Monday, July 2, 2018

mid year evaluation

Hokay folks. It's July, it's hot, and we're now halfway through the year. Time flies, eh?

today's photo selection is a random review of moments from the past quarter. like the above, from when a train accident and subsequent cancellation left me wandering around DC for a little while to observe all the strange statues lol...
Per usual, things seem to be a little bit up and down around 'Fraidy Cat Eventing. With more down than up this past month. Naturally it's hard to look back in a more comprehensive way when current feelings are kinda.... not great.

On the other hand tho, it's totally worth doing bc this quarter taken as a whole was pretty positive. So. Let's review how things went vs the actual plan, and then take a look at what the next three months might bring, shall we?

that one time we packed up and went to a starter trial just for the dressage phase....
Quarter 2 Evaluation

  • The schedule I sketched for the first half of the competition season is intense. And possibly over-ambitious. There are 7 potential events on my wish list, one of which is penciled in as our N move up. This is my biggest goal. We did it!!! We moved up in May!!!! And then went for our second attempt at N and.... catastrophe. Womp. Entered four total events this quarter, but withdrew from the first after Charlie popped a splint, then scratched from the fourth entirely (a planned BN run at Fair Hill this past weekend) bc Charlie isn't sound. So.... Yea. I'm calling the move up a win bc Loch Moy was freakin baller, and the disaster at Plantation had less to do with the jumps and more to do with... cantering away from everything else. But I'm reserving the right to be fluid between levels until Charlie's more confirmed in "Go Forward Now, Or The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves."
  • Simultaneously, however, it's critical that I remain flexible in the plan and receptive to feedback from Charlie. He's my #1 in all this, so he gets a say in everything we do. Fitness and conditioning stay on the list as major priorities. The lion's share of our ridden work should be focused on getting the horse really fit and strong in his body. Yes. The horse was fit, strong, and happy. Uh, until he wasn't...
"can we just do this forever plz?"
  • This includes spending a lot of time in our barn's cross country fields. There's a lot of good stuff out there that we haven't done yet - particularly the biggest ditch and banks, and some jumps near the water. Introducing Charlie to these elements will be part of prepping him for N. Not really..... Just as good ground conditions aligned with a sound and physically ready Charlie, the jumps all moved to Shawan Downs. And upon returning home, they mostly sat in a pile in the front field :( However!!! We did school at Shawan and it was fabulous!
  • Also a part of prepping for N? Uh.... brakes haha. Obviously I'm working hard on developing a better half halt in the horse so I can slow him down while keeping him in front of my leg. We also need a bitting solution here too, tho. And soon. The curb chain seems to work, but honestly the schooling seems to be paying off more than just a big bit. Turned out we needed more Go than Whoa anyway, whoops!
  • Meanwhile, stay vigilant about Charlie's overall well-being. Particularly, keep an eye on his hooves and body condition as the grass comes up and the horses transition back to pasture. Get him started back on electrolytes early. Went back to leather pads for his hooves and started elytes months ago. So far, so good on that note! Still some pesky persistent lamenesses tho...
  • Keep him on a regular bodywork schedule too. Hasn't been as often as I wanted for budget reasons. 
still completely over the moon about the fact that this happened <3
  • Evaluate lesson schedule in light of events schedule as well. I want to avoid over-jumping the horse, and focus on limiting the reps while making each school count. We're kinda week to week with this, but I think we're finding a good balance. Ahem, when he's sound.
  • Likewise, I want to be more disciplined in working on our dressage. Consistency is key for Charlie to really understand my expectations. So....... We mostly hacked out the first two months of the quarter haha. And Charlie felt happy in the work, and fantastic in his body, so I didn't worry about it. But then he suddenly *didn't* feel happy in the work and our lack of consistency proved to be a huge issue at a very inconvenient moment. Lesson learned?????
  • Overall, it'll be important that I keep the big picture in mind and don't get too caught up in my plans that I miss the forest for the trees. Horse showing is literally one of my favorite things, but it can be stressful too. Remember to always put horsemanship first, and always have fun! If you had asked me to respond to this a month ago, my thoughts would have been very different than they are today. Horses are hard, guys, and June really fucking sucked.

