Final Ocala Prep

We’re in the final stretches of prepping for Ocala!!!!

To get Frankie super ready to go, we’ve been amping up the duration and intensity of both my rides and his training rides. I continue to be the world’s biggest fan of training rides – they remind him how to be shmancy and he is just a delight to ride when he’s all tuned up like that. We spent so long encouraging and teaching him how to use those muscles and I’m still giddy about how much more educated he is now. I never want to hop off these days.

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We haven’t trained either of us how to take nice pictures but that’s ok we’re good at other things

We also went ahead got a bulk order of Ulcergard for the ponies. My friend found a great price and we all jumped on it. Frankie will get a heavier dose for his travel days and then smaller amounts every day that he’s there. I hate how expensive this stuff is but you know what’s even more expensive? Treating ulcers. I’ll happily spend a little on the front end to keep his tummy feeling good.

Our chiro/acupuncture guy came out this week, so Francis got himself an adjustment. I opted not to do the acupuncture this time since I didn’t really see noticeable results the last few times, but he does seem to really enjoy his chiro. Anything to help him feel his best down there! My husband was recently musing that he never expected to be in a serious conversation about the pros vs cons of equine acupuncture, but here he is. It also turns out that our favorite braider will be down south, and she’s also the person that does Frankie’s massages. So he’ll get a nice refresh between weeks 1 and 2!

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PLZ I NEED ALL THE ATTENTION IN THE WORLD OR I WILL DIE

I was originally hoping to stock up on some show clothes before heading down (despite my obsession with pretty things, I really don’t end up actually purchasing clothes all that often) but ended up deciding to save my pennies. Of course as soon as I said that, a good friend ended up selling me a bunch of breeches for a ridiculously fantastic price, including 2 pairs that are show ready. Between those and the laundry facilities at the hotel I should be able to clean up as often as needed. I already mentioned that I’m hoping for a buffer in my budget to allow at least a little shopping while there.

There’s something else exciting potentially in the works for while I’m down there, but I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. I promise to share once things are finalized! (And before you ask, no I will not be buying/leasing another horse, I really like spending my money on my own darling spoiled boy).

I’m also actually getting excited for the drive down! My mom decided to fly in to the closest airport and we’re splitting the drive into a couple days before she flies back home from Jacksonville. So I’ll get to Ocala Wednesday afternoon, not completely hating my life and having had a super awesome roadtrip with my momma.

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She is so small, and yet, so powerful

I have a pretty solid packing list and a final few things to do before heading down. I’ve got my cooler for his ice boots, my wifi hotspot device, a few other random things I’m trying to remember. My spring term for school starts the Monday that I hit the road so it’s going to be a balancing act fitting work, school, and ponies into my days. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A Bit o’ Fun

Just kidding, finding the right bit is more annoying than it is fun.

Here’s what we’re working with: I almost always ride Francis in a French link elevator with my reins on the second ring. He is very happy and soft in this bit, I can have gentle hands, he prefers the clarity of leverage over mouth pressure, overall it works really well for him. We like it and have no real need to switch it up.

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We have a happy horse in this bit which means we have a happy rider

Except, of course, that this bit is considered unconventional in the equitation and hunter rings. Which means that we HAVE to switch it up.

We’ve been using a plain pelham for the last year, a la this:

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It’s been…fine. Frankie historically is not fussy about his bits and this is no exception. The only one he’s really shown a vague dislike for is a slow twist, so we keep the mouthpieces smooth now. I rode him in a plain full cheek snaffle like this one for the first 2 years I had him and it worked well enough.

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So my hope was that the pelham would be similar to that, with a little bit of the leverage he seems to prefer. And again, it’s fine. No theatrics, nothing awful, just kinda dull and leaning. It’s a good thing those courses are less twisty turny than the jumper ring, because I feel like I have a much slower line of communication with this bit.

It’s not a big deal if I’m just popping in an equitation class now and then, but I do enjoy them and want to continue to give them a go with Francisco. So I decided that it’s time to find something better than “fine.” I want something actively good.

