“Real Eventing” & Imposter Syndrome

Apologies in advance for a rather rambly, stream of consciousness post.

Riding at the horse park for our competition was a bit surreal. Spring Bay is a bit of a unique horse trial in a lot of ways. Obviously, running XC at a different venue than SJ and Dressage is interesting, but it is more than that.

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As we walked from the trailers to Dressage or SJ at the horse park, you could see the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event coming together. Crews worked to build tents and platforms around Rolex Stadium. The grass on the XC field was being mowed and tended to. Even the barns not being used for our event were cleaned and prepped, ready for the 5* horses to show up.

It’s easy enough to go to a schooling show, especially in eventing, and feel like you belong. Most everyone is on either an OTTB or a QH or a mutt of some kind. (sorry May). It’s pretty rare to see the newest or the best tack/equipment etc on the school ponies poking around baby starter. If you go often enough, you get to know most of the riders/trainers/horses on sight.

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So I have gotten… pretty comfortable in that atmosphere.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I ventured to the Kentucky Horse Park, as it preps for KY3DE, my over-sized thelwell pony siting in the trailer, ready for Starter. I watched the Prelim riders perform their long and complicated Dressage tests (to me anyway). I walked the SJ course when it included 3 combinations, a triple bar, and was set to full prelim height. Thinking back on it, it was the first time I have ever been in a competition ring with jumps set to that height.

Then I picked up on the chatter, which horses were just out to do the CT to start off their season, and which horses were stepping down for a confidence building start. Confidence building?!

So the feelings started to creep in. This wasn’t really eventing. Who was I to call myself an eventer? Even a recent article on Eventing Nation seemed to acknowledged it:

I think we should respect the person that chooses to compete at Novice because that’s where they are happy and are enjoying the sport just as much as the person who is running around Kentucky.

Against the Move Up Mentality 

HAH! NOVICE?! Girl, those BN jumps look big right now. Did this person purposefully skip the very lowest levels of our sport? The levels that run multiple divisions in nearly every event and help pay for the judges, venues, secretaries etc etc etc? I like to think not…

I have told myself for years that getting to Novice would be really eventing, but the truth is, a couple of weeks ago, me and my horse went to compete three times in three different phases. And we were competent and competitive in each phase. To me, that is eventing.

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And you know what? I had FUN! By Sunday, I was eyeing the BN XC fences with excitement instead of anxiety. (May still thinks it would have been WAY MORE fun to “gallop” through the mud over the bigger fences.)

So I look my own doubts head on, and I remind them that being an eventer and a horseperson means showing off your horse to the best of your abilities in that moment. My choice to run Starter doesn’t need any explanation beyond the choice to set myself and my horse up for success. In fact, it needs FAR LESS explanation then anyone who pushes their horses up the level without proper fitness or training.

Moral of this story? Do right by your horse, and the eventing community will always support you.

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2019 Spring Bay Horse Trials – Show Jumping

While my background is completely hunter jumper (from ages 6 – 23), somehow, show jumping is the only phase that wants to give me pause. However, this time I was armed with some new rider psychology tips via the Brain Training for Riders. (Big thanks to Amanda for the recommendation)

I did have one advantage on Show Jump day though. We walked the course when it was set for Prelim. In case you are wondering, walking a course when it is set for Prelim makes Starter look REALLY small. Still though, it was a complicated course with 0 straight lines in it… I wish I was kidding.

However, I had a plan. I was going to ride May forward enough that I wanted to pull… and then not pull… Other than that, I was going to get her body straight and square to ever fence. I wasn’t going to worry about distances but concentrate on my pace, line, and balance.

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I also got the whole thing on video! (Sorry for Youtube killing the quality.)

All photo credit goes to Vic’s Pics. They had an AMAZING deal at the show to get ALL your pics for $50 on a USB. And honestly, they got so many great pics, especially in SJ, that I put in my order before I even ran XC (and when I was questioning if XC was even going to happen). Oh and that cambox you see? I forgot to turn it on for SJ. >.<

Jump 1 was the best jump 1 I think I have ever ridden in my life, and May jumped it so well. (It’s the top pic of this post). Then, we bent around to get a great jump at 2…. and again to jump 3. It felt AWESOME. Usually, my first three jumps on course are me getting into a rhythm and don’t flow great. This time, I HAD the rhythm, balance, and line, and they jumped GREAT.

So here I am. So super excited about how things are going. I made a great turn to Jump 4… I got her square… and she suddenly decided to RUN at it. It’s really hard to see in the video, but she wanted to get flat on me. I halt halted, but it threw us off enough to tap 4 pretty hard (I am shocked it didn’t come down). That also meant that we didn’t land as balanced as we needed to in order to get a good turn to 5. I didn’t put my leg on as soon as I should have, and the distance came up ugly. She jumped that one awkwardly but kept it up.

