Getting With The Program

Last night, I had my first lesson in… a while. Anyone else sick of hearing me say this? I AM sick of hearing ME say this.

I had originally wanted to take a jumping lesson, but the flooded status of KY in general, ridiculous winds, the threat of MORE rain, and a dropping temperature meant that I decided on a Dressage lesson instead.

The barn was oddly quiet last night with just me and NT around that evening, so our lesson was a bit more casual than usual with lots of chatting and catching up on the state of May. (Future injections, 2019 plans, etc). I’ll probably write about the lesson tomorrow, but suffice to say, we have both seen a lot of progress thanks to her help this past fall and the work my half leaser has been putting in.

As with most eventers at this time of year, I am looking at the 2019 competition season. My grand goals are, and have been, to get back to a recognized horse trial at Beginner Novice. Last year was a “I am hope we get back into the show ring.” This year is a “I want to do this.”

So I started looking back. What made May and I capable of moving form starter to BN in 2016? How did we get to the point where we were schooling Novice sized SJ course with relative ease that summer?

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I remember this being fun.

It wasn’t because I was younger (26 – 29 is not a huge jump… unlike 22 – 25 which seems MASSIVE). It wasn’t because I had access to a better trainer. (There are some serious similarities between NJ trainer and NT.) It wasn’t because May was more educated.

It was because I was in a regular program… and I haven’t been in one since.

Late 2016, we moved from NJ to KY just as show season was winding down and trainers in KY were looking towards Aiken and Ocala rather than their own backyards. Money was tight, and I let lessons fall into the category of “nice to have.”

^This feels like a lifetime ago…

Then in 2017, I had committed to lessons with my trainer at the time, but due to a job that had me traveling and her own schedule, we would average maybe 2 lessons a month… at best. Money was still tight, I got married in mid-summer, and the lack of competition goals meant that again, lessons fells to the back burner.

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Our First Lesson Together.

2018… I moved barns in mid competition season, but I still made it out to a couple of shows to get our feet wet again. (Literally and figuratively). Lessons started up again, and I was surprised at how much I felt like a fish out of water. My whole riding career had been focused on weekly lessons (and catch riding). Here I was, on my own horse, and feeling odd about lessons.

Then this year… I find myself really prioritizing lessons. So, for the first time since Spring of 2016, I have put myself into the weekly lesson rotation schedule. Fingers crossed that this has really been the missing link in my confidence lately!

So I really want to know – Are you a “weekly lessoner” or more of a “when I need them” or even a “don’t need no trainer” type of rider?

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2019 – First Thoughts

Typically, this would be a goals post, but goals are SO 2018. Right?

Joking aside, I was pretty torn about goals this year. I know a lot of people have forgone them this year, while others have set up broader or process-based goals. The truth is that even the first 8 days of January haven’t gone how I expected, so I don’t really feel like I am on steady enough ground to set any kind of goals…

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So instead, I am going to talk about the things I want to focus on this year.

Fitness – This started in 2018 and has been a great addition to my regular routine. I am not setting a goal of “x” number of times in the gym each week. Instead, I just want to keep an emphasis on moving and listening to my body.

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Blogging – I really LIKE blogging. I really want to get BETTER at blogging, AND AECs are in KY this year, so I even have a chance to see some of you. Blogging shall continue… but I would like to get some new media for you all.

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Friendships – 2018 was a weird year for me.  It marked 2 years of living in KY, and I have definitely felt the loss of some of my East Coast friends. I want to say yes to more things with my friends here in KY.

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Enjoying May – I want to ride and have fun with my horse. I want to try new things and be in the moment. I want to let the bad rides go easier and hold onto the good ones a bit longer. Heavy competing still won’t be in the budget this year, but hopefully, we can find some fun things to do within our budget.

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Continue Improving our House – We have some projects that need finishing touches, and a lot of painting still to do. However, it has been a labor of love, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

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And… that’s it. It’s short and sweet and without a lot of frills. I know a lot of you have already set your goals this year, so most of you are a whole week ahead of me already! Only 51 more to do. 🙂

2018 Goal Review

Alright – it’s already the 2nd of January, but I realized that combining this with my 2019 goals would be a MASSIVE post. Apparently, I always write this post on the 2nd of January because… reasons. Check out the original 2018 post here, if you missed it (or have forgotten). And my update mid-year.

