2016 Year in Review

I know a lot of people have been complaining about 2016, labeling it as a year best left in the dust. While I can see the point of those statements, I think it's best to appreciate every year for what we did and learned rather than writing it off. So with that: Here's 2016 in review!


We kicked off the year with a visit from the vet, confirming Pig's suspected diagnosis of "being real old." We developed a comprehensive conditioning and treatment plan to get the old man back in full work after his substantial time off at the end of 2015, including estrone shots, hock injections, and lots of hill work.
Hello year; Goodbye money
Of course some of that was put on hold when DC was hit with one of the top 5 blizzards to hit the Northeast in US history! Of course, I had to write about how the huskies and I enjoyed the experience, complete with plenty of photos of happy snow dogs.
The world always needs more snow dogs.


By the start of February, I was starting to worry about how little muscular improvement I was seeing from Pig. But I wrote about what I was doing to support his development, and gave myself permission to rethink stifle injections at the end of the month. To help me better track the improvement, I started posting each ride recap as a haiku. Honestly, best idea ever.
Also had to start riding in the morning before work to avoid the hell-traffic that was DC post apocalyptic snow storm. 
My mind wandered while we laid down some repetitive rehab work, and I wrote about methods of shortening reins, imagined Irish myths in the epic blizzard melting mists, and compared Pig to a cartoon character.


The realities of planning for show season hit me this month, and I debate whether I should show in the double. Deciding to give the whole thing a test run at my barn's winter schooling show series seemed like a good idea-- though Pig disagreed. Still, I learned a lot from that test and poured myself continuing to strengthen Pig's hind end. Mainly by channeling my inner Ingrid Klimke.
Looking like a BAMF
Show season beckoned harder. I broke down awards I could go for, and took a couple of lessons with Stephen Birchall. During the first, Pig attempted to toss me through an open window while executing a particularly exuberant change. During the second, I tossed on the double and we worked hard on furthering our work with some foundations.
Well, that's one interesting diversion on the path to success... 

Our first show snuck up on us in April. I prepped as best as I could. Pig started on Adequan, and we planned to show in the double. Of course, the best laid plans all go astray sometimes. The weather ended up pushing us to haul in the night before, and everything was a rush. The show day itself was frigid with blowing snow, but Pig and I made solid use of our history of training hard in all weather.
A 62% at 3rd? We'll take it! 
We left Morven Park with only one score missing from my Bronze medal, and the feeling that just maybe we might be capable at 3rd. Then we piled on all the horrid color combos we own and destroyed your retinas with this classy photo...
Don't lie. You love it.
Just a week after our show, we once again braided up, this time for a clinic with the indomitable Janet Foy. I can't lie, I was extremely nervous the clinic was going to be a giant disaster, but Pig and I somehow passed Janet's scrutiny.
Horse looks like his brains are installed. No worries. That's a lie.
She was very critical of us, but gave a lot of great feedback and ultimately declared us capable if a touch wild. I wrote up the lessons I audited in two incredibly full posts (post 1, and post 2), but I never managed to write up our lesson. Instead L and Emma and I had a ton of fun in D.C.
Like. A lot of fun.
Pig may have disagreed.
While I recovered from the craziness that was April, my little wolves took over the blog and wrote about their insane lives as barn dogs in the nation's capital. Really, I think they just felt the need to share adorable photos of themselves in downtown D.C.

After the wild days that were April, you'd think May would be quiet. You would be wrong. We started off by calling the vet back out and injecting Pig's sticky stifle. Of course, Pig is extremely ticklish around his stifles so we ended up having to drug the crap out of him. Amazingly, he still found it possible to kick, even though he was so drunk he could barely stand. This horse, man. Dedication is his thing.
"I'm not drunk! I'm just sleeping" -- every drunk and punchy pig-headed Irishmanhorse ever
  Then, for my birthday Pig gave me the gift of a minor colic and the onset of horrible hives (requiring an emergency vet call! hooray!), but I also managed to pull together the photos from our April show. The hives continued right up to our next show, as did an incredible month-long rainstorm.
Happy birthday to meeeeeeeeeeee!
Finally giving in to popular demand, I published a braiding tutorial for my style of big fluffy Dutch braids.
These braids!
And we headed out to Morven Park again, this time to meet with Jan and Penn for PVDA Spring. The nasty weather made it feel more like we were fording a river than performing a dressage test, but we managed to pull out all the scores for our Bronze, plus the scores for our 2nd level rider award. There were many awards (and I won a wine glass and a cheese plate! Score!).
But seriously, guys. The rain was ridiculous.
At the end of the month I wrote out the long history of Pig's injuries, arthritis, and training. Ultimately ending with a love letter to this silly horse, who has never given up on me.
And I love him for it.

