The Perks Of Global Warming

The Perks Of Global Warming

Is it really worth it?
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Ahh, s'winter! In the world of "Phineas and Ferb," it was a summer day that they morphed into winter. However, in our current (and a bit more than moderately alarming) times, it is synonymous with the month of February.

I came to Syracuse, New York expecting my winters to be a steady stream of snow. And for a while, that was what I got. However, suddenly we are knee deep in what would be expected to be the prime snow and parka weather, and I am stepping out of my dorm in short sleeves.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily complaining. If anyone appreciates a warm day, it's a student who goes to Syracuse University. However, I would be lying if I said that the warmth wasn't worrisome.

It's not supposed to be 75 degrees in the winter. This is a simple fact that even a kindergartener could understand. So the fact that our current president has the tenacity to deny that global warming is occuring is not only baffling, but also concerning. Because sure, today we are all in good moods as we walk out of our dorms in flip-flops and t-shirts during the time we should be in snow boots and parkas.

But in the next 5 years? 10 years? 50? I don't want to live in a world where there is no such thing as snow. And frankly, it won't even be an option, because a world where there is no snow is likely a world that is already too destroyed for habitation.

I'm not the grinch, and I'm not wishing for negative degree winter. I'm just saying it's a bit hard to enjoy the warmth in February when I know what a price we are paying to experience it.

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash

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To The Equestrian Judge That Tried To Break My Spirit

You may have won the battle, but you didn't win the war.

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There is a special thrill as a child being in the saddle for the first time. This animal delivered to me a whole new perspective of the world in all of its glory. I lived for the lessons these horses silently taught me — to be responsible, to cherish all life, to be brave in the face of adversity, and the list continues. Most of the valuable lessons I hold dear were taught by the horses I have had the honor of riding, leasing, and owning.

I wouldn't be the person I am today without these horses I adore so much, but I would be wrong if I didn't say that the coaches who taught me how to ride and the judges I have asked for advice didn't teach me valuable lessons as well. Believe it or not, even the judge who laughed in my face and insulted me showed me a crucial lesson as well. There will always be someone who doesn't like me no matter how hard I try to impress everyone.

I competed at a three-day long horse show during the summer when I was eighteen back in 2015, and I was excited because after three years of hard work Boomer and I were finally competitive to take on the big and burly quarter horses that reigned over the arena. Boomer is an Arabian horse, a relatively uncommon breed to show at this particular show and even more unusual to compete in the specific sport of Ranch Horse Pleasure.

Ranch Horse Pleasure is an equestrian sport that was made for every rider and horse. If your horse wasn't cut out for the thrilling sport of Reining and wasn't slow enough to be competitive in Western Pleasure, then Ranch Horse Pleasure was the perfect sport for avid riders. This fun and new sport was what Boomer and I planned to compete in as a stepping stone to reining, and given his almost lazy nature, he was pretty good at it.

Boomer waiting patiently for me at the gate. Photo Credit: Danielle Weeks

Although this particular horse show wasn't a top-level horse show, the competition was still very tough. Classes are often full of horses worth tens of thousands of dollars in bloodlines and training, but Boomer had proven his worth before even though I got him for free and did a large portion of his training on my own for years before this show.

The professional training Boomer did have, was earned by me through hours upon hours of saddling up horses, feeding horses, cleaning stalls, working horses, and doing other tasks around the barn for my trainers to earn training time and lessons. The work was difficult especially while I was working two different jobs, and going to junior college full time, but it was worth it seeing how well my trainers polished Boomer into an even better horse.

On the first day of competition, Boomer performed well, and the judge for the first day scored us well above my expectations. Afterward, I asked this judge for feedback, and she kindly complimented us while pointing out some criticisms she noticed to help us do better. I took note of this for the next day, and after I fed, watered, and cleaned up after twenty or so horses, Boomer and I practiced for the second day of showing and nailed our pattern. I knew we were going to do great, and I was thrilled to perform tomorrow!

But after our performance on the second day, we received a strange score. Boomer performed better than yesterday, but we received a lower rating. After my class, I took care of Boomer and the other horses and went to the office to look at my scorecard. I figured, if the judge saw anything I didn't feel, he would have written it down on the card.

When I arrived, I could see the judge putting the scorecards into the binder for the day, and I was happy I could catch him before he left for the night. When I walked up to him, I introduced myself and shook his hand, and he was very polite until I described the horse I was riding today.

The immediate change in attitude this man had was so noticeable it almost made me hesitate to continue, but I still asked, "Is there anything you saw today that I could improve on with my horse?"

Boomer and I at the three-day horse show. Taken on the second day. Photo Credit: David Weeks

Apparently, my question was funny for him, because he laughed at me as if I told him a joke, but not before telling me, "Yeah, get rid of that crazy Arab and buy yourself a real ranch horse."