among this quarter's highlights: trail riding with awesome friends and bloggers!!
Phew. Ok. Nothing like waking up on a Monday morning to some depressing goal reviews!! So let's move right on along to seeing where we are against my 2018 overall hopes and dreams:

Mid Year overall check in:
  • Move up to Novice by Q2-Q3. Done!!! But... uh, still a lot of work left to do.... 
  • Do a recognized show, level not important - timing of this depends on schedule of friends who need recognized shows for qualifications purposes for their own goals. Not a priority.
going to Kentucky for the 4* was also so freakin awesome tho omg!
  • School some of training by Q3, ideally full height elements but smaller sized technical questions are acceptable. Whelp. We've got our work cut out for us... This is happening in small doses in our normal lessons, in terms of just plain height independently, or complexity with bending lines, combinations, and skinnies. We're a long ways off tho. 
  • Research options for an "adult event camp." So far no progress. This may end up being more informal with me and my friends.
  • Schedule a clinic(s) with Dan at OF. I need to focus here.
  • Keep the horse on a regular massage and/or chiro schedule as needed. So far, so good.
feelin like a million bucks and poppin' bottles after finally riding a novice course again!
  • School the bejesus out of our cross country course at home. No excuses! Also make trips to other venues - Windurra, I'm looking at you! Down banks in particular need attention. My friends and I have been imagining up some fun ideas for July in particular. We'll see what actually happens tho.
  • Continue developing flatwork. Would like to be passably schooling all of first level by Q3. Would like to finish at least one event on my dressage score, and would like the dressage scores to be competitive. First level still feels pretty far away, honestly. I'm hoping tho that if we can make some breakthroughs in Charlie's lateral and longitudinal suppleness, that suddenly some movements will feel much more attainable. But like, also sometimes we don't steer or brake. So. Ya know....
what else can i say but that i really like this horse??
  • Trail ride at Fair Hill!! Ideally with other bloggers! Done!!!!!!
  • Volunteer. A lot. Look for opportunities monthly, and aim for doing some type of event volunteering in 7 of 12 months. This continues to be ongoing. And I'm having so so so much fun doing it!! Thanks Sara again for the great contest!!
  • Try to maintain at least some microscopic degree of poise if there are setbacks. No matter what, have fun! Also ongoing. Forever and ever, amen. It's a grind sometimes.
  • Be the type of competitor my friends enjoy being around at shows. And be my friends' biggest cheerleader. Nothing has revolutionized my horse habit quite like having great friends to share it with - don't take this for granted! Trying!!
lots of favorite pictures of him from loch moy <3
  • Keep the blog going: this space has been so meaningful to me, both as a means of documenting all of my horsey escapades but also as a way to participate in the wonderful equine bloglandia. Y'all are great! There were a few unexpected bumps along this road this past quarter. Some unexpected snide comments, some condescension about Charlie's wild and woolly season opener, and some folks who straight up accused me of bad horse care. All of which caught me off guard and really bugged me. I had always felt like our little equestrian blogging community was so encouraging and supportive; and maybe a little sheltered from the polarization, vitriol, and straight up cruelty found on other social forums. But seeing some of that same behavior show up here made me reevaluate how much I share, and how honest I want to be about the struggles or low moments, or about judgement calls where the choices aren't always easy. I legitimately considered changing how I write, becoming more guarded. Like what if after a horse show I just post 2-3 of the very best pictures and a few lines about my horse being perfect, and leave it at that? Instead of the intensely nitty-gritty play by play format I so enjoy creating (and reliving!!). But..... Ultimately I decided not to make any changes. To keep telling my horse story the way I want to, to keep sharing the moments that mean the most to me (both good and bad), and keep sharing the less than perfect or downright low moments bc realistically that's what it means for me to be an adult amateur doing my best with what I have. And to keep maintaining the same honesty I've made habit when it comes to details about lamenesses or decisions around care. Folks will always disagree with my methods - that's horses, right? Ask two horse people, get three answers?? But this is my blog, and honestly I really love it. Would probably keep writing even if nobody wanted to read or participate in the comments section. But the fact that people *do* read, and *do* comment truly makes it so much more special and I'm grateful for it every day. So. The blog goes on!! And if you don't like it? Or don't like me? Eh, fuck off, m'kay?
Ahem. Cough cough. Moving on.

