A Year in Review: 2015
If you read my goal post, you'll already know that 2015 was a crazy year full of successes and new beginnings. As I like to do, let's take a closer look at some of the highlights!
I took a jumping lesson at a random barn while on winter vacation with Jen from Cobjockey. It was weird to be back in jumping tack, and also weird how much dressage improved my upper body position.
|I miss this windswept corner sometimes.|
Back at home, I talked smack about homeopathy and called out Dover for outstanding service. I also sneaked in one last ride outside before the frigid hell winter began, and later started really working on the half pass. Finally, I picked up the ride on Darius, and started learning what it's like to ride a horse who pulls on you.
|Ah, Florida. I both loveth and hateth thee.|
January also saw me venture to Florida for the first time for a week of intensive lessons and high level dressage immersion. When I returned, I began chronicling my lessons, starting with a hard look at the dressage seat. I also came home to a convalescing Pig, who had been lamed by a vicious abscess while I was away, and a huge work assignment for grad school.
Grad school, full time work, and two horses in training hit me full speed this month, and I wasn't able to post much.
|This. Basically all of this.|
However, I did check in a few times to tell you about adding swan neck spurs to our tack arsenal, how much I love Rambo, some excellent training articles, and this horse's wacky wavy mustache.
Somehow I did find time to do a few more indepth training write ups. First about working on basic transitions with my hot horse, then another Florida Chronicle, this time about legs. I also tentatively planned out my show season. At the end of the month, we found out exciting news... we would be moving to DC!
|Spoiler alert. We made it just fine, and love it here!|
This month stayed just as busy as February, but with a touch less ability to escape thesis writing by blogging complex positional theory. As such, my only Florida Chronicle dealt more with laundry than riding. Still, it's one of my favorite tips!
|It was also super cold this month, so I enjoyed looking at photos of warm Florida.|
Speaking of cold weather, I shared some great photos of the dogs in the snow, and had a fantastic ride to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Though, soon I began to worry about Pig's hind legs. The vet assured me his issue was not in his hocks, but actually the stifle. We injected, and things improved.
At the same time, I was preparing for our first show, and so had to clip off Pig's fancy Guinness logo to avoid coming up against USEF amateur rules.
|This post needed more snow-dog presence.|
Most of the month was actually filled with a ton of random (but important!) musings, like a discussion about my horse's ongoing quest to maim himself, misc. equipment changes (including moving out of the drop for good),debuting our new double bridle, and a hilarious story about getting gravel down my pants.
|Did we win?!|
This month started off at a horse show. While the drive and load in could have been smoother, we rallied and finished the first day with two blues and our highest ever score in a USDF 1st Level test.
|Also, I love this photo.|
However, I should have blanketed my newly clipped Pig, as he was too stiff and cold to really come through on Sunday. Still, I was super happy with our scores and work. After our show, my trainer gave me a little homework so that we could start working on flying changes!
|Also the weather finally warmed up.|
While all this life was going on and Spring was busy springing, I was mired in homework. My thesis papers were due and I was rapidly losing my mind to the 11th century. I tried to keep everything updated the best I could. I also really wished I could go to Rolex again.
|Grad school is.... learning which late night NPR shows go best with adding footnotes.|
At the start of May, my trainer learned that I would be debuting 3rd level at the end of the month ... and laughed at me (deserved). When I broke down what it would take to succeed at 3rd, I also started to freak out a little...
|Lots of this. All year.|
As a bit of a mental break (or: life timing sucks) my husband and I literally leapt from the horse trailer into a flight out to DC to shop for a new rental and boarding barn. While out there, I snagged a great deal on a cooler.
|Don't lie. You're jealous. Related: I do not miss that house.|
While recapped in June (and July?!), I did actually attend Harmony in the Park in May and showed 2nd and 3rd level. This probably wasn't smart, but my smart horse totally pulled it off the first day. The second day was a mixed bag, with a surprising second place in our 3rd level class and a giant middle finger from Pig in our 2nd level test.
|Love this place and show.|
I also got to meet Karen of Contact... and we made dubious adult decisions.
|Adulting, so hard.|
|"This is not the summer vacation I'd envisioned" -- Lyra|
We rolled right from unpacking from a horse show to packing for a cross country move, which was stupid hectic. Thankfully, we did eventually manage the trip and get all 5 of us (3 of us having 4 legs!) moved to the East Coast. Thankfully, Pig settled into his fancy new digs very nicely, and we both started to get back into riding shape.
|"Hai. My name is Pigwigeon the Guinness, and I learned to take off this flymask in one week. F your horse clothes."|
Of course even the bliss of an extremely fancy new place couldn't last long.
|Basically my exact phrasing when paying my board...|
Pig came down with a hellish case of rain rot, which got worse before it got better. His hock also lost a fight with ... something ... and swelled up like crazy. Thankfully nothing was serious, and we kept working through it all. We explored trails, auditioned new trainers (still stuck in the medieval period!), and found a new capacity to work in a lower frame.
