular training, rehabilitation and biomechanics of riding for equestrians. That is made all the more impressive when she shares the story of how she's arrived at this point in her life: three kidney transplants with multiple complications that have resulted in several chronic illnesses -- including Guillian-Barre Syndrome that left her paralyzed in hospital for three months at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But none of that has stopped her from living her life, as she shares with Tracey the stories of her attachment to her horse, Golden Boy, her dogs and her work.
All horse people can relate to the need to connect with their horse and get back on to make things feel right in their world, and Megan is no exception as she candidly jokes about telling her nurses of her desire to get back out riding not long after her latest transplant despite being advised it could be more than a year before that would happen. She talks about the yin & yang of her life, her thoughts on her place in the much bigger universal picture, how therapy helped her deal with life and processing the trauma associated with her experiences, and how she was able to find her warrior spirit when she needed it most.
On the other side, Megan has turned her passion for horses and their riders into a growing business that has rooted itself in the equestrian industry as riders become more in tune with themselves, their bodies and the connections with their horses. She can be found online at www.themovementconnection.ca, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
Ep . 53 HYS -- Karen Leeming Finds Her Footing Among The Hoofprints
If you're mucking out stalls, muck it out the best you can. While that wasn't the only message from Karen Leeming in this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride', it serves as an effective encapsulation into the career and the life of the Footing First partner. Host Tracey Mitchell and Karen explore what led her to filling a niche in the equestrian industry, what came before that and how her equestrian world view was shaped, and where her next footsteps will take her.
The laughs begin early, as Karen recalls her childhood in England and how she put her nose for business to use early -- swapping out her ride for another during a horse show (much to the surprise of her parents when she returned home with a completely different pony). The pair talk about devotion to the sport and how Karen's collective experiences took her from world traveller with her sister to working for some prominent names in the Canadian horse world.
Karen's boldness helped earn her some impressive jobs, not the least of which was Canadian Olympic equestrian team manager at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2002 at the World Equestrian Games. Having learned from her days as a groom, Karen talks about being a sponge and absorbing whatever she could whenever possible. In her worlds, you have to be highly dedicated but still able to step back and take in the big picture.
When it comes to Footing First, Karen's zeal for her work shows both her passion for giving equestrians a leg up but also staying true to her beliefs that you reap what you sow. She describes the business as both a service for clients and an ongoing educational opportunity, one where Karen continues to acquire knowledge and passes it on to clients and coworkers alike.
Karen Leeming can be reached via the company website at www.footingfirst.com or via email (email@example.com).
Ep. 52 HYS - Endurance, Enlightenment And Bringing Down Walls: Two Years In To HYS
And now Tracey knows what it's like being on the other side of her podcast!
Victoria McCourt, Tracey's cousin, fellow horsewoman and owner of VEM coaching, stepped in to interview Tracey and helped her talk about the Hitting Your Stride podcast and how its grown in two-plus years of welcoming some of the equestrian world's biggest names and those who devote themselves behind the scenes ... entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, visionaries and passionate lovers of all things equine.
It began with the story of Lowenkind, Tracey's 'heart horse'. And through sharing her story of connection, love and learning with the most cherished partner she's known, the HYS host ventures out on a journey to engage with the horse world and helps bring it closer together one conversation at a time. She shares with Victoria some of the impact her podcast has had and the feedback she's gotten, giving her a real-time snapshot of how people have responded to what Hitting Your Stride is offering.
One of Tracey's goals in starting this podcast was to talk about some of her key values, one of which is mentorship and how it plays a role in the development of athletes, businesspeople and those who are just looking to follow their dreams. It's a theme that has played out with virtually all of Tracey's guests, and it's something she believes is a key to achieving one's goals.
Tracey's vulnerability is something she has dedicated herself to working on, something that comes through with the podcast as it grows and becomes more aspirational with each episode. And she makes a point of telling people to challenge themselves and get comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable, making that a mission statement for the coming year. The pair then bring their conversation to a close by chatting about how people open up to her and what that means not only to Tracey as a host but to those who listen -- those who listen will hear the amount of energy and effort that goes into each episode, and how Tracey pours every ounce of herself into making sure she helps bring out the best in her guests and herself every time the mic goes live.
Tracey can be reached through her website (www.equestrianelementslc.com); by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on social media (Facebook and Instagram).
Ep. 51 HYS - Holly Jacks: Dreaming From Scratch
Welcome back and welcome to the first episode of Hitting Your Stride in 2023! Today, Tracey welcomes event rider Holly Jacks from Holly Jacks Equestrian. She's coming off a 2022 season that saw her and her partner, Candy King, represent Canada at the 2022 World Championships in Italy, and she gives Tracey a peek inside the world of someone who's been coming on strong for the better part of two decades.
A British Columbia native, Holly knew she was going to be hopelessly dedicated to horses when she took a working student position in Ontario with Penny Roland that was supposed to be for six months ... and it turned into a five-year sojourn. Going from a girl who was breaking thoroughbreds as a summer job to now owning her own business developing and coaching young riders while still competing, Holly paints a picture of what her life in the saddle has been like. Going through all of that while trying to deal with ADHD is something she's learned to manage as she goes, and she credits one particular coach with helping her make the right adjustments at the right time.
Having been short-listed for the Olympics before, Holly says that the trip to Italy with the Canadian team has only whetted her appetite and she has her eyes set on another spot representing the Red & White when Canada heads to Paris 2024. Tracey and Holly talk about how she's got to this position in her riding career, the various coaches she's worked with (and learned valuable lessons from), and they discuss things like the importance of the basics, and how she navigates this journey that she admits she couldn't do without the support of the people closest to her.
Anyone wanting to reach out to Holly Jacks about coaching or to find out more about her business can find her online at www.hollyjacksequestrian.com.
Ep. 50 HYS - When Vision Becomes Reality; talking with Laura Fournier of Annie Jay Equestrian
Hitting Your Stride is about sharing stories with great energy behind them, and what better way to celebrate the 50th episode than to talk with Laura Fournier of Annie Jay Equestrian. If you don't get inspired by Laura's story and enthusiasm, then you need to check yourself for a pulse!
