long weekends are for projects + 2019 goals

I got so much done this weekend! I work from home, so I can (and do) chip away at projects pretty much whenever I want. But there’s something about three unadulterated weekend days (with husband help) to get. shit. done.

First, we spread 10 cubic yards of compost and 40 cubic yards of wood chips on the main spring vegetable bed.


it’s so big i’m so excited that’s what she said

When we were sick and tired of spreading and mulching (or, you know, when it was raining) we hammered away at the chicken coop. Literally. I mean, mostly it was a lot of cutting and measuring and cutting again because lumber is not actually the dimensions it professes to be, nor is it a dimension that actually makes sense. I mean, please. 2 x 4 would be SO MUCH MORE CONVENIENT than 1.875 x 3.625.


the near wall folds down for easy cleaning, so we’ll add it after i paint.
also, chicks coming your way in march 2019, get ready for the #peepshow

But it is what it is. And it’s done. I mean, minus the roof and the paint job and putting the door and the last wall on.

In short, we smanged this long weekend thing.

A good thing too, because 2019 is going to be the year of the horse house.


actually 2019 is the year of the pig, which means it’s the year of the jellinore

This is the first January since I got back from Congo that I’ve been horseless. And it’s odd. I poured a good deal of thought and energy into Murray, even when he was quite green. It’s strange not to have that mental space filled. So it’s good that I’ve got a big project horse house to fill my time with. I mean, I also have the little gray pony. But it’s not the same — and we all know it. Sammy is a campsite: I’m staying temporarily and will leave it in better condition than I found it, but I’m not living there forever. I mean, even if it is the cutest, most adorable, sausage-shaped campsite you ever did see. (Campsite rule stolen from Dan Savage, you may know it from elsewhere though. Also, that particular search query is nsfw.)

bodacious now please LET ME OUTSIDE

So, how to make pony goals this year without a pony of my own? Lots of people are opting for process goals or non-goal-y-goals. I figured I’d just…. set some goals, and see where we get! There are also a few things that are definitely going to happen/are already happening, but I’m going to go ahead and put them in the goals column anyway so I can give myself the joy of checking them off anyway. (That’s how checklists work, duh!) We’re a little heavy on the personal goals this year, but that’s alright.

12 months of position fixes – L did this last year, and I thought it was such a fantastic idea! It’s already in process.

  • January – twist right! specifically, right hand to the right of the neck always
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Lease for 4 months (before buying) – It’s time to get my learn on with another horse (or pony). Leasing is going to help me avoid impulsively buying something inappropriate.

Lessons 3x a month (as the schedule allows) – There are group jump lessons on Sundays, and obviously private flat lessons can be scheduled as needed. TrJ is a great trainer, and I’m very happy to put her stamp on me as a rider.

Take the pony to one show – This little beast should be fun to get out! Schooling, rated, it doesn’t matter.

Start looking for a new horse – This will most likely be an OTTB (because I like them, and the price is right). Window shopping doesn’t count.


sammy: stop taking pictures of Blue and gimme more cookiez

Save for a new horse – This is, of course, the big ticket item of 2019. A conservative estimate, even taking into account the generally-lower price tag of OTTBs, is that I’ll need at least 8k for this journey. This includes PPE (in the $1000 range), extensive saddle refitting or purchase (in the $2000 range — potentially laughable), and a bunch of bodywork and additional training needed for baby OTTBs. But I do so love them.

12 months of good habits – I’m not the tidiest person around and, look I’ll fess up, I don’t brush my teeth every morning. It takes 3 months to change habits (or so I’ve been told). So I’m going to tackle a new habit every month and hopefully come January of next year, at least 9 of those will have stuck. The goal here is for these to be little changes to my life that won’t be hard to enact. “Clean the living room every day” is not going to be a habit I actually stick with. (Though now that I think of it, “fold the throw blankets every night” could be.)

  • January – morning teeth brushing!
  • February –
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

Complete twelve house projects – This goes along with the other “12 months of” type projects. There’s a lot of month-by-month type goal-setting around here. It’s actually a neat way to break the year down. This includes: waxing the floors in the whole house, painting the office, building myself a desk, finishing the coop (ha! one down), setting up the garden, building the incubator, refinishing the bathroom (x2, one is soooo pink), painting the kitchen, empty the tool shed, etc.

Run once a week (on average) – It’s just once a week! Just 52 runs! You can do this! (I’m actually already 4 runs down, so not going too poorly.)