The first place I started was by testing the mouthpiece. I picked up a French link full cheek snaffle to see if this mouthpiece might fit more happily in his mouth, similar to his elevator.

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I do like this bit a lot, especially on the flat. I don’t have the same brakes that I do in the elevator, but I have a surprising amount of adjustability and softness that I never had in a snaffle before. I think this is partially due to Frankie’s continuing education since we last tried the snaffle, but I also think that this mouthpiece is a little gentler and encourages some more softness for him. My only qualm is that I have to make any adjustments on course 4 strides out instead of 2 since it takes a bit longer to communicate – and let’s be honest, I’m not good enough to always know what I need to do a full 4 strides out. So a step in the right direction but not quite where I want it. (Side note – I’m having Frankie’s half-leaser use this bit with him. He’s easier to get to know in a snaffle and I always hesitate putting leverage in hands that I don’t know as well.)

The next one we decided to try was a shaped Mullen Happy Mouth pelham:

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I know some horses love the single piece and some are not fans. So far Frankie seems to be a fan! He’s soft and forward into the bridle, and I have that little bit of leverage to help me communicate. He has such a dull mouth that it really doesn’t make much sense to use harsher mouthpieces, so backing that off to something softer for him makes sense to me. My trainer doesn’t absolutely love it, but this is what we’re tentatively using for now.

Of course, I then asked my trainer what she’s been using on him in her training rides, and she responded that she’s been using no noseband and this KK Ultra loose ring and he’s been very happy.

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So I’m going to see if I can find this in a D to try out (loose ring is technically allowed I believe but is not The Look(TM) at the moment). Of course it’s a fancy expensive one, so I’m looking for a used one (please let me know if you have anything for me I will happily buy it off you!!). I keep my noseband pretty loose anyways, but hey maybe I’ll just take it off altogether for the jumper ring. Let his nose fly free in the breeze. I would really prefer to put him in a snaffle that he likes for the eq/derby rings – I think having a bit that looks stronger visually (like the pelham) sends a signal to the judge that he’s a stronger or heavier ride and that isn’t the case at all. So we’ll keep working on it to make sure he’s comfortable and can hear me.

Basically the verdict is that my horse likes a center piece to jangle, except when he likes a single piece. And he likes the clarity of a little leverage, except when he goes better in a snaffle.

Right.

 

Goodbye and Hello

It’s kinda a season of exciting but bittersweet news over in our corner of the world.

Firstly, our beloved Assistant Trainer has decided to move on to new adventures after 6(!) years with our barn. She’ll still be around ad hoc when we need her and she’s certainly not disappearing into the ether, just not as our end-all-be-all barn manager anymore. We’re all thrilled for her new venture and it is a very positive parting, but we’re all also very brokenhearted to lose her. Her attention to detail and her horsemanship are far and away the best I’ve ever encountered. Having her knowledge and eyes on the horses has been reassuring in the extreme. She knows just when to push and ask for more and when to give a break, she takes her time developing new skills with endless patience, and never takes shortcuts when it comes to the horses’ well-being. I’m sure we will find a wonderful new barn manager/trainer, but I’ll honestly be satisfied if they are even half as good as AT has been. With all her talent and attentiveness and tenacity, I can’t wait to see what she’ll accomplish!

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She built Frankie’s fitness and confidence to the point where he happily tackled heights far greater than I ever anticipated. Her guidance helped him become the athlete he is today, and her training has helped me try to keep up with that athleticism. Forever grateful.

The other bittersweet piece of news is that one of the horses in the barn colicked the other day. He ended up needing surgery, but it went well and he’s recovering (thank goodness). Of course, this means he’ll be rehabbing for a good long time and is out for the rest of the season. Major bummer for all parties involved.

However, the silver lining here is that his teenage owner is a fan of the jumper ring, and her mom is trying to figure out a plan that means she still gets to show while her horse is rehabbing, without having to buy or full lease a second horse.

I think you can guess who is coming to the rescue here: Francis.