|Lookin' so good. And high quality. Ha!|
My trainer's trainer (grandtrainer?) went to Pan Ams, and I shared some media. I also met Emma for the first time, and we did a whirlwind tour of equestrian statues in DC.
|This just in: Emma, we need more gelato in our life.|
|DOC is King of the Hill!|
Of course once you meet Emma, you immediately demand more fun adventures. So, Allison from PonyTude, Emma, and I headed out to audit a local clinic with the mythical David O'Connor. We had a great time, and I even drew comparisons between a jumping clinic and dressage riding.
|Beware: Rocketfuel Consumed Here|
I did a lot of thinking about products. First I reviewed two helmets, and finally decided to keep the One K. Second, I discussed the nutritional needs of thoroughbred sporthorses, as compared to warmbloods and racehorses. I also entered a nearby USDF show, just in time for my horse to go super lame and pop a splint.
Though I did the write up in September, the last week of August was our scheduled show date. Amazingly, Pig came sound the Friday before the show. I decided to ride him even though he had the new splint, and he came through with some extremely consistent tests. He stayed sound the whole weekend, though one judge decided he looked lame anyway (thanks a lot irregular medium trot) and gave us a truly upsetting score and comment sheet. Despite this setback, I learned a ton from Loch Moy and got to share a hilarious video blooper.
|So proud of this horse.|
|So calm. Much head down.|
Thankfully, Pig stayed sound after the show and we continued working hard. At a clinic with Stephen Birchall, we learned I am too reliant on my whip and need to be more aware of my weight when changing bend. We also worked on flying changes heavily, and Birchall was able to help me finally explain the concept thoroughly to Pig. Having literally worked his ass off in the clinic, Pig ended the month with an extremely sore behind...
|Biggest breakthrough all year.|
|You know what's up next...|
Things kind of went downhill in October. During a routine schooling ride, Pig kicked himself in the already injured splint and went dead lame. Unlike the initial injury, this one was not minor and quickly recovered from. Instead, he aggravated it further in some pasture shenanigans and ended up on stall rest with the vet called, and a bump so large it was sitting on his suspensory. We eventually discovered the splint bone WAS broken, but should heal easily with stall rest and preventative medicine.
|Ugh. Splint bones, amirite?|
Stall rest for a month was an adventure, with my super fit thoroughbred finally starting to act like one. In an unrelated accident, I also broke my own nose... so Pig and I ended up sharing a tube of Surpass for awhile.
|Two sad broken bones buddies...|
While Pig was sitting bored in a stall, I wrote about changing direction the right way and what we needed to do to get stronger in our Third Level work.
|I also took this photo of a happy, happy, little husky.|
Thankfully, after a full month in horse jail and a steroid injection to keep the swelling off the suspensory, Pig was released back into the wilds of turnout. Which he enjoyed. Like. A lot.
Pig did so well out on his own, that he was quickly turned back out with his two gelding buddies in his old pasture. This proved exciting. And I shared all the photos with you...
|Noooo... this didn't nearly give me a heart attack. Nope. Not at all.|
Finally back to a regular turnout schedule, it was time to start Pig back to work. As befitting his status as a very scary energetic thoroughbred, I, of course, rode him bareback in a double bridle.
|Double bridle, front boots, and bareback. Because with withers like that, you know staying on isn't as big of an issue as having brakes.|
However, stall rest had set back Pig's muscle tone and fitness quite a ways. We weren't able to just jump back into our training, which left me struggling to keep track of our progress. Because of this (and not being super rich), we missed riding in a fantastic clinic with Jeremy Steinberg. Not to be left out of the action, I did audit the whole weekend, and shared all my notes.
|I learned so much here!|
Through it all, the splint was holding up, and we kept chugging away in our daily rides. In a moment of great news, I was offered a full time job (the call came at the barn, of course)! This came at the right moment as I had just sent my saddle off to be reflocked, finding it actually does fit my horse incredibly well. At the end of the month, I finally gave Pig his first body clip of the winter season, though it was about 80 degrees.
|Employed owner, skeptical horse.|
We ended up finishing off the month with some stellar rides over Thanksgiving break, including a fantastic gallop and hilarious dog blooper.
|Life goals. Be this awesome.|
I started December off in my new office, trying to juggle my new hours, commute, and dog responsibilities with riding. This didn't go super well at first, and I apologized with hedgehogs. I did finally get into the rhythm of things, channeling my inner Joan of Arc to get it done in the dark.
|Dat half halt, doh.|
I talked some about our progresses in 3rd level work, comparing the half pass, collection, and changes with work earlier in the year. But ultimately was I ended the year with was wondering how to best treat Pig's ongoing stifle issues, something I'm still working on keeping up with. I think we can overcome it, though!
|Bring it 2016!!|