Mid Year Update

I have been pushing at work to make mid-year reviews an actual thing, and it seems like those are happening. So in the spirit of taking my own advice, I wanted to do my own little mid-year check in! Back in January, I set some really frilly, really not S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Actually, instead of goals, I set up focus points, so let’s talk about them!

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.

So I fell off the bandwagon basically from April – June. It is SO HARD to stay motivated to go to the gym when it is so nice out. However, I have gotten back into it over the past couple of weeks, and it is SO NICE to be back. I even found a class that makes me WANT to get up at 7AM on a Saturday. (Yes, below are some PASTY calves)

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.

So I am officially volunteering at AECs as a Dressage scribe on Thursday. Super excited to see anyone who ends up making the trip!

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.

Some of my favorite moments of 2019 have come from saying yes to my KY friends more. Into the second half of the year, I am going to try to say yes to even more (including a book club because the nerd in me cannot resist that!)

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A last minute “yes” led to a lot of fun with my horse. 

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.

How did I forget that heavy competing wouldn’t be in the budget this year? Hahaha apparently I lost sight of that one in April, when I made this insane post. Either way, we have had mostly amazing rides lately, so it has been REALLY easy to let the bad things go. Annnnnd we have managed to do some super fun things, like XC schooling at the KHP.

Honestly though, I wish I had my own trailer so that we could do more. Either way, we have a hunter pace on the agenda for August, and I am HOPING to get out at BN at SOME POINT this year, especially with May going so well.

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.

Oh gosh… we spent all the money on getting the house painted (worth it). Doggy vet bills have also dug into that budget, so there is a lot that isn’t getting done at the moment. Honestly though, painting and redoing our laundry room have made a MASSIVE difference… now if only I could get the chandelier hung in the Dining room. 😉

I think its been a year of unexpected progress. May is going better than ever and refocusing on consistent lessons over showing opportunities has made the biggest difference. Fingers crossed that we can get out this fall and have some fun!

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Flashback Friday Feels

We are approached three years since I moved to NJ. Ever since moving, I have been striving to get back to a place where I felt I was when we left. We had been competing at BN and, in my head, were totally comfortable cruising around that height. The other day, I shared a post on my insta from a clinic I took around that time (full blog post here).

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And it’s a decent photo. That saddle never did me any favors, but you can clearly see our efforts to move down the line. In a moment of nostalgia, I decided to dig up the video and give it a watch.

Wait… what? I remember it being VERY hot and humid that day, but there is a lot going on here not related to the heat. Mainly, why on green Earth are we SO crooked. AND, as always, I remember the jumps being bigger hahaha.

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Clearly, this jump was not as good as I remember hahaha

This can’t be right, I decided, so I looked up another video from that time.

What do I see? A horse that is pretty far behind my leg. One that isn’t comfortable in a more uphill balance with power, and a rider who has decided that sucking back around corners and gunning it down lines is the best way to ride… oops.

None of this is a reflection of my trainer at the time. May really only had a few months of eventing training under her belt at this point, and I had some serious PTSD from my previous horse. (aka – riding forward was NOT my thing). Honestly, it is shocking that she got me to jump anything larger than 2′ at all at this point.

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Prime form May…

Then I had a moment of… maybe my lessons recently haven’t been going as well as I thought. So I went back and watched one…

And this is why media is so important. That last video shows a forward horse who is clearly more comfortable at that balance (and not DIVING at fences) and a rider who has learned to put her leg on.

So my advice to everyone this weekend? Just keep on trying. I promise, you are getting somewhere. Happy Friday friends!

Why Can’t Money Grow on Trees?

As I alluded to in a previous post, my dog’s vet bills were… more than the cost of almost my entire show season budget. Which is… less than fun. However, losing my part leaser meant that I really don’t have to split up my show season SO I am trying to rework it to see if we can still achieve that Novice goal… but just with more schooling shows.

My first thought was the below:

June 16th Combined Test – BN
June 30th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
July 28th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
August 10th Hunter Pace – JUMP ALL THE THINGS!
August 18th Schooling Horse Trial – Novice
September 14 – 15 Recognized Horse Trial – Novice

Then I added in the costs… OOOF.

Still.. more than I want to spend. So I pared it down further:

June 16th Combined Test – BN
July 28th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
August 10th Hunter Pace – JUMP ALL THE THINGS!
August 18th Schooling Horse Trial – Novice
September 14 – 15 Recognized Horse Trial – Novice

However… this really just doesn’t feel like enough for me to make the move up to Novice. Even though the recognized show is soft.

So it will probably look more like:

June 16th Combined Test – BN
July 28th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
August 10th Hunter Pace – JUMP ALL THE THINGS!
August 18th Schooling Horse Trial – BN
*November 3rd Schooling Horse Trial – N

This saves me… a lot of money. Maybe it means that next year we can do more recognized events and move up to Novice at a recognized event then.

*EDITED TO ADD – As one of my lovely readers pointed out, there is no Novice level Horse Trial at that venue hahahahahaha. Oh well, giving up for now. 

The Smoothing Effect

When I watched the video from my lesson on Tuesday, my first thought was “I wish we had nailed that first jump.” And that was true… but my second thought was “Maybe I should edit out that first jump before posting it.”