After giving birth to twins, Laura wanted to get back in the saddle again and resume riding... only to find that none of her riding gear fit any more. And when she realized that nothing was going to fit, she hit bottom. But when she hit bottom, the bounce back began right then; instead of letting the situation keep her down, Laura threw herself into designing equestrian clothing that would not only fit her but others like her ... and not like her, too.
Tracey and Laura cross off a lot of topics on the list: resilience, goal chasing, starting from nothing and building it into something, and the willingness to be open and listen to those who can really help. For a woman who wasn't sure she wanted to ever throw her leg over a horse again after her first time riding, Laura Fournier has blazed herself an amazing trail. The podcast covers her life before Annie Jay Equestrian, and it opens a window into the future as Laura looks to continue changing her life and the lives of others with her ever-evolving vision.
Annie Jay Equestrian can be found online at www.anniejayequestrian.ca, as well as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Those wanting to get in touch with Laura Fournier can reach out to her at (416) 557-5436.
Ep. 49 HYS - Chet Martin Is Probably Riding A Horse Right Now
How often does someone's passion find its spark from a Grade Three class trip to a horse farm? For Chet Martin, that's exactly what got him going down the road to becoming a world-class competitor and trainer in the reined cow horse discipline. That trip showed him about horsemanship, which in turn led him to begin writing his own book about the craft of horsemanship and training ... and now, despite the book not being on the New York Times Bestseller's list, Chet has turned his work in the saddle into something to behold.
Joining Tracey for the latest episode of Hitting Your Stride, Chet talks about how he sees each day as an opportunity to put in the hard work to get better at something he still can't believe he's paid to do. They talk about the differences and similarities between reining and dressage, how equestrian athletes need a strong support team around them to find the success they strive for, and just how far a sharp sense of humour can take a guy.
Daily, Chet works with horses and prepares them so he can find and develop that one outstanding characteristic that will help turn them into the best they can be, and he talks about how implanting good thoughts and intentions into a horse from the start spurs their progress forward. Listen as he talks about going on a 'journey of blunt advice' and about all the tips and techniques he shares about getting himself and his horses primed and ready.
Above all, Chet shows his appreciation for the good fortune of being able to do something he loves so passionately - taking time on his walks in from the barn on a moonlit night to really savour his place and all that remains within his reach.
You can find Chet Martin online at www.martinranch.net as well as on Facebook (Martin Ranch) and Instagram (chet.martin.ranch).
Ep. 48 HYS - Stories From The Royal: Reinvention, Girl Power and Getting After Your Goals
So how did you celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Winter Fair? Hitting Your Stride took the show on the road and spent time getting up close and personal with people at the show, hearing their stories about all things ranging from how things have been since the Royal last held its annual event to how they felt coming back or coming to one of the the equine world's biggest shows for the first time.
Tracey talked with vendors about how they approached this year's Royal and what their mindset has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, getting a little deeper with them about how they've approached life and business in the last few years. She also hit the horse palace to chat with a couple of riders to get their take on where they're at in the ring and out.
Talking to saddle makers, innovators, creatives, industry insiders and some ground-shaking entrepreneurs, Tracey talked about mentoring, setting goals, reinventing one's self and finding inspiration. This is the full-length episode of Equestrian Elements' trip to the Royal, so stay tuned for the bonus episode coming in the near future.
Ep. 47 HYS -- Claire Hunter is Living Her Best Life Through the Seasons
In her own words, Claire is living her little girl dream every day.
Joining Tracey for this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride' is Braecrest Farm's owner/operator/trainer/breeder Claire Hunter. The young equine lover and entrepreneur is making a name for herself and Braecrest Farm with her unique way of training younger horses, gaining the trust of some of the industry's big names in helping get their youngsters' feet on the ground the right way.
Claire tells Tracey about the joys and the tragedies that come with being a horse breeder and how that means you can't really appreciate the joys until you've felt the sting of loss; about how she relies on her intuition when it comes to every horse she works with; and perhaps most importantly her passionate advocacy for horses - their mindset, their needs and their feelings, and how she gives them a voice when they need it. And then she shows her nurturing side when talking about horses being horses and the importance of caring for their needs.
For someone as dedicated to her work as she is, Claire says that self-care is important but for the most part her job has never felt like work to her ... except for those long days slinging manure around the fields. She talks about the significance of those closest to her - her mom and the Braecrest Farm staff -- and about making sure to celebrate as you go because it's about the journey and not just the destination.
You can find Braecrest Farm online at www.braecrestfarm.ca with links to their Facebook and Instagram pages there.
Ep. 46 HYS - Mapping The Road To Santiago: Maya Markowski's Dream In The Making
Tracey welcomes Maya Markowski back to 'Hitting Your Stride', as the coach and driving force behind Equest Dressage catches the podcast listeners up on her Olympic goals and how she's been working towards making them a reality.
Maya talks about keeping her objectives in perspective and how she's taking things as they come throughout this process. Preparing for a trip to the Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, in order to keep chasing her Olympic dream is at the forefront and she's doing what she can to balance working with the four horses who could potentially be her ride along with running Equest Dressage, working with her coach Jacqui Brooks, and fitting in some home renos on the side.
As it was when Maya previously joined the podcast, teamwork is still making the dream work and she gives credit to those around her for making this quest possible. And as she makes a push for a spot representing her country at the Olympics, Maya has seen the effect it has had on her students and how it has them excited to chase down their own dreams. She talks with Tracey about how she can be her own worst critic, but remembers that her training has prepared her for times like this. Patience, she says, is key because no matter what goals she or any other rider might have ... the horses might have other ideas in mind.
Going after this kind of dream can be challenging, but Maya is taking everything that comes her way and facing it the best way she knows how - with a laugh, a smile and plenty of effort.
Follow along as Maya Markowski chases down her Pan Am & Olympic dreams on her social media as well as on www.equestdressage.ca. You can also find a link there to help support her as she continues to make the push for Santiago.
