I saw a yearly review in this style on a couple of other blogs and LOVED it. So here’s our year in review — what we did, how we did it, and sometimes, how we got there.
It’s cold and miserable and Murray has a bucking problem. His hammies are tight and his back is tight and he hates dressage. He luxates his patella two days before the first schooling jumper show of the year, so travels there just to wear his new cooler and practice being a Good Boy Away From Home. We are jumping 2′-2’3″ in lessons. I work religiously on desensitizing him to the silly things he is still afraid of.
Murray free jumps 4′ over a 3’3″ oxer, then throws a 45 minute tantrum over a 2′ tire jump (solved with a single cookie). We go XC schooling and Murray rolls after a cooling dip in the water. No problem — it makes us slightly internet famous and we get featured on Bad Eventer. The XC school is super awesome and we jump a bunch of BN jumps in addition to the baby intro ones.
Lots of dressage and jumping practice this month. We go to a local combined test and while Murray auditions a couple of new movements in the dressage — cow kick at M, buck and X — he locks onto every stadium jump and goes double clear and I cry in happiness during our cool down.
Murray and I spend three nights and two days at sleep-away eventing camp! We do galloping pace exercises, school dressage and stadium away from home, and lots and lots of cross country. We fix Murray’s bucking problem with a Come To Jesus ride by my barn manager’s velcro-butt daughter. We go to an Yves Sauvignon clinic and he declares that Murray “Will be good, if he can ever get over himself.” We jump 2′-2’6″ at the clinic. We sort out Murray’s bucking problem in dressage and figure out a soft contact and it feels amazing.
I fall off of Murray five times in four days, and he elbows me in the face while I’m taking off his bell boots so I have a nice shiner to show for it. We’re going through a rough period: he is refusing left and right, even in the middle of combinations. I fly over his shoulder repeatedly. I finally cave and change his bit to a loop gag that works really well. We go XC schooling with friends and Murray melts down repeatedly, backing himself around the course and forgetting how to go forward, and our friend has to literally pony us over jumps. However, Spring has treated him very well, and his body transforms into that of a real horse apparently overnight.
Daniel Stewart gives a clinic at our barn and it is super fun! Murray and I do lots of dressage to prepare for the coming horse trials, and finally nail a through, balanced trot-canter transition. In our jumping lessons, Murray pulls and rushes a lot. He still melts down on the reg and will back around in confusion, which I cannot get to the bottom of. I chase him to jumps, and wonder if he’ll ever be able to clear 2’6″ because at the moment, it seems like a herculean effort. I decide to compete at intro for our first event in July.
Photo courtesy of Hunter Drost
Murray and I go to our very first horse trials and compete at Introductory and it is amazing. I lose it a bit schooling the XC course the day before the competition, but once Alana reminds me to actually ride, Murray jumps happily over everything. Murray is obedient and amazing in dressage, forward and happy in XC, and ever-so-slightly-crazy but locked-on in stadium.
I spend half of the month in Vietnam at a conference, and Murray is ridden by one of the very responsible teenagers at the barn. He spends the time being spoiled by her and jumping much higher than he needs to over everything. He is even softer and quieter when I come home than when I left. We have a week and a half to get ready for our next horse trials after I get home.
We go to another horse trials at intro and have an absolute dressage meltdown. Murray behaves poorly and I behave even worse. I cry about it. Murray redeems himself on XC and in stadium by going clean and clear (but I accidentally rock the deep-V on my polo in stadium), and we get serious about this Dressage thing. I go out of town a lot.
In preparation for our last show of the year, Murray and I have an amazing stadium lesson wherein we jump 3’3″. It feels totally easy for him. At the show, we have our best dressage test ever, despite some baby moments, and curiously have some run-outs in the stadium/XC portion. We spend the rest of the month hardcore dressage queening, prepping for our upcoming lesson with Tina.
After almost a year, Murray and I take another lesson with Tina Stewart, and she declares him a star! He has finally figured out that it isn’t the end of the world to be through and bending. We start working on haunches-in at the walk. We work on keeping him packaged in stadium, so he’s got good impulsion but isn’t rushing. I start blogging much more frequently!
A fairly quiet month with lots of turnout for Murray with his new best friend, brother in arms, and playmate Connor. I’m reminded to keep myself humble when I see pics and realize that, despite great progress in both dressage and jumping, Murray has goaded me back into some bad habits and I’ve gotten a little overconfident in his skills as he is, after all, five. I made a lot of mistakes this month, but Murray forgave me, and we seem to be back on track. C’est la vie — mistakes are part of my life, certainly — and I’m lucky that I have a forgiving enough horse that they aren’t the end of the world. In January, we get back on track.
In summary: This is my pony. I love him.