2015 was a year full of lots of ups and downs. I made lots of progress, but came to the big and not-my-favourite realisation that I hadn’t quite been doing right by Murray. We managed to make some good adjustments and finish the year on a high note though! For a quick recap of my year, I made a video. All the nitty gritty details are below.
I started January off with a few schooling adventures away from home and thinking about how Murray and I had slowly been making progress. Evidently I thought highly enough of him to say that nothing bothered him, ha! I participated in almost every one of Beka’s Blog Hop questions, I also wrote about how to be a good competitor, and the six stages of the OTTB connect cycle, oh and I mocked people who try to defend not wearing a helmet for stupid reasons.
angry, one-stirruped, weirdly nice jumping
In February I went to a show, did hills at my trainer’s and audited a Hawley Bennett clinic, which made me think really hard about riding with some BNTs in the future. I pondered the bad behavior a certain pony tends to show away from home, and asked for your help training my horse to be a show horse. I wrote about my scariest story from Africa, polled you on show names, and decided that riding with BNTs cane be awesome and worth it.
In March I went to Italy, lost my phone, and got turned down for a job I wanted, but also came to the realisation that I’d be sticking around in grad school for a little longer than I initially thought. So not all bad things. I took some pictures of the moon at sunset (I will be trying that again this year and even have a better location lined up for it), and got my knickers in a twist about integrity and showing. I put together a progression post a la SprinklerBandit and the end of the month brought with it PONY CAMP!!!!!!
April was a big month for me. I took Murray to the vet clinic for a pre-purchase exam and he passed with flying colors — phew. Unfortunately, I then still had to negotiate his price and write the check — NOT the order I would recommend doing those things in. The whole PPE-purchase-waiting-game experience with Murray was a ten on the pain scale for me, but I also discussed how one person’s ten is not another person’s ten. I wrote about why I hate loris tickling videos and other forms of wild-animal exploitation, the ever-important trust bank, and ten things I hate about dressage.
Before I started writing this I could have sworn I bought my horse in May, but I suspect that is because May is when the “you just bought me, welcome to the REAL WORLD” shit started to go down. Murray and I started to have refusals all over the place, which I imagine was Murray’s way of putting his foot down and telling me I was not riding right and to get my shit together. I wrote a Throwback Thursday post about May 2014 which was also terrible, and concluded that May is just cursed. I identified some non-trainer approved moves I was busting out that Murray probably didn’t appreciate, got trashed and wrote about my RBF.
June was all about show prep, as I got ready for my first rated event at my favourite venue ever. I also got to play with new baby horses! I rode gridz and we bossmareupped.
The month of the fateful Camelot Equestrian Park Horse Trials. I fell off my horse twice, cried (repeatedly, for different reasons), threw an adult tantrum, and it took me a little while to get over it, but my real life and blogland friends were crazy supportive. I hosted my first ever blog hop — Everyday Fail — and started to struggle back to a positive mental state for jumping. A huge fire not 15 miles from our barn forced evacuations and we had a not-so-great cross country outing that made it really clear to me how important my sense of humor is when riding Murray, but I worekd on
I signed up for another rated horse trials at the end of August, at a venue much closer to home, and to prepare went XC schooling — this time all by myself. Schooling on my own took a ton of pressure off me compared to schooling in a group, and really let me nail down some problems that Murray and I had been having. I also got ready to move, and wrote about one of my favourite chimp friends in Africa, Jane. NorCal OTTB launched our new website and blog, and realised that signing up for a horse trials over the weekend I was supposed to be moving was the worst idea ever. My friends came to the rescue, and despite a minor technical bobble my weekend ended very well.
It took me until September to realise exactly what I had done to Murray at Camelot and how much work I had ahead of me to get Murray to the mental and physical strong point that I wanted for him. The August show was a big part of this realisation, and I adjusted my expectations for the next year based on that experience and worked hard to re-learn how to ride my horse and give him the ride he needed. I picked up a project horse, the Peanut, and thought about integrity, how horses and riders mirror one anothers’ personalities, and the inexorable maze of stairs that are progress in riding as an adult amateur. Oh, and I turned twenty seven!
October quieted down, and I made the tough decision not to attend another show in 2015 based on my finances. Instead, I schooled dressage a lot and started to work on my First Level dressage goals. I started prepping Murray for his eventual body clip by shaving random patches of his body, and then I immediately regretted it. We continued to progress in our jumping and I managed to encourage Murray to start taking the long spot instead of always shrinking his stride and getting suuuper deep to the fences. I also took some cute dressage pictures for once!
I clipped Murray in the first week of November using nothing but carrots, show sheen, patience, and pure fucking determination. Murray ripped open his face (clever boy!) and destroyed my First Level debut dreams, which was okay I guess. I went to a jumper show and still had refusals at 2’6″, which I had hoped to be totally conquered and over with by now, and I continued to struggle a bit with my jumping and figuring out the best way to communicate with Murray.
December dawned frosty and cold, and I promptly trained my horse to buck when he didn’t feel like moving forward going left *clap clap clap*. I got PUPPIEZZZZ and attended a clinic that really hammered home the principle that PRECISION IS KEY. I got to take Murray to dressage camp and my MIL hammered home the same message over four rides.
Well, 2016, you have arrived. Let’s bring it on and continue to kick ass!