Thursday, January 31, 2013

What's With the Mare?

So since right around New Years, Cadence has been acting a bit strange.  It started off with her being a little tense during downward transitions, then she started to stiffen during downwards transitions, and before I had time to really register what was happening she had morphed into a full blown temper tantrum throwing nutbar.  This (naturally) surfaced when we went up to my coach's friend's farm (who also happens to be a two time Olympian, among other accomplishments) for a dressage lesson.  I still haven't posted the video from that day because my computer has run out of disk space, so it's stuck on the camera. Anywho, that was mid-January and we're still working through this bout of hyperactivity and attitude.

Originally, I blamed things on Cadence being in heat, and us upping the pressure on her dressage work by increasing the amount of lateral work and collection that was expected of her.  Then, I blamed it on an increase of energy due to the cold weather (which prevents them from being basketcases out of doors) and copious amounts of second cut hay- a reasonable conclusion to draw as she never protested to upwards transitions... only down!  I'd ruled out saddle fit issues, back soreness, and as she wasn't acting like it was a pain issue, teeth didn't seem likely either.  However, I'm beginning to doubt my original conclusion that teeth aren't the issue.  This original epiphany came when Cadence was flat out refusing to halt... until out of desperation I jerked back on the neck strap of her running martingale.  Then, miracle of all miracles she stood! Also, unlike your standard attitude issue, she's perfectly polite on the ground. I free lunged her today, and she would halt and back up off voice commands with me half way across the ring.... so maybe its not as attitude related as I'd originally thought.  It has only been 9 months since her teeth were last done, but she has an exceptionally small mouth (and is still relatively young) so the vet did warn me that her teeth may need more frequent attention, and alhough I'm generally pretty good at guessing what's going on with miss Mare, I'm as prone to errors as the next person.  So I set up a vet appointment for next week to get Cadence's teeth done, AND her vet check for travel papers!  Yay!!! Hard to believe it's just over a month until we leave....

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Exciting News!

First off, although looking back it seems silly to doubt this would happen, the fact that I got an email today stating that my entry to Southern Pines HT had been accepted was still thrilling news.  I think I've been in denial, not daring to let myself believe this was really happening until everything was in, confirmed, booked, etc. but now things are starting to seem real.  We just have to confirm stabling, and sort out how much hay we're bringing down and how much we'll buy down there! Wow, I'm still in shock.
Can't wait to be out XC again!

Also, exams are finally over!  And while the respite between semesters lasts a scant 2 days thanks to weather pushing class and exam schedules forward, my next semester should (theoretically) prove a little easier.  I'll write a proper post tomorrow.....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekly Schedule: Jan 21-27

Monday: Light flat school
Tuesday: Day off
Wednesday: hack
Thursday: Jump lesson
Friday: Dressage lesson
Saturday: Day off
Sunday: Jump school

I've got lots to write up, but with exams consuming my life blog posts are going to have to wait. In the mean time, here are some pics from my jumping lesson today. Cadence was a superstar, and we had a load of fun.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Exciting Stuff & Tough Decisions

Okay, so exciting stuff first, shall we?  Well, yesterday Cadence did her first set of transitions in two weeks where she stayed soft and didn't try to barge through or evade me.  Downwards transitions, I should add- her ups are always good!! Which may not seem too exciting to most, but it IS pretty exciting when you take into consideration that your horse, who recently decided to lose her past year of training and return to the bargy, rude 5 y/o phase, has apparently remembered how to act normal again.

Okay, so while all that MAY be exciting, here's the real news:
The really exciting stuff is that we may be heading down to the Carolina Horse Park in March for the Pine Top HT.  Yes, we'd only be competing at Novice (or maybe only BN depending on how the Mare feels) but really its like getting to go on vacation with your horse.  We'd head down the week before, do an XC school or two, and theoretically enjoy the sunny non-snowy weather!  If only they were on the coast...
The tough decisions part comes in because if I go down to NC, I won't be going to the Rolex this spring.  Financially, it just isn't feasible... plus, that's a lot of time off. Now to most people that probably seems like a no-brainer: to ride, or not to ride.  But for me at least, the Rolex is more than just going and watching some pretty ponies prance around all day.  Anywho, to an extent there isn't really a decision to be made, and I should (and do!) count myself lucky that I've been offered the opportunity to do something as exciting as travel 8 hours away to go school xc and compete while the rest of my country freezes their toes off.  A small part of me does still mourn the loss of Rolex though...

