Goals Check-In

Ummmm so I’ve been awful at tracking these this year. In my defense, I did tell you guys that I wanted to stop setting arbitrary goals for myself. But now I feel like checking in. So sue me.

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I’m soooo changeable

So let’s see what I set out to do in January:

  • Continue strengthening and advancing our flatwork. This is a solid work in progress. I don’t have any concrete goals to achieve here, but I do think we are continuing to improve and I plan to keep that trajectory going. Will we go 4th level dressage any time soon? No. Do we have a solid understanding of connection, engagement, and adjustability? Certainly more than we did earlier in the year.
  • Have a strong season in the 1.10m High Adult division. So far so good! We have a few more shows to round out the season, but the height has proven to be a non-issue. It’s not always perfect, but I’ve been able to walk in the ring and consistently ride the plan to give Frankie a good ride. We’ve enjoyed schooling at the 1.15m-1.20m at home and we’ll see where that takes us.
  • Qualify for the USHJA Zone Jumper Championship. We qualified! Finals are coming up very quickly and I can’t wait to report back on how it goes. I have no doubt that Frankie and I will have a blast.
  • Take Frankie in an eq class. Thus far, we have focused our efforts in the jumper ring. This is a tentative “maybe” for the last show of the season at the end of September. It turns out that my love for the jumper ring goes even deeper than I thought it did- I don’t really miss the eq ring at all anymore!
  • Try riding bridle-less. Not yet! This might be more fun in the off season when Frankie is fat and lazy, but right now he is in fitness show pony mode with a bit more juice in the engine. We’ll take a brief step back after the end of the show season and we can revisit it then.

Overall I think we’re doing well! Frankie is healthy, shiny, happy, and continues to cart my butt around without protest.

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I mean, there’s some protest. But it’s quiet.
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The Year Ahead: 2017 Goals

Let’s start this out by taking a look back at the goals I set for Frankie and myself this past year:

  • Take some more private lessons. Check! We transitioned to private lessons in October and it has been AMAZING for our progress.
  • Make it to the High Adult Amateur Jumpers in the next few years. Sending in entries for our new division as soon as weather permits!
  • Have a successful show season at 1.0m/Low Adults this year. We absolutely did- we wrapped up our first season strong and that height is very comfortable to us now.
  • Compete in a horse trial. Womp womp, fail. Money is TIGHT, so all extra budget is going towards shows.
  • Go on a hunter pace or two. See above.
  • Learn more first aid skills. Yes and also no. I certainly know more than I used to, but this will be a continuous learning process.
  • Keep Frankie shiny. Yes! Even after being clipped he is sleek and shiny and looking really fantastic.
  • Get WAY better at polo wraps. Another fail. We didn’t end up using these nearly as often as I anticipated, so I didn’t spend time on this.

Now that I know my horse, my budget, and my own skills a little bit better, here are our goals for 2017:

  • Continue strengthening and advancing our flatwork. We have our leg-yields, shoulders-in, and haunches-in installed at all gaits. I’d like to get those even stronger and more tuned into my aids, and start working on our other movements.
  • Have a strong season in the 1.10m High Adult division. We’ve been schooling at (or above, as the case would have it) our new division height pretty strongly, and we’re ready to go attack the new show season!
  • Qualify for the USHJA Zone Jumper Championship. This is a Nations Cup-style final with individual and team aspects that sounds SUPER fun. We had a junior do the Children’s section of it last year and she had a total blast. It’s set to 1.10m with a 1.15m final round, which sounds like the perfect stretch for us. We just need 20 points to qualify, so we’re hoping to get those points as soon as possible.
  • Take Frankie in an eq class. This will depend on quickly we accrue points for Zones. If we can qualify early and then stop chasing points, then I’d like to take Frankie in some of the Adult eq medal classes for a change of pace- I think he’d be really good at it, especially with all the progress we’ve made in the quality of our flatwork!
  • Try riding bridle-less. Hey, they can’t all be show goals! I’ve ridden him in just a halter plenty of times, this seems like the logical next step.