My jaw dropped, and all I could do was watch him walk away from me with an astounded look on my face. Shock turned in to horror because I knew this man's dislike of my horse cost me the horse show. The thousands of hours and dollars I had spent to get to this point, was gone. None of my hard work had mattered because of this one judge who decided my horse and I didn't deserve to be here.

I dragged my feet back to the barn because it was beginning to get dark and the horses needed to be fed and watered for the night. I still wore a dumbfounded look all the way to my horse's stall, but I looked at Boomer and saw he was already watching me. When I looked at him, he let out a soft breath and walked up to the door and waited for me to pet him. I doubt he knew I was going to come into his stall and sob into his mane, but I did, because no matter how cruel people are at least Boomer's hair is thick enough to soak up my emotions.

The last day of the show went well and the judge was fair at. Unfortunately, with the averaged scores for the weekend, the second score I received by the terrible judge booted me out of the top five, and I lost out on earning a championship buckle and ribbon.

I thought long and hard about continuing to show Boomer in Ranch Riding and Reining, and I thought, maybe he was right. Perhaps I didn't belong in the sport. I saw the glares. I heard the comments that my friends and I overheard. I know the things people told my Mother, because, "[she] let her daughter ride an Arabian? Don't you know they're crazy?!" Making my Mother feel uncomfortable to be at this horse show as well.

Making my Mother uncomfortable, and the terrible judge affirmed to me that I would never return to the three-day show that gave me such a bad experience.

However, a year later I competed for the first time in Reining at a horse show series consisting of four horse shows over four months. At the end of it, Boomer and I earned a Championship and Reserve Championship buckle in our two classes. Boomer was the only Arabian to compete at the series. The year after that in 2017, we won three Reserve Championships in Ranch Horse Pleasure at a different show.

So, nice try to the judge who told me my horse and I didn't belong in this sport. I will continue to ride my 'crazy Arabian' in Reining and Ranch Riding shows and we will tear up the arena and clean up the ribbons and buckles because we have done it before and after we experienced your terrible judgment. I'll admit that you may have won the battle, but you didn't win the war. Boomer and I are not done yet, and your bad attitude isn't stopping us.

Boomer and I with our amazing Reining trainer Steven Allen after we earned our Reserve Champion buckle in Oroville California. My other amazing reining trainer, Chantel Allen took this photo that I still cherish.

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Cold Weather Means Binge-Watching Everything

It's that time of the year: hot chocolate, movies, and cuddles!

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Winter break is basically here and with all the free time, what better way to spend it than binge-watching every single movie and show possible. Here are some suggestions you might love!

1. "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina"

If you were as obsessed with "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" as I was as a child than this show will restart your obsession. It is a darker version of the original, but just as intriguing.

2. "Orange is the New Black"

If you haven't hopped on the "Orange is the New Black" train, isn't too late! The show will keep you on your toes so much that I think I even might have binged watched a little too quick!

3. "Disenchantment"

The perfect show to start of your break. Your brain is dead from finals week and this cartoon is precisely what you need: a little laughter and no thinking.

4. "Set it Up"

This may not be a television show, but the movie is yet another good, funny romance. Two interns struggling to gain time for themselves and their real lives end up wrapped up in their bosses love lives and eventually, their own.

5. "To All the Boys I've loved Before"

Yet another movie, but definitely a must see. When it first came out, ALL of my friends were watching it, so if you haven't seen it yet, I won't spill any details. Just try it out.

6. "The Kissing Booth"

The last movie, I promise, but this one is a little iffy for some. It is the utter definition of a classic romance movie. If all you need is a happy ending and a perfectly predictable movie... well, here you go.

7. "Big Mouth" 

Yet another no-brainer! "Big Mouth" is also a cartoon with laughter and it doesn't require much brain power. If you pay attention to the details, you'll realize it is much wittier and clever than you ever realized.

8. "Stranger Things" 

Three words: dangerous, creepy and thrilling. "Stranger Things" didn't catch my eye until someone forced me to sit down and watch it. If you get hooked, season 2 has even more twists and turns than the first season! Better yet, season 3 should be right around the corner and releasing with the new year so perfect timing for a binge-watching.

9. "13 Reasons Why"

Tragic and emotional is all I have to say. The mysterious, tragic love story for anyone and everyone.

10.  "Black Mirror" 

The random, strange stories told through this show have caught the world's attention, but there are endless episodes, so start from the beginning and work your way through in order. Each episode acts as its own, completely irrelevant to the previous episodes. No need to watch them in order!

11.  "Ozark" 

This one reminds me of "Breaking Bad!" If anyone loved that show, this might be for you. A money laundering father leads his family on a runaway after a deal goes wrong.

12.  "Safe"

A mysterious story with the main character, played by one of my favorites, Michael Hall, aka "Dexter". The story entails a missing daughter, a lost father, and a tragic secret from many years before. Better yet, it includes many other mysteries that I shouldn't tell you about. Do yourself a favor and go find out the answers to them!

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