we need more of this in our lives STAT
Lastly, let's take a look at where I'd like to be going in the next couple months. While fully recognizing that, ya know, things change quickly in Charlieland haha.

Quarter 3 Goals:
  • School more xc at home, idk why this is so challenging haha! But we need more galloping in our life for sure.
  • School off property too - Loch Moy & Windurra!
  • GO FORTH, CHARLES! FORWARD TO GLORY!!!! Make novice great again!
  • More dressage lessons with trainer C, possibly substituting for some jump lessons. Charlie's got it in him to score well in a test, we just need more work.
  • Jump some T fences!!! And maybe some smaller sized but higher technicality combinations!
height ain't a problem for this giant horse, that's for sure
  • Don't ignore hacking entirely even as I hold myself more accountable for our consistency in schooling.
  • Sketch out idealistic/aspirational/omgyoucrazy/realistic/pessimistic/BN4lyfe fall season options. All roads lead to Rome, right?
  • Use "summer recess" from shows to consider options for getting our butts back in gear and recovering some of the mojo we lost at Plantation: clinics, jumper shows, paper chases, group trail rides, etc.
  • Mostly tho I really want the next few weeks through the heat of summer to be focused on enjoying the ride and remembering that Charlie has all the ingredients to be my eventing partner for a long time. I just need to keep us healthy and happy. 
just gotta make sure charlie always loves this view as much as i do!
  • Stay on top of Charlie's hooves as weather and ground conditions require. Consider pros and cons for getting Charlie drilled and tapped for studs.
  • Adjust Charlie's nutrition if needed - I don't want him getting too heavy for his body, but that might prove a non issue if the grass becomes less luscious in summer heat.

So... Uh, wish us luck?? Haha hope you all had a great weekend and for those of you in the States, hopefully you've got some time off this week for the 4th!!


35 comments:

  1. People suck. I try to always be positive and cheerleader-y on comments but sometimes I fail and find myself sucking and needing to delete and re write. Blogging is so interesting because every ride, every story could be told in so many different ways depending on how the writer wants to portray it. As readers we don't get to see all the in between moments that aren't written about.

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    1. yep that's totally accurate. and like, sure not all feedback has to be uber chipper and sugar coated to be constructive or well intended... but your point about not knowing about all the in between moments is an important one lol

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  2. Whoa, I'm sorry you've gotten some negative comments on your blog. Not sure why anyone would feel the need to comment anything less than positive and encouraging, considering we're all (at least mostly) adult ammies and realistically, NOTHING with horses ever goes perfectly. I put a lot of the fails on my blog also because guess what? Shit sometimes goes south. I think you're doing a great job with C- it's been so cool to see how far he's come with you.

    I can't believe you don't XC school more, what with you having a home course! I would kill for a real course within 2 hours of me.

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    1. yea it's kinda incredible to me why we haven't been able to school more, despite having so much access. it's deceiving tho: we got out once earlier this spring, then ground conditions became poor (schooling isn't allowed after recent rain), then all the jumps moved to a different facility for a show, then all the jumps came back but are still sitting all along the fence in a front field. theoretically they'll be moved into place eventually but probably charlie will be lame or something keeping us from doing as much as i would like.... it's always something!