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“Will rescue for scratchies”

We’ve set up an excellent partial lease situation that means this kiddo is still getting to train and show on a confidence-boosting horse, and I get (a) reassurance that he’s getting loved on when I can’t be there and (b) help with some of his bills. I wasn’t actively looking for someone to share Frankie with, but I’m happy with how well this works out for all of us.

There’s also a certain sense of circling back around: having a flexible partial lease on Addy opened up a lot of doors for me and helped me grow in ways I never would have been able to otherwise. It feels kinda karmic to now be on the other side, able to share my own horse with someone in need of more saddle time.

So there you have it. We’re bidding a fond farewell-for-now to one of the very biggest influences on my riding, and we’re giving a warm welcome to the newest member of the Official Frankie Fan Club.

Change can be intimidating, but I’m eager to see where it takes us over the next few months!

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As long as we’re together, it’ll all be great ❤

The Between-Shows Training

We’ve reached an interesting milestone in our training called “Frankie is dang good at his job and there’s no reason to pound on him.” What this means in practice is that we do the 1m classes at shows, and we don’t really jump a ton or very high at home. I joked that I feel like one of those ammies that toodles around at home and just shows up for competitions every so often.

Our lessons rarely go up to 3′. We don’t even jump every week. Maybe once a month (or less) we put the jumps up to competition height for a single course to check and make sure we remember how to do it. We do.

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v v casual

I think there’s a lot that has gone into making this a sustainable way of moving forward together.

Firstly, we spent a long time schooling 1m+ with consistency. Never a pounding, but it took a long time for Frankie to develop better body awareness and get confident navigating that height and above. We needed to school it regularly to help him build on those experiences. We could not have gotten comfortable at this height by schooling it as infrequently as we do now. We can only back off because we have something to back off from.

Secondly, he has the temperament for it. His reaction to a bigger fence has never been to back off or get flustered. We certainly don’t try to surprise him and we ramp back up to make sure he’s ready to go, but he’s easy going enough to see a bigger fence and simply put in a bigger effort. No muss no fuss.

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The least muss. The least fuss.

Thirdly, we have a program that keeps him fit enough to do the height. Between myself and his pro rides he is worked most days and encouraged to use himself properly. We do pole work, we do stretchy work, we do transitions, we do all the good stuff to help build muscle. And then we do lots of stretches, regular massages and chiro, veterinary maintenance as needed (yes he is incredibly spoiled). So when we do ask him for the bigger effort, he feels strong and limber enough to happily give that.

The other day we had one of our check-ins pre-Ocala. We had spent most of our lesson at around 2’6″ schooling the add, which is forever helpful for Frankie to sit and work his booty. At one point we put 7 strides in a bending that was later a comfortable 4. It was actually ridiculous. But the jumps went up to full height and I asked him to stretch out and give me a bigger step. He opened right up and went around beautifully. Trainer simply said, “Well that didn’t look like a hardship.”

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Very little is a hardship to this guy, he’s living a real good life

So here we are. We’re saving his legs for shows, and giving him all the tools he needs to succeed. My hope is that by being careful and intentional about his workload we can keep him sound and happy in his job for many years to come!

Ocala 2020 Prep

We’re just about a month out from our trek down south to Florida for a blessed two weeks in the warmth! I’m getting crazy excited to spend that time with Frankie down there (not least because he can finally get a bath omg he REEKS). I remember feeling really burnt out after two weeks of showing at WEC, but I’m feeling confident that the better weather and a lighter schedule will alleviate that. We are very much there to have a good time.

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We will be able to take naps OUTSIDE as well as inside

In the spirit of the final countdown to departure, I figured I would share a few things I’m bringing, a few ways we’re preparing, and just talk about it more a bit.

The first exciting thing that I’m bringing is a portable hotspot. My parents gifted me their previously-unused MiFi hotspot to bring down and I’m super grateful for it. I’ll have guaranteed wifi to do my work and school assignments on the showgrounds or wherever else I find myself. I’m able to do most of my communicating and social media via phone, but have you ever tried writing an essay or creating a slide deck like that? It ain’t fun.

