2018, in summary

It is tempting to just brush away 2018 and fill the horse-shaped hole in my life with seven new dogs. But when I had a look back at my goals list for last year, I was not as disappointed as I thought I would be. Goal setting and review is an important part of the learning process for me. I was not so blindingly optimistic at the beginning of 2018 as I have been in past years. Apparently a little bit of the realities of pony life had sunk in, and I was thinking in a more holistic way about my own goals. Let’s do more of that this year!

fave show picture by far

Five year goal (Murray) — have the horse competing at training and being a real solid horsey citizen, know if the horse can go prelim or not

Obviously, that’s a wash. Though I¬†do have an answer about whether Murray can go prelim.

Five year goal (Nicole) — savings habits (shooting for a rig by 2023), career position, being less of an idiot with money

Moving to Oregon and changing jobs made my actual savings take a huge hit this year, but my savings habits are¬†way better in spite of that. I’m definitely in a new career position, one that seems like it could be pretty incredible. It’s to be seen if the truck and trailer will happen any time soon, but we’re definitely on track here.


“this horrifying transformer sometimes dispenses cookies!”

We started the year barefoot, barely in work, and not toootally sound. But things were looking up, because taking a new training approach to Murray’s fear of girthing and new things was actually going really well. The Good (equine) Citizen With No Shortcuts program was on track. We developed a lot of¬†patience while tied, and I was actually able to tack my horse up at a straight tie ring like a normal human. LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN. Or equestrian, whatever. The leg hole healed up, and after deciding that Murray’s feet were doing well but just not well enough to hold up to being barefoot, we threw the shoes back on and got back to work.

favourite funny horse pic this year — yeeeaaah, that was easy
(also, future horse requirement: does not lie down on XC)

We got back to work in March, and went XC schooling in April. This knocked off part one of my goal to¬†go two new places (my MIL’s house was the second).¬†Murray was full of all the piss and vinegar that he is known for while schooling. Retrospectively, I wonder if that was an early sign of his foot pain. Hard to say. I’m not trying to be an asshole and rule it out, but we can’t pretend that Murray was ever an un-opinionated horse even when he was feeling super duper A+. So.

oh man, was that really my horse?

In April we also had our first of 2 clinics, both biomechanics focused with Alexis Martin-Vegue. These were nothing short of life-changing, and I’m so, so, so glad that Megan and Kate mentioned Alexis as a possible clinician.

In May we did nothing — I ran the WSS HT again, of course — and in June we had our aborted attempt at a rated Novice at Camelot. I had an amazing time there even though I didn’t finish, and Murray looked on¬†point with his tail¬† braided.

ok you can’t see his tail here, but it was magnificent.
and this coat is still my favourite thing that I bought.

July and August were spent cramming in as many lessons with Megan and Kate as I could before we moved.¬†I also definitely took 4+ dressage lessons — I had four alone with Megan, two with Kate, and of course the aforementioned two biomechanics + dressage lessons. And we made amazing progress — Murray’s trot was¬†so fun¬†before we moved. There were rides where we were in such sync biomechanically that all I had to do was put my leg on a bit and keep my post slow and Murray’s trot was shooting off over the ground.¬† If I could have kept him sound for just dressage, I totally would have.

In mid-August I moved to Oregon, and Murray hung out in California for a while longer. In mid September, he took the long haul up here to our new barn, and his slide into retirement began. First with a pigeon fever scare, then with what appeared to be the sorest hocks on the planet, and finally some really fucked up feet.

Through it all, I can definitely say that I kept Murray’s¬†health and soundness¬†the priority, and¬†we didn’t just play with the idea of pasture board in evaluating his living situation. He’s now retired full-time in pasture.

favourite non-mine horse that I got to ride: Levi! also, Murray’s favourite boyfriend.

This year we did not get to 3 Novice HTs¬†— we didn’t even finish the one we did enter — or a single dressage show. And the sitting trot got thrown away again. I did work on my sitting trot on Murray more than I ever have, with lessons from Alexis and Megan to help me develop the seat and trot I needed to actually sit. But when your horse goes lame, working on skills like that take a back seat (duh). I also didn’t work without stirrups once a week or put out cavaletti once a week. Oops. Finally: we didn’t tackle those cross ties. I don’t even think we tried them once.

However, I can successfully say that I absolutely¬†did not burn the skin off my horse’s leg(s) this year!!¬†Yeah, you thought it was a gimme goal, but who knew I’d even do it the first time? Also, as a massive bonus goal, I got really comfortable hauling after I borrowed my MIL’s rig and hauled Murray ~400 miles in about five days. (I then hauled the same rig to Oregon full of all our shit, and now I’m really, really, really comfortable hauling. Holy shit the Siskiyou and Klamath mountains are no fucking joke.)

favourite moment on horseback was definitely tackling this huge mf’ing down bank where I sprained my knee in 2017 on our first go like it was nbd

Okay, so how did I do on my personal goals? Well, I did not save the aforementioned¬†pile of money or go to Kenya. While I would never have chosen for Murray to need retirement if I had the choice, I cannot pretend that this wasn’t a great time for it to happen if it had to. Moving and changing careers and jumping into functional-home-ownership (oh and having a wedding) is freaking¬†expensive.¬†And getting to take a break from paying full board + shoes + supplements + lessons is letting me recover a bit.

while I wouldn’t say this moment specifically was my favourite out of the saddle moment, the whole day was a huge party and a ton of fun (once I got done stress weeping)

I slept a ton more this year — especially at that Camelot show where I got to hoard the whole gooseneck to myself and it was so glorious. I need to work on my sleep/wake cycle a bit better, because I am quite productive in the mornings but I also like to stay up late watching netflix, and those two things just don’t really go together. I prioritized my personal life, and worked hard at not letting my desire to have a fullfullfull schedule get in the way of spending time with my partner or my friends or my Jellinore.

I was also really ruthless last year. In good ways and bad. I decided it was time for a change and packed up and moved to Oregon. I decided pretty instantly that Murray would be getting retired and no special treatment when his feet looked bad. I’m getting the feeling there will been a need for ruthlessness next year as well.

I did not learn a new computer skill (except extending my talent for breaking them, of course), or run 52 times (I probably went on close to 30 runs), or conquer 3 pull ups. But I’m not feeling too lost without those things. I can try again this year, if I want.

I did travel thousands of miles, see a natural wonder of the world, and squeeze my MIL’s humongous rig into a really narrow spot at a gas station without having to back up a single time (it’s a full bed + extra long cab + long WB-sized sundowner straight load) and I didn’t even scratch it this time.

There is so much to get done this year — the house needs a ton of work, there are so many bad riding habits for me to roll back and new skills to learn, so many new paths to pursue.

2019 is going to be wild, even if I don’t end up getting seven new dogs.

I mean, I could get one more. That would be cool, as long as Jellinore doesn’t mind.

she’s definitely going t mind for at least 0.07 seconds