Monday, January 14, 2019

outgrowing Izzy's shoes

I don't need to tell y'all that Isabel was a very special horse to me. So many of my "firsts" were with her, so many milestones and landmarks. The first horse I truly actually got on the bit. The first horse I jumped 3'. And then 3'3, and then 3'6 (uh, once haha).

The horse who inspired me to buy my rig and dive head first into eventing. Who carried me through all three phases, and took me up a couple levels before I even quite realized it. My first ditches, my first jumps up and down banks, into and out of water...

All of it, ya know? That's a LOT of memories!

pardon the smudged mirror and 100yr old exposed plumbing lol, just look at dem boooooots!!!
For the first 18ish months with Charlie, in some ways it didn't really feel like I was learning a lot. Or at least, learning new things. Obviously every time you restart a new horse, you learn things. I'm not trying to claim otherwise.

But with Charlie, for a long time it felt like my own education was kinda stalled. That instead I was refining and improving the skills and knowledge I learned from Isabel while Charlie got up to speed, vs expanding my own horizons.

charlie thought they were O.K., would have been better with treeeeets plz!
That most definitely started changing in a big way this past summer. Mostly because Charlie truly settled into his job. He understands the parameters, and happens to quite like the game.

And his appetite for big jumps has quickly plunged me into a whole new world of learning lol. I like it!! It's exciting to feel like we've entered into this new chapter where I'm finally growing and learning again as a rider -- tackling new challenges and pushing my limits.

they match my saddle lol! also, E we see you back there tryin to hide behind charlie's brontosaurus neck!!
Which is a good feeling I'm clinging to right now haha, considering winter finally arrived in force last week. The ground froze solid overnight, despite having been rivers of mud for the last few weeks. Meaning some of the plans I hoped to squeeze in are now put back on ice (literally lol).

Which is fine, right? Off season isn't exactly the time for going balls to the wall.

d'aww, charlie does da trot <3
And we just finished our first full week of exclusively indoor riding. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the indoor. Very very very grateful. But damn, it is small. It is the size of a small dressage court: 20x40m. Add in some other horses and a couple jumps and it feels about the size of a shoe box.

Considering the horses weren't really moving around much in turnout in the mud, and definitely aren't moving around now that the ground is frozen, it's really not enough space for the Charlies of the world who would like very much to blow off some steam lol.

still trotting. forever and ever in the tiny dusty 20x40m indoor
That's ok tho. Our schooling rides over the past week kinda got progressively worse and worse with each repetition, as Charlie seemed to realize that we're stuck in the indoor now.

But then this weekend when we were back in the same ring, but this time for our jump lesson? Homeboy perked WAY UP when he realized I wasn't going to be torturing him with ever more collection and lateral work lol.

oooooh but charles sees a jompy!! just look at those giant ass ears haha
We didn't do a whole heck of a lot - a simple two stride grid up one long side, ridden in both directions. A deceptively large hog's back oxer across a diagonal. A one stride grid of barrels on the other side. But Charlie ate every last bit of it up with enthusiasm, good boy!

so gung ho over the skinny barrel haha
And actually, about those barrels. While in many ways Charlie's training over fences has surpassed Isabel's now, there are still superficially some things she did that loomed for Charlie. Specifically?? Jumping those damn upright barrels haha.

oooooh but hey yo, check that big boy out!!!!
You might remember that Isabel and I tackled those bad boys the February after I broke my leg (three years ago now.... wow time flies!). And I was practically sick to my stomach about it. So nervous, but oh how Izzy sailed over the barrels!! Even when we biffed it the first time, she came right back on around for a second shot and was perfect!

flashback to 2/2016 when izzy jumped the barrels too <3 <3 <3
Stuff like that always kinda feels like a fluke to me. Like maybe we just got lucky, but that if I tried to recreate the moment surely we'd run into trouble.

third and final attempt, nice and tidy charlie!!!
But actually, this time around when trainer P mentioned bringing in the barrels, I was excited! Like, a little unsure about how Charlie would react considering the last time we tackled skinnies was.... not altogether convincing lol.