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  3. Hell, even on a good day there could be a random picture that makes it appear the opposite! You do the best with what you know right now and recognize there's so much more you don't know (yet). I appreciate that you're honest with how you've felt but are also working through it.

    Totally feel you on the healthy front, except I'm the one who keeps having things pop up! Fingers crossed for some saddle time next week for me and strong Charlie legs for you 🤞🏼

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    1. thanks! it's so hard to keep everyone feeling good and functioning well, under basically any circumstances... the best we can do is be real about it, right?

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  4. I'm glad you got to have some awesome highs in Q2! (Even if they were evened out by some lows, boo). Hopefully Q3 is full of even more highs, and a sound Charlie ready for lots of adventures! 🙂

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    1. thanks, i'm hopeful too. it's a constant balancing act with charlie, apparently!

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  5. I've got similar goals, though nothing that I'm specifically focusing on. Sucks about the cruddy comments. I personally like reading about everything because maybe I can head things off for myself that might pop up as we proceed on our own eventing journey, and just competition in general. Shared knowledge and experience is beneficial to us all in the long run.

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    1. definitely agreed about the shared knowledge -- there's so much to be learned from the hive mind, and that's honestly one of my favorite aspects of the blogging community. getting to share those experiences and learning moments haha!

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  6. I think you are doing the best you can with what you have at any given moment! And that to me means you are doing great!! <3 Don't let the snide or rude comments affect you because as Sara said, no one can know every single little thing about you and your horse. It is so hard to put oneself out there via blogging, but I think there are still so many of us who are supportive and honestly and sincerely want to see you succeed and do well!

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    1. thanks! realistically speaking, i *do* care about the dialog that happens in this space, good or bad. if i didn't care, why would i bother in the first place? what i *don't* let that dialog do tho is make me question my own choices or the guidance of the professionals and trusted peers in my actual real life haha. as much as some folks on the internet wish that they could tell me what to do when, or what choices i should or shouldn't make.... that's really not up to the internet to decide!

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    2. Yes! Good for you! Don't let the bastards get you down, lady! ;-) <3

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  7. i always really really admired how honest you were about everything in the blog.

    i think - no i KNOW - that people sugar coat their shit and then readers feel like dog poop bc they think everyone is doing great and its always simple and easy and it's really... not.

    anyway. my 2 cents. glad you decided not to change. just cancel your plans for july anyway bc its way too hot to even look outside.

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    1. yea the sugar coated stuff gets old bc it doesn't feel real, or doesn't feel relatable. it's not that i don't like supporting folks when they're happy or whatever - bc i totally do - but constant white washing, or only ever posting the highlight reels, or glossing over work that went into a success, kinda takes away from what i find most special in equestrian blogs: compelling narratives of other horse ppl just like me who are getting out there and working for it.

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  8. Ugh I am sorry to read that things did not go very well in June and that people were callous. I was thinking on the subject a bit the other day and I definitely feel that slow poison everywhere in life (for me it comes from political fatigue) the world just seems so shitty,and then it kinda mars how I might react to someone, or how I feel about something which if it was 3 years ago I might not have acted, spoke, or felt that way.

    I am responsible for myself and my actions though, so if anything I ever did or said negatively effected you, I'm sorry. Keep on being you and blogging your way because that's how we shine, by being ourselves.

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    1. Ugh I feel ya on the slow poison and definitely agree that there’s a LOT of that going around these days. Outrage is everywhere and around every corner and it’s freakin exhausting. Thanks tho - I’m definitely not trying to call anyone out here and am not trying to make ppl worried that they somehow did something wrong. By and large everyone in this little blogging community is pretty freakin awesome!!

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  9. Um wow. I'm so sorry to hear people have been condescending about you and Charlie! You're so right about asking 2 horse people and getting 3 answers lol. That still really sucks. I am glad you decided not to change things. I have learned so much from your blog and what you've shared, and have really enjoyed watching you and Charlie progress.

    It sounds like you've still got some great goals for the rest of the year! I think you and Charlie can smash them out of the water (HURRY AND GET BETTER CHARLIE)!!

