While I don’t get into the crazy New Years Eve celebrations, I do find the beginning of the new year is a great time to look back and reflect on the past year and set some goals for the coming one.
In January of 2010, I had 4 horses: Liam, my trusty steed of many years; Cava, who was to be my next show horse but now will be showing on the Rettger Dressage team under new owner Hanna; Maddie, who I was restarting after she had significant time off and who is now being ridden/shown by Sarah; and Diamond, the beloved school horse, who has gone back to his owner of many years for a semi-retirement. Now heading into 2011, I have only Liam and Remy, a coming 5 year old making the switch from racing to dressage. I am thankful to all these horses who have taught me so much and helped me to grow as a rider, trainer, and human.
Over the past year, my little team of riders has grown significantly, both in numbers and in experience. New horses have been added to the herd, new levels have been reached, new movements have been learned. For the coming year, we have new dressage tests to learn and new competition goals to set (and reach!).
Overall, I am very satisfied with the progress made last year, and where I am beginning this year: I have a great group of riders, every single one of them is fun to work with and nice to have in the barn. I’m not sure many trainers can say that! I also have a great group of horses… no problem children, and each matched nicely to the abilities and goals of their riders. And I have two great horses for myself that I am thoroughly enjoying riding: Liam, with lots of experience and the wisdom that only comes with years spent as a horse, is the horse I can take anywhere and trust to carry me through anything, while at the same time being very demanding of me as a thinking rider to overcome his physical obstacles; and Remy, young and inexperienced, but so willing to try, with a lifetime of possibility ahead of him.
So where does that leave me? Looking forward to the show season, mostly. Since Liam’s most recent round of joint injections, he is feeling better than ever. I am planning on trying to accumulate scores toward my bronze medal with him this year. He is schooling all the more difficult movements now, but it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to put them all together in a letter-perfect test, and he is going on 16 years old now! It is more important to me to keep him happy and healthy than to get a few scores, but I am hoping if I am careful to build him up slowly and correctly he will be able to pull it off.
Remy is coming along so well, it is hard to even decide what my goals are for him. I think the top of the list is to continue to strengthen him, establish correct basics, and build a solid partnership so that we are ready to tackle new challenges for years to come. I have only just started canter work on him, but he is a quick study and catches on to new things right away, and it is easy to imagine he could be ready to compete at first level later this season.
For myself, I want to continue to develop as a rider. I would like to improve my feel and timing so that I can give perfect aids every time that set my horses up for success. I would also like to deepen my relationship with my horses and expand our experience together by participating in more clinics, shows, and trail rides. I also want to continue to develop as a trainer. I want to be the best I can for my students and their horses. I want to continue to develop my eye and my mental library of training theories and exercises to improve the horse and rider I see in front of me at any given time.
I am purposely leaving my goals a little vague because most of all, I want stay focused on enjoying the journey, one day at a time, despite my competition goals. Regardless of which test we sign up for when the time comes, I want to be able to honestly say that it’s been a pleasure getting there. I want to take my time and do things right, knowing that we WILL get there, no matter how long it takes. And I want my horses to enjoy the journey as much as I do.
Happy New Year!