Our 2019 Season

You know what they say about best laid plans?

Literally the day after I told y’all that I was planning to do the jumpers at Upperville, and about a week after I told you that Upperville is my favorite event of the year, they released the prize list.

And they’ve opted to not include the Low Ch/AA Jumper division this year.

Welp.

Basically what this means is that if I want to compete at Upperville, my options are to (A) compete Monday-Wednesday in the schooling open classes at 1.0m or (B) leg back up to the 1.10-1.15m to do the Highs.

As much as I’d love to say that we can leg back up, I’m not sure that’s realistic for us right now. Classes are starting next week and I’m sure that will impact my ability to ride super often, and that height is challenging enough for us that we need to be at our peak to be successful. Frankie is wonderful at picking up the slack for me when I need it, but I don’t think it’s fair to ask him to pick up quite so much slack.

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The reason he made the height look so easy is because of the BOATLOADS OF TIME we spent training and conditioning. He’s pretty scopey on his own but definitely needs a partnership at that height (which I swear I can give him despite my sometimes-questionable equitation). PC- K. Borden

And competing earlier in the week is much harder for my working schedule than it is to take a long weekend. I can usually rearrange my schedule to minimize PTO hours when I take a Friday off, but there’s no such flexibility on other days. I’m intentionally hoarding vacation days for our honeymoon in August(!!), so this is a tough option.

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We’re going to St. Lucia and to say I’m excited would be an understatement. PC – Sandals

So for all my love of Upperville, it’s looking like it’s not in the cards for us this year. I know they were looking for ways to streamline the schedule, but I am bummed they chose to do it by eliminating the division I was hoping to compete in.

What this means for our show schedule is that we’ll do Blue Rock at Swan Lake in May, then do Loudoun Benefit in June. Not sure if we’ll stick with the jumpers, or maybe throw a derby or some eq classes in there for funsies.

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In case you all forgot how cute Frankie looks as an eq horse. PC – K. Borden

 

After that? It’s gonna be reeeeal quiet on the show front for us. July is hot enough that I don’t particularly like showing in VA then (and summer term means I can’t jet off to Lake Placid again sadly), I’ll be gone on our honeymoon during the bigger shows in August, and then we’re already into the fall.

Ah well. Such is life.

I’m excited for classes to start and figure out what that means for my riding schedule, my social schedule, my sleep schedule. It may mean fewer shows than I’d prefer, but I knew there would be tradeoffs when I decided to go back to school. I’ll still get to enjoy my favorite horse and I know he’ll be happy and ready for whatever adventures present when the time is right!

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Three Years of Francis

Can you believe we’ve already had 3 years together?

It feels like just yesterday that Frankie came home, but also feels like he’s always been a part of my life. I simply can’t imagine not walking into the first stall on the right and trading scratches and smooches with this big brown beast.

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PC- Liz Stout Photography

Our first year was spent getting to know each other. I’m pretty sure I didn’t fully adjust to his way of going until we were a solid 10-12 months in. Luckily he never took a bad step, and was patient with me while we figured each other out.

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At his very first show, he calmly packed me around like he had been doing it for years

Our second year was spent pushing our boundaries. We jumped heights that were new to both of us, we trained in ways we had never trained, and we went out and strutted our stuff.

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Somehow he’s always known when he does a good job. PC- K. Borden

This third year has been the best yet, where our partnership has become that much better. We’ve chased dreams, we’ve explored so many amazing places, and we’ve taken everything we’ve done to the next level while learning and growing together.

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New heights and new places – but there’s always time for snugs

I wish I had better words to describe this past year – the thousands of words I’ve shared with you on this blog still don’t do it justice. I don’t think any words can really capture the emotions, the drive, the companionship, the laughs, the tears, the toughness, the excitement, and everything else we’ve encountered together.

Sometimes I feel a bit silly. All I ever tell you about is the sunshine and rainbows and sparkles that accompany the Frankfurter wherever he goes. That has to be boring.