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    1. I really hope Charlie is feeling better soon and feeling back to his normal self!! When he’s “on” he feels unstoppable. It’s just hard to keep him feeling that way apparently!!

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  10. Holy hell how is this year already half over?! I'm still pretty floored by the progress you and Charlie have made. He's a solid horse with surprisingly few holes in his training. And he's not necessarily been the easiest. There's a lot to look back on and be proud of. ❤️

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    1. Aw thanks :) he’s a good boy and I feel very lucky with him. Horses are just freakin hard sometimes no matter what tho!

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  11. I hate when people decide that they know everything and can give out advice like some sort of superior being. I really hope that nothing I said sounded callous. If so I apologize- it was never intended to.

    I’m sorry that Charlie is lame. I hope that it is not serious

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    1. Aw thanks! Ans agreed completely that there’s a lot of unsolicited and unwelcome advice on the internet lol, tho yes it’s usually well intentioned. And no plz don’t worry about anything - I really love all the dialog and participation I’ve gotten here and it’s been overwhelmingly positive. Or at least we’ll intentioned.

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  12. I can't believe anyone would say anything negative, you're obviously a great horse mom!! Wishing you and Charlie all the best in the 2nd half of the year.

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    1. Thanks and I’m hoping for a great second half too!! Just need Charlie to buck up and feel better ;)

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  13. Seriously? Haters gonna hate. Bye, Felicia.

    Look at you go slaying those goals! You're an inspiration to me!

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    1. Lol bye Felicia indeed ;) and I’m trying to hard to get through those goals lol that it’s easy to feel sometimes like we are messing up when we aren’t always crossing stuff off the list. It’s a process tho and it takes time!!

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  14. Charlie looks so damn good, Emma! So many AMAZING photos of you two for the first half of the year. Just, wow. You two have come so far as a team this season so far - despite the ups and downs.

    What a bummer on all the situations leading to not getting to school at home much the first half of the year! Hopefully that changes for the better the second half because it sounds like such an amazing perk of your boarding facility!

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  15. Yes, Please keep being honest and writing the way you do in your blog! It's one of the reasons I enjoy it! Love your goals and love how many you got to check off!

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  16. TriState Riding Club offers some great camps during the summer (many geared toward eventing). I know it's a bit late for you to benefit this year and maybe a bit far distance wise, but there is always next year!
    http://www.tristaterc.org/

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  17. How many months or years did that trail ride take to plan???? All it took was something minor like a certain person dashing off to TN for it to actually happen, imagine that? Hopefully Charlie will be feeling better soon and you'll get that lesson/clinic in with Dan. As for goals? Not a fan for me personally and I'm all the more impressed my people who are goal oriented! If I make goals those become the list of things I don't accomplish for the year (see my work performance appraisal...haha just kidding. Maybe.) I'm just not a goal person. Life gets in the way when I make goals. I accomplish a lot more without the pressure of goals? I'm envious of people who are goal motivated!

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  18. Charlies hair in that last pic *swoon*

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  19. Wow, I take a break from reading blogs for a few months and have missed a LOT! That sucks people accused you of bad horse care, and why the need for snarky comments? Move forward and don't pay a mind to the haters, trolls are always sitting behind keyboards, ever willing to show their face in daylight.

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  20. You know, I like your blog because you are super upfront about how horses aren't always sunshine and daisies. I can relate! Sometimes I feel really discouraged/disappointed etc, and honestly I think about how I am not the only that feels that way and it helps (because I read people's blogs like yours!.

    Not everything comes easy for everyone. Move ups are hard. Horse health is hard. Constant adjustments are needed- but you just keep on keeping on. GOOD FOR YOU!!!!

    <3 Kelly @ HunkyHano

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  21. I'm super behind, so using this to catch up a little! People suck, just keeping marching. You know your horse best :)

    Also - my god in some of those pics he is so buff! What a handsome beastie!

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