My own pony wins out every time... even if the jumps we jump aren't quite as exciting!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not About Horses....At All

Okay, bear with me through this little rant; it'll be over soon.
Generally, I like to keep this blog solely about horses.  After all, the purpose of the blog is to have a training journal for Cadence and I, and I like to try to keep to the point.  Well, keep to the point of the blog anyway, as I'm pretty sure keeping to the point of whatever I happen to be writing about is damn near impossible... but I digress. The reason I'm prefacing my little rant with this is because I'm about to talk about something so far out to left field it isn't even funny: gender.  The reason I'm writing this is because earlier on in the day I read a comment on the bottom of a YouTube video stating that there are only two types of humans: male and female.  Anything else, according to this person, was nonexistent.  Now that may seem like a relatively innocent comment, especially when you consider I was glancing over a discussion on gay marriage. Its a debate I generally tend to avoid (and in fact I was only watching the video because I accidentally clicked on the link below the one I'd intended to open) because it seems that when the topic of gay marriage is brought up, people just plug their ears and start shouting, and the comments section of this video certainly proved that theory true.
So why did that comment bother me so much?  Well, because it simply isn't true.  By definition, a male is someone with the chromosomal pattern of XY, and a female XX.  Plain, simple, and to the point.  However, there's a portion of the populaiton (around 0.5% I believe) with sex chromosome abnormalities.  You can have XXX, XYY, XXY, XXXX, XXYYX, etc. and while some of the more extreme abnormalities (XXXX, as an example) are significantly more rare and have lower survival rates, XXY is still a relatively common chromosomal abnormality.  So what does this all mean? This means that there is a portion of the population with neither distinctly male, nor distinctly female characteristics; right down to their genetic composition, these people aren't either gender, but are instead both.  And when you take a physically challenging condition like this and add the issue of (gay) marriage onto it, where does that leave us? In places where gay marriage is banned, how are these people treated? Its an extremely complex issue, and yet people still wind up trying to fit square pegs into round holes...
Now all of this is coming from a person with very little experience, so to speak, in this area.  In fact, I don't even know any people who have sex chromosome abnormalities, and yet to be perfectly honest, its not about that.  Its about people choosing not to listen, its about people preferring to stereotype and demonize those who are different rather than comprehend the complexities of the world, its about people trying to categorize everything into neat little boxes, and its about people jumping to hasty conclusions without fully understanding the issue at hand. Now, since this is a riding blog, I'm now going to attempt to relate it back to the horse world because these issues don't end when the discussion over religion, gay rights, genetics, and politics end; they spill over into every facet of our world.
In dressage, we see this crop up with the classical versus 'modern' dressage methods.  People have lengthy discussions and get into huge arguments over this topic, and both sides seem to believe that the other side is dead wrong.  From my perspective at least, really its a spectrum: many of the same principles are present in both types of dressage, and to be perfectly honest in my experience most dressage riders seem to fall somewhere in the middle of the classical--> modern dressage spectrum.  But we sit at our computer screens criticizing riders who have dedicated years to prefecting the art of dressage because their horse's nose tucks slightly behind the vertical, or they lose the engagement of the haunches for a few strides in the passage.  Simple errors lead to riders and trainers being called abusive, dangerous, cruel, etc. and while I think that in certain cases its probably quite right to do so (when a horse's tongue is blue, there's something wrong...) people take this WAY too far.  Perhaps I'm being a little melodramatic here, but the point of it all is still the same.  Plus, even if a rider, at some point in their career, make s the mistake of adopting a rather harsh method, that doesn't make them an inherently evil person!
Anywho, I'm still quite frustrated by this whole thing, but I think the process of writing it all out has been quite cathartic... to an extent, anyway.  I'll probably delete this post (wow, my first ever deleted post!) later on, but for now all I ask is that nobody respond with some comment about how god banned gay marriage, or something like that.  Maybe he/she did, but right now I don't want to hear about it.  Beleive what you want, and perhaps you have some concrete evidence to that effect... but do your beliefs really justify ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of people? Perhaps as a straight person who is relatively unaffected by these issues, I shouldn't get so wound up about all this.  I just hate the fact that people feel they have the right to make other people suffer and cause other people pain because they believe something should be a certain way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mystery Soreness Solved