The turn to 6 was seriously what jumping dreams are made of, and she jumped it out of stride. Then an easy bending line to 7. Despite our cross cantering, the rhythm and line were good, so she popped over it easily. Then… we made kind of an awkward turn to 8, so she jumped it kind of funky. Oh well, it was still easy for her.

Jump 9 just came up out of stride, and we made a sweeping turn to jump 10. I had to put my leg on for the big spot, and she jumped it great.

Obviously, I was super happy to have a double clear round. I think that it, honestly, would have rode BETTER if the jumps had been a little bigger. May was super unconcerned with distances to the point where it actually made things more difficult. She was also very unconcerned with what any of the jumps looked like. There was no peaking or over jumping. Just happily cantering around.

However, I am VERY VERY happy that I managed to execute my plan. I am also happy that, in the pics, when the distances got ugly, I kept my shoulder back and my body over her center of gravity… instead of throwing my whole body up her neck.

As a result, we maintained our 29.3 score and 2nd place standing going into cross country on Sunday!

2019 Spring Bay Horse Trails – Dressage

I want to start the recap of this weekend’s event with so many “thank you”s. I am not sure who I can thank first or even the most.

Obviously, a massive shout out goes to my friend that really pushed me to sign up for this event. Over the last several months, she has gone from a girl I knew at the barn, to the girl I go to the gym with, to one of my biggest cheerleaders. She got 5,000 questions from me about pretty much everything, and she had to reassure me maybe another 5,000 times. However, I am so happy she pushed me to do this horse trial. Hereby, she shall be dubbed “Motivational Friend” hahaha.

I woke up poor Remus on Sunday morning 🙂

On that note, I need to thank the rest of the barn family. We had tons of people show up both days of the show to watch and help. We had people help out at the barn while we were gone. Our younger riders volunteered both days and were a massive help to the show. My teammates all stepped up to help one another and make sure our ponies were as comfortable as possible over a crazy weather weekend.

My trainer gets a HUGE shout out. Not only did she compete her own horse, but she was completely committed to each of us competing in the lower divisions. She took my warmups and prep just as seriously as everyone else, even though I was only doing starter. It was only my second time showing with her and the first show was a super soft schooling show. At this show, between the atmosphere and the weather, it was an incredible experience. It really is an amazing confidence boost to have a pro in your corner who knows you, knows your horse, and totally has faith.

Finally, I am so incredibly thankful for my amazing husband. I ended up recommending that he stay home on XC day due to the weather (more on that later), but as soon as I got home, he was combing through the pro pictures with me and watching my helmet cam footage. He was so proud of me and excited for me that he posted some of the pics (all purchased) on his facebook. If that doesn’t make your heart grow, I’m not sure what will.

ALRIGHT – ON TO THE COMPETITION

Both days were super long days since we had riders and horses in the first division of each day, and I was in the last division. Since Saturday and Sunday were held at different venues, we trailered out both days instead of stabling. However, that meant that May was on the trailer at 6AM on Saturday, and our first ride time was at nearly 2:30PM. May didn’t seem to mind. She drank really well all day and had plenty of grazing breaks throughout the day… and she took a few naps. All in all, a pretty good way to spend the day in May’s book.

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Bahaha… where am I going?

Since day parking at the KYHP is so far from the Dressage complex, we got on pretty early to walk over… and then got lost. Oops. Luckily, Best Husband Ever was there, and he helped navigate me in the right direction. I started warming up quickly, thinking I was running late. May felt AMAZING. We had floppy Dressage ears. Does anyone know what I am talking about? She was ON IT.

Then, there was a delay in our ring. so I let her walk on a long rein. Then, when we were one out, I picked her back up, did a few walk/trot transitions, as per my trainer’s recommendation. I threw in a quick canter transition, and we were ready to go in!

(Below are the movements, score, and a version of what the judge wrote. It’s not verbatim because… drawings. Any of my comments are in italics)

Movement Scores

  1. Entrance, Halt, Proceed at Working Trot: 7.0 – Obedient to Halt. Square. I am surprised this scored so well. There was a ring and warmup running behind the judge’s booth… As soon as we came down centerline, May REALLY wanted to watch those rings. 
  2. Track Right at C: 7.0 – Smooth Turn
  3. Circle Right 20M at B: 7.5 – Active Trot Steps. Well Shaped Circle
  4. Circle Right 20M at A, with Canter: 6.0 – Prompt Transition. Lack of Bend and Poor Circle Shape.  I got so excited about a decent up transition into the right lead canter, that I almost forgot to circle. 
  5. Transition in and out of Canter: 6.0 – Well planned up transition. Unbalanced down transition.
  6. Change Rein at working trot: 8.0 – Good quality trot shown
  7. Circle Left 20M at E: 7.0 – Becomes a bit rushed. Loses shape a bit. She actually thought about giving me a canter transition here… hence the loss of rhythm. 
  8. Circle Left 20M at A, with Canter: 7.0 – Better plan to start circle. Better quality canter.
  9. Transition in and out of Canter: 7.5 – Fairly good prep for transition.
  10. Medium Walk: 7.0 – Keep marching walk I was just super happy that she didn’t jig because she was getting VERY jiggy in warm-up. 
  11. Free Walk: 7.0 – Covers Ground in FW. Show more stretch down. Agreed. 
  12. Working Trot: 7.5 – Smooth and Forward
  13. Center line and Halt: 8.0 – Straight and Square.