Riding Goals

Do 1 Clinic: Nope. Didn’t happen. I ended up moving barns and changing trainers mid-year, and money was too tight to drop $$$ on the 4* clinician that did come across my path. I barely scraped by enough to do some horse trials and lessons.

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Do 2 Horse Trials: Yay! We did two and they were both GREAT successes that showed improvement. Given the changes between the horse trials (new trainer, barn, no time for XC schooling), we stayed at Starter, but that is ok with me.

May Horse Trial

Dressage       Show Jumping      Cross Country

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August Horse Trial

Dressage       Show Jumping     Cross Country

Get in shape: This was kind of a “Coming in at the End” kind of achievement, but I am giving myself a passing grade on this. I joined the local Y in mid-November with a barn buddy and, other than the week around holidays, have been going 2 – 3 days a week. Since starting towards a healthier lifestyle in August, I have lost nearly 20 lbs and am already back on the bandwagon after the holidays. Our Y also added a bunch of new classes in 2019, and I am excited to give them a try. I can’t wait to see how this winter of work affects my riding in the Spring!

Ride 4 – 5 Days a Week: Adding the gym to my routine meant something had to give, and I decided to half lease May out. While I am not riding 4 -5 days a week, May does now get ridden 4 – 5 days a week. A big part of this goal was around MAY’S fitness, so I am saying ACHIEVED…. even if through new methods.

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Plan Out My Rides: EPIC FAIL. I would love to blame this on having a half leaser, but the truth is, this died almost as soon as it started. It put too much pressure on both of us to have “successful” rides on certain days.

Get Comfortable Over 3′ Fences: EPIC FAIL. I wish I could say I was comfortable over BN sized fences, but they still look big to me right now.

Other Goals

Blog 2 Times Week: SMASHING SUCCESS. This blog got a lot more consistent in 2018, and I look forward to continuing it into 2019.

2018 Post Calendar

Clean Up My Email Inbox: Need to get back at this.

Start Meditating Again: Fail. My new office environment does not include an actual office, so closing the door for 5 min on my lunch break isn’t an option. I try to be just more mindful.

Do One Thing Every Month That’s Outside My Comfort Zone:

  1. January – Went to St. Lucia and did a tour of the island on a speed boat. Super Fun.
  2. February – Dove into a new job taking on responsibilities beyond my wildest nightmares.
  3. March -Took some serious steps into managing May’s health and well being. I tuned out the opinions of others and listened to my gut… which ended up with the vet agreeing May needed injections and a new dentist finding a very old problem.
  4. April – Opened up a lot more on the blog about my mistakes and regrets.
  5. May – Attended a horse trial at a new venue with minimal outside help.
  6. June – Moved barns.
  7. July –  Launched the May as Well Event Facebook page. It is something I had wanted to do for a long time, but I hesitated because I was afraid how others would take it. So far – all positive from anyone who matters.
  8. August – First horse trial with new barn. Fitting into an established team’s routine as a new member is always a steep learning curve.
  9. September – First XC Jump Judging experience. Something I always wanted to do, but never put myself out there to do.
  10. October – Opened up May to a half leaser, and found a great one! It was a big leap of faith for me to turn the reins over to someone else, but it’s been a great experience so far. Can’t wait to play owner at shows this summer.
  11. November – Joined a gym. Started taking classes.
  12. December – Started laying the ground work for a side hustle. Needs more time and attention than I have had to really get it moving forward, but I am really excited with the possibilities.

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The thing that really didn’t happen:

Moving May As Well Event to its own domain… I just need to set aside the time to get this done. Preferably in January.

End of the Season

This weekend marked the end of the eventing season in Kentucky. There’s one last recognized event in Tennessee this weekend, but obviously, May and I won’t be going. Once again, I am left with the feeling that we let another season go down the drain, but in the spirit of being thankful and positive, I figured I would list out all the things we DID accomplish this year.

Got Back in the Show Ring

2017 was the year of no shows for us, so the fact that we managed to make it to two shows this year, is a massive improvement. Part of me wishes we had made the jump to tackle BN at our second event, but the majority of me feels accomplished in the fact that we really seemed to slay some demons in the show jumping ring.

Found Our Barn Family

Some of them read this blog so… Hi! Moving to a new barn has meant a better routine for May and I (when she isn’t escaping), and easier access to the level of shows that I am interested in at the moment. However, more than that, it has meant new friends, a trainer whose program is really working for us, and very few days or nights at the barn where I am completely alone. It’s added back a part of riding that I hadn’t realized I was really missing – the social part.