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The happiest boy

Honest to goodness, I can’t help it. We’re both so so so very far from perfect, but even the difficult days are fun and exciting with him. His happiness to work and learn makes everything more enjoyable. I’ve never had cause to be nervous, no matter the occasion. His brattiest worst behavior is hysterical in its lack-of-badness. He’s simply not very good at it. I only have sunshine and sparkles to share because he really is that kind of horse. Kind, calm, goofy, affectionate, hard-working, fun, trainable, sweet, consistent, wonderful, the list goes on for miles.

Our relationship now is no longer new. We’re not getting to know each other – we know each other plenty well. I know just where he likes to be scratched on his forehead, and when he needs a little longer to stretch in his warmup. I can tell at a glance when he is tired or relaxed or eager or happy (his default). He knows that if he turns his head after finishing a course, I’ll rub his ears for him. He knows that I’ll always let him drink from the hose before a bath and that I’ll never ask him to do anything scary. Every day is a comforting conversation because we know and trust each other’s rhythms.

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PC- Liz Stout Photography

For as long as I’ve been riding and competing, and as long as I’ve been engrossed with the barn, I could’ve never imagined having a partner like Frankie. He’s one in a million and a once in a lifetime. In and out of the saddle, he brings so much joy and kindness into every single day we share. I don’t know what adventures we’ll get to go on together in the years to come, but I can’t wait to find out.

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PC- Liz Stout Photography

Prioritizing Expenses

I was chatting with a friend over the weekend about what we like to spend our money on. I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to get to train and compete like we do, but I’m also not made of money and have had to very clearly prioritize what I spend my money on.

Of course this list has changed over time – when I first bought Frankie, getting him the tack/blankets/gear to be comfortable in a new home was priority numero uno. But if I’m considering a steady state of affairs, here’s how I prioritize Frankie’s bank account:

1.Vet/farrier care. This never gets delayed or cheaped out on. We have an amazing farrier and a fantastic vet, and we’ve built a level of trust that they’ll do what’s best without doing anything unnecessary. Trainer and AT coordinate schedules and have heavy feedback into Frankie’s care and they’ve kept him healthy and happy. It’s a fantastic healthcare team. Tied into this category are items that help keep him happy – I recently picked up some ice boots that I put on him after jumping.

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tHe HaT oF kNoWlEdGe

2. Lessons. This will always always always be my number one priority once Frankie’s basic needs are met. This might be different if I worked with a different trainer, but I don’t need to tell you again how obsessed I am with mine. This consistent knowledgeable feedback is invaluable to me, and I’m grateful that we have the opportunity for it to be so frequent.

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Lessons make a FancyPants Francis even more FancyPants

3. Training rides. When I first got Francis, these weren’t that high on the list. But after incorporating them into the rotation more often and seeing the benefits for him both in the on and off season, I’m a believer. The one-two punch of lessons and training rides accelerated our progress more than I thought was possible and opened my eyes to a whole new level of riding.

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This transformation brought to you by (drumroll please) a whole bunch of lessons and training rides

4. Shows. Ya’ll know ya girl here loves to compete. And y’all know I’ll happily sacrifice a chance at some ribbons to go to the big shows. I won’t cancel my lessons or training rides to be able to afford a show, but I’ll cancel just about anything else.

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I literally go into the ring giggling this is my favorite activity on the planet

5. Tack. Thankfully Frankie pretty much has what he needs to be happy, but every once in a while I do pick something up. I recently nabbed a used Vespucci figure-8 that looks great on him, and also got a used Equifit BellyBand to protect his sensitive skin. I have a rolling wishlist that currently includes new stirrup irons, replacement standing+pillow wraps, and an embroidered BOT pad to show in. None of them are immediate needs, so I’ll either ask for them as gifts or wait til some room in the budget opens up (though the stirrup irons are fairly quickly approaching the necessary category).