Collective Marks:

Gaits: 7.0 – Some stiffness in Canter
Impulsion: 7.0 – No Comment
Submission: 7.0 – No Comment
Rider’s Position: 6.5 – Keep eyes up!
Rider’s Effectiveness: 7.0 – Effective Rider
Geometry and Accuracy: 7.5 – Well executed test

Overall Score: 29.3

How could I be anything other than thrilled with that? Scores at schooling shows tend to be pretty soft, so I wasn’t sure where we were going to end up. However, I was really pleasantly surprised to see that 29.3, and it put us in second going into SJ!

2019 Show Season – Hopes and Dreams

While we have our first show this weekend, I figured I would break down what the plan is this season. The plan is a bit finicky because I want to make sure my part leaser gets plenty of opportunities to get out and play (her and May look AMAZING!), but I also have some pretty big goals.

April 5-6
Spring Bay Horse Trials
Level: Starter

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We’re just going starter this weekend, but it’s a beefier starter than what we did at schooling trials last year. The omnibus ranks the cross country as “Terrain: Rolling hills, mostly open; water & up/down banks at all levels. Good early season or beginning of the year courses; but NOT move-up courses for horses with no experience at their new level.” With a max height of 2’5″ for both stadium and XC, I have no doubt that May and I will have a fun weekend.

This is one of the stranger recognized events. Since we are so close to KY3DE, they run the XC on Sunday at Masterson Station Park ~15 minutes from the horse park. Either way, it will be fun to get out and do Dressage and SJ at the KY horse park and then see another Lexington venue for the XC.

May

I have no plans to show May in May…. sometimes I really regret giving her that name haha. Matt and I are traveling mid month, and my part leaser is going to take her out to get her feet wet. We are going to take the time to polish those SJ skills for BN.

June 9
Spring Run Schooling Trials 
Level: Beginner Novice

Spring Run Farm used to run recognized horse trials. If you remember, it was this venue that we did starter out last year:

We might even get the chance to school here before the June competition. Either way, I had a ton of fun there last year, and I figured it’s legit enough to give us a sense of where we stand for a real BN competition.

June 21 – 23
Midsouth Pony Club Horse Trials
Level: Beginner Novice

We have one recognized BN event on our record, but I really think this is the year that we get back to that, at least. May feels great, she will have three events under her belt at three different venues before this event. In theory, it will only be 2″ higher than what we do this weekend. The goal would be to be schooling Novice height in lessons before getting to this event. 2 and a half months. Seems doable.

So here is where things start to kind of… divert. If Midsouth goes REALLY WELL, we might set our eyes on Novice. Below is that plan:

July 17
Flying Cross Farm Jumper Derby
Level: Novice

This is the same venue we rode at on Tuesday night. Its just down the street, and they do a jumper derby series on Wednesday nights throughout the season. Seems like a good place to get our feet wet.

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“The Jumper Derby Series is a mixture of natural stadium jumps and cross country jumps. The competitor will go from an arena to open fields.”

August 18
Spring Run Schooling Trails
Level: Novice

It seems to make sense to go back to this venue to do our first full horse trial at Novice. It’s a big beefier than your typical schooling trial, but it is softer/more forgiving/not on May’s permanent record. >.<

And again, it’s a venue we can school at ahead of time. Win. Win.

September 13 – 15
Flying Cross Farm USEA Horse Trials
Level: Novice

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Again, this is a venue that we will be intimately familiar with beforehand. Last year’s omnibus stated “Set on a horse farm so galloping through several paddock openings. Educational for all levels.” By this time of year, most of the events at the horse park are pushing the championship level courses, so this is the softest move up. That, coupled with our familiarity of the venue, should set us up for success.

If we don’t move up to Novice, I will skip this horse trial and aim for Hagyard MidSouth instead.

October 16-20
Hagyard Midsouth Three-Day Event and Team Challenge
Level: Beginner Novice

Let’s be honest, this is just a fun event with my teammates. However, it is most definitely NOT a move up course. The omnibus says: “All courses: Moderate to Challenging. Open rolling terrain. Good galloping courses with water, ditches & banks and combinations at all levels.” BUT if you read the link above, it is clearly described as “The cross-country courses can be quite strong – fair, but strong.”

By this point, however, we should be well prepared to rock it at BN.

Finally, there is one last schooling trial at Flying Cross at Novice in November. Honestly, I will probably be too burned out by that point to even think about it, but it is there if we decide to go for it.

What do you all think? I have never really had the opportunity to plan out a whole season like this. Do you all think it is doable? Do you try to plan out you season in advance too?

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?

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.