Ep. 45 HYS - Learning That Less Is More: Yvonne Losos de Muñiz Figures It Out
In this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride' Tracey learns from Yvonne Losos de Muñiz about earned knowledge and the many forms it comes to us all in. Yvonne, a dressage rider originally from Nigeria but who now represents the Dominican Republic, has been adding to her knowledge base for the better part of 20 years and a lot of that has been learning on the go.
Some of the key principles that she shares with Tracey and the audience include 'less is more', 'there is no timeline', and 'don't chase your scores'. As the podcast unfolds, those lessons become apparent as Yvonne shares how they came to her and how it takes a heaping dose of honesty with yourself in some cases for the lesson to sink in. She talks about what it was like to learn about a horse's limits and its performance ceiling and how that helped transform her as a rider, and how that realization helped to open a lot of doors mentally for her.
As with many equestrian athletes, Yvonne has had to learn about the balance of putting in the work and making sure she put in time for herself and life outside of the ring. That helped turn the conversation to what it was like for her (and what it's still like) riding for the Dominican -- a country that didn't have a reputation for producing great dressage riders. Calling it an 'exciting and amazing journey', Yvonne talks about her growth, the horses that have helped propel her, and the joy she gleans from teaching young riders.
Going through various aspects of her career, Tracey finds out that Yvonne's best advice is to be honest, humble and patient, and to ask for help when it is required.
Yvonne Losos de Muñiz can be found on social media on Instagram and Facebook (@yvonnedressage).
Ep. 44 HYS - Lauren Hayes Isn't Here For The Glory
Lauren Hayes is hitting her stride in this episode of Hitting Your Stride.
The child of Olympic rider Jay Hayes, Lauren joins the podcast and shares with Tracey what it's been like for her to grow up in that orbit and how she's blazed her own trail in a multi-generational family with equine roots that run deep. Recalling her days as an up-and-coming junior rider that saw her collect some pretty big prizes, Lauren talks about the passion she and her family have for horses but also about how she was grounded in a life outside of the ring to make sure this was the path she truly wanted to ride.
If her early success was the opening act of Lauren Hayes, Act 2 has been more about balance: between being a mom to two daughters who are already showing interest in the equestrian life, and wanting to return to high-level competition while also finding time to help manage the family's equestrian business. She's learned to accept the perfect imbalance of an equestrian athlete, and how you have to learn to put aside unfolded laundry when you're trying to focus on performance.
Lauren makes it clear for any young riders listening that it's possible to go after your Olympic dreams while still getting an education. It's all part of her always wanting to do her best, whether it's the Olympic trials during university or taking a green horse into the ring ... 'it's just another horse show'.
As Act 2 plays out, Lauren talks about The Three Boys and how they each present different challenges for her, and about the challenges she faces as Mommy to a pair of burgeoning young riders. She's learned to prioritize and the need to do what's best for her and for her children, extolling the virtues of maturing in and out of the ring; she can almost mirror herself in the advice she's giving because, well ... she's lived it.
Lauren Hayes can be found on both Facebook and Instagram.
Ep. 43 HYS - Opportunities & Challenges: Brian Mullins Keeps Paying Attention
Even for the most dedicated equine athletes, there are things about being a farrier they don't know. Brian Mullins CJF ASF, owner of Mullins Farrier and host of the Mullins Farrier Podcast, joins Hitting Your Stride to shed light on all of the big and small things that go into being a farrier and what specifically led him down that road. He talks about his profession being good for the soul and how he acts as both a farrier and an unofficial 'therapist' during the same call.
Acting as both the first line of defence and the first voice in support of the horse, Brian talks about the bumps and bruises that are accepted daily occurrences for he and his brothers and sisters in the industry. And while he trades those stories freely, the real meat of the episode comes when Brian opens up about how he came across the job and got hooked almost right away. Starting on 'Old MacDonald's Farm' (his first name was Harold - who knew?!), Brian worked his way up from a curious 12-year-old to a young adult who came back to farriery when he happened to sell Andy Vergut a horse trailer and then took him up on an offer to ride along for a day.
Tracey and Brian open up a fascinating conversation about the relationships that are forged between fellow farriers, but just as importantly the relationships that have developed between farriers, vets and other equine health care professionals because of the recognition that they're all working towards a common goal. Brian's drive for learning and a hunger for perfecting his art show his passion for his craft and constantly improving his skills by learning whatever he can wherever he can.
The two share a few laughs as Brian talks about the different farrier competitions, as he mentions the three benefits of taking part in those competitions. And while talking about his podcast and upcoming trip to the UK, Tracey and Brian discuss the need to set boundaries, the importance of self-reflection and listening to your body. Brian caps off his thoughts by reflecting on what he would say to his 12-year-old self - some sage advice for everyone.
Brian Mullins CJF ASF can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and his website is www.mullinsfarrier.com.
Ep. 42 HYS - From the Ground Up - Caleb Clingen Leads the Way
Tracey crossed into new territory in this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride', as she welcomes Caleb Clingen to the show. A well-known and highly respected multi-discipline horse trainer who also happens to be an elite barrel racer. This first-generation horseman provides the foundational training they will eventually need, regardless of which discipline they are ridden in.
A horse is a horse - different breeds may have different conformations, but they all start the same way and Caleb focuses on the development of fundamentals with each to build them from the ground up. He goes into detail about the work he does with each horse, how he develops 'buttons' for each because every horse communicates the same way - whether they are a Warmblood or a Quarter Horse.
One of the biggest topics Tracey and Caleb talk about is leadership and how all horses respond to it - as Caleb says, a leader has to lead and not force the horse into anything. By giving it that crucial element in the horse/rider relationship, allowing the horse to think it's 'their idea' to do something, the bond deepens and the mindset is forged as a future building block.
Involvement is also a big deal for Caleb, as he encourages owners to check in and see how the development of their horse is coming along. By seeing that change in their charge, it gives Caleb the opportunity to go over that progress with the owner and help them build their connection and communication towards taking it to the next level.
And as anyone who has dealt with horses can attest, Caleb talks about the lessons he's learned in his work and what they've taught him - patience being at the top of the list. As he puts it, gaining just one per cent a day will go a long way over 100 days. Tracey brings the conversation to a close by asking Caleb for three simple things owners can do to better their relationship with their horse, with Caleb restating the importance of leadership, providing encouragement and, most importantly, working on the ability to gain an understanding of who their horse is.