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We switched our bit last year when we had enough forward and enough responsiveness to handle a little leverage, but we mostly leave it alone now.

6. Other gear and clothing. While I have a well-known obsession with pants, they do actually fall this far down on the list! Basically Frankie has to have everything he needs before I open up the budget for myself. Current wishlist includes a new Samshield show shirt to match my gorgeous Samshield whites, and a custom tack trunk cover so I can make my cheapo beloved Stanley trunk look super legit at shows. Again – not immediate needs, so these will either be gifts or wait until show season is over.

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Spoiler alert these are going to be mine in May (fingers crossed my schooling pair can hold out that long, they are literally falling apart)

Board isn’t in there because it is a constant fact of life for us. I love our barn, the boarding fee is very reasonable for the quality of facilities and region, and I don’t plan on moving unless something truly catastrophic happens. It doesn’t factor into the priority list because it’s simply there.

And of course things pop up here and there and I don’t stop to think about the priority list. If Frankie’s saddle isn’t fitting and I need to pay to have that addressed, I don’t put it off. If I see a pretty pair of pants after drinking two glasses of wine, I buy them. I can always take shows off the schedule, but I can’t take Frankie’s happiness and my own enjoyment of the sport off the schedule.

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, and I’m sure everyone’s order looks different! I’d love to hear what yours looks like and why.

Blog Hop: My Favorite Event

Y’all can’t keep me away from a fun blog hop just because I’m not an eventer! Out of the shows I’ve gotten to attend there is such a clear favorite in my mind that I just have to share.

If you’ve been following along for any amount of time, you already know that I’m talking about Upperville. (And to a similar extent Loudoun Benefit, which is held on the same showgrounds the following week).

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Our very first round as a team, back in 2016 at Loudoun Benefit in the Grand Prix ring! Talk about jumping in the deep end with a new horse.

In my world, Upperville is basically an immovable holiday. I change flights, I take time off of work, I have my dude move me out of apartments for me, all for the sake of Upperville.

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Remember when Nick was loading up a Uhaul with my possessions literally while I was over this jump in 2017 oops lol

Of course I love it for a lot of the technical aspects: the footing is absolutely fantastic and meticulously maintained, the course design is always fair but challenging, and the staff is friendly and professional.

It also has old tent stalls with very few outlets, insanely chaotic warmup rings, and takes place during the heat of the Virginia summer.

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Throwback to 2015 before I had a horse to show, but volunteered to help set up the stalls. As the tallest I got to stack a ladder on top of a hay bale on top of a trash can so we could reach the ONE OUTLET IN OUR AISLE #holdmybeer

I’ll never say that it’s perfect.

But there’s just something so special about it. By unspoken agreement, everyone pulls out all the stops for their aisle-fronts: gleaming wooden tack trunks, coordinating banners, fresh mulch, piles of flowers, wrought-iron fences, bubbling fountains (yes, really). The jumps are full of lush greenery in the hunter rings and beautiful shapes and colors in the jumper ring.

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The entire place is just gorgeous from every angle. PC – A. Frye

 

 

There are the side-saddle and hunt classes with so much tradition on display. The hunters are some of the most beautiful animals I’ve had the pleasure of seeing go around – and watching them along with the commentary of my trainer (a hunter R judge) turns it into a learning experience. The classic lime ices are perfect on a humid morning. I can ride a track in the same ring as McLain, on the very same day.

Add to this that Upperville is about 30 minutes from our home stable, and there’s definitely a sense of hometown pride to it. The rolling fields adjacent to the showgrounds are perfect for cooling out in view of the rolling hills.

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And they make a perfect backdrop for photos.

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Which then make perfect subject matter for oil paintings

Upperville isn’t my favorite because it’s objectively the best show. WEC has nicer stalls, Swan Lake has great footing too, McDonogh is super accessible, Culpeper has more step-up classes, Lake Placid has the most stunning vistas, Ocala has better weather. There’s been plenty to love at all of these shows and we’ve had great experiences at all of them.