Found May a Second Rider

This was one of those odd times where timing, circumstances, and luck all kind of came together. I guess it follows along with the vein of how I got May. I put what I wanted out into the universe and… the universe delivered. Life is weird that way sometimes.

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Our first full HT was 3 years ago!

However, now is a great time to refocus on the off season.

Get Fit

I guess this is a goal for both May and me. Having a second rider means May is being worked 4 – 5 days a week right now, which is pretty much ideal. As for me, I committed to working out with a friend of mine. First spin class is on the schedule for tomorrow morning. Wish me luck!

Get Lessons

Budget has been diverted to paying for things for the house in hopes of getting everything set before we have a full house for Thanksgiving (7 adults and 2 kids!). I will probably end up posting pics at some point. Either way, the extra income from a half leaser is going to, at least, somewhat, be diverted towards lessons.

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Make a Plan

Am I the only one already looking at the schedule for 2019? Budget will really drive our path next year, but I would love to do a recognized event at KHP at BN. Hopefully, that isn’t too much to ask for!

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Plan should include more of this!

Anyone else having all the feels at the end of another eventing season?

Goals Wrap Up & Cuteness

After a week of mostly lazy riding and reflecting on our horse trial, I think I have gotten enough distance from ER MAH GAWD I LOOOOVE my PONY to actually review the goals I had set ahead of time. (Honestly though, OMG I LOVE HER.)

Dressage Goal: Score below a 35

Done! We scored a 29, which is higher then the 24.2 we got at our last horse trail. Again though, that was from a soft judge, in an outdoor arena, and for a test we had done a few times before. I am super happy about the 29, and the consistent 7s & 7.5s in the collectives.

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Show Jumping Goal: Ride Forward!

Is anyone surprised that riding forward led to a clear round? Anyone? How about any of my current and past trainers that have been telling me to do this for YEARS? Nope. Didn’t think so. We definitely had some bobbles and less-than-ideal distances, but since we were riding forward, May was easily able to sort through things.

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Cross Country Goal: School the Water

The water was way more spooky then I was expecting. Half in the shade, deeper than expected, a bit of algae, and surrounded by other jumps that made it feel a bit claustrophobic. I kept my leg on, and we went into it without incurring penalties. May got lots of pats and love (and then tried to walk into the drain, and I had to hustle her away from it).

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Overall Goals:

  • No Negative Self Talk: SUCCESS. Created a plan for the water and SJ with my trainer and executed without hesitation.
  • Utilize visualization: I probably rode through the SJ course in my mind about 5 times. Did it go exactly as well as my visualized course? Nope. But it definitely helped me stay focused on what mattered (Balance, pace, line instead of the perfect distance)
  • Stay Positive: This was easy because each phase went really well. It was a long day, but an unbelievably fun one.

And the Cuteness

One of the girl’s from my barn was featured in Eventing Nation for her adorable helmet cam footage. Before her round, I helped her put on her new galloping boots. During her round, you can hear the whole team cheering her on. Mind you, her round went at nearly 4PM, after we had all been at the show since about 8AM. Did that matter for the riders, parents, and people that came to help? Nope, and that is part of what makes eventing so much fun.

I thought May’s ears were too cute to handle, but this takes it to a whole other level.

The Video

Eventing Nation Article

Is there anything better then a girl and her pony?

08.19.2018 Horse Trial – Goals

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In 2016, when May and I competed more regularly, I was really, really good at setting goals for each show. This year, as we returned to horse trials, I let them slip for the first one, but I am determined to make this a habit again. Our modest Sr. Starter division has 18 entries, so I am going to be really conscious of keeping goals away from ribbons and onto things I can control.

In writing this list, I realized that it is really a combination of two lists I had done previously: the one before our first BN and the one before our first recognized trial. The former was a BLINDING success in my mind, while the latter still feels a bit like a failure. The hilarious part? I got a better score (by like 6 points) at the recognized event. Just goes to show you, scores do not tell the whole story.

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Dressage

I am not sure what to even write here. We scored a 24.2 from a very soft judge at the last schooling horse trial, which had us in 4th out of 19. I am going to throw out there that I want to score below a 35. I think our last test was, more fairly, in the 35 range, and we will be doing Into C, which is not a test I have ever done before.

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Show Jumping

Ride forward. Really. That’s it. If poles come down because May doesn’t respect anything at 2′, then I am ok with that. I will not be ok with crawling over more oxers. If we are going to get back to BN, we need to go forward.