Caleb Clingen can be found on social media under Clingen Quarter Horses (Facebook) and @calebhwc (Instagram).
Ep. 41 HYS -- Erynn Ballard - The Woman With Vision Is Still Dreaming
In as wide-ranging a conversation as Tracey has had with any of her guests, Erynn Ballard makes a thought-provoking appearance to take the podcast to the next level.
The women cover the gamut of topics with easy candor, going from how riding is both a passion and a job at the same time and you need to love both sides of that coin, to dealing with the realities of an injury that could very well have ended her riding career. By being forced to hit the reset button, Erynn came face to face with the fact that her dream and her goals were not aligned like she thought they were -- but getting back in the saddle, she came to the realization that she was where she was meant to be.
In the not too distant past, Erynn had the distinction of being the highest ranked female rider in the world, and she and Tracey used that as a jumping off point to discuss the level of equestrian sport in Canada and how, when Erynn was top-ranked female rider in the world, she still trailed a number of males in the FEI rankings. The irony of the situation she experienced while being lauded for her achievement was not lost on Erynn, as a crisis of confidence happened to set in right around the time she claimed the ranking that put her at the head of the women's class.
As the conversation develops, Erynn opens up about the relationship she's had with various horses and how the inevitability of the business of the equine world catches up with every rider. And when asked about the Maclay Award she won as a junior rider, Erynn said that played no small part in setting her up for success the rest of her career. She then hits on a gem when recalling something her dad imparted to her: every time you get on a horse, treat it like it's the best you've ever ridden.
With the chat winding down the women touch on how important self-care is, especially in the most hectic of schedules. And that includes balancing physical care with emotional and mental well-being ... even if she's walking through an airport, all the while accidentally hitting people with her yoga mat on her way to catch a flight.
Erynn Ballard can be found on Instagram (@erynnballard) and at www.erynnballard.com.
Ep. 40 HYS - Expectations, Discomfort and Tolerance in a show season with Kendra Devos, MSW, RSW
Emotions are heightened at the start of show season, as ambitious goals, nerve-wracking fears and struggles to accept failure are all part of the immediate future for riders. And Kendra DeVos (MSW, RSW) will be facing that this season, as she and her horse, Gigi, take on the Silver Series at Angelstone. But as a qualified therapist, Kendra is adept at identifying certain techniques to deal with all of these things and she shares them with Tracey during this episode.
As their conversation unfolds, Tracey and Kendra begin by asking the question, 'what do we really want to achieve?' and go from there. Goals should be something bigger than just 'a goal', being important enough to hold significant meaning to us; according to Kendra, a key to this is using 'The Window of Tolerance' and finding the sweet spot around the edges.
In talking about the rollercoaster of expectations that comes with highs and lows of competition, Tracey and Kendra discuss the mindset needed to deal with both ends of the ride before going on to talk about how you need to put the energy into the results you want to see -- linking you to 'your why'. And with your brain hard-wired to find the negative, they bring up the need to consciously exercise positive self-talk to enable visualizing success.
As their chat winds down, they bring up 'The Instagram Syndrome', not letting comparison become the thief of joy, the most universally shared human experience, and how your comfort zone is a beautiful but barren place. Those who fail are learning to succeed, which is the whole point of the exercise. And when it comes to the partnership with your horse, Kendra and Tracey emphasize just how important it really is to having an honest and open relationship with yourself and your goals -- Kendra shares a poignant story about something she learned from the most unlikely source.
Kendra DeVos can be found online at www.devoscounselling.com. Anyone wanting or needing to consult a counsellor can find one close by on the website www.psychologytoday.com.
Ep. 39 HYS - How To Bounce Back: Learning How To Be More Resilient
As horse people, we volunteer willingly to throw a leg over a 1,200-lb. animal knowing that nothing of what could follow is going to be easy. They test us, and we know that test is coming. Yet for some, they struggle to learn how to bounce back in the face of a challenge. Being an equestrian requires a strong reflex to get back up when you fall, putting that one foot forward again to get it right the next time.
In this episode, Tracey goes solo in sharing her thoughts and ideas on the topic of riders facing challenges and learning how to be resilient in the moment. There is always a growth opportunity when learning from setbacks, and in those moments of what seems like a failure are when your courage actually grows stronger. Tracey gives some insight on how to develop your resilience and encourages listeners to try something new to help facilitate their own growth in this key area.
Want to learn more about making these changes for yourself? Contact Tracey at www.equestrianelementslc.com and book a free discovery session with her to start on your path to becoming more resilient.
Ep. 38 HYS -- You Can Actually Do This: CrossFit & Riding Goals Are Not That Different
Picture sitting in the saddle and thinking, 'Can I actually do this?' just as the first show of the season kicks off. One thought after another is racing through your head, questioning if you have what it takes to complete the goals that you set out for yourself not that long ago. In today's 'Hitting Your Stride', Tracey shares those exact thoughts about a goal she laid out for herself a year ago and then how she went about achieving it.
Joining her for this episode is her personal trainer and CrossFit Level II coach Patrick Ramsay, who was there with Tracey from Day 1 when she came to him with this idea of competing in the CrossFit Open for the first time. He helped prepare and guide her along that journey, working together to establish benchmarks to reach small goals along the way to the big one. During that journey, Tracey had to overcome bouts of self-doubt and feeling like she was taking on too much, but neither she nor Coach Pat shied away from putting in the work to reach the brass ring.
Just like a horse and rider have to establish a plan and trust that their coach believes in them and knows their capabilities, Tracey and Patrick talk about how the different elements that came to light during her training are relatable to anyone who has been in the saddle as they make their way to the ring for the first time in a season. Tracey learned about trust, accountability and that keeping one foot in the level of discomfort at all times helps to ensure growth and success.
It came down to trusting that she was prepared mentally and physically. And when it was done, Tracey reached her goal -- having moved the approximate weight of three full-grown yaks. In her own words, she's got a good base to grow on - words any equestrian should take to heart.