For me, Upperville is different. It’s where Frankie and I tackled our first 1.15m class as a team, where he beat ML in a 1.20m class, and where I felt truly competitive for the first time despite being out of the ribbons.

Whenever non-horsey friends and family ask if they can come watch me ride, the only one I suggest they attend is Upperville. Other facilities host competitions. Upperville is truly a horse show that’s a blast for competitors and spectators alike.

My show season is very light this year due to classes starting up in the spring, but there’s no way Frankie and I could miss our 4th opportunity to get back on that showground.

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PC – G. Mohan

Nicely Played, Francis.

Those of you that connect with me on IG/FB already know, but Francis has actually been taking a little vacation.

He came in last week with a missing shoe (no big deal), but as I took a closer look and he got progressively more upset about me taking a closer look, it was clear that there was a solid heel grab in play there.

Of course being my usual dramatic self, I immediately made plans for Frankie’s retirement. In my defense, he was acting like that leg had been chopped off and his expression of long-suffering patience had a very studied air. Luckily my trainer took a look, smacked Frankie for being rude, and pronounced it essentially a really bad hangnail.

Not so dramatic after all.

But while it’s not that dramatic, Homeboy was still off for a little over a week as he healed. It’s been a lot of hand walking to keep him moving, plenty of epsom salt soaks to keep it clean, and lots of vetwrap and poultice pads to make sure no grit or germs get in there. He’s totally sound to tack walk and was at about 95% to flat around last night. Nothing visible but he felt just baaaarely NQR to me – could be the heel grab, could be stiffness from being stuck inside for a week in the cold. Either way he desperately needed some movement and the flatting helped his mood immensely. I’m not worried, we’re in no rush to get back to 100% and the wound itself is healing up just fine.

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He’s been standing like an angel for his warm soaks, as long as I let him lick my hand for the full 15-20 minutes. A small price to pay to keep him happy.

This is actually a huge novelty, since this was the first time he’s needed more than 12 hours off to heal from anything. For a horse, he’s generally pretty sturdy.

Now that he’s not nearly as ouchie on it and I can stop pitying him, I’ve actually enjoyed this time to play together and relax! I caught some lessons on the school horses so I still got a workout in, and we did nice long 30-40 minute hand walks together. It’s also been a great chance for me to practice some basic first aid skills (like, extremely basic). His auntie even brought him a stall toy to keep him entertained in his confinement (the combination of awful mud and the  placement of the cut makes turnout unfortunately no good for now) and while we all find the banging noises annoying, he seems to really like his giant plastic apple.

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He’s been making plenty of sand angels on our walks to make sure he gets to stretch and address the itchies. Literally as soon as we walk in the ring, down he goes.

He’ll get to stay in light work while I’m in Ohio next week (I swear his timing is uncanny, how do horses always know?!), but fingers crossed he’ll be healed up and ready to get back to full work when I return!

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And after every sand angel, he stays laying down for a little bit surveying the ring. Apparently he doesn’t like to be rushed.

2018 Highlights

I’ve enjoyed doing this in the past, so I’m going to keep up the tradition of highlighting some of my favorite posts over the last year.

January: We entered bootcamp mode to prep for WEC, and we worked our butts off getting into shape. We talked about how his care has changed as the fences have gone up and had our first show of the season.

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Francis was a star despite the mud!

February: I had a meltdown about pants and surprised approximately no one by talking about the importance of flatwork. Then we spent most of the rest of the month at WEC 8 and then WEC 9!

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We won our first blue ribbon as a team here- and it was a speed class!

March: I gave my official review of the WEC shows and we talked about how we manage our pony finances. I was able to share some of our amazing engagement photos just before Francis and I celebrated two years of partnership.

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It was freezing but it was worth it. PC- Samantha Robshaw Photography

April: We got the vet out and realized that Frankie needed some better support from us. I talked about what I didn’t know I didn’t know, and shuffled my work schedule to accommodate private lessons.