Recently I'd been somewhat flummoxed by the fact that Cadence's back seemed to be getting worse again, in spite of the fact that there was nothing work wise that should be making her back sore (in fact her work load was a little lighter than usual), the soreness wasn't indicative of a pull/injury from slipping or something, and she had two saddles that had recently been fitted. So why then was her back sore?  Well, tonight I think I found my answer.
I was doing a light jump/stretch school with the mare tonight, and after our canter work I noticed that my saddle had slipped pretty significantly to the right... impressive considering I'd tightened my girth before cantering to help prevent this. Since I injured (broke and sprained) my foot, my left ankle has been slowly regaining its flexibility as I'm able to do more and more with it. My riding's been evening out again too, but I still am a bit uneven in the jumping saddle as I can't sink my weight down into my left heel as much.  I'd thought it had improved quite a bit, but the slipping saddle suggested otherwise.  And that's when it hit me.  Saddle slipping to the right, more weight in right stirrup, soreness on the right side of Cadence's back.... it's ME that's making her sore!
What a pleasant thing to realize- you're causing your horse pain, and to a certain extent, there's nothing you can do about it.  Even though I do stretches and such for my left foot, I won't be able to ride evenly again unless I keep working on straightening myself out in the saddle.  So to fix the problem I have to keep riding, which in turn will keep adding extra pressure to the right side of Cadence's back.  And while I know that the extra pressure is relatively negligible, and that the situation is largely due to the fact that she's sensitive and expressive, I can't ignore the fact that she's uncomfortable.  She's still in pain, regardless of why or how much.

Monday, January 14, 2013

When Things Don't Go As Planned

Horses have a way of keeping you humble, and always keeping you on your toes.  As I mentioned before, we didn't have the clinic prep I'd hoped for, but alas Saturday morning we loaded Cadence up and, after a few hours of driving  including my first freeway horse trailering experience, (btw, being sandwitched by two transport trucks as you head down the freeway on a wet road is terrifying) we arrived at the most gorgeous facility I have ever laid eyes on.  They have heat lamps above the grooming stalls....
Myself and the other riders settled our mares (4 mares, 0 geldings) into the adorable little quarantine barn,  with stalls already filled with fresh water, hay, and shavings.  Then, we humans headed off to the (fully heated) viewing room to enjoy lunch! Now when I say viewing room, really its a beautiful kitchen + dining area + living room that just so happens to look out onto the arena; viewing room just doesn't do it justice. The farm owner/olympic rider/friend of my coach's, whom we shall refer to as B, arrived and displayed her incredibly gracious disposition by ensuring we were comfortable, had plenty of tea and coffee, and that our horses had all settled in nicely.  Honestly, I think she's the nicest lady I know! Anywho, after stuffing ourselves full of food, we settled in to start watching some lessons.
My coach had also come up with one of the horses she trains, a RCMP bred gelding who's training at PSG and possibly aiming for the Pan Am's in 2015.  She and B worked on getting more expression through his changes, and sharpening up his canter pirouettes, as well as some test work.  It was fantastic to watch, even if 98% of it isn't directly applicable to us.  The next rider focused on getting her event mare who liked to pull and fall through her rider's aids a little more up in front and responsive.  They also worked on fixing some rider position issues, which was educational to watch.  As the 3rd lesson started, I headed over to start prepping myself and The Mare.
I'd decided to braid Cadence, since her mane was mid-pull and looked awful.  And while the braids were far from stellar (just simple elastic band button braids) they took less than 25 minutes.  I brought her from the quarantine barn into the fancy schmancy main barn, and left her under the heat lamp with the heat pack on her back to get her muscles nice and warm.  A little while later, it was our turn.  We headed in as the other lesson was finishing, and I quickly hopped on without taking her for a walk first, as I didn't want to interfere with the other woman's riding.  Perhaps this was part of the issue, but when I got on Cadence was immediately focused on only one thing: GO.  She was tense, but not nervous perse... just energetic.  She kept trying to barge her way into the trot, and was rather resistant to my attempts to stretch her and loosen her up.  After attempting (and quickly giving up on) a trot stretch, our lesson began.
It quickly became apparent that Cadence wasn't going to settle.  After trying to work out some of her energy by letting her settle into the canter, B decided that our best bet would be to hop off and quickly lunge Cadence, a plan I wholeheartedly agreed with.  Cadence proceeded to spend about 20 minutes jumping around on the lunge line, and when she finally appeared to settle I hopped back on.
Though she was improved, she was still not her usual self.  She was inconsistent in the contact, constantly barging or laying on me, and generally uninterested in doing anything other than running.  B had me really focus on NOT holding her when she threw her head and tried to barge through me, and ensuring that whenever she did pull I didn't give her anything to pull off of.  We mostly focused on trying to soften her and get her to flex both directions (and through transitions) without flipping out.  To deal with Cadence's horrendous behaviour following our canter-trot transitions, she had us move immediately into a leg-yield, with her nose  to the wall.  This tactic worked surprisingly well. Cadence's initial post-canter spaz was quelled by the fact that she needed to focus on moving her feet laterally, or else smack her face against the wall.  This allowed me to regain her more rapidly, as we didn't have to work through a fight after every transition. However, at the end of the ride (another 30 minutes post-lunge) Cadence still wouldn't walk.  She'd walk for a few steps, then atempt to barge off into the trot; so at this point, B suggested we put Cadence back into her stall (or cross ties, or whatever) and let her settle for 20 minutes or so before bringing her back into the arena and attempting to get some sane w/t work out of her.
After untacking, briefly heat-lamping, and then hand walking for a few minutes I left Cadence in her stall.  However, she was too busy being a b*tch to the mare next to her to really settle, so after trying to wait her out I gave in and brought her back into the main barn and left her in the cross ties.  Well, actually I made her ground tie, but that's semantics.
Thankfully when I got back on, Cadence was far more settled.  She was still a lot ruder and harder to bend than she normally is, but she was far better than she was before.  So after some walk and trot stretch, we untacked her and put her away.

