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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Melinda needs a kennel

[edited: Can I just put a disclaimer here and then you guys can mentally copy and paste this into the start of every post? As of August 15th my brain is dead. It's a bonafide miracle that these posts are even getting written. So I apologize for the grammer, the sentence structure, the spelling, and my use of the English language. :) ]

After the first day of vet school I felt like a 5 month old puppy that really needed to be put into her kennel.

A little maniac.

A lot tired.

Even more brain dead.

Wanna hear something surprising? I actually think the small group thing is going to be fun. We did a survival exercise that involved ranking a list of 15 items in order of importance to survival. Our group had the best score, and our group score FAR out performed any of our individual scores.

This will be the same small groups that we do labs and other school-related activities (unless we ever get stranded in the sub-arctic - in that case we we just did our homework...) so this is a good sign. Seeing the scores really helped me trust the group consensus and realize that even though in the details I may not agree with what the group decides, the overall picture will be closer to goal than what I could have done myself.

So of course.....As I'm sitting there with my bright, shiny new computer during such relevant lectures as "Functional Meetings", my fingers are actually itching to discuss (in a blog post of course!) whether the rider/endurance horse relationship follows the process of group forming, and whether it may be more beneficial for an endurance rider to ride as part of a "team effort" instead of individually according to ROAR - even if some of the specific details of how the team is going to ride are different from the preference of the individual rider.....

The latter has implications in both the international competitions (the WEGs) and in our backyard rides. If you are stuck in endurance, it might be beneficial to form an informal "endurance ride team" and see how it goes. Call it "Team Faubel" or "Fiddler on the Roof" or the "Backpackers" (what my 20MT team name was this year). Decide on objectives and roles and follow the process of ROAR.

Roles (assign)
Objectives (agree on)
Rules (an important one is how to come to a consensus on issues that the group is divided on).

If you are like me, you will be skeptical of the team difference. I thought the effect would be minimal to none - but let me tell you folks, the difference was SIGNIFICANT.

In way, blogging is about collaboration and developing a sense of community. You may not always agree with your fellow bloggers, BUT I know I am certainty a stronger endurance ride because of all of you. I just didn't realize HOW much stronger I am probably am with your help versus without.

In an endurance, the roles that are assigned are more fluid and thus we may not see the full benefit of working in collaboration or a team - BUT why not take any benefit we can, especially if it fosters community?

That's why I'm excited about websites like, and what I envision for does a really great job of compiling and nurturing the endurance community - a tradition I want to continue at boots and saddles.

I want to point out that being part of a supporting and functional community and group doesn't mean we always get along. It's natural to be extra polite in the first stage (forming). "Storming" is when you actually start being honest and the personality conflicts are apparent. Hopefully you eventually move past that (it really doesn't have to be a big deal - it can be as simple as asking yourself - "why am I frusterated with this person?", accepting it, and then moving on. You don't have to burn bridges....) into "norming", and eventually into performance.

My point is - don't assume that a group "isn't working" as it's working through these stages. You and your horse probably move through these stages somewhat. Any team effort towards endurance is going to go through this. Any formation of a club or group or organization or (insert any group of people here...) is going to go through this.

I love that endurance is the sport where I can be a wacky and weird individual and I wouldn't change it for the world....but I will never again underestimate the power of collaboration on my success.


  1. I went back to work yesterday, teaching, and was far more productive working with my team than had I gone at it alone. There is a lot to be said for group work. My district is pushing a program called the Professional Learning Community. It's actually a way of approaching education. Each school and district customizes their approach to meet their demographic's needs.

    As my team and I worked together, my frustration from an earlier "solo" failure melted away and I became excited about the team's proposal. There has to be some individual work, but working with a team can be a very liberating experience!

    Even when endurance riding, I always felt much more confident, and safer, when i rode with a friend. Having the support of someone while on the trail can be very valuable. Teammates can encourage, fix, soothe, push, pull, nourish, or just hold your horse so you can run to the Port-o-pot!

    Best of luck with your education!

    Karen (from

  2. In library school we did tons of "group projects" which I hated--I've always preferred to do stuff the Right Way, i.e. By Myself. Also, my school was a distance program, so the students only got together every third weekend--everything else was done via email & telephone.

    Well, guess what: that's EXACTLY how real world librarianship works--most of my peer contact is done via email and telephone. Who wudda thunk?

    In Pacific Northwest endurance, we have an awesome regional group, and we also have TEAMS. Our teams can be rigidly structured to WINWINWIN, or they can be loosely structured to HAVEMOREFUN. Guess which kind of team I captain? It really is great to have a support group (the team) within the support group (the regional organization) within the support group (AERC). Endurance is *not* a solo sport, after all!

  3. Did you realize that you are incorporating prior knowledge and understanding(learned through endurance participation) into you current study. That's one of the most exciting things about encountering new information when you already have a significant knowledge base. It's "cross-training for the brain," I think. It's the way it works when you can overlap info from two unrelated classes which inform each of them. Have a blast!

  4. Sharlene - did you read my notes for what I'm posting tomorrow morning??????!!!!!!!? Bummer....I guess I'll have to find something else to write about - it was going to be on how endurance is a very very very good prep for vet school. Probably one of the most invaluable thing I did to prepare. Maybe I'll write the post anyways. Since coming up with an alternative post may exceed current brain power at this moment.


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