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Cross Country

Do the water if it’s an option. I would much rather be out of the ribbons and get a 20, but school the water, then have the same thing happen at a BN recognized horse trial in the future. I don’t need to prove to anyone that we can win. I just need to make sure that my horse and I come through the finish flags as an even better team.

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Overall

No negative self talk. I am just going to quote this one from my first BN horse trial:

I am not nervous, I am excited. That is not a huge jump, it is a reasonable effort. I did not screw up; I found something we need to work on. My pony is not a Corgi, she is an elegant gazelle (or something I guess)

Utilize visualization to create positive outcomes before they even happen. This always sounds kind of hippy to me, but it does work.

Stay Positive. At the end of the day, I am at a horse trial with my friends, and I am riding a horse that is genuinely just happy to pop over some fences with me.

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Anyone wonder why she decided it wasn’t in our best interest to attempt the next jump from a weird stride and awkward angle?

Things not on the list:

1. Clean Jumping Rounds: If we get rails, we get rails. If I try for one of the bank/ditch/water options and get a refusal, that’s not the end of the world. I am truly utilizing this event as a barometer for what we need to focus on going forward. I am going to ride like I stole it and come away with issues to work on.

2. Make My Trainer Proud: Maybe one day I will write a full post on this one. However, I think a lot of riders put a lot of pressure on themselves to not embarrass their trainer. I know I do. Of course, I managed to eat dirt during Marilyn Payne’s clinic in 2016, so I am not sure I could embarrass anyone more. At the end of the day, I work hard, am nice to the other boarders, pay my bills on time, and care about my horse. That’s all my trainer really wants from me.

3. Win: One day, I would like this to be our goal, but after so much time out of the game, it is not our goal on Sunday.

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Even though I am still a 12 year old kid who loves ribbons. 

The Next Four Weeks…

For probably the first time since May and I moved to KY, we have a real calendar building out for the next several weeks.

Saturday, August 11 – Long Run Woodford Hounds Hunter Pace

Hilariously, this might be the thing I am most excited about. I hunter paced A LOT during my early teen years. I took green horses, babies that were barely backed, school horses that needed their heads screwed back on straight. Whatever was offered to me, I would hunter pace.

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Other than one pace maybe 3 years ago, I haven’t done it in more than 10 years, and I have never done it on a horse like May. Something that is sensible but game, and a horse that I know like the back of my hand. I am also going with a great group of people, which definitely makes the whole thing a lot more fun!

As long as it’s not raining, I’ll bring the cambox along.

Sunday, August 19 – Spring Run Farm Mini Trial

This barn is actually a barn I looked at to board May at before I moved to KY. It is a beautiful facility that used to host USEA rated events. While it wasn’t the perfect fit for us, boarding wise, I have definitely wanted to take a run at their really awesome XC course.

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Since the courses tend to be bigger than your average schooling show, we are just going to play it safe and stick with starter. I definitely want to have a solid SJ and XC round in before trying to move back up. (Of course, I accidentally entered BN through their online entry portal, instead of starter. A call is in to the secretary to fix it.)

Sunday, September 9 – Blackhorse Stables Mini Trial

Hoping to move back up to BN here to end our season. I have been told that SJ and XC is a little more forgiving at this venue, and while it’s actually another barn I had looked at for boarding, I didn’t get a great sense of their XC facility when I went there. Luckily I have some time with this one, as the closing date isn’t until the end of the month. Yay schooling shows!

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After that? I will probably need to lick my financial wounds for a bit. These things aren’t crazy expensive, but it’s still extra money out of my wallet. I really need to take the time to list some extra items I have for sale this weekend…

What about you? How is your late summer/early fall schedule shaping up?

False Start & Setting Goals

June was a really odd month for May and me. We moved to our new barn on June 4th, had a jump lesson, then a Dressage lesson. Then, this week was widdled away by the need to go bitless for a while, as well as KY showing off its adeptness at late afternoon thunderstorms.Today, I will hop back on with a bit for our last ride until the 2nd week of July.

Maybe I need a break after all the stress around moving (Although,  Michele has it SO MUCH WORSE), or maybe the lack of tangible goals has more of an effect on me than I realize. Either way, I want to come back from vacation with some goals in mind and a better idea of how the rest of the summer to shake out (Because somehow it is already July and summer is slipping through my fingertips).

