Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Year in Review: Part 1

This year was a biggie for me and Charlie. In the past 12 months, I learned more about myself as a rider, and about what kind of horse Charlie could be, than I ever expected. And am grateful to have so many experiences documented here on ye olde blog to look back on and reflect.

As part of that effort, I wanted to summarize everything that happened - all the highlights and in-between moments - into a bulleted round-up of links. Mostly bc there are a lot of great memories here, and now all the links are in one place in case you missed something or want to reread.

More than that, tho, it's inevitable that the year's end can put a slightly different focus or perspective on everything that happened. That whole "Hindsight is 20-20" thing. Knowing what I know now, about myself, about Charlie, about how the year went, it's interesting to see what sticks out to me as important moments. And even more interesting to see how my feelings about any given event have changed over time....

So with that in mind, here's a summary recap of Charlie's and my first six months of 2018!

starting off the year grateful for this amazing horse! also fun fact: the first half of the year saw me finally lose the 35lbs gained after breaking my leg.... good riddance!
- I reintroduced quarterly goals to the blog, sketching out a moderately ambitious plan that included competently schooling all of First Level dressage and most of Training Level eventing by the end of the year.

- My truck's brake lines blew, again, sparking a little conversation with myself that was equal parts hilarity and tragedy....

- I wrote more about how the rumors of dangerous "too cold to ride" weather were greatly exaggerated (here and here)

pictured: dangerous murderous frozen ground is gonna kill yo horse! 
- Mostly tho, we were stuck riding in the indoor, tho at least that meant mucho grid practice (yes, those are all different links lol)! Oooh, except for that one random day we got to jump outside in January!

- Oh AND!! I bought my first really nice piece of tack: my trainer's custom Hulsebos dressage saddle! And proceeded to have an excellent bio-mechanics focused dressage lesson in it!

- Best day of the month: Schooling the arena cross country courses at Loch Moy! Charlie's first real outing since his surgery, and he rocketed around the BN course like a boss.

this was a very special day <3

- I don't always blog about trail riding bc..... we do it a LOT haha. Sometimes tho, I like the photo dumps ;)

- Moar jumping outdoors!!!! Wherein Charlie got to play with his biggest jumps since surgery!

- Also moar jumping grids inside, and it was kinda getting old....

- Aaaaaand then Charlie stepped on a giant mother fucking roofing nail and my world legitimately stopped spinning for a second there. Amazingly tho, there was no serious damage or injury.

this picture still has the power to send chills down my spine....
- The rest of this month was all about that fallout, as Charlie eventually abscessed, then took off the shoe on his support limb, seemed to recover, but then subsequently abscessed in that other hoof too. It was.... an ordeal.

- Meanwhile, I got to go ride Isabel!! And bought more boring stuff like horse blankets! And hacked around in the snow!! And mused about this amazing blogging community and the unexpectedly deep impact it's had on my life.

- Best day of the month: Doing a little photo shoot with Charlie in his new Dark Jewel Designs V-Shaped browband. He was still lame at this point, but it was fun imagining a not-so-distant future where he would be sound and the weather would be nice and we could horse show again!

handsome Charlie <3

- Charlie was recovered and getting back into work. With yet another set of rides that reaffirmed yet again why I'm so freakin crazy about this horse. Including hitting up our home xc course to bop around the ditches / banks / water just for funsies <3

- I bought new country boots - my Saxon Lewes boots - which I continue to adore and wear constantly in all manner of weather and muck, and they still look great!

- Also spent some time reflecting on how much Charlie taught me in our first 18months together.

tried to find a higher quality image for this round up.... but i STILL remember the feeling i had during this ride, and it was just so so good <3 so the blurry pic makes the cut lol
- Went along as support crew for my friends at one of Loch Moy's arena eventing derbies, did more hacking, and got excited about scheduling all manner of fun volunteer opportunities for the coming year.

- Then when Charlie finally seemed to be back in fighting form, we hit up our home xc course for real, jumping most of the BN course in pretty good form and taking 8,000 Happy Pictures while we were at it!