The second exciting thing I’m bringing down is my giant cooler. I’ll be able to keep that stocked with ice to hold Frankie’s ice boots (along with some wine and hummus for yours truly). Especially for such a long show, I want to have all tools on hand to keep Frankie feeling good about it.

As you may guess, a giant cooler doesn’t really fit in my plane luggage. I will be making the drive down south. All 12 hours of it. Not really my idea of a great time, but the price of a roundtrip plane ticket plus rental car blew my budget out of the water. It looks like I’ll make the trip down solo, but I’ll be caravan-ing back up with a friend so we can at least take breaks together. She offered to just make the whole trip together in the same car, but with my work schedule and homework I really need the flexibility of my own vehicle. This is probably the part I’m least excited by – I HATE roadtrips with a fiery passion. The plan is to hit the road around 5am so I can be there in time for dinner, and then we’ll break the trip back north into 2 days to arrive home on Monday. Ugh.

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At least this time I’ll be making the trip in a car that has functional brakes AND windshield wipers! Remember when I drove through the mountains to Lake Placid without either hahahahahahait’sfineilived

Luckily, I’m able to split my hotel room with said friend and her daughter! She had a zillion points she was able to use so my hotel expenses are WAY WAY lower than I had worried they’d be. There’s a 24hr gym, a pool, a business center, complimentary breakfast, and (most importantly) a bar, all about 20 minutes from the show. I plan on making full use of all these amenities. It’s tough to share a smallish hotel room with 2 other people for 2 full weeks but I’m hopeful that we’ll manage.

For Frankie, there’s not a ton of prep work to take care of. He’ll need another full clip in the coming weeks to get him looking show-ready and I’ll need to scrub my tack. But for anything else? He’s feeling pretty darn good. I’d like to make a concerted effort to make sure he’s getting worked consistently to get his fitness a titch better, and I’m sure my trainer will have us work on some stuff in our lessons, but he’s at the point now where I’m confident taking him wherever and knowing he’ll be happy to go around. The only thing left on my to-do list is to stock up on Ulcergard – he is probably the least anxious, least ulcer-prone horse I know, but I refuse to take chances on such a long trip.

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For whatever reason, the dude seems to super enjoy getting on the trailer. I’m not mad about it.

We’ve set up the commercial shipper for the ponies to head down – it looks like we’re bringing 4 or 5 with us and leasing a couple ponies for the kids down there. Frankie did well with the commercial shipper up to Lake Placid so I’m not super concerned about that. He’ll also arrive on Sunday or Monday, and Trainer will have the chance to get him out a bit before I arrive on Wednesday or Thursday. We all chipped in for a paddock so he will get his beloved turnout every day that weather permits. I’m hoping that he can share with one of the other geldings to get double time, but we’ll see how that works out. I’m just glad he’s getting any turnout, it makes such an enormous difference in keeping him feeling fresh!

Budget-wise I’m trying to pre-pay as much as possible. Our stalls and splits are already paid for and I’ve put in several deposits to my trainer. My goal is to take care of as much as possible ahead of time so I’m not scrambling on the back end – this isn’t a trivial expense, so I’m continually grateful to my husband for being entirely on board with my going. I’d ideally like to open up a little room in the budget for some shopping – y’all know I can’t resist the vendors at these things. I do have an actual useful wishlist, so hopefully I don’t get sucked into getting something ridiculous that I don’t need.

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Not that I EVER fall victim to my own love of pants

At this point, this ain’t our first rodeo. I’d love to write about the secret tips and tricks, but I don’t think I have any – it’s all kinda old news at this point! That being said, let me know if you have any questions or comments or anything about prepping/attending one of these, clearly I love to talk about it!

T-36 days to sunshine and nonstop ponies.

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I WANT. TO WEAR. SHORT SLEEVES. PLEASE.

A Look Back and A Look Ahead

I did my blog recap of 2019 mainly for my own records, but I’m begging your indulgence for a bit more high level recap of what the year looked like for our little family, along with a look ahead to 2020.

