Thursday, June 6, 2019

revisiting that whole "process" thing

It's hard to believe how quickly the year is flying by. As seems to always be the way, a lot of what I expected to happen or expected to be doing hasn't quite gone to plan. Ya know. Uncontrollable variables, etc. Because #horses.

That's ok, tho. Charlie's been a master class for me in letting go of the stuff that's outside my control, and just focusing on the areas that matter most to me. The areas where I can actually make a difference.

this will always be part of the plan <3
If you recall from my 2019 goals post on "Process v Outcome," my intent was to focus on the component processes of my horse habit, vs the inflexible, rigid outcomes that are all too often foiled by the universe's random external forces.

With that in mind, I laid out the following high-level objectives for the year:

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!

remember that awesome Phillip Dutton clinic in the pouring rain?! technically this lesson was at the end of 2018, but it still felt like a great start to prepping for the 2019 season. pc Austen Gage

So how is all that going, now into the second half of 2019? Let's take a closer look.

1) Continue Working on the Move Up.

I'm honestly happy with the work we've done here, tho it hasn't involved as much actual supervised rides and lessons etc as I wanted. And in my opinion, that's really the biggest gap. There are certain elements of Training XC that I'd prefer to address under the watchful guidance of one my chosen pros. Which will happen when it happens, apparently.

In the meantime, I've done as much self-directed work as I'm comfortable with, including walking a bunch of T courses at both recognized and unrecognized events. That's been extremely helpful in familiarizing myself with real life examples of what the level asks, and identifying gaps.

then another clinic, this time with Dan Clasing, where i still regret not asking to do more T stuff...
I've also done a fair amount of schooling individual T jumps on my own. The height is beginning to look "right-sized," tho we have a too-small margin of error that makes combinations feel dicey.

Our lessons over stadium jumps have definitely ratcheted up in technicality, tho, and we've done a lot of work on various combinations in the ring. Including work with skinnies, and slicing and angling fences. So we've done basically everything that T asks combination-wise in the stadium ring, but need to translate those skills to solid jumps on terrain haha.

The dressage is also more or less moving in the right direction for the move up. It ain't pretty, but then again it might never be haha. It just needs to be proficient and reasonably accurate for me to be satisfied.

we made the best of indoor season!!
2) Paperwork & Memberships

The ink is dry and the checks are cleared for my and Charlie's required memberships and registrations for the year. So. Ya know. Next step is to do something with them, ha!

we've already seen more of dressage trainer C in the last six months than we did all last year
3) Plan the Calendar

I sat down at the beginning of the year and studied the 2019 US Eventing calendar of events for my area, and dutifully transcribed much of it to ye olde events page. From there, I selected a short list of events that seem likeliest to suit my purposes. They are highlighted with a yellow ^ on the page.

Whether we make it to any of them is TBD, but at least I know what's out there!

Again, things are a bit more in flux than I hoped for / wanted, but we have a LOT of options. And I'm learning to be more flexible anyway haha (see #8 below!).

ooooh we did that Sally Cousins clinic too!
4) Budget Appropriately

This is possibly the area where I'm most proud of my progress. And, not coincidentally, it's an area that goes well beyond this blog's narrow scope of just my life as it relates to ponies.

Last year, a major cost of living expense increased by nearly 45%, sending shock waves rippling across basically my whole life. Since then I've completely overhauled my personal finances and all the bad habits associated with financial woes (like eating out all the time). Which.... was not easy, and initially took a LOT of dedicated attention, discipline and diligence.

but then..... pictured: wrecker of plans and destroyer of wallets
But as with all things, enough repetition, consistency, and realistic practicality will eventually create new habits. My spending habits are much healthier now and I've enjoyed the return of balance, security and stability.

It was especially helpful sitting down at the beginning of the year to explicitly calculate out the costs of everything I wanted to do in terms of lessons, clinics, shows, wellness therapies, shopping, and any other fun adventures etc. Knowing those numbers up front helps me make better choices, so that I can make sure the dollars are there for doing all the things that are most important to me.

that's ok, chuck, you can get your time off. also - did you know charlie is obsessed with kids??? he freakin loves them haha
5) Maintain Charlie's Wellness Plan

This is ongoing forever and ever, amen. We're signed on to an annual plan for all the routine wellness / shots / etc through our vet. He got his teeth done in February and we'll take another look at them in ~August. We did hocks this past spring too.

We've also done a few magna wave sessions, tho I'd really also like to get his regular massage lady back out. We did a tack overhaul this past winter, including one new saddle, and all seems good there. Tho I may or may not be looking into further changes in our dressage gear. Sitting in that County Epiphany at Kentucky was possibly not my best life choice LOL!

I remain constantly vigilant / paranoid about Charlie's hooves and his diet. So far, tho, both have held relatively steady even through expected seasonal changes. We'll likely switch to leather pads at some point if the ground hardens too much, but no moves there yet.

Overall, Charlie is thriving.

pictured: thriving <3 <3 <3. from one of our solo schools, makin that T happen slowly but surely
6) Invest in my Education

This objective was the most exciting to me going into the year, and so far has not really materialized as hoped.