Patrick Ramsay works for WholeFit Lucan as a trainer. He can be found on Instagram at @instarams.1, while WholeFit Lucan is @wholefittraining.
EP. 37 HYS -- Miracle Touches: How Dr. Steve Engle Found His Way
Anyone who knows Tracey's guest in this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride' knows the word 'passionate' doesn't even begin to describe him. Dr. Steve Engle, veterinarian and equine chiropractor, can't ever seem to quench his thirst for knowledge. When he was first introduced to the new modality of equine chiropractic in 1995, he talked about continuing to learn and wanting to understand every aspect of it - even the creativity that is involved and how horses teach him something every day.
Through the connection he formed with his mentor, Jim Kenney, Steve was able to grow his knowledge of and interest in equine chiropractics: he built upon an experience with an Arab mare that gave him a 'message heard' moment that sent him on the journey that continues his growth and understanding of the relationships people have with horses.
Tracey and Steve talk about communication and how the subtle language between humans and horses requires patience and a willingness to wait to fully grasp it. Being in too much of a rush can result in missing out on cues being sent out by the animals, from which he talks about the range of miracles he's witnessed. Being able to feel and see horses share their gratitude is something far too many vets never get to experience. He says that moment when a horse sinks its head into your chest to say 'thank-you' is something to behold.
And he couldn't have a conversation about his life and career without mentioning his love and respect for his wife, Margie Goldstein-Engle. Steve shares how the pair initially came together and how their story brought them back together after time apart. He considers his spiritual life as an important aspect of his self-care, combined with the physical and dietary elements. And no matter how hard he works, there is always joy to be found in everything he does in service to horses.
Ep. 36 HYS -- A Bridesmaid's Guide to Silver Linings: In Conversation with Lesley Grant Law
In this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride', Tracey takes a deep dive into the world of eventing rider and coach Lesley Grant-Law. This Canadian-born equestrian now calls Ocala, Florida home, where she and her husband Leslie Law operate Law Eventing. Lesley goes into great detail about her life in and out of the horse world and doesn't hold back on some of the lessons she's had to learn.
Brought up by her parents to be a hard worker, Lesley recalls how they didn't approve of her choice to follow dreams of being an equestrian athlete but she went for it anyway. She educated the hell out of herself, getting a pair of degrees - including a masters in Political Science - from York University before embarking on another kind of educational experience in the horse world. It was around this time that Lesley learned where her goal posts were but also that she could broaden them.
Never having been a good quitter, Lesley's determined mindset lets her see the silver lining in being a 'fantastic bridesmaid' -- including a heartbreak near her peak as an athlete that resulted in 'a soul-crushing experience' -- and how even the saddest story of your life can be turned around into something positive. Forever a student, Lesley learns from those around her ... including her Olympic gold-medalist husband. And even as she works to better her riding & competitive skills every chance she gets, Lesley happily admits that it will always be family first for her.
HYS Ep. 35 - Meg Krueger on things that are Possible and Real in the World
Meg Krueger, the CEO of Equestrian Canada, joins Tracey on the podcast and takes listeners on a proverbial ride through the peaks and valleys of her career and life as an adventurer and an entrepreneur. Proud to call herself Canadian, the head of our country's governing body for equestrian sport has tapped into knowledge bases both at home and abroad to strengthen and improve EC during her time as both president and now chief executive.
Driven by wanting to make a difference in the world around her, Meg credits her ability to push beyond her comfort level as a trait that has had significant impacts in numerous parts of her life. And it was an unexpected gift that helped distill her attitude towards following - or in some cases, creating - her dreams. Professing her strongest values as happiness, adventure and freedom, those traits have helped to fuel her decisions and given her the security that she knows she's doing what's right for herself.
Following her sense of adventure has led Meg across the world on experiences that might seem too unbelievable to be true -- going to Mongolia and experiencing a shamanic trek through the Siberian mountains to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with a friend -- showed her that her world wasn't the huge universe that she imagined it was; instead, she came to understand how she fit into a much larger picture.
As their conversation continues, Tracey and Meg talk about successful leadership, the ability to separate herself from an issue and find ways to create a solution, the importance of being and remaining humble, and how challenges can be difficult and constant and sometimes don't end for long periods of time but to keep believing in yourself and those around you. Meg caps their conversation by sharing some insight into how she celebrates both the big and small victories in life and how life is about service to others and what you can do for them without expecting anything in return.
Always open and interested in hearing from others, Meg Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.
HYS Ep. 34 - Dr. Mike Pownall: Still Doing It For The Same Reasons
In this episode of Hitting Your Stride, Dr. Mike Pownall (DVM, MBA) joins Tracey for a spirited discussion on the state of equine veterinary care in the industry and how he as co-owner of McKee-Pownall Equine Services is seeking to change things for the better. This is pretty far from where Mike thought he'd be, having grown up a city kid in Montreal with no interest in horses -- until a thoughtful gift changed his future.
Tracey and Mike go through the details of what currently faces vets today: high-stress demands and compassion fatigue have led to some of the most alarmingly high rates of burnout and suicide of any profession. But to help look after those who work for McKee-Pownall and to best serve horse owners and preserve their peace of mind when it comes to healthcare decisions, Mike and his wife, Melissa, have put a focus on creating a culture of 'people first' when it comes to caring for their employees.
As with a lot of Tracey's guests, Mike shares that he found his passion for horses when a friend gifted him lessons and he saw it snowball from there. And in going from a Concordia graduate with a degree in communications to a farrier to a vet who sports an MBA from the Ivey School of Business at Western, it's safe to say that his journey has been as varied as it has been inspiring.
One of Mike's guiding principles is giving back, acknowledging that so many doors were opened for him along his path that for him to not pay it forward would be a great act of selfishness. Lots of people in the horse industry have had a mentor and someone supporting them, and he considers it an honour to return that supportive experience.
And for someone whose life has become a detailed balancing act, Mike points out that you need a clear vision from the start to make your goals become reality. Part of that is showing strength in self-leadership, including both the sense of humility in your service to others and a strong emotional intelligence where you are aware of your impact on others and how that affects your personal growth.