But he was easy as pie over the single barrel laid on its side, and then again for the one stride with both barrels on their sides. So when that second barrel went upright? I kinda figured we would just sail over. And he totally did!

We had to repeat it a couple times (all in the video) since we weren't straight the first time, and knocked both the guide poles the second. But each time Charlie felt eager and drawn in toward the big barrel -- like he wanted to jump it and wanted to get it right.

ha does he look happy??
Sure, we had guide rails plus the wall to help keep us straight and on track, plus a first jump to help us get to the right spot. Still tho, I was so proud of the big guy. It's a good start haha. He's such a professional about this stuff!

And while I'll always be grateful for the memories Isabel gave me, it feels important that Charlie is growing out from under her shadow.

Hopefully we can keep up those feelings of excitement and momentum through the wintry indoor season, ugh lol. Tho hey, has anybody else noticed how much longer the days have already gotten??? Just a matter of weeks until spring, eh?? Sorta kinda???

Saturday, January 12, 2019

tall boot shopping: Euro-style

Shopping for tall boots is a little bit like shopping for a saddle in some ways.

All that new leather. Fun detailing and accent options. Prices that range from "economical" (bunny ears fully intentional) to exorbitant. From off the rack to fully bespoke, and everything in between. And, naturally, multi-dimensional fit issues.

mmmmm boooots
At least with tall boots, it's generally a little bit easier for us to decide whether we can live with the fit of our boot, vs testing out various saddle fittings on the horse.

my first pair of brown euro boots - the mondonis. not a great shot of them in action, but a damn good shot of izzy <3
Personally, I tend to be a bit of a boring shopper. Virtually all of my tack is second hand. Like my PS of Sweden dressage bridle that used to belong to Aimee's Courage, before passing to Isabel and eventually Charlie. Or my Mark Todd jump bridle in the Dy'on style, passed down from Amanda's own big brown awkward-but-awesome Charlie.

my second pair, the HKMs.  yep i wear my brown boots with my black tack. sue me. 
Likewise, my Bates Caprilli jump saddle was purchased for Isabel (luckily it's a better fit for Charlie than it ever was for Iz), and my Hulsebos dressage saddle was custom made for my trainer P's well-loved giant old thoroughbred Torb.

Essentially everything else Charlie wears was either purchased on the cheap (I thank my lucky stars every day that the horse has very very decidedly specific tastes for elastic fuzzy girths haha) or purchased used.

L: Just Togs Kensington; R: Just Togs Buckingham
For instance, his Kentucky cross country boots and all of his bits (Herm Sprenger and Myler) are all high quality, and all purchased second hand.

Actually probably the only high-end piece of Charlie's gear that was purchased "new" are the Stubben Maxi-Grip stirrup irons I picked up at the Kentucky Horse Park last year. Bc I fully admit to being a bit of a stirrup iron junkie haha. But even those were acquired for a song after I bargained with the reps for the floor demos...

L: Mondoni Whitehaven; R: Eq Lusso Valente
When it comes to my own attire.... Well. It's safe to say I'm not exactly up to date on the latest trends haha. All my breeches are pretty old at this point, saggy and worn out. Desperately in need of updating.

But I'm one of those shoppers who can't bear to replace an item until it's totally and fully done-zo. Esp bc.... let's be real, I'm pretty hard on my gear and I don't take the best care of it anyway.

L: Horka Lizz; R: Horka Tiffany
Tall boots therefore are sorta an interesting item in my lineup. I prefer tall boots to chaps. And I happen to like them brown, thankyouverymuch. But I also want them priced around ~$200 or less, available in my size off the rack, comfortable enough for all day wear, and good enough quality to last around 2 years.

And during those 2 years? Those boots are gonna take a beating. They *will* trudge through the deep mud in Charlie's field, and be worn in the rain or for 10hrs at a time, and must survive long droughts between cleaning and conditioning.