- So, naturally, *drumroll* I held my breath and sent in our entry for our first event of the season!

- Best day of the month: Definitely that first BN of the year at Loch Moy haha. It wasn't a picture perfect outing, and a lot of people weren't particularly impressed with Charlie's decidedly wild form on cross country, but it felt for all the world to me like a validation that Charlie could and would be an absolute cross country power house!

who said brontosauruses can't be cute too ?!? that face tho... <3

- I checked in on the status of our quarterly and year-long goals.

- Also waxed poetic about how much Charlie inspires me to start dreaming big again.... all while sharing so many more awesome pictures from our season opener the week prior.

- Plus dug more into my philosophy on what it takes to keep progressing, to keep moving forward, to put in what you want to get out. And got fairly specific on what needed to happen next for Charlie in terms of training (hint: brakes for him haha, and ever more consistency from me!)

- Then Charlie popped another splint and we subsequently scratched from the jumping phases at Full Moon Farm's Spring Thing, womp. We did the dressage tho, and it was good!

pictured: a retired racehorse who takes the "retired" part a litttttle too seriously haha
- While Charlie recovered, I amused myself by spectating at Fair Hill's CIC 1*, and playing around with new apps to improve the xc course walking experience. Deconstructed course walks here (T @ Fair Hill) and here (N @ Plantation).

- Meanwhile, Charlie got some joint maintenance, and I wrote more about how he's dressing in the mercurial spring. Biggest finding? Damn but I LOVE that Snuggy Hoods Satin Shoulder Guard for preventing shoulder rubs! That thing is STILL going strong, too!

- Ooooooh and for no reason other than he's pretty, Charlie made the front page of US Eventing!!

- AND!!! I went to the Land Rover Kentucky 3DE CCI 4*!!!!

- Best day of the month: FINALLY trail riding with Michelle and Sarah at Fair Hill!!! What a great day, guys <3

trail riding at fair hill!!! 

- Actually wrote about Kentucky haha. Specifically: the shopping post is here. And here's the cross country media + video + a mild diatribe on social media's seemingly insatiable appetite for outrage and snatching negativity and drama from the jaws of an otherwise overwhelmingly positive event....

- I used my new course walking apps to get more serious about Charlie's conditioning work! Hacking + trot sets GALORE lol.

- Charlie got a little belly achy as the fresh grass came up, but managed to keep making steady progress in his flat work. Like learning the beginnings of lengthenings!

kentucky compilation video! icymi!!

- Finally got out for our second proper xc school of the season following MCTA's recognized event at Shawan Downs. Charlie tackled most of the N course like a seasoned veteran! That decided it: the move up was upon us!

- Meanwhile, we adjusted Charlie's hoof care and added leather pads as the ground hardened for the season. And I braced myself for moving house for the first time in a decade.... And more hacking. Always with the hacking.

- Charlie, for his part, kept up the good work in our flat work schooling (particularly that pesky half halt!) and single dressage lesson, and officially jumped his first 3'3 fence in a lesson!

- Best day of the month: Finally, all that preparation led up to the big event, the day I had been climbing toward since basically 2015: Charlie moved up to Novice at Loch Moy! Each phase got it's own post replete with gorgeous photos from Austen (dressage, show jumping, cross country), but to say I was walking on air would be the understatement of the century!

novice corner ain't no thang for charlie !!!

- Naturally, I kicked off this next month still riding the high of achieving a hard fought goal.

- No rest for the weary, tho, and we got right back to jump lessons with our second attempt at Novice coming up fast on the calendar.

- Turned out tho, those stratospheric highs from our first Novice at Loch Moy were immediately punctuated by the lowest lows: our second N at Plantation was an unmitigated disaster. Each phase was worse than the one before, with Charlie racking up his first real refusals on cross country before straight up quitting while half way over the most innocuous red coop....

rough day at plantation. you can't see the feelings, but they are there and they are many
- I was completely emotionally unprepared for the blow Plantation dealt us, and for wrestling all that fresh self doubt. This necessitated serious soul searching about how to move forward, including accepting responsibility for the holes in Charlie's training, and forging a new plan.