Work on the SO regarding a second dog – I want a second dog like I want to keep breathing. Okay that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But Jelly and I are ready for a second doggo in my life, and SO is the one who will need convincing.


a barn dog, but come on! who doesn’t want more of this in their life?

Do more good – I currently volunteer with a primate nonprofit, but I want to increase the good I do in the world. Right now I have time (see above re: not spending nearly as much time thinking and riding* as in the past), and feel like I can do more. Fostering (dogs) is at the top of my list. But I’ll see if other volunteering-type activities might work well for me too.

Write more science-based blogs – This is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, but the research aspect of it is an incredible amount of effort. I will need to collect some interesting topics to review, that always motivates me.

Meet more bloggers! – I’ve moved to a new place, which means I have a whole new group of bloggers to target with my bad jokes and biomechanics cult!

Murray still gets his own category here! Just ’cause he’s retired doesn’t mean he can’t better himself. But, really, he has only one goal:

Do not get kicked out of his cushy retirement situation. There is no soft landing after this one, boy. You cannot leave, and you cannot wear out your welcome. To help with this, I’ll be doing ground work with him whenever I visit. All he needs to do is stand for a trim every 6 weeks, get his blanket taken on and off as needed, accept vaccination, and not hurt his pasture mate. FOUR TINY THINGS, MURRAY.

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

 

what comes next?

One of the reasons I pushed things along this fall when we were diagnosing Murray was my impending vacation. I spent three weeks in Australia in November/December. Once it became clear to me that there was something more serious going on with the horse, I knew I wanted it sorted before I left. I did not need to spend my vacation trying to negotiate appointments and diagnostics with vets, or making big decisions about the future. I wanted things done and dusted — as much as possible — before I left.

For better or worse, that turned out to be a pretty simple request.

As of right now Murray is safely ensconced in his new pasture, making friends with all the geldings around him. He’s definitely gotten the memo that he’s retired, and has tested us several times with his semi-feral antics. Fortunately, my MIL is no fool. She knows the value of a good mannering halter and a carroty bribe.

So. What comes next?

disorganized aubrey plaza GIF

I can’t deny that retiring Murray has made my life simpler financially. Moving took a bigger hit on my finances than I expected, especially with the added expense of vet bills and hauling to get Murray to and fro. From that perspective, I’m very okay with hitting pause on horse ownership for a minute.

I’m not interested in hitting pause forever (I guess that’s called “stop”), or indefinitely. My ideal situation would be a six-ish month break — long enough to allow me to recoup my finances, ride a bunch of different horses, unlearn some bad habits, and think deeply about what I want in a pony partner. Then I’d start shopping in early summer (lesbehonest — I’ll be window shopping the whole time), but without a firm timeline so I could really wait until the right horse comes along. (My budget isn’t going to be huge even if I do manage to save save save for the first half of the year).

But real life rarely fits into our plans, so I’m going to go look at a horse today.

The Good Place GIF

I KNOW, I know. That isn’t the plan at all, Nicole! But I got a hot tip from someone I really trust that this guy is pretty cool and needs a home like yesterday, which his price reflects. I talked to the trainer and didn’t get any red flags. He’s close. His history is pretty good. TrJ knows the trainer who is selling him, and she thinks he’s promising.

If he’s perfect and he vets, I’ll think about making an offer. (Quite legitimately not sure I’m ready to pony up for all the accessories that a new horse needs RIGHT AWAY — two blankets, saddle fitting, potential new saddle, shoes, chiro, supplements, massage, etc. etc. so and and so forth in perpetuity.)

So we only move forward there if he’s PERFECT.

Otherwise, I told TrJ that I’d like to get into lessons and possibly lease, if she has someone available. She hemmed a bit on that, since all of her horses are leased out. She mentioned that I might do alright with one of her lesson ponies, and when I was like “I love ponies” she said, “Well, he’s actually a very cool pony.”


cutest little mofo around

For the forseeable future, there will be pony rides. And I am SO excited.

learnin’ and burnin’

I still have a ton to write about from blogging hiatus (jump lessons, amazing biomechanics clinic, clicker training, etc.) but this weekend was too fun to skip, so we’ll have to fast forward a little and rewind later.

