Remembering 2017; Looking Forward to 2018

These recap posts have been hard to write, so I'm using them as an excuse to post a ton of photos of this beautiful boy.
Photo by Liz Stout
I'll be honest. I'm not going to dwell much on 2017. I have a yearly recap post in the works, but it's emotionally draining and the work is coming slow. Suffice to say, this has been an incredibly tough year. Let's see how I did on my 2017 goals so I can start looking forward to my 2018.

2017 Riding/Horse Goals
(Ranked on a success scale of 1-5)
The first ride after his last set of stifle injections, and 4 days before his neck began causing severe symptoms.
1. Continue to manage Pig appropriately as a riding horse, and stay within my budget. Research ways to keep me more comfortable while doing his feet, and better ways to keep him pain free while working hard.
(3) -- I did the best I could with this goal. Everything I could manage was done timely and well. I did manage to snag a hoof stand from a friend of a friend, which has made a huge difference to my knees and has made doing feet much easier on me. Unfortunately, nothing could help the progression of Pig's neck arthritis, and I was forced to retire him. I spent more money on vets than I ever thought possible, but he kept giving me his all until he couldn't. At the moment he is as pain free as possible and living a life he adores. I could not do more for him.
Working in the double like a champion.
Photo by Liz Stout
2. Continue to finesse Pig's understanding in the double. He really started to get it this year, and I would like to see how much better he and I can get with the tool.
(5) This was a total success. At the start of the year, Pig was training the best he ever had and doing it in the double. I felt completely confident in it, and he was extremely comfortable with it. In fact, after I retired him his double became his daily bridle for my rides with him!
His changes got so good for a minute there!
3. Get those 3 changes across the diagonal for 4-1 without totally losing our brain.
(3) Oh man, those three changes. I do not miss working on those suckers! To start, I got the changes, but they were a big swerving mess. Then I tried to straighten them and they disappeared completely. Finally in our last show ever, I rode them like I didn't even care and they were pretty solid (for us).
Confirmed 4th level pair!
4. Show 4-1 at a recognized show.
(5) Not only did we show it, but we actually squeaked out a 60%! Yay silver medal score!
Getting that 4-1 score!
Photo by Liz Stout
5. Get the 4th level scores for my silver.
(3) Literally halfway there. The 59% on the better test of our second show hurts. It hurts real bad.
Retirement was a hard adjustment for us both.
6. Develop plan going forward with Pig. Will he be leased? Will he be retired? His work days are still coming to a close.
(5) Successfully retired to pasture and loving his feral life, where I'm the only human he has to interact with. It's heaven on earth for Pig.

2017 Personal Goals
This is a photo of running. It's just not me doing the running...
Photo by Liz Stout
1. Average 10-15 miles a week when running.
(4) Toward the end of the year, I had this down. I also ran a few really successful months in the Spring. Still, I needed to be more consistent, and December was a total bust. Lyra ended up having dental surgery and we struggled with weather, time, traveling, and health concerns all month. This meant I missed my mid-year goal of running 400 miles in 2017 by about 25 miles. Ouch. So close!
This dude doesn't need the gym to look buff.
2. Average 2-3 trips to the gym to lift, weekly.
(0) Nope. Ended up cancelling my gym membership and trying to get back into doing bodyweight work at home. Lifting is so fun, but I didn't have the mental capacity this year to will myself into the gym.
Another thing I'll never do.
Photo by Liz Stout
3. Run from my house to Meridian Hill Park and back. (12 miles total city running, with several huge hills)
(0) This isn't ever going to happen. The paths are impossible and I don't have the time. Plus, I'm moving.
This guy is way faster than me.
Photo by Liz Stout
4. Improve my running time back to an 8:30 minute mile pace. 
(1) I did have a few runs at this pace, but mostly I hovered around the 9 minute range. I need to lift more to drop my average more, and speed ended up not being my goal. Turns out it was more important for me to just put one foot in front of the other.
I spent a lot of time dreaming of magical times with my best partner.
Photo by Liz Stout
5. Keep average hours of sleep daily above 7 hours for a week.
(4) I actually did much better about this all year. Some months were better than others, but if there's one thing having your life turned upside down and shaken does for you is depress you into sleeping more. Yay?
Okay, fine, I read a lot of shitty fantasy novels that I won't mention....
Photo by Liz Stout
6. Read 12 books this year. 
(5) Huge success! I read 18 books and listened to 20 (including the entirety of Sherlock Holmes, because I drive a lot). I made it a goal to read 10 minutes a day, and that helped me actually make time to read. It's surprising how often 10 minutes of reading can turn into 20, and it feels like a much better use of time than scrolling through social media.
For those of you who like to read, here's a list of my favorite books I read: Hild, by Nicola Griffith; The Books of Ages, the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore; A Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. My favorite listens included: Watership Down, by Richard Adams; Tess of the d'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy; Sherlock Holmes (the entirety of it), narrated by Stephen Fry; A Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge; The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. If you pick one of these up, let me know how you like it!
Try to always take selfies with friends
Photo by Liz Stout
7. Stay open to the moments that present themselves. Don't forget to make time for friends and a personal life. It's necessary to keep me grounded.
(1) I failed big time here, mostly because it was an effort to keep myself going for most of the year. I hope all the time I spent incredibly depressed didn't drive away too many people. This year I hope to do better, but I know it will be a struggle.
The friends I wish I was heading into the new year beside.
It's funny that the start of 2017 left me feeling Pig was better than ever, and only a few short months later he was telling me I needed to start finding him a retirement landing. I had no real idea I would end the year without my best dog and my best horse by my side, but here I am trying to start over and keep a positive face on it. This past year was a bitch and a half, and I'm glad to leave it to memories and instead look forward to 2018.