My "regular weekly lessons" have been anything but so far this year, for various reasons. And the plan for getting at least one monthly "extra curricular" got derailed first in March after Charlie stepped on that nail. Then we had a series of unfortunate last-minute cancellations by various coaches for highly anticipated xc lessons in May...

we're gettin out one way or another! pc Austen Gage
C'est la vie, tho. Again, I'm focusing on the parts I can control: hustling to get stuff on the calendar, and doing my best to make sure Charlie and I are both fired up and ready to go when the moment comes.

The lessons that *have* happened have been excellent, and Charlie and I are doing our homework. The rest will come, right?

100% loving this
7) Focus on the Positives

Lol a theme here with the "ongoing" goals. I've worked really hard to frame everything in a positive light, even when at times I've felt extremely discouraged or depressed about missed opportunities, Charlie's health, or unplanned time off.

The reality tho is that I'm loving every moment spent with my amazing horse, and am grateful for him every day. Could we do more? Could I be better? Maybe. But where we're at is honestly pretty exciting.

positives: this T sized triple is easy enough for charlie to be #lazy about it
On one hand, it *could* be disappointing and discouraging that we've not gotten farther along toward moving up to Training. On the other hand, tho? I LOVED feeling more confident and polished, and less nervous, than ever before at our last Novice outing, and am feeling very zen about capitalizing on that mindset.

And again, I'm just trying to stay focused on the pieces I can control. Being ready and open minded for whatever opportunities may come. Because....

moar solo schooling. bc dammit, this is what i want to be doing!
8) Be Flexible

Setbacks happen. Shockingly often with Charlie, it seems. Whether it's because he keeps stepping on those freakin nails (what the fuck, Sir), or because he's finally healthy so apparently nobody is available to coach us....

You know how it goes. It's no small task to get all the stars aligned at once! I am happy with where I am at this point of the year tho.

ooooh but i also like this too haha <3
In the spirit of being flexible, I actually recently revisited my calendar and reconfigured the whole "order of operations" I planned to execute through the year. A slight change of plans, change of parameters, but all still entirely in keeping with these component objectives laid out here. More to come on that very soon tho...

and this, forever please!
9) Enjoy the Ride

For the final objective for 2019, my aim is to enjoy it. In the moment, in real time. And, honestly? It's hard not to. Charlie is hands down the best horse in the whole world and I'm so excited to see what comes in the second half of 2019, and in the years to follow ;)

the best view in the world tho <3


  1. Love this post. You are killing your goals this year.

    1. thanks! it's definitely a very different feeling than where we were midyear last year haha!

  2. Awe....your happiness and excitement for all things Charlie are palpable in this post.

  3. Love it! Love that Charlie is fit and ready to go. Sounds like you are doing amazing at re-assessing and making tiny adjustments to go with the flow but still keep your objectives in sight. Awesome!

    1. going with the flow has not traditionally been my strong suit haha, but i'm really trying!

  4. Is this the fastest year ever? It sure feels that way. You and Charlie are getting so much done, especially given how little outside help you have been able to hustle up!

    1. the year is FLYING OMG. how. whyyyyy. but it's been good ;) and thanks, i'm really proud of how well charlie's settled in despite imperfect training haha!

  5. Love It! You've even got me feeling all motivated now :)

    1. yasssss you gotta seize that motivation when it strikes ;D

  6. Those photos of you and Charlie over the yellow/black fences <333 Indeed, go out and enjoy the ride- you two are doing fantastic!

    1. ha thanks!! i love those pictures too lol. and YES we are definitely setting out to enjoy ourselves!!! ;)

  7. Sounds like you are doing a bang up job especially in the flexibility department!

    1. thanks - the flexibility has notoriously been my achilles heel. that's probably the biggest lesson charlie has taught me tho!

  8. I love this. I struggle bc I set such rigid goals sometimes and forget that life happens. Such a good reminder to enjoy the whole moment.

    1. yea that's been an issue for me too. and actually, i have all these memories of evens with charlie that *should* be happy memories, we *should* have had fun in those moments. except i was wayyyyy too preoccupied with feeling like it somehow wasn't enough, for whatever reason. but then he had his surgery and i realized that.... yea... i need to not rob myself of that joy bc who knows what life will bring next...

  9. I feel this so hard. Every time I start up my running again, and am really getting into the groove, boom! I sprain my ankle riding my horse, I get sick with respiratory things, or the weather zooms up into the 90s and my lungs refuse air. 🤦 Always something.

    I did have someone tell me Training was worth spending a lot of time working on and developing confidence, because it touches on all the basic elements in XC you'll see. Or something like that. So, maybe that's what you can tell people. 😂

    1. the setbacks can be brutal sometimes. it's hard not to think there's some sort of conspiracy, some sort of universal plan against us. i'm trying to learn patience haha, but that's hard too... in time i guess!!

  10. Fingers crossed the rest of your plans work out. it's fun following you on your journey. The next bit will be super exciting!

  11. I just love everything about this post. You two are kicking ass and I LOVE being able to follow along!

  12. I think learning to roll with the punches is probably the most important thing you can do as a rider. I haven't really, totally gotten there yet (do we ever??) but you're definitely doing a great job of it!


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