McKee-Pownall can be found online at www.mpequine.com.
HYS Ep. 33 -- Dancing Through The Tough Times: In conversation with Christilot Boylen
It's not often you get the chance to have a conversation with someone who helped shape a sport for an entire country, but Tracey had that very opportunity in this episode of Hitting Your Stride. She welcomed six-time Olympian and three-time PanAm gold medalist Christilot Boylen to the podcast to share her lifetime of experiences -- from learning how to learn in the most foreign of circumstances, how to get the message across to students who aren't sure of their footing, and how goal-setting never goes away.
Christilot opens up to Tracey about the influences she's had in her life, starting with her mother's get-it-done attitude upon arriving in Canada in 1951 and ranging to the different coaches she learned from and is still influenced by to this day. One of her most important lessons comes in the form of advice for young riders needing to learn how to dance so they understand the concepts of rhythm and beat, and another she borrows from a fellow Canadian icon, Ian Millar, about always being on the lookout for learning opportunities.
Showing the singular focus it takes to be a world-class athlete, Christilot talks about her ability to shut out the outside world when she needed to most, but also opens up about the need to develop yourself as a more complete person and take the time to be joyous and celebrate many aspects of life. You need to learn what you really enjoy in life, especially outside of the ring, to truly enjoy life inside of it.
Even as her competitive riding days are winding down, Tracey finds out that Canada's First Lady of Dressage still has a lot she wants to get done. They touch on Canada's place among the best equestrian nations in the world, how she still enjoys shaping the future of horses, riders and those who coach them, and what she thinks about taking time to appreciate the finer things in your life.
HYS Ep. 32 - The Unspoken Truths About Investing In Yourself
In a rare solo episode, Tracey dives in to a topic that's very personal for her - self-care and the value of personal investment. She's witnessed for years what happens when people don't take the time to tend to themselves, and how professionals and amateur owners alike continue to miscalculate just how important looking after their own needs really is.
She talks about how it's not easy to recognize and be honest with one's self with the lack of investment that we make in ourselves, and how there are so many of us feeling overwhelmed or out-of-touch due to burnout. Once you've had that honest conversation about what you're faced with, and you're fully aware of what the signs and symptoms of experiencing possible burn out are, this episode points listeners in the direction of a few small but simple tools to get things turned around to the point of feeling less overwhelmed and more energized and in control of your days.
Change is a learned behaviour and it takes practice, patience and consistency. And Tracey reminds you that you put a lot into your horse so you can enjoy them - the right foods, training, equipment - and sometimes you need a reminder that you deserve that kind of care and attention as well.
HYS Ep. 31 - Exploring the Grief Journey: In conversation with Helen Goldberg
We all know that the relationships with the animals that we love, whether they're a pet or an equine partner, will eventually come to an end. And no matter how prepared we think we are for that day, it's always harder than we imagined it would be.
Helen Goldberg, the owner of Helen Goldberg Pet Loss Counselling, shares with Tracey that the journey with each animal will be different and that dictates the grief journey once they are gone. She helps people to understand that there is no timetable in expressing their grief, and the biggest thing she tells people is they need to give themselves permission to experience the loss in order to recover.
Tracey and Helen cover the five stages of grief, and how moving on is not the same as forgetting the memories and love they felt in that relationship. For those who struggle to move on from their grief, Helen suggests they focus on the joy and unconditional love their animals provided them. The need to continue living so they can honour that love is key, she said.
After talking about self-care, Tracey and Helen wrap up the episode by talking about what the other side of grieving looks like and how you can approach it. Despite what it might feel like during this process, Helen assures us there is a light ready to welcome us through when your journey through grief is complete.
Helen Goldberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website can be found at www.petlosscounselling.net. She can be found on Facebook by searching Helen Goldberg - Certified Pet Loss Grief Recovery Specialist.
HYS Ep. 30 - Learning the Long & Short of Equestrian Entrepreneurship with Sarah Long
As Tracey's latest guest, Sarah Long opens this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride' by accepting who she is and what she's capable of, but doesn't settle for just being naturally talented. Building on the working relationships she forged as a young rider and coach, Sarah credits the people around her and a joy of learning for her ability to transition from 'just a rider' to an up & coming coach with a Grand Prix pedigree.
Having a growth mindset proved to her that natural ability wasn't enough to get her where she wanted to be, and her constant desire to apply learned knowledge to herself, her horses and her students fuels her forward momentum. Sarah talks about how crucial it is to have a hands-on relationship with your horse and how that helps rider and horse build a trust in one another that comes into play as that relationship blossoms.
As a young business woman in a competitive industry, Sarah talks about how she's learned how important time management is and how to build strong and lasting relationships with her clients all the while maintaining her own personal relationships. Fitness plays no small part in her world, going from a self-professed '100-lb. weakling' to asking herself 'how can I ride this horse better?'. She found weight training has given her the ability to transition into a better rider and more complete coach as well.
Finally, Tracey and Sarah talk how her mentor, Mark Hayes, has helped guide her along the path, and how building herself into a brand has been the next great learning experience for her.
Sarah Long can be found on social media (@SarahLong on Facebook/ @sarahlong66 on Instagram), and those wanting to reach out to her via email can find her at email@example.com.
HYS Ep. 29 - The Chance She Wound Up Taking with Jennifer Anstey
Life's path isn't always clearly set out in front of you, and as Tracey and her guest, Jennifer Anstey from the Horse Media Group, find out by delving into the divergent path Jennifer took when she joined her mother's company. That decision unknowingly set up her future career as the head of Canada's premier equine media outlets.
With an obvious love of what she does, Jennifer shares her experiences of growing into the role she now occupies and how the big and small stories combined to fuel the passion she has for covering equestrian sports. Stories of celebrating Olympic wins to the controversial treatment of horses in endurance riding, and how she's hoping to keep shining a light on all areas of need in the sport.
So many struggle to find a work/life balance, but Jennifer shares she has zero problems with that because she loves what she does and the context in which she gets to do it. That's not to say she takes life outside the office for granted, as her volunteerism gives her deeper roots at home in her community.
