I’m a little behind on this one, which seems to be the story of my blogging life recently. I tried to keep this pretty short and sweet, but that’s never been my forte. I was going to include a goals review in this as well, but it was far too long already.
The biggest news in January, was that J moved in with me! That was good news or the blog, because he takes 90% of the photos and videos I post. The weather was pretty nasty, and riding was limited, so in the meantime, we talked about banged tails v. natural tails and learning to just enjoy barn time and my horse’s presence without always putting pressure on myself from a training standpoint. I also introduced you guys to Lancelot, who was instrumental in my riding being what it is today, and provided my first foray into the jumpers.
After quite a bit of icky weather, things turned around and we got a lot of good work in which was great, because we had our first show since falling at a show in the summer of 2015, and I talked a bit about my worries. Even though this was supposed to be the show where we moved up, we decided that Val and I just weren’t quite fit enough to make it happen, and we put a positive experience over a move up. We did have a fantastic show though, and I got to debut my brown show coat on Sunday which was a win in itself.
The biggest news for February though, was that I bought Val on Valentine’s Day!
Discussion wise, we talked about form and function and where the line falls between functional and not as far as non-conventional and too -posed form, and I shared an interview about breeding that still gets hits almost daily.
After a short post-show vacation, we started to really buckle down again and work on some harder things. To some extent this was the beginning of me doing a lot more work on my own, since owning a horse meant I had a less flexible budget. I also did my first review post in months, and shared the magic of the SleekEZ grooming blade, and then got my wisdom teeth pulled, which was a miserable experience all around. Fortunately, J is fantastically sweet, and took me to the barn to learn to longe since I couldn’t do it myself. March was a good month for reviews, and I also posted a review of my Cavalleria Toscana jacket, and just before the month was over, I shared a recap of our first (and so far only) dressage lesson!
April found me again reveling in the magic of horses, and I shared some of my photography from a lovely spring day at the barn. Only a few weeks after taking our dressage lesson, our jumping was already improving, and Val and I continued to make good progress. Around mid April, I drove up to Katy to watch Pin Oak with a friend, and I shared a series of posts about my observations (overview, hunters, jumpers) which were fun and served as a little motivation for me to keep working hard toward our goals. On April 16th, Val turned 13 and around this same time, I began the search for new tall boots. April was full of activities, and my mama also came to visit and play around with Val, which I loved watching.
Since one of my goals for the year was to get more fit, I asked my best friend (who is also an amateur body builder) to do a guest post about weight lifting, and she put together a really thorough write-up which was a nice break from a lot of recaps.
May started out with a bang, discussing whether those with a larger social media following have an ethical responsibility toward their followers to present good safety habits, and then I introduced you guys to the red mares at Still Waters Farm after a trip to Virginia. I shared with you guys one of my favorite exercises for when I’m schooling alone or warming up this month, and then shared my experience in my first Amateur Handler class, which was sadly underattended. The second half of April involved a lot of deeper thinking or me, and I talked about learning to be OK with failure, and what I really want out of this sport.
The month was a bit of a roller coaster, between the news that Lily’s autoimmune disorder was getting the better of her, and the return of a dud pair and purchase of a custom pair of tall boots.
Technically I attended it in May, but in early June, I shared a recap of my second Ragan Roberts clinic (day 1, day 2, nuggets), where Val really stepped up and we learned a ton, and I even picked up a catch ride. This was a month with several reviews as well, and I shared a glowing review of a SmartPak halter, and a not so glowing review of EquestriLifestyle, prompted by a discussion of what to do when an online shopping experience is no good. June was a busy month for riding, and I got a lot of recaps posted chronicling our progress with stumbling along in dressage, along with our work over fences. Not every day was good though, and I talked about how to cope on the bad days to keep the job fun. After gushing about all of our progress, I spoke candidly about how Val isn’t the horse I’d have chosen for myself, but I’d never trade him now. The best part of June was the news that Lily had made a huge turn around, and was finally feeling more like herself.
In July, Val felt the need to find new ways to get out of work, but fortunately there were no major issues. I was fortunate enough to be one of the first to review Vantage Equestrian in July, and I talked about building Val’s ego over big jumps, and then jumped even bigger jumps. July was also when I began work on my mama’s farm site, and you all had some great feedback to provide, which was quite helpful in the creation process. Jumping our biggest jump yet prompted some more introspective thinking, and I posted about doing some things with my horse just because they’re fun, not because I need to, but then shortly after posted about being annoyed with my spazzy horse and reminding myself of his good qualities.
In August, I finally got around to reviewing my brown Spooks coat, and realized that every time I start to think I’m pretty good at this riding thing, I find out just how much more there is to know about finishing a horse that I’d never previously had the chance to learn. August was pretty miserably hot, and then miserably wet, but we still made some slow progress.
September was exciting with two shows back to back to prep for, and we came out swinging. There were a number of lessons, and also some working on our own, that only sometimes went well. This was also the month when I shamed my horse, which might be why he was so mad at me. Despite a less-than-stellar pre-show ride, Val was great for our first show, and he pulled champion in our division with no warm up classes. No adventure with this horse would be complete without an injury scare, and between the shows Val got almost no work thanks to a bump on his knee that fortunately went down just in time. The second show was where we finally made our move up. On Day 1 we were mostly great, and I only made a few big mistakes in our 3’6 class, but redeemed myself by winning the classic later that night. Day 2, Val was awesome, but mistakes caught up to me, and I fell off of my horse for the first time in years (not counting the time I took him down with me) but used it as motivation to get better.
In October, I decided to participate in 2pointober, and then failed at getting any times between my first and my last. Oops! October marked the official reveal of Still Water Farm’s website, and the month when Val proved just how far he’s come when we went cross country schooling. USEF put out the proposed rule changes, so we talked about that, and I remembered for the third time this year how magical horses are and how the quiet moments spent with them can be even better than the big accomplishments. Mid-month, my horse had a mental breakdown over moving to a new paddock, but after putting him back with his old friends he was right as rain.
My new tall boots finally came in October after a shipping nightmare, and I was really excited to share that experience with you guys once I’d worn them a couple of times. We had some bareback fun Halloween weekend, but then November took a turn for the worse, and I used what I’ve learned with horses to try to cope and move forward. At the end of the month, I went to San Francisco and dropped off the blogosphere for about a week, but on my return participated in That Red Mare’s Before and After blog hop. I was pleasantly surprised by the changes.
Finally, December! This month wasn’t too exciting. We finally had a lesson which was gobs of fun, I visited my family in Virginia where I received my Secret Santa gift and got to lesson with Ragan (more to come!) and generally spent time enjoying the holidays while trying to recover from the long year and prepare for 2017.
Looking back, 2016 wasn’t a huge show for us where shows were concerned, but we made an incredible amount of progress in our partnership and education, and being a first time horse owner has been so extremely rewarding, in ways I wouldn’t ave imagined.