L: Horka Sarah; R: Brogini New Capitoli
Shopping for those specifications (brown, my size, and ~$200) in the US has been.... basically a non starter. The two biggest options you see available are the Ariats and the Mountain Horse boots, but neither fit the budget. If you go outside the US tho??? It's a whooooooole 'nother ball game haha.

L: QHP Shiva; M: QHP Verena; R: QHP Sophia
Idk why. Maybe bc US equestrian style has been so fully co-opted by hunter jumper equitation? Maybe there just isn't enough demand?? Who knows. What's for damn certain tho is that if you start browsing around other retailers, esp those in the UK and Europe, right off the bat you can start filtering boot options by color.

who doesn't love that moment of bated breath before you open the box - hoping they're not duds!
And there are WAY more brands. Like, all sorts of brands I've never heard of (tho again, nobody is accusing me of being a well-versed style maven #fulldisclosure), at pretty good prices.

I got my start with overseas boot shopping with my Mondoni Kingstons from Divosa. Those were good boots that served me well over the years. When they finally finally died (probably long after most other reasonable people would have discarded them haha... actually, ok, I admit, they're still in the trunk of my car just in case of one of those days when, 'oops I need a pair of boots!'), I found myself immediately fed up with shopping the standard US retailers and brands.

first impression? *not* duds lol, and actually not orange at all either!
Nothing my price, and nothing that looked quite right size-wise. In fairness, my calves were at that time pushing the limit of what's reasonable to expect off the rack. But I was determined. And, uh, also broke haha. So back to browsing overseas again.

leather is soft, details are nice! elastic panel also key haha
To be honest, I don't know a lot about overseas retailers - it's not like I had a catalog of them to browse through, ya know? Turns out, tho, when you start googling some of those less-familiar boot brands (like Brogini, Mondoni, Horka, HKM, QHP) -- maybe looking for reviews or size guides - other retailers start popping up in your search results.

In this manner, I discovered the HKMs I eventually purchased from Tackville in 2017. Being real, these weren't really my favorite boots from an aesthetic perspective while I was shopping. The color was meh, they were dress boots when I would have preferred field boots, and they seemed kinda boring. BUT. The calf dimensions looked good.

they're gonna be a bear to keep clean but idc
And they were good! Those boots actually lasted a lot better than I would have expected, and were super comfortable. I wore them for everything. Trail riding. Trekking through the fields. Lessons. Competitions. All of it. But sadly, after about 18mos, the zipper (clogged with dirt, no doubt) finally bit the dust. Sadness!

I wasn't expecting a new boot purchase so soon, but them's the breaks. It works out tho bc considering the HKMs had been priced like the tall boot equivalent of Target skinny jeans, it wasn't really all that heartbreaking financially when they bit it.

the website made it seem like they could turn out pretty orange, esp with that 'airbrushed' patina effect. the color is nice tho! as is the leather. it should condition well.
This time around, I knew the shopping would be a little bit easier, mostly bc my calves are smaller again (finally, thank the lort). While I did do a cursory search of Riding Warehouse, Smartpak and Dover (just in case!) I didn't waste a lot of time there. It was right back out to the euro outlets, looking for my next pair of euro trash boots haha.

My searches took me back to the Familiar Divosa and Tackville mentioned above, but also further afield when a google search brought up Derby House.

it's a nicely made boot with attractive details and mostly pleasant materials for the price - but still a cheap zipper that will need to be handled with care lest it go the way of the HKMs.... #gonetoosoon
The thing I love about all of these retailers is that most of their sites have search filters for all the right features: foot size, calf size and color.

I'm an almost unbelievably standard US 7 in women's shoes, and have found this conversion chart fairly helpful. I'm also back to being just on the cusp between a regular and wide/full calf, generally choosing wide and not regretting it. And of course, as I previously mentioned, I'm interested in brown boots plz. lol...

they fit!!! #catapproved
This time around there were endless temptations. Mondoni has a knock off variation of the Mountain Horse Sovereigns, for instance. Horka had quite a few options on Tackville that looked nice, tho alas not exactly in my specifications. Brogini also had a couple that looked intriguing, and Just Togs had an option with silicon grips on the calf that were miiiiighty cool haha.

roomy in the foot bed, fitted through the ankle and calf, and actually a nice height (will get better pics eventually i promise)
I decided to take a little risk tho and go light. Cognac light, to be specific. On one hand, they could have shown up being pumpkin orange. On the other hand tho, presuming they were actually truly leather as advertised, they'd probably darken with oil if needed.