First, I got to hang out with this super cool friend and watch her show 3rd level for the first time!

murdering the mediums

I don’t have a lot of experience with dressage shows, and when I have been it’s always with my MIL who has shown pretty extensively and is campaigning her mares for year end awards. It’s a bit different for someone looking for scores at a level when getting out there for the first time. There are lots of different aspects of test riding that I’ve never thought of before — like maximizing points in certain movements, vs. generally trying to make the whole test “better” (a nebulous term if ever there was one).

And then that same super cool friend came and rode my notorious ottb!

not ready for 3rd yet — maybe next month
PS my friend is Kate, if you haven’t yet recognized her

Murray doesn’t love when other butts touch his back. He’s a one-butt kinda guy. But it was fabulous watching Kate torture him work through his ridiculousness (and smile while she did it), and encourage him to be better. Murray thought Kate was demanding and opinionated and let her know it.  She just smiled and kept nudging those opinions onto him.

we tried to make him go to rehab — he said no, no, no

We traded back and Kate made some suggestions to help me also convince Murray to be better. Murray was like “oh thank GOD you are back I’ll do anything you want  just don’t let that bossy lady sit on me again!” He was immediately much more forward, and Kate helped me work on slowing his movement down and sucking myself down into the saddle. I wish I had the ability to write gobs and gobs about it, but I was hot and tired and I think the Cliffs notes version is all I can get out.

  • Pillow the aids into Murray so he gets past the reactionary leg on –> FLAIL –> do the thing. We want leg on –> do the thing. Put the leg on, waaaaiiiiit for Murray to stop trying to flick my leg off with his skin, and then ask for the movement or transition or whatever.
  • Slow the post methodically — a slow rise, and a slow descent. Keep the post big, but don’t let Murray throw me around with his boopy hips.
  • Push up with the toes and the knees to keep the feet light and suck the seat bones down into the saddle.
  • Kneel more in the sitting trot — do not let my toes slide forward too far.
  • When my leg goes on, Murray should push into the bridle.
  • Shorten the reins but don’t lean with the shoulders. Don’t give up the connection, work to improve the connection. We want him to be almost heavy in the bridle. My triceps should hurt after riding him. It’s not actually going to happen, but we want to move toward this type of feel since Murray so desperately wants the opposite of it.
  • Keep the core strong — don’t get floppy through the middle. In any of it — transitions, posting, sitting trot, etc.
  • Do not use zero contact (floppy rein) as a reward.

I was proud of how well Mr. No responded — generally — to a stranger riding him. His previous method of objection was to brace on his underneck and hollow his back and take teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy little anger steps. For the most part, Murray moved forward and into(ish) the bridle, and only had flaily responses when Kate put her leg on (shocker). This is pretty big progress for the big bad baby, and exciting for me that he’s understanding more and more what we want his default to be.

There was this  moment when I was adding positive tension to what felt like every single muscle in my body below my boobs, and trying to post super slowly, and bear down, and breathe, and it was hot and humid and muggy in the indoor. I looked out of the indoor and it was beautiful and sunny and blue and green and yellow — the mustards are blooming still. And I thought “oh it’s so beautiful and gorgeous and heavenly out there.” Then I turned my head back to the inside of the arena where it was dark and brown and gray and sweaty and hard. And I was like “why am I torturing myself in this hell again?” Then Kate told me to do something else with my body — I don’t know what, probably to suck less — and I did it even though it hurt, and I wasn’t outside in the beautiful blue and green and gold sunshiney mustard flowers. Because that’s how we get better.

2018 goals

It’s taken me some time to put my goals together this year, as I’m trying to be all “responsible” and “adult”, make plans for my future, take steps toward something bigger, some kind of end goal.

In that vein of planning, I put a few moments into thinking about where I want to be in five years, and where I want Murray to be in five years.  I didn’t think about it too long — it made me uncomfortable so I quit!! But more realistically, it’s hard to think about where my horse should be in five years when I’m literally at the edge of my expertise where we are right now! Plus, who knows if he’ll have the ability or soundness to hold up to things I might want to do in five years?

Likewise for myself. I could say “In five years, I want to have my bronze medal!”, and that would be a pretty reasonable goal. Only, if this horse can’t do third (for any reason — doesn’t like dressage, lameness of body or mind, etc.) then I’m  SOL. I don’t presently have, and am unlikely to magically acquire in the next 4.95 years, the funds to lease or buy a capable horse to get those scores.