2018 Riding / Horse Goals
Happy. Healthy. Retired.
1. Keep Pig happy and healthy as long as I can, and not go completely destitute to do it.

2. Take Pig out on the trail system backing up to the farm, which means I need to find someone there to show me the way.
Oh yeah! This guy.
2. Get Bast comfortable hacking on one of the medium length regular trails I would take Pig. Alternatively, hack him out 3x a month and actually leave the barn property alone without a total meltdown.

3. Take Bast off the property 2-3 times, including to a show. He needs to start figuring out how to travel to a new location and be a good citizen away from home.
More of this!
4. Take 4-5 dressage lessons with Bast.
We have a square ... ish halt.
5. Show Bast training level at 2 schooling shows, aiming for scores above 64%.
6. Find a saddle that actually fits Bast and myself, and procure it.
7. Develop Bast's connection so that he is working over his back and salivating on the bit regularly, aiming to have him ready for 1st level by the end of the year.

2018 Personal Goals

1. Run 500 miles.
2. Downsize the house and move into a 1 bedroom apartment, consolidating commutes and improving commute/life balance.
3. Read 12 more books (maybe less trashy fantasy this year, if I'm feeling up for it).
4. Keep on top of my health. I need to stop the pattern of getting laid out by a really horrific illness once or twice a year.
5. Maybe get a second dog, and if so successfully assimilate it into daily life.
6. Stay open to the moments that present themselves. Don't forget to make time for friends and a personal life. It's necessary to keep me grounded.
Come on 2018, we've got things to do!
Photo by Liz Stout


  1. love all this!! Here is to 2018 to you Austen I hope all the stars align for you and Bast and Pig and Lyra etc. etc :) Hope to see you again in 2018 too!!

  2. You overcame a lot of setbacks in 2017 and still made significant progress on your goals -- you rock! I hope your 2018 is an even better year 🙂

  3. i like #6

    i need to make some goals but like.... im tired of doing that with stuff thats outside my control and then missing.

    also 2018 we need to come up with some fair hill tailgating nonsense. can we camp there??? we need to sort this out

    1. i live 10 minutes from Fair Hill but yes we can camp at Fair Hill as well. Let's do this! :)

  4. Pig is so lucky to have a mom who does so much for his health and happiness :) I hope 2018 is a great year for you and yours!

  5. So we'll said and well written. I know 2017 was so incredibly hard for you and I'm really hoping 2018 is kinder in all the ways. You deserve it. I know it started fairly well (with snow and dog shenanigans) so I hope the magic of that environment lends itself to the rest of your year ❤

  6. i think it's gonna be a great year for you and Bast <3 and hopefully ODB and Charlie get to meet up during one or more of those "get him off property" or "get him trail riding" adventures!

  7. 2017 was a bitch for me too. I’m confident that 2018 will be better :) I can’t wait to see where you and Bast go this year!

  8. You guys got through so much this year, I hope 2018 is a big year for you and that some of the dust settles into normalcy (wtf is normalcy anyways)

  9. Excellent goals. 2017 was a little rough for me too... maybe this is our year!

  10. Hoping 2018 is much kinder for you <3 2017 was rough for me too...

  11. Fuck 2017, 2018 has a lot to make up for!

  12. Keep reading the shitty fantasy you like 😉 2017 wasn't too kind, I hope 2018 is better!

  13. Those are great goals- very SMART. :) I read very light books these days. My daily life is pretty intense so I don't want to have to think/feel too much reading.

  14. 2017 kicked me on the face and ran all over the top of me and was horrible in almost every possible way. (Except Rolex, which was fab. And ZB, obv.)

    So here's to learning to human again.

  15. Oh Austen what a year 2017 was for you! I'm excited for 2018 for you and Bast and Lyra! Hopefully we'll get a chance to hang out again! Maybe even get our bay boys together!

  16. 2017 was so, so hard for so many good people. :(

    Totally random aside, but: Bear and the Nightingale was one of my favorites of last year, too! I just read the sequel, too, and liked it very much.

  17. I just finished The Bear and the Nightingale and am now reading the second book in the series! Love it so far


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