We have our first lesson of 2017 tonight, and I can’t wait to get working towards these goals. Cheers to a new year!

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Frankie Goals

We all love a good goal post, amiright??

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hahahahahahaha get it???

I wrote one of these up a month or two ago when we were still on the horse search, so most of them were pretty focused on myself. Basically: be a better rider. Of course these still hold! But now that Francis is in my life, we have some goals that are a little more specific to our partnership.

Well, I have some goals. His goal is to eat EVERYTHING.

  • Take some more private lessons. This of course depends on my trainer’s schedule, but once school lets out and the juniors can move their lessons around, she may have a semi-regular slot for me. I learn a ton in our group lessons and have no problem with them, but some super-targeted teaching every so often would likely help us progress even more quickly.
  • Make it to the High Adult Amateur Jumpers in the next few years. Ideally, next year, but we’ll see how things go. I looked at the prize lists for shows we usually go to and the High Adults are usually in the 1.10m-1.15m height range; seems pretty doable to me.
  • Have a successful show season at 1.0m/Low Adults this year. By this I don’t mean winning all blue ribbons- although I won’t complain if that happens. This means that I am confidently and comfortably able to ride a 1.0m course while giving Francis a positive experience in the show ring.
  • Compete in a horse trial. People from my barn tend to do a horse trial every fall as a fun way to shake things up, and I can’t even WAIT to take Frankie out!!!! He has tons of experience as a foxhunter and eventer so I have a feeling he’s going to be a blast.
  • Go on a hunter pace or two. Along the same lines- the more we can get out of the ring the better. Virginia in the fall is absolutely gorgeous. Last year I did a hunter pace in the division with a couple little logs, this year I want to do the one with all the coops!
  • Learn more first aid skills. I’m lucky enough to have a ridiculously awesome vet and an amazing set of trainers/BMs to help out with the major stuff, but I’d love to be more self-sufficient with the little things. I used to be very good at this stuff, but the knowledge has seeped out of my brain over the last 10 years of non-horse ownership.
  • Keep Frankie shiny. A minor goal? Maybe. But Francis showed up in my life gleaming like a mirror, and I want to keep him that way. He’s getting great nutrition and frequent, extensive grooming sessions, so I’m going to keep working to keep him shining.
  • Get WAY better at polo wraps. I used to be able to do these in my sleep. I was the QUEEN of all wraps- polo wraps, standing wraps, you name it I could do it. Fast forward a couple years and spend a year with an unbreakable DragonMare chiseled out of granite, and you lose your edge.

I’m leaving off on the show-ring eq goals for now. My budget is EXTREMELY tight when it comes to showing this year (and probably next to be honest) and I’m having to prioritize. I certainly enjoy the eq ring and hope to give it another go soon, but if I have to pick, you’ll find me in the jumper ring.

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Making really intimidating Brontosaurus faces at the competition

And now for my pie-in-the-sky goal: qualify for the Zone 3 USHJA Adult Amateur Jumper Championship. Not even necessarily compete in the championships, although that would be cool. It has both individual and team aspects that sound really interesting and I think it would be a HUGE learning experience. Basically the jumper version of a year-end medal finals. We’re nowhere near ready for this yet, but it’s a fun goal to work towards!

 

2016 Goals

I’m a little late to this party, aren’t I? But better late than never!

Let’s start by taking a look at my 2015 goals:

  • Get comfortable schooling full courses at 3’3″. Yep! It’s rare that every single jump in our lessons is a full 3’3″, but I’ve been quite comfortable popping over whatever height is set.
  • Jump 3’6″ regularly. “Regularly” may be a strong word, but we’ve done this with varying levels of consistency and been very happy doing so.
  • Compete in the Adult Equitation Medal class at least once. Competed in the Dover and Ariat adult medals down in Ocala! I guess this was technically in 2016, not 2015, but whatever. This is my blog, I can bend the rules however I want. YOLO.
  • Try a jumper class. Lawlz yes I’ve done this lots.
  • Make it to an “A” horse show. Ocala FTW.
  • Learn how to braid manes and tails. I actually did some practicing! I wouldn’t hire me, but I definitely get the theory and can/should keep practicing.
  • Live through a lesson without stirrups. A full lesson? Ehhhhhh. But I can last as long as my trainer asks us to without dying, which feels like an eternity.
  • Go on at least one trail ride. We spent lots of time last summer/fall exploring off property, and I can’t wait to get back out once it warms up again!
  • Keep my confidence up. So far so good! Of course I’ll have some nervous moments, but I’ve been able to take a deep breath and give myself a little pep talk.