Plus, idk, I dig the detailing. So. The QHP Wide Sophias won my red rose this time around ;)

And? I like them! And they fit!

and obvi the best part of unboxing??
They were listed as a UK 5 / EUR 38, and the foot bed is slightly roomy but comfortable for my US 7 feet. The wide calf zipped up both boots on the first try (with breeches on), tho obvi I was a little careful haha. And the height is good - the backs of the boots don't dig in behind my knee, but meanwhile the Spanish top is pronounced enough that I'm not worried about dropping too far.

The leather is also a lot nicer than I expected - quite soft and not at all plastic-y like the HKMs were. These are definitely the nicest of my euro boot collection thus far, at $220 shipped (remember, US buyers don't pay the VAT included in prices when shopping over seas). Shipping took a slow-but-not-interminable 11 days.

cats in boxes!
So this isn't really a review of the boots, per se, considering they're brand new and unproven at this point lol. But in terms of reviewing the process? I give it 5 stars. Buying my tall boots from overseas retailers has been a resounding success, and clearly something I'm happy to repeat.

From a budgetary, fit, and style perspective, I'm very happy to be able to consistently find boots that satisfy my wish list. And this way it's easy to get boots that nobody else (in the US, at least) is wearing without having to go custom.

Have you purchased tack, gear or attire overseas? Did the experience leave you feeling satisfied and eager for more? Or did it turn you off? Or maybe you've had different experiences depending on what (or from where) you purchased?

Are you like me when it comes to shopping, frugal to a fault? Or maybe you swing the full opposite direction, investing whole hog up front so you never have to revisit the same well?

Monday, January 7, 2019

XC Clinic with Dan!

I'll probably eventually write more about my goals this year, including a more in-depth look at those 9 bullets. In developing that list, I spent a lot of time planning my budget especially with regard to the whole "invest in becoming a better rider" bit.

Way back in 2015 I wrote about my training dream team - the group of trainers who have been the most influential in my riding: Trainer P, Trainer C, and Dan C. Tho, if you've only been following since 2018, you are forgiven for not being familiar with those last two, considering in 2018 I rode with Dan once, and Trainer C just 3 times.

And why is that? Honestly?? Probably mostly laziness. But like, that passive, tacit kind of laziness. The logistics of riding with both Trainer C and Dan changed after I left Isabel's barn, and I've been slow to adapt. Riding with them now requires more advanced planning in terms of scheduling and budgeting.

Realistically tho, their lessons are 1,000% worth it to me, so my goals for 2019 include committing to a sustainable plan for riding regularly with both. Right now, the tentative idea is to ride with either C or Dan every month, probably alternating between them as makes sense.

some days i swear charlie is taller than other days lol
So when Loch Moy advertised a clinic with Dan on their all-weather arena cross country courses.... Well, it was a no-brainer. Clearly this would be my January lesson!

And it was a good one. I've written before that it's been a while since I've gotten feedback on cross country riding. Our 2018 schooling sessions mostly did not have the advantage of professional eyes on the ground. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but that's how it goes sometimes.

last time we got this view was back in 2015
Luckily Charlie has continued progressing all the same, and has no problem rocketing around over T fences despite his decidedly amateur training. But.... ya know. We could use some refinement haha. Esp as we tread through waters unfamiliar to both of us.

Essentially, I'm pretty hungry for a challenge right now, and I think Charlie is too. But there are some things I've been reluctant to try on my own (mostly relating to combination questions). Unfortunately this would not be the lesson for addressing that - partly bc I was a little too slow / passive in explaining my goals to Dan, and also partly bc it ended up being the wrong group.

warm up exercise described more below
Don't get me wrong - it was a very good group of horses and riders. But they had different agendas and goals, and had signed up for N, not T. One pair is preparing for the step up to N, and the other was a very new partnership (just about one month, I think) getting the feel for each other. So we focused more on the fundamentals of xc as they relate to maintaining pace across longer gallops and approaches. Plus a few turning exercises too, which was nice.