Frankie

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In 2019 I sat on Frankie without a helmet for the first time ever but dang the pics are cute tho

Well, you already know he was perfect. I started the year thinking that I would be getting back into full training for a move up to the 1.20m after the wedding. For various reasons this didn’t happen, and I’m so glad that we took that pressure off. Frankie spent the year with his confidence soaring at every outing and we built a stronger partnership than ever. He’s another year older, another year smarter, and his coat and muscling honestly look better than ever. He truly thrived this year and we learned so much about what makes him happy.

Looking forward to 2020, I have a couple goals with him. Firstly, I’d like to qualify for the VHSA Adult Eq finals. He was such a pro and got better with every outing in the eq this past year, and I’d love to keep building that skill set together. I don’t anticipate making it to Cap Challenge or anything like that, but the VHSA final is a great show down in Lexington and is straightforward to qualify for. Secondly, I’d like to qualify for Zone finals in the Low Adults. We have totally hit our groove in the 1m classes (you should see just how proud of himself he gets) and this would be a great goal to help focus our efforts. Lastly, I want to have fun with him. 2020 will be our fifth(!!!) show season together and I want to fully enjoy all the adventures, opportunities, and time together that we can. At this point my goals for Frankie are ever-flexible because the one that trumps all others is making sure he’s happy and healthy and enjoying his work. So far, so good!

School

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Don’t judge I know it’s a bit of a cluster

I started up my online MBA program back in April, and as of year-end I’m officially halfway through the program. It has introduced a whole new level of balancing act as I tr to meet deadlines while working and traveling and competing and (maybe even sometimes) sleeping and eating. That being said, I’m SO glad I’m doing this, especially in the online format. I’m able to learn something in my course materials over the weekend and apply it at work on Monday. I get to learn new things, debate ideas with interesting people, stretch my skills in different ways. It’s incredibly stimulating.

Looking forward to the next year, I’ll be finishing my program in early October! I’ll be finishing with a dual concentration in Business Analytics (hello numbers my old friend) and Strategic Leadership (which is the first step of my bid for world domination). There’s just a marathon 18 week triple-term this spring, a summer term, and 7 weeks in the fall between me and that sweet degree.

Professional

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I dressed up like a dragon at our staff retreat which was probably the most exciting part of the year

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a huge year for me professionally. Not bad by any stretch, just nothing exciting to report. Worked on some cool projects, got some new coworkers, loved my boss a ton (she’s amazing). I spent a decent amount of time kinda bored, but it sure did pay the bills so I can’t shouldn’t complain.

I am planning to leverage this new degree moving into 2020. There are a few different avenues this can take and I’m hoping to be able to share which avenue this follows fairly early in the year. At the end of the day my motivation for career growth is to (1) be able to provide for my family and (2) not be bored so fingers crossed we can make both of these happen at the same time.

Personal

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We had lots of adventures together and guys I like him an embarrassing amount. Giving myself a major high five for getting to be married to him.

Holy moly guys, 2019 was a very full year from a personal relationship standpoint. My best friend got married, my mom came for a visit, our friend kicked off a new career, BOTH my parents came for a visit, we made a surprise birthday trip to LA, my best friend announced her pregnancy (OMG HER LIL BELLY IS TOO CUTE FOR WORDS), we went to a family reunion, we visited my side in RI, we went on our honeymoon, we celebrated my dad’s retirement from the ANG, we went to Cali for a dear friend’s wedding, we went to MD for ANOTHER wedding, we went out to the country for a weekend with BOTH our sets of parents, celebrated Christmas up north, celebrated countless birthdays, went on lots of dates together, saw friends, and spent tons and tons of time with our friends and family. It was a lot of traveling and all worth it. We are incredibly blessed to have these people in our lives. It was also our first full year of marriage and it totally rocked. I like him even more than I did on our wedding day. I also found an amazing new hairstylist in 2019 and if any of y’all don’t think that’s revolutionary then you also need to find a new one.