From the clinic I learned the following:
-When the horse throws her head and tries to grab the reins away, RESIST the natural reaction to hold onto your reins.  If you can, apply an on-off pressure, jiggle/pop the bit, or shake them off of it.  However, if not, let it go.
-Add a little lunge work with side reins in when Cadence is in the mood grab the bit and blow through my rein-aids during transitions.  Since she physically can't blow through the side reins, this avoids 'fights' under saddle. (please note, I'm not condoning "holding a horse's head" in a curled up position, or anything of that sort.  That isn't the point of the exercise- the point is merely to let the horse bump into a rein-aid that they physically can't push through)
-Leg-hand ratio: twice as much on your legs as you have in your hands.  This is aconcept I was already quite familiar with.  However, B reminded me of the importance of the concept when dealing with misbehaving ponies that like to precede silliness with a little grabbing of the bit.
-Lateral flexion is everything.  Ensure that the horse is truly and completely soft at all times, including/especially in stretch work.  This seems fairly basic, and is something that I thought I fully comprehended. And yet when horses get strong most riders still tense up and 'hold' thus eliminating true suppleness.  A horse can't be soft when any bracing is present.  This one really 'tied it all together' for be.  When Cadence is grabbing the bit and throwing her head, I wand to brace and "hold her in".  In reality, we should be softening, adding leg, and suppling.  Hard to fight those knee-jerk reactions though!

-My lower leg needs to come back.  This is partially a saddle-related issue, but its a rider-related issue too! And as I can't afford a new dressage saddle ATM, its time to start the lower-leg struggle.
-Upper body back.  The curse for all ex-hunter riders, and many lower level eventers: the dreaded forward tilt.  I'm not dreadful about it, but tend to revert when focus shifts 100% onto the horse.  That indicates that the issue is probably still present in my normal flat work, just not to the same degree.

Wow, that's a lot of writing. If anyone reads all the way through that I'll be stunned.  Especially since the quality of writing is probably atrocious as it was dashed off in 3 separate 5-minute bouts.  Anywho, videos and pictures will come shortly.

Cadence enjoying the gorgeousness that is their grooming stalls

Friday, January 11, 2013

Not So Perfect Prep...