Dan warmed us up with a focus on adjustability. Transitions within trot, promptness to the aids, and steady pace. For instance, since there were just three of us circling him, he instructed that we maintain an equal distance from each other and adjust pace as needed. He also had us do our canter transitions from different trots - one lead from a bigger working trot, and the other lead depart from a very collected "trot in place" trot.

warm up focused on adjustability and lead changes
For Charlie, our working trot needed to be bigger, and our collected trot needed to be more collected. I guess I've kinda settled into this sorta blah in-between trot, and need to be less wishy washy about it. Good food for thought!

The warm up then moved to very low fences. I cut this out of the video bc it doesn't look like much from the helmet cam, but the gist was doing a figure of 8 over two intro fences. The landing from each fence involved a very short turn inside of other obstacles (during which turn we should be doing lead changes as needed).

N log roll
Dan wanted one fence in the figure 8 to be taken out of stride. He explained this doesn't mean not having a long or short stride to it, but rather it means having even strides to the fence. That the stride isn't shortening or lengthening to the fence, but that the fence is jumped from the same stride we're already on. The other fence he wanted on a shorter more collected add stride.

So the warm up exercise was: jump fence 1 out of stride, short inside L turn, collect to fence 2, short inside R turn, open the canter back up and jump fence 1 again out of stride, wash rinse repeat.

BN table
From there we started putting stuff together. Mostly very small fences - honestly Charlie probably jumped the most intro and BN fences since.... uh, March 2018.... But again, the focus was pace and balance. Which realistically are harder to maintain with Charlie over small fences that he doesn't respect. So it was good practice.

It was kinda funny bc Charlie had a little trouble locking on to the smaller fences. Like it wasn't immediately clear to him that "Yes Sir, we are jumping that" vs when you aim him at something bigger and can feel him immediately puff up and draw in toward the fence.

literally my only jump pic from the ride, off a BN fence we kinda biffed lol. go figure!
And actually, he was kinda spooky about some of the fences! Like when we did a little loop from an intro jump, turning R to a BN jump, turning R to an N log roll (first sequence in the video) and he jumped the shit out of the log roll haha.

Tho when we turned that sequence around to turn L, the turns were predictably a lot harder. Not all of the earliest lesson footage is included in the helmet cam (bc again it really doesn't look like much and I wasn't trying to make a 6min video, ya know?) but this sequence in particular did make the cut, mostly bc we reeeeeally kinda biffed it (above lol).

N tootsie roll. doesn't look like much but always seems to jump poorly. also does this count as "slicing" a fence? lol...
Luckily the jump out of the sharpest L turn was an extremely forgiving BN roll top (same type of fence as the T version we jumped last time) so I just sat back and let Charlie sort it out (literally the only jump picture I have of the day, womp). Which he did. Good boy.

Anyway, we moved on to another sequence of sweeping L turns, from the BN table to the BN brush table thingy, to an N tootsie roll, to another N roll top. All of which Charlie handled without issue, as he damn well should considering he schooled the T versions of all of these jumps literally a month ago.

we jumped these 3 during the lesson. Charlie jumped the T M version last month (far right edge of pic. originally thought we jumped the T, but after seeing the difference in paint brightness i'm pretty sure we jumped the M one). sigh. 
I fully admit to being sad about not aiming at the neighboring T fences instead, so it was at this point I talked more with Dan about my objectives for the day and the season ahead.

Which like. Hindsight being 20/20, I regret that it took this long in the ride to do so. Considering Dan was like, "Oh so you want to jump bigger fences? Np." and after that all our lines incorporated T fences.

spookin at the T brush haha. jumped it great anyway <3
Just another reminder to verbalize and communicate my intentions, I guess, rather than assume they're self-evident. Esp considering I've been such a yellow-bellied pansy for so long, it's reasonable my trainers are surprised I'm suddenly begging to do the bigger stuff.