While that’s not the world’s worst excuse, it is an excuse, so I went ahead and made five-year goals that assume the horse and I stay healthy and sound enough to execute them. It was still hard.


nevertheless, I persisted

So, in five years… I would like Murray to be competing successfully at Training level and thinking about Prelim. Really, five years from now we will know very well whether or not Prelim is ever in our future.  If it is, I’d expect that we’d almost be ready to move up in five years.  Time is a-wastin’, after all. And I’d like to be working on third level dressage — maybe not showing, but working on show-quality versions of those skills.  I’d like to be able to take him to any show venue and complete, even if we’ve never seen the place before. I want to be able to take him off property to a clinic and demonstrate a reasonable reflection of our abilities, problems, and skill level.  I want to have enough saved up that I can stop contributing to insurance every year and know that, if he needs it, I’ll be able to cover him for anything insurance would cover him for.  Not all of these are pure Murray goals, of course.  A lot of the stuff in here means changes on my part also!

For myself, I want to be confirmed in good savings habits that will allow me to start putting money away toward mobility (in addition to necessary  savings): a truck and trailer in five years would give me a LOT of flexibility. I want to be working in a career position, not hopping from short-term to short-term gig hoping something will work out.  I’d like to have enough money and security to do what I love (feeding dollar bills to my horse) and take vacations.

Chipping away at the long term goals will be modest this year — at least on the fronts that require spending of money.

Complete 3 Novice level HTs — this is predicated upon that whole “saving money” thing, but this is my big show goal this year.

1+ dressage shows — schooling shows are fine, but getting out and doing the horse dancing thing is also a goal!

Ride in 2 clinics — this was super achievable in 2017, so it would be nice to do again in 2018. (Spoiler alert:  I am already halfway there!!)

4+ lessons with Tina/other dressage trainers — I put this in my savings goals this year also. I love riding with Tina, but I’m open to other dressage trainers too!

Sitting trot — another year of trying this, I guess. I think I might need it for that whole dressage thing.

Go to two new places — I’m going to go ahead and say that “new” will count as anywhere that pony hasn’t been in 2+ years. His memory can’t be that great, right?

Work without stirrups once a week — I’d like to do a whole No-stirrups November makeup month at some point. That would be… uh… ambitious of me.

Cavaletti Sundays — Some friends talked about doing a weekly cavaletti exercise. I often won’t do it on Sunday because I seem not to ride on a lot of Sundays (boyfriend, other life stuff, that whole thing), but cavaletti once a week would be a great exercise!

Boy has got some big goals this year!

Goal number one: Keep up with the Good Citizen Without Shortcuts program from 2017.

Cross ties — we are gonna do this. We have the tools!  Time to work up the motivation. Maybe when we’re over being nude.

Patience while tied — this is apparently some kind of thing that people practice with young horses to make them well  broke. I dunno. I hear it’s a good exercise.

Sort out the feet — the barefoot experiment is going pretty well, and I’m doing extra well resisting the urge to just slap shoes back on and call it good.  Murray’s feet will benefit from this, and it will help us sort out whatever underlying issues there are surrounding his feet.  And I know there are some.

Evaluate Murray’s living situation — at some point this year I’d like to experiment with pasture board. Not sure homeboy will like it, but he might.  Not sure I will like it, but if it’s better for the horse…

Keep soundness and health a priority — it’s worth reminding myself to continuously do this. It’s not that I purposely work my horse when he’s not sound, or that I try to make him unsound. It’s just that his low-level mechanical lameness makes it easy to brush off other little things as just part of the bigger peg-legged picture.

Don’t burn the skin off his legs. Seems simple, right? MAYBE NOT.

Ooh. Not sure I have any big blog goals this year. I’d like to explore getting my own domain. That lends a lot of flexibility and opportunity to a writer.

Write more science-y blogs. I have a few topics in mind that are already somewhat fleshed out (placebo effect of calmers/depo specifically, cribbing/stereotypic behaviors, how riders affect horse comfort) but if there are any you’d like to see, I’m happy to dig into the literature.

And because this has to do with online stuff (ish, but definitely the blogging/online horse community), I’ll throw it in here: develop a horse-specific income stream. I’d like to have an income stream that is just for Murray’s use (well, my use for Murray but you know). That way I’ll feel less guilty when I blow 1k showing for three days in Santa Barbara.  I piloted some tote bags on my friends for Christmas and they seemed to like the idea, so I’m working out how I can do this on a slightly larger scale.

