Paging Dr. Mom – Juggling Motherhood & Horse Shows

As a new mom, I’m already learning the delicate balance you need to practice between your professional life and your home life. Last Fall I had the privilege of speaking with two women who seem to have figured it out, as they’ve grown successful medical careers while supporting their horse-crazy children.

Paging Dr. Mom

Two Moms Juggle Full-Time Jobs and Busy Horse Show Schedules

Being a doctor is a full-time job. It involves devoting your life to preserving the health and well-being of those around you. In the same respect, being a mother is a full-time job, as you devote your life to raising a child and helping him or her discover their own path.

Put the two together and you have Mom, MD, someone who has learned how to juggle a high-demand career with the high-demand home life of being a mother. Not only is life busy at the hospital, and at home, but add in the hustle and bustle of a weekend at the horse show and you might get a taste of what life is like for Kelly Stille, PsyD., and Susan Urba, MD. Both women are doctors at the top of their respective fields and mothers of horse show kids competing at the highest level of competition.


Dr. Susan Urba grew up in Chicago, far from the horse show world, and attended medical school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While in medical school, one of her rotations involved working with cancer patients. That experience inspired her to continue her study of medical oncology. “It’s an exciting field that looks into treatments for cancer, but you also get to look at other issues that cancer patients have, such as the need for emotional support and other related illnesses. It’s a broad spectrum,” she explains.

Dr. Urba started doing a lot of clinical studies with esophageal cancer, but she has since moved onto developing more of a specialty with palliative care. Palliative care emphasizes pain and symptom management for cancer patients and, in some cases, it involves end-of-life care.

At the University of Michigan, Dr. Urba has helped develop a program called the Symptom Management and Supportive Care Program within the Cancer Center. She works with cancer patients who have particularly difficult-to-manage symptoms or who struggle with serious decisions such as when it might be in the patient’s best interest to discontinue treatment that’s resulting in a poor quality of life.


You can say that Dr. Stille is continuing the family business; she grew up with a mother who was a clinical psychologist.

“While growing up, I was exposed to psychology by seeing my mom’s testing materials and learning how to conceptualize cases,” Dr. Stille explains.

She also grew up showing horses, so she’s well aware of the demands it takes to be successful in the show pen. Because of her connections on the Paint Horse circuit, Dr. Stille attended college at Texas Christian University and then got her Masters and Doctorate in clinical psychology.

During that time, she also married her husband and had three children, all while she was doing internships and her dissertation.

She was still able to finish her degrees, including a postdoctorate in psycho-pharmacology while balancing raising three boys, two of which are twins Ryan and Austin Stille. For five years she has been running the neuropsychology program at John Peter Smith Hospital in the Level One Trauma Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Recently, Dr. Stille has become more involved in sports concussion research, which combines her interest in studying the human brain with her lifelong passion for horses. “Concussion is actually the fourth or fifth highest rate of traumatic brain injury for girls between the ages of 9-15,” she says. “It’s not widely publicized, so that’s been my goal, as of late, to increase awareness.”

Read more from the November/December 2014 issue of The Equine Chronicle.

Paging Dr. Mom


Healthy Eating at the Horse Show & On the Road

Earlier this year I started a Healthy Horse Show Living series in conjunction with to continue my print article that was published in March. Within this series we talked about eating healthy throughout the day at the horse shows and in celebration, and we’ve been adding workouts you can do anywhere–the barn, by the horse trailer, in the hotel room, etc.

In case you missed it, here were tips on healthy snacking at the shows: Snacking the Day Away

Here are some tips for the entire day at the horse show on how to eat healthy. Come back later and I’ll share some equestrian exercises with fitness champion, and wife of horse trainer Brad Jewett, Monica Brant.

Breakfast Basics

  • Start your day with the right fuel to get you moving. Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast–even if it’s something quick and easy, it’s fuel for your day.
  • Not all muffins are created equal–most of those muffins at the concession stand are packed with high fat, calories, and sugar.
  • Go for a mix of protein and carbohydrates to feed your body.
    • Multigrain toast with peanut butter is a quick grab-and-go
    • Egg sandwiches with an English muffin or multigrain bread
    • Make-ahead breakfasts like frittatas, pancakes, and overnight oats.