Our slogan for 2020 is: “Y’all can come to us.” We’re hoping to cut down on some of the constant travel – but realistically, we’ll still be hopping on planes with some regularity. My hope is to be a bit more deliberate about protecting our time together especially as I power through the final terms of schoolwork. I’m trying to plan a vacation adventure for the two of us later in the year as a pseudo-graduation present to myself. Whatever we have going on, it’ll be a ton of fun.

Overall

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My most wonderful boys ❤

2019 felt like a year of big change and a year of staying still all at once. My goals changed, my balance changed, my perspectives changed. But I was in the same job, same apartment, with the same incredible support system. There were lots of wins to celebrate and I learned a lot about what the people around me need from me and what I need from myself.

I think 2020 will be a year of greater change, with a lot less staying still. I don’t really know what that looks like yet, which used to scare me. I like to have a plan. But I have the world’s best partner to share the highs and lows and make me laugh, and I have the world’s most wonderful horse (who also constantly makes me laugh). I’m not so worried with those two in my corner.

2019 Highlights

To close out 2019, here’s a little journey down memory lane of what we talked about together over the course of the year!

January

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Clipped Francis is adorable my goodness

I decided that 2019 wasn’t my year to set goals, but to enjoy the partnership Frankie and I have built. I talked about our focus on making the smaller jumps count, got back in the saddle after rehabbing from a small injury, celebrated my blogiversary, and was grateful for training rides even in the off season. We closed out the month by giving into peer pressure to plan a return to WEC and discussed the finances of showing and qualifying at the higher levels.

February

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Such a treat to learn from this big lady

I bid a tearful farewell to my trusty Jeep and made the decision to pursue my MBA. Frankie had a minor heel grab that led to some adorable hand walks, and he got to recover while I spent a week in Ohio with a lovely mare!

March

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Legging back up meant a much beleaguered Francisco

I got more into detail about the rides I got at WEC and how different Belle was from Francis, did a day-in-the-life post that made me tired just looking at it, and started legging Frankie back up. I mused on why I love the jumper ring so much, talked about how I prioritize horse expenses, and got REAL sappy about three full years with my Best Boy.

April

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SWEET. SWEET. ANGEL. BOY.

Frankie and I showed together for the first time since the previous summer! (And obviously he was perfect). We had to re-tool our show season when Upperville changed their prize list, but I also got to apply my student mindset to training with great results. I shared my favorite exercises to do with Francis, got to share my wedding photos with y’all, and did a fun Q&A via Instagram.

May

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The sweetest derby horse to ever exist

Francis took care of me during a busy time and really pushed home just how broke he is these days. We also made it to a show where we did the eq and our first USHJA National Hunter Derby!!! He was seriously too precious for words.

June

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Sincerely the happiest eq pony to ever be born

Things were slow and lazy as the summer kicked off and I had to balance my schedule. There was a fun 25-question blog hop we jumped on, and we had a BLAST continuing our eq/derby outings at Loudoun Benefit. Francis continued to shine in the new rings.

July

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I somewhat conquered my fear of riding outside the ring

I shared my infinite wisdom on how to achieve perfect balance (psych lol) and Frankie felt great about his work. It was a crazy month of travel and school and work and all that life brought so the blog was quiet, but Francis was a wonderful constant.

August

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Low key a real-life brontosaurus

I shared what I’d been up to outside the barn and made some show plans. I did a monster breakdown of the different ways we’ve approached our training over the years, answered twelve tough questions in a blog hop, and filled up our fall with exciting outings.

September

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Beastly boy had infectious confidence stepping back into the jumper ring

Frankie laughed at our calendar by somehow maiming himself, but thankfully mended quickly and without complication. Poor guy then had an awful day (seriously wasn’t his month!) and I explained why I’m ok with being a mean mom (wow, this REALLY was a rough time for Francis). I made a plan to get us both back into fighting shape and replaced my helmet with a HUGE upgrade. We stepped back into the jumper ring and Frankie could not have been more professional – he even won us our first division tricolor.