What are my SMART goals? (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound)

1. Get Comfortable at BN Height Again – Due Date September

I haven’t consistently jumped at BN since 2016, and even then, BN stadium was my nemesis. Ideally, this would roll into a mini trial or two in the fall. If the money isn’t there for a HT, that’s ok, but I want to get back to that being our comfort zone (maybe even with some Novice height thrown in there to challenge us). I also haven’t schooled any BN sized XC stuff either, so that needs to get on the “to-do” list.

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2. Nail Down 1st Level Dressage – Due Date November

That’s right. I want the lengthenings, leg yields, and stretchy trot nailed down. The Training Level Test 3 is easily within our took kit now, and the leg yields can definitely get there. It would be really fun to be able to go to a couple of Dressage shows this winter and do the Level 1 tests.

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3. Get Fit – Due Date Mid August

Yup, I am a broken record here because life is life and finding time is hard. I have added some pilates and yoga into my routine, and it has helped my core strength in the saddle, but I still wouldn’t consider myself eventing fit. However, do you know how much easier the two goals above would be if I was truly fit? A LOT easier. A friend of mine sent me the EventingFit.com 30 Day Challenge PDF. It looks like a totally doable program, and I am going to dedicate 30 days to doing it to see if it helps me get into a routines. On vacation next week, I do plan on adding a long walk on the beach to my mornings.

What about you? Are there specific goals you are working on this summer?

Thankful Thursday

Amidst all the driving back and forth to the barn, I have had an opportunity to reflect on what I am more thankful for in my riding career. However, the thing I am most thankful for, is the mare that turned out to be much more than she was ever supposed to be.

I have talked a lot in the past about how May was a complete impulse buy. You can read the full story here: A May As Well Purchase However, I am not really sure I ever explained what I was expecting. Originally, when I bought her home, we joked that I had overpaid for her. After all, she couldn’t even do a 20M circle before she popped her shoulder and ran in the opposite direction, a canter took nearly 20 steps of trot to pick up, and I quickly learned that she had never seen a gymnastic.

To be honest, my original thought for buying her was that, if she didn’t work out, I could recoup most of my money and just sell her as a trail horse. She was sane, and sensible, and had color. All the things trail people want. Right? I mean, she could comfortable carry a larger rider for miles without discomfort. Then, we went to our first CT. It was a W/T Dressage Test and 18″ stadium round.

And we had SO MUCH FUN. She was a champion, and I finished with a giant smile on my face. I was hooked on competing this horse, and I think the man in this situation finally understood what it was all about. She never was supposed to be as cool as she is, but gosh… she is really cool…

 

I think she has turned out to be really cool… And I can’t wait to see what more she has to show me.

You Know Nothing, Adult Amateur.

The wisdom of ignorance is a ridiculously important part of doing this thing we call “learning to ride”. I think many of us that rode as kids can think of a time when we really felt like we knew how to ride… like if we had the right horse and enough money of COURSE we could make it to Rolex or the Olympics or wherever. Then, we get a bit older. We get introduced to the “greats”. We read books, we watch clinicians, we LEARN. And somehow, in learning, we learn how little we do know.

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Recently, I was reading one of my favorite blogs. I real OG in my book. A Enter Spooking (If you EVER had a clinic in KY, I need to be there.)

I am not a Dressage rider. My only real Dressage training has come from Eventing riders and that only began in late 2015. During my first Dressage lesson, the trainer asked me to ride the horse into the contact, and I couldn’t do it properly. It was the first day in many days in which Dressage makes me feel like a total fool.

However, I had felt like I had started to grasp how this whole Dressage thing works, at least on a basic level. Then Megan makes a comment about how “the rider should kneel into their thigh”. What…. WHAT? I stopped. I blinked. I read it again. Dressage riders should not sit on their butts. They should kneel into their thighs. Oh… Oh well… That actually makes a ton of sense. So now I was staring at my screen, and I realized that I didn’t even know how to properly sit in a saddle, much less ride in one.

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But riders do not let our inability to do something stop us from trying. The first time you sat in a saddle, I bet that you couldn’t even make the old schoolie trot… or even turn. The first time you jumped, you probably had no idea where your horse would takeoff. And the first time you went a trail ride, I bet you had no idea how to get your horse through that one damn puddle. However, you worked at it. You read books, you tried different things, you sought instruction, and you got better.

Each time we peel back another layer of the “riding” onion, we realized another skill (or set of skills) we do not know. But now, we have something that we know we can learn to make us better. So we try, and we get better, and we master more skills… and learn how much more we don’t know and can’t do. 🙂

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