A Look Back and Look Ahead

Happy New Year everyone!

2021 marks the first year in quite some time that I not only have zero show plans for the foreseeable future, but am not even riding. I gotta tell you: it’s weird. But as much as I miss it, my body was definitely telling me that it was time to step back and I’m glad I listened. Who knows, maybe Francisco will let me hop on for a brief walk around sometime!

While I didn’t do a full season recap of the year, I did want to capture a bit of what 2020 looked like, how things are going now, and what we’re looking forward to in 2021.

2020 in Review

We started off 2020 with our trip down to Ocala for two weeks. Frankie could not have been more professional in the jumper ring, he was a doll in the equitation classes, and we earned some lovely ribbons that I was very proud of. We finished out the second week wishing we had moved back into the Highs, and had plans to go ahead and do the Highs for the rest of the season since he was going so dang well.

He was casually stepping over the 1m, we felt super in tune with each other, and he made it feel easy and straightforward. I’ll never stop being so proud of how confident he’s become in his job over the years.

Of course that’s when the world kinda fell apart, and our show plans got put on hold as we all figured out what was going on. At the same time, my husband and I bought our first house, I started a new position at work and simultaneously transitioned to full time WFH, we brought home our wonderfully derpy pup Maggie, and I opted to power through to finish up my MBA program over the summer. Frankie got a bit of a lighter workload as we adjusted to those big changes, which he didn’t mind one bit.

On closing day!
She was one sick puppy with a laundry list of ailments when we got her, but all she really needed was some basic care, plenty of groceries, and lots of love. She’s now the sweetest, friendliest, happiest, FLOOFIEST creature on the planet.

Once I finished my MBA program at the end of July, I was fully ready to re-commit to training and competing, and was hoping to get back on track for the Highs! I was a little puzzled why I didn’t seem to be losing weight/toning up as quickly as I expected, and got my answer almost immediately – we had a baby on the way!

Luckily, I still got to sneak in a couple shows with Francisco: we did the 1m classes at a great local show, and then as I started to get a bit more cautious, I opted to do the 0.80m classes at my favorite Piedmont Classic. As always, Frankie was my perfect steady Eddie constant – but who’s surprised there?

Absolutely loved getting to go show a few more times before taking a step back, and loved marching in the ring with this happy dude. PC – Mosaic Photography

Since the fall, I slowly scaled back my riding to be jumping less, then to not jumping at all, then to short hacks, and finally in December I realized that it was time for me to hand over the reins so Frankie could stay in more consistent work. We found a perfect lease situation for the year that has still allowed me to get my fill of Francis smooches, while watching him get absolutely doted on by a wonderful family.

Where We Are Now

Which brings us to now!

Frankie’s lease is going wonderfully. I get regular photo updates, he’s been a prince for his kid, she’s progressing amazingly with him, his coat and condition look fantastic, the whole family just adores him, and I get to stop by periodically to give him smooches and snuggles. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better set up and I’m so happy he’s thriving with this new setup! They have a few shows on the calendar coming up and I can’t wait to see how they do.

On the personal front, we’re coming up on our first year in the new house and I’m still loving it. I have all sorts of little projects planned, but I feel like we were able to settle in really fast. Our neighbors are the actual best – it’s pretty much all couples and young families around our age, and it’s been a blast. There have been 3 babies born on our street within the past few months, so our little one will have plenty of friends to grow up with. We feel so lucky.

The husbands made a snow fort in the last storm, complete with fire pit, stocked cooler, and assorted Halloween decorations. So yeah, we’re pretty happy here.

On the professional front, there are a few changes coming up. The new position I took last spring has turned out to not be a great fit for my interests and strengths, and I’ve opted to move on from that. And for the first time ever, that means I’m leaving a job without something else lined up. While that’s a bit scary, I’m really looking forward to it, which brings me to:

Coming Up in 2021

Now that we’re all caught up, it’s time to look ahead!

Frankie will continue with his lease for the full year. I’m loving the chance to go out and see him, and I can’t wait to bring my baby out for barn time this summer/fall. His leasers seem to love him (almost) as much as I do and have done wonders for putting my mind at ease about how he’s doing. I seriously hit the leaser jackpot with them.

Between his leasers and my other barn friends, I never go more than 2 days without a photo/video update of the Frankfurter, and I get my own smooches too ❤ Makes me so happy to see him thriving and content in his new job.

The first project we need to finish in the house is completing the nursery! Luckily we’re almost done with that – we need to paint a wall, hang some curtains, and stock it with supplies (minor stuff clearly), but the big pieces are in place. As time and finances allow, I have a couple other things I’d love to check off my list: accent wall in the master bedroom, replace the chandelier in the dining room, furnish the second guest room, put in a fire pit area in the back yard, install way more bookshelves in pretty much every room. Some of these are relatively cheap and already in motion, and then we have some bigger items that may have to wait a bit longer as we save up: building out a nice big back porch and finishing out the basement are more likely going to be 3-5 year projects. We’re not in a rush.

Priority: turn our blank slate yard into more usable outdoor space to enjoy these views.

On the professional front, I’m super excited. I finish out in my current role at the end of March, which should (in theory) give me 6ish weeks before baby arrives. I may have some part-time contract work lined up for that time, but if that doesn’t pan out then I’m just excited to have a little extra time to rest and prepare for our new arrival. Once I’m ready to start working again, I’m hoping to move more into the contract/freelance sphere to give me some more schedule flexibility. My goal for this January is to build out a more concrete view of what that looks like so I can start making moves. I’m really excited to see if I can make this work, and enormously grateful for my husband being so supportive of me going out on this limb!

While I leased Frankie out primarily due to my pregnancy, it’s turned out to be a professional blessing as well by giving me the financial flexibility to take this risk on. I’ll be thrilled if things work out the way I hope, but if things are shaky or not panning out I’ll have some time to course correct before Frankie’s bills are back in the budget.

My beautiful, perfect, money-eating boy

Of course, the biggest event we’re looking forward to in 2021 is the arrival of Baby P. Time seems to be flying and we’re starting to really get excited! I’ve been fortunate in that my doctors have described my pregnancy as “textbook” and boring” and I’ve felt relatively good (once I got over that awful nausea haha), so we’re eager to meet Frankie and Maggie’s new kid. Because lets be real – this may be our child, but they are going to have their own posse of giant floofy creatures to love on them.

Cheers to the New Year!