Not too shabby, amiright??? Time to come up with some ideas for the next year! Here goes:

  • Buy a horse. This is an obvious one that I’ve talked about a couple times so far, so I won’t belabor the point. I would love to have a magical unicorn to call my very own.
  • Improve my lower leg. I have decent eq in general, but I’ve noticed that my lower leg stability doesn’t have the level of consistency that I’d like. Some days it’s great, other days it looks like a turd sandwich.
  • Learn how to ride a variety of horses. I’ve been lucky enough to ride horses that I get along with really well, and of course the DragonMare has been a blast. But I don’t just want to be good at riding Addy, I want to be good at riding horses. If anyone in northern VA needs their horse exercised, let me know! I probably won’t be able to make them better, but I’m 80% sure I won’t completely ruin them. Probably.
  • Show in a jumper class at 1m. This depends on a variety of things, mainly what horse I’ll be riding. If I end up with a show-ready horse, this could happen rather soon. But if we decide to take on a younger horse, we will be taking our time to slowly build up experience.
  • Go double clear 60% of the time. I’d obviously like to shoot for 100% of the time, but lets be realistic here. I’m an ammy and I make silly mistakes. If I can go clear more often than not, I’ll be happy.
  • Learn more about training green horses. I find the process of teaching a young horse fascinating. We have a couple RRP horses at our barn that are coming along nicely and I’d like to observe, and I plan to ask tons and tons and tons of questions/do lots of reading on this topic. Readers: I’d love any insight you have in this area, I know lots of you have brought along your own green horses!

I think that covers the big ones for now. Any suggestions for other goals to put on the list?

I also have a question for you, that I’d love to put together into a blog post. I’ll also be asking this on Twitter/Instagram, so feel free to answer there!

When you bought your first horse, what were some surprise purchases you had to make? We all know that we need a bridle, girth, etc., but what did you end up needing that wasn’t on your list?

Second Goal Review Check-in

A couple people are checking in with their yearly goals, and I am once again jumping on that bandwagon. I had set some fun goals for myself early in the year and then revised them a couple months ago, so let’s take a look at the most updated version:

  • Get comfortable schooling full courses at 3’3″. Wellllll kinda. We pretty consistently jump this height without a fuss, but I wouldn’t say they’re full courses. We certainly incorporate this height more often, but it’s not super consistent.
  • Jump 3’6″ regularly. Wellllll kinda. We’ve done this once or twice, but again, not consistently. It doesn’t give me heart palpitations the way it used to, so that’s good, right?
  • Compete in the Adult Equitation Medal class at least once. Still on the list! The way a lot of shows around here run, the 3′ hunters are at the beginning of the day and the 3′ medals are at the end so we never want to wait around 8 hours for it to run. It makes zero sense. I’m still trying to make this work.
  • Try a jumper class. We did it!!! It didn’t go that smoothly, but it was tons of fun and I can’t wait to keep playing in that ring.
  • Make it to an “A” horse show. This is still a rather tentative goal. Trainer is hoping I can maybe join the barn when they go to HITS Culpeper in August or September, but this depends a lot on timing and if I can save up enough in the meantime. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
  • Learn how to braid manes and tails. I’ve been getting better at this- my tail braids are pretty consistently nice. I have yet to conquer the mane braids, but I will triumph!
  • Live through a lesson without stirrups. Getting closer! I actually feel more secure in my new boots, and going around without stirrups is slowly getting less painful. We’ve been doing solid chunks of our warmup sans stirrups, and I even drop them to jump on occasion.
  • Go on at least one trail ride. Totally done!!!! I’ve gotten to go with Courtney from Vintage Virginia not once, but TWO amazing times. I’ve also taken Addy out briefly on some of the bridle trails near the barn and managed to canter on a golf course that I’m TOTALLY allowed to be riding on. It still makes me a little nervous, but I’m definitely conquering that fear little by little.
  • Keep my confidence up. This will never not be a goal, and it’s going really well lately.

