2017 is coming to a close, and while I’ve been really excited to look forward to 2018, first I think it’s important to look back and acknowledge my accomplishments this year.
2017 started out with me being in a pretty low place. Sure, I had accomplished a lot in 2016, especially when it came to my confidence in the saddle, and I’d had a stellar show year. But I’d also taken a lot of hits that year when it came to my personal life. Still fresh was the loss of William, the horse I had been leasing-to-own until his unexpected passing. I didn’t know how or when my trainer and I would start horse shopping again, and with that up in the air, I wasn’t even sure if I’d have a 2017 show season or not.
But, I had my first ride on Prada in January at my trainer’s suggestion. She wasn’t really what I thought I was looking for, but I figured since she was already at my barn, trying her out would at least give me something to do until Misty and I could plan a trip to look at horses. Instead, I fell in love with her, and bought her in mid-February.
Our first horse show of the season is tomorrow. Prada and I have been putting in a lot of hard work to prepare, but I’m also trying not to put too much pressure on us. Last year I had a really successful show season but I was in the Beginner division on a different horse (who is a totally different ride – not better or worse, just different) whom I’d been riding longer than I’ve been riding Prada. This year I’ll be showing in the Limit Rider division, and while I don’t think the higher jump height will be a problem, I do expect the competition to be a little tougher. While I only got to ride Merlin for one season, Prada and I will have many years together to figure each other out (which we’re still doing) and to bring out the best in each other. So this year my goals are very modest. If we don’t bring home great ribbons at every show, it’ll be ok – we’ll still be learning and making progress every time. Our real competition is ourselves.
I’ve now had two lessons on William since he moved to Applewood. Already, I’m getting more used to riding him, and my confidence is growing again. I did have one of Misty’s working students ride him for the first time right after moving to Applewood, just in case because I’m a weenie, and then had her other working student ride him again after all the jumps were rearranged, also just in case because I’m a weenie. Both times, William didn’t bat an eye at anything, of course. So, once I was convinced that William wouldn’t spook at any of the jumps, I felt better about jumping him myself.
One of the most important things in the search for a new horse is that I have to find something that will help build my confidence rather than something that will defeat it. Although I don’t really have any fears of working with Bunny on the flat, when it comes to jumping with her, she’s unfortunately a real confidence buster for me. Merlin, on the other hand, has been a huge confidence booster. My trainer thinks that Willie is a good match for me and will be great for my confidence. Saturday was the first time I rode William, and it went really really well. So I’m not sure why today when I got on him for the second time, I felt like I needed to take things slower.
Like probably any horsecrazy woman will tell you, my obsession with all things equine started at a very young age. Despite not having horsey parents, I was drawn to horses as early as I can remember. My poor parents probably hoped it was a phase (especially as more and more Breyer horses started taking over my play space) – but it wasn’t. And finally, when I was eight years old, I was old enough to start taking riding lessons.
Although I was never really keen on showing as a child (it gave me way too much anxiety!), I was a confident, fearless rider. I always wanted to jump higher, canter faster, ride as often as possible, and do anything and everything with horses. Continue Reading→