  

 

Save a whole pile of money — be responsible, Nicole. Save money. Save enough money that you can go to Kenya in September!

Make time for a personal life — as do many people I know, I have this awful habit of planning to do too many things, making too many promises, and forgetting to make time to just sit back, relax, and what a whole buttload of Netflix with my boyfriend.

Sleep more — did you know that your bedtime is killing you? I fucking love sleeping. I am pledging to sleep more 8-hour nights this year!

Learn a new computer skill — computers are stupidly important in the world these days. It will probably make me more valuable and marketable if I learn a new computer language or skill.  Like SQL or … that’s the only one I’m thinking about right now, really.

Run once per week — that’s just 52 runs this year. Hardly any.

Pull ups — I’d like to be able to do three by the end of the year.

Be ruthless — I’m trying to do a lot of stuff this year. Get a career-track job. Save money. Stop over-extending myself. I need to start being a little more cutthroat in what I pursue. It’s not okay to half-ass a whole bunch of things. I need to start whole-assing fewer things.

2017 goals review

As much as I love year-in-review posts, I don’t love facing a big pile of unmet goals.  I was really, really optimistic about some of my goals in early 2017 — especially in light of my financial situation!!  So I took a peek at my goals post to see how I’d done against them, and it wasn’t soooo bad… so here we go.

I’m going with Alternative Colour Coding. Purple is success, Tealish is halfway, Sad Brown is a no-go.

riding-goalsSit the trot – Ummm. I put this at the top of my list for a reason. And I kinda did it? I can sit the trot on a whole handful of horses.  Mine just… isn’t one of them. Back on the list for 2018 it goes.

Even out my hands – Giving myself this one. I have much more even hands, and a way better feel for when my hands are doing weird and crazy shit.

no wild and crazy hand shit here!

Even out my weight in the stirrups – Same thing here. After I borked my knee I got uneven again, but I was feeling really solid in both stirrups before that whole sprained MCL thing.

Get myself and Murray fit – We were on track to make this happen (for Murray), but then he got put on stall rest 3/4 of the way through the year so… yeah that didn’t happen. I am still a tubba lard in the fitness department.

Show rated – We showed rated at Twin (BN) and Camelot (BN). Not quite enough to justify the membership (came up $20 short on that), but if we hadn’t been sidelined we would probably have gone to November Fresno! Giving myself this one.

Go to at least two new venues – We went to Twin, which was new and awesome!, and then a few places that we’re really familiar with. Bummer.

Go to at least one dressage-only show – Peony and I did this in June! I wanted to do it more, but, you know. Real life. Finances. Etc.

Ride in two clinics – I rode with Hawley in February and Yves in December. Just squeezed it in, but we did it!

Develop the auto release – Err… nope. Worked on it. Got a lot better with my hands. Did not quite get there.

getting there…

Develop my seat – My seat got WAY better this year.

murray-goalsMurray gets his very own goals segment, because Murray.

My biggest goal this year with Murray is to stop taking short cuts.  Dudes. We did this. I have gone back to square one and reworked a ton of behaviors. Right now we’re in the middle of rehabbing his hideous feet, and they are getting better but it’s slow. As tempted as I am, I’m not going to shove shoes back on to mask whatever underlying issues may be there. (No, I swear I’m not going to. Even though I REALLY WANT TO RIGHT NOW.)

Tack up while tied reliably – RAISE THE ROOF FRIENDS AND FELLOWS. MY HORSE DOES THIS NOW. The last few weeks + clicker training were integral here. Pretty sure I could do it without the grain and clicker if I wanted to.

not my best riding, but a really cool fence

Full grooming in the cross ties – Murray stepped foot in the cross ties exactly one time this year. When we did his hocks. We’ll get at this in 2018.

Accept tacking up/handling/etc. by other people – Murray hasn’t been tacked up or handled by uh… almost anyone but me this year.

Behave while being ridden by other people – Ditto this one.

Confirm the first-level movements – We maybe wouldn’t be getting 7s on all our first level movements, but before stall rest hit, we could do all of them in a controlled fashion. The counter canter was, honestly, getting kinda baller. We’ll come back at this again in 2018, with all new tools!

Grow Murray’s confidence – Ditto this one! Murray is killing it on the confidence front right now. I even managed to borrow from him a few times this year!

Improve symmetry – Improve is nice and vague, so I’m going to give us this one too. Before the break, Murray was getting a lot better on his right side.