And then there's mom. Taking over the reins from her late mother, Susan Jane, Jennifer has expanded on and developed a new vision for the Horse Media Group - one she thinks her mother would approve of.
Jennifer Anstey's work can be found by going to www.horse-canada.com, www.canadianthoroughbred.com and www.horsesport.com. Reach out to her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HYS Ep. 28 - One Year In, It's Time to Talk Setting Goals with Rob Mitchell
With one year of 'Hitting Your Stride' under her belt, Tracey takes the opportunity to sit down with her brother, Rob Mitchell, to go over the best ways to set goals for yourself. A new year is just around the corner, so the Mitchell siblings get into details on how to set and maintain goals, how reassuring yourself that you're on the right path is a good thing, and setting rituals and routines for ourselves that honour our personal development.
Tracey and Rob get into what to do when you're feeling challenged and recognize that taking the first step is always going to be the hardest, but they also say it's good to acknowledge the little victories along the way towards bigger goals. Rob touches on where sub-goals can fit in, and how it's important to live life outside comfort zones. And above all else, you just have to remember to get your feet on the floor in order to reconnect to your intention on a daily basis.
If you're looking to set new goals for yourself in the new year, Tracey is accepting new clients. She can be contacted on www.equestrianelementslc.com, any of her social media channels or by emailing her at email@example.com.
HYS Ep. 27 - Measuring & Managing Stress and Anxiety with Kendra DeVos MSW RSW
Discussing the importance of self-evaluation, how we set our goals, and the self-compassion we need to have for ourselves along the way, Tracey and Kendra spend time delving into both the psychological and physiological impacts that go along with stress and anxiety. Kendra makes clear the distinction between the two and how recognizing 'the tiger in the room' for what it is and how it can be a good tool for keeping your stress or anxiety in check.
The differences are subtle, but Kendra goes over how anxiety, excitement and anticipation differ even when they stem from the same place. And in a sport where the need to 'be fine' can be overwhelming, she emphasizes the need to give yourself space and deal with what happened if you stumble and fall off your horse.
Kendra and Tracey also talk about how social dynamics play a role in how equestrians feel about not only themselves but also in their participation in the barn life around them. Developing boundaries and knowing who has 'earned their spot in your life' highlight this segment of the conversation.
The episode closes as Tracey and Kendra talk about 2 Imperfect Partners and how this kind of teamwork is simply based on the desire of not wanting to let one another down: they teach us to be in the moment.
Kendra DeVos can be reached through her website, www.devoscounselling.,com. She can also be found on www.psychologytoday.com and searching for her listing in the London, Ontario area - those who are in need of help can also find a qualified registered social worker in their area on the site by entering their city in the search parameters.
HYS Ep. 26 - Always Ardie: The Organic Evolution of Blueberry Hill and an Equestrian Lifer
This is the tale of a little girl who only ever wanted to grow up to be at the horse show. Ardie Hastey is living out her dream every day, as anyone who's ever set foot in her Blueberry Hill boutique can attest to. Tracey gets the bubbly Ardie to talk shop (literally) about how it started and how it's going, touching on things like how customers always get the 'real Ardie', having the guts to cold-call Jack Ogilvy about selling his products in an unproven market from her car trunk, and grasping what it is that customers sometimes want when they step into her shop.
Ardie talked about her own experience with the hard reality of the equestrian industry and how she turns that into a positive, her secret for not getting lost in the shuffle, and the need to re-write the definition of professional for a younger (and sometimes older) generation. With the belief that if you 'feel sexy, you'll ride sexy', Hastey puts an emphasis on the ability to customize to give the customer a truly unique experience by giving them the ability to express themselves and their business.
You'll come away laughing right along with Tracey and Ardie, and nodding your head at times when you see what she means when she says what changing a plan really means and how she thinks about dealing with personal limits in the age of instant gratification. After all, it's all about 'Only The Best' with Ardie.
You can find Ardie and Blueberry Hill online at www.blueberry-hill.net, and on socials by searching @blueberry_ardie and @BlueberryHill. Reach out to her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HYS Ep. 25 - Nicole Verkindt Living Life by the Seasons
Here are just two ideas you will come to embrace after the latest episode of 'Hitting Your Stride': failure is not an ending, and your original idea will not be your final idea. Those are just two notions that Nicole Verkindt shares with Tracey and her listeners in this episode.
The Ivey School of Business graduate and one of Canada's leading entrepreneurial voices, Verkindt gives her take on such things as accepting that a horse will teach you to check your ego at the barn door, that you can't control everything no matter how much you try, and that you are going to fail but that's not the end of the journey.
Comparing entrepreneurs to lions, Verkindt describes the value she found in mentorship as a young businesswoman and that some of the best stuff happens when it follows an uncomfortable conversation. She says its important to ask for help and collaborate with others, but also to see the importance of sharing ideas when trying to advance a project since nobody can do it alone.
Check out Nicole's latest venture by logging on to www.guestlog.co.
HYS Ep. 24 - A Couple Little Things: Time Well Spent with Jacqueline Brooks
Tracey engages in conversation with two-time Olympian and PanAm Games silver medalist Jacqueline Brooks on a wide range of topics. She talks about her multi-sport training approach, doing what got you here and not trying to be a gold medalist, and how everyone needs someone really in their corner in the equestrian world.
Brooks reveals her unique view of the horse/rider relationship, how improved technique can result in better progress and more efficient effort, and she gives her opinion on what she thinks is holding Canadian riders back on the world stage. Her passion for and teaching of the sport comes through during the course of the interview, as does her desire to promote and celebrate the sport.
Jacquie can be found on Facebook (@jacqueline.brooks1) and by visiting her website www.brookhavendressage.com.
HYS Ep. 23 -- The Value of Unconventional Thinking: In conversation with Taylor Stafford
Taylor Stafford of Anatomeq Inc., joins Tracey for the latest episode of Hitting Your Stride, and the pair of entrepreneurs talk shop about thinking bigger and breaking the mold when it comes to turning a vision into reality. A believer in being hands-on and getting involved, Stafford talked about how she followed her passion and belief that she could make a better equine product ... resulting in her being able to follow her dream and create a better, more fulfilled life for herself.