- The rest of the month was .... mostly spent quietly regrouping. Charlie acclimated to his new summer pasture and I toyed with the idea of blowing my budget on the whim that maybe a new saddle would fix our training issues (hint: not likely).

- Charlie, for his part, was a good boy. And was actually a super star in our next jumping lesson focused on all manner of gymnastics and grids!

- Frankly, the horse seemed no worse for the wear - clearly I was the one bogged down in baggage from Plantation. So it would be up to me to dig back out again....

- Best day of the month: Charlie's former owner from the track came to visit!!

charlie's clearly found his chill, the big q is whether i'd find mine....


Whew, those first six months were definitely a bit of a roller coaster! Stay tuned for Part 2 (and our eventual redemption) soon!


  1. holy crap i can't believe that was only 6 months. that's a lot!! that's like, at least 2 years of shit.

    also he really need to stop stepping on foreign objects.

    1. ha yea definitely a lot of crap piled into a short amount of time.... that's just how charlie rolls, i guess!

  2. I have loved following the story of Emma and Charlie. I had forgotten that the nail was this year! Such drama. Such excitement. :)

    1. aww thanks haha, there's never a dull moment around here i guess! ;)

  3. YAY on our trail riding experince. Gives me all the feels! and look I am actually RIDING my horse in that photo. Who knew that I could ride :) HA HA HA!
    Charlie is def a roller coaster but roller coasters are fun right? :)

    1. ha yes you definitely need more riding in your life!!!! :D

  4. I agree with Megan - that is a lot of happenings in 6 months. A lot of great lessons learned and an ever optimistic moving forward attitude.

    1. ha oh man, it has *not* been easy staying optimistic and positive.... it helps tho that the horse always seems to bounce back from anything, a lameness, a bad ride, like nothing ever happened!

  5. OMG I had convinced myself that nail incident had happened sometime last year. It's amazing how you both bounced back after all that.

    1. i still can't believe how lucky we got that there was no serious injury from the nail. like it's actually mind blowing to me... but that's horses, i guess!

  6. I totally forgot about the nail thing - altho... WHO could forget the nail thing?! And the subsequent abscesses?!

    This year has been full of ups and downs for you guys - but you've handled the downs with a lot of style and grace... and there is something to be said about that :)

    1. ha thanks, it's been a lot of work and in many ways i kinda rely on the blog as a place to work out all my thoughts and feelings about setbacks etc.... it helps tho!

  7. What a roller coaster year! And one of the last times I rode my horse... Just kidding... Not really...

    1. well we'll just have to do it again to get you back out on the animal again!

  8. That corner still stands out as maybe the best photo I've taken all year. Well. That and all the ones from March. Aaah so many good moments!

    1. i love that picture so much <3 and srsly appreciate that you've been there not only for so many great moments, but also to capture them so well in pictures too!

  9. I love this since I was away from blogging for a bit, all caught up now! ahah

    1. ha awesome!! yea it's been a jam packed year, and it's not always easy to keep up!! that's part of why i love these types of posts so much!

  10. I'd forgotten the giant nail in his foot was still this year. I can't wait for part two: the giant wood chip in his foot. Good at dressage, better at jumping, the best at impalement!

    1. so much impalement tho.... a year punctuated by punctures!!!

  11. These posts are one of my favorite parts of the end of the year since I remember almost all of this happening but having it laid out like this really shows the impact of the whole year.

  12. It's always surprising to look back and see how much has happened over the year! It's good to help see the bigger picture too, you guys have had a good year, despite the ups and downs.

  13. I can't believe all of this was THIS YEAR!! Wow. Love the recap and especially highlighting the best day of each month.

  14. Damn. And this was only HALF the year!! Pretty damn impressive resume for only part of the year.

  15. Hi, I'm back. I'm reading, I'm catching up, I'm commenting. WHAT A YEAR you had! And there is still the next half to read about!


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