Get a saddle fitter out – I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. He’s worth it.

Put up my Murray wall – Almost finished! Just have to put up the photos. Ribbons, art, and shoes are all up!

yeah all these ribbons adorn my CHAMPIONZ wall nowblog-goalsBlog more – I blogged more in 2017 than I did in 2016, but not quite as much as 2015. I’d like to get to even more blogging this year!

More ride recaps – I didn’t count, but I’m pretty sure I did more of these.

Read more blogs – I worked hard on this in the beginning of the year and I found a whole bunch of new blogs to follow. I think I’m up to 113 blogs in my feed now!  I wasn’t so great at reading and commenting for large portions of this year, but I’ve had a great time catching up.

Comment more – I did this off and on!

frens!!

Meet more bloggers – Check, check, and check! Hung out with Peony, L, and Megan again, met Jen, hung with Alyssa, forced my friendship upon Kate, got to ride the Mule and the Mustangs, and promised and failed to hang out with Emma, Austen, and Niamh. And of course, Kathy.

personal-goals

 

I made this ribbon vector thinking I’d have a “competition goals” header, and then I didn’t.  So I threw it in for personal goals instead, because obviously my major personal goal is to continue winning at life.  (By the by, if anyone wants a swirly ribbon vector… you know where to find me).  My personal goals might better be represented by a stack of money but… ribbons are kinda like money?

Improve fitness and strength – Errr….

Run 5k – I… did not do this. I had a really cool spot to run around at my last house, and now I don’t have a cool place to run… so I guess it’ll be around the pastures a hundred times for me.

Conquer the pull-up – I DID ONE OF THESE. I was really good about working on this at the beginning of the year, and it fell off hard after I tweaked my neck. Let’s do two this year.

Get a full time job – I did this too! It was a contract job, it ended in December, and now I’m on the hunt again.

why can’t I look good in selfies with other humans? or non-super-awkward animals?

Publish two chapters – I published zero chapters. I need to get some motivation up to get this done. That shit needs to be out of my computer.

Properly pursue my side project(s) – I’m still working with the primate nonprofit, and while it took a pretty hard hit while I was a full time employee, I’m still at it. Chipping away at making the world a better place, one email at a time.

Contribute to my Roth IRA – Nope. Re-routed those savings to the wedding instead.

So when you add it all up, I got a 67.19% / 32.89 pen and THAT is a qualifying score my friends!  I plan to judge all of my life by dressage standards from now on!

2017 goals

I feel like Murray and I are situated to get some great work done this year.  We are both more skilled and k knowledgeable than in years past, and I have a much better understanding of what I’m looking for and how I should try to get it.  It helps that I finally understand how-when-what to push and what I should leave alone — and how those things change from day to day.

I also hope to have more time and money this year — sure, it might be a pipe dream, but a girl has got to hope!  With a little more of those two valuable resources at my disposal I should be able to get a bit more done this year!

riding-goalsSit the trot – how many years do I have to put this f*&$!ing goal on my goals list before I properly make it happen?!!  But for real, I don’t need to sit all the trots.  I just want to be able to sit the working trot and perform a first level trot sitting (not necessarily at a show).

Even out my hands – They are uneven. And I often open my fingers. Bad Nicole, bad.

Even out my weight in the stirrups – I am uneven. And my right stirrup leather is longer. Always.

Get myself and Murray fit – enough to run a Novice 3 day, even though we won’t do it until 2018 (at the very earliest).

Show rated – enough times to make my membership dues worth it. That’s three times at BN (I think) or once at Novice (no workaround for Novice level events), and I have no idea how many times for dressage memberships.

IMG_8478this was fun!

Go to at least two new venues – schooling or rated, it doesn’t matter. But Murray and I will never get better at showing and riding away from home if we don’t do it.

Go to at least one dressage-only show – rated or unrated. Get our dressage on!

Ride in two clinics – Riding with clinicians takes a little forethought, but I’d like to make it happen.

Develop the auto release – I fake it right now. It’s not pretty. Time to follow with the hands and use those elastic elbows.

Develop my seat – life goals = truly independent seat.

murray-goalsMurray gets his very own goals segment, because Murray.