... to say the least.  Cadence has been in heat this past week, and while she's not overly mare-ish, she still exhibits heightened levels of -erm- tenacity. In addition her back (right loin area primarily, but also some left) has been a little sore, and while I think this has been exacerbated by her heat cycle, it proves that the issue's still there.  For example, I can prod her back and not get a reaction, but if I run my fingers (exerting a fair amount of pressure) down her back, the muscle will spasm or in other words it will appear to 'ripple' up her back. 
We've also had a decreased desire to stretch under saddle, and the very odd behaviour of her being resistant to transition into the canter, which is extremely abnormal for her.  Even when her back was REALLY sore last March, she'd canter off fine.  She'd then try to dump you, but the transition itself was never an issue.  So for a horse that regularly canters off of outside rein + weight shift (seriously... I can do absolutely nothing with my legs and still successfully aid her) this was a little worrisome.  She'll pop nicely into the canter after that first transition, but the first one's been good and awkward for the past few rides.  However, tonight she was a lot better and even offered a nice serpentine with simple changes and no crazy grabbiness, so hopefully we're moving past this!
For the past few days, I've been applying an electrical heat pad (that I keep at the barn and use for her back relatively regularly since she's a spoiled pony-face) to her back after our rides.  We also do carrot stretches every ride, and on Wednesday or Thursday I added lineament to the mix.  I noticed an improvement today, but she still wasn't 100% so I've added Traumeel to the mix and if she's still sore tomorrow, I'll give her a wee bit of bute.
Generally, I'd have the EMT (Equine Massage Therapist) out to 'treat' her, but since she works away from home (like lives in a different city) during the week, she's only available on weekends & we're leaving at 9 tomorrow morning. So that's a no-go.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Exciting Stuff

Last year, the Mare-Face and I got to do a clinic with a friend of my coaches... who also happens to have ridden in 2 Olympic games (unfortunately, her horse was injured before London), the WEG, the European Championships, and the World Cup.  If only my resume looked like that!  Anywho, luckily for us she invited my coach to bring a few of her students up to her farm, so we're scheduled to go up for a lesson on Saturday!  I've been up to the farm once before, when my coach was going up, and the farm is absolutely stunning; like take your breath away beautiful.  Plus, no complaints about the coach;) I learned a ton from her last year, and can't wait to see how this weekend goes.  And on that note, I'm off to ride. Cheers!
Just to get you all as excited as I am, I offer you this shot of the facility's exterior.  The interior's even better...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Creating the Canter

Recently in my work with Cadence, we've been focusing a lot on her canter work.  As an event horse, this is arguably the most important gait, as its the one we spend the most time in.  It is also probably the gait that has the most versatility, as the speed, length, and impulsion of the canter are all so.... influencable? Versatile? Different?  I can't really think of the word, but lets put it this way: the canter you have entering a canter pirouette versus the canter you have landing off a galloping fence are almost like two different gaits.  They differ in impulsion, speed, and length in a way that is unattainable in the trot or walk.  Unless you have a STB, that is.

With the basics now in place and (relatively) consistent, we've been able to move on to some more challenging work, such as lengthens, shoulder and haunches in, and a little half-pass... though that's still pretty green.  In our jumping, angled fences, bending lines, skinnies, and corners have been introduced and with the level of the work increasing, the need for her canter to improve became apparent.  It wasn't like there were holes in the canter work perse, more like we just needed to bring the canter to the next level as well.

Now Cadence's dam is a TB out of steeple chase lines on her dam's side, and A Fine Romance as her sire.  So even though Cadence is half Holsteiner, she prefers the long, flat, and open stride of a TB gallop.  We spent basically the first year and a half working on setting her canter back into something a little more collected and relaxed.  When she's there, she's got a lovely canter... but her preference is definitely to flatten out and lengthen.  She's always been fussy about sitting her canter down, and we've spent a long time slowly building that canter.  We'd start by just bringing it back for one or two strides in our jump schools, letting her out as soon as she came back.  Then slowly, the length of time we'd bring her back for increased, and we started adding it into our dressage schools as well.  Eventually we'd progressed to collecting her up for transitions, which brought about a short period of breaking every time we collected, and set us back for a few weeks.  Howevr, bit by bit the canter improved.

In the past few weeks, I've noticed the biggest improvement in her canter.  About a month ago, we spent a few flat schools working on collecting her canter, spiralling in on a circle, transitioning to trot, and then spiralling out. This combination of collection, transitions, and getting her onto my aids, made quite the improvement to our canter work.  Around that same time, we started working on building different canters in our jump school- cantering down a line in 4 strides, then in 5, and so on.  Last weekend, we even managed to fit 6 strides in a 4 stride line!  Quite a feat for a horse that kept putting in 3 at the start of the lesson....