I’m also inspired by Aimee aka my favorite Sprinkler Bandit and am going to set a bigger goal. Here it is:

I want to compete in the Jr/AO Low Jumpers. This won’t happen this year, won’t happen next year, probably not even the year after that, but I want to make it to the 1.20-1.30m level. There’s all sorts of things that need to happen for me to get there (a couple big ones are me learning how to ride properly and getting my hands on a Jr/AO horse in my budget, so nothing too difficult, right?!) but that’s my big goal to work towards.

Time to buckle down and get to it!

Chiming Back In with a Goals Review

Hi gang! Sorry for the radio silence over the last week- between some all-day trainings at work and a pileup of chores, I ended up taking a mini blog vacation. I’ve been reading through some posts and definitely want to catch up with my commenting; some of you guys had really fantastic weeks!

Anywho. Brief horse-life update: Trainer and Assistant Trainer were both out of town with a bunch of our riders at the Maryland National show last week (everyone did really well!) so Pretty Girl and I did not have a lesson. We just popped over a couple crossrails with a buddy and called it a day. All the swelling in Addy’s leg is completely gone and she has shown zero tenderness or heat in the area. We think that the weather evening out, more consistent work, and lots of turnout on firm ground is what she needed. Very glad it turned out to be so minor!

What I wanted to do today was chime in with a lot of folks that are doing a quarterly review of their horse-goals for the year. So looking back to my resolutions for the year, here goes!

  • Get comfortable schooling 3′. Done! Not only do we school 3′ comfortably, but we’ve even shown at that height! This was a huge breakthrough for me and I’m so so so thrilled to finally get over that mental hitch.
  • Make it to a horse show. We’ve made it to two so far this year! They’re tiny little local shows, but that’s perfect for where we are right now. Beautiful facilities, low-key atmosphere, and good sportsmanship.
  • Try a jumper class. Still on the list. I’m hoping to convince my trainer and some of the other riders to try out a local jumper show at the end of April, so fingers crossed that happens!
  • Live through a lesson with no stirrups. Hah. That’s funny. I’ve been terrible about this lately and really need to jump back on the wagon. These legs aren’t going to strengthen themselves!
  • Keep up my confidence. Done, and not done. I’ve stayed brave and positive, and have pushed myself through some bouts of anxiety with great results. But I’ll never be “done” with this; I’m not a naturally brave rider and this will be an ongoing effort!

2.5/5 isn’t too bad! But I’m going to cheat a little and rewrite these. I figure if I’ve already achieved 2 goals and it’s only the first quarter, then I was aiming too low. Now that I have a few show miles under my belt and have a better idea of where we are in our training, here’s my new list of goals:

  • Get comfortable schooling full courses at 3’3″. Why stop at 3′? Pretty Girl and I can both go higher and I know she loves the additional challenge.
  • Jump 3’6″ regularly. Even if it’s just the “out” in a gymnastic, I want to start getting used to the different feel of bigger jumps. Addy seems to clear 3’6″ with no problem, but I’ll be paying close attention to see if this is something she wants to do with me. I’ll need to continuously work on improving my position to make her job as easy as possible.
  • Compete in the Adult Equitation Medal class at least once. Now that I’m OK at 3′, I want to start refining our technique a bit more so I can re-join the eq world. I’ve always enjoyed the technicality of the equitation and I think Addy would really love the chance to show off her moves.
  • Try a jumper class. This is still on there and I still mean it.
  • Make it to an “A” horse show. This is a very tentative goal, and depends on a lot of outside factors. I would need Owner Lady to go as well so we could share expenses- I simply don’t have the spare cash to afford something like this myself. Also between my brother getting married and my other brother welcoming a new baby, there may not be a free weekend for me that lines up with one of the nearby shows. So this is a very tentative goal, but a goal nonetheless!
  • Learn how to braid manes and tails. This kinda ties into making it to an “A” show; if I could save some money by braiding my own horse then it might be a little more feasible. I could potentially even make a few dollars by helping out barnmates. I’ve always been a good braider of human hair, so hopefully I’ll be a quick study!
  • Live through a lesson without stirrups. I will accomplish this! I’m going to the barn today and by golly I am going to push myself on this one.
  • Go on at least one trail ride. For those of you that hack out all the time, I know this is no biggie. But I’ve always gotten very nervous without a ring to contain me! We’ve got some beautiful trails running by the barn and I’d like to get out of my own head and enjoy those with Addy- she’s got such a good brain and I have no doubt she would take great care of me out there.
  • Keep my confidence up. This will never not be a goal.

I’ll check back in on these in a couple months!

What do you guys think of these goals? Any advice on how to go about accomplishing them?

My Life, My Priorities, My Goals

On Friday I talked about how my job doesn’t make me happy, and I wanted to expand a little bit on something I mentioned.

I mentioned the websites that are constantly telling me what dreams I should be pursuing and what my priorities should be: “25 Places you NEED to see in your 20s,” “Why it’s OK to be a Hot Mess right now,” “12 GIFs that show how to make your Dream of becoming a yoga teacher come true.” I’ll admit that I made those particular ones up- but I won’t believe you if you say that you haven’t seen something eerily similar.

For a while these articles really bugged me and I thought it was because none of those things seemed within my reach. I didn’t have the vacation time to travel the globe, my years of being a hot mess seemed behind me, and my yoga was terrible. It felt like I was missing out on some big secret like that everyone else my age was living.

With that in mind, I made a big change to my life: I moved to an apartment in a younger fresher area and started going out to bars more often.

Turns out, that’s someone else’s dream. I love the convenience of having bars and restaurants close by and moving was the best thing I could’ve done, but not because I suddenly became That Party Girl. On any given Saturday night I’m at home, in sweats, reading a book and eating pizza. Or playing board games with my buds. Also in sweats.

That used to feel like laziness to me- couldn’t I suck it up, put on some mascara and a skirt and just get out there?! But what I took for laziness is actually me letting myself be comfortable. Reading and board games make me happy and relaxed. Bars are fun when I have the energy, but loud noises and crowds make me notoriously anxious (I start doing lobster hands in crowds. It’s super weird and I don’t know how it started).

The next change I wanted to make was traveling the world. My parents have taken me to so many incredible places and I wanted to keep on exploring, so I set out to start saving up my vacation time and my money so that I could get on out there. But then I went home for a week around Christmas…and then I visited my Momma for her birthday…and then manfriend and I took some weekend road trips to unwind…and soon a new  baby will be joining the family and you can bet I’ll take at least a week off to go coo and cuddle…and before I knew it, most of my hard-earned vacation time was earmarked.

I can’t make myself be the slightest bit disappointed about that. It may not be exotic jungles or cosmopolitan cities like I imagined, but I use my vacation time to surround myself with love. These moments with my family and my guy are moments that I’ll never get back and I am so incredibly fortunate to get to make these memories with them. I haven’t given up my plans for traveling, just put them a little lower on my list of priorities.

Once I realized that it’s OK to set my own priorities and reach for my own goals, it was like I gave myself permission to be happy. It doesn’t make me a weirdo that I’m saving up for a down payment on a house instead of shopping for new clothes every other month. My vacations are no less exciting and life-changing for being close to home. My friends are no less important just because some of them have four legs. My Saturday mornings don’t have to be filled with hangovers- it’s fine that I head straight to the barn.

This is the adult version of peer pressure that I’m resisting- I’m determined to create my own life around what matters to me most. Becoming a yoga teacher just isn’t going to happen.