October

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Honestly how I felt most of October

I talked about how I approach our warmup at shows and gushed about my perfectly fancy un-fancy horse. School was kicking my butt at this point so the blog took a backseat but we had adventures that I covered the following month!

November

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Love. Bug.

I begged your pardon for some downtime and announced Ocala 2020(!!!). I FINALLY got around to recapping our Olympic clinic (which was kinda eh) and our last show of the season (which was lovely and wonderful and OBVI perfection – with another tricolor to boot). I realized I have no idea how old my horse is – nor do I care – and took him for granted.

December

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Santa’s cutest reindeer!

I recapped our 2019 show season (seems funny to include a recap in a recap) and went absolutely flying in a lesson where Frankie jumped out of his skin. We got to participate in Secret Santa and Frankie felt festive. We closed out with a look back on the last decade!

It was a year full of changes and growth, full of fun adventures, and full of wonderful sweet times with my family and friends and favorite horse on the planet. Cheers to a fantastic 2019, and cheers to an even better 2020!

 

2010s Photo Challenge

I’m loving the walk down memory lane we’re all doing as we get psyched for a brand new decade. It’s been a heck of a 10 years for me, so it was wild looking back at old photos to figure out what to share!

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2010 was the year I finished my freshman year of college and got ready for my sophomore year. No ponies in sight!
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2011 closed out sophomore year and I spent the summer taking extra classes to prep for junior year. Still nary a pony to be found, still an unflattering shade of blonde.

2011

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2012 was the end of junior year looking to senior year, with some cool trips and a cool internship down in DC. Sadly, still no ponies.
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2013 was the big graduation year! It was time for new adventures down in Virginia with a big girl job and a big girl apartment. This was the last pony-less year (thank goodness).
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Enter Addy in 2014! I started lessons again, got into a half lease, and felt more at home than ever. I also met my husband in 2014, but he’ll get his own post sometime 🙂
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2015 was the year of exploring with Addy: I got back in the show ring for the first time in almost 10 years, we tried XC for my first time ever, and I learned to be confident and comfortable in the tack again.
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2016 brought me my most perfect Francis. It was our get-to-know-you year with a few shows and adventures, and he was happy and wonderful from the get-go.
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2017 was our breakout year. We qualified for Zone Finals and Team Finals, we got some great ribbons, we did our first 1.15m at Upperville with a clear round. Despite our greenness to the new level, he made it all fun.
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2018 was our honing year. We got sharper, we schooled bigger, we were more precise, we trained harder. He absolutely thrived and I’m (still) incredibly proud of his work ethic and sweetness with all the new adventures.
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This photo truly captures our 2019. We’re old friends and we know each other so well, we learn and get better together all the time, and we straight up have a fantastic time. 

I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings for me and the Frankfurter!

Secret Santa

We all know and love Tracy over at The Printable Pony for organizing the best Secret Santa every year, and this year has been wonderful! It’s been so fun seeing everyone sharing and reaching out to new people.

And get presents. We all like presents.

In a wonderful twist of fate, I received my gift on my birthday itself! A little holiday cheer, a little birthday cheer, and a whole lot of happiness. A huge thank you to Kristen over at Stampy and the Brain for such thoughtful gifts!!

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OK first of all the puppy wrapping paper is the cutest possible way to wrap, amiright?!

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It’s tough to see in this lighting, but this is my absolutely favorite navy!! I’ve been lusting after one of these surcingle belts for a while now, and it’s even cooler that it comes from a fellow blogger and horse girl: Rachel over at For Want of a Horse.

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Y’all know how obsessed I am with socks, and this pair is too cute. I think these are going to be my new lucky show socks – there’s something about getting dressed for battle (in an adorable way) that brings good juju.

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And of course Kristen didn’t forget Frankie! He absolutely adores all things peppermint flavored, and these are the perfect size for our post-ride carrot stretches. He’s going to be one happy camper!!

Thank you Kristen for a ray of sunshine in the form of a package, and happy holidays to all!