Loving Lunch

  • Don’t just use the lunch break to work horses, use this as an opportunity to prepare your body for the long afternoon with nutrients.
  • Battle the mid-day slump with more protein and carbohydrates in your lunch.
  • Preplan your mid-day meals to help make the grab quicker, that way you’re more prone to eat lunch.
    • Pre-made salads allow you the ability to get your veggies and eat fresh, even during hot days.
    • Use multigrain wraps and sandwich bread to make lean sandwiches such as chicken and turkey packed with loads of veggies
    • Be careful with extras like condiments and dressings–a little is enough.

Dinner is Served

  • You might be tempted to celebrate the big win with a big dinner, but be careful with overindulging late at night.
  • If you’re going out to eat, look into splitting your meal with a friend, or order half already packaged to go so you have something for tomorrow (if you have the ability to use a refrigerator), that way you’re not tempting to finish the rather large serving.
  • Choose healthier cooking methods such as grilled, baked, or steamed; avoid breaded and fried

Click on each article for more tips to help stay healthier while on the road. Whether attending a horse show, dog agility trial, or just traveling, these are great tips for everyone!

Thank you Lindsay Livingston, RD, and The Lean Green Bean Blog, for all the great nutrition advice provided for this article series!

Flexing Your Mental Muscle in the Show Ring

So many things in life are more about mental than physical capability. Sure you have to train your body to run a half (or full) marathon, so your lungs and your legs are used to the distance, but you also have to train your mind that you can run 13.1 miles and you will be successful.

Showing horses and doing dog agility are extremely mental, as well. You have to get out of your head and be in the moment to show off what you’ve worked so hard in the practice pen. If there’s a slight hiccup that occurs, you have to be ready to tackle that problem and shake it off without losing your cool.

That’s why I loved writing this article for the Equine Chronicle. I was able to talk with a mental skills coach and the head coach of the University of Georgia’s Equestrian Team to see how champions handle the pressure in and out of the arena. Even though this was written for a horse magazine, it can be applicable to any sport, or any part of life.

You can download the whole PDF here: Flexing Mental Muscle

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Joaquin Delon Brings Mexican Flavor to Halter Horses

Horses are an international language. I remember when I was a student ambassador for People to People and traveled to Italy, Austria, and Hungry when I was in grade school. My homestay in Gutau, Austria, lived on a farm and had Haflingers. I was so excited to be able to be around horses, even if for just a few days, because I was extremely homesick. Our mutual love of horses, no matter the breed, helped me bond with Ava and her family much easier than I expected.

Enter Joaquin Delón, a young man who grew up in Mexico and started dreaming about horses as a young kid. Even when his parents sent him to soccer camp, he yearned to run over to the neighboring pastures to pet the horses more than he wanted to score goals. After meeting, and working with, World Champion halter trainers Ted Turner and Wayne Halvorson, he’s moved to the U.S. and has already been pretty successful. Here is my feature on him from the March/April 2013 Equine Chronicle:








Joaquin Delón: Bringing Enthusiasm for the Halter Horse Across the Border (full PDF)

Dogs + Horses = Perfect Combination

If you’re a horse person, most likely you’re also a dog person. Walk around at a horse show, anywhere across the country, and you’ll find dogs of all sizes, breeds, and personalities escorting their four-hooved counterparts. Sometimes, you might wonder if there are more dogs than horses on the fairgrounds.

Having a dog as part of your horse show family is more than just displaying a fashionable accessory. For some, they provide a sense of companionship on those long, lonely hauls to the show. For others, they serve as a built-in security system for the tack stall. For others, it’s simply a matter of bringing “home” with you, wherever you go.

But how can you make the experience of having your pooch with you at the horse show a more pleasant one for you, your horse, and your fellow exhibitors? I spoke with a few experienced exhibitors who travel with their favorite dogs for their experiences and opinions, and also with a dog obedience trainer, Mandy Eakins with Manners Matter KY, for tips on how to be a better dog owner while on the road.