N table, another one we saw on course last May
In any case tho, lest you think I'm whining too much about fence size, again the point of these exercises was about pace and technique. Dan intentionally had us doing single fences off long approaches with lots of room for galloping in between, mimicking real course work.

He wanted us approaching the fences from a forward true cross country canter, but still balanced. For Charlie, this meant actually a little less open of a canter than I would do on my own. The feeling had to stay the same tho - my leg had to stay on. But a little more balance coming from my upper body and core.

T log roll, which we also jumped last month
And Dan wanted our adjustments to happen quickly after a fence. Charlie likes to land and RUN, so it was my job to land and regroup immediately, then maintain a steady stride to the next fence.

Anyway the next sequence was the N tootsie roll going the other way, bending back toward the swoopy brush tables, but this time we jumped the T version, then continue on to the N table and finishing over the T log roll. All of which Charlie aced <3

skinny T coop that isn't really skinny when it's flanked by other fences
Then we went down to the lower ring to finish out the lesson. We did some cursory introductory work with the ditch that was kinda comical - just trotting single file over it, but the first horse ran out and the second balked and then Charlie bringing up the rear was like "WTF is going on here?" but jumped it anyway despite the pile up of horses. Probably the one part of the lesson I distinctly feel was... uh, not additive to Charlie's education haha.

not included in the video, but i couldn't deprive you of the hilarity!!
Then a little trot through the water, before putting together our final sequence of the day: Skinny T coop (skinny, sure, but nestled in the middle of a line of jumps so not truly asking a skinny question), through the water, then up to the T garden gate.

Actually, the gate was flagged T but I'm about 90% sure it's actually the N version of that jump, bc I think the T version is shaped like a "u" rather than the "n" shape of this jump. Idk tho.

proof that we did actually accomplish the ditch in a civilized manner, tho we didn't do anything else with it
Charlie handled it all easily and in watching the video I kinda wish we had continued on to the T corner that was right there intended to be jumped on a line after the garden gate.... Oh well. We'll get it next time haha.

wheeeee water!!!!
Even tho we never quite got to the challenges I was hoping for, it was still a full hour and a half in the saddle and Charlie had been a super star for all of it. The rest will come on some other day (hopefully not in the too distant future).

Takeaways from the clinic include being quicker in my adjustments to our pace, and more definitive. Both on the flat and while we jump. My aids should make a distinct and prompt difference. Turning exercises (particularly to the Left) also continue to need work.

charlie's got this garden gate figured out
But all in all? Mostly the lesson was one of reaffirmation. Charlie is in a good place.

And when I told Dan about my goals for the season, he agreed Charlie is well on track, and that the qualifications idea was a good goal for the horse.

we can all agree that charlie looks mighty proud of himself all the same <3
More is needed (always and forever). But it's only January, after all. I'm hoping to take full advantage of our current mild weather while it lasts. But at some point winter will settle in and we'll be left to marinate on all these takeaways until spring time.

So maybe I'm feeling a bit like a squirrel right now - trying to collect and hoard as many acorns as possible to sustain us through those winter months lol. And this clinic definitely counts as another acorn in the cache. Hopefully there will be more soon too!

Friday, January 4, 2019

process v outcome: a look to the future

Upper level event rider Matt Brown wrote in part 1 of his series for Chronicle of the Horse about the importance of focusing on process goals rather than outcome goals.

While outcome goals are often the big shiny Holiest of Grails --- and make for the easiest representation in a single photo or sound byte: "We Did The Thing!" --- Matt's whole point was that they're somewhat false and unreliable goal posts.

That a fixation on that specific outcome leaves us vulnerable to all manner of forces beyond our control. From the untimely abscess or unforeseen financial hiccup, to the plain old uncharacteristically bad day in the show ring, or the altogether unthinkable.

pc Amy Flemming Waters 
And when the unforeseen and uncontrollable does inevitably strike (bc doesn't it always with horses?) we are that much more likely to find ourselves disproportionately disappointed, demoralized, and depressed.