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Honestly, I hear a lot about other riders doing just that. I will reach out to someone, to comment on how much progress they have made, and I will get a response along the lines of “Thank you! That part of our course was really good! Just be glad you didn’t see the rest of it. 😉 ”

You know what? I am not glad. I am not glad because I see all this manicured social media everyday. (I am addicted to instagram… sorry not sorry.) You see stadium rounds of all perfect distances. Video stills that show the smile at the end of a ride. And you miss out on the chips, rails, run outs, scrappy distances etc etc etc.

One of the greatest breakthroughs in my riding career was stadium scribing at a horse trial. I saw WAY MORE scrappy rounds than flawless ones. I saw pros, ammies, and juniors alike all make mistakes. It became pretty apparent that our social media lives do not fully reflect our actual barn lives.

So, I left the chip in the video. I left the head flinging in the video. I post XC posts of me getting left behind and supermanning through the air. It’s all out there like dirty laundry, and I am proud of it. Because it means that I love this horse and this sport enough to keep trying, even when it’s hard.

So let’s air out those fails to the world. AND laugh while doing it!

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4 Years with May & Updates

Four Years of May as Well

Last Friday marked 4 YEARS with Ms. May. This mare has redefined my relationship with horses. She helped me become an eventer. And, honestly, she owes me nothing. And Yet, she comes out almost every day and does better, just because I ask. It hasn’t always been fun and easy, but it has been so incredibly rewarding to be this mare’s partner.

If you’ve never considered yourself a mare person, May might just change your mind.

A couple of days later, I got a memory of what, at the time, we considered our fancy prancing haha. I had to compare it to our last show.

The last four years might not be filled with ribbons and trophies (although… this mare has never left an event WITHOUT a ribbon), but it is filled with a lot of laughter:

img_1331About a week after I first got May, she SAT DOWN on the crossties, snapping both of them. Not because she was scared. Not because she didn’t know how to tie. She sat down because she heard that dinner was being served, and she was NOT to be forgotten.

My barn in NJ used to offer two types of hay: a super rich, nutritional hay and a decent hay that was fed in bulk since there was no grass. At the last night check, my trainer was throwing the good hay, but not the great hay. May was nickering at her and making the “feed me” puppy dog eyes. Trainer threw her the good hay. May sniffed it and started nickering again. It was her way of saying, “Excuse me, but this is not what I ordered.”

When my sister came to visit last year, we arrived to the barn to find no people there, but May hanging out in another stall that she had deemed to be “better” than her actual stall. I think both of us ended up near tears with laughter

I guess I could go on and on, but I am just so thankful for all the joy this little mare has brought me. For a horse I bought on a drunken whim, with full intentions of likely flipping her in a few months for something “better” to the pony of a lifetime.

Updates

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster. For personal reasons, my part leaser has decided to end her lease after her show this weekend. I am sad about it, but I think we can all say that we have been where she is. She and May made a ton of progress together, and I am super thankful to have had her as part of the team for the last several months.

Tav Images Photography | www.tavimages.com
Tav Images Photography | http://www.tavimages.com

Then last week, my dog started acting a bit funny. In case any of you didn’t know, Hannah is truly the child in our family. She comes on family vacations, she gets special treatment… I mean, we basically bought a house with a great yard because I had promised her that when we lived in the apartment.

Over the weekend, she had started acting just… not herself. She had energy. She had her appetite. But something was just off. Then on Tuesday, she had an accident in the house, her second time in a week. The first one we had chalked up to stress after the groomers, but prior to that week, the dog had two accidents in the entire time I had known her.

By Wednesday morning, her belly was distinctly distended. Her energy and appetite were still fine, but we took her to the vet. As usual, every disaster scenario possible was flowing through my head. I am somewhat shocked that I had the wherewithal to get a urine sample and actually drive the dog to the vet.

They did a urine test, x-rays, bloodwork… and it was all pretty inconclusive. They referred us to a larger clinic for an abdominal ultrasound… which we couldn’t get until Thursday morning. My husband took that day off of work. The ultrasound came up clean, so we tested for cushings.

We had our diagnosis. Cushings. Did you know that cushings is more prevalent in dogs than horses? It’s just that most people attribute cushing symptoms in dogs to just getting older, so don’t get them tested as often. Go figure. It will probably take multiple, repeat tests and some playing around the dosage levels of the medication, but the vets were fairly confident that we could manage her symptoms.

So What Now?

Well… obviously, both of these events mean a pretty significant hit to the bank account. I debated half leasing May out again, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s fair to ask the mare to switch to another new rider in the middle of show season, especially with me planning on some pretty significant achievements. As a result, I am just excited to spend more time in the saddle again, but I think I have to rethink my show schedule. It would still be great to go Novice, but I am going to leave some rated shows on the sidelines for the next couple of months.

I am trying to sell my Dressage saddle. If I can sell it for a decent price, maybe I can swing getting a new jump saddle that fits both of us better. Then, I’ll sell off my Stubben jump saddle. However, this has fallen down near the bottom of the priority list for now.

As always, I will keep you all posted!

“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.