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We wore the hat of knowledge to learn what he needed

May: We got to hang out and play with Austen and Liz (and the pups)! Then we headed to Blue Rock where Frankie rocked his first 1.20m with my trainer, and I gushed about how cool he is. Obviously.

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Liz took this picture and I’m still crying about it to this day

June: I was thrilled with Frankie at our annual Upperville outing (and our best round was even on the live stream!) My favorite pic of all time arrived, and I got on my soapbox about the importance of routine and consistency.

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Frankie was absurdly fantastic PC- K. Borden

July: I talked about my emotionally tough but rewarding trip to Lake Placid, and then discussed the cost of showing and the cost of improving. In the midst of my move to a new apartment with my then-fiance, Frankie went for a spin as a pleasure pony and I mused on what success looks like to me.

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Just 2 weeks after doing the 1.15m at Lake Placid, he bopped around the pleasure division with my friend

August: things quieted down on the horse front around here as wedding planning ramped up. Frankie took a junior around all three rings because he is adorable, I got myself a new helmet FINALLY, I adjusted to the lack of training structure, and we had fun talking about what we’d buy with a zillion dollars.

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Showing us all just how willing he is to play any game

September: it was the season of blog hops, as we talked about how Frankie has changed since I got him and we went “Behind the Stall Door.” Frankie continued to show up to work– only when I asked him to- and I reminded myself to give myself some grace during the light season.

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Literally the only picture I have of him during this month. It was quiet.

October: I was extra grateful for how broke my horse is these days, but felt the effects of not getting enough barn time. We discussed jump height and what counts as “big,” and then I started considering what I wanted to do with Francis in 2019.

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He requested that we do not continue these shenanigans into 2019.

November: wedding prep was in final countdown mode, so things were very chill at the barn. Amanda gave us 25 interesting questions to answer, and I started considering using a gas mask around my smelly horse. We went for the world’s chillest XC session, and started planning on legging back up post-wedding.

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WOAH THERE CALM DOWN EASY WILD STALLION

December: I got a new name and Frankie got a dad! It was the best wedding I could dream of, but I was so thrilled to get back and play with my ginger-snooted creature. I talked about the way we’ve tackled new skills, gave you a how-to guide on riding the Beast, and finally reviewed the goals we set in the beginning of the year.

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The love of my life ❤

This year I logged more miles in the car to get to horse shows than ever before, I got to meet and spend time with some amazing people, and best of all- I got to marry the funniest, kindest, best man I’ve ever known. 2018 will always be a year to remember.

Blogiversary Math

It’s hard for me to believe, but my fourth blogiversary is already here! It’s so crazy that I’ve been writing about my adventures for so long, and that so many of you have joined the journey. Many of you have even been here since Day 1, and I’m amazed and grateful that you’ve stuck around. You’ve all been an incredible source of support, advice, hilarity, and general awesomeness over the years.

To celebrate, I did what I do best- I analyzed some numbers. Enjoy a few charts of this blog!

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I thought this one was interesting! Visitors and views have both increased steadily over time even though the number of posts per year has declined. My hypothesis is that the content has gotten more relevant- while I did enjoy my lesson recaps, those didn’t encourage as much interaction as some of my more recent posts.

Based on the average % change in visitors and views (excluding the jump from 2015 to 2016, which was abnormally high), I can aim for roughly 37k views and 13k visitors in 2019. I mean, as long as I can maintain some decent quality of content, no pressure.

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This one isn’t too surprising for me. Basically the number of comments I get on each post is fairly steady, but the number of comments per visitor and per view has gone down. I interpret this to mean that there are a fewer number of people commenting, but those people that do are more active. Like I said- not surprising. I don’t have the largest following, but those of you who stick around are a frickin’ fantastic group that I get to chat with a ton.

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These are all the countries I’ve been able to reach over the last few years! My readers are predominantly in North America (consistently about 93% of my traffic), with roughly 4-5% of you in Europe, and the rest of you coming from all over the rest of the globe. Hi everyone!!