Instead, Matt says we're more likely to find satisfaction, fulfillment, and happiness in reaching our goals when we focus instead on the pieces of the puzzle within our control: those small progressive steps in building up to that holy grail. The pieces that need to happen in order for the Outcome to become possible, but that don't rely on the Outcome actually happening.

Does that make sense?

Anyway, it's a useful framework for me. Especially bc this year.... might be different.

 pc Austen Gage
For years now, I've written about not feeling incentivized to compete in recognized events. Area II in general and Maryland in particular have such a rich and vibrant eventing community; the calendar is packed with awesome unrecognized events held by the same venues (and often over the same tracks) as recognized events.

I've derived immense satisfaction from starter trials (for roughly half the dollars per entry), and have not felt much incentive to change. Personally I don't see value in the extra cost unless I'm trying to develop a record for a sales horse or qualify for something (ymmv obvi!!).

Except. Well. Charlie is not a sales prospect. BUT. Qualifications. It turns out there *is* something out there piquing my interests. I'm not exactly sure how (or if) it'll all work out - it's not a big show or championship and actually doesn't explicitly involve riding at all - but it's interesting to me and is sketched roughly into my 5 year plan.

The catch? There are ridden prerequisites. Specifically: a certain number of points earned by qualifying results at USEA sanctioned events at Training level or above. The number of points earned from each completion depends on the level - more points for higher levels.

But the minimum qualifying level remains: USEA Recognized Training.

 pc Vispera Photography
I don't have a burning desire to do upper level eventing, and am not necessarily confident that Charlie's body would hold up to it. But T seems attainable. And for Charlie, as a horse, getting these qualifications seems like a good and realistic goal for him (although it's worth noting the qualifications are based on rider and can be earned with multiple horses).

Luckily the points can be earned over a period of many years - it's not like Waredaca's Classic 3DE or the AECs where you have to earn qualifying results over the course of a season or specific timeline. So from a timing perspective, there's no urgency to accumulate all the points this season -- there's no rush.

From a pressure perspective, the qualifying results aren't impacted by any poor performances along the way. Meaning, any bad results (let's say we had a bunch of jumping penalties, or a repeat of Plantation) won't nullify the qualifying results earned previously, like you might see in cases where a rider is trying to qualify for a 4* or whatever.

And going back to where we started, the Process v Outcome perspective, it's giving me some food for thought. Obviously the Outcome here is pretty clear: earn the qualifying results by completing the necessary number of recognized events at T.

So let's break that down into component Processes. Per Matt's earlier article, these processes should fall fully within my own control. And ideally they could each be successfully fulfilled even if we don't achieve that overarching Outcome (altho the reverse wouldn't likely be true).

With that in mind, I've arrived at the following (each of which have sub-bullets that may or may not get broken out into eventual future posts):

1) Continue preparing for a move up to T
2) Organize necessary paperwork + memberships
3) Plan a thoughtful calendar considering favorable venues
4) Budget appropriately and realistically (and early)
5) Maintain a comprehensive wellness plan for Charlie
6) Invest in developing my skill set and toolbox as a rider
7) Focus on positive experiences and additive mileage
8) Be flexible and accept setbacks with poise, bc #horses
9) Enjoy the ride!

 pc Austen Gage
In writing this out, I'm hoping to accomplish two things - First obviously being a road map to a successful season complete with qualifications.

More than that, tho, if everything goes well but we don't move up to Training? Or do any recognized shows? Or earn any qualifications? I still want these goals to reflect what it'll mean to have a good, happy, and fulfilling year with my horse.

In other words, even if my stated Outcome for the year is a total bust -- let's say I change my mind or, ya know, one of any myriad other things changes.... -- focusing on the above processes should by design still put me on track for happy horsing. Theoretically haha.

So we'll see how it goes haha. It's mildly terrifying to write this out, vague and fuzzy around the edges tho it may be. But also really exciting and energizing, which is kinda the whole point anyway, right? We'll see tho, wish me luck!