Another big improvement to the canter came when we did a simple exercise- simple changes on a serpentine.  The first time we tried this it was dreadful.  To do this exercise well, the horse really has to collect and stay soft through the transition, because you only have 2 or so strides in which to prepare for the next canter transition.  As we worked on this, we'd start off by getting maybe 1 or 2 good transitions per school.  Then after about a week and a half, we were able to do 2 serpentines with only 1 or 2 poor transitions! As this progressed, magically so did other aspects of the canter.  The next time we tried the relatively simple (yet challenging for us) exercise of collecting through the short end and lengthening down the long wall, we were magically able to not only lengthen, but come back again! Witchcraft, I tell you.

Anywho, the canter really seemed to come together for us this weekend.  On Friday we rode the same collection on short end lengthen on long sides that we'd done previously, but we added 10m canter circles in the corners to our canter warm up.  This really got her balanced and on my outside aids, and resulted in a beautiful lengthen and even better collection.  Then today in our jump school, we did some bending lines and 2 stride triple combinations that required me to set her canter properly.  I screwed it up a few times, but in general she was fabulous.  We ended by cantering an oxer out of 10', 12' and 13' canters and Cadence was brilliant.  So while we still have a long way to go, its fun to see something we've struggled with pull together.

Little baby canter lengthens from my ride on NYE.  
Wow, that's really dreadful image quality... they're video stills from a video my cousin shot for me on my phone.  Ah well... if I were technologically savy enough I'd just post the video, but since I'm not we're stuck with this.  Funny, it looked like more of a lengthen in film.  Here it just looks like a slightly rangy canter!  At least her butt's engaged...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Goals and Resolutions... 2013 Style


As I write this in the wee hours of the first morning of 2013, it strikes me how odd and wonderful perspective is.  This time of year brings about our tendency to reflect, both on the positive and the negative.  Its interesting how if I were to judge my past year simply on the goals I laid out for myself, it would have been quite the failure.  Yet in that year, I accomplished more than I could have hoped for, had an extremely successful season with my mare, made lots of mistakes, and did lots of things well, and most importantly, ended the year with myself and my loved ones (both two and four legged) happy and healthy.  So really, what more could I ask for?

Anyhow, this post will be long enough without me rambling, so lets cut to the chase.  I set resolutions (personal things I'd like to change or do better) and goals (riding related things to work towards achieving).  The division makes sense to me, so lets just leave it at that.  To view how the 2012 goals and resolutions went, click here.  I gave it its own post because, well, this one ended up being really fricken long.

Resolutions for 2013:
1) Go to the gym twice a week.  
I tried (and was moderately successful) this in 2012, and it went well till about mid-summer when it started to go down hill.  Crazy work load at school dumped this baby right off the tracks.  So starting in February (for life-related reasons) I would like to go to the gym 2x/week.

2) Focus more on health and nutrition.
Not too many resolutions for myself.  Last year I got sucked into the festivities and went WAY overboard in terms of goal setting and resolution making.  This year its simple- eat better and exercise more.  I know 'focus on health and nutrition' is vague, but really awareness is the precursor to change, as awareness leads to information.  I'm not 100% sure WHAT changes I need to make regarding my eating habits, so for now I'd like to just be aware of them.

Goals for 2013:
1) Keep Cadence sound, healthy, and happy with her work.
Really, this is the most important one.  If I get nothing else done this year except for this goal, I can count myself lucky.

2) Keep RFTGU going until 2014.
2014 seems so far away, and yet I guarantee that at this time next year I'll look back on that statement and laugh.  I've loved this journey that's arisen through keeping this blog going, and while I'm completely aware that from a social media perspective this blog is an inconsequential little nothing, my sole goal here has always been to simply keep a record of my life with horses.  So from that perspective I think thus far its been relatively successful.  Next year will bring some major changes to my life, changes that will probably cause this blog to be moved to the back burner.  All I can hope is that next year I'll be sitting in this same position writing about another successful year of blogging, riding, and well... life, but you never know what the future holds.