You can read the article in it’s entirety here:  A Horseman’s Best Friend

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If you have questions about dog training, check out Manners Matter KY.

Article Series: Healthy Living at Horse Shows

After working on the print article for the Equine Chronicle on “Healthy Living at Horse Shows” I proposed an idea of doing an article series about how to be healthy while on the road for horse shows (or, rather, any event). In doing so, I contacted a favorite health blogger of mine–Lindsay Livingston, who manages The Lean Green Bean Blog. She’s a registered dietician based in Columbus, Ohio, and is also an avid CrossFitter. I love her blog and I love her message–healthy eating and healthy living, while living life.

Growing up going to horse shows I remember mornings supplemented with donuts and orange juice. Not the most balanced meal, lots of sugar, but it was a weekly occurrence. Lunches were whatever we could get at the concession stand, or maybe if someone made a quick trip to a fast food joint. It was because of this that I came up with this article series and I love working with Lindsay.

The first article in the series was on breakfast, and her ideas are much more nutritious than sugary yeast donuts and sugary fruit juices.

The old saying is “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” For some horsemen and women, it’s often the most forgotten part of the day. We’re more concerned with getting our own horses fed and chores done and maybe squeezing in a few rides before the heat of the day. Soon, it’s after noon and your stomach’s grumbling. You realized the last thing you ate was dinner the night before.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, in my opinion,” says Lindsay Livingston, a Registered Dietitian from Columbus, Ohio, and blogger at The Lean Green Bean. “It kick-starts your metabolism, improves your concentration, gives you energy, and sets the tone for the rest of the day. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but getting some nutritious foods into your body when you wake up is one of the best things you can do for your health.”

The best breakfast is one that has a combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to jump-start your day with energy and keep you satisfied until lunch time.

Read the yummy breakfast ideas from Lindsay on the Healthy Horse Show Living: Breakfast Basics

After breakfast comes lunch, which in the horse show world might be greasy burgers and french fries or whatever you could grab to munch real quick before warming up your horse. But Lindsay has helped come up with some nutritious, quick eats that can help give you the energy to compete in the afternoon.

Now, it’s time to focus on the lunch break, and we’re not just talking about using that hour to tack up and ride your horse. It’s also important to take a hint from the show schedule and actually break to eat lunch. This could come in the form of a sandwich you can grab and eat in the saddle or something from the slow cooker at the stalls.

You might think that eating breakfast and skipping lunch will hold you over until the horse show is done for the day and you can pig out on dinner, but that’s not the best practice. “If you skip meals, it’s more likely that you’ll overeat at some point later on,” explains Lindsay Livingston, a Registered Dietitian from Columbus, Ohio, and blogger at The Lean Green Bean. “If you let yourself get too hungry, you will likely eat too quickly when you do eat, which often leads to overeating because it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain that you’re full.”

Again, you want to look for lunches packed with protein and carbohydrates to give you a boost through the mid-day slump.

Try the quick and easy recipes suggested by Lindsay in the rest of the article on Healthy Horse Show Living: Loving the Lunch Break

Photo courtesy Lindsay Livingston, The Lean Green Bean.

Photo courtesy Lindsay Livingston, The Lean Green Bean.

We have a few more to go for the series, but I’m always open to more ideas. What else would you like to see about staying healthy on the road?


Healthy Living at Horse Shows

I love horses. And I love fitness. In case you didn’t know, I’ve run in two half marathons (training for my third now) and am an avid CrossFitter. I’ve always been active, but I’ve gotten more so as I’ve gotten older, and I’m obsessed with following healthy living blogs. So when the opportunity to combine my equine passion with my fitness passion came up for the Equine Chronicle, I jump at the chance to interview two competitors on the Quarter Horse and Paint Horse circuits and see how they attempt to live a healthy lifestyle in a world where fried foods usually reign.

If you’ve ever wondered, can you be a healthy athlete on the road, Melissa Sachs and Erin Shapiro Boatwright have your answer: YES!

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Read the full article on the Equine Chronicle.