My biggest goal this year with Murray is to stop taking short cuts.  There are a lot of things I’ve skipped over in Murray’s training in favor of funner/better/other things.  “Things” like installing truly solid ground manners, in-hand work, and some under-saddle basics.  I have ignored, tolerated, and even enabled some downright bad behaviors in order to get to the thing(s) I want to do (the riding, and honestly probably the jumping).  I will write more about this because it warrants its very own post, but this will be the focus of our year.

I do have some specific goals for him.

Tack up while tied reliably – Murray and I have been getting a lot better at this, but we’re still not 100%. We need to be able to do this.

Full grooming in the cross ties – Murray hates, fears, and loathes the cross ties. Axtiesnything that startles or even worries him causes him to get squirrely, and the second he hits the end of the ties and feels them both on his face he spirals into a full-blown pony panic attack.  This has resulted in multiple cross-tie-breakings.  We must get over this.

Accept tacking up/handling/etc. by other people – There are currently two people who Murray will reliably behave for. Depending on the context he’ll do fine with other people but it’s far from reliable.  See “truly solid ground manners”.

Behave while being ridden by other people – Murray has been ridden by a handful of people since I took over his care, but rarely have they ever tried to get him to really work.  He’s basically goes into lesson pony mode when I throw someone else on him — or spiteful kicking monster when my trainer gets on him.  See “under saddle basics”.

Confirm the first-level movements – Murray can do the first level movements, but they aren’t show worthy.  We want to show first, right?  Time to get those movements scoring in the 7’s and up.

Grow Murray’s confidence – Last year was great for Murray’s confidence. We didn’t necessarily go out a ton to test this, but even at home his responses to hard questions have become more reasonable and less anxiety-driven.  Confidence is key with this  horse, I have to keep putting that first.

Improve symmetry – Murray falls over his right shoulder pretty hard, and I’ve been correcting for it in both directions with my right hand. We should probably, instead, focus on strengthening his body symmetrically.

Get a saddle fitter out – I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. He’s worth it.

Put up my Murray wall – I have some Murray art and his shoes I want to mount. I’ve been meaning to for a while, it’s kinda a personal-x-Murray project.

blog-goalsBlog more – I blogged less than I wanted to last year thanks to Real Life getting in the way.  I’d aim to write more and more regularly this year – at least 3x each week.

More ride recaps – I used to keep a pretty cut-and-dried ride journal for Murray, including a calendar of behavior/accomplishments. I no longer do this because I spend so much time writing here (and forgetfulness).  Ride recaps can be really valuable, so I’d like to get back to writing more of these.

Read more blogs – Pretty simple. Find more blogs to read and enjoy!

Comment more – I love getting blog comments and feel that I don’t reciprocate equally. I should fix that.

Meet more bloggers – I had so much fun stalking Peony, dining with L and Megan, and lunching with a whole bunch of California bloggers in the last two years! More, more, I want to meet more!

personal-goals

 

I made this ribbon vector thinking I’d have a “competition goals” header, and then I didn’t.  So I threw it in for personal goals instead, because obviously my major personal goal is to continue winning at life.  (By the by, if anyone wants a swirly ribbon vector… you know where to find me).  My personal goals might better be represented by a stack of money but… ribbons are kinda like money?

Improve fitness and strength – I let myself get really pillowy over Christmas, and riding minimally this year has not helped things.  I want to make sure that my fitness is not impeding my ability to ride, or Murray’s ability to perform.  Specific goals include…

Run 5k – Not an actual 5k race (I have no interest in that), but I want to be able to run 5k on a semi-regular basis without feeling like it’s the end of the world.  I’m shooting for 4 total 5k runs this year.

ConqdBNjr3Z - Imguruer the pull-up – maybe even a few?!  I’ve never been able to do one, not even when I was in gymnastics as a child (and arguably the strongest in terms of mass that I have ever been).

Get a full time job – OMG maybe even career track?

Publish two chapters – Maybe even all three chapters?! I have to do some significant data re-analysis for two of the chapters (and then need to figure out how to frame the third chapter in all of its terrifying implications in a way that satisfies all authors, even the statisticians sigh), but the framework is there and I don’t need to do too much more literature reviewing to make it happen I think…

Properly pursue my side project(s) – I’m working with a primate nonprofit right now and really want to establish myself as a valued member of that organization. I’m exploring partnerships with community development orgs as well, which is something I’m very interested in. I don’t exactly know what I’m doing but I’m diving in head first.

Contribute to my Roth IRA – Retirement. Savings. Life. I need to think about it.