Tracey gets Taylor talking about the dedication and responsibility involved in both being a horse owner and a businesswoman (#solopreneur), but they also make a point of sharing that it remains important to look at how you feel at the end of the day and what you've accomplished - both in terms of your goals and your self.
Anatomeq can be found online (www.anatomeq.com) and Taylor can be reached at email@example.com. Her socials are on both Instagram and Facebook (@anatomeq).
HYS Ep. 22 -- Ray Butterfield: All about the Details
Ray Butterfield joins Tracey on this episode of 'Hitting Your Stride' and he makes quite an impression with their wide-ranging conversation. The rider-turned-salesman-turned-instructor opens up on the influences in his equestrian journey; how big the difference between good enough and good is, learning to manage animals right from their most delicate stage, and recognizing value when others don't see it.
Butterfield takes great pride in talking about listening to those small voices in his head in times of triumph, and what it feels like being okay with things you can't control.
Ray and his wife, Scarlett, own and operate Hazel Crest, a hunter/jumper facility located in Hillsburgh, ON. They can be found on Facebook and Instagram by searching @cresthazel.
HYS Ep. 21 -- Megan Lane on Monumental Moments & New Collaborations
It's clear from the start that Tracey's latest guest, Megan Lane, is different in many ways. The young dressage rider already boasts an impressive resume, but that's about all the boasting she is likely to do. Lane talks on 'Hitting Your Stride' about where she goes mentally when she's in the saddle and the feeling of power between her and her horse, as well as her foundations of hard work and determination instilled in her early in her riding career.
Talking about her partner, Caravella, and how she's considered part of the family, Lane shares some emotional insights on how that relationship developed and what it has come to mean to her. Her attitude is also reflected in talking about the numerous accolades she's earned while riding, giving those around her shares in her successes.
Mindset plays a big role in Lane's everyday life, whether it comes via learning from others around her or dealing with issues away from riding. And with adversity comes new perspectives, something she says has been enlightening.
Megan Lane can be contacted via Facebook (facebook.com/megantherider) and Instagram (@mlanedressage).
HYS Ep. 20 - Attending The Details: personal fitness doesn't need to be scary
Tracey welcomes Ryan Mitra to Hitting Your Stride for this episode, and the two talk about the focus needed to attain your goals. Mitra, a former crew member for the Western University Mustangs and now a strength & conditioning coach for the squad, breaks down the myths surrounding personal fitness and says you start by being honest with yourself and setting concrete goals. They talk about the pathways to achievable goals, and the distinction between urgency and importance.
Nutrition plays a key role in their chat as well, as they highlight the need to align your nutrition with your fitness goals. And they also confront the elephant in the gym -- dealing with how intimidating your fitness goals can be when you first start out. The key to success there is to start small so the habit develops properly.
Anyone with questions for Ryan can reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HYS Ep. 19 -- Love, Horse Poop, and Podcasts
Tracey sits down (literally) with her husband, business partner and podcast producer Matt Harris to talk about the art of collaboration. Over the course of their conversation, Matt talks about the inspiration he's drawn from a number of the Hitting Your Stride episodes he's taken particular interest in, as well as how watching Tracey work at her job gives him the motivation to find better ways to work with others himself.
They touch on not being afraid to ask questions, learning how to communicate with others regardless of the relationship, and learning what our zones of genius are and how to maximize their value in a partnership.
And there is a point during the interview that Matt nearly brings Tracey to tears (in a good way) when asking about her passion for coaching.
You can listen to previous episodes on your preferred podcast platform, and also learn more about coaching by visiting Tracey's website at www.equestrianelements.com.
HYS Ep. 18 -- The Mission Never Ends - Kerri McGregor's passionate equestrian life
Owner/operator of The Equestrian Marketing Coach and co-owner of Outrageous Creations website design, Kerri McGregor joins Tracey on Hitting Your Stride to discuss their similar paths in the equestrian world, but also hits on a few hot topics: dealing with imposter syndrome, finding a way to balance a hectic schedule, and taking the social media monster head-on.
Kerri talks about her experiences in the equine world, starting by bugging her parents for riding lessons and reaching her own personal mountaintop by heading up Canada's equine contingent as the Chef de Mission at two PanAm Games, two Olympic Games, and one World Equestrian Games. Her new mission is following up a great passion -- helping see the equestrian industry (businesses & individuals) rise and thrive by using her social media and marketing tools.
She can be reached on Instagram (@equestrianmarketingcoach) and Facebook (The Equestrian Marketing Coach), as well as at her website's email email@example.com.
HYS Ep. 17 - Being more aware of You in a Day
Tracey goes solo for this episode where she talks about energy hacks and how to make the best use of your 24 hours. Like a good rider is built with a solid foundation of fundamentals, Tracey points out a good day for anyone starts with when your eyes are closed; getting a good sleep doesn't happen by accident, and there is prep work involved!
She covers the value of being kind to your brain by stopping all the task switching you do and how upping your focus allows you to lower the mental jumps you have to clear. Being true to yourself and staying aligned with what you love remains a pillar of living your best life, and she saves a pair of gems for the grand finale -- learning to embrace the chill, and getting into the habit of having a great day.
HYS Ep. 16 - Living Towards Your Beliefs: no easy rides for Dr. Kendra Clark
Tracey talks with Dr. Kendra Clark, a human/equine chiropractor who recently returned to her home town of Guelph, Ontario, to set up her practice. Over the course of their conversation, Tracey and Dr. Kendra discuss already knowing the answer when you ask for advice, the problem with assumptions and the importance of humility, how she has carried a rider's mindset into everything she does and living towards what you believe in.
Dr. Kendra details how she's coped with and cared for a degenerative hip disease she's had since her childhood, and the importance of self-care in those early days that laid the foundation for where she finds herself today. Little things like movement planning that carry over from work to riding also come up, as does a little fireside wisdom she and her brothers conjured up.
And let's not forget those fabulous furkeys!
Dr. Kendra can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beware -- some sh!t bombs were dropped during the course of conversation (no horsey puns intended).