While I’ve never been one for making big, sweeping resolutions, I do have to admit that there is something so appealing about the idea of a “fresh start.” In general, I think that if you want to start a healthy habit, break a bad one, or otherwise change something that you don’t feel good about, there’s no time like the present to start. No need to wait until Monday, next month or next year. That being said, when we find ourselves at the end of one year and the beginning of the next, it seems to be a natural time to reflect, on what we liked and didn’t like about the previous year, what went well and what didn’t, what we’re proud of and maybe not so proud of. It’s also a good time to think about how you want your new year to go. Call them resolutions, goals, intentions, whatever resonates with you.
Bailey and I thought that we’d do this out loud this year, so to speak. Hopefully by sharing some of the things we’re the most proud of from the previous year and some things that we want to accomplish or maintain in the next year, we can inspire you to do the same!
1. The first thing that I’m proud of from the previous year is having had the opportunity to get Houdini and Maria back to competition at all. Being 22 and 20 years old, respectively, just means that it’s not as simple as it used to be to take them from time off into a regular program. They require different maintenance and it takes a different process to get them to the appropriate level of fitness. Both have had previous soft tissue injuries that are always a lingering concern to me. I’ve had to change their nutrition via their feed and supplements, I’m fortunate to be able to provide massage work for them myself, Maria has also made several visits to an equine chiropractor over the last two years. Maria in particular has also had a litany of other injuries that she’s had to recover from, and the extended time off resulted in a huge loss of musculature and weight, which we’ve been dealing with ever since. I’m so grateful that I have been able to continue to compete both of them into their 20s and I’ve been savoring every last experience this year.
2. Another big change that happened in 2018 was the launch of this very site! Well, version one, at least. Bailey and I talked and planned and traded ideas about what we could do with this new creative outlet. Not every bit of it went to plan, but I am incredibly proud of what we were able to put together. Real life did get in the way sometimes and this platform had to be a bit neglected, but I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we’re so thankful for every one of you who stuck with us, read what we had to say and interacted with us here. If you’re reading this, you can see that we’ve made some major changes and improvements, and we have lots in the works to bring you even more fun content in 2019!
3. The highlight of my competition season was, without a doubt, competing at the American Eventing Championships in Colorado. I have been dreaming of competing there since Houdini and I were running Training level many years ago. The two factors of qualifying for the championships and being able to go in the same year never overlapped for us, but this year, Maria and I qualified to compete in the Beginner Novice Amateur division. My first reaction, in all honesty, was “that’s great, I hope we can qualify again next year because there’s no way we can go this year.” I was worried about Maria’s fitness level, the toll that travelling that far would take on her, and whether it was overall worth it to make the trip this year. After many conversations with my trainer and taking some time to weigh my options, I realized that it would take a strict plan and a lot of effort, but that it would be possible to check all the necessary boxes and make the trip. After all that, I’m so glad that we did. The whole competition was great from start to finish and we were actually able to put all three phases together at exactly the right time. I am definitely hoping to make the trip to Kentucky in 2019, but I’ll always be grateful for my first experience competing out of my area and at the AEC.
1. After all the work put in to make sure my horses were at their peak level of fitness to keep competing, I started to realize that I was somewhat lacking in the rider fitness department. Don’t get me wrong, I have my horses at home, so even if I never got a chance to ride, I’m plenty active every day, but coming from working a job in customer service for the last 6 years, and not riding and competing full time during that period, I did not have enough time in the saddle under my belt to be sufficient by itself. I don’t like working out, I HATE running, I have no interest in spending any of my time going to a gym, but I don’t have 10 horses to ride every day, so I have to do something to supplement my saddle time so I can be better on the horses I do get to ride. At the beginning of December, I found a Pilates studio near my house and I’ve been taking classes there, which I have to say, I’ve really been enjoying! The classes are low-impact, focus on core strength and flexibility, and as long as you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing, it’s pretty difficult to get hurt. What more could a rider want? I’m very excited to continue this into 2019 and see how the results impact my riding.
2. Having started developing a new habit out of the saddle, I’m also looking for as many new opportunities in the saddle as I can manage to take on. I guess the overarching ‘resolution’ of this is that I’m going to look for opportunities and say yes when they present themselves to me. I do have some specific goals that I want to work toward and accomplish in 2019. I’d like to get my USDF Bronze Medal, I’d like to complete a full season at Novice with Houdini and Maria and I’d like to find and purchase a young horse to work with and prepare to compete. I have a plan laid out for each of these, and you’ll definitely be hearing more about them along the way.
3. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is the presence of negativity on social media and how many of us have a tendency to constantly apologize for ourselves, most often when we haven’t done anything wrong. How often do you see someone post a riding photo or video, with a caption along the lines of “sorry about my position” or “I know my lower leg slips back over the oxer” or “I’m still working on keeping my hands together”? I see them all the time. I try to stop myself from doing it, but I still sometimes feel like I have to justify an equitation error or mistake in a photo or video before someone else can criticize me for it. Guess what? We’re ALL still learning. No matter what level you ride at, whether you’re a professional or an amateur, a student or a trainer, whether you have your own horse or you ride a lesson pony, everyone is still “getting there” so the fact that we feel like we have to keep apologizing to each other for being human is unnecessary! My last resolution for 2019 is to stop being so worried about the possibility of being criticized for imperfections on Instagram and to just enjoy being able to share my journey with so many of you who are sharing yours too!
What horsey or non-horsey resolutions and goals do you have for yourself in 2019?