Some of the links you all have clicked on most often from here:

My trainer/barn’s website
Instagram
The Printable Pony
The 900 Dollar Facebook Pony
In Omnia Paratus
Amateur At Large
Guinness on Tap

And some of the ways you have found me:

Fraidy Cat Eventing (aka everyone’s favorite blogroll)
A Enter Spooking
The 900 Dollar Facebook Pony (apparently the link-love is reciprocal)
Instagram (weird how linking between my accounts actually works, right?)

Some of my most popular posts by views:

2015: How to Groom Your Gray Horse
2016: Setting the Record Straight (which I didn’t even write you guys, come on)
2017: How to be a Better Horse-Show-Boyfriend (seriously guys?! After all I do for you, you like him more than me?! Uncool)
2018: What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know (Finally. Thank you.)

And some of my most popular posts by comments:

2015: First Time XC Schooling
2016: The Maybe-Not Forever Home
2017: HITS Culpeper: Commonwealth National 2017
2018: Show Recap: WEC 9

And not to get sappy at you, but the fact that these are the ones you’ve commented on the most makes me so happy. Most of these were really big adventures and you guys were so awesome and encouraging about them.

A lot has changed in the past four years: I’ve moved (three times), gotten married, changed my name, changed jobs, bought The Best Horse(TM), traveled all over for shows, tried new adventures with the Frankenbean, and have learned more than I could’ve imagined. This blog and the community I’ve found with all of you has been a wonderful constant, and I’m so excited to keep sharing the adventures with you!

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From 2015…
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…to 2019 and on. Cheers to 4 fantastic years! PC- Liz Stout Photography

GIF Name Game

Ok, you guys got me. I was curious after seeing the hilarity ensure from all of you. Would the GIFs encapsulate Frankenbean? Would his many names lead to the many facets of Francis?

I started out with his actual real name (that I rarely call him): Frankie.

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Alright, alright. He does think the mares love him. Spoiler alert: approximately zero of them do. Doesn’t stop him from flirting tho.

Now onto what he goes by more often: Francis.

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Remember back when I got him and lobbied for his show name to be Saint Francis or Pope Francis but got told that was distasteful and borderline sacrilegious? Me neither. But yeah. It fits.

What about his affectionate nickname of The Frankfurter?

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Yeah ok I see it. Finger guns and all.

And lastly, what about his official show name? To Be Frank:

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Aaaaand this one may just fit the best of all. Constantly eating. Always making a mess. Only smart at weird random things. Always up for weird hijinks. Yep.

Welcome to 2019

Happy New Year everyone!

In past years I’ve set yearly goals, which have worked out well. 2016 goals were set before I bought Frankie, but were general enough that we were able to accomplish them. 2017 goals were focused mainly around showing, and included some stretch goals that we achieved. I tried something different in 2018 by breaking my goals out into equestrian, professional, and personal themes.

So with all that in mind, I’ve been wracking my brain on how to set goals for 2019. What am I hoping to accomplish with Frankie, with my husband, with my career?

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Francis is hoping to accomplish many more scritches in the new year

I’ll be totally honest with you- at this point, I have no idea.

I’m still reveling in the sense of relief and freedom from wedding planning. It was entirely worth it and magical, but having all this free time back is pretty liberating. What do I want to do with it?

For now, I want to just enjoy. I’ve spent the last couple of years purposefully overextending myself to chase a lot of goals while I’m young and healthy. While I’m still young and healthy, I’m also really satisfied with what I’ve been able to accomplish. There’s still plenty to do, but there isn’t as much of a sense of urgency as there has been in the past. We’ve already managed to check off so many bucket list items.

Team Finals? Not only did we qualify, but we helped our team win a silver medal against excellent competition.

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The most professional boi

Two week show? We went to WEC and won our first blue ribbon as a team.

