Wow- what a year! I'll admit, this time last year I was nervous. I had just made the decision that Ben needed to go into full training for a couple of months. I needed to figure out if he and I were going to jive, and to do that we needed professional help. While I was excited at the prospect of a future partnership, I was also scared that I'd find out that I'd never be able to ride him comfortably.
A few months before training in which I realize I need help:
11 Months into training:
The whole year went by quite quickly, but it was not without its struggles. Ben and I had many experiences together, but there were a few points where I felt like we were a hopeless pair. On the 4th of July, after a pretty decent week of riding, I was unexpectedly launched via a naughty buck. My already shakey confidence took a hit, but with the help of my trainer, all was well, and we kept going.
And go we did. 4 schooling shows, 1 beach trip, and a few outings to the local fairgrounds. In dressage land, for better or worse, we rode training level tests. Our scores varied widely between mid 50's at our worst and mid 60's at our best. Despite the scores, the comments were consistent: uneven, inconsistent contact, trailing hind legs, behind the aids, incorrect bend, pacey canter. These are all things we struggled with at home, so it was no surprise to see them mentioned on the score sheets.
Despite being a green as grass 4 yr old, Ben's behavior was generally quite remarkable. Yes, he did have his green horse moments. He spooked at the judges booth. He balked. He bucked. He even reared once. At the beach he got very excited and wanted to take off. He tried that same trick a few months later at Donida, too. But over all- he was never truly dangerous, and never got out of hand. Yes, it was frustrating in the moment, but it wasn't scary.
We survived. And here we are, on the first day of the new year, ready to post new goals. Without further ado:
- Continue monthly training. This has been a lifesaver for us.
- Raise our Training level scores, consistently. Of course I want to earn the highest score possible, and will always try my hardest to do so. But I will be quite pleased if we can get consistent scores in the low to mid 60's.
- Dressage Stretch Goal: Attempt a 1st Level test, preferably at a schooling show and not at home. This is going to take a TON of work to get to, but hey, I have 12 months :)
- Start Ben over low fences. He'll be 5 in April, and for cross training purposes, I think it would be a nice, fun change to do something different once a week.
- Outings: go on trail rides, go to schooling shows, get OUT.
- Outing Stretch Goal: attend a rated dressage show.
- Ride bareback. This one is an odd one, but I'll admit, I never, ever do this. I want to be able to just hop on my horse, if even to dink around at a walk.
I do not think these are incredibly lofty goals. They look kind of boring, actually. But the amount of work they are going to take makes my stomach a bit queasy.
What are your 2013 goals? Did you accomplish your 2012 goals? I'd love to know! I hope 2013 treats you and your equines well. Stay fit, healthy, and happy!