All the awards we finished in May arrived, and I wondered how you approach riding when you've accomplished all the goals you set. Ultimately I decided those awards are amazing, but don't mean we have to stop immediately. I said I'd look into leasing him, but let him tell me where we headed.
Spoiler alert, he's not ready to quit yet.
Liz ended up swinging through DC, so I roped her into auditing a Stephen clinic and hanging out with Emma! Obviously it only took a little more pushing to get her to take a mini ride on Pig and go for a trail ride.
Loved watching these two go!
Unfortunately, Liz missed my torture training session with Stephen. While Stephen expressed excitement over Pig's muscling and fitness, he schooled us both at the counter canter for what felt like the rest of our lives.
So much cantering. It's a damn good thing this horse and I were at peak fitness!

I wrote a bit about the unique markings that can be found in the thoroughbred lines, pointing out where they appear on Pig. Then, I released the amazing family photo's taken by Allison of Ponytude's husband during our busy April.
Because these "kids" make my life awesome.
Finally, Emma, Megan and I wandered out to Virginia to watch the Olympic qualifier at Great Meadow. I had way too much fun stitching together a slow motion video of the rides and posted it.

This month was outrageously busy, but I didn't manage to post much. What I did get out was a piece about the process of being awarded my bronze.
Yay lapel pin!

Finally I got around to posting some quick updates. Then I wrote about a quick jumping session I got to do with Pig, even though his jumping days are long over. He had so much fun!
Somewhere in those updates I might've mentioned kicking ass at another dressage show...
At the end of the month, I started recapping my early August endurance ride experience with Liz! We rode 30 miles through the West Virginia mountains, and I learned a ton about a totally new discipline.
Q and I had a blast!
Photo by Becky Pearman

After much delay, I finally finished my endurance ride recap. This ended up getting picked up by a bunch of Facebook pages, Horse and Eventing Nation. My blog traffic exploded. Though my time was still short, I managed to squeak out a quick post about how Pig and I's training was going, hinting at the good work we were laying down.
Do we look like a pair messing around with piaffe/passage? Cause we were...

I wrote nothing. So sorry, guys. Life got a bit crazy.
Just imagine that it looked much like this...

I started reflecting on the year early, by looking at how cyclical our training had become. Then I wrote about the development of my understanding of the dressage frame. Both may have just been an excuse to post some old photos of Pig.
And some other ones from our summer show!
Photo by Redline Photography
I continued writing love letters to my ridiculous horse, showing the world just how cuddly he can be. Then, the fluffy posts were over. Stephen was back and we had to get back to work. Our lesson was mostly theory, but it's been helping Pig and I continue to make positive progress in all parts of our training.
Stephen is basically our relationship counselor.
Speaking of positive progress, the year ended with a look at our goals for 2017. I came out and said we're pointing ourselves at 4th level, a thing I said wasn't possible earlier in the year. What a crazy ride!
Cheers to you, 2016!!


  1. You accomplished so much this year! Here's to more awesome in 2017! <3

  2. I'm so excited to follow along via blog and IN PERSON this year as y'all pursue your 4th level goals and dreams. Looking forward to a year of seeing more of you IRL. Pointy eared howling things and all.

  3. What am amazing year. And that last picture 😍

  4. What a fantastic year, even if it had its ups and downs. Here's to a great 2017!

  5. So many awesome memories!! 2016 definitely seemed like a great year for you and Pig - I'm looking forward to seeing how things unfold in 2017! Hopefully including many more opportunities for getting out and about with the ponies!!

  6. I love tracking with you guys. It's inspiring to know that someone else with a sensitive fellow is getting somewhere. ;-)

  7. You had a great year!! I'm so glad we met up and had fun at Devon!

  8. Yeah 2016 wasn't awful, some awful things happened but a lot of good came of it (like all the drinks and foods I had when I saw you!)

  9. Congrats to a great year and can't wait to see all the things y'all accomplish in 2017


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