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Never tired of seeing our name in lights

Lake Placid? We made it! Even if I struggled mentally, there was lots to be proud of.

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Big guy knows how to pose

Upperville? We’ve gone several years in a row and had fantastic rounds each year.

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Lawd he struts

Moving up? Frankie has been a rockstar with me in the irons at 1.15m, and I’ve gotten more joy than I anticipated from watching him go at 1.20m with AT.

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He flies

Trying new things? We’ve gone XC schooling, we’ve gotten blue ribbons in the eq ring, Francis has tried out the pleasure division and the children’s hunters, and we’ve hacked out regularly.

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Happy pony does ALL the things

Improving our abilities? Frankie is now hands-down the fanciest horse I could hope to have. And he only gets better over time.

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Literally a flying pegasus unicorn angel

Staying healthy? As he approaches his teenage years, Frankie looks and is going better than ever. His vets/farriers/healthcare team are the best in the business.

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After a few months of light work, he’s gaining fitness back very quickly and looks shiny and happy

We’ve accomplished an incredible amount over the last almost-three-years together. And it’s been beyond fun to tackle all of these things with the happiest sweetest big bay guy. With all that to be proud of, it’s hard to say “I wish I could do more with him.” He’s already given me more than I could’ve ever dreamed of.

I’m naturally a very goal-driven and competitive person by nature, so I may eventually come down from this post-wedding high and decide to set some goals to work towards. I’m certainly not counting that possibility out. But for now, here are my main goals for 2019:

Be happy with Frankie. Train hard because we both are happier in a fairly intense program and we both love to learn, go to shows where we can have fun, spend lots of time together, expand our skills, and enjoy our partnership. No specific heights or shows necessary, we’ll take those as they come in whatever form they come.

Be happy with my husband. Our first month of marriage has flown by with all the chaos of the holidays, and I have a feeling it’ll only get better from here. He’s the best guy I’ve ever known and we have so many exciting adventures ahead of us.

Be happy with my career. Do the best work I can, learn from my brilliant coworkers, move forward with my own skill set.

Be happy with myself. Find a balance that works without needing to overextend. Eat right and work out to feel strong and confident in my skin. Use face masks as often as needed because those TOTALLY count as self-care. Use this blog as the creative outlet it is.

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Cheers to the new year, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you!

2018 Goals Review

I’ve taken a slightly different approach to goal-setting lately, but I do want to review the goals I set for this year, and see what went well and what I can do differently in 2019. Let’s go.

Equestrian Goals

  • Work with my trainers, my vet, my farrier, and other members of the team to keep Frankie healthy and sound. He’s currently in great shape both physically and mentally, so I’m looking forward to working with these awesome pros to make sure our program keeps him happy and feeling his best! I think this was a success! We learned more about the kind of support he needs, we ensured his tack was appropriately fitted, and we got some great fitness and training. Moving into next year when he will officially be a teenager (OMG), I think he looks better than ever.
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Beefcake Francis!
  • Test the waters at 1.20m. We don’t need to win the class, and we may not “officially” move up completely, but I do want us to safely and competently make it around at 1.20m. I know Frankie is plenty capable, so I’ll just have to get my butt in shape! I’ll give this a partial success rating- I may not have made it around at that height, but Francis did with AT! Our plans to tackle this together late summer were derailed by wedding planning. I’m really not bothered by this- getting to see him fly like that made my heart so happy.
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In 2018 I learned that I really LOVE playing owner, and watching my favorite horse be a superstar with an expert pilot.
  • Become a better rider. This is intentionally vague- I have different bad habits that come and go at random. I’d like fewer bad habits, and I’d like them to show up less often. I want to go make newer, fewer mistakes and improve the support I’m able to give Francis on course. Giving this one a solid gold star. This year felt like I really turned a corner in my knowledge, skills, and timing. Private lessons and training sessions with the Frankfurter were worth every penny and more. I still have an enormous mountain to climb and infinite skills to learn, but I’m really excited about our progress this past year.
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We put in the time and we put in the sweat and we put in the consistency to build our partnership to new levels.
  • Come up with a plan moving forward. Frankie told me that he really wants a brother, but mama’s broke. Talk to Trainer and figure out the best way for me to continue moving up without having to sell an organ. We don’t really have a solid plan except for enjoying the crap out of my horse and progressing with him as far as I can go. When we top out together or he needs to step down, we may revisit finding him a brother- or we may not. At the end of the day I really really like riding horses, but I deeply love riding Frankie. I never thought I’d say this, but I might rather stick with him than move up (cue the gasping).
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This sweet boy means the world to me. PC- Liz
  • Have a blast competing! We’ve got some INCREDIBLE shows lined up on the calendar for this year and I plan to enjoy the heck out of every single one! Definite check in the checkbox! Between WEC, Blue Rock, Upperville, and Lake Placid, Frankie and I got to compete at some incredible venues and had a blast doing it.
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This horse has given me the world

