Friday, December 28, 2018

tied up with a bow

Alright everyone, 2018 is coming to a close and many of us have spent the last few weeks reflecting on the last 12 months. Obviously you've already seen my posts reviewing the year month-by-month (part 1 and part 2), so I won't rehash all that.

it's all about this guy
Suffice it to say, tho, that 2018 was a monumental year for me and Charlie. It was punctuated by goal setting on a quarterly basis: including a fresh set of goals each quarter, and check-ins on overarching goals set for the year.

The quarterly goals were a useful exercise, but probably not something I'll repeat. They're not quite as future-thinking as I'd like. That said tho, it was a useful way to ensure everything moved in the right direction, and a good way to stay mindful of Charlie's and my immediate futures. So let's do a quick review of the 4th quarter:

pictures of ponies, bc charlie luvs them
4th Quarter Goals:
  • I'd like to make it out to one last event. -- I was just about to mail in the check for Waredaca's fall starter before Charlie's splint blow up. Finally - a scratched event where I DIDN'T have to eat the costs!
  • Plus a couple other non-horse-trial events. Plans are afoot for this already, much excitement! -- We did a bunch of fun stuff - like the Elkridge Harford Hunter Trials, xc schooling, and a show jumping clinic with Phillip Dutton!
  • Maybe a dressage schooling show too? Not so sure about this one.... -- Not this time. Maybe this winter?
  • I have a TON of schooling passes from volunteering so I need to find a way to use those too. -- Check! Finally got out to school on the arena derby courses!!
  • Fox hunting???? It's on the list every year but somehow still haven't made it happen... -- Do the hunter trials count? Sorta kinda??
  • Plan ahead for schedule adjustments after the clocks change -- might be time to get back on the books for at least one or two morning rides a week. -- Haven't changed schedules yet, but the longest winter months are still ahead of us...
  • I'd like to give Charlie a 2-ish week break sometime in the next 6-12wks. It'll depend a little bit on the calendar, but something to keep in mind. -- Ha. Hahahaha. Maybe Charlie's reading my goals?? He totally got about a month off this quarter bc of his splint blow up. All told, it was closer to 6 weeks if you include the lost shoe and then the eye injury.... No more vacation, Chuck! 
  • Keep an eye on Charlie's weight once they switch from pasture to round bales for the winter - adjust feed if necessary. -- They haven't switched fields yet... 
  • Get a head start on my annual "Best Of" and "Blooper Reel" videos lol.... -- Yesssss, this video was definitely one of my favorites <3
  • And. Ya know. Whatever else looks like fun. Fall is the best riding season, so hopefully we'll get to enjoy it! -- Despite the unplanned time off, we've definitely had a pretty excellent fall <3

he likes goose the pig too!
So a successful fourth quarter. More than the above, tho, reflecting on 2018 is all about my year long goals. Writing these goals down last January felt.... equal parts ambitious and crazy.

At that time Charlie was just getting back into the swing of things following his surgery. His first season as an event horse had been cut short after only his second BN. And I was still grappling with my own demons and feelings of self doubt.

But Charlie.... He's a special horse, ya know? There's something almost futuristic about him. It's so easy to believe in him. So easy to dream big.

So even tho last December it took every ounce of grit and determination I could muster to force myself to school my horse around 2'3-2'6 fences... And even tho Charlie's inner brontosaurus was rearing (literally) his ugly head in our dressage schools, getting mired down in all manner of fresh new deep dark tar pits (later determined to be due to saddle fit issues)....

Despite all that, I sat down and wrote out the following goals for the year. Which can basically summarized as: Finish the year confidently schooling 3'3 fences and 1st level dressage. Plus all the other fun little experiences that happen in between.

really tho, it's all about those shetlands <3
So. How did we do??

  • Move up to Novice by Q2-Q3.  Check! 
  • 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. Maybe next year...
  • School some of training by Q3, ideally full height elements but smaller sized technical questions are acceptable. Charlie is very comfortable with T sized fences on xc and in the show jumping ring. Can't ask for more than that!
  • Research options for an "adult event camp." My ideas around this honestly weren't really fully baked...
  • Schedule a clinic(s) with Dan at OF. Organizing a clinic is extremely challenging, tho it's something I still want to do. Until then, I've settled for a normal lesson -- and it was totally awesome. Oooh and I maybe signed up for a clinic with him elsewhere?!? ***foreshadowing***
  • Keep the horse on a regular massage and/or chiro schedule as needed. Charlie is sound of body and mind right now, even as I've had to tighten up the budget...
  • 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. We only schooled our home course maybe half a dozen times, but made it out to Shawan Downs, Windurra and Loch Moy too! Still need to work on down banks tho haha. 

in a way, he's kinda like snow white haha
  • 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. Charlie continues to impress me with his workmanlike attitude on the flat. He's never going to be flashy like Isabel, but he can be consistent and he can be correct. That's plenty sufficient for laying down some competitive tests!
  • Trail ride at Fair Hill!! Ideally with other bloggers! So fun!
  • Volunteer. A lot. Look for opportunities monthly, and aim for doing some type of event volunteering in 7 of 12 months. I had a freakin amazing time volunteering this year, and logged somewhere around 80 hours. 
  • Try to maintain at least some microscopic degree of poise if there are setbacks. No matter what, have fun! I was better here this year compared to last year. 
  • 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! Horse showing is always more fun with friends, and it's rare that I have an empty spot in my trailer!
  • 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! The blog lives on.

just a sociable sweet horse <3
Not every goal was accomplished exactly the way I expected. Plus there was so much more that happened that I couldn't have expected or predicted (both good and bad). But overall, I'm really really happy with how 2018 went. And just so so so grateful for Charlie <3

I've got some thoughts and ideas about how I want to address goal setting for the coming year too - it will be a little different than the above. But it's not fully baked yet, so stay tuned for more.

In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone!


  1. Wow. You ROCKED your goals! Way to go!!

    1. Thanks! It felt more than a little bit uncertain at times but Charlie pulled it off!

  2. Half baked ideas are the best. 😁

  3. You still slayed those goals tho! Onward to 2019

    1. thanks! i'm pretty thrilled with how everything went ;)

  4. So inspiring! Congrats on a great 2018!

  5. Great job on your goals, looking foreard to seeing what 2019 has in store for you and Charlie! (Here's to no more layups!!!)

    1. ha the layups honestly seem inevitable, i just hope that any future situations are similar to past instances from which charlie's basically been able to rebound easily. bc yea i'm excited for 2019 and will share plans soon!

  6. You guys knocked those goals out of the park!!! Well done!

    1. thank you!! on one hand there isn't a whole lot to show for the year on paper, but then again there never really is with charlie, it seems. on the ground tho, he's come a LONG WAY this year, and has kinda dragged me kicking and screaming and clutching my pearls along the way with him haha


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