3) Compete at first level, and do more than one dressage show.
We seem to do one dressage show in the spring, and then kind of forget about it... but now that I have a (somewhat) trained horse who's on her way out of the green bean baby stage, we'll actually get to... providing things go as planned... have a somewhat normal season in which we do things like plan out what competitions we're going to go to more than one week in advance ;)

3) Compete in meter jumpers.
Show jumping is my least favourite part of eventing.  There, I've said it.  So really, I'd like to try to focus on it a little and improve that area a bit more.  I think having a show incentive would be a great push in the right direction. And 1m seems like a reasonable height, considering the fact that Training level might possibly if things go REALLY REALLY well be on the horizon for late in 2013, and that jumper courses are naturally a lot more technically challenging than stadium courses, so I definitely wouldn't want to go higher.  Ideally we'd start out with .96m jumpers to get a feel for 'real' jumper stuff and work our way up to the 1m classes.

4) Complete a T3D
Every year I like to set an ambitious, challenging yet not completely out of the realm of possibility (just out of the realm of LIKELY possibility) goal.  Shooting for the stars and all that.  If I were to be perfectly honest (and why wouldn't I? That's kind of the point of this blog...) running the training 3-day at the KHP would be like a dream come true.  Will I be supremely disappointed if it doesn't happen? No.  But it can't hurt to try.

So on that note, I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2013, and I can't wait to see what this new year has in store!

2012 Goals and Resolutions Revisited

2012 Resolutions:
1)I'd like to continue on with the 'drink more water' resolution from 2011, but this time make it more quantifiable.  I'd like to drink two glasses of water/day.  Yeulch.
Well, I've basically rid myself of my hatred of water thanks to two years of hard work.  Did I drink 2 glasses a day? No, so technically this was a fail.

 2)Work out 2x per week.  I think I can manage this one, and I think it'll be helpful in regards to both my riding and my overall health.  This may sound odd coming from a 5'9 105lb girl, but health isn't just about weight, and while I may be thin I also eat awfully which brings me to my 3rd resolution.
Oddly enough, it was summer that killed this one.  Normally I run on the treadmill, but the weather was just so fine I couldn't quite bring myself to go to the gym... only I didn't exercise outside either.  I did get back into it, only to have my efforts squashed by my dreadful fall semester.  At least we're almost through it!  I plan on recommencing this one in February.

3)Stop being such a mooch.  I'm an awful mooch; I jus see food and have this uncontrolable desire to eat it!!! It doesn't really matter whose it is, so long as it ends up in my mouth.  I have poor impulse control; this is my attempt to correct it and do something for society as a whole simultaneously.
Yeah... fail. Big a mooch as ever, but I decided I don't really care.  I love food, and it pains me to see other people eating delicous stuff that could be in my mouth.  So what's the harm in asking?

4)Eat healthier.  Another one of those unquantifiable/unqualifiable resolutions.  MAYBE I can make it quantifiable by 2013 ;)  (I seem to have a penchant for goals that area easy to say 'yeah, I totally did that' without REALLY doing it...)
I really like cookies... and carbs... and most things I'm not supposed to eat

2012 Goals:
1) Compete at 1st level.  A challenge? Yes.  Doable? I think so.  
Well, we ALMOST got there... but I opted for an XC school instead :)

2) COMPLETE an event, and hopefully pick up some ribbons.  I'd like to be successfully going Entry by the end of the season, and MAYBE try a PT.  Maybe.  That's not a goal, just an 'outline'.

We completed this goal, and then some!  With two firsts, one sixth, and a tenth place all in hte span of a month and a half, we had quite the season.

3) Go camping with Cadence, or go on a fox hunt (or training hunt) with Cadence
Fail.  I don't think I'll ever be able to take Cadence camping; she's just not that type of horse.  A hunt or something along those lines would be fun though.
4) Get a car... it would make my life oh so much easier.
I still don't own my own vehicle... so another fail.  I really can't afford the insurance at this point in time though, so I'll have to stick with carpooling, borrowing, and public transit ATM.

4) Keep RFTGU going until 2013!  What an odd thought... 2013.  How time flies when you're having a good time.
Success!  At times I most certainly let the blog slide more than I should have, but to be perfectly honest, that's just a part of life.  I lead an incredibly busy life between school, horses, volunteer work, music, and a few fun side projects.  I'm also absolutely dreadful when it comes to doing anything on a regular baasis.  So in short, I'm kind of stunned I've kept the blog going for as long as I have.