Professional Goals

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Ongoing goal: work remotely from horse shows more often
  • Take the time to consider what I want my long term trajectory to be, and create a more concrete pathway to reach that point. I’m finally starting to figure out what I really like doing and starting to coalesce a vision of what I want to achieve, so it’s time to get deliberate about moving in that direction. Partial checkmark. There was a lot of change at work this past year as my department reorganized, and we’re currently in the midst of some more exciting changes. I think my role will only shift a little, but it’ll be in the right direction to sharpen and add some really useful skills.
  • Research business schools and the GMAT. I don’t think I’ll want to start school in 2018, but 2019 may be the year to go start working towards that MBA. This ties into that first goal of finding my pathway- I have a strong feeling that another degree will be majorly helpful to advance the way I’d like to. This is on the back burner for now, but not discounting it entirely. Looking into some alternatives, specifically those that fit into the employee education reimbursement program. Still solidly in the research phase, I’m not ready to pull the trigger on something until the time is right.
  • Maintain close relationships with my mentors and colleagues. I’m lucky to have a fantastic network of professionals (many of whom have become close friends). Life may get busy, but I want to be sure that my relationships with these talented and intelligent people stays a priority. So far so good! I’ve only been able to add to my network of great people, and am excited to keep learning from them.

Personal Goals

  • Plan a wedding and get married! Does this count as a goal? I feel like it’s more of a major life event. Leaving it here anyways. Super psyched about this. Along these lines- move in with Buddy Fianci (sorry guys, this is the one that’s sticking in my head for now). It’s gonna be rad to be roommates. Check and check! We love being roommates, and we love being married even more. Ridiculously psyched to move through life with this guy. 
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#FrankieHasADad! PC- Samantha Robshaw Photography
  • Maintain a consistent workout schedule and (semi) healthy eating habits. There’s a lot of stuff that I really enjoy doing that requires me to be in good shape, so I’d like to make sure I’m as physically prepared as possible to Do All The Things. Ehhh this went through ups and downs. I was doing great with my fitness and nutrition up until around September, which is when riding took a back burner to wedding prep. I definitely lost some muscle tone (like a LOT) but I ate pretty healthy so I’m not a complete tragedy right now. I’m very eager to get back on the workout train as soon as this injury heals up enough.
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For a while there I was working out hard enough that I needed to stand out in the rain to cool down afterwards
  • Make time to just breathe and rest. Between riding, competing, planning a wedding, moving, maybe starting school, and just existing, it’s going to be a MAJORLY busy year and I don’t want to burn out. I want to make sure that I build regular self-care into my routines. Hahahaha definite fail, I experienced major burnout this year on several levels. Honestly though, it was eye opening and I learned a lot about how I want to structure things moving forward. Getting married and setting goals together with my new husband also changes my priorities, so it’ll be exciting to experience those changes.
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It’s all good stuff when we’re together ❤ PC- Liz

Now it